Friday 29 October 2021

A Postcard A Day - Friday 29 October 2021 - Friday Smiles

 Hello lovely ladies, here we are on the last few days of October. How the year has flown! Here the tree leaves are starting to turn yellow, and the temperatures are lower than they were. I'm wearing long sleeved tops, and shoes in stead of sandals. In the evenings i can feel a chill.

My postcard today comes from Canada and shows beautiful autumn colours:

The person who sent me this card lives on a 25 acre organic farm in Ontario. They had 29 pigs outside over the summer and they had a German shepherd puppy. They don't say where this beautiful lake in the picture is.
The stamps are tiny.

But I can see a baby goat on the right and Northern lights on the left.

This blog is about the smiles of the week. Our biggest smile this week was an amazing hike on Sunday. It was not far from where we live as it was out walking club hosting this month's walk. The weather was gorgeous and we thoroughly enjoyed it. My husband was able to come along too.
We saw some beautiful scenery.

So what have we been up to this week?
Last Thursday hubby had an appointment with the oncologist, who told him bad news. The cancer is back and he needs another operation. 
That same evening we got visitors from Holland. My friend from my university days. We go back a long way. It was a welcome distraction.
On Friday my friend and I both went to the hairdresser for a hair cut, and later we went out for lunch.

One of our friends had brought us some parsnips from her garden and I quickly peeled, blanched and froze them.

Sunday was the hike. The weather was perfect and at the end there was a lovely meal.

Monday was an uninteresting day. I went to the gym, we did food shopping etc.

On Tuesday I went to the post office to collect my parcel. It was an ultra light down body warmer. I am quite chuffed with it. I had wanted one for a long time. (I had to wait as they are expensive).

On Tuesday evening I cooked pork to eventually make pulled pork for Wednesday.
I also made a cheese cake. I make that in advance so that it can set in the fridge overnight. As I make mine with gelatine.

Our friends came to practice some Spanish and mess around with computers and enjoy a meal together. Andy had made a focaccia bread and I had cooked asparagus and beetroot to go with the pulled pork. We had our meal outside on the terrace as it was lovely weather.

That was my week. 
As per usual I have a few funnies at the end. 
Do tell us your highlights and smiles, and we'll see each other at Annie's at A Stitch In Time.

Take care,
Keep smiling!

Tuesday 26 October 2021

A Postcard A Day - Tuesday 26 October - T for Irises, books and a huntress

 Hello lovely ladies,

Here we are again, getting ready to join all you ladies at the T-Party hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

I apologize for not commenting on everyone last week. I've had my friend from Holland staying with me. We go back 51 years! (When we were at uni together).

First off is my postcard:
It comes to me from Murmansk in Russia. The sender is called Anna and is the same age as me (70).

The stamps are pretty, especially the one on the left which features an Iris Tigridia. 

The Iris Tigridia is a tiger iris which grows naturally in Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and Chine. In Russia it has been put on the 'rare' list as far as conservation is concerned. (Hence the stamp I suppose)
Here is a better picture:
Tiger iris (Iris tigridia) — occurs in the Altai Territory, the Altai Republics (the village of Chechulikha-the classic location), Tyva, Khakassia and in the southern part of the Krasnoyarsk Territory (Sayan and Kurtushibinsky ranges). 

The stamp series has three more irises:
All of them Russian irises.

As the card is about books, I thought I'd write about the books I have been reading.
The Huntress - Kate Quinn
Die Again- Tess Gerritsen
The Bean Tree - Barbara Kingsolver
Daughters of the dragon - William Andrews

Daughters of the Dragon - William Andrews

When twenty-year-old Anna Carlson travels from America to a Korean orphanage to locate her birth mother, she’s devastated to learn the woman is already dead. But just when it seems her search is over, a stranger hands her a parcel containing an antique comb—and an address.

That scrap of paper leads Anna to the Seoul apartment of the poor yet elegant Hong Jae-hee. Jae-hee recounts an epic tale that begins with the Japanese occupation of Korea and China during World War II, when more than two hundred thousand Korean women were forced to serve the soldiers as “comfort women.” Jae-hee knows the story well—she was one of them.

As Jae-hee’s narrative unfolds, Anna discovers that the precious tortoiseshell comb, with its two-headed ivory dragon, has survived against all odds through generations of her family’s women. And as its origins become clearer, Anna realizes that along with the comb, she inherits a legacy—of resilience and courage, love and redemption—beyond her wildest imagination.

I really enjoyed this book, because there was a good bit of history woven into the story. I knew nothing about Korea and how they became separated into north and south.  Neither did I know about the 'comfort women' during WWII. The protagonist is an American girl who was adopted as a baby and she wants to find her birth mother. The story flashes back and forth from Anna's story in the present to her birth mother's story in the past. 
I have since found out that there are two more books in this series, but I haven't read the others yet. (But I will if I can)

The Bean Tree - Barbara Kingsolver

The blurb goes something like this:
Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

I did not like this book at all. The protagonist is a girl I cannot identify with at all. She comes across as intelligent but leaves home without any money, a barely functioning car and no clear destination. Someone gives her a three year old child! She keeps the child, doesn't go to the police (really?).

She settles down in a random place and makes friends with an equally weird girl with a baby. It's all very strange. 

I had read La Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and thought very highly of that one. Loved it (About Frida Kahlo) and I also liked her non-fiction book about growing her own food (Can't remember the title) which I liked. But The Bean Trees (Even the title is strange... is there such a thing?) I did not understand at all.

Book number three is Die Again by Tess Gerritsen. I will pick up a book by this writer and not even read what it's about as all her crime novels are good. This one is no exception. The protagonists again are Rizzoli (a female detective) and Maura (a pathologist). 

Boston Detective Jane Rizzoli is on the case of a big game hunter found dead in his apartment, alone with the body of a beautiful white snow leopard he had recently been commissioned to procure and stuff for a high-profile museum in the area.

Medical examiner Maura Isles connects the case to a number of seemingly unrelated deaths where the victims have all been found hanging upside down, the hallmark of a leopard's kill.

Rizzoli follows the puzzling trail of clues all the way to Botswana, where she uncovers the unsolved mystery of a deadly camping safari six years prior. When she realizes the two cases are connected, Rizzoli must track down the sole survivor of the tragic trip to discover who - or what - is behind these gruesome deaths.
I loved this one. Or should I say: I 'devoured' this book, which was set partly in Botswana and partly in Boston. The story starts in Botswana with six people on  a safari that goes horribly wrong. The Boston part is where Rizzoli tries to solve the murder of a big game hunter. Both storylines were as exciting as one another. Of course the stories are related but they develop parallel and kept me on my toes. I read this in a few days in spite of the fact that we had visitors (I lost sleep over this one).

The last book I want to mention is The Huntress. Possibly the best book I have read this year!
I have already reviewed a book by Kate Quinn in my blog of the 7th of September this year. (The Rose Code). This book is possibly even better!
Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family . . . secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

So there are three women and three stories and all three begin near a lake. The stories of these three women are linked although you don't see this to start with.  My favorite character is Nina, the Russian pilot. Again, I like the bit of history thrown in. I didn't even know that Russia had female pilots during the war. I won't say any more other than: You've got to read this!

To finish off, here are some photos from our little holiday a while back:
This is a little town called Nijar. We had a beer at a bar which had seats across the street in the shade of a large tree. This is my 'ticket' to the T-Party.

We were invited to enter this little museum. I don't like these people that stand outside some attraction and try to lure you in, but we did enter this one and we were not disappointed. The man in the photo led us through the museum. The old photos were very interesting as he had a story about each one of them.

This loom was in another room. I thought of Kathy and took several pictures of it.

The next photo is outside the bar where we had the beer. Blogger doesn't always put the photos in the order I want them in!

This is another photo from the museum. It shows crafts that were practiced in that town, and that are still practiced in our village. Like the baskets on the wall. They are made of asparto grass. My neighbour makes those.

I plan to write a blog post about this grass as there is a lot to tell and show you. 
This post already is very long, so it will be for another time.

That is it from me today.
Wishing everyone a happy T-Day,
Keep smiling!

Friday 22 October 2021

A Postcard A Day - Friday 22 October 2021

 Hello lovely ladies,

How are you all? Today is all about the silver lining in our lives. Our week has been good, mostly and today we went to the hospital and got some bad news. Hubby’s cancer has spread and he needs another operation. On the positive side: my long time bestie from Holland is visiting and that creates the necessary distraction.

I received this postcard from the Netherlands recently. It made me smile.

The stamps have hearts on them. Always a nice thing to see.

Let me show you what happened last week:

Thursday we were still being woken up by a digger in front of our house. 
We saw a guy who is going to make a plan for a friend’s estate. We are sort of looking after it as this friend lives abroad. It meant showing him around the estate. A lovely walk. The sun is till shining.

I’m having the same problems as some of you have, that Blogger puts photos in the wrong order. So Saturday saw me cook artichokes. Someone had given them to me. I remembered how to do it as I used to cook them in Italy. But because now I have an Instant Pot, I looked up how to do that using the I.P. They turned out really nice. We had the. For supper.
In the event we had our Intercambio meeting with Spanish and English speakers. We came across a brass band. It turned out that there was an open air mass in the park.

Jumping back to Friday, I went on a long walk with my friend. Good for the body ( the walk) and for the soul ( putting the world to rights with my friend).
We had bought a new laptop recently and we needed some bits and bobs and cables etc. so I have been up and down to the post office collecting parcels.

Sunday was wonderful. We ( a little fellowship group we belong to) had been invited to a meeting of the Romanian church. It was very different and really lovely. They made us very welcome and made an effort to do everything in Spanish as well as Romanian. At the end they treated us to pizza. They had ordered a table full of pizza!

In the evening we went to say hello to our Danish neighbors, who had arrived from Denmark. I took a picture of our house from their terrace.
On Monday there was another parcel. Rather bigger than the others. It was hubby’s keyboard stand. A proper job, as he calls it.
In the evening we had been invited to have supper with the Danes. We sat out on the terrace all evening. 

On Wednesday our friends Kim and Andy came. Andy is the computer whizz kid and he spent time sorting things out on our new laptop and Kim and I shared a bottle of white wine!
That is about it from me today. I think my computer knows we have bought a laptop and is having a tantrum. All my funnies are on my desktop computer and he won’t cooperate. Arghh!
So this is all I can come up with:

Short and sweet today. 
Have a lovely weekend,
Keep smiling!

Tuesday 19 October 2021

A Postcard A Day - Tuesday 19 October 2021 - T for Belarus, trick or treat and Romanian ladies

 Hello lovely ladies,

Are you all ready for the T-Party, hosted by Elizabeth and Bleubeard?

Come and join us with a post that has a drink or a drink reference in it. I have something to contribute, but this blog is about postcards so without further ado, here are my postcards.

The theme this time is Belarus.

Belarus,[a] officially the Republic of Belarus,[b] and historically Byelorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Covering an area of 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) and with a population of 9.3 million, Belarus is the thirteenth-largest and the twentieth-most populous country in Europe. The country is administratively divided into seven regions. Minsk is the capital and largest city.

 Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, and were finalized after World War II.[11][12][13] During World War II, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a quarter of its population and half of its economic resources.[14] The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945, the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union.

The parliament of the republic proclaimed the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991.[15] Following the adoption of a new constitution in 1994, Alexander Lukashenko was elected Belarus's first president in the country's first and only free election post-independence, serving as president ever since.[16] Lukashenko's government is authoritarian with a poor human rights record due to widespread human rights abuses.[17][18][19][20] Belarus is the only country in Europe officially using the death penalty. Lukashenko has continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy. In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, forming the Union State.

Belarus is a developing country, ranking 53rd in the Human Development Index

Here is the card I received:

It is entitled Bielaviezhskaya Puscha. That is a National Park which has UNESCO World Heritage status.

It straddles the border between Poland and Belarus. (On the card the part on the right is Belarus and the left is Poland).

Białowieża Forest  is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. The forest is home to 800 European bison, Europe's heaviest land animal.[2] UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme designated the Polish Biosphere Reserve Białowieża in 1976[3] and the Belarusian Biosphere Reserve Belovezhskaya Puschcha in 1993.

On the Belarusian side, the forest is protected as the Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park with an area of 1,771 km2 (684 sq mi). The core, strictly protected, area covers 38%, the zone of regulated use 26,1%, and the touristic zone and economic zone combined 36%; the National Park and World Heritage Site comprises 876 km2 (338 sq mi).The Belovezhskaya pushcha headquarters at Kamieniuki include laboratory facilities and a zoo where European bison (reintroduced into the park in 1929), konik (a semi-wild horse), wild boarEurasian elk and other indigenous animals may be viewed in enclosures of their natural habitat. A new attraction there is a New Year's museum with Ded Moroz (the East Slavic counterpart of Father Christmas).

The stamp is interesting:

I think it celebrates 60 years UNESCO World Heritage sites. The bison are obviously the National park mentioned above.

The second card is also from Belarus:
It is a photo of Lilya Bric.

Lilya Yuryevna Brik; née Kagan; November 11 1891 – August 4, 1978) was a Russian author and socialite, connected to many leading figures in the Russian avant-garde between 1914 and 1930. She was known as the beloved (muse) of Vladimir Mayakovsky. Lilya Brik was married for a long time to the poet, editor and literary critic Osip Brik (1888–1945), and she was the older sister of the French-Russian writer Elsa Triolet (1896–1970). Pablo Neruda called Lilya "muse of Russian avant-garde". Her name was frequently abbreviated by her contemporaries as "Л.Ю." or "Л.Ю.Б." which are the first letters of the Russian word "любовь" lyubov, "love".
The daughter of a prosperous Jewish jurist, the handsome, erotically obsessed, highly cultivated Lili grew up with an overwhelming ambition prevalent among women of the Russian intelligentsia: to be perpetuated in human memory by being the muse of a famous poet. ... The two made a pact to love each other "in the Chernyshevsky manner" – a reference to one of nineteenth-century Russia's most famous radical thinkers, who was an early advocate of "open marriages." Living at the heart of an artistic bohemia and receiving the intelligentsia in the salon of his delectable wife, Osip Brik, true to his promise, calmly accepted his wife's infidelities from the start. In fact, upon hearing his wife confess that she had gone to bed with the famous young poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, Brik exclaimed "How could you refuse anything to that man?" ... In 1918, when Mayakovsky and the Briks became inseparable, he simply moved in with them. Throughout the rest of his life, he made his home at a succession of flats that the Briks occupied.

The stamp is celebrating Postcrossing! That is fun!

I had a surprise the other day when I went to collect my mail from the post office:
It was a card all the way from the USA. Kathy (in Ozark) sent it to me. Thank you so much Kathy. What a lovely surprise! 
It's a beautifully executed stamp featuring 'Trick or treat'  characters. What a cute stamp! Kathy asks if we do trick or treat here. No, we don't. Halloween is a typically American celebration. The children here have seen things about Halloween in the media and the big stores are cashing in on anything orange and pumpkinny. But I have never seen children trick or treating. As we certainly don't send Halloween related cards, so this one is very special Kathy. Thank you very much. 

Here is my qualifier for the T-Party: I made meatballs in tomato sauce and we had spaghetti with that. 
The drink you see is hubby's non alcoholic beer Mahou 0%.
We have a large chess set in our village. The chess pieces are knee high. It's nice to now, the set is still complete.

We have started to go back to doing Intercambio again. This is where English speakers and Spanish speakers get together to practice speaking with each other. We now have a small class room, in a tiny building right in the middle of the park.

On Sunday we (our little house group church) were invited to the Romanian church, a group of Romanian Christians that meet in a hall in Baza.

After the service (which was in Spanish and in Romanian) they had ordered pizza for everyone!

The women were very sweet and welcoming and at the end I wanted to have my photo taken with the women. It was a very special time.

Our Danish neighbors are back. We went out to see them a few times and this photo is taken at night (Yes, we still sit out at night) from their terrace. Our house is visible on the right. The white four story building built on the slope.

Baza (our nearest town) is visible on the horizon.

That is it from me today.
Take care everyone!
Happy T-Day,