Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Poet and the Dream Girl

This summer, on one of our date days, my husband took me to the the Carl Sandburg farm in the mountains of North Carolina. The Sandburg estate sits right outside Flat Rock North Carlina, a quaint little spot on the "fall colors" circuit.I have driven passed the brown sign indicating the farm was just ahead many times, but never got a chance to check it out. After hearing my lament of having missed seeing it yet again,  Da made secret plans to steal me away for a day and go explore the farm.
   The farm is lovely, not pretentious as some "historical" sites tend to be. It has been kept pretty much the way Carl and Lilian left it, a working farm and home to a very busy and interesting family. The tour guide for the inside of the house led us through the rooms, showing us the various artifacts and relating stories of their lives. It was interesting, but I was more desirous of seeing the barns and prized dairy goats than where the Sandburgs ate breakfast. Then the tour guide related a story about how the Sandburgs met and that their love story began with the writing of letters. All thoughts of Toggenburgs and Nubians, fell to the wayside...After asking a few questions we found out that there was a book of their love letters and with a flick of the finger, my beloved had found a copy on and purchased it, all from his Blackberry, (sometimes technology isn't such a bad thing...!). Upon its arrival at my door step a few days later, I became enchanted by the story of two poets and idealists who fell in love through the mail.
  Lilian wrote far more prolifically, and many of the letters that Carl wrote in response were not included(available?), but when looked at as a whole, the picture of their love story is clearly illustrated. This quote from one of Carl's letters Lilian and one Lilian's letters to Carl,  (after a brief two day visit while in attendance at a Socialistic Convention just weeks before their wedding), show why it was worth wading through the idealism to get to the real story. From Carl to Lilian, May 4 1908, " You say I have but little idea of your limitations. Yes- isn't what I have for you to fill in your limitations, so far as I can, just as you fill in my limitations, in a thousand thousand ways? You! you wonder-woman! Isn't it because you know where the orator and poet fall short- where the boy fails and gropes for your hand- isn't it because my limitations criss-cross all over yours that all of me cries out for all of you? Oh Paula, (he calls her several names depending on mood and subject) Paula, we are living a Lie--a Lie away from each other--we are made to be near each other--to grope together in the dark--to stand together in the sun- suncrowned, we two, I cry out and cry out for YOU--you are the blundering wonderful girl who knows me, to you my heart goes, blind to what's been and what will be, sayin YOU ARE..."    And  from Lilian to Carl 20 May, 1908: "...The world looks good to us! Such a glad mad sweet world! and whatever crag-born agony may come to us, the world will still look good. We will see the meaning and understand the more for it. You--Heart--so near--You--my boy--my boy--we two boy and girl--one heart--one life. These two mad feverish days together--such days  to look back to and live again! But what will the real life together be--when day lengthen into weeks and weeks into months, and months into years--always together! together! No feverish haste then--but time for the whole garment of love to be snug! Time and time enough in eons together. My LOVE--my Boy--I kiss you--and love you and always it is more, more kisses and never enough! My Boy --Sweet! *both quotes from the book:  The Poet and the Dream Girl: The Love Letters of Lilian Steichen and Carl Sandburg.
  Although the gushing sentiment of these letters isn't common place or "comfortable", in today's more emotionally reserved manner, much can be culled from the idea of building a relationship not founded on physical proximity (or for that matter physical intimacy), but to be founded on intimacy of the mind. To write from the heart, exposing inner-most thoughts to the permanence of ink and paper, to have to wait for the post to deliver the satisfaction of a response, and the exposure of another's heart in return, would do much to cultivate and deepen a relationship. 
  Until next time, I will see you in the mail!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

  Today, I miss my mom, I miss her every day but some days her absence is palpable. She and I were more like best friends than mother and daughter. We would walk down the street sharing secrets and jokes, giggling, and bumping into each other. She was a working mom and a note writer. If she left the house without seeing me, there was a note waiting for me for me when I got up. I usually found an I love you note written on some random slip of paper stuffed in my lunch bag and reminders or to-do lists pinned to my coat or purse. When post-it notes came on the scene, there were colorful sticky notes everywhere. A reminder on the bathroom door about who had bathroom cleanup duty this week, a yellow note stuck to the fridge with a list of leftovers that needed to be eaten, a note stuck to the hampster cage that just said "stinky", point taken....
  Mom also sent cards. She had a stack of cards for every occasion, stamps and her overstuffed address book with her where ever she was. She didn't write letters, she was too busy for that, but she sent off cards to people on a daily basis. It would be just a few words to let you know that she was thinking about you, maybe a comic strip or photo to make you laugh, and  of course, her signature smiley face.
  Birthday cards with money in them came to me every year, even when I was an adult with children of my own. It wasn't a lot of money, usually $5 with a sticky note that said "spoil yourself". It was such a treat that I always tucked it away and kept it seperate from the other cash in my wallet, waiting for just the right thing to spend it on.... A hot and frothy Cappucchino and a few quiet minutes in some lovely little coffe shop, or some pretty stickers that I wouldn't normally spend money on.Whatever it was, I would think about my mom while I enjoyed her gift.
  I was out of the country when she died. It was sudden and I didn't get to say good-bye.  I came home a day or two after she died,  when I got to her house I found a stack of cards next to her chair. She had been writing "thinking of you" cards, and a birthday card  to a four year old friend,  in the card was a $5 bill with a sticky note. I mailed the greeting cards and the birthday card with a notes of my own tucked inside...
  I wonder how many people she touched over the years with her notes and cards, how many peaceful, pleasant moments her little cash gifts supplied? She was a woman who knew how to quietly make the world a better place. I think this year I will carry on where she left off, sending cards out to say "hi" or "I was just thinking about you...", with the hopes of continuing her efforts, and I won't forget the Post-Its!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Afternoon on the Porch

 We went from mid Summer to late Fall in a week. I am sitting outside in one of the wicker chairs on the porch writing this because it is too cold for me to sit in the house. My feet were like blocks of ice and it hurt my hands to type since my fingers felt brittle from the cold. It really isn't all that cold, but I still am trying to adjust to the diverse temperature swings in the Piedmont of North Carolina. In the mountains of Costa Rica where we have been living until our return to the States early this summer, the temperature stays pretty much the same year round. It runs between 75 and 85 year round, but rarely reaches the mid 80's. I am going to freeze this winter...sigh!
 So here I sit with my long sleeves and sweater, soaking in the late afternoon sunbeams. The sound of water trickling over the rocks in the frog pond is pleasant background music for writing. I just put the finishing touches on a couple of mailart mail outs and when I return to the house I will scan them so I have a record of what I've sent. With these couple of letters finished, I am officially caught up on my correspondence, which is nice.
 I have completed the drawings from my newest artistamp, and after a few final touches it will be ready to print. But I am having a problem finding a paper stock that I like for the First Day of Issue post card. With the economy going south, most of the good paper stores have disappeared, so I am having to rely on Staples in Charlotte. Unfortunately, they have  very limited choices in card stock. I think that I will probably have to distress watercolor paper to come up with the effect that I want. I was hoping that I would have the post cards ready to mail by now, but it may take a little while to get the card stock issues worked out. Maybe I'll have it done by the end of this week. I hope so anyway.
 For the moment, I will give you another little glimpse of the artwork for the stamp and wish you all well until next we meet!
Can anyone guess what it is?

Sunday, October 3, 2010


  There is a nip in the air, the jalepeno peppers are hanging red on the branches of my pepper plants and it is time to start smoking the peppers for Chipotle en Adobo. This is a traditional Fall endeavour, which requires much of my attention. But the largest consumer of time in the Fall is the celebration of the biblical Fall feasts, Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Feast of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). It has been is an exciting and busy time of year with much to do in preparation for the feasts. We have just rolled in today from a week (eight days actually), of camping with our fellowship in the mountains of North Carolina for the celebration of the Feast of Sukkot. I have unpacked and put most of our belonging back in the house but I still have a mountain of laundry to do. I will soon have the laundry out of the way so it won't be long before I will be able to sit down a do a real  blog entry.
  I have received some really fun mail art to share with you in my next entry and for this time, I am going to post a sneak preview of a new artistamp in the final stages of developement. If anyone is interested in receiving my newest artistamp please leave a comment for me with you addy or e-mail me your addy at For now I must go, but I hope soon that I will see you in the mail!

 little sneak preview from my drawing board of my newest artistamp