Saturday, March 23, 2019
Yesterday a math teacher came to my desk between classes and said she needed a librarian's research skills. (I'm not a trained librarian but I am an ex-journalist, which seems like it ought to count.) Apparently she was planning a class activity that required her to know the dimensions of the rose window at Westminster Abbey -- only she couldn't find its size mentioned anywhere. Would I help?
Given how famous Westminster Abbey is, you'd think this would be easily Googled, right? I thought I'd have the answer in ten minutes, max. Well, let me tell you, it took me about an hour of scanning web pages and reading library books before I found any reliable mention of the window's size. I tried architecture books. I tried travel guides. Everyone talks about when it was built and rebuilt and by whom, blah blah blah, but nowhere -- even on the Abbey's web site -- could I find any mention of how big it is.
Finally, online, I found the scanned back of an old postcard in an archive in San Diego (!) that said it was "100 feet round," which I took to mean circumference. And then I found an object for sale in Westminster Abbey's online gift shop based on the window, and the description said the real thing was 32 feet across. The math works out, so I went with those measurements.
If you take to Google yourself and find the answer faster than me, don't tell me.
In other news, I'm beginning to think nearly all my seeds are a bust. It's been two weeks since I planted them, and I still only have four seedlings -- one dahlia, one burdock and two hollyhocks. I knew the wild seeds I gathered were a shot in the dark, and that zinnia I saved was dicey, but I expected all the packaged dahlias to come up. Weird! I hope to get the cosmos planted this morning. Maybe I'll have better luck with those.
(Photo: A sculpture in Golders Hill Park. Look at those magnolias!)