Friday, August 22, 2008

Riga, Latvia - May 26

These are a few photos from the last part of this long, information filled, lovely day. My notes are very sparse, as I must have been ready to sleep right after our dinner which was in another very good hotel.

At home it has been a busy week. Denise and I have almost all the materials ordered for the windows. One last one to decide because the last material we chose was again no longer available. Would be nice if they could update their display books, now and then.

The carpet we chose from Hourigans is no longer available, either. Well, this all gets frustrating. So, now we are hunting for just that color in another brand of carpet. Seems we cannot find it.

Dean the kitchen reno guy was here this morning and we measured and planned for 2 hours. I have to go see Colonial to educate myself about counter tops and decide what I want. Dean says to talk to Nelson. Dean is also going to send his electrician buddy over some time to talk to me about the lighting. He said he would come along if he could to help us co-ordinate this renewal of my kitchen. I am already dreading all the things that could screw up with this part of it.

Yesterday, Rosemary, Mary and I had a day out to go to Garden Centers, lunch at Romeo's and a couple more garden centers. Was fun, but another fairly long day.

I have had more time looking at the demo of the new site, and helping with more Flickr stuff. I recently watched the Matrix movies. The way people behave on these on line communities and carry on their virtual lives, makes me think the matrix is here, now. We don't need some intelligent machines to create it for us. We do this dream world in our heads and behind our keyboards. All very addictive. Just like blogging. :))

I have my new compost bin filled and have got enough of the cut back perennials and weeds taken out, to fill yet another bin. And they don't come to take this away until the 16 of Sept. Oh well, I will keep cleaning up the garden and load the bin each month. There probably won't be much added in January or February. I should probably finally get to within my bin full per month. We have had some rain and cooler weather this week, but I only got a few hours on a couple of days out there. The pond is filled, all the african violets are blooming inside, and I did manage to water a bit. The yellow plums are ready for eating. I need to make a new plum plucker. I added a couple of plums to the rum pot today and we had some with frozen mango yogurt for dessert. yummm.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tallin, Estonia to Riga, Lativia - May 26

Snippets from my travel journal:
We have our breakfast and are on our way by 9:00. This is going to be a long driving day - without stops it would be 4.5 hours. Good roads, nice looking farms. Two days ago I saw red foxes. Today I saw a large white with black wings and tail, stork, walking in a field.
Sylvia, our most excellent tour guide, tells us about amber. Amber is pine resin petrified. The Baltic Sea has expanded over old pine forests and so much amber is found in the Baltic Sea. White amber has more air in it. Green amber has moss, etc., in it. Red amber is heated. We purchased a piece of amber with an insect in it.
Very nice lunch at Parnu which is a resort town and we walked to the Baltic Sea over a board walk on this lovely sandy beach.
Next top was an old castle with the love story of 'Rose", a foundling. Of course, she falls in love with an unsuitable man, and ends up tricking the suitable one into killing her. I have lost the gist of the story and even the name of the castle. The group went up the stairs in the tower -- apparently there was a superb view. I stayed down and this afforded me time to actually compose some shots... no wide angle, though. There is yet more to this very lovely day, packed full of information. We did not get information sheets, and my notes cannot possibly mention all we learned and saw.

I have had a couple of fairly busy days at home. We have now arranged for someone to put the UV blocking screen over the outside of the skylight. We have carpet samples at home to consider and have settled on a nice medium green, no borders. We shall go see Rob at Hourigans, tomorrow. We hope to get Wally to do the job. He is a perfectionist floor covering installer. This will leave the bathrooms, kitchen and my room to be redone, after the kitchen reno happens.

Denise and I have finally settled on the verticals and the material for the draperies. Hopefully the verticals, at least will be installed in 2 weeks. I have paid her for half of the costs of materials, installation and taxes. So, with the kitchen reno yet in the works, I must go see Brian, the banker, tomorrow.

I have arranged for a composting company to deliver me a bin. They pick up my full bin, monthly for a $20 per month fee and $95 refundable on the bin. I get the bin on Saturday. I am sure I have a binfull of stuff ready to go now. Probably have to cut it up a bit more yet. Largest size wood they take is a 6 inch diameter. That's quite big. If I have that size, it probably goes into the fireplace.

I spent some time, yesterday, with Cyrus and the slideshow for the new site, and a few other things. Man, this is going to be one terrific site for photography!

This morning I went to my computer to find that Windows had updated and left my Jpeg icons with a new ugly orange icon that looked like a garbage bin. I spent quite a bit of the day learning about icons and how to change them. I now have my jpeg icon as this very green tree... so I have gone green on my desktop... should match all the gold and green that's going to be in my house .. by year end, I hope.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tallin, Estonia - Baltic Countries Coach Tour - May 25

In the afternoon of this day we tour an outdoor museum of the old homes, old crafts, thatched houses, etc. The museum borders on the Baltic Sea. There were some wonderful views. Back to the hotel then out to a Medevel dinner. Very good food and great atmosphere. We are buying water at $2.00 a bottle from Uri our bus driver. We don't seem to have time or the inclination to buy it at a store and carry it around. Still have my nasty cold. But this is nothing to the disasters happening around the world at this time. -- China earthquakes, US South and Mid-west cyclones, Myanar earthquake; and that is just the weather, not to mention mankind's messes.
Estonia is big in the IT field. I believe Skype originated here.

Not much at home today. Out looking a carpets and 'educating ourselves' about them, so says himself.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tallin, Estonia - Baltic Countries Coach Tour - May 25

More photos from the morning tour of Tallin, old town.

Finished the vacuuming. Then spent the rest of the day getting my playlist sorted out, and downloading Blade Runner, Memento, and Fifth Element. All seem good copies. Going to finish watching Animatrix tonite.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Tallin, Estonia - Baltic Countries Coach Tour - May 25

We were up and to breakfast at 7:30 and on the bus to tour by 9:00. Great weather. We went on a walking tour of the old town. Long long walk on cobblestones. Its a beautiful city. My photos are turning out better, but I have to be quick about it. Wish I had been using the wide angle for some of the shots, but no time to change. As it was I missed all of good information from our guide.

At home.. yesterday I got a bit of gardening done. I actually got 3 steps up on the ladder to tie my grape vine up to the top of the garage roof at the front. I also did a thin wire for the grape along the side of the garage where it was before, and producing fruit. After that I clipped the 'goose' cottoneaster, and clipped back the fig and things to open the new stepping stones up a bit. I put all these clippings under the deck, hopefully to get started on some good soil under there. I see I have a very nice patch of moss growing there in the shade. I need to get some of this moss growing in the Japanese garden. I filled the pond and soaked the apple tree.

Today it is raining nicely. I have been inside all day, doing music play lists and photos.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tallin, Estonia - Baltic Countries Coach tour - May 24

After breakfast on the Litvinov (ship of the Russian River Cruise) we sat around in any space we could find outside of our rooms, waiting for our transport to the airport or where ever. Sixteen of us waited for a bus that would take us on our extended Baltic Countries tour, with Uniworld. Why should I have been surprised when we boarded a dirty, run down, old rattle trap of a bus. We proceeded to drive over potholes and worse, roads to get to the border of Estonia. It was about a 3 hour trip with no stops and no facilities on board. We finally get to the border all very disgruntled, to say the least. We get out to go to the washroom and discover that we should have taken our hand luggage as the people coming from Tallin were trading buses with us. Oh my, they were in for a surprise, as we had been.. or maybe they had been told of the infamous bus. We then get on a gloriously clean, comfortable bus to continue our tour, with our new guide, Sylvia. Before I say anything else, I must say that Sylvia was THE BEST guide we have had on any of our trips. And now we get information!!! imagine. Upon crossing the border, each of us give the pot $2.00 to bribe the guards so that they do not rummage through everyone's baggage and hold us up for any further time.

The difference between Russia and Estonia is apparent right at the border. Great paved roads, cleaner countryside and neat towns. The land is farmed where Russia was all weedy and neglected. People here smile and are cheerful. Man, even the weather is better!

Estonia has 1.6 million people, 400,000 of whom live in Tallin. We watched an informative movie, but I cannot possibly remember it. Nice dinner in our hotel and are back to our very nice room by 9:00 pm. TV ( what a luxury) and sleep.

I can no longer remember when the above pictures were taken. I did not change the time on my camera, so it is still on my home time, which is probably about 8 or 10 hours difference. At any rate, it was great to have good weather and be shooting photos without being on a bus or boat with reflective windows. This is Kadrioru Palace and park. I have many more pictures of the park and palace but won't bore you with them.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Russian River Cruise - Day 12 - May 23

The last of the photos from St. Petersburg, Russia. We get back to our ship in 5:00 o'clock traffic on a Friday. Somehow the logic of the planning of this optional tour escapes me, totally. I did not get a 'book' of St.P in town, the gift shop had none left. Can you believe it? They also ran out of stamps, so some of our cards will go with us to Estonia to be mailed. The service at the gift shop was awful. We are packed and are to catch our bus at 10:00 am for the drive to Tallin, Estonia, as we are booked for the Baltic Countries extension, coach tour.

At home, Denise the draperies lady came and we finalized my choice of drapery materials and bathroom stuff. She will let me know on Friday what the damage is going to be. Pat does not think the blind for the skylight is what he wants, so he is to talk to Ron the blinds guy tomorrow and they can decide what to do, if anything. When Pat got home he found that Denise had left two of her folders of samples in the driveway. Ooopps. She is to pick them up tomorrow about 9:30.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Russian River Cruise - Day 12 - May 23

After lunch we took the buses to catch our optional canal cruise. This could have been marvelous, but instead was awful. The boat was shabby, dirty and rattling. The people sat up top deck, on what appeared to be lawn chairs, crammed together like sardines. We were about the last on and we went into the bottom deck. The girl who was giving the talk sat about 3 feet from us and I could not really hear her for the rattling and noise of the engine. Before we cast off our moorings at least one couple left this grand canal cruise ship. So here are a few of my shabby photos from the shappy canal cruise. Too many reflections from the dirty window for anything to be very good.

Russian River Cruise - Day 12 - May 23

We missed a tour of Pushkin which is about 25 km south of St.Petersburg, and the Catherine Palace, in the morning. We decided to stay in and write post cards.

Today, at home, we went for a drive up island with Ruby and Steve in their newly restored old car. We had lunch at the fish and chips shop located by Serious Coffee. Very good fish and chips. We got home just before three o'clock. We just missed the shut down of the Island Highway due to a brush fire at Thetis Lake.

There have been about 25 Model T's and A's from southern California, Arizona, one from Montana, other places, in town for a few days. Dan let us know they were coming. Pat is going back with them tomorrow to Dan's place for lunch. I thought they were going back Wednesday, and so am not going as Denise the draperies lady is going to be here Wednesday. Oh well.

Russian River Cruise - Day 12 - May 23

I am unable to upload photos and have no idea why.
drat. VFXY has picked this up with no photo. I wonder if I can add a photo now and it will post to VFXY. Blogger has fixed the upload problem, in record time.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Russian River Cruise - Day 11 - May 22

After seeing the Peterhof we boarded buses for the drive back to the ship. It is quite a long drive. It has been a long day with an early start, with very many things to see.

From my travel journal: An hour and a half bus ride back to our boat through the country side with small towns mostly made up of the dachas - summer homes. Everyone lives in apartments but has a home in the country to escape to on weekends and holidays. We have our suitcases back and I have begun packing.

I guess I missed getting photos of dachas. I must have slept on the bus. Still have my nasty cold and not feeling great. Can't wait to get home.