Archive for May, 2010

Spring into Summer

This year the spring weather has been rather strange, making it one of the few years I’ve ever seen in which the beautiful peonies were not smashed to the ground a day or two after opening fully. We’re enjoying seeing them, but I worry about the lack of rain for farmers and gardeners……Irises, roses, peonies are all favorites of mine, but even though I don’t garden at all as much as I used to, there are many hardy garden friends who return year after year and gladden my heart.

This is a postscript from June 1st. Last night we had torrential rains – flooding to the east of here.  (And a bit of flooding in the family room until I could get the screen door opened and the patio door closed!) The lovely peonies are just a memory. But we all got to enjoy them for a very long time! And the farmers are happy! For the moment.

Why I love late Spring

I love peonies!

Another favorite - Paul's Yellow Rose of Texas

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A Proud Moment!

My oldest grandson has graduated from Pre-School! I used to be amused by such graduations but I understand them very well now! These little kids have grown so much, learned so much, matured so much in the last two years, that it now feels right to celebrate this rite of passage. In the fall Kindergarten looms. (After Safety Town this summer.) For Nathan’s Mom, thirty years ago, there was no pre-school graduation. It wasn’t the style until some years later. But we moved that spring to the same little town we all live in still and she had Safety Town that summer and began Kindergarten in the same school my grandson will attend that September. Despite the interesting  (if slightly incomprehensible to me)  article  in the current Scientific American which suggests that time may not exist, we experience life that way, illusion though it may be. In that view, time is the measure of change and I can only stand slightly bewildered, sad and happy at the same time at all the changes of the last thirty years. But my real emotion to this graduation is love and pride and happiness to have been a part of it all.

second from the left is our hero

Into the Future!

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Portrait of D.E. Stevenson from Boston Gathering in 2007

The Belvarosi Templom in Budapest

Sofia and her sweet smile

Clara too cute at the zoo

Eagle Nebula photographed by the Hubble telescope/NASA

Looking for images to symbolize the things I’m grateful for is a daunting task.

On the one hand I don’t have exactly the pictures for the ideas I have and on the other I want to put in every picture I have because they pretty much all stand for something I count as a blessing….

But here are a few. I am thankful for the writers I love to read who have added so much to my life. Perhaps D.E. Stevenson is one of the most important to include. Not only have I been reading her books with pleasure and benefit very steadily for the last forty plus years, but I have been a Dessie, a member of an online discussion list which has been talking about her work since 1997, and making good friends with one another along the way.  A number of us will be meeting together in Edinburgh and Moffat Scotland for a few weeks in June.  The second photo is a picture of the inner city Parish church in Budapest, a very old church in which my husband’s grandfather’s grandparents were married in the early 1830s and a church I liked to go into simply to sit in the powerful stillness and find peace when we have lived in Budapest during Paul’s sabbaticals. Some churches have this sense of spirit and peace that can wrap around ones soul and make all right with the world, and this is one. Then I have two pictures of my granddaughters on a trip to Washington last weekend. They represent all of my extended family.  Our families are our true blessings; they reach forward and backward in time and in every direction in space and grow until they include all beings. And the last picture is the beautiful Eagle Nebula, another lovely photo which is a gift from NASA to share with us, a blessing of realizing a tiny bit of the wonder of our immense universe which we are all part of. What an astonishing, humbling, incomprehensible yet joyful thought. There is so much for which to be grateful.

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Thicket House Kirigami by Cynthia Emerlye - click to enlarge this.

The Kirigami slightly more in context

across the bookroom from the kirigami

Long Ago and Far Away, a little girl, born in 1902,  who would grow up to do many amazing things, and  become my mother in law in 1972, was growing up on her beloved family home,  Sovenyhaza, in north western Hungary, near the city of Gyor. (There should be an umlaut over the ‘o’ and a long accent over the ‘e’, but I seem to have lost my Hungarian program during the computer crash earlier this year.)

When I say this little girl would do amazing things, and have an amazing life, I was not exaggerating. No, if anything this is an understatement.  Sovenyhazi Fricke Isabella, known in her childhood as Didi, was blessed with a fine intelligence, a remarkable physical stamina and a drive to accomplish what she set out to do. She had great faith and a good sense of humor which helped her immensely in her life. She was educated in Budapest by the Sacre Coeur nuns whose school was called the Sophianum, and after completing this,  she continued her education to earn a PhD in linguistics, something rather unusual for a woman in Hungary in the 1920s.  She had actually wanted to earn her doctorate in her first love, mathematics, but her father forbade it. He said it would sour her personality and she would never find a husband. Oh, my. I wonder how much he actually understood about linguistics! For a time, she wanted to become a Sacre Coeur nun, but then, at a country ball given by her aunt at her home near Tolna, in the Dunantul,  she met her future husband, Jalics Kalman (Hungarian names are spoken like Asian ones, with the family name first), and they were strongly attracted to one another, kindred spirits from that first evening when they talked and talked for hours and hours. In a fairly short time they were engaged and then married in the fall of 1925. For most of the next twenty years they lived happily at their home in Gyal, Hungary, (even through the difficulties of the depression) and Isabella became the mother of ten children, five sons and five daughters, of whom my husband Paul was the youngest.

Her life was often the opposite of easy….My mother in law lived through two world wars – with fighting on the ground in her own country. She lived through two communist regimes, one a reign of terror after WWI when her father had to hide in swamps at some distance from her home, and again after WWII, when her husband was arrested by the communists, acquitted at his trial, picked up by the dreaded secret police before he could get home and finally  released by them, to live only a few months. The family nearly starved during those first years after WWII.  She was also a refugee twice, first during WWII when she fled with her children, sister, sister’s children and mother west fleeing the Russian army, and again after the Hungarian Revolution when they escaped first to Vienna where they found refuge with the Sacre Coeur nuns and then emigrated to the United States, sponsored by her brother who lived in Cleveland, Ohio. There she learned English (having only known a small amount before) and became a teacher. When I met her in 1972,  she had been teaching American 6th grade for 15 years. She lived to be 102 years old and was always a woman involved with life to the fullest degree. She loved nature and gardening and worked hard to have real personal relationships with all her grandchildren.

This is a long back story to the kirigami, isn’t it! In the eighties my husband and I started a company, mostly so he could buy picture framing equipment, and we called it Thicket House in honor of his mother’s childhood home, Sovenyhaza which could mean Thicket House or Hedge House……And I began sometimes to think of our home with my hedgerows around most of the property as Thicket House. I don’t know if I will always live here, but it is dear to my heart.

Late last fall I discovered Cynthia Emerlye’s art on etsy.com, that site where many artists and artisans sell their work. In the late 80s and early 90s some of my friends and I had done scherenschnitte and I still enjoy it very much.  I loved Emerlye’s laminated snowflakes and bought two sets of six, some for gifts and some to decorate my house during the holidays.  Everyone loved them!

I realized that she also designed and cut larger kirigami which could be framed. I commissioned a piece from her to represent Thicket House, a house in a thicket surrounded by a wreath with oak leaves and acorns which I love very much. We have an old pin oak in front of the house in Bath and a burr oak in the backyard of the cottage at Chautauqua, one I raised from a small seedling in a dixie cup. The original Sovenyhaza had a very large ginkgo tree which Paul’s mother and aunt were thrilled to discover still surviving when we went there with them in 1974. So I planted one in my own yard and it is very well grown now, with its lovely fan-shaped leaves that can be used in so many ways. I asked for thistles to be in the wreath to symbolize my Scottish ancestors and the subject of my daughter Emily’s Phd research, and there is a heart in the center of the design.

The result makes me so happy. And everyone who has seen it has really liked it.  This piece of art is now framed against a dark green background and hanging in the book room. I am not certain this is its final location, but I’m just enjoying seeing it many times every day.

Here are some websites where you can see more of Cynthia Emerlye’s art.



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