We had a wonderful gathering to celebrate Clara’s Fifth Birthday yesterday afternoon….Alice had the party on her deck and her family, Em’s family, Alice and Barney and Andy and I were there…….There were nibbles and herbal ice tea and an ice cream cake! There was a Hello Kitty pinata and presents for the Princess.

Clara july 2014 snowflakes on the Elsa dress

It is difficult to resist posting my favorite photo first! Those of you who do not have little girl relatives in the age group swept away by the international phenomenon of FROZEN probably are not aware that as soon as the dresses for the Princess Elsa character were released they were snapped up by scalpers and it is impossible to buy this dress for less than $150.00…(Even the normal $50.00 cost seems fairly outrageous to my mind, raised as I was by parents whose ideas were formed by the depression and WWII.) Yet Princess Elsa was the character Clara adored (naturally!) and hoped to have a costume of…So it was that the night before the party her wonderful Aunt Alice spent hours and hours sewing her a costume, a dress and a cape, like Elsa’s. It is also, naturally, Clara’s very favorite gift…And since the dress Elsa wears in the movie is decorated with snowflakes and Alice’s dress had sparkly tulle but no snowflakes, six year old Sofia spent lots of time this morning cutting paper snowflakes to decorate the dress…..I think Clara is feeling very like a Princess this morning!

Today Em and Ingmar are looking at more houses they might like to buy, but they have found a wonderful house to rent, not far from us.

Clara july 2014 pinata at 5th bday pty

Clara in another costume from Frozen, attacking the pinata.

Clara july 2014 ice cream cake

The ice cream cake made for Clara by her father with lots of ice cream, candy, and tiny paper umbrellas, just the way she likes it.

Clara july 2014 beautiful and sweet 5 yr old Clara

And now, she’ll need to wait for another year! A year of excitement! A year of moving to Ohio! A year of beginning Kindergarten!

Credit for these photos goes to my sil Alice B. and my daughter Alice C! Just because I found my camera doesn’t, alas, mean I brought it to the party. Sigh……..

Does anyone remember this song? It was running through my mind a lot yesterday! Somehow, I remember how especially important it felt to me to be five! So grown up.

First of all – I found my camera….Now I need to find a missing library book and two necklaces! Mercy!

Tomorrow my dd Emily and her family are coming to Ohio. They are spending July at Chautauqua and on Tuesday Clara turned FIVE! It was celebrated there and tomorrow we will have a small party here……

Em and Ingmar will be looking at houses on Friday and drive back to the cottage that night.

The next day I will be leaving for the cottage, too. I’ll be there at least a week this time. The 19th is my sil’s birthday and I plan to celebrate it there with them.

Clara about 1 month with Em

Here is Clara about one month old!

Clara soccer 9 2013 3rd picture

She’s grown quite a bit!

I am celebrating quietly today, but happily. I’m remembering my two ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, Henry Ferguson and Andrew Punches (really Pontius). Most of my family is at Lake Chautauqua today, but the 4th is one of the busiest and nosiest weekends of the year up there and I’ve come to appreciate the quiet. They were all at the wonderful parade in Mayville, New York this morning. Mayville is a quite small village (less than 2,000 population) which curves around the northern shores of the Lake and is, for historic reasons, the county seat of Chautauqua County.

Chautauqua July 2014 Em and all waiting for the parade

It takes about two hours to pass by and schools, organizations and groups from all over the county march past…..People on floats and fire engines and old cars throw candy to the kids lining the way……

Chautauqua july 2014 parade fire truck

This evening when it’s dark one can watch the fireworks on the beach in Mayville from our dock across the lake. It’s glorious! Or one can go out on the lake and see them closer up. It makes a wonderful day. And perhaps next year I’ll be there again. But truth to tell, I’m ever so slightly an introvert and crowds and noise are not really my joy!

But I will be back at the lake next week when it’s a bit quieter!

Chautauqua july 2014 what is Steve-o thinking at the parade

Chautauqua july 2014 alice photo fb she says nap time query mark don't mind if i do

Many thanks to Alice for her lovely photos!

POSTSCRIPT: Andy and I lit sparklers on the deck as we listened to distant fireworks we could not see and then went inside and read the Declaration of Independence together and lit a last sparkler…..A nice and quiet celebration.

Rats! Where is it….? I hope not left at the lake! I will check in my car again, just in case.

I took lots of photos of our wonderful long weekend at Lake Chautauqua.

chaut our dock summer 2012

The dock was a big part of the weekend…..(This photo is from 2012!) I have not been in our boat since the last time I was on the lake with Paul, August 2005.Ever increasingly painful knees, melanoma cancer, double replacement knee surgery and breast cancer and the aftermath of exhaustion last summer made it impossible. And that voice in my mind that says, “Oh, no, you can’t do that”, that voice which Andy has been helping me silence ever so gently, kept me off the water. But this year, I did it! Yes! I even managed getting off the boat onto a very bouncy bit of dock at the Casino (restaurant with no gambling!) and getting off again at our own dock when the boat was a bit farther away than I would have liked. We did it. We boated out past Point Chautauqua, past the bell tower and the Institute across the lake, past Midway, past Long Point into Bemus point where we had to wait a bit for the Ferry to pass us by and then docked at the Casino close to the bridge. It was wonderful. On the way back we were very close to the Chautauqua Belle, a tourist paddle wheel steam boat reminiscent of the bit steam boats used to take vacationers from the train stations in Mayville or Jamestown around the lake before the roads were built.

So many many memories. Wonderful memories. I’m really happy that our boat is still going well after all these years. I’m glad that Andy can persuade me that I can do things, and should do them. Yes!

Chaut lbr dy 2011 lots of yard work

Another old photo of the cottage……This one from 2011…..

I am putting some photos in this post which I looked at on my computer while we had no internet and I wandered through my “library” of pictures….
Two of them are from the chapel at my brother in law Franz’s retreat house near Kronach, Germany. I will probably never see it again, though one never knows. It is a dear memory.


On Monday a tree I could only call giant crashed down on all our power lines, cable, and landline phone. A big crash. But luckily it fell away from the house and no one was hurt…And we never totally lost electricity, though the voltage fluctuated between 64 and 128 according to Andy’s excellent Fluke Multimeter. We were asked not to use any major appliances and yesterday all electric power was restored. This morning the Time Warner Cable repairman came out and fixed their service so we have tv and internet again. It’s always a bit dismaying to realized how much we use such things! Luckily Andy and I both enjoy reading and playing Chicaneuse, a double solitaire game I’ve mentioned before here. We learned it from my mil who learned it from her grandmother when she was a girl growing up in pre-WWI Hungary. But it is wonderful to have TV and Internet again….When the tree is cut down, in about three weeks I hope, TW Cable will return to tighten up the very low cable. Tomorrow we should have my landline back. I feel a bit ambivalent about it since I don’t usually answer it. It’s always a political call or someone who wants money and I don’t choose where to donate by who calls me on the phone.


When the internet wasn’t working I could still use my computer to watch dvds, play games, and look through my seeming thousands of photos……I think we are all very spoiled. But I loved looking at the pictures of my grandchildren from their earliest days forward…….

Haus Gries window in the chapel

Alice, Nathan, and Stephen are at Emily’s dear friend Diana’s home in Falls Church at the moment. Emily, Sofia and Clara are there too. Tomorrow they will be at the Smithsonian Folk Festival were they were last year when Hungary was a featured country…The real purpose is for Alice to bring the little girls back to Ohio. Emily and Ingmar are packing furiously, filling a tractor trailer with their goods and chattels. It will be taken to Canton, Ohio where they can store it for a month. They are moving to Chautauqua for the month of July.Emily begins work at Cleveland State in August. It looks as though they will be renting a house in Ohio and renting their house in Maryland for a time…..I hope someone buys their Maryland house soon, and they find one to buy here and become more settled…These in-between-times are very stressful!

Rose stanwell perpetual

The rose above is my much loved Stanwell Perpetual which I first saw at Black Creek Pioneer Village in ’75. It has a wonderful fragrance and is from the family of Scottish roses. I’ve had it for years and it never did much, but suddenly in the last two years it has become much stronger with more blooms. I think perhaps the roots have reached a deeper level, but whatever the reason, I am grateful for it.

Alice and her family are enjoying a weekend at Lake Chautauqua. They got the boat into the water and headed off to the Italian Fisherman for lunch. This boat, which we sadly never really named though several ideas were tossed about, is in its 29th summer! We bought it in 1985 after our first sabbatical year in Budapest. We felt a bit rich, though this was a modest boat in price. We had rented out home in Bath, and our cottage at the lake for nine months and were provided free housing in Budapest from IREX, the International Research Exchange group that hosted us. Paul and I took many trips in it even that last summer of 2005 before his illness became so much more acute. It brings back wonderful memories of water-skiing, going to church by boat, exploring the lake all the way up to the Chadakoin river outlet, and, of course, taking it to lunch or dinner.

chautauqua 2013 view from our front yard alice foto june 12

When Andy and his friend Istvan readied the boat for winter that year, they put special winterizers into it which probably account for the minimal work it needed more than six years later when it was able to be put in use again.

Next week I’ll be at the lake. I’m a trustee of the Point Chautauqua Historical Preservation Society and we’re having a meeting. Point Chautauqua is on the National Historic Register, and I think everyone who has a home there loves the place. Our neighbors are the fifth generation of their family to live at the lake, or summer there. In July Emily and her family will be there, and the rest of us will be coming up throughout the rest of the summer…..I think Andy and Istvan are coming for at least one weekend… I’m so glad all my children and grandchildren are so attached to it.

nathan june 2014 Alice and MIke on our 29 year old boat.

Nathan june 2014 on the boat heading to the italian fisherman for lunch........life is so good....paul would be so happy

Nathan june 2014 lunch at the italian fisherman june 21

Yesterday and today were so perfect, at least in my eyes……The weather was sunny but a bit cool. And the thousand shades of green are still so fresh. The dustiness of later summer has not touched them. The long shadows lay across the grass. There were little breezes cooling us and inviting the wind chimes to make their special music.

Stephen had some fun in the river yesterday. That boy does love the water – not to mention the mud.

Stephen June 2014 at CVNP having fun in mud

Stephen June 2014 at CVNP more fun in the river

I began this post two days ago and hit a snag. So I need to begin by saying it’s a tad too warm this afternoon. However, I know I live in paradise when I read about the horrors taking place around the world and will not complain…

Sunday Alice and her family took a great bike ride in the National Park nearby. At the end when they were ready to turn around they discovered a farmer had set up a neat self-serve station where he was selling inexpensive snacks and ice cream treats. There was a bowl of water in case any pets were along and steps for little kids to get up to the cooler to see what was inside. He’d cobbled it together from various things on hand. Alice had a chance to talk to him for a bit.

Nathan June 2014 Fathers Day after the bike hike

I feel like humming a few bars of “In the Good old Summertime, In the Good Ole Summertime…”


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