Friday, January 25, 2013

Girls with skills

"You should learn to crochet or knit so you can make us cool scarves and hats."  That's what my husband said to me this week.  And I could actually respond, "I know how to crochet."  I grew up crocheting.  It's one of the skills my mother taught me.  What else is there to do during a long, cold Alaskan winter?  Alaska girls got skills!  Now-a-days not many girls learn to sew or knit or do all those "domestic" things.  Women want to be "empowered".  Not curtail to our grandmother's generation.  But I have to say, those skills come in very handy!  So today I'm thankful for the domestic skills my mama taught me.  When all the other girls have to take their trousers to a seamstress to be hemmed, I feel very empowered!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A stranger's helping hand

Tonight on the way home from work I watched a mom with two kids and a baby in a buggy getting on the tram.  A man on the tram grabbed the two kids (about 3 or 4 years old) and pulled them up the tram steps while another guy grabbed the front of the buggy to pull it on.  The mama settled herself and her kids into the tram seats.  I thought... "In an America city, if some guys grabbed a lady's kids like that, she would freak out."  I love that Hungary still has that helping-hand-I'm-not-here-to-kidnap-your-kids mentality.  I'm realizing that all those people who stare at me on the tram are really just watching out for the strangers around them.  A great cultural trait!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Snow Day!

What every teacher and student dream about...
Too much snow.
No school!

On my morning commute I got all the way to the Bus 63 stop, the last leg of my trip to school, when I got the call... No school today.  Good thing because the bus was nowhere to be seen after a 20 minute wait.  Way off schedule.  So I hopped back onto the tram into town, along with everyone else.  It was quite a crowd!  The rest of my morning involved a walk around the neighborhood (thus the pictures), breakfast at our corner cafe and a nap.  Then it was noon, and I still had the whole day to relax.  It's evening now and it looks like things are warming up.  The bus will probably be running on time in the morning.  But one snow day is better than no snow days.  Thank you Mother Nature for a day off!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Voices from Hungary

Bronze shoes along the Danube.
A Holocaust memorial.
"A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence.  They are not fit to live among people.  These Roma are animals and behave like animals."

This was a recent quote from a Hungarian politician.  He's part of the political party that holds the most power in Hungary right now, the political party that conservative Hungarians support.  The theme of prejudice and anti-semitism is becoming more and more prevalent in Hungary.  As I read article after article and hear some Hungarian co-workers express their pro-government stance for this current administration, it scares me to death.  Their words sound a lot like those that led to the execution of millions of Europeans in the 1940s.  In a country that survived Nazi invasion and Russian communist control within the last 70 years... In a country that houses a Holocaust Museum and The House of Terror...  In a country that has memorials throughout the city, bronze baby shoes on the edge of the river to remind themselves of the innocent who were killed and thrown away... It baffles me that people actually still think this way.  A lot of people.  And I'm scared to think what all this hateful talk and thinking might lead to.

Recent News in Hungary

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's coming!

January and February were the coldest months in Budapest last year.  It got down to -22 C (-8 F).  The last place I lived that was that cold was Alaska.  As a child.  So after 16 years living out of Alaska, including the last three years living on the equator... it was a bit of a shock.  This year I'm a little more prepared.  I own wool socks, long underwear and the warmest coat North Face sells for women.  So in the next week or two when the Danube looks like this...
Will took this picture last February near our house.
... I'm prepared!
Prepared to stay in my warm cozy house with "Fireplace" playing on the TV.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Collecting Souvenirs

Last summer, as Will and I went through U.S. Immigration, the officer looked at our little blue and white form and commented with cynicism, "You brought nothing back from your trip?"  He was looking at the $0 I had written on the value of the things we purchased abroad alongside the list of five or six countries visited since we had last been to America.  I guess I wasn't completely honest, being that my underwear, socks, and jeans were probably purchased in Hungary, but we had no souvenirs or gifts for family or friends in our luggage.  We barely even filled our one-bag-each allowance. "No," we replied, "We live abroad."  He stamped our passports and into the U.S. we came.

Souvenirs were never really something Will and I collected.  What would we do with a soap dish or pottery that will just be left behind when we move to the next country?  As we've traveled more and more however, we have started a little collection...  Art.  Not the expensive kind from the gallery.  Come on - we're teachers.  But the kind we find in markets and piazzas.  The flat kind that will be easy to move from home to home and country to country.  And after a couple years, our little gallery wall is beginning to grow.

The most recent additions include...
A tile from Delft, Holland.  Famous for their blue and white pottery since the 16th century, the Dutch create Delftware.  We found our little framed tile in an outdoor antique market.  Of course our's isn't from the 16th century.  It's from the 1950's.  But it's a good little memory of a very unique town.

A local Budapest artist captured Parliament really well with her unique technique.  I met her at a local weekend market and this painting caught my eye right away.  Now we always have a good memory of our home city in Hungary.  I may buy one or two more of her pieces before we move countries.

Our cruise in October took us to Tunis, Tunisia where we picked up this small mosaic.  Again, in a market.  The medina's winding streets led us to a vendor who had home-made mosaics, complete with black duct-tape on the back to hold it together.  

Other pictures on the wall remind me of our honeymoon to Europe, traveling with my brother and sister-in-law in Rome, and our life in Kenya.  Maybe before we move from this flat the pictures will reach the tip-top of the wall.  I hope so.

To market, to market to buy some glühwein...

European cities are known for their Christmas markets.  Some are better than others.  This year we hit up Prague, Dresden, and of course Budapest.

Prague, Czech Republic...
Most beautiful square,
Most made-in-China crap to buy,
Best place to hang out with friends,
Best beer,
Most picturesque.

Dresden, Germany...
Most medieval,
Best craftsmanship knick-knacks to buy,
Best rebuilt city (demolished during World War 2 by the Americans, but rebuilt to look like it did before),
Best place to get new mulled wine (glühwein) mugs - even got one from 2011 this year... Hmmm,
My favorite market so far.

Budapest, Hungary...
Best market to buy pottery,
Best market for mulled wine,
Or any wine,
Best place to go out with girlfriends during Christmas,
The market that now feels like home.