An Abundance of Stamps

Recently, while reorganizing my desk, I discovered an abundance of stamps.  More stamps, perhaps, than I will ever use.  Among my favorites – Vanishing Species, Songbirds, Edward Hopper Sailboats, American Gardens, and others.    Now I have a new favorite, issued by the USPS last month. These stamps feature spectacular images by American photographer Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984).  Half Dome in Yosemite, the Sierra foothills, and the Golden Gate Bridge are among the stunning images. A year ago, 100 photos by Ansel Adams were on view in an exhibition at the de Young Museum, San…

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In Memory of Alan Blackman: Letters to Myself

Alan Blackman: Letters to Myself first appeared in Social Correspondence on July 20, 2015. Mr. Blackman died on June 6, 2024 in San Francisco. Alan Blackman has had a long and storied career, as an artist, calligrapher, typeface designer for Adobe, lettering arts instructor, and three years working for the U.S. Post Office at San Francisco’s Rincon Annex. By his own account, however, his most significant work is Letters to Myself. Letters to Myself was a personal project first undertaken by Blackman in 1968. His then 11-year old son Stephen lived across the bay in Berkeley,…

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How to be a Tourist at Home
Trail on Mt. Davidson

How to be a Tourist at Home

Being a tourist at home, sometimes known as a staycation, can be fun and exhilarating.  Forget about work, housecleaning, and laundry, and just enjoy being in your home environment.  Take a walk by the river, go hiking or enjoy a delicious dinner or lunch at a restaurant with friends, or simply hole up with a good book in the shade at a local park. Main Trail on Mt. Davidson Living in San Francisco as a retiree, sometimes every day feels like being a tourist at home.  There is so much to do and see, even in…

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Sometimes It Can Be Difficult to Love the Post Office

Last week was a great week for personal mail. Each day my mailbox revealed a new treasure, including an oversized post card from Sandra, two beautiful Mother’s Day cards (Happy belated Mother’s Day, everyone!) with handwritten notes from our daughters – thank you, ladies, for those amazing messages! – two additional personal notes from Nancy and Jane, and an article about social calling cards from Joan. Postmarks on the letters included Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, New York, Honolulu, Hawaii, and my home city, San Francisco. How much better can things get than receiving six letters and cards…

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The Joy of Reading

In the spring and fall, publishers release some of the best new books of the year, the ones that most support the joy of reading.  This year’s releases have been no exception.  The past few months have brought an abundance of great new fiction titles. Sometimes, as is currently the case, my recommended books appear to be lifted straight from the best-seller lists.  Generally, I select my reading material from professional reviews published or posted in advance of publication, or through word-of-mouth by friends who read and review galleys, or advance readers copies.   Whatever the source,…

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A Family Vacation

A long-time friend, dating back many decades, once quipped that “family vacation” is an oxymoron.  Whether one agrees with this assessment or not, managing hours of travel with young children can be a challenge. A long-planned visit with family in Washington, D.C. had the fortuitous timing to include a road trip to view the total solar eclipse.  It was, for me and millions of others, an awe-inspiring event, one that will not happen again in the continental U.S. for another 20 years. Fallingwater, PA This was the right kind of family vacation and road trip, the…

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The Book Club

The secular book club, or reading discussion group, is a long-standing American tradition, dating back to the late 18th century.  Earlier versions of reading groups were generally religious oriented.  Today, 88% of participants in private book clubs are women, almost two thirds of whom have advanced degrees.  Women today account for 80% of all fiction sales. There are many forms of book clubs.  Publishers of popular books sometimes will include a discussion guide, printed in the book itself.  There are national reading groups, touting specific books recommended by celebrities, such as Oprah or Reese Witherspoon.  There…

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Postcards in the Mail

Sending picture postcards in the mail is a tradition of somewhat recent vintage.  And now, even as the practice fades, who does not enjoy receiving a postcard in the mail? Postcards and notes in the mail The development of postal cards dates back to the late 19th century in Austria/Hungary and shortly after, in Britain.  Such cards were standardized in format and did not feature images. Postcards, on the other hand, in which the design features a picture or image on one side, with space for the recipient’s name, address, and a message, on the other,…

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A Winter Drive Along the Coast

Winter has arrived in California with a vengeance, not a good time for a drive along the coast.  Lashing rains, heavy winds, and floods make this an unlikely time to undertake a road trip.  The arrival of a dear cousin, weeks earlier than anticipated, changed everything.  My cousin Laurene, despite having lived in Switzerland all of her adult life, is the closest relative I have to being a sister.  We are long-term correspondents, friends from childhood on, and my good fortune to spend a week with her was due to her recent grievous loss of her…

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Love Story

A good love story can fill one’s heart, and such was the experience of Saturday’s performance of Marguerite and Armand, a San Francisco Ballet premiere. First created by choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton for the Royal Ballet, Marguerite and Armand is a classic piece first danced by Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. The iconic pair danced this love story for the San Francisco Ballet in 1964, one year after it was created.  What a performance that must have been!  This year’s performance by the SF Ballet, however, did not disappoint, performed by Missa Kuranaga and Joseph Walsh,…

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