Archive for October, 2013

Off to the Halloween parade at Hillcrest School! She’s a room mother.
Alice  Halloween parade at Hillcrest School Oct 25 2013

And Sunday morning I’m flying off to Maryland to see Em, my younger daughter. Her dh had to fly to Germany because his dear Oma of 90 years is in the hospital and not doing that well. She really is a lovely woman who has been very important in Ingmar’s life, and his sister Nali’s, too.

I’ll be in Maryland until I drive back with Alice and Mike on November 4th. I hope to take a lot of pictures, and we’ll see if I can post anything before I return home….I’m very eager to see Em, Fia and Clara (otherwise known as Cahgah to her cousins) and their new home!

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Can it really be?

My mother in law, who was born in 1902 on an estate in Hungary, was very proud because her older sister who was taking English lessons in the town of Gyor taught her to sing an English song when she was a young teenager. It was “The Last Rose of Summer”, and at that point in her life, the only English she knew…

Soomehow this makes me remember the girl in Sayonara who could only say one English sentence which was, “the camel is often called the ship of the desert”. So useful!

I would really have enjoyed hearing Mama and her three sisters sing it in those days sometime during World War I! She told me this the first autumn I knew her, in 1972, and now it seems whenever I cut the rose that is the last one, or the one I think will be the last one, I remember her. She only ever sang the first few lines for me. The words were written by Thomas Moore, the Irish poet who also wrote “Believe Me if all those Endearing Young Charms,” and “The Minstrel Boy” and was a friend of Byron and Shelley. These are the lyrics:

‘Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

You can hear a sixteen year old Deanna Durbin in 1938 singing it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FyzxhLWUxY

And here is my last rose of summer, the fading summer of 2013, I think. Alice picked it for me just after it had been snowed upon this morning. (We are expecting snow off and on all tomorrow.)

Kristi last rose of summer try 2 2013

It’s a David Austen Rose; Carding Mills is the name.

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A Lovely Weekend So Far

The skies have been very gray and a lot of water has been falling from them. The air has been quite nippy. But it’s been a lovely weekend so far.

This afternoon I was at Barnes and Noble watching dgs Nathan and three groups of third graders from his school present three very short plays about Halloween. Despite having my camera all ready to come with me, it decided to stay on the table at home…….It missed a lovely little fundraising event.

In other earth-shaking news from our neck of the woods, Stephen and Alice had fun making vegetable people.

Stephen Veggie people oct 2013

And Nathan and his good friend followed his mother’s urging to go outside and play.

Nathan and friend playing outside but not quite the way Alice wanted them too     video games in hand 10 2013

Yes, they went outside to play their video games. Nathan protested that they were doing what his Mom wanted them to do, but you know he knows better than that…..

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Yesterday I called our garbage service to check on the weight of the dumpster after they picked it up. There was a 2,000 pound limit, but Alice was sure she was well under that. Not so. They told me it had 1.21 tons of rubbish in it. So Alice moved a lot of stuff over the last weekend and I’m not surprised her back was sore and she felt tired! The overage charges in time and weight always surprise me. They are very little compared to the basic fee. It was only seven dollars and some cents for the extra weight. And would be $5.00 a day for each day extra, though the charge for the dumpster for seven days (the minimum) huge in comparison.

Well, perhaps more than you all wanted to know, but I found it very interesting. chaut 2013 july Alice got these chairs from the Wagners rubbish

These chairs are new to our cottage this summer. Aren’t they great? A neighbor was throwing them out because she was tired of painting them and Alice snagged them for us. Solid wood. Wonderfully made! You have a great view of the lake when you sit in them.

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Wednesday is the day when Alice and I get our vegetables from the CSA farm we belong to, Crown Point. Alice spent quite a while there this morning with Stephen. Members (and non-members) are welcome to look about the farm. Stephen was fascinated by the turkeys, one of which will be on our Thanksgiving table again this year. Alice and Mike will help with killing and cleaning our turkey. She made a beautiful collage of photos from the morning which she is letting me share here. I seem to be using her pictures quite a lot!

alice collage 2013 oct

I have half of the vegetables in this picture! And I’m not quite finished with cooking the veggies from last week. I think I see a huge vegetable soup and also a large stew of veggies to serve over rice…Lots of greens…..All delicious local organic food…

Still the season is slowly winding to an end. Only two more Wednesday pick ups from the summer of 2013 and then our winter shares, a very big share of veggies before Thanksgiving and again before Christmas.

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Alice’s Retreat

This is Alice’s story. She wanted a little time alone, a little solitude in the mellow autumn of Chautauqua.


But she also wanted to work on a project she had had in mind for a few years.

She wanted to clean out the garage at the cottage, clean it of more than thirty years of debris.It was full of junk….For instance, seventeen gasoline cans.


Paul practically rebuilt the house after we bought it in 1980, beginning with several years of digging, with help from our nephews who were tough enthusiastic teenagers at the time, a trench around the entire periphery of the house and then down the middle. Fern Lodge is a Victorian cottage built in 1879. The foundations were piles of flat stones from the beach with mortar between the layers. Rain coming down the gentle slope toward the lake would sweep under the house and wash away some of this…We were sure that if there had not been a solid brick fruit cellar built under the kitchen the house would have disappeared before we ever saw it. But footers were poured in the trenches and and an amazing carpenter built the foundation from them up to the house and then Paul began years of projects to redo the rooms, insulating them and doing what needed to be done for improvement. And lots of leftover wood was stored on the rafters of the garage and at the back (it’s extra long to accommodate the boat in the winter.)

It also had lots of ancient non-working bikes and and the remains from the years Andy had a sort of clubhouse for his friends in it during the summers…

So I ordered a twenty yard dumpster, a pretty big one, for this weekend and now I hear Alice has filled it all, completely. I think our wonderful neighbors threw in a door which took up little room and Alice did the rest. At the end, the entire dumpster was filled and we are waiting to hear if we exceeded the maximum two tons of weight allowed. (Alice didn’t think so.)



She also closed the cottage which means draining all the water and putting anti-freeze wherever needed. And cleaned out the laundry room, another dumping ground for things that should have been thrown out long ago! Poor Alice was exhausted Saturday night and her back hurt, but she got going again on Sunday. She felt it was a kind of retreat for her to be working alone. She could think without interruption and listen to music. I felt tired just hearing about all the things that she did! But so impressed!

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All last week Stephen has been telling me he is going to have two birthday parties……..And this past weekend, that happened.
Stephen October 6th 2-13 his third birthday

And most of the time when I asked him how old he was going to be he firmly said, “Three and a Half”. But by the actual time of the party he had changed that to three. I was a tiny bit sad.

Saturday he had a party with Mike’s family and yesterday he had a party with our side of the family. Both parties were rather large and somewhat challenging for Alice and Mike since they are at the beginning of their kitchen remodeling and many cabinets and tables are out of what used to be the kitchen. At least the stove is still installed and she was able to bake the birthday cake Stephen asked for, one with a digger truck and sprinkles on it……And he really enjoyed all his presents – especially the one I bought for him unwittingly. It was a remote controlled Mater tow truck. I say unwittingly because I knew he liked Mater and that is why I chose it, but had no idea it was remote controlled.

Nathan has had his last soccer game of the season now and his team won 3-0 and he scored one of the goals, so he’s a happy camper.

Nathan soccer Oct 2013 last game they won he kicked a goal

Alice is breathing a sigh of relief that her schedule became a bit simpler with no sports practices or games for a while….

And before the party on Saturday she and her family went for a short hike on the Buckeye Trail and realized it merged into someplace they shouldn’t have been but decided to go anyway….Oh, dear. My maverick offspring!

Alice hike in natl prk from buckeye trail............

My sister in law Aniko was at the party on Sunday and now I won’t see her for about two and a half weeks. She left early this morning for Budapest where her son and his wife are expecting their third child about November 1st. She’s going now in case the baby is early, and also to visit her son Jozsi and his family. He has followed Emily and her family as part of the Fulbright family in Hungary. He’s a professor of mathematics at Youngstown State University.
And not only Aniko is expecting a new grandchild soon. Our nephew Christof and his wife Sabrina who live in Heidenheim, Germany are expecting twins around the same time. Our family seems to be expanding amazingly.

So, a little math here……My mother in law had ten children, and even though four of those never had children of their own, she was grandmother of seventeen.
And already great-grandmother of 37. That generation is probably pretty much populated, but perhaps not fully. I am a bit surprised. I won’t get to know all these great grandchildren myself, and already see how families spread out and grow somewhat apart. But that’s the subject of a complete other post.

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I like to read poetry. I’m no scholar, and I don’t read as much poetry as I probably should, but I had been reading it since high school, usually with satisfaction and pleasure. In fact, I have been lucky enough to have been a friend and neighbor of a published and prize-winning poet, Helen Conkling, who wrote a beautiful book, Red Peony Night.

Auden Helens Red Peony NIght 1997

This book which came out in 1997 is filled with memories of Helen’s growing up during the depression. It’s wonderful and I was lucky enough to read many of the poems at different stages of their forming. Helen is in her 80s and still writing and being published in little journals. And I have lovely memories of the possibly hundreds of delicious tea parties she gave for her neighboring children, out under the Walnut tree where the fox gloves had naturalized. Beautiful memories, and the artwork and poetry she had them do and carefully saved with a folder for each child. When they turned 18 she gave them their folders.

I probably read more of Mary Oliver than anyone else these days, but I also love reading translations of Tang dynasty poetry and many other works. I do have a desultory mind. And I’m so glad of that fact.

Auden is another poet I’ve read a bit. Some of his works I’ve come across are so lyric and beautiful that I come back to them. So when a favorite novelist, Alexander McCall Smith published a small volume about his discovery and continued close reading of Auden, I bought a copy and am enjoying reading all he has to say in his gentle and sympathetic voice. It’s well worth anyone’s perusal.

Auden amcsmith

I also read mysteries, almost compulsively, and was very amused to pick up a used mystery from 1970 and find it filled with Auden references. I wonder if perhaps more than 40 years ago I read this and unconsciously recalled its Auden association? Such serendipity always makes me wonder a bit but I have no answers…..The mystery is oddly dated. I lived through this time and find reading about it somehow, disconcerting. Students are occupying the Administration building and courses are being altered to fit their ideas of relevance……..Could this really have been the world in which I lived? Well, at the time I was not part of academia, even as a professor’s wife hearing the gossip. But these occupations were in all the news……

Poetic Justice is the title and the author is Amanda Cross. The book is set at the time that rather crazy students were occupying Administration offices as is the case in the book in question. The main character is a serious Auden fan though she doesn’t teach any classes about him, though early on she is part of a PhD dissertation examination committee and the candidate’s thesis is about Auden.

Auden Poetic Justice by Amanda Cross

Auden Keep Calm

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A good friend, who lives near Washington, D.C. and has won awards for her long history of blood donations, posted this on facebook today:

“I have just returned from giving platelets for the 124th time. NIH is suffering badly from the shutdown. Children who were scheduled to start cancer treatment are not coming. No new patients. I am so grateful that the affordable health care act will allow people like my son to finally get insurance. I think the people fighting against this act probably have health insurance. Shutting down the government is no way to solve problems.”

Robert Reich said this:

“An old friend, who has been active in politics for more than thirty years, told me yesterday that he was giving up. “I can’t stomach what’s going on in Washington any more,” he said. “The hell with all of them. I have better things to do with my life.” My friend is falling exactly into the trap that the extreme right wants all of us to fall into — such disgust and cynicism that we all give up on politics. Then they’re free to take over everything.

Make no mistake: Ted Cruz and his Tea Party followers, and the Koch brothers and their other financial patrons, are relishing this shutdown. They’re delighted that 95% of the Environmental Protection Agency is down, so polluters can do whatever they want; that 80% of the Labor Department is down, so unscrupulous employers can trample on their employees; that much of the Securities and Exchange Commission is down, so corporations can have a field day. And they’d like nothing more than a default on the nation’s debt in two weeks, because the resulting financial chaos will cause even more of us to become angry and cynical. That’s the point: They feed off of anger and cynicism.

Our response should be the opposite: We will not give in to bullies or intimidation, and nor will we give in to cynicism about what our government needs to be and who it needs to serve. We will remain engaged and active, and push every member of Congress as well as the President to remain steadfast.”

And I agree.

How can I post pretty pictures of lovely fall foliage when my heart is grieving for the country I love? One faction is holding the entire country hostage. I hope not one of those representatives whom I think are only pursuing their own shockingly selfish agenda is ever, ever reelected. I hope everyone comes to see through their lies.

Read the New York Times editorial and also the comments below which give me heart. I loved reading the comment by the man who had voted for Republican and donated money to Republican candidates and now says he cannot imagine ever voting for a Republican again.The rest of the world, who are affected by what we do and how our economy functions, are baffled and shocked by the kindergarten like way we run our affairs.

Well, on reflection, Kindergarten is a far more benign place than the House of Representatives. It may even be a far more rational place.


And one more thing you probably should read:



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