Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Postcrossing roundup:
Late autumn/early winter

Postcards and pen pals, national and international, have helped to keep me mentally healthy and connected to the outside world during this sorrowful pandemic that's approaching its one-year anniversary.

Here are some of the thoughtful thank-you emails I've received from Postcrossers who got postcards from me between mid-October and early January. I've been receiving emails that are much longer than in previous years; many of us have more free time for such correspondence. These are from oldest to newest. 

First up is Sien in Belgium. Some sweet backstory on this: Sien writes in her Postcrossing biography that she's been pen pals with a woman in Edogawa, Japan, for 55 years! So, in my postcard to her, I noted how amazing such a long epistolary friendship must be. Sien replied: "Thank's a lot for the Poe's Black Cat card and the nice stamps too. The story of Tomo in Edogawa and me is very special, that's true. We started writing while it was a school project and until now we never stopped. We wrote lots of letters, we sent lots of presents and cards and now we send mails and cards now and then. My brother started writing with the sister of Tomo and they just wrote 1 letter. But we continued even [when] it was not always easy you know. I visited Tomo and her husband twice and she came to Belgian. I enjoyed Japanese food, I love Sushi and when they came here they had a list of what they wanted to eat: mussels and fries, Gentse Waterzooi, chicons and ham, Brussels sprouts, .... and the husband tried a lot of Belgian beer. We had good times in Japan and in Belgium. Covid 19 had a second strong wave here. Lots of infected people, lots of people in hospitals. They are talking again of lock down. We stay a lot inside because my husband has a problem with his kidneys. I'm going to make a wooden bench with mosaics and some Christmas presents with mosaic too. Please stay healthy and safe."

Lena from Russia wrote: "Hi Chris! Thank you very much for the beautiful postcard and stamps! It's great that you have 4 cats. I have a robe that says, 'Never trust people who don't like cats!' Autumn has come into its own with us, the trees began to lose their foliage last week. And in some years in October it already snows! Great mood and good luck! Best wishes."

Kerstin from Germany wrote: "Hallo Chris, thanks a lot for the Halloween card. I love the autumn too. At the moment all trees are colored and the fog in the morning is very mysterious. I hope your country will make the right decision at November 3rd. Stay safe! Happy postcrossing."

Kyra from the Netherlands wrote: "Hi Chris! Thank you for your postcard, obviously I love it. Cats in autumn/winter are the best. My cat and I keep our distance when its too hot but now he's on my lap a lot and we takes naps together, we're having a great time. So cool you kinda know Francien van Westering. I love her illustrations, I've even been thinking about an illustration of my cat from her. I wish I could send out her postcards but I cant find them anywhere (online). Anyway I wish you a great autumn (im a bit jealous of all your backyard pets) and take care!"

Giuseppina from Italy wrote: “Dear Chris, thanks a lot for your card. I am really really happy it is a beautiful card! I love cinema and I know Ermanno Olmi, unfortunately he died two years ago. Have your ever seen something by Luca Guadagnino? And have you ever read something by Andrea Camilleri? I wish you health and happinness. In Italy we are again in a sort of lockdown and only with books and movies I go on day by day! Kisses from Italy.”

Thomas from Switzerland wrote: "Hello Chris. First I have to say a big THANK YOU for the amazing spooky stamps!! Of course thank you for the third one and the halloween 🎃 postcard, too. Yes, 2020 is a bad year for travelers. My wife and I will miss the beach, the sea and seafood of Sanibel Island. We have been there the last 8 years in a row, mostly combined with another journey in the States. We got two friend couples in CA and my wife got a cousin in Chicago! Therefore I follow the news in the USA. Very sad what happens -- it's not the blue or red questions. It‘s the split between people in the same country! I have big discussions with our friends & family. I'm their window to Europe -- the other view of their red or blue bubble. Mostly by asking them questions about things I don't understand or newspaper here in Switzerland are asking. I respect other opinions and religions -- but it's not always easy. I really hope that this will not escalate more and more! What made me afraid is that a minority of Christian creationists is getting more power & influence. Some newspaper here already discussed that the USA is on the way to be a Christian country like the Iran is for Islam. I like to read your blog but the address is not readable because an ugly US postal marker. Stay safe & healthy! With all the best wishes from the Swiss mountains."

Dina from Russia wrote: “Hello Chris, thank you for the postcard and your message! I like fall too for the smell, peaceful atmosphere and colorful leaves. It is also really cool to catch that moment when the air in the morning has become frosty :) Wish you all the best and happy postcrossing!”

Anna from Russia wrote: “Chris Good morning! Thank you for your warm greetings. It is very pleasant to read the message in your native language. We have finished a beautiful autumn. Now the days are gray and dull, with rain and snow replacing them. But winter is coming soon. I really hope and believe that everything in Your country will be fine. And the diseases will pass, and the elections will turn out as they should.”

Sophie from the United Kingdom wrote: “Hi Chris, I loved your postcard, it was so detailed and thoughtful. What newspaper do you write for? I've never been to Pennsylvania but would like to. The book I'm writing has a bit touching on the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in America and the Caribbean, which is slightly redressing my poor knowledge of that part of American history, previously cobbled together from Hamilton & a visit to Colonial Williamsburg more than ten years ago! I hope you do get to elect a different president in a few days, although I have to admit I'm not totally hopeful. We have an atrocious Prime Minister. Your card was gorgeous though -- and the Hallowe'en stamps! All best, Sophie”

Martina from Germany wrote: “Hello Chris, thank you so much for the wonderful postcard you sent me. Indeed a bit spooky -- but it looks like the girl is 'sunken' into the story of her book. I also love reading! I have hundreds of books and love them as a kind of decoration in my home. People who live surrounded by bookshelfs packed with books have my sympathy. I am also working from home since March. I was in Thailand until the end of March. This journey was planned long time ago and we couldn't cancel the trip. That was short before the lockdown. So we had an exciting time in a wonderful country, only very few turists and empty beaches. But I was sending a prayer to heaven when we had returned safe back home. So for now we don't travel of course! The sumer was kind of relaxed because the Corvis [sic] numbers were going down. But now with the second wave we all have to be very careful. I work from home and only go out to get some food at the supermarket. It is okay for the time being, I live with my husband and my son -- so I'm not alone. And I meet people at work via phone and MS Teams, and also do so in some evenings. Meet my friends with a glass of wine and chat with them via video. --- And write long registration messages and postcards! So we are in a similar situation -- working at home with no chance to get back in the office this year. But I don't have any pets. Take care, all the best for and stay healthy! Martina”

Tyna from Czechia wrote: “Hi Chris, OMG! Thank you for this totally best one e.v.e.r. card received, I LOVE Poe so much!! <3 I have not see any filmed version and I feel like I am always dissapointed when someone tries to do this kind of thing with famous literature pieces, but the black cat story was my favourite. So creepy, yet amazing!:D We must stay home most of the time too. It is kind of driving me mad as I suffer from anxiety few last months and the things that helped me, as nature and gym/exercise are now not available. Yes, you can go to a park, but you always need to have a face mask on so you still breathe your used air and do not smell the autumn in the air. Congratulations to your new president! I was checking the results from the very beginning. I was hoping Biden will win. As Trump reminds me so much of our president and I am just so sick of him being disrespectful to Czech citizens during these difficult times. We can not meet unless you live in the same household, but our president hosts a party in his presidential castle for more than 300 people. How would you feel? It just feel so angry. That is why I see so much hope in your new president. Hopefully he will help to unify your society and offer better solutions to your problems. I wish you and your family all the best. Better days will some soon enough."

Natalia from Belarus wrote: “Dear Chris, Прывiтанне з Беларусi! Greetings from Belarus! Thank you very much for the postcard you have sent me! The picture is very nice and the stamp is very interesting! Thank you very much for your kind message which was so pleasant to read! Let every day of your life be filled with a special sence, a beautiful dream, colorful memories and bright emotions! And of course, I wish you lots of wonderful postcards from all over the world! Natalia”

Chema from Spain wrote: “Hello Chris!! Thank you for your curious postcard of the horror castle. This is also history of the USA. Best wishes!! Chema”

Yana from Belarus wrote: “Hello Chris! Your postcard has become a real gift for me. Thank you very much for that! To have so many books is real wealth. Take care of them and your wonderful cats."

Helen from Russia wrote: “Dear Chris, Now we are going through the times that I loved to watch in horror films -- people are getting sick, there is a pandemic everywhere and it is not clear what is happening in the world. I never thought this could happen in real life. The coronavirus pandemic has also affected us. It started at the beginning of March. Early school holidays were announced (a week earlier than usual). Then holidays were extended for another week. Therefore, there were no large crowds of children in schools. We, the teachers, worked at the school, but since March 30, a regime of self-isolation was declared. Children did not attend schools or kindergartens, and only those organizations that provide life support for cities worked. Different cities in Russia have different numbers of cases. Being in self-isolation mode, we did not go anywhere except to the store, which is located within 100 meters from the house. People who have dogs could walk with them within 100 meters of the house. I went out to take out the rubbish and go to the supermarket once every 3 days. We (school teachers) were very busy preparing everything necessary for distance education of children. Since April 6, all of us (people in Russia) were at home. Children entered the distance learning system. Then the completed task was sent to the teachers by email. But no panic in Russia, the shops and supermarkets were full of various goods, we could buy anything we wanted. But in September we came back to usual mode -- going to school. But the autumn holidays were a bit longer when usual -- one more week. But on Monday school starts again. I wish you be cheerful at this difficult time, dear Chris! I believe that this whole situation with the pandemic is given to us in order to learn some lessons from our lives and draw certain conclusions about what has real value in our lives. In any situation, you need to try to find something good, you need to try to look at this situation philosophically. With the kindest and warmest wishes, Helen”

Tracey from Canada wrote: “Hi Chris, Thank you so much for the fantastic card 'Scary Story Time' -- LOVE it!! I like the stamps, too -- so cool! Things are also scary here, too.....a town called Aylmer, about 20 minutes from here keeps holding protests against wearing masks! The mayor had to call a state of emergency!! Seriously?! Crazy times and silly people - not a good mix! Like you, I pass the time reading and (thank god) postcrossing/writing letters. We are finally getting new shows on network TV which I've been enjoying. Sincere best wishes to you, always - stay safe, stay healthy!"

Anne from Germany wrote: “Hello Chris, Thanks for your nice card and stamps. The card is fun. There is a German artist who is doing a nice story about a bear, a racoon, a mole and a goose. Each day there is a new part (picture with text) in my WhatsApp. It is really fun. At the moment the mole tries digging up his way to France, because he misses the goose, who went into the south for the winter. Especially at the moment it is a nice way of waking up. I think, it’s available in english as well. Indeed, never heard so much about Pennsylvania as in the last weeks. It was always intense being a journalist, but these days does seem really tough, especially with all this fast online plattforms. For me it is really interesting and at some point a bit spooky. Happy postcrossing and stay safe."

Gregory from Russia wrote: “Hello Chris, Thank you for this awesome postcard and great stamps. Well, I don't think we have chipmunks here. Neither in Moscow, nor 600 km to the south where I was born. But, we have hedgehogs living in backyards. They are rather shy, but not difficult to catch if you set your mind to it. They come out at night, and are quite noisy, which gives them out. We have squirrels in parks, not many though. When I travelled to Ulan Ude, a city near Lake Baikal, I discovered that their species of squirrels are quite different from ours. Here they have brown and ginger fur, there the fur is black. Best wishes, Gregory.”

Milan from the Netherlands wrote: “Dear one, I'm both sorry and thrilled to tell you I received your postcard in my mail today. Well ... part of it that is. I received the left part of it, perfectly teared in half by the US postal service. It was delivered to me in an envelope of the USPS, that displayed the front of your envelope with luckily the address perfectly readable. Even though the card is in half -- and I find that especcialy stupid since you sent me a beautiful card from the 70's and some recipes (I'll find them online and try them, don't worry) -- I want to send you a big thank you for the card. I get that you live in Denver, there is something with an ex wife's wife (I have to admit I'm pretty curious about that one, haha). You have some cute animals, Mr. Bill, Banjo, Titan and Monkey. I'm going to paste your things all together in my album, writing the date and story of the tearing of it. It'll get a special place and even though this shouldn't be how you receive mail, your card will always be rememberd as special. My best wishes and ... Stay healthy for you and your family. Milan”

Akiko from Japan wrote: “Hello, Chris. Thank you for your cute Christmas postcard and stamps. Thank you for writing in block letters. I like watching movies too. I haven't seen Good Morning yet. I would love to see it if I have a chance. Best wishes and stay safe. Akiko”

Alan from the United Kingdom wrote: "Dear Chris. Thank you for the great postcard that I received today. I hope you have a Happy Christmas and New Year -- we will still be in lockdown so family contact is limited but thankfully covid vaccinations are now being done so hopefully we will be soon out of this terrible time. All the best, Alan.”

Robert from Slovenia wrote: “Hello Chris, Thank you sooo much for a cool bridge card with an interesting post stamps and kind message. I like it very much! I wish you a calm end of the year. In the year 2021, which will be here any time, I wish you all the best, especially health and good, old normalcy. Stay safe and healthy. This coronary virus really isn’t an innocent thing. Friendly greetings from rainy sLOVEnia, Robert”

Flower in Idaho wrote (in a postcard response, pictured down below): "Hello Chris! Thank you so much for the cute Christmas postcard! What a wonderful surprize. I hope this postcard finds you in good spirits, good health & with a good reason to smile deeply. You've inspired me to be a more mindful & generous postcard sender. I truly wish you happiness. This year has been odd (understatement) but ... there's still so much beauty abound. Much kindness rising above the animosity. I count your postcards as such. Do you have any holiday traditions? We eat Chinese food for Thanksgiving, have a little drum circle around a bonfire, visit a hot spring and just breathe on the solstice. P.S.: Just a little snow but not sticking yet. I hope it snows more because Raffi wants to make a 'no-man'."

Christina from Germany wrote: “Dear Chris, Thank you for your beautiful postcard! I have already been in South Carolina for school exchange, long long time ago and I made a Florida tour in the summer 2018. We are in a Lock down at the moment, so I am in Berlin by my family. Don‘t know when school starts again and I have to go back to south Germany. But one thing for your bucket list! You have to go to the castle Neuschwanstein. It's the most beautiful of all! Maybe one day. Thank you for your time and I wish you a very nice new year full of all you love! Stay healthy."

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