Thursday, February 15, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 338

 Limoges, France

This new, unused, postcard is numbered 87006, and has J. Forestier photographs of Limoges, France including the Cathedral and the St.Étienne bridge over the Vienne River.   Editions RENE published the card. 

Limoges is a city of about 300,000 located in west-central France.  In medieval times it was known for the making of enamel work on copper.  Later in the 19th century fine quality porcelain became one of its most famous products.  Porcelain production was made possible by the discovery of white clay found in kaolin rock in 1768.  Several porcelain factories in and around the city of Limoges make items.  Today more than 50 percent of porcelain made in France comes from Limoges.  Also manufactured are oak barrels used for Cognac and Bordeaux production.  The outer rural area has a long history of breeding sheep and cows.  That plus the associated leather industry allowed the production of luxury shoes, gloves and bags that are still made today.

The Romans founded a city here in 10 BC and called it Augustoritum after the emperor Augustus and as a place to ford the river, “rito” being a Gaulish word for ford.  This early city had baths, sanctuaries, an amphitheater, and a temple.  The temple was located near where the cathedral stands today.  It also had its own currency and a Senate.

Christianity arrived around 250 AD with Saint Martial and his two companions, Alpininaus and Austriclinienus, but was more or less abandoned toward the end of the 3rd century due to unsafe living conditions brought about by invasions of Germanic tribes.  In the 9th century the Abbey of St. Martial was established and a settlement began to re-grow around the tomb of the saint.  The Abbey had a large library that helped Limoges become a flourishing artistic center with a school of medieval music composition. 

By the 13th century Limoges was at the peak of its splendor and had two fortified settlements, a walled town and a castle.  Edward, the Black Prince, occupied the city in 1370 massacring some 300 residents or about 1/6 of the population.  The area struggled following that event but in 1792 the castle and the city united to become one single city called Limoges.  In the 19th century much of the city was rebuilt to correct unsafe living conditions. 


Thanks once again to my kind friend who continues to send such beautiful postcards!

For additional information,  see:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

No longer a radioactive cat -- post op #1

“I want to be perfectly clear, I’m not going through that again!”  

Current non-radioactive phase – “Where do I file the complaint about cruel and unusual treatment?”

TBS had her first post op exam.  She had a dose of Gabpentin the evening before and another dose a couple of hours before the appointment.  That should have made her really relaxed.  Not. 

We try to put her in the office about ½ hour before the vet arrives and normally leave her in there for about another ½ hour after they leave.  Didn’t quite work that way this time.  Once the desk chairs, waste baskets, printer, and other items started getting moved out of the office she decided nothing good was going to happen and zipped off to an unknown hiding place upstairs. 

As the appointment time drew near we feared we wouldn’t get her confined in the office in time but fortunately she came out of hiding long enough to catch and put in the now empty room.  Once the doors were closed, some mewing began followed by stronger protests.  We ignored those pitiful sounds.  

“Go away.  I’m invisible!  If I can’t see you, you can’t see me, right?”

Ready or not here they come . . .

 Long protective gloves

Vet bag
Dr. K arrived with an assistant who produced a pair of long protective gloves and a towel.  The assistant went into the office.  Silence.  A few seconds later a tremendous racket of snarls and screams ensued accompanied by many scuffling sounds.  This lasted for a couple of minutes before the assistant asked Dr. K to come in for the exam and blood draw.  Blood draw successful, urine specimen successful and exam completed.  We really wanted to know if TBS had gained weight as her pre-treatment weight was down almost a pound from what it should be but they were not able to hold her long enough to weigh her. 

The office door unexpectedly opened and TBS shot out like a cannon ball, puffed up to twice her size and growling and snorting, hissing, and making terrible meows.  She was frantically looking for anywhere to hide.  We opened the bathroom and bedroom doors to give her a choice and she slunk away into the bedroom where she can hide behind the platform bed.  

No suspicious additives, safe to eat . . .

We received the test results!  All good news—thyroid levels normal, kidneys normal, and liver levels normal.  There will be one more post op in 2 months but we will worry about that later.  She was supposed to be fasting before the blood draw but we had to give her a little food in order to get the Gabapentin down.  Nevertheless, after all the commotion was over she was more than ready to have a hearty full breakfast followed by a long nap.  It was an exhausting day for all of us.

PS  Don't know what we would do without the At Home Vet service.  They are wonderful, patient, and unflappable when faced with the likes of TBS.  Thank you Dr. K and Assistant!!  And thanks to the Feline Hyperthyroid Treatment Center & Dr. V who have given TBS what we hope will be several more years of healthy life. 

TBS may be difficult and cranky at times but she can also be sweet. We love her and are happy to have her feeling better. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 337

Nine doors

This week’s postcard is a little different.  It is an unused Image de nos Campagnes, photo edition “France Regard,” with the reference #121708 in the upper right corner on the reverse.  The picture shows nine different doors.  When I travel I frequently take photos of doors just because I find them interesting and it is fun to think of what might be on the other side of the door.  Also the knobs and hinges, the lintels and frames can be varied and works of art at times. 

My friend, who often sends me postcards, chose this card without knowing how much I enjoy interesting doors.  It turns out that he also finds them fascinating.   So, I suppose, this is an invitation to others to look for interesting, ordinary items and appreciate them. 

This doorknob was located in the center of the door to our hotel room in Nîmes, France and proved to be quite pretty when examined up close.

How many times have we seen a loyal dog waiting patiently by a door?  This pooch was near a shop in Les Baux, France.

 Also found in Les Baux, France is this old studded door with the knocker in the center

 A very simple door with long hinges and a lever instead of a knob is near Hornnes, Norway on a small hunting hut.

 This door dates from the 1600s and is on a storage building called a Stabbur in Hornnes, Norway where my great-grandfather, Mikal Alfsen Hornnes lived at one time.

 Gorgeous carved lintel and door posts bracket the massive wooden doors found on this building at the Bygdøy folk museum, Oslo, Norway

 We saw more than one of these raised doors with no stairs.  This one is on a castle wall in Salzburg, Austria.  Notice the slit in the wall for arrows

 A door within a door at the Festung, Salzburg, Austria

 This doorway was discovered within a wall of the Festung.

An elaborate doorway within the Festung

 Fancy ironwork on this door

 A door with a small peek hole at the upper left found in a wall

 The door above was from the living quarters in the Festung.  The door below is also found in the Festung.

A new modern wooden door in the style of the very old doors.  Found on a house in Hallstatt, Austria.

And last, but not really least, the tiny door into the children's room at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Preserve in Austin, Texas.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 336

Turin, Italy

Last week’s postcard had a black and white photograph of the Royal Gardens of Turin.  This week’s card shows the Turin cityscape with the Mole Antonelliana prominent on the right side.  My friend who lives in Italy sent the cards when he was visiting Torino last November.

The photograph on this card, like the one last week, is also attributed to Piero Ottaviano and is a POPCARD publication.  It has a small number on the reverse at the lower right corner:  ob15.

The Mole Antonelliana takes its name from the architect, Alessandro Antonelli, and is a major landmark in Turin.  A “mole” means it is a building of monumental proportions.  The building took approximately 26 years to complete, between 1863 and 1889.  Antonelli died before completion and did not get to see the finished building.  It was originally conceived as a synagogue but now houses the National Museum of Cinema.  It was renovated in 1953.  Including the dome and spire the structure stands 550 feet or 167.5 meters tall and was once was believed to be the tallest building in the world.  It appears on the obverse of the Italian 2 cent euro coin.

Cost overruns due to continuing modifications by Antonelli finally caused a break in 1876 with the Jewish community that had started with an estimate of 280,000 lire and had already spent 692,000 lire and the building was not yet finished.  The people of Turin who had watched the building rising to a great height demanded that the city take over the project.  An offer of property by the city resulted in a new synagogue quickly being built and the city completing the building. 

Originally Antonelli had wanted a five-pointed star on the top of the spire but later changed the design to a winged genie, one of the symbols of the House of Savoy.  The genie holds a lance in one hand and a palm branch in the other.  On his head is a small five-pointed star.  The Mole Antonelliana is the tallest building with no steel girder reinforcements in the world.

The winged genie collapsed during the storm in 1904 and was replaced by a 5-pointed copper star.  A smaller three-dimensional, 12-pointed star later replaced the copper star. 

During a tornado in 1953 the upper 47 meters or 154 feet of the pinnacle was destroyed.  In 1961 a metal replacement structure faced with stone replaced the storm-damaged section.

For additional information, see:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 335

 Royal Gardens, Turin, Italy

This week’s postcard has an elegant black and white photo showing part of the Royal Gardens in Turin (Torino), Italy.  This is another of recent postcards sent by my friend who lives in Italy. 

Piero Ottaviano is the photographer, the card is a POPCARD publication with the identification number:  T723.   A search for information about Ottaviano and associated images revealed that while he is interested in light, color and architecture he has mainly photographed weddings since 1991.  Several of his images were in black and white such as this one but others were in color.  In addition to his wedding photos he has also taken a number of pictures of Torino city scenes including buildings.  The major landmark building of Turin in the background on the card is the Mole Antonelliana.

The Royal Gardens are located in the city center.  One aerial view on a travel web page shows the green park surrounded by the bastions that were built in the late 1500s by Emanuel Filibert of Savoy when he moved the capital city of his duchy from Chambéry to Turin.  The bastions were redesigned by André le Nôtre, a famous garden architect in the 1600s.   The gardens were inspired by the gardens of Versailles in France.  Today a number of summer events are held here involving music, cinema and a combination of both.  The park is one of the gems of the city.

As always my thanks to my friend for sharing this postcard.

For additional information, see:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Caution: Radioactive Service Cat

"No, I do not glow in the dark.  What are you talking about?  What just happened?  Why does my box have that symbol on it?"

TBS does not have a “Service Animal” jacket and I doubt we could get it on her, nor is she really a service cat of any type unless she believes she is giving us service by sharing a house with us; however, if a Geiger Counter were to pass over her now it would click.  She does not glow in the dark and is not radioactively harmful to humans or other animals but we do have to follow some rules for a few more days.

As many know, TBS does not travel well or at all if it can be avoided.  About two years ago our usual veterinary clinic suggested it might be best if we found an at home vet service to treat her since she disturbs other patients when in the clinic and it is a traumatic event for her and us and the vets treating her.  We made the change from clinic to home service.  About a year ago she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.  At that time we began giving her a compounded liquid prescription in her breakfast.  We called it chicken gravy so she would not be too suspicious.  She loved the stuff and willingly ate it all up.  We were delighted.  This meant one less hassle with this far from hassle free cat. 

TBS was not exhibiting any of the symptoms associated with thyroid disease except increased appetite and occasional frantic running around the house and playing vigorously with favorite toys.  She looked and acted very healthy, was eating well and had not lost weight or muscle strength.  Many cats can stay on this medicine for years and remain healthy. But, alas, that was not the case with TBS.  The most recent blood work showed the thyroid levels still increasing despite the chicken gravy. 

The second option, which we originally rejected since it involved at least one trip into a clinic, was radiopharmaceutical treatment.  That treatment is a complete cure as the thyroid tumors are given radiated iodine to get rid of them.  Her tumors were not yet cancerous but would become so if we did not do something.  The treatment is expensive but not as expensive as having the blood work and tests every few months plus the medicine.

Now we were faced with a treating a potentially fatal condition or hospice care followed by euthanizing her at a too young age.  We decided to try the treatment not having the foggiest idea of how we were going to get her into the carrying crate and off to the treatment center.  We knew only too well what her behavior would be like. 

Bob says I was nervous for almost a month and in a near panic the three days preceding the appointment, as we still had not figured out how to trick her into the carrier.  The vet service had given us capsules of a relaxing medication to be administered in her food the night before and also a couple of hours before departure from home.  We really didn’t notice any change from the doses.  There was no pleasant drowsiness.  Plenty of prayer seemed a good idea.

 Carrier on end ready for TBS to drop on in . . .

Carrier covered in towels.  Cozy, yes?  No.

Several people, including the vet, had suggested putting the crate on end and stuffing her feet first into it preferably with a towel around her hind feet.  That is what we did and it worked surprisingly well.  TBS has the memory of an elephant and may not be able to be tricked like this again but it worked when it needed to.  We had to catch her first and stuff her in quickly, then latch the door and secure it with a bungee cord.  Much growling, hissing, snarling and yowling followed a squawk of surprise and an unsuccessful attempt at clawing a way out.  These are normal and expected noises for TBS when about to travel.  Two towels were draped over the carrier, much like covering a birdcage, to calm her.  At first plaintive mews serenaded us as we drove to the clinic soon followed by more angry and frightening sounds. 

Soon after we arrived at the clinic a nurse took her in the towel-covered crate into another room where we met with the vet, Dr. Vaughan.  Many unpleasant noises were now emanating from the crate.  The nurse was called and it was suggested that TBS be moved to an isolation room, given an anti-anxiety drug, lights out, with the towels still over the crate.  She would be completely sedated for the treatment itself and would be out for about 10 to 15 min. during which time she could be weighed and examined and administered the dose of radioactive iodine.  Dr. Vaughan likened it to the wild African animals sedated for examination and tagging.  She would have to work fast and efficiently.  Most domesticated cats do not need to be sedated for the procedures.  As soon as the radiation levels got low enough she could go home, usually a day or two after treatment.  Dr. Vaughan has treated many difficult cats and was not at all ruffled by TBS.  Inwardly I heaved a huge sigh of relief.  We were called the next morning and told that the radiation levels were down and we could pick her up that day.  I don’t suppose they really wanted to keep her any longer than necessary as she was still disgruntled when we picked her up even though she had had another anti-anxiety pill.

 The two original towels were contaminated and did not come home with us.

Note the big protective glove . . .  And there was much rattling of the cage . . .

TBS made the expected protestations in the car on the way home.  A stay of a few hours alone in the office once we got home followed by freedom and food, sniffed at before eating to make sure there were no suspicious additives, seemed to help her get back to a more normal behavior.  After two weeks she will not be setting off Geiger counters anymore but Washington State law says we must keep her litter contained for 80 to 90 days before disposing it in the garbage.  There are still two post op appointments to check on the results but those can be done by the at home service.  We hope there will be no more need for TBS to travel for a long, long time.

"That was exhausting.  I think I'll just relax here on the heated floor for a bit."

PS  More information about this treatment is available at:

Thursday, January 18, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 334

 Pinocchio postcard illustrated by Rocco Forgione


This postcard above and the one below arrived recently with a letter and a couple of other cards from my friend who lives in Italy.  I thought these Pinocchio themed cards and stamps were charming.  Rocco Forgione did the artwork on the card above.  Both cards are part of a commemoration set of postcards and stamps featuring Pinocchio.  

For many people, especially those in the United States, it is easy to associate Pinocchio with the Walt Disney 1940 movie and character; however, the story was originally written in 1883 by the Italian author, Carlo Lorenzini, who wrote under the name Carlo Collodi.  Pinocchio is a cultural icon in Italy and remains even today as one of the most popular characters found in children’s literature.

Pinocchio was the impish, rascally boy puppet created by the woodcarver, Geppetto. He wanted to become a real boy.  In the original story Pinocchio’s bad behavior was meant to be a warning and the first ending to the story published in 1881 was to be tragic.  A later version from 1883 changed the ending. 

The most notable feature of Pinocchio is his nose that grows longer when he lies.  Mention of the nose only appears a couple of times in the story but demonstrates the power of the Blue Fairy over Pinochhio when he is disobedient.   In one case Pinocchio weeps over his deformed nose and the fairy has woodpeckers peck it back to a normal size.  Perhaps to show that repentance is sometimes painful. 

Pinocchio postcard ilustrated by Luca Stella


The second postcard was illustrated by Luca Stella and has a more stylized cartoon style of Pinochhio as a postman.  The stamp has a 1940 picture of Pinochhio on a tricycle and was issued in 2015.  Collodi wrote a series of story books for use in elementary schools that may explain, in part, the use of the alphabet blocks around the edge.  On both cards he is shown with his nose disobediently long even though the moral of the story is to be good, work, and study.

Carlo Collodi was born 1826 in Florence, Italy and died 1890 in Florence.  His early writings were political in nature and published in periodicals.  He helped found the satirical newspaper Il Lampione in 1853 and in 1854 he published a second newspaper, Lo scaramuccia, in English, The Controversy.   It wasn’t until 1875 that he entered the field of children’s literature. 

 As always, thank you to my friend for sharing these charming postcards.

For additional information, see: