Comparing Notes

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think a letter is worth a thousand pictures. Impossible math! For example, we can share a photo of our child blowing out the candles of their birthday cake, and it would take many words to describe what the picture quickly can. But if a written description was given without a picture, the recipient, while reading the letter, may form many pictures of the experience because no visual picture is provided.

As humans, we have so many communication methods now available. For example I have 4 different email accounts, two land-line telephone numbers, a mobile phone number, a home answering machine, work voicemail, text messages, Linked In, Facebook with messages, WhatsApp for texting with my Eurobabies, snail mail ( actual paper ), and of course face-to-face interaction. I also have an Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, and Pinterest, but I rarely check those. My inquiring mind wants to keep up with everyone's news. Facebook and emails are great for this, but there is so much content, family photos, recipes, art projects, animal videos, political and scientific postings. All of it riveting, and I could easily spend hours each day just trying to keep current. This does not even include reading novels, the newspaper and a few good magazines. I read till my eyes glaze over, and I just love it.

But the best thing to read of all is a good old-fashioned hand-written letter. Each one is unique in the stationary and writing instrument selected, style of writing and penmanship, content, the stamp, etc. The fact that it physically traveled from where they were when they mailed it to where I am while reading it. It is almost like receiving a little piece of the actual person.

A letter is so much different than the spoken word. Without the benefit of facial expressions, tone of voice, etc., there can be much left to personal interpretation and misinterpretation. I once heard that 90% of communication is non-verbal. I guess that is why some clever person came up with the idea of emoticons to assist with letting the reader of an email know of the intended emotion of the writer- be it sincere or in jest.

I have a box in the attic of saved letters and diaries. There are the letters handsome hubby wrote to me before we were engaged when he and his friend drove his '66 Dodge Dart across country for a month. He stopped calling after they passed Arizona as this was before the convenience of mobile phones with nationwide calling plans. I recall being miffed at the time as he could communicate with me, but I had no way to communicate with him. But now I have the letters. The phone calls would surely be forgotten, but the letters have real staying power. And then there are the letters from my French Pen-Pal whom I met when I did a study abroad in Paris when I was 19. Her daughter and my son are now dating! I have letters from my aunt which are written on purple paper. I think she was living alone in Colorado when her husband was in the service. I can't remember how old I was when we wrote, but my guess is that I was around 10. I wonder what I wrote about? My cat?

A dear friend of mine recently shared some heartfelt letters she wrote to her grown children mentioning some of her concerns, and she also shared their responses. I felt honored that she trusted me enough to share such intimate communications with me. I am still thinking about them. I could almost hear their voices as I read the letters. She and her children are all fantastic writers. She used to teach handwriting analysis, and I had to chuckle when I saw that the letters were typed- denying her the measure of pleasure in considering any possible additional communication conveyed by the writing.

I recently shared some letters with her from when I was 10 and my brother was 13. Apparently we were in an argument, and our parents asked us to write a one- page essay explaining how we might improve ourselves. The letters were addressed to my father, and we both printed very neatly. They were hysterical. I should re-read mine every morning, as I never quite mastered my own suggestions for self- improvement.43 years later, and I am still working on the same issues.

I shared with her the essays I made my boys write after quarreling, so that they could clearly convey their version of what happened and why. Soccer Boy seemed to relish the task and wrote freely. Computer Boy made his as brief as possible but was able to get his point across. Buddha Boy was somewhere in the middle. All three have completely different handwriting styles, and my friend was accurate in her analysis. Princess asked me why I didn't have any of her letters, and I told her it was because I never had to ask her to write one since she never got into any trouble. However, I did happen to find her two-step evil plan to destroy Buddha Boy written on colored construction paper, but she never got beyond planning plan one.

Saving emails to re-read later does not provide the same satisfaction as a tangible piece of paper with a handwritten letter. Though it is still recorded thoughts- something not quite explainable is lost.

I really enjoyed gathering the quotes for this topic of letter writing. Imagine the romance of waiting for a letter from their sweetheart who was away. The thrill is in having proof that their sweetheart is not aloof. Knowing they were thinking of them and cared enough to take the time to thoughtfully profess their love, and to share what was happening in their lives. I think it would be a wonderful custom to rekindle. Thoughtful letters handwritten on lovely stationary instead of rushed text messages full of abbreviations.

Not everyone shares this preference though. Some folks are put off by long written communications. They prefer the message delivered in 80 characters or less. Stick to the facts. Leave out the adjectives. Get to the point! I have noticed this carry over to the spoken word too. Attention wanes if there is too much build up prior to delivering the punch. I find I often have to begin with the punch line and then work backwards in order to keep the attention of the listener. Sometimes we have to do this with our letter writing too, lest the reader loses interest and sets it down never to be revisited.

I miss receiving letters in the mail. From time to time I am fortunate enough to receive a post card or brief handwritten Thank You note. I had a friend who lived to be 94. She did not use a computer or a cell phone but would write me delicious letters. And through them she lives. Perhaps I could begin a letter club with a small group of willing participants. Each week each person would write one letter to another member of the group, so that each week each member would receive one handwritten letter in the mail. On gorgeous stationary of course. We could have a monthly meeting to "compare notes". Anyone interested in joining?

Recipe:

Shrimp Flat bread Melt

Ingredients:

1 pound peeled shrimp- fresh, or thawed

1 tablespoon butter

2 cloves garlic- smashed and minced

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup shredded cheese

1 avocado, diced

1 package of Trader Joe's Flat bread ( 6 to a pack ) these are not the same as pita bread though they look like pita bread. You could substitute tortillas if you can't find the flat bread.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant and add the shrimp and sauté until cooked through. Drain off any excess water. Add the spices and a bit more butter if desired.

Place one flat bread on a microwave safe plate and add 1/6 of the cheese and microwave for about 20 seconds until the cheese is melted. Spoon in 1/6th of the shrimp and top with 1/6th of the diced avocado. Yum! This can be prepared in about 10 minutes.

More Quotes:

The post office has a great charm at one point of our lives. When you have lived to my age, you will begin to think letters are never worth going through the rain for. ~Jane Austen

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My songs are just little letters to me. ~Ani Difranco

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Chain letters are the postal equivalent of intestinal flu: you get it and pass it along to your friends. ~Bob Garfield

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A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often - just to save it from drying out completely. ~Pam Brown

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If you are in doubt whether to write a letter or not, don't. And the advice applies to many doubts in life besides that of letter writing. ~Edward Bulwer Lytton

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A letter is an unannounced visit, the postman the agent of rude surprises. One ought to reserve an hour a week for receiving letters and afterwards take a bath. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

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Never write a letter if you can help it, and never destroy one! ~John A. MacDonald

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I hold that the parentheses are by far the most important parts of a non-business letter. ~D.H. Lawrence

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I sometimes think one of the great blessings we shall enjoy in heaven, will be to receive letters by every post and never be obliged to reply to them. ~Washington Irving

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A Letter is a Joy of Earth -
It is denied the Gods
~Emily Dickinson, 1885

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But it was your letter within, dear heart, my first love letter, and sweeter to me than the subtlest love-lyric Sappho ever penned in Aeolic gold. ~Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

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In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass, I find letters from God dropped in the street, and every one is signed by God's name. And I leave them where they are, for I know that wherever I go, others will punctually come for ever and ever. ~Walt Whitman

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Politeness is as much concerned in answering letters within a reasonable time, as it is in returning a bow, immediately. ~Lord Chesterfield

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The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity. ~Walt Whitman

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In an age like ours, which is not given to letter-writing, we forget what an important part it used to play in people's lives. ~Anatole Broyard

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To acknowledge the receipt of letters is always proper, to remove doubts of their miscarriage. ~George Washington

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Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls. For, thus friends absent speak. -John Donne

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The word that is heard perishes, but the letter that is written remains.- Proverb

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A letter does not blush. - Marcus Tulius Cicero

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Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them. - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

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Or don't you like to write letters. I do because it's such a swell way to keep fro working and yet feel you've done something. - Ernest Hemmingway

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A short letter to a distant friend is, in my opinion, an insult like that of a slight bow or cursory salutation- a proof of unwillingness to do much, even when there is a necessity of doing something. -Samuel Johnson

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It does me good to write a letter which is not a response to a demand, a gratuitous letter, so to speak, which has accumulated in me like the waters of a reservoir. - Henry Miller

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I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.

-Blaise Pascal

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Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of reference. - Aristotle

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The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement. If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you are simply using a pen to record what you have thought out.-Billy Collins

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I did write a letter to the archdiocese who'd banned the song, "Only the Good Die Young", asking them to ban my next record.-Billy Joel

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I got a fan letter written on the back of a prison menu, and I remember thinking, "Well they get pie. It's not so bad. They get pie on the weekends." I want to say blueberry and also a Boston cream pie. Not so bad. -Tina Fey

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The joy I get from winning a major championship doesn't even compare to the feeling I get when a kid writes a letter saying, "Thank you so much. You have changed my life." - Tiger Woods

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Sending a handwritten letter is becoming such an anomaly. It's disappearing. My mom is the only one who still writes me letters. And there's something visceral about opening a letter- I see her on the page. I see her in the handwriting.- Steve Carell

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Please give me some good advice in your next letter. I promise not to follow it. -Edna St. Vincent Millay

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The power of a handwritten letter is greater than ever. It's personal and deliberate and means more than an e-mail or text ever will. It has a unique scent. It requires deciphering. But, most important, it's flawed. -Ashton Kutcher

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If you want to know your true opinion of someone, watch the effect produced in you by the first sight of a letter from him.-Arthur Schopenhauer

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Compare sending someone a text message and getting a love letter delivered by carrier pigeon. No contest. - Bryan Callen

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I stayed in a really old hotel last night. They sent me a wake-up letter. - Steven Wright

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Woe to the makers of literal translations, who by rendering every word weaken the meaning! It is indeed by so doing that we can say the letter kills and the spirit gives life. - Voltaire

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I have proved by actual trial that a letter that takes and hour to write takes only about 3 minutes to read. - Lewis Carroll

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Next Post date: May 4, 2015
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April 6, 2015

Quotes:

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart. ~Phyllis Theroux

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Never write a letter while you are angry. ~Chinese Proverb

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It seems a long time since the morning mail could be called correspondence. ~Jacques Barzun, God's Country and Mine, 1954

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I am tired, Beloved,
of chafing my heart against
the want of you;
of squeezing it into little ink drops,
And posting it.
~Amy Lowell, "The Letter"

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Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company. ~Lord Byron

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What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp. ~Author Unknown

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It takes two to write a letter as much as it takes two to make a quarrel. ~Elizabeth Drew

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And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?~W.H. Auden

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The best time to frame an answer to the letters of a friend, is the moment you receive them. Then the warmth of friendship, and the intelligence received, most forcibly cooperate. ~William Shenstone

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What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can't reread a phone call. ~Liz Carpenter

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Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls; for, thus friends absent speak. ~John Donne

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Or don't you like to write letters. I do because it's such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you've done something. ~Ernest Hemingway

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A strange volume of real life in the daily packet of the postman. Eternal love and instant payment! ~Douglas Jerrold, The Postman's Budget

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If you must reread old love letters, better pick a room without mirrors. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

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The one good thing about not seeing you is that I can write you letters. ~Svetlana Alliluyeva

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We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last we destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverable for ourselves and for others. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Correspondences are like small clothes before the invention of suspenders; it is impossible to keep them up. ~Sydney Smith

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I have received no more than one or two letters in my life that were worth the postage. ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend. ~Emily Dickinson

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I consider it a good rule for letter-writing to leave unmentioned what the recipient already knows, and instead tell him something new. ~Sigmund Freud

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The age of technology has both revived the use of writing and provided ever more reasons for its spiritual solace. Emails are letters, after all, more lasting than phone calls, even if many of them r 2 cursory 4 u. ~Anna Quindlen

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A woman seldom writes her Mind, but in her Postscript. ~Richard Steele, Spectato

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When a man sends you an impudent letter, sit right down and give it back to him with interest ten times compounded, and then throw both letters in the wastebasket. ~Elbert Hubbard

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The talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female. ~Henry Tilney

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Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Grammar is the grave of letters. ~Elbert Hubbard

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When he wrote a letter, he would put that which was most material in the postscript, as if it had been a by-matter. ~Francis Bacon, "Of Cunning," Essays

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Letters are above all useful as a means of expressing the ideal self; and no other method of communication is quite so good for this purpose. In letters we can reform without practice, beg without humiliation, snip and shape embarrassing experiences to the measure of our own desires... ~Elizabeth Hardwick

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Without 'tis autumn, the wind beats on the pane
With heavy drops, the leaves high upwards sweep.
You take old letters from a crumpled heap,
And in one hour have lived your life again.
~Mihai Eminescu (1850–1889), translated from Romanian by Corneliu M. Popescu

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Then there's the joy of getting your desk clean, and knowing that all your letters are answered, and you can see the wood on it again. ~Lady Bird Johnson

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Your letter—your dear, warm, true-hearted letter — was put in my hand. I kissed it how many times before breaking its envelope! ~Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

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In old age we are like a batch of letters that someone has sent. We are no longer in the passing, we have arrived. ~Knut Hamsun

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A woman's best love letters are always written to the man she is betraying. ~Lawrence Durrell

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All a good letter has to do is make you feel special. ~Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo video game) written by Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka, and Toshihiro Kawabata

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One of the pleasures of reading old letters is the knowledge that they need no answer. ~Lord Byron

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There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters... I could be their leader. ~Charlie Brown

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In a man's letters you know, Madam, his soul lies naked, his letters are only the mirror of his breast, whatever passes within him is shown undisguised in its natural process. Nothing is inverted, nothing distorted, you see systems in their elements, you discover actions in their motives. ~Samuel Johnson

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