Can’t believe I’m doing this again, so soon…

Letter No. 8
Letter No. 8  http://www.Patreon.com/scarletletterbox

A letter about the sudden compulsion to buy a bus ticket to New York—”What a lark! What a plunge!”— when I (probably) should have been visiting all my relatives in Virginia, listening to the clan gossip, and diplomatically dodging any pointed questions about my family…

This letter’s print run was the same as last month’s. That’s okay, since I can’t add anyone on at this point, I had just enough printed to send to current patrons. As I warm to the idea of doing this full time, and to using Patreon as my homebase, my ideas for future letters are getting bolder, more heavily illustrated, and more experimental in format. http://www.Patreon.com/scarletletterbox

I can’t do back issues, because of Patreon’s system. Print quantities are for current patrons, you must be signed up before the 30th of the month, and the mail goes out on the 5th of the following month. It waits for nobody, comes back for nobody, repeats for nobody…this is not a drill, it’s a rocket to Mars, baby!

If you missed this one and don’t want to miss the next issue, please consider subscribing!

For the price of a coffee break, you get a beautiful letter in the mail, illustrated and (I hope! I try!) well-written, with calligraphy and postage stamps and wax seals and little gifts included, each month. And you don’t have to write back. Sign up for as long as you like, unsubscribe at any time.

You can even ask me to send the letters to someone that you should probably be writing to, but just can’t seem to get around to doing it. It’s not the same as a personal letter that you wrote, but it can still be very exciting to receive a beautifully addressed envelope, knowing that each month’s letter is a present from you.

All right, that’s enough, I know you know the routine. This little piggy has hustled enough for tonight!


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vintage register journals

I was given, several years apart and by different people, these two “true vintage” register books. Both date to the 50’s, have been bound by hand, with  laid ivory pages ruled into columns and rows with red and grey ink. They’re massive…the bigger one measures 380mm x 500mm when open (15″ x 20″)! On both, the covers have suffered  water damage, leather deterioration, and just a general rotting away, I guess, due to how they were stored and who-knows-what they were exposed to.

I started using one of the books as a journal, a year ago.

At some point in its life, one of its owners started using it to catalog a reel-to-reel music collection…a whole bunch of songs were listed on half-a-dozen pages, including the counter numbers that marked where each track started and ended.
suitcase with wheels
Someone else—a sailboat owner—started an “address book” in its Index, gluing photos of some 40 yachts and writing down owners’ names and addresses, alongside.
They are the first hand-bound books not made by myself (or by one of my bookbinding students), that I have ever owned.

Mostly I doodle or stick things in. I don’t write in it as often as I’d like/I should. I wonder if it’s the unwieldy size that’s subtly discouraging me?

Ingest after reading…

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Terry Gross: Can you share some of your favorite comments from readers that you’ve gotten over the years?

Maurice Sendak: Oh, there’s so many. Can I give you just one that I really like? It was from a little boy. He sent me a charming card with a little drawing. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters—sometimes very hastily—but this one I lingered over. I sent him a postcard and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim, I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much that he ate it.”

“Jim loved your card so much that he ate it.”

That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.

Going…going…

Cemetery Story

Outgoing mail, in the company of my journal pages from Haiti, the Baron Samedi (His Purple Majesty), a goat’s skull I found on a city sidewalk in Darwin (waaaay more bizarre than if I’d found it in South America somewhere…) and our homemade Elegguá (in some ways, the star of my letter).

The letter “Cemetery Story” will no longer be available by end of day (ACST, UTC +9:30) on October 30, so if you enjoy slightly morbid stories about visits to cemeteries, or are famiiar with the Lucumí, Mayombe, or vodoun religions that traveled with the diaspora from Africa to the Americas via the African Trans-Atlantic slave trade, then today is your last chance to sign up to Patreon and receive this issue of The Scarlet Letterbox.

{Become my patron for $9 a month…}

The letter is a little longer than usual, but I’m reluctant to amputate any more of it than I already have, so this letter will have an extra page of writing, so I can finish telling the story! The envelope has been printed by hand, using a homemade rubber stamp, in black and gold inks.  I’ve also slipped a postcard of my interpretation of Baron Samedi’s vevé, a design particular to Haitian vodoun, into the envelope.

On the Patreon site, patrons will have access to my favourite poem on the subject of death…(it’s not what you think—it’s a humorous, wonderful poem that totally celebrates the fact that life and death are yin and yang, each wrapped in the other’s embrace, both natural and desirable) as well as photos of some of the people, places, and things that I mention in my letter.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
something wicked this way comes.

I’m still waiting for my new phone (La la la…’nuff said…so boring) and so text and photos taken with my old DSLR are all I can offer on the Patreon site, for now. It’s coming, though…it’s coming…it’s very close…I can feel its presence…it may even be in Australia by now…

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¿Why can’t I do ‘back issues’, anymore?

The thing with Patreon’s set-up is that I can’t charge individual patrons for individual letters. These days, when I publish a “paid post”, all of my patrons get charged at one time, for the same letter. It’s too confusing to charge everyone, but for different letters.

“Oh, that way madness lies…”

When November’s postal train pulls away from the station on the 1st, that’s it; you may sign up for Patreon any time in November, but you’ll be waiting for December’s letter car to pull up.

If you want a previous month’s letter, I can make that “back issue” available to you, over in my Etsy shop (provided I have copies left) but you can’t get it as part of your Patreon patronage, anymore, because the only time I’ll publish a “paid post” will be when the next letter is ready for mailing out. Besides, I’m now ordering the minimum quantity of printed copies, just to cover the current month’s number of subscribers…

Serendipity Ink

serendipity ink
An ink-soaked fountain pen made these random ink blots. Ecoline’s “Fir Green” bled from yellow green out to dark turquoise, as it soaked into a wad of tissue.
serendipity ink
Half of the trick is to recognise the happy accident, rather than toss the tightly-wadded tissue into a bin.
serendipity ink
Ecoline inks are very water-soluble and any kind of water-based glue or medium will make them bleed, so I used a quick mist of solvent-based spray adhesive on the journal page, instead. I lay the flattened tissue onto the adhesive, and rolled it down flat with a rubber brayer.

I just like having this bright splash of a page, in the enormous antique Register that I use as a journal these days.

New croc on the block…

new croc on the block

Heavy clouds but no rain…the Build Up is here, and we’re all stewing in our own sweat like plump pomfrets.

Living on a houseboat, it’s sometimes really tempting to go for a quick swim…cool off in the water…but sightings like this one curb that longing. Between 10-12 feet long, or thereabouts; big enough to do some serious damage already. Curious about the surroundings, this lizard clearly has not learned to be wary, yet, so it will be in a trap soon enough. My personal first sighting of the season (though by no means the first in the creek! It’s the ones you can’t see that are the real worry…)

The leaves in the foreground are my own pot plants…so yes, it seemed to be stalking me, actually.