Monday, November 30, 2009

Nature Poem 2

For my English 300 class we had the chance to write another nature poem. This time I decided to write about my backyard when I was younger. This is where we would play in our tree house by the creek and have bonfires and have sleepovers on the trampoline. It was the life and this poem is just a reflection of those good times.


The eternal song of youth whistles

Through the golden grass of the past.

The stream babbles across the forest floor

Dodging every tree, root, and trunk as

Log draw bridges span the great creek bed

Paving an adventure through

The treacherous territory of the imagination.

Moss seeps through the bark of the trees

Down to the jeweled pebbles and

Up to the veined canopy above

Covering the world with a velvet sage.

Through sun, through rain, through snow,

The melody carries over the glassy pond;

Sun kissed faces reflect in the water

Only to grow wrinkled and then disappear

With he setting of the copper sun.

The moon cries fiery tales that lick

The freckles of those sitting nearest

Her warm witty embrace.

The stars bounce through the heavens

Trumpeting the wishful ode

Carried on their shimmering tails.

And off on the distant horizon the beams

Of the promised morn beckon

To the golden grass.

The London Center: A Realist View

For my Humanities class we had an assingment to write a spoof on something we studied this semester. I decided I wanted to write a sort of realist view of the London Center. It is written as a letter to my grandma and I not to sugar coat anything. So this is the litteral view of the center, perhaps the stuff you don't usually hear...

Dear Grandma,

Well I decided to write you about my adventures here in England since my time is almost coming to an end. It truly has been an adventure. I arrived at Palace Court 27 and found a charming victoiran building beckoning me into its fold. I have 13 roommates and out lives are filled with much joy and laughter, little sleep, and hairballs the size of small toasters. The mice really like us too and I often find my self waking up to the scratch scratch of their little paws. It took me about a week to learn how to flush the toilet and I have mastered the art of washing my hands. Step one: Turn on both the hot and cold spouts. Step two: apply the soap to hand. Step three: swish your hands violently back and forth between the two spouts to remove the soap so you don’t burn your hands. It has been interesting not living around any boys. I can honestly say my best male friends are the missionaries serving in my ward and a middle aged coach driver named Tony. He is great and we have had some good times together. I will really miss him. It is a funny thing to wake up in the morning and head down to breakfast in your pj’s only to sit down next to your professor who is also wearing his pj’s. I have had my fill of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches due to the unlimited supply kept in the servery. The one thing that kind of bugs me is when I walk all the way down 5 flights of stairs to get a piece of nutella toast and find that there is no nutella. We never know where it goes and some speculate that Mrs. Shepherd comes down in the middle of the night and eats it. I never feel too bad when I eat a lot just because I get such a good exercise walking up to my room I can even eat an extra galaxy bar bar on laundry days. I love being able to walk down to class in about 12 seconds but it is hard when you want to skip class. It is not like BYU when one teacher has 1,000 students and you don’t make a difference, they know who I am, where I sleep at night, and weather I am missing because I am sick or because I am lazy.

Being in London I have picked up alot of the culture in my everyday life. I can know pronounce every tube line with a perfect British accent while “minding the gap.” I know to avoid the circle line and I know how to get around with out pulling out my big map like a lost tourist. Shakespeare is idolized here the way Brad Pit is idolized in the states. I have learned to love him like an infected ingrown hair. We travel a lot on coach bus and I could write a book “101 Ways to Sleep On A Bus.” When we aren’t traveling there is wooden bunkbed waiting for me. I love the hustle of the city but I miss my family and I can’t wait to be around some other people besides 20-year-old girls. This is really what my life is! I didn’t want to sugar coat anything so you can a real view of the life here. I can’t wait to see you in a couple weeks! Hope all is well in the states. Lots of love,


Shakespeare and Biology

For my biology class we are learning about evolution. I have to admit that it is not my favorite subject... We were given the assignment to either write a paper about "What Evolution is Not" or identify the use of biology in Shakespeare's writing. Needless to say I chose to write about Shakespeare. Here is the outline of my paper. It is just kind of a jumble of thoughts right now but I could see it going great places!

Shakespeare, the Underrated Biologist

Biology is life. From the flesh on bodies to the dirt on the earth, from the full moon to the crawling lady bug, from the Redwoods in California to the bobcats in Arizona, biological forces are at work. Many figures from all walks of history have recognized biology as a predominating force in day to day life. Notably Charles Darwin, Alexander Flemming, and Aristotle have studied life and organisms to discover the nature of life and the environment. Each of these great men were either a scientists or philosopher so merit is natural; but one of the one of the greatest pursuers of the study of biology is often overshadowed because of the glory of his literary accomplishments. Who is this underrated biologist one may ask? It is none other then William Shakespeare, a man considered to be the greatest literary geniuses of the 16th century and possibly of all time. His repetitive use of biological elements in his works literally give life to his literary purpose: to define the idea that Biology “is life”.

Shakespeare depicts how biology is life though his reference to nature, nature being the literal flora and fauna of the earth. As presented in the comedy “As You Like It” Shakespeare contrast the sterilness and haughtiness of the court with the edenic qualities of the Forest of Arden. The forest is described as a lush forest filled with trees and streams. There is plenty of wildlife to eat and places for livestock to be kept. The land is fertile and good for growing crops. These biological elements help sustain yet another biological element, humans. The residents of the country not only live off of the land but are morally restored by the land. In the plot Duke Senior is a man of court but is banished into the Forest of Arden. There he realizes the importance of acknowledging and giving head to nature in ones life as a way to find peace within. He describes the court in a way that the “icy fang” and “winter’s wind” are not as harsh as the court. He moves to the forest and finds what really makes him content:

“Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,

Hath not old custom made this life more sweet

Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods

More free from peril than the envious court?

Here feel we not the penalty of Adam…”

He realizes life lived in court is incomplete because they cut themselves off from the earth. The court in this story can be compared to places in present time where people cut themselves off from nature either from circumstance or choice. It is like a student ignoring the directions at the top of test and then wondering why they did so poor. People ignore this undeniable biological force and their lives and wonder why they aren’t content. This shows how biology “is life” by the way nature sustains, supplying food and shelter, and restores, accepting nature as a dominating force, human life.

In “Romeo and Juliet” Shakespere uses the allusions to the heavens and plants and herbs to also show how Biology is life. One dominant reference to biology throughout the play is the sky. One example is found in Friar Lawrence’s speech as he describes morning as “The gray-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night, Checkering the eastern clouds with streaks of light, And fleckled darkness like a drunkard reels From forth day’s path and Titan’s fiery wheels.” The fact the sun rises everyday and sets every night is a concept definitely taken for granted. The days are divided by this, the months are marked by this, our lives revolve around this. Reading Shakespeare’s beautiful description of this rising sun is his way of slapping everyone in the face and saying “don’t take this biological force for granted!” Friar Lawrence also refers to “...herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities.” He describes the these as nutrients in a mother’s womb that “children of divers kind, We sucking on her natural bosom find, Many for many virtues excellent.” This can literally be translated as the powers of herbal medicine. Since prehistoric times the earth has been giving cures and remedies for many health problems. It was more prominent in Shakespeare’s time, as noted by “Romeo and Juliet,” but it is still practiced today as well as being the precursor to modern medicine. Both of these are elements of biology that help show the how Biology “life is”.

The idea of decay presented in Shakespeare’s 15th sonnet also conveys how biology “is life.” He states that “ every thing that grow holds in perfection but a little moment” and then it starts to decay. Shakespeare is ultimately referring to love but to understand what he is really trying to portray one has to understand decay. “Plants increase” to a peak of growth and then decay into the earth. Animals reach the height of life and then decay to death. Days peak at the height of the sun and then decay to night. Humans reach a peak in life and then it could be described as decaying into old age and then dying. Decay is biological circle and encompasses every aspect in the human perspective from emotions such love to the decay of actual lives. Social customs and holidays revolve around the cylce of decay with the celebration of birthdays and deaths and the changing of the seasons. Men try to fight this biological impact with procedures such as plastic surgery just as plants and animals try to fight it with adaption and evolution. But despite all the efforts this biological phenomena still occurs and still shows how biology defines life, or more bluntly stated, “is life.”

Shakespeare understood what a preeminent influence biology is and uses this to articulate that biology is life. Biology is the nature of the earth that provides and restores for the human body and soul. Biology is the reassurance that the sun will rise everyday and that the herbs of the earth can heal. Biology is the cycle of decay that defines the cycle of life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wales and Herefordshire

This last week we had the chance to go to Wales and Herefordshire! We went as a group to study some more church history sites.  We started out trip of in Cardiff, Wales where we just explored the city a little bit. We went to a living history museum where we learned about old Welsh communities.  It was very intersting because what they did was fid and old Welsh town and then they brought it to the museum and rebuilt it brick by brick.  The next day we picked up our guide Peter Fagg and headed back into England to learn about the history of the church in Herefordshire.  We started at Benbow farms where many of the first baptisms where perfomred.  It was the home of John and Jane Benbow and they eventually joined the church and then sold their farm to help 50 saints get to America.  They also donated money to help print the book of Mormon.  We then went to Ledbury where we stopped for lunch. We say the church which inspired Truman Angel fro his design of the Salt Lake Temple. My favorite thing we did that day was go to Herefordshire Beacon. This is a mountain in Herefordshire where Wilford Woodruf would go to think and receive revelation.  We had a really sweet moment where we sang "High on a Mountain Top."  Our last stop was at a little chapel called the Gadfield Elm Chapel.  It is the Oldest chapel in the church and it is still used today.  The church recently got repossession of it.  Since the Missionary couple wasn't there we had to answer these questions they had posted in the window to be able to get the code.  Only members of the church would be able to solve it.  I really love learning about the church here. It is such a testimony building experience to go to the places that I am learning about! I love it here!

Could you get into the Chapel???
The Ledbury Church...
The pond at Benbow Farms where 1,200-1,800 saints were baptized...
Benbow Farm...
The top of Herefordshire Beacon...


Well today we had the chance to go to a Muslim Mosque. It was very interesting. We sarted off the day walking through Regents park towards the mosque.  It is hte central mosque for London and it is pretty big. It is big building with a gold dome on top. When we go there we were met by our guide Omar.  He is a 24-year-old and he seems very accomplished for his age.  He travels all around the UK teaching to universities and other groups all about Islam. He has been to Mecca twice and he has also written literature about Islam for people learning about it. We started out tour in the big chapel area where Omar taught us a little about the prayers they say.  We watched them do their prayers and it was really neat.  They line up in straight line and go through this procession of bows.  They do this 5 times a day.  The procession starts with a cal to prayer and then them opening the prayer by a simple gesture and they go though the bows a certain amount of times depending on the prayer then they can pray about whatever they want followed by a closing of the prayer. The person leading all of this is called an Imam and they are like priests that have to go through certain amounts of training and they have to memorize large parts if not all the Qur'an,  He said there are Imam's as young as 10 who lead entire congregations because they are qualified.  We then headed upstairs so he could teach us more about the religion.  He explained that Mosques were only considered mosques if they have some type of library.  It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant just some place there are books you can study from.  He told us about his trips to mecca and the type of things you do there.  He showed us a couple of pictures and told us about the actual building they go to to pray in. It was amazing to see so many people devoted to that faith and hear the stories of Muhammad, peace be upon him.  He also told us about the prophet Muhammad and the start of religion including the marriage between him and his wife.  I really liked that story. He talked about the 5 pillars of their religion. I really enjoyed learning about the Mosque.  Omar was a great guide and answered all of our questions.  I feel like a better person for learning more about their religion.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nature Defines Nature

For my Enlgish 300 class we have been studying the affect that nature has on literature.  We have mostly been reading poetry. We recently wrote a paper on one of the poems we have been studying in class. In it we were supposed to discuss how the use of nature can relay the real message the aurthor was trying to make.  Here is my paper. Hopefully it will impress you  and my professor! Enjoy...

There are two definitions of nature.  The first being the nature of a person, the nature of a community, or the nature of any object which refers more to characteristics such as innate personality traits or inherent behavioral patterns. The second being the nature that refers to the actual flora and fauna and landscape of a particular place.  Often times the landscape definition of nature is used to characterize the nature of a person or a community. This is precisely what Thomas Gray accomplishes in his poem “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.”  A simple reading of this work may convey a picture of a lonely church cemetery but underneath the rural scenes Gray is addressing the social problems of his time.  Gray ultimately uses the nature present in a churchyard as an analogy to the social nature of the eighteenth century.

The first parallel the poem makes is the way the poor are defined by nature.  The scene opens at the end of the day with a description of the landscape and the animals and trees that cover it, “The plowman homeward plods his weary way” (3) and  darkness begins to set in. Through these simple descriptions the dominating force of nature is manifest in a peasants life.  They live their life day to day as the sun comes and goes. The plowman’s day is determined by the sun; he returns home when darkness or the elements prevent his work. Their lives have a simple rhythm with the elements of nature.  Their station in life is also defined in their working of the land.  In farming the plowman uses a sickle to “furrow of the stubborn glebe” (25) which means he creates a small trench to plant seeds into a row.  Everything grows in a straight line because it is planted there.  This is paralleled to the way the poor live.  They are planted into life with it already “furrowed” in a certain direction and the have no way to branch from it.   Gray describes a poet who epitomizes this theory. The poet is seen by the “upland lawn” (100), under the “nodding beech” (101), or by the “brook that babbles” (104) just wandering and thinking. He is lead to the places that suit his life and work. His life is simple and lead by nature. The connection of the poet and the nature is sealed when at his death he is buried into the earth that had patterned his life. 

Gray also uses nature, or rather the lack of nature, to view the life of the aristocrat.  Instead of living in parallel with nature the wealthy go around with “the boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, /and all the beauty, all the wealth e’er gave” (37-38).  They seem only to be concerned with one thing, themselves. Gray describes the life of these great men with all pomp and importance of ancestors, all beauty and accumulated wealth, no simpleness or rhythm. They live there lives shut up in their houses and churches and ignore the rhythms of nature.  Gray projects that all the counterfeit pride will eventually come to an end because all “the paths of glory lead but to the grave” (36). He is stating that all the dominant acts and superfluity is useless because eventually everyone ends in the same place, the grave. Even in death the rich fight against nature.   They chose to be enshrined in a church with “the long-drawn isle and fretted vault” (39) rather then in the earth.  The wealthy are not defined by the nature within the churchyard but rather by the church itself. They want to be remembered for their greatness and wealth and not for their deeds.  In all their snobbery and royalties, they erect “trophies” (38) and ring bells pleading with the world to never forget them.

Joining these theories about nature defining the rich and poor, two new views emerge: first, the way the aristocrats view the poor. At the start of the poem Gray describes several animals in the churchyard.   He describes an owl sitting up in a “ivy-mantled tower” (9) complaining to the moon about things wandering over to “molest her ancient solitary reign” (12). The owl represent the these aristocrats and their idea that they can look down on the poor.  They sit on their mantled thrones or in their decorated manors and tyrannize their servants and the commoners who work beneath them.  They justify their actions with their power; they believe they have the right because of their ancient solitary endowment. They view the poor as a part of nature, the very nature to whom they are indifferent and ignore. 

The second theory that emerges from the description of the rich and poor is the way society, and the poor themselves, should view the poor.  Gray discourses on the lives these poverty stricken people could live if they are given the chance.  He states “Full many a gem of purest ray serene,/The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:/Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,/And waste its sweetness on the desert air” (52-56).  The first two lines of this stanza are referring to beautiful gems on the ocean floor that no one ever discovers.  The second two lines are describing beautiful flowers out in the wilderness that bloom but no one is there to see them blush or to smell their sweet perfume.  Both the gem and the flower are there and still magnificent but no one is there to recognize it or praise them; likewise, these peasant forced to live a certain life have this potential to become great yet no one is there to discover them or praise them.  They could sway “the rod of empire” (47) and be great rulers or wake “the living lyre” (48) and become great musicians but “Chill penury repressed their noble rage,/And froze the genial current of soul” (51-52).  Their poverty, which is the very station they are thrust in to, bars them from their potential and represses any high ambitions.  

Nature is way of defining nature. In “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” written by Thomas Gray, the social nature of his time is questioned through the simple nature in a church cemetery.  Nature, such as the owls of the night and sweet smelling desert flowers, parallel the wealthy and poor and show them as the elite who look down upon the poor and the poor who are channeled into a life there is no branching from.  Gray is trying to say that social hierarchy is an ignorant cultural custom.  In the end death unites everyone, life should unite as well; yet, as Gram has illuminated, social discrepancies will divide. 


REALND!!!! Well I just got back from Ireland and had the time of my life! It was so beautiful and I just felt really connected to Dublin since I lived in Dublin, Ohio for 7 years of my life haha.  Here is just a brief summary of some of the things we did!

The first day we got there we went to see Dublin castle.  The castle part was a little but of a let down but they took us underground and showed us the ruins of the original castle and the underground river.  We were exhausted form getting up at 4 and getting our flight to Dublin so we just walked around Temple Bar (the pub and shopping district of Dublin) and found some place to eat and then we headed back to our hotel.  We decided to watch “P.S. I Love You” because the next day we were headed on a tour through the Wicklow mountains which is where they filmmed the scene where they meet!

We had to get up early and go to the tourist office to get on our tour bus.   We started driving our into the Irish country side and it was unbelievable.  It wasn’t the typical Irish green, it was still the vibrant green but then there was all of this orangey copper color everywhere (I mean it is October which means fall:) and it was just our luck that it was raining all day… it really wasn’t that bad but it was a little foggy. We saw some waterfalls and lakes and mountains.  We stopped at this little town called Laragh (pronounced Laura:) and we had hot chocolate and scones at this cute little bed and breakfast.  We stopped at the ruins of an old monastery and walked around some lakes on our way back to Dublin.  When we got back we ate some dinner and walked around the city some more.  We went and saw a movie, which was really stupid, and then we went to bed!

Again we had to get up early because we took another day trip out to the Cliffs of Moher.  These cliffs are the cliffs of insanity in “Princess Bride” and the cliffs in the recent “Harry Potter 6” that just came out.  They are on the west coast of Ireland so it was a 3 hour drive out.  They were unreal! I loved them.  We were luck that is was pretty cleat so we could see them well.  We stopped at a castle on the way back but we were so tired we didn’t really appreciate it… We got back late and went right to bed.

Saturday was our Dublin day.  We started off by checking out of our hotel and taking the train out to this little seaside town called Bray to go and see this manor house called Powerscourt.  If you have seen the movie “Count of Monte Cristo” it is the house Edmond buys when he becomes the count.  The house is just surrouned by these beautiful gardens so we just walked around.  It was sunny the whole time we were there which was so nice! I finally dried up and thawed out from the rainy days!  We made our way back to Dublin and went on a tour of Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells (this 2,000 year illuminated manuscript of the 4 gospels).  We went and ate quick and then headed to Christ Church Cathedral and went to Choral Evensong.  It was a little long but really interesting. All I have to say that I prefer our sacrament meeting any day! We went back to the hotel and picked up our bags and then caught the bus to the airport.  We arrived home safe, sound, and tired. It was an amazing trip and if any of you ever get the chance to go, GO! I can tell you all of the best places to hit!


Cliffs of Moher...
Lake at the Monestary Ruins...
Christ Church Cathedral...
Dublin Castle...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kensington Gardens

For my English 300 class we had to write a poem about nature... oh boy. I wasn't really looking forward to it but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I decided to write about Kensington Gardens since it is my favorite spot in all of London. I am not a poet by any means but here it is...

Kensington Falls

October trees line the curving walkways,

The path of a mother pushing a pram 

Shaded by the friendly sweeping boughs.

The wandering lane meets waters edge

And disappears beneath the corrugated surface

Only to be disturbed by the wake of a swan;

Reflected in the ripples lies a secret.

A single red limb whispers the sound of autumn.

The gentle brush of a hand could sweep away 

The colors of brisk mornings and thanksgiving;

Yet leaf to leaf, branch to branch, tree to tree,

The rumor of an approaching fall spreads 

Until the entire garden is aflame.

The paths puzzling the landscape lead to fountains

One of Roman times and yet another of youth.

The face of a boy plays in the burning foliage 

Beckoning the harvest to capture his boyhood 

And end the sweet sunshine of summer.

Tender winds rustle through fields of golden grass

And carry the invisible hum down curving walkways

Only to disappear through the Lancaster’s Gate. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stratford Upon Avon

Well today we went on a lovely day trip to the lovely town on Stratford, home of the Great William Shakespeare. We started the day at Mary Arden's farm.  I thought it was interesting that is was still a working farm.  I felt like I learned a lot more by seeing it rather than reading about it.  We saw some falconeering and learned about the servants as we watched them eat a real period meal.  We then headed to Anne Hathaway's house.  Anne Hathaway was the woman Shakespeare married when he was 18... she was 26... and pregnant.  I loved learning about Shakespeare's life before he was a playwright.  I also enjoyed seeing the actual cottage.  It was pretty much kept in the same condition it would have been when Anne and William were there.  It was bigger then I thought it would have been which showed that they were not a peasant family.  We then headed to the actual house Shakespeare was born in.  We went through a very interesting exhibit about him before.  It made me appreciate his lagacy a little more.  For example it said that almost at every moment of the day "Hamlet" is being performed somewhere in the world!  We had a few hours to kill after the birthplace and then we went to se the Royal Shakespeare Company's performance of "The Winter's Tale." This has been my favorite Shakespeare we have seen so far.  I loved the time period they portrayed it in and plot and the meaning behind it.  It was just a reminder of how we shouldn't judge others and the power of forgiveness.    

The Birthplace...
Anne Hathaway's Cottage...
The Winter's Tale...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The National Gallery II

Friday was nice too.  It was my month mark so I celebrated by going to the Park... ok I actaully went to the park to study, but it was still nice.  That afternoon we had the chance to go back to the National Gallery.  We just walked by paintings and talked about them.  It really was like having a live powerpoint presentation.  We studied some art from the Baroque time and them some prictures from the Rococo period.  After Dr. Soper talked to us we were able to walk around and look at some artists we are going to study.  I really am excited to learn about Turner because I really loved the colors and style.  It was neat to see some work from Van Gogh and Monet. Here are some of the pictures we saw when we were there!
One of Van Gogh's flower portraits...
Ruben's Rape of the Sabine Women...
One of Rembrants Self Portraits...
Monet's Bridge...

Friday was nice too.  It was my month mark so I celebrated by going to the Park... ok I actaully went to the park to study, but it was still nice.  That afternoon we had the chance to go back to the National Gallery.  We just walked by paintings and talked about them.  It really was like having a live powerpoint presentation.  We studied some art from the Baroque time and them some prictures from the Rococo period.  After Dr. Soper talked to us we were able to walk around and look at some artists we are going to study.  I really am excited to learn about _____ because I really loved the colors and style.  It was neat to see some work from Van Gogh and Monet. Here are some of the pictures we saw when we were there!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Road Tripin'

I love England!!!!! Seiroulsy it is the most beautiful place I have ever been.  This week we want on this big roadtrip all across Northern England into York and the Lake District.  The hills were so beautiful.  It is better then what you see in the movies because the green is sooo green.  It is almost neon, I have never seen that color in the states.  There are sheep and cattle everywhere and these walls called dry stone walls that make the hills look like pieces of a puzzle. The walls are all made by staking flat rocks right on top of each other without any mortar.  When I wasn't car sick or sleeping I was in complete and utter bliss just sitting on the coach listening to my Pride and Prejudice soundtrack looking out the window.  The whole trip was a blast.   We did so much I am going to divide it up into days...

Day 1
We drove a couple hours and stopped at the Bronte Parsonage where the Bronte Sisters lived and wrote their novels. Then we drove a littel farther and went into York to see the York Minster.  It is this beautiful cathedral that we went on a tour through and then climbed to the top of the tower that had this stunning view.  We got to our first hostel and there was this big TV room so we all just congregated and watched a movie and put dreadlocks into one of the girls hair... too funny.

My roommates in the first hostel...
York Minster...
Day 2
This was my favorite day since I have been here if not my favorite day of my whole life... ok that is an exageration, but it was really fabulous.  We went to this place called Fountains Abbey. It is this old rune of an Abbey.  It is set down in this little valley with all of this foliage and and a little creek running the length of the valley and ended in these beautiful water gardens.  We were there for a couple hours just talking picture and walking around.  It sounds boring but it was so unbelievably beautiful that I could of stayed all day. After fountains abbey we headed over to Lake Windermere, checked into our hostel and then had the rest of the day to explore. We stayed up on this hill and the lake was beautiful and we had the most amazing view of it from our bedroom window.

The View...
Fountains Abbey...

Day 3
We got up ate the same breakfast we had every morning (a full english breakfast of eggs, sausage, hasbrowns, cooked tomatoes, bacon, toast, and some black pudding something).  First off we headed to William Wordsworth home where he wrote all of his poems.  He was so inspired by the beauty of the land and you can really feel it in his poems.  We took a little scenic drive around some more of the lakes and then we kind of split up. I went with a group of girls and took a ferry across the lake to go to Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Cottage where she wrote all of her Peter Rabbit tales. We checked into our other hostel and it was right on the water and we had some fun hanging out in the town and sketching the sailboats sitting in the lake.

Day 4 
This was another great day.  We went to Preston and went on a guided tour of all of the church sites.  We saw the platform in the middle of the square where the first missionaries in England preached from and again years later where President Hinkley taught from. We saw where the first baptism were and the palaces where these early missionaries lived.  We started heading towards Liverpool and stopped in two more little towns significant to the church and at the Preston Temple in Chorley.  Then we headed on to Liverpool and checked into our hostel.  
The temple...
The Docks...
The Beatles Museum...
Day 5
We got up and headed straight over to  Albert Dock which is where all of the early saints left to head to Utah.  It was a really tender experience. We sang a verse of "Come, Come Ye Saints" and these tears just welled up in my eyes thinking about the sacrifices they went through so that I could be where I am. After that we went to the Beatles museum, to pay our respects since they did start in Loverpool. And then we headed on our way back to London.  We stopped one last time at this manor house called Chatsworth. It is the current home if the Duke and Dutchess of York but it is also in the movie Pride and Prejudice as Mr. Darcey's home (Pemberly).  It was beautiful. 

Mr. Darcy from the Movie...

It was good to get back home.  It is funny being away for so long becasue now this really does feel like my home away from home. Sunday was good too.  There was only in my class so I we just went outside and I talked to him about the articles of faith. Now i'm just sitting in class writing this blog. Good times here in England! 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tower of London and Shakespeare

Well yesterday was such a great day!  We woke up pretty early and headed to the tower of London as a whole group.  We got out tickets and headed inside and went straight to the crown jewels.  It was incredible. Probably one of my favorite things that I have done since we have been here.  I saw the biggest diamond in the world, the First Star of Africa! It was 503.2 carrots and on the royal scepter. There we a couple crowns including the Royal Crown and the crown used at the coronations. After the crown jewels we headed to do a tour with one of the Yeoman Warders. He told us about the history of the tower and about some of the people that used to live there.  He was a retired military man and was very funny, both qualifications to become a warder.  We wandered around the tower a little bit and saw where Anne Boleyne was beheaded and saw the torture chamber.  We also saw this very interesting exhibit on King Henry the VIII armor.  We headed a home a couple hours later and got ready to go to see Shakespeare’s Alls Well that Ends Well at the national theater.  It was quite interesting but I really enjoyed it.  Alot of the humor and details of the story were kind of over my head but I got the main gist of plot and I liked it!  It is basically about this girl who falls in love with this boy and through some ties with the king they are married.  The boy wants nothing to do with her and leaves to go into the army in Italy and gives his new bride some impossible demands which she has to get. It was quite funny and complicated plot.  I felt like there was an underlying theme with the costumes and some nuances that I was missing but it was still entertaining.  It was a great finish to a great day.  

A Yeoman Warder...
The Tower of London...
The National Theater...
The Play...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


hat a great day! I feel like in my life I haven’t had the opportunity to really immerse myself in other cultures. Of course there is the occasional vacation outside of the country but I don’t really think that counts.  Today we had the chance to go to Southall. This basically the area of London where all of the Indians live.  When we first arrived we got off of the train and walked to a Sikh Temple called the Gurdwara.  Dave Shuler gave us a short little run down of what the Sikh religion was and I found it fascinating.  He said that the Sikh have spiritual leaders that they call Gurus. There are no Gurus left today so they live their lives by following there book of scripture and following the 5 Ks, I will describe these later.  When we first walked in the temple we had to take out shoes off and cover our hair with our scarves.  We then proceed up the stairs into this big room where the book was sitting.  We walked up this big isle and to show respect you bow to the ground and touch your forehead to the book. We just walked up and touched the floor and then went to sit on the left side of the room with all the other ladies.  To show respect to the book you aren’t supposed to turn your back to it or point your feet to it. We had to sit cross legged on the  floor and walk sort of diagonally, it was a little tricky.  We took time to just meditate and all of these questions just started coming into my head.  It was a amazing the things you wonder about when you take time to just sit and think.  I wanted to know what the lady on the loud speaker was saying, and why there was a man fanning the book with a big white fan. I had my questions answered later that day in a little question and answer session we had in the library.  When we left the big room there was little lady sitting on the floor who handed us a lump of this warm gooey stuff which was made out of butter, flour, and sugar which was just a thank you for coming to worship.  Then we headed to the kitchen to try some indian food. The food is free and is always there for anyone that wishes to come and eat.  During the question and Answer session we were able to talk to a real practicing Sikh.  He said he had become active about 13 years ago. He told us about the religion but he said they don’t really call it a religion they call it a way of life.  There philosophy is that they don’t need to convert people to their religion because there goal is to just praise God and encourage others to praise God the best they can. He also described the 5 K’s. The turban- worn at all times to show respect to god, the comb- symbol of cleanliness comb it twice a day, Hair- never cutting tit because it is something God gave them, the knife- worn at all times to show they are willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of mankind, and the bangles- to remind them to do the work of god.  I thought it was amazing how many similarities there were between out religion and theirs when the cultural differences are so big.  We both pay tithing, we both take or shoes off in our temples to show respect, we both focus on a personal conversion to God, both acknowledge the power of mothers and their part in teaching and nurturing children, and many other things. He also told us that they don’t keep copies of the scripture in their house unless they chose to follow a strict set of rules, that is why they are encourage to go the temple twice a day.

After that we were able to go and sit in 2 more muslim temples. They were much different.  They worship many Gods and they are represented by these big ornate dolls set up all along their temples. They were all about the sparkle and the lights.  It almost felt like we were in Disneyland and not a real place of worship.  I was kind of bummed that we didn’t get to talk with anyone because I had a lot of questions about this religion as well.  After those temples we had a couple hours of free time to just explore the town.  We bought bangles and got henna.  It was fun to see these people just out and about their daily routine. We ended our excursion at this Pakistani Restaurant for dinner.  It was really great.  It was my first time having indian food and I really enjoyed trying everything.  It was a great finish to a great day.

The Gudwara...

The sweet dough...
The free food...
The statues in the muslim temple...


Monday, September 14, 2009

Pictures of Dover and Canterbury

The inside of Canterbury...
The outside of Canterbury...
The Elephant, Eagle, and Donkey in the cloisters...
The white cliffs of Dover...
View from the top of Dover Castle, if you look closely you can see the border of France in the distance...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dover and Canterbury

Wednesday was a first day trip.  We got on the bus and headed to Dover first.  We drove to along the white  cliffs and ended up on the top of this precipice and there was the Dover Castle.  We just walked around and took a bunch of pictures. We walked all the way to the tippy top of the castle and we could see France across the channel. Then we stopped at the beach just to do some gazing:)  They don’t have sand here just a bunch of rocks which I kind of like because then you don’t get sandy. Then we headed to Canterbury to pay our respects to St. Thomas Becket. These are some of some of my thoughts from my learning Journal...

Canterbury was one of my favorite cathedrals that I have seen in Europe.  Not only was it historically significant and interesting to look at, but I thought it was beautiful.  The style was not far from the regular church but it just seemed bigger. The ceilings were a little taller, the nave a little longer, it was just magnificent.  It was thrilling to see the actual change in architecture over the history of the church.  There were literally this round renaissance arches halfway cut off by a pillar from a pointed gothic arch.  Down in the crypt was also a great example of the early styles with the low ceilings and fat arches while just meters above was a perfect example of the the openness and color of the gothic style.  I loved the room in the crypt with the paintings on the walls.  Our tour guide said that several years ago there was just a wall where the entrance was and when they knocked down the wall they found the paintings.  These were the type of paintings that would have adorned the walls of the whole church back in St. Thomas’s time.  It was a little sad for me to see the damage the Puritans did when they came into the church. They cut off the heads and hands of any of the statues that they could reach and smashed in all the stain glass.  I can’t even imagine the history and art that would have been lost.

I feel a little bit of a stronger connection with the church because it has a little big of America in it.  Our tour guide showed us in the courtyard in the cloisters where there was an elephant, a donkey, and an eagle carved into the stone.  She said this was thank you to the  Americans because in WWII their library was bombed out and America was the one who sent money to help rebuild and re collect things.  I also loved the stian glass in the chapel where St. Thomas was killed.  It was a fairly recent depiction of the current queen at her Coronation as well as a picture of her family.  I was just thinking that it is so neat that we are contributing to history. For us right now it seems as though things like stain glass in cathedrals is only in history but in a couple hundred years, we will be the history

Monday, September 7, 2009

P.S. And just to clarify I picked the umbrellas because it is always kind of cloudy and rainy here:)

Welcome to my blog!

For my Humanities class I have to keep a blog of my academic adventures here so I might post some pictures of art and some of the papers I write!  That afternoon we had an assignment to go to the British Museum and the National Gallery.  It was so unbelievable. There were just tons of people everywhere. Shoppers, and tourists, and naked protestors, and street performers.  At the British Museum we were assigned to go to the Anglo-Saxon section of the museum and we got to see the Rosetta stone! For me this was a major milestone in my life. When I was younger I was obsessed with Egypt and if you know anything about Egypt you know about the Rosetta Stone… so if you if you don’t know anything about Egypt, the Rosetta stone is literally this big stone they found that has the same thing written 3 times in a row in 3 languages. On of them was hieroglyphics, hence they had a way to translate all the egyptian writings.  We also wen to the National Gallery and I saw some Van Gogh, Da Vinci, and Monet. It was so beautiful! 

So hear is my academic thoughts on some of the paintings I saw...

At a first glance it appears the subjects of these two paintings could not be more opposite; one is vain and one is divine.  The first painting being one of Albrecht Durer’s self portraits from 1500.   Durer painted just himself.  He is pictured wearing a fine robe and his cascading over his shoulders. The second being The Virgin and Child With Four Angels by one of Duccio’s followers painted about 1315. The differences in subject are very apparent, one is a self portrait and the other is a religious depiction. Durer seems as if he is trying to glorify himself while The Virgin and Child Is glorifying God.  Despite the stark differences Durer may not have been as vain as his picture may lead on. The way he paints himself suggests that he is painting the God or Jesus Christ.  He has the same frontal sitting position and the same flowing hair.  In reality both of these paintings are dealing with the divine. 

Both of these paintings are aesthetically pleasing for different reasons.  The Durer is full of neutral browns and tans with the occasional white accent which is pleasant to look at. The Virgin and Child, on the other hand, is full of characters and vibrant colors which is very interesting to look at.  Durer in the painting stands out because he is the lightest figure in the painting against a dark background while mary and the baby stand out because they are the darkest figures set against the red cloth held by two of the angels. This technique could also be referred to as framing.  One of the ways a painter draws one into the painting is by using sight lines. The most important part of the Durer painting is his face. His fingers pointing followed by the collar of his coat opening up to his face naturally brings the eye up to his face.  In The Virgin and Child painting all the angels as well as the virgin Mary are looking too the baby Jesus also bringing the observers eye to rest on the infant. One of the things Durer projects better then the Duccio follower is perspective which also is influenced by the time period of the paintings.  The self portrait seems perfectly natural while the Virgin and Child seems out out of proportion.