Sunday, August 28, 2011


Here I am on a hot day sitting by the fan eating my Nutella on bread--that's a mixture of ground hazelnuts and chocolate that is very popular in Europe.

In Florida we see hazelnuts once and a while in mixed nuts at Christmas time but they are so rare you would think they are some sort of exotic nut. Next to our house in Sopron is a tree full of them. We discovered the tree when Caroly stepped on some hazelnuts on one of our walks. Here she is showing off a few we found on the ground and the sea-urchin-like pod they grow in. Click on the picture to take a closer look. If you look carefully in the leaves, you can see the pods in the tree. When the nut is ready, the pod opens up and the nut falls out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

YSA Service

Before the university starts, we are trying out some things so we can have a well rounded Young Single Adult program here. On the 4th Tuesday we have a service project. This month we visited 89 year old Gizi, our chorister in sacrament meeting, who fell out of the bus this last week while holding her dog and a bag of groceries. (The bus started out before she was off so she says she flew like a bird.) Luckily she is spry and in good health so just got banged up a bit.

For the service project we took a blooming plant and a watermelon, cantaloup, and grape mixture and had a sing-a-long. We almost forgot to take a picture. You can see we had a great time.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Picnic 2011

You might remember our trip to see the Austrian border near our house last fall where we got to see pictures of the former iron curtain and the armed border guards on horses. This is the first place we take visitors, so Deb, Eric, and Kim should recognize the place.

We even showed you a picture of the invitation that Hungarians passed out to thousands of vacationing East Germans at Lake Balaton in August 1989 inviting them to come to the border at Sopron for a special picnic on August 19 to get a souvenir piece of the iron curtain. Here they burst through the border gate and fled into Austria, an action that resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall a couple of months later.

Here's a reconstructed stretch of the iron curtain at the border.The bike path in the background used to be the "no man's land," the last stretch you had to cross to get to Austria without getting shot.

Sopron celebrates this event every year with its own family picnic on the site. You can see children climbing on the monument to freedom.

Here they are enjoying an old fashioned basket ride.

The puppet show was about picking up trash.

Hey, isn't that the missionaries? Is that their new mission car?

No, its a fancied up Trabant, one of the East German cars that were abandoned by the hundreds by fleeing East Germans. Now they are a collectors item. Here is a shot for Dondavid of the Trabant engine, about the same size as a lawn mower engine. It doesn't even fill a third of the engine compartment.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What do you do when...

What do you do when all your planned activities for the day cancel? Well, if you are a senior missionary with a car and one of you is horse crazy, you set out in search for the famous Hungarian horses and horsemen!

We found this one who looks like he forgot his saddle!

Here's a momma with a baby.

Here are a horse-drawn wagon made of wicker and a sleigh for children. Do you think that ponies pull these?

But that's not what we are looking for. We are not looking for horse statues on buildings...

or horse drawn carriages.

We don't want Hussars.

I stopped and asked this old Hungarian where we could find the genuine Hungarian horsemen that we were looking for.

He suggested we go out on the puszta or Hungarian plain to Rádpuszta on the south side of Lake Balaton and find a nice csarda, or old Hungarian restaurant, and let the magic happen.

Here is Caroly with her onion sandwich hors d'ouevre. Does she look satisfied yet?

Maybe some nice Hungarian Gypsy music will be the magic touch.

The waiter suggested we try the wine in the 160 year old wine cellar. We declined.

The food brought smiles to our faces--goulash and stuffed cabbage.

But this is what we were looking for.

Now we have a happy camper.

Guess who came for dinner?

Now that mom is all excited about Hungarian cowboys (csikós--or "cheekoash"), here are some tricks she wants to teach our horses when we get home. I don't think we can do the first one until we have 5 horses the same size.

This is a handy way to have a seat when out in the middle of nowhere.

Here's a good trick when you need to be a little bit taller to reach something.

Ready for an afternoon nap when you don't want to sleep on the ground? It might be warmer if it is cold.

Standing on the horse's back makes you a little bit higher.

Of course, getting the horse in the sitting position makes it so...

you have something to lead against when you are tired and want to sit down and relax.

Of course, once you become pals with your horse and teach him all these tricks, who knows who might sit down and join you at the dinner table!

Watch the young csikós below put this into action so you can see how they crack the whip the whole time. They used the whip not just to keep control over the animals they were herding but as a signaling device over long distances, much like Morse code in telegraph days. Different numbers of cracks in sequence meant different things. Of course the horses had to be trained to ignore the sounds.

Hungarians and Turks at Sümeg

As you know, the Turks invaded Hungary in the 1500s and ruled two thirds of the country for about 150 years. This is the castle at Sümeg, about an hour south of Sopron. Because of its location on a solid rock hill, it was never captured by the Turks and today is the best preserved of Hungarian castles. Our ancestor King Bela IV lived here for a short time in the 1200s, so you can see that the castle has been here for a long time.

The castle has a display showing how the Turks tried to invade the castle in 1664. If you look closely, you can see the ladders they are carrying.

The castle also has a display of the types of torture and punishment that were common in those days. Burning at the stake, beheading, hanging, beating with clubs full of nails, and suspending people from the ceiling are illustrated here.

When the castle is lit up at night, you have no reminders of its battle worn past.

Mom's Green Thumb

We told you how mom has encouraged everyone to have a garden. Our balcony garden is producing lots of tomatoes. Here mom his showing off her topsy turvy tomato that has been loaded with yellow tomatoes.

Esterhazy update

Is this the missionaries tracting in a richer part of town? No, we just took them to see the progress being made on restoring the famous Esterhazy Palace in Fertöd.

The roof and the front and back have been repainted and repaired, though some of the windows and ironwork on the railings still need some work.

The fountains in the courtyard are now repaired and spurting water.

There is still a lot of work being done on the inside. Every time we go, the tour route is different as different sections are closed off for repair. The Esterhazys loved to collect clocks. In the latest tour we didn't see many of them but this clock is one of my favorites. Can you figure out how it tells you what time it is?

The biggest change so far is that half of the grand ballroom has been restored. Here is part of the ceiling with the horses that are supposed to look like they are heading towards you no matter where you are standing.

How do you like the detail in the corner of the ceiling? Be sure to click on it to see the detail. Can you see why it is taking so long to restore the room?

Even the doorways are filled with details.

It looks like the elders enjoyed the tour.