Tuesday, 21 September 2021

A Postcard A Day - Tuesday 21 September 2021 - T for Tuesday - T for temples, geisha's, a guzheng and a hike

 Hello lovely ladies, It's Tuesday again and time to meet over a nice drink (or two). While we're sipping our beverage, I would like to show you two postcards from Japan. The first one was sent by Riel (Little Flower) and it features the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple in Kyoto.
Riel mentions it's one of the most popular, famous and crowded temples in Japan and that it is included in the UNESCO WHS list.

Wikipedia writes: Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period.[2] The temple was founded in 778 by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu.[3] There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.[4][5]

It was originally affiliated with the old and influential Hossō sect dating from Nara times.[6] However, in 1965 it severed that affiliation, and its present custodians call themselves members of the "Kitahossō" sect.[7]

The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. Large verandas and main halls were constructed at many popular sites during the Edo period to accommodate large numbers of pilgrims.[8]

The popular expression "to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu" is the Japanese translation of the English expression "to take the plunge".[5] This refers to an Edo-period tradition that held that if one were to survive a 13-meter (43-foot) jump from the stage, one's wish would be granted. During the Edo period, 234 jumps were recorded, and of those, 85.4% survived.[5] The practice was prohibited in 1872.[5]

Beneath the main hall is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water fall into a pond. Visitors can catch and drink the water, which is believed to have wish-granting powers.

The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and "good matches".[4] Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of "love stones" placed 10 meters (30 feet) apart,[9] which lonely visitors can try to walk between with their eyes closed. Success in reaching the other stone with their eyes closed implies that the pilgrim will find love, or true love.[10] One can be assisted in the crossing, but this is taken to mean that a go-between will be needed. The person's romantic interest can assist them as well.

 The site is particularly popular during festivals (especially at New Year's and during obon in the summer) when additional booths fill the grounds selling traditional holiday foodstuffs and souvenirs to throngs of visitors.[11]

In 2007, Kiyomizu-dera was one of 21 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World.,[12] but was not picked as one of the seven winning sites.

The stamp on the left is (I think) a mandarin duck, and down the side are the words International Letter Writing Week.
October 9 is World Post Day, commemorating the date in 1874 that the Universal Postal Union was established. The week surrounding this date is also marked as International Letter Writing Week.
The whole series for that year looks like this:

The stamp on the right (on my postcard) is a woman playing a guzheng. This is a guzheng:

It's a Japanese zither.
Here is a Youtube video to hear the sound of this instrument
This stamp series (of musical instruments) looks like this:

My second postcard is also from Japan and it features the Miyako Odon dances  of the Gion geisha, held during April. This annual event is the first sign of the coming spring in Kyoto.

Japan’s geisha are famous the world over, but as they usually perform only at small private gatherings in the teahouses of the geisha districts, it’s not often that visitors from overseas get to see them. Even having deep enough pockets to pay for a private geisha party isn’t good enough – you need an introduction from an existing client in order to gain admittance to the private and exclusive world of the geisha. Fortunately, Kyoto’s geisha communities put on annual public shows, which provide an opportunity for less-privileged ordinary people to see the geisha perform their arts. The most famous of these performances is the Miyako Odori, at which the geisha of the Gion Kobu geisha community perform.

Geiko and Maiko

Geiko are women trained in dance and music, with an emphasis on grace, beauty and dignity. (Kyoto geisha prefer to be called ‘geiko’ meaning ‘arts child’, rather than ‘geisha’, which means ‘arts person’.) Geiko communities are very traditional, and are governed by strict rules, and the Gion Kobu community is perhaps the most conservative of all. Geiko begin their careers as apprentices called ‘maiko’, usually aged fifteen. From then on, they move into a geiko house, and dedicate their lives to the geiko world. First they are trained in conduct becoming of a geiko – bowing deeply to show respect to their seniors, and undertaking everyday tasks with grace and elegance. They then move on to training in the geiko’s arts, such as music, dance and calligraphy, and they begin to join the geiko in entertaining clients in Kyoto’s teahouses. Around the age of twenty, maiko graduate from their apprenticeship, and become fully-fledged geiko.

The stamps are very pretty. 
The man on the brown stamp is the founder of the Japanese Postal System. 
Baron Maejima Hisoka (前島 密, January 24, 1835 – April 27, 1919), born Ueno Fusagorō (上野 房五郎), was a Japanese statesman, politician, and businessman in Meiji-period Japan. Maejima founded the Japanese postal service, and is known as Yūbin Seido no Chichi (郵便制度の父), or "Father of the Postal System".

Then there is another Letter Writing Week stamp. This time from 2020.

After having 'been' to Japan, we travel back with the intention of visiting Elizabeth and Bluebeard's T-Party. 

My qualifier for this T-Party is my Kombucha. I still make it regularly. Here are some bottles I did this week. They have to stay sealed like this for at least two weeks for their second fermentation.
Sometimes there is a duff bottle, and then we hear a loud 'Bang! and then we know another bottle has exploded. It happened a few times last year. This year only once (last week).

It makes a lot of mess. And the glass shards fly everywhere.

Here is a bottle that definitely didn't explode. We have finished drinking it and I am keeping the bottle so I can buy the same one again as we both like it.

It is Port of course.

On Friday I showed pictures of our excursion to the Alhambra in Granada, and today I will show some pictures of the mountain hike I did on Sunday.

I am wearing the pink top.

Most participants were young people, and there were a few families with children.  Apart from my gym teacher and me, there was nobody over 50.
This is a very old and tall pine.
The mountain was called La Sagra.

Standing on top of the world!
I like walking with my sticks.

That wraps it up for me. 
Happy T-Day all!

Friday, 17 September 2021

A Postcard A Day - Friday 17 September 2021 - Friday Smiles


Hello lovely ladies! 
I received a fun card the other day. 
The German title translates as 'What does old mean?'
I sometimes look in the mirror and go 'AAAH! But on the whole I am happy the way I am and the age I am. You are as old as you feel. (That doesn't mean I don't feel 90 sometimes...)

Last weekend I pretended to be 20 years younger and traipsed around the Alhambra Palace all day on Saturday and did a 13 km mountain hike on Sunday. (I've only just recovered!)

All in all I've had a great week:
Those of you who have read my Tuesday blog will know that that big egg was a double yolker!
My mystery plant is even more beautiful than before. It looks very exotic. No, it's not a calla, but heavens knows what it is....

Our village had organized a coach trip to Granada, to visit the Alhambra. The Alhambra has many parts and you need entrance tickets for the different parts. Inside the palace we even had a timed ticket. We were divided into three groups and we also had a guide for the day. I had been before, but it had been in winter in bad weather. This time it was glorious.
Here are some more photos:

Then on Sunday I went on a hike organized by the local walking clubs. Every month a different club hosts the walk. We were near a village called Puebla de Don Fadrique in the north of the Granada province. Next month it is our turn.

It was a great walk. I was tired, but a healthy sort of tired if you know what I mean.

Monday I usually go for a walk with my friend. I was still tired to be honest. I hadn't said anything, but she had hurt her toe and couldn't walk far, so we drove to her daughter's fields and helped her harvest almonds. (There's no photo of that but we beat the tree with a stick until all the almonds fall on the ground and then you collect them.)
I stayed indoors on Tuesday and enjoyed myself in the kitchen. Hubby changed the strings on his electric guitar and enjoyed himself playing it. My sister is visiting our mum in Rotterdam and we would Facetime every day and she sent lots of photos. Here is mum doing her exercises. (She is 96).
Wednesday we spent the morning outdoors and running errands (like post office).
I ran out of time and cooked Pasta Primavera in my Instant Pot. I layer melted butter, pasta, broth, minced garlic, cherry tomatoes and a bag of frozen spring vegetables in the pot. Set pressure cooker to 2 minutes. Release the pressure and add a bag of grated Parmesan and stir. Close again and wait 3 min. Lay the table and serve.
So yes, Kate, this recipe is quicker than cooking on the hob. I only do this sort of thing when I am short of time. I also mostly cook pasta in the normal way.

Yesterday I did not go out at all but enjoyed myself in the kitchen. Apart from a roast dinner (a whole chicken), I also made another batch of Kombucha (I'm now seeing I've put the wrong date on the bottles. It was the 16th.)
I also made some vegetable stock paste. (link to the recipe) from lots of vegetables including broccoli stems. I use it instead of a stock cube and for that reason it is very salty. But at least I know it only has natural ingredients.

That is all from me today. Of course there are some funnies at the end, so we can all have a smile. 
For more smiles why don't you join me at Annies at A Stitch In Time and at Virginia's at Rocking Your World Friday.

Take care and keep smiling,

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

A Postcard A Day - Tuesday 14 September 2021 - T for doors and windows

 Hello lovely ladies, Here we are again on Tuesday. It's been a manic weekend. More of that later. Let me start by showing you my postcards:
Two lovely doors. No mention of where they are from, although the postcard comes to me from Germany. A young lady called Johanna who lives in Kiel, in the north of Germany.
The large stamp shows the lighthouse of Campen. Here is a better image:
It stands near the border with the Netherlands.

The Campen lighthouse standing at 65 metres high is Germany’s largest lighthouse. Its interesting structure takes the form of a lattice tower. Not only does it resemble the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it was also constructed in the same year. It is also commonly known as ‘The Eiffel Tower’s little brother’ or ‘The Eiffel Tower of the North Sea’.
The lighthouse was built in 1889 and stands northwest of Emden at the mouth of the Ems river in the North Sea. The tower is not just the biggest lighthouse in Germany, it is also the most powerful German light beacon with a range of approx. 55 kilometres.
A fantastic view awaits those who climb the 332 steps to the top. It’s worth it: on a clear day there is a wonderful view over the flat Krummhörn countryside and the Ems river. You can even see as far as the Netherlands and the North Sea island of Borkum.

Here are some more doors. Again a postcard that comes from Germany. Sent to me by a young man who works as a paramedic and in his free time he plays drums and guitar in a rock band.
He tells me the doors are typical of the region west of Hamburg.

The stamps are fun and the large one features Die Maus, a German television programme for children that is watched by adults too. (Iris watches it I believe) The stamp commemorates 50 years of Die Maus.

Wikipedia says this: 
Die Sendung mit der Maus (The Show with the Mouse) is a children's series on German television that has been called "the school of the nation". The show first aired on 7 March 1971. Originally called Lach- und Sachgeschichten für Fernsehanfänger ("Laughing and Learning Stories for Television Beginners"), it was controversial because German law prohibited television for children under six years of age. 

The program was initially condemned by teachers and childcare professionals as bad for children's development, but is now hailed for its ability to convey information to children. The show has received over 75 awards. The first doctoral dissertation on the program was written in 1991. On 7 March 1999 the program's Internet site was launched and received 2,400 e-mails and 4 million hits on the first day.

My last postcard is a window. A very old and dirty one:

It is a still life really and comes to me from Guernsey.  The photograph is titled (Unsurprisingly) Still Life and it is a photo by Steve Lovi.

The stamp is beautiful. It features a European eel (Anguilla anguilla).

Wikipedia says this:
The European eel is a species of eel, a snake-like, catadromous fish. They are normally around 60–80 cm and rarely reach more than 1 m, but can reach a length of up to 1.5 m in exceptional cases. Eels have been important sources of food both as adults and as glass eels.

The European eel is a critically endangered species.[1] Since the 1970s, the numbers of eels reaching Europe is thought to have declined by around 90% (possibly even 98%). Contributing factors include overfishingparasites such as Anguillicola crassus, barriers to migration such as hydroelectric dams.
While the species' lifespan in the wild has not been determined, captive specimens have lived over 80 years. A specimen known as "the Brantevik Eel" lived for 155 years in the well of a family home in Brantevik, a fishing village in southern Sweden.

Much of the European eel's life history was a mystery for centuries, as fishermen never caught anything they could identify as a young eel. Unlike many other migrating fish, eels begin their life cycle in the ocean and spend most of their lives in fresh inland water, or brackish coastal water, returning to the ocean to spawn and then die. In the early 1900s, Danish researcher Johannes Schmidt identified the Sargasso Sea as the most likely spawning grounds for European eels.[20] The larvae (leptocephali) drift towards Europe in a 300-day migration.[21]

When approaching the European coast, the larvae metamorphose into a transparent larval stage called "glass eel", enter estuaries, and many start migrating upstream. After entering their continental habitat, the glass eels metamorphose into elvers, miniature versions of the adult eels. As the eel grows, it becomes known as a "yellow eel" due to the brownish-yellow color of their sides and belly. After 5–20 years in fresh or brackish water, the eels become sexually mature, their eyes grow larger, their flanks become silver, and their bellies white in color. In this stage, the eels are known as "silver eels", and they begin their migration back to the Sargasso Sea to spawn. Silvering is important in an eel's development because it allows for increased levels of the steroid hormone cortisol, which is needed for their migration from fresh water back to the sea.[22] Cortisol plays a role in the long migration because it allows for the mobilization of energy during migration.[23] Also playing a key role in silvering is the production of the steroid 11-Ketotestosterone (11-KT), which prepares the eel for structural changes to the skin to endure the migration from fresh water to saltwater.

Isn't that interesting!

Enough of that.

Remember I told you we had chickens? well, they have started to lay eggs. We spotted this bossy alpha chicken in the nest box. Hurray!

We have had four eggs so far. The last egg was very big: 60 g.
When I cooked it, this is what i got:

Double yolks!

And that reminds me of the lovely ladies of the T-Party hosted by Elizabeth and Bluebeard. My contribution is a glass of white wine. I had cooked a creamy pasta dish with spinach and had baked some salmon in the oven. It was very delicious.
If you think you can spot a walkie-talkie, you are right. My hubby carries one, as our house is very big  (4 floors). It also works outside when he goes to the 'campo'. I can call him if necessary. 

I'm writing this on Monday and I am so tired that I'm not really going to add much more. On Saturday our municipality organized a coach trip for the citizens to Granada's Alhambra. We had been once but that was in winter. I wanted to see the views and the gardens too. It was a wonderful but very tiring day. Then on Sunday I had to get up early to catch a coach to go for a mountain hike with the walking group. All the groups of the province come together for a 13 km hike. We take turns in hosting. Next month it is our turn (our village). 
I have lovely photos of both events, but they will have to wait until Friday and next Tuesday. 

Now I wish all you ladies a very happy T-Day!

Keep smiling,