(mid- to late- 80s) who had hoped to finally have time for a hobby after she retired from the workforce. But as soon as she retired, a situation arose in which she had to start keeping house for her daughter and grandson. And I mean she does everything. She says she never has time for herself, except when she is sick or too exhausted to do anything fun. I send her etegami regularly, and each time she sighs with both the pleasure of receiving them, and frustration that she can't pursue a hobby of her own.
I asked her one day what she would choose to do with her free time if she had any. She said she'd always liked to write. I asked, poetry? prose? calligraphy? She wasn't clear on that, but maybe she wants to do all three. So I suggested we work on some collaborative etegami. I would send her some cards on which I'd painted images, and she could add whatever words she wanted. It would take only a few minutes of her time and very little in the way of tools or space. Neither of us are certain this will work, but I said what do we have to lose by giving it a try?
I told her that if she liked the results, she could use use them for her
own purposes, like sending notes to old friends with whom she has long been out of touch. Even if she only has time to do one card a month, it will be something she can be thinking about and looking forward to as she does the housework or when she's lying in bed at night. That's my hope, anyway. She had suggested it would work best for her if I painted seasonal images, so today I painted some baby birds in a nest and a bunch of loquats. These go into the mailbox tomorrow (in an envelope to keep them from getting marked).
Update: Ten days after the original post, my friend sent back three of the first four image-only etegami I had asked her to complete with the addition of words. She thanked me over and over for "moisturizing" her life-- an expression that describes a parched plant soaking up the rain. I really meant for her to keep them all, or to send them to someone else, but I remembered that several of my readers had expressed interest in seeing how our collaboration turned out. So here there are. The writing with the loquat says "Bursting with grace and fruit." The other two quote poetry--her own I think-- with references to the specific flowers in each image (Gymnaster savatieri and Digitalis). Notice that she signs her part of the etegami with her own hanko.