Saturday, July 31, 2010

Virtual zoo trip

Let's wander around the virtual zoo a bit and see some of the amazing animals we share this planet with.  With whom we share this planet.  Whatever. 

The sender of this card described the orangutan as "intelligent, long arms and reddish-brown hair".  Sounds like my high school junior prom date. This little fellow flosses after every meal.

The armadillo does not floss because it has no teeth.  They eat mostly insects that they catch with their long, sticky tongues.  In Spanish "armadillo" means "little armored one".  They are one of the few known non-human animal species that can contract leprosy.  Now won't that bit of knowledge come in handy next time you're on Jeopardy?

From Estonia we have the species Vulpes vulpes, commonly known as the red fox. These foxes have poor eyesight but can run up to 45 mph.  As a result, they frequently collide with trees.

People don't look nearly this cute when they eat crackers.

This is a very old card I picked up somewhere. Unfortunately, I can't read the date on the postmark, but I would guess it to be from the 1960's.  The description is "Remnants of early Texas are displayed in this glass showcase on the lawn of the Court House at George West, Texas."  It was addressed to someone in Sour Lake, Texas.  The name sort of makes you want to move there, doesn't it?  Even more so when you learn that Sour Lake is home to one of the biggest sinkholes in Texas.

The person who wrote this card said the bull was from the "West Ranch" where her brother had worked for 50 years. He was lucky they didn't stuff him for this exhibit.

Clyde the parrot thinks I'm neglecting his feathered friends so here we have some birds from New Zealand.

Now have a nice glass of milk and take a nap.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Round round get around

Today's theme, more or less, is how to get from Point A to Point B.

Point A might be your cave in the forest and Point B might be the secret time travel portal that takes you to the 15th century. Or Point A could be something as mundane as a haunted house and Point B your psychiatrist's office. 

Whatever, it's important to get from where you are to where you will be. Several postcards I have received offer good suggestions for reaching your destination.

You can always hitch a ride with Mom.

But Mom may be busy planning her next party or tuning her ukulele.  Your next best bet is to get your 10-speed (or 1-speed, as the case may be) and start heading down that long, lonesome road, preferably with a friend and a few chickens.  Note that you can either ride your bicycle or simply accompany it on a walk.

If you do decide to walk, it's always a good idea to have a map with you. In this modern world, the landscape can change very quickly, so it's best not to use a map from 1912.

Racing to get from Point A to Point B can be very exciting.  Camel drag-racing is very popular in some parts of the Middle East. 

If camels are too slow for you, there's always the Formula 1 race car. Just be aware that you will never even SEE Point B and could end up just about anywhere.

I thought you might enjoy this early Beach Boys photo. Brian Wilson is driving the little deuce coupe, while Dennis has already picked up a hot babe in the back seat.  Fun, fun, fun 'till Daddy takes the Model T away.

You can always take to the water for a more leisurely trip, as shown in these cards from Canada and The Philippines.  Be prepared to paddle and swat mosquitos.

And finally, don't forget the joys of train travel. Having once been in a train wreck myself, I can vouch for the fun factor.  Here's a scene from the 45th annual Taiwanese Big Boss Train competition.  Zero to sixty in four days.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Busy day for Henry

Some days are just a lot busier than others. Ask King Henry VIII. On this day in 1540, Thomas Cromwell was executed for treason at Henry's order. Plus Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

Now Catherine should have realized right then and there that her hubby-to-be had some anger management issues, but her stairway didn't reach quite to the top so this didn't occur to her. Sadly, after less than two years of marriage, she found herself permanently separated from her thinking mechanism.

Henry's social secretary was also beheaded for scheduling too much excitement on one day.

This calls for some strawberries!

Rusti and I lived in Northwest Arkansas for a while, many years ago. We would occasionally drive up to the town of Eureka Springs. A very touristy place, but lots of fun. It doesn't seem like somewhere that you would find interesting Victorian architecture, but there it is.  This pre-1900 home now serves as a restaurant.

Have you planned your "bald" party yet? In case yesterday's party tip did not appeal to you, I now offer another for your consideration. Put on LOTS of clothes (preferably black and white), including a hat, then go outside and make up dances on the spot. No music allowed - just use your imagination. Switch partners as often as possible. Here's how it was done in Sweden.

I would like to be sitting at one of the outdoor cafe tables shown on this card from Münster, Germany.  So would all of the people in the photo above.

Here's somewhere I've never been, but would love to visit: The Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.

And somewhere I have been and would like to revisit, Vancouver, British Columbia.

I always like to end on a note of confusion, if possible, so tell me please, what was Picasso THINKING when he painted this?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Party tips

I'm sitting here listening to some quiet music - nodding off, actually - so how about we take a look at some of the cards I've recently received in the mail?  Soon you'll be nodding off too. But wait.... this post includes some great tips for your next get-together. Especially if you're a bald man.

First, a picture I wish I'd taken, sent from Barbara in The Netherlands.

Isn't this a great photo of three kids at the edge of a pool? This card was sent from Lithuania. The words translate to "Unbreakable Friendship". Just wait until someone gets pushed in the pool.

You know, I never learned to swim, although I was quite athletic in most respects as a youngster.  But put me in a swimming pool and I'd sink like a stone. Now, a few (?) pounds heavier, I practically float away in a Jacuzzi. Built-in water wings. I wonder what would happen if I just jumped in a swimming pool now. Well, if you don't hear from me again, you'll know.

Here's a 13th century Moravian castle in what is now the Czech Republic. It is still in very good condition, as you can see, thanks to some renovations over the years. Thanks for this card to Eva, who is also still in very good condition. I'm not sure about her renovations.

From modern-day Belarus, here is a castle that could definitely use a few renovations. This is a real DIY fixer-upper for some young couple. 

I can't quite make out the signature on the card. It's either Dasha, Pasha or Pasta - probably one of the first two.

Now the promised party throwing tips, from Taras Bulba. There was a man who knew how to have a good time!  I don't know whether bald men have more fun, or whether having too much fun causes one to go bald, but this party was a real corker, so please consider a "bald" theme for your next celebration.

Remember, it is not necessary to have seating for all your guests. The fun only increases when everyone mills about, pointing and guffawing. Notice there is a secretary taking notes, since otherwise no one would remember what happened the next day.

I sort of need a couple of aspirin after looking at this card. 

Thanks to Natalia in Russia for the great painting!

And finally, my favorite card of the week. But just imagine having to blog on this machine!

Thanks to Helga in Germany for this card.

See you again soon - unless I go swimming.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oregon State Fair 2010

Although this is an Australian card, it definitely has that "state fair" look about it, which got me to thinking ahead to this year's Oregon State Fair.  It will be held here in Salem, August 27th - September 6th. Salem is Oregon's most exciting city, if you don't count Portland.

I'm trying to decide which competitions I will enter this year, but there's so much to choose from.  Sometimes I just wish I could be two people. (Sometimes after a large meal, I'm pretty sure I AM two people.)

I would enter Clyde in the Wall-of-Noise Parrot contest if it was being held this year, but unfortunately it is not. I'll never hear the end of this from Clyde. And I probably wouldn't do well in any of the livestock categories, since I have none. I knew I'd regret not buying that pig.

So what's left? Hard choices....
  • The Oregon Dairy Council's 2010 Milk Mustache Contest
  • The 17th Annual Hermiston Watermelon All State Seed Spitting Contest
  • The Craft Warehouse Dress-a-Potato Contest
  • The 13th Annual Old Fashioned Corn Shucking Contest 
Oh darn... I just noticed that the Dress-a-Potato Contest is only for children. Well, shucks. There goes Whistlin' Idaho Slim, the Rustlin' Russet.

I think I shall spit my way to fame in the watermelon contest, after which I will be so happy that I'll be bound to win the Milk Mustache contest.  Now if I can just remember when to spit and when to swallow.

Oh, I just love getting my picture in the paper!

For other, possibly more informative, news on the upcoming fair, go to the fair's website.

I'm going to go practice my spitting now.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hymy huulella!!!!

"Hymy huulela...Juhlatuulella" is Finnish for "I have fallen behind in my blogging, but I'm back so let's celebrate!".  The postcards are gaining on me and I must catch up. Besides, you've missed me, I know you have.

To show off my bilingualality, I will translate another card for you.

This card from Germany says "Wenn der Ball am Torwart vorbei geht, ist es meist ein Tor", which means "When the ball gets by the goalkeeper, he is in deep doo."  You can see the two club owners discussing whether to behead the goalkeeper or simply make him do without supper. The goalkeeper pretends to be unconcerned.

Did you know that Singapore's most famous symbol and mascot is The Merlion - part fish and part lion? This one obviously ate something that didn't agree with him.

This is the inside of a Merlion's stomach.  My bad - wrong postcard. This is actually a famous organ in a cathedral in Gdansk, Poland.

Ah, laundry day. "The Old Bridge" painted by Hubert Robert (1733-1808).  The building on top of the bridge also seems to have an upset stomach. Obviously this is today's theme.

To end on a lighter note, here is a card from the International Balloon Fiesta in Bristol, England.

I must go now. I'm feeling a little gassy.

I just noticed something. Google places ads below my blog posts based on the topics I have written about. Today I see I have ads for dog bloat and digestive upsets. Be sure to click for more information on dog bloat.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Plant a postcard

How are y'all doing today?  Ready for a short trip?

Let's begin in the city of Tilburg, known as the "wool capital" of The Netherlands.

This card came with a very unusual type of stamp: it has flower seeds imbedded in it under a thin layer of plastic. You can peel them off and plant them! Leave it to the Dutch to come up with a great idea like this!

The following card from Kaunas, Lithuania led me to a Lithuanian web site that has a gorgeous birds-eye "tour" of the city, along with some beautiful relaxing music. Well worth a few minutes of your time, I think. 

Kaunas has a number of sister cities around the world, including one here in the U.S. - Los Angeles.

Remember our earlier discussion of a possible ski trip to Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand? I thought you might like to see how it looks when it's erupting.

How fast can you ski?

Here is some fantastic architecture from the German city of Köln (what we Americans call Cologne). 

Just one art card today, this one sent from Russia. The artist is Vincent van Gogh. For such a small country, The Netherlands has certainly produced more than its share of wonders. I mean, not only Vincent van Gogh, but stamps with SEEDS!!

Landscape at Auvers After Rain (Landscape with Carriage and Train), 1890.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Teddy bears and vampires

I received a card from Germany today with a drawing of an adorable teddy bear by the artist Joelle Wolff. 

I'd never heard of her before, so I did a little googling and found that she draws a LOT of teddy bears and other cute critters. If you have children, or still have a little bit of the child left inside you, you might enjoy looking at some of her other work.  Very cute stuff.

And for a real change of pace...a card from Sighişoara, Romania (Transylvania...hehehe).

Although this town is famous for being the birthplace of Vlad III The Impaler, better known as Dracula, it would be an extremely interesting place even without its well-known "vampire".  The history, architecture and remnants of the medieval era (the town was built by Saxons starting in the 12th century) would keep a history buff busy for weeks. I wouldn't normally think of Romania as a possible vacation spot, but this town sounds fascinating. I wouldn't go walking in the woods after dark though.

Here are a few sights from Austria - beautiful mountains and a cow heinie, among other things.

The couple on top of the rock are yelling "yodel-eh-ee-hoo" which is German for "HEY!!! How do we get down off this darn rock!!!". 

Monday, July 05, 2010

Other people, other times

We're going to make some new friends today. First, let's meet Marguerite in Belgium.

This "Portrait of Marguerite" was painted by Fernand Khnopff in 1887. Marguerite was Fernand's sister and his favorite model. It was discovered after Khnopff's death that he often worked from photographic images that he had taken of his sister.  Marguerite was probably very grateful for this, since standing like this for hours was really boring.  Notice how she is glancing at a television to her left.

The eternal question: What To Read Next.  "The Bookworm" was painted in 1850 by Carl Spitzweg, a German. I have a tendency to fall off things (which is why my computer chair has a seat belt), so this type of bookcase would be quite dangerous for me.

I don't know the title of this painting, but it was painted by one of the leading Finnish painters of the 19th century, Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905).  Beautiful colors, I think. This is how I always dress when I take a book out on the patio.

This is a detail from the painting "Woman Combing A Child" by Bihari Sándor (1855-1906), a famous Hungarian painter from Budapest. I'm wondering what the bowl is used for. My speculations are probably best left unsaid.

"Portrait of the Actress Jeanne Samary", 1878, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Jeanne Samary was a famous comedic actress and also a lover of Renoir's.  If you enjoy good historical fiction, you can read about Renoir, Samary and others in Susan Vreeland's "Luncheon of the Boating Party".  Check out Vreeland's other books as well.

Luncheon of the Boating PartyGirl in Hyacinth BlueThe Forest Lover

Let's end this with a bang - "Judith" by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt (1862-1918).  Now you just know there's a story behind this woman, right? 

Judith was the Old Testament heroine who saved the city of Bethulia from a siege by General Holofernes.  She is the subject of the biblical Book of Judith. If you were able to see this entire painting, you would see that Judith is holding the head of Holofernes in her left hand.  She removed the head of Holofernes from his body after getting him drunk and seducing him.  You go, girl!

On that blood-thirsty note, today's art lesson concludes. Whoever said art isn't interesting?