Staying at Home

Sidewalk messaging How to practice social distancing Staying at home has become the new normal, because we are living in unusual times.  In recent weeks, my only outside activities are a weekly trip to the grocery store, and daily walks, generally close to home.  The air is cleaner, thanks to fewer automobiles on the road, and the Bay Area is getting some much- needed rain.  And the important thing is for everybody to take whatever steps are possible to keep not only themselves, but also those around us, safe in this time of pandemic. In many…

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A Card in the Mail

Let's Celebrate is a newly released stamp by the U.S. Postal Service Whether it be a birth or birthday, a holiday, or the passing of a friend or loved one, life passages are best celebrated by a note or card in the mail. While an email or response on social media may suffice, there is no better way to communicate than a hand-written note or card.  A recent survey by Morning Consult indicates that the U.S. Postal Service is, overall, the most trusted brand in America, ranked highest by Gen X and boomers. So when you…

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Notes for the New Year

The last of the cards and notes for the New Year come in a slow, uneven trickle, soon to be but a memory.  Second to reunions and celebrations with friends and family, these physical notes, photos and greetings are my favorite part of the end of the year rituals, helping me to stay in touch with people who are important to me, both near and far. The post office continues to play an important part in people’s lives, judging by the crowds standing in line to mail packages and letters, either at the automated machines or…

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Backyard Creatures: Urban Wildlife

While living in the heart of a city, backyard creatures are a part of urban life.  The creatures that once inhabited our backyard included feral and domestic cats, gophers, and other illusive pests that ate up the tender stalks of any newly planted vegetables. Years ago, our next-door neighbor’s yard was an overgrown jungle, providing shelter and hiding places for the urban wildlife.  Outdoor cats could be counted on to keep rodents at bay.  Wild visitors included raccoons, skunks, and squirrels.  A family of raccoons once invaded our house by entering through a now defunct cat…

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In the Fog
Fog on Mt. Tamalpais

In the Fog

Fog on Mt. Tamalpais The first time I drove in the fog in San Francisco, I became completely disoriented.  I was visiting one of my college roommates, whose mother lived in a hilly neighborhood in the city – the same neighborhood, in fact, in which I now live.  On Mt. Davidson, the streets curve around the mountain but not over the top. They unexpectedly converge on one another, but not always in a logical fashion.  In short, it is easy to get lost in this neighborhood, especially on a foggy day. That particular day, after driving…

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Country Mouse
Tomales, CA farmhouse

Country Mouse

Tomales, CA farmhouse Although I am an urban dweller, part of me is a country mouse.  A vacation is not necessarily a trip to another city, rich with historic sites, museums, and fine restaurants, but rather a sojourn in a quiet rural destination, preferably one with views, hiking, and a nearby body of water. Recently, we stayed in such a place.  Downtown Tomales (CA), population 204, has a post office, a bakery, a Town Hall, a small grocery, a deli, an antique store, and some real estate offices.  Add in a hotel and a bar/restaurant, and…

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What’s in the Mail

It’s an old habit that is hard to shake; each morning I wonder, what’s in the mail today?  Thanks to the USPS’s Informed Delivery service, one need not wonder.  Informed Delivery sends an email with images of most letter-sized pieces that will be arriving that day.  But even without the preview, contents of the daily mail are fairly predictable.  Count on some form of advertising, whether printed on newspaper stock, post cards, or flyers.  Solicitations from charitable organizations proliferate.  Soon, prior to November elections, we will be deluged with political flyers in the mail.  All of…

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Riding the Train
BMT Q Car Number 1612C (1908, rebuilt 1938), New York Transit Museum

Riding the Train

BMT Q Car Number 1612C (1908, rebuilt 1938), New York Transit Museum Riding the train is one of the great joys for my three-year old grandson.   Specifically, he likes to ride the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) F train, although the G train might do in a pinch.  The F train runs from Jamaica, Queens to Coney Island, Brooklyn, and my grandson is familiar with every Brooklyn stop.  As he pushes his toy trains across the table or floor, he mimics the automated train voice that intones, “Stand clear of the closing doors, please.” …

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The Art of the Stamp
EllsworthKelly2019-Block10-v2

The Art of the Stamp

EllsworthKelly2019-Block10-v2 For those of us who write and mail letters, consider the art of the stamp.  Gone are the days of simply buying a roll of one hundred flag stamps.  Today, there are many options of Forever First Class stamps to coordinate with the mood or theme of your letter or note. Perhaps you are a lover of modern art.  If so, you will enjoy the recent issue of stamps highlighting the abstract art of Ellsworth Kelley.  A set of 20 of the new stamps feature ten beautiful paintings. “Ellsworth Kelly honed his artistic voice as…

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A Box of Old Letters

One day, while in my mid-teens, I came across my mother looking through a box of old letters. This box, always on the top shelf of her closet, had followed us from house to house and from town to town, but this is perhaps the first time I expressed curiosity. The letters, it seemed, were written during World War II, letters that my parents exchanged with one another during those war years. Most likely, some of them would have pre-dated their marriage in 1943, while others may have been written later. I wanted to read them, but my mother said that they were personal, and she did not want to share them.

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