Colors of Budapest

April 22, 2011

 Tourist trinkets, neighborhood storefronts, red postal boxes, and hand painted Easter eggs. And so many other things I wish I had good pics of: turquoise subway cars, red fizzy cherry drinks, the fancy yellow Szechenyi Bath House, neon green signs of spring appearing on branches. It is always fun to see what colors flavor the new places we visit. Budapest has its share of grey buildings and elaborate stone structures that are beautiful in their own way, but these bright pops of color kept catching my eye.

Washing Brushes

April 17, 2011

My birthday is tomorrow but I have to admit that ever since my dad died it has actually become a pretty hard day for me. I just can't erase that birthday from three years ago.  It was the last time I ever heard his voice because they took him off the ventilators for a brief period. He looked awful but as the month progressed I realized in retrospect that it was one of his strongest days. I wish I had talked to him more and spent more of that day by his side. I hate hospitals and I was in such shock about everything that was happening that I kept leaving the room to catch my breath. My dad picked up on that and actually kind of snapped at me about getting it together because he needed me to be strong. I needed to hear that and I did pull it together, but I still feel guilty about that. It's all just such a mixed up situation. This whole sandwich generation business. For me it was compressed into a very intense month of vacillating between feeling like a three year and wanting/needing my daddy to scold me and comfort me while also suddenly taking on the impossibly adult role of making horrendous medical decisions, being a support for both of my parents, rubbing my dad's feet, sleeping in shifts, and trying to be available to my children from both a physical and emotional distance. 

It is always so challenging and awkward to know what to say after someone has experienced a loss. Words of sympathy usually sound so trite and empty. Often they are said more to fill that uneasy, quiet space for the one standing outside of the intense grief, the one who is grappling with how to offer comfort. It's never easy to really find right the right words but I have never forgotten the words that one of Adam's colleagues shared with me soon after my father's funeral. I didn't know her very well, but she walked right up to me, looked me straight in the eyes and said: "I know you saw some terrible things during your father's illness, I just want you to know that those images will eventually become dimmer and they will be replaced by the better ones. That's what happened when my dad died after a long illness". She said it with such sincerity, honesty, and clarity that it gave me more hope and comfort than anything else I heard in those hazy weeks right after his death. And they continue to give me comfort because they are turning out to be true. 

I no longer have the same "flashbacks" to what he looked like in those final days and that's a very good thing. I am no where near the weepy mess I was in that first year after his death. I still feel a pinch in my heart when I unexpectedly find a slip of paper with his handwriting on it or a photograph of him but now that is mixed with a smile because I like those surprising reminders. I can now tell my children stories about their grandpa or "gumpa" (that's what Camille used to called him) without becoming teary-eyed and choked up. But I still yearn for his voice. And that's why I was smiling few weeks ago when I was washing out some paintbrushes. Out of nowhere, I could suddenly hear his voice telling me how to do it. Just like he used to do when I was a kid. Just like he used to teach his students. I wish I had recorded some of the big conversations we had over the years, but those are now just fragmented pieces in my memory. It's funny how the words that stay with me so clearly are his instructions on how to clean a brush or how he loved to slap his knee and say "that's the real deal". It turns out it that it really is the small things that matter. Small, unexpected, ordinary, mundane words that now mean so much to me.

Taste Hungary: A Budapest Market Tour

April 15, 2011

Pussy Willow for Easter Trees
Sweet Hungarian Wine
Gabor and Friends under a Spotted Rudolph sign
Fresh Spring Greens and Peppers
Chocolate Easter Treats
I have just returned from a fabulous trip to Budapest with two friends. Kid-free in a beautiful city full of great sites, good food, and fun company turns out to be a very nice combination! One of the highlights of trip was the market tour we did with Gabor of Taste Hungary. We met Gabor at the grand Central Market where he presented us with a unique Hungarian treat: Spotted Rudolfs...dark chocolate wrapped around a sweet cheese filling. From there he proceeded to share the history of the market while also convincing us to join the locals in a morning glass of sweet Hungarian wine (other locals were drinking fruit brandy or unicom). We continued our tour by sampling freshly made poppy and cherry streudle and ambled amongst the vendors selling seasonal vegetables, jars of pickled vegetables, paprika, and handpainted eggs just in time for Easter.

But the tour didn't end there. After we had visited all three levels of the Central Market, we hopped on a bus and headed out to a working class neighborhood where farmers displayed their offerings next to local butchers and bakers. No other tourists in sight, much cheaper prices, and a spot we never would have found on our own. We ended our time with Gabor by having lunch at a Hungarian Jewish Restaurant, Kadar. The meal started with a special raspberry drink and beet salad with horseradish sauce. Both were wonderful. I was the brave one in the group who opted to try the sour lung main dish. It was a unique culinary experience, but not something I'd crave on a regular basis. That would be the beef stew I got to sample. And then there was the yummy Emperor's crumb for dessert.  

The whole morning turned out to be a very tasty way to see Budapest and it was especially great to spend time with such a friendly, knowledgeable local like Gabor. In addition to the market tour, Gabor also leads wine tours and we would certainly sign up for them on future trips to Hungary. His wife, Carolyn, is an American who has written two very handy food guides to Budapest. And both Carolyn and Gabor gave us some fantastic restaurant recommendations especially Central Cafe and Momotaro. We ate very well in Budpest!

Love Locks

April 8, 2011

 Are you familiar with these? I remember reading about them prior to our move to Italy and feeling excited the first time I spotted some in Rome. We found a lot in Florence at various points along the river. I like them. They are romantic, symbolic, and even a bit festive when bunched in colorful, shiny swags along railings. It turns out that they aren't unique to Italy and they aren't always appreciated. Lovers are leaving signs of their love all over the world. Have any in your part of the world?

11 Years

April 6, 2011

August 2010, Caltagirone, Sicily

Yoga Space

April 5, 2011

Open the blinds. Ignore the piles of dirty clothes. Clear away the Legos. Unroll my mat. Close the door. Push play on one of Sarah's podcasts. Begin to breathe. 

Ever since our return from Bulgaria I have been doing yoga in the kids' bedroom. I know it's kind of an unlikely spot and perhaps even a bit risky because of the Polly Pocket/Lego terrain, but it has been working well for me. It works because it is the room that gets the most natural light in the mornings. I like being surrounded by that morning light. When we were staying with our friends in Bulgaria, I would climb up to their yoga room. Yes, they have such a spacious house that they have yoga room. A tower room surrounded with windows and views. Views of the mountains. Views of the city (Sophia). A yoga mat and lots of early morning sunlight. It really is a dreamy space that makes me yearn for my own yoga room one day. 

So when we returned to our military issued townhouse in Sicily, I actively searched for a new space to practice yoga. This "yoga space" of mine is nowhere near as perfect as that room in Bulgaria, but in addition to the natural light, I also like the fact that it is a clear reminder of where I am in this stage of my life. 

During the early years of motherhood when I was so sleep deprived and unsure of myself, yoga was an escape, but a guilty escape. Like an addict desperately seeking that next fix, I craved my yoga time and reveled in going to classes where no one was crawling on me, sucking on me, peeing on me, or crying. My body ached as it relaxed. It physically hurt as I exhaled the tension in my limbs and in my mind. I would often fall asleep in the final resting pose. I beat myself up for not practicing on a more regular basis while simultaneously feeling guilty about craving that time away from my role as mama. 

Things began to shift as my kids grew a bit older and they were both in a preschool where I could do my yoga classes in the same building during their schooltime. The guilt dissipated as I became steadier and more confident in my mothering, while also growing stronger in my yoga practice. In addition to taking classes, I also returned to practicing on my own. With our move to Sicily, I was fortunate to find a teacher who also happened to be a good friend and neighbor, but with her move last summer, things began to come loose again and nothing felt quite right. The space in my living room felt too dark and awkward. My bedroom was too cramped. The kids' room never even entered my mind as a possible space until our return from Bulgaria and suddenly I saw the light. Literally. The morning sunlight flooding the open space next to their bunk bed and it all clicked. 

This current space feels right. I am no longer sleep deprived and craving a momentary escape from motherhood. Instead, I am firmly in the middle of it. As I push aside the tangled nest of stuffed animals and the Star Wars guys, I smile to myself and occasionally grumble about messy kids and then I turn inward and let that morning light guide me to where I need to be that day.

Puppy Love

April 2, 2011

 We spent this afternoon falling in love with these Cirneco Dell'Etna puppies. Six little wrinkly Sicilian pups. Sleeping, playing, and wriggling their way straight into our hearts. Hope you are having a weekend full of similar sweetness and fun. 

Congratulations to Karen and Vanessa for winning the Alphabet Glue give-away!

Latest Instagrams

© Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish. Design by FCD.