Places worth revisiting – Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary in the 1980s was an amazing mashup of historic buildings, hills in the distance, and armed Soviet guards in the subways. The subways had massively steep inclines, which were miserable in the snow of January. The electric trolleys were a different shape than they are in the States, with speedy reflexes on your part being your only hope of jumping safely on and off. No one seemed to speak English, and German was the only common language I had with the shopkeepers.

The city was beautiful, the people seemed friendly, and it’s just one of those places that is worth a revisit, even if it’s only in my daydreams.

  1. Fabulous monuments like the Fischerbastei. Here’s an aerial view (from the sky: look at the turrets hugging the cliff)
  2. Amazing churches that show the blend of historic influences on their walls, like Matthiaskirche
  3. A Dominican cloister preserved within the walls of the local Hilton hotel (we stared at the ancient well through the windows)
  4. Hotel Gellert (I really don’t know how the tour afforded to book us here, but we loved gawking at the spa and mineral baths,but weren’t brave enough to go in among all the businessmen in towels)
  5. The Central market, with its garlic vendors, rabbit hutches, and more fruit pyramids than I’d seen before
  6. And of course, the Hungarian National Gallery in the Royal Palace

So, if you could go back to someplace you visited in your youth — where and why? (Yes, this is the sort of stuff I think about while commuting. Much better than thinking bad words at people who don’t use turn signals.)

After a storm — beautiful weather

There’s something about an autumn night, after the rains have passed, that is delightful.

The wind swirls, fallen leaves scud across the sky, and I can feel my hair rise as the air pressure shifts. Autumn is definitely here, and we hope for brave fairies, ghosts, and possibly ninja turtles this year on Halloween. But the storm that passed –> good riddance. We had chorus practice in the dark due to rolling power failures, amazing lightning, power is still out in part of the house, and we had to calm a frazzled himmie. Yes. Her. Totally frantic.

The Eyes of Reproach

The Eyes of Reproach

Maple walnut granola

Before I forget it…

Maple walnut granola (based on a recipe from the Heart Association Cookbook)

6 cups slow cook oats (old fashioned)

1 cup wheatgerm

1 cup broken walnut pieces

3/4 cup mix of honey and maple syrup (I used about 1/8 cup of honey and the rest was syrup)

1/4 cup olive oil

cinnamon and cardamom to taste

Preheat oven to 225°F. Line a large pan with nonstick paper (I’ve been using a large lasagna/casserole pan). Important: make sure the pan has high enough sides that the oats won’t fall out while you are turning them. Add oats, wheatgerm, and walnut pieces. Mix honey, maple syrup, and oil together (recipe suggests heating if the honey won’t dissolve). Drizzle over the oat mixture, mixing thoroughly with a scraper or spatula. Shake a bit of cardamom or cinnamon over the oats. Once everything is mixed, put into oven. Check every 20 minutes, using the spatula or scraper to make sure the honey doesn’t stick and burn. Takes about 2 hours of baking time. Keeps in the refrigerator, although it’s gone so fast we don’t have any info beyond one week.

Book festival finds

scrabbleA while back, I mentioned book festivals. (in this post here). We went to the one in Baltimore, and wandered around in mazes of tents around the Inner Harbor. We darted in and listened to people read from books, gawked at vendor’s wares, and looked for something not in the library yet. Continue reading ‘Book festival finds’

The Pink Suit: a novel. By Nicole Mary Kelby

The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby brings us back to the days when people were talking about grassy knolls, conspiracies in Dallas, and the days that led up to the loss of the USA’s 35th president. The story is told from the perspective of an Irish seamstress living in a New York boutique, creating the knockoff dresses that allowed Jackie Kennedy to wear French style with an American label. Seamstress Kate and her sweetheart, Patrick, are wonderful, and the story talks about what happens when an immigrants desire to live in the American dream is stood on its head. This book was a real treasure to read, and overshadowed the other books I picked up at the library. The owners of the dress boutique are well-drawn, slightly comic characters. The immigrant neighborhood where Kate lives is lovingly described, as are her family. Kate is a made up character, but you feel like you’re with her, fussing about making hundreds of fabric feathers for one patron or figuring out how to get the president’s wife’s body double away from the paparazzi.

Things I learned (because I’m too young to have seen original footage, and our television was black-and-white anyway): the dress worn by Jackie was pink, not blue. There was quite a shifty world of knockoffs that were done in America with the permission of the French fashion houses, as well as sometimes outright stolen designs. Pictures of Jacqueline Kennedy through the years are available here, through a slideshow at the Cut.

Book Festivals

After finding out I missed the Brooklyn, NY Book Festival last weekend, I’ve been looking at others around the USA.

I missed the Library of Congress Book Festival earlier in the year, but they post videos from it are here. They also have downloadable former book festival posters, (my favorite book poster from it here). You might like the one with dragons better.

Here are some other upcoming book festivals:

Funding cuts have sadly affected some book festivals. Others just seem to be poorly advertised. A lot of the ones I wished to go to were so early in the year that I’m still reading my Christmas gifts, or they’re places too far away like Miami, Chicago, California, or London, UK and Edinburgh in Scotland. A book festival, no matter how small and quirky (see April Fool’s Day International Edible Books Festival), is still a lovely place to meet authors, to find out about new books, and to find others who speak your language (or are up for a long, pleasant debate).

Oh say can you see

Fireworks over Baltimore, Star Spangled Banner 200 years

Yes… we did. We went to a local park, stood out in a field in the dark, and watched as the fireworks display went off in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, as well as right by the fort (there were 5 places where fireworks were being set off in the Chesapeake). It looked like the War of 1812 was starting all over again. But last weekend was the celebration for Francis Scott Key’s famous words after the famous bombardment of Fort McHenry. The fireworks included a spectacular set of fireworks that made up the image of our flag in the sky.

Hurrah for 200 years! Music and video still live on a local news station here. (BTW: if I ever get the chance of seeing Guy Fawkes day in the UK, I will snap photos and be very excited.)


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