Hotel California

We lost only one plant in the fire: our Sago Palm. It was never happy in the spot it was in–didn’t like the water from our sprinklers and overflow from the neighbor’s. So I had a new rosebush planted. Would you believe it’s called “Hotel California”?


I haven’t had a yellow rose in a long time and had forgotten how cheery they can be.

We just got back last night after a whirlwind in Virginia where my stepdaughter got married! Sooo nice seeing family, friends and fall colors again. I kind of miss that East Coast sensibility, but I got over it when the temp dropped into the 30s. :)

Hope your week’s going well so far.


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Cherry Bomb


We had some time to kill near Balboa Park this weekend, so we popped over to the Automotive Museum. It’s not a large collection, but they have some pretty cool vehicles, including this 1940 Mercury Custom Coupe called “Cherry Bomb.”

I have more photos that I’ll share at a later date.

Hope your week’s going well so far.


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Coffee Break


Hi there! I’m taking a little break from looking at hundreds of blog designs and searching for a host, etc. Have found the latter, but still looking for a design that has everything I want. Will probably have to get a designer to customize it for me and that could take a while. I’m putting the office redo on hold, as we’re flying back to the East Coast for a wedding next week. I’ll try to post at least a photo each week in the meantime. Hope you are all doing well….


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The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood


The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the things I wanted to photograph most in St. Petersburg. It was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, costing over 4.6 million.

Our group got there early, so we didn’t get to see the inside. One guy gave our guide a really hard time about it and I felt sorry for her. The reason was something about a parking problem, but I had read the tour description and it said photography fees for the inside were covered by the cruise company. Wouldn’t that tell you we were going to see the interior? I mentally gnashed my teeth for a minute, then spent the free time capturing the church from different angles:




The church was modeled after St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, another place I’d like to photograph.



The Soviets closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness.


Our very knowledgeable guide. I have to say something about the guides on our trip: they were all incredible. This particular guide spoke practically nonstop for hours. And not just small talk. Interesting historical facts about the sites we were seeing and the city itself. No notecards, nothing. We found out later that guides in the city have to spend their own money to be re-certified every year. Some ride trains for two hours into St. Petersburg and they don’t find out which tour they’ll be giving until they show up for work.

I didn’t feel too bad about missing the inside until later, when we learned that the church contains over 80,000 square feet (7500 square meters) of mosaics! If you’d like to see them, here’s a short video.

The Church the Savior on Spilled Blood is not used as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics.


I’m going to take a short break while I work on making blog changes and re-doing my office space. Yes, that’s me: do everything at once. ;) Hope to be back next week.


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Venice of the North

Before I visited St. Petersburg, I had a vague idea of it being near a river, but didn’t know the city had lots of canals. Peter the Great designed the city as another Venice, and St. Petersburg has 342 bridges over canals and rivers of various sizes.


This photo was taken near the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood and shows the Griboedov Canal.
I’ll have a post on the church on Tuesday.

Great weekend, everyone!


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Travel Scan: Sacré-Coeur


One of my favorite places in Paris is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, or “Sacré-Cœur.” It’s just so different, so starkly white against the deep blue sky. Did you know that the basilica is constructed of travertine stone which exudes calcite? This ensures that the structure remains white despite weathering and pollution.


The basilica was designed by Paul Abadie, who won a competition over 77 other architects. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. Sadly, Abadie died not long after the foundation had been laid, and five architects finished the work.


One tip: there’s a funicular that leads to the top of the Butte Montmartre on which Sacré-Cœur stands. It’s a lot easier than climbing the more than 300 steps!
Also, you can go to the top of the dome for incredible views of Paris.

Hope your week’s going well so far.


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Autumn Hues


“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” ~Van Gogh

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The Wonder of St. Isaac’s


St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in St. Petersburg. It is also the fourth largest cathedral in the world, designed to accommodate 14,000 standing worshippers.
[Sorry about the reflection--this was the only chance to get a long shot and it was from a vehicle.]


The cathedral’s bronze doors, covered in reliefs by Ivan Vitali, are patterned after the doors of the Battistero di San Giovanni in Florence.


The exterior is faced with gray and pink stone, and features a total of 112 red granite columns (made of single pieces of red granite) 48 at ground level. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but those columns are massive.

I wasn’t that struck by the outside, but the interior was a different story. Amazing. It’s hard to take in how huge it is, and how much art is everywhere….



I hope this photo gives you an idea of the scale of the place. According to my guidebook, St. Isaac’s is considered “one of the world’s top architectural splendors of the 19th century.”


The cathedral took 40 years to construct, under the direction of French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand. It was completed in 1858. Over 400,000 workers labored on the cathedral and hundreds perished in the process.


The rare occurrence of stained glass in an Orthodox church; it depicts Christ Resurrected.

In 1931, St. Isaac’s was turned into the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. Now services are held, but only in the left-hand side chapel. The main part of the cathedral is used for services on feast days only.


The interior was originally decorated with paintings by Russian masters. When the paintings began to deteriorate due to cold and damp inside the cathedral, Montferrand ordered them to be painstakingly reproduced as mosaics! Can you imagine getting that order? Yeesh.



The iconostasis, a wall of icons and religious paintings separating the nave from the sanctuary, is framed by eight columns of semiprecious stone: six of malachite and two smaller ones of lazurite.
[Just could not get away from the photobomber in the pink shirt. Didn't have time to wait him out, either--he took shot after shot after shot. :)]


Loved the colors inside this dome. It is just over 262 feet (80 m.) tall. See the white dove in the very center? That bird has a wingspan of 5.4 feet (1.65 m.) and is made of silvered copper. It represents the Holy Spirit and is the focal point for Karl Bryullov’s 8611-square-foot (800 sq. m.) “The Virgin in Majesty.” I still can’t wrap my brain around the sheer size of the fresco.

There wasn’t nearly enough time to study all the details in the cathedral, but I’m so glad I got to see it. I consider St. Isaac’s a must if you visit St. Petersburg. And make sure the interior is included in your tour–we met people on the cruise who didn’t get to see it on theirs.

Hope your week’s going well so far.


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A Glimpse of St. Petersburg

We had just stopped at a souvenir shop in St. Petersburg. I made my purchase pretty quickly so I could look around the neighborhood. Saw this lovely spot:


I don’t know the name of this church, but I really like the colors.

Great weekend, everyone!


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A bicycle in Stockholm, Sweden. Loved that city!

On another note, I’m in the process of making some changes. Some of you may have noticed I changed my Twitter name to PearlsandProse_. I’m kind of tired of the Ms. Pearl moniker, so am slowly phasing it out. There was also someone else with a similar name tweeting unpleasant stuff.
Hoping to change the design of the blog in the not-so-distant future too. Self-hosting is a little intimidating, but I think I’m ready. Stay tuned.


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