Thursday, November 27, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 170

Německý Brod, Czech Republic, 1912

My daughter-in-law's parents who are serving a records preservation mission are currently living in the Czech Republic where they are filming and digitizing vital and census records.  Even though they are very busy working they did spy this postcard at a tourist information center and kindly sent it off to me.  What a delightful surprise to find it in the mailbox.  Thank you kind friends!

The picture is dated 1912 with buildings much older than that.   Following World War II the name of this town was changed in 1945 to Havlíčkův Brod.  The word “brod” means ford so it is not surprising that the town is located on the Sázava River in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands.   There have been people living in settlements here as long ago as the 12th century. 

When silver was discovered German miners were invited to move to the area.  Silver mining was most important during the 13th into the 14th century, declining toward the end.   Because the German-speaking people brought in to work the mines were living in Brod they became subjects of the Bohemian crown.  This town was involved in periodic wars including the Hussite or Bohemian Wars (1419 – 1434) and the later Bohemian War (1468-1478).   It was sacked in 1422 and resettled in 1429.  In the 16th and 17th centuries it experienced what is described as a cultural flowering.  By 1918 it was part of the Austrian monarchy.  Textiles and the railroad became important during the industrialization of the 19th century.   The main center of Brod was declared a national treasure in 1980. 

The Hussite Wars or the Hussite Revolution was also referred to as the Bohemian Wars and were fought between the Hussites who were followers of the Bohemian priest and reformer Jan Hus and monarchs who supported the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.  The Hussites were a major military power that included most of the Czech population of the Kingdom of Bohemia.  These conflicts were notable for use of early hand-held firearms.  The fighting ended in 1434 with the Hussites agreeing to submit to the authority of the King and the Church if they were allowed to continue to practice their variant religion. 

For more information about the city, see:

For details about the Hussites and the tactics and weapons used during these wars, please see:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rattlesnake Mountain -- Stan's Overlook

Monday was going to be the best day of the week for a hike so plans were made to go to Stan’s Overlook on Rattlesnake Mountain near North Bend on the west side of Snoqualmie Pass.  It was cold with some breeze making it feel every bit of the 35 degrees F.  We were bundled up and after walking for a little while got comfortably warm.  This is a very popular destination so even though it was a weekday we did encounter several people on the trail and a few had dogs. This hike is classified as “moderate” not so much due to the length, the sign is misleading as it is actually more than 2 miles to the overlook and approximately 5 miles round trip, but because it gains 1100 feet of elevation.  The most I have attempted in the two years of resumed hiking activity. 

The trail is very nice, wide in most places, even surfaced without too many rocks or roots, and is a steady climb with switchbacks but not horribly steep.  We encountered a lot of frost heave, which I had never seen before.  Water under the trail had frozen and formed crystals that pushed the ground up.  In some places a hiker’s foot had broken through the thin layer of frozen ground and the crystals were exposed.  If it had been warmer the ice would have melted and made mud but as it was the trail remained dry with strange and rather pretty ice patches.

This trail is part of the “Greenway” and was in a logging area.  The land was purchased and set aside to become a natural forest again.  

There are plenty of big stumps left from the logging days to remind us how huge the trees were and how different the forest is today from what it was yesterday.

Many of the trees along the trail were alder and had already lost all their leaves as seen in the picture below. 

There are a few evergreen trees, mostly cedar, mixed in with the alders and I think the bark on some of the trunks is very pretty.

Most of the plants had shriveled in the cold and were already in their winter mode but we did see some interesting lichen, berries, and Oregon grape leaves turning purple.

When we reached the overlook we found a table and a couple of benches plus a lovely view of the surroundings.  It was a good place to have our lunch before returning to the trailhead.

There was also a small marker that unfortunately did not have the elevation noted but it was fun to find anyway.

The return trip was no less cold but it was all downhill with a more or less gentle grade lined with trees, ferns and this arch of mossy vine maple trunks that had been bent over, probably in a storm or heavy snow. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 169

From Uncle Blue's New Boat, published 1942

When Dick Thompson went to Norway in the 1950s he brought back little souvenirs for his grandchildren.  One of the things he brought back was this postcard with a picture from the book Uncle Blue’s New Boat by Swedish author and illustrator Elsa Beskow.  She is sometimes called the Beatrix Potter of Scandinavia.  N. W. Damm & Sons of Oslo published the postcard in Norway.  It has the number 1086 and the notation “Fra “Onkel Blås nye båt.”  Dick had written on the card “Children having a good time in Norway.”  Now we know it was having a good time in Sweden but a Grandpa can be forgiven such a mistake.

Elsa was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1874 the daughter of businessman Bernt Maartman, whose family came from Bergen, Norway, and Augusta Fahlstedt.  She was the second of six children with one older brother and four younger sisters.  As a child she loved fairy tales and began making up her own stories to tell her siblings.  She also spent hours drawing trees and flowers acquiring knowledge about plants at the same time.  After her father died when she was 15 years old, the family moved in with her mother’s unmarried sisters and brother.   The aunts and uncle began a school with progressive views and focused learning through games and enjoyment.  It sounds a little like some forms of homeschooling used today. 

Bestow’s books reflect her life with extended family in her series of Aunt and Uncle books.  Her first book published in 1897, Tale of the Little, Little Old Woman, was inspired by nursery rhymes taught to her by her grandmother.  Before books she had drawings and writings published in the children’s magazine Jultomten (Father Christmas) in 1894.  She married Nathaniel Beskow in 1897.  They had six sons.  She began writing and illustrating books to help support the growing family and would comment “Every year another book, every other year a boy.”  In 1901 she published Peter in Blueberry Land and thereafter her books became hugely popular and were translated into several different languages including English. 

She wrote children’s picture books for over 50 years.  She died of cancer in 1953 at the age of 79. 

As I looked at selections of her illustrations I found them charming and delightful.  For more information about her life, books and illustrations, see these sites –

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rain, rain, go away . . .

A few weeks ago we had lots and lots of rain, 5 inches in a 24-hour period according to the rain gauge on the front porch.  The gutters had not been cleaned since last fall and they overflowed.  We immediately called for a gutter service to come out and clean them and will probably have this same service clean the gutters twice a year from now on.  Whenever the gutters overflow water comes into the basement.  Not a giant flood but enough to get the floor wet.  We have since discovered that excessive rainwater runs not down the hillside but toward the house because there is an old decommissioned oil heat tank buried in the front yard.  The water hits the tank and runs toward the house instead of flowing away from it.  Removing the old tank is out of the question as it would involve moving parts of a rockery and digging a huge hole on a steep hillside.  

There had been carpeting on the floor that got wet during the leak so we had to remove it before the situation could be assessed.  That room is going to be the library and it needs to be dry, warm and cozy.  The paneling had to come off so we could find the leak. We still could not find where it originated.  The bottom plate of the wall had to be removed before we found source of the problem.

The big worry was that there would be a giant crack in the wall but often water comes in where the wall and floor meet and that is not so big a problem.  What we did find was a surprise.  No cracks in the wall, that was good.  But a crack and holes at the bottom near the floor where roots from shrubs outside had worked their way through the concrete and behind the paneling.  What the photo does not show is two thick roots right at the bottom that had to be cut out with a razor blade.  These small delicate looking roots were growing up the wall behind the paneling and insulation.

There is a product that will seal and waterproof this type of crack in basements so we ordered some.  In the meantime the crack had to be cleaned out, roots removed, and the surface made ready.  Time to rent a Jack Hammer device.

It weighs 25 lbs and is, to quote, “about all a small, old man can handle.”  The use of said hammer required some protection too.

I did notice that the facemask is not covering the nose and the protective eye goggles are above the eyes.  It was hot work I was told and the goggles fogged up and the mask hampered breathing.  So much for trying to be safe . . .

 We plan to replace the old paneling with something brighter, paint the other walls, and install some carpeting as soon as the interior repairs have been completed.  Then the bookcases and books move in with a couple of chairs or a loveseat and a lamp or two.  It should be a warm, cozy library when it is all finished.  The Bride of Satan will have a little refuge when the kitchen remodeling begins in a few months.  Otherwise, she needs to put on her traveling furs and move to the north house for a while.  Not going to happen, if one listens to her.

A French Drain will also be necessary outside to prevent the water from flowing toward the house.  But that will have to wait until the weather is better.

This experience is reliving a part of Bob's life from youth and a part he would rather not remember.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 168

Horseshoe Bend, Missouri

The photograph on the postcard shows the Lake of the Ozarks a large reservoir created by the Bagnell Dam that provides hydroelectric power and is the second largest man-made lake in Missouri.   The Osage River and smaller tributaries join together and feed into the lake.  The lake extends more than 90 miles and has the nickname of The Magic Dragon due to its serpentine shape.  A power plant was envisioned here as early as 1912; however, it was not until 1929 that construction actually began with the dam completed in 1931.  Several names for the lake were proposed including naming it after a former senator but none of the names took and it continues to be referred to by the location in the Ozarks but the electric generating station is called the Osage Hydroelectric Plant.

The card is unused and has a short informational blurb on the reverse that reads: “Seven mile paved drive bordering the shores of the lake in Scenic Horseshoe Bend Drive built and maintained by Union Electric Land and Development Co. for the pleasure of lake visitors.”  It has become a popular tourist destination with over 5 million people visiting the lake each year.  Recreational facilities include three golf courses and the Lake of the Ozarks State Park on the Grand Glaize Arm of the lake as well as Ha Ha Tonka State Park located on the Niangua Arm of the lake.  Party Cove, found in Lake of the Ozarks State Park, is a rowdy gathering spot that attracts up to 3,000 boats during the Fourth of July weekend.  Today there are several communities along the lake and many lakefront homes.

Corwin News Agency of Jefferson City, Missouri distributed the Linen postcard that was produced using genuine Curteich-Chicago “C.T. American Art” dating it to the late 1930s or early 1940s.  This is another of the cards that I found at the Antique Mall in Marietta, Ohio.

For more information, see:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 167

Chimney Rock, Idaho

Tall enough to be seen from Priest Lake, Idaho, Chimney Rock is a 400-foot high granite slab landmark in the panhandle or northern part of Idaho.  It is located in the Selkirk Mountain range that spans the northern portion of Idaho and parts of eastern Washington and southeastern British Columbia, Canada.   The highest point in the Selkirk range is Mount Sir Sandford at 11,545 ft. (3,519 meters). Chimney Rock is classified as a technical climb requiring ropes and special climbing gear as well as experience in mountain and rock climbing.  

The used postcard above does not have a postmark or any other date on it but it appears to be from the late 1950s or 1960s.  The Ross Hall Studio of Sandpoint, Idaho published the card using “genuine natural color” made by Dexter Press, Inc. of West Nyack, New York.  The unsigned message on the reverse reads in part:

“[We] climbed this bugger while I was home.  N-- has climbed it several times before.  The route marked (see the inked lines on the card face) is the one we used.  It is the least precipitous of all the sides.  The trip down is just two long repels.  I was scared spitless when I started but after you get going it isn’t that bad.”

In 1857 gold was discovered in the Selkirks and there is also coal, copper, mercury, marble, silver and zinc.  These mountains were considered formidable obstacles to the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway until a pass was discovered in 1881-1882.  The pass is named after A.B. Rogers who discovered it.  The heart of the Selkirks was among the first national parks created in Canada.  The only caribou (reindeer in Scandinavia) in the United States outside of Alaska can be found in this range.  Also found are deer, elk, black bears, cougars, bobcats, red fox, bald eagles, osprey, great blue heron, porcupine, badgers, coyote, martens, bighorn sheep, gray wolves and moose.  Rarely seen but known to roam through the area are grizzly bears.  The Selkirks were named after Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk.  

For an artist's rendition of the beauty of this area there is an 1886 painting by John A. Fraser entitled At Rogers Pass.  Fraser was a Canadian artist born in London, England in 1838 and died in the United States in 1898.  His paintings were praised for realism, the use of color and light. 

For additional information, please see: