Upstairs Downstairs

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.

From the Vault: 'Upstairs Downstairs' Was The Original 'Downton Abbey' |  Tellyspotting
Principal cast of the 1971 British series Upstairs, Downstairs

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!

A similar sketch, in which Grover and Kermit discuss opposites up and down.

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.

Perspectives of a Stairway

During the lockdown, we took a little jaunt out of metro Chicago and found ourselves in the town of Woodstock, IL. Woodstock is most famous for its historical square in the center of town, dominated by the imposing Woodstock Opera House. It is now used as a theatre and arts center. Here are 2 perspectives of a long stairway that stretches up one side of the building; in the one taken from the side across the street, you can see the two landings, where there are access doors on different floors.

Which photo do you think makes the stairway look longer and harder to climb? Which do you find more aesthetically interesting?

CB&WPC: Long

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is things that are long.

Long necks
DSC02902 (2)

Long necks and long legs!SONY DSC
Long stem (bell stand) and long trunk (palm tree)
Man-made long-ness:
The Sphinx’s long front legs
20181224_124544 (2)
Long stairway
DSC02866 (2)
Tall minarets
20181225_133505d (2)
Long (and tall) bridge
20190621_104958 (2)
Tall obelisks (they were long before they were hoisted into position 😉 )
DSC_0132 (2)
20190613_113615 (2)
Long-necked tower
DSC00110 (2)
Very long building! (and this is only a partial view!)
DSC00217 (2)


Lens-Artists #84: Narrow Passageways

Amy at Lens-Artists this week invites us to explore the topic of narrow.

In my travels to “old” places – places built when there were no cars or crowds of tourists -I explored (or declined to explore) many narrow streets and other passageways.

Places like Old Town Tallinn, Estonia (where I got lost due to sidewalks and streets so narrow that I lost sight of our guide!)…
KODAK Digital Still Camera
A van that is nearly as wide as this street in Old Town forces all pedestrians to the narrow sidewalk on the left.100_0371
There were also narrow witches!
KODAK Digital Still Camera
In Stockholm, Sweden, I tried to imagine returning home to one of these narrow alleys on a dark afternoon in winter!
KODAK Digital Still Camera
Dale ends our bike ride through Stockholm coasting down a narrow cobblestone street.
Stockholm, like many European countries, also has tall, narrow buildings.
Even older is Old Jerusalem, Israel…Like elsewhere, vehicles have the right of way, squeezing pedestrians to the wall.
Some of these climbing narrow streets are divided between steps and ramps.
Watch out for motorcycles coming through!
In ancient Egypt, clearly people were smaller to fit into narrow passageways into pyramids and tombs.

Dale and a few other adventurous souls (such as this woman from our group emerging from a pyramid) did go down these narrow steps into a now empty room in the Queen’s tomb in Giza. I took one look and decided to wait outside!
Tourists descend a long narrow hallway covered with inscriptions and paintings to reach the tomb of Ramses IX in Valley of the Kings. These hieroglyphics declaim the deeds of the king during his reign, and there are also symbols of gods to accompany him to the afterlife.
At the Chateau of Caen, France, a narrow stairway leads down to…where??
On Omaha Beach, in Normandy, are the remains of WWII German bunkers, which I declined to enter, also reached through narrow passages and stairways. (I’m glad I didn’t go in – my son’s photos show empty rooms with an inch of rainwater covering the floors!)
On the way back to our Airbnb farmhouse through the Normandy countryside, we drove down the narrow roads of villages, flanked by houses on both sides.
A car in front of us navigates a sharp corner into another narrow street.DSC00482
A lot of traffic in Amsterdam travels its canals, which narrow on approach to bridges.
DSC00587Floating traffic jam!
Bridges have these traffic signals indicating when it is safe and permissible to proceed (or not!).
The day after our tour of the canals, we went to the “red light district” where we were told not to take photos of the sex workers who lived on either side of these narrow alleyways. Probably also not a good idea to photograph potential clients – good thing this one came out blurry!
In Amsterdam, we stayed in an Airbnb 2nd floor flat, with a narrow stairway winding up to it. That was one of our son’s obligations to us for paying for his trip – carry our suitcases up and down! The stairway was so narrow and windy that he had to carry the suitcases one by one in his arms!


WWPC: Ways and Means in Miltenberg

Miltenberg, Germany, a beautiful small city with some 9,000 or so inhabitants, is located in northern Bavaria on the Main River. This post features ways – how people move around – and means – what is used to get around – in this picturesque town, for Which Way Photo Challenge, now with a new host, Alive and Trekking.


This photo was taken from the Main River, not at Miltenberg, but representative of personal watercraft.

WPC: Going Up & Looking Up

Sue W. sponsors the WP Weekly Photo Challenge prompt and this week the word is Up.

Up makes me think of stairs or other means of ascending. These are photos from our most recent trip to Egypt and Israel, Dec. 2018-Jan. 2019.


This stairway looks a little scary! At a mall in Tel Aviv, Israel


We went up this narrow street in Jerusalem, but had to move aside while a vehicle came down – on the stairs!


Take your pick: stairs on the left or right, or ramp in the middle (Old Jerusalem)


Stairway at the Church of Virgin Mary (Hanging Church), Cairo, Egypt

One of the women in my Egypt tour group confided to me (partly in jest!) that, “If I’d known there would be so many stairs, I wouldn’t have come!”

Of course, when you are touring a place you’ve never been, especially if you’re a photographer, you also do a lot of looking up.

We looked up at:
Ceilings (Hanging Church, Cairo, Egypt)
Tops of buildings (Cairo)
Tops of columns and ceiling carvings (Temple of Khnum, Esna, Egypt)
Church domes (Church of the Flagellation, Jerusalem, Israel)
Windows (Old Jerusalem)
Murals high on a church wall (Peter of Gallicantu Church, Jerusalem)

Climbing and looking up give you a view of the world that you would otherwise not observe!




Open House Chicago 2018-Part 2

This post continues our brief tour of Open House Chicago 2018. The second building we toured was right across the street from the Gunder House.
20181013_130955It is the Conway House, now the property of Sacred Heart Schools as the Driehaus Center20181013_131527
The home was designed by the architect William Carbys Zimmerman in the Tudor-Revival style, and built by Richard Francis Conway for $40,000.  Conway’s paving company also built Lake Shore Drive. The architect also designed several of the Chicago Park District’s field houses.
Richard Conway, the house’s owner, was a widower with 11 children (good Catholics!). He also had a houseman and two servants. In early 1922, the house was sold by the Conway estate for $78,500, a considerable sum in those days.
The restored building is a survivor from the days when Sheridan Road was a millionaire’s row. This is the front entrance of this building which is rarely open to the public.
In the 1950s it became the North End Women’s Club. In 1959, Sacred Heart Schools purchased the house and Hardey Preparatory classes were held there until 1972.
This landmark home now hosts events on the main floor and has offices for Admissions, Communications and Development on the second and third floors. It has a third-floor ballroom, Ionic columns, mahogany woodwork and even lion gargoyles guarding the drainage outlets on the porch.
The first floor is lavishly decorated with period furniture.
The staircase was carpeted with floral patterns.
Interior paneling
The interior design, windows and fixtures in this curved room were beautiful.
An alcove with beautiful stained glass windows

Miniature chairs – there were two of these. I took a photo of my husband standing next to one of them to get perspective on their size.

Embossed wallpaper detail
Upper floor window seen from the outside of the building
Since 1972, the house has been home to the Religious of the Sacred Heart, Parents of the Heart activities and an early childhood intervention program for families in the neighborhood.