Thursday, May 31, 2012

Buda and Pest and Odds and Ends...

Just a few parting shots of Budapest, a place I really hope to return to one of these days...

Franz Liszt's hand.

Matyas Church

In Buda looking toward Pest and the Parliament Building.

Inside the Central Market.  I would love having a place like this to shop.

Looks to me like the beginnings of a good goulash.

Exterior of the Central Market.

Dazed and confused.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An unforgettable day in the Puszta…

Not being city folks, Evan and I thought a day in the countryside in Hungary might be a nice break.  So, we decided to take an excursion to the Puszta or the Hungarian countryside.
Our first stop was in the town of Kecskemét, where we heard the noon bells ringing from the town hall and got to wander through a market on the town square.

City Hall and its bells.  An outstanding example of Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture.
One of the offerings at the market.  If I could have figured out how to get one of these jars home intact, I may have bought one.  They look delicious!
Then we took off for the countryside and a horse farm Varga Tanya, where we went to see a traditional Hungarian farm.

Then we went back to Varga Tanya to catch a Hungarian Equestrian Show.

The first demonstration was of three horses pulling a cart.

These are the two lead horses of a "four-in-hand," a vehicle traditionally used by nobles.
Horsemen were easy to see from a long distance in the Puszta so it was vital for the horseman to be able to make the horse lie down quickly.  This way they were able to hide.  This is a demonstration of the horse's ability to lie down and remain quiet.  The men are wearing a traditional Hungarian garment.
Here is the Puszta Ten.  In the 19th century there was an Austrian painter, Ludwigh Koch, who loved the Puszta and horses.  He painted an imaginary picture with a horseman standing on the back of the last two of five horses and driving them.  He said no horseman could do it in reality.  The Hungarian horsemen said they certainly could and did.  They did it so well that they even increased the number of horses to ten.

Our day ended with a feast of traditional Goulash, this fantastic platter of chicken and fried mushrooms, a pancake with apricot sauce and wine.  Great times!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Floating down the Danube…

Evan and I are home from our travels.  Both of us agree that of the three cities we visited, Budapest, Vienna and Prague, we liked Budapest the best.  The others are no slouches, mind you, but there was something very charming about Budapest.  I’m not sure if it was the beautiful (and sometimes stunning) waterfront, the easy subway accessibility or the friendly people that did it for me, but I really enjoyed being there.

We got in around 11 am their time after flying all night.  So after checking in to our hotel and taking a brief nap, we figured the best way to spend what we could manage of our first afternoon was to take a boat ride.  We actually enjoyed the boat ride so much, that we went back on our last evening there and cruised through Budapest in the dark.  So to get started, here are some pics I took as we floated down the Danube admiring the sights in Budapest.

This is the Liberty Bridge built in 1896 for the Millennium World Exhibition.

The Margaret Bridge has an unusual Y construction.  One branch goes to  Margaret Island.

The spectacular Parliament Building glowing in the evening light.
The Chain Bridge at night.
The Liberty Bridge at night.
The Parliament Building at night.

Evan and I are celebrating that we actually managed to negotiate our way down to the boat with two hours of sleep.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Days…

So I mentioned that this weekend Greg, Carrie and I drove out to Syracuse, New York to attend the graduation festivities at Syracuse University where my son Evan received his Masters of Library and Information Science.  We had a wonderful time!  I was very impressed with the way SU handled the whole thing.  Because there are close to 4,000 graduates, on the day before the official graduation ceremony, they hold Convocations for each of the colleges.  So Evan got his chance to process across the stage and have his achievement acknowledged along with the others in his College.  Back in the day, when I graduated from University of Cincinnati, they did nothing like that so I didn’t even bother to attend.
  This is much better.

Undergraduates rush down the street for their Convocation Ceremonies.  Their robes are made out of recycled plastic bottles.  How cool is that??
And on Sunday, the ceremony was relatively short and sweet but still with all the pomp and circumstance.  

There's the Master himself.
And here I am...proud mother on Mother's Day.
So now he is on the job search.  But first, he and I are going to go to Budapest, Vienna and Prague for a few days.  This should be an interesting trip for two very directionally challenged humans.  I’ll see you all when we return.

And oh, by the way, I have to show you what Carrie made me for Mother's Day.

I love it!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Drive by Shootings: Barns on the Fly…

Well, I had a very nice weekend and a very nice Mother’s Day.  My weekend was full of graduation to dos at Syracuse University where my son Evan received his Masters Degree in Library and Information Science.  I took about 6 million pictures.  Okay, I exaggerate.  I actually took about 600.  And I will get to them soon, I hope.  Meanwhile, I did a quick clean up of a couple of the barns we passed on Interstate 90 on our way to the graduation and that is what I am posting tonight. 

Later I will show you a pic or two of the graduate and his beautiful sister.  

Linking to Barn Charm at Bluff Area Daily!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some Fences…

I am wondering what this poor tree did to deserve being fenced off from all the other things in the area. 

While this particular fence between the trees is just standing there for no good reason really.  

While watching this ghost car speed by, I realized that the fence across the way is there to keep other cars from falling into the Quaboag River.  

And I am off tomorrow to Syracuse, New York.  Our son Evan is graduating this weekend from Syracuse University with his Masters Degree in Information and Library Science.  The last two years have sped by much like that car in the photo above.  We are very proud.  

Linking to Friday Fences

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Our Common Ground…

Here in Central Massachusetts, 2011 was one hell of a year.  We had a number of weather events that impacted our area negatively.  In January and February, we had severe heavy snows that caused much property damage such as ice damming and roofs collapsing.  On June 1, a tornado swept through our area and there was widespread destruction.  On August 28, Hurricane Irene hit our region leading to serious flooding in August and September.  Evidence of West Nile Virus was found here in the fall.  On Halloween, we had a record destructive snowstorm that caused widespread power outages and severe tree damage.  And December was the beginning of a warm, very dry winter that brought us almost no snow or precipitation of any kind.

I have been chairing a committee at the Brookfield Unitarian Universalist Church since 2004.  This committee deals with environmental issues and environmental justice.  So when my friend Daphne S., who is a member of this Green Sanctuary Committee, told us all about the Connect the Dots Project, we all wholeheartedly agreed that we wanted to participate.

On May 5, people around the world set out to document the way climate change is affecting their lives.  Writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben and others pulled this movement together to draw attention to the local consequences of climate change and to bring awareness to the broader climate crisis.  This was done by all sorts of people all over the planet using dots to illustrate how this impact was felt in their individual lives and in their own areas.  Looking through the photos of this event is stunning.
Our Dots tell the story of the way the weather treated us last year in Central Massachusetts.

In back of the Dots is a small glimpse of the damage that the tornado caused in our area.  This isn't the most dramatic view of the damage by any means, but it was the safest place for us to take the photo.
I know that there are many people who believe that all this evidence is anecdotal and circumstantial and that there is no such thing as global warming or climate change.  They think that maybe we are just going through some kind of natural change, I guess.  Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion.  But I would counter that it doesn’t really matter what you believe when it comes to deciding how to treat our earth.
Wendell Berry said, “The earth is what we all have in common.”  And there is no arguing with that.  The earth is home to each and every one of us.  Most of us treat our own individual homes with reasonable care.  Most people prefer to live in a clean home where the water is potable and the air is unpolluted.
Having a clean and safe place to live…isn’t that enough reason to do all we can to take the better care of our larger home, the earth? 

Part of this area that was swept by the tornado has been "cleaned up."
Mother Nature sure is powerful.
And very beautiful.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Just dropping in to post a picture of a barn that I forgot about.  Carrie and I found this barn when we went out to Deerfield, Massachusetts last month but somehow it got buried in my stacks and stacks of photos.  I really like this barn because whoever owns it seems to be upcycling old advertising signs to use as tarps for the roof.  How clever is that?   Sure makes for a colorful display.

Linking to Barn Charm @ Bluff Area Daily.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Welcome to the Hunt…

Another Sunday, another Scavenger Hunt…

SHADOW is the first prompt and this is a pic of the maple tree that stands in our back yard.  I love many things about this tree and its shadow is one of those things.

Things change through the years and one thing that is definitely different from when I was a kid is the size and shape of the common KEY.  This happens to be the key to my beloved Prius.  I put this fob on it when I first drove it off the lot.  It is a sentiment that I want to extend to all of you in your journeys.

This pic is one of the favorites I have ever taken because these women are among my favorite people on this earth.  They are all on the Green Sanctuary Committee at the Brookfield Unitarian Universalist Church, a committee that I have chaired for a few years.  Here we are preparing for the Connect the Dots Project which happened yesterday.  It is an effort to “connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather.”   (More about that later this week.)  But I asked them to look up and SMILE but instead O-J got that look on her face and everybody (including myself) cracked up.
  Sorry, O-J, but I had to post this…I just had to.  

Here’s an UNEDITED (SOOC) of the leaves of our maple tree.  I love this tree!!

Here’s something I have to confess.  I don’t like FISH.  I don’t like to look at them, to smell them or most especially to eat them.  But I have no problem with them existing…especially not in cracker form.

Linking to Sunday Scavenger Hunt 

Thanks, Ashley.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Best laid plans…

Tuesday night was the meeting of the Massasoit Art Guild Photography Group.  At our April meeting, our leader Dayle suggested we all gather at White’s Landing in Brookfield to photograph the sunset over the Quaboag River.  White’s Landing is one of the few places around here that you can actually and easily watch the sun set.  The other place is on the Quaboag Pond boat landing.  Being surrounded by hills and trees has its challenges.
After April and practically a whole month of unrelenting sunshine and blue skies, wouldn’t you know that on Tuesday it rained all day?  Believe me, I’m not really complaining.  We need the rain.  And, as if trying to cooperate, it did stop except for a fine mist by the time I had to leave to go to the meeting.
My hope was that there would be a break in the clouds and a little bit of sun would poke through, but no such luck.  It was downright grey and the clouds were thick.  Well, what the heck?  We went anyhow and clicked away.
I came home and was surprised that Dayle posted one of her shots on Facebook that night and it was really good.  So I looked at my pics the next day.  Not impressed.  I decided to let them percolate in my brain for a while and go back to them.  Still not impressed.  But I set to work on them anyhow.  Here’s what I came up with.  I sort of like them.  I think that I met the challenge of making something out of not much.  But I hope that the next time the darn sun actually makes an appearance.

Watching the cars buzz by on Rt. 148.

Looking toward Quaboag Pond.