Saturday, December 31, 2011

Getting serious at the farm

We now have a name for this place full of goats, chickens, turkeys, a donkey, a sheep, dogs, cats, children, and adults: Evewood Lane Farm. Not only that but we have registered for a general partnership in an attempt to make this farming lifestyle into a business.

Eve-wood Lane is apparently the name of our driveway.  It's not our mailing address and nobody has a mailbox on it but the GPS recognizes it as a road.  Kind of quirky.

Some goals for the farm for 2012:
Sell Eggs (need customers and need the chickens to lay lots of eggs again)
Raise chickens for meat
Raise Turkeys for meat (haven't had a problem finding customers).
Get the garden going again - fix the fence, go through seeds and order more, plant, harvest!
Start milking goats again after they freshen (maybe by February)
Make cheese
Finish 3rd Goat pasture and shed

We will be attempting to track all of our expenses and earnings.  I don't expect to break even by any means, but hopefully the eggs, milk, chickens and vegetables will cut down on some of our own grocery costs.

So I can't wait to see what this year brings.  Happy 2012 everyone - we hope to see you at the farm.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sparkle the Shining Ninja - RIP

My little boy can slaughter a chicken and accompany Reggie the Ram to Matkins Meat Processors.  He has soldiered through the deaths of baby chicks, the guinea fowl massacre, and the failure to thrive of five baby goats.  But this afternoon after the first day of school he was floored when he heard about the violent end of our favorite chicken; Sparkle the Shining Ninja.  The boy sobbed her name over and over - all I could do was hold him and sympathize with him.  We all loved her.

Sparkle was one of our four original chicks.  We brought them home from Sumner-Byrd last August when they were only a few days old and then turned around and took them up to a family reunion in New York State.  Every day we held them and changed their bedding.  They were excellent travelers. 

Two of our original four have gone on to live at Green Dragonfly Farm.  We kept Sparkle and Timmy partly because of their personalities; partly because of the names our children gave them.  They have both gone through many changes over the last year, from brooding in their nesting boxes to exploring tall grasses.  Sparkle surprised us all by eventually flying over the fence and free-ranging it.  She would roam all the way to our doors, clucking for some bread crusts.  She also loved to explore in the garden.  Just last week, she hopped up onto the arm of the camp chair my mom was sitting on in hopes of some treat.  Or maybe she just felt like being friendly.

When I was in London this summer I read an alarming facebook message from my husband stating that Sparkle was missing!  Luckily, she was only hidden away under the tarp on my Dad’s work table incubating her baby chick.  The family enjoyed watching her lead “Baby Sparkle” all around the yard.  Unfortunately, the great outdoors is a rough place for a baby and she disappeared one day. 

Today was another tragic day.  Our dog Molli was the cause of the guinea fowl massacre and she has killed four young unnamed chickens since then.  We mistakenly thought that she could only catch the pullets and that our older chickens would be safe.  We discovered we were wrong when Jason found Sparkle in front of the hen house today.

I knew that my boy had heard the news when I heard the sobbing.  I ran in to hold him, only gaining a break from the tears when I told him I was going to bury her in the garden.  “Not in the garden!” he announced.  I suggested burying her in a corner where I didn’t plant and where the dogs couldn’t dig.  He agreed to this but said “I want to dig”.  We dug as deep as we could in the dry hard ground and put rocks on her grave to protect her.

“I miss Sparkle walking around”, Franklin told me as I shoveled some dirt on top.  I miss her too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Roaming over to Asheville

One big last Hurrah! before going back to school and getting serious about working, studying, farming, kid raising...Jason and I set off last Thursday morning to the mountain city of Asheville, NC.   Seeming to follow some sort of pattern this summer, I packed for cooler weather and ended up dragging the heat with me.  Light sweater and pants stayed in the bag and I gave thanks for my multiple tanks.
On the way in to Asheville, we stopped at a winery called Lake James.  According to the guy who owns the cheese shop in Asheville, this is one of the few good wineries in Western North Carolina so I guess we were lucky.  We did a wine tasting and couldn't resist buying a red and a couple bottles of white.  Neither of us like sweet wines, but this sweet white wine is out of this world.  It takes like a delicious sparkling apple juice and would be very dangerous on a hot thirsty day.
This coffee shop is imported all the way from London.
It's a converted double-decker bus.
But Asheville is really a place for people who like BEER.  There's the Green Man, The Thirsty Monk, The LAB, to just mention a few.  There are also many places to get freshly squeezed juice.  Of course, there is a fair trade coffee shop on every corner.  And it seems that every Asheville restaurant gets its ingredients from local farms - even the Indian street food restaurant.  Jason and I just walked from place to place trying not to get stuffed at each food joint so that we could save a bit of room for the next place. Following London tradition, I took pictures of a lot of my food and drinks:
First stop, French Broad Chocolates...

This was a cup of chocolate expresso custard with whipped cream on top.

Jason ate a packed-full-of-chocolate brownie with his standard cup of black coffee (served in a pottery mug made by a local artist)

We found this dish of seasonal vegetables, pasta, and goat cheese at an out of the way place called HomeGrown.  The bottle of wine is also called Home Grown, but it was made in California:

A little about pets in Asheville.  People love them.  Dogs are welcome at lots of restaurants and shops.  Some belong to the shoppers and some seem to belong in the shop itself.  I'm wondering about this cat below.  Is it really just relaxing in it's purple neck tutu or is has it collapsed in fury from its undignified predicament?

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Walking? I love walking!" - Jeremy Tankard

I'm missing my 4th floor walk-up London apartment.  A few more months of walking up three flights of stairs multiple times every day and I would be fit as a fiddle!  Of course, that doesn't really fit in to real life. If I had two young children and a real load of groceries to lug up those stairs, I wouldn't be singing their praises.  As it is, I'm back to willing myself to go on walks I don't have to go on.  I don't have to walk from The Elon School to The Acorn to get a cup of coffee.  I don't have to walk through the paths in the woods behind the barn.
I know I didn't have to, but I somehow spontaneously motivated myself to take two dogs and a boy on a walk to the back pasture this afternoon.  It helped that the temperature today was in the mid 80's (instead of high 90's) and that my semester/trimester hasn't officially started yet.  I have more energy now than I will in a week or two.  The boy was not happy about the walk so I sent him back with the larger dog and headed off with little Belle and asked myself as I do every time I walk in the woods "why don't I do this every day?  Multiple times every day?!?"  It rejuvenates the spirit to walk back there.  The day just falls off and curriculum planning, child rearing, and paper writing don't seem so overwhelming.  Bug bites and spider webs can't dampen the spirits while walking through the green shade.  Sometimes you can find a turtle.  Belle loves it too.
So maybe I can remember that next time I think I would rather check email or wash the dishes than go for a walk.  Getting exercise is not enough motivation for me; I need to feel that it's absolutely necessary in other ways.  We're in the process of building a goat corral pretty far back on the property, so the necessity of checking on the goats back there may be the impetus I need.  And once I'm back there, I won't be able to resist going even further.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Photobook: Cataloguing London Multimedia 2011

My very last project for London Multimedia 2011 is due today and it makes me kind of sad.  After I publish my photobook, all my official ties to this class and my classmates will be through.  Fortunately, we will still have facebook.  I have sometimes cursed but mostly enjoyed posting pictures and thoughts to this blog every day.  It's not really difficult to think of things to write about when you are traipsing around London, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Oxford, and Paris.  Something is bound to come up.

I made this photobook on my Mac with iPhoto instead of with an online program like Shutterfly or Snapfish.  I was therefore able to work on it at internet void places like the Rollerskating rink in Burlington and my house (when the internet decided to flake out).  The European Travel theme was nice to work with and the preset layouts weren't too bad.  I struggled with my desire to move things around - you can't tweak the layouts very much.  It's probably a good thing I didn't have the option to do much custom design with this program since I would still be working on it right now trying to find a way to make myself stop.  The fonts were difficult and confusing to work with but it was easy to move the pages around.  After I had almost completed the book, I decided I wanted to put my categories of pictures into a Dewey Decimal system classification scheme.  I think it works as an organizational method.  I am studying to become a professional librarian after all.

After creating the book, I exported it to itunes then uploaded it to

Cataloguing London Multimedia 2011 from Beth Lehman on Vimeo.

Hope you like it. I had a joyful time taking all these pictures and putting them together.  I think it's kind of difficult to see and read so I might redo it on Shutterfly after all.  If I do, I'll put it on another blog post.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My favorite London pictures

Dr. E asked us all to post our favorite London picture from the whole trip.  I assumed that included pictures from our time in Paris, Oxford, Stonehenge, and Salisbury so I made a folder in iphoto containing my favorite pictures from the last three weeks.  I soon realized I would not be able to make a choice with so many to select from.  So I made another folder and edited it down to my top 5 pictures that were actually taken in London.  I had to add some more limits to the pictures - they needed to be unique to that moment in time with my individual perspective.  They also needed to connect to a happy memory.  So here are the top five.  It's going to be really tough to pick one:

This was taken from a bus while our Blue Badge guide Shawn talked to us about some of the sites in London.  I was in an "experimenting with raindrops" photography phase that day so what I was focusing on was the streaks down the window.  I love that this pictures also contains a London Underground sign and a black cab.  This building facade was very typical for the part of London we were staying in.

Another picture taken while on a tour with Shawn.  This time we had travelled to the Bromley-by-Bow tube stop on the way to Olympic Park to see some of the East End neighborhood that is being fixed up as part of the preparations for the Summer Olympics 2012.  I loved seeing a part of London that people don't ordinarily travel to see.  I like the contrast of height in the picture above.

I like the look and perspective of St. Paul's Cathedral from here.  I'm including it mainly to brag about the fact that I climbed 530 steps to get to the Golden Gallery and take this picture.

We saw the play Ann Boleyn by Howard Brenton here at the Globe Theater.  We got to sit on the benches and saw the play from this angle.  The place was packed with lots of people standing in the center area of The Globe - I think it was worth standing for but I'm glad I didn't have to.  Great play and performance!

This was taken from our seats at a table at La Piazzetta: juice bar cafe, restaurant.  We found this restaurant on a Sunday when a lot of other places were closed.  It's located at 13 Neal's Yard which is within this brightly painted corner area off of Monmouth Street in the Covent Garden area.  Wonderful food, atmosphere, and colors.

OK, I can't just pick five.  I left off this picture which I love.  While we were walking around one day, I peeked down a side alleyway and saw these flower covered balconies.  I can't remember what street this was off of:

Up before the crack of dawn

Linus and Lizzie say "Good Morning"
In London the sun was up by 5:30 in the morning.  I know that because I would open my eyes, decide to go take a shower before anyone else was up, and by the time I was dressed and ready, it would only be 6:00am.  Now I’m back at Frankora Farm, USA and I opened my eyes to darkness.  Oh no, am I waking up early morning London time?  I looked over at the clock and there it was: 5:30.  Only this time it wasn’t the sun waking me up.  I wonder if this wake-up time will continue into the school year.  If it does and I can get through the day without collapsing that would be GREAT.  I had decided in London that I would love to be one of those people who only needs 3-4 hours of sleep.  Sure, a good sleep is nice but it seems like such a waste of time.  When I went to winter camp many years ago at Deering Conference Center I met a man named Gordon who could do anything - chop wood, fix cars, talk about God stuff without making you feel uncomfortable – and he said that he only slept about 3 hours a night – that’s all he needed.  At the time I thought that sounded kind of lonely or boring to be awake when everybody else is asleep.  Being what my life is now, that sounds completely necessary.  Unfortunately, I am completely exhausted by 9:00pm at night – jet lag and all.  Jason and I took the kids over to their friends’ house last night for a pool party until 8:30pm and I felt horrific on the way home.  When we got here, I asked the kids to put their jammies on, thinking I would read them a story. 

(Side note – Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mixes can hear too well.  Belle is whining because she can hear me typing from three rooms away.)

They didn’t jump to it and I in turn collapsed on the bed.  Jason walked in with panic on his face.  I tried to pre-empt any requests for evening time chores by stating how sick and tired I felt.  “Can you at least do the dogs and cats?” he asked with exasperation.  Nope (I asked Cora to do those chores).  Now I’m up and I’m sure that I will be shouldering a portion of the load in a few minutes.  There is milking the goat, feeding and watering the poultry, taking the dogs out, feeding dogs and cats, cleaning litter boxes, getting breakfast for the kids, and that’s just the stuff to do to make sure everyone stays alive.  Listing off these things emphasizes again to me that there is no way I would have been able to do my multimedia projects for my summer classes if I had done them from home.  As guilty as I felt leaving everybody at home, going to London was absolutely necessary, even with all the distractions of the city itself. Nobody asked me to get or to prepare anything for them.  I only had to worry about my own survival as I pulled coins together to get something to eat and avoided speeding taxis.  I could spend as long as I wanted figuring out how to add songs and voice to a video and cut out the original sound of the track.

So how will I do it all now?  I’m wondering if it is too late to sign the kids up for a week of summer camp since Jason and I both need to work non-stop to get ready for our classes in the fall.  My last multimedia class project will be complete and embedded in this blog by the end of the weekend so I should have a week or two off until my FSU fall class starts.  I still need to catalog all the new books for the library.  I would like to get some seeds planted in the last garden plot I made so we can have fresh veggies this fall.  I have so many books to read and reread so that I’m ready to teach them in the fall.  There are also the fun things that I’ve been looking forward to doing with my family – taking a bike ride, playing a board game, making some cookies, showing visitors around this fun place.

So back to my point – sleep.  I would really rather not and I’ll be trying to figure out a healthy way to get as little as possible.  Here’s to a 5:30am wake-up time!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Coming Home to the Rusticness...

Sunset from the plane

It’s taken two days to get from London to Alamance County, NC with a hotel stay in Raleigh.  Yesterday morning around 8:00am I had the privilege of riding the tube from Hoburn Station to Heathrow with Angela and Cassie.  
Cassie and Angela heading out the door 

It was a long ride but fortunately not too busy as we carried our heavy bags. They parted from me to go to Terminal 1 while I carried on to Terminal 3. After 14 hours of travel and a layover, my kids and husband greeted me at the Raleigh Durham airport. We went to the hotel, passed out little presents and swam in the pool.  I forced myself to participate in all these festivities until 11:00pm (4:00am London time) and managed to sleep in until 7:00am (noon London time).  It was so nice to have that time to just enjoy each others' company and get some sleep.

Now I’m home!  Ah, the American dollar, low electric current/small plugs, easy flush toilets, and strong water pressure, how nice it is to see you all again.  High fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and plummeting Dow figures?...not so happy about seeing you all.  But you have to take the good with the bad and it is so good to be home with my family.  Here are the kids enjoying some of the spoils from London:

I will miss our Bloomsbury London neighborhood with all of its Italian coffee, French pastries, and free British Museum.  I will miss being able to get around so easily with my Oyster Pass. I loved having so many theater productions right around the corner.  I can't believe I never made it to The Dr. Who ExperienceI wonder if any of my classmates ran out on our last night to see London all lit up?  We did so much in three weeks that there just wasn’t enough time to simply enjoy the view.

I am certainly enjoying the view here at home.  It is HOT but beautiful here.  The turkeys have gotten huge and are already outgrowing the coop we finished before I left.  The baby goats are growing quickly too and all the chickens looked happy to see me.  As a matter of fact, I better stop writing so that I can go out and help herd our goats and collect some eggs.  Fun London time is over now and it’s time to get back to business.  Stay tuned for my last project – The Big Photo Book.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Buckingham Palace and The End

I saw it.

Yes, I saw the dress.

Not only that but I saw the shoes, the earrings, and the bouquet.

The dress was in a huge cage on display in case anyone went crazy and tried to throw themselves onto it. It really is an absolutely beautiful dress. I had no idea when I headed out to Buckingham Palace this morning that I was going to get to see it. It’s such a hassle to get into the Palace that I can see why I never went there before. It is really nice so I’m glad we went. I kept wondering how the royal family feels about all these commoners coming through their house. Don’t you think the royals might just want to hang out in the Green Drawing Room sometime? I'm sure the Queen's private apartment is very nice too. We couldn't take any pictures inside of Buckingham Palace. The only thing I can show you in this glimmer of the chandelier through a window in the back of the Palace.

I also saw "the cake". Kalyca assured me that the bottom four layers of the cake were from the actual wedding. Everybody ate the top three layers. The audio tour explained that both the dress and the cake were made with the finest of English craftsmanship. All the lace and sugar flowers were chosen for their special significance in the language of flowers. Since William and Kate's wedding is so public, it's great that their representation of their country is tied to local craftspeople. This trip to the Palace also tied up our class nicely - the gift shop is great fun.

Everyone is packing, finishing projects, and heading out for one last trip to the pub. Have we really been here for three weeks already? We have seen so much and learned so much. Blogging, movie-making, and other forms of social media are now completely accessible to me. I'm looking forward to using them as teaching tools and to also continue this blog to communicate about the farm, reading, and future trips (fingers crossed). Goodbye London. I will miss you.

I Postered Myself

I couldn't just simply make a slideshow of my weekend in Paris.  Here is a poster about it created on Glogster.  Somehow Paris brings out the girlyness in me.

Music Citations:

Peguri, C. (1911). Pietro. On Pietro (Valse) Accordeon par Mr Peguri (LP). France: Disque Aerophone. Retrieved from

Shirai, T. (2009). She Goes to France. Japan: Bad Panda Records. Retrieved from

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Finding Henry at Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII became king in 1509 (I learned this from a mug in the gift shop).  That was more than 500 years ago but he is still so present in the tapestry of historical London.  We want to know how he thought, what he looked like when he was young, what he ate, how fat he really was.  He obviously craved power and made strategic moves to increase his power.  But what is equally fascinating (or perhaps more fascinating) was how driven by human personal pursuits he was.  At least, that is what is portrayed in plays, movies, and TV drama series.  And now at Hampton Court Palace, our FSU group got close and personal to his homelife.

Hampton Court does a great job of bringing visitors into the stories of the palace.  As part of the admission price, you can carry around an audioguide that gives you a dramatic explanation of the different chambers and the events that occurred inside.  There are also signs on the walls that provide insight into the lives of the former occupents.  If you are really lucky, you will even be able to talk to Henry or one of his many wives.  There are actors walking around in period costume, playing different characters.  Equally delightful are the gardens.  Truly a beautiful place to find the perfect shot of flowers.  There were interior courtyards for plants and expansive acres outside of the walls.

Over the centuries, many changes have occurred in Kensington Palace.  Spiral staircases and windows have been covered over, walls have been whitewashed, architect Christopher Wren came in and built additions, and some parts have been torn down.  But through the paintings on the walls and the clever museum displays all the scandalous stories don't seem that far away.  In the section of the Palace that explains Henry VIII's young life, there are three high-backed modern chairs that represent Henry, Katherine of Aragon, and Cardinal Woolsey.  As you go through the rooms, the chairs are in different positions to represent the relationships between the three people.  There are also quotes taken from correspondence that are painted on the interior walls of these rooms, bringing the emotions to life.

The Great Hall of Kensington Palace is still impressive with its ornate ceiling and tapestries.  There are long wooden tables set up where visitors can sit and enjoy the ambiance.  A touching reminder of the past is still evident in one corner of the room where an intertwined H and A (representing Henry and Ann Boleyn) in the woodwork has survived Henry's order to get rid of all traces of Ann.  This is a very dark picture, but you might be able to see the letters:

Walking to and from Hampton Court Palace, I glimpsed the nearby town buildings longingly.  That also looks like a nice area to visit.  If only we had more time to explore!  We just have one more full day before it is time to fly away from London and one more multimedia project to complete.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Remembering the Princess

The last time I was in London, Diana Princess of Wales was alive and making her last public appearance with her husband before they were to announce their split.  My housemates and I had run over to a theater on Tottenham Court Road to see her leave.  I can still remember the gasps as she exited the theater in a gorgeous pink dress.  It wasn't a surprise to hear that the royal couple was going their separate ways: they didn't even walk together that evening.  

It has been 14 years since Diana died in that horrible car crash in Paris.  London has changed in many ways since then, one of them being that it's more difficult for photographers to take pictures out on the street and this appears to be partly caused by that night and Diana's mad dash to get away from the paparazzi.  This was mentioned in a wonderful exhibit in The Museum of London on street photography.  Today we saw some other evidence of the impact this Lady has had on her city in the form of a memorial playground built because of her love of children and a memorial fountain that young and old can get their feet into.

Adults without children can visit the playground only between the times of 9:30am and 10:00am.  You can see that we thoroughly enjoyed this time.  Even better on such a hot day? – the visit to the fountain.  We could have spent hours wading along the “lazy river” type waterway, taking pictures of the water.

I wondered before I left for this country what it would be like without the People’s Princess.  It is obvious that she is strongly remembered and missed.  Somehow Kensington Palace seems to have lost much of its luster.  That could be due to the landscape renovations occurring all around it, but I think it is due to the presence that no longer lives there.  The Royal Palaces foundation seems to be trying to compensate for this by transforming the former home into an enchanted palace.  I didn’t go inside, knowing that I would miss my princess adoring daughter too much.

the enchanted garden
subliminal message

Parlez-Vous Francais?

I don’t like to squeeze too much into a trip.  Running from place to place trying to see it all and spending a lot of time on the transitions between spaces doesn’t do much for me.  But when I heard of the possibility of staying in Paris for the weekend I jumped at it.  I knew it wouldn’t be enough time to get to know the city but it could afford me the chance to try to fumble through some French and, of course, to eat le pain, la fromage, le chocolat, and drink le vin.

My classmates and I discussed the advantages of making an effort with French.  Most people in Paris know how to speak English but it’s probably rather rude to assume this.  My goal was to make it through two days by at least starting every conversation in French and seeing how long I could stretch it out before resorting to English.  The fun started when our group that was staying for the weekend ascended out of the Metro station into the Bastille square and needed to find the hotel.  It’s not easy to see all the street signs and the area is huge!  There were quite a few people milling around so I decided to give my French a try, “Excuse moi, ou est La Rue de la Chemin Vert?”  Nobody knew, they were just all heading out to get to the next restaurant or bar.  The exciting part was that they told me they didn’t know in French and I actually understood them!  That was a first.  We eventually interpreted our map and the streets and found the hotel on our own.   I tried speaking in French to the gentleman behind the counter.  He could understand some of what I was trying to say (and it was rather obvious that we were checking in) and he told me that my French was good.  I know that he was lying and that he was just being nice because he has to be.

The next day I was on my own.  My proposed endeavor to just explore the streets of the Latin Quarter, linger in cafes, and perhaps take a tour of the sewers of Paris didn’t appeal to anyone else.  It was a bit lonely but also freeing to set my own pace (too slow for most people) and it also meant that no one I knew would be around to witness my language interactions.  It was a wonderful day.  Most people that I spoke to would quickly switch from French to English.  It took an effort to respond in French, knowing how ridiculous I sounded, but I remembered my goal and kept going.  I apparently have a difficult time recognizing the number “douze” and would hear “deux” instead.  “That tshirt is just two euros?  What a bargain!”  I decided to skip the sewers since it was such a beautiful day and wandered, eating and drinking along the way, until I made it to Musee de Cluny which is the largest purely medieval museum in Europe.  Luckily, it’s not that big and it’s not that popular so I could wander around seeing most of it without much trouble.  It was already getting late in the day, so I asked the man behind the ticket stand what time it was.  With a smirk on his face the whole time, he answered me in a combination of French and English, obviously amused that I was continuing this French charade. 

Roaming the streets of Paris, you can hear all sorts of different languages and they affect me in different ways.  I love to hear people speak, especially children who sound so sophisticated speaking in French or with their British accent.  I realized while I was wandering and trying to communicate with shopkeepers that I haven’t made much opportunity to talk to people outside of our FSU group while we’ve been in London.  I think I’m embarrassed about my own flat boring voice but it would be a shame to let that stop me.  Of course, this means that I’ll need to go into many more shops, cafes, and pubs but what must be done must be done. 

So I think my language experiment went well.  I found a surprising amount of people were willing to go along with me and didn’t give me the “No.  Just speak English” response I have gotten in the past and expected. 

Paris from the top of a bus…

Friday was a whirlwind of a day.  Luckily, we spent a lot of it sitting on a bus and then sitting on a boat.  This was very necessary due to a few reasons; a wake-up time of 4:00am or earlier to catch a 5:30am train and needing a way to see a lot of sites in a short amount of time.  Aubrey, Angela, and I had finished a quick run through the Louvre, making sure to see “the biggies”, the Mona Lisa, Venus, and Winged Victory of Samothrace.  Now the big monuments swung into view as we lurched along on the double-decker open-top bus.  It was easy to get great pictures of everything.  There aren’t any skyscrapers in the way and the many bridges spanning the Seine make it easy for the bus to travel back and forth from site to site.  We all had a bus pass that would enable us to get on and off the bus at any of the sites.  We stayed on for most of them but made sure to get off for the Eiffel Tower.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to go up it since we didn’t have time and the line snaked on and on and on…It was still very interesting to get a close-up look at the structure.

I took a picture of it while I waited to go to the euphemism.

Whether you look at Notre Dame from the street, the bus, or a boat it is incredible.  I think I preferred the look from the boat since it was such a gradual approach and seems to reach up so much higher when you are down on the Seine.  The Arc de Triomphe can’t be seen from the river so the bus makes the view very accessible.  The sheer magnitude of this structure is amazing.  I could see lots of little tiny people up on top of it.  More buildings sped by – The Louvre, The Musee D’Orsay, The National Assembly, The Grand Palace, and I tried to make mental notes about where to go back to.  
The boat ride allowed us to see each unique bridge from underneath.  Our tour guide gave us the spiel on what we were seeing in French, English, and then Spanish.  Here's a little slideshow of what we saw from the road and then from the water:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Going to the Library

With driver’s license, passport, and preregistration Reader Number in hand, we all made our way over to the British Library to get our library cards.  Getting a card and looking at a book in this library is SERIOUS BUSINESS.  You have to show two forms of ID, sit to wait for your number to be called, and then meet with someone who asks you questions and takes your picture.  It’s a lot like the DMV.  If you want to look at a book, you need to reserve it ahead of time and look at it in a reading room.  The only thing you can bring into the room with you is a pencil, some paper, and a folder. 

St Pancras Station peeking over The British Library

 The good thing about trying to find a book at the British Library is that the library is required to receive and catalog a copy of every single book that is published in Britain.  So if it has been published here, you will find it.  Not only that, but the British Library contains wonderful Treasures.  They have two copies of the Gutenberg Bible, some copies of The Magna Carta, lyrics drafted by John Lennon, illuminated manuscripts from every corner of the world, some fragments of the new testament written in Greek, and more displayed in their treasures room.  I love to see text that was written by hand centuries ago before the advent of machine printing.  It is amazing how uniform all the letters written by the monks were.  You can detect lines on the paper (or vellum) so I guess they graphed out the page before writing.  Even the handwritten drafts of books from just decades ago are fascinating because we just don’t have hand-writing like that anymore.  That is truly a craft that is dying out.

An interior shot of the library.  Where are the books?
- where cameras can't reach them.

 The high point of my day - when I discovered a connection between my interest in goats and information science (at least historical book science).  As our guide through the treasures of The British Library explained the science of gilding and coloring ancient illuminated pages, he let slip that illuminators would burnish gold and precious ground stones onto the page with goats’ teeth.  Yes, you read right, goats’ teeth.  

Show us your pearly whites, Jolene

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Making a Digital Story and Going to the Globe!

Actual words for this blog coming up soon.

Oh, iMovie, how I love thee.  I had a great time making this story and I hope you like it to.  I found the song through and thought it set the tone perfectly.  It's only 1 minute and 30 seconds long so I had to do much editing to the original story I wrote about these mysterious people statues.

The Globe Theater

Tonight we are going to The Globe Theater to see a production of Anne Boleyn.  I saw The Globe from the very top of St Paul's Cathedral after climbing over 500 steps.  Here's a picture looking down on top of the dome:

I thought I had a picture of The Globe but I guess not.  The original Globe was built in 1599 and the theater we will be visiting is a reconstruction of that structure.  I'll be sure to get plenty of pictures tonight.
11:45pm  The play was incredible and just being in the space was amazing.  Our group of seats was off to the left on the ground floor (if you're looking at the stage).  I was really glad we weren't groundlings and didn't have to stand for the whole play.  The production was Anne Boleyn with an especially great performance from King James.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ginger at Stonehenge and a quick visit to Salisbury

We took a private coach to Stonehenge this morning, giving us all a chance to watch the English countryside go by.  I expected to see a lot of sheep on the way but apparently they were all having a conference around Stonehenge.  Knowing how sheep can be I let them graze off by themselves (antisocial buggers). 

My take on the mystery of Stonehenge?  It was definitely put together by aliens.  How in the world did people without cranes lift gigantic rocks and put them on top of other gigantic rocks?  Our tour guide Sean told us that ancient people carved the rocks with animal bones – impossible.  It had to be aliens.  There is a rope in a huge circle all around the stone circle and signs asking people not to cross over the rope.   It would be amazing to be able to stand in the middle of the circle and look around.  I’ll just have to be satisfied with a virtual look around the center.

That apparently was not enough for Ginger…

She is a very naughty chicken.

After walking around the rocks for a while, we headed off for Salisbury.  This cathedral is an architectural marvel sitting on supports that only go four feet down into the ground!  There was an art exhibition going on at the cathedral with scultures of realistic looking people.  Some of the sculptures were placed where holy statues would be and it created a rather jarring effect.  I was especially surprised when I turned a corner outside the cathedral and looked up to see a man in a suit holding a cup of coffee  on a ledge in the wall. 

The medieval town center of Salisbury is just so beautiful it knocks me over.  It doesn’t help that all the flowers are in bloom and cascading out of containers everywhere.  Lucky for us, the market happens on Tuesdays so we had a chance to browse around the stalls for some bargains.  I also discovered how tempting the clothing selections are at the charity shops.  I wish we had more time to explore the streets.  Tudor buildings are mixed in with gothic style structures.  Since Salisbury is a living city, all these incredibly historic places are used as shops, restaurants, and pubs.  The streets were full of people walking around talking, shopping, and eating.  My kind of place.