Oh, Happy Day. . .
. . . . . . because, well, why not?
Tuesday, November 1
Monday, August 15
So much to do, so little time
I wanted to update the webpage once more before we come home, but it occurs to me that it's not the best use of my time at this point. I've got places to go, people to see so these few photos will have to suffice. We leave here in exactly one week and, while I have been blessed to be able do a really really lot of great things, there's still more I want to see and so I've got to get busy.
A car on Portobello road
Caught in the rain at Camden Town
They look as if they were dropped off the walls of the castle. . .
The one family photo in all of this--Sissinghurst
Berkeley and Jenny at Sissinghurst
Hospital Wing (Bodleian Library)
BYU info girls
Berkeley and Seraph watercolouring
Close your mouths girls, you're drooling on your shirts. . .
Andy took this photo in Kensington Gardens
And a grand time was had by all. . . (Rob would like everyone to know that he's not in fact smiling, but that his facial expression was an attempt to ruin the photograph.)
Wednesday, August 10
Once more, with feeling
So Andy and I were on the tube last Saturday on the way to see the Docklands. (Whatever that is, that's why we were going there.) We had just transferred to the Jubilee Line and gone about one stop when the announcer came on and said that there would be a slight delay as there was a package left on our train and they had to check it out. Harrumph! I'm glad they are careful and everything, but I thought, "Great, a delay." I noticed a tall guy in the corner of our car quickly look around and get off--he seemed sort of sly rather than nonchalant. I thought, "Does he know something I don't know?" Then I thought, "Yeah, he's probably been on a train where this has happened before and he knows the drill and knows that they will probably be overcautious and close everything down and everyone will have to find a different route to where they want to go and he'll have the jump on all of us." But I admit that my second thought was, "What if he's the one who left the package and he's getting away, should I have taken his picture?" (My camera is always around my neck ready to go.) Then I tried to see if I could replay the scene in my mind to see if I could remember anything about how he looked in case I was ever asked--I couldn't. Then I was kind of kicking myself for letting my mind wander like that when suddenly a huge reality check happened . . . A policeman came running from the next car and shouted, "Everyone get off the train right now-RUN!" Whoa! What a shock! Andy and I, like everyone else, just flew off that train and on to the platform--I couldn't believe how fast raw instinct took over. The people were quite amazing--almost everyone was calm. I can remember hearing someone wailing but for the most part no one even spoke. I just kept trying to keep my eye on Andy. After we were all off the train that quick the same immediate thought must have popped into everyone's head, "If there is a bomb right there and it blows up, we're still in a mess of trouble, it's time to mostly panic and run." That's when the policeman then shouted, "Don't run, stay calm, and exit quickly." Now that's much better. I then had to replay his first instructions in my head to see if he really had said run--because we all know that that's dangerous and practically illegal in America, like shouting, "Fire!" in a theatre. I say practically illegal, because if there really were a fire it would be okay to shout it out, right? Guess what? He really did shout, "RUN!" and I'm sure he meant it. After the first bombs hit, we were on the bus in Oxford and we all listened to the news reports on the radio and they were interviewing a guy who had been at one of the bomb sites and he talked about how he had been in the military for years and had learned to hear that little something in someone's voice when they are afraid or when the situation is desperate and that the announcer on his train had that whatever-it-is in his voice as he tried to get people to evacuate quickly but without saying why--he said he could just tell something was horribly wrong. That's just how it was in the split seconds of this policeman's voice first shouting out--it was like he bore the weight of the world and was trying desperately to save us from what he was sure was a bomb. His voice had the sound of real authority and true caring mixed together and it was very powerful. And people responded.
You know when Alma says, "Oh, that I were an angel"? With some people, you wish you could have a voice to shake the earth--to have the right mix of authority and caring so that the hearer would get the message and do the right thing. Does it take a bomb threat? It is so terrible when you can see clearly a situation that is very dangerous for someone and yet you know they won't listen to you or heed what you have to say. What can you do? Last night the kids were all in our flat and we were talking about what to do when someone you care about is headed straight for trouble and you know it but they won't listen or even believe you and I had this worrisome thought and said to Berkeley that we needed to establish a code word so she would know that if I ever said it to her it would mean she was in danger but she didn't know it and wouldn't see it but that I was sure of it and that she would just have to believe me and act accordingly. That her new brainwashing-bad-for-her-control-freak-love-interest-who-would-be- devastating-to-her-future-happiness needed to go and then she would be able to snap out of it and steer clear. Do you think that would work? She said no. Well, I'm telling you right now that I'm not giving up that easily, that there's got to be something I can say to penetrate the thick skin of my offspring. It will have to be a word they understand, but one I never say--it can't be a powerful word, or even a caring or emotional one, I will have already tried that. No, it has to be the ultimate word of warning, while at the same time meaning I know you don't believe me, but trust me on this--the other thing about it is that I have to be sure I'm right--or do I? Was the policeman sure he was right? No. In fact, we never heard anything on the news about it and had there been a bomb found on a train I think it would have come up, but whatever it was that made him get that thing in his voice is what I want to be able to have when my children need it. Or have I used it up on stupid stuff that doesn't matter--has the intensity of my voice when I'm bawling them out for something trivial already robbed me of my ability to communicate when it really matters? We call it rancour around here--I can't seem to make it go away when I feel strongly about something--it always betrays me.
The answer is perhaps somewhere in the thing President David O. McKay said, something like, "Never yell at your children--unless your house in on fire."
Tuesday, August 9
We are experiencing technical difficulties
Just a quick mention of a hitch in the get-along. My juliema email has been abruptly but more problematically, without warning, cancelled. (Could it be that I no longer work for the people who supply it? -- That, dear reader, is a blog for another day. . .)
So if you've sent me anything lately, I didn't get it. From now on, please send things to:
There's another blog on the way if I ever get a minute on the computer--we used to have free wireless internet access on our other 2 computers thanks to someone in the area named netgear but he either got tired of us hanging on and got a password account or he moved away--why do I say he? Maybe it was a she, though I doubt it 'cause a she would have probably named herself suziegirl or something. Anyway, now that we're down to one computer it's hard to get a turn, so it may be awhile. I have some fun new photos to add to magleby.com as well so stay tuned.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled program. . .
Saturday, July 30
The Grossest Thing in the History of Ever
This story is just too gross to be told out loud, I can only blog it. The one redeeming part of the whole thing is that in the middle of all the grossness, the overwhelming hideousness, the unbelievable nausitudiness of it all, a little thought popped into my head that provided my salvation, "this would make a good blog," and here we are. This story is true and not for the faint of heart.
The group got up early this morning and headed off to Kew Gardens and points south. I, however, wasn't feeling too well so opted to stay home and rest. At around 11 o'clock I started to feel a little better and my back was hurting from my crummy bed so I got up and decided I could just walk over to Portobello Road and take pictures and buy a treat. It all started out so well—good weather, lots of crowds, fun conversations to overhear, the corgi lady was there with her camper in her full glory (“a dog is for life, not just for Christmas”) and the grumpy guy who yelled at me for taking photos of his fruit last week had his back to me and was very busy so I could take all the photos of his better than average produce that I wanted. I had walked almost the entire length of the road taking all the detours I felt like taking, (something you can never do if you are there with someone else) and I was out in front of a place I had wanted to get a better picture of but in the past had been intimidated by the presence of the owner always out front—which is normal for restaurants around here, there is usually someone out front beckoning you to come in and eat, but this guy seemed particularly menacing and grumpy about the fact that I had a camera around my neck so I had never dared get close to his building and take any pictures. Well there was enough of a crowd to keep him busy but not too many as to block my shots so I was all set.
Now I need to digress just a little bit here to tell you something Berkeley Frances had to say after living here about a week. “You know,” said she, “they should just feed all the pigeons to the homeless people—that would solve two problems.” And this from THE animal lover of the universe. It kind of tells you a little something about the potential for a different kind of bombing that goes on around here that doesn’t make the headlines. (Although if there had been a news camera around, this probably would have) yes, yes, I believe you are starting to get the picture as it were. I’m near the walls of a building framing a shot, holding still, and SPLAT!!!! Now I need to tell you something else at this point, once when I was in Italy pigeons bombed me 3 times in the same hour. It was, in fact, the first, second, and third time it has ever happened to me. It was gross and unusual but I got over it and now, if it happens to anyone and I’m around, I tell them of that fateful day and how I’ve learned not to linger under ledges where there are pigeons present and I pretty much shrug it off and tell ‘em to get over it too, I mean, come on, how bad can it be?
Well, I’m about to tell you. If you are eating anything at all at this point, you may want to come back later . . .First of all, when it hit I was quite startled, it wasn’t like when something drips on you and you feel a little something and wonder what it was, no, this was a life event. My first thought was that someone had thrown a bucket of water/slop on me as a cruel prank or as payback for taking a photograph. I barely dared to look up for fear of seeing someone leering mockingly down at me, or worse, getting more of it in the face. But you know, sometimes pure instinct just takes over so I looked up and sure enough, there were lots of pigeons all in a row just having a lovely afternoon. This next part is kind of like slow motion—it lasted forever. So what does one do when something unexpected like this happens? First, I took stock of the situation—I knew it was bad because of how heavy the thud/splat felt, the question now remained, how bad? Well, let’s put it this way, the three hits I took back in Italy didn’t even add up to a tablespoon, this was probably a full cup and I am not kidding. I could feel the warmth of it on my head and I could also tell that it had hit my shoulder right at the spot where my sweater and white dress meet my neck and that not only had it hit said sweater and white dress, it had begun to slide down my neck, under my collar and ooze down my back on my skin! I am beyond grossed out and I haven’t even begun to comprehend the status of my hair. I am vaguely aware that there are people around me, but none of them seem to be reacting in any way—which was just fine, thank you very much, because if there had been any students with me they would have surely reacted and then there would have been a scene and I really wouldn’t have wanted that. Small favors. Notice I didn’t say tender mercies. Meanwhile, I’m standing there frozen in place trying to think of what to do. (This next part is the juiciest and when I say juiciest I mean the grossest moment of my life to date.) In fact, after I tell this part, the story kind of goes down hill, I mean, I did what I could and then walked a mile or so home and took a shower end of story -- so I guess I’ve saved the middle part to tell last, are you ready? The only thing I could think to do was to make use of my already awful (and thankfully worn today since it was slightly cloudy—a true tender mercy) sweater. So I eased out of it as best I could while constantly thinking to myself, “don’t get it on your hands.” I knew I had to do something about my hair and I had made a small purchase so I had a plastic shopping bag with me; my thought being that I could sort of wipe up my hair then put the sweater in the plastic bag, so I proceeded to find a ‘clean’ corner of my sweater and put it up to my head to try and clean myself up. Did you feel a little queasy when I mentioned the part about when it started sliding down my shirt? Well, brace yourself. There is no describing the sensation that hit me as I put the sweater to my head. When I made contact through the thick fabric, I felt my hand just slide around in a deep, deep puddle of warm goo. I couldn’t believe it—there was soooooo much muck that that pigeon should be in the Guinness Book of World Records! I mean, how can it even be possible? Can 10 pigeons let it loose all at once? Was there some kind of pigeon chain gang assigned to clean off the ledge making it safe for all pigeons everywhere? Nothing could have prepared me for that horrible feeling—oh, and did I mention the smell? The motion of trying to clean it up must have activated it somehow and that’s when I began to gag. I’m standing there in the middle of Portobello Road covered in poop and I can’t stop retching! That, my children, is what we call going from bad to worse. My eyes were bulging, I started to sweat, the nausea was building, my body was involuntarily shuddering, while all the time I was thinking, "don’t make a scene, don’t get noticed—someone might try to help and then what will you do?" To me the only thing worse than being alone with no good resources, would have been to have someone notice me and offer to help—then my mortification would have been complete, I would have had to die on the spot. The only thing I could think to do was to just get out of there and get home as fast as possible. The second thing I thought was, as I mentioned at the beginning, that this would make a great blog, was I right?
Thursday, July 28
We're back in London and although the trip was wonderful, it is good to return to almost routine. Berlin was great--the highlight for me being visiting the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
We had seen it last year as it was under construction and I was glad we got to go back--it is really something--the title is so honest and terrible. Berlin has an awful lot of history and with it a lot of baggage. I met a kindly older man from the east side and he spent 2 hours telling me how everything about the re-unification was unfair to East Berlin and how Marx and Engels were great men and how he wishes it could all be like it was before--I didn't know what to say to him--it made me sad. Another huge treat was visiting the famous Berlin Zoo. I took tons of photos and had such a great time--it was fun to see Berkeley get so excited about so many mammals in one place--she misses all of her beloved pets so much. Another worthwhile thing we did was to wait in the line to go to the top of the Reichstag building. The dome is a giant kaleidoscope-type thing that is really cool--a photography lover's dream. We had a lot of fun setting up photos in the mirrors. Another noteworthy event was an amazing meal shared with Joe and Melinda, Gary and Jennifer, (the other teachers at the Centre) Tony and Tina, the resident directors in London, and Chelita Pate, (the Coordinator of Study Abroad in Provo who happened to be in town.) She had learned about a famous restaurant that was the oldest in Berlin (from some time in the 1600's) and we ate ourselves under the table--a good reference for a restaurant is such a valuable thing in a new city--eating can be so stressful and grocery stores, while interesting, just don't cut it after awhile.
Then we went on to Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in all the world. I took hundreds of pictures but they just can't quite show how amazing it really is. There are some super touristy spots, but once you break away from those, it's peaceful, clean and still beautiful. One night I just started walking and I found block after block of gorgeous buildings and charming window displays and the only thing that would have made it better would have been if the sky had not been clouded over the whole time, thus making all my photos not quite as picturesque as I would have liked.
Sadly though, that's where we found out that London had been bombed again. First we thought the worst, then we heard it was a lame copy-cat attempt and we relaxed a bit, but now that we're home and have access to the news, it is really unnerving. Jennifer and I were on a walk yesterday and we came across this t-shirt:
and while it's a great sentiment, I do feel nervous, and I will continue to do so until the other 3 are caught. Knowing that they are still out there and their intent is to kill as many people as they can, is a terrible thought. On the other hand, Scotland Yard is really something--they have worked around the clock and they have found out so much already, that I am quite confident that they will catch them and not only that, Tony Blair does a good job of talking about it and explaining the bigger picture and he says really reasonable, sensible things and answers hard questions and I look to him as a good example of what a politician should be like--he doesn't shrink from the hard stuff and he is articulate and he can really think on his feet. Politics are so different here--there doesn't seem to be as much spin and it's feels less staged. Anyway, life goes on and our trip is nearing a close. We will have to start thinking about the real world again soon and while I look forward to it, the pace when we get home will be swift and I hope we're up to it. That's all for now, tomorrow we go to the London Temple and next week we go to Dover and Sissinghurst and that will be our last big day out. Later. . .
Sunday, July 17
So I'm just new enough at adding photos straight into a blog that I did it in the reverse order. To tell the story, start at the bottom. . .
About to start reading. . .
Here they come! (It was perfect weather and they put all the pre-ordered books outside on a table--we had them in our hands by 12:05.)
Goodbye Oxford Street, we're off to the local bookstore now.
Snape, you are beneath contempt. . .
Lots of the students dressed in black and arrived in a group--they caused quite a stir.
Andy consented to one photo. . . Rob did not. He was there though.
Right after he shook hands with Berkeley.
Berkeley was front and center and has just shaken Hagrid's hand.
All dressed and someplace to go. . .
Leaving for the party. . .