Happy First Week of Spring!

OK, now it’s official. Spring has arrived, although we’re still having rainy cool weather. Can’t complain, though–we need the rain desperately. And at least it’s not snow.

I took the above while living on the East Coast and they are my favorite tulip magnolia blossoms.

Great weekend, everyone!


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Is This the Face of a Killer?

Recently, I read about a study that stated domestic cats would probably kill us, but they’re too small. To be honest, sometimes Yuri looks at me like he is considering murder, ha ha. Those piercing eyes that never look away! He also lies in wait at the bottom of the stairs, then jumps out at me. The vet says this is a way to show he wants to play, but I feel a little bit…hunted.

Turns out the study conducted by University of Edinburgh researchers was grossly misinterpreted. Lead researcher Marieke Gartner stated that cats are the most similar to lions because they share the personality traits of “impulsivity, dominance and neuroticism.” I definitely see the first and second traits in Yuri. He’ll be purring contentedly while I’m petting him and suddenly turn on me and pretend to bite my arm. He then runs off, but comes back in a little while. I don’t think he’s neurotic, unless you count his intense fear of the vacuum cleaner.

Anyway, if you’re a cat owner, have no fear. Cats may be a less affectionate than dogs, but they do love you. I think.

Great weekend, everyone!


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Back to Winter

Well, I shouldn’t have talked about how spring comes early to Southern California. The following week it turned cold and rainy. It even got down in the 30s at night.

But there’s something wonderful about winter in California besides the mild temps. The air is crystal-clear and the horizon at the beach is knife-sharp and everything looks like it’s in hyper focus….

This was taken at lunchtime a couple days ago and yes, it’s pretty deserted this time of year. The only people going into the water in February are tourists and die-hard surfers. I do like the patterns in the sand.

Great weekend, everyone!


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Surrounded by Beauty

One of my favorite parts of the Alaska cruise was going from Skagway to Juneau. I took a walk around the ship and couldn’t believe it: we were surrounded by nothing but sea, sky and mountains. I’ve never experienced anything like this before or since….

I knew the landscape of Alaska would be beautiful, but I wasn’t expecting the gorgeous skies so much. That looks like rain in the distance.

I really like the different shades of blue, and those tinges of pink.

Mountains go on forever in Alaska. Seriously.

The ripples are caused by our ship. Otherwise the water was so glassy and calm.

Here the ripples are more pronounced. I love the way the sky is reflected in the surface of the water. Heavenly.

Great weekend, everyone!


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Spring Comes Early Here

We are fortunate in that spring arrives the first week in February in Southern California. When I lived back East, I disliked the month of February the most because it was cold and icy and interminable even though it’s the shortest month.

Here are some shots I took a few days ago at the San Diego Botanic Garden and Carillo Ranch….

Birds of Paradise at Carillo Ranch.

Red hot pokers, also at the ranch.

I am still amazed to see bananas growing in the winter. Botanic Gardens.

Bromeliad in the Botanic Gardens.

One of my favorite vines, Cup of Gold. Botanic Gardens. Our winter skies are insanely blue!

Another angle.

Great weekend, everyone!


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Cruising the Neva in St. Petersburg

After visiting Peterhof Palace, we returned to the city of St. Petersburg via hydrofoil. We were hoping to do that at some point and the trip did not disappoint.

Our transportation looked just like this one:

There was a lot of glare from the windows, so I’ve included shots that I took while walking around the city. Note the tall ship in the background.

The terra cotta-colored structures are the Rostral Columns designed to hold beacons for what was once St. Petersburg’s main port, inspired by Roman victory monuments.

There were all kinds of boats on the river. Many were like this one for tourists. It reminds me of the bateaux mouches in Paris a little bit. There’s the tall ship again.

A closer look at the salmon-colored building. I love the architecture and colors of St. Petersburg so much.

The Peter and Paul Fortress.

The amazing St. Isaac’s Cathedral. That yellow building is pretty cool too.

I wish I could have gotten this shot of the Hermitage without window glare, but there just wasn’t an opportunity. Seeing the inside was what mattered.

Sorry again about the glare here. This is very close to where we disembarked, which turned out to be a funny/odd experience. When we got close to our destination, I heard the driver talking on the phone with someone. Suddenly we were right next to another boat and were told to board it. Huh? Would you believe a children’s birthday party was going on there? I was so surprised I didn’t even take a photo. What’s funny is that the kids didn’t even notice us walking through their party. Must be a regular occurrence.

Great weekend, everyone…Super Bowl Sunday! I’ll be watching the commercials and maybe a little bit of the game. 🙂


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The Unique Charm of Skagway, Alaska

In 1896, gold was found in the Klondike region of Canada’s Yukon Territory, and thousands of prospectors hit the small settlement of Skagway, Alaska. By June 1898, with a population between 8,000 and 10,000, Skagway was the largest city in Alaska.

Today, Skagway has only around 1,000 people, but we found it charming. It reminded me of towns in the Old West, but with a lot more color….

I was hoping to see a lot of totem poles, but this is one of the only ones I found.

The Visitor Center. According to Wiki, Skagway’s population doubles in the summer tourist season in order to deal with more than 900,000 (!) visitors.

A popular place to eat and drink is the Red Onion Saloon. Part of our excursion was a tour of the upstairs which is the Brothel Museum.

One of the tiny rooms used by prostitutes during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s. When it hit me what we were looking at, I wanted out of there. So sad and just…creepy.

The semimonthly newspaper, The Skagway News, is published here.

This was a surprise, but I do like the color scheme going on here.

Skagway was previously a city, but is now a municipality and borough.

As you can see, there are a lot of shops for tourists.

I did like the architecture.

Later, we learned that Skagway was part of the setting for Jack London’s The Call of the Wild.

Even though the mountains were partially obscured by clouds, they looked so beautiful.

Great weekend, everyone!


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Yuri Dreaming

To my great surprise, this shot of Yuri sleeping was one of the most liked photos on my Instagram account for 2017. I guess people really like pictures of cats! He does looks pretty sweet here, doesn’t he? His mischievous side is quite hidden. 🙂

Great weekend, everyone!

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Festival of Lights at Mission Inn

I have wanted to see the Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn in Riverside for years. We finally went last week and it did not disappoint. The Inn was built in 1902 and is considered the largest Mission Revival Style building in the U.S. I have photos of the Inn taken during daylight, but will have to share them later. Too many things to do right now.

The Festival of Lights was celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. There are five million lights used in the display which covers an entire city block.

The lights come on promptly at five p.m. and this is where we were sitting when that happened.

The front entrance

There were horse-drawn carriages if you wanted. I thought they were just one color, but they kept changing….

The back entrance

One of the sides of the Inn

I really like the colors in this side entrance.

More of the same

Even the parking garage was decorated.

A little churro stand was just across the street.

This is the last post for 2017. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!


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Autumn in Portland

I made a quick trip to Portland, Ore., to see my youngest son who’s just moved there. We spent most of the time in his neighborhood, but I managed to visit Powell’s Books and Voodoo Doughnts! More on those later.

It was a great time to be in Portland, as the trees were turning….

(Haven’t seen Japanese maples since I lived on the East Coast.)

A reflection near the sidewalk in downtown Portland. There was a lot of rain before I arrived, but I got lucky because the rain stopped just before my arrival.

I wasn’t prepared for how cold it gets in Oregon. 51F during the day, but windy. 30s at night–so glad I took my warm puffer jacket. California has spoiled me for sure.

Great weekend, everyone!

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