Sunday, July 5, 2015

post offices



 I remembered these postcards and thought maybe they had special stamps on the back. They don't, though they do feature cancellations. So, I'm cheating a bit by linking this to Sunday Stamps, but there you go. This just proves you can be as free with the theme as you wish (or need to be!). Besides, it took the good part of the morning to find them, so I'm sharing......
I don't really have any postal related stamps that I haven't already shown.


on the back of the card (above) it reads:
OUR SERVICE TO YOU: SUB POST OFFICES
Sub Post Offices fulfil an indispensable role in the Post Office counter network. Four of the NWPBs sub post offices are shown on this card. Far Sawrey, AMBLESIDE, Cumbria; Roby Mill, SKELMERSDALE, Lancashire; LYMM,  Cheshire; Barley, BURNLEY, Lancashire. Superimposed on the cards are the counter datestamp impression of each office.

and the back of the card below:
OUR SERVICE TO YOU: RURAL POSTMEN
This card shows four of NWPBs Rural Postmen on their daily round at Pendle; Broadbottom, Hyde; Surprise View, Derwentwater; and Northwich. Superimposed on the cards are the datestamp cancellation of the offices from which the postmen work.
 Do these towns mean anything to some of you from England? 
And do you know what NWPB stands for?
Below is another card from the same series, this one of the 'Post Office Tram that was first used during the Blackpool Illuminations in 1981. Hired from Blackpool Transport Dept to promote the use of holiday postcards, the tram was adapted to accommodate a full time philatelic sales point. The tram will again be in use for the 1982 summer season.'

Saturday, July 4, 2015

falcons

This is where I've been spending many of my afternoons and evenings the past couple of weeks. In a parking lot, in downtown Hamilton.
Volunteering my time to look up, mostly towards the Sheraton Hotel, because that is where we have a family of peregrine falcons. That ledge under the 'N' has been a nesting site for about 20 years now, though this year there is a new pair of parents - Lily aged 5-ish and Ossie aged 3-ish. We think, because of his age, this may be Ossie's first time as a father. He's doing a great job. They have two young ones named McMaster and Barton (following a tradition of naming the chicks after local landmarks). There are cameras positioned so everyone can get a glimpse of the family... until the chicks are ready to attempt to fly, at least. Which they did this week.
If you look closely up at the top left corner of the Sheraton you can see what looks like two birds









but, actually it is only one falcon (in this case McMaster) and what we have begun to call "the iron falcon". From a distance, it fools everybody!















Next door at the top of the Standard Life Building, on a pole contraption that is used for the window washers, sits Barton.

They don't fly too far away at first and are still being fed by the parents. At one point a stupid pigeon flew right up to McMaster. We could hear some squawking, but she didn't really pay much attention to the pigeon. Eventually Mom caught sight of it near her baby and chased it away. I guess Mom wasn't ready to catch dinner and baby hasn't yet made the connection between a live bird and food!
Also keeping watch (but with a high powered scope instead of binoculars) inside the Stelco Tower is the falconwatch co-ordinator. I hope to get to go up and see the view that she sees next week. But she can't see everything, which is why we are on the ground. 
Because, also sticking close to the chicks are the parents, one of whom is sitting at the corner of the Stelco Tower. This is my first year volunteering, but already, when the light is right it is getting easier for me to spot them. 
here's hoping for safe flights and no dangerous crashes or falls onto the traffic below. We have a rescue box handy, but none of us really wants to have to use it.
something for Saturday's Critters
and Our World Tuesday

Sunday, June 21, 2015

cartoons

Always a perennial favourite the world over, I think.  Japan has issued dozens of Peanuts stamps and this series of 'Snoopy and Friends' came out in August 2014.
Another stamp from Japan, but very different from the world of Charles Schulz
 this one is for Fullmetal Alchemist issued in June 2010. It was the thirteenth of the Anime Hero/Heroine Series to be issued (the first was in 2005 and featured Pokémon)
Manga is the comic or cartoon, and Anime is the animation. There is both a comic book series and a television series for Fullmetal Alchemist. I admit, I've never seen it (well, until now when I looked it up). According to animenetwork.com the themes are alchemy, military, steampunk, tragedy. The genre is, as you might have guessed, adventure, drama and fantasy. It was written by Hiromu Arakawa and serialized since 2001 with the television series first produced in 2003 and again in 2009.

The anime I most enjoy is from Hayao Miyazaki's Ghibli Studios. I don't have any Ghibli stamps, but I do have a postcard.
This is for the latest - and sadly, possibly the last - When Marnie Was There. It was sent in July 2014 and sender Akari where it was a 'hot topic' when it opened. It has only recently been shown in Canada and I excitedly dragged a friend of mine to see it. Later, I discovered that you can watch all the Ghibli films on the internet for free, and I've been binge-watching ever since.
(of course, watching on a computer screen is nothing like seeing it on a huge theatre screen. plus I made a new convert with my friend who had never seen any of these movies. so it was well worth the trip.)

see other cartoons or children's drawings on Sunday Stamps II

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Nkosi Sikelel' i Afrika

this stamp set commemorates the writer and the song
South Africa's national anthem is, like the country itself, complicated.
The anthem comprises five of the most widely spoken of South Africa's eleven official languages – Xhosa (first stanza, first two lines), Zulu (first stanza, last two lines), Sesotho (second stanza), Afrikaans (third stanza), and English (final stanza).
During the transition to post-apartheid South Africa, both 'Die Stem van Suid-Afrika' (Call of South Africa) and Nkosi Sikelel 'iAfrika (God Bless Africa) shared equal status and were sung, which was rather cumbersome. By 1997, a hybrid version of the two was introduced.
Enoch Sontonga (1873-1905) was a Xhosa teacher and choirmaster at a Methodist Mission School. He composed the music and wrote the lyrics of the first verse and chorus in 1897. It was originally intended as a church hymn but was adopted as an anthem at political meetings, sung as an act of defiance. By 1925 it was the anthem of the ANC. Versions of the hymn also later became the national anthems of Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia, and Zimbabwe after independence, though new anthems were eventually adopted for all those countries with the exception of Tanzania which still has a Swahili version as their anthem.

Is this truly not the world's most beautiful anthem?

Apparently there are many versions as there is no standard translation and the words may vary from place to place and from occasion to occasion.

English translation
italics for God Bless Africa, non-italics for The Call of South Africa
(listen closely and you can definitely hear the chord change)
God bless Africa
May her glory be lifted high

Hear our petitions
God bless us, Your children
God we ask You to protect our nation
Intervene and end all conflicts
Protect us, protect our nation, our nation, 

South Africa
South Africa!
Ringing out from our blue heavens,
From our deep seas breaking round,
Over everlasting mountains,
Where the echoing crags resound,

Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land!


See more of making music at Sunday Stamps II

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

flying in

On my way home last night, I stopped for gas. As I got back into my car and had my hand on the ignition key, something blew onto my windscreen. I thought at first that it was a bit of paper towel flying in the wind. The colour was the same, and it was a windy, rainy night.
On closer inspection I realize it is a giant moth of some sort. 
I take several pictures, with and without flash. And somehow feel a need to share the moth with the woman pumping gas beside me. "Oh, really" says woman, who immediately turns back to watching the numbers on the gas pump, obviously not the least bit interested. 
After trying to gently push the moth onwards, and feeling that he has his feet firmly suctioned to the windscreen, he suddenly flops over on his side, much like a cat will do when exhaustion takes over and a nap is needed. I thought he had keeled over and died. He could have been injured from the impact - a concussion, maybe. Though he was probably blinded and confused by the bright lights of the gas bay.


Another gentle touch to see if he moves on his own and he straightens up again and spreads out his wings. 
Two teenaged boys walk over and they are quite interested in the moth.
One also takes pictures, with the other respectfully asking "can I touch it?"  
I'd never seen anything quite like this before, and neither had they, which makes me feel slightly better about my ignorance. He has a fat furry body and lovely eyes. 
Though, as I look later at the uploaded pictures I wonder about his antennae. It seems there's only one and he must be able to fold it back out of sight.
I get back in the car, and wait a moment or two, hoping he will fly off. He doesn't. So, ever so slowly, I drive out onto the street until eventually the wind picks him up and he disappears into the night. (thankfully, before I get on the highway)
When I get home, I'm pleased that enough of my pictures were clear enough to be able to identify the creature from other images of 'moths in Ontario'. Turns out he is an Antheraea Polyphemus Moth. One of our largest and most beautiful silk moths. The adult has a wingspan of about 4-6 inches and its most notable feature are the purplish eyespots on the hind wings. It's from these eyes that it gets its name Polyphemus - the giant son of Poseidon and the Cyclops Thoosa of Greek mythology. And he is a she. The males are much less pretty.
It's hard to fully see the giantness of this creature, so here is a picture I swiped off the internet with a quarter as a comparison.
Sadly, I also learned that the Polyphemus Moth only lives for about four days. I hope her eventual death was peaceful. Or at least quick.

On the Way
Our World Tuesday
Saturday's Critters

Monday, June 8, 2015

milngavie

This Monday Walk is as much about a walk I didn't take as the one I did - which was, I admit, relatively short, encompassing pretty much all in this photo
It was early morning in Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow. I had half an hour or so while my cousin was getting her hair done to wander by myself. I quite like this village square - it's meandering, yet compact. And has a bit of pretty much everything for your shopping needs. There is a nearby train station and Marks & Spencers with good parking (and even a bench to make Jude swoon - skip to the end if you must sit)

Isn't this a great clock?!                   It was originally at Copland & Lye's department store in Sauchiehall St Glasgow and was donated to Milngavie Town Council when the building was demolished and has sat on this plinth since 1981.
Milngavie - which, by the way, is pronounced "mull-guy" - is the start of the West Highland Way, a 95 mile walk through such scenic spots as Loch Lomond, Glen Falloch, Glencoe, climbing up something called 'the Devil's Staircase' (sounds ominous and challenging) and climbing back down to Glen Nevis and finishing at Fort William at the top of the country.

the gateway on Douglas St
and the obelisk marking the start
It is necessary to have your picture taken at the obelisk before you begin your journey. I had already been asked to take this man's photo, but when I turned around I saw he had recruited another photographer! (yes, I felt a bit insulted) I've never walked the West Highland Way, though I have taken a few, much shorter, hikes around Milngavie. But not on this trip. And I don't think I took any pictures when I was on those hikes; at least I can't find any if I did.
Before setting off, you want to pay a visit to the Official West Highland Way Office for weather and route updates. Or if you're me, only walking through the pedestrianized village centre, a souvenir or two to spend your last few £ 
And this Iron Chef is a delight to wander around, whether or not you are needing supplies. It is packed with interesting bits of hardware for all your hiking and camping needs!



When I was there, the flowers were in full bloom (the town was all prettied up for the Commonwealth games)















but we really need to take a better look at the benches under the gateway. a piece of useful sculpture. 
and perfect for Jude's bench series for unusual benches!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

knitted

This stamp from Latvia seemed to fit the stylish clothing theme, but it wasn't immediately clear what. I thought sashes, at first. Actually it's MITTENS
Part of a series that was issued from 2002 - 2005 (and I now desperately wish I had the whole set) and each stamp shows costumes and particular mitten designs of different ethnic regions in Latvia - here Lībieši.
Each pair features a unique design, utilizing a wide variety of traditional colors, patterns and symbols. For Latvians, mittens are much more than a way to warm your hands. Every ethnographic Latvian mitten tells a story, marks an anniversary and represents a specific region in Latvia. Some mitten designs are specially intended for weddings or other special events. There is even a rich tradition of folkloric etiquette associated with the wearing, storing and displaying of mittens.

I did not know that Latvia was famous for the fact that archaeologists had found the oldest mittens - dated from about 1,000 years ago.  Although the mittens were made for warmth, they also played a decorative role. By fastening them behind the waistband, they were worn in summer as a bijouterie and adornment. For several centuries they were the main form of gift and endowed with magical significance. 

These mittens are shaped like a gauntlet and not fitted at the wrist. This is partly a fashion preference, but also to accommodate the complete pattern repetition. They are made using several double pointed needles in a dense gauge. I am not a knitter, but from my research I gather these are not particularly easy to make. For starters, the patterns often only include a fragment of the design - and you repeat until you get to the top and gradually taper to a point. For another, the design is continuous and encircles the hand, including the thumb, which appears indistinguishable from the main body of the mitten.

For the 2006 NATO Summit held in Latvia, hundreds of men and women, aged from 30 - 86, knitted 4,500 pairs of mittens - each one different - as souvenirs for the delegates and media representatives and perhaps helped create a surge of interest in this craft.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Jadran

It was a bit of an eyesore, yet still sad to see her go.
After all, she'd been sitting at the foot of Yonge St in Toronto for 40 years.

The ship was officially called the Jadran, but the restaurant was called Captain John's Seafood and Captain John's is how she was always known by locals and tourists. 
These were taken in 2010, before the city closed the restaurant forever. 


There was an actual 'Captain John' - John Letnik was an eccentric man with big dreams that he could never let go of.  If anyone is interested in the long, sad story of ruin, just google it. There's lots to choose from.  It was once a fine dining, floating restaurant back when Toronto had few fine restaurants and virtually nothing at the waterfront. Those days (of few restaurants and nothing at the waterfront as well as Captain John's being even a good restaurant) ended a long time ago and over the last 20 years or so it has become a rusting relic of its past glory. Letnik got to ride away on her as she was towed to Lake Erie to her new home at a scrapyard and waved to the crowds that lined the shore to watch. 
Below is a time lapsed video of the engine-less ship being towed out of the harbour on Lake Ontario. Watching her being turned around by the two tugs is pretty interesting. 



Hundreds of people went down to Harbourfront to watch, and thousands more watched the live stream video online (yes, myself included)
And then, because it was easy for me to do, I hightailed it down to watch her go through the Welland Canal.
First up is the tug Molly
followed by the braking tug Jarrett, into Lock #2





and a better view as they head to Lock #3
hmm, the bow looks much better
there were pictures on twitter of a couple of raccoons scrambling up the poles which led to (unconfirmed) rumours that there were a 100 or so raccoons on the boat as she was towed away. You're welcome, Port Colborne.

It's been a long time, but I'm back... sharing with Our World Tuesday
and signs, signs

Sunday, May 31, 2015

stilted houses

Lake Nokoué is in what is now Benin in West Africa. The country was known as the Republic of Dahomey from 1958 until 1975 when the more neutral name of Benin was chosen. In a lagoon at the northern edge of the 20km long by 11km wide lake is the village of Ganvie. 
In the late 16th or early 17th century the Tofinu people saved themselves from the attacking Fon people who had made a deal with the Portuguese to hunt and sell other people from smaller ethnic groups. Someone realized they could take advantage of the Fon religion that forbade the warriors from entering water (something about a water demon) and a plan was hatched to build their new community on stilts in the lake. 

It's the largest lake village in Africa with about 20,000 inhabitants and is now a UNESCO World heritage Site.

Many of the houses are built of bamboo and the boats - known as pirogues - from tree trunks.
All of the houses and shops - plus a hotel and a couple of restaurants - are built on wooden stilts several feet above the water. A patch of dry land was made by importing soil in their boats to house the school and more soil is being imported in order to build a cemetery. The lagoon is not deep and several small islands pop up and are used to house a few domesticated animals, though the main livestock is fish from an intricate system of underwater corrals.
These stamps are from 1960. 
Here are some recent photos, found on the internet, of the lake village.

This is apparently quite a tourist attraction, though it mostly seems to consists of being ferried around in a boat watching the local people go about their daily business. Still it would be fascinating to see. Of course, this being Benin - at 6º north of the equator - I'm sure it gets unbearably hot and humid. And I'm thinking with all that water (where all the waste presumably goes) quite odorous.

for SundayStamps II showing places to live.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

street signs - Portside

Portside is in Charlotte, Rochester, NY and, conveniently as it's name suggests, beside the port. On the map, it is Portside Dr and runs through Ontario Beach Park between Lake Ave and N River St near where the Genesee River flows into Lake Ontario
I find these over-the-street arms with the lights and street names very convenient for driving - no having to search over to both sides of the intersection to see where the street sign is located, and you can continue looking straight ahead to see the lights change (or not, as the case may be).

As you can see, there is a lighthouse on these street signs.












This is the Genesee Lighthouse
another in my irregular series of street signs