Picture This~Paper~ One writer’s foibles

Both Marys love stationery, and all things related to paper and writing. Perhaps that is common with writers; of books or letters. Or, perhaps it is a particular foible (one could say obsession) of these two writers. But sometimes this Mary (Mary K) wonders if her co-writer is truly aware of the depth of her love affair with stationery. That when she stops at a thrift store she goes straight to the office supply section? Or when she stumbles across a packet of pink stationery priced at $1.49 and a $1.99 vintage box of DaySpring “elegantly foiled and embossed” stationery sheets, she simply cannot resist the temptation~She buys them.

stationery 014These splurges are without rhyme or reason, when she already owns drawers full of the stuff.

stationery 007At what point does a foible become an obsession? A collection become a hoard? This is one of the topics addressed in the “Letter Writing 101” chapter of our upcoming book.

From Mary K:

“When Mary mentions our mutual love of paper and pens, I wonder if she knows the extent of my obsession. Would she be shocked at the contents of the cabinet where I store our school and office supplies? Three of the shelves hold paper; there are reams of white copy paper, stacks of colorful notebooks, bins of cute notepads, and brand new boxes of stationery. Then there is the seven-drawer plastic storage unit next to my desk. The bottom drawer holds scratch paper for grandchildren to scribble on, but the other six drawers are crammed with vintage stationery, decorated printer sheets, and a wide assortment of note cards. I do have preferences, preferring smaller stationery sheets to the larger printer size, thinner sheets to the thicker ones, and vintage stationery to newer. Thin air-mail sheets satisfy nearly all my senses. I feel a thrill of satisfaction when I fold the letter in half and hear the crinkling as I insert it in the envelope. Sometimes I take it out to re-read, just to feel and hear the paper again before mailing.

A scent of patchouli emanates from the incense sticks and soap bars I store inside the drawers of paper. I don’t just like pretty paper~I want it to smell nice (like an old lady, according to the grand-daughter who shares my paper passion). While I love stickers, rubber stamps, and embellishments on envelopes, I don’t take the time to use them. I’m fascinated by the concept of “mail art.” When I receive an elaborately decorated letter, I will look at it many times before I store it in a trunk where I keep favored correspondence.

My favorite pen changes, but I consistently have detested any fine-tip utensils or colored gel pens. I abhor erasable ink pens. I love the thick pens that are free promotional items from businesses. I wrote much of the first draft of this chapter using a fat ink pen with a comfort grip. ‘Iowa Prison Industries’ is emblazoned on the side.”

We will be sharing some fun pictures with you soon, including an image of our cover design in progress. Later this week we plan on running a “Caption This!” photo contest featuring one of the fun photos our photographer, Daniel Kenyon produced from a morning photo shoot that took place at the Bread Basket coffee shop. The Bread Basket is where Mary H took Mary K out for lunch every month for more than a year and a half after her husband died.

In the meantime, enjoy this photographic tour through Mary K’s office supply storage and cabinet.

stationery 006Storage cart drawers. Note the bars of scented soap. There are sticks of incense in one of the drawers as well.

stationery 009Top shelf of cabinet; holds printer paper and notebooks.

stationery 008Second shelf holds journals, note cards, small note pads and new boxes of stationery.

stationery 011Another shelf holds envelopes, pens, pencils, highlighters, and more small notepads.

As you can see from my stash of paper, perhaps I came to the correct conclusion in the “P.S.” Chapter:

“Mary is a lot more like me than I realized,” I told my daughter Elizabeth on the phone.
      “Maybe if Jim dies someday, you and Mary could live together,” was her reply.
      Without thinking, I’d blurted out in horror, “Oh, no, she’d drive me crazy!”

Mary laughed when I confessed this transgression one day at my brother’s house. “We’re too much alike,” she agreed.
     “Can you even imagine not writing each other?” I asked then.
      I saw tears well up in her eyes at the thought.

Later on the way home, I let myself briefly consider a life without Mary’s letters. I couldn’t bear it. I thought again of what my daughter had suggested; that Mary and I live together someday, and this time I could picture it. Aren’t there things about anyone we might live with that annoy or irritate us? Didn’t I have to adjust to living with another human being when I married David?

I love Mary. She is one of the first people I turn to in both good and bad times. Co-writing this book with her has drawn us even closer. Yes, I can imagine us living together as two old (much older!) widows. Would we want to continue writing each other even though we lived in the same house?

That would work. I own more than enough stationery already for the both of us.


One thought on “Picture This~Paper~ One writer’s foibles

  1. Cecelia Lester says:

    I seem to have a passion for books and anything that is an office supply. Being on a fixed income has tempered my haunting the local Office Depot, especially their clearance shelves. One time several years ago, I attended a spring retreat in the south central part of our state. Eight women stopped at an outlet mall in the area. We each got something to drink and then dispersed in what seemed to be eight different directions. I went into the book store and was looking at the different titles. All of a sudden, one of the other women popped her head around the endcap and said, “I knew I’d find you in here.” What was so funny about this was I didn’t think of myself as being that transparent at that time. But, she saw through me.


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