Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Sunday Work and Cooking Day

We left our Michael Bevis residence hall only once today, to shop at a neighborhood store and buy cookies and a couple of bottles of wine. For most of the day we've been working on a presentation.

Tonight we cooked two pies (apple and pecan) for tomorrow night's Flat 25 group dinner. So far I've met everyone living in Flat 25, except for an Italian girl who's away for the holiday break.

The residents are just slightly more ethnically diversified than my fellow students at Louisiana College, years ago. Most of those students were from Louisiana, with a couple from New Jersey and Mississippi, two from Iran, and a maybe one other from Brazil.

In this one flat we have:
Osman — his parents are from Pakistan, but he was born in Canada. His twin brother is here for a visit from Chicago;
Dido from Syria;
Hassim from Saudi Arabia;
Kwi from Taiwan;
Pam from Thailand;
Dao from Thailand;
Demetrius from Greece;
Abdul from Zanzibar;
Robin (and me) from the USA.

I’ll try to get photos of everyone Monday night during the potluck dinner.

Bilao and Osman, twin brothers. Pakistani parents, Canadian born.

Speaking of cooking, we went to Sainsbury’s, a large grocery store, to buy ingredients for baking pies for Monday night’s potluck dinner. We couldn’t find shortening to make a crust. We worked our way up the ladder of 4 Sainsbury’s employees, finally ending up with the head baker, and no one had ever heard of shortening or Crisco. They also have never heard of corn syrup, one of the ingredients we needed for our pecan pie recipe. We’ll get by without. I guess it’s a small price to pay for being walking distance from a pub that servers hot mulled cider.

More Windsor

Chistopher Wren (1623–1723) was an important architect who redesigned St. Paul's Cathedral in London after the Great Fire of London, and many other important chuches. He designed the Windsor house above to live in. It’s next to the bridge that crosses the Thames and connects to Eton, where an exclusive private school for noblemen’s kids and rich blokes' brats is located.

Wren also designed this Market Arch in Windsor. Market Arches like this are in the center of many English towns, and served as shelters for vendors who were selling produce and other goods. When first built, the arch didn’t include the two interior support columns. Windsor councilmen were concerned that their renowned architect might not know as much about architecture as they did, so they insisted that he put two extra support columns in the middle of the structure. Wren did as they wanted, but if you look carefully when you're there at the top of the two new columns (below), you realize that the columns are actually two inches short of touching the ceiling. Brilliant!

Christopher Wren's revenge.

Robin goes back in time while standing next to St. George Chapel (at Windsor Castle).

Inside the Windsor Castle courtyard, forming part of the outer wall that separates the castle from the oldest part of downtown, is a row of residences where retired Knights live. One of the residences bears the symbol of the Order of The Garter, one of the oldest  and most exclusive orders in English History. Mary Sidney’s son, brother, husband, and father were members. Only 24 members allowed at one time. Only the King or Queen can admit you as a member. I had my wrist slapped by a guard for walking up to this door to take a picture, since these are  private residences. I feel really bad about that (click click click).

The beauty of stone, glass, and snow

View through a castle courtyard gate.

When we finished lunch at The Carpenters Arms pub, the dusky shadows of Windsor were falling across the castle walls just like they have since the 1300s (and much earlier if you include the wooden castle that was there starting in 1077, built by William the Conqueror).

Those of you who are familiar with the Shakespearean Authorship Question will be surprised to learn that a pub in Windsor is where William Shakespeare wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor. If you don’t believe me, read this plaque (below). Surely they wouldn’t say it on a plaque if it wasn’t true (gasp).