I have been caught in a wonderful whirlwind tour of Eastern Europe. I have nibbled Sachertorte (a famous Austrian chocolate cake) in a fancy cafe in Vienna, paddled a boat through a vast underground cave system in Slovakia, thieved sunflowers from an enormous field along a Hungarian motorway, and gotten a private tour of the Budapest Operahouse. I also prepared a proper Southern dinner for my hosts complete with biscuits, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, creamed corn, stuffed mushrooms (from the cookbook "True Grits," compiled by the Atlanta Junior League), Mom's cucumber salad, and cherry pie for dessert. It was a noteworthy departure from the delicious paprika-based dishes we've been enjoying most nights - paprika is a Hungarian specialty, and is the key ingredient to nearly everything they cook here.
Speaking of Hungarian, I'm not doing so well at, well, speaking Hungarian. My pronunciation has improved a bit, but when it comes to grammar, I can't seem to get much farther than "thank you," "is the bathroom this way?" and a few random phrases from my lesson book like "this is a plane ticket" and "his mother is a historian". It's been really exciting to be in such a multi-lingual environment, though - my hosts speak Hungarian, German, English and Russian, and two of them are professional translators, so the linguist nerd in me has really flourished here, and I'm looking forward to trying to improve my Spanish and French over the next few months (I think I'll have better luck with that!).
I have also really enjoyed learning firsthand about the impact of half a century of Soviet rule on a country like Hungary. The influence is apparent everywhere, from the pre-fab block housing alongside ancient palaces, to the newly burgeoning economy and dynamic politics, to the abandoned patrol stations along the Hungarian-Slovak border. But Hungary's long, rich history proves stronger than a few years of Soviet control, and its culture, architecture and identity seem to be flourishing with renewed vigor.
I am learning so much here, in this part of the world where I never particularly envisioned myself. I look forward to coming home with many stories, photos, and an abundance of paprika!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
We will be celebrating, today and tomorrow, the birthdays of Ford and Molly! Happy Birthday guys and many, many happy returns of the day.
Welcome home from your recent vacation. Can't wait to hear all about it!
Sending all our love and good wishes.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
While in Manchester, Vermont the past three days, I decided to take a class in Falconry...odd maybe, but I am totally ready for some adventure in my life while I still have the energy for new experiences. I sometimes feel the clock ticking and wonder if I have used my time well.
Anyway, off I went to the British School of Falconry. Terr went with me so I could have some pictures of the event. He stood back and was very quiet doing all he could to capture the moment. (I would have looked a little better, had the weather been cooler, so I could have worn the traditional Barbour jacket and boots along with the leather falconry glove that is fitted and issued to students.)
I was totally absorbed in my Scottish instructor's lecture and the hour flew by. Had I had enough time, I would have gone on a hunt with Mycroft (the bird I was issued, for obvious reasons) the following day. I got a sample of this when we walked the edge of the forest and Mycroft followed from tree to tree. We lured him in with a snare and he attacked it with more power than I realized he had. It was amazing!
One of the things I was told not to be frightened of was if my bird (a Harris Hawk) tried to fly then hanging upside down while I was holding him with my gloved hand. Well he did, I stayed calm and he immediately righted himself.
Well, although this single course does not qualify me as a falconer, it did provide me some insight and gave me a chance to learn, firsthand, how to handle and fly a hawk. I was just thrilled!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Yesterday, I went to visit Isabelle at her day camp. Issy has been going to this camp for several years and each year, because I know the camp providers, I get a call to invite me over and watch Issy at play. What a joy! I get to catch up with my friends and also see my beautiful granddaughter's happy face.
Thanks for letting me share this special time with you, Issy!
Oh! and thank you Issy (and your sweet Mom) for bringing me my special birthday necklace, after getting a longer chain. It is perfect!
Friday, July 16, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Andrew, Emily and William stayed at Northcroft for three fun filled days after our 4th celebration. Another big thank you goes out to these delightful children who were delightful guests, helping me with the daily chores, painting the log benches around the campsite, working on the dehumidifier and showing Mimi a terrific time!
Friday, July 09, 2010
Time to write and learn are on Kate's agenda. I pray this is a safe and eventful trip for this daughter, yearning for adventure.
Thanks for the Skype, Kate. It is always good to hear from you.
Thursday, July 08, 2010
I wish I had kept count of the annual 4th of July celebrations that we have experienced at Northcroft. From the early ones, where I would freak out and angrily go inside, fearing an explosion would go too high and threaten fire in my beloved forest, to the resent years of gloriously perfected firework shows; the memories collected have been awesome!
It starts early in the day when the men, who are able to join us at Northcroft for the holiday weekend, with the children in attendance, head off to C0pperhill to select and buy the best fireworks for the nights show. Grandad spares no expense!
At dusk the children begin the evening with the dance of the sparklers. Chairs are put in place, sweaters donned and women and children take their place in anticipation of a great fireworks show.
Grandad, Tom and in years passed, Shannon, work for the next hour, plus, shooting off glorious (below the hovering trees) fireworks, delighting all who watch. Inspired we break out in patriotic song, cheer and clap loudly at the gift we are receiving. At several points during the show a strobe-light effect firework is lit. The children get up from their seats and start to dance in the bright flashing light. Tom joins them and we all delight at the sight in the darkness.
Although, once a time I kind of dreaded, I have come to truly love this night. What a wonderful way to embrace God, country, home and family. Yes, all the things I cherish most.
Hope your 4th was a good one too!
A 4TH of July Tradition!
(Text frames are much too fast, please forgive, but I am having computer issues and just went with it, good or bad.)