Postcard Perfect 002: Kaj Stenvall duck

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Postcardperfect2resized I’ve actually posted this earlier but I’d like to post it again. This is one of my favourite postcards – one of Kaj Stenvall’s popular ducks! Kaj Stenvall is a Finnish contemporary artist most popular for his paintings of ducks and duck-like figures.

A quick look at this postcard made me envious of this duck! Just look at its facial expression. I would be kicking that duck and getting in myself! *lol*.

The tub is so inviting, isn’t it? I’ve never seen this kind of tub before. According to one of my blog-friends and a fellow postcard collector, the tub is a claw foot tub and is very popular in older homes. I wonder if this kind of tub have hot tub covers too?  Anyways, I wish we have a tub in our apartment (I have one in my previous apartment). This is what I’m missing these days… to  be able to chill and enjoy the soothing, warm bath water at the end of the day.

Sunday Stamps 003: PoGOLite in outer space

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I have to admit I took a peek at Viridian’s blog first  before deciding what to post for this week’s Sunday Stamps. Having missed two themes successively, this week I made sure my entry fits the theme.

Anyhow, here is my entry. I think a lot of astronomy enthusiasts were happy when the following stamp was issued by the Swedish Postal Office in January 2009 marking the International Year of Astronomy:

The stamp features the direction or path the PoGOLite gondola took as it zoomed off in space in August 2010 for a pathfinder mission in space. PoGOLite is a light-weight Polarized Gamma-ray Observer experiment designed to measure the polarization of soft gamma rays in the outerspace. The PoGOLite gondola lifted off from Estrange, Sweden  six months ago, and, I wonder if significant data were already collected and being studied now back here on Earth.  More about the PoGOLite here: http://www.particle.kth.se/pogolite/.  It’s amazing what our scientists can do now. If modern science can now conduct more advanced studies in the outer space, surely there is no reason why cures for all forms of cancer and other deadly diseases could  not be discovered sooner than soon.

Till next Sunday Stamps. Ta-ta.

From Kauhava, with lots of purple and pink love!

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I’ve been feeling really BAD about this site-blocking brouhaha in Cambodia.

Anyways, I do not want to be affected greatly by this so I am featuring a pretty postcard sent by a 17 year old girl from Finland named Mia. Beautiful name for a sweet girl. As you can see from the postcard, it did reflect her age and her personality:

I could actually hear my husband saying “it’s so girly” in my head, but yes, it is girly alright. And I like it. Don’t you just love the pink-purple colour combination? *Pardon the poor quality of the scanned postcard* It reminds me so much of ME when I was Mia’s age – all the preference for anything purple and pink, hearts and teddy bears, laces and everything cute. My friends and I boasted of personal creations mugs that were the rage of teenagers in the 90s! Did you have that phase before? I did, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. tee-hee-hee.

Mia lives in Kauhava, Finland, a province in Western Finland and part of the Ostrobothnia region. Currently, it has now have 18,000 inhabitants. It used to only have 8,000 inhabitants but in January 2009, the numbers increased when Kauhava was consolidated with

Alahärmä

, Kortesjärvi, andYlihärmä.

Knife-making is a traditional industry in Kauhava and they are known to be the best knife-makers in the country. Puuko is a knife made in Kauhava known as the Ostrobothnian style.  Every year in June they celebrate this traditional industry by holding the Kauhava International Knife Festival that usually lasts for two days. The festivity includes, of course, a knife exhibition, knife making, and knife throwing. More information on this beautiful part of Finland can be found here.

*Update: Here is the stamp and postmarks which I will feature some other time. Notice the Hello Kitty sticker? One of my favourites back when I was younger :)

Ho-ho-ho-ho! Santa Claus is here!

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Red seems to be the colour for the day!
Santa Claus came very early to me in the form of a postcard – in fact it was there in my mailbox, along with dozens others, stranded over the holidays. The pleasant sight of this stout, red-suited, bearded, jolly old fellow with his little aides was enough to make me jump up and down on the day I opened my mailbox. And who doesn’t — Christmas is merely months away and millions of children around the world (including myself who still is a child at heart) are reminded by the joy and happiness this magical character brings during the Yuletide season. 
So this postcard below is a very special one. It was sent by my new friend Sari who lives in Kemi, Finland.
See the mark on the upper right hand side? This is the mark of an official Arctic Circle-card, sent from the Finnish Lapland region of the Arctic Circle, and the home to the beloved Santa Claus.
I love the fact that my friend Sari works with Santa Claus during the busiest season of the year. Yes, she sees Santa Claus very often — now beat that! She is actually a tourist guide for foreign VIP-guests at the, you guessed it, SnowHotel. I want a job like hers, oh dear, Santa. She tells me how she loves her job working with Santa Claus and how she looks forward to going to work because the place is simply magical, like the ones we see on fairy-tales. With a workplace like that where everybody is happy, I don’t think she will ever need treatment for wrinkles!

Dear Santa, I like the red gown but please, can you give me a Wii first that I could use to lose enough weight to fit in the dress? 
The stamp used is part of a booklet of six first class stamps showcasing Finland’s outstanding women, issued on March 8 this year, the International Women’s Day. The stamp above features a stunning creation of the multi-awarded Ritva-Liisa Pohjalainen, a jewelry, clothing, and art designer.

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I opened my emailbox today and – surprise! surprise! – I found an email from an unknown person asking me this: does p90x work? How would I know? I know I was dieting (still am) but I have not tried anything like this before. Anyways, I replied back telling her to search it over the Internet. I’m sure there are a lot of articles written about its effectiveness.
Okay, back to our regular posting…
Received this last month but was hidden in my old postcard album and laid there for a long time. This one is a welcome addition to my map-card collection :)

I am really drawn to Scandinavian countries. I love the landscape and the culture. I hope someday I’ll have a chance to visit this part of the world.

Sent by Juha
Dated 20 July 2010

John is in his mid-forties and lives in a small but bustling town, with his wife and dogs. This town has only about 2,300 inhabitants and is located several kilometers away from the border of Sweden. That should explain why he is well-versed in the Swedish language! He is a candy salesman (must be awesome to have a candy salesman for a father – you can eat all the candies that you want all year round!).  In his message, he also extended an invitation for me and my husband to visit them. He sounded nice and friendly indeed, just like most Finnish people I have met and worked with here in Cambodia.  I wish my husband and I could go to Finland someday — aside from John, my friend Katja also offered for us to stay in their  house in Tampere, Finland. Someday, my friends… SOME.DAY.

Miten olet Juha? Thank you for the postcard.
Kiitos postikortin ja toivon että voisin käydä sinua maassa tulevaisuudessa :)

NO_25224: The Sami People of Norway

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In a few hours today, one of my best friends’ baby girl will be welcomed to the Christian world.
The baptism rites will be held in a church in far, far Drammen, a beautiful city about 40kms away from the capital of Norway, Oslo. Months ago before the baby’s birth, my friend sent out unique baby shower invitations to all her friends in Norway and abroad, that included me here in Phnom Penh. How I wish I was there, and even wishing more today to witness the baptism and share in the joyous celebration. But, as fate would have it, I can only see them via webcam later today. That’s better than nothing at all.
To mark this important milestone and in celebration of her roots (baby is half Filipina-half Norwegian), I am featuring this postcard from Norway sent to me by wonderful woman named Britt:
One of my favourite postcard themes – traditional costumes. According to Britt, gákti is the traditional costume of the Sami people, also known as the reindeer people. Don’t you just love the colours and the patterns of the fabric? The top usually has a high collar, with embroidered pewter or silver details. One can tell the whether a person is married or single, or where he/she is from just by looking at the colours, patterns, and jewelry of the wearer. Also, there are different gákti for men and women; the men’s gákti have a shorter “skirt” than women’s. Traditionally, gáktis are made from reindeer leather but nowadays it is more common to use cotton, wool, or silk. 
According to the Wiki, the Sami people are one of the indigenous people of the northern Europe inhabiting Sapmi, which today encompasses parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. The Sami people’s best known livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer-herding. 
Okay, let’s go the stamp:
It’s a single stamp issued on June 2010 commemorating the Molde Jazz Festival.

Postcard Friendship Friday 021: Fractal painting

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I received this very interesting postcard last year:
Sent by Simo from Turku, Finland
Postmarked 22 September 2009
This very fascinating postcard I thought, at first, as showing one of the Rorschach’s inkblots. You know, the Rorschach inkblot test, one of those diagnostic tools used by shrinks when giving personality tests.  I took this test when I was in university but I won’t divulge the results here…  Let’s just say that I thought the result was a generalized one and misleading because it all depended on the interpretation of my Psychology professor. In fact, the effectiveness, reliability and accuracy of this tool is still debatable up to these days and several schools of thought have come out regarding the interpretation of results… Let’s leave the debate to the experts, shall we?  
Anyway, the postcard is actually showing a fractal painting done by a Finnish artist named Seppo Rihlama. I love the way Rihlama combines the colour, and, according to Simo:

… the colour combination reminds me  from here in Finland. It’s cold and dark then. Now it’s still quite warm and the leaves are still green. It’s not that exceptional anymore because of the climate warming…

So what do you see in the postcard? What shapes do you see?
I had no idea what fractal painting was and a little trip to the Internet lane showed that this kind of art was made popular by the American artist Jackson Pollack.  To me they looked like chaotic blotches and splashes of ink in different colors and do not mean anything. Pardon my ignorance. I’m glad I am learning new things through postcard swaps! Well thank you, Simo, for introducing me to the world of fractals =)
For more Postcard Friendship Friday entries, click here.

Postcard Friendship Friday 019: Eeek, a duck in my tub!

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The Light and Warmth in November, 2007

Artist: Kaj Stenvall

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Sent by Auli Helena

That’s exactly what I am dreaming about… chillin’ in the nice, warm tub with a candle-light. But imagine coming home to see your rubber duckie with another duck enjoying your bath tub. What would you do?

This postcard shows one of the many amusing duck paintings of Kaj Stenvall, a Finnish-born contemporary artist who became popular internationally through his paintings of ducks or duck-like creatures. Many people have likened his duck to Donald Duck. Stenvall insists that he developed his duck character but at the same time acknowledging his duck’s similarities to Donald Duck.

The scenes in his pictures are from the world at large and his duck often appears in absurd, if recognizably generic, settings. There really is nothing in his paintings that one can put their finger on to connect them to any particular corner of the world, especially not to Finland, except perhaps a specific intensity of angst and foreboding.

Kaj Stenvall is eager to open a dialogue with the large and diverse audiences who are aware of his pictures. The feelings that his paintings bring out in people routinely range from hilarity to anguish. Stenvall is fascinated by the transitional line between the comical and the tragic, and vice versa, and his art’s inherent humor – both absurd and tragic – is quite clearly an essential feature of his approach.

– More about Kaj Stenvall here.