26 September 2010

and my crazy amazing life goes on ...

Wow, this has been an absolutely insane semester.

*runs off to do homework, yelling over shoulder for blogger to publish*

Things I have learned:

When you sigh, make it brief.
Eat quickly.
Sleep fast.
Power walk.
Practice instruments on adrenaline.
Speed read.
Be concise in conversation.
Abbreviate notes.
Relax ... um ... no, don't relax.

Okay, so that might be a bit overdone. However, the intensity of taking 18 credits, lab, philharmonia, and working 12 hours a week did catch me a bit off guard. I have learned a lot about scheduling my time, finding joy in small moments, peace in the midst of stress, and much appreciation for friends who support me! My God is sufficient, autumn is a beautiful season, and the Houghton community is an amazing thing to be a part of. As my circumstances change and I experience new phases of life, I realize more and more just how blessed I am.

This song has been a good reminder to me of the reason I live. I hope it brings you peace and reminds you of the purpose of life, just as it does me.

30 August 2010

Return to Houghton College!

I'm here!!!!!

I really could end the post there, and you would theoretically know that I had safely arrived on the Houghton campus, settled in, had at least one class, eaten in the dining hall at least once, seen at least one person I knew, and once again considered myself to be living at Houghton. All of the above is true, and so much more! It is so good to be back :) That is not to say that I don't miss my family; I do. But gchat just came out with this wonderful new invention that allows me to talk to them for free, which is a plus. Also, I just saw my mom, sister, and two of my friends from home yesterday. So, at the moment, I am perfectly content with Houghton.

In addition, I was reminded by sitting in on my first class (Biblical Greek) how much I love college! I know it might be very easy to say on the first day of classes, but as I recall from last year even when the semester was nearly over I was ready for a break, but still really liked school. Life is good. Life comes from God. God is good.

I will close with a quote I received from a girl I met yesterday. (I have really enjoyed meeting freshmen and seeing a whole new 'generation' of people coming in!)

"Ask yourself not what the world needs, but what makes you come alive. For what the world needs is people who have come alive."

25 June 2010

Finishing up at Yale

Hello All!

After the absence of a few days (which is not bad, comparing my record before that ...) I return to bid you all farewell again :) Today the program at Yale concludes, and with it concludes any and all reasonable expectation of having internet access, which gives me (and should give you) reasonable doubt that I will blog again in the near future!

I am so very glad I came and participated in this program. Not only did I learn about what libertarians believe, I was under their teaching and that gave the weight of conviction to their arguments. It was good to have the position taken seriously and I learned a lot by having them present many facets of the libertarian argument.

Well - my dad just called. Off I go, for another 2 months of adventure before I go back to college!

22 June 2010

Of Pianos and Bells and Yale ...

Last evening I was sitting in the dining hall here at Yale and debating equality, free markets, and international relations with two of the staff when someone started playing classical piano in the background. I was thinking at the time that it was one of the 'perfect' moments in my life.

After I left the dining hall I was walking to lecture and walked under a bell tower just as a Big Ben copy chimed 7 pm. The tempo was considerably faster, and the sound not nearly as sonorous as the old guy himself. It was close enough that I sat down on on the curb and thought about London for awhile. To be more honest, I missed London for awhile. But then the bells right over me started playing something else (it sounded like a Bach fugue, but I didn't identify a particular piece) and that was quite interesting. I watched for awhile and took some pictures. Throughout the next session for the next half hour or so the bells played a variety of different things. I really like the bells here.

I guess that's it for now - off to breakfast, then lectures for the morning! :)

21 June 2010

Summer Update :)

A lot has been happening in my life recently. That's probably not a good way to start a post; it's practically cliche. If nothing had been happening in my life, I would hope (and I'm sure you do too) that I wouldn't be writing.

My job is still going well, and I really enjoy it. I like talking to people, and having so much interaction with others is a lot of fun for me. I have been somewhat less than well for a week or so of it, (there is no way I'm going to say I'm sick again!!!!!!) which makes all the talking rough, but I still really enjoy it.

At the moment, I'm at Yale University (yes, the one in Connecticut ... and yes, I'm excited!) for a week-long seminar on "Exploring Liberty". We have intensive lectures and discussions, although the seminar has no homework assignments and is not graded, in an attempt to keep this a pure intellectual experience. To date it has been very good (over the last 2 days) and I have learned a lot about not only the details of economics, history, law and philosophy (the basic categories of the lectures) but also looking at the big picture and how they all fit into the American political landscape. Yes, I know that is a big statement, and no, I am not a sudden genius who can solve the world's problems. I haven't gotten that far [yet? :)]. However, I am very glad for this opportunity. Of course, being on the Yale campus is incredible, and walking through the buildings and thinking about the history and who has been here before me is literally breathtaking. (Envision me standing in a hallway gasping for air because I haven't been breathing while thinking ...) This morning the director was giving out prizes for students who arrived for lecture at least 5 minutes early and had their binders and name tags. I happened to qualify in that category, and in the drawing I won a book. It is called "Restoring the Lost Constitution" by Randy Barnett, and I think it will be an interesting read.

One story, then I have to go - last night we had discussion group, and as an ice breaker (well, more like so the monitoring staff person could get to know us; we'd been together as a group for several hours of discussion at this point) she had us state our names and an intellectually stimulating book we had read recently. I was thinking about it as my turn was coming and came to the conclusion that the best answer was the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I got mixed responses, from "good choice" to bewildered, polite nods (others were listing manifestos, Reagan's Memoirs, etc) but I explained that it got me thinking about systems of government, especially the angle of justice in the system, and since it made me think I would list that as intellectual above something that sounds very good on a reading list that I read and got nothing out of. I guess that's just one more example of how my brain follows strange paths ... you probably didn't want to know that, but then again - it was probably rather obvious already. One of my favorite things is taking an argument, even one that I agree with, and seeing if I can get a different angle to prove a point - whether it be the same, or an opposite point. Perhaps that could be called 'arguing for the sake of debate'. I don't know how best to classify it. Perhaps it could equally well be called "the things that partially insane people do to amuse themselves to the terror of solid citizens". That is probably more like it ...

Okay, I ramble. Sometimes I wonder what I was even doing to get a blog in the first place. But then again, this is a free system and I am not coercing you to read the entire blog, an entire post, or even so much as one sentence of the entry! Therefore, my compassion for your plight is small, unless you have a compulsion to read everything that you see when you open a webpage, and in that case I feel truly sorry for you, give you my deepest apologies and regrets, and suggest that you wisely block my blog so you don't have to go through this again. Unless you enjoy it. Hmm. That's an interesting thought. But that's my philosophical/psychological side coming out, and you really don't want me to go there. Trust me. I love my life, but that doesn't mean you love to hear about it! :) I hope it sunny where you are - I am enjoying a beautiful day here. I starting singing as I walked down the street from the dining hall this afternoon. In some ways, it is like being back in London. I saw a bus today. It wasn't a double decker, but it was a bus ...

06 June 2010

Summer Time

Well, I think it is only fair to say that I am no longer in Paris ... hopefully no one was under any illusions about that! I have, in fact, been home for nearly a month now and have settled into the summer routine of beautiful weather, good food, my family, and of course my lovely animals.

My time in Europe - London specifically, because I was there the longest, but all of it really - affected me a lot. I am still sorting out just how much I have changed, but I know it is a lot because there were days last semester when I was walking down the street and could feel myself changing. I would realize that I was looking at a situation from a completely new perspective, and that whatever conclusion I came to would influence me for the rest of my life. I don't know all of what will come of this experience, but I can say with complete honesty that I did not go to London for an intensive semester of learning and living (and sometimes learning about living) and come back unchanged. That, of course, is the point precisely. Nice when things work out like that!

For now ... I have a job, there are sunsets on the hill, my little goats are growing up fast, I miss my friends at school but will see them in a few months, I miss London and that is somewhat trickier since I don't know when I'll go back there, and I am learning about life from home just as much as I did in London, although it is necessarily different since I am not in a college atmosphere but a family one! Sorry for the infrequency of the updates - I must say that I have never gone so long between posts before, and this was not a goal. The reason is rather simple - I do not have internet access at home, and the library I have been checking my email at every once in awhile blocks my blog as 'social networking'. Really. :)

Until I return - enjoy your summer, don't forget to take time to appreciate the little things in life that will not be the same next summer, and God bless!

29 April 2010

29 April 2010


After a very smooth flight from Rome, I am now in Paris! Bethany and I are staying with a wonderful host family, and have seen many wonderful Parisian sights - the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Champs Elysees, grave of Chopin, musée d'orsay, Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, site of the Bastille, the execution site during the revolution, the Pantheon, and so on! Of course, there is also the Seine! Paris is beautiful, the food is delicious, and the sights are amazing. Need I say more? :)

Rome helped me prepare for the heat, with the nice addition of having a nice breeze. There isn't as much of a breeze here, although it hasn't been too bad. An ironic thing - Rome is full of wonderful water fountains, and in Paris you cannot find a water fountain. (Well, actually I've found one. That is not quite sufficient for the whole city ....)However, things have been going very well, and we have gotten a lot of exploring done!

I guess that's it for now ... so much I have seen, so much I have done ... I am really enjoying it here, and often find myself singing songs from Les Mis as I walk the streets. It is amazing to think that I am here in Paris, where there is so much history. Then too, there are very nice things like French bread, cheese, chocolate, pastry, and so on, in addition to milk, fruit, vegetables, and other things that are not specifically French but that allow me to have a balanced diet (one thing I do not need right now is to be sick ...) It is so hard for me to believe that I have been overseas for more than three months! It will actually be strange to be home :)

26 April 2010

26 April 2010

Well, another day in Rome! I went to the catacombs of St. Sebastian, which were much as I had imagined them to be ... they were narrow, the ceilings were low, and they would make me very claustrophobic to live in. Actually being there and seeing the graves of the early Christians was an incredible experience. I think that one of my favorite things about Rome is the way history is coming alive before me. Not to mention that I particularly like Roman history! After the catacombs we went down to the Via Appia Antica, or the Old Appian Way, and saw the original Roman road! I love seeing things that I have read about! When we came back to the city wall, we saw the pillar that marked the end of the Via Appia, at the edge of the city.

On our way there we had an interesting encounter with a flock of sheep and goats. I had never seen a real flock that roamed the pastures without fences before, and it was very cool. There were also shepherds and sheep dogs. The shepherds were friendly, although they didn't exactly speak English, and one helped us out by drawing a map with his staff. It was a very cool experience!

This afternoon I went with Bethany to the Villa Borghese. We didn't actually go to the museum or anything, just went to the park and relaxed. It was good to unwind a bit after several rather hectic days of running around, trying to see everything in Rome! (We did not succeed in that, by the way. Although we did get an awful lot accomplished! Including most of the sights that are 'must sees'.)

This evening we went for dinner. I had pasta, salad, and gelato ... what better Italian meal??? It was delicious. I need to figure out how to make pasta like that. I think there was olive oil on it, but I'm not sure.

Here's the Roman road! (Sorry about the taxi driver's face in the mirror ...)

“Others, I have no doubt will forge the bronze to breathe with suppler lines, draw from the block of marble features quick with life, plead their cases better, chart with their rods the stars that climb the sky and foretell the times they rise. But you, Roman [Aeneas], remember, rule with all your power the peoples of the earth – these will be your arts: to put your stamp on the works and ways of peace, to spare the defeated, break the proud in war.”
(Aeneid, 6.977-84)

25 April 2010

24 April 2010

Wow, this is embarrassing. I haven't blogged in a very, very long time. And in no way does this mean that nothing has been going on in my life! Where can I begin? It's overwhelming. Okay, I should not go this long again. It's just too hard to decide what to say, for one thing ...

On the 19th I completed the London program, thus ending my first year of being a full time college student. I can't believe it's already over! Now I'm in Rome.

Rome has more graffiti than London, is smokier, and the people are much less laid back. In London, if I had not just been quiet and not made eye contact, it would have felt strange. Here people look at you, and whistle in the streets. Oh, and they honk their horns. There seems to be some kind of thing for honking horns - it happens a lot. And they really hold it down for a long time. It would really make me nervous about road rage, except it seems to just be a cultural thing.

Gelato is every bit as good as I have always heard. And a lot better. Through various circumstances I have been able to try chocolate, lemon, hazelnut, and pistachio. They are all good, although I am not really a fan of chocolate ice cream and that kind of carried over. But it is truly good stuff. I have been having a somewhat good time trying to figure out how to get a good diet without spending money. So far it hasn't worked. Some of the time it is a game, sometimes it is just frustrating. Always it is an adventure!

So far I have been to the Vatican (including museums and the Sistine Chapel), St. Peter's, seen the Pope, seen Michelangelo's Moses, Raphael's tomb and tapestries, The Dying Gaul sculpture, the Roman forums, Imperial forums, and many other forums, Trajan's Column, the Colosseum, the Parthenon, climbed Paletine hill, and so on. It has been a few jam-packed days, very tiring, but also very fun, educational, and worthwhile!

GSTQ ... or ciao ... :)

01 April 2010

1 April 2010

So, it's a new month here in London town! It was characteristically wet, but not at all miserable :)

Tuesday night was incredible, Bethany and I went to see the Phantom of the Opera! I can't say that I found it funny or enjoyed it, but it was very compelling and I am very glad that I went. Maybe that's a drawback of being in a program like this and maybe it's a good thing - regardless, I analyze things a lot more now than I used to! (And that is saying something, for me ....)

Today was my last official day at the National Gallery, which was sad and exciting all at once. It is exciting, because that is one more thing done that means I am just that much closer to going home! At the same time, I have really liked that gallery, and if I have time I would like to go back just to look around. I did buy a little book with 200 or so pictures of paintings, that included almost all of my favorites. That way I will at least be able to look them up and remember who painted them, what they are called, what they really look like, and so on! Another week is drawing to a close ...GStQ

29 March 2010

29 March 2010

Well, now that it has been a ridiculously long time since I last blogged, I finally decided that there would never be a time here in my life in London when I would say to myself "Wow! There is absolutely nothing I can do now but blog!". So, I decided that now, when there is nothing else that I HAVE to do, would be the next best time! :)

Things have been going well here. Having not blogged for awhile I have, perhaps, gained a little perspective on the ways my life has changed since coming here. (Yes, believe it or not, I have thought about my blog! I have even thought about ways of wording this post, things I might say, and if I should apologize for having been gone for so long. This was just while I was walking down some street or taking notes at an art gallery; not exactly times I could open my blog and hammer out a post!) When I was first here I was kind of high on the newness of it; I posted hundreds of unedited pictures to facebook, rambled on about every little detail of my day, and generally was over the top with excitement. A few weeks ago culture shock started setting in, I got homesick,and the work started getting to me. I felt like I wasn't at the intelligence level needed for this program, and so on. Psychologically, perhaps, there is something to be said for why I didn't blog then ... maybe I felt like if I didn't have anything good to say, it was better just not to say it! However, it would be completely unfair and wrong to say these have been bad weeks! A little tougher, perhaps, but wonderful nonetheless! And now ... well, I'm back to absolutely loving it. I will try to recap a little.

Concerts - ah, concerts!!!!! Last week I went to the London Symphony Orchestra and heard the Grieg Piano Concerto, went to the Royal Opera House and saw the ballet La Fille mal gardee, today I went to a piano recital to hear Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and so on. I still am very much liking that part of London, and the music will certainly be one of the things I miss most.

Art - I have visited some wonderful art galleries, and seen a lot of truly amazing art. I really liked the Reubens paintings we saw awhile ago, since I have 'always' (and I use that term loosely, since I have never really been into art before this semester - maybe 'intuitively' would be a better word) like outdoors scenes; natural things like landscapes and animals. However, last week was really neat because we were learning about impressionism and for the first time I felt like I really understood it. It was amazing to look at a painting and actually get what the card next to it was talking about! Today I went to the Courtauld gallery and looked at post-impressionism art; we are onto more modern-ish art this week and it certainly is a stretch. I have a feeling that the last few weeks, when we were listening to Beethoven and Chopin and looking at art that had distinguishable features, might end up being my favorite weeks of the program material-wise. But there is, of course, still hope that I will gain an appreciation for modern art! (Although I must admit that I find it unlikely ... I will certainly try; if nothing else I am here to learn.)

Yesterday Bethany and I went out to the Heath; our first time together. We walked pretty much around the border of it, then got lost and ended up cutting all the way through the middle as well. It made for 8 or so miles of walking in the woods or at least out in the open, in fields, etc. It was so nice to get out, and the weather was beautiful! We had a lot of fun, regardless of the mud. Actually, dare I say 'with' the mud? After all, what is an adventure without any challenges? It was much more fun to maneuver around ruts, jump over creeks, and run through wet spots and up slippery banks, then just calmly strolling down a paved path. Maybe not for everyone, but for me it was wonderful! It wasn't physically relaxing, but mentally I sure unwound! It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.

Well, I guess that is pretty much it for now ... I live and learn, quite literally! and am enjoying most minutes of it :) GStQ (I have been to Buckingham Palace, by the way, and have heard them singing "God Save the Queen" for the changing of the guard. Just fyi) :)

16 March 2010

16 March 2010

So, the epic adventure goes on ... I have to say it again, I'm so excited to be in London!!!

Today was my outside day for break. For Friday we have a lot of reading due, (some poems, as well as the whole book "Frankenstein",) so I headed up to Hampstead Heath, which is a wonderful place to relax and be outdoors! It was a beautiful, amazing, lovely, gorgeous, sunny, warm, quiet, and great for a non-stressful day on break!

That was just one of the many fields that I walked through today.

I loved the reflection of the trees and sky in the water!

So, that is an example of why I like it so well there! There are open spaces, and I felt like I could breathe ... is was so nice! When I walked out the gate and back into London, there was one more aspect of my break that was accomplished - a restful afternoon that helped me to de-stress still further and unwind part of myself that gets tied into little knots from being with people constantly! That is one downside of living in such a city as London ... not that I don't like it, just every once in awhile I need something different! :) GStQ

13 March 2010

13 March 2010

Today was a very fun day! It was my first day of being here in London when I officially had nothing to do! Please note that the above statement does NOT mean that I did not do anything! I called my family this morning and was able to talk to all of them, which was very nice! This afternoon I went up to Camden Town market, which apparently is a huge tourist attraction/trap. There I saw yet one more instance of just how much I've changed since coming here. I was definitely not a Londoner. At the same time, I was not like the tourists. It was strange! I got ripe mangos, a London hoodie, and other random things such as bread and cheese for the coming week! :) It was a very fun afternoon, the first Saturday afternoon I have really enjoyed here ... GStQ

12 March 2010

My Reasons

The reason I live:

The reason I dance:

The reason I sing:

The reason I hope:

I thank God that he is my reason for existing! Without Him I certainly could not do it!

11 March 2010

11 March 2010

Well ... another week in London town, each as busy as the last! Sometimes I wonder when I have time to breathe! (Or do I ....) :)

After the St. Martin-in-the-Fields experience last Friday, I had still more musical experiences. Sunday afternoon I went to one of the Holy Trinity Brompton services, which was amazing in both music and the sermon. Again, it was a time that I actually was able to learn and feel like I got something out of the service! Monday I did reading ahead and no magging, in preparation for Tuesday and Wednesday. Said Tuesday evening I went to see The Marriage of Figaro, by Mozart! It was amazing - my first opera experience, and I loved it! Wednesday I went to a lunchtime cello recital, which made me miss my cello a lot (even more than hearing the cellos at the opera), especially since one of the pieces she played was a Bach Suite that I have played, and I knew what the fingerings/bowings felt like. (If that makes any sense.)That evening I went back to the opera, to see A Midsummer Night's Dream. I must admit that I didn't like it as well as I liked Figaro - looking forward to seeing it as a play sometime. I think a lot of it was the music - I had really been looking forward to the Mendelssohn music, since I really like Mendelssohn, and this was Benjamin Brittain. There's nothing wrong with his music, but somehow it just wasn't the same .... still a wonderful experience, though, no regrets.

Today I went to the National Gallery. There was a man out front with a yo-yo and he was ridiculously good with it! Still don't get how people can work those things .... I also went to the Tate Britain. It was my first time there, and I really liked the artwork I saw today. It was my furthest south to date on the tube (although Canterbury was, of course, further!), which was also exciting!

I have no paper due this weekend because of break, and am feeling more relaxed already! I had a wonderful evening - now time to get some rest so I can ... rest for break! GStQ

Here's a song I've been listening to a lot recently (and when I saw a lot I mean on loop ....) It is a wonderful reminder to me about how much God wants me to be fully His.

05 March 2010

5 March 2010

Wow, it's been awhile since I blogged! This was brought to my attention by a very kindly-intentioned (I think) friend of mine who casually mentioned that I hadn't blogged in awhile. Just as casually, if I ever discover that she blogs more than I do, I will make an effort to blog more often. So there. You know who you are :D

Going back .... wow, a lot has happened this week! That is my primary reason for not blogging - I have been very busy! Monday I went to St. Paul's Cathedral, as a part of the assignment. I find it funny and slightly ironic that just as I state myself as being resigned to the weather, we have a whole week of lovely sunshine! It was wonderful. I walked up to the top of the dome, which was some 500 steps, but it was so worth it to see the view! I was able to see all the way out to the edge of London and some fields beyond - it was pretty cool! The inside of the church itself was also very neat. It continually amazes me how much emphasis there is on WWII here. I have, of course, learned about it, but here there are monuments, etc. In the Cathedral there was a chapel from the people of Britain to the American soldiers who gave their lives in the war. It was very touching to see the way they appreciated the Americans; I suppose their view on the war was different since they were bombed. Or else maybe I just haven't been around people who were so directly influenced by the war and it's just that the British really like plaques and other things that commemorate occasions (the plaque thing is certainly true).

Tuesday I went to the Wallace Collection, which is an art collection that went on for five generations. Lady Wallace, after the death of her husband, bequeathed it to the nation on the condition that nothing be added or removed. It was amazing, as was the house. I saw a miniature of Voltaire, the largest collection of Marie Antoinette's furniture in the world, rooms filled with armor, paintings, and so much more! I loved it, and would like to go back some week when I have free time ... yeah, haha. Maybe when I'm old if I ever get a chance to visit London again!

Wednesday I went to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, which is thousands of paintings. I realized something most inconvenient - I'm developing this problem called an appreciation for art, which makes it quite impossible to glance at something and check it off the list! Actually, I'm thankful for it. I am slowly learning the things to look for, and it is very exciting to look at a painting and see more than some random guy who has been dead for four hundred years.

Thursday I went down to the Banqueting House at Whitehall. I learned that it was the site of the execution of Charles I, as well as a place for masques (drama), ambassador parties, and so on. It was a beautiful room, being as high as it is wide, and exactly twice as long. There were also nine huge, beautiful paintings on the ceiling. I really liked it there; it was very peaceful and calming. The downside was that during the hour or so I was listening to the audio guide tour on a nice soft bench by a large window, I nearly fell asleep! However, I made it out just fine. I walked out just a little before 4, right across from the Horse Guards Palace. Since they have their inspection daily at 4, of course I stayed! It was really neat, and reminded me a lot of the changing of the guard at Prague Castle: very elaborate, ordered, and interesting! I also went to the Science Museum, which was (for even a non-science person like me!) fascinating. There were all these life size people in model situations - a store, open heart surgery, dentist, x-ray machine, and so on. It was startling every time, although I knew they were fakes! I would look in and think 'oh, someone's fixing the exhibit' - then realize that they were after all just more real looking plastic people! The evening was also a lot of fun; I went to the church and practiced for chapel with Joia. We played the pipe organ, keyboard, she played her violin, and we both sang. The church had really good acoustics, and it was a pleasure to make music in there! It was one of the only times I had really sung with all my heart since coming to London. I loved it.

Today was plenary, and this afternoon I went to Hampstead Heath. It was wild and wonderful, and I felt so at home! I sat on a bench dedicated to a man 'who enjoyed his daily walks here' and thought that I could enjoy daily walks there, too! I hadn't had so much fun getting muddy since I was rather young! This evening our whole group went to St. Martin's Church-in-the-Fields for a chamber music concert - works by Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. It was very relaxing and well done, although when they started tuning I started really missing my cello! Ah well, I shall be home sometime .... :)

If you are still reading, then I congratulate you for making it through the week! I found it to be busy and, although somewhat stressful, a lot of fun. The places we went and the things we read I really enjoyed, for the most part. Now for the weekend: paper! GStQ

28 February 2010

28 February 2010

Today was another rainy day in London! I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that a sunny day is the exception and not the rule :) I had been retaining some irrational hope that I had just appeared in a rainy time and that soon things would change ... but today I finally accepted that it wasn't going to happen! So, now I have to figure out what it is that I love about rain!

After church this morning I went for another walk around the city. I went out to the east side of London, where I had never been before, and wandered around for a few hours. Part of the wandering was due to the fact that my map doesn't go that far north, and thus I was going off of extremely general bus route maps (as in, 'oh, that way is south; I know that I need to go that direction to get down to where I want to be'*tries to find a road that turns right* and such.)I eventually made my way down to St. Paul's Cathedral in time for the Sunday afternoon organ recital. It was one of the organists from a church in Leicester Square, and he was quite good. After that I took the bus home, in the mist. It was wonderful to get out and clear my head. Looking forward to another week. Happy end of February! GStQ

27 February 2010

We're All in this Together

This is a video clip done by Houghton College last spring. Again ... I love my college.

25 February 2010

25 February 2010

Today I want to talk about food in London. After my wonderful (re)discovery of cookies and milk yesterday, I have gotten thinking about food in London. Then, today turned out to be a perfect time to write about it! The first thing that needs to be known about London ‘fun food’ is the biscuits (or cookies, as they are called in the States!). The two kinds that must be tried are digestives, which sound horrible, but are really just crispy, delicious cookies. Try the chocolate covered kind, as well as the plain. They are especially good with tea, and with peppermint tea they are somewhat reminiscent of chocolate mint … don’t get me started! The other kind that needs to be tried is Fox’s Creams. There are many different varieties that are all worth trying; my favorites are the ginger ones. The chocolate ones are also excellent, and pretty much taste like chocolate that looks like a cookie. Sainsbury’s chocolate is also amazing and cheap; try the dark chocolate. And that is saying something, since I’m not huge into chocolate!

Tea is a must. I liked tea before coming here, and it’s only gotten ‘worse’ now … dare I say a necessity? I drink it quite a bit while doing my readings or while writing my paper, and especially while being sick I feel like I've had some at hand most of the time! I have two kinds of mint tea, since I love mint, and alternate between them. I also drink tea for breakfast about 6 mornings out of 7. When the professors have us over, they always have tea and usually some kind of cake. For our plenary breaks we have tea and coffee available with digestives. For our Saturday afternoon breaks our TA’s bring around hot chocolate and tea. Common kinds of tea are Earl Grey, black tea, fruit and herbal.

Pasties are something that must be tried. Cheese and onion pasties from Sainsbury’s are wonderful on long walks, especially over a meal time, and do not need to be hot to be delicious! There are also meat pasties, vegetable pasties, and I know not what else. I haven’t tried many of these, since most of my meals I eat at the Highbury Centre. But it is something that I would recommend. This evening, I tried yet another thing that was distinctly British. I went to a pub with 7 other girls and ordered fish and chips. Bethany took a picture of me in a pub with a pint of … water! :) It was so much fun to have real British fish and chips after hearing about them for so long, both here from others in the group, and back in the states.

So, there’s a little of British food as I have tried it! Of course, they have things like bread and peanut butter for students that can’t afford to always be trying wonderful things … but at least it’s available for fun times! GStQ

23 February 2010

23 February 2010

This morning I woke up, had breakfast, did reading, and stopped to look at the clock. It was quarter of ten, and I needed to go to the store at some point. The store is about 3/4 of a mile away, so I decided to go for it. I made the round trip in half an hour, which is some kind of FYHP record. (In case FYHP isn't an accrynom I've explained before, it stands for First Year Honors Program and refers to the fact that the London program is for first year students.) It is the common way we refer to the program! I got tissues, (having used a box of 150 in 2 days ...) cranberry juice, organic yogurt, and more tea. I got back and felt better having been outside. We had colloquy on Luther, then I had lunch and settled to reading for the afternoon. I ended up falling asleep on my book (oops....) and took a 2 hour nap, then finished my reading. I felt so much better after waking up, and am hopeful of recovering soon! GStQ

This is from London ... oh, how I love living here (no, I didn't see this personally, just found it!)

22 February 2010

22 February 2010

This morning was plenary - on the reformation! We learned about Martin Luther, John Calvin, Henry VIII (including wives) - somewhere in between the end of the Late Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern, according to Mr. Prof! Being sick I wasn't into it was much as usual, and only managed to take about 10 pages of notes. Sometimes I felt so listless, but I think I pretty much got what was going on. The afternoon was pretty quiet; I read Luther and thought about it and read more and thought about it - the ideas were new to me, but I really liked it, and definitely have to check this out in the Bible now! We had tomato soup for dinner. I feel sorry for some of my friends here who do not like tomato soup; they are missing out and I try not to feel guilty for really enjoying it ... they do make good soup here! London was rainy, but not nasty and although I'm not feeling all that well I am still very glad to be here! GStQ

21 February 2010

21 February 2010

I know it's early in the morning, but I wanted to post about my morning!

Last night Bethany and I decided to go to St. Augustine's Church, which is a Church of England church about a ten minute's walk from here. It was raining this morning, so we hiked off with our umbrellas, and got down there in plenty of time. When we got there, though, we found a sign on the door stating that there would be no service there this morning. They were celebrating with another church 20 minutes away. Since the service at St. Augustine's that we had been planning to attend was at 10:30, we didn't have time to get anywhere else. The latest services around town seem to be at 11:00, and we couldn't get anywhere in half an hour! So, we decided to come back to the Highbury Centre and sing along to Bethany's iTunes and listen to a sermon online. It was really neat. She found a sermon from Holy Trinity Brompton by James Haith called "You've Got the Love" (I couldn't figure out how to embed it, but here is the link to the page.)It is a little more than half an hour long, but if you can make the time to listen to it, I do not think you would regret it. I thought he had some very good things to say.

One of the songs Bethany played was one from the Vineyard Church, entitled "If You Say Go". I found the lyrics very meaningful for where I am in my life right now, and I hope that you find encouragement to follow God's leading in them as well.

If You say go, we will go
If You say wait, we will wait
If You say step out on the water
And they say it can't be done
We'll fix our eyes on You and we will come

Your ways are higher than our ways
And the plans that You have laid
Are good and true
If You call us to the fire
You will not withdraw Your hand
We'll gaze into the flames and look for You

So that was my church service this morning. It was strange to not go to a church with a building and a name and singers up front and announcements, but no less meaningful.

One of the verses I've been thinking about (since sometime last semester) is Hosea 10:12 - "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you". I've been wondering what it means to break up fallow ground - I think it means leave no area of my life unused; live life to the fullest. And it's supposed to be done in righteousness and following the Lord. That's what I've come up with so far, at least! The last week or two the idea of leaving a legacy has been coming back strongly - what am I doing with my life, and what will I leave when I die? For being 18, it is not too early to ask that question! I hope you ask the same one.

20 February 2010

20 February 2010

Today, being Saturday, could be renamed 'paper day'. However, this Saturday, I was determined to make my day different. I usually don't go outside from the time I get back from plenary Friday around 12:30 until I go out to go to church Sunday morning. That is terrible! I did better by going to the Lipscomb's last night, but I needed more than the 15 minutes I spent outside! So, this afternoon at about 4 I went to the grocery store to get next week's supplies! That was another thing - here I get very little fruit and no fresh vegetables except for an occasional salad. My dairy is also limited to milk in my tea with an occasional glassful. I wondered if eating better and getting outside would help me. So, I tried it! I walked down to Tesco's, which is near the tube stop (only about 3/4 of a mile away). There, I bought foods such as spinach, wraps, unpasteurized cheese, organic yogurt, green and yellow peppers, peppermint tea, and a mango. Feeling like I had just had a very successful trip, I walked back to the Highbury Centre.

There was a football match (aka soccer game!) going on this afternoon, and even though the stadium is 20 minutes away (walking), I could hear the crowds screaming, music, and an announcer. That got me thinking about living in London. I began wondering how many people would really like to be there, while I am really not into sports and will probably never attend even though I could.

Then, I got to thinking about the fact that I am living in London. The British Empire was the one on which 'the sun never set' - it went all the way around the world. England was where it all started, and London was the capitol. I am living in what was the centre of the world! It made me really think about taking advantage of this amazing opportunity. I have been, of course - all my museum, gallery, architecture, music, and theatre requirements have seen to that, not even counting my walks around the city just for enjoyment. However, I need to make sure that I am not letting any days go by without truly appreciating all that is available to me. For the first time in my life I am living in a city - and what a city! This afternoon was a good reminder to not take it for granted - it won't last forever - and to absorb as much as I can while I'm here!

As far as the rest of my day: I worked on my paper, had lunch, worked on my paper, had dinner, and worked on my paper ... :) I drank about 4 liters of water over the course of the day, and will probably finish another one before night. I realized yesterday that I was becoming dehydrated, and so am attempting to fix that! It has been really good, and I'm glad that water is free here and tastes fine! I can't say that this paper is coming easily, I'm really fighting it out, but it's interesting at worst and makes me laugh. We are writing about the Late Middle Ages this week, and some of the sources are amusing! GStQ

19 February 2010

19 February 2010

Today was not really the typical Friday for me! This morning we had colloquy instead of plenary, since we just had plenary on Wednesday (compliments of Monday and Tuesday in Canterbury!). We covered some of the Canterbury Tales in that. After colloquy was over, I started organizing my thoughts about my paper and what I might like to have as a thesis. I ate lunch somewhere between 11 and 1, I don't really remember when, and called my family. I was just going to say hello and get/give an update, since I hadn't talked to them in a whole week! Then, I was going to spend the afternoon writing my paper so that by now it would be all done and ready for editing tomorrow ... haha. I talked with my family until 3:30, when I had an appointment to do our music listening assignment with another girl. In fact, I had forgotten about it, and was still talking to my brother when she knocked on the door. So, as you can see, I did not do what I had planned this afternoon. It was so worth it, though! After half an hour or an hour she left, and Bethany came back from her afternoon of exploring and walking around London, and I actually did get to work on my paper!

At about 5 I got ready to come here to the Lipscomb's flat, since I was scheduled to watch their children this evening. I didn't need to be here until 5:30 and had somehow forgotten or something that it is a two minute walk. So, I walked around the 'block' (London is NOT laid out in squares!) a couple times and enjoyed breathing in the outdoors air, even if it is in the city! We had dinner, the professors left, and the kids and I read books, played with toys, and so on. It was strange to actually play - I realized I hadn't read a simple book just for the fun of it in a very, very long time! I hadn't ever done any babysitting like this before, but things went fine and they all are sleeping now (and have been for 2 hours). When Mr. Prof. and I were arranging the details for this evening, he said something like "Of course, we expect that after the children are in bed you will work on your paper". In his next email he clarified that I was not required to work on my paper, he just suspected that I would want to. In fact, it was what I wanted to do, and I have been doing just that and it has been wonderful to have it so quiet! I have been listening to the assigned music, and now I am listening to a clarinet concerto on volume 1 and my iTunes volume at half. It is so nice ... but the music is from my album titled "Tranquility", the house is silent, and it is evening. I was, admittedly, having trouble staying awake while writing my paper. So, I thought I'd take a minute (or 5) to share my day and wake up a little before returning to my writing! GStQ

Houghton College!

I'm pleased to say I attend such an epic college! Enjoy :)

17 February 2010

17 February 2010

Today was a fun day, and rather spontaneous! I went early to plenary this morning, so I could practice the piano there at the church for a bit before the class started. Right after plenary nine of us went down to the Duke of York Theatre to try to get tickets for the performance of Twelfth Night this evening. Every day they have 15 tickets available at the discount rate of 5 pounds (cheapest tickets otherwise being either 10 or 15 pounds - I'm not sure). We got there as soon as we could, but they were already sold out. Just as we were getting ready to leave and go magging, Joel thought to ask if they had matinee tickets still available. They did! Why they didn't tell us that we don't know, but the point is that we got them! We still had an hour or so before the play started and hadn't had lunch yet. So, we went to Trafalger Square and ate lunch sitting on the steps, since there were so many people the benches were full. :)

Twelfth Night was amazing. I had never been to a professional play in a real theatre before, and I am so glad I went! Although I have nothing to compare it to, I was very favorably impressed. One of my favorite things was the music that was played on stage. In fact, most of the music was done by two guitars, a mandolin (I think), and a violin. The violinist was incredible - I couldn't believe some of the things he did with double stops, runs, etc. The music itself was lilting and I loved it. I also really liked that the plot drew me in (although I guessed the ending a long time before it happened, since it was a pretty standard mixup storyline!). It was a very good way to spend an afternoon!

After that we came back here to the Highbury Centre, had dinner, I finished my homework and read ahead for Friday ... and here I am! GStQ!

This is a song I have been listening to that seems to really fit where I am right now. I hope it brings peace to your life today.

14 February 2010

14 February 2010

Well, here I am again! After a characteristically busy weekend writing a paper, I finally have time to blog again.

This morning I slept until I was rested, which was about 8:45 this morning. Breakfast was leisurely, and I had plenty of time before I needed to leave for church at 10:15. We went to St. Bartholomew's Church, which was one of the ones I visited this week as a part of the program requirements. It was not even what I would call a traditional service - that sounds to me like singing hymns and maybe saying the Lord's Prayer. This was much different than that: a lot of the service was sung in Latin, there was incense, we were sprinkled with holy water, communion really was unleavened bread wafers (and of course, the wine really was wine).
I am trying to figure myself out in this process of visiting the different churches in London. I really like having the written prayers and confessions of faith, since it reminds me of what I believe. The formality also reminds me of what a serious thing it is to ask for the presence of God. This morning it struck me just how amazing it is that God actually comes and is with us in a way it hadn't before. The Latin in the liturgy also is very striking to me: for one thing, it reminds me of when I was in Ukraine and couldn't understand the words (and pretty much anything from Ukraine is a positive memory!) and also it reminds me that the church is worldwide. I love to think about believers across all cultures all united under one God! Anyway, those are a few of the reasons I really like the High Anglican Church service, (I think that's what it was called!) and one side of my debate. The other side is that I really like more 'contemporary' services because they sometimes show people so excited and passionate about their faith. (This was more of the service last Sunday at Holy Trinity - it was mainly contemporary music, and the people were really getting into it. This was also my experience at Revelation Church.
What I'm trying to figure out now is the balance between four things: Traditional, Contemporary, Shallow, and Passionate. I think that in traditional services the set liturgy could cause people (including me) to lose sight of exactly what we're saying and for it to become a shallow routine. At the same time, the creeds and prayers have been carefully thought out, and if thought about can convey a lot of meaning, so if I mean what I'm saying and live my life that way, actually asking God for the things I'm saying, then it will spark a much deeper faith in my life. One of the characteristics of contemporary services is that they emphasize the emotions of the service. The presence of God is something to be called for and experiencing it is one of the main things in the service. This can lead to shallowness - just wanting a feeling with no basis. However, the fact that being in the presence of God can be a very exhilarating, 'mountain top' experience, must not be discounted. Just because there is emotion present is not a basis to discard the whole idea of God actually being present. Still, I want to be careful that I don't get caught up in some kind of 'mob effect' at a church service and just go all for the emotional high.
Well, that's what I've been thinking about recently! I still don't know what synthesis is, or what type of church I'll end up going to, or if I'll go to a contemporary church Sunday mornings and a traditional church for evensong ... but at least I'm trying to figure it out!
This afternoon was quiet - I got caught up on some things I put off over the weekend (aka the paper time!) and at about four I went to tea. Some of the girls here put on a valentine's day tea in the conference room. They made scones, shortbread, chocolate strawberries, and some kind of sponge cake. They also had tea, juice, cookies, and chocolates. It was wonderful, and made for a very festive day!
This evening I went to a piano recital at the Hellenic Centre. It was amazing. I mean that. It put me in a very thoughtful, creative, and quiet mood. (I was about to say a moody mood. I think you can see why I didn't, but it really would be pretty accurate!) On the walk home the city had been washed clean by the rain from this evening, and the moonlight was filtering through the clouds. I call my mood dark, but it's not dark in the sense that I'm upset. Bethany asked me if I was happy and I said no, because it's not. But I feel like there is a part of me that is being allowed to express itself, and I am content.
Okay, I'm rambling. I guess this is first-hand evidence of what it is like! I am pretty much out of it now, though - to the point where I once more am happy and ready to sleep and excited about the rest of life instead of so introspective and quiet. As a note, tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday I will be in Canterbury, so no update will be forthcoming. However, I suspect that a [rather lengthy - brace yourself!] report will be posted soon after! GStQ

11 February 2010

11 February 2010

So, to pick up from yesterday . . .

Monday and Tuesday were quieter days for me; I stayed here at the Highbury Centre and did reading. I was trying an experiment - would it be easier and/or make more sense if I waited to do my museum and gallery assignments until after I learned more from the week? The answer, if the last two days are any indication, is a resounding yes! My magging yesterday and today was wonderful. Yesterday I went to the British Library. I studied the Magna Carta, among other things like the original score of Handel's Messiah. One interesting thing about the Magna Carta is thinking about the way it influences life even now. On the way home there was a guy on the tube reading a paper about a woman who had been convicted as guilty of murder. She had been convicted by a jury - a provision of the Magna Carta (as interpreted at a later date by Parliament). It was neat to be able to tie together some of the things I've been learning with what is actually going on.

I spent a couple hours more at St. Bartholomew's Church than I planned on, but it was well worth it. Phil, the man in charge, decided apparently that Joia, Isabel and myself were exceptionally interested in learning. He gave us a tour around the church, (please note that part of the movie Amazing Grace was filmed where I was standing!!!), told us about the different parts of the church, etc. He then unlocked a door marked "private" and took us up to the place the bells are rung from and the organ loft. It also gave us an amazing view of the entire church below.

I then went to evening prayer at Westminster Abbey. It was incredible, as usual. The music was wonderful. I love the way the organ can fill the entire Abbey. Oh - one note about Sunday, that I didn't have time to finish with my timeline of the day: In the evening, I went to an organ recital at St. Paul's Cathedral. He played Bach Toccata and Fugue, and Elgar and a prelude - it was breathtaking. He somehow filled the whole cathedral with sound, and at the same time keep the notes distinct and the melodies and harmonies in proportion to each other. I had never heard music like that before, and now I really want to hear more of it.

Well, so I got through another day - maybe tomorrow will suffice for today's adventures! :) GStQ

10 February 2010

10 February 2010

Hello again! Contrary to the reasons why I normally don't blog, I haven't done it recently because I have just had so much going on! It's been a pretty crazy few days. Not bad, though :)

Okay: my weekend was normal, as far as London weekends go; I pretty much just wrote my paper. I do think that this one was better than my last one, but that's pretty much beside the point!

Sunday I went to the Holy Trinity Brompton church, which is the base for Alpha International. It was in a huge, old cathedral, and inside was very modern music and a contemporary service. It was very interesting - when we walked into the church it was a big shock from what I had expected from the outside! We left at a little after 11, and I parted from our group there and went off for my day of fun and exploring! I walked up from South Kensington, went to Hyde Park, wandered around until I came to Oxford Circus, then took the tube to Charing Cross just for fun, saw Trafalger Square for the first time, and kept walking. I walked toward my favorite section of London and passed Whitehall and realized that my favorite part of London had just expanded! I then walked down to my bridge and stood there . . . for a very long time. Big Ben chimed 2 pm, and I just looked into the water and thought. After thinking about assigned topics for a week and having to write a paper putting them all together, I really enjoyed having a chance to think about what I wanted to! It was very good, and I found myself unwinding. I walked over the bridge and down the Victoria Embankment. I eventually went down to Paul's Walk, which goes right along the river. Then, I found a treasure - a place where there is a tiny beach and little waves from the boats on the Thames roll up and make nice water sounds. This is where I sat for quite some time.

At last a larger than usual boat went by at a rather rapid rate, and a larger than usual wave came crashing up on where I was sitting. I saw it coming either just in time - or a little late, depending on what your perspective is - and it splashed up on my feet and my bag. I jumped out of the way for the rest of it and kept my camera dry, for which I am thankful. I did end up scraping my knuckles on the rock, and got some residue on my bag. My feet were also a little wet. And I had touched the water of the Thames. I feel like 'we' have reached a kind of agreement. I can go there and relax and unwind and talk out loud, and in turn I will not take it for granted. I assume that such thoughts are a result of too much thinking by myself and getting a little weird, but oh well! If I can't be crazy when I'm by myself, I shall give up hope entirely :)

Well, unfortunately it's getting late and I can't finish posting about my week. Hopefully tomorrow evening I will have time to post about the rest of my week! GStQ

04 February 2010

4 February 2010

Today was a rather interesting day - it was the first time I had my colloquy session at 10:30 instead of 8:30. That meant that I was able to sleep in a bit, have a wonderful breakfast, and do some reading before the session. We were discussing Bede's History of the English Church and People and The Rule of St. Benedict, which made for a wonderful discussion. It was interesting to hear the different views on the Rule, especially.

This afternoon was much quieter - I started the process of synthesizing the week's learning for my paper, and listened to a lot of music. I was feeling particularly cooped up, so Bethany and I went for a walk this evening. We just went around the 'block' (which is a little different than an American block, since the city is most definitely laid out along ancient cart paths and no grid!) twice. It was wonderful, and I felt so much better afterwards! GStQ

03 February 2010

3 February 2010

Yesterday we didn't have any classes; it was a reading day to let us do some of the readings ahead for this coming week since our schedule is different (after going to Bath). Since I didn't go outside all day and not too much happened that needs to be recorded in a blog for the present and all posterity, I didn't post. :)

Today was much more interesting. We had plenary this morning, learning from the decline of Rome to Charlemagne. It was very interesting - one more piece in this thing known as the history of Western Civilization. We also learned about what happened to the Byzantine Empire and the rise of Islam. After plenary was chapel - we sang all our music a Capella, since we are getting into the period of Gregorian chants and are trying to model the music a little after that. We sang an African song, which was rather lively, a hymn, our theme song "Guide My Feet" and Lord Listen to Your Children Praying. The last was neat because it's one of my favorites that I have been thinking about recently, although I haven't heard it in a church since I was eight or nine.

This is one of the best performances I found of it.

Bethany and I ate lunch while walking down the street, which was fun and made me feel like a real Londoner, and this afternoon we went to the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Library. We saw amazing, incredible things like the Lindisfarne Gospels. There was other neat stuff too, at the other places, but it was more detail work such as looking at coins, grave excavations, and so on.

One thing that also happened as we were travelling around today was there were a lot of musicians in the tube stations. When we first got here there seemed to be quite a few, then I hadn't heard any in awhile. Today we heard guitar, saxaphone, and clarinet, all in different stations! It was so nice - I miss being surrounded by music, and to hear it playing was wonderful. Something about the way the tube stations are built, with their long corridors and escalator-ways or something makes for good acoustics, and I enjoy it a lot since they're usually quite good! GStQ

01 February 2010

1 February 2010

Today was a day different from any day I have had since coming here to London. We left for Bath at 7:37 this morning, getting there around 11:30 this morning. Once we got there we headed for the center of town, where we split up. Bethany and I went to a Sainsbury's and bought bread, cheese, and biscuits (cookies). We sat on a bench and ate our lunch, then began our day's assignments. The first place we went was the Roman baths, which were nothing short of amazing. We split up to go at our own paces, so I was alone most of the time. One neat thing was that included in the price of admission was an audio guide, so I was able to learn a lot that I probably would have never been able to figure out with only the signs. I learned a lot - it was fascinating. One thing I have to mention is that I really did try the famous spa water that has 42 minerals in it. I had been warned that it was not good and that I wouldn't like it. My conclusion? It could use a peppermint tea bag (naturally, the water there is warm,) but at the same time it was not as bad as the water at my home if we don't filter it, or Houghton water for that matter.

After that Bethany and I went for a walking tour of the town - all around the river, town, circle, (seeing houses such as that of former MP and Prime Minister William Pitt!) and out more toward the country. There were some nice parks/open places, including a little 'garden' that was just like a lawn with a maze in it. At the end of the day, when we had extra time, Bethany and I went through the maze.

We also went to Bath Abbey, which was stunning. To realize that there were so many thousands of people buried under it was amazing - as was reading the memorial stones on the sides. And seeing the enormous stained glass windows. And the white and gold high alter. Anyway . . . yes, it was amazing!

It was a long day, and I slept on the ride home - which was, thankfully, about an hour shorter than the ride out. I guess we hit rush hour on the way out . . . or our driver was impatient on the way back . . . or something. At any rate, I was glad to be back! GStQ

31 January 2010

31 January 2010

This morning I went to Revelation Church with a few other girls from our group. It was very interesting - much more contemporary, and a completely different structure from the churches I have been going to. I really liked it, although I'm not sure exactly why. I think it was because the people seemed so excited about their faith and passionate about serving Christ. I didn't sense any requirement to get hyped, just sincerity. I now have a lot to think about.

This afternoon Bethany and I went to Kensington Park and walked around for a couple hours. We saw grass, trees, open space, swans, geese, statues, water, and other wonderful, wonderful things. I realized that I had not been off concrete, stone, or other civilized materials since flying to Boston almost three weeks ago, and it was wonderful to feel like I was out of a city! We actually got far enough from the roads that traffic pretty much died away, we were basically alone most of the time, and the air, believe it or not, actually got clearer. I had intentionally not taken a bag with me - Bethany had the camera and map - and I could feel myself relaxing as we walked. It was absolutely wonderful.

Here's another You Tube clip I found. I have been thinking about the idea of consecrating my life, and wondering what it is that God wants me to do. So, this song is my prayer - and I hope it is meaningful to you as well. Here it is.

Tomorrow we go to Bath . . . I'm looking forward to it! GStQ

30 January 2010

30 January 2010

Today was not a good day for London; I did not go outside at all. Yes, truth be told, it was another Saturday. That means, of course, another paper, which means I have no free time . . . and the truth comes back to not going outside. At all. Which is sad, especially since I'm in London and better things should be done than being on my computer all day. Oh well. Such is life; if I was more of a genius or a faster writer or more analytical or just plain smarter it wouldn't take so long. As it is, I believe that God has given me all the talents and abilities that I need, and if it takes me all day to write a paper, then I just need to be glad that I had all day to do it! Here's a very calming song that helped me today!

Bethany is looking at my paper now, commenting, telling me what I can do to make it better. So, in a few minutes I will be revising. Just thought I would give a quick update! GStQ

29 January 2010

29 January 2010

I typed the date, then took a deep breath. Sometimes, I just need to remind myself to breathe! London isn't bad at all, on the contrary it's wonderful! However, it can be easy to get so busy that I just never stop - and that is not good! So, now that I am breathing and can think, I will tell you about my day.

Today marks the completion of one cycle of London: we got our first papers back from the first week, and now have gone through the entire routine. Of course, there are things like new museums, galleries, trips to places outside of London, several dozen more things to read, and details like that. In other words, I have not yet experienced everything - just been through the parts of London that are routine!

This morning we had Plenary (class) number 4 and finished through St. Augostine and the split of the Roman Empire into East and West. Mr. Prof. Lipscomb went just far enough to hint that Attilla the Hun was being a threat and that the Germans were about to overrun that Latin emperors. However, he didn't really get into that.

When we finished plenary a group of us went to a Thai/Japanese/Vegetarian restaurant for lunch since it was Joel's birthday. It was the first time I have eaten such food as vegetarian duck, chicken and beef. I really don't know what else there was, but it was very interesting. I am still wondering if it was that I like Tiawianese food better, or if it was just that the Tiawanese food I've had before was by a Tiawanese lady who really knew how to cook! It wasn't bad, though - I'm just really really not a vegetarian!

We got back to the HC by 2 this afternoon, and the weekend routine - writing papers - began! This week's assignment was to compare or contrast the Hebrews and Christians and their relations with their surrounding pagan cultures. I started going through my copious notes (they said that we would be taking 'copious notes during plenary', and that is certainly true! Out of 4 plenaries, I've taken 42 pages of neat notes on college ruled, large-sized notebook paper. I think that might be past copious. Overkill, perhaps? My justification is that I will only be doing this program once, and I should learn and absorb all I can. Since we are covering far too much material to absorb now, I need to write down as much of it as is possible so I can learn it over the summer or whenever I have time!

This evening we had a surprise birthday ice cream time for Joel, then Kathryn read us makeovers on fairy tales. It was a funny book - Little Red Riding Hood became Little Red Running Shorts, who outran the wolf and got there in time to save her grandmother. Jack was caught by the giant before he could ever climb up the beanstalk. And on it went. It was a fun break from papers! GStQ

28 January 2010

28 January 2010

Today was a busy day! After colloquy this morning, you might think that was not the case: I listened to music and read for fun for almost two hours! When Bethany finished her colloquy around noon, we had lunch and made our Plans. :-) Yay for London! We still had to go to the Guildhall Art Museum and look at the remains of the Roman amphitheatre for our assignment this week, and Bethany knew that it was free from 3:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon. We decided to leave the HC right after lunch, go sit in on Parliament, go the the Guildhall, then attend Evensong at Westminster Abbey. Evensong is at five, so we figured we would have time to get our assignment done and still be there in time. After arranging to have our dinners saved, we set off on our adventure. We took the Victoria line to Green Park, then switched to the Jubilee line for Westminster. We walked out and saw Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament right there, and I knew that the Thames was right on my left . . . okay, I know I've mentioned this before; that is my favourite section of the city to date! We went down and cleared security with no problems. Below is a picture Bethany took: this plaque was in Westminster Hall, and marks the actual place where the trial of William Wallace took place.

It was pretty incredible to be standing there! I first read about his trial years ago, and I was very glad that Bethany noticed it so we could take note of it!

The House of Commons was debating remembrance of the Holocaust, and the neatest thing about it was when one of the MP's was speaking and brought up why the Jews were hated, some history including Jesus, then the man said, "As a Christian . . . " I was stunned - and wanted to move to Glasgow, which is the district he represents. It was so neat to hear a public representitive use his faith and Christian history in debate.

When we left Parliament, Bethany took a picture of me with the statue of Oliver Cromwell that is right out front there.

She also took pictures of me with that same august dude at the Guildhall, but it wasn't a nice picture (I was trying to imitate his scowl . . . )so I decided on this one! At the Guildhall we weren't allowed to take any pictures, but we saw some fantastic artwork (it wasn't required - but how are you supposed to walk into a place full of amazing art and now stop???) and finally got down to the amphitheatre. It was, actually, quite creepy since there were green mesh people positioned like they really were gladiators, etc, and sound effects. And it was dark, with lights shifting and turning on and off . . . anyway, I was really glad I wasn't there alone!

We then walked all the way down Paul's Walk on the Thames to Wesminster Abbey, which was quite a distance, but a scenic walk as well. We got there just as the bells were chiming, and got in just fine. It was amazing. I don't know how to begin to describe it. I'm inserting a clip I found on You Tube - it looked exactly like this, except it was darker, and the little red lamps on. We were sitting between the choir and the high alter - you can see people sitting there. Also, the organ was more prominant today. But pretty much, this is Westminster Abbey's choir, and they are magnificant.

After Evensong we went home (HC). It was raining gently, and it was good to get back and have hot broth for dinner! Tomorrow is the last class for week two - hard to imagine. :) GStQ

To end, I am copying a prayer that they gave us at the Abbey. I really liked it, and I hope you do too. It is attributed to St. Benedict.

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive thee, diligence to seek thee, patience to wait for thee, eyes to behold thee, a heart to meditate on thee, and a life to proclaim thee; through the power of the spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.

27 January 2010

27 January 2010

Today was a rather unusual day for me! I had colloquy this morning, then read the assigned readings from Saint Augustine's Confessions and took a nap until about one this afternoon. I then finished my readings and went to the British Library. For anyone who really likes my pictures, I'm sorry - they were not permitted in the gallery I was in. However, I saw some really neat things: manuscripts of Beowulf, Handel's Messiah, the Magna Carta, Codex Sinactus, etc. I was thinking about going back to my favorite part of town (around Parliament) but it was raining/misting when I came out and I decided to go right home. So, as far as my outings went today, they were quite limited. However, I did notice some neat things.

When I walked out of the Highbury Centre, there was one of those little kids on scooters out front. They seem to be everywhere, although I don't know that I've mentioned them before: little kids scooting down the street. I guess it is easier for the parents than having to carry them or convince them to walk. So, I said "how are you?" thinking it interesting that for once the children in the foreign culture can understand me! Although, to be honest, with my American accent, sometimes I wonder if my Ukrainian was easier for those children to understand :)This little one obviously understood me; she looked up and gave me the cheekiest grin, although she didn't answer. I wonder if she was amused by my accent, had been told not to talk to strangers, or what? It was an interesting start to my foray into the city.

When I had gotten a little further down the street, a woman walking a dog came out of a gate from a house. It was a very little dog, less than a foot high, and yet it was so fat it waddled like a duck when it walked. That kept me entertained for some time, until the slow pace finally convinced me to pass the duo and continue more briskly on my way.

The London air was brisk, and I was glad I was wearing a turtleneck, but it was very good for walking. Things I've noticed about London: they don't say 'stop somewhere', they say 'pop in'. Also, people really do not look at each other on the street. I've finally learned this, (which hopefully makes me stick out less) and not have only the regret that I can't study people as well. I know that on the Houghton campus, not only did I look at most people I walked past, I would often greet them as well. Here it is so different. I get vague impressions of height, clothing, etc, (that woman had a black leather purse; that man was tall and had a red checked shirt on) but nothing like faces. Something else I'm still trying to decide is if I should read Sherlock Holmes while I'm here. I really like reading those stories, but I am having a dilemma about it. On one side, I would really like to read them and find out that I now know where the places are. For instance, the other day I picked it up for a couple minutes and was reading about The Hound of the Baskervilles, and saw that Stapleton had taken the cab to Trafalgar Square. My thought? "I know where that is! I've seen buses heading there!" So that part is really neat. However, on the other side, when I was walking home it was after sunset and misty and I couldn't help but think about all the things that happened to people in those stories on the streets of London! So, I still haven't decided what to do about that. But . . . I'm in London! And that's just flat out exciting. GStQ

26 January 2010

26 January 2010

This morning we had a colloquy session on yesterday’s reading. For anyone who might have seen my facebook status, you may be aware that it was 68 chapters of reading. We got it covered – kind of – in an hour and a half. After that I prepared for my day of adventure.
I started out by taking the bus to St. Paul’s. I wanted to back to the cathedral, maybe take some pictures since it was raining when I was there before and today the sun was actually out! Well, I got off and just started walking toward what looked like a nice cathedral spiral. Um, it wasn’t. But that was okay. I never did go to the church; I did find a nice little place called Café Nero, where I got tea and a crescent since it was almost lunch time. While I was there I read the book of Luke, which was part of the assignment for tomorrow. Then, I went out and walked down the street. The street kept changing names, but it was basically the same road until I got to the Tower of London. I took pictures from several different angles, still experimenting with my camera, and got some that I was really quite pleased with. The picture below I actually took from across the Thames, but it’s the same thing.

I then went down to Saint Katherine’s Wharf and browsed through shops looking at all kinds of things. I did end up buying an umbrella, since I’ve been looking for one since the day after I got here and realized that I really was supposed to have one. This one was about a third of the price of similar ones I’ve been seeing and was within what I thought was a reasonable umbrella price, (as opposed to thirty dollars) which was nice.
I then went over to the Tower Bridge (please note, this is not London Bridge. I had been confused on that, and I don’t know if I was the only one. London Bridge is the next bridge down the river, on the other side of the Tower, and just looks like a bridge. Tower Bridge is the one that is the ‘London Icon’. See picture below.)

There I went up to the top walkway (some hundred plus stairs). On the way, I was stopped to have my bag searched and my picture taken. Like Parliament, I suppose they are on the lookout for terrorists. I then walked all the way across the one side, taking pictures and absorbing the view and information posters on the walls. I then went back and went down the other walkway. It turned out that I couldn’t actually get down the other side, so I went back down the way I came. After crossing the bridge, I went down to the Engine rooms on the other side to see the mechanics of the hydraulics that lift the bridge. It was pretty neat.

This brought me to the other side of the Thames, from where I took the Queen’s Walk down to Hay’s Wharf. I looked at the shops there, wandered around and felt like a tourist, and left. I’m trying to avoid the tourist feeling, although I’ll admit that with my camera I’m sure it’s obvious! So, pictures are my one concession to the fact that I really am a foreigner, and am knock-out amazed by London. I do try to avoid gaping at spectacular sights, however wonderful they may be, and go past the river with a minimum of glances. Summary of a paragraph that probably should be edited: I’m trying to be inconspicuous, but I make exceptions when it comes to taking pictures, and I refuse to sacrifice seeing things that are incredible just to look like I’ve seen them before – I just try to avoid staring. Okay, that didn’t help anything! (In order to maintain credibility as a writer, I must say that this entire paragraph says exactly what I want it to say.)
After Hay’s Wharf I followed the Queen’s Walk down to London Bridge. I went out on the bridge and took another picture of the Tower Bridge, with the sunset lighting and the HMS Belfast in the foreground. I’d been watching it as I came up the river, and was quite pleased with the way it turned out. I feel like at last I’m starting (note the emphasis on beginning) to notice some of the things about lighting, slant, and flash vs. no flash that will, hopefully, improve the quality of my pictures. I then took the Northern tube line to Angel, walked and window shopped some more, and eventually got on a bus to go home. It turned out that I had walked almost the entire distance, but that was okay and I got off a stop or two later, caught another bus for the station right near the Centre, got off a stop early (oops) and walked home. I was (am) tired, but it was a good day out there and I got my readings finished this evening, and have been hanging out with Bethany while writing this, listening to the Dvorak Cello Concerto in b minor, and relaxing. It has been a good evening. GStQ

25 January 2010

25 January 2010

Week two of London begins! (I know, London has been around for much longer than a week. But in significance to me . . .)

This morning we had a plenary lecture, 9-12:30 with a ten minute break at 10. Mr. Professor Lipscomb was lecturing on the beginnings of Judeo-Christianity, so we started with polytheism and the ancient near east, then moved on to Abram in Ur and Haran. It was a fascinating lecture, although it was long, and I don't regret them at all. At the same time, if we had them every day . . . that would be a lot! We had good news today - next Monday we will be taking a day trip to Bath! We will leave at about 7:30 in the morning, and not return until late. I am really looking forward to it! We will also be going to Canterbury in a couple weeks, and most likely staying overnight. Yay for traveling around!

Here are some pictures from today's trip to the British Museum:

This is a tablet of real cuneiform writing - I was amazed. Mr. Prof. told us that the average language in those times had about 800 symbols used for writing.

This is a modern reproduction of a slingshot, with the stones that were used in the background. They are bigger than golf balls, if that helps give size comparison!

This lovely piece of art is early Christian - it shows the 'x' and 'p' signs, which are the first two sounds of the name of Christ. Also shown are the letters 'a' and 'w', which are alpha and omega - also representing the name of Christ. I particularly liked this one, since it was so intricate.

Well, enough of today - tomorrow we have colloquy on Genesis 1-11, I Samuel 16-I Kings 2, Job 1-2 and 38-42, and the book of Amos. It should be very interesting! Another wonderful day in London town . . . GStQ

24 January 2010

24 January 2010

So, life is interesting here in London! This morning I went to Saint Augustine's for church, which was excellent. We did a blend of old hymns and contemporary songs, written prayers and informality, communion, and a really good sermon. They also said that they needed singers for their afternoon service, which I volunteered for. So, I stayed late for that, then returned at three for the service. In between then I had dinner and read chapter 5 of Living Traditions, which was the assignment for tomorrow. I don't think that too many things happened today that would really be of interest, except maybe for the party we had this evening. Our professors invited us over for British junk food - ginger beer, dandelion and burdock drink, flake chocolate, little cookies, chocolate balls, chicken, bacon cheese and cocktail flavored potato crisps, and so on. It was good - I guess these Brits have good taste in junk food :)

One other thing that was very interesting about this afternoon was that after the service the sound man was discussing British politics with me! I learned a lot about the way Parliament is set up, the upcoming election, parties, and so on.

Oh - one more thing: if you happen to be interested in the poetic angle of my life here, I wrote a little more of an overview of life and it is available right here.

So - all for now! Tomorrow starts a week on Judeo-Christianity, and I'm really looking forward to it! GStQ

23 January 2010

23 January 2010

To begin with - I am more than aware that I did not blog yesterday. In case anyone was wondering, I did not lose my memory! The fact is, yesterday we had plenary, then I holed up to write my paper. By nine thirty I was ready to sleep and decided that blogging was not my personal diary and did not need to happen, and so skipped it.

Now, for today. I don't know that I can say it is any more interesting, but I do have good news. I finished my first paper! So, I have officially completed my first week of classes in the London Honours Program of Houghton College, and am now reveling in allowing myself to come down here to the library and connect to wired Internet and have a reliable connection! (The wireless in my room is good only for Skype, and even that goes in intervals of working about a minute at a time.)

I hope that was at least somewhat interesting, and I'm sure it wasn't. However, I am celebrating, and so share it with you! GStQ

21 January 2010

21 January 2010

This morning was the last colloquy of the week - it's so hard to believe that we're almost done! We were discussing Virgil's Aeneid, and Epictetus's Enchiridion. Again it went half an hour over, but there was nothing wrong with that - it was a wonderful discussion! After that I practiced piano since I'm playing for chapel tomorrow, which was an epic disaster. (By epic, I am using it in the correct way: on a very large scale!) Well, the piano . . . isn't the best quality, by which I mean that not all the keys work, and it's so out of tune that an octave sounds closer to a major seventh! So that's pretty terrible, but I managed to get the chords figured out and written down. (The writing part was necessary since we don't have music for three of the songs and I had to figure out the chords.) After that I decided that it was high time I went out for awhile, so packed up and headed for Parliament. I took the Victoria tube to Victoria station, then walked down Victoria road to Big Ben and Parliament (and incidentally Westminster Abbey and the Thames - how did all the awesome stuff get in one place?). I got to Parliament and discovered that a large group of children were just getting ready to go in and I was advised to wait for about half an hour. So - half an hour to kill in awesome London! Not really a problem. I walked down the street to the bridge across the Thames, and just stood there looking out at the water when I was seized with an uncontrollable impulse to write. So I did, (see here if you're interested,) then went back to Parliament, discovered that pictures were not allowed (sorry)I just enjoyed the experience to the fullest - and really want to go back - and realized that the movie Amazing Grace really is rather accurate for how it works! That was fun. I then took the tube/bus back to Aberdeen Lane, and got home! An afternoon definitely well spent! GStQ

20 January 2010

20 January 2010

Well, it's another post for another day! Today was busy. After breakfast this morning we again had colloquy. Today we discussed Plato's Republic and a couple of poems by Sappho. We went about half an hour over, since things were going very well, and had to finally quit so the next group could come in! After that I went to the London Museum.The internet here is being funky and not letting me upload pictures, which is unfortunate, but there were some wonderful artifacts. We went first to the prehistoric part of the museum, and looked at skulls, archaic swords, and other interesting things. We then went through the part called "Londonium", which was London in the time of the Romans (interestingly enough, named after the river we now refer to as the Thames) and looked at models of the houses, bricks, etc. I then went on to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where I was assigned to look at the Trajan Column. I went far beyond that, since there was a lot of fascinating stuff, and took several pictures. However, I was a little less picture-happy than I was in the British Museum! :) I then walked around London, went to Sainsbury's, where I bought a box of pineapple juice and a roll for lunch. (Note: contrary to rumor about it being the chocolate shoppe, I did not buy any chocolate! In fact, I didn't even see any except for things like kit-kat bars which I absolutely refuse to buy! Not that they're bad in and of themselves, but when I have heard rumors of wonderful, inexpensive British chocolate, I will not pay a dollar for a kit-kat bar!) I was heading to Westminster Abby for evensong (which I thought was a 1500) and realized I wouldn't have enough time to get there. So, I hopped on the tube (not literally, for any who might be concerned: I stepped on) and went down there. It was nice, because I walked out of the tube station and saw Big Ben right in front of me. Sometimes when I get out, particularly in stations I'm unfamiliar with, it takes me a minute to orient myself. Happily, this one was easy! I went to the Abbey and found out that evensong is actually at 1700, so it was too late since I have to be back for dinner by 1800. I then walked across the road to the Houses of Parliament to see if they are ever open for the general public to come in and watch them debate. It turns out that they are :) so I'm very excited about that and definitely plan to go back - maybe next week, since this one is pretty booked! I then headed home by bus and then on the tube, reading the Aeneid on my way, eating my bun, and drinking pineapple juice (which I had poured into my water bottle for easier drinking and to avoid spills). It was very nice. When I got off at Highbury/Islington, I went down to Tesco's and got milk, since we don't really drink milk here and I miss it. I bought a little jug of organic, whole milk - and drank it at one time! It was so good. So, between the juice and the milk, I had a very happy lunchtime! When I got back it was finishing readings, then dinner, then more readings, then chapel planning. Mr. Professor Lipscomb, our two TA's, Audrey and myself are the ones who are planning the chapels, and we had a very good, two hour meeting. I am really looking forward to this. We are tying together the things we have been reading with scripture, songs and prayer. It was really neat, and it gave me more insight into the readings as well as doing something I really enjoy (planning songs and scripture to go with a certain theme). I then came back to my room and finished my reading of Epictetus Enchiridion, and talked and laughed with Bethany. Now I am here - amazingly - on wireless in my room! I have never been able to stay online for more than a couple of minutes - now it has been considerably longer! Of course, skype, facebook, gmail and this blog itself are alternately not working - and google search is flat-out on strike. Ha! I shall succeed and post anyway . . . I hope . . . :) GStQ