Submitting the Final Grade: a swap-bot Update

So, after a lot of cogitating, I’ve finally left a rating in that swap-bot trade I was agonizing over.  I spend most of my swap-bot time putting a lot of effort into my trades, and then worrying whether I will be granted the 5-and-a-heart rating grail toward which I strive.  This time, I was wondering whether I should leave someone else, for the first time in my time on the site, a grade of a 3.  Ah, just go back & look at the post.

After some advice left on that post, and another day or so of thinking, I decided to be honest–but also more generous than was really warranted.  Then I logged off & waited for bombs from the person I rated.  The good news is–she understood, as you’ll see in the image here.


Got over that hump!

And still wondering whether I belong here.


Supplementing My Vacation Pics with Postcards: Bought in Humboldt County

Last weekend, I took a trip up north–6 hours north–to Humboldt County, California, to enjoy some beautiful nature.  I saw redwoods, and ferns, one banana slug up-close, and one elk from afar!  At a gas station stop before leaving for home, I bought some postcards.


10 cards in all–just multiples of these 4 images.  The cards will hit the mail, to someone, at some point–but not before I scanned them to add to the trip images I shot!  No way I was going to get a close-up so good of an elk!  Next time I’m there, I’ll seek them out on purpose.  But still probably not get such an amazing close-up shot.

(OH!  I saw a bunch of seals from afar, too!)

Do I Let Her Fail Upwards? Received from the U.K.

Usually, my swap-bot nerves are about the grade I may get.  This time, however, I am the one having to give a grade, and avoiding it.

Last post, I was kvetching about my nerves, and sharing the fact I actually ended up with a great grade, in the most recent swap-bot “flat envie of fun” post.  Well, that worked out–and then the envelope I was owed arrived, from somewhere within the United Kingdom:


A note card with envelope, a couple of postcards, a sticker sheet, 3 little note scraps. and a bookmark.  As I was slowly extracting the bits, in great hope of encountering a piece or two of fun, I couldn’t help to think of all the work I put in to my contribution to this trade, that is, to delighting the recipient. Having finally emptied the envelope, I had to ask myself: did the sender think any of this would be actually fun for me?

Well, I like to read, so–bookmark.  I postcross, so…postcards.  And one is cartoony.  I like the tropics, and the sea, and the scraps approach those.  Fact is, though, much of this will probably go into a donation bag, and as far as I know, those folks will send it into a landfill.  Or I could save them to send as extras in some other swap.

I went back to reread the swap requirements:


Aha, now I pinpointed part of what left me sad–well, NO, I already knew I was quite let down there was no note.  WHAT IS THE POINT… never mind, let’s slow down.  The swap requirements specify that the sender is to “write a nice note,” and after reexaming everything just to make sure I was missing nothing–no, the sender did not leave me a note of any sort.

Well, what do you think I should do?

There is a rating to be left, and I am putting it off, because I don’t want to do what I think she deserves, which is to leave a 3 on the 1-3-5 scale: “didn’t meet the posted swap requirements.”  The thing is, my personal policy is to rate as I trade, which is from a standpoint of generosity.  I almost ALWAYS give the added heart on the full 5 rating, even if I don’t necessarily consider the swap “extra special.”  Traders have had to try pretty hard, I say, to lose the automatic heart.  Well, THIS time, We’re talking not about a heart at all, but about losing that 5 to a 3.  And the note — the correspondence — is actually a big thing to me.  If it was just SHIPMENTS I wanted, I could buy things for myself online, and actually ensure I received things that would interest me.

So here are my ratings options as I see them:

  • Leave a 3 rating, and say it was because the specified note was missing.
  • Leave a 5 to be generous, but with no comment of any kind (as some have with her, but I don’t know if it’s because they were feeling like me, or they were just rude)
  • Leave a 5 to be generous, and mention that the specified note was missing

I honestly don’t know which of these would make me feel worse.  Do I cheese someone off over something she’ll probably consider inconsequential (although it’s my reason for being here), or do I let her fail upwards?

Receiving My Grades: A swap-bot Arrival

Oh my gosh, even thinking about swap-bot enough to make this very brief post makes my insides buckle!

My “flat envie of fun” to India has arrived — and it got there quickly!  I got the notice that I have been rating on swap-bot, always a Pepto Moment.  Hmm, what’s a funnier way to put that? ImodiuMoment?  Gross.

Anyhow, getting assigned to shop for a stranger–and getting graded on that–oof.  I mean, I love sending stuff to people I know; I just usually am going about my life, and something will jump off the shelf in a store, or show up in my mailbox, or wherever–most mailings to friends assemble themselves!  There’s room to include my sense of humor, and to appeal to theirs…

The point is, though, that my grade on this swap is in, and it is good:


But the question is, should I even be participating in swap-bot, with the nerves level so high for me?



Showing a Lot More Backside Than I Intended: Sent to England, Finland, France, Germany, & Japan


The Genie went off to Köln (AKA Cologne), Germany, for a Postcrossing Forum trade in which people were to specify what kind of Disney card they would like.  I told the recipient about the Aladdin stage show that ran for years at Disney’s California Adventure park in Anaheim, California.  For years, that was really the only reason I went to that park–and I’d see the show multiple times in a visit.  Yes, it was that good.

A lot of Peanuts characters are running for office this season.  I pulled another Postcrossing name, and Linus is off to make his case in Kamimashiki, Kumamoto, Japan.  The recipient enjoys traveling, so I wrote about travel, and she likes Peanuts, so I Peanutsed-up the back of her card:


My tiger went off in a Postcrossing draw to Saarenkylä, Finland, and I awoke this morning to the “Hurray” message:

Thanks for the great card! That tiger is so cute 🙂 Stamps are also very nice! The place you are telling in this card sounds amazing! I hope I’ll visit there someday.
Have a nice day!

I guess that demands that I share the flip side of the card:


I swear, I wasn’t going to show off more than one card backside this time.

Snoopy went to Peacehaven, East Sussex, England, to a Peanuts-obsessed friend of a friend who contacted me via Instagram offering a postcard trade.  She has already received it, and loves it; as of this writing, hers is still on the way to me.

I drew a Postcrosser in Aveyron, France, and sent that person, a map lover, California’s Natural Wonders.

Finally, the Skunk Train went off to Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. This was a regular Postcrossing draw, in which the recipient expressed an interest in trains.  I told her that on this train, dogs are allowed to ride–just as long as they have a ticket!

One particularly busy backside (the only one I intended to show in the first place:



Seasonal Stickiness: Sent to Japan & the U.S.

Sent something off to snail mail pals in Japan & Hawaii recently.  I’d only just recently sent them each something, but does that ever happen to you, where you’ve just mailed off something, and then you stumble upon some items so cool, it’s already time to return to the post office?  My local CVS had Peanuts stickers in Halloween & Thanksgiving flavors, and with them being timely right now (in the case of Halloween), and the snail mail pals in question being fellow Peanuts fans, I thought I’d better pounce.

I fashioned some quickie envelopes from old newspaper ads, and off they went.



Hungry Canines & Junk Food at the Beach: Received from Australia, Taiwan, & the U.S.

It’s been a cool, interesting couple of weeks for mail, and this post barely even scratches the surface–but let’s do it, anyhow!


Whoa, look at Br’er Fox!  I got that due to a Postcrossing Forum trade in which we were to specify which Disney cards we would like to receive.  I provided a very long list, but many items would be obscure.  This Postcrosser in Atlanta, Georgia tagged me before he realized he didn’t have any of the cards–but he is an artist, so he didn’t let that stop him.  He writes:

“Disney’s rendition of the Uncle Remus stories were a big part of my childhood, and Br’er Fox was one of my favorite characters.  Growing up in Yorktown, Virginia, and living in Georgia, I have a big passion for Southern culture!  I hope you’ll enjoy this piece!”

Oh, yes!

The pork is from La Vernia, Texas, thanks to a trade of upcycled cardboard on swap-bot.  The sender doesn’t sing the praise of her product, but she does say she hopes I am well & finding lots of interesting things in my mailbox.  This was certainly one!

Look at that dog, looking at the pork! This cool card is from a Postcrosser in Taiwan, who says:

“I wonder do you have a blog about experiences of travelling & tasting.  I LOVE TO EAT, too!  And I 100% hope we could share with each other.  Do you cook?  I hope you’ll like this card I bought from a road trip to the east part of Taiwan.  Definitely it was a trip about tasting food.”

Taiwan is definitely a food destination on my list.  Yes, I spent 2 hours at a night market once on a layover–a mad taxi dash from the airport and back–but I need to go for real & stuff immerse myself!

Look at that gorgeous view of Hanakāpīʻai Beach, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.  I’ve not been to Kauai in over 30 years, and that’s a very sad thing.  Cindi sent that to me, and tells me the beach down there is a 2-mile hike from the trailhead–and it looks worth the walk, to me!

That long expanse of beach in Byron Bay, New South Wales comes via a swap-bot “I don’t live here” trade, from a swapper in Australia who tells me:

“I have not been to Byron Bay in well over 20 years, even for a visit.”

Based on this photo, I would like to see Byron Bay, and I hope not to wait 20 years to do it!

Finally, from Falls Church, Virginia, comes the Kool-Aid box.  Yes, another food package postcard tag on Postcrossing Forum!  The best part is the back–full of washi tape & old stamps, and you can see it below.



Why Do I Keep Doing this to Myself? Sent to India

Swap-bot eats me up from the inside-out.

Let’s back up, and start with an update: the swap-bot “flat envie of fun” I mailed to New Delhi, India last month has landed, and the recipient rated me a 5, with that heart, and a “thank you!”

And then, do you know what happened, the same day?  The assignments were passed out for this month’s version of the same trade–and I was assigned the same person!

Now, I had a really difficult time with this last month, I mean, deciding what to send this trader, and I nearly doubled over at the prospect of facing it again.  I took a day or two to breathe, and then I revisited her profile.  She likes birds–especially owls–and flowers. Okay.  Since my last shopping trip for a swap-bot trade took a lot of time & energy, I decided I needed to try adding a different store to my list of places to visit.  I decided Cost Plus may have owls. I was right!  Between that store, Half-Price Books, and my own postcard stash, I came up with this:


She said she likes tea, too.  I bought a box of tea that I can enjoy, as well–though I usually enjoy dim sum with my pu-erh!

I feel super-successful this time around, AND with the boxed items (owl cards & tags, O’Keefe mini-cards, tea), I have extras for possible future trades.

WHAT THE HECK AM I TALKING ABOUT, “future trades?”  WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?  So stressful.  I mean, I love to prepare packages for people.  The issue comes up with a) people I don’t know, with wishes that are so different from mine, and sometimes hard to conceptualize or even find; and b) THE RATING SYSTEM.  Also, it has happened in the past that the package I received would indicate that the sender wasn’t trying so much.  So, WHY?  Probably because when it is good, it is very, very good.

Anyhow, I wrote my partner a note:


And trussed it all up:


Here we go again.  Don’t know whether I should delete my swap-bot account, just to prevent future stomach upset…

A Dearth of Peanuts: Sent to China, Germany, Japan, & Taiwan

I’ve been dipping into the Postcrossing Forum again–all of these cards are going out in tag trades.

The first card is off in a wish list tag to a Postcrosser in Tokyo, Japan, who really wants postcards featuring Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” (a movie I always misremember as “Magic Mike.” Some guy’s name, some descriptor, same number of syllables–I dunno).  She prefers her postcards in envelopes, so that she can easily save the stamps, and I happen to have recently unearthed this long-ago homemade envelope, and the card fit!


The crane goes to a bird lover in Neuss, Germany.  She’s a bird lover, so as you’ll see below, I plastered her card with 3 bird stickers, and a bird stamped image–for a grand total of 7 birds.

Don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that I love the food package postcard trades.  The Thrifty ice cream cones are off to Zhongshan, Guangdong, China.

Finally, we get to Lucy.  The Postcrossing Forum Snoopy/Peanuts tag trade goes dormant for weeks–no, months–at a time–due in large part to the fact that such cards are rare finds in many countries, including the U.S., where they are for the most part something available just at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in remote, remote, Santa Rosa, California.  Peanuts everything is everywhere, but yeah, not so much with the postcards.  You could pick up a greeting card at your local supermarkets, but–no postcards.  Lucy up there is a tag-back to someone who tagged me months ago, and with the tag on the last page of the forum, I didn’t want the moderators to delete it, so here we go to Linluo Township, Taiwan.

Stamps, stamps, and washi tape:


An Extreme Discoloration: Received from Brazil, Germany, Greece, Russia, and the U.S.


The food photo (?) is from a Postcrosser in Jaú, São Paulo, Brazil. This is such an odd food card–why would they process the image like this? I can neither tell what it is, nor agree that it looks delicious.  By the way, translating the caption printed on the card’s back, I learned that this dish is Duck with Tucupi and Açaí .  To which I responded: what is tucupi?

Tucupi is a yellow sauce extracted from wild manioc root in Brazil’s Amazon jungle. It is also produced as by-product of manioc flour manufacture. … The tucupi can then be used as a sauce in cooking.

Okay, thank you, Wikipedia!  I’ll share part of the sender’s message:

“Here is very hot all year long and we almost not feel the winter.  I also like reading and good food.  Açaí is awesome!  A delicious fruit.”

The gull card is from a Postcrosser in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony, Germany.  She tells me that her city is…

“…a cosy town with 160,000 inhabitants.  The city is located not far from the coast.  And I love it!  I have always lived close to the sea, sometimes I caught a glimpse and even saw whales!  I envy you for seeing otters once in a while at the coast.  I really love them.  ❤  So cute!  Right now, I’m sitting on a train to Berlin, Germany’s capital.  I always like to go there (today for attending a business conference) because the city is so interesting and wild. “

That delicious-looking chocolatey treat came to me from Athens, Greece, thanks to a Postcrossing Forum trade, and I can’t recall getting a card from that country before now.  I LOVE the octopus stamp on the back.  Let’s not even wait; let’s get a close-up look at that right this second:



Back to regular Postcrossing draws, that card full of sweet illustrations is from Russia.  The sender writes:

“You said about reading and eating.  I think it’s really amazing things.  Reading about food and places is interesting and useful.  It’s so cool to travel and eat different dishes in different countries.  Do you know, my dream is to try anything interesting in Michelin starred restaurant.  Also I want to try molecular cuisine.  My favorite cuisine is Italian.”

She and I are not born meal companions; my dream involves standing on a busy street, ordering amazing Asian delicacies as scooters whiz around & between me and the cook.  Okay, the traffic actually makes me nervous, but that’s where a whole lot of wonderful food is being prepared.

Finally, if I’m going to remember that wonderful food, I’m going to need a camera–and that came to me from McKinney, Texas. It’s thanks to a swap-bot ad/free card trade, and by the way, one of my partners to whom I sent a card in that opted not to give me that extra heart.  Despite the assortment of stamps I used, and the washi tape, and almost assuredly a sticker or rubber-stamped image, PLUS my average of 13 lines of text–NOPE.  I’m thinking perhaps I need to start taping cold, hard cash to my swap-bot sends.

But I digress.

As usual.

The postcard: the sender wrote, “I was so impressed with your profile!  I am sending this since you like photography.”

I like the stickers she put on (you’ll see), especially the funny li’l kangaroo sporting a pool floaty duck.  Let’s get to it: let’s take a look at the stamps, stickers, & stuff: