Friday, November 28, 2008

London Love #3: St. Paul’s Cathedral

Well, really all the churches. Before the Great Fire of London in 1666, there were 97 churches in the “City of London.” I think, today, the area of greater London called “City of London” actually represents about a square mile. That’s not a lot of space for 97 churches, so the area might have been a bit larger in the 1666 definition; London itself was obviously much smaller at that time, so it might just mean “London.” (In fact, I just learned the other day how London exploded in the last 150— or maybe 175 — years with modern transportation. Before that it grew much more “moderately.”) After the fire, 51 were rebuilt by a man named Sir Christopher Wren (and then more were rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries).

Today 38 of those churches survive. The point here is: London has lots of churches. If you walk around downtown London, you’ll see one every few steps, and they’re all totally spectacular in their own way.

I love that religion is deeply seated in the culture of London, even if London is now in many ways — like the rest of the world — generally irreligious. European culture and cities are incredibly deep. It’s just part of the mix of feelings that you simply can’t avoid walking down the street. You just can’t find that in the States. There’s something indescribably powerful about being surrounded by humanity in a place where there have been masses of people for centuries. (I wish I could speak more eloquently about it, but let’s face it; this is a blog, so you are all subjected to my ramblings as they topple out of my head.)

Back to churches. Of course, London is not unique in this sense: Rome wouldn’t be Rome without the Vatican. Paris would not be Paris without Notre Dame. What's Florence without the Duomo? The list could go on. And London’s pièce de résistance? St. Paul’s.

St. Paul’s was one of the churches built by Sir Christopher Wren. It has the second largest dome in the world (after St. Peter’s at the Vatican). It’s huge. I am amazed at the amount of money, time, creativity, dedication, and other resources that went into buildings for worshipping God over the centuries. Especially when it was much more difficult and taxing. And yet it was ubiquitous. It’s compelling, beautiful and certainly demands some amount of consideration. You can’t help but think about it when you see such incredible buildings. You can just imagine how St. Paul’s appeared when all the other buildings were so small and the next tallest buildings were church spires. There is still a by-law that prevents any taller buildings from being erected within in certain radius of the cathedral.

I’ll end my post with a little excerpt from a book I’ve been reading. The description is actually about Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, but it’s fitting of all great churches I’ve visited. It explains the love I have for St. Paul’s, some portion of which is meted out into London culture, and why I’ll miss that part of London so much:

“Looking back at that moment [when I first visited], I understand that I had lived in books so long, in my narrow university setting [or whatever occupies your time], that I had become compressed by them internally. Suddenly, in this echoing house of Byzantium – one of the wonders of history – my spirit leaped out of its confines. I knew in that instant that, whatever happened, I could never go back to my old constraints. I wanted to follow life upward, to expand with it outward, the way this enormous interior swelled upward and outward. My heart swelled with it, as it never had during all my wandering among the Dutch merchants [insert your wandering here].”

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Flowers are easier.

I'm just putting some stuff out there; it's not amazing, but I kind of like some of it.

This woman's feet mesmerized me as she walked. I could have taken a crisp shot, obviously, but I thought this was more like "mesmerizing." Her shoes were so colorful.

I just liked this doorway -- but unfortunately the shot got a little washed out/grainy. (I was trying to take pictures without the flash and just get the lighting right on my own. It's harder than it sounds.)

This bird was cool. He was hanging out at an ice-skating rink.

See the coolness?

Like most everyone at the rink, he had a date. I thought this was cute -- gazing into each others' eyes.

I like the lights overhead in the picture. And the whiteness of the girl's hat.

I loved the color coming in from this window.

I just liked this when I was walking down the stairs. So I thought: "picture."

I like words and shapes.

I still like words.

I still like shapes.


This is the crest for the British monarch. "Dieu et mon droit." French for "God and my right."

I just liked her face here. I hope she's not mad at me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I have a confession. I think the Google Mail "tea house"-setting fox may be more industrious than me.

He's only been on my computer a short time and he's already watered the garden, cleaned the bird bath, pruned the rose bushes/garden, cleaned the house, slept, practiced Tai Chi, and now he's pruning a Bonsai tree.

Stop putting me to shame, Tea house Fox. Stop it. This is why I wanted to keep my settings at "classic." I just can't take it anymore!

And now he's having tea and biscuits with his monkey friend. I've found a new role model.

Friday, November 21, 2008

You gotta help me out. Yeeeeah-ah-ah-ah.

A few "OUT" photos.

And one "IN."

And one building.

And one mediocre picture of my pumpkin, even though Halloween was ages ago.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sorry if this story's redundant.

So, the other day, I was at a friend's house: showering, getting ready for the day. They were out for the morning, so I was taking it a little easy this particular morning. I come out of the bathroom: wet hair, no makeup (of course), my face a little red because I'm mildly allergic to my face lotion. (It's the sunscreen, but what can you do?)

That is when I met this person:

Oh. Hello, Mr. Supermodel Man.

The family I was staying with just forgot to mention that their best friend, who is a highly sought-after model, would be stopping by because he lives with them when he's in London. Although I felt like I was rolling with the punches, I'm sure he found my "uh... uhh... Hi..." a little funny. Actually, I don't think I was that bad. But, let's just say I was aware that I'm not a model.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

London Love #2: Riding the tube.

It's true. I love riding the tube. Sure, there are lots of people, and sometimes your face is shoved into the unwashed armpit of the man next to you. Sometimes you're jostled and shoved more than you'd like. And everything has some kind of icky, greasy coating -- sometimes black, sometimes clear. But it's great! I wouldn't want to do it every day for the rest of my life, but it's exhilarating. It's one of the experiences that makes such a huge city feel alive.

Plus, as we are all learning, I love to people-watch, and there is no better place than the tube. What I find most funny about riding the underground is watching all the people avoid looking at each other. It's the awkwardness of pretending you're alone on an elevator times ten.

I think many of the riders like people-watching more than I do, but they don't want anyone to know. You catch the end of their gaze in your direction, or watch them bashfully look away when someone else notices their glance. Sometimes I like to do the opposite: One of my favorite things to do is try to catch someone's eye and smile at them. They never smile back. I don't think it's happened once. It cracks me up.

Oh. I could go on. There are just so many things to love about the tube. The interesting stations, the voices telling you to "mind the gap," the wind as the trains rush past you. The advertisements. There is an exhibit here of the last 100 years of tube "adverts." It's fascinating.

Underground, I will miss you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, We Can.

Say what you will about his sweeping promises, his great ideas without a real plan to implement them (which I believe is probably the broadest criticism); I'm so excited to have a President who expects something from Americans, and encourages and inspires us to be more:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Part 1: Things I Love About London

I suppose my post about cloned mice doesn't really count. So, I'm starting a series: Things I Love About London. I kind of wish I had a small camera. It's hard to whip out your big ol' SLR and inconspicuously take a snap shot. However, I'm going to become better at this, so future posts can include pictures, dag-nab-it. (Even if they're only cell phone pictures.)

(Also, my pictures from class aren't that interesting right now. One week we learned all about aperture and shutter speed. The next: lenses. Basically, this means a lot of the same photo over and over with different lighting and movement, but nothing fantastic. If something fantastic comes out of it, I'll be sure to share.)

Love #1: European fashion. We're all aware that Utah has its own fashion sense: in some ways we're at the forefront of the industry; in more ways, we're not. Somehow I've always connected with European fashion -- which is not to say that I LOOK like I do. But, I wish I did.

For instance, European women rock scarves and stoles. I would love to be able to pull that off a bit more successfully, but also find scarves and stoles worth wearing. They're on every corner here. I guess that means one thing: shopping.

But, sometimes it's not necessarily the outfit I'm dying for when I think of European fashion. I mean, I'm not exactly yearning to wear a short, black sweater dress with bright blue tights, brown slouchy boots, and a brown, purple and orange jacket. Or bright-pink-and-purple-mottled knit legwarmers under some jeans, peeking out over athletic-style heels. Or a purple tank-top, grey shrug and a bright green poofy-slip-looking skirt, with black tights and blue ballet flats. And yet? I kind of dig it.

European women can wear ANYthing, and it's desirable. And so are they. How does one get that accessory? The slightly-quirky confidence. If I can only take one thing home with me, that's it. (Which might start with a purple tank-top, grey shrug, a bright green poofy-slip-looking skirt, black tights, and some blue ballet flats.)

(P.S. For more fashion things I'm interested in right now, see this post from Little Muggy.)

(P.P.S. I hope you're all voting today.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jurassic Park

was one of my favorite movies. My tiny "scrapbook" from my growing up years includes my ticket from opening night. There were lots of cool ideas in that movie, starting with graphics that redefined "special effects" to -- of course -- the idea of growing baby dinosaurs from ancient DNA.

This article (frozen mice cloned) has everyone wondering if Jurassic Park will be a reality. I'm not sure I'm that interested in the idea, but I do think the science is interesting. Check it out.