Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Succulent Succulents

I mentioned in my last blog that my succulents were terrible this year. That is true of my usual Hens and Chicks variety. For some reason they just looked awful. In other years they were so pretty that I took many pictures that I played with in Photshop and turned into a quilt. You can see the quilt here.

But this container of new succulents turned out just fine. I chose them because they are winter hardy, although if I leave the pottery container out, it will break from the frost. I'm not sure if I'll take them inside, or take the plants out of the pot and sink them in the ground for the winter.

I love the way this variety turned a lovely coppery color. That's just happened in the past couple of weeks.

This variety trailed very prettily over the side of the pot and onto the table.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Exuberance !

When I looked at at my deck and saw my annuals just bursting at the seams, it made me smile.
Everything, except the poor succulents, are at their peak. Little do they know that there will be a frost any day now and they'll be goners.

These vines on the deck railing just started blooming. That was one small plant when I planted it in the spring. I don't know what it's called, but I will surely plant it again next year if I can find it. The Lobelia was an experiment. I loved the intense royal blue color, but it waxed and waned throughout the summer. Not sure if I'll do it again.

I had always heard that Parsley likes it cool and Basil likes it hot and dry. Well, someone should tell that to my herbs. The Parsley is the best I've ever had it and it was a hot, dry summer. The Basil, on the other hand was measly. Barely enough to pick, let alone make Pesto, as I usually do.

I'm kind of hoping we do get a frost soon. I'm getting tired of watering and I can't bare to toss things out when they're still blooming. I'm still picking my Sun Gold tomatoes even though it's so cool at night.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday and a Tutorial

Every so often I run into someone who tells me that they enjoy my blog, like the woman last night at my quilt guild meeting that said she loved seeing my trip pictures. I asked her why she doesn't leave a comment and her reply is that she doesn't know how or that she doesn't have a Google account.

Well it is VERY easy to do and you don't need a Google account.

At the end of every blog entry you see small blue letters that say " comments". Click on that and it will take you to a page like this.
Write what you have to say in the big "leave your comment box".
Unscramble the word for word verification. That's so I don't get computer generated spam.
If you don't have a Google account, go way down to the bottom of the page and click "anonymous". But be sure to sign your name in the box with your comment so that I know who you are. If I have your email I will respond to your comment. Then click the orange "Publish Your Comment" box. Try it! It's EASY!

I get so few comments that I wonder if anyone is reading my drivel. It's nice to know that I'm not just talking to myself.
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Monday, October 18, 2010

A Fond Farewell

All good things must come to an end and of course our trip was no exception. I've only given you a glimpse of some of the things we did. I couldn't possibly include it all. Suffice it to say that it was a wonderful experience. Our tour guide was terrific, we met some delightful people, saw incredible sights and learned so much. All pictures are clickable.

We stayed at the Hotel Kapinsky in Moscow and the service was exceptional. The farewell dinner on the last night did not disappoint. We had our dinner in this lovely private room. We were met at the door by waiters serving caviar and salmon tartare canapes. Delicious! The tables were set with several Russian specialties to be eaten before and throughout the meal. Wine flowed freely and this was our last chance at vodka shots.
Na zdorovie! (Russian toast)

The room had a balcony with a splendid view of Red Square and St. Basil's Cathedral.

We had the same view from our room. Here it is at night all lit up.

I don't know what or where our next trip will be. We usually book it several months in advance. Maybe a river cruise in Europe, maybe Australia, maybe somewhere in the USA, maybe..........

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Red Square and the Kremlin

I must admit to knowing very little about Moscow before I got there. I had done quite a bit of reading about St. Petersburg and the tzars, but ran out of time before I got to Moscow.

This is one view of Red Square, with St. Basil Cathedral at my back.

The famous GUM Department store. I had thought it would be dull and gloomy, but I was so wrong. The exterior, as you can see, is beautiful and although the inside had been quite grim during Stalin and Soviet years, it is now an upscale mall.

This is the exterior of the Kremlin wall on one side of Red Square. Again I profess my ignorance. I only thought of the Kremlin as the seat of power and thought it was one building. WRONG! It is a 130 acre fortress started in the 12th century. It is surrounded by red brick walls and tightly guarded gates.

Here we are inside the Kremlin, having gone through that gate at the far end.

The Tzar's cannon, very intricate in design. Be sure to click on this picture to see the details.

I liked the juxtaposition of this modern building in the Kremlin and the old church domes behind.

The complex centers around churches and in one square in the Kremlin there was a church on every side.

The Russian president no longer lives in the Kremlin, but his motorcade takes him to work every morning. Many of the buildings are for state functions and are off limit to visitors, as was this one.

One of the most impressive buildings in the Kremlin is the Armory Museum, which holds much more than guns. Here are the elaborate golden carriages of the Tzars, the coronation crowns and robes, unbelievably beautiful jewels, throne displays and the remaining Faberge eggs exchanged by the last royal couple, and much, much more. There were even horse bridles studded with enormous diamonds. There were no pictures allowed, so you'll have to trust me when I say that it was beyond magnificent.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Moscow Metro

Moscow's Metro system is really something to see. It is clean and efficient, but the older stations dating from the 30's, 40's and 50's are grandiose. We went down the longest escalator I have ever seen to get to the station, rode the train and got off to see three of the most impressive. Be sure to click on each picture for a larger view.

Here is the exterior, not looking very special.

Our first stop was the Ploshchad Revolutsili, with its bronze sculptures holding up the columns.

It had 76 magnificent bronze figures of the creators of the new Socialist order: soldiers, workers and collective farm workers.

Here's Ruthie rubbing the nose of the soldier's dog for good luck, as is the custom. We saw so many commuters doing it. Notice how shiny his nose is. There was a companion piece on the other side of the archway and two others at another archway.

Kievskaya Station has cheerful mosaics portraying Ukrainian-Russian friendship.

This station, Park Pobedy, was just corridors of gleaming marble. No graffiti!

Here you can see that it actually is a busy train station.

This huge mural was at the end. The figures were larger than life size.

The newer stations on the edges of town, which we did not see, are just bland, but spotless white tile.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Moscow

Just a few pictures today as I continue with my travelogue of my Baltic/Russian tour.

Isn't this the image that first comes to mind when you think of Moscow? It is the magnificent St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square, built in the 16th century to celebrate the victory over the Mongol Tatars. We only got to peek inside, but were told that it is a warren of dark and chilly rooms reached by treacherous, worn stairs without railings and winding , narrow passageways. We were content to see the exterior and savor being on Red Square, which is huge and impressive.

We had dinner on our own one night at a Ukrainian Restaurant. This was our adorable waitress. The food was good, but we weren't used to having so many smokers in the room. I guess we're spoiled here by having our eateries smoke-free.

On a pedestrian bridge over a river, we saw these lock trees. Tradition has it that the groom puts a lock on a tree on his wedding day and throws the key in the river, to signify the everlasting union of their marriage.

The joke is that if there is a divorce, he is supposed to retrieve his key from the river and unlock the lock.

Speaking of weddings, we saw so many here and in St. Petersburg. Weddings are held all days of the week, not just on weekends as they are here in the USA. The ceremony (usually civil) is held in the morning and then the wedding party spends all day going from one historic site to another having their pictures taken. The receptions are held in the evening.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I have really been dragging my feet in getting these travel pictures on my blog. Moscow is the last city on our tour and I promise to finish it up in two or three posts. The first thing we learned about the city was the pronunciation. We were told that there is no "cow" in Moscow, but rather it is pronounced with a long "o" for the last syllable.

You may think it strange that I am including these pictures taken in a cemetery, but it was one of the first things we did on our tour and was unlike any other cemetery I had ever seen. Apparently there was a period in Russian history where sculptures were forbidden in the city as public art. So sculpture artists put their talent to work in this cemetery. Each monument had a life-size, or larger, statue of the interred person. Often their profession was depicted, too.
I guess you had to be someone very important to be buried here.

Be sure to click on each picture for a bigger view.

This was a famous comedian, shown here with his dog.

He, too, was a renowned comedian or actor.

Some big-time general. Look at all his medals!

A beautiful ballerina.

A violinist.

This was the wife of one of the leaders of Russia. I forgot who. There were very few women in the cemetery.

Monday, October 11, 2010

More St. Petersburg

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, named for the spot where Alexander II was mortally wounded.
The interior of the church was entirely covered with gilded mosaics. I took many photos, but am just showing this one. Remember to click on each picture for a larger view.

Of course we visited the famous and fabulous Hermitage Museum. It is one of the world's most richly endowed museums and contains magnificent art treasures.. It is actually a collection of buildings joined together and was beautiful from floor...... ceiling.
We were so lucky to be there early in the morning before the crowds arrived. It was like having a private tour. By the time we left it was getting very crowed.

The museum was everything we had heard of and more. There was work there by just about any famous artist you had ever heard of from all periods.

This is a shot from an OPEN, yes OPEN window in the museum. It was amazing that there were windows with sun shining on these priceless works of art. That's the way it's always been.

This was part of a large mosaic under glass where the pieces were about the size of a seed bead.

This room had portraits of Russian generals lining both sides of the room.

We couldn't resist being photographed next to this Picasso painting, Two Sisters.

That evening we were treated to a Tchaikovsky concert after dinner in this sumptuous room at the hotel. The music was splendid and as an extra treat there was a Pas de Deux from Swan Lake. It literally brought me to tears, it was so beautiful.

The other end of the room Notice the stained glass windows at either end.