Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Iowa - the heartland of USA

Here's the second state postcard that was handed down to me and now in my collection... the state of Iowa  :)

Iowa is considered the heartland of America perhaps owing to its location in the mid-western part of the USA. Iowa is also in the heartland of the so-called Corn Belt, a region in the US where corn has been, since 1850s, the predominant crops. The name Iowa is derived from the Ioway people, one of the many native American Indians that occupied the state at the time the European colonisers arrived.

The postcard, like the previously featured Oregon state postcard, is part of the 50 State/Quarter Greetings from America set. 

The stamps used are the following:

At the leftmost part is an illustration and information about Iowa's state symbols: Eastern goldfinch (bird), wild rose (flower), oak (tree), Des Moines (capital), etc...

The first stamp used is a 4¢ definitive from the American Design Seriest set issued in 2004. The stamp features a stylised rendition of a Chippendale chair made in Philadelphia between 1760 and 1765. The Chippendale style of furniture was named after the English cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale whose book on design was very much influential to designers and furnituremakers from America and Europe. My favorite is the second stamp showing the 44¢ King of Hearts and is part of the USPS's commemorative Love Series set. According to the USPS, the stamps (including a Queen of Hearts) were issued as a clever tribute to the Game of Love. The image used is of the 18th century French play cards. The last stamp is a 44cent-first class commemorative stamp celebrating the state of Hawai'i's 50th anniversary of statehood. Surf's up! 

This postcard was sent by Renee who is a student and from Norfolk, Iowa. I couldn't tell the date in the postmarks but she wrote that her school is on a three-week break. She also stated that she's driving 752 miles, by herself, to see her friend in North Dakota and relax for a bit before she starts her gmat prep. She's taking GMAT seriously, enroling herself in a GMAT course, preparing her resource books and purchasing CD reviewers with mock tests before her driving away because the GMAT results will impact her career's direction. Well, this girl certainly knows what she wants and how to get it. Good luck to you, Renee!

Still about the Georgia, USA

In one of my previous posts, I featured my first US state postcard and had forgotten to include the stamps. Too much excitement, I suppose. I usually include the stamps in every postcard post I write so please excuse this small slip.

Here it is:

The Brown Thrasher and Cherokee Rose illustration on the left side is not a stamp but part of the postcard and they are the state bird and state flower of Georgia, respectively.

The first stamp use is a definitive which features the American Kestrel in 1¢ denomination re-issued in November 1999. The new version is self-adhesive. The second stamp showing a presidential campaign badge in 1888 is part of the American Old Glory patriotic ephemera  commemorative set issued in 2003. The other designs included in this set are the 20th century carving of Uncle Sam, silk bookmark woven in 1893, modern folding fan and 19th century folk art carving. The last, but not the least, is another commemorative stamp issued in observance of the Lunar New Year in 2005. The set contains all the 12 animals associated in the Lunar New Year. Very colourful isn't it?

That's all for now and wait for the postcards a little later. Meanwhile, I'll resume watching this feature on Mexico's lucha libre (free wrestling) and luchadores (wrestlers) on the telly. Gah, some of these luchadors admitted to taking some kind of testosterone booster to build huge body masses. According to most of them,  being bulky adds to their value and popularity as luchador as well as increase their "fearsomeness" level. Ulk. 

Later, dudes.

Postcards later today...

I was meaning to post yesterday but there was a wedding ceremony going on about six doors down from our apartment. And do you know how wedding ceremonies are done in Cambodia?  They're just impossible to miss. The family of the bride sets up tent right in the street (cutting it to one lane only or entirely covering it) and the ceremony is accompanied by loud music (recorded or otherwise) and orations of the wedding "priest". Unlike in the Western weddings, guests are not expected to give wedding gifts to the newly-weds but they are required to offer cash donations instead upon arrival. This is to help offset the families wedding expenses. The celebration lasted till late last night (public dance) and, although I didn't mind the noise, the music was torturing me and my eardrums. I couldn't even hear the proceedings anymore  at the Wimbledon match I was watching. Drat. Good thing my boy, Rafael Nadal, won it. 

I'll try to scan some postcards and post them a little later today. Toodles.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

The Peaches of Georgia

From Europe, we head to North America... to the land of the sweetest and best peaches, the American state of Georgia!

Whoa - a stamp on a postcard? Sweet!

This stamp-card was issued by the USPS in 2001 as part of its 50 State/Quarter Greetings from America set. Each card comes with a quarter and a stamp-card for each of the 50 American states packaged individually. The card above shows the USPS's 37cent Greetings from America postage stamp issued in New York City on October, 2002. 

The above stamp-card showcases the unique characters of Georgia. Look closer and you will see on the right side of the background shows the pre-civil war plantation, while the left shows cypress trees in the Okefenokee swamp. Of course, a Georgia card couldn't be without the peaches, Georgia's state fruit, so these are included, too.

Georgia is located in the southeastern side of the United States. Established in 1732, Georgia was the last of the original Thirteen Colonies - they were the British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America that declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States. 

As an aside, a friend of mine lives somewhere in Charlotte in North Carolina and has promised to send me postcard every time I chanced  upon her on Facebook. She works as a nurse there and is dating a charlotte dentist. Nice for her to be busy and dating and all but I want to collect all 50 state cards so I snapped and reminded her to keep her promise to me.

Yes, I can be evil sometimes. *lol*

From Grusse to Erfurt

The postcard below is one of the many that was handed down to me by my friend who left the country for good. She is now back in Germany, and according to her, while they are adjusting pretty well, she's keeping an eye on her youngest son who is about seven years old and is not yet well-conversed in the Deutsch language. They already found a house and bought a car for ease in mobility, including a cheap insurance to cover them in case emergency arises. So no more worries there and she can concentrate on guiding her son to adapt to the new environment and language.

Sort of a tribute to my friend, I selected a postcard from her native land (not exactly her hometown though or where she is living now):

Postmarked Briefzentrum 99 (Erfurt, Germany)

I got quite confused as to the date it was posted. The date indicated in the postmark was 10-05-08 but the sender wrote the date June 9, 2008. Anyways, let's not dwell on this too much. The postcard shows the various areas of interest in Grusse-Erfurt area: Haus zum güldenen Rade; Mariendom und Pfarrkirche St. Severi Rathaus; Zitadelle Cyriaksburg auf der ega Krämerbrücke; und Wenigemarkt mit Ägidienkirche. Please excuse the foreign language, I am a bit lazy to look up the translation at the moment :)

As for the stamps, here they are:

These are three of a flower set of definitive stamps with different denominations. The flowers featured are tulpe (tulips), tagetes (marigold), and kartäusernelke (Carthusian carnation).
Many thanks, fraulein!

Lie haoy, Cambodia... Hallo, Deutschland!

Quick post here.
A friend of mine and her whole family recently left the country. For good. After over 15 years of living in Asia (her husband used to work for the German development agency first in Laos and later on in Cambodia) they are repatriating to their homeland, Germany. I had known  her through Postcrossing in late 2008 and I felt sad that she left at a point where our friendship was just starting to develop.We used to have coffee dates and there were times she invited me to her house for, well, coffee and chats. hehehe.

Like any other expat families in Cambodia, they organised a garage sale to dispose of some of their possessions that they could not take with them. For example, their furnitures, car, and kitchen stuffs like oven, baking trays, hand dryers, various cutleries and table linens. She also gave me a boxful of postcards, she collected all throughout her stay in the country, to my surprise. Danke, my friend. Don't worry, these postcards are in good hands :D 

Friday, 25 June 2010

On dieting

I am feeling a little under the weather these days, so please excuse the scarcity of posts. 

This unwell feeling could be attributed to my recent dieting. You see, after coming home from the holidays in Kep where we splurged on seafoods bigtime, it was difficult to go back to our usual routine and we - my husband and I - haven't been eating sensibly. One fine morning, my jaw dropped when I saw how much weight I gained. I was alarmed, and I thought I had to do something and fast. And so, the idea of dieting came into the picture. I am avoiding all sorts of carbs and sugar nowadays, but my gooseneck! Dieting is the pits, I'm really having a hard time. Darn, why does food have to be so darn good that it is difficult for me to eat in smaller portions! 

Speaking about dieting, I just want to share with you a funny postcard that my parents-in-law sent to me:

I don't think these ladies have searched far and wide for diets that work, do they?  Oh at least, they gotta try something. And it's worth a try, is it not? *lol*

This card was sent by my Mum- and Dad-in law last year, on my birthday, to poke fun at me and my husband's pathetic attempt at dieting at that time! *lol* I love their humour!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Nadal wins first match at Wimby

This is another fan-girl blab so please bear with me. 

Last night Rafael Nadal marked his comeback by disposing of a Japanese wildcard in three straight sets. Of course, I was thrilled over Rafa's first round victory. It may be a three-straight-set win for Rafa but there were moments that Kei Nishikori made him work. I have to say though that it was definitely nothing like the first round match between Roger Federer against Alejandro Falla where Federer narrowly escaped. It was a shock to see Roger  struggling, like he needed pulse oximeters or something to see if he was alright... and I was even thinking of the possibility of  his early exit in the Wimby. That would be inconceivable, absolutely shocking and disgraceful for Wimby's top-seed and 6-time title holder, but, of course, we certainly don't mind, 'no

After clinching the winning point of the third set, we saw Rafa pump his fist in the air, in victorious glee, and, blew his cheeks out, relieved that the first match is out of the way. Knowing Rafa, he humbly admits that his first matches in every tournament are always difficult. The after-match interview we saw a smiling Rafa, happy to come back to his "favorite" tournament. I don't know others but it came as a big surprise to me. If I can recall, this is the very first time he referred to the Wimby as his favorite. Any thoughts, Ana?  

As an aside but also related to tennis... It was also nice to see male Asian tennis players go up against the big names once in a while.  After Paradorn Srichapan of Thailand years ago, there's no other who comes close to the masters and grand slam events that I know of. Kei Nishikori showed a good potential, as I mentioned above, had shining moments in the match that caught the tennis world's attention. At only 20years old, Kei will still go a long way if he continues to work hard and be injury-free. In the women's category, there's China's Li Na and Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn leading the pack who are already making us proud. Keep it up!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Wow, it's Wimbledon time!

This is a tennis fan-girl  talking... you are warned! :D

Wimbledon 2010 Championships officially started yesterday and as seen on television (or last night, here in Asia the matches are broadcast live via Starsports, woohoo!) the weather was warm and sunny. Absolutely perfect for tennis. Wimbledon opened with a stunning match at the Centre Court between the top-seed Roger Federer and unseeded Alejandro Falla. Federer came close to an early exit.  

Like my girl Ana over in Skopje, we are waiting with bated breath for our boy, Rafael Nadal, to play on the revered grass court. Rafa has no title to defend (Federer does!) so it would be great to see him play   without any pressure on his shoulders. We are excited to see how everything will unfold for Rafa in this year's championships. 

Living in a country where strawberries are imported and thus quite expensive ($5 for 300gms... ulk!), I will settle for a strawberry flavored gelato instead and for two weeks I'll be staying close to the television to watch the Wimby. It is this time that I wish I have an HDTV with a large lcd monitor to fully enjoy the matches at the Wimby. Anyhow, I'm just happy that Starsports is airing Wimbledon live and I can watch it on my telly... better than watching over a lousy streaming on the internet.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Of gardens and windmills

My friend who's was in town for three days already left and now I am back in my usual routine. I now  have free time in my hands to write some updates. Before that, let me just gush at how lovely my rose plants have been these past few days -- the flowers in red, dark and pale pink, yellow, salmon and white are all in bloom and new buds and sprouts are appearing in almost every branch. The flowers give off a sweet smell that wafts through our kitchen window.

Okay, on to the featured postcard. I received and scanned this last year, as you can see in the watermark, and I was mortified that I had unknowingly left this one out. But as wise folks say, better late than never, so here it is:

Saaremaa is the largest island in Estonia and still covered with thick pine forests, while charming villages, beautiful lighthouses and ancient windmills, not the garden windmills kind, appear to be unchanged as if all were still set in the olden times. Seasoned tourists exclaim about this island saying that visiting Saaremaa is like being in Estonia ages ago - medieval walls, baroque buildings, roof-thatched villages with stone fences, and locals still living the traditional way and still speaking a local dialect, well,  you get the picture. 

The windmill featured in this postcard is one of the five popular windmill hills called the Angla Windmills. Visitors from far and wide come to see this which were important part of the Saaremaa life.  It has been said that in the early times Saaremaa used to have one windmill hill in every village. The five remaining Angla Windmills are the last surviving windmill hill in the island. 

Five stamps were used: the first two stamps on the left are special Christmas stamps issued in 1992 by the Eesti Post Office. High in historical value, these postage stamps were the first ever-postage stamps printed in Estonia after establishing independence from Russia (Estonia was once a province of Russia) in 1991. There's not much information I can find about the 3rd and 4th stamps except that these were part of the two-set issued in 1994 showing the traditional costume from Mustjala parishes in Saaremaa. The fifth and last stamp, on the right, is part of a two-set Estonian folk costume series issued in 2003, which was devoted to the mid-19th century dress from the southern Tartu county. The stamp used shows an Otepää man, woman, and child (I assume they are a family). I was happy to find some details about this particular stamp. It says that the Tartu County was rather receptive to various innovations, so the dominating dress in the mid-19th century was quite modern there. Older features included various shoulder wraps and shawls both for daily and Sunday wears. Girls wore a wreath or a headband. I just love the details in their costumes!

Anyone out there who has a spare FDC or maxi or a postcard showing traditional costumes of Estonia (or any other countries) to swap, please, contact me.  

Monday, 14 June 2010

Goodies from Ms. Firefly

Hey, hey, I'm back!
This week, my friend from university is coming over Phnom Penh for a visit. I'm so busy preparing our guest-room and excited, at the same time, because it will be our first time see each other again after 8 years (ish). She's celebrating her birthday this month, and to commemorate this important milestone, she embarked on a two-week backpacking adventure of Thailand and Cambodia. Alone. Way to go, girl!

As of this writing, she is now on a bus to Siem Reap where she'll stay for a couple of days to see the world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country, the Angkor Wat Temples, before coming to meet me here in the capital. She's so eager about her trip that she brought along vitamins to give her extra energy as she goes temple-hopping a la Lara Croft of the Tomb Raider movie fame... and who wouldn't be excited? I mean, visiting Angkor Wat is THE highlight of every tourist's visit to Cambodia. I hope she didn't forget to pick up the prenatal vitamins that my mother sent for me. Sorry to disappoint you, friends, but the vitamins aren't for me. Yet. It's a favour for a friend. Tee-hee-hee.

Anyways, as promised, here are the sweet stuffs that are inside the packet that arrived weeks ago from the Firefly Express. Okay, so what did I get?  Baker's twine, eco cotton tape and fabric label that I ordered from her Etsy store  and - guess what - she surprised me by adding some bits and bobs all of which are awesome. Ain't I one lucky gal to have a sweet friend like her? See below what other things she added :)

1 - gift tags
2 - 2 spools of baker's twine
3 - greeting/note cards
4 - Eco cotton tape
5 - party flag fabric labels
6 - vintage postcard
7 - her cute name card
8 - handwritten thank you card - I heart!

Look here how she lovingly wrapped them in one packet:

I love-love-love it! It's been awhile since I last receive a packet as wonderful as this. Please go and have a look at her Etsy shop, swannandsmerlin.

Thank you. Madamo guid nga salamat, Odette.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Rainy days are here again...

The rainy season has officially started this week and I am happily imagining images of the rainy season here in Cambodia. Although it only rained twice (if I am not mistaken) this week in Phnom Penh, my friends in the provinces told me that it rained more there, mostly in the afternoon. Good, lots of farmers are happy now that the rice fields and  nearly drying out crops have been watered. 

One thing that scares me during the rainy season though, especially in rural Cambodia, is that a lot of people use roofing tiles that are made of asbestos. Come rainy season, rural folks catch water from their roofs and use it for their daily  consumption. It's not only that but also inhaling asbestos powder, mainly from a construction site, can jeopardize one's health. While in most Western countries, it is widely known to be very dangerous and has long been banned from public use, asbestos is a common building material in Asia. Obviously here, particularly in Cambodia, there is lack of awareness amongst the population about asbestos and its dangers, much more about the deadly disease it results to. While there were no reports about asbestos-related deaths are known publicly, and, with the construction industry booming in the country, I hope that the government and construction companies ensure that asbestos be handled properly and responsibly.

I've got mail today!

Yes, I've got postcards in my mailbox today and I'm so happy. After missing last Wednesday's lunch out with my friends, getting something from the post office was more than enough to make my day!

These are from a sweet lad named Bora; he also sent me the Olympics postcard months ago. Bora and I used to work together in two NGOs before he got accepted at an American university to pursue a masters degree under a scholarship. He always makes it a point to send me postcards whenever he travels. As I was looking at his photo albums in Facebook, I couldn’t help but admire how this young Cambodian lad had adjusted and coped really well in the US. Where before he wears conservative clothes, such as jeans and polo shirts (with rolled up sleeves) he told me  he now has developed a liking for hip hop clothing. I can see that very well from his  recent pictures!

Anyways, the yellow paper is a Post Office note for a registered packet. This time, it’s from Tomi, a fellow postcard/stamp collector from Croatia, who is now a very good pal of mine. The staff at the registered mails department had already gone for their lunch break when I came so this had to wait till Monday. I think I know already what’s inside *excited* Thanks, Tomi... and Bora.

How about you, are you happy about something this week?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Firefly express@!

The Firefly Express has landed - all the way from Dublin, Ireland to Phnom Penh, Cambodia! A packet containing paper craft items and more is finally here with me. Thanks, Little Ms. Firefly! I couldn't contain myself from getting my hands on these cool stuffs.

Photos to share next time. Too excited to even take a photo! hihihi.
Images by Freepik