Friday, December 31, 2010

year of the rabbit

One of my favorite series from Japan Post comes out each New Year's and features some of the many ways, old and new, to write the zodiac animal for the year. It's already 2011 in Japan so here's to the Year of the Rabbit! Shinnen akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! Rabbit is usagi in Japanese and these elegant stamps all say, in one way or another, just that. Many thanks to my friend Keiko in Tokyo, who used these stamps on a packet she sent.

ending on an altered note

I was dilatory making Christmas and New Year cards this year but have started again making altered cards. These two are altered beyond recognition. Both will be in the mail today. I can only hope that they survive the increasingly rough treatment of the USPS. Odd that as mail revenues decline, service does too. Oops, I did not mean to end on a carping note.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

dressed for destiny

Friend John in Kyoto sent this New Year's card showing the 12 animals of the Chinese costumed and ready to go.

some stamps

four on a bench

Four on a Bench, a 1990 work by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. A friend who is a Met fan sent this card. If she hadn't mailed it before the Phillies signed Cliff Lee, I would have thought she was making a snarky comment about "our" four aces. But she did indeed mail it days before the Phillies were even in the conversation for Lee.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

v is for.... + 2 stamps

A postcrosser from Sweden sent the Royal Warship Vasa card, while one in Germany sent the Verona, picked up on her travels. The stamps were a bonus.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

happy 1893

Inga U. sent this New Year's card, which makes use of an 1892 label. She wrote lots of comments about this Santa, who does indeed look somewhat louche.

chestnuts roasting and all that

No chestnuts are roasting in this Monticello fireplace shown in a card from Thomas Jefferson's old home, but I imagine that the room is currently decorated for the season. A fire in a fireplace is always a good thing. I sent the card off into the wide world, to a postcrosser in Belarus.

green goblet

I've just put this postcard, showing a green goblet (c. 1928) by Austrian designer Josef Hoffmann, into the mail for a friend. The design itself was done with pencil and green paper on graph paper. I have long had this card sitting here because I like it so much.

keeping it safe

Two more postcrossing cards: A striking old fortress from Gdansk and a National Museum in Malaysia, famed, the sender wrote, for having ghosts.

Monday, December 27, 2010

delivering the mail

See the mail carrier on these stamps, from the wonderful series featuring rural life in Japan. While rural mail carriers in the States use cars, in Japan they use motorbikes---and wish they were in cars. Still, mail carriers zipping around on their distinctive red motorbikes are an iconic sight.


The card at top came from a Belgian postcrosser, the one at bottom from Tokyo friend Keiko. They remind me of each other. Keiko's card, however, was created by the daughter of mutual friends in Kyoto and won a prize (postcard division) in a prestigious national arts show in Japan.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Friends at the Society of International Railway Travelers used a detail from the tile floor on the British Pullman car "Minerva" to make a striking greeting card. The Minerva, a 26-seat, first-class parlor car, was built in 1927 by the Midland Railway Carriage and Wagon Co., Ltd. The photo is by Owen Hardy and design by Stephen Sebree. May there be many train rides for all in 2011!

vintage angel

Sandy Sapienza went all retro this year, reviving an image that she says she created in 1966 for her Christmas card.

Friday, December 24, 2010

hotel bethlehem

Merry Christmas to all!

rt. 71

Friend Louisa C. in San Diego used this sharp Jeremy Dahl postcard for her holiday greetings. Louisa recently went to Mexico on a photography jaunt. Maybe Dahl was the photographer leading the way.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

through an artist's eyes

A Ukrainian postcrosser named Polina sent this wonderful postcard of her native city. It's from a series of cards showing Kiev through an artist's eyes. I love that stamps have also been made of the work. Polina, who works in the creative department of an advertising company, also sent the pretty holiday stamp below.

hong kong arts festival

This card arrived---I kid you not---while The Nutcracker Suite was playing in the background on the radio. The New York City Ballet is making its first ever visit to Hong Kong, for the Hong Kong Arts Festival this March. When I was in grad school in New York, I often went to the ballet. When I lived in Kyoto, I jumped at a chance to get tickets to a Bolshoi performance in Osaka. I sigh now about being asked at an intermission if I were a dancer with the troupe. At the time, I laughed. The card, from a Hong Kong postcrosser, brings exciting news.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Memories are a big part of what postcards are all about. This card, from a high school student in Normandy, brought back a summer of hitchhiking around France and north to Denmark. One of our more interesting rides took us to Fecamp, a flinty seaside town which I have not thought about for decades. Thanks, Nicolas, for reviving the memory.

palacio de pena

The Pena National Palace, a remarkable piece of architecture, is one of several attractions that have made the Portuguese town of Sintra a World Heritage Site. The postcrosser who sent the card is from the area. She says that the palace grounds are "a calm and beautiful spot to go for long walks and enjoy nature." She adds that the traditional food is also excellent, in case you need another reason to plan a trip to Portugal.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

holiday flora

Tokyo friend Motoko always sends smashing Christmas cards. This one is a beautiful papercut showing prunus mume, or Japanese flowering apricot which, with bamboo and pine, is associated with the New Year.

The holly maze in Williamsburg, Virginia, was patterned after one at Hampton Court. I sent the card to a postcrosser in Estonia who is going to gardening school. The holly tree alongside the summer kitchen here is laden with berries this year. I can only imagine what the maze hollies look like.

Monday, December 20, 2010

taipei station

This cool retro image of Taipei Station, taken in 1977, came from a postcrosser, and baseball fan, in southern Taiwan.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

hockey countries

A Russian postcrosser in the northern city of Archangelsk sent this seasonal card, with Christmas greetings. It shows an oil painting by Vasily Surikov (1848-1916), called Taking of a Snow Fortress.

A Brazilian postcrosser named Alexandre now living in Montreal sent this festive-looking card of the city, with a view of the old Olympic Stadium in the background. He writes that he loves Montreal in summer, when it is full of activities and open-air art and street festivals. But in winter? Not so much. Too cold.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

oak forest castle

A Danish postcrosser named Rita took this photo of Egeskov (Oak Forest) Castle on the Danish island of Funen and turned it into a postcard. She also provided commentary: An entire oak forest was supposedly cleared for the castle, more than 450 years old, to be built. That forest gave its name to the castle. A small wooden doll is on the roof of the castle. Legend has it that if that doll is ever removed, on Christmas Eve the castle will disappear into the lake it borders.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

two for christmas

An Estonian postcrosser sent the lovely card at top. I sent the other one to a Dutch postcrosser who requested Christmas cards.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

baby, it's cold outside

It's not "Buffalo" cold here but it's pretty darned close, with wind chills around zero. The amusing Buffalo card is from friend Jozef Bajus, who writes that the city is expecting a weekend storm. The bottom card, from Tom Davis of the wonderful Station Inn in Cresson, Pennsylvania, shows an 80-MAC's with Jordan Spreader. The photo was taken at Summerhill last February by Dave Abeles.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

re.cycle fiber

Jozef Bajus sent this great announcement card for a show he recently juried in Pittsburgh. It's called re.cycle.fiber and runs until January 23, 2011 at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

Monday, December 13, 2010

expired 12.13

These two cards 'expired' today. The top one went to a postcrosser in Sweden, who dropped out of postcrossing sight more than a month ago. The bottom one went to Belarus. The postcrossing account is active but the postcard seems to have gone missing in the mail. I've got a slew of expired postcards and about six others headed that way.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

visiting lingfeng for mume blossoms

Prunus mume is one of my favorite trees. I've got one going in front of the house here but it will be decades before it looks anything like the gorgeous trees in this fabulous card sent by a Chinese postcrosser in Hangzhou, the "heaven", she says, of China. I've been to Hangzhou but it was in the rain. The scene here is one of Ten Views of the West Lake. One of the unexpected pleasures of mume blossoms, which I know well from years in Japan, is their heady wine-like fragrance. In English the tree is called Japanese flowering apricot, but more usually miscalled plum. The botanical name is prunus mume and, as a translator, I like using mume, as this card did, for its name.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This sleek stamp was on the card below. The rings, part of a series called "My Easter", were designed by famed Finnish goldsmith and jewelry designer Kirsti Doukas. She took her inspiration for the rings from a custom from her childhood, that of finding rings in Easter eggs. It sounds charming--and the rings are fab.

A Finnish postcrosser sent this card made from a 1954 photo taken in Lahti, in southern Finland. The building at left, she explains, was once a manor house, now a historical museum. I can only imagine how the rest of the city has changed since this photo was taken.