...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

We Are Painting...

...and having fun in the process...except, as The Husband calls it, with the "f$%^& brick wall" . That one is not exactly fun.
Trim, door, and living room next week.
Current status:

Current feelings summed up succintly:

Friday, September 28, 2007


I don't think I'll risk any lakes here in Texas after reading this...

Words of the Week

Another one worth contemplating, this week from the Acts:

Acts 23: 6-11:
1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and
brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to
smite him on the mouth.

3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall:
for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten
contrary to the law?

4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God"s high priest?

5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high
priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the
Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.

8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither
angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the
Pharisees" part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against

10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain,
fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of
good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

It often happens that all we can do is cry: why did this happen to me? My people, the Hungarians have this tendency to think that we are the unfortunate ones, who are always beaten down, and we just look on innocently as evil people trod upon us because we cannot do anything about it.
All human stories happen because there is more than one participant, and all participants of the story, inevitably, are sharing the responsibility for what happened. The apostle Paul here, used the ‘divide and conquer’ theory against his enemies himself. He did not wait like an innocent lamb for the slaughter, but devised his own plan to get out of the situation. Note though, that he did not lie while doing this. He did not seek to smear the others, just stated why he was there—for the hope of eternal life, for the resurrection of the Christ. He saw that this was the only way he could get out from a very tense situation where emotions run rather high.
Paul realized very clearly who he can and cannot count on. And he was able to accept that the people he could count on the least are his own blood. But, at the same time, he was able to say sorry to his enemies, when he realized he called the High Priest a whitewashed wall. He realized that whatever human weaknesses the man could have, his office needs to be honored.

Paul was able to place himself, very realistically, in his own world, in the current situation. He understood that there is no use for high idealistic arguments at this point—he needs to get free first.

We need to ask ourselves: In our own ‘divide and conquer’ situations do we have the mindset to turn someone’s anger to a positive, beneficial, good use? Can we find clever solutions to tension in our work or family life? Or we just shoot until we are out of ammo? Or we just keep it all to ourselves, turning bitter in the process, expecting everyone to feel sorry for us?

The apostle Paul had only one goal: the gospel. God stood by him in the night, and gave him strength: he told him his life had a purpose, you had to go Rome with the gospel.
If we have a goal in life that is worth fighting for, that is not about merely existing, we will have the strength to fight smart. If we see that God called us for greater things, then we will be able to get over even the hardest crises of our life with His mercy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Playing With Colors

I was playing with Behr's ColorSmart online paint system to pick colors for our living and dining area, and the sunroom. I came up with some cool combinations, but we need to actually go and look at these colors on paint swatches as opposed to on the screen as they can be very deceiving (I got totally different hues on my home computer and at work)...So Friday afternoon we'll stand in front of a HomeDepot paint center and argue out the exact color of paint and trim, and then finally, the Great Painting Project takes off like a very, very slow, lumbering but unstoppable black bear. We are planning on doing this is small one wall/given time increments as our schedules are rather crazy.
Anyone wants to participate in a painting party, let me know...:-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Only In America...

Several times last week and this, I hear this commercial on the radio as I am getting out of the shower. It starts with happy cheerful circus music, then an elephant trumpets, and a dramatic male voice says: "What if an elephant escapes from the circus and tramples the VERY ground you are standing on? What would your family do?" I swear, he says this...
THEN the cheerful music with the circus percussion continues in the background, as the male voice changes to his more explanatory tone and continues :"XYZ Funeral Homes has a comprehensive Plan for you to help to prepare for such events..."
And he goes on to detail how the Plan works, what types of forms they provide for you, how to contact XYZ Funeral Homes...ALL THE FRIGGIN' WHILE the cheerful circus music plays in the background.
First I heard this, I thought: "nah, SURELY I am dreaming still, there is NO way this is on public airwaves, let's check....no, I am awake, I am out of shower, this is a towel, this is my shirt, I am up...yep..."
The I shook my head, smiled and murmured one of my mantras I acquired about a year after we moved to the States:
"Only in America..."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Like This

Just wanted to say that I really like this, and wanted to share.
Thank you.

We Are Going!

My sweetie rocks...he got us tickets to the first row of the balcony to this show Saturday night... We saw them when they came to Dallas last year and he was mightily impressed; so this will be a semi-birthday present for himself as well. My allergies must get better by then (I am seeing my doctor Thursday morning, so I am hoping for some quality meds).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Before I Forget...

Of all places, Tom Thumb (yes, the chain grocery store) has really correct San Francisco sourdough in their gourmet bread section (Artisan Bread label). Almost correct, my native SFan sis-in-law had it over the weekend, and she liked it...:-)

Archeology News

Well, when it rains, it pours...another found connected to the Temple in Jerusalem. Herod's, that is. This time the quarry the stones used for the building came from was found.

Adventures On A Couch

So what does one do when her allergies get so bad that she literally is stuck on a couch with a box of tissues and some company to commiserate the fact that she cannot leave the house to have fun with friends as planned?
Me, I had a movie marathon. We started out with Big Trouble in Little China, then moved on to Underworld 1 and 2 for good measure. While I slept the sleep of exhaustion and meds for brief periods through the movies, I've seen all of these enough times so I had no trouble following and filling in the missing parts...:-) Escapist movies with gratuitous violence, yo!

Friday, September 21, 2007


Why, oh why can't we have one of these here? While I frequent the Coppell Farmers Market (which is small, but very good), the only vendor who sells milk products there cannot sell his own cows'milk outside of his farm, which is in OK, and it is the same everywhere else.
Makes you seriously consider to either move out to the countryside or at least get a buy-in to some coop or regular delivery of products.
I miss my homeland's farmers' markets. I miss the small grocery store in Visegrad where I worked in the museum, where they sold real fresh milk from a local farm from a big steel container delivered daily, along with homebaked pastries and bread.

Words of the Week

My beautiful, harsh and often unrelenting Calvinist Church gave me this to ponder for this week.

Psalms, ch. 89:30-34

30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in
my judgments;
31 If they break my statutes, and
keep not my commandments;
32 Then will I visit
their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.
33 Nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly
take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing
that is gone out of my lips.

And their commentary for it:
This is how God’s love is different from our human love. He knows our sins, names them as they are and deal with them accordingly, while never taking away his love from the sinners. We need to re-examine our relationships: how we raise our children, how we deal with our friends, coworkers—what do we do confronted with, or being the object of their errors, sins, wrongdoings. If you need to, be strict, or punish—but never, ever withdraw your love from them.

Sometimes it is hard, very hard to keep on the Road. However, when the need is greatest, I am never forsaken, even though the message is not always what I exactly want to hear (shocking, isn't it?). And, after contemplation, and reflecting on the rest of the Words I got this week (among others, Kings 1 where King David's silence and inability to act or say anything about his son Adonijah's desire to be king instead of him almost cost him his kingdom), I think I know what to do. It just does not make it any easier.
Please pray for me.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Now It All Makes Sense

...the way The Husband and I always stare at the lady grackles going after the bugs in our front yard and say: "They sure look like little raptor to me..."
Well, guess what? According to this article, velociraptors had feathers...
I am SO glad I am not 6 inches tall.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Am In Trouble

Can someone please explain it to lil' ol' moi how I ended up with a See's Candies catalog in my work mail box today?

There I was at 1030 AM, salivating over their 1 lb. Truffle Box and the 2 lbs. Gold Elegance Box wondering if I can make it through lunch without running to my co-worker's emergency chocolate kit in her drawer (she regularly saves many of us in the wee hours of 330pm when the mind shuts down and needs a healthy dropkick from a miniature KitKat bar)...

On the other hand, now I know what my boss is going to order for Christmas to all of us. I just have to devise a way to surreptiously hand this catalog to him and point out the Dark Chocolate Assortment on page twelve...

Okay, Lock and Load

This is It. No question.The end is nigh. Start stockpiling cans and ammo, people.
The zombies are coming...from Peru.
Time to re-read The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z... and get to the range for some practice.

And The Show Continues...

You'd think this article describes a banana republic. Nope. This is about my home country.
I. Am. So. Thrilled.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Vampires of the World, Rejoice!

You can come out of hiding now, thanks to the breakthrough results of glorious Hungarian research triumphantly marching towards the glory of eternal sunsets and dark...

Oops, sorry. Little Pioneer past is showing a bit...let me tuck it back...

There. Better now. Anyhoo...this will be really exctiting, if the final testing phase will be as spectacular as the previous aminal studies, and the ramifications for instance for ambulances and such (apparently thing thing can be powdered, too!) are endless...
Of course, it still fits just too neatly into this story I am writing not to include...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Wendi Slaton-Worthy

I got this CD from my boss of all people; the artist is a customer's wife. I did not have high hopes for it, (I mean, this is A CD From My Boss, right?) but boy I was pleasantly surprised. She plays the type of country that is bluesy and rock-y at the same time; the old-fashioned type, I guess. Definitely not Nashville.
And she has good lyrics too. Here, have a sample. If you find that they resonate with you like they did with me, here, buy her CD.

Keep On Giving

ain’t it crazy how tenaciously i cling
to the words from which i pray to be set free
ain’t it crazy, how foolish i can be

ain‘t it funny how hard i try
to hold onto these feelings that only make me cry
i laugh out loud and i ask myself why

but i’m not gonna hold back hold out
that’s not what this world’s about
i’m not gonna give up or in i’m just gonna
keep on givin’

ain’t it something how love gets buried by fear
ain’t it a shame i’m scared to share the way that i feel
i hide behind these walls to protect my heart of steel

things are never better left unsaid
it’s gotta get lonely livin’ inside your head
if you take me there then i’ll color all your darkness red

but i’m not gonna hold back hold out
that’s not what this love’s about
i’m not gonna give up or in i’m just gonna
keep on…

Mercy, Mercy (which definitely goes on the imaginary soundtrack of the novel I am working on)

you can take me out, but you can’t take me home
‘cause i’ve got walk in closets filled with bones
i don’t need another memory i’ve got too many to forget
tales of passion and lust have turned to guilt and regret

we’ve all got secrets yeah we’ve all told lies
we’ll all be seeking redemption in that courtroom in the sky
i’ve been dancin’ with my demons prayin’ the music would end
cryin’ jesus jesus it’s your long lost friend, it’s your long lost friend

mercy mercy the regret just set in
i wish i hadn’t let my morals bend

i’ve been called self righteous, oh and it may be true
because i’m much too into myself to be somebody else’s fool
well it didn’t take long for me to build these walls
but you can’t peak inside unless you’re ten feet tall

mercy mercy the regret just set in
i wish i hadn’t let my morals bend
the love i thought we made just got chalked up to sin
mercy mercy the regret just set in

you can call my name but don’t expect me to come
if you move in too quickly you’ll see how fast i can run
i don’t need a shoulder to cry on or lean
i can take it standin’ up or laying down if ya know what i mean…
do you know what i mean?

Pet Peeves for Monday

"What?"you ask, Dear Reader. "It is Monday, not even noon, and The Bunny is already having peeves?" Yep, she does. They just piled up on me until critical mass was reached, so here you go.

1. If I walk into a space and someone walks in after me, and I say "hello, how are you?"I expect at least a grunted 'mpfh' in reply. You don't have to be nice to me, just acknowledge me as a fellow human being. Even if you don't like what I wear, you think I am an awful person, or your boyfriend/girlfriend just broke up with you.
2. If I walk into the ladies' room and all I can smell is your perfume--you are using WAY too much perfume, and you are totally inappropriate for a workplace/doctor's office/home etc. where there might be asthma or allergy sufferers, or those with way too sensitive noses. As an extension of this, if, on the other hand, you have such a strong BO that all I can smell in the lunch room is you and not my lunch, please use some friggin' deodorant/body powder...especially if you are five months pregnant and hormones make you sweat like a pig.
3. If we are having an exchange of emails, and there were some open issues in the last, let me not chase after you with a followup or wonder what the hell happened and why you are avoiding me. Again, honor me as a fellow human being so that we can finish all the open issues and move on with our day.

The common theme in all three above? Try to walk in someone else's shoe for a little bit with or without your second cup of coffee and consider that other person's feelings before being overwhelmed with your own little world so much that you march though others' day wearing jackboots and making them post long rants on their blogs out of the blue.

Thank you. Now I go and toss some boxes in the storage room to calm down.

::off soapbox::

The World's Simplest Roast Chicken

%^&*^) Blogger ate the first posting of this, so I'll be briefer and much more grumpy than I was in the original version. When I have chipmunk cheeks from allergied sinuses the world should at least cooperate, right?

So this roast chicken recipe is really that simple. Nigella Lawson is, again, right, darnit. I was sceptical at first, but after I made this about half a dozen times, I have to concur.

You will need:

1 3-4 lbs. preferable free-range or organic chicken. You'll need the flavor, but not the antibiotics or hormones from the feed. The number of birds can be multiplied depending on the size of the household. If you have an eat-engine in your house like The Husband after martial arts practice, this recipe is for two people. Caveat emptor.
1 lemon, rinsed, scrubbed
1 pinch sea salt. Sea salt, not table salt. You would not believe the difference; you need less of it, too.
2 tbsp. butter (good quality, unsalted) or 2 tbsp. olive oil (no need to use extra virgin, use extra light and make sure it is 100% olive)

And let's get started:
1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Or not. I tried both ways and it did not make any noticeable difference if the chicken is fresh. Just make sure the blood is drained from the body cavity.
2. Ram the lemon up the bird's butt.
3. Smear butter or olive oil all over chicken. Sprinkle with sea salt.
4. Place on shallow baking sheet.
5. Roast in preheated 400 F oven for 15 minutes per pound plus 10 minutes. I gave exactly 1 hour for my 3.3 pounder this weekend, and it turned out perfect.

Serve with garnish of your choice, but keep them simple, as the chicken here is the main attraction. I suggest a tossed green salad with some walnut oil and lemon juice, and, if you feed a crowd, roast some quartered potatoes, small onions and cloves of garlic with some olive oil and salt in the same oven for about 40 minutes.
The chicken prepared this way has a gloriously crispy golden-brown skin on the outside and the meat remains absolutely moist, juicy and bursting of chickeny goodness flavor.

Don't forget to save the carcass/bones! Toss it in a pot, add whatever vegetables you have at hand, pour cold water on it and simmer for 2 hours on low for the best chicken broth ever, then freeze the broth for a good soup when the weather turns windy and rainy soon.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Status Report

Allergies. Are. Not. Fun.
I wish I had not run out the only allergypill that does not make me totally zonk and makes all my symptoms disappear for 24 hours. Two more weeks till my doctor's scheduled visit. Until then, it is Loratadine at every 6 hours, rapidly declining tissue-stash, wheezing, sinus headaches and slight fever.
I wish someone came up with a solution to eradicate ragweed. I am sure it fills a valuable ecological niche, but as far as I am concerned, instead of Dutch elm disease, there should have been an, I don't know, Bolivian Ragweed Plague.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Words of the Week

Psalms 84: 5-6; again from the daily contemplations on reformatus.hu.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of
Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also
filleth the pools.

As we progress on our road towards the heavenly Jerusalem, we have to pass the valley of Baca as well; we have to pass though the Valley of Tears, the road of tears. But we are given the ability of not only passing through it, but to change it, to make it the Valley of Wells—wells of joy, wells of happiness, wells of faith, wells of God. The whole world awaits those Children of God, who labor to make the Valley of Tears the Valley of Wells, the road of tears to the road of happiness.

I pray that I can make my own small wells around me.

Relax, My Fellow Chocaholics!

It's just Vitamin Ch, not an addiction...

Of course, I've always known that...and I can stop eating chocolate any time I want to, yep...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

They Are Baaack!

This morning, as I was about to leave the house for work, I thought I caught the silhouette of a familiar, tiny shape buzzing around our sunroom window.
"Oh no!" I said to The Husband. "The hummingbirds are back! And my feeder is empty!"
This was about three minutes before I had to leave the house. Mad dash to the pantry, check at the bottom for the hummingbird food, prepare the solution, take the feeder down from the window, pour the food into the feeder, hang it back...then run out the door to work and have a spectacularly allergy-ridden rotten day complete with cranky boss calling from Atlanta, GA at 4:55 to get him an overnight envelope to his hotel with a copy of a report he did not specify until we called him back. Yes, one of those days.
So I got home, changed, fed the cats, stepped into the sunroom and carefully parted the curtains to peek out to see if I have any luck and my eyes did not just deceive me in the morning...
And after about five seconds...There! A sleek tiny shape darted through the leaves of the tree on the right side of the house, and there was a little ruby-throated hummingbird, alighting on one of the tiny perches of the feeder, quenching its thirst from the petal-shaped receptacles. Perfect.

So I had a good day after all. Thank you!

On Why Am I Not Going To Ever Give Birth In My Home Country

'Cause they better do something about those horrific new published infant mortality rates, that's why. It is a rather dramatic increase from one year to another, and one that cannot be explained without understanding just how much in tatters Hungary's health care system is.
I recall my sister's story about her son's birth I heard from her this summer for the first time...::Shudder:: Let's just say that no doctor should a. try to conduct THREE births at a time, two of which are ending with a Cesarean although not planned such, and b. allow for a change of nurses in the middle of labor and while changing IV, because 'shift is ended'. And this was a doctor she actually liked and worked with all through her pregnancy. Yikes.

The Letters

I am trying to stop my head from blowing up from allergies today (oh joy of ragweed) and listening to Leonard Cohen. I am cheerful today.

The Letters
Leonard Cohen from Dear Heather

You never liked to get
The letters that I sent.
But now you've got the gist
Of what my letters meant.

You're reading them again,
The ones you didn't burn.
You press them to your lips,
My pages of concern.

I said there'd been a flood.
I said there's nothing left.
I hoped that you would come.
I gave you my address.

Your story was so long,
The plot was so intense,
It took you years to cross
The lines of self-defense.

The wounded forms appear:
The loss, the full extent;
And simple kindness here,
The solitude of strength.

I said there'd been a flood.
I said there's nothing left.
I hoped that you would come.
I gave you my address.

You walk into my room.
You stand there at my desk,
Begin your letter to
The one who's coming next

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Please read this...

...and remember; always.
Like I do.
I got more from this, my adopted country that I ever hoped for, first and foremost my husband, and that day hurt me deeper than even I realized.
My home country has a long and bloodstained history of freedom fights. My family history that I only know from hearsay and family anecdotes, has a line of noblemen who were active participants in those wars, always, inevitably ending in defeat, bloodshed and tyranny. For all those reasons, for all those ancestors, for all their blood and memories carried in my veins, I remember.
I will always remember.

Eggplant Casserole

As summer draws to an end, we have the last abundance of beautiful eggplants and tomatoes at the farmer's market I visit every Saturday...so I dug into the fridge Sunday night and made this casserole based on an old recipe I brought with me from Hungary. With some rice, couscous or crusty bread this is the perfect summertime dinner for tow.

2 large eggplants, sliced (or about 1.5 pounds baby eggplants)
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 large onion, sliced into rings
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 banana, Anaheim or Hatch peppers, sliced into rings
black or green olives to taste
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9x9 baking pan with aluminium foil; grease lightly with olive oil. Place eggplants, tomato slices, pepper and onion slices into plan alternating so that they slightly overlap and look pretty. It will be at least two layers in the pan. Sprinkle between the layers with the chopped garlic, olives, salt and pepper. ON top of everything, drizzle with olive oil and pour a little water or white wine underneath. Cover with aluminium foil and place in oven. Bake for about 45 minutes; foil can be taken of for last 15 minutes so top browns a bit. May need to bake longer or shorter depending on eggplant thickness--check for doneness after 30 minutes.
Serve over rice, couscous or just with a good quality crusty bread on the side for dunking.


In Archeology News

The Oseberg Ship's queen is re-exhumed for scientific investigations to figure out her relationship to the other woman she was buried with. Just like with the Jerusalem wall a few weeks back, I can see this can be spinned too for many angles...maybe I just studies history a bit too long.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On This Day

I am reposting the Leonard Cohen song I had up last year, becusae, well, it says it so much better than many speches, rants or even my own words and feelings...

This year, I add this photo, taken on the first anniversary remembrance at Ground Zero, of the wind.

Leonard Cohen: On That Day (from 'Dear Heather', 2004)

Some people say

It's what we deserve

For sins against g-d

For crimes in the world

I wouldn't know

I'm just holding the fort

Since that day

They wounded New York

Some people say

They hate us of old

Our women unveiled

Our slaves and our gold

I wouldn't know

I'm just holding the fort

But answer me this

I won't take you to court

Did you go crazy

Or did you report

On that day

On that day

They wounded New York

Monday, September 10, 2007

Brief Observation

Waking up on a stormy Monday morning at 0430 not so much because of the thunder and lightning as the thunderclouds sit right above our roof, but because said thunder and lightning startled the large cat sleeping on my ankle so he digs his claws reflexively into my skin and flesh--is NOT a good thing, emphatically.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Useful for Geeks Like Me...

Online English-Latin dictionary... and about a dozen more cool Latin works, thesauri, grammars, etc. The dictionary requires a small plugin install on your computer. Trust it, it was written by monks...:-) I love that the instructions are all in Latin too...

Words of the Week

Friday's contemplation words, from reformatus.hu, and the commentary, translated from Hungarian. It was really hitting close to home this time:

Psalms, 78:32-42.
For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous
Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in
When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and
enquired early after God.
And they remembered that God was their rock,
the high God their redeemer.
Nevertheless they did flatter him with
mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.
For their heart
was not
right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.
he, being
full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them
not: yea, many a
time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his
For he
remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth
away, and cometh not
How oft did they provoke him in the
wilderness, and grieve him in the
Yea, they turned back and
tempted God, and limited the Holy One of
They remembered not his
hand, nor the day when he delivered them from
the enemy.

It is one of the most difficult things in our lives of our faith to look back on our sins. There are those who like to elaborate in great details, who like to boast how deep was the chasm they came back from, how deep they fell before the were saved. Others, even if they know that they received forgiveness, cannot let go of their sins and carry them as weights through their life. The history of our sins is important only because through them we can see the faithful love of God more and more. It does not matter how far we strayed, God is ready to start it over with us.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Georges

Over at Sciolist Salmagundi (link on the blogroll to the right) my friend Sal reminisced very creatively about a certain cockerel's demise which resulted in me in the Comments section recalling my grandparents' row of roosters, each called George, numbered for children's sake. I thought those comments were worth a larger blogpost here, if for nothing than to commemorate a little sliver of my childhood, the golden summers spent at my grandparent's house in the little village of Sonkad (pop:1200) in Eastern Hungary, where my grandfather was the only man of the cloth, being the Calvinist minister of the community.

So: my Calvinist minister Grandpa went after George XXVI, their roo with the twig broom after he jumped his Sunday trousered legs one afternoon. You see, Grandpa would not tolerate that. He was already grumpy after finishing counting up all the pennies that the villagers tossed into the donation box, loudly commenting to my grandma so us kids could hear it clear and loud as we played in the living room: "But look, my Erzsike, they toss 20 fillers to the Lord and then complain that the roof of the church is leaking!'(20 fillers is about a single cent or thereabouts and yes, there were people in the parish who would do that). So Granddad was rather moody when he stepped into the chicken enclosure anyway, for whatever reason he had to stroll in that day. On Sunday afternoons, he did not change out of his black suit pants and white shirt with shiny black shoes he worn under his ministerial garb, just pulled on a faded dark blue lab coat and a beret (this way if he had to do some menial labor he could but if someone arrived from the parish on official business, he could toss it of on his way back to the house and be The Minister again in a pinch). But George XXVI, that year's rooster, was moody too, and I belileve he did not like the way my Grandpa was intent on gathering some eggs for next day's breakfast from the chicken coop. Therefore, he sprang on him, for all intents and purposes to take a bite out of my grandpa's calves.
You really should have heard my highly educated and usually very sophisticated-mannered grandfather uttering curses that were totally in-line with some sailors’ phrases in shadier enterprises dockside, accentuated by loud 'thwamp' sounds of the twig broom thudding on the ground barely missing George XXVI, who was running for his life. He escaped, barely, because my grandma run to the scene and her explanation, that the grandkids (my sister and I) were watching and this might not be the best education in Christian virtues to us, finally got through the red haze of righteous anger to Granddad. George was numbered because all their roos were named George, so you had to distinguish somehow. This one was an absolutely magnificent golden-white one...I gathered quite a number of feathers from the chicken yard after this memorable day.

And now, on to the tale of George XXII who died as a consequence of drunkenness, thus exemplifying one of my Grandpa's favorite sermons about excess being a great sin in God's eyes...:-)
He met his end when my grandma came out at a summer afternoon from the house to check on the chicken and found King G sauntering more than usual. Actually, he was decidedly stumbling, as in barely able to walk, omitting some kind of feeble crowing. Grandma, being absolutely frightened that this was a first symptom of a widespread chicken illness ready to slay all of our fried-chicken allotment for the summer, boxed the King and took him to our village chicken-slayer.
My grandma for a while, being a gentle and noble-born Mrs. Reverend, took her chicken to a certain Auntie Juliska in the village to be slaughtered, until the illness of said old lady (insert fond memories of her amazing walnut cake here) forced my sweet blue-veined grandmother to start cutting chicken necks herself...Anyway, I digress.
She boxed George XXII and took him to Auntie Juliska, paying no heed of me and my sister being at once frightened and totally curious pounding her with our questions. Now, when later that afternoon we went to pick up the George bits, neatly cleaned and packaged in a blue enamelware bowl, Auntie Juliska made us sit at her kitchen table in her packed-earth-floored kitchen, looked at my grandma gravely and asked: "Weell, Mrs. Reverend, do you know what was wrong with the roo?"
"Was he sick?" Grandma asked steeling herself for wholesale destruction of poultrydom.
"Not exactly...He was drunk."
A stunned silence for a second, while Grandma digested this, and while my sister and I consumed one more slice of the walnut cake, since none of the adults watched (It was really a rather good cake).
"You see..."Auntie Juliska said after a while, "his gizzard was full of pieces of wet bread and mulberry."
My grandma slightly blushed at this point and nodded."That would do it."
We ended the visit very shortly after and left with the George parts...but only later it became clear to me what the reasons of George's drunkenness and eventual demise were.
My grandma never wasted anything. The household was an almost complete recycling faculty as far as organic waste was concerned. Table scraps were scooped into two bowls under the kitchen table and were given to the dog and the cat every afternoon as their meal. Thus yes, their cat, Mr. Tabby, ate cabbage, squash and green beans as well. Bread, too dry to eat, was placed in a bowl, soaked in water and given to the chickens once a week as a treat. (You should have seen them scampering with the pieces!) In the summer, however, there was mulberry season, and the mulberry tree in the chicken yard was very productive. And the summers in Eastern Hungary are rather hot...
Do I need to mention the unfortunate custom of George liking to nosh on slightly fermented mulberries before nibbling on wet yeasty bread to give you the whole nasty picture of overindulgent, gluttonous roos getting their just punishment for the Lord?

The Baker's Son Makes Me Sad This Morning

RIP Luciano Pavarotti...
I did not care much for his star allures (remember Terry Pratchett immortalizing his giant white handkerchief and constant eating in Maskerade?) but I melted every time I heard him singing. I hope the choir Up There rejoices in getting another tenor added to the team. :-)

UPDATE: Try these samples of his performances: the first is his duet with another departed giant, James Brown, in an amazing rendition of It's A Man's World; the second is his heartfelt and moving performance in Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci...gives me goosebumps.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Future of Music?

The sound of music...a bit differently. An interesting article about the future of the music industry, music downloads, iPods and subscription services. As one who only recently had been bit by the download music bug (but then oh boy I was bit), I find these musings very enlightening. The music I like is usually hard to find in ordinary stores, so for me, and a lot of those who like 'niche genres' the download/subscription services are a better alternative.
I used to order CDs online, but after comparing costs, I found it really expensive--these days I only do it when I cannot find if in the usual dowload service sites cheaper, which is almost always the case.

But when does it come to the States?

My favorite childhood (and adulthood) Hungarian dessert is heading to the world's biggest market-China.
But how about the US? I am sure there are a load of expats who would be absolutely excited if they would not have to carry this in as their personal lunch consumption amount every time they return from the old country.

More Cool Archaeology News!

No, really...how about 3,000 year old beehives? No, no bees in them, in case you were wondering.

The Weather Broke

It is kind of British weather now, with rain and dark clouds and everything glistening wet, very damp but not too cold.
I like it.

And so, I am listening to songs fitting the occassion, such as good ol'Sting's Sacred Love album, with this song on it:

The Book of My Life

Let me watch by the fire and remember my days
And it may be a trick of the firelight
But the flickering pages that trouble my sight
Is a book I'm afraid to write

It's the book of my days, it's the book of my life
And it's cut like a fruit on the blade of a knife
And it's all there to see as the section reveals
There's some sorrow in every life

If it reads like a puzzle, a wandering maze
Then I won't understand 'til the end of my days
I'm still forced to remember,
Remember the words of my life

There are promises broken and promises kept
Angry words that were spoken, when I should have wept
There's a chapter of secrets, and words to confess
If I lose everything that I possess
There's a chapter on loss and a ghost who won't die
There's a chapter on love where the ink's never dry
There are sentences served in a prison I built out of lies.

Though the pages are numbered
I can't see where they lead
For the end is a mystery no-one can read
In the book of my life

There's a chapter on fathers a chapter on sons
There are pages of conflicts that nobody won
And the battles you lost and your bitter defeat,
There's a page where we fail to meet

There are tales of good fortune that couldn't be planned
There's a chapter on god that I don't understand
There's a promise of Heaven and Hell but I'm damned if I see

Though the pages are numbered
I can't see where they lead
For the end is a mystery no-one can read
In the book of my life

Now the daylight's returning
And if one sentence is true
All these pages are burning
And all that's left is you

Though the pages are numbered
I can't see where they lead
For the end is a mystery no-one can read
In the book of my life

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Brief Note on Food

There was LOT of bread-type food eaten this weekend, for which I need to pay the price on the treadmill soon...but yes, kolaches at the Czech Stop on I-35 at West, TX are still amazing, and still available 24/7. And the beignets at Grand Lux Cafe are absolutely sinful too, yep.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

On The Husband, Teaching

I crashed The Husband's 1302 History class yesterday morning at 0900am at Collin County Community College. We were to depart for the annual WestFest in West, TX in the afternoon after his class, and timing-wise this was just the prudent thing to do. So I took a seat in the back and thought I can just be observant and quiet and unobtrusive...
Of course, I did not count (silly me!) with the fact that this was The Husband's class...:-)
He likes class participation... So soon I found myself in a group of three students arguing about the Reconstruction. It was very illuminating, halfway observing and halfway taking part in the class.
He's a good teacher, The Husband is, I had to really realize on Saturday and I am very glad that finally, after so many years of searching, he found his element where he's really at home and at ease. I am even happier that all of his class evaluations from last semester (he teaches in three counties) agree with me--so it's not just the wifely bias speaking here.