Sunday, December 27, 2015

a prince and a polar bear

One of my favourite stamps is this 1998 $2 polar bear. The same image also appeared on the new $2 coin
the corner block features a paw print and the halftone litho dots in the icon of the bear.

Taken from the Canada Post website, 
... polar bears have unique rounded shoulders and pronounced brow ridges. Their necks, skulls and noses are elongated and their muzzles are aquiline.  Large paws help polar bears distribute their weight while walking on thin ice.  Their front legs act as water propellers while their hind limbs function as rudders.  The white fur helps it blend into the arctic background and has special features for cold weather adaptation; it is translucent and transmits ultraviolet radiation to keep the skin warm. 

and for something completely different
I'm quite taken with this stamp - for a variety of reasons which include 
  • it's from a state that no longer exists (it was established in 1549 and disestablished in 1967 and  is now part of Yemen)
  • it has Arabic script, plus an English explanation of the miniature painting Reading Young Prince, 16th century. Unfortunately I cannot find much about this painting except that it is Persian from the Safavid period
  • turquoise is my favourite colour (and also a favourite of the Persians) and from an aesthetic point of view it pleases me that the prince's robes match his pillow and rug
  • how can you not love that fanciful head gear?!
for more year end favourite stamps see here

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

Canada's oldest Christmas carol was written around 1643 by Fr Jean Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary. Commonly known as The Huron Carol, the original Huron/Wendat words were translated into English in 1926.
This stamp, based on a painting by Ronald G Wright using native motifs to recreate the nativity story, shows the hunter braves (shepherds) following the star to the lodge (stable). In the carol, the Magi are portrayed as "Chiefs from far" bringing fox and beaver pelts. 
Gitchi Manitou means Great Spirit. 
Jesous Ahotonhia means Jesus, he is born.
One of many versions for your listening pleasure. 
Twas in the moon of wintertime when all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim and wondering hunters heard the hymn,
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

Within a lodge of broken bark the tender babe was found;
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round
But as the hunter braves drew nigh the angel song rang loud and high
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt with gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free, O seed of Manitou
The holy Child of earth and heaven is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy who brings you beauty peace and joy.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

Words: Jean de Brebeuf, ca. 1643; trans by Jesse Edgar Middleton, 1926
Music: French Canadian melody (tune name: Jesous Ahatonhia)

more Christmas stamps at See it on a Postcard

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

river of lights

On one of our warm spring-weather winter nights, I took a stroll through the park where the Simcoe Panorama of Lights is displayed. It has been going on for over 50 years and started when the floats from the Christmas Parade were parked in Wellington Park. 
It has been added to and adjusted over the years, but much is also the same. There are dozens of (carefully and lovingly) refurbished wooden displays from children's stories to a manger.

Thousands of lights are strung around the trees and displays from a carrousel, to a tree in the river and a fairy tale castle, to several buildings with displays reminiscent of department store windows - a church, a general store and Santa's workshop make this feel very homey. 

makes for lovely reflections!

Several Santas of varying vintages will greet you

as well as a Santa Moose and skiing polar bears. Christmas music plays throughout the park and there are horse drawn trolley rides on the weekends. This is but a tiny example of what can be seen, partly because it was windy and quite a few of my pictures were blurry, but mostly because I was drawn to the hot apple cider and cinnamon buns available, so my hands were full. The lights attract many busloads of tourists every year and you have until January 3rd, 2016 to see this year's edition. The town of Simcoe is located on Highway 3 by Lake Erie
a Monday Walk for Restless Jo with a few signs for Lesley's signs, signs

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas Island

In 1977 Christmas Island issued this souvenir sheet of
 The Twelve Days of Christmas
there is a nice bottom frame with the music, but what I particularly like is, 
that for the seventh day, there are seven black swans a swimming.

So named because it was founded on Christmas Day in 1643, 
it consists of a solitary island in the Indian Ocean and is closer to the Indonesian island of Java than to Australia, of which it is a territory (since 1958)
only 12 days until Christmas!
see other Christmas stamps at Sunday Stamps II

Sunday, December 6, 2015


The Europa stamp competition theme for 2015 was of “Old Toys”  Russia's stamp shows Dymkovo toys and Matryoshka dolls.
Dymkovo toys (also known as Vyatka toys or Kirov toys) are molded painted clay figures of people and animals. It is one of the old Russian folk arts which still exists in a village of Dymkovo near Kirov (formerly Vyatka). Traditionally, the Dymkovo toys are made by women.
This sender also included some postcards showing the toys.
For me, personally, I don't particularly find the these dolls attractive – and I'm not sure how much time would be spent playing with them – but I am quite fond of the matryoshka dolls. I had one as a child and I remember many hours of amusing myself taking them apart and moving them around into different displays.

A matryoshka doll, also known as Russian nesting doll, refers to a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first matryoshka dolls were made in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin. 

Traditionally the outer layer is a woman, dressed in a sarafan, a long and shapeless traditional Russian peasant dress with the figures inside of either gender. The smallest, innermost doll is typically a baby turned from a single piece of wood.  Much of the artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be very elaborate.

release your inner child by seeing more toys and games at SundayStampsII

Sunday, November 29, 2015

brought to you by the number 2 ...

From my collection, it seems the Dutch have been the ones to favour stamps with only the denomination printed, though these stamps from around 1899 have a bit of flourish to them.
and from 1946 (l) to the more sedate 1976-82 version (r)
so, when this stamp arrived in my mail this week, I assumed at first it to also be Dutch. 
There is no date on this German stamp, but I believe it to be a 'supplemental 2 cent' stamp for use with older issue stamps when the price increased in 2015.
which is far easier to deal with than our 22¢ supplemental stamp!

for more numbers and letters on stamps, check out Sunday Stamps II

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Marianne and Marguerite

I wanted to find a stamp of a famous French person and the first one I came across (because I don't have many French stamps) was this 2014 Marguerite Duras issued on the 100th anniversary of her birth. She died in Paris in 1996, but was born in Saigon.

I didn't know much about her, except that she wrote "The Lover", of which I've seen the movie but not read the book.  She was already 70 years of age when she wrote that book.  She had also written many plays, films, novels, essays, reviews, interviews, and screenplays.  The Lover is now known to be highly fictionalized although when it was first published she claimed it to be completely autobiographical. 
From a NYT article,  Truth, in the Durasian universe, is a slippery entity.  After "The Lover," Duras said, in Le Nouvel Observateur, that the story of her life did not exist.  Only the novel of a life was real, not historical facts.  "It's in the imaginative memory of time that it is rendered into life."
After having spent a good portion of the morning reading about her life, I don't think I much like her.  And apparently, she both awed and angered the French.  She was an alcoholic, a Communist and a Résistance fighter and by many accounts she was also a vain, provocative and difficult woman.

As for the stamps, the Duras stamp was designed by Sophie Beaujard and engraved by Claude Jumelet.
The Marianne stamp has been a definitive in varying forms since 1944.
Marianne is a symbol of Republican France,  she is liberté egalité, fraternité
This is a 2012 version designed by David Kawena and Oliver Ciappa and according to she is based on comic strip and manga drawings. The image is based on Inna Shevchenko, an activist and leader of the feminist group Femen, though previous images have been based on actresses such as Brigitte Bardot, Mirielle Mathieu and Catherine Deneuve.

find more famous people at Sunday Stamps

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Older stamps seem to be the best for finding monochromatic colours and these ones were issued between 1957-1961

Three stamps from Selangor, a state of the Federation of Malaya, each with a portrait of Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah (full name Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Alauddin Sulaiman Shah)

He was the Sultan between 1938–1942 (with a break during the Japanese Occupation) and again from 1945-1960.
with a rice field
 showing copra, which is the dried fleshy bit of the coconut used to extract coconut oil

and this one showing a tiger

I have three of these and each one has a slightly different shade of 'violet'

It seems the tiger was a popular image and was used for the other states as well though each with a different image in the medallion. In the bottom plates of each the left shows the coat of arms and the right the value.

The stamp for Penang has in the medallion the coat of arms while the one for Trennganu (now known as Terengganu) has Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin (full name  Almarhum Sultan Sir Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Zainal Abidin III). His reign as Sultan lasted from 1945-1979.

see more monochromatic coloured stamps at Sunday Stamps II

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


The annual Mum Show has a different theme each year
this year it's 
there are over 200 varieties of mums on display

an old hearse from a local funeral home

music anyone? we may need a new pianist
boiling up trouble ... or making pumpkin soup?

which is scarier ... the mummies, or the spiders?
tiny town on Hallowe'en night

mummies identifying some of the varieties of mums

Monday, November 2, 2015


Following last week's walk to the caves, I drove on further to spend the rest of the afternoon in Tobermory.

Tobermory is the end of the road. It's the farthest point on the Bruce Peninsula and the Niagara Escarpment and is the end terminus of the Bruce Trail, an almost 900km hiking trail that starts in Niagara.
It's also a seasonal town that pretty much closes down during the winter months but is always packed with campers and tourists during the summer.
This sign is new, and like in a shopping mall it lists everything you need to find on the few streets.  And, surprisingly for a non-shopper, I always quite enjoy poking around in all of these shops and galleries. There is a nice complement of touristy and general merchandise for sale.
I had to chuckle at the LCBO (our government run liquor store) being listed under 'amenities' rather than 'shopping'.

As you walk into town, straight ahead is Little Tub Harbour
where on the left hand side you can pick up one of your boat tours
and over on the right hand side are more shops plus the walking trail

and there, not quite able to hide, is the Chi Cheemaun, taking on cars to ferry over to Manitoulin Island – a two hour journey. I took the opportunity to find a bench and wait for it to leave. 

It was a bit of a wait (the ferry can hold up to 240 vehicles) but as it was so hot, somewhere around 40C, I  was extremely happy to just sit and watch.
okay, sit and take dozens of pictures. I was ridiculously pleased at the timing.
Chi Cheemaun means Big Canoe in Ojibway.
some of these bobbing heads are people on a scuba dive lesson. diving is a big thing here - lots of shipwrecks, and even underwater caves
Let's turn around and head back towards town
across the road we find this guest house, The Lightkeepers Cottage
a sculptural bench with attached planter for Jude 
(just because)
the back is in the shape of Bruce County.
and even sculptural rail posts – each one is ruggedly individual
and just beyond is the cairn
Jo may end her walks with a refreshing cup of tea, but this is where I was headed
a couple of doors down, for Anabel, is the library
more shops and an art gallery tucked in the corner
seeking shade wherever you can!
as I was walking back to my car, I noticed a new building
 will replace this older cottage style one. 
 not quite as charming, but I'm sure the space is sorely needed.

In case you're wondering, the Flowerpot is a type of sea stack on an island about 6km away. They are what is left of a cliff after being battered by rain, wind, waves, ice, and time. There are currently two of them on the island, and they look like what is at the gateway sign (first picture).

if you so desire, amble on over to restlessjo to find other walks from around the world