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.
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.
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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.
The artist Nikita Regina sent this Vase with Irises (1890) postcard that shows a Vincent van Gogh painting I was lucky enough to see in the Rijksmuseum once upon a starry, starry night. The magical quality of the card and Vincent’s work is beautiful, but Nikita’s needlepoint stamp outshines it all.
Besides having lots of Vincent paraphernalia in my office, I also could listen over and over to Don McLean’s song Vincent (which some call Starry, Starry Night). I had the original American Pie album, and that song concluded our 8th Grade dance. But it was Vincent that I listened to more often. That song sent me to the public library to learn as much as I could about the artist. What a bit of serendipity that I ended up living a 10-minute walk from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam many years later. Or that last October, I sat on a cushion at the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Minneapolis and watched that experience play through three full times.
I never forgot how that fascination with Van Gogh all started. With a song. This song.
Just look at how special this is. Nikita used my magic number for the stamp value. Thank you.
The Covid pandemic makes cholera seem almost quaint, doesn’t it? I wonder if Gabriel García Márquez would rethink Love in the Time of Cholera (El amor en los tiempos del cólera) if he were writing it in 2022. Nah, maybe not. There’s a wordplay in Spanish about the word cólera that has nothing to do with the acute illness caused by a bacterial intestinal infection.
And as horrible as cholera sounds (and it’s pretty bad), Melissa notes in this seven-card Covid series that it’s a rare-to-nonexistent postcard that contains the words “vomiting and diarrhea.” Yes, Melissa, I have to say this is the first one I’ve seen. We might need to get Mark Routh to comment on this. Mark has the world class, category-defining collection of Covid postcards and ephemera (approaching 5,000 items at last count).
Did you read Love in the Time of Cholera? Or see the movie? Here’s the theatrical trailer.
Writing this made me think about all the hand washing I’ve done over the past two years of the pandemic. I commented in Episode 126 about how many people had died during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918, and somehow I got that number right (50 million worldwide; 675,00 in the U.S.). As of February 1, 2022, there have been 5.7 million people who died of Covid worldwide, with 881,000 dead in the United States. I’m gonna keep washing my hands, wearing my masks, and getting boosters. Meanwhile, I’ll stay home and look at these new additions to my Covid postcard collection.
UPDATE: Just as I was ready to push publish on this post, I got a postcard from Kristen that said “Wash Your Hands.” How’s that for timing? And that made me think I should make a demo about proper hand washing technique. So I did that this morning as a public service.
Today starts the Year of the Tiger. Louise sent this really nice card with a wish for an auspicious to launch the new year. Thank you, Louise, it has started very well.
In a fun little turn, the Google Doodle for today celebrates the Year of the Tiger.
I always wanted to have a tiger as my spirit animal. Sadly, I was born in the Year of the Pig. Yeah, go ahead and laugh. And don’t even bother reading about the personality traits or horoscopes for the Earth Pig. Dammit, I wanna be a tiger. And not that Eye of the Tiger song by Survivor. More like Roar by Katy Perry.