Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "spotlight"

Christa’s (aka reepeecheep) profile was brought to our attention by Norway_girl, who stumbled on it and was intrigued when reading this line:

“I am a librarian and collect everything about mice and rats. My collection is the biggest in the world and so I am holder of a Guinness Book Record – I got more than 47000 items.”

Wow… that seemed interesting! Our curiosity was piqued, and we immediately sent Christa a few questions about her unusual collection. She was super nice and let us know more about her unusual hobby and how things escalated to an impressive world record. Read on!

reepeecheep from Germany, has a large collection of mouse-themed items, and even a world record!
What prompted you to start collecting mice and rat-themed items?

My first husband died and I married again in 1991. My second husband is a geologist and had been collecting postcards about mining and mineral resources (he now has about 35000 and puts them online for the public). So I often went with him to fairs or postcard dealers to get cards for his collection. But I felt bored there, and I asked him what he would think about me collecting something. And he agreed. He suggested to collect mice and rats – that was the biggest fault he ever did in his life!!!

As a librarian I am a very systematic person, and when I act, I do it with all my heart. After two or three years, I went all in, collecting everything connected to my favorite animals. And as you know rodents are very fertile, so soon I ended up with hundreds and then thousands of items. We only had a small flat, but as space was getting tight we rented the apartment next door also. When we retired, we moved into a three storied house! Now every room is filled with mice and rats – even the basement, the kitchen, the bathroom, and the toilets.

reepeecheep's collection of mouse-themed items reepeecheep's collection of mouse-themed items

I am very lucky to have a husband who respects me and my spleen. When he starts to moan I always remind him that it was his idea!!! But on the other hand he is proud of me and it was he who had the idea to apply at the Guinness Book people.

Why rodents? Are mice or rats your favorite animal? Do you also have them as pets?

I had gerbils and rats as pets for years. These are very intelligent and cute animals. You can teach them tricks, and they are very cuddly. And I feel sorry for animals and humans, too, who are pursued. As a teenage I had some cute mice puppets which I liked very much. So at Christmas or for my birthday people gave me more mice figures and I had a little showcase where I put them.

reepeecheep's mouse figurines
How many items do you have in total? And how many of these are postcards?
reepeecheep's postcards

Back in 2004 when the Guiness record was accepted, I had 27623 items. In 2014, I beat my own record with 47398 items. Now five years later I got more than 50000.

Some portions: 4577 books, 3568 modern graphics, 11928 figurines, 27746 postcards (6265 vintage, 19408 modern, 1073 big ones)
 and 3585 greetings cards

Tell us about your postcards featuring these little animals. Do you receive and swap a lot of them through Postcrossing?

I am very happy to be part oft he Postcrossing family and ask people to send me rodent cards if possible. Until today I got 2266 cards from all over the world, and among them were 794 mice and rats!!! So this is more than one third! Some of them are repeated but I don’t mind as I know that it is not easy to find mice and rat cards. :)

Thank you Christa, that was wonderful! 🐭 By the way, any guesses as to where Christa got her username, “reepeecheep”?

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Michele (aka mikebond) comes from Italy, but currently lives in France. He’s a big fan of languages and can speak lots of them, including Portuguese — not an easy feat! Michele is also a big enthusiast of Postcrossing meetups, which is how we’ve met him a few times already. :) Here he is:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I have always loved sending and receiving postcards to friends and family members. At high school I started penpalling with people from several countries, but sadly I lost contact with them when I started university and had no time left to write meaningful letters.

So, imagine my excitement when, in 2008, Pinar, a fellow Turkish member of VirtualTourist.com, told me about a website where you could send and receive postcards to and from all over the world. I immediately loved the idea of having my mailbox full of beautiful postcards and messages from strangers. Back in 2008, Finland was the most represented country on Postcrossing, and some people moaned about getting “always Finland!” (later, the recurring moan turned into “always Russia!”), but postal fares were cheaper, waiting times shorter, and it was easier to send to, or receive from rare countries. I received some of my rarest postcards in 2008 or 2009.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

Definitely drawing addresses, with the hope of getting a rare country, or an inspiring profile! Then reading the profiles and finding the appropriate postcard for each recipient.

Of course, opening my mailbox and finding beautiful postcards in it is just as amazing! The first thing I do when I get one is to read the message and look at the decorations and stamps. To me, an outstanding back side makes the ugliest postcard pretty!

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

This is the mailbox where I post my postcards in my Breton village:

mikebondmailbox

We don’t have a real post office here, but only a “post relay”, i.e. a desk inside the mini-market, whose owner also provides postal services. The closest post office is in the nearby town, 5 kms far away, so I rarely go there. I always order my stamps online since La Poste’s online shop ships stamps orders within a couple of days and for free if you spend over 25 euros. Postmen here deliver the mail in yellow vans, between 10am and midday.

I keep most of my official Postcrossing cards in albums like this:

mikebondalbum

And since space is limited in my albums, I keep postcards from swaps, RAS, etc on piles like these:

mikebondpile
Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

I was amazed when I received not one but two postcards from Mauritius in 2015, sent by Jordan and Tamera, two young siblings who had drawn my address simultaneously: MU-3168 and MU-3173!

More recently, I was extremely surprised when I drew an address on the Isle of Man. I was so happy to be able to send a postcard to this fellow Celtic land with only 25 postcrossers! And the recipient, Andrea, loved it, too!

Have you met any other members in real life?

I still cannot explain to myself how on Earth I could be a postcrosser for over 9 years without ever attending a Postcrossing meetup! Since I organised, and attended, my first two meetings in Italy in October and November 2017, traveling to such events has become an essential part of my Postcrossing experience. It is so much more fun to write postcards with old and new friends than at home alone!

So far, I have attended 15 meetings in seven different countries (Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Austria, Norway, Luxembourg and the latest in Belgium).

This photo was taken during my birthday dinner in Lisbon on 7 May 2018, two days after the awesome international meeting I attended there!

mikebondbday

I would have never imagined I could have such an international celebration with new friends from Portugal, Belgium and Norway, but Postcrossing made it possible! Since my very first meetup, I have become increasingly convinced that “Postcrossing is real only when shared”, just like happiness.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

It is almost impossible to pick ONE favorite postcard out of about 2700, but I will choose this one:

mikebondfav lFAHqrKo

(Back of postcard posted with permission)

I have chosen it because it is the most beautiful Christmas card I have received so far. Christmas time is often a sad time of the year for me, but postcards like this one, wisely chosen, brightly decorated, and with awesome Christmas stamps, made it lighter than usual.

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

Yes! After my first meetup in 2017, I was interviewed by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which prompted over 400 Italian readers to join Postcrossing.

Moreover, my stories about postcards and meetings inspired a few (virtual) friends to try Postcrossing, including my Catalan tutor Carol. We even organized a Postcrossing meeting in her Catalan village in October 2018.

Sadly, I have never been able to inspire my family members to join Postcrossing. After more than ten years since I joined it, they still think I am a bit crazy!

Do you have any other interesting hobbies, or things that you’re passionate about?

Unfortunately (?), I have always been too curious about everything, so I have always had such a variety of hobbies that I often lack the time to devote to each of them.

My main hobby has been learning languages since I started studying French and English at junior high school. At high school I picked up Latin and German, then added a language after the other. Today I know a dozen of languages and have some knowledge of twice as many.

My other vital hobby has always been travelling. Since I was 7 years old, my parents and I travelled to a different part of France every summer for several years. When I was 17, I started attending summer school abroad (in England, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, and Slovenia). After that, I started travelling on my own and never stopped. I have travelled to half of the European countries and I aim to visit all of them. My latest visited country was Norway in July.

Another hobby I have nurtured since I was a child is collecting stuff: mostly coins and stamps, but also museum or transport tickets. In spite of this, I have never seen “official” Postcrossing as a way of increasing a collection, as its social aspect has always been more important to me.

More hobbies include reading, taking photos… and I must be forgetting something!

Besides these, I have been interested in Europe’s culture, society, and politics since I was a teenager. I used to volunteer for an Italian political party when I was in my early twenties, but now I no longer belong to any because I find it increasingly difficult to identify with one.

Since I have been living in the Breton countryside without a driving license and with an e-bike as my only autonomous means of transport, I have become increasingly passionate about riding my e-bike (I hadn’t ridden a bike for at least 15 years before buying my first one here in Brittany!) and interested in topics like slow/green mobility and alternative travel styles. I look forward to going on my first bike journey across Europe, hopefully soon!

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Meet Alison (aka alison41) from Cape Town in South Africa 🇿🇦. She’s a very enthusiastic postcrosser in her country, and a fan of books, writing, and mahjong! She has sent us quite a few interesting postal-themed articles over the years, and regularly updates us on the postal situation in her country… so we thought it was time we got to know her a little better. Here she is!

Alison41 Postcrossing spotlight interview
How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

A local magazine “IDEAS”, featured a 2 page article with pictures, about Postcrossing — at the sight of the international stamps and Par Avion stickers, I was immediately interested! I love receiving mail. I’ve been a letter writer my entire life, and had literally dozens of penfriends over the years. I still have one or two, particularly an Australian lady, we still correspond — by now it has been nearly 50 years.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

Apart from being an avid reader, and writing articles for my two blogs (Despatches from Timbuktu and The Booksmith) my other passion is playing Mah Jong. I have been playing the game for nearly 50 years. I learned in Rhodesia, during the early 1970s, and have been playing, and teaching others how to play, ever since. I run a small club in the retirement village where live.

Mahjong play set

I found a couple of Asian themed cards to display next to my Mah Jong set.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

Reading the biographies of the people to whom I’m about to send a card. As a writer, I find people and their lives intensely interesting. So I enjoy reading everyone’s profiles, because here you have insight into their personalities, likes and dislikes.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!
Alison41 Postcrossing spotlight interview

Blue mailboxes and the red outgoing box at the Big Bay Post Office. The view from the post office balcony cross the bay to Table Mountain is stunning!

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

I love my cat-themed postcards, and have displayed some of my current favourites in front of my work table, so can see and enjoy them daily. I am a huge cat fan!

Alison41 Postcrossing spotlight interview

But apart from my Cat Cards, I’m involved with Gonny in the Netherlands, and we have our own “story card” project, inspired by a post on this blog from September 2017 titled “Postcard Stories”, about a woman who published a book consisting entirely of stories written on postcards. I don’t think we’ll produce our own book, but we’re having a lot of fun!

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

Mexico! If you live in South Africa, then Mexico is a very far way foreign country; ditto Iceland and Greenland.

Have you met any other members in real life?

Regrettably not; South Africa has very few members, and it is a big country. I’d love to attend a local Postcrossing get-together… but I think for that to happen, I’ll have to organise it myself!

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

What else excites me? Going to the theatre; book sales; cats; current affairs; books and reading; my monthly writing group; attending monthly meetings of the University of Third Age – the speakers are usually professional people who come and speak about their field of expertise. I run a monthly Book Club meeting at the local library and I’m always delighted to meet other readers and chat about books.

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Helen (aka Honney17)

Member Caroline (aka Luminarium) is a social worker from the USA. A few weeks ago, she brought to our attention that a postcrosser she was helping to send postcards found it funny that she was older than the age settings the website allowed. We were intrigued, as no one had ever complained about this bug before… but then again, we probably don’t have many postcrossers like Helen (aka Honney17) who celebrated her 101st birthday earlier this year! 🎉

We were so happily surprised, we decided to ask them a few questions!

What are your first memories of writing?

I used to write a lot of letters to my friend I went to school with; We were in the same grade, but I was a year older than her because I got sick. I wrote my friend Virginia McCafferty. Her family was from England, and she lived beyond me. When we got out of school, we’d walk together home. She was my dear friend. Her family raised prize winning black angus cows. After school we’d walk down the hill and through a cow path in the field. We’d get to her fence and she would jump over and we’d walk to our own houses. You could get a postcard for a penny back then. I wrote to her till I got married. Galveston, IN (where Helen was born) had eight houses then. The house I was born in is still there. Our first cousins lived there too. I think I’m the only one left of this generation. My mother’s family was from Ireland. I used to love to write. They always used to call on me because I made up good stories. They wanted me to be on the high school newspaper. I only got one semester of my freshman year. I was 14 and didn’t have a home then, so I went to work in a dry goods store.

A framed painting of Helen's family barn, painted by a friend from a photo.
A framed painting of Helen’s family barn, painted by a friend from a photo.
How did you hear about Postcrossing?

I heard about Postcrossing in a place I used to live, but didn’t start participating till my helper introduced it to me.

What do you do and what do you need help with to participate in Postcrossing?

I think up stuff, but I have trouble writing because my hand is clunky, so I need help writing. What you don’t use, you lose! I save the postcards I get for my helper to register them. She gets the addresses for me and I tell her what to write. I sign them all.

Helen (aka Honney17)  and Caroline (aka Luminarium) Helen (aka Honney17)  and her postcards
Helen, Caroline and some postcards they’ve received.
What are your first memories of getting mail? How has mail changed over the years?

Back in the beginning, a horse and buggy brought it to us in the country; then they got a car, a Ford. A rattling good car. Sometimes if you didn’t live in a city you had to go downtown to get mail because they wouldn’t deliver it. I had a cousin who delivered mail. We had a little mailbox along the dirt road and I mostly remember when the mail carrier had an old jalopy and would bring it to the box. It was a Ford, I think. They were the first cars anyone knew about. “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.” There was a box on the side to help fix a tire and you had to crank them! And, if you didn’t do it right, the crank would go backwards and break your arm. My brother used to push it (our Ford), to get it up and running, and then had to run and jump in.

What do people think about you participating in PostCrossing?

People that work here notice I get mail; it doesn’t look like anybody here gets much mail. Maybe people have family here that don’t write. My son and daughter visit me. I lost my cousin and my friend so it’s nice to get mail.

Helen (aka Honney17)  and her postcards
Helen and her postcards.
What does Postcrossing mean to you?

It’s interesting because you get personal, and that’s big—to get mail. We all live in our little worlds, and you don’t have many activities to do, and this is a hobby you can be busy with. And the cards come, and people are living all over the world, and it’s interesting to read about their families and work and see the cards they send. I bet they wonder about America the way I wonder about the places they live. It’s almost like taking a trip—you get a picture in your mind. It’s like a little vacation. The postcards are something I look forward to. It really makes me think about places and people differently than I have before. Every postcard is something to look forward to.

Do you have a Favorite post card?

DE-7117460. It looks like a dog I used to love that my grandson adopted when he was going through a hard time. He got that pup and it helped him out of his depression.

DE-7117460
What kind of post cards would you most like to receive?

Besides birds and dogs, it would be nice to have pictures of your country. Your buildings, and how they are built, and what the people look like.

Thank you so much to Helen and Caroline for this lovely interview!

As Helen mentions in the interview, people in her Senior Assisted Living community don’t get much mail nowadays… so how about we send them some? With the permission of her family and Activities Director Valarie, we’re publishing here the address of the place where she lives, so that if you want, you can send a postcard there and make a senior’s day a little bit brighter. 😊 Send iconic images of your town/country with a fact and greeting from where you live, and then Caroline and Valarie will organize them so that everyone can enjoy them! :)

Shall we fill their mailbox with postcards, and give Helen and her friends the opportunity to travel around the world through them?


This initiative is now finished, but here’s a quick update from Helen’s caretaker Caroline in February 2019:

“There’s nothing like a beautiful piece of mail to brighten a grey day. Helen has LOVED receiving all the mail you’ve sent. She’s hit a rough patch, but being the resilient woman she is she’s pushing through. Your postcards are a constant source of smiles, wonder and support. Helen frequently looks at them and says ”It’s just like a vacation!" or “Ah, Finland…I always wanted to go there.” or looking at a card from Indonesia “Can you believe that? From all that way?!” This rough patch (and rough weather) has stalled out our original bigger plan for sharing with other residents. Don’t worry though, your cards are getting a great deal of attention and will be shared with the wider community. Thank you for spreading your joy. At nearly 102 you’ve sincerely brightened Helen and her caregiver’s days. From Helen, her family and Caroline, her helper – Thank you."
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Héléna (aka Helena2008) is a young postcrosser from the French region of Auvergne. Earlier this year, she gave an interview about her hobby to teen magazine “Trampoline”… and that’s how we knew we had a very enthusiastic postcrosser in the area! Turns out, she has a lot of stories to tell, so we invited her to the blog, with the help of her mom Marie (aka Marie007). Here they are:

Hi Héléna! How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

Two years ago, my mom saw an article about postcrossing on Facebook. It was the evening, and I was in my bed, almost sleeping. Mom was very excited by this project, and she thought I would be interested, too. So she came in my bedroom, turned on the light, woke me, and she asked me if I was interested in this project. Of course I said “yes”. I didn’t know it at this moment, but it was the beginning of a great adventure! :)

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!
Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

I collect stamps with animals and flowers. Postcrossing is a wonderful way to discover very beautiful stamps! Sometimes postcrossers use an envelope and they add some stamps inside the envelope just for me. It’s very nice and I always thank them. I’m very interested about languages, especially English. I learn English at school, and also at home with a free internet website named Duolingo. When I’ll be older, I would like to own a “learning languages store”. I’d like to be an English teacher for adults.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

My mailman has a lot of work because of me! He is so used to deliver postcards to me, that sometimes he puts in my mailbox postcards which are not for me! When it happens, I take them and put them in the mailbox of my neighbors. At home, I have a wall where I put my postcards.

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!
Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

My favorite postcard was the one I have received from the city Helena, Montana, USA. It was so strange to see my name written on a postcard!! I also love to receive postcards of rabbits. I have a rabbit, so I’m crazy about these nice and soft animals.

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!
What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

My favorite part of postcrossing is to go to my mailbox and see if there is a postcard for me :) The more exciting is when I receive an envelope. It’s wonderful to open it and to discover what it is inside. Some postcrossers are very nice with me and they send to me some girly stickers, stamps, or coins from their country. It’s very kind and it makes me very happy.

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

Yes, I have been surprised many times by the places that I have received postcards. With a swap, I have received a postcard from Syria. It was from a girl who is almost the same age as I am. It’s hard to think about her and about the war in her country. I often think about this little girl and I hope she is fine.

Have you met any other members in real life?

I also love to travel around the world with my mom. In August 2016, Jeremy, a very nice American postcrosser invited me and my mom to visit the city of Helena (capital of Montana, USA). It was absolutely wonderful!! I went in a plane for the first time of my life, I have discovered America, eaten real hamburgers, visited a ghost town, looked for gold nuggets, visited the city of Helena…

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!

This trip was the best moment of my life! After that, I have invited this postcrosser to France. He came in my house during summer 2017. It was great to show him my country and to see each other again. We are still in touch, and my mom and I are planning a trip next summer, to go back to Helena. I already know that it’s going to be awesome!

I have also met many french postcrossers, during Postcrossing meetings. I went with my mom to the meetings of Avignon, Lyon, Ternay, Valence… It’s really good to see postcrossers in real life. They are very nice and they have become my friends. My favorite meeting was last Autumn, when mom and I have organised a meeting in our own home. There were 20 persons and we have sent 435 postcards on this day!! I live in a small village with only 550 inhabitants. I can’t imagine the face of the postman the day after, when he has found the mailbox full of postcards to send!! :)

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!
Is there anything that you are passionate about?

I love to travel the world and discover different cultures. I hope to receive one postcard from each country in the world. I have a big map in my house, where I can color the countries once I have received a postcard. I have currently received postcards from 98 countries. My bigger dream is to receive a postcard from North Korea. Maybe one day it will happen…

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!
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