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.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Russian Waters - Sunrise & Sunset on the Sheksna River & Millstones at St. Cyril's Monastery

Earlier this week I posted some sunrise and sunset views of the Sheksna River as we cruised into the port of Goritsy (see below) in northern Russia.  From there we drove through the countryside to the village of Kirillov to tour the 14th century St. Cyril Monastery of the White Lake.  As we walked through the monastery grounds I spotted several ancient millstones (apparently the monks did appreciate their daily bread!).  Also, in the top mosaic, lower right corner, is an old drawbridge that is still in use today.

For more watery scenes be sure to check out Watery Wednesday II .

Early morning views of the Sheksna River in the most northern part of Russia, the Vologda Region.  In 2012, I took a small riverboat cruise of the rivers and lakes of Russia from St. Petersburg to Moscow.  This day we were cuising toward the village of Goritsy where we disembarked and spent the day touring the Russian countryside.

It was an overcast morning as you can see from the grey waters in the large photo of the Sheksna.  The Vologda Region is quite commercial, with many industries such as fishing and woodworking from the forests and waters.  That old ruin just on the water's edge was more than likely a flooded church.  During the Stalin era he aggressively flooded small towns and villages to create commercial waterways to transport timber and ferrous metal out of the Vologda Region with little concern for the people or their churches.

And then by the end of the day, the skies had cleared so that this was the sunset over the waters as we left Goritsy headed toward the Volga River and eventually Moscow.

If you enjoy water photography be sure to check out Nature FootstepWaters for Sunday to see entries from all over. Or, even better, link to your own water photos.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chet's Baby Book

Chet here, folks - guess what?  I was a year old on January 22nd!  This past year has been just great!  I've about got the Roommate trained.  And, it's just a lot of fun to chat with you here at Summit Musings and let's not even try to understand how popular I am on Facebook!  Why I received so many good wishes, it was amazing.  Who knew how easy it is to be a social media star? 

These photos are some of the Roommate's favorites from April and May last year when I was about 3 months old.  You can see I have a tough life. . . 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Back to Russia, Part 2 - Macros,Water and Fences at Catherine Palace & Park

Earlier this week I posted photos of the Catherine the Great's Palace and Park near St. Petersburg Russia (see below) with the promise to end the week with a sampling of fences and gates for Friday Fences .  Here is a collage of the ornate gold gilded gates opening on to the front of the palace.  Next there are wrought iron fences in the classic French motifs of arrows, scrolls, and flowers.  Also included, living fences of precisely trimmed hedges accented with white benches.  Finally, as we were leaving the palace grounds we were treated to an impromptu flute concert on the side of the palace grounds.  I'm calling the benches surrounding the area where the flautist is playing a "fence" just as an excuse to include this photo!  BTW, this is my first attempt at making a photo collage, so hope you can click on individual photos, if you want to see the detail of the fences.

--Photos of Palace and Park--

Catherine Palace and Park in Pushkin
September 2012

Last week I started a series of posts from my trip to Russia last year with a tour of Peterhof, Peter the Great's palace just across the Gulf of Finland from St. Petersburg.  This week we'll travel southeast from St. Petersburg for a look at Catherine the Great's Palace and Park, first built in the mid-1700s.

The palace itself is an example of opulence and excess built for the tsars of Russia on the backs of the Russian people.  As one friend commented, after seeing examples of ruling class wealth, it is not surprising that there was a bloody revolution in Russia.  There's so much to see that this week will concentrate on the exterior of the palace and the French-style park surrounding it.

Catherine the Great is said to favor this shade of blue seen on the palace--and accented with an abundance of gold gilded features on the facade and roof of the palace and the ornate gate into the palace grounds:

Architectural columns, called atlantes with standing or kneeling figures, are along the front facade of the palace:

In front of the palace the upper garden is laid out in the French style with clipped grass and scrolling gravel stone beds in contrasting colors bordered by walkways:

And then to the water features, first here's a statue showing off Venus' strong swimmer thighs :-):

Moving down into the park, on the left you see the Cameron Gallery reflected in Great Pond and on the right is yellow Upper Bath, which was reserved for the imperial family.  Lesser beings had to use the Lower Bath!

Further on out in the park, you can see the brick Dutch-designed Admiralty with the Chesma Column adorned with ships' prows just visible.  Then on the far side of the pond is the 
Turkish Bath with its pink/gold dome and minaret:

Again, a very long post and this is only the outside of Catherine Palace and Park.  Check back on Friday for a great variety of Friday Fences.  Linking to the following memes:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Back in Russia - Macros, Barns, Water, & Fences at Peterhof Park

First sighting of Russia's iconic onion domes for the Cathedral on the Spilled Blood, Moska Canal tour of St. Petersburg, September 2012

Here in January I don't have many interesting photos to share--except Chet and the cardinals, who are in danger of overexposure--so thought would take you back to Russia.  I was fortunate to make a trip of a lifetime in September 2012, on a  rivers and lakes cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow.  With a little poetic license, I think my photos will fit with the weekly memes in which I usually participate:

The only hitch is that you need just a bit of background of the location for the post to make sense.  But, I don't want to repeat myself every day for the different memes, so I'm just doing this one big honking post and you can either just scroll through to the subject that you're interested in--macros, barns, water, fences--or, even better, look at the whole thing!  I'll try to be restrained with the number of photos used.

Peterhof Park

Located 19 miles west of St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea's Gulf of Finland, Peter the Great built a palace and gardens "befitting the highest of monarchs" to commemorate his victory over Sweden in 1709.  Peter must have been pretty full of himself because he wanted this palace to rival the great palaces and grounds of Europe.  Apparently he was successful because Peterhof is now known as the "Russian Versailles" for it's gilded statuary, fountains, cascades, ornate palaces, English and French gardens.

Come along with me for a tour of this example of over-the-top opulence.  To get to Peterhof, we hopped on a hydrofoil from a main street in St. Petersburg.  A hydrofoil is a boat equipped with bottom fins so that the boat "skips" over the choppy waters at high speeds.  We traveled the Gulf of Finland in record time (just in time to eat a boxed lunch).  Here we disembarked from the hydrofoil--you can see them in the background and that's a lighthouse to the right of the landing dock:

The centerpiece of Peterhof is the quarter mile Sea Channel, a narrow waterway that originates with the cascades and fountains in front of Peterhof Palace and allows the water to run to the Gulf of Finland.  Visitors most want to see Peterhof when all the fountains and cascades are operating--otherwise, disappointing.  Here we're walking along the Sea Channel toward the Palace:  

In the third photo above you have what's called the Grand Cascade, a complex network of statues, cascades and fountains.  Below this feathered fellow was just being friendly along the Sea Channel as we walked to the Palace:

This is an  upper level view of Peter's Palace with closeups of the gilded domes on each wing of the palace:

These photos were shot from in front of the Palace on the checker-board landing steps and give a view of the Grand Cascade and fountains, including the Samson Fountain in the center, and the Sea Channel to the Gulf of Finland.  In the last photo you see smaller summerhouses on either side of the Samson Fountain.

Moving back out into the park, I captured a wedding party in front of Monplasir  ("my pleasure", I think) Palace overlooking the Gulf of Finland.  Peter the Great is said to have used this place for wild drinking parties.  As well, his naval office was here so he could monitor ships in the gulf:

Behind Monplasir there were many gardens like this one laid out in the French style with sculpted beds. Notice the small urn/statue fountain:


And here's my entry for Barn Charm.  Hopefully this fanciful aviary will qualify with its pleasing geometric designed fence. (Tricia, you did bend the Barn Charm rules to include any barn or farmish outbuilding?Birdhouse do?)


And then the fountains!  So many of them--with names like Neptune, Adam, Eve, Roman--I'll just show a few, including a playful gangley tree that gets people wet when they step close:

And finally, some formal white fences leading up to Peter's Palace with views of more French style gardens below:

My goodness!  You're still reading?  Thanks!  I'll keep this post up all week and enter it in the different memes on their respective days.  Now I can just enjoy coming around to visit you.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Fences - Chet Learns to Roll Snowballs

Wheeee!  Chet here, Folks - here I am out in the backyard enjoying my first snow.  Excited doesn't even begin to describe how I felt when the Roommate let me out in this stuff for the first time.  As you can see I'm just a blur for the camera as I raced hither and yon.

This is the classic downward dog yoga pose.  The Roommate says you need to focus on a fixed point to execute this move.  A bone works fine for me.

But I digress. The Roommate is allowing me to take over our blog today to show you this amazing trick that I learned to do in this stuff--snowball rolling. So, in five easy steps:

Step 1 - dig out one of the cement blocks that the Roommate chocks under the fence to keep me from digging out of the yard.  Too big to carry, so. . .

Step 2 - . . .start rolling!  At first it's so easy that I can stop to snack on a little snow.  Not as good as a Slim Jim, but not bad.

Step 3 - take a moment to strategize when the ball gets too heavy.  Work smarter, not harder is my motto.

Step 4 - Reverse direction makes easier rolling.  Wonder why that Greek guy Sisyphus didn't figure this out when he kept trying to push that rock up a mountain?

Step 5 - Good enough for the first day since I had to go inside for my dinner.  The next day I put in a few hours perfecting my first snow ball.  If we get another snow this winter maybe I'll build a snowdog.  Stay tuned and don't forget to enjoy the season you're in.

Now for some more Friday Fences, and the goins' on behind them, be sure to check out my friend Janis at Life According to Jan and Jer .