Tuesday 31 August 2021

A Postcard A Day / Tuesday 31 August 2021 / T for five hens, herbal tea and fish pie.

 Hello lovely ladies,

Here I am again to show you not one, not two but three postcards. The theme is USA. All three cards are typical American (from my point of view).

The first card is  a hummingbird. There are no hummingbirds in Europe and I often hear/read my blog friends talking about them. 

The blurb on the back of the card reads:
Anna's hummingbird (Colibri d'Anna), named for Anna Messena, the Duchess of Rivoli. This species has the northernmost year-round range of any hummingbird. Measuring four inches long and weighing about 3 or 4 grams, hummingbirds average 50 wingbeats per second and their active heart rate is over a 1000 beats per minute. They consume more than their weight in nectar per day, for they are continuously just hours away from starving to death. Hummingbirds are capable of slowing their metabolism at night or when food is less available, entering a hibernation-like torpor to conserve energy.
The card was sent to me by Pat in Phoenix, Arizona.
The stamp is a beautiful chrysanthemum.

The second card comes from New Hampshire and it shows Barak Obama with his wife Michelle and their two daughters. It was probably at the beginning of his presidency as the girls are still quite young. (The card was damaged in the post as you can see by those stripes).

The stamps are absolutely beautiful. The two middle ones must be my favorite Forever stamps: the coffee pot and the jewelry.

The stamp on the right is about bioluminescence. It shows the deep ocean octopus.
Above you have the whole series.

My next card is a map of Minnesota. This state is dear to my heart as I have visited several times as I had a dear friend there. She has since died, but I have sweet memories of that area.She took me to see Duluth (cold and windy) and we spent a week in a condo at Lake Superior (beautiful). We also went to the Mall of America as she lived very near there. (I didn't like the mall).
The info on the card is,
State Capital: St Paul, State bird: common loon, State flower: snowy ladyslipper

The stamp is another round one from the same series of global Forever stamps. This time a green succulent known as 'echeveria'.

So what have I done this week. The most exciting thing that happened this week is the arrival of our chickens. After a phone call to say they had arrived, we went to pick them up. This is the shop. They sell animal feed and agricultural tools and paraphernalia. 

We had ordered five chickens.

They were put in a cardboard box and the shop assistant carried out a sack of feed.

Hello lovely girls! Welcome to your new home!

We have a black one, a speckled one, a brown one and a white one and a large grey one.

The white one was the most adventurous and immediately set to explore her surroundings.

They soon sussed out the food and the water.

They are now in the process of establishing the pecking order, and so they are pecking each other and pushing one another to the ground and generally misbehaving. I know this is what they must do. We have noticed that the black chicken is a real bully, but I think the white one is going to be the boss. She is calm and does her own thing. I can see the others following her without her having to fight for it. Time will tell.

My week has been full of food and drink as usual. And as we have been invited to the T-Party today, hosted by Elizabeth and Bluebeard, here is my beverage:
I had made a nice fish pie and I had a lovely glass of white wine with that.  Hubby is not allowed alcohol, so he has something else

The weather is still very sunny and warm so we have most of our meals outside, although at lunch time it's too hot to be outside.
And below are our coffees. We had the remnants of cake and half a muffin each.

Below is our breakfast table: cereal with fruit and a dollop of Greek yoghurt, and freshly squeezed oranges to drink.

I have framed another jigsaw puzzle 
and hubby is going to hang it up with the others on the stairway:
Those of you with a keen eye will have noticed that the jigsaw puzzle has 'sunk'. I put it right in the middle and because it has been standing upright, the puzzle has sunk and is no longer in the middle. I will have to take everything apart and do it again!

This last image is a packet of herbal 'tea'. I wanted to show Kate as she likes Pukka tea. This is the one I have (and like). I bought it in Holland over the Christmas period.

That's it from me today. 
Let me just wave you goodbye from the gate:
Bye bye, Have a lovely week!
Happy T-Day,

Friday 27 August 2021

A Postcard A Day - Friday 27 August 2021 - Friday Smiles


Good morning lovely ladies, It is Friday again and lets look back over the week and remember the smiles and the positive things.
One of the nice things in my week is always when some happy mail arrives. This postcard is one of those moments. It was sent to me from Finland  by someone called Helka. 
As you can see it is an old fashioned advert for Kellogg's Cornflakes. As far as I know corn flakes have been around for many years. I looked it up and this is what I found:
Corn flakes, or cornflakes, are a breakfast cereal made from toasting flakes of corn (maize).The cereal, originally made with wheat, was created by William Kellogg in 1894 for patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium where he worked and his brother John Kellogg was superintendent. The breakfast cereal proved popular among the patients and Kellogg subsequently started what became the Kellogg Company to produce corn flakes for the wider public. A patent for the process was granted in 1896, after a legal battle between the two brothers.
The flakes of grain, which the Kellogg brothers called Granose, were a very popular food among the patients. The brothers then experimented with other flakes from other grains. In 1906, Will Keith Kellogg, who served as the business manager of the sanitarium, decided to try to mass-market the new food. At his new company, Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, he added sugar to the flakes to make them more palatable to a mass audience, but this caused a rift between his brother and him. In 1907, his company ran an ad campaign which offered a free box of cereal to any woman who winked at her grocer.[6] To increase sales, in 1909 he added a special offer, the Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Booklet, which was made available to anyone who bought two boxes of the cereal. This same premium was offered for 22 years. At the same time, Kellogg also began experimenting with new grain cereals to expand its product line. Rice Krispies, his next great hit, first went on sale in 1928.
There have been many mascots of Kellogg's Cornflakes. The most popular one is a green rooster, which has been the mascot since his debut. In early commercials, he would speak the catchphrase "Wake up, up, up to Kellogg's Cornflakes!"  The concept of using a stylized rooster originated from a suggestion by family friend Nansi Richards, a harpist from Wales and a Welsh language proponent. The Welsh word for "rooster" is ceiliog (pronounced kayleeog or in some dialects kaylog), sounding similar to Kellogg's name. The red green and white colours are also possibly inspired by the colours of the Welsh flag. 

The stamp is really cute. It shows a child mailing something in a postbox. 

It comes from a series about postboxes:

Lots of different ones. They do make me smile too.

Now to my week:
I can tell by the weather that autumn is nearing. Where it has been between 35 and 40 degrees, it is now between 35 and 28. Much better and actually pleasant. We have also seen some clouds sometimes, with even a few drops of rain. And I mean a few drops. One can count them: 8 or 9 drops!
On Friday I made a card for my son's birthday and made a cake. Hubby found a pair of sunglasses in the car, probably belonging to one of our grandsons. I cot the air fryer out and cooked some chips for a change.
On Sunday we had some more clouds. I cooked a chicken curry with some leftover chicken. I cook brown rice in my Instant Pot. Comes out perfect every time. Has anyone else got an Instant Pot?

On Monday I made a Spanish omelet. I add spinach to mine. (the Spanish roll their eyes when they see this, but we like it).
I have also added some art by Shamsia Hassani, an Afghan graffiti artist promoting women. See my blog from Tuesday for more. Anyway, I bet everyone has been inundated with her art as she is all over the Internet.

Tuesday it rained properly for the first time since spring. It is so much needed! We went out for lunch and we invited a friend who used to live near us, but has recently moved to the area near the restaurant. In the evening hubby and I visited our friends . Hubby gives him plumbing advice as it is something he is good at. I chatted with her.

Wednesday was a very domestic day. Just poddling along at home. Yesterday's rain has left a layer of brown sand on everything! I cooked pork chops with fruit and some herby roast potatoes.
Then yesterday was the big day when our chickens would arrive. The hen house has been ready for more than a month. We got a phone call earlier this week that we could collect on Thursday. And here they are, our five ladies. We purposely got different types, one of each. 
Next week you will hear more about our chickens, but for now I'm going to visit Annie at A Stitch In Time and Virginia at Rocking Your World Friday. 
And as per usual, there will be some funnies at the end.

Take care everyone, 
Keep smiling,

Tuesday 24 August 2021

A Postcard A Day - Tuesday 24 August 2021 - T for Art deco, Russian spies and urban art

 Good morning lovely ladies. Pour yourselves a nice cup/glass of something as I have a lot of things to show you.

My postcard for today comes from Russia:

It is an art deco painting by Luis Icart (1880-1950). He was born in Toulouse, France and he became an accomplished illustrator, graphic artist and painter. According to Wikipedia:
Icart participated in the First World War as a fighter pilot. During this time he made countless sketches and etchings with patriotic themes. On his return, he made prints of his work, mostly using aquatint and drypoint etching. Because of the great demand, he often published two versions, one for the European and another for the American market.
In the late 1920s, Icart was very successful both artistically and financially with his publications and his work for large fashion and design studios.[3] The popularity of his etchings peaked in the Art Deco era.[4] Icart depicted life in Paris and New York in the 1920s and 1930s in his own style of painting. Success in 1930 enabled him to buy a magnificent house on the Montmartre hill in the north of Paris. In 1932 Icart showed in the New York Metropolitan Galleries a collection of paintings entitled Les Visions Blanches, which received little attention however, because he did not personally accompany the exhibition.

After the German western campaign, Icart turned to more serious issues. With L’Exode, he created a series of works that document the horrors of the occupation of France in World War II from 1940 onwards. During this time, Icart had to flee Paris and leave behind some of these works, which were only rediscovered in the attic of a Paris art academy together with some of his earlier works in the 1970s.

Icart died in his Parisian house in 1950.

But you ladies will be most interested to know that he often painted women with cats. 

Here are the stamps:

The stamps were released to celebrate 100th anniversary of the Russian (Soviet) foreign intelligence.
It wasn't easy to figure out the names of these obviously important women. But I found out the lady on the left was called Africa de las Heras, and she was Spanish!
As you know, I love to read about women who have had interesting lives, irrespective whether I agree with their lifestyle, beliefs or politics. Here is a woman who obviously strongly believed in what she was doing and did it well by all accounts. Have a read if you are interested (or skip).

Africa de las Heras Gavilán was born in Ceuta on April 27, 1909. She came from a wealthy family. As a child, they moved to Madrid and Africa began studying at a nuns' college.

In 1930, when Africa was 21 years old, her father died in Jaca, he was a military man and was shot when containing a republican rebellion. 
That same year, she appears as a militant and actively participating in the Communist Party of Spain. Later she participated in the October 1934 Revolution in Asturias, where she met Santiago Carrillo, two years later she entered the Catalan Unified Socialist Youth and a year later she directed one of the citizen patrols of Barcelona, ​​where she carried out various clandestine actions.

Later she married the prisoner Luis García Lago, a former banker and communist activist, whom she was going to visit in jail. That same year she returned to Ceuta for the last time to warn her uncle, who was the mayor of the city, of the danger he was running.

In 1937 she was recruited by NKVD agents in Spain and sent to Moscow to train.
The person in charge of introducing her into the espionage was Caridad Mercader (mother of Trotski's murderer, Ramón Mercader).
After training, she went to Norway to fulfill her first mission: infiltrate Trotsky's team , become his secretary and travel with them to Mexico.
There she dedicated herself to passing information to the NKVD, helping Ramón Mercader organize the assassination of Trotsky by order of Stalin

She left Mexico hidden in the hold of a ship and in 1941 arrived in the USSR, where she studied nursing and radiotelegraphy. Later, she was appointed head of radio broadcasting. In 1942 she was sent to the Los Vencedores guerrilla detachment 

She parachuted into the Ukraine to intercept communications and send erroneous messages to the Germans.

In 1944, after two years of guerrillas, she returned to Moscow, where in the KGB she received new training in espionage.
At the end of the Second World War she began her work as a KGB agent, using the nickname "Patria (Homeland).

In 1946 she moved to Paris under the name of María Luisa de las Heras posing as a refugee from the Franco regime. Then she met the Uruguayan writer Felisberto Hernández , whom she married the following year. Then, she was assigned to Montevideo, Uruguay, where she worked as a dressmaker as a front. In 1950 the marriage separated without her husband knowing the true profession of Africa.

In 1956 she travelled to Buenos Aires to act as a liaison for the chief of espionage in the Southern Cone, marrying him by order of the KGB. The couple started an antique business as a cover. 
In South America, she carried out numerous missions, serving as a link between the different spies and the headquarters in Moscow. 
It is believed that she was the one who relayed the information on the Bay of Pigs invasion to the KGB.

In 1967 her husband died under strange circumstances and she returned to the USSR, carrying out new missions abroad until 1971, when she was assigned to train new agents at the KGB headquarters for operations in Spanish-speaking countries.

In 1985, she left the KGB.

She died in Moscow on March 8, 1988 due to heart problems. She was buried with military honors in the Moscow Kuntsevskoe cemetery, on whose tombstone the word Patria appears written in Spanish along with the text " 
Colonel Africa de las Heras, 1909-1988" in Russian.

She is buried next to the grave of Ramón Mercader, the murderer of Trotsky, and Kim Philby, the famous British double spy.

The second stamp shows Zoya Voskresenskaya. 

She was a Soviet diplomat, NKVD foreign office secret agent and, in the 1960s and 70s, 

and a popular author of books for children. A USSR State Prize laureate (1968), Voskresenskaya was best known for her novels Skvoz Ledyanuyu Mglu (Through Icy Haze, 1962) and Serdtse Materi (A Mother's Heart, 1965). In 1962–1980 more than 21 million of her books were sold in the USSR.

In the late 1980s, as Perestroika incited the wave of declassifications, Zoya Voskresenskaya's story was made public. It transpired that a popular children's writer was for 25 years a leading figure in the Soviet intelligence service's foreign department. Voskresenskaya's war-time memoirs Now I Can Tell the Truth came out in 1992, 11 months after the author's death.

Today is Tuesday, the day when the lovely ladies of the T-gang come together at the T-Party hosted by Elizabeth and Bluebeard. All that is needed to participate is a beverage or reference to a beverage. I always have loads of drinks and food too. I will limit myself to one today:

That is a glass of raspberry kombucha that we like to drink with our meal. Yesterday's lunch was a Spanish Tortilla de patates. It might not look like a tortilla, but I like to add spinach to my tortilla so it becomes a balanced meal (potatoes, eggs and veg)

I'd like to finish with something that is on my mind a lot ( and perhaps on some of yours too): the women in Afghanistan. And I am wondering what has become of Shamsia Hassani, the Afghan graffitti artist. I love her work and I secretly hope she has been able to leave the country somehow.
For those who don't know her work, here are a few images:
This is Shamsia at work (with special mask as she works with spray cans). 

Shamsia Hassani, Afghanistan's first female graffiti and street artist, is known for her bold promotion of women's voices. 

'Nightmare,' published August 9, as the Taliban rapidly took control of a large part of Afghanistan.
'Maybe it is because our wishes have grown in a black pot,' published August 14, just before Kabul fell to the Taliban

'Death to Darkness,' her latest piece, published after the Taliban had taken control of Afghanistan

She had traveled to do on-site murals and participate in residencies and gallery exhibitions in numerous North American, European and Asian countries.
"I use them [music instruments] as a symbol for women to play her voice with it. She can use musical instruments to talk with people, to speak louder and [get] more attention, as she has no mouth. But this musical instrument gives her power to speak in society," Hassani said in 2018.

With her recent images, she is publicizing the plight of women and girls in Afghanistan and helping to ensure they are not forgotten.

That is it from me today. 
Do come and join us (@Altered Book Lover) with a beverage. You don't have to be a member, just turn up and join us. We like to see newcomers. 
Happy T-Day to all,
Edit: There seems to be some confusion about the 'Tortilla de Patates'. A tortilla in Spain is something totally different to a tortilla in America. Here in Spain it is a fat ommelet with potatoes in it. I found out it is called a Spanish Omelet in English.