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:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 333

The unused postcard this week features one of the mural artworks by Larry Eifert.  Sections of this mural were also made into a United States postage stamp series. Other murals that feature not only the old growth forest but deserts and swamps were also made into stamps.   The card is an Impact photo-graphics with the number #12721.  Eifert’s artistic talent together with his love and knowledge of nature have made his paintings sought after and displayed in many parks, preserves and refuges from coast to coast.  His wife, Nancy Cherry Eifert, who is a photographer and provides countless photos as painting references, assists him. 

Like other examples of his works the one on this postcard is filled with amazing detail, animals, plants, and birds that help put the viewer right into the scene.  It is fun to find things and identify them.  Some are hard to find until they accidentally catch the eye.  This particular card is also available as a jigsaw puzzle.  I think I may just have to get one of those too.

Enjoy looking at the details and finding things.

For additional information about Eifert and his artwork, see:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 332

 Pioneer Zephyr, ca 1934

Another train for train lovers.  This postcard, purchased from the museum gift shop in 2000, has a photograph of the first streamlined passenger train, called the Pioneer Zephyr.  The picture is credited to B. Quinn and appears on a card published by Sunburst Souvenirs, Ltd.  Today the train is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Illinois where it has been since its retirement in 1960.   Several model railroad manufacturers, such as American Flyer, Challenger Imports, Fine N-Scale, Con-Cor, River Raisin Models, MTH Electric Trains, and Fisher Price, include versions of the Zephyr as kits or ready-to-run models.
The Pioneer Zephyr, a corrugated stainless steel, diesel-powered passenger train, was built in the early 1930s.  The extensive use of stainless steel made the train lighter than the traditional wooden cars and regular hardened steel.  In addition to being lighter it also was corrosion resistant and did not need to be painted for weather protection. The cars shared the trucks and their wheels, called Jacobs bogies. The cars could not be uncoupled but were permanently articulated together.  This meant that the cars could be closer together and offer a smoother ride.  The type of welding used, called shotwelding, plus the articulation also helped reduce the overall weight and therefore allowed for an increase in the speed.  As part of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, the Zephyr set a speed record for travel between Denver, Colorado and Chicago in 1934.  It was a non-stop dawn to dusk dash of 13 hours and 5 minutes to cover a distance of 1,015 miles.  The normal time on the other Burlington trains for the same distance took approximately 25 hours.  The Zephyr’s average speed was 77 mph with one section at a top speed of 112 mph.  This historic event inspired a 1934 film that resulted in the train receiving the nickname “The Silver Streak.” 

Passengers on that first record setting run included Ralph Budd, the president of Burlington, H.L. Hamilton, president of Winton Motor Company (part of General Motors at that time), reporters, some Burlington employees, a few members of the public and Zeph, a burro contributed by the Rocky Mountain News as mascot for the train.  After arriving in Chicago the train was on public display at the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair, called the Century of Progress.  Following the end of the fair the train completed a 31-state, 222-city publicity tour where more than 2 million people saw it before it entered service as a passenger train.  The design proved so popular that it started the Zephyr series.

For more information including photographs, see: