Tuesday, October 27, 2015

pianos and benches

When I was young I desperately wanted to play the piano.  The fact that we didn't own a piano seemed irrelevant to my mind – we knew people who did have one and surely they'd love to hear me practice. Wisely my mother determinedly said no, knowing full well I would likely never have stuck it out.  And I wouldn't have - my fingers are not of the long, elegant variety desirable for reaching the keys. 

But, for Jude's October Bench Series of 'occupied benches' I present these piano benches
here is a woman posing at playing a sculptured piano in Valencia
and these are people playing real pianos for Play Me I'm Yours 
above are two of the 41 pianos in Toronto 
and below one from Stratford (Ont) and another from Glasgow

Monday, October 26, 2015

seeing the caves

Back in August, when the temperature and humidity was near unbearable, I decided to go on a hike.

I thought the caves would be a cool place to visit. Literally and figuratively. I hadn't been to see them since I was a kid and now seemed as good a time as any to revisit.  These caves are a small part of the Niagara Escarpment and located about halfway between Wiarton and Tobermory on the Georgian Bay side of the Bruce Peninsula.
The caves were formed by the wave action post­glacial Lake Algonquin over 7,000 years ago, as water levels in the region have undergone great changes. Softer limestone has been eroded away by water action, leaving magnificent overhanging cliffs at various points along the shore. Also inland, where erosion has cut more deeply, caves have been formed, such as Greig’s Caves, which are now located about 250 feet above Georgian Bay but were once at water level. (source: Grieg's Caves website)
I was a little surprised to see that the parking lot was full of cars and the man in the booth was surprised to see me on my own.  Seems there had been a rush of people in large groups coming in during the previous half hour.  So, to give them more time to get ahead of me I chatted with the man in the booth for a few minutes before heading down the trail.  Even so, I still caught up with at least three of the parties.

Then again, it also occurred to me that it probably wasn't an ideal trail to be hiking on my lonesome – the rocks were slippery and the trail quite steep and narrow in places. (You need to sign a waiver before setting out)
The trail is well marked with these bright red blazes.
The man in the booth told me he'd had to turn away a few people who thought it would be fine to wear flip flops.  Can you imagine trying to navigate these rocks in such flimsy footwear?!
All that green looks cool and damp, but trust me, it was still hot (the day was 40C, with a heat advisory – except in the Bruce Peninsula according to all the weather reports, but, one could be forgiven for not quite trusting that)

At a certain spot outside this first cave, it felt like you were standing in a transponder circle with the a/c on full blast. Only in that one spot – if you moved a foot in any direction the humidity and heat hit you like a hot towel.
The contrast of the bright afternoon sun and the darkness of the caves made taking pictures challenging. As did the sheer size and closeness of the rocks.

in one end
and out the other
some giant sized rocks had fallen into a precarious looking angle
and some formations made for interesting frames

Finally, some people for scale (didn't think of that when I let the others get so far ahead of me)

and, of course, with all these stones and rocks.... the inevitable inukshuk or ten

A challenging and humbling walk on the Bruce Peninsula for Jo's Monday Walk

Sunday, October 25, 2015


This is another instance of my choosing a theme, then when I get around to finding the stamps I had in mind, discovering that they don't quite fit the theme...

This set of stamps from 2011 intrigued me and I discovered it was for a Cossack Uprising in 1594-96.  I kept a post-it note with bullet points on the postcard to remind me.
I have no idea what the squiggle and graphic is in the extra, and I couldn't find a way to translate the Russian. But I did find out about the two men the stamps are honouring.

The gentleman on the bottom left is Hyrory Loboda, a Kosh Otaman of the Zaporizhian Cossack Host. Kosh Otaman is the highest military rank of the Zaporizhian Cossacks in the 16th-18th centuries and Host is an archaic word for army. The Zaporizhian Cossacks lived in central Ukraine.

The gentleman on the top right is Severyn Nalyvaiko, leader of the Ukrainian Cossacks who became a folk hero.

The uprising was a second failed Cossack rebellion against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which, at the time, was one of the largest and most populous countries in Europe.  The conflict was ultimately won by the Crown of Poland, but two years of warfare and scorched-earth tactics employed by both sides left much of right-bank Ukraine in ruins.
My head was spinning trying to detangle all the references and historical dates and places - my military history is astoundingly bad for eastern Europe during the 17th C.
Basically, Ukraine was divided along the Dnieper River into Right-Bank which was under Polish rule, and Left-Bank which was under Russian rule. (one must realize that the Dnieper must be flowing south for this to make sense!).  
Nalyvaiko was in the Polish army until he decided to organize a paramilitary unit of unregistered Cossacks and peasants and then proceeded to raid several Moldavian and Hungarian towns before invading Belarus. He eventually joined forces with the Loboda and his Zaporizhian Cossack army.  
Time and fighting went on and the Cossacks started to run out of food and water during a seige. A mutiny arose among the rebels and Loboda was assassinated by Nalyvaiko's supporters who thought he was collaborating with the crown hetman (military leader) of the Polish army.  Nalyvaiko was handed over to the Poles by the rebel mutineering Cossacks, supposedly in exchange for their own lives.  The Poles thanked them then attacked them anyway and after the rebellion their lands were taken over and given to Polish magnates. 
Nalyvaiko was tortured and beheaded and put on public display.
And he became a legend, with poems and songs and stories written about him, and even a brand of vodka named for him. And a stamp.

for more battles or disasters head on over to Sunday Stamps II

Monday, October 19, 2015

the prettiest town

 Not all the sidewalks in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town located where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario, are paved in such an interesting fashion as this one

and not all of the buildings are covered with such vines
but the streets are covered with such flowery abundance
this is the Shaw Cafe and Wine Bar, a delectable spot for a meal before or after the theatre.  
NOTL is the home of the Shaw Festival.  The Royal George Theatre can be seen on the other side of the street with banners for two of the current plays being shown
one of the many shops even went so far as using some old stock of handbags as planters

The cenotaph, or clock tower, that stands in the centre of Queen Street. It was built and erected in 1922 to honour those from the town who were killed in WWI.  It has the distinction of being the only Canadian war memorial that is in the middle of any town's main street.

The light was fast becoming dull and dark so I stopped photographing and nipped inside for a refreshment before returning home. Yesterday we had a few moments of snow flurries. Today the temperature dipped to below freezing.  Not sure how much longer these flowers will last, but they have had a good run for the season.
a short walk at the end of the season for Jo's Monday Walks

Sunday, October 18, 2015


I wish I had the third stamp in this series of maps of Austria issued in 2012
but I guess I should count myself lucky to have these two. One (Welt, or World) stamp came on a Postcrossing postcard and the other (Europa) came with several other stamps from another Austrian Postcrosser. The third (Inland) shows the flag filling in just the country of Austria in a small map of other unidentified neighbouring countries. 
I can't find a picture of it that I can borrow from the internet.

All of the stamp designs show the flag fluttering in the shape of the country.

see more maps or flags on stamps at Sunday Stamps II

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

aero car

We have had some beautiful fall days these last couple of weeks, though yesterday wasn't one of them. Still, I needed to restock on Niagara Falls postcards, so in spite of the wind and the darkening skies and threatening rain, I headed off to find some. 

My first stop was the gift shop at the Whirlpool Aero Car.

WEGO is the Niagara Falls/Niagara Parks transit service
and this is the Aero Car waiting for people willing to traverse along the cables over the Whirlpool Rapids
and there was this group who wanted to get as close as possible to the rapids

but all I did was buy a couple dozen postcards, one of which was this one
a little day trip for signs, signs