Monday, July 30, 2012

grave post - Howard

Last week I introduced you to St James Cemetery in Toronto that was designed by John Howard.
Now I will introduce you to John and Jemima Howard.

a portrait of John G Howard (source: wikipedia)

1874           and Jemima

His name may not be as familiar as some others, but some of his works certainly are. Besides the cemetery, he was also responsible for laying out what are now the Toronto Islands and High Park, the premier park in the city and the largest one that is wholly within the city limits. One of the streets that goes through the park is called Howard Park Avenue.

John and Jemima came to Canada from England in 1832. Until then, he was known as Corby, though why the name change is not known. One of his explanations for changing it to Howard was that he had been born illegitimate and had been given the name of his stepfather and wanted to go back to his 'rightful' name. Another was a claim to be a direct descendent of Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk, though a 17th century descendent had changed his name to Corby from the ancestral estate Corby Castle after a family dispute.

Their marriage was a little odd - John had a long term relationship with a Mary Williams and had three children by her - but when Jemima became ill with cancer, he did everything he could to care for her. He would outlive her by 13 more years and die at his home, Colborne Lodge, in High Park and in which he was allowed to continue living as part of the deal.

The land that was to become High Park was bought to be used as a sheep farm in 1836, during his tenure as the city surveyor. Howard was also a busy engineer and architect who we can thank for the many public buildings and churches as well as the roads and sewers and bridges making the muddy town of York, as Toronto was then known, a bit more livable. His land, however, was not at all suitable as a farm, being rather hilly with wetlands and sandy soil. By 1873, he had deeded the park land back to the city in exchange for a permanent pension. He and Jemima had no children of their own. Both were artists in their own right. Jemima is said to have possibly suffered from dementia, which may explain why her bedroom had no door handle on the inside and a railing in front of the fireplace. There is also a rumour that John tried to have her committed to the lunatic asylum (which he also designed and which was torn down in 1976 to be thankfully rebuilt as a much more patient friendly facility).
The house is now a museum run by the Toronto Historical Board.

The Howards are buried in the Howard Tomb, a monument that is located across from Colborne Lodge and overlooks Grenadier Pond. Howard designed the tomb himself in 1874 with a cairn representing Jemima's Scottish roots. Jemima died in 1877 (possibly of breast cancer) with the poor woman having a view from her bedroom window of her own burial tomb as she lay dying. There is a rumour that if the conditions are right, you can see her ghostly image in the window. 

The gate is from St Paul's Cathedral in London. Showing his wealth and influence, he bought the fence (designed by Christopher Wren in 1714) when it was taken down and had it shipped to Canada. Sadly, the ship capsized in the St Lawrence and most of the railing was lost, but Howard managed to have this small section salvaged.

a watercolour done by John Howard around 1874-75.
see more tragics at Julie's Taphophile Tagics

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sunday Stamps - writing

The Chinese stamps often are filled with characters that say I have no idea what, 
commemorating some special event.

see other interesting stamps at Viridian's Postcard Blog

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

grave post - St James

having a cold in winter is miserable, but there is something that is pure evil about a summer cold. as well as miserable+.

Before I became so miserable I went on a cemetery walk at St James Cemetery in Toronto. It was built in 1844 and is the oldest cemetery that is still in operation in the city. When it was built, it was way out in the country, far away from the (Anglican) St James Cathedral it served. Now it is very much in the downtown at the edge of the ravine that divides the city into east and west.

Here is what can happen when you put gravestones (and graves) on a steep hill.

and because I want to amuse myself, I am playing with the colour balances and special effects to make everything look very much greener....

It is a very pretty place to walk through with its mature trees and meandering paths.

Though, unlike Mt Pleasant up in the north end of the city, it does not lead you from one major street to another.

The gates with the chapel up on the knoll (although it doesn't look like much of a hill in this view, it is the highest point on the grounds)
The cemetery was designed by John Howard who was the city's first official surveyor and civil engineer.
  A marks where the church is located and B shows where the new cemetery was built after the original became full*. Although it is only a distance of one and a half miles, when it was opened, there was a population of roughly 18,000 and the majority of them lived below Queen Street.

find more grave facts at Taphophile Tragics.
+ I will visit you all when I can breathe easier.....
* the interred were moved to the new site, but there are still apparently some unmarked graves under the parking lot of the church.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Stamps - Olympics

it turned out that many of the stamps I thought were olympic themed were, in fact, for other sporting events, so this became more of a challenge than I expected. and the post office did not have any of the rowing stamps for these 2012 games in stock when I went this week.
since these are the summer games, I am showing these three from the last ones in Beijing.
I will admit that I find the logos from the 2008 and 2012 games to be a little less than exciting. 
(though this pleased-with-herself-figure on the trampoline is cute)

find more Olympic themes on stamps at Viridian's Postcard blog

Monday, July 16, 2012

grave post - Campodonico

Caterina Campodonico was born in 1804 as a strong willed peasant who spent her life traveling far and wide selling her homemade reste - necklaces made of nuts (sometimes translated as hazelnuts or chestnuts or peanuts) and breads. She was judged as too independent by her family and when she became ill in 1880 instead of helping to care for her were already arguing about how to distribute her wealth (which they did not believe was solely from selling her breads and nuts). However she defied them by living and then, using the money she had been saving, commissioning the most prominent sculptor of the time as well as a popular poet to create her monument.

"By selling necklaces of nuts and sweets at the Sanctuaries of Acquasanta, Garbo and St. Cipriasso, defying wind, sun and water coming down in buckets, in order to provide an honest loaf for my old age; among the little money laid by myself to the furthest ends of time, with this monument, which I Caterina Campodonico (called the Peasant) an authentic inhabitant of Portoria, have erected while still alive. 1881. Oh, you who pass close to this, my tomb, if you will, pray for my peace.

Giambattista Vigo (which seems to have a more flowing meter and rhyme in the original Genoese dialect)

Caterina chose the famed Lorenzo Orengo as he was the best sculptor among the Genoese bourgeoisie.

Just as many of the entrepreneurs and professionals had the symbols of their wealth, Caterina made sure she was wearing the traditional garb of the hawker and is seen with the objects of her trade - a necklace of nuts with twisted loaves of bread.

It is said that she used to delight in standing beside herself in her traditional skirt and apron with the fringed shawl for the Genoese who flocked to see her marble monument.

On July 7th 1882, Caterina died and there was a long procession following her to the Staglieno Cemetery from the church of Santo Stefano.

Her statue has become the most recognized in the cemetery "which more than any other has a place in the collective memory and imagination".

see more monuments at Taphophile Tragics

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Stamps - flags

Our flag has only been around since 1964, but the government has done a spectacular job at making it one of the most recognized. The Maple Leaf has been emblazoned on pretty much everything.

And for several years we have had a flag series of stamps, some of which I have already shown and you can see here. Interestingly, this flag series are for domestic stamps, so they do not end up flying around the world.

Here are a couple more...

a lighthouse series with this example, issued on May 1 2008, from
Pachena Point, British Columbia, located along a dangerous stretch of the western coastline, on Vancouver Island.

"As the eye moves across the panel from left to right, you can almost hear the sound of the flag flapping in the wind," says Liz Wong, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. "It really brings out that deep sense of national pride."

And this example from a historic mills series of the Watson's Mill in Manotick, outside Ottawa. This stamp, released in 2010, was cancelled in Manotick for the 150th anniversary of the mill. There is a lot of history and and a tragic love story associated with the mill which you can read about here.

and, in honour of the Olympics opening soon, here is our example of an Olympian managing to wave the flag at an impossible angle on a victory lap.

In celebration of Canada's participation in the Games of the XXIX Olympiad and also in recognition of the more than 340 athletes who will proudly represent our country, Canada Post is issuing a domestic rate (52¢) stamp on July 18, 2008.

(oops, which I now see is next week's theme)

see more flag waving stamps at Viridian's Postcard Blog

Friday, July 13, 2012


I did buy myself a Lladró figurine when I went to visit the factory. She doesn't have a name, yet, but she is very slender and tiny. Fine-boned, one might say.

She makes my other figurine look a bit statuesque!

but, I did buy her specifically because she was the closest one I found that matched up with the one I already had.

and she was within the right price range.

and she has that lovely string of pearls.

I think she is the slightly wilder younger sister, although she is apparently Ingenue, according to the catalogue.

The tour is a fascinating experience. Lladró is made nowhere else in the world except at this one location just outside Valencia. You get to go behind the scenes and see the women (they are all women, who probably have smaller hands and fingers and possibly more patience than men) at their tables forming and attaching and painting...

The artistic team creates pieces in clay following traditional sculpting techniques. The original mould is then fragmented and each piece is reproduced exactly using porcelain moulds.  Even the hands are of several moulds with the fingers and wrists and forearm and upper arm later attached using the same porcelain to create the right sense of flow and movement. When you see the painstakingly elaborate process that is involved, you can appreciate why they are so expensive.

I went early so I could wander around the showroom beforehand. I was slightly disappointed that there were not more pieces I wished to buy, but then this is not really something I want to collect as much as I enjoy looking at them and admiring the delicacy of the features. I have the one lady and love her and am pleased to have found another to make a pair.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

grave post - Fayence

we took an afternoon bus trip into the Provencal countryside to Fayence and Seilans and I was excited to see, as soon as we left the car park, a cemetery! it was almost hidden behind a wall and boxwood hedge, but I was glad I took the time to wander in (very quickly, I might add - one does not want to be the one holding up the tour bus)

Julie mentioned last week, in a comment, about flowers at grave sites and one thing I really like about the Australian ones I have seen are the gardens around so many graves. Although there are a few tiny gardens in Ontario, mostly it is an abundance of fake flowers that are left to rot in the sun.

Here, in this particular part of France, I found something very different - an abundance of glazed pottery flowers!

...and several potted flowers mixed in.

I have tried, and failed, to find any information about this. I don't know how unique it is, but if anyone else has seen this sort of thing, please share.

see more flowery (or not) grave sites at Taphophile Tragics

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Stamps - yellow

A couple of cute yellow goslings (Canada Geese) were part of the baby wildlife series issued in 2011

and for the Europa series in 2010 for Children's Literature, Lithuania issued a set of stamps featuring this boy on one side of the big book and a girl on the other (which I don't have)
and a Finnish Moomin from 2009
and from the young to the old, also from Finland, this one for the theme of mythical places with a bonus shaped stamp of geography (archipelago) both issued in 2008.
The natural rock cliff is in Southern Savo, in Ristiina on the shore of Lake Yövesi. A giant human face can be seen in the rock formations of the cliff and it has probably been some kind of cult site. Stone Age dwellings have been found nearby and it is thought that ancient residents considered the cliff a kind of god or an image of one. 

find more yellow stamps at Viridian's Postcard blog

Friday, July 6, 2012

the world awaits

It was 1972 when I had my first transatlantic airplane trip. I don't remember what type of plane it was. I don't even remember which airline it was. It is pathetic what I don't remember. It was to Glasgow, I know, because that was where my mother was from and the extended family were still there. Cousins I had only ever heard stories about. An aunt and uncle who wrote letters and from whom we received Christmas presents every February (one sister was a bad as the other, as I later learned my cousins also eagerly anticipated their Christmas presents sometime in February!)

My mother had not been back to Scotland since 1952 and then it was by ship. I cannot imagine that journey with a 2 year old baby.

I am glad I had the chance to get a taste of the excitement of air travel before things went all pear shaped. It was an event. One that you dressed up for. You looked forward to the surprise meal and the little bottles of alcohol - some of them I still have. Years later, I would help myself to the cutlery as a souvenir. I also remember how certain rows would be designated 'non-smoking'. Right. As if the smoke did not waft across the aisle or over to your seat anyway. It was always so very quiet with anticipation as the plane descended and once on the ground, there would be a collective outtake of breath and we all clapped. If we weren't buckled into our seats, I am sure there would have been a standing ovation for the captain's safe landing.
I am sure this is a sumptuous meal

I also remember the stops in Gander for refueling. I was fascinated at the isolation of the place but as my ears usually hurt, I was also glad when the aircrafts were able to make extended journeys without the need to stop before going over the ocean.

The other day, I was reading an old Reader's Digest magazine I had found. Remember when they used to put the index on the back cover?

As it was too hot outside to leave the nicely air conditioned cafe, I read the whole thing front to back and back to front.

The adverts were as, or more, interesting as the stories and the lame humour.

travel was becoming more accessible to more people and the world was waiting for us to visit. Or at least Europe was.

 and airplanes were were all over the advertising

yup, the advertising was as misleading then as it is now -
that is a downpayment of 10%
but really, a flight from Montreal-London was $453.60 economy class.
If $1 in 1960 is worth $7.75 in 2012 (according to one website) then this trip to a "whole new world of experience, new pleasures and perspectives" would today cost $3,515.40. Probably with taxes and tariffs added. No wonder my family had to wait another decade to even consider the possibillty.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

grave post - Staglieno

The entrance to the Staglieno Cemetery includes these flower stalls, which seems a very practical thing to have.

The views out over the rooftop of the mausoleum over to the city of Genoa were spectacular
as were the views within the cemetery

some of the areas resembled the mediaeval quarter with the narrow, stepped alleys

though some of these grave sites were a little worse for wear. 
I wonder how these old bones feel to be lying in such a topsy turvy state.

see more grave states at Taphophile Tragics

Monday, July 2, 2012

out the window

One of the things I would consider a deal breaker for any apartment that I wanted to call home would be the lack of a balcony. I have dealt with windowless kitchens and baths, with non eat-in kitchens, with no hallways and small closets, no parking and no A/C. But never no balcony.  Although, this summer we are getting ours re-done, so I have been without one since late April. The first couple of weeks were difficult. I didn't realize how often I would step outside, just to test the weather, or to get a better look at a sunset, or for somewhere to stand while drinking my morning tea. I wouldn't mind so much what size it was - a small patch big enough for a bistro table and chair and I would still be content. In fact, the one I have now is almost too big - very long and narrow. I end up using a portion of it for storage, which is not always pretty. But it is handy for at least important function: drying my laundry. I have a few clothes horses and drying racks that serve to dry pretty much everything I own. Now these are cluttering up my living room and it is a nuisance. Plus I am missing that all important fresh air scent.

It seems to be a universal feeling that nothing can beat the scent of air dried clothes, but the getting of that scent is not so universally accepted. There are whole communities where clothes lines and the drying of clothes naturally are forbidden. Where one can be fined huge amounts of money for being so daring as to show off your freshly laundered linens. It is considered by some to be a blight on the neighbourhood. Personally, I do not mind seeing your washing hanging out on a line strung across your backyard. I find all those big assed recycling and garbage bins we are now forced to buy and use to be far more of an eyesore.

While wandering around Genoa and Palma, one of the common sights that garnered the most comments from us tourists was the laundry hanging out of the windows of the apartments in the narrow streets. I kept rather quiet about it, though I did wonder how often things might fall off the line, which would be a huge nuisance having to climb down all those stairs to the ground to retrieve it.

And they have an advantage of not having to go outside and around the back of the house to hang up their clothes - simply open the window and your line is right there. So far, I have never noticed a distinct smell of fuel on my clothes from the cars below my apartment. Or dirt from the steel mills across the bay. But that was the most common refrain from the other tourists.

Strung across the front of your building was a little eye-catching, and not always the most pleasing of views, but I found it rather quaint. And, in fact, I was rather pleased to see this charming old world custom still being carried out. It was exactly as I would have expected from what I have seen on television and old movies. It is very practical as I imagine there is not much room for a dryer in these apartments located in what is quaintly referred to as the mediaeval quarter. And let's be honest, some of these narrow alleys are also not the prettiest to begin with. And a sign of life is a welcome thing.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Stamps - scenic natural landscapes

On this sweltering holiday weekend, lets look at some stamps with nice cooling rivers.
Mountains seem to be the most popular design as these scenes for France, Norway, and Finland show.

First up is the Sea of Ice Glacier, on the northern slopes of Mont Blanc in the Alps. Apparently, it used to be visible from Chamonix, where it is the longest glacier in France, but due to its shrinking it has become a little less visible.

Nasjonel turistweg Lofoten - the National Tourist Routes in Norway. 
National Tourist Routes are beautiful drives with that little bit extra. The routes are carefully selected by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, and each of the 18 routes has its own history and character. According to the website, the route for Lofoten takes you on a drive through magnificent scenery and a vibrant coastal culture. The landscape is filled with contrasts ranging from the dramatic expanse of the ocean to craggy alpine peaks, glistening white sandy beaches, fishing hamlets in sheltered ports and verdant agricultural communities.

and of course, what is a stamp post without a showing from Finland? It is a nice informative touch that they add a small map to show the location of the National Parks featured on their stamps.

In this case, it is Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in the Western Lapland Region, Finland's 3rd largest National Park. It is a park dominated by fells surrounded by forests and mires in their natural state and is the most popular among Finns.The stamp also includes the name written in Finnish, Swedish, Northern Sámi and Braille. In 2009, it was the second most popular in voting for the most beautiful stamp.

The second stamp in the National Park series features Torronsuo National Park, issued in 2010. It also includes a map but this time the name is written in Finnish, Swedish and English. This National Park features a large open mire landscape has looked the same for thousands of years and is a good spot for watching migrating birds such as cranes and geese. It is an easy one to reach for many people in the Kanta-Häme Region, being close to urban centres.

see other scenic stamps over at Viridian's Postcard