Europeanness

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Europeanness. I like the word. The dictionary defines it as the quality or characteristic of being European, but I don’t think that captures the meaning at all. Europeanness is one of those words like love and beauty and home that can not be defined in a single sentence. It’s so many things. Europeanness is bicycle baskets and faded shutters, wobbly coat racks and storks’ nests atop telepone poles. Europeanness is stone fences, bistro tables, weathered window frames, and garden gates tumbling with morning glory. Europeanness is noon church bells, musty basements, gazing at stained glass windows, and merchants with dried-apple faces selling hand-picked vegetables at early morning markets. Europeanness is the smell of burning leaves in autumn, swirling iron balconies, waiting on a country road behind a lazy horse and carriage, and June cornstalks so shiny in the afternoon sunlight that they look like they’ve been varnished. Continue reading

A Gift for My Readers: My Book is FREE on Kindle Today!

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Dear Readers, this post is not about Budapest, but it is about something very dear to my heart. Today, my new book The Charms of Miss O’Hara: Tales of Gone With the Wind & the Golden Age of Hollywood from Scarlett’s Little Sister, a biography of MGM starlet Ann Rutherford, is free on Kindle! Why in the world would I give the book away for free? you may ask. I had one goal in writing this memoir — to let the world know about the most incredible woman I have ever known. Miss Rutherford and I became friends in the last years of her life, during which she shared her amazing history with me. I couldn’t let her stories die — hence the book. If you love classic Hollywood, the Golden Age of film, or Gone With the Wind, I’m sure you’ll enjoy The Charms of Miss O’Hara. To learn more about the book and read early reviews, click here. Enjoy and Happy Reading! Continue reading

The Lotz — My Favorite Sunday Sit!

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I like places with surprises: hidden courtyards, secret gardens, unexpected details. There’s one place in Budapest that always surprises those who see it the first time. It’s the Lotz Hall, or Lotz Terem, on 39 Andrássy ut. Entering the building, you’ll find nothing special, just a bookstore. But take a ride on the escalator and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Continue reading

Wednesday Walk — The Liberation Monument

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Budapest is a city of statues, and one of my favorites is the Liberation Monument, known as Felszabadulási Emlékmu. (Try saying that five times fast!) Standing 14 meters high atop Gellért Hill with her hands stretched upwards, she looks like she’s about to jump off the high dive into the Danube. The monument, designed by Hungarian sculptor Zsigmond Kisfaludi Stróbl, was originally intended to honor the memory of a Hungarian regent’s son who disappeared on the eastern front. Continue reading

Have I Taught Them?

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The school year has come to an end. I know my students will forget how to multiply over the summer, and next year’s teacher will show them how to do it all over again. I know my third graders will forget the difference between an adverb and an adjective, and how to spell spaghetti. But have I taught them that it is better to tell me that they did not do their homework last night than to lie? Have I taught them that it is better to include someone in a four square game than to tell him he cannot play? Continue reading

Children’s Dress Up — Hungarian Style!

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When I was in first grade, my teacher had a costume box. It sat in the corner of the room next to the sink and the record player. I’d eye it during silent reading time. Whenever I got a chance, I’d be over at that costume box putting on a cowboy hat or an eyepatch or a stethoscope then asking my friends to stick their tongues out and say, “Ah.” Come to think of it, I still like to play dress up. My colleagues tease me for wearing bow ties and suspenders and pocket squares in my sport coats, but I don’t care. So when Miss Piroska, our Hungarian culture teacher at school, asked me if I wanted to come in and take photos of her students getting dressed up in traditional Hungarian costumes, I said absolutely! Continue reading

Tokaji: More Than Just a Nice Wine!

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“Vinum regum, rex vinorum!” The wine of kings, the king of wines. That was the name given to Hungary’s famous Tokaji Aszú wine by Louis XIV of France, the Sun King, when he first tasted it. Recently, I took my first trip out to Hungary’s Tokaj region, where my host Zoltán, a local wine maker, toured me through sun-kissed hillsides and ancient cellars. Continue reading

The Lilacs of Budapest!

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If I weren’t a teacher, I would have been a florist. Back in California, I often made my friends floral wreaths for Christmas and birthdays. I never bought my flowers. I had my sources. One neighbor lady let me cut her hydrangeas in exchange for a bottle of wine. Another allowed me to climb her magnolia tree. A third gave me permission to cut branches from her holly bush. After a couple of seasons, though, I had to find another source for holly. I guess I’d been too zealous with my cutting. The bush died. Continue reading

Hurrah! Announcing My New Book!#@!

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First off, let me apologize for not posting lately. I do have a good reason though. This week, my new book came out! The title is The Charms of Miss O’Hara: Tales of Gone With the Wind & the Golden Age of Hollywood from Scarlett’s Little Sister. It is a biography of former MGM star Ann Rutherford, best known as the youngest daughter in Gone With the Wind and Mickey Rooney’s perky girlfriend in the Andy Hardy pictures. I realize that this post has absolutely nothing to do with Budapest, but I’m just so excited, I just had to share! I’ve been working on the memoir for about two years, and it’s finally here! Now that it’s out in the big world, I feel like I just sent my “baby” off to college! Click here to see it on Amazon. If you know any Gone With the Wind or classic movie fans, please share. I’d so appreciate your help in getting the word out. Thank you! Continue reading