Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas and Finals

Merry Christmas everyone! 
Finals are finally over...well sort of. I still have to send in my Humanities Final that I've been working on for what seems like 3 straight days. Do you want to check it out? It happens to be a blog which you can access by clicking - Jenny's Humanities Final
We had to create a virtual art exhibit for a museum and I decided to display it through blogging. It is a far cry from my best writing, but I hope it will do the job well. 
Tomorrow, I head home to begin the craziness that will be my Christmas break. Between Christmas parties, bridal photo shoots, shopping excursions, cooking meals, bridal showers, weddings, and New Year's toasts, I hope somehow I'll find some time just to relax with my family and enjoy the magic of Christmas. It truly is one of my favorite times of the year...although I would like it a lot more if it snowed. I don't remember such a warm, bright, and snowless December. I'm still DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS.

Tonight my roommates and I are going to toast to being finished with finals and of course to the upcoming new year and semester! So in preparation for that, here is my toast to all the great things that happened this last semester:
  1. Successfully handling a job and 15 credits 
  2. Reading Hamlet for the first time
  3. Rediscovering how special my family is
  4. Best Friend's engagement 
  5. Friends pulling together through tough times
  6. Co-Workers who make me laugh
  7. Using Spanish successfully at work
  8. 2 Messiah Sing-ins
  9. A 100 on an English Paper
  10. Fun adventure in Las Vegas with Jessica
  11. Cutting my hair
  12. Weight Watchers
  13. Zumba
  14. Christmas decorations at the Apartment
  15. Cooking 
  16. Another Semester completed! 
Merry Christmas to all! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

That's my Dad!

It's my Dad's birthday today, and I have decided (a poor decision perhaps) to stay down in Provo for the weekend in order to study for my finals next week. Since I cannot be at my Dad's birthday dinner, I've decided to do a little blog spot light for the most important man in my life. 
---- My DAD----

Where do I start? I know it is an impossible task to try to capture someone in one blog post, but I am going to try to at least give you the essence of what my Dad is to me. 
My Dad is... 
      The door opening near dinner time with a deep sounding "Hello?" as my little voice yells "Daddy!!" and I run to throw my arms around his strong legs. 

Only going to bed if I can walk on Daddy's feet down the hallway

Corn dogs and Snickers Blizzards from Dairy Queen

Daddy Daughter dates to the Nutcracker

A straw hat with big sunglasses

A man of routine - News at 10, asleep by 11

My Daddy Warbucks

A Walking encyclopedia

A hard worker 

Standing on top of the playground and looking for the building downtown topped with the red lettered sign knowing that's where my Dad works

A silent server

Ice breaker Tournaments in St. George with Oreos and pull apart Twizlers

Wearing a T-shirt that said "The Best Dad in the World" colored in marker by my little hands even if it was only at the beach. 

A dog that barks around the house, but mysteriously never appears

Our resident dishwasher, snow blower, weeder, and lawnmower

U of U basketball games with a hot dog and cold sprite

Taking me to a Cher concert for my birthday

The "All I ask of You" duet from The Phantom of The Opera

The man in the tucked-in button down shirt, slacks, and an extra large umbrella standing by the goal post of my soccer game.

A humble helper

My bedroom door creaking open with a "Jennifer, are you going to school today?" to let me know i've somehow slept through my alarm. (Thanks, for making sure I was never late)

My Chauffeur to early morning basketball practice

Holding a bouquet of flowers after my performance

A compliment when I needed it most

Strong arms that give the best hugs in the whole world

My Dance partner

Our evening cookie run from the Lido deck of our cruise ship

"Mmmm...It just melts in your mouth"

Teaching me how to properly cut a steak 

Calling my mom during his lunch break every day

Shoveling a path from the car door to the church building so my mom and I didn't have to step in the snow. 

Embedding grammar rules like "He and I went to the store"

Giving me his suit coat when the chapel was a bit chilly

A Jokester at times

My Financial Accountant

Good taste in Jewelry

Waiving from outside the security line as we head off to our flight

The low snoring sound through the walls

An aspiring chef

The Best Dad ever!!

HaPpY BiRtHdAy DaD!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I am Thankful For...

While I was jumping on the tramp the other day with my niece Grace, I decided to tell her the story of Thanksgiving and then begin naming things I was thankful for. She caught on real quick and started telling me things she is grateful turkeys and watching movies.
Anyway, this got me thinking about a "I am thankful for..." blog post. Of course I am thankful for the usual things said: family, friends, health, job, God, food, etc. But here is a list of a few more specific things that I am thankful for.

My fluffy down pillows
Zumba class - "Feeling good, Feeling fly, Feeling sexy!"
Laughter - whether it's my own or someone else's
Letters addressed to me sitting in the mailbox
Love Poems
Art museums
Almost crying twice in my music class because the song was that beautiful
Boots and skinny jeans
Tampons (Sorry for the awkwardness...but really, what a great invention!)
Fresh Fruit
Grahm Canyon Ice Cream from the Creamery
Homework that includes watching a Spanish Soap Opera and an Italian film
The smell of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Cloves all mixed together
Lingering hugs
Studying the D&C this semester
The Humanities computer labs at the JFSB and the comfy chairs on the 3rd floor
Pencil skirts
A body that heals its own cuts and bruises
Sun block
Corn bags
Romper Pajamas
The words "Te Quiero"
frozen grapes
The power of the atonement
Being able to do laundry at my parent's house
Prayer and the promise that if I ask, I shall receive (Matt. 7:7)
Families that are forever
Knowing that no matter what grade I receive on my final exams, Christmas will still come!

When I really start thinking about it, I realize there is an endless list of things I am thankful for. I am truly blessed in a myriad of ways and I should have a heart of thanksgiving each day of the year. God has blessed me infinitely. The fact that I will be spending a few glorious days with a family that loves one another and supports one another is a blessing in and of itself. Then add the large smorgasbord of food we'll be eating, the friends we'll visit, the laughter we'll share, the Messiah Sing Along at Symphony Hall, and putting up Christmas decorations to the voice of good ol' Bing Crosby, and you have a perfect Thanksgiving. 
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I sure am thankful for the time you spend to read my random thoughts and experiences as I try to suck out all the marrow of life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dining on Sweet Words

We are reading poetry by Pablo Neruda in my Humanities class right now. Neruda wrote his poetry in Spanish, so I've been trying to read a few of the Spanish versions in order to improve my Spanish comprehension. 
But not just any poetry...I am a sucker for a good love poem - especially if there are lines that feel really good in my mouth when I say them. That is just something I cannot explain to people - there is a literal feeling in my mouth when I say the words that lights me up inside. They are delicious to me!
I love good imagery - words, metaphors, and similes that paint a picture. 
Here is one of the poems I read today, that I especially loved:

Here I love you. 
In the dark pines the wind disentangles itself.
The moon glows like phosphorous on the vagrant waters.
Days, all one kind, go chasing each other.

The snow unfurls in dancing figures.
A silver gull slips down from the west.
Sometimes a sail. High, high stars. 
Oh the black cross of a ship.

Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.
Far away the sea sounds and resounds.
This is a port.

Here I love you.
Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain.
I love you still among these cold things.
Sometimes my kisses go on those heavy vessels
that cross the sea towards no arrival.
I see myself forgotten like those old anchors.

The piers sadden when the afternoon moors there.
My life grows tired, hungry to no purpose.
I love what I do not have. You are so far.
My loathing wrestles with the slow twilights.
But night comes and starts to sing to me.

The moon turns its clockwork dream.
The biggest stars look at me with your eyes.
And as I love you, the pines in the wind
want to sing your name with their leaves of wire.

Wow...right? Maybe poetry isn't your thing and that is alright. It doesn't jive with everybody, but somehow it speaks to me...the image of his soul being wet, the snow dancing, and his sending kisses on the boats traveling without the promise of arrival are especially delicious. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Remember, Remember the 5th of November..."

November 5th was a day of cultural celebration for me.
The night began with the Indian Diwali Festival of Lights. Diwali includes the lighting of small clay lamps which signifies the triumph of good over evil.
My roommate, Aarti, is Indian and has introduced us to many wonderful Indian customs and festivals. The Indian club here at BYU put on this celebration that included a fashion show of Indian outfits (Aarti looked gorgeous in her Sari), Indian Food, Henna, and of course Bollywood Dancing!
Aarti outfitted us from her own trove of Indian clothes 
One thing I love about Indian style it is so bright and colorful. Not to mention, these outfits were super super comfortable!
Aarti even gave us all bindis to put on our foreheads. The bindi represents the third eye and is a spiritual point of energy for Hindus. It is also a mark to protect against bad luck.

I had to leave the Indian Festival a bit early in order to celebrate another cultural festival.
For those of you who do not know... Guy Fawkes was a Catholic who plotted to blow up the Parliament building with the current protestant King of England inside. This plan failed and Fawkes was executed for his attempted assassination. On November 5th 1605, Londoners lit bonfires to celebrate the King's escape. Since then, November 5th has been celebrated with bonfires and fireworks all over Britain. Typically Brits will burn effigies of Guy Fawkes.

A girl on my Study Abroad happens to be a direct descendant of Guy Fawkes, so she decided to hold a Guy Fawkes Day Bonfire for all of us Londoners to celebrate together.
We had someone read T.S. Elliot's "The Hollow Men" out loud and then Hannah Faux (Guy's descendant) gave a short speech.
Our larger than life sized Guy Fawkes awaiting his doom!
Part of  Hannah's speech included finishing what her ancestor could not. This is a model of the Parliament buildings made out of Popsicle sticks.
Finally, It was Guy Fawkes' turn. Since he is made purely of newspaper, he made quite a conflagration.

It was a huge bonfire!
Of course what is a bonfire without s'mores? The whole evening was culturally delicious. Thank you India and Britain for making my typically boring November 5th something to remember!  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Viva Las Vegas!!!

I'm not usually this spontaneous, but I decided to join my roommate Jessica for a little weekend spree to Vegas. Jessica has been writing a missionary for the past two years and since he was returning to Las Vegas, we had a great excuse to go to city of lights! 
We started out early Saturday morning equipped with water, peanut m&m's, two granola bars, CDs, and a tape recorder. 

Pit Stop in St. George
As we traveled through Utah, Arizona, and on to Nevada, I marveled at the beautiful red rock and the funny Joshua trees. Jessica and I both screeched a little as we finally saw the Stratosphere tower standing in the distance. When we finally arrived in Vegas, our first stop was the Venetian hotel. It was so much fun walking around the Venetian after I had actually been to the real Venice. It brought back great memories!
We asked a group of ladies to take our picture, and when they found out we were from Utah, they came in really close to us and whispered "Tell us, what are a couple of nice Mormon girls doing in Vegas for the weekend? Did you come to see Donny and Marie?" Is it really that obvious that we are BYU co-eds?

Another plus to coming to Vegas was the opportunity to visit my cousin Devin. We met up with him and he treated to a delicious lunch at the Gran Lux. Then he proceeded to be our fabulous Vegas tour guide around the Venetian. 

If that was not generous enough, he also gave us a free stay at the Gold Coast Hotel for the weekend. THANK YOU DEVIN!!!!! 
Me and Devin - the founder of our fiesta!
After checking into our Hotel and taking a quick stop at Caesar's Palace for H&M shopping, we headed over to meet Zach (the missionary) at his house. His family was nice enough to take us into their home for much of the weekend, sharing food and smiles! Later in the evening, Zach, Jessica, and I decided to go down to the Strip to see the Belagio fountains. It was magical! The water shot what appeared to be hundreds of feet in the air! I suppose dancing fountains are less expensive and more flexible than ballerinas. The song was "Time to say Goodbye"

After the magical show, we headed inside to see the Belagio gardens all decked out for the Halloween season. We also took a look at the world's largest chocolate fountain.

We had a fantastic time being with Zach and his family. He gave a wonderful homecoming address and I certainly enjoyed the seviche, papusus, and Nothing Bundt Cake that followed. YUM!! Sadly, our trip came to a close. To celebrate our last night in Vegas, Jessica and I cruised down the Strip with the sun roof open - the only way to enjoy the fluorescent lights! We topped the night off with a Frozen Hot Chocolate to share from Serendipity! 

The next morning, we grabbed our muffins (a bonus thrown in with the free room) from the Hotel coffee shop and said our final goodbyes to Las Vegas. 

Does this shot remind anyone else of Goya's "Saturn devouring one of his sons"?

"I asked for a muffin, but I think they gave me a small planet!"

It was the perfect mini vacation from school life, and did I mention it was a balmy 80 degrees while we were down there? VIVA LAS VEGAS!! We returned to Provo in time to celebrate Halloween with our roommates. With my new short hair, how could I resist being a Flapper! 

My Roommate's younger brother grew this gigantic pumpkin for us! It took 20 mins just to cut the top off! If you didn't know, the little pumpkin is Sally from "Nightmare before Christmas"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Ode to Otoño

I think I have decided that Autumn is my favorite season. I love the freshly fallen snow, the warmth of summertime, and the flowers of springtime, but I don't think anything compares to the brilliance of fall. Keats calls it
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun

I call it pure splendor! The trees are ablaze with color that sweeps over the mountains. My feet are warm in my brown leather boots, my scarf hangs stylishly over my sweater, and the crisp cold air blows leaves off the trees in a swirling dance around my body. Romantic isn't it? I think so. Another great thing about fall is that it always brings my family down for a visit. Going to see the leaves up Provo canyon has come to be an annual occurrence. We usually stop at Bridal Veil falls on our way up to the Alpine loop.
Me, Tammy, Grace, and Kevin
It was the perfect day to see the leaves. I cannot think of anything more lovely than spending time with my family in the beauty of Provo Canyon.

We stumbled upon this spectacular aspen grove. If I were a tree I think I would be an Aspen. They are white, tall, and skinny (like me!) and when the wind blows through the branches the leaves rustle as if the tree is singing. I also just love the yellow brightness of their leaves. 

If seeing the leaves was not joy enough, we paired it with Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Shakes and Burgers from Sammy's and a phone call from my best friend informing me that she is finally engaged to the most amazing fellow. 
Autumn has brought me endless joy with its falling leaves of reds, yellows, and oranges. Thank you for coming, even though you came later than I expected. I know you cannot stay long because Jack Frost is already planning his morning runs, but maybe it is your brief stay that makes me cherish you so much. Please come again next year!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The start of a beautiful relationship

I'm currently in a relationship.
I haven't been in too many romantic relationships recently, but this new relationship will hopefully stick around for a long time.
RELATIONSHIP #1 = My Body! I've been enjoying a lot of "me" time lately, especially in London, where I developed an awesome relationship with myself. I'm learning a lot about me - the way I think, the way I feel, the dreams I want to accomplish, etc.
One of the biggest things I've found in my relationship with myself, is confidence! Especially confidence in my own beauty. Before I headed to London, I was not too happy with the "freshman fifteen" that had somehow come a year late. I came back from London about 7lbs lighter and feeling awesome! How was I going to keep this weight off and also continue keeping myself healthy?
My Mom has been doing Weight Watchers (I am so proud of her) and I knew if I joined we could be an awesome support group for each other. I know what you are thinking..."Jenny, you DON'T need to go on a DIET!" True...but it is not so much of a diet as a way of life. I'm realizing what I eat every day and learning to make healthier choices. Not to mention...I've now officially lost all of that unwanted Sophomore 15 and I did it by eating everything I love.
I had a pair of Jean shorts that were so tight at the beginning of this summer. I mean REALLY TIGHT! I had to unbutton them every time I sat down because they were uncomfortable.
I tried them on the other day, and now they are a bit too big! (Yes, I did a little dance down the hall of my apartment in my new perfect fitting shorts!)
So I am developing an awesome relationship with my body!
I've started really enjoying cooking and finding new recipes. As sad as it may sound, cooking is my getaway from the craziness of homework and working. My coworker asked me the other day if I had any fun plans for the evening...I responded with "I am going to cook Lemon Herb Halibut and maybe make some zucchini cookies!" So I've started a new relationship with my food and discovered that I am becoming a pretty decent cook!
EXHIBIT A: My Success
My Next Achievements:
Three Berry Scones and Butternut Squash Soup

RELATIONSHIP #3 - Me and My Hair
It was time for a change. I decided to pull a "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and chop most of my hair off! I'm starting a brand new relationship with my hair as I discover how to style it in its new length. Mostly I just switch from curly short hair to straight short hair, but I feel like the sky's the limit now.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rite of Passage

There is a certain rite of passage that every true BYU student must go through before they graduate. 

The Y has always been a beacon for me, telling me that I am in fact almost at my destination of Provo. I love to play "Spy the Y" in the winter time because the white Y hides spectacularly in the white snow. But, I had never actually hiked to the thing.The fact that I am a third year student here at BYU and I have not hiked the Y appalls most people. Well, you can all rest in peace now because I finally hiked to that stunning white beacon on the mountainside. 

The hike is not too strenuous, but it is more difficult than I had expected. It is basically just one switch back after another, but accompanied by a beautiful view of Utah Lake and the Oquirrh Mountains. 
I hiked it with my FHE family at Sunset. The lake was absolutely glistening in the glow of the setting Sun. Once at the Y, you have the option of hiking to the bottom of the Y or the top part of the Y. I went to the bottom and hiked right up the middle of the Y, so I could boast that I truly hiked the whole Y.

Up close, the rocks smothered in white paint that make the Y look like melted marshmallows. Similar to when you make rice krispe treats and the marshmallows have not completely melted yet.
They say that if you lay upside down on the Y it feels as if you are falling off the Earth. I had to try it. I must admit that I was a bit scared of lying upside down on this huge slope, so I asked my roommate to hold my ankles. As I leaned back, I saw the sky and the stars and then the city lights. I was upside down on a mountain and it did feel a bit like falling off the Earth.

This is me falling off the earth!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Instant Relief

I started thinking the other day about all the things in my life that provide me Instant Relief.
I decided to make a list of them and this is what I came up with:

1. Letting my hair down after wearing it in a high ponytail all day long
2. That first moment when your head touches your pillow
3. Finding a bathroom when you are in DIRE need
4. Putting ice or cold water on a burn
5. A hug (long and tight)
6. Massages and back scratches
7. Drinking water when dehydrated 
8. Sinking into a hot bath
9. Pushing "print" on that final draft
10. Seeing "words" at the Testing Center (acing a test)
11. Crossing off that final thing on the To-Do list
12. A quiet moment after a hectic day
13. A "O mio babbino caro" type melody at just the right moment

There are probably so many more items I could list, but I guess this is a start. I never gave these moments of blissful sighing  much thought before, but I'm glad they happen. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years ago today...

Ten years ago today, I was in the car with my mother heading to my weekly morning piano lesson. We were listening to the radio, when an announcer came on saying that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Being an innocent girl in fifth grade, my immediate response was that this must have been some terrible mistake.
I remember saying something like, "Oh my gosh. That is terrible. I wonder if the plane was somehow flying too low and the pilot didn't see the tower until it was too late. Those towers are the tallest buildings in the world, i'm surprised nothing has flown into them before."
I don't believe I heard more until after my piano lesson...maybe my piano teacher ended up canceling or letting me off early because of the event. I don't actually remember. I just remember when I heard another plane had hit the other tower, I felt that disgusting pit in my stomach. I realized this was not an  accident. 
I felt stunned and confused. Every fiber of my body wanted this terrible act to be an accident. In my world, people were genuinely good. How could I have guessed that there were people out there who Wanted to kill all of these innocent people on purpose.
When I arrived at class, the televisions were on and they stayed on for the entire morning. This was unheard of. Those screens only ever turned on for announcements or educational movies. One of the kids pointed to the screen and said, "the tower is falling!" We all watched in complete silence, not understanding exactly what we were watching. I don't think my innocent heart and mind could completely grasp the reality of this event. It just couldn't be real.
We tried to go on with our day like any other day, but the truth is, it was not any other day. This was a day we would never forget.
It's been ten years since 9/11. Sometimes I wonder how different life would be had that day never happened. Thousands of lives would have been spared, maybe I would be able to carry liquids on planes and say goodbye at the gate instead of the security line, would we be fighting a war in Afghanistan and Iraq? I don't know. I can't live my life wondering "what if."
What I do know is that this day of terror did not destroy my belief in people. In fact, watching the fire fighters and volunteers sacrificing their own lives for the lives of others instilled a renewal in the good of people's hearts. This country banded together. I was, and still am, proud to be an American. I am grateful for those who sacrifice every day to preserve the freedoms of this country.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cheers My London Love

Where does the time go? I swear it was just yesterday that I was flying into this beautiful city completely unaware of the adventure ahead of me. However, with all these riots going on, I'm a bit relieved to be heading out pretty soon. For my final hurrah post, I've decided to make a little list about the things I am going to miss about Britain and a list about what I'm excited for when I return to America.
Oh Britain, I will miss your...
  • Public Parks full of people enjoying the sunny day
  • Accents
  • Fun playgrounds that don't have liability worries
  • Free museums
  • Student Discounts everywhere
  • Mind the Gap reminders
  • Tube rides
  • Duvettes
  • No sales tax
  • Digestive/Hob nobs biscuts
  • The Homeless men selling "The Big Issue" and not begging
  • Bueno Bars and other delcious sweets
  • Abundance of Indian and other foreign foods
  • Markets
  • Cathedrals and random ruins in the wheatfields
  • Poppy fields
  • Public pathways that cross through cow pastures
  • Sheep!
  • Having a Broadway musical opportunity any night of the week
  • Clotted Cream and Lemon Curd
  • Elderflower drinks
  • Tradition
  • Fish and Chips
  • Rompers
  • Incredibly tame dogs
  • Delicious Yogurt
  • Muelslie
  • Crazy hats and headbands

Dear America, I am so excited for your...
  • Abundance of trash cans
  • drinking fountains
  • Public restrooms that don't cost money
  • Stores open after 5:00pm
  • Wider variety of products
  • Better customer service
  • Cheaper everything!
  • Eggs
  • Real mexican food
  • Driving a car
  • Good tasting tap water and no weird looks when you order a glass of tap water in the resturants
  • Less smoky atmosphere
  • Toliets that flush completely
  • French Toast
  • Being loud
  • Lemonade that isn't sprite
Transportation construction in the middle of the night and not the middle of the day

Thanks for joining me on my journey through Britain. I hope you at least enjoyed looking at the pictures. I am so excited to return to the States on Thursday just in time for my brother's wedding on Saturday. Nothing like a wedding to welcome you back home. I believe London will always have a special place in my heart. Hopefully, I'll find myself back in this city one day. Maybe I can take someone I love to tour these special places and London can become part of their heart as well. To all the Ladies and Gents out there - Cheers!
LAST BRITISH PHRASE - "Gobsmacked" = an expression of surprise

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A most Congenial Spot for Happily-Ever-Aftering...

We just returned from our week long tour down south. For those of you who caught my reference in my title already understand that one of the main themes of the week was King Arthur. I've been singing "Camelot" all week long. Our first stop...BATH
Jumping picture with one of the professor's daughters
We began by walking around the Royal Crescent, this rounded row of Georgian houses. We played Frisbee on the lawn and then a group of us relaxed and read Pride and Prejudice out loud. Jane Austen lived in Bath for a while, but she didn't really like the city that much. I on the other hand, quite loved it.
We like big buns and we cannot lie
As we walked around the town, we found ourselves in one of Bath's oldest houses - Sally Lunn's Bun house. Basically the short story is that Sally Lunn, a young French refugee, arrived in England in 1680  and began to bake a rich round and generous bread now known as the Sally Lunn Bun. This bun became a popular delicacy in Georgian England and has become world famous. Of course, we had to get one. I ate mine with a bit of Lemon Curd...YUM!
Then we were off to the Roman Baths. The Romans actually settled in Britain before the Saxons. These Roman baths were social as well as spiritual places. This specific bath connects to a spring that was thought to have healing powers. There's lots of history and information on this bath, but I'll spare you the details for now.
So the water hasn't been touched in a very long time, so that is why it looks so grossly green. However, I kind of find the color beautiful in some ways. This picture is for my sister Tammy. She showed me a picture of her at the baths and I chuckled because she was pulling a "model" pose. I decided I had to do one as is my best Roman bathing pose.
One of the things Bath was known for was its supposedly healing mineral water. People would flock to Bath for the social scene and the chance to heal from illness. Sadly, the mineral water probably made them more sick to be honest. This belief in the water began with some Duke who noticed that the pigs with skin disease would roll in the muddy spring water and miraculously heal. He decided to try it himself, was cured, and decided to start the city of Bath. Oh the things people used to believe!

Our second stop was Glastonbury, where we toured the abbey that claims to have found the bodies of King Arthur and Guinevere. After this, we headed to the beautiful coastal town of Tintagel. We walked a 6 mile hike along the beautiful cliffs of Tintagel. It was breathtaking to say the very least. The salty air felt so welcome on my skin. I felt like Kierra Knightly in Pride and Prejudice, out on the cliff feeling the wind in my hair.

There is an old ruinous castle on one of these cliffs that people like to believe King Arthur could have lived in. The Arthurian legend does not have much historical evidence to it, but I don't know if that matters much. I believe it is the ideals of Arthur and his chivalrous knights that people cling to. I think people always need a hero like Arthur to believe in - he brings hope for peace.
Hanging off the cliff while walking around the castle ruins
Our next big adventure took us to STONEHENGE! Because we are a school tour, we were able to go before Stonehenge opens and walk right up to the rocks. This isn't allowed normally, so we felt pretty lucky. Stonehenge is mysterious to me - what were they trying to do with all these rocks? How did they transport them 150 miles? How is it that they've stayed preserved like this so long? I may never know.
After Stonehenge, we headed to the beautiful man made Stourhead gardens. These gardens are famous for the Apollo Temple, which they filmed the Proposal scene from the Kierra Knightly Pride and Prejudice in. Of course, we whipped out our copy of the book and read that scene out loud and envisioning the whole thing. The Gardens were truly lovely.

The Proposal Scene
After our trip to the Gardens, we caught a ferry to the ISLE OF WIGHT. Alfred Lord Tennyson, the poet, spent much of his time on this island. He would climb the downs, the grassy topped chalky cliffs overlooking the ocean, for pleasure and inspiration. These downs are now named Tennyson Downs and they are magnificent. Their chalky appearance sets them apart from the coastal cliffs of Tintagel.
We read a bit of Tennyson's poem about Ulysses and the Lotus Eaters. I kind of feel like Ulysses, journeying and stopping at beautiful islands and grand adventures. But, like Ulysses, I am beginning to realize my need to return home. This dream-like life that I have been living here in England has been my relaxation from reality. I've loved it. It is my lotus-eating experience, but dreams always lead to waking up. Reality and the real world waits for me to return with my new knowledge. My home and family are calling to me from across the ocean. I think i'm reading to finally go home.
Our last stop for this tour was Victoria and Albert's Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight. Of all the houses and castles i've seen over these last 8 weeks, if I had to choose one to live in, it would be this one. I think it is because it feels more homey in a lot of ways. It was a place for Victoria and Albert to spend time with their children away from the royal scene of London. I love the Victorian lovey-doveyness and ornate details. Sadly, I was not allowed to take pictures of the beautiful interior of the house. I go weak for a good romance and Victoria and Albert's is one of the best. The way I imagine their marriage is exactly how I hope my own marriage will be one day. They loved and adored each other so much. Here are two quotes from Victoria's journal that gives you a little peak into their relationship:
"It was with some emotion that I beheld Albert who is Beautiful"

"My dearest Albert put on my stockings for me. I went in and saw him shave; a great delight for me."

Please watch "The Young Victoria" if you get a'll go weak at the knees!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Being a Groundling

One of my main goals for this summer in London was to be a groundling at a Shakespeare performance in the Globe Theatre. We had tickets to All's Well that Ends Well, so I seized my great opportunity. I went early enough to grab a spot leaning right up against the wooden stage. It was a dream come true to a thespian like myself. For those of you who don't know, A groundling was a person that frequented the Globe Theatre in the early 17th century who was too poor to pay to be able to sit on one of the three levels of the theatre. By paying one penny, they could stand just below the stage to watch the play. The groundlings were commoners who were also referred to as stinkards or penny-stinkers They were known to misbehave and even throw food such as fruit and nuts at characters they did not like.
leaning on the stage!
The actors begin the show by coming to the edge of the stage and chatting with the groundlings and they tried to include the groundlings in the show whenever possible. What an experience to be able to stand up close to these amazing thespians. I was so close that I could feel a minuscule wet drop of spit from one of the actors' mouths.
I wanted to play my groundling part perfectly. I didn't bring any rotten fruit, but I did hiss, boo, laugh, sigh, gasp, and drum on the stage, when it was appropriate of course.  I had no previous knowledge of this specific show, so I loved not knowing how it would end. I chuckled my way through the show.
Here are some of my favorite lines from the play:
Mine eyes smell onions!

It is like a barber's chair that fits all buttocks

'T were all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so above me