Thursday, February 25, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 235

Kensington Roof Gardens, London, English, ca 1940

This black & white real photo postcard of the Derry & Toms (Kensington) roof gardens has no date but the clothing and hairstyles suggest a date around 1940.  D.F. & S Ltd. of London published it for Derry & Toms.  The blurb on the reverse side states that these are the only gardens in the world of such dimensions at so great a height, 1.5 acres at 100 feet above ground.  The soil is 2. 5 feet deep with water pumped from two wells 400 feet deep. 

Designed by Welsh landscape gardener Ralph Hancock the gardens were built between 1936 and 1938.  It was partly because of his success with a rock and water garden designed for HRH Princess Victoria in 1927 that he was chosen to design the gardens at Rockefeller Center in New York constructed between 1933 and 1935.  When Trevor Bowen, managing director of the department store, saw the Rockefeller gardens he wanted to create a similar effect in London.  Hancock used brickwork, rocks, Tudor arches and wrought iron.  Over 500 different varieties of trees and shrubs were planted.  The cost of construction was ₤25,000 and visitors were charged 1 shilling to enter with the money raised donated to local hospitals.  Today the gardens still look as they did in the late 1930s.

Joseph Toms opened a small drapery shop on Kensington High Street, London, England, in 1853.  Nine years later in 1862 his brother-in-law, Charles Derry, joined him to form the London department store, Derry & Toms.  Considered a supplier of goods to the upper class of Kensington by 1870 the business had incorporated seven surrounding stores.  The store retained its name when it was sold to John Barker & Company in 1920.  Construction on a new building began in 1930 and opened in 1933.  The store was sold again in 1971 to Biba but continued to operate as Derry & Toms until 1973 when it finally closed.  Virgin Hotels Group, Ltd currently owns the building.  Both the gardens and the building are listed as Grade II, English Heritage sites. 

 The gardens have appeared as locations in various fiction stories, movies and were used in a music video “Oh, Pretty Woman,” by Roy Orbison. 

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Rub my tummy?

Rub my tummy?

Rolling on her back and exposing her fluffy tummy, TBS seems to be asking, “Rub my tummy?”  Is she nuts?  It would be like taking my life in my hands to reach down and rub her tummy the way she has been acting these past three weeks.  Even when she is more normal it is not a good idea to rub her tummy.  It is an invitation to a wrestling match with sharp cat teeth and hind claws.  Her teeth may be small but they are exceedingly sharp.  Bob has experienced that first hand as she bit through ski gloves without a problem last time we tried this moving idea.

What?  You don’t trust me?

The good news is that today I think we may have made the break through that we have been waiting for.  TBS greeted me at the door with purrs and nice mews, followed me to the feeding station, and got immediately down to eating her breakfast.  No growling while eating or glaring at me with whirling eyes.  (The growling while eating would be pretty funny if it were not so menacing sounding.)  No screams, hissing, or other unpleasant activities.  Following her meal she allowed me to pet her and even encouraged me to do so.  Amazing!  She still won’t jump up on my lap but that might be coming before too much longer. 

Bob, however, remains part of the evil dark side and gets snarls, hisses and growls when he tries to be friendly with her.  It is strange because I have all along thought that she prefers him to me even though she has known me longer.  I think this is because he has not been going and sitting with her as much as I have.  But given the improvement in her behavior I feel much more confident that she will come around in the next few days and be happy to see both of us.* 

The unfortunate part is that now that she is no longer expending so much energy screaming and trying to take us down she hovers by the door wanting to escape when it opens so she can get into the rest of the house.  Not going to happen (we hope).  It will probably be another month of confinement for her until we can move back south and offer her more freedom. 


*More good news--this afternoon Bob tried sitting in the rocker for just a few minutes and experienced no nasty sounds or actions from TBS.  Things are definitely looking better.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The cat saga continues . . .


We are 3 weeks into the “move” and still being met with screams, growls and howls most of the time.  TBS hides behind or under the small end table and comes out with an attitude to let us know in no uncertain terms how much she dislikes her vacation accommodations.  There has been some improvement but also many days when it seems like we are slipping backwards instead of progressing forward.  

The space in back of and under this small table serves as the safe house

Because she was a foundling feral kitten, underweight and of indeterminate age but probably 8 weeks or so old, when we got her, she has peculiarities that most socialized, domesticated, tame cats do not have.  The move from the south to north houses has caused her to revert to feral behavior and it is like having to tame her all over again.  It takes a lot of patience to deal with a feral cat and there is a chance that we may not be successful.  But we continue to try.  After nine years of companionship I am very fond of her despite these lapses in civility.

Several days ago we moved a rocking chair into the room so that one of us could sit with her.  This activity was not met with enthusiasm on her part but was tolerated about as well as anything else.  Ears flattened, hissing, and some lunging forward with bared teeth ensued.  After I sat in the chair for about an hour she came over and rubbed against my feet then turned, hissed, and whacked me with her paws then ended with a toothy nip.  Since she no longer has front claws* and she didn’t bite hard this was just a showing of disgruntlement not a fierce attack, as I had first feared it would turn out to be.  She can be absolutely terrifying when in full attack mode.

What now?

She has to be confined to the one room since there are just too many places in the rest of the north house where she could hide and given her current nastiness it would prove difficult to impossible to manage.  Unfortunately there have been some unexpected delays in the south house construction so she will have to stay at the north house longer than originally hoped or anticipated.  In the late evenings she cries at the door to be let out but we dare not do it.  

Yesterday was a big day.  She quieted down and sat on the small rug by the rocking chair.  She even purred and played with toys that we had brought in.   After a little more than an hour she came over and sniffed my hand, licked my fingers, and let me pet her before she lashed out with paw strikes and hisses.  This is the first time in the three weeks that either of us has been able to get close enough to touch her at all.  This morning she is back to screaming at us but there is some hope on the horizon.


*Note:  Vets do not normally recommend nor approve of claw removal in cats.  As a result we didn't do it when she was a kitten.  About 4 years ago we had her claws removed because she is poly-dactyl and has 13 toes on her front feet.  She could not retract some of her many claws so they were continually poking into the pads of her feet.  She would not willingly let anyone touch her feet to cut the claws and she was in pain every time she took a step.  It took trapping her in the bathroom, a net to catch her, a sedated blanket to wrap her in and a very fast vet with a helper to clip her claws.  The claw removal in her case was recommended by a vet.  Now she hates all vets.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 234

Jousts of St. Inglevert, 1470-1475

During a season of truce in the 100-years’ war (1347-1453), three French knights held an “all comers of foreign lands” jousting tournament in the town of St. Inglevert, France near Calais which lasted for a period of 30 days in the year 1390.  This famous event was written up in Tales from Froissart by Jean Froissart and illustrated by the Master of Harley Froissart 70 years later in 1470-1475.  The miniature, approximately 5 ½“ by 7 ½,” shown on the postcard is one of several similar illustrations found in the Tales.  The original is found at the British Library in London, England.  Henry Stone & Son (Printers) Ltd, of Banbury, England issued this unused card in 1976.  Historian Steve Muhlberger of Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada has written and posted information on the Internet about the tournament, see the links below.  

The three French knights in armor and mounted on horses shown in the painting are Sir Boucicaut the younger (Jean II de Maingre), the Lord Reginald de Roye and the Lord de Saimpy (also written as Saimpi or Sempi).   Boucicaut also spelled Bouciquaut, the most famous of the three knights, defeated some of the very best English soldiers in single combat. The original calligraphy manuscript text seen above the picture on the card is in Latin later translated into English.  The three tents erected for the tournament were said to have been vermillion colored but the ones depicted on the card look more pale pink.  It is hard to determine if the color faded or if this is the way it was painted. 

The records show that a great many noble knights and squires from regions outside of France attended the tournament.  According to the Tales of Froissart there were two shields hanging from a spruce tree.  The competitors would touch one or the other shield to indicate if they wanted to use blunt lances for the joust of peace or sharp steel for the joust of war.  A herald was in the tree watching from sunrise to sunset to see which shield was touched, then asked the name of the contestant, which country he was from, what family he represented and if he was noble by name or by arms.  Late in the day the herald would take a list of those wanting to compete the next day to the three French knights. 

A few rules and conditions applied to the joust.  During the 30 days of the event, with the exception of Sundays and holy days, the three French knights would be willing to take on any challenger.  If one or two of the three became disabled the other one or two would continue in his stead.  If a horse was killed, full compensation was to be made.  He who was run out of bounds would forfeit his horse.  Unhorsing an opponent or breaking the lance or spear was most impressive while a lost helmet was not necessarily counted against one.  During the joust of war helmets made of tempered steel would give off sparks if hit hard enough.  Occasionally after one or two courses the horses would refuse to run at the opponent again or swerve at the last moment resulting in no hits.  Courage, ability with the lance and good horsemanship were counted of great value.  Unhorsed combatants could take up swords, daggers and axes to continue the competition.  In between tilts the contestants could and often did take a short rest in a pavilion before returning to the field and resuming the tilts.

Amazingly all three knights lasted the full 30 days of the competition where they met 39 opponents, some more than once, for a total of 137 courses.  If all were equal that would mean each opponent had approximately three tries to unhorse or disable one of the French knights; however, some may have only tilted once while others may have done more than 3.  Those who competed with sharp steel in the joust of war would have been in full armor and probably could not physically done more than 3 tries while those using the blunt spears in the joust of peace would not have had to be encased in armor and therefore could have gone on for more rounds.

For a full account of the event, information about the 100 years' war, and Sir Boucicaut, please see:'_War

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Arboretum winter garden

We had a couple of dry days and decided to take a walk in the city.  Below are some pictures from Bob’s suggested trip to the winter garden at the Arboretum.  The official name is the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden named after the long time Arboretum curator.  This section of the Arboretum blooms in the winter while other sections only bloom in the spring and/or summer months.  On mostly rainy, short, dark days it is nice to take a walk and see some flowers with bright colors.

 Witch Hazel [very aromatic in the full sun]


 Silk Tassel bush




Monday, February 15, 2016

Mrs. Piper's forgotten garden


Carkeek Park has a trail system through the woods in addition to the more familiar beach access.  Following the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 that destroyed his bakery, Andrew Piper and his wife, Minna, moved to what is now Carkeek Park and settled on land that had abandoned cabins on it from earlier logging.  They planted an orchard, vegetable and flower gardens.  After the Pipers passed away their heirs sold the land to the Carkeek family who later donated it to the city in 1927 for a park. 

My aunt and uncle once had a home near Carkeek Park.  Bob and I mentioned that we had taken walks in the park and my uncle asked us to see if his water wheel was still on the property the next time we did that.  He also wondered if we had walked down to the orchard.  The next time we went on a walk in the park we stopped by where their house used to be but is no longer standing.  However, the water wheel is still there. This time we approached the orchard from the bottom instead of walking down the hill from the house as I remember doing with my brother and cousins when we were kids. 

A section of the old orchard

The orchard was left fallow until 1983 when it was accidentally rediscovered by a group of orchard enthusiasts who noted orderly rows of fruit trees among the alders, maples, blackberry vines and other undergrowth.  Volunteers associated with the Western Cascades Fruit Society cleared the area and eventually planted other trees so that today there are early varieties of apple, walnut, filbert, chestnut, quince, pear, cherry, hawthorn, hickory, and elderberry growing on the hillside.  These volunteers continue to maintain the orchard.  Most of the trees bear fruit that is no longer produced commercially. Some of the very old trees dating from around 1900 have partially fallen over but still produce fruit.  Cider made from the apples is used at Adopt-A-Park and other city sponsored events.  There is a placard at the foot of the orchard hill with photographs and a diagram showing the location of the trees.  Most of the fruit trees have metal tags identifying them.

Informational placard

It is an easy walk up to the orchard from the parking lot.  A short distance off the path and hidden along the stream that runs alongside the orchard there are still flowers that Mrs. Piper planted.  If one goes in mid February it is possible to come across thousands of snowdrops.  To find Mrs. Piper’s forgotten garden and see so many of these delicate lovely flowers in such profusion is a delight.

 Snowdrops now growing wild

Thursday, February 11, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 233

Salt Lake Tabernacle, ca 1908

Today the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the Temple and Temple Square are dwarfed by high-rise buildings but in the early 1900s when this postcard picture was published they were the most visible landmarks aside from the mountains that surround the Salt Lake valley.  This is another Curt Teich Art Colored postcard published in Salt Lake City by the Deseret Book Company.  The back is divided but the number at the lower right margin, 55876, is not prefixed by a letter so it can be dated to around December 1907 when the divided back first appeared to sometime in 1908 when C.T. started using letter prefixes on identification numbers.

At the time the card was published the Tabernacle was one of the largest structures for religious worship in the world.  It is 150 by 250 feet and 80 feet high.  The arches of the roof rest upon 44 stone piers and have no center support.  The seating capacity is 8,000.  The organ was one of the finest in existence.  The Tabernacle was used for the semi-annual general conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 132 years before being replaced by the larger Conference Center that seats 21,000.  It is the home of the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  The radio and television program Music and the Spoken word are broadcast from this facility.  The public is welcome to attend the choir rehearsals that are also held in the Tabernacle.  No photographs are allowed when the choir is performing but the lights stay on after the rehearsals and broadcasts for a few minutes so visitors can take pictures.   

Tabernacle interior

In a preliminary introduction before the choir rehearsals there is a demonstration of the acoustics in the Tabernacle by dropping a pin, which can be heard even at the back of the building without the use of microphones.  Amazing.  The design was inspired by an attempt to build a Canvas Tabernacle in Nauvoo, Illinois in the 1840s.  That tabernacle was to be oval shaped with terraced seating and a canvas roof.  It was never built; however, because the people were forced to leave Nauvoo and migrate westward to the Salt Lake Valley. 

The Tabernacle on the postcard was built between 1864 and 1867.  The building has a sandstone foundation, the lattice-truss arch system of the roof is held together by dowels and wedges partly because nails were scarce in pioneer times.  The building was closed between 2005 and 2007 for major refurbishing and upgrading including seismic retrofitting.  The old white pine pews were replaced with oak and the legroom increased from 9 to 14 inches resulting in the loss of about 1000 seats.  The interior piers were reinforced with steel bars.  Steel boxes were used to connect trusses and attached to the piers.  The original organ made by Joseph H. Ridges in 1867 had 700 pipes.  It has been rebuilt several times and now has 11,623 pipes.  The exterior roof of the Tabernacle lasted a century before being replaced with aluminum in 1947 and refinished in 2008.

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

On the road again . . .

Sweet memories of better days

The long awaited and dreaded day arrived on Tuesday of this week.  The Bride of Satan put on her traveling shoes with many protestations, howls, yowls, hisses, snorts and snarls. 

 The infamous crate of doom & terror

The once welcome feeding station (carrying crate) morphed into the cage of ill destiny even though it had been liberally sprayed with Feliway to aid in a calm and easy transition.  Not.  TBS had to be forcibly persuaded with a broom to vacate the safe dark space under the bed for the bars and confinement of the crate.  An inauspicious beginning.

 I see you

No soft music but high volume moans and howls serenaded us as we proceeded the 8 miles from the south house to the north house.  Locked in the guest room of the north house she resorted to a 2-day hunger strike accompanied by many loud sounds every time the door was opened to see how she was doing.  Soft words of encouragement and loving concern by the humans met with more snarls, snorts and screams.  She spurns the soft brown igloo house that she has been using at the south house as a retreat during noisy construction phases. The tiny space behind a small end table has to suffice for the safe house.  Cat advisers (friends and vets) have told us it may take two weeks or more for her to calm down.  Great!  Just in time to move her back to the south house.

 Don't talk to me about it

She will remain confined to the guest room for the duration of the stay.  Lights out at 10 pm.  How we will transport her back to the south house once the painting and floor refinishing are completed is a mystery.  As of this moment we are considering hiring the at home vet service to do the job for us (no matter what the cost).  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 232

Atlas Beer Garden, Panama City, Republic of Panama, ca 1930s

L. Maduro’s black and white photographs of Panama during the construction of the canal (1904-1914), part of the University of Texas Library Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, are better known perhaps but he also took pictures in later years like the one on this postcard of the Atlas Beer Garden that we can date by the style of the automobiles to probably the 1930s.  If he used a similar identification system as Curtis Teich, then this card was most likely published in 1933 since the number at the bottom right is 3A513 (3 for the year, A for the decade).  Since Maduro’s business was located next to the Central Hotel in Panama City and sold Panama hats, French perfumes, and souvenirs such as postcards.  Maduro must have had a good tourist trade in postcards and other novelties. 

Before the canal was built and the Canal Zone was established all the older towns in the area had private businesses such as grocery stores, cafés, hotels and saloons.  After the construction of the Canal commenced most private enterprises in the Zone were abolished.  The military officers clubs were still able to serve alcoholic beverages but civilian lodges and clubs and bars could not.  The civilians living in the area had to go to private clubs and bars if they wished to drink. 

In the early 1930s there were three breweries in Panama City, Atlas, Balboa, and Milwaukee.  About this same time beer gardens were built that affiliated with the breweries.  The Atlas Beer Garden, shown on the postcard, sold Atlas Beer, the Balboa Garden sold Balboa Beer and El Rancho Garden sold Milwaukee Beer.  One other beer garden in Colon, Bilgrays Beer Garden, was another favorite nightspot for people living in the Canal Zone. 

During World War II enlisted men had to be out of the Panama City by 11 pm and the Atlas Beer Garden was made off limits to them.  Following the end of the war the Atlas Beer Garden was again open to all.  Then in the 1950s the Canal Zone laws pertaining to alcohol were changed so that the fraternal lodges and clubs in the Zone could now have bars that served alcoholic beverages.  That combined with increasing nationalistic tensions with Panama saw the demise of beer garden patronage.  By 1978 only the El Rancho was still in use and that was as a bingo parlor. 

Like several other postcard companies, Maduro had his own logo that appeared on the reverse of the cards.

I. L. Maduro logo

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