This challenge is brought to you by :http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/
Click the above picture or the link to find out more.
Today I am presenting the Letter “P”
Today I’m going to talk to you about my “other family” called Pen Pals..
How is that a family you might ask? it’s amazing how much you can get to know someone through writing letters? Some of my penpals are like sisters to me, I probably get on better with them my own sisters and one of my penpals was a much older lady and when her eyes were failing and she couldn’t read much I would call long distance to Pennsylvania in the US and talk to her, she said I was like a daughter to her.. I called her “Mumsy” and she called me “her darling girl“. So we became a family from afar.
“How it began”
I have been penpalling now for 13 years, my Star Son was a little baby and I was in a new suburb and not knowing anyone, so I found myself a penpal.. she was and still is from Germany and we still write. We occasionally email as well.
Writing a letter to my new Pennsylvanian Penpal Terri..
My motto for penpalling is “ask me and I’ll tell you”, I don’t have any secrets when you have to get to know someone through writing letters why would you hold yourself back? My pals and I have an open-ended conversation and it’s like we are sitting down across from each just chatting. Plus if you don’t make yourself a fake version of yourself, you don’t have to remember the lies you invented.
“Strange letters and things inside”
One of my pen pals who lived in the UK, I no longer have, used to go to visit the castles and take photos of her wrapping her arms around parts of the castles and caption it… “Hugging history for Kimmy” because she knew how much I loved history and the whole Medieval era. One of my pen pals who I found accidentally, was much younger than me and she used to be involved in the “WOOF” movement, “Woof” stands for Working On Organic Farms.. and she used to travel all over the place and stay and work on farms. “Lady James” as we called her used to go to second-hand shops and buy old books, or libraries and get the old discontinued books and write her letters on those, one day I got a vintage magazine page with her letter on it.. and a set of vintage postcards in a book form and she’d written on each card, she was really inventive and used to send all kinds of things through the mail, one day I opened her mail and there was a hank of hand spun wool, she had been learning to shear sheep and to spin the fleece and so sent me some to use for an arty projects, another letter from Lady James I found a scrunched up tissues full of moss still damp, knowing my love of all things medieval, she picked it up at Stonehenge in the UK and sent it to me.. I still to this day don’t know how it got through customs!! Another day from Lady James, was a bunch of tourist guides from her trip back home to California and she’d been to a forest hiking and sent me the guides but also a pine cone! a whole pine cone… wow!!
An Art project I made with “Lady James” letter… I accidentally put the “e” on backwards.
Close up this was an old version of “Hansel and Gretel” and so Lady James had used the book to write her letter on.
Other pen friends have sent tea bags in their letters and one letter from my UK pen pal thought she was being “arty” so she sent me hand-made paper with rose petals in it.. I got a letter from customs saying that the letter had been “seized” by customs and they had photo copied the letter and sent me the photo copy but if I wanted the original paper I would have to pay a “fine” for trying to import illegal plant material.. at least I got her letter, but I sent her the letter from customs and thanked her for the thought but please don’t waste your time or money again.
For our Medieval wedding my penpal from Germany sent me a beautiful card with a packet of Sunflower seeds.. it’s some kind of custom, not sure whether it was just her family or German in general, and they got through, I’m so not sure how she managed that. Also for our wedding “Mumsy” from Pennsylvania sent us a beautiful wedding card and when I opened it $100 US dollars .. cash fell out of the envelope.. don’t know how that got through either!! But we rang and told her off for sending any amount of money and wanted to send it back she refused so we brought ourselves our first DVD player.
“Questions and answers”
These days I have less penpals but they are good quality, they write nice long chatty letters and ask lots of questions. My penpal in Pennsylvania, Terri, she asks the best questions, last Easter we were away camping in Queensland and I took my mail with me and replied to her letter and sent her a postcard, by the time I got home her reply was here and her question was “How did they get the name Queensland?” Hmm, she made me think so then I had to go Google and find out.. another letter I got from Terri was her whole house floor plan so I could get an idea of the rooms she was telling me about. So then I replied to her with a floor plan of my house. we have fun, Terri and her real life friend Janet, are the ones who spiked my interest in learning more about Jesus and God, and they have been so wonderful helping me with questions and pointing me in the direction of which scripture to read etc etc. Terri has now joined the “Good Morning Girls” bible group and we are “reading through the bible in a year” together, with our S.O.A.K method and our colour charting..
Journal or diary, important “pen palling” tool, I write when a letter comes in and when a letter goes out.
Penpalling is not really a hobby for me its a passion and so I take it seriously. I keep a diary and as the letters come in I write who from and where from and then as I reply I tick them off and write on the day when they are posted out. To be a good penpal you have to be serious, and reply promptly and answer and ASK questions, how else will you get to know someone? The more questions the better because it shows me that you care about where I am from, I love to share things about where I live and who I live with, I send postcards and clippings from magazines or newspapers. I love it when my pals do the same. I’ve had newspaper pages from Japan and from America, and I love it, I usually file it away because who knows one day I might be able to use it for a piece of art. Terri in PA does amazing “envelope art” and I keep them and either reuse them from my daily journal or I have used some in an art page in my art journal. I also cut the pieces of the stationary out and use that to decorate my daily journal.
Home made envelopes and template.
I am very blessed that I have met three of my penpals to date. Sonja from Austria was the first one I met, she was going to The Cook Islands for her yearly holiday and I joked that it was fairly close to us. I also joked with the Bloke that we should go to the Cook Islands to see Sonja and her husband Rob. My Bloke agreed and so we ended up going to the Cook Islands to Rarotonga for a week to meet Sonja and Robert. We snorkeled and shopped and spoke Samoan and had a lovely time. “Happy Hour” around the pool each afternoon. The prices were low because it was off-season. That was January 2012.
Then in October 2012, we went to Queensland on the way home from our Big Lap and I got to meet a long time penpal Trudi and her daughter Hailey, we met half way between their house and where we were staying and ended up in a pub in a little town called 1770. We had a lovely lunch and it was all so nice and easy because we have been writing for so long we had lots of back ground on each other as well. The last pen pal I met was my New Zealand penpal Janine and her husband Aaron, who was over in Australia for their 25th wedding anniversary and it coincided with Valentine’s day. so we were lucky to be able to meet them and show them around our home town and we had a lovely lunch at the local bowling club. Janine came bearing gifts and she gave me the above “envelope template” it’s been the best thing I’ve used it heaps, I use magazines with photos of Australia on them so my pen pals can “see” where their mail is coming from.
Stamps and address labels already to go..
I’m not as fussy as some of my pals, I have been known to write long rambling letters on plain white paper, some pals use very fancy stationary and I sometimes feel bad for cutting up their stationary for use in my journals. I figure that at least I am writing, so what supplies do you need to become a penpal?.. nothing too fancy, on the budget side, a note pad and a packet of envelopes and the most expensive part of it all would be the postage stamps. If you want to get a bit fancier you get better, fancier paper and lined envelopes and then you can spend a small fortune on stickers or rubber stamps and ink pads to decorate the envelopes… me I like to experiment on the cheaper envelopes, sometimes I’ll do some zentangle or I’ll splash some paint around, or use some stencils. It adds a lot of colour and a bit of fun to the letter. Sometimes I’m just too busy to do envelopes so I’ll make one or send *gasp* a plain white envelope, hey it doesn’t matter as long as the letter gets there. Maybe a diary or calendar is a good thing too, well, for me personally I like to keep track of when I receive and send but that’s just me, I have a goal to try to reply to all my mail within a week of getting it. I don’t expect that my pals do that, but for me I like to know that I’ve sent out a letter within a week of getting it.
So that brings us to the end of “P” and my “pen pal family” my family ranges all over the world,I have two in NZ, I have two in UK now, I have two in PA USA,I also have another one in Oregon I think.I have one less frequent pal in Japan who calls me “her big sister” because I help her with her English. I have two in Germany now, I have regulars in Sth Australia, Queensland and Victoria in Australia. My Original goal for Pen palling was one in every state of America and one in every state of Australia (so few in Australia!!) I have not managed either but I love the ones I have they are wonderful bubbly friends that are like sisters. I have even written to a few wordpress bloggers!! if you’re in the look out for an old-fashioned “snail Mailer” then lets chat!!
It’s nice to open the mail box to see colourful envelopes and pretty stamps and the odd postcard rather than bills and junk mail!