Years ago, there was a popular Masterpiece Theatre series called Upstairs, Downstairs, examining the lives of the British upper class (who lived upstairs) and their servants (who lived downstairs). The popularity of that series inspired more recent series on this subject, including Downton Abbey.
Those of us who had young children in the 1970s or later cannot have been completely ignorant of the popular children’s series Sesame Street. There was a silly series called “Monsterpiece Theatre” with a sketch entitled “Upstairs, Downstairs.” It showed the Muppet Grover climbing a staircase while a deep voice intoned, “Upstairs…” and as he went back down again said, “…Downstairs.” I think Sesame Street was made to appeal to parents as well as their children. Many of its sketches and songs have stuck in my mind to this day – and now my son is 35!
So even now, when I think about staircases, I can hear that voice in my mind, proclaiming in a serious, deep voice, “Upstairs…downstairs.”
So for Becky’s January Square photo challenge with the topic UP, here are some squares of stairs (hey, that rhymes!) going up.
Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week begins a series exploring the five senses. This week is sight. She says: As the saying goes, a picture worth a thousand words. Think of photos you can take or have already taken that remind you of a fabulous sight. I like to call it “Eye Candy”. Several of the photos I picked out are of animals, which is conveniently the topic of Dutch Goes the Photo’s Tuesday Photo Challenge.
A romantic couple: Swans make a “heart” after mating, in one of our community ponds.
Cheetah mom and cub frolic in Tanzania:
After watching these two gamboling for about half an hour, I decided the cheetah is now my favorite wild animal!
In a close second place are these adorable genets, who reside at Ndutu Safari Lodge. They looked down at us with such curious faces, and sat up there so quietly observing the humans down below.
My youngest “grandcat” Freddie – how can I help falling in love with this guy??
Here is my own beautiful cat, Hazel! This is an early photo of her, but it has always been my favorite.
This is a more recent photo of her, taken in our new house.
I guess it’s clear that I just love cats in general! (Genets are not cats, but they sort of look like cats.)
More eye candy is to be found in the beauty of nature.
A sunset in Tanzania
Cathedral Rock as seen from the campus of Verde Valley School, Sedona, Arizona
Flowers: at Chicago Botanic Gardens
Dahlia at Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, WA
I love to look at beautiful works of humankind as well.
In St. Matthias Church, Budapest
If I had to lose either my sight or my hearing, I think I would choose being deaf than missing out on the beauties of our world.
HURRAY! I am back on my blog after being AWOL for two days! I had technical difficulties and it took the computer tech more than 24 hours to fix it. So I am at the TOP of my world! Oh, speaking of top…
I’ve missed a few days of Becky’s April Squares with the topic top, so I’m going to post several photos. I happen to have several photos of the tops of European churches from our trip to France and river cruise in 2019, so here goes…
Most of the photos are of church spires, but my first photo is, sadly, a beautiful cathedral that lost its spires to fire last year: Notre Dame in Paris. Look on the right side of the photo, stare at the clouds and imagine the spires! We visited only a couple of months after the fire, so we were not even able to go inside at that time. I would love to visit when it has been reconstructed and looks magnificent!
The cathedral in Bayeux, France…this cathedral built in the Middle Ages was the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry, which recounts the story of the Norman (France) invasion of England.
We stopped in Bayeux on our way to Mont St.-Michel, which had been on my bucket list for several years. Here is the tippy-top of the abbey spire.
Really, when one tours Europe, one is amazed at the number of churches/cathedrals – every city has one! Here is the top of the cathedral in Würzburg, Germany – the cross on its steeple is lovely!
Next is Bamberg, Germany, with more beautiful crosses on top.
What I like about this one, in Nuremburg, Germany, are all the mini spires decorating the roof, and especially, the clock!
I must soon post the photos I have of this lovely church in Budapest, Hungary – St. Matthias. Inside, it is very colorful and elaborate, but the roof of this church, with its colorful tiles forming geometric designs is also eye-catching!
Since it is Good Friday, I thought this “top” would be appropriate – it is the dome inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which was built on what is believed to be the site of both the crucifixion and the tomb where Jesus was buried.
The church as it stands today is the same church that was built in the 12th century in the time of the Crusades. Here are some more photos I took there.
It was the most ornate church I had ever seen.
The church has several chapels and altars.
Within the church are the last four stations of the cross on the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus walked carrying the cross.
While I’m stuck at home, I’m making a photo book on Shutterfly of our trip to Israel last year. Going through the photos, I noticed some interesting doors I don’t think I’ve posted before, like these in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity. So I will tell the story of our visit forNorm’s Thursday Doors.
Bethlehem is located in the West Bank and we took a bus there from Jerusalem. When we arrived, I was gob smacked at how large the church was! It couldn’t all fit in one picture.
More remarkable is that this church was built in 530 CE by Justinian, on the site of a 4th century church over the cave in which Jesus is said to have been born.
The first church was commissioned in 326 CE by Constantine and his mother, St. Helena, directly over the cave. In the center was a large hole, surrounded by a railing, which provided a view of the cave. Portions of the floor mosaics from this earliest church are visible in the main sanctuary today.
Door named for St. Helena
The Door of Humility, a small rectangular entrance to the church, was put in by the Ottomans to prevent the carts of looters from being able to enter. It is called this because one has to duck to enter the church. I was unable to get a photo of the outside of the door because a lot of people were lined up to get in, which took some people more
But back to Justinian…who was responsible for the much larger church that still stands today. Remarkably, it was never destroyed by the Persians when they invaded in 614CE nor by the Muslims who followed them. In 1009 CE, the Crusaders took over, while the Franks and Byzantines, in the 12th century, fully redecorated the interior of the church. In the centuries that followed, the church was neglected but not destroyed, and the building also survived an earthquake (1834) and a fire (1869) which destroyed the furnishings of the cave.
In 1852, the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox secured joint custody of Church of the Nativity. The Greeks maintain the grotto (where the cave is).
I am not sure if the above photo is the inside of the Door of Humility or it is the one below, with beautiful woodworked panels above it.
In the cavernous nave, there are 44 pillars, 30 of which are painted with images of saints or the Virgin & Child. The columns are made of pink, polished limestone and most of them date – incredibly – from the first, 4th century Constantinian church!
On the walls on both sides of the nave are fragments of beautiful mosaics, from the 1160s, created by the Franks and ‘Byzantines.
Visitors were lined up on two sides of the wide nave, waiting to get into the grotto to see the site where Jesus was born.
Our guide inquired and found out it would be at least 45 minutes, probably more, to get in. The consensus among us was to do the alternative: go to the church next door (St. Catherine) where we could peer through a peephole into the Chapel of the Manger.
We then went next door to St. Catherine Church. In front of the main entrance is a statue of St. Jerome (Hieronymus in Greek), who lived and worked in Bethlehem from 386 CE and is buried in a cave under Church of the Nativity. He is depicted with one foot on a skull.
St. Jerome always had a skull within his sight when he was working, to remind him that time was limited, so he should not waste time but instead use his precious time wisely.
Behind the statue is this lovely front door to St. Catherine, with a stunning stained glass window depicting the holy family.
Close-up of the panels on the door
The sanctuary of St. Catherine Catholic Church
We proceeded downstairs to the Chapel of the Grotto.
To see into the Chapel of the Manger, where there is a star on the spot where Jesus allegedly was born, we had to look through this peephole! (The people we could see through there were most likely looking down at the star.)
Church of the Nativity was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.
(Visited January 13, 2019)
This little “teardrop” Catholic church outside the walls of Old Jerusalem is called Dominus Flevit, which means “The Lord Weeps,” representing Jesus weeping about the future destruction of Jerusalem.
Here is the same window from the inside, framing old Jerusalem with the Golden Dome as a recognizable landmark.
The church is flanked on four sides with pillars, atop which are jars in the shape of teardrops.
The interior is very simple. The altar is not much more than a table and a cross, but set in front of the beautiful window overlooking Jerusalem.
Here are a few details of the interior: the dome, one of the stations of the cross, along one of the side walls.
There is a small building outside the church…
…which houses a necropolis, containing graves of Jews from the 1st to 4th centuries C.E.
There is also this plaque on an exterior wall of the church.