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.
Nikita sent me several Kerouac quotes on the card. This one got to be today.
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. .
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.
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.)
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?
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.
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?
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 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.
Last little nugget: My last name — Roche — means rock in French. Yeah, I’m a little bit rock-n-roll.
Ms. Nadeau, as he students call her, set out a social media post in November 2021 that got it going.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was sorting through my stack of incoming cards today after I finished a podcast interview (I’ll publish that on February 9) and saw this grouping of colors on postcards that made this cold day much brighter.
Next, this Postcrossing meeting card from Kaluga, Russia sent by Valery. That town was celebrating its 650th anniversary and this card captures the warmth of that celebration.
Warmth…yes. What’s warmer than a pair of VW Microbusses on a Southern California beach, surfboards at the ready? And what we don’t see in this picture is Nikita ready to splash into the surf and own the waves.
Life in the Adirondacks looks absolutely perfect around now, Joe. Look at that late summer sunset and the canoe on Canada Lake.
Clocky has a wonderful podcast called Sent from Disneyland. And sure enough, he does what he says — he sends postcards from Disneyland.
Last up on this technicolor extravaganza is from Joyce Miller, Joyce is a writer, and clearly creativity runs in her family because her cousin Bob created what he calls tessel-kaleidoscopes. This is a real beauty.
Hey, just a little request. If you like to get these posts in your email you can subscribe, then you can choose how often you’d like an update.
I collect Space Postcards. So, imagine my delight when Trish sent this one-of-a-kind card for my collection. I mean, I certainly don’t have anything like it. It’s big fun in Uranus.
But wait, there’s more. This one entertains the secret 12-year-old boy living inside me. Look at the description on the message side of the Having Fun in Uranus card. It says: Uranus, Missouri, on historic Route 66, is a family fun destination, world famous for its Fudge Factory and General Store. Explore Uranus in-person and online at UranusGeneralStore.com. Really. And go ahead and click on that link. Yes, there’s more. Here’s their postcard collection.
Trish also sent this Orange Meringue Pie recipe that looks absolutely delectable. I mean, I feel like this is in my future. It looks crazy good. If I were a deep-space astronaut, this would be what I’d want for space food on a mission to Uranus.
Finally, a special one from Trish because she and her 91-year-old grandpa bought this one for me. Her grandpa lives near the Bull Shoals Dam. I’ve visited that area; it’s really pretty there. Thank you so much to both of you.
Did I ever tell you about that? Nah, I probably didn’t. So, here goes.
Our adventure starts with OG and me as we meandered through the labyrinthine side streets of Fez, Morocco. We had just arrived in town a few days earlier after we spent a year working at an archeological dig at the Capitoline Temple in Volubilis. Our visas were due to expire.
I wanted to visit the Fez’s famous leather shops, and even though OG doesn’t like leather, she agreed to join me as long as we could do something to overcome the acrid smell of the tanneries. First, we stopped in a spice shop in search of ras el hanout — the exquisite Moroccan mix of salt, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, allspice, black pepper, and ginger. And, I was looking for mint sprigs to hold under our noses for the tannery visit. Alas, that would have to wait.
We heard a massive ruckus. Men screaming and cursing in Arabic and Berber and French. Children crying. And the thumping and crashing of pottery smashing on the ground in the claustrophobia-inducing bazaar. Just then, OG poked her head out of the spice stall we were in and yanked in a tall, thin man with orange hair who just a second before had been scurrying and scampering around the mass of bodies in the street.
The thin man went nearly vertical as OG pulled him into our shop. She directed him to scrunch down and urged me to help stack spice sacks around him. As I added the last burlap bag to obscure him, he looked up. The thin man had one brown eye and one blue eye.
A huge mass of people came dashing past, screaming and shouting. Ziggy. Ziggy. Ziggy. There were hundreds of them pulsing and pushing through the souk. Half a dozen of the crew crashed into the shop we were in.
Ziggy, they yelled, imploring us to tell them if we had seen the man.
Who’s Ziggy, OG asked, first in Arabic, and then in French.
Ziggy. Ziggy. ZIGGY, an unbearded man said, breathing heavily. Ziggy Stardust. ZIGGY.
OG shook her head. No. And she waved the mob off.
After another 15 minutes passed, the medina quieted down. OG bent down to let the thin man out from behind the spice sacks. He got up and brushed cumin from his hair. And dusted cinnamon from his shirt.
And just then, it dawned on me. The eyes. David Bowie looked right at OG admiringly and said this:
OG was a hero. And for her smart and strong move, we got invited to be on stage at the thin man’s concert in Marrakesh. And Bowie sent OG a poster to commemorate her heroism in saving him from the mob in Fez. Here’s a postcard OG made from that poster to help me recall another Adventure with OG.
I got this triptych of sticker postcards Magda designed for International Sticker Day This is such a clever concept — leave space for stickering and then add your own stickers in the white space. (Although Maggie’s sticker game is next level and she added stickers all over the cards.). Too cute.. You can see all of Magda’s Designs at Travel Trinkets Canada.
Do you add stickers to your postcards? I finally organized my stickers. Cards like this prompt me to think more about adding fun little sticky goodness to my mail.
Little science fact because the stickers on this card led me to look up the stickiest substance on earth. Here you go:
The tiny water bacterium Caulobacter crescentus secretes a sugary substance so sticky that just a tiny bit could withstand the pull from lifting several cars at once. With an adhesive force of nearly five tons per square inch, this “glue” is nature’s strongest.