Monday, January 18, 2010

Penpal of the Week #31

Today, let's meet someone who has been penpalling for a long long time: Garci in the USA.

1. Please tell us about you!

My name is Garci and I live in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, USA. I was named for my maternal grandfather, Garris, who had a British name. I do like having a unique name and have not met another Garci thus far.

With my niece, Emmi.

Where I live in the southwest, it is very hot and dry and I love the climate here, even though the summers are brutally hot. I grew up in Colorado but have been in Arizona for 25 years now.

I'm divorced but in a terrific relationship now. I woke up one day and realized that I forgot to have kids (ha ha), but I have a wonderful niece who lives nearby and I've been part of her life since I cut the umbilical cord during delivery! My boyfriend, Ernesto, has two grown daughters who are fantastic and bring us a lot of joy. My sweetheart is a great cook and can fix anything; I decided a long time ago that he's a "keeper".

My immediate family is all here in Arizona and there's only my sister, brother-in-law, my mom and Ernesto (small family, eh?). Nesto's family, on the other hand, is very large with lots of cute kids running around. We seem to split our time going to family events with either family.

Nesto and I love to travel together; we went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Maui, Hawaii, San Francisco and Las Vegas last year. I've decided to try and see all 50 states in the United States before I'm 50 (just as my brother-in-law did). I'm about at 40 states right now; I have yet to see many of the small Northeastern states. I have been fortunate to travel overseas many times but my dream trips are to go to Japan, Spain and Ireland. We recently bought another motorcycle, a Victory Vision (made in Iowa) and it's a nice cruiser, so smooth on the road. We are exploring the great state of Arizona by motorcycle.

Ernesto and Garci's new motorcycle, a Victory Vision.

I love thrifting and collecting! I go to yard sales, second hand stores, estate sales and my best shopping partner is my mom. While I was hosting a garage sale once, a man told me that yard sales are a way to keep the earth in balance – transferring the junk from one location to another! We have found some cool stuff while shopping, like my kitchen table, bookcases, tons of books (my niece is a voracious reader), tools, kitchenware, and a few gifts! A friend of mine recently said that she doesn't shop at thrift stores because there are other people that need that stuff more than she does. I don't disagree with that statement, but shopping helps the stores stay in business and my family does donate a lot of goods to charity and they go back in the system... thus keeping the earth in balance!

I can be found on postcrossing at chandlerguera.

My blog is here.

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

Capricorn. Loving. Giving. Humorous. Sensitive. Blunt. Procrastinator. Thrifty. Collector. Organized.

Eating shave ice in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii.

3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I started penpalling in grade school to a girl in France and a boy in Sweden. I still send a Christmas card every year to the boy in Sweden, although I haven't heard from him in 25 years! The cards must be getting delivered as they have never been returned. Perhaps a new family lives there now and reads and enjoys my annual card! Or maybe the Gothenburg post office recognizes me by name, and says, "Oh no, she's still sending the cards to the long-lost boy!"

As a child, I would also correspond with my grandmothers, so that laid the foundation for me to enjoy lifelong letters. My mother is a talented writer and can always write the best thing for the occasion. I'm sure I learned a lot about writing from her.

Lavender growing in my backyard.

4. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

I have been corresponding with a gal in Australia for about 15 years; I answered her penpal notice in the back of Royalty Magazine, so our love of Princess Diana was the common denominator. She's quite the correspondent (very witty and long letters; she writes just like she talks, as if I was right there in the room), although much less frequently due to she has two small children now, and I usually hear from her via email and Facebook.

My primary longtime correspondent has been for 20 years! I met Kazuko at the Hard Rock CafĂ© in Los Angeles, and we've been writing ever since. She's Japanese and is fluent in English, thank goodness! When we met, we were both single and since then there has been the marriages, my divorce, her three children, and lots of other major events we've shared in 20 years. We snail mail 99% of the time and email only several times a year! We are constantly sending each other little packages with candy, household goods, photos, pens, bags, you name it – we've sent it! Now Kazuko's teenage children are learning English so they're writing me too! I love it.

Circa 1990 - my first meeting with Kazuko (on the left)
in Los Angeles and her friend Ryoko.

I am also currently corresponding with two lovely Finnish ladies (Pirjo and Ann-Catrin), whom I met through Postcrossing, a beautiful mommy in California (CaRho), Cathy in Florida, Carol, the American who married a Brit, the wildly artistically talented Bianca in Australia, another sweet artist named Gemma from England (we met through a letter swap) and Postcard Jim and I have exchanged a few bits and pieces.

5. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

What I've been doing, motorcycle rides, holidays, traveling.

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

Cool mail art is always fun to receive! I enjoy a witty writer and just learning about other cultures and backgrounds.

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

I like to use creative stationery and stamps and decorate the envelope up. I'm so inspired by Bianca's mail art; if you've seen her blog, you know what I'm talking about. I'm currently on a mission to find tacky vintage stationery and I've scored some in thrift shops and estate sales. I have some Garfield (the cartoon cat) stationery from 1978, some very orange paper with flowers and a round stationery pad that's pink. All vintage.

I love learning about other cultures; it's been a rewarding lifelong hobby.

Beautiful fall color in Sycamore, Illinois.

8. In what language(s) do you correspond?

English but I like to throw in a little Spanish sometimes.

9. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I just got a new lapdesk for my birthday so I've been using that while sitting in bed at night (the boyfriend is sleeping). I also write a lot when I'm traveling, even on the plane! For my birthday, I bought myself a butcher block table/workstation at Ikea (meant for use in a kitchen), and it's in my spare bedroom/office/workroom. I'll be able to do crafts, write letters, wrap gifts, etc. on this big tabletop. The boyfriend assembled it straight away when we brought it home.

Every year I write a Christmas letter and I try to set the mood with holiday music, scented candle burning and a cup of tea, cocoa or wine. I have a notebook full of my Christmas letters and cards in chronological order that I started in 1992. I hope that people enjoy my letter – I try to write a humorous letter with some highlights, and not a boring bragging letter.

A Christmas picture of my sister and I from the 1960's;
I sent it out as a Christmas picture about 20 years ago.

10. Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you've been penpalling?

Occasionally Kazuko will send me something from Japan that I am not sure what it is and I can't read the package (Japanese), so we have fun figuring it out. For instance, I think she sent me disposable handwarmers but they look like magnets. She also sent these one-use "shots" of flavored mouthwash in flavors like orange, rose and green tea.

11. Have you met any of your penpals?

Di, the first Aussie, took a trip around the world and she was able to travel through America and Arizona and we met in person. She recently posted a picture of us on Facebook from our horseback ride out in the desert!

Kazuko in Japan has since returned to the USA (after our initial meeting) to visit me and she brought her three kids; we did the Grand Canyon, swimming, horseback riding, Sedona, shopping, baseball game, sushi – so much fun. It was evident that children are the same everywhere – they run, squeal, play, make messes... no matter what language they speak.

My penpal Kazuko's son, Joe, and a picture he made in school
that described his trip to Arizona in 2002!

12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

I'm good right now, developing relationships with the new ones and maintaining friendships with the long term ones!

Thank you, Garci!

If anyone who reads this would like to be featured on my blog as Penpal of the Week, please let me know!

Julie xox


  1. What a lovely interview, Garci! :-)

  2. Very nice interview! I'd so love to be featured on your Penpal of the Week. I'm Tiya from Indonesia. My email is Thanks!

  3. Congratulations, Garcita, on being selected for this interview! I really enjoyed reading it. It tends to sum up why you're the most interesting friend I have. I MISS YOU!!

  4. Well done, I am so impressed. It takes a lot of dedication and love of the hobby to keep up with your penpals. You have done well. You've shared your correspondence, too, and have found some lovely people. Who would have thought when you began in childhood, that you would continue. Keep it up, I'm enjoying it, too.

  5. By coincidence shortly after this interview posted, I received an email from one of my earliest penpals -- the boy in Sweden. He's a lieutenant colonel in the military, with a wife and two young daughters. He also attached a photo of himself. What a treat to hear from him after all these years.

  6. Really, the long-lost boy from Sweden reappeared after all those years?! Wow, what a coincidence! ;) So was he still getting your Christmas cards every year?!