Friday, July 31, 2009

Books read in July

Vacation reading combined with a new permaculture obsession made this a quite-fruitful month of reading. Also, it was hot and I had some trouble sleeping.


J Pod
Douglas Copeland
Disappointing. Copeland gets all meta on us and both the storyline and the writing style are lacking. My favorite Copeland books have characters who care about others. They might be whacked out quirky and odd, but their emotions are familiar. This book had neither of these qualities. The author inserting himself into the narrative in a very "heh heh" way did nothing to redeem this story line.

These is my words
Nancy E Turner
A really good novel of a hard-as-nails Arizona pioneer woman. The kind of frontier book I grew up reading, but seems to not be a current feature of adult fiction. In the first 50 pages, Sarah Prine encounters tragedy enough to break you and me, but she perseveres. Written in journal fashion, and supposedly based on one of the author's relatives, it can be a bit unbelievable in places (i.e. train robbery) but the main character's voice kept me reading to the end.

Earth User's Guide to Permaculture
Rosemary Morrow
A bit too much information for the potential peraculturalist with a back yard instead of a back 40, but very thorough and clear in its teachings. The author is Australian, which means that many of the species she uses for examples are not really ones I as an Oregonian would choose, but it's fun to hear her discuss how planting this or that plant will encourage the kangaroos and the wallabies.

Getting started in Permaculture
Ross and Jenny Mars
Many (over 50 according to the cover) different projects you could do to encourage your permaculture garden. Some are simple, like converting milk jugs into scoops and some are more complicated, like making paper. The authors want you to reuse, so many of these projects could be free or cheap. However, the book is written by Australians and the metric systems references can be confusing. I don't blame them for this confusion, I blame the US and our inability to make the transition the rest of the world has. We put a man on the moon but....

Gaia's Garden
Toby Hemenway
This author lives in Oregon and so the plant suggestions were good for me. A guide that is less of a textbook and more of a back yard users guide to permaculture. It gives a thorough lesson in ecology and how the different systems fit together. Highly recommended. This is the first edition, the second edition currently has over 80 holds at the library. This may be one to purchase.

The Urban Homestead: your guide for self-sufficient living in the city
Kelly Coyne & Erik Knutzen
These are my people! They discuss growing your own food in your tiny city lot, sure, but they also thoroughly explore foraging(!), chickens and other livestock(!), greywater systems(!), transportation(!) solar cooking(!) as well as canning, fermenting, cheese making, bread making, and creating your own cleaning products. Their tone is informational, not preachy and at times the two authors discuss why they disagree about a subject, such as starting from seed vs. buying starts. Rarely do I finish a book from the library and want to purchase it. But this is jam packed with information and I will be spending my hard-earned cash. This is a rare five-star review. I love this book!

Landscape you can eat
Allan A. Swenson
An older book, but one with good information about choosing and planting fruit trees in your backyard. Some of the information is out of date, but the author's enthusiasm is the best part of the book.

Landscaping with fruit: a homeowners guide
Lee Reich
Filled with lovely photos that will make you want to go out and buy a bunch of fruit trees and vines to fill your backyard. Each fruit featured includes how to care for it, its basic needs, how much fruit you can expect as well as the authors three point scale rating. There are also some plans for incorporating fruit into different kinds of backyards: suburban house, child's garden, etc.

Renewing Salmon Nation's Food Traditions: a RAFT list of food species and heirloom varieties
Gary Paul Nabhan, ed.
From Cascade Moose to Octopus to Thimble berry, Eel grass, Oregon White Truffle and Bing Cherries, find the foods of Salmon Nation. This slim guide discusses the domesticated crops, sea foods and wild foods of Salmon Nation (roughly: Northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.) Each entry gives the common and botanical name, the habitat range, the items availability and if it is at risk. There are also mini-essays scattered throughout the book. A bit depressing, if you are just reading it ("At risk." "Culturally at risk." "Endangered as a Food Tradition.") however, it is quite invaluable if you are looking to locate some traditional food traditions in your own landscape.

I have to confess that my favorite part of this book is the last page which has a full color RAFT (Renewing America's Food Traditions) Regional Map of North America's Place-Based Food Traditions. While I live in Salmon Nation, I grew up in Pinyon Nut Nation, have lived in Clambake Nation, Bison Nation and just came back from a visit to Corn Bread & BBQ Nation. The map explains that it features "totem foods" and goes on to say: "These totem foods are more than important commodities--community feasts, household rituals, song, stories, and the nutritional well-being of residents have revolved around these foods for centuries." Cool.

The basics of permaculture design
Ross Mars
A slender book with nicely drawn illustrations about incorporating permaculture into your landscape. The information included is good and solid and won't overwhelm you. The book also has a chapter with tips to incorporate permaculture education into schools. There is a chapter on urban permaculture and I learned that every permaculture land should have, at minimum, worms, bees and chickens.

Started but did not finish
Until I Find You
John Irving
I've read 250 pages of this book. I slogged through the "looking for the father in tattoo parlors across Europe" portion but I'm not going to make it though the "entirely inappropriate interactions across many years between a boy and a girl six years older than him" section. Every time I start to read, all I can think is "Hello! Child abuse! Molestation!" I'm tired of feeling uncomfortable and it has been more than 100 pages. I've given up the hope of moving on to another phase of the story and am moving on.

Did not even start
I started everything this month!

Poem for July: The New Colossus

The New Colossus
Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I had a passing "thing" for the Statue of Liberty in the 1980's. It coincided with Lady Liberty's one-hundredth anniversary. Because of my fascination, I liked this poem, though, like most people, I was very familiar with the last five lines and not well acquainted with the beginning.

I chose this poem because it is short (my first sonnet!) and I got started late this month, due to my vacation. It is also July, which lends itself to patriotic poems.

In memorizing this poem, I really fell in love with it. In it's brief lines it really encompasses what I love about the United State of America. In fact, when I was memorizing it, I sometimes had to not think too deeply about the meaning of the poem because if I did, I would choke up.

Now that this poem is lodged in my brain, I love it even more. On the page it is jerky and choppy. When I speak it, the whole thing just flows.

Trivia bonus: the "twin harbors" Lazarus refers to are Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Bus tip: Think about where the people who get on after you are going to need to get to.

The gentleman sitting on the steps made it very difficult to get onto the upper part of the Max train today. Misuse of space on a crowded Max train is one of my biggest pet peeves of the collective nature of public transportation. Rule of thumb: if you are standing in front of a space that people might like to stand, be ready to move aside at a moment's notice.

I happened to be carrying a big bag and two large rolls of curtain-making material and I wasn't a bit sorry when, after he refused to get up, those things hit him as I moved by him. I didn't do it purposefully, let's just say that I wasn't as careful as I might have been if he hadn't been so rude.

Discovery while errand running

Today I went to the Whole 9 Yards to pick up the material for the curtains in the bedroom.

The bus route is not it's normal route and so I ended up taking a short detour. This was a great detour because I tripped across this space:

Some depaving becomes stairs.

A sign asking for appropriate behavior.

A shady place to rest.

A not-good picture of a tire swing.

A lovely garden.
This little paradise was carved out of a boring empty lot. Thanks unknown person who did that.

Three sentence movie reviews--Away We Go

Matt and I took each other to see this (he used his movie coupons, I suggested) and watching this a second time I observed that what I liked about this movie was the fact that it was the rare depiction of couples finding their place as a couple in the world. Most movies are about the couple meeting and coming together or the couple breaking up, or dealing with strife, so this seems a treat. Matt agreed that the main character was much like him, though he pointed out that I'd never stapled his itinerary to his coat.*

Bechdel score. Two women. Still nope. Hmm. Wait a second here! I'm remembering that the sisters talk to each other about their parents. So let me do this again.

Two women: yes. Who talk to each other: yes. About something besides a man: Yes!

*I pointed out that it was only because I hadn't thought of it and wouldn't he actually benefit from that?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Three sentence movie reviews--Moon

This movie gets props for un-ironically including the use of not only the clapper, but also the flowbee in the first ten minutes. This was a perfect movie: I was confused and intrigued by the plot twist; when it became clear what was going on I was horrified. Sam Rockwell, usually a dependable character actor, had me engrossed in this commentary on what it means to be human.

Bechdel score. Two women: nope.

poster from:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Three sentence movie reviews--Across the Universe

I wanted to see the film when it came out, but for various reasons I didn't. This could have gone very badly, but I greatly enjoyed the integration of the Beatles songs with the visuals and the story (simple on the surface) was engrossing. Very well done and highly recommended.

Bechdel score. Two women: Yes! That talk to each other: Yes! About something besides a man: I'm giving it a YES! Amazing!!!!!!!!!! Is this the first one of the year?

ps: I watched it twice in a weekend and showed my favorite parts to Matt. Then I put all the other Julie Taymor movies on hold at the library. You should really watch this film. Really.

poster from:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Three sentence movie reviews--Harry Potter and the Book 6

I'm not a huge fan of these movies, though I think they do the best they can to bring the books to the screen. This one was "fine," although I don't understand why they eliminated the huge battle at the end and the big death scene was wrong, wrong wrong! The young love parts were very well done, which made me happy as the contrast between adolescent yearning and the increasing drumbeat of war are what makes this my favorite book the series.

Bechdel review. Two women: nope.

poster from:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Three sentence movie reviews--Last Chance Harvey

It didn't come with the best personal review from a person I actually know: "I fell asleep during that, but I had been walking around all day, and I still want to see how it ends." Indeed, it was a snoozer. There was so little chemistry between the main characters, Kelly and I spent the last 20 minutes listing movie couples with good chemistry.

Bechdel review. Two women: nope.

poster from:


I inadvertently burned out the motor of my superfabulous Kitchen Aid mixer last winter and have yet to get it repaired. I needed to make a cheesecake for a Bat Mitzvah gift and so I ended up buying a small hand mixer. It came with all sorts of things:
The usual beaters

A whisk

Some dough kneaders which I will never use.

A drink mixer, which I also will never use.

And, inexplicably, cookie cutters.

It even says right there on the label that it includes cookie cutters. Amused, I showed it to Matt who looked at the box and suggested that the cookie cutters could be used to make the decorations that were shown on the box. I guess so, but really? I was just in it for the basic mixer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A few surprises

I had errands to run after work today. I hate running errands after work. At the end of the day, even a short three hour workday like today, I only want to quickly get myself from work to home. But this day's errands brought some fun surprises.

I had to stop by Kaiser to pick up a prescription. On the way to the pharmacy I was waylaid by this display case. It was filled with the wood turning work of Mr. Agne Pearson.
The sign with the works explains that Mr. Pearson was born in 1922 in Sweden and brought to the US by his parents when he was an infant. He has lived in his house, where he has a wood shop, for 57 years. He likes to cut down the trees and cure them himself and then creates things.

His work was beautiful and I loved his handmade sign.
Buoyed by the beauty of unexpected art, I picked up my prescription and continued on my way. I took a winding route to my next stop, the Goodwill, and ended up crossing over my favorite pedestrian overpass in Portland.
I love how secret this overpass feels. Today though, I happened to glance up.
Locks! Many locks! They were in various stages of rust, and so many styles. This was almost as much fun as Mr. Pearson's works.
Goodwill didn't have what I needed, but my two surprises on the way home were good enough finds.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Watching a block in N. Portland. I get it.

Today there is another fire truck and another house is burning. I think these must be controlled burns for learning purposes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

11 July 2008. A picture from the Hungary/Romania trip.

This was a very dark picture and I had to resort to harsh photo editing to make myself visible. At the airport, I unpacked all the alcohol I had carried home for the youth. Several of them bought alcohol as gifts for their parents and were surprised that they couldn't bring it back to the states themselves. People who spend time with teenagers may be suspicious of this story, but I know that their parents did actually receive the alcohol because I handed it to them directly.

I waited for the last youth to be reunited with her mother and then I took a long Max ride back home. It was early or mid afternoon. How to stay awake until my bedtime? After I took this picture, I took a very long shower, grabbed that book you see on the table and got back on the Max. I took the yellow line to the streetcar and rode it all the way to the Spaghetti Factory where I had my favorite meal. This was the first meal I had eaten alone in two weeks. It was nice, but I missed the chatter. I realized on this trip that I don't like the number of meals I eat alone.

Meal done, I reversed my commute, successfully killing several hours. I'm not sure what happened after that, but I'm guessing I started in on the photos. I didn't manage to stay up for my normal bedtime, but I made it much longer than I would have if I had stayed home.

Coming home on a Friday was great. I had the better part of three days before returning to work and by that time most of my jet lag was gone and I had a good start on the photos and scrapbook.

So ended my trip.

Friday, July 10, 2009

10 July 2008. A picture from the Hungary/Romania trip.

On the back page of my scrapbook, I affixed this note:

Why I'm so tired:

9AM get on bus in Toroko
11PM get off bus in Budapest
11PM-12:30AM repack and shower and go to sleep

3AM up and to the airport
7:10AM flight leaves Budapest (slept 1/2 hour or so)
10:20AM flight leaves Amsterdam
Watch 4 movies
Play trivia challenge
(no sleep)
11:20AM arrive in Portland
Stay awake as long as possible which I'm guessing will be 7:15 or so.

Traveling is fun, but traveling to and from your destination? It can be hell. Oh beautiful ocean liners, how I mourn that I missed your era.

Watching a block in North Portland.

From the Max today I can see that the firefighters are putting out a fire on my favorite house. Arson? It seems pretty calm and in control.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

9 July 2008. A picture from the Hungary/Romania trip.

We left Toroko and drove to the city where King John Sigismund is buried. Sadly, my notes don't include the name of this town, and a quick Google isn't spitting it out either, so that town shall remain unknown. We then drove to Deva, where Francis David was martyred. (AKA, died in a cold prison cell on the top of a windy and cold hill.)

In 2005, this was a very "pilgrimage" moment of the trip. We walked up to the top of the hill silently, thinking about religious freedom. At the top, where the memorial to Francis David is, there were picnic tables, a snack bar and loud music playing. Eva got very angry and yelled at the snack bar people. They turned off the music and we had a very moving ceremony. Because of my past experience, I was looking forward to this part of the trip.

This time, instead of walking, we were going to take the brand-new funicular to the top. I would have preferred the walk, but having never had a funicular ride, I was looking forward to that. Alas, neither were to be. The entire top of the hill was closed for renovation. We didn't even get to ride the funicular to the top. Instead we had a makeshift ceremony in the park that was not nearly as moving. Then it was back on the bus for a very long ride back to Budapest.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

8 July 2008. A picture from the Hungary/Romania trip.

On our way to our final destination of Torocko we stopped briefly in Segesvar. (AKA, Sighisora & SchaBburg--with an umlaut over the "a" and an esset where the "B" is.) One of the reasons this town is currently drawing tourists is because it is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, but we Unitarian tourists look down on that and instead went to see the mechanism of the clock in the clock tower (very cool) and to the Church on the hill which we got to by climbing the Scholars' Stairs (scroll down to read about them.) These were covered stairs climbing straight up the hill. Eva told us that legend says if you climb up in pairs and both count the stairs, no two people will get the same number. We took off like shots, climbing and counting. Halfway up I thought, "this has a feeling of a snipe hunt" and indeed, though we did come up with different numbers, the only reason that story is told is so people will zip up the stairs without complaining. Eva said her grandmother told her the story when she was little and so she told us.

A winding and slightly nausea-inducing bus ride delivered us to Torocko, which was a village we visited overnight in 2005. Torocko has become much more tourist-y in the interim. It improved the postcard situation, which was nice, but it was strange to see all those tour buses where previously there were none. In 2005 this was the village where we walked into the sleepy town and twenty minutes later a woman appeared with ice cream to sell. Though there aren't enough tourists for her to have a shop, yet, I think that she must be very busy now.
Toroko is beautiful, not only because of the pretty houses, but also the huge mountain that looms above it. Legend has it that this was where the Pied Piper of Hamelin brought the children after he piped them away. The evidence is that the embroidery of Torocko is very Saxon and none of the surrounding villages show the Saxon influences. I just skimmed the article on Wikipedia and indeed, one of the theories is that the children may have been stolen/recruited to settle other parts of Europe. Also that the "children" may have not been actual children, but residents of the town who moved elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

7 July 2008. A picture from the Hungary/Romania trip.

I'm so breaking my rule. Two pictures in this post. But I can't help myself.

In the morning, some of us went over to the dairy to move some hay bales. This was not the most active of trips and so I was thrilled to go and work. Alas, there were enough of us that it didn't take very long and so we begged to shovel manure. We got to, and Levente, the minister and Brandon, the Peace Corps volunteer, were amused by our enthusiasm.

The dairy is part of Project Harvest Hope. This organization promotes economic development in Transylvania, with the idea being that if their are economic opportunities then more people will have the opportunity to stay in their village. You can read about and see pictures of the dairy here.

Our next stop was a visit to the salt mines. Parajdi Sobanya (aka Salina Praid) If I remember correctly, this is still a working salt mine, but we went where the other tourists were. It turns out that spending time in a salt mine can help with respiratory diseases. So entire families come for a period of several days or a week or two and spend several hours each day in the salt mine. My journal says, "They [the children] play, so there is ping pong and badminton and slides and it's all kind of dark and salty tasting." If you go to this link you can scroll down and then click on several pictures of the salt mine. It's a bit bizarre to wander though and dodge the hundreds of families playing and hanging out down there. There is also a chapel and an art gallery as well as a museum. I think the visit to the salt mine qualified as the oddest stop on the trip.

But then we went to the most magical place ever. It was a mineral lake, with so much salt we bobbed around with no effort whatsoever. It was also warm. Alex and I particularly loved it and had to be motioned out. I have no idea where this place was, or what it was called, but it was wonderful.
Back in the village I caught this picture in front of the church. In the villages, many people still use wagons for transport. It isn't unusual to see them, but I still got excited every time. As you can see, one of the men is waving at me. Hungarians are incredibly friendly and generous, a fact that makes the area a very nice place to visit.
After this wagon went by, the cows came home. They wandered up the street and one of them peeled off from the herd and stood at the gate of the house next door to where we were staying. The women of the house came out, opened the gate and in she went for the night.

Monday, July 6, 2009

6 July. Five pictures from my Washington DC trip.

My flight didn't leave until 5:30 pm and Sara nicely offered to drive me to the airport which meant we had time to do a bit more sightseeing. Jess came along too. We took a trip to Oxon Hill Farm where we wandered a bit and had a chance to take this senior portrait.
Here we are violating the rule "don't touch any farm animals." I thought it was a dumb rule.
Post farm, we drove into Baltimore because Jess heard that the Pizza was quite good at BOP Brick Oven Pizza. It was, but you know what else was good? The gelato shop down the street. I've not had gelato before--figuring that if you can have ice cream, why have gelato? Today I found my answer. It was de-lic-ious! Pitango gelato. Go there if you can. I had chocolate noir and creme fraishe which I recommend.
While in the gelato shop Sara saw a woman with a great hat. As we wandered through the shopping area I spied the very same hat in a hat store. We went in to look at the various great hats and chatted with the clerk, who was much nicer than the clerk in the clothes shop down the street who ignored us, which is why I don't like to go into fancy clothes shops, aside from the fact that they don't make clothing in my size. Anyway, this clerk was quite friendly and Sara bought a hat. "Would you like to wear it," he asked, "so others can see it and come in here just as you did?" he asked. She said yes and she did.

On our way to the airport, we saw this billboard. I really liked what I saw of Baltimore and I would like to explore it more someday.
Because my navigation skills are good, but not superb, we got to drive through a good chunk of Baltimore. This was okay in my book because I wasn't really excited about getting to the airport. We also got to play Sara's "identify the denomination of the church" game which I'm not so good at, but is fun. We eventually got to the airport and posed for one last picture, with Sara in her new hat. Fetching, isn't it?
I then entered the hell of airports, as evidenced by this incident. I was waiting in a line that was not moving and witnessed a woman in an American Airlines uniform, with an American Airlines lanyard and American Airlines ID tell a man, "I would love to help you, but I don't work for American Airlines."

I hate airlines.

So if someone could get to work on that transponder, I would be ever so happy.

Minus the airplanes it was a great trip. I came home proud to be an American.

6 July 2008. A picture from the Hungary/Romania trip.

We started the day with church, and everyone looking so nice. Oh wait! I just glanced at my photos and I see the embroidery at the church is red, not blue as mentioned in earlier posts. I made the mistake because the church is primarily painted blue. At any rate, the church is small, and I think we doubled the size of the congregation that day. Eva said it was summer and a lot of people were working in the fields.

After church, eating (again--we were quite well fed) and some resting, we set out for the swimming hole. It was a bit of a walk, in the US we probably would have driven. But we made it. The swimming hole was very small, more of a large hot tub size with boards built all around it. The mineral content of the water was supposed to be healing. It was kind of a breezy day, so none of our youth went in. Some of us did however, enjoy the mud hole. Dana, Eva and I wandered in and I muddied up my arms, to help with the psoriasis. Then Brittany arrived and put us all to shame. There is a picture after this one where even her hair is covered in mud.
Now think of getting all that mud off. There was no faucet, just a trickle from a stream. It took me a bit of time to wash all the mud away, but it took Brittany quite a long time. She was happy though.

Another thing to notice in this picture is the decoration on the posts around the mud hole. I like how everything, no matter how mundane is decorated. It makes so many nice places to rest your eye.

In the evening we had a campfire and sang songs.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Three sentence movie reviews: Vertigo

In contrast to today's suspense/mystery-type movies, this one moves incredibly slowly. Very obvious shots are lingered upon until even the dimmest movie viewer gets the point. Still, it is a Hitchcock film, and though I had seen it before, I still was tense/frightened at the end.

Bechdel score. Two women: nope. Unless you count Kim Novak as two women. :-)

poster from:

5 July. Five pictures from my Washington DC trip.

After our long day and late night, I was happy that St Paul's K street's solemn mass isn't until after 11:00. We went and I enjoyed the pageantry of the service. Post church we met up with Sara's sister Jess and went to Chinatown and had "Fresh Noodle Made on the Spot."
I met up with Jenna at The Building Museum. I was pretty excited to see Portland was featured in the Green Community exhibit. Oh look! We're even in the picture on this page of the website. There was also a great exhibit about storefront churches.

I bid goodbye to Jenna and decided to take another attempt at the National Museum of the American Indian. On the way, I took this picture of the capitol.
I love the beauty of the American Indian museum's building. All the undulating lines make it interesting to photograph and fun to look at. You can see more pictures by scrolling down to the bottom of this link.
I never thought I would say this, but I was pretty museumed out. I went to look at the food court, which I heard was fabulous and which looked delicious, but I was still full from "Fresh Noodle." I wandered through two gift shops buying some last souvenirs. Then I wandered across the exhibit "Ramp it Up" about the skateboarding culture in Native America. Because I have always had a soft spot in my heart for skaters, I loved this exhibit.
I took the Metro back to Sara & Shawn's and I entirely checked out, missed my stop by a couple of stops and had to double back. That has never happened to me on any public transportation system. Ever. I was pretty tired. We (S&S along with Jess) lounged around a bit and then went to see Vertigo at this Diner. Both Sara and I were thinking "Diner in front, movie theater in back," but no, there was not theater, just a small screen and a projector in enclosed deck out front. When it got time for the movie, they loaded it up and turned on the sound. It was kind of bizarre. But fun. I'd seen the movie before, but still gasped in surprise as the nun rounded the corner at the end.

It was a good last full day of my trip.

5 July 2008. A picture from the Hungary/Romania trip.

Man, there were a lot of good pictures from today. It was a touch choice. Today was the day we "worked" in Okland, which consisted of about an hour or so of clearing wood and debris. A sudden summer downpour ended our labor, though we were pretty much finished. After resting a bit, we took a tour of the cemeteries of Okland. First we went to "the cemetery" on a hill above the village. From "the cemetary" we could see the "passersby cemetery" where anyone who hasn't lived in the village since forever is buried. "Even if they have lived here for 100 years?" I asked. "Even if they are the minister?" Eva told me both of those groups would be in the passersby cemetery. She said she likes the view better in the passersby cemetery anyway.

We walked back to the village and had a tour of the church. Their church, unique among Unitarian churches, has painted tiles on the ceiling. Their embroidery, as mentioned before, was solid blue. We got to play the organ and go all the way up in the bell tower, where I took this picture of the village.
Isn't it pretty? Most all of those houses have gardens in the backyard where in America the lawn would be. The road through town that you can see in this picture is a dirt road, and it is the one that the cows walk on to get back to their homes at the end of the day.

After our tour of the church we wandered up to the passersby cemetery and indeed, the view is quite nice. Next on our agenda was an incredibly long soccer game in the school yard. I played, Marcia played, Don played, the YRUU youth played, the youth from the village played. It was tremendous fun. While my soccer skills mostly involve getting in the way of things at the correct times and constant chatter, Don (our most senior member of the group) turned out to be a soccer star. So much so, I began to refer to him as "The Wall." I was surprised to learn he hadn't ever really played soccer. He attributed his skill to his youth playing hockey.

Our game reluctantly ended when we were called in for dinner. Post dinner, was a viewing of Juno. So ended the evening.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4 July. Five pictures from my Washington DC trip.

We (that would be Shawn, Sara and myself) started today with the parade. Always a good start to a day, in my opinion. In the parade there were many different people of many different ethnicities in many different traditional costumes as below. There were marching bands. See Sara's write up of the day to hear about our favorite marching band which we also ran across later in the evening enjoying the fireworks on the mall. You can also see them at the parade in this link. They were great!

The parade itself was interesting, but the spectators were very silent. It was kind of weird.
After the parade, we walked back to St. Paul's K Street, where we had parked and picked up our picnic lunch. We walked over to the Kennedy Center, where they have nice picnic tables that anyone can sit at, and had our 4th of July feast. You are looking at a BLT, beet and goat cheese salad, potato salad and a delicious broccoli walnut salad. Dessert was blueberry peach cobbler and whipped cream. Yummy! Sara and Shawn need to move to Portland so Sara and I can cook for each other.
We wandered down through the Folklife Festival towards the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and arrived just at closing time. We wandered back toward the Washington Monument. I took this picture, because in DC, they cleverly use buses to block off roads during events. Then, when the event is over, they can just put the buses into circulation. Genius.
We got to the Monument pretty early and just sat and chilled out for awhile. There were naps taken by some of us, and a lot of people watching happened. Sara and I went to find food at some point, but the lines were very, very long so we abstained. We took this picture of me in front of the monument. We heard an awful band play a concert. I noticed that certain "I'm a patriot sacrificing for my country" songs are a bit whiny. They seem like they are all proud, but underneath you can hear the whine.
Eventually darkness fell and I got this picture of the monument. The fireworks started. We were dazzled. Then came the walk back to the car and the very tricky maneuver that bypassed the traffic and got us home in minutes instead of hours.
It was a lovely fourth!

4 July 2008. A picture from the Hungary/Romania trip.

Today we bid goodbye to Kolosvar and began our journey to Okland. On the way, we stopped in Torda to see where the Edict of Torda was signed. We Unitarians are quite proud of the Edict of Torda.

We stopped in Marosvasarhely (you will note that the link uses the Romanian name, though references the Hungarian. Interestingly, 2002 was the first year in which Romanians outnumbered Hungarians in this city, though they were close in number in 1992.) In this city, we first visited the City Fortress, mentioned in the above link, then after lunch, the Palace of Culture. This, aside from being a lovely place where we heard a pianist practicing in the main hall (until his cell phone rang,) was also the site of our tour guide, Eva's first date with her now-husband. It is also known for its Hall of Mirrors which is apparently very hard to portray on the Internet. The Hall of Mirrors does have mirrors on one side, but on the other is a series of stained glass windows that portray various fables from Hungarian history. If you click through the above link, you can see some of the stained glass, though alas, not the stars that I fell in love with. It was fun to go to the hall of mirrors, because we got to hear the recorded tour. It was a little hard to understand, but it was humorous to shuffle down the hall hearing about the various fables. This link also has some good pictures.

After the Palace of Culture we got back on the bus and arrived in Korond, which was a place to buy authentic Hungarian handcrafts. We bypassed the place we had stopped in 2005, with Eva remaking that they had started selling non-authentic items. In Korond ("I've been there!" Matt told me when I got home) we got to see a family of potters throw cups, as well as their workshop. I bought a few mugs with the traditional designs on them.

This is the gate leading into the courtyard. The gate is the traditional carved wooden gate. This one also sports a few decorated plates. Behind the gate is the shop and the workspace as well as, I think, the family home. Note the satellite dish next to the traditional gate.
We journeyed on to Okland, arriving in the afternoon. Okland is a Unitarian village of about 400 people. When googling around for information about the village, I found this article which is great because these are the exact same people we stayed with. There is even a picture of Eva, our guide, and Levente, her husband, the minister.

I had been feeling a bit homesick all day, this being the first time I was not in the US on the 4th of July. I may have not been the only one. Eva cleverly planned an American-style celebration and we sang patriotic songs. At one point Levente came in waving the flag. I was most astounded that they would have a US flag. We had watermelon and spit the seeds and there were even sparklers. And marshmallows. It was a great end to the day.