The Epistolary Novel

Epistolary adj epis·to·lary \i-ˈpi-stə-ˌler-ē, ˌe-pi-ˈstȯ-lə-rē\  1 :  of, relating to, or suitable to a letter 2 :  contained in or carried on by letters 3 :  written in the form of a series of letters an epistolary novel – Merriam-Webster Dictionary What exactly is an epistolary novel? As Jenny Baum of the New York Public Library notes in a blog post, the word epistolary “is one of those words that are just fun to say or think about.” But not everyone knows what the term means. Readers, however, are familiar with the epistolary novel, even if…

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The Art of the Handwritten Letter
Box of memories includes handwritten letters from a Great Aunt in the 1980s

The Art of the Handwritten Letter

A handwritten letter, while far from extinct, is nonetheless becoming increasingly rare. Three years ago I launched Social Correspondence with the goal of encouraging people to write more letters.  Postings on the site may often be off-topic, but communicating with one another remains of top importance. This post is dedicated to the art of the handwritten letter. Recently my mailbox held a surprise, a handwritten note from my older daughter, who currently lives in the UK. “A mother like no other,” the big cat and little cat on the cover illustration told me. The surprise was…

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Spring Time
Nesting heron chicks. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Photo by Tibby Storey

Spring Time

It is hard not to feel uplifted by the arrival of spring.  Perhaps “near arrival” might be a better way of putting it, because the weather is still a bit iffy here in the San Francisco Bay Area, with sunny days interspersed with showers. The trees and shrubs are budding and beginning to flower. Following five years of severe drought, rainfall in California this year has exceeded all expectations. Thanks to the wettest year on record, wildflowers are blooming in such profusion that the phenomenon is called a super bloom. The nearby hills have turned emerald…

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Off the Grid

Increasingly, my reading and research are dependent on electrical power and our cable infrastructure. I check my devices, a smart phone, tablet and laptop, regularly to catch up on email and social media, and to see what is happening in the news. I often wonder how we managed before the Internet, when things were off the grid. When our country was first settled, mail service was spotty and intermittent. The methods of delivery improved only because the British wanted to keep tabs on the colonies, and, most importantly, to collect taxes. Back then, people warmed themselves…

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Small Things Matter

Back in my school days, a teacher once cautioned me to concentrate less on the small things, but rather, to look at the big picture. The details, however, often are essential to gain that fuller understanding, as they are building blocks that contribute to the development of critical thinking. Currently, we may be in danger of information overload. I spend more time per day reading, watching and absorbing news than ever before. My social media feeds, Twitter and Facebook, have become major aggregators of news and opinions. None of the events unfolding in our country and…

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Cherish Your Valentines
Window display Patrick and Company February 2017

Cherish Your Valentines

Love is in bloom again as we approach Valentine’s Day.  Paper hearts and romantic cards are flourishing in all manner of stores - card shops, stationery stores, office supply, grocery, art, and drug stores; wherever, in fact, greeting cards are sold. So, get out your valentines, heart stamps and red pens and be ready to write some notes and lick some envelopes. Many people consider Valentine’s Day a modern day plot by card-makers, card shops, and other retailers to make more money. The cynics rue yet another symbol of commercialization. But a store-bought card is not…

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Fake News

Although fake news was barely a blip on the screen prior to 2016, it already existed in abundance. Following the November election, many questions have been raised about the influence of fake news. Not only had an important election been at stake, but also the credibility of what we read and how we perceive it. Fake news has now become a major topic of discussion. Not a day goes by that mainstream media does not shine light on a questionable statement, including “alternative facts.” The President and his team refer to the mainstream media as “dishonest.”…

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Be the Change

In his farewell speech on Jan. 10, President Barack Obama spoke about the “power of ordinary Americans to bring about change.” For many of us, especially in California where our votes in essence did not count in the outcome of the November election, this is a dark time. Each day we hear troubling statements that run counter to our values. We fear the change that is ahead. We despair that our health care will vanish, that women will lose their hard-fought rights, that injustices toward minorities will continue and grow even worse, that our voices will…

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Endings: Finding a New Future
Dandelion, 55 Potrero Ave. closed Fall 2016

Endings: Finding a New Future

2016 was a year of endings. Mostly, we think of beginnings as we approach a new year, but it is equally important to examine those things that now lie only in the past. Often, they reflect our values, contribute to our history, and reflect our sense of personal self. Some endings are self-evident. Farewell to the integrity and quiet dignity of President Obama and his beautiful family. Farewell to the talented, too numerous to name, musicians, actors, artists, journalists, intellectuals and loved ones lost in 2016, who, through their extraordinary contributions, made our lives richer and…

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A Post-Truth World

Actions throughout the world, as reported in the daily news, are disturbing. War, famine, violence, aggression and poverty are ongoing staples in the news cycle. Unfortunately, a significant new victim has emerged in recent times:  the truth. We now live in a post-truth world, at least in the political sense. Most of us grew up, I believe, with the admonition by our parents and teachers to always tell the truth. The truth would always win out, and things would go worse for us should we be caught in a lie. Perhaps the fear of being caught…

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