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 snip leaves from 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

The Hungarian Fourth of July!

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This morning when I turned on my computer, I was met with a pleasant surprise. On Google’s homepage, “Google” was spelled out with a red, white, and green ribbon — the colors of the Hungarian flag! Why? Today commemorates the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, which grew into Hungary’s War of Independence against Habsburg rule. It’s a national holiday here, a day for celebrating democracy and freedom — the Hungarian Fourth of July. Continue reading

The Farsang Parade: Rated PG-13!

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I’m a sucker for a parade. Give me a uniformed marching band and a row of kiddie majorettes dropping their batons on the ground and I’m a happy guy. Growing up, I used to love to get up early, turn on the TV, and watch the giant balloons in the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the petal-covered floats in the Rose Parade, too. In Hungary, I’ve discovered one parade that could never be televised in America. Well, maybe only after the children have gone to bed. Continue reading

Mihály Munkácsy

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One of Hungary’s most famous painters is Mihály Munkácsy (1844-1900). With a style both lavish and romantic, many here consider his works the apogee of Hungarian painting. Before moving to Budapest, I knew nothing about this painter. Now, he’s one of my favorites. Recently, I was at Budapest’s National Gallery admiring his work titled The Artist’s Studio. In the center, a painter, probably Munkácsy, and a woman study a large canvas. But what drew my eye was what lay behind it. Continue reading

A Remarkable Find Right Here in Budapest!

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I’ve always been a good “finder.” When I was about 7 or 8, my mom would sometimes misplace her car keys then offer me a quarter if I could find them. Realizing that I could make some easy money, I started hiding her keys then “discovering” them. Unfortunately, Mom caught on pretty fast and stopped paying. But that was all right. I started hiding her lipstick instead and was back in business. Continue reading