Category Archives: thoughts

Sending Sympathy

Saturn Press sympathy cards, letter press I’ve already sent five sympathy cards this year.

For a long time, I was really good about intending to send a sympathy card and then not following through with those good intentions. Then two weeks (or two months) after I’d learned of someone’s passing, I’d feel horrible that I never sent a card. My solution finally came to me a few years ago when I decided that I should always have a few sympathy cards on hand.

I know some people may disagree with this plan. They may say that they want to choose a personal card for the bereaved. They may say that they want to choose one that’s for the specific loss of a mother, or a sister, or a husband. I get that, and sometimes I feel that way too and I try to make it priority to get something special if I think it’s needed. But for the most part, I think the most important piece of a sympathy card is in the personal message that you write inside.

For awhile, I just used a package I bought at a card shop, but the cards felt a little bit cheap and flimsy. Now I always have two packages of Saturn Press cards on hand. Both are letterpressed on thick, gorgeous white paper with a deckled edge. The Love for Stars version has a comforting deep blue sky and yellow stars on it and a quote, “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” The Forest version simply shows a peaceful forest with a sunset. Both have simple messages inside and offer plenty of room for a personal note. I find the images and the heft of the cardstock very comforting and I hope my recipients feel the same way. At $19.90 for a box of ten, these are an amazing value for the quality, plus there’s that added bonus of supporting independent artists and the beautiful old art of letterpress. (I always shop for my Saturn Press cards through Cronin Cards. They offer a nice selection and free shipping did not sponsor this post.)

Another sympathy card that I really love, but isn’t offered in a box (in spite of my pleas) is this one by Positively Green. It was always my go-to when I was buying cards one-by-one. I love the simple image of the bird on the bench, and I especially love the James Joyce quote, “They lived and laughed and loved and left.” On the inside it says, “And the world will never be the same.” Isn’t that beautiful?

I’d love to hear if you have any favorite sympathy cards or stories about a special card you’ve received.

Along the same topic, this post about mourning stationery from the Letter Writers Alliance is very interesting!

 

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After the Break

Super Blood Harvest Moon EclipseRemember me?

I feel like a blog abandoner. I never meant to ignore this space for so long. But I also hate those blog posts filled with reasons* for not writing, so let’s just begin again, shall we?

Did you see the Super Blood Moon Eclipse last Sunday? The weather was so crisp and cool here that night. I went out on the balcony and watched the moon go into hiding and watched it reappear some time later. Naoto came out to join me for the reappearance and we listened to moon-themed music (particularly Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bad Moon Rising, and Moonshadow.) I didn’t get any amazing pictures, but enough to capture the moment and enjoy the moment.

We had a really good end-of-summer and now it is decidedly fall…scarves and boots are out, Presley is more cuddly, and I’m decorating for Halloween. Hopefully I can get back into a good blogging routine—I have a few recipes, a few cocktails, and a little bit more about Japan and the end of our summer to share. And mail! I’m participating in 31 Postcards in 31 Days again and I haven’t sent a single one! And I’ve received some really fun mail this summer that I want to share with you, too!

I’ll be back on Wednesday with a Renegade Chicago report. See you then!

*Main reason: I’ve been trying to eat all of my tomatoes.

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Kimberly AH Three Years Later

our tree at 3And here’s that tree again.

I know it seems weird to talk about, but I think about this blog a lot. It’s not a job for me, but it is a place that gives me a bit of a routine, sometimes a bit of a purpose and, most importantly, a bit of connection with like-minded people. I feel like “the blogging landscape” has changed so much since I started reading Angry Chicken back in 2007. I loved reading blogs back then, probably because they were new to me, but also because people were just sharing. Sharing their art works, sharing their homes, sharing their ideas, sharing their recipes… Sometimes it feels a little self-indulgent to share, but it also feels wonderful to find other people who have the same interests in mail or cocktails or Japan or gardening. So, thank you again for sharing this space with me, for visiting and commenting and reaching out the old-fashioned way.

Cheers to another year “at home“!

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Grandpa Litton

grandpa, grandma, mom & connieOn Friday, my grandfather passed away. He was eighty-three. When we went to see him earlier this month, we knew the time was limited. The touristy excursions were a chance for my dad and I to give my mom some time alone with him. Since Hamilton is such a small town, it was easy to pop in and out throughout the day.

My mom’s parents were divorced when she was very young. Grandpa remarried and lived in Hamilton for his entire life after the divorce. He and Sharon were married for more than fifty years, so clearly he found the perfect fit on his second go ’round with marriage.

We only saw him once or twice a year when he would visit us and when we would make the annual summer trip to Hamilton. At the end of each visit, he would always tear up when we all said goodbye. He was quiet and kind-hearted and until the end, always seemed so strong and full of life.

grandpa & sharonGrandpa was in a lot of pain while we were there, so it is somewhat comforting to know his suffering is over. Sharon was by his side during the last hours. A peaceful ending to a long life.

The picture at the top is from the 1950s: my grandpa after one of his baseball games holding my mom (left) and Aunt Connie (right) with my grandma in the background.

The second picture is my grandpa & Sharon, most likely from the 1960s.

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Kimberly AH Two Years Later

tree branch 2014I know I said I’d only be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for now, but I couldn’t resist a tiny celebration post for two years of Kimberly AH.

I started this blog two years ago today and apparently I document this tree branch from my balcony to celebrate. (See last year’s post here.) Thank you for another year of reading!

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National Handwriting Day

Christian Dior handwriting quoteOh Mr. Dior, I couldn’t disagree more…

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2014 Goals & Intentions

2014 Goals & IntentionsA little late to the resolution party around here…

On Saturday afternoon (my first free Saturday afternoon since the beginning of November) I sat down on the floor with the typewriter and the cat and hammered out my 2014 dreams…I say dreams because I’m the worst at resolutions. The. Worst. But a fresh new year is not a fresh new year for nothing…so why not resolve to do better?

*Spend Out: continuing from 2013

*return mail within 1 week: I fell off the mail wagon at the end of last year…I’d like to be better about responding more quickly and a week is doable without taking the fun out of it for me. I’m also planning to participate in Letter Month again this year.

*Hasegawa Happy Hour: Inspired by this post on Gina Sekelsky’s blog, I decided that Thursday nights–the only weeknight Naoto and I are home together–would begin with a happy hour. I”m not going to kill myself creating a new cocktail and snack every week, but I’d like to use the Hasegawa Happy Hour to try new snack recipes, to try new cocktail recipes and to connect with my husband (and our friends…because some weeks will have to include special guests.) And, because I’m still coaster happy, I’m dreaming of some special Hasegawa Happy Hour coasters.

*screen-free afternoons: This is a big one. I spend waaaay too much on the computer, on my phone and watching TV (or just having the TV on in the background). My goal is to spend at least two hours a day doing something non-screen related. Whether it’s reading, cooking, creating or writing a letter…no screens will be distracting me. (And napping doesn’t count as screen-free time.)

*schedule & routine: I am the worst about keeping a routine. I haven’t had a real routine since high school because my college schedule was a crazy mix of school, work and residence life stuff, my old job had a really varied schedule and now no two weeks are alike. But I need some discipline regarding going to the gym, cooking better meals for myself and for Naoto and getting the cleaning done.

*plant another garden: Why not?

*make bread: My dad gave me a bread recipe a long, long time ago…it’s time to pull it out and try my hand at bread making. I think it’s going to be another Homemaker’s Challenge.

*host 3 dinner parties: Just because.

*finish decorating the apartment: Waiting for the perfect furniture is one thing, but knowing what I want, saving up money for it and then not going out and getting it is inexcusable…

*more Chicago adventures: We tried to go to Eataly with our friends a few weeks ago. Eataly was a disaster but we had such a great time eating at Xoco and bar hopping. It reminded me that we need to explore more of our own backyard.

*take 3 vacations: We are planning another trip to Japan (sooner than later) and I’m heading to Ex Postal Facto in February. I really want our third vacation to be a road trip to DC (to see the National Postal Museum)…I’m still negotiating with Naoto.

*create a zine: This has been on my list for too many years. The idea is there, the time is there…no excuses.

*PLAY not perfection: I get too wrapped up in doing things well the first time. When I went to the printmaking class at the library last year, I threw it all out the window. I didn’t care if other people had more amazing carvings than I did. I didn’t care if my block was perfect. I didn’t care if I caught on right away. And I had so much fun. I want to remember that feeling this year as I try new things and experiment with old things.

I hole punched my goals and placed them front and center in my Franklin Planner. (Isn’t that Olle Eksell washi tape along the bottom perfect? It was my favorite find in Japan last summer.)

Are you a resolution maker? Any big dreams for 2014?

10 Things

Presley nappingHere are ten things I’m thinking about this morning before I get to work:

1. I need to be a better weekly housekeeper.

2. I should have finished cleaning out the spare room last week.

3. I can’t believe I got all of the grocery shopping done in one shot (okay, two shots if you count the fact that I had Naoto go to Jewel to grab some things on sale and our favorite ciabatta for the stuffing.) It will be a miracle if we really have everything we need for tomorrow’s dinner.

4. I’m more than excited to make this again this year. I’ve been craving it since September!

5. We got another new rug this week and I’m anxious to see how it fits…buying stuff for our home always feels so risky!

6. I’m meeting one of my pen pals in person on Friday. We’re going to Pieritz together.

7. We are making roasted cauliflower instead of green bean casserole tomorrow, but now I’m worried our meal might be too monochromatic.

8. Every weekend in December is already booked. I’m not used to being this social.

9. I’m excited to do my Christmas cards this year. Now that I’ve given up on making them myself, I can focus on writing in them and mail art.

10. I need to come up with a creative placecard idea for tomorrow…even though there are only four of us…it’s all about tradition.

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My Own Mail Call

mail callYesterday, I finally finished opening all of the mail call letters from my fellow volunteers. I’ve been opening a few each day since the flight…it’s been a really sweet way to read them. I left them on the sideboard in the dining room and every day picked up one or two to read…like a tiny uplifting break in my day.

I don’t know about you, but it’s really hard for me to read nice things about myself. I think even sitting alone and reading those nice comments made me blush and feel all “awe shucks” about things…

Mr SnuffleupagusMaureen, Honor Flight’s longest serving volunteer, gave me the vintage Snuffleupagus card. She said she couldn’t find her plain stationery, but I think she should know that vintage Sesame Street makes me ridiculously happy. This card is going to hang out on my desk for awhile. vintage war mail

And this card wins the award for making me laugh out loud. Paula pasted (actually pasted!) my face on this old WWII mail picture. It was so unexpected, I actually did a double-take, saying out loud, “Wait, is that meeee?”

My volunteer season is coming to an end this month. Tomorrow, Barb and I are packing up the mail one last time for 2013, next Wednesday is our last flight. I’m ready for a break from being the “postmistress” and I can’t wait to reclaim my home again (even with having the mail collection off-site, there is a lot of stuff to manage here at home), but I’m going to miss the warm hearts of my fellow volunteers over the long, cold winter.

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Okaasan

Naoto and his momThey say you can tell a lot about a man based on how he treats his mother.

Naoto was somewhat of a mystery in this department for most of our relationship, since I hadn’t seen him interact with his mom until we’d been married for five years. (Though, I did have some insight–he sends her $100 worth of American cherries every spring…if that doesn’t say love, I’m not sure what does!) When we finally got to spend time together with his mother on our first trip to Japan together, I had a chance to observe my husband in a different light. Naoto and his oka-sanNaoto is very kind and patient and giving and caring in everyday life. When he is with his mom, though, he is extra kind and patient and giving and caring. There is a soft strength that comes out when I see him speaking to his mother and holding her hand and helping her along. When I watch them interact–him explaining about his jobs, her teasing him about being “American fat” (P.S. He’s not!), him asking about her health, her talking about the grandchildren–I can’t help but melt a little bit and love my husband even more. Sure, maybe it’s the novelty…we don’t see Naoto’s mother very often…but I think their time together is very telling of their relationship. And it’s very telling of the kind of man he is.

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