Frank

A Postcard Feast

I realized very early the power of food to evoke memory, to bring people together, to transport you to other places, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Chef José Andrés

Chef Andrés is a personal hero. His World Central Kitchen has fed thousands upon thousands where disasters strike. He uses his amazing skills and global influence for good. And he makes good food. I was reading a biography of him today and then when I took a break to sort through some postcards, I noticed a bunch of recent incoming cards with a food theme.

Food can transport you to other places. And I wanted to be a part of that. Come along with me.

There are few finer foods than a pistachio macaron from Laudurée in Paris. (from Heidi)
Perhaps a few oysters — and maybe a pearl — before a macaron? (from Nikita)
How about Artichokes à la Barigoule? (from Nikita)
How about chicken & waffles at the Screen Door? (from Rich)
In the famous quote from When Harry Met Sally, “I’ll have what she’s having.” (from Rich)
Another almost empty dining room. I still want to go to Limmared. (from Blaize)
And after some raisin cookies, let’s call the the whole thing off. Oh, who am I kidding? (from Teresa)

A Handmade Tale

If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending…
But if it’s a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone.
You don’t tell a story only to yourself. There’s always someone else. Even when there is no one.

Margaret Atwood, A Handmaid’s Tale

I’ve mentioned many times how much I like handmade postcards. I’m actually really drawn to them. (Yeah, I didn’t mean to get that cute, but I think I’ll leave that in here.) They’re one-of-a-kind pieces of art. I always separate handmade cards from other cards when I get them. The trick is I’m still figuring out a way to display them. Right now I keep them in archival storage boxes. They vary so much in size I haven’t gotten an album approach yet, but I’m working on it. These wonderful handmade postcards will be in that mix.

Rachel laminated this original drawing of Biggie for a Valentine’s card
Betsy got enamel pins for the 50 states; then she made paintings. How cool is this one of the Nutmeg State?
Serece created this Sumingashi floating ink art card. I’m even Zen about the cancellation; it’s another art element.
Russ sent this beautiful card from NYC before Christmas. It took 7 weeks to come 90 miles north. Worth the wait.
Orla sent me a second Imbolc card! This one with a heart attached.
Tara was in a Magical Fairyland in November. This card arrived in February. I hope she’s still in Magical Fairyland. I’d stay.
Justin created this art card for InCoWriMo. Thanks a bunch, buddy!

Imbolc Blessings on a Postcard

Orla Hegarty talked about creating Imbolc postcards on Episode 126 of The Postcardist Podcast. Here’s the wonderful one she sent me. I can feel the magic of it.

The front of the card with the bit of cloth and the St. Brigid’s Cross
The Margaret Atwood stamp and the dory stamp and that St. Vincent’s NL pictorial cancellation — all magical
The provenance of this Imbolc card

My Punny Valentine

Since for me you were born too soon / And I for you was born too late / God forgives him who has estranged / Me from you for the whole year / I am already sick of love / My very gentle Valentine.

Written from prison in 1415 by Charles, the Duke of Orléans, to his wife
(and considered the very first written Valentine)

Nothing so dramatic is imbued in the modern Valentine’s Day cards below as compared to the Valentine’s poem Charles, the Duke of Oléans, wrote after he was imprisoned during the Battle of Agincourt. Sadly, Charles spent 25 years in prison and his wife died while he was in there. He wrote hundreds of poems and love letters while he spent those decades in prison; much of that writing was compiled into The Poems of Charles of Orléans.

About 550 years after that first Valentine was written, I was a kid, and I used to look forward to Valentine’s Day with great anticipation. I’d bring my bag of Valentines to school, with one signed for each kid in the class. And although the nuns would try to enforce the one-kid-one-card rule, they couldn’t enforce the quality of the cards. Back then, each pack of Valentines (I think there must have been 50 in a pack) had one larger Valentine. If you were sweet on someone, they’d get the bigger card. It was a big deal. Alas, I never got a big Valentine.

Those nostalgic days are gone. But happily, Valentine’s cards aren’t. Here’s a selection of Valentine’s cards from the here and now. And as far as I know, no one sent one from prison. (Although that would be kinda cool.)

By the way, as I was writing this I was thinking about Valentine’s songs. And you know what’s one of the worst songs ever written? It’s Frank Sinatra singing My Funny Valentine. Who in the effing hell thought that was a good song? Or that negging some nice person on Valentine’s Day would be charming? Not me.

A classic from Albert & Magda (I think Maggie wrote it)
Sheryl and I were a lot younger when we met
IndySuz made a very nice handmade Valentine with this Pantone postcard
A nice LouPaper card from Louise. Now I want some of those candy hearts.
Bean sent Bluebirds of Happiness. Did you know the origins of Valentine’s goes back to the observation this is breeding season for birds?
Kirsten & Lucy sent happy cats. Purr.
Nikita sent this a while ago about Rocky Horror Picture Show. But now I say, Happy VD.
When I got this sawtooth Rifle Paper postcard from Tracy in Michigan, I thought I hadn’t seen one like that.
But then, voila! This one came from Melissa in Italy. Double sawtooth Valentine’s Day.
Janet asks, “What is Cupid’s favorite band?” She answers, “KISS. Duh.” Haha.
Heres the spirit of the day from Katrinka at Sugar & Kiki. It’s about connections.
And this lagniappe from Sugar & Kiki is an extra postcard!
This is a special Matthew Kirscht (2022) limited edition of 36 that melds two holidays

Happy Valentine’s Day to you. I hope you find connections every day of the year.

Get Your Kicks

You knew the rest of the title right away, didn’t you? Get your kicks on Route 66. That Nat King Cole song tells the whole story of that famous road. And these two incoming postcards tell a story from the road.

Sylvan sent this from his travels down that famous road
Nikita lives near the terminus of Route 66

Nikita sent me several Kerouac quotes on the card. This one got to be today.

Where are we going, man?

I dunno we we gotta go.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Hey, speaking of going places, there’s a place you should go. Ana has been writing a lot about postcards and letters on her Cartas y Postales site. Check it out. And let me say it makes a lot of difference for writers (including me) when you take the time to subscribe and comment. .

In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream

OG and I were lounging after a long day at Oktoberfest, watching Aliens for the 37th time, when the phone rang. Blocked caller. Reluctantly, OG answered her phone and immediately looked like she regretted it. She grimaced. Waved her free hand in the air.

Yes. Okay. Understood. Those were her one-word answers as she listened to the person on the other end talking at a staccato clip.

I didn’t understand a thing, but from the look on OG’s face, I knew it was serious. Deadly serious. Like, “In space, no one can hear you scream” serious.

“We have an assignment,” OG said as she tossed down the phone. “We have to go. Now.”

“Go where?” I asked. “We haven’t even gotten to the part where where the alien pops out of Kane’s chest. That’s the best part.” I pleaded. I was whining. And pouting a little.

“SCHNELL,” is all OG said. I hopped up. Pushed pause on the movie. And grabbed my coat.

“Where are we going?” I gasped as I ran to catch up. OG was already sprinting down the stairs and vaulting into an idling SUV. One of those official-looking government vehicles. You’ll see,” she said, mysteriously. “You’ll see.”

An hour later, OG and I are in spacesuits on top of a hot rocket. We’re strapped in and ready. And at the last second before the technicians close the cargo bay door, Hal, the lead technician, leans in and hands OG a large mechanical device. “You’ll need this up there,” he says as he backs out of the capsule. “Take good care of it. We’re counting on you.”

And an in instant, they lit that candle and OG and I were blazing at warp speed out to the Kuiper Belt.

Robert Richter captured the discipline OG uses when she vacuums the Kuiper Belt

Turns out, OG and I were tapped to vacuum space. We had become internet famous for our YouTube channel, This Sucks, where we tested all kinds of home and industrial vacuums. One of our most-watched videos included the time we went to the original Legoland in Denmark and I lost control of a giant industrial vacuum we were testing, accidentally sucking up a million Lego bricks that were being used to build a replica of The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. The Danes were not amused. But you really can’t tell with Danes. They have a particular way about them. They don’t react much.

OG and I were also were internet famous for using a Dustbuster to vacuum a 100km stretch of the Autobahn. We cleaned the lint traps in all the clothes dryers in laundromats in Brooklyn. And in our most famous test, we tried out 43 types of vacuums to clean up after a crafter in Tierra del Fuego dropped a bottle of glitter on her desk. Nothing worked. We failed. (An Argentinian PhD student did her dissertation on The Mathematical Distribution of Micro-glitter from Tierra del Fuego to the South Pole and the Effects of a Glitter Bombs. Trust me, glitter goes everywhere. Her research shows we all are likely to encounter that glitter sometime in our life. It’s more pervasive than stardust.)

JoAnn’s card commemorates when OG and I had our Star Wars-themed Oktoberfest in Space

After OG and I got done vacuuming the Kuiper Belt (I could tell you why we had to do it, and why so quickly, but that’s classified), we were granted a little time off. And since it was still Oktoberfest, OG and I thought it would be fun to meld our love of Star Wars with our love of dirndls and polkas. Plus, in space, no one can hear anything. (It’s the vacuum of space!) So we could blast our music as loudly as we wanted. What? Were our neighbors on Neptune gonna complain?

Ann Marie sent an illustration of OG and me having fun time at Moonbase

The best part about that cleanup of the Kuiper Belt, besides the fact we had a killer YouTube video to show, was that we got to stop by Moonbase on the way home. And I mean, Vespas are fun, and so is driving trains, but look at OG and me as we zipped around on those Moonbase Patrol Scooters.

Melissa sent this SST memory

Well, all good things have to come to an end. But as a special thank you, the People-Who-Called-OG-and-Will-Remain-Nameless asked us what we’d like to do back on earth. OG said she always wanted a ride on the Concorde. So they got one of the SSTs out of mothballs and gave us a ride. OG sat in the same seat where David Bowie sat years earlier. We ate canapés. And flew from New York to London and back to New York. Because…why not?

Betsy knew I admired Dick Tracy

I asked for a Dick Tracy watch. “Um, how about an Apple Watch?” said the head of People-Who-Called-OG-and-Will-Remain-Nameless. “More features than a Dick Tracy watch.”

I nodded. And OG looked over at me. “Wanna watch the end of Aliens?” I asked her. “Yeah, let’s do that,” OG said as she flipped on the video player in the Concorde. “In space no one can hear you scream.”

I Got a Rock

I have lots of phrases I say repeatedly, sometimes out of context. One I say is, “I got a rock.” I say it when we’re opening presents on Christmas morning. Someone else will say, “I got a sweater.” And another will say, “I got a video game.” And without fail I’ll say, “I got a rock.” There’s a reason why I say it (besides being my annoying self).

I absolutely loved Charlie Brown specials when I was a kid. I especially liked It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. That show is about Linus waiting in the pumpkin patch for The Great Pumpkin to arrive. While Linus waits, the Peanuts go trick-or-treating. And at each house, the kids reveal what they got.

I got a candy bar. I got three cookies. I got a rock.

That last one was Charlie Brown at every house. All the other kids got goodies. Charlie Brown got a rock.

Since I say I got a rock all the time, that’s what came to me when I looked at this set of incoming cards. But I said it with delight. I GOT A ROCK! Check these out. There’s a rock theme. Rock on.

Twin tunnels blasted out of sheer rock at Lake Tahoe’s Cave Rock
Blaize sent this card with some impressive rocks from the Salinas Pueblo Missions
Valery visited this impressive rock on her travels to Lake Baikal
Here’s another kind of rock from Jim — Peltier’s Marbles (I used to collect marbles and still have some)
Teresa sent this Ansel Adams photo of Utah’s Rainbow Bridge (that’s a big rock)
Devin says Stonehenge rocks. So does this round postcard, Devin.

Last little nugget: My last name — Roche — means rock in French. Yeah, I’m a little bit rock-n-roll.

Episode 127: Stephanie Nadeau’s Grade 4 Postcard Project at Labrador Straits Academy

Imagine your Grade 4 social studies teacher comes into class one day with a question: What if we tried to get postcards from all over the world? And then she did.

That’s what teacher Stephanie Nadeau did at her Labrador Straits Academy in L’Anse au Loup, which is on the southern tip of Labrador, Canada.

Ms. Nadeau, as he students call her, set out a social media post in November 2021 that got it going.

The students would love to get more postcards from around the world

And the cards started coming in. Orla Hegarty posted an appeal to an international audience, and I know lots of people who sent cards (I did…and so did my grandson, Jamo). By the time the CBC did an interview with Stephanie that was published on January 23, 2022, the class had already received more than 100 postcards from around the world. And that number grew after the publication of that article.

Here’s a display wall Ms. Nadeau created for her students at Labrador Straits Academy.

from Stephanie Nadeau/Twitter

In this episode, I chat with Stephanie about how the project started, what additional goals she has for the project, and the excitement the students have with learning about the world.

Additional topics discussed: Postcrossing, pictorial cancellations, postcards from Africa, and postcards from the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Postcards from Africa

In Africa a thing is true at first light and a lie by noon; and you have no more respect for it than for the lovely, perfect wood-fringed lake you see across the sun-baked salt plain. You have walked across that plain in the morning and you know that no such lake is there. But now it is there absolutely true, beautiful and believable.

Ernest Hemingway, True at First Light

It’s funny how it works with postcards — one day getting a postcard from Africa is true at first light and no longer a lie by noon. It was no mirage that these four postcards arrived in my mailbox on the same day. And they’re all absolutely true, beautiful and believable.

Melissa’s husband travels all over the world. And I’m the lucky recipient of this card from Uganda.
When I interviewed Nikki Banz for E117 of The Postcardist Podcast, she described this scene she see from her windows.
Stamp from South Africa featuring the largest diamond in the world — the Cullinan stone.
The Kabaka’s Palce at Mengo, Kampala, Uganda
I need to experience standing on the equator. Check out this video about how water flows with the Coriolis Effect.

Words Endure

Colors fade, temples crumble,
empires fall, but wise words endure.

Edward Thorndike

Although we often think about postcards having an image on one side and a message side, there is a type of postcard I like very much: the word card. Here’s a set of seven recent incoming cards to demonstrate what I’m talking about. Each of these postcards has a particular message that was commented about from the sender.

Betsy offers some sound advice. I’ll keep this in mind in case I try to pull off a caper.
Simple and nice — a card from Dave that says everything in two words.
Jennie made me laugh with this one. The podcast is listened to in 55 countries. Ha!
Nikita sent this one as I was recovering from a surgery. Words can uplift.
Take a deep breath season. I love this one from Beck.
You’re free to interpret this as you like — good amazed or bad amazed. I think Nikita meant good.
IndySuz boiled it down to a single word. Ahoy! (My dad had a boatswain’s whistle, so quite a memory.)