Archive for April, 2012

Exactly one week from today, though a bit earlier, I’ll be on a jet plane leaving for two weeks in Hungary with my dd Em and her dh Ingmar and my dgd Sofia and Clara. I don’t expect the journey to be much fun. They aren’t so much anymore, but it will not last forever. ( slight pause here to remember my ancestors walking across the Alleghenies from Philadelphia to the middle of Pennsylvania when it was the frontier, and on to Ohio some years later….Those were journeys. )  And then I will be again in the lovely city which is really my favorite city in the world, though it is not my home. It will be the first time I’ve been there without Paul, but there are some very dear relatives and good friends I’ll be thrilled to see. I’m excited and apprehensive and determined to enjoy every minute and not forget my camera!

The pictures here are to the left of the old coat of arms is a picture of the Bottomless Lake in front of the Cistercian church and in the neighborhood where we often lived. The houses of parliament are, I think, below, but when I edit the post I don’t see it as it appears in the final published version. Another example of stairs which are not at all uncommon on the Buda (west, left bank) side of the Danube. A sketch from the 1800s, I would guess.When I was first in this city in the 70s a lot of it looked like this, but there were not horses in Budapest.

I’ll have, I hope, lots of my own  photos to publish when I return. Or even, perhaps, while I am there……..

Such problems with wordpress today…Some  words about the pictures are in the wrong place when I look at the published version, but when I try to edit they appear in the right place. I’m so sorry! I’ll try once more to get it right.

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Happy Earth Day!

About a week and a half ago Alice, Nathan, Stephen and I drove down to Holmes County, Ohio –  still, I believe, home to the largest Amish population anywhere on Earth.

And I forgot my camera. We looked through the MCC ( Mennonite Central Committee) Connections thrift store and found some treasures, and wandered a while lost  through enormous and a bit too expensive but always fascinating Lehman’s Hardware, and then headed along Route 241 to Mount Hope to Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen where we always have lunch…We would have made one more stop in Kidron except for the fact that my dear grandson Nathan  proclaimed his near starvation and we took pity upon him.  We were pretty hungry too!  After Mrs. Yoder’s wonderful buffet and salad bar we returned to look for gifts in the Fair Trade store, sort of a Thousand Villages gift shop that is called World Crafts, run by the Mennonites there.  As we came in the grandmotherly woman at the checkout asked if I knew about the store and I said, “thank you, I do”. But the words were hardly out of my mouth when six year old Nathan said firmly, “Well, I don’t.”

Another kind lady  came out and explained it all to him: that the store sold things they bought from poor people, often from third world countries and paid fair prices for them so those people could earn a wage. She showed Nathan some unusual things they had made, including some charming small ornaments (figures, even a bicyclist)  in which some of the main parts were made from dried orange peels and very thin rope. I’d never seen these before either. I found several things to buy for little gifts to take to relatives and friends I’d be visiting in Hungary in early May.

Alice’s husband is on the board of the American Red Cross for Northeast Ohio, and because of this I learned, to my surprise,  that the Amish are one of the largest donors of blood to the Red Cross in this part of the state. In fact, the Red Cross Board and the Amish Bishops from Holmes County had a special meal together  at Mrs. Yoder’s  Restaurant last year and Alice and Mike were there, though a little disappointed that they were seated separately from the Amish and had little chance to speak to individuals and express their gratitude for all the Amish blood donations. The Red Cross board paid for this dinner as a thank you, and there were several speeches.

Another fact which fascinated and delighted me is that sometimes the Northeast Ohio Red Cross has a contest you can be entered in when you donate blood and the prize is either a new car or a newly made Amish buggy which the winner can customize when he orders it. The last winner I heard of was a young Amish man, newly married, who was very happy with his winnings!

A sadder bit of information is that the strike against the Red Cross here, which I don’t entirely understand but it seems to have to do with the health contract and the Union wanting to be able to sell their own health insurance to the workers, is still going on.  It began February 13th and there seems to be a media blackout about it………You can read a little bit here:


The Cleveland Clinic here is the single largest buyer of blood in the country and Red Cross groups from other areas are sending blood here, and many workers really want the strike to be over as their homes approach or go into foreclosure and nothing is being accomplished as far as I can see.

It is Teamsters Local 507 that seems to have initiated the strike, but I can’t grasp really why they want it, or what they hope to achieve and there is no news about it which seems quite surprising.

Perhaps those who pray could pray for this to be resolved. It’s so unfair and so uncaring of human beings.

Well, have we wandered a long way from Earth Day? I wanted to mention that the way the Amish farm with their traditional crop rotations and using animals for labor and transportation are very Earth friendly, and we might do well to think about their way of life and find some inspiration to do likewise in whatever small way we are able.

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It is rather amazing. It’s been several years since I’ve really looked at some parts of it, and a lot has happened. I hope I can help it along a little more, but I know I’ll probably never quite be able to do what I once did. Still, it’s such a joy. A lot is blooming and beautiful. Some things can not be seen at all until one walks around a huge Norwegian Spruce or turns a corner and peeks into the wildflower bed. And I can do that now. The redbud or Judas Tree (a too ugly name for such loveliness) is one. I planted it when Emily was in 5th grade and I was a Girl Scout Leader and we had a camp out in the back yard (a rather wimpy camp out because my co-leader didn’t like “nature”, but still we had lots of fun). It was planted on the fire scar from the campfire and the spruce tree was quite small about a quarter of a century ago.

The dogwood tree which was a “volunteer” seedling, an offspring from one of the two larger and beautiful flowering dogwoods that fell prey to the disease that is killing so many in our part of the midwest and had to be cut down.  This one which is beginning to bloom started life in a little flower bed and I was tempted to remove it, but am so glad I didn’t. It gives us joy every spring.

The white and red trilliums are part of the real wildflower garden which has far too much pachysandra in it nowadays. They were dug with a dear friend from her farm in Ashtabula county. This garden has Solomon’s Seal, Dutchmen’s Breeches, Corydalis, a beautiful Turk’s Head Lily also from Rosalie’s farm, and lots of other wildlings.

Our first home had a little creek running through the far back yard and a south facing slope down to it which was a treasure house of wildflowers and I brought many of them here and they survived very well. That was about 37 years ago. It does seem hard to believe and my mind keeps trying to make sense of time. And keeps failing.

So here are a few more pictures, ending with some Keria japonica which I have a lot of blooming right now. A gift from my friend Martha, fellow herb gardener,  who died far too young.

Quite a lot of my plants are from family and friends no longer with us. Several holly trees which were seedlings from my mother’s garden and all the snow drops from my mil are in this category. I also have gifts from friends who are still alive and kicking – a special white geranium (the true geranium, not the red ones we see everywhere which are Pelagoniums) from my friend Penny, for instance. I like walking around and thinking of them. I try to pass on my plants to others.  A gardener’s version of pay it forward, perhaps.

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This post is mainly pictures… Most of them have to do with my grandchildren and children, but there are a few nice details from the Matyas Templom and a view from Castle Hill across the Danube toward the House Of Parliment and the Basilica.

Maybe someday I’ll find out what Emily, Sofia and Clara were examining so closely at the base of that tree!

They are all in Germany this weekend celebrating with Ingmar’s family.

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I have a few more pictures to share with you which my son in law Ingmar sent me… ( Just a few. He sent me 192 wonderful photos!)

Some are of the city of Budapest which will perhaps be more interesting to those who have never been there, but others are of my family and that is what is the most interesting to me.

Alice is home now with Stephen, one year old Stephen who never quite adjusted to the time change in ten days! Something she did with Em and her family was visit a Tanz Haz, which means “Dance House” and is a huge public event in a large public place where there are dance performers and demonstrations, and classes and lots of artisans selling handmade traditional gifts. Lots and lots of fun. Sofia and Clara received “folk” style skirts and were thrilled to dance in them as you can see. I think they are also wearing blouses and aprons to go with them.

Sofia and Clara have each one of the very lightweight 3 wheel kid vehicles which every child in Budapest, pretty much, has to ride on. Here is a typical street car. Or trolly? Em and family live on the hilly Buda side of town. Buda and Pest were separate cities until the late 1800s. Pest is flat, the beginning of the great plains of Hungary.

Here is a shot downriver, toward the Citadella, the old fortress, and a few of the wonderful bridges I love. Most were destroyed at the end of WWII and one, the Margit Hid, has only been restored since the last time I visited. I can’t wait to see it. In some sense I miss the city as I first saw it with Paul,  (Walls on some buildings still had bullet holes all over from that war) but I can hardly expect the Hungarians to not fix things now that they are able, just to satisfy anyone’s nostalgia!

This older building is the place where Sofia and Clara go for swimming lessons. When Emily and Alice had swimming lessons in 1984 during our first sabbatical they swam in an amazing bath from the Turkish times, a pool in a room with a domed roof overhead with a hole in the center, and some lovely tile work.

My last picture for today is going to be this one of the typical stairways in Buda which run between two streets on different levels. No wonder people are slim who get such workouts every day walking around this city!

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