Sunday, March 27, 2011

Holland Images

It's been ages since I posted a card from the Netherlands, which is weird since I have tons of them! This is from José for the June Jubilee RR 2010. He writes, "The only things missing are the tulips and the clogs." I wonder how typical this is for modern day Netherlanders. Surely most of them live in cities and have washing machines? :P

The stamp on the right is apparently from 1984?! Showing the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa). In the middle we have William of Orange, also known as William the Silent, who led the Dutch revolt against the Spanish in 1568. Finally, on the left is Martin Luther, famous for the Protestant Reformation. All great stamps, and a welcome change from the heart-earth definitive!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Algarve, Portugal

I got this card from Isacle in one of my vacation RR groups from when I went to Yachats. Algarve, as you can see from this card, is the southern coast of Portugal. The name comes from Arabic for "the west". Algarve is divided into 16 municipalities, each represented with a small picture on the card. I'll just talk about a couple of them.

Loule (middle) is represented by the Castelo de Loulé, part of the medieval city walls of the town, now housing an archaelogical museum and city library.

Vila do Bispo (lower left) lays claim to the Cape St. Vincent lighthouse. This cape is named for a martyred priest of the 4th century, whose remains are supposed to have been brought or washed ashore here. There is a chapel marking the site of his grave. Legend has it that ten ravens watched over the temple, and when in the 12th century St. Vincent's remains were exhumed and taken to Lisbon to avoid desecration by the Muslims, the ravens followed and kept vigil from the rigging of the ship. The lighthouse was built in 1846, is the second most powerful in Europe, and oversees one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

A stamp from a set of four issued in September 2010 celebrating circuses.

Child With Book

In a similar vein to yesterday's post, today, because this week I have been reading a lot, I am posting a card of somebody reading. This is an official from Taiwan. Look in the comments for yipinwai's translation (thanks!).

Looking very closely at the book he's reading, I *think* it's Harry Potter in French. Pretty sure it's Harry Potter, anyway, because "Hermione" is one of the words.

The stamp on the left is from a 1993 issue of Chinese stone lions. This particular one is the stone lion of Taipei New Park. Still not sure about the stamp on the right.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tall Ship

I just finished reading "The Sea Wolf" by Jack London. It's about this guy who is just going on a ferry ride across San Francisco Bay, but it gets caught in a storm and he goes overboard. He gets picked up by the Ghost, a seal-hunting ship run by a totally unscrupulous captain who has just killed his first mate. The captain is now short a crewmember, and impresses the man to join the crew, and on they continue, bound for Japan and the herds of seals on the way there. It's a great story, and I could hardly put it down since I started reading it a couple of days ago. So now I'm posting a card of a tall ship... not the Ghost, though. This one, according to the back of the card, is called "Sigyn," which is a Norse female given name. Apparently a fairly common one for tall ships, if you can judge by the results for a google image search of that name. Anyway, the painting is by Håkan Sjöström, who I believe is a Swedish artist, but the card is from Finland. I got it in one of the favorites tags from Kata, who writes:

I love it!

A stamp from a 2009 series of 6 on Finnish Art, this one of a piece by Tuomas von Boehm.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I am sure you are all aware of the disaster that struck Japan yesterday. An earthquake of magnitude 8.9 centered in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan's Tohoku region spawned a tsunami, devastating northern Japan. A tsunami warning was issued for most of the Pacific - including the American Pacific Coast - and aftershocks continue to cause damage and fear all over Japan. Safety features at some nuclear power plants in Tohoku have failed and there is a serious danger of radiation poisoning for people nearby.

I lived in Japan for one year and I have a number of close friends there - mainly in Tokyo and Okayama. Luckily, none of them live in Tohoku. The damage in Tokyo was minimal, although the transportation network stopped running and most people had to spend the night at their workplace. I have heard from all but one of my friends in Tokyo that they and their families are okay. Points south, including Okayama, seem to have been mostly unaffected.

I looked through my cards from Japan to see if I had one to post today. I have no cards from the Tohoku region, and I already posted this card, but after considering, I decided to post this one.

I received it last November from Chiaki for the wishlist tag. It shows a scene from the movie Princess Mononoke, an anime from famous director Hayao Miyazaki. This movie is somewhat well-known even in America, having won the Academy Award for best foreign film the year it was released, and is one of my favorite movies.

In the picture, Ashitaka, the hero, is carrying an injured man back to the man's home, guided by the little white forest spirits called kodama. The card is appropriate because it tells the story of a world going haywire when people mess with the natural order of things. At the end of the movie there is something like a nuclear meltdown which covers everything in poisonous black goo. However, amidst the destruction, a few kodama remain uninjured, signalling hope that the world can survive.

Two special old stamps. The one on the left is from 1975, the one on the right from 1994. I don't have the energy to try to look them up now...

I have been dealing with some personal disasters in my own life and this has put them in perspective, but part of me feels like this is the start of a disaster affecting the entire world, inside and outside. Like maybe I better start telling all the people I love that I love them.

Everyone, take care and stay safe. And remember, don't ever take this life for granted.