Archive for June, 2012

Inside Animals

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but a few weeks ago my son’s last gerbil from the group of three he bought in 2009, the one he called Master Tesla of the group Tesla, Marconi, and Faraday (there was an Edison for a time, too) died of  some sort of infection and was buried out in our back yard under the Tupelo tree near  Csali, our first poodle. He was an exceptionally intelligent gerbil and very attached to Andy. But gerbils don’t have long lives, unfortunately, only three or four years at best. And one never knows exactly how old they are when they come from the pet store.

But now we have another trio of these very sociable animals, a trio of young and surprisingly frisky ones named Maxwell, (black like Tesla and smart, too) Babbage, and Newton. Babbage is gray with a white blaze on his forehead and Newton is blond as Marconi was.  They are very cute and I enjoy watching them and talking to them.  I’ll try to get some better photos when they are a little older and calmer.

Read Full Post »


Please excuse the really poor quality of these photos through a screened window! This deer was so close to the house that if I had tried to go outside to photograph him, or even moved to the deck, I am quite sure she would have fled at once.

I’ve been seeing a doe and fawn hanging about the yard recently and don’t bother them too much because I’m not really raising vegetables this year, only flowers and herbs on the deck and whatever perennials and bushes are already in the garden.

Usually they don’t come this close to the house, although since I’m using zoom here you may not have a sense of how near or far she was. At first I wanted to shout, “Go away!”, as I once would have, but then I realized it wasn’t necessary now, and began talking to the doe in a  rather high pitched friendly voice, telling her how beautiful she was. To my amazement and amusement, she began wagging her tail very quickly, just as my dog Bo would have in such a case. I kept talking to her and she moved closer and continued grazing.

So now I know something that Virginia White-Tailed deer and silkworms have in common because this deer was snacking on my white mulberry, Morus alba, the one that silkworms are fed. I bought this tree, maybe a quarter of a century ago, thinking it was the black mulberry which I enjoyed eating myself as a child. So did Paul. We were both amused that both of our mothers who usually didn’t have the same opinions on things warned us against planting this tree because it was so messy. But it turned out this was not the purple one, though I have several of those at the edge of a little pine woods on the west side of the house. I didn’t plant them, they just showed up as volunteers. I’m glad they did because, though I don’t care for them that much anymore, my grandson Nathan adores picking and eating them.  (Though this weekend he will be picking and eating delicious dark cherries near Chautauqua.)

The deer continued munching and looking at me, listening to me sing her praises in that higher tone of voice that animals and babies seem to respond to especially well, wagging her tail as I never realized that deer did.

I may be sorry sometime that I gave her this much encouragement. There is a lot of wildlife around here and some I am happy to see and some not. Luckily I haven’t seen the skunks lately, but I have a sneaking suspicion they are not really gone. We have ground hogs, squirrels, possums, deer, skunks, and turtles.  I once saw a truck stop on the hill near my house so the driver could get out and assist a slow turtle across the road. It was reported in the local paper . We have chipmunks, moles and voles and deer mice and all manner of lovely birds and insects not so lovely.  We have other animals I don’t usually see – toads and frogs, crickets and salamanders and who knows what else……. I am rather happy to have this abundance of life about. Even when woodpeckers are making holes in the siding and skunks are perfuming the evening air.  It’s life, and creation and makes my spirit sing.

p.s.       I fogot to add we have coyotes now.  And always had foxes.

Read Full Post »

This is a fairly expensive year for our cottage at Lake Chautauqua, but I think it’s looking like a satisfying one…

We’ve had to have a new well pump installed, repairs done on the boat, a new floor in the kitchen, bathroom, hall to laundry room, new dishwasher and new refrigerator. And it’s all done now. Fairly incredible.  My daughter Alice is there now with Stephen and the rest of her family and several guests will arrive tomorrow morning.  So she has sent me some pictures of the latest work done.  And I really like it!

I made a  poor choice the last time (in the 80s) for the floor and no matter what we did it looked – well – dingy. I think the new choice will not have this appearance!  And from the photos it goes well with the other colors in this lovely old summer cottage, built in 1879, which we bought in 1981, 102 years later.

Transformations are a joy. Usually. I will be seeing it on Monday when I arrive. Alice will still be there and the old guests will have left and new ones will be arriving. From 1981 to 2005 I always spent all the summer at the lake, unless we were in Hungary for Sabbatical years.Alice once told me that she was in high school before she realized that all kids didn’t have their Dads home with them for the whole summer vacation. We were so lucky. Paul didn’t teach in the summer, but worked on consulting jobs and rebuilding the cottage, beginning with hand digging four foot deep trenches all around the periphery and down the center under the house. Cement trucks would back up to the front door and chutes would carry the concrete to a trap door in the living room floor. This was for the footers. Then we had to find a man willing to crouch down there and build the foundation wall up to the house.  It seems incredible now that we were doing all that and raising little kids and entertaining nearly non-stop guests…..But it was such a joy! A bit tiring, but a joy!

Fern Lodge (the name from the 1800s)  seems to be a place that makes me more conscious of Paul’s absence than the home I’ve lived in since 1980. I’m not quite sure why. And for the first years after his death we didn’t use it much at all. But we seem to be going there more now and I know that would make him happy. He loved the place so much. We always had a lot of guests, even in the early days when remodeling (much of which Paul did himself, with lots of help from nephews) was just beginning.

Here is a picture of the new refrigerator which had to have the floor beneath slightly raised, causing the trim to have to be redone. Now we have to rehang the things above it which are not in the right place anymore.  Below is a photo of the new dishwasher with Stephen looked a bit baffled. Those towels hanging to the left of the door are ones my grandmother embroidered and appliqued sometime in the 40a, but rarely used. They went with bridge table clothes. There is also a set with old fashioned high wheel bicycles and cyclists on blue and white gingham.

I hope I can remember to take my camera with me when I go, so I can take some more pictures when everything is all together.

Read Full Post »

All those days I was writing about my journey to Hungary I was here in Ohio enjoying a beautiful season of roses……..And now, they are nearly all gone. I used to have many more roses, the old roses I love. And even with nearly a decade of neglect, I still have many. The yellow rose of Texas, Harrison’s yellow, had more flowers on it than I’ve ever seen before. And my beloved Rosa alba Jeanne D’Arc was full of fragrant white roses. Other pink roses whose names I have forgotten bloomed, and Maigold was warmly yellow in the front yard, beside a white Meidiland and a single red Rosa Moyesii Geranium. On the east side of the garden a species pink Chinese single rose and a Rosa glauca (which, like many plants, used to have another name when first we met, Rosa rubrifolia) with its gray- blue-leaves made my heart glad. And there are Rugosa roses here and there. So perhaps I have more left than I thought. And though I didn’t go out with my camera as I should have, I did snap a few pictures of my favorite mystery rose which last year leapt up into the branches of a crab apple tree and there still blooms for my delight. And a strange photo of a few roses (and weeds) close up and I think, honesty in the fore ground.

The sad thing about my lovely roses is that I only have “old” roses and species roses and they only bloom once, though delightfully, in June. I really think I must buy a potted rose or two for the deck, a hybrid tea or two, so I have some roses the rest of the summer. They are so wonderful.

Read Full Post »

I have many many more memories, and many many more photographs from this trip – more than 400! But I’m only going to post a few here….Sofia is holding up mother’s day presents for Emily during a celebration at her school. I wasn’t actually there myself, but Em took a number of pictures, and I love the expression on Fia’s face in every one of them…..

The next picture is one of many taken from a car, and therefore not the best! (Oh, perhaps there are other reasons, too, such as the deficiencies of the photographer.) It is taken from the Pest side, the east side of the Danube and looks toward Castle Hill across the river.

There is a lot of lovely art above doors of churches and public buildings in Hungary or just under the roof. This is Our Lady of Hungary above the entrance to the Mátyás Templom in Buda.

And this next one is just a building across from the Central Market. It seems to have to do with printing and publishing books, but I don’t believe the building any longer has a connection to the decoration.

Through a maze of wires, a glimpse can be seen of the statue of Liberty, above the city on Gellert Hill. This was commissioned before WWII, but the communists added several figures of their war heroes to it which I always saw until ’92 when they were removed and sent to the park outside the central part of the city where Hungarians sent all the statues from the communist era. She is holding a palm of victory above her.

I’m ending with a picture of my other granddaughter, Clara, having a lovely time with her chocolate dessert at Náncsi Néni’s.

And finally, that’s the end of my pictures from this wonderful journey there and back again.

Read Full Post »

Alice used blue footprints from Nathan and Stephen to make pictures of rockets which she framed for a gift for Andy. He loved it!

Read Full Post »

I may return with a last post about Hungary in the future, but today is the 30th Birthday of my youngest child, my son Andy….

He was in Houston last week with his NASA team delivering some product and meeting the people they work with there. He was able to sit in an Apollo Mission Control Seat and get some astronaut suit training.

Regular visitors to this NASA site only see this from behind glass windows.

If you visit this link


from JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, at 8:03 you will be able to see Andy in the back on the left. The software defined radios he’s been working on for the last few years are shipping from Japan to the International Space Station in about a month.



Read Full Post »

On Castle Hill

On the Monday before my Wednesday departure, Em and I wanted to see the Budai Vár, or the Castle of Buda on the Várhegy or Castle Hill. This was a favorite place from many earlier trips. When Paul was not teaching in ’92 or ’98 or working at Sztaki, the computer institute in ’84, we often worked on family history and this included many visits to the Széchényi library or the National Archives up on Castle Hill.  And sometimes we did museum tours of the Castle itself which goes down to medieval ruins  and of  the history of the city of Buda. Before Paul’s grandfather’s grandfather established himself as a successful merchant and became a citizen of Pest in 1822, the family had owned homes on Castle Hill and we were able to trace some of them through changes of street numbers to the present day. But this day I mostly wished to wander around the north end of this hill and visit a favorite bookstore and enjoy revisiting the old homes here which often have exposed medieval remains and a charming smaller scale and older feeling than busy Pest.

These first two images are of a memorial (quite modern) which I like at the north end of Várhegy and I think it is meant to portray battles between the Turks and Hungarians. The Turks vanquished the Hungarian army in Mohács in 1526 and occupied Buda in 1541. They were defeated in 1686 after ruling the country for 160 years and my husband often wondered if the communist party would last this long. But, of course, they lasted less than fifty years.

Ingmar dropped us off (cars are not allowed to drive up there without a special permit) at the Bécsi Kapu, or Vienna Gate which is at the north end and we walked slowly back toward the beautiful Mátyás Templom, or Matthias Church (whose real name is The Church of Our Lady in Buda). We first came to the National Archives with, inside, its beautiful stained glass windows showing the coats of arms of all the counties of Hungary as it existed before WWI and the harsh treaty of Trianon which took away 2/3rds of the country’s land. This treaty was probably was a large part of the cause that WWII was able to begin as many people (not only Hungarians) believe the reparations Germany had to pay set the stage for the horrible rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis.  That idea, I believe, was what lead to more enlightened policies after WWII and the Marshall Plan among other things. But I am getting off track again. Let’s look at some more pictures from our slow walk south. At Kápistrán Tér, near the gate, all four north south roads converge. We walked up Fortuna Utca.

There are many things to see along this little street, and  some entry ways into places you might be shy to walk through if you don’t know the city. But we are heading toward my favorite bookstore, Litea, which stand for Literature and Tea. It’s a fairly small bookstore but the books and prints they have are a wonderful selection, especially for books about the history and arts and literature of Hungary, and Hungarian children’s books. I am always rather poorer after a visit to Litea, but also always happier. You arrive at this shop in a large sunny courtyard through an entrance that seems like a tunnel and has exposed medieval stonework.

In Litea we met Emily’s high school friend Rita  who lives in Pest, married to a Scottish Hungarian. After we had lunch together and looked around a bit more, but I think I’ve tried your patience enough today! I hope to do two more posts about this lovely visit.

Read Full Post »

I have so many photos from the Ethnographic Museum which I loved.  So I’m picking out a few more to share. And then on to the Nagy Csarnok  (gy in Hungarian is pronounced almost exactly like D in “Mon Dieu” And “Cs” is  “ch”. This central market building was designed by Samu Pecz in the late 1800s and by the time I first saw it in the 70s it was totally blackend and one couldn’t really see the fascinating architectural details from the period of the millenium, 1896 when Hungary celebrated its thousand years as a country and many beautiful (and some almost over the top) buildings came to be. The great market has a basement and ground floor which are mostly produce and food specialties and a second floor with a nice restaurant called the Fa Kanal (Wooden Spoon) which serves traditional Hungarian fare cafeteria style and has seating in a quieter area behind glass windows and outside part overlooking the first floor. This floor has lots of vendors selling things produced for tourists, mostly needlework and felting and woodcarvings, and toys. It’s fascinating. Emily and I walked upstairs when we arrived and ate at the Fa Kanal.  The entire building has been beautifully restored since the fall of communism and it’s a great place to visit on the Pest side of the Danube just across the Liberty Bridge. There is also a lot of great wrought iron work to look at, as there is all over the city.

click on the pictures to enlarge them. (Except the first one which is from Wiki commons….It was so much better than mine for showing what one really sees.)

Ah, I promised to show a few other things from the Ethnographic Museum,  didn’t I?

Well just for fun, how about an amazing shoe, or should I say boot, some pottery featuring jugs called Miksa Kancso (some say Miska Kancso) which are in the form of mustachioed  soldiers with black hats, usually featuring a snake down the front of the jug. I have no clue as to the symbolism of this…..Once I had a small collection of about five of these, but slowly gave them away as gifts and now have only one. One is enough!  And last, a room of painted furniture from a  peasant home probably on the Alföld, the Great Plain east of the Danube.

The Nagy Csarnok was one place where we ate, but a much more impressive one was Gundel’s near the Zoo.  Gundel’s which was founded in 1910 may be one of the most expensive restaurants in the city, but their quality is excellent. You can read about them here, in English,   http://www.gundel.hu/site/index.php?page=en.   And if you click on “then and now” you’ll get a bit of the history. It was nationalized after the communists came to power, and nearly went out of business, but afterward was bought by George Lang (author of my favorite Hungarian Cookbook and once a co-owner of the Four Seasons in New York) and Ronald Lauder and in 2002 passed to the ownership of the Danubius Hotel chain. They say, “After privatisation the Gundel House resumed its role as a symbol of quality and tradition. Many famous guests have dined here, including Queen Elisabeth II of Great Britain, Pope John Paul II, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, US President George Bush.”  And Ingmar, Emily and I.

We actually only got there by accident. I really wanted to visit the Kastely Museum in Nagy Tétény. Their website said closed on Monday but gave hours for all other days of the week. So the Tuesday before I left Em and I drove out to see it. It is located close to the Danube and far from Em’s place, and looked lovely behind the wrought iron gates. Unfortunately the website information was incorrect and it was only open on weekends. So I suggest that if anyone wants to visit they call before  to make sure it will be open.  It has a spectacular collection of  furniture, from the middle ages to the early 1900s, perhaps. What I remember from the 70s is their Biedermeier  and art noveau collections are breath taking.

I was describing it to an older relative soon after that early visit and she rather snorted and asked, “stolen from whom?” And there is that aspect of things. The woman who asked me that had her lovely home near Lake Balaton  and all its contents appropriated by the communist party . I don’t know whether anything from the Kastely Museum has been returned, or if the people in question are still alive. The same happened to Paul’s family and after the fall of communism in ’89 they were given a letter of apology and a token amount of money from the new government. They donated it to the village church.  The house had been demolished in 1970 and we could see new houses in the village with the large bricks from their home. But by then, no one wanted to return.

How easily I get off the subject. I was trying to explain how we got to Gundel’s for lunch. When the museum idea was such a spectacular failure I decided we should somehow redeem it by doing something special. So we called Ingmar and asked him to join us at Gundel’s for a special lunch. And it really was.

The furnishings are supposed to be what they were in the pre-war heyday, and the ambiance is extremely pleasant. The staff are excellent and not at all pretentious.

We started with appetizers. Emily had a tasting of soup which included white asparagas soup, a sort of gulyas leves in their special version and a special fisherman’s soup à la János Gundel.

Ingmar and I had  poached foi gras with tokaji jelly.

Ingmar had the duck plate and I had chicken paprikas with spaetzle – I always seem to want to see how different places do this and compare it to my own. And I am not sure what Emily had. Perhaps fish? All three entrees were brought out by three different waiters who removed the covers with a flourish and seemed then to back away from the table leaving us to our pleasure.  It was very nice.

And imagine, after this we had dessert! Ingmar had special Gundel crêpes with flaming chocolate sauce. Emily enjoyed Gundel Chocolate Selection-Dark Chocolate Truffle;
White Chocolate and Raspberry Dessert;
Milk Chocolate – Williams Pear
and I had the even better (I think) offering which they call Gundel Fruit Sweets Selection -Mango Macaroon;
Home-made Sour Cherry Ice cream;
Blackberry – Cottage Cheese Slice

The cottage cheese slice is really like a cheesecake with blackberries on top. And after this we had excellent coffee and were finished. As I am now.

Read Full Post »