20 October 2019


Canada is at the tail end of a federal election. It has not been going well. It's quite possibly the nastiest, most acrimonious election in living memory. At the moment, according to the polls, the incumbent Liberals (centre-left party) are neck and neck with the Conservatives (right party).
So, with that in mind, here are two stamps showing the centre piece of  the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, with the Victorian high-gothic bell tower and the newer neo-gothic bell tower.

Left is a drawing by the architect of the original Parliament Building, Thomas Fuller, from 1865. It was mostly destroyed by fire in 1916.

The bell tower was called the Victoria Tower but when the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings was rebuilt after the fire (and after the war), the design was changed with the new tower as a campanile (free standing bell tower) renamed the Peace Tower.

"In all my thoughts of the tower, peace was dominant. I believe there is quiet peaceful dignity about it ... no matter what troubles and worries and differences of opinion take place in the building. I feel that one cannot approach the building up the centre road without experiencing its mute appeal for toleration, moderation, dignity and peace."
— John A Pearson, architect responsible for designing the Centre Block, in a letter to Prime Minister Mackenzie King shortly before the opening of the Peace Tower.

for Sunday Stamps - towers, tall buildings
the Victoria Tower (1878-1916) stood 180 feet
the Peace Tower (1927-present) stands 322.5 feet

19 October 2019


I was maybe about Princess Elizabeth's age when a friend of my mother's gave us a pram for me to use. Mine was much larger than hers, being for a real baby and not a doll. Being too small to reach the handle, my poor mother — who was already 42 when I was born — endured the astonished looks and questions from neighbours about another new baby while she pushed it herself with me walking in between her and the carriage.

I remember that it had what may have been uncomfortable boards for the baby/doll to lie on that could be taken out so you could store blankets and extra clothes (or secret stuff?) underneath.
I also remember trying to dress up the cat and take him for walks. In my mind, he loved the experience.

18 October 2019


Always the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving, this festival extends the tourist season and expands the town's population from 700 to 500,000 for the three days.

15 October 2019


state map of Arizona
featuring at least one cactus and one road runner. And Tombstone, where history comes to life. 
"Today Tombstone offers a glimpse into the past with historic attractions such as museums; history tours on foot, by stagecoach or trolley; underground mine experiences; paranormal adventures; 
and of course, gunfight re-enactments"

14 October 2019

red dragon, blue dragon

from England,   a Jackie Morris illustration for Robin Hobbs's Tell Me a Dragon book

13 October 2019

mythical creatures

When I came across this souvenir sheet while idly looking through a binder of Icelandic stamps at a stamp fair last Sunday I just had to have it (even though I did not know what it was about and it cost way more money than I usually spend) It was just so intriguing.

So when I got home, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was a series of Mythical Creatures. I immediately put aside my previously prepared dragon post for another day. You can look up more info the creatures in the links below. The stamps were issued in 2009, the same year that the Monster Museum was opened in Bildulalur on the Westfjords. According to folklore, Arnarfjordur is home to more sea monsters than any other fjord in Iceland.
Only one has a fairly good story for us as humans.

hrosshvalur - horse whale  - as with the other evil whales, this one delights in destroying ships, sometimes just by pressing its weight against them until they capsize. it is also a portent of bad weather as it uses its tail to create huge waves.

skoffin - foxcat - possibly the "unholy abomination spawn" of an arctic fox and a female cat. it can kill you merely by looking at you. the only way to get rid of one is to make it look into a mirror at itself (without looking at you first)

mushveli - mouse whale - unlike other evil whales, these ones have stubby legs and can climb on to land, but they do give up quickly so it's possible to outrun one.

raudkembingur - red crest  - the worst of the worst of the whales, a fast swimmer with a single minded love of destruction. but its determination can also be its undoing and it may overexert itself and die of frustration.

selamodir -  seal mother - is the protector of Iceland's harbour seals and grey seals and will attack anyone who gets in the way.

ofuguggi - a reverse fin trout - these swim backwards with their tails first and their head following. they are extremely toxic and you will die if you are foolish enough to fish for them and eat it as if it were a normal trout.

saeneyti - sea cow - this one seems to have a few different names - and stories. but basically, a herd of shore cows were seen by a farmer who chased them back into the sea but managed to catch one. somehow the farmer decided that unless he burst that thing on its nose they would be lost forever. he did, and now there are cows in Iceland (and we all now benefit from the skyr from these sea cows).

skeljaskrimsli - shell monster - this may refer to a number of quadruped shore monsters which live in the sea and haul themselves onto shore at night, usually in winter. they are attracted by light and will head for the nearest and brightest farmhouse with no good intentions.

urdarkottur - ghoul cat - will bury itself in a cemetery for years, but when it emerges it will live on rocky slopes and attack sheep, birds and humans. again, the eyes are especially evil.

fjorulalli - sea laddie - another shore creature, a woolly seal looking thing that has a penchant for sheep. and pregnant women. I have no comment.

for Sunday Stamps - dragons, dinosaurs, mythical creatures

12 October 2019


A 1960s era postcard from Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto, a recreated village with buildings from the surrounding area and costumed educators who demonstrate and involve visitors with trades and crafts common in 1860s Ontario.
on the back of the card is this description:
Spinning was one of the main chores for the housewife in the early days of the province. Her daughter, who is doing the carding, is temporarily interrupted by a beau from a neighbouring farm.
I have some questions regarding this postcard -  the daughter's long hair surely should be done up and not hanging loose around her shoulders?  Should she not also be wearing an apron? And why is there a basket of apples at her elbow as well as a basket of dyed wool at her feet? Black Creek also has a farm, though I've no idea if the wool would have been from the farm sheep and goats or not.

.68 was the international rate in 1985. the cost has been spinning out of control ever since — it's now 2.65 (+GST)

something for Sepia Saturday - mills, textiles
though in this case, a spinning wheel from before there were industrial sized mills

11 October 2019

Holland's largest castle

Once the home of the  van Zuylen van Nijevelt Van de Haar family the Kasteel de Haar in Utrecht was fully restored and rebuilt from 1892-1912, funded by the de Rothschild family after Etienne Van Zuylen van Nijevelt married Helen de Rothschild. In all, there are 200 rooms and 30 washrooms.  The family passed on ownership to the Foundation Kasteel de Haar in 2000 but retained the right to spend one month a year - September - at their former home. That could be a different washroom for each day of the stay.

10 October 2019

on the water

perhaps these Chicagoans are enjoying a lazy Sunday at Lincoln Park Lagoon

08 October 2019

floral clock

the floral clock in Edinburgh at five to nine in black in white
and an hour and a half later in colour
the clock is in bloom from July to October

07 October 2019


Komodo National Park was founded in 1980 in order to protect the world's largest lizard, though the original three islands (Komodo, Padar and Rinca) had been declared a national reserve years before.    Apparently a smuggling ring stole 41 of the dragons earlier this year. Tentative plans were made to close Komodo Island completely to tourists amid concerns that they were stressing out the dragons (and other animals) but it will now cost you $1,000 to go to Komodo Island. You can still visit the other islands - 28 of them for a lesser entry fee.