Archive for June, 2011

I leave tomorrow for the cottage at Lake Chautauqua! I was going to leave today, but there is too much to get ready, and people are still coming to measure the gutters……..What joy! A slightly unfortunate aspect of having the 4th on a Monday is that all my kids have to leave to be at work on Tuesday and won’t be able to see the fireworks across the lake in Mayville that night. No one wants to drive through the night to get home………

Even Stephen loves the zipline

Sofia, Clara and Em

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A Desultory Sunday

The wiki commons picture is a honeybee above a milk thistle blossom.

Today is such a quiet Sunday. I’m enjoying it very much even though I miss the company we had here for the last few days. Emily and her daughters arrived on Friday night to be at the party for her cousin Bob from Alaska and his two teenage sons. We don’t get to see them that often, and it was a wonderful time. The zipline from the treehouse across Alice’s yard to the maple tree got a lot of use! And the older boys played soccer with the little ones in a very friendly way that made me happy to see….There were about twenty of us, with lots of little kids and lots of life all around!  But yesterday Em drove back to PA to be there when her husband Ingmar flew back from his workshop in Colorado.

And today is quiet….

It began with Andy asking me to try the noodles Alfredo with carmelized onion and black pepper he had cooked last night. I did. It was delicious…Tomorrow I begin the South Beach diet which is very good for my health, and I know I’ll feel much better after I get into it. But today – I can enjoy noodles.

I sometimes get into listening to the same music over and over and this morning it’s been Alison Krauss’s wonderful “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us” from the Raising Sand album she made with Robert Plant. You can hear a little preview on amazon, or probably youTube as well. And it’s interspersed with Amos Lee’s “Night Train” from his Supply and Demand album.

And sometimes I just look out the window and experience what feels like a fall through a tunnel of green leaves. It makes me smile.

On my mind a lot are honey bees. I saw a trailer about the New Zealand documentary Queen of the Sun which you can read about here:      http://www.queenofthesun.com/

This is the trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vQ5PV-bNtM

I love bees and all the work they do to make the world beautiful and food to be available for us. My mother-in-law was a beekeeper, and so was a very good friend for many years. I’ve bought bees for the CSA farm we belong to in years when theirs have failed to overwinter.

I wanted to cry reading, ” A leaked document from the EPA shows that the agency has knowingly allowed a highly toxic pesticide for bees, to be sold and used nationwide by Bayer, the third-largest producer of pesticides in the world.

Below is an excerpt from Tom Philpott’s in-depth Grist.org article on the recent leak which came into the hands of a Colorado beekeeper.

“An internal EPA memo released Wednesday confirms that the very agency charged with protecting the environment is ignoring the warnings of its own scientists about clothianidin, a pesticide from which Bayer racked up €183 million (about $262 million) in sales in 2009.”

Shocking is the clarity of their scientists language in the leaked study itself–

“Clothianidin’s major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis.”

We hear so much about colony collapse disorder. We don’t hear enough about this senseless knowing destruction of honeybees. I’m glad to belong to an organic CSA farm which uses no pesticides nor herbicides.

This is not supposed to be a rant about bees, but a wandering through my mind on a Sunday when nothing major is happening and I am about to leave the keyboard and return to reading of Donna Leon’s Death at La Fenice out on the deck.

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The English label of Zatoun Olive Oil. The other side is French.

Mike from Made by Mike  (http://madebymike.wordpress.com/)   recently posted a recipe about rosemary and garlic infused olive oil, and Brenda from Coffee Tea Books and Me (http://www.coffeeteabooksandme.blogspot.com/) has been sharing recipes for hummus, Jerusalem salad and other middle eastern delights and they’ve inspired me to write a post about Zatoun, my favorite source for olive oil, really delicious extra-virgin olive oil.

Many years ago I belonged to a wonderful group called the Interfaith Council for Peace in the Middle East.  We had members who were Christian, Jewish and Muslim, and tried to educate people about the history of the issues between Israel and Palestine and to support activities which would help the Palestinians make a living under pretty dire conditions. We sold wood carvings made by Christians in Bethlehem at my church and through this group I bought my first olive oil sold by Zatoun, a group located in Canada.

At their website ( zatoun.com) they say, ” Support the farmers of Palestine in the struggle for their livelihood and land. Farmers are paid fair trade prices through Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA). Proceeds from each bottle sold is contributed to Trees for Life, a program to plant 12,000 olive trees each year in Palestine. An additional one dollar per bottle goes to help support Project Hope, an independent, grassroots effort to bring the expressive arts (painting, drawing, music and drama) as a means to help heal and contribute to youth in Palestine.

Zatoun is available primarily through grassroots groups and individuals working for social justice and peace in Palestine-Israel including faith-based groups of all denominations. Zatoun is intended as a tool to help promote their work and literally bring home the message that the struggle of Palestinians is one of human rights and justice.

Olive oil is a basic food which reminds us of our humanity and a symbol of our aspirations for peace.”

I buy this by the case. A bottle makes a lovely gift, and I only cook with this oil and it seems to last a long time. I know it’s healthy and I know it’s helping a good cause. They also sell soap and notecards, and take donations to buy olive trees.

I talked with someone who works for Ten Thousand Villages here in the US and it sounds as though they will soon be selling Zatoun olive oil in their shops. This is a very ethical Fair Trade organization begun by Mennonites and it sells many lovely things from third world countries after buying them from the producers for a fair price.

Wonderful Zatoun Olive Oil

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By coincidence, it turned out that a relative’s baby was being baptized while Alice and her family were in Budapest and yesterday she sent me an album of pictures of this event. I think they were taken by the baby’s father.

If I try to explain how baby Ilona is related to me I would have to say that my husband’s mother was the sister of one of her great-grandmothers. It sounds remote, but really wasn’t. Her grandmother was Paul’s cousin and we knew them all very well and one of Ilona’s aunts, Ako, lived with us for a year and went to a Catholic girls’ school with my daughters, a school which very kindly allowed her to attend free of charge. But sad to say, Ako, who is married and lives in Italy, was not able to be in Budapest for this family event. But Ako’s mother and her other sister Reka who lives in Germany and my sister in law Isa were there, as well as my nephew Miki who is teaching at the American School in Budapest. Miki was the godfather and his wife Marian and daughter Lea and I think son Benedek were there as well.

Paul's cousin Terez making a cross on her granddaughter's forehead

a lovely little baby

a long Christening gown!

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A Few Garden Pictures

My garden is probably wilder than the one described by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s in The Secret Garden! But even though I’m not physically able to do very much in it, I still love it. The bones of the design I established in the 80s still remains, with some changes. The birds and small animals love it and I enjoy watching them. The white rose is my favorite because of its incredible scent, Rosa Alba Jeanne D’Arc. I’m not sure what the pink tree climbing rose it. It is where I thought I had a true moss rose General Someone or other. But this is not a moss rose, though a similar color.

Jeanne D'Arc

It's difficult to show how high these are and still show the roses!

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No one can say that I’m not the master of the snappy headline…….

Alice and Mike at a pub in 'Pest

It’s a quiet June, so far….Alice and her family are having good times in my favorite city, Budapest. Emily is back home in Bellefonte and my son in law Ingmar sent me some lovely pictures of the weekend Sofia was the one who got to take Freddy the Frog home with her…They had lots of fun together. Clara and her favorite dolly tagged along. The little park down by the historic train depot is so pretty, especially in June.  I’ve been enjoying my very neglected garden. For years I wanted to get my old roses to climb into trees as they do in England. I think it was Christopher Lloyd who suggested this in one of his wonderful books. Never could, but this year they are climbing way way up. I will try to post a picture of that tomorrow.

NEWS FLASH As usual two of my four pictures failed to show up…….

I’m going to try again, by editing to get at least one more picture in this post.


Fia and Freddie swinging

Baking cinnamon rolls with Freddy the Frog

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Happy Birthday, Andy! June 10th, 1982 was a very happy day in our family. You arrived! What a trip it has been and still is…….Here are just a few pictures. I don’t have any very early ones of Andy on my computer, alas….

This caving picture with Colin and Ivan is one I enjoy. I think I was just very happy that they made it above ground again……..And now the little boy who wanted to go into outer space is a software engineer at NASA Glen. The high school boy who got his ham radio license is programming radios for the International Space Station. Can you tell I’m proud of him? Yes! Very Much!

Andy in the middle, caving with friends.........do they look as if they're having fun?

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I hate to complain all about WordPress, all the time, and I feel as if I’m doing this. However, I just tried to add something to a saved draft by “pasting” in a quote, and it lost everything…..Grrrrrr.

Nathan tasting "Akac" - the flowers of black locust

This picture of my grandson Nathan is from last year, but it is again the season for the Black Locust trees to bloom, the Acacia (really pseudoacacia) which Hungarians call Akac, pronounced aw’kahts.

Some books list this as somewhat toxic, but Hungarians sample the sweet flowers every spring and I’ve never known anyone to suffer any ill effects.

Perhaps it shows something slightly goofy about my motivations or character that I’ve planted all the trees well-loved by Hungarians, the ones that show up in poetry so often, in my yard.  I have oaks, though not the European one, and gingko because of the one from my mother-in-law’s childhood home, and horse chestnuts and “harsfa” (harsh’faw) the linden tree with the blossoms that can be dried for tea. And I had a sort of hybrid poplar since  the lombardy poplars that make so many country roads charming in Hungary are not long lived hereabouts. But my hybrid poplar (which may actually have been an alder sold under false pretenses) died last summer!

I was truly laughing out loud this morning when I read Alice’s facebook post about Nathan this morning….He and his friend Cooper were searching through the yard for “pets” and after “careful consideration” Alice told Nathan that he could keep as a pet any deer he could actually catch. I told her she should put a time limit on this offer! But apparently the deer trap was made of a bright blue rope tied in a loop, hidden in some leaves, with a carrot inside. The boys were nowhere near and Alice felt the deer were pretty safe.They do have a fair number of deer in their yard, being only about a mile from a National Park which is quite overpopulated with the lovely white-tailed Virginia deer.

This is a sweet time of life………

a fawn.........we see them too.

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