Monday, August 30, 2010

Dinner party

I've been a little busy lately planning my next dinner party. I think I have the guest list figured out. Now I just have to determine the best seating arrangements.  Here are my guests:

This handsome fellow is Obtossaway, a Chief of the Ojibwas. I always invite him because he brings me beautiful beadwork and has excellent ideas for new hair styles. Plus, he's one of the few people I know who is willing to try my latest buffalo recipes.

Next is Vincent, a rather moody but extremely talented painter. I always have to remember not to sit anyone to his right - he has a bit of trouble hearing on that side.

This is Lisa, a young Russian girl I met in a museum. She looks very sweet but the rumors you've heard about her kleptomania are true, and after a couple of glasses of wine she swears like a sailor.  She livens up a group but I do have to keep an eye on her.

Mohatma is an extremely interesting conversationalist, but it's hard to get him to sit in a chair.  I never serve curry when he is coming over, since he is already starting to turn yellow. I think I will seat him next to Lisa and see what happens.

Mona here is handy in the kitchen, chopping vegetables and such, but it can be a little creepy the way she stares at you with that little smile, like she knows what you did last night.

These two, Nadine and Thelma, I will invite simply out of pity. Neither of them has had a date in years. Maybe Vincent could cheer them up.

A big bouquet of flowers for the center of the table.  And I think I need a couple of cute critters running around under the table.  Like these two:

This is Bob, from Yellowstone National Park.

And Polja from Finland.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Grimm and not so grim

Today will be one of those odds 'n' ends days, with no overriding theme.  To heck with continuity, I cry!!


First, a card from Bremen, Germany.  See the statue of the animals one on top of another?  These are the "Bremen Town Musicians" from a folk tale recorded by the Brothers Grimm.  And quite a tale it is.  Here is a synopsis of the story:

A donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster, all past the prime of life and no longer useful on their respective farms, knew they would soon be discarded by their masters. They decide to leave their homes and set out together for Bremen, known for its freedom, to live on their own and become musicians. 

On the way to Bremen, they see a lighted cottage. They look inside and see four robbers enjoying their ill-gotten gains. Standing on each others backs, they decide to perform for the men in hope of gaining food. Their music has an unanticipated effect: the men run for their lives, not knowing what the strange sounds are. The animals take possession of the house, eat a good meal, and settle in for the evening.

Later that night, the robbers return and send one of their members into the house to investigate. It is dark and the robber sees the eyes of the cat shining in the darkness. Thinking he sees the coals of the fire, he reaches over to light his candle. Things happen in quick succession: the cat swipes his face with her claws, the dog bites him on the leg, the donkey kicks him and the rooster crows.  The robber runs screaming from the house. He tells his companions that he was beset by a horrible witch who scratched him with her long fingers (the cat), an ogre with a knife (the dog), a giant who had hit him with his club (the donkey), and worst of all, a dragon who bellowed from the rooftop (the rooster).

The robbers abandon the cottage to the strange creatures who have taken it, and the animals live there happily for the rest of their days.

I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere, but I'm still trying to figure out why four old animals would want to become musicians. I would think elevator operators, or short order cooks.

Possibly two modern day descendants of the Bremen Town Musicians, who are finding musical gigs a little hard to come by in modern-day Iowa.

Monet Painting in His Argenteuil Garden by Auguste Renoir, 1873.  I wonder if, while Renoir was painting Monet, someone was painting Renoir.  The titles of these paintings could get really out of hand.

Church and statues of St. Vincent de Paul in Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne, France. St. Vincent is known for helping the poor, still a good idea today.

Prince Edward Island, Canada, home of the fictional Anne of Green Gables. The big house on the map card is Green Gables. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come here yearly.  If you go, beware of the giant lobster.

We've talked about multi-view cards before, and with this one from Hungary you really get your money's worth.  Twelve different views of the town of Eger. This town contains the northernmost Turkish minaret, as well as the famous Castle of Eger and some really interesting old churches.

It's a hot day here in Salem, so I will finish with a nice snow scene painted by Claude Monet, called The Magpie, 1869.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The strange, the unusual, and the slightly off-kilter

I love all the "normal" post cards I get: touristy cards, landscapes, map cards, art cards, etc.  But I also really enjoy the occasional oddball that I receive. They may make me smile, or scratch my head and go "HUH?", often both.  Today's post is going to be devoted to cards that fall into the "different" category.

This card from Estonia was a head-scratcher at  first. I turned it this way and that, then this way again, and finally decided that reading the description might be helpful.  It was. This is a Karl Blossfeldt photo of a Bell-flower magnified 10 times. I had just about decided that it was one of the strangest hats I'd ever seen. Maybe something that Thoroughly Modern Millie would wear.

This is a great card from Australia celebrating World Post Day, which is Oct. 9th.  Unlike Christmas, where you bring an entire tree into the house, World Post Day only requires the decorating of a large post.

"The Voyage" by Anne Laval, sent from Belgium.  Words escape me, as would my suitcase if I had to travel like this.

Another card from Belgium points out the danger of using too much fertilizer on your radishes. 

Jevgenija Ovsianikova's painting "Where fairytale comes from".  At first I thought this was just a mutant yam, but then I realized that yams never play the flute.  Although maybe they do, in Lithuania.

On the subject of strange creatures playing musical instruments, this card from Spain has to be my favorite.

Do you ever wonder what goes on in your kitchen when you're away from home?

HUH?  My only card showing a private suite in Radio City Music Hall in the 1930s.  I'll bet you don't have one of these.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cool trip

Hi, everyone!  If you read my last post you'll know that we were taking a short trip to the Oregon coast to escape the recent heat in Salem. We were very successful - it was only 59F when we reached Lincoln City. The weather forecast was about 15 degrees too optimistic. And the predicted "mostly sunny" skies didn't materialize either. In fact we ended up getting sprinkled on a little bit before the day was over.  It was fun watching all the tourists in their shorts, huddling together and wondering why the heck they had come HERE for vacation!

So....we definitely got cooled off, and now that we're back home the temperature has moderated and we have a nice sunny day. Guess that will teach us to leave home!

Now from the Postcard Fun Box.....

When I was a teenager (in the 19th century), I had loads of pen pals from all over the world. I could never make contact with anyone in Russia though (or the U.S.S.R. as it was then known), which is why it's still a treat for me now when I get a card from Russia.  The one above is Leonardo da Vinci's The Madonna with a Flower, 1478. 

The Barossa Valley in South Australia is one of the country's most famous wine regions. This region was settled mostly by Germans fleeing persecution from the Prussian province of Silesia (what is now Poland).  It's amazing to me that some vineyards here are planted with Shiraz grape vines that are 100-150 years old. And I have trouble keeping a geranium growing for three months.

Those 150-year-old Australian grape vines are just babies compared to these rice terraces in the Philippines.  These 2000-year-old terraces were carved into the mountains, without the aid of machinery, to provide level steps where the natives can plant rice. In 1995, they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Here is a street scene from Taipei, Taiwan. 

And a man who just couldn't take the nightlife anymore and decided to go fishing instead.

Once in a while a creative person will send me a handmade postcard. I am very impressed with this one from Canada, which is made from copies of six artist trading cards (ATCs) created by the sender. Too cute!

Remember, tomorrow, August 20th, is Father's Day in Nepal. Be sure to get those cards in the mail!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Off to the beach

It's been a hot week here in Oregon, so Rusti and I are heading out this morning for Lincoln City where the forecast is for 74 degrees and slight ocean breezes. Aaaah, doesn't that sound nice? We're only staying a couple of days, since the aminals, I mean animals, get lonesome without us.  Clyde the parrot will be squawking his little green head off by the time we get back.  Malcolm the cat will be missing his morning cantaloupe. (We've added to his name - he's now known as Malcolm John Meloncat.) And Rocky the cat will be his usual mellow self, just staring into space waiting for the mother ship to return and pick him up.

Time to share a few more postcards from my stash.

Spanish inspired horse-driven Calesa dressed up during an annual calesa festival in front of Vigan Cathedral. Vigan is one of the oldest Spanish towns in the Philippines and Asia.

From The Netherlands I received this map card from one of the less than 4,000 inhabitants of this small island of Ameland.  I had never heard of this island before, had you?  Ameland consists mostly of sand dunes, and has some great views from the top of their lighthouse.

The famous Baron von Münchhausen was born in this part of Germany.  After living a very adventurous life, fighting the Ottoman Turks for example, the Baron returned home and proceeded to tell a lot of tall tales about his exploits.  Among other feats, he claimed to have ridden cannonballs, to have traveled to the moon, and to have escaped from a swamp by pulling himself up by his own hair. Makes your own life sound pretty dull, doesn't it? 

These decorations in a Thai temple represent "Garuda" which are large bird-like creatures that appear in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. How would you like to look outside and see one of these at your bird feeder?

This was received just yesterday from Lithuania. This church must be gorgeous inside as well.

OK, time to finish packing my overnight back and to get on the road.  I just have to decide which shoes to take with me.

See you soon!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Those of you who live in the northern hemisphere, get yourself outside on the next few nights and watch the yearly Perseid meteor shower.  It's quite a sight.  The peak this year is forecast to be Thursday night through Friday morning, when you could see up to 80 meteors per hour.  I hope you have clear skies and can get away from the city lights a bit. You never know what you'll see when you look up into the sky.

If you can't get away from the city lights, at least get outside and enjoy how beautiful your city is at night.  If you are in Antwerp, Belgium, you might be treated to this beautiful view. (Does that seagull look a little photoshopped to anyone but me?)

Another card from Belgium - this one showing a beautiful old church in Dendermonde. Unfortunately, the card does not give the name of this church.

This next card is for all you Clangers out there.  What's a Clanger?  I just found out myself that it's a nickname for people from Bedfordshire, England. The name comes from a local dumpling dish with a suet crust and either a meat or jelly filling. After you finish your delicious clanger, you can go relax by the River Great Ouse.

I've mentioned before that I have a fondness for Oriental art, and I got a great postcard to add to my collection yesterday. The card was actually sent from Florida, which is known more for its alligators than its Oriental art. This Korean paper scroll is called "Tiger with magpies" and is dated 1850-1900.  Either no one knows when the scroll was made or else the artist was r-e-a-l-l-y slow.  Nice kitty.

From Portugal I received this Camille Pissarro painting, "Landscape at Chaponval" (1880).  The woman and the cow are having a quiet moment together.

Good luck meteor watching!  Take a clanger or two outside with you to munch on.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

August 4th already!

How did it get to be August 4th? Yikes, there are only 143 days until Christmas!  Once again, I don't know what happened to all those Christmas crafts I was going to start on at the beginning of the year. I was going to knit and crochet my little fingers to the bone, making treasured gifts for family and friends. I don't know how everyone will manage without all those dishcloths from me. 

Well, let's forget about Christmas for now and concentrate on summer.

There's still plenty of time for backyard summer barbecues, such as this one in Brazil. The men are obviously very hungry and getting impatient for the hamburgers. I wonder what the two women on the right are gossiping about. It can't be fashion.

What's a barbecue without beer?  This is a 1907 photo of the Burgess Brewery water tower in Pilsen, Western Bohemia, in what is now the Czech Republic. Pilsen is known worldwide for its Pilsner beer, a type of pale lager. This can be purchased at your local grocery if a trip to Bohemia is not convenient.

Now that we're all stuffed with hamburgers and beer, let's mosey around a little and work off a few of those calories.

First stop, "Sunset over the Snowdon range" in North Wales.

In working on my family genealogy, I have found that I have a lot of Welsh ancestors on my mother's side, mostly with names I cannot pronounce.  For example, my 22nd great grandfather was named Hywel Ap Trahaearn.  At least that's what I've found on - it has yet to be verified.  I'm a little skeptical of online information about people who were born in the 12th century.  I once got sidetracked by some bad information and for several days I was insufferable because I thought I was descended from European royalty. It got so tiresome waving at everyone.

Now we are easing back into modern times with this April 6th, 1940 picture of steeplechase racegoers at Aintree, England.  This card says the tram's white bumper and masked headlights were in readiness for the blackouts to come. I hope all these people had fun that day because they sure had some rough times coming up.

No blackouts here. Two beautiful cities at night, Prague and Barcelona. The huge temple in Barcelona is the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família. It is a privately-funded Roman Catholic church that has been under construction since 1882 and is not expected to be completed until at least 2026.  No, those are not typos.  Here is a model of what the completed temple will look like:

I'd better be going for now. But first I'd like to get your opinion on the new hairdo I'm considering, modeled here by a Finnish hedgehog. 

I think it's perfect for me. Modern yet timeless.