About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Harvest Moon over Kentucky

Here's the Harvest Moon from my deck around 8pm tonight.  Did you remember to look for it?

And then here's Harvest Moonset- 7:00am September 30:

It had almost set behind the trees by the time I was up with camera.  Had to do a bit of trespassing in my neighbor's yard in my jim jams to get this shot.  But they're used to odd behavior from Summit Court! :-)

Have a great end of weekend and September.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall Snapshot 1

Found these red jewels when Chet and I were on our first "looking for signs of fall" walk earlier this week. My naturalist cousin thinks they're honeysuckle bush berries. I agree after remembering that the same bushes were filled with sweet smelling yellow and white flowers this summer.

Have you spotted signs of fall yet?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Confused

Lilacs blooming with goldenrod - September 24

For more Wordless Wednesday photos be sure to check out Wordless Wednesday Again .

Monday, September 24, 2012

Macro Monday - Love & Marriage in Russia

Wedding scenes were quite common throughout Russia--in small villages and large cities. All weddings must have a civil ceremony and then, if desired, a second ceremony in church. The couples were heartbreakingly young and beautiful, but knowing what I found out about the state of marriage in Russia, I wondered if this was not going to be the happiest day for them. This party was on the grounds of Peterhof across the river from St. Petersburg. That's the Gulf of Finland in the background:

The most important tradition though is for the wedding party to hit the streets in a limo and make stops at famous landmarks where photographers would take photos--I saw wedding groups in Red Square and Gorky Park and palaces. The "Locks of Love" tree was on the Luzhov Bridge in Moscow. Apparently it is a Russian custom for the couple to kiss on a bridge on their wedding day and "lock" their wedding vows to the bridge railings or, on the Lushov Bridge, to trees of locks that span this pedestrian walkway:

Despite all these optimistic beginnings, the state of love and marriage was quite shaky in Russia according to our local guides and statistics that I read. Russia has the highest divorce rate of any developed country, according to some stats that I saw. Causes were pretty damning toward Russian men--alcoholism, wife abuse, infidelity, lack of paternal responsibility in the family, and men not working to support the family.

Two examples. In Moscow I had a young male guide for one full day. He had previously described himself as a philosopher and thinker. I asked what he did after the tour season closed in October and he said that since the winters were so cold in Moscow he preferred to stay in the apartment and study and be home when his small son came back from school. His wife, one the other hand, enjoyed working and went out to a public job that was very responsible and required long bus commutes morning and evening! Somehow I suspected that dinner would not be ready when she got home, nor the son bathed and ready for bed!

Second example, in St. Petersburg my guide was a young woman who cared for a sick toddler and a rebellious teenager. She described her husband as "sensitive and kind" but struggled with alcoholism and no work. As had been the case with a previous marriage.  She said that young Russian women really wanted to marry but for some they hoped for a western husband.

The clincher:  Moscow traffic was CRAZY with two hour commutes to work in the city not uncommon.  The government at one time had a push on for Moscowvites to use the excellent metro system, but in a survey men said that they preferred to sit in their cars in traffic rather than get home sooner.  If  they got home too early, their wives would expect them to do some house cleaning or take care of the children.  Arrive late and all they had to do was eat dinner, watch a little TV and go to bed!  No surprise, those high divorce rates.

 For more closeups from all over, or to enter your own macros, be sure to check out Lisa's Chaos here every Monday.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Nostalgia

Welcome Fall!  Yesterday I celebrated the first day of fall by looking back through last year's glorious day on a photo shoot in Bernheim Forest.  This photo is from the canopy walk over the treetops.  A wonderful view that had me feeling a bit nostalgic.  With the extremely dry weather this year we may not have this color.  And then there was missing my good old boy Willie the Pit Bull who was my shooting partner for this day.  When the trees turn, I'll take Chet to Bernheim Forest for a photo day, but he'll have big paws to fill.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Fences - Rustic Russian

While in Russia I saw many styles of fences, grand to very homely and rustic. For this first one in a long series (warning!) I'll go back to Mandrogi village, our first stop from St. Petersburg, after a day's cruising on the Svir River. Mandrogi is a small, somewhat touristy stop, which has examples of Russian country crafts and buildings. This simple fence near the blacksmith shop was made from small saplings that were split at the top to hold the cross pole as you can see in the second photo. Since starting to participate in Janis' Friday Fences meme, I've noticed that fence builders use the materials that are readily available and often "repurposed". Fence builders: a thrifty bunch, no matter where they live:

And then a couple of other scenes from the village, like this old fashioned haystack which looks like it had a rake made from another sapling sticking out of the hay:

And then this log house with brightly painted and curtained window and flowers growing under just said
Russian countryside to me:


And every home had a corner for the holy icon, often draped with this traditional red embroidered cloth:


Finally, a personal anecdote on travel worries. I love to travel to adventurous places and make my own way, but boy can I worry and stress about things--messed up flight plans (happened on my way to Russia--sat on tarmac for three hours in Chicago which caused me to miss connecting flight from Helsinki to St. Petersburg--had to fly through Stockholm to get there), making it through customs and immigration when I don't know the language, having my money stolen, guides not showing up, getting sick, not bonding with other travelers, troubles back at home--you get the picture. Well, on this first stop on the cruise I looked out my cabin window to see this swinging bridge stretched from the boat to the river bank. Surely not! They didn't expect us to disembark on that--many passengers were using canes, one double crutches, one was nearly blind. For myself, I'm totally intimidated by heights, and the motion from swinging bridges.

So, I just figured I'd have to stay on the boat until I explored a little further and discovered this perfectly safe dock where we could walk down a gangplank and be on the island:

Moral of the story: nothing is ever as bad as you can imagine! Now for more Friday Fences go to our host Janice's site at Life According to Jan and Jer .

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moscow by Night

I started my Russian river trip with four days in Saint Petersburg, formerly know as Leningrad. This city was old, filled with beautiful architecture, art, history and a very lively street life. Then at the end of the two week cruise we were in Moscow. I found it to be almost overwhelming mix of old and new. Wild traffic where it took two hours to travel maybe ten miles from the river port to city center, a beautiful metro system that had you dipping deep underground on dizzily fast moving escalators to catch trains for all parts of the city. And the construction--roads, modern new buildings mixed in with the history. And the tourists--thousands of them! 

Unfortunately, I came down with a really bad cold and cough early in the trip so that didn't help my travel stamina. So, there was one night that I especially enjoyed where we had a combined tour of Moscow by bus and river boat. In my opinion, Moscow is at its best at night when illuminated against the dark northern skies. Here are some highlights:

Cathedral of the Annunciation and lesser onion-domed Russian Orthodox churches on Red Square:

An Olympic Games billboard--expressing hopes for Russian glory:

The Red October Chocolate Factory (built in the late 1800s) still in operation on the Moskiva River:

Bridge over the Moskova River festooned with red-white-blue lights (for the Russian flag). In the background the "White House", scene of at least two coups to overthrow Communism:

The Historical Museum on Red Square:

Gorky Park-scene of fictional intrigue and real life family fun and amusement:

State Kremlin Palace built in 1961 for the Communist Party, now used for cultural events:

The fantastical domes, gables, and towers of St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square. Commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to celebrate victory over the Mongols. He is said to have blinded the architect so that he would never be able to design anything this exquisite again:

First Russian unmanned spacecraft:

Domed sports center that holds 85,000 people. I may have too many zeros here, but it was BIG! So big you could see from the city overlook many miles away:

One of many beautiful modern skyscrapers that could been seen from the Moskva River:

Later in the week I'll take us back to the country for a look at a gentler Russia--perhaps a welcome change from all the lights, motion, and confusion of Moscow. Hope you'll enjoy my travelogue.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Macro Monday from a Russian Garden

Just home from travels on the rivers and lakes of Russia. Here are some macros that I took in a Russian garden in Mandrogi Village on the Svir River, a day's cruising from St. Petersburg. Most amusing being this photo of a pumpkin carved in Russian. Small world!

And then two examples of Russian sunflowers:

And this fantastic sunflower seed head:

Here's Mandrogi from the boat--a small village where old crafts such as weaving, blacksmithing, and vodka making are demonstrated:

For more closeups from all over, or to enter your own macros, be sure to check out Lisa's Chaos here every Monday.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chet Goes Off The Grid

Chet here folks - well the day that I've been worrying about has arrived.  Here I am in the back of the "Breadtruck" with 18 lbs. of puppy food and this huge sack with important things like my bed, toys (aka milk jugs and coffee can) and another huge bag of treats.  Friends, I'm worried about quantity here--18lbs of food and three milk jugs!  Looks like I'm going to be at Camp Siberia for a long time.  The Roommate said two weeks while she is in Russia.  Never fear though, remember I told you that there was no Internet at this place?  Well, see that green notebook?  The Roommate gave it to me so I could take notes and be able to fill you in while I'm in prison--after I've chewed up all the milk jugs.

First impressions:  The Roommate took me on a "nature" walk where I'm supposed to get to go every day.  Lots of good smells.

And this is a shot of Camp Siberia from up on the hill.  When we got close to that red fence, whoa!  The racket that started up from all the other prisoners!  I hope they don't keep going all night what with me having nothing to do but stare at six feet of concrete walls.

Everyone have a nice Labor Day weekend--hope you've been saving money to gas up the car if you're traveling.  And I'll see you again around the middle of September.  Oh, Lonesome Me!