Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
This graffiti cat recently appeared on the store's security shutter (viewable only when closed). He looks to me like he's ready to swallow a canary, or maybe something a bit more fowl sized.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I borrowed the idea of a postcard poem from Lucy, who is usually found at Box Elder. My postcard is more statement than song though.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I thought I'd post a picture as the sun sets tonight (4:49) of a copper-headed J. An antidote of sorts!
* As our household's Google addict, I have to add that this is not strictly true. The sun sets in Prague at 4:00 for two weeks, starting December 7. By December 21 it actually sets at 4:02. Thanks timeanddate.com.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
And now for some history:
Not far from Prague, on the road to Vienna, the red roofs of Konopiště stand sentinel above the treeline. Drive closer and you'll find the castle and lake surrounded by parkland that stretches to the edge of the closest town, Benešov.
Konopiště has everything we've come to expect in a Czech castle - bears in the moat, falcons on the lawn, working tile stoves and ghost stories. We like to take our house guests to visit this particular spot though, because it was part of a story that almost all of our friends recognize.
Does the name Franz Ferdinand ring a bell?
Not the band, I hasten to add; the Archduke. He bought the castle in 1887 and used it as his country estate until his assassination in 1914.
If your only memory of Franz Ferdinand is an open car and a shot heard round the world, I'm not surprised. Here he has more dimensions. Czechs like him - he spent a lot of time in our neck of the woods, and he was an advocate of greater Czech autonomy at a time when most members of his family were not.
Tour guides make him human. They tell the story of his love affair with his wife Sophie, of his children and of his favorite rose garden. They also like to show off his massive trophy collection. The man clearly liked to hunt. He shot thousands of deer and birds and blanketed the castle walls with heads (a form of insulation from cold winters? the ultimate guy's castle?). The effect is a bit creepy. Oddly, it also makes the castle look lived in*, in a way that many castles around the country do not.
* Check out these pics if you want to see the castle looking even more lived in. I love how bored the boys look.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I bought the siphon because I thought it would be an elegant addition to W's bar. When we started using it, we realized its other benefits. No more plastic bottles taking up space at home and in the recycle bin, and the soda chargers, or bombičky, come in sets of ten at 2 CZK a pop, and are returnable for a deposit and reuse. In Prague, you can order the chargers online or find them through www.sifos.cz, at their local distributors.
Our favorite mixes so far:
1 tsp raspberry syrup
1 cherry and a tiny twist of lemon
1 lowball glass
soda water to the top!
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1 lemon
2 oz bourbon
1 highball glass
Dissolve the sugar in your highball by mixing with lemon and bourbon. Fill w ice. Top up w soda. Stir and enjoy. The result tastes remarkably like the drinks my grandfather used to make!
In the picture behind the siphon is another favorite birthday present from this year. Back in August, my brother-in-law knew that my sister and I were searching lucklessly for wipe-off placemats that we liked. Creative fellow, he smuggled a laminator into their basement, cut up navigational maps from one of their favorite sailing trips, laminated, trimmed and gave them to us for our birthday. These are by far my favorite everyday placemats now, and C likes to pretend to sail her spoon around the islands at breakfast time.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The Library of Congress web site is a fabulous source of historic data and fun too. I like to visit every now and again to check out their photo collection on Flickr. When I get addicted to a tune, I'll see what they have to offer on it. This morning I was feeling a bit homesick and thought I'd see what I could dig up about my home town. Yet again, the LOC came up trumps.
What you see above is a detail from a bird's-eye view print of Charleston, S.C., drawn by C. Drie in 1872. The detail is of the neighborhood my sister and I grew up in one hundred years later. Most of the ponds in the picture were filled in by the time we came along, and the only schooners we knew were replica tourist boats or our great-uncle's, but the streets are the same and the house we grew up in with its walls to climb and garden to run around in is there too. Ellen, this one is for you.
For more bird's eye view prints, visit here.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Have you sent in a request for your ballot but not received it yet? No worries, you can still send in a write-in absentee ballot. VoteFromAbroad.org and Democrats Abroad sent me the following handy dandy information sheet which I've pasted below, adding a few more links of my own to make it a bit more equal opportunity.
Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB)
Step-by-Step Voter Check-List
The FWAB is a back-up ballot that you can use to vote with today. If you subsequently receive your state ballot, vote with that, too. The FWAB is only counted if your state ballot is not received by your state by the ballot return deadline. Click here for deadlines.
Get the FWAB: Go to http://www.VoteFromAbroad.org. Simply answer the six screens of questions and download and print the nine page document. You will receive (1) Instructions (where you will find the address to send the FWAB), (2) Electronic Transmission Sheet and Federal Postcard Application which you do NOT need; (3) The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot which includes a Voter’s Declaration/Affirmation, the Ballot and Instructions.
Sign and Date the Voter's Declaration/Affirmation: When you use VoteFromAbroad.org, the Voter's Declaration/Affirmation will be filled in based upon your voting state's requirements and the information you provided. You just need to review the information, sign and date it. Check the following list to see if you need a witness or additional documentation.
- Alabama: 2 witnesses OR Notary (must be over the age of 18)
- Alaska: 1 witness (dated and signed)
- Arizona: Proof of Citizenship (copy of passport or birth certificate)
- Louisiana: 2 witnesses (must sign security envelope)
- North Carolina: 2 witnesses (must be over 18 sign and include address)
- South Carolina: 1 witness – No signature necessary
- Virginia: 1 witness – No signature necessary
- Wisconsin: 1 witness (include date of birth of witness – must be a U.S. Citizen)
Vote the FWAB: You can either write in the candidate's name or the word Democrat/Republican. (It is unlikely that you will need the second page of the ballot).
To find out who the Democratic or Republican candidates are for House and Senate, click here. To find your Congressional District, click here, enter your voting zip code and then click on "current election."
Seal the Ballot Envelope: Put your voted FWAB ONLY in a plain white envelope and seal it. Write on the outside of the envelope “Security Envelope.”
In the Mailing Envelope: Put the sealed “Security Envelope” and the Signed and Dated Voter's Declaration/Affirmation in a mailing envelope.
Enter Return Address: Write your name and current mailing address in the upper left hand corner of the mailing envelope.
Address the Envelope: Write the address of your Local Election Office on the mailing envelope. The address of your Local Election Office is provided on your customized information sheet.
Double Check: Double check that you have completed everything.
Ensure evidence of mailing from outside the US:
Foreign Postmark: Affix the appropriate postage. All states will accept a foreign postmark as evidence of submission from outside the U.S.
Consular Stamp: All states have been informed by the U.S. State Department that they should accept a consular stamp as evidence of submission from outside the U.S. Using the consular service results in your mailing envelope being placed in the US postal system. Affix a $.42 U.S. Postage Stamp.
Commercial Courier: Some states will also accept a commercial courier service waybill as evidence of submission from outside the U.S. Using a courier service should be a last resort. Alabama explicitly refuses to accept materials sent to them by commercial couriers, such as Federal Express and DHL. If using a courier, please staple a copy of the air waybill to the ballot envelope prior to sealing the courier envelope.
Seal the addressed envelope – and Mail your FWAB Today!
VoteFromAbroad.org has a useful FAQ right here.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
We're on the edge of the dark dark days of winter, the gray days that reach across half of our year, pulling us inside and off of hiking paths, city sidewalks, playgrounds and beer gardens, rendering photographs flat and lightless and...well, you see what I am saying. I'm all about drinking coffee and curling up inside with a good book, but six months is a long rainy weekend. So I love the sun right now, knowing it will be gone soon.
Yesterday it was torrentially bright and beautiful here. To celebrate we took a trip to the Botanical Gardens to visit their pumpkin exhibition and meet up with some friends. We spent the afternoon playing giraffeball (a giraffe is a lot easier to catch than a football, Caroline made her first completion!), drinking fizzy drinks and moving from one patch of sunlit grass to another. Every now and again, we looked at a flower or two too. The pumpkins turned out to be mostly ornamental squash, nicely arranged.1. The giraffe is in the air!! One girl down. 2. Gourds, arranged. 3. Path through the garden's forest. 4. & 5. Flowers on show.