Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sunday Stamps

New Year's stamps are indeed hard to find. I thought this was a good example of one, until I looked it up in the handy Philatelist and Postal History site of Archives Canada. Of course, since fireworks are not a part of our New Year's tradition, I wonder where I got that idea... Anyway, seems it is simply part of a 'celebration' series, though it is a special one in that it has an exclamation point after the Canada.



So, in the spirit of fireworks, here are two stamps featuring Aurora Borealis

and a sparkly postcard from Postcrossing friend Irina received just before Christmas
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Czech

Monday, December 26, 2011

gingerbread

one last look at the gingerbread house before it is demolished

a google street view

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

a long way to go

I may be in the minority here, but I want a little snow. If it is going to be winter (and it will be official as of tomorrow) I want to see some dusting of white powdery stuff. Not a storm. And no ice or slush. And I don't want it to last for months. But, snow does brighten up the landscape during these long dark hours until the winter solstice.

I am not willing to go to such great extremes to find it, though this is neat to see from the warmth of my living room.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Stamps

Christmas is the theme for this week. And I honestly thought it would be easy to find many Christmas themed stamps. I was wrong. Or maybe I just haven't looked hard enough at all my postcards.

So I have resorted to two of the Canadian stamps for this year

and we can compared them with one from Australia and one from New Zealand.
Personally, I much prefer the bright vibrant colours of the antipodean stamps!
Check out Viridian's Stamp Blog for more Christmas sights on stamps

Friday, December 16, 2011

sigh

It has turned cold but is still dreary and sunless.
Watching Ellen. Hoping for some cheer and good laughs.
Pleased that Amy Poehler was on, because she is really funny.


Ellen:  "How old are your kids now?"

AmyP:  "1 and 3..."

Ellen:  "and do they know about Christmas?"

AmyP:  "they are just starting to get to know Christmas"
...
AmyP:  "I was starting to tell the kids the story of Christmas, y'know about Santa and how he lives at the North Pole..."


I may have to rethink my opinion of her.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

carol

It is that time of year again. The time when I start complaining about the music on the radio. Most of the music isn't all that memorable to begin with, but at this time of year it can positively set your teeth on edge. A friend and I were walking through a Christmas market the other day and one upping each other with the worst Christmas songs ever. I won. She had no chance against me. Maybe it is because she walks to work and I drive for work and therefore am listening to more of the saccharine, schlocky, what-has-this-really-to-do-with-Christmas music. Though, to be fair, there seems to be a dearth of Christmassy music on the radio this year. For which I am thankful, but also suspicious. Maybe it is simply the stations I listen to, I thought. Or maybe it has something to do with this annoying trend to "not offend" people who don't celebrate Christmas. People who are possibly more offended by this misguided attempt to assume what they are thinking than over a tree, or greeting, or song. But I digress.

I still hold my breath whenever I push the button that prompts my preset stations, preparing for the worst. Mostly, all I get is just another innocuous, generic song. No jing-jing, jing-a-ling, or wonderful Christmastime or even do they know it's Christmas. For the record, the ultimate worst song ever has to be Red Shoes or Christmas Shoes [officially called "Can I Buy These Shoes"] Google it if you are unfamiliar, because I cannot bear to include even a clip.

Last night I tuned into one station that has this week become "your all Christmas music all the time" station, but was pleasantly surprised to hear a choir singing O Holy Night, followed by Once In Royal David's City, followed by Justin Bieber at which point I turned it off. The spell was broken.

Okay, it wasn't a perfect mix, but really, it was a surprise to hear actual Christmas Carols. And it was enjoyable. Not all Christmas songs are deplorable. I miss those old carols. (I also miss Andy Williams, but I digress)

So, I thought I would share with you a little something that has played on CBC.
A Christmas mash up of carols and songs. There is actually a contest (where you have to name the music and the words) which you can play if you go here. But for you I have included a clip, or two, of last year's renderings.



Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sunday Stamps

The theme this week is stamps from the Great White North. That would include us up in Canada. One thing this meme has accomplished, for me, is a new appreciation for our own stamps. I always thought they were a little on the boring side. But then, apparently I have never really looked at them. This flag series is not my favourite, but I seem to have a few of them lying around so I will share them. Now if only there were a description on the stamp, because some of these were a bit of a mystery, I will admit, and required some research.

First up is the flag flying
against the backdrop of the
city of Edmonton skyline at dawn
in celebration of its centennial in 2003


issued January 2002, the 48 cent domestic stamp 
has the flag flying in front of the 
Canada Post Head Office in Ottawa 

issued  December 2000, the 47 cent domestic stamp shows the flag fluttering over an inukshuk                                         

 issued December 1998, the 46 cent domestic stamp depicts the flag in a the breeze against the backdrop of a Newfoundland iceberg 







then there is this series from 2006, featuring 
Polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba
The lighthouse at Bras d'Or Lake in Nova Scotia 
Tuktut Nogait National Park, Northwest Territories
Ice fields and fjord in Sirmilik National Park, Nunavut 

This was also the first year for the non-denominated stamp. The P icon stands for permanent, so although these stamps cost 51 cents when they were bought in 2006, they can be used indefinitely for whatever the current domestic rate is (which this year is 59 cents)

more stamps can be found at Viridian's Stamp Blog

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

snowflakes!

don't thank me for this, thank June at Aging Gratefully.....

Need a Snow Day?


I'm only doing this because we have had no snow yet. nothing. 
how can you get into the Christmas mood without snow?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

in aisle 25

It was all quiet on Carlton Street in front of this shrine on Friday afternoon, but Wednesday morning was a different story. People actually started lining up on the street on Tuesday night to be first to enter the new Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens (MLG) when it opened at 8AM on November 30th. Almost exactly 80 years after its original Grand Opening as a hockey arena and home to the Toronto Maple Leafs (until 1999)
Now, it is a grocery store.
I had to see it when it was still all bright and shiny new
(and in full disclosure, this was only my second time ever being in this place of so many memories)



It is a store with special touches












and a giant Amazing Wall of Cheese






















and a popular sushi bar placed at the outside wall with windows onto the street for some great theatre
When it was first announced that a grocery chain had bought this iconic building, there was much gnashing of teeth at the effrontery of it all. MLG is considered a hallowed shrine. It was not only used for a beloved hockey team, but was also the venue for many other sporting events, not least for wrestling and boxing. Then there were the concerts - Elvis and the Beatles among them. 
This new store is actually full of mementoes of these events. From the pictures on the pillars to the old posters on the walls and even the cafe tables are a collage of old sporting event memorabilia shots.
At the entrance is a collection of the old chairs from the arena painted in blue and (artfully?) arranged on the wall in the shape of a maple leaf. The original walls were left exposed and one can still see the imprint of the risers next to the new escalators. Further up and not yet finished will be an athletic centre and a new hockey rink for the nearby university. This building and its owners has also been riddled with controversy over the years, which just adds to the legendary status and the controversy continues (but I won't bore you with details. google it if you are really interested)
This is as much a tourist attraction as a grocery store for a badly needed vibe in this area and there were staff galore handing out maps and brochures and guiding you to see the sights. Halcyon, who was with me, desperately wanted to get a picture of their specially designed t-shirts, but everyone declined (bosses were likely watching carefully on the security cameras) but I managed a covert shot of these two poor sods in1930s newsboys outfits who wandered around handing out free bags and colourful brochures for the special events being held.
and then there is aisle 25.
where near the end, surrounded by soy sauces, is a red dot.
this folks, is the very spot of centre ice

seriously, next to the amazing wall of cheese, this was possibly the biggest attraction

and as you can see by this large billboard (interestingly seen across the street at Church and Carlton) 
this was a major, show stopping event.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Stamps

Art is the theme for this week's Sunday Stamps.
I had a bit of trouble trying to decide what constituted art pieces... and I have a new magnifying glass for viewing these miniatures...



First up is this American toleware coffee pot.
toleware refers to kitchen-related objects created from metal, typically tin or thin steel, and are usually in the country primitive or Pennsylvania Dutch motif

Don't you just love that spout? Though I do wonder about that sharp right turn.


From Pennsylvania to Transylvania.
Târgu Lăpuș is a city in the county of Maramureș in Transylvania and I imagine that these are typical for that region.


And for something a little brighter, I have a few of these Easter stamps from Poland. I like that the Polish stamps list the name of the author (artist) on the stamps. This particular one is by Jan Konarzewski and is one of two that he designed.








Saturday, November 26, 2011

it is startling

I guess I can admit this here. My secret is out.
I have been known to talk to myself. Out loud. Though, with the proliferation of Bluetooths stuck in people's ears, it is not as strange a sight coming across someone in the grocery store talking out loud as it once was. Still, I do sometimes startle myself when I realize that I am thinking out loud.

The other night I was caught by a dog walker who was laughing so hard his dog turned to look quizzically at him. 
"Did you just apologize to that rabbit?" 
"Well, yes, I did." 
I startled the poor little guy, who went scurrying off, so it only seemed polite. And a natural thing to do. 
I am Canadian, afterall.

Yesterday, I met up with the dog walker in the elevator.
"Still scaring the bunnies?" he asked.
It wouldn't have been so bad if there weren't other people in the elevator.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

100 dollars

I have been thinking of this as a piece of art.
The new polymer 100 dollar bills came out last week and I managed to snag one. It is still the same buff colour as the older cotton fibre version. This time around the images are dedicated to science.
I have had fun fondling its smoothness, turning it around in the light to see all the pretty colours and the embedded pics. I have caressed Prime Minister Borden's shoulders trying to feel the raised bits (they are extremely subtle). And then there are the see through bits, which are a fun novelty.
The older bills were easy to counterfeit - at one point in the early 2000s, it was near impossible to spend one at any store as no-one would accept them.

It isn't quite true that it doesn't wrinkle. But it doesn't fold well. And it has some pretty cool waterproofing - no drops remains when you pull it out of a basin of water, dries immediately!
It is also very slippery (as a friend of mine who works in a bank testified while trying to count a bundle!)
But I doubt my wallet will ever carry more than one anyway.


Now that I have wrinkled it, I will take it back to the bank until I can afford another pristine edition.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Stamps

This week's Sunday Stamps had no specific theme 
(which meant it took me ages to come up with one - I need structure!)
I eventually decided to post these stamps that have nameless faces on them.





Maybe someone out there can identify these people men.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

it wasn't that bad after all

Part of my newspaper route involves door to door deliveries in apartment buildings. Often when I am walking the halls, I will read the front page or flip through and glance at the headlines in the other sections. Sometimes, something interesting will catch my eye and I will try to remember to look it up online when I get home (I hate slowing down when I am in a good stride and besides, with an armful of papers it is difficult to search inside to see how long an article is and to read it).

Today there was a story about the new proposed animal control bylaw and last night's public meeting specifically regarding cats and licensing and what to do with strays, etc. Below that was a box that usually has other stories you can find inside the paper and on-line. That headline read "PEORIA SENDS DOGS UP RIVER. FOR A PHOTO GALLERY OF DOWNWARD DOGS GO TO .... I thought, how horrible! Then I wondered what kind of photos they had. Probably just of the river. Then I wondered where the heck Peoria was. The only one I knew was in Illinois. I figured this must be one of those small towns that had been swallowed up in merges with other smaller towns and given a new name that no-one ever uses.

Now granted, I am usually on auto pilot when I am wandering these hallways and I have been known to humorously misread headlines.

So when I got home and checked it out, it all made sense.

The local CFL team are the Tiger Cats, more commonly known as the Ti-Cats. Or, especially in the print media, just the Cats. The local AHL team are the Bulldogs. Or, in the print media the Dogs. I don't follow sports, so you can see where confusion might set in. Though, this much I knew, I just keep forgetting. And, it seems Peoria really was the one in Illinois and with further investigation I discovered their team is known as the Rivermen.


So, really, that was a very clever headline.

*I am sure, at some point there has been a headline that read
  it was reigning cats and dogs last night

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

he's here

 Look who I found, sitting in his heavily decorated Santa cave.

Seriously? Doesn't he have some last minute preparations to see to? Surely it is too early? There is still six weeks. The street decorations haven't even been put up yet.

And, more importantly the Santa Claus Parade isn't for another week. Doesn't that mean he hasn't officially arrived in town?
Here he is hard at work, waving to some toddler, who seemed more attracted by the glittery balls than the man himself.
As for me, I was more interested in this cool tree that changed colours and patterns.
There was a conveniently located coffee place just behind where I was sitting, so I had myself a beverage and set my camera on burst.... there was, at one point, some dancing snowmen, but the lights didn't seem to have a consistent pattern - some were repeated more than others and I never did see the snowmen again to get a picture of them.

Of course, people, like this girl and her friends, had to have their photos taken by the tree (though as you can see, it was not very busy on a Monday night) and I was asked if I could take one of the three of them together. Of course, I could. I was given this flat thing that wasn't a camera, but some kind of fancy phone and told to just press the centre button. It took several tries and a couple more lessons before I got the hang of it. If you so much as brushed the button, or pressed it on an angle, strange things started happening - the image would zoom and swerve and sometimes disappear altogether. I did not like this device, but still I wished to play with it some more. However, once we established that a decent photo was taken she took her phone back and off they went, completely ignoring Santa.
When I got home, I found a postcard waiting for me in my mailbox. 
It was from an American, who wrote that she was looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving. She loved that holiday because "that is the day we put up our Christmas tree"

That must be the ultimate in holiday combining.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Stamps

I am still sending and receiving postcards from Postcrossing. One of the things I despair about this project, apart from the cost of the stamps, is the boringness of the international stamps that we have available. The best ones seem to be reserved for domestic mail, which is fine, but it is hard to make them add up to $1.75 to send internationally.

We do have these new-ish stamps that have no denomination on them so that you can use them even when the price goes up, which it probably has since these ones were printed, 
but, again, that is only for domestic.

Anyway, I have found a new meme for stamps and it has given me the impetus to get my hundreds of postcards sorted and uploaded (well, photographed, at least. one step at a time.) The theme this week 
is all things related to sports and I thought it was a perfect time to jump in with these stamps from the 2010 Olympics that I still have kicking about.

This was Canada's contribution to celebrating the event philately.
Since it was the Winter Games, we have skiing, snowboarding, luge (or is that bobsled?) and hockey.
This is the Russian stamp celebrating the event



















and another from Belarus
Going back to the previous Olympics, 
we have one from China with that strange looking figure running...
and I am not sure about this one, also from China, 
but it looks rather sporting to me with another figure, running...
Check out Viridian's blog for more stamps around the world, while I go and sort the rest of my cards
(and maybe find the stamp I am sure I have for Sochi)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

waddle adorably

Climb a tree and sit on a branch. Chitterchatter chitterchatter.
If someone were to find me on Facebook, or Twitter, they might assume that I lead a rather ... boring life. They might be right. Even my "friends" don't post much. (except for about 2 or 3 people, who are also, co-incidentally, bloggers). I have 2 followers on my Twitter account, even though I have never tweeted. The Facebook account is mostly for playing their version of scrabble and the Twitter account is mostly to follow the fake tweets. The first one I got hooked on was the Mars Phoenix Lander from a couple of years ago (there is a new Mars mission known as Curiosity Lander launching at the end of this month)
Rummage in a garbage bin. Toss things willy nilly.
These so-called fake twitter accounts appeal to my sense of humour and my short attention span. The tweets from celebrities hold absolutely no interest for me. The ones from the snake that escaped from the Bronx zoo and tweeted his exploits around NYC were fun to read and the tweets from the osprey who was a bundle of nerves over her babies learning to fly (and finally catching their own food, freeing up her time to take up crocheting to calm herself) had me in stitches. 
Wake up, have a little pee in the fallen leaves, go back to sleep.
My newest favourite is a city raccoon. He spends his time scurrying, gnawing, twitching and sleeping, among other less savoury activities. He also washes his paws a lot.
Get up, wash front paws in a puddle. Wash wash wash.

I get to see quite a few raccoons while I am out at night and sometimes, I will suddenly think of one of these tweets and burst out laughing.
Gnaw on leftover pumpkin bits. Gnaw. Gnaw.
Slowly...peer...down...through the bathroom skylight. Blink blink.

He even managed to send out tweets after getting drunk from eating a fermented apple. I have tried texting and found it took me an inordinate amount of time to figure out the sequence of keys to press, so you have to admire this little guy's admirable dexterity!
Car! Run run run run run run run, down into a ditch.
Crash! Scurry scurry scurry, hide among the shadows.
And his ability to make what might appear to be a boring life, rather amusing afterall. 
Dream of fresh salmon (with a sprig of dill).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2,913,260,663

So, the world as we know it has now got 7 billion people living in it.
Actually, the world as I know it is much smaller. And much less populated.
We, in my small corner of the world, complain repeatedly and wistfully, about the new developments going up and the increasing number of people who keep moving in on our patch of paradise and changing it forever.
But in reality, it is nothing compared to so many other places in the world. Places like Shenzhen, China where the population has risen from around 352,000 to 10,358,000 in the last 30 years. 10 million people have moved into that area in three decades! There is only 13 million people in all of Ontario, give or take a few thousand and though most of them live in the southern bit and many in the Golden Horseshoe where I live, it really does not feel all that crowded. Even with all the new condos going up everywhere (apparently Toronto is the king of condo builders in North America) we still have space around us and apparently "places to grow".
taken while stuck in traffic exiting at the single lane Spadina off ramp of the expressway into the entertainment district.
I love that Douglas Coupland canoe looking out over the Gardiner and towards the lake from where once a river flowed...

On a website, which you can find here, you can place yourself in amongst these 7 billion people inhabiting our world. According to my birthdate, I rank as the  2,913,260,663 person alive on my birthdate and the 76,452,309,015th person to have lived since history began.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

fall and garden

This past week the Mum Show has been on at Gage Park. It is a long standing tradition, this show, but this year there was a change - namely a brand new greenhouse. It has been renamed The Hamilton Fall Garden and Mum Show and this year included varieties of coleus and poinsettia.
The theme this year was fire and there were displays with three different fire trucks
as well as old and new equipment planted in amongst the flowers








there is always a petal decorated animal and this year it was a cute firehouse dalmation

and a fire breathing dragon that looks a bit like Nessie with wings
and what would a fire theme be without a fireplace setting. I loved the colourful and oh so soft cushions!


The greenhouse was only finished a month ago and these 13,000 or so hardy mums have had quite a journey to get here. Cuttings were taken from last year's mums and rooted in the old greenhouse, then transported to two other greenhouses during the demolition and construction. The new greenhouse is much bigger and is now a single, wide open space. Though I rather liked the element of surprise every time you turned a corner in the old one, this one is much brighter and it's nice to see everything at a glance and to be able to walk around the displays instead of everything being against a wall.
I, or rather the resident barn cat, gave a tour of a previous mum show a couple of years ago which you can read about here and see the difference in the space.