Wednesday, October 31, 2012

grave post - pardes shalom

Another thing I noticed about this particular Jewish cemetery (admittedly, the only one I have spent any time in) were the personal tributes on the markers. I don't know if it is because this is a 20th century cemetery (it was created in the 1970s) and maybe this is a modern reflection, but I found it very touching to read these remembrances. They seemed to be a celebration of a life lived rather than the Victorian desperation of a reward in heaven.
above we have the traditional menorah for the woman and the Star of David for the man along with their relationships within their family - many listed as 'wife' 'mother', 'bubby' (in all its variant spellings) or 'grandmother' on down to aunt or sister etc.

but the personal memories were the most touching -                   "he sang whenever he had a chance"
I am sorry this one does not show up clearly (though it is more readable in in the photo editing site for some reason. click to embiggen)

"a man who believed in the beauty and power of music to create a world where people can live in peace, harmony and with justice and dignity for all"

"a woman who devoted her life to her community"

as we arrive at the time of year when many cultures are remembering and honouring their dead,
I would like to think that I would be remembered more for my life than my death.

see more honouring of the dead at Taphophile Tragics

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Stamps - hobbies

as with any hobby, one must be creative....

does playing Angry Birds count as a hobby?                                                   how about playing junior hockey?

or building sandcastles?

or how about the I'd Rather Be Sailing in St Lucia idea?

get more hobby ideas here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

grave post - Pardes Shalom

Last week, Halcyon and I went for a walk around the Pardes Shalom, a Jewish cemetery in the town of Maple just north of Toronto. It turned out to be much bigger than I expected, and in spite of the orderly rows, much more confusing to our uninitiated eyes to find our way around.
And, in looking up the history, I discovered that we missed a free walking tour! If only I had done the research as soon as I got home... though it is a long drive to go back.
Two things I noticed immediately that is different from many of the cemeteries I have wandered through recently is the neat rows with each grave facing the same direction and with the back of each stone including the surname. Maybe the names is not traditional but simply an accommodation to the fact that the entrance to this cemetery is at the western edge of the land, but it is a very nice feature. Also, the stones are pretty much all the same height with minor variations in the shapes - no one towers over the others or shows off with a large monument.

The Pardes Shalom Cemetery has been beautifully landscaped, which took five years, from 1972-77, to transform this former Christmas tree farm and gravel pit. Special attention was made to create a space that was as much for the living as for the dead. Had I gone on the walking tour I would now be able to tell you about the various species of the thousands of trees that were planted and the history of the land with the "attempts that have been made to promote the land's environmental health and the visual integrity of the cemetery".

What I can tell you is that there are 15,000 burials with most of the grounds filled with graves. Some of the plots once belonged to synagogues or burial societies while others were purchased directly from the cemetery. There was a variety of traditional and more modern graves, some were written on the front entirely in Hebrew, some had flowers, some had mementoes left. Almost all had stones left on top by those visitors who stopped by to remember them.

See more grave practices at Taphophile Tragics

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Stamps - ships

This week we are travelling by ship at Sunday Stamps. So, when I went to my first stamp show I made a special effort to seek out ship themed stamps. I found quite a few, but the others were in Russian or Polish and I had trouble finding any information on them. And anyway, I actually have the set for these two and I tried to keep the descriptions to a minimum because I know, you probably just want to look at the stamps and move on...

and, I now know this stamp club meets for a show and sale every month, but with someone new in charge, this was the first time they actually advertised it. there was still a small gathering, but at least eight of us were there because it was announced in the "what's on" section of the newspaper. I think the collectors were pleased to see new faces.

By focusing on the ships alone, Tom Bjarnason's colour wash and line drawing has captured the essential grace and elegance of this hard-working vessel and present a visually interesting interplay of sail patterns and rigging detail. The people on the vessel give it a sense of proportion and aliveness. 

These 8 cent stamps were issued in September 1975

Named after her builder, designer and owner, the William D. Lawrence was the largest wooden ship constructed in Nova Scotia during the age of sail and the largest Canadian built square rigger. She sank at Dakar while being used as a coal barge. 

The Beaver, the first steamship in the North Pacific, proved useful in the fur trade. Those who operated the Beaver used her not only to trade furs but to carry passengers and freight, to transport cattle, to tow log booms and barges and to conduct surveys. Still hard at work, she ran aground in 1888 near Vancouver, was abandoned and eventually broke up four years later.

The Neptune engaged in the Newfoundland sealing industry. During her career she brought in over a million pelts. In 1884, the Canadian government chartered the Neptune for surveys in Hudson Bay. She sank in stormy weather in 1943 near St. John's.

The Quadra was built in Scotland in 1891 to Canadian government specifications. She was named after Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, a Spanish explorer. At the time, she was the only government vessel on the coast available for non-military purposes. In 1917, the vessel collided with another ship and was beached to prevent her from sinking. Refloated, she became an ore carrier. However, in 1924, the Americans seized her for rum-running and later auctioned her off for scrap. 

These 12 cent stamps were issued in November 1977

Emerging around 1815 as a fishing schooner, the pinky quickly achieved popularity because of its superior carrying capacity, comfort and seaworthiness.  The craft was particularly adept at mackerel fishing, since it could pursue schools of these creatures as they swam windward. Eventually, fore runners of the Bluenose replaced the pinky. 

During the nineteenth century, North American three-masted or "tern" schooners generally had a high carrying capacity but a low speed. World War I stimulated demands for faster models. Over the years, terns plied the South American, West Indian, Mediterranean and coastal routes, trading in salt, fish, gypsum, lumber, sugar and molasses.

Vancouver and Victoria shipyards responded to the World War I shipping crisis with five-masted, 1,500-ton schooners. Most famous of the class was the celebrated Malahat, "queen of the Canadian rum runners". She increased exports by smuggling at least 120,000 cases of rum southward per year even when business was slow. After prohibition ended, the Malahat hauled lumber until she was beached in 1944, the victim of a North Pacific gale.

The Mackinaw became popular in the remote fishing camps of Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior and even Lake Winnipeg, Hudson Bay and the Fraser River. One captain stated that "properly handled, there is no type of boat made in the same class..." to rival the seaworthiness of the Mackinaw. Perhaps this is why some people used it as a nineteenth century version of the family car.

Information from Canada Post website

Friday, October 19, 2012

make friends with an owl

Owls have been making a big rerun, much as they were back in the 1970's. Everything that could have an owl design, or owl shape is available (if you don't believe me, check out your local Winners or HomeSense, or any kitchen/home decor store).

I think they are cute and have started a modest collection of vintage and retro owls of my own.

The owl came into our Hallowe'en traditions much like the bat. As a hunter of bats, owls would often be seen near the Hallowe'en bonfires searching for food as were the bats. As they flew silently through the night sky and often lived in the hollows of trees where they could not be easily seen, they had a disconcerting habit of scaring travellers. When they screeched, it filled people with apprehension and made them think something evil was about to happen. Some believed that witches could change themselves into owls where they might then drink the blood of babies. In time the screeching reminded people of the cackling of a witch.

The owl was the favorite creature of Athene, the Goddess of Wisdom. The Greeks believed the owl to be a protector, with its magical ability to see at night. To have an owl fly over an army before battle was sign of impending victory.

The Romans, however, believed the owl was a creature from the underworld and a portend of impending doom. To hear the hoot of an owl meant that there would soon be a death. 

The English adopted much of their owl folklore from their Roman conquerors. For them, the owl was a sinister creature. It hunted in the night, a time closely associated with death and evil. 
It's interesting that in the northernmost parts of England and in Scotland where the Roman armies did not conquer, the local inhabitants considered it good luck to see an owl.

This postcard for Postcard Friendship Friday was sent from Vivienne in Hungary

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

grave post - Hendrie

The Hendrie family were fabulously wealthy. In fact, the people of Hamilton were fascinated to discover upon William Hendrie's death in 1906 at age 75, that his estate was worth 2.3 million (although there were many debts and taxes owing). Railways created Hendrie’s business, and cartage, contracting, manufacturing, and rail promotion ultimately involved him in the production of structural iron and steel for which Hamilton has been well known. He was also a sportsman who loved horses and horse racing and he passed on this love to at least one of his four sons, George.  Horsebreeding grew out of his cartage business and William bred and sold horses  (saddle and road and carriage) and would eventually contribute to the forming of the Ontario Jockey Club. In 1931 (perhaps coinicidentally, perhaps not, a hundred years after the birth of his father) George would donate the family's Valley Farm to the City of Hamilton and it would later become a part of the Royal Botanical Gardens. (You can read about the Hendrie Valley Trail here). There is a usual family monument (left) with separate flat stones surrounding the plot for various family members. The stone for George Muir Hendrie, however is not so usual.

George Muir Hendrie
born Hamilton Canada Feb 4 1865
died New York USA Nov 29 1942
fourth son of William and Margaret Hendrie
sporting son of a sporting father
breeder and lover of thoroughbred horses
sporting dogs and game chickens
buried in the "Louisville Cup"
won by his horse Great Britain 1914

I am not sure which is more shocking, the 'game chickens' or that he was buried in the cup won by his beloved horse. I am also not sure what he was doing in New York in 1942.

The family is buried in the Hamilton Cemetery that borders the Royal Botanical Gardens but, if you were to visit Hendrie Park and walked through these ornate gates
past the fountain you will find a plaque
 honouring the donation of the park

and if you continued and walked around behind this tall hedge...

you will find another grave site

Foaled 1896 - Dies 1916
Winner of FUTURITY 
and other races
and a sire of good horses
"dumb creatures we have 
cherished here below
shall give us joyous greeting
when we pass the golden gate
is it folly that I hope it may be so?"

Taphophile Tragics has more interesting tales from the grave

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sunday Stamps - folk costumes

This week's Sunday Stamps comes to you from Estonia. Both of these stamps were designed by Mari Kaarma.

from the farthest northeastern region of Viru, this stamp from 2004 shows a Jõhvi woman and girl in early 19th century dress. 
The most conspicuous common feature for women was a linen blouse called käised (meaning: sleeves) which was decorated with rich embroidery. Complemented with a vertically striped skirt, it constituted the typical north Estonian women’s dress in the 19th century. Viru wives traditionally wore caps, while girls adorned their heads with chaplets. A married woman had to wear an apron and in the 19th century it was often made of fabric bought from a shop. The Jõhvi apron was an especially festive and bright green colour. The girdle was wrapped several times round the waist, with brooches, beads and coin necklaces worn for decoration, as much as one could afford them.

from northern Harju
this stamp from 2011 shows a girl and a woman from the first half or the middle of the 19th century in dress from Jõelähtme, near Tallinn. The girl’s headgear is a so-called eared wreath and a wide red band decorates her green-striped skirt. The girl’s sleeve embroidery is rather simple, but the sleeves of the married woman who sports an embroidered apron are decorated with lavish wide embroidery and she wears a pot hat lined with silk. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

witches tales

Multi-views are probably my least favourite postcards, though some are done well. This card came from Postcrosser Eva in Thale, Germany and shows some wonderful rugged scenery. She wrote that the symbol from the Harz is witches, but gave no reason as to why. So I had to resort to the internet which led me to various awkwardly translated pages about this National Park. I learned that this is a highly regarded spot for hiking and camping, and that tourism is the main source of employment. All in spite of the witches.

It was a favourite walking place for Goethe and he used the setting for one of Faust's memorable scenes where he is taken by the devil up the Brocken (the highest peak in the Harz mountain range) where he "watches a wild night of revelry with witches and other evil creatures". 
When Goethe climbed the Brocken, it was before the hordes of tourists and he reportedly found it a lonely experience. "So lonely, I say to myself, while looking down at this peak, will it feel to the person, who only wants to open his soul to the oldest, first, deepest feelings of truth."

The witches actually all come out in anticipation of Spring on Walpurgis Night (April 30 - May 1) which is of course exactly six months from All Hallow's Eve.

The dense forest and mountains are often shrouded in mist and clouds which lends a mysterious atmosphere that contributes to the reputation as a legendary home to witches and devils.

The witches are said to have arrived on broomsticks where they dance around a huge bonfire and worship their lord the devil who then bestows them with new magic power.

Closer to the truth may be that these witches were just poor pagans who were forced by Charlemagne to convert to Christianity. They kept their pagan religion secret and went to the uninhabited mountains shrouded in hoods and masks to protect themselves as they worshipped their gods.

Postcard Friendship Friday

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


my great niece

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

grave post - Paffard

The Paffard family has a long history in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

One who had the most interesting, if unfortunate start in life, was the wife of Frederick Paffard
Born in Missolonghi, Greece, Katharina was kidnapped at age 3 by the Ottoman Turks during their battle for that city.  The British Consul in Egypt purchased her from a Turkish woman and sent her to England where she was adopted.  Not remembering her original name, she chose Haideen, her Turkish name, as her last name.  In England, she met and married Frederick Paffard, brother of pharmacist and later Mayor Henry Paffard.  After emigrating to Niagara, they lived on Queen Street in what is now the Charles Inn.

From the donation of three small family books to St Mark's Church in NOTL by a later descendent, we know that the Paffard's had a daughter known as Katie (Katarina) who was born in England. The Paffards were living in Niagara by 1855, according to one of the books, a "Proper Lessons to be Read at Morning and Evening Prayer" which is signed by Fred Wm Paffard, Niagara, June 1855. Another, a small Bible in French, is signed "Katie Paffard, February 1869" and includes the donor inscription of "this being the property of our mother during her school days in England".
It is believed that Katie, who was two years old in 1855, must have been sent back to England for schooling and that with her mother already knowing three languages she was perhaps eager for her daughter to also learn a second language. She must have also used this French Bible when she returned to Niagara and was attending St Mark's as there is an added inscription "Mrs Wilkinson, Pew 115".  A companion Bible, in English, is inscribed "to dear Mama from her affectionate sons, Fred and Walter".  Both these Bibles (and the Prayer Book) in the archival book collection of St Mark's were donated by the great-granddaughters of Katharina and Frederick Paffard.

Katharina Paffard - 1823-1883
Frederick Paffard - 1814-1886

read about other interesting findings at Taphophile Tragics

Monday, October 8, 2012

a-waiting and a-wondering

Our family is eagerly awaiting the newest member who is officially due today. We don't know what it will be except that it will be a baby, which very nicely allows us all to circumvent the distressingly in-your-face blue-pink divide of the sexes for the nursery (for the moment, anyway). 

It would be neat if the wee one was born today, not just because it is Thanksgiving and we have already postponed the family gathering just in case and/or so mum-to-be can rest up, but it would get to go through life writing out its birthdate as 8/10/12. How cool would that be?! But, if it is born on Wednesday, it wouldn't have to worry about whether to use the British or American order with 10/10/12.

It has been an eternity since we had a young un in our family. My niece arrived as a fully fledged five year old, so we missed the baby stages with her. Which means, the last baby was... me. And you know that was a lo-o-ong time ago.

On the other hand, it would be nice if the wee one (boy-or-girl) waited a bit until its mums and auntie and grandpa were all over our colds.

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers. And a blessed Monday to everyone else.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Stamps - bridges

Here is one of the postcards I paid slightly more than 50cents to have in my collection. (previous post tells of my postcard show adventure) This is the (McQuesten) High Level Bridge built in 1931 that I cross at least twice a week, though in a much faster moving vehicle. The road below the bridge is now highway 403.

1905 was a year for building bridges in Iceland and this first stamp celebrates the 100th anniversary of the building of one of Iceland's three major transportation bridges. Lagarfljót is a lake in the eastern part of Iceland and the first suspension bridge across it was built in 1905. It was 300 m long and all the timber and iron had to be transported over hills and wasteland. The biggest forest on the the island can be found near this lake as well as one of the tallest waterfalls, the Hengifoss. And it even has its own serpent known as Lagarfljótsormur or Lagarfljót Worm.

and two other stamps featuring bridges, one from Russia and one from China. I have given up trying to search through the internet trying to find anything on these stamps, so just enjoy the image.

see more bridges and public works structures at Viridian's Postcard Blog

Saturday, October 6, 2012

postcard show and tell

Last week I went to my first Postcard Show. I was ridiculously excited about it, though I really had no idea what to expect. And when I came home with my stack of newfound old cards and two packages of protective sleeves, I could hardly wait to get them all sleeved and sorted into the special box I had set out for them. It seems most of the people I have told about this new hobby think I have gone a little strange. Telling them about my visits to cemeteries makes a few of them step away from me. Thank goodness for my bloggy friends....

 So, it seems I took far too much money with me, and as someone mentioned, when I said I was new at this and wasn't looking for anything in particular, I really must decide exactly what it is I want to collect. Some people were very specific. Some stalls had their collection sorted by the artist or the company that made the cards. Mostly I looked for old buildings that were familiar or nostalgic, or street views of the Toronto or Hamilton of old. I stuck to the 50 cent and the 3/$1 boxes, though in my excitement I did come away with a couple of rather expensive pieces which we won't talk about at the moment.

Map cards are a particular favourite, and this one has some interesting graphics. Except for Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Kingston, it appears Ontario is a vast wilderness of outdoorsy activities like hunting and fishing and boating and beaches.

some cards were a little odd. here we have the baby deer, perhaps of the one being shot in the previous card? what is really funny, is that this scene, without the deer, also appears on a few other cards but with different towns named.

Niagara Falls is a favourite. I love the colours and the drawings of the falls. i already have several of them which I will show in another post.

I have taken a liking to the old greeting cards like this generic one.

and the seasonal cards like this one
(even though it has an American bent to it)

the spacing between the letters and the punctuation is a little suspect, don't you think?

But the little table tucked behind the curtain... and the "thankfullest" is priceless.

Happy Thanksgiving!

And if I was in doubt, the deciding factor might be the stamp or the message. This one sent in 1909 to a town with no streets says "Greetings from Sheffield" with no family name! I hoped that Mr Frank Sweet knew who it was from. I was not familiar with anyplace called Sheffield in Ontario but have since looked it up and apparently it is a small town of 304 people between Hamilton and Waterloo, (and not far from Canning) which explains why it was mailed in Galt.

I need a forum for sharing my cards... and this seems like a good choice, Postcard Friendship Friday

Thursday, October 4, 2012

fall delight

It was an odd sort of day yesterday. It had started in a pale, soft misty slightly out of focus way, the views reminiscent of those pink-ish hued pictures from the 80s. Around 2pm I headed out to the market (so I could be first in line for the pie and soup stall) taking only my small point and shoot camera since I figured there would not be much to see in the overcast sky and fog. There is, between the green where the market is held and the church, a cemetery I wanted to explore and I thought the lack of sun would be beneficial. Then, magically, as I drove up the escarpment (or The Mountain as the locals call it) the sky turned a brilliant blue and the sun shone and it became 20 degrees warmer. Maybe a little less, but it was a significant change. The pavement and the grass was so damp however that I thought it must have rained there earlier, though I found out it hadn't. I wandered around the cemetery for a bit, until my feet were soaked and cold from the dew, then had a refreshing pint at a secluded patio with the sun beating down on my car with all those frozen pies in it. Then I headed home. Down the mountain, admiring the fall colours that we were warned may not be spectacular because of the long, dry, hot summer. (There really should be some safe spots to pull over for photographers, because the best views are often from the highway). Down into the distant fog. By the time I got to the lake it looked like this
there is a big bridge beyond these boats

The thick fog had stuck around parts of the city that were not Ancaster. Or, as the Spectator enthusiastically reported: "...fog slowly slithered into town Wednesday, throwing an increasingly thick and slick blanket of damp air across the city. While there may have been some irritated by the lack of sunlight or the amount of moisture in the suddenly thick air, for the visually inclined it was a delight." Apparently, this was a result of something called advection. I had to look it up, because the newspaper didn't bother to fully explain. It means:
(meteorology) the horizontal transfer of heat or other atmospheric properties

Advection fog Fog which forms in the lower part of a warm moist air mass moving over a colder surface (land or water).

There you are. Your word of the day.