Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Postcard Project

I like to send postcards when I travel -- if you're a postcard aficionado give me an address and likely you'll eventually get a card from somewhere people rarely go on vacation -- but neither the quality nor quantity of my postcard output comes anywhere near Elizabeth McClung's Postcard Project. I mentioned her just before my break, recommending you send her a postcard. I was still thinking of her when I saw a poster in town for a scrapbooking store that was going out of business. So I found the place and bought a big pile of stickers to send to Elizabeth for her project. I found that she was right: the world of stickers shows people of all ages and colours but it's hard to find a sticker of someone in a wheelchair. Sticker-designing people may not acknowledge it, so I will. Attention people who use wheelchairs, whether you live in one every day or just borrow one to ease a temporary infirmity: you exist; you are not a blight on the landscape; you are part of my society. Roll on!

Elizabeth and I have been corresponding ever since, so I've got to know her better. She's just like her blog. At first I insisted that I didn't need a postcard from the project; I felt it was intended for people who needed that pick-me-up as something to treasure or a symbol of connection with the outside world. She has recipients who have stepped back from the brink of suicide because her cards tell them someone cares. I'm usually more of a sender than a receiver of postcards, the girl who is always on the move. But it didn't seem quite fair to send things to someone who has her postal address published on the Internet and not give my address in exchange, so eventually I relented. And wow, look what I got!

Sorry about the awkward angle. I haven't figured out how to take straight on, well-lit photos without a flash reflection marring the image. As you can see, it features a marvelous antique amphibian airplane, a warm exotic locale to contrast with a cold Canadian winter, a shapely woman clad mostly in flowers, sophisticated passengers, a vintage car, and warm words. It's also a beautiful texture. I think it's the same high-quality paper they use for cigarette packages, but a slightly thicker card. This isn't the sort of postcard that you get on a little stand outside the drugstore. It's a treasure. I haven't decided yet whether to add this to the collection of things that travel with me--adding to the weight of my suitcase and risking loss in some hotel room--or whether I'll keep it at home, always waiting for me to return. Maybe it will do a bit of both.

I present it to you not just to show off, but because Elizabeth mentioned that she has a lot of recipients who like airplane postcards, and that airplane, motorcycle and horse postcards are always in greater demand than supply. I thought that amongst my readership there might be some who have some airplane-related postcards or stickers that you could send her way. If not, what she needs more than postcards are postage stamps, both US and Canadian, and basic things to try to make herself alive, as the medical establishment has pretty much given up on her. If you can't read the address on the postcard above, it's

Beth McClung
PO Box 2560
Port Angeles, WA 98362
(Yes, I have her permission to post that).

Update: I notice on her wishlist that the medication that was on her wishlist has been purchased. Thank you readers for doing that. Even if you don't see anything on her list that looks medical, remember that she is a very intelligent person cooped up with pain and boredom, and that the manga and DVDs on the list are her desperately appreciated painkillers.


Jimmy Mack said...

What a cool coincidence - I was in Hawaii over New Years and sent a friend of mine the exact same postcard... They are real beauties.

Unknown said...

Aviatrix, I don't mean to be dense, but are you suggesting Beth needs help getting Florastor? Don't have any postcards, but I'll very happily have Amazon send her a bottle if so.

Unknown said...

Never mind, I see that the link is set up to ship to her. That answers my question.

Anonymous said...

"Marvelous antique amphibian airplane?" You of course meant to say, "Marvelous Sikorsky S-38", right? :-) Charles Lindbergh owned one, as did Howard Hughes. The plane just reeks with the spirit of adventure. I think it's one of the most beautiful and romantic aircraft of all time.

(There are about a dozen photos of them on, by the way.)

Aviatrix said...

Brian, thank you so much for helping Elizabeth out.

Curt, of course that's what I mean. Now. I thought, "I'll get out my Encyclopedia of Airplanes and figure out what that is so I don't have to admit I don't know," but then I realized that half the fun of knowing things is to be able to tell other people, so why deny one of my readers that fun. I knew someone would know right off. Thank you, too.

Pete Templin said...

Here's a tip for your photography woes: grab a white saucer or small plate, or a compact mirror, and use it to deflect the flash's light at a 90' angle. Use a napkin draped over a box, a sheet of white paper taped to a box, etc. as a reflector to send the light back across the subject. It's a great cheat to prevent the flash glare. Here's the example I learned from: Carrot Cake Lighting

Sue said...

When you first mentioned Ms McClung's postcard project, I contacted her to ask if I could donate postcards, stickers, and stamps; she graciously accepted them. Although I didn't want to receive a postcard from her, she convinced me that she wanted to send one. I'm glad I agreed, because the card I received is lovely and also personalized (I told her I like animals), and I'll treasure it.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm rather ashamed to admit I didn't know what the aircraft was at first, and I had to spend about 20 minutes on Wikipedia looking at images of seaplanes to find it. (It wasn't too hard to find—I knew it was certainly built before 1940, from the style.)

I'm better with computers and video game consoles.

I forgot to mention the lighting issue. Yes, you want indirect light from your flash for that sort of situation. In fact, in almost every indoor situation indirect flash is preferable to direct flash, so it's a mystery to me why camera designers don't get it together and develop something clever for built-in flashes so that those of us who don't find it worthwhile to buy a large, heavy pro flash don't suffer like this.

Anyway, here are some things you can try to avoid that glare problem:

1. Don't use the flash. Find alternative lighting you can use to illuminate the object from an angle. Often even a bright flashlight will do!

2. Drape some tissue in front of the flash to fake a soft of softbox. You may need to use several layers.

3. Use a piece of white index card or anything else convenient to bounce the light towards something else. Typically this is a wall or ceiling, but as you saw from the Carrot Cake Lighting example, you can use your own objects.

All of these techniques will require experimentation, but this is the one truly wonderful improvement digital photography has given us: you can play around and see your results immediately.