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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Travel Day Of 2010


God willing, I am in my last travel day of the year 2010. I will soon say goodbye to all my gate check tags and start anew in 2011. I'm sitting here in the Red Carpet Club at LaGuardia airport, looking out across the span of the Hudson River that runs between the thin strip of land they refer to as the LaGuardia airfield and another strip of land which is the tail of the Bronx. I'm looking straight at a sign made of cut-out letters that is laying on a little rise of land at the very edge of the airfield proclaiming "Welcome To New York" with a big cut out heart between "Welcome To" and "New York" and I'm never more happy to be leaving a place. My profuse apologies if you are New York born and bred, but I HATE New York with a passion. It is literally the dirtiest, most crowded, meanest place I've been in all these great states (ok, Boston runs a close second -- I KNOW there are Boston people out there reading this and again, I apologize even more, but I have bitter memories of that great city).
I am, once again, treated to some extra "me" time in the LaGuardia airport. Last time I went through here I was delayed for about 7 hours, today, I'm going to run a close second. I changed my flight to the 3:15 which is now scheduled to leave at 6:30. I'm killing time doing some work and - spending some time with you all on the blog :)
Family has already started coming in on the home front and there is more trickling in on Thursday. We should pretty much all be together for the holidays at home. Its just enough time to enjoy each others' company, but not too much time to get sick of each other. Its a beautiful thing.
Enjoy the excitement building up to the holidays - don't rush it and know that it will be over soon enough. I wish we could have longer to linger on this holiday as its one of my favorites!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Picture Post - Vienna Christmas 2010

I'm finally trying to post some pictures - little by little.

I'm starting with our day trip to Vienna.


This is Schonnbrun - Queen Sisi's palace, one of them.
This is the Christmas market outside of the Schonnbrunn palace.








Mom taking a little break in the gardens outside of Schonnbrunn - it was pretty dog gone cold that day so it was nice to get in some shelter out of the wind.

Outside the Spanish Riding School - the Lippizan horses. We were able to take a tour through but weren't able to take any pictures inside. This is my second time through the tour and I think my first time we had a better tour guide - and it was warmer :)


One of Vienna's many museums - walking to the big Christmas market in the city center.

Crazy Saturday at the Christmas Market -- so cold and so busy!


Back on the walking street in Vienna. It was breathtaking with all the lights! Beautiful!




A Mystic Story - And A Sad Story

I'm on my last trip before the new year (God willing), and I'm back in Waterbury, CT where I was before Budapest. I flew into NY last night (Sunday) and then drove up to Waterbury, CT to work. I have to tell you that southern Conneticut is, and I apologize to those of you reading who are from southern Conneticut, but southern CT is pretty much an armpit.... Its kind of like downtown Detroit, only more rural. I worked all morning at St Marys in Waterbury and then I have to drive about 40 minutes over to St Raphaels in New Haven. Yes, most of the middle of CT is composed of St's hospitals. St Marys was talking about GPOs in CT (Group Purchasing groups) and said that the whole Obama healthcare deal is forcing the lower half of Conneticut to all combine with the Yale hospital group and the whole top half to combine with another large hospital system and all the middles are merging together and all the Saints are marching in.... Ok - its kind of funny if you're here working with them.... :(

Heres a quick sick story...I pulled up to St Raphaels and I was only planning on being in the facility for about 20 minutes so I parked outside the building by metered parking. My friend, Melissa, called me at 2:13 and I then got out of the car and put 3 quarters in the meter which got me 30 minutes, I started walking away and rethought so I went back and put one more quarter in putting me up to 45 minutes. I then went into the facility and, since Mel was telling me a pretty major story, sat down for a little while and talked to her, then I went down and met with the CS manager and then immediately walked right back out to the car where, what to my wondering eyes appeared -- a ticket! UGH! Ok - I looked at the clock as I came back out and the the time on my phone was 3:03. I completely do not understand this -- maybe someone out there can help me. If I put 4 quarters and the meter said I had 45 mintues, and if I walked away from the meter at 2:15ish and got back to my car at 3:03 -- how did I get a ticket?? That stinkin meter had JUST expired and I was left with a ticket. And here's the sucky thing when I travel - I can't ever appear for court if something is unfair.... so - I'm contemplating writing a letter expounding the beauties of New Haven and the kindness of its people and see if they'll let me off for missing my meter by like 2 minutes....

Since I was over by the water, I had been wanting to visit Mystic and so I decided that today was the day I was going to buzz over there. Indeed I did and I LOVED it there! In case you need a memory boost on the significance of Mystic -- think back to early Julia Roberts movies, a little film called "Mystic Pizza". I roamed around the streets of Mystic as the sun set over the water and I fell in love with it. The houses were just all perfectly quaint and with these awsesome Christmas lights - the candles in the windows, etc. I went around to a few of the shops and was blown away by the prices... ahhh. Then, I decided that I had to eat in Mystic and as much as I wanted to go into this really pretty Oyster House restaurant that was right on the water, I figured that I must eat at Mystic Pizza. I thought that I would regret it if I didn't, so I did. I had a seafood pizza that was actually pretty good. The crust was really good, but there was a something about it that seemed like it might have been a premade crust, but I'm not sure. It was good though.

That was my happy, mystic story.

Here's my sad story.

I didn't take a picture because it made me so sad, but the hotel I'm staying at in downtown Waterbury (hoooo - downtown Waterbury... :)) has this little pond in front of the hotel. Its this little itty bitty water pond that isn't very wide and doesn't look very deep. I noticed when I pulled in last night that it was frozen and I was thinking that it looked like a little coy pond. I parked my car in the garage and then walked up to the hotel, passing the pond. As I passed, I looked at the ice and I did a double take. THE COY WERE STILL IN THE POND! I know they were real - I can tell. I know that they were frozen, they ARE NOT moving. They literally froze in the water. It is so cruel and I am not one of those animal freaky people, but that made me so sad because its so cruel. Those poor little coy couldn't get out, they just slowly swam around getting sleepier and sleepier until all of a sudden, they stopped moving. I'm very very tempted to write a letter. In fact - its on my "write a letter" list. If you are going to be responsible Coy owners - take your coys out before winter comes. Thats my new motto -- Take your coys out before winter comes!



Thursday, December 16, 2010

On The Ice - In The City

I had the opportunity to go to a Blackhawks game last night. I say it as "opportunity" because thats my way of being positive :) Actually, I was very much dreading it. It was a business thing, taking some customers out, wasn't looking forward to an evening on the ice dowtown as I had a lot to do at home. It actually ended up ok.

The Hawks played Colorado and Colorado won... that wasn't good, I guess. But, there was a good fight and a few times some of the competition got hurt... I guess that was good because everyone around us seemed to think so. Go figure.

It was interesting just to see a game as the fans are crazy! They start yelling from the get go. Its a totally all senses experience. The ice, the cold, the smell, the sound. They do this video thing before about being the Stanley cup winners and the history and all and people are just screaming by the end of it. Then, they continue the emotion by starting the whole thing by honoring a military person (I guess they do this every game). They have this red carpet they roll out on the ice and they march him and out they tell his story and salute him and people are screaming and cheering. Then they play the national athem and they bring this huge American flag down (funny thing is the Canadian flag, which is smaller, but is right by the US flag.... its all Cannucks on the ice I suppose :)). People scream and cheer all the way through the anthem -- there's not a second where they stop.

And then as soon as the anthem stops, there are screams all around you of "Colorado sucks!" And then they drop the puck.

Pretty much the rest of the night is watching the little black puck bounce around the ice, hearing the bodies of the players being rammed up against the glass, watching as big masses of players piled on top of each other, occassional cries of someone who sucks. Oh - and I can't forget the anomosity towards the one fan of Colorado who dared to sit in the row in front of us. He was pretty stupid to stand up and cheer so loudly everytime Colorado scored. One must remember ones location when one attends a game in the Windy City.

It was freezing cold outside as we waited for the shuttle back to our cars, but it was really pretty looking at the lights of the city all around us. All the skyscrapers had their red and green lights on instead of the normal whites. Too cool!

































Friday, December 10, 2010

Catching Up On A Few Iphone Picts

Melissa going through her first overseas passport check -- in Zurich...

Mom on the first night we arrived -- poor thing was tuckered out :)





At the staff Bible study. Karmann and Julchi gave their testimonies. They're going through all the staff members - kind of a "get to know you" time for all the staff.

















Upside down, but these are the New Testaments and the "You Are Special" books I gave to the girls at the party.



















At the covered market -- paprika galore and Melissa enjoying a cherry/apple strudel.




Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Partys Over

Today is Thursday ... Well, it's technically Friday now. We had our "little" Christmas shindig tonight. I don't suppose much of what I do though is small. It turned out quite grand and quite large. There were 17 of us total. Thank goodness for the large apartment! It actually worked out quite nicely.

Mel and I ran over to West End where there's a starbucks (the one they finally got in Budapest!) and some shops. Mel did a little shopping and then we went back to the apartment, got mom, and went over to the covered market by corvinus. We bought our oldalas (pork ribs) at one if the meat shops and then, after a lunch of langos (lawn-go-sh) and Hungarian strudel, I sent mom and Mel off shopping on the upper level while I meanered around the veg booths for some other goods for the dinner. Mom and Mel bought some great Hungarian goods and then we headed back "home" to start our prep. It was great to get rid of those ribs as lugging five racks if them around in my shoulder bag was indeed quite heavy.

Mom starting prepping the ribs and I ran around trying to finish up some other things. I had actually gone to the Christian book store the day before. I had been wanting to get Hungarian bibles for hajni, Zsu and Ildi. I also knew that some of the other girls were either new to faith or were participating in a bible study so I got a few little leather bound new testaments for several and the others, I got copies if the newly Hungarian translated max lucado book "you are special". Campus was actually the group that did the translation so it's a great looking book. I gave andi from the Danube a copy along with about 3 others.

Everyone came over about 6:30. We sat around chatting and eating from a relish tray (the girls were on awe over the strange veggie called celery that I had a heck of a time finding:)). Flora read the Christmas story from her new leather bound new testament and we all popped open our Christmas crackers, searched for the pickle on the Christmas tree - and then we ATE! It's always such a pleasure to hear their sighs of delight when we present our american food. They loved the barbequed ribs, the green bean casserole and the baked macaroni and cheese.

Dessert were delicious chocolate cupcakes while watching how the grinch stole Christmas and then they all opened their Christmas stockings! Another thing they dong have here - candy canes and stockings!:)

One of the girls came later and was almost moved to tears by how kind Mel and mom were to her when she came in, getting her food and trying to get her cold hands warmed up. She came in and sat down with all of us and just kept on telling everyone how she never imagined that a group of people could be so kind and have so much fun. Andi from the Danube also kept on talking about how kind everyone was and how much she lived fek and was so thankful that I had introduced her to the group. Mandi, who works with the high school group, had met andi before and she was sitting and talking with her tonight. I heard them very clearly talking about Christ and christmas and faith and all. She's a really smart girl and very curious about things so she always asks great questions. I'm just liking her more and more all the time. I told her that if she goes to the fek Christmas party on Friday to let me know and I'll go and meet her. Continue to pray for her. We were both laughing when she left about how it's a lesson to all men that, sometimes, when you stop and ask for directions, sometimes god things can happen!:)

Thanks for your prayers and good wishes. Mom and Mel had a great time and the girls were just elated! Pray for all the bibles and books that everyone got!

Tomorrow well go up to castle hill and the citadel and maybe eat a early dinner at hemingways (yes, it's actually an Ernest Hemingway old haunt!

Continue to pray for Eni, Hajni, Zsu, Eniko, Niki, Andi, Ildi, Danube Andi:), Kata and the others that have touched my heart.

Much love from Budapest!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yes We Are Here!

Sorry I've forsaken the post... It's been a busy few days and I seem to have forgotten my card reader so no pictures to post probably until we return:(

We've toured the opera house, walked through the Christmas market several times, eaten on a boat on the Danube overlooking castle hill and attended the campus weekly staff Bible study. Quite a full time.

Tomorrow were off to tour parliament and probably go through the Jewish synagogue (yes Karl, I'm going Jewish on you --oy vay!). Trying to figure a schedule that doesn't kill mom and gets us some good tour time is a fine line. She seems to be doing ok
so far though.

Tomorrow I meet up with Hajni and her new boyfriend who she's been dying for me to meet. Were going to walk through the Christmas market and Jodi is going to take Mel and mom shopping.

We've got a tree up and stockings stuffed for our upcoming party on Thursday. Pray all goes well. I have a reputation that I need to uphold with 15 excited girls! Pressure!!!!

On a side note, please pray for Gabor GRESZ, the campus country director. His father just passed away today.

Ill try to catch up more tomorrow!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

XM28

I had to blog quick to reveal the most amazing thing!

Today, I travelled up to Rochester, MN, stopping in LaCrosse, WI on the way to have a meeting at Franciscan Skemp (I LOVE the name of that hospital!) and then to pick up my friend Melissa.

I picked up a rental car for the trip this morning and found that the vehicle had XM radio. I have Sirrius in my car which I love and I know all the stations I listen to. XM has pretty much the same stuff but in different places and everytime I rent an XM car, I have to flip around to find stuff.

My favorite station is BBC1! It so hilarious that I laugh my knickers off (ok, maybe I listen to those British a little much...). Today, I'm flipping around to find my beloved BBC1 and I find the most amazing thing! Its called Radio Hannukah. Its seriously a whole radio station dedicated to 24/7 Hannukah songs. I can't believe that Adam Sandler lied to us and said that there were no Hannukah songs!

I'm really ashamed to say that I found my BBC1 the station right after, XM29, but I sporadically flipped back and forth to hear Hannukah songs because it was too good to ignore entertainment right at my fingertips.

I found that they had songs with every beat out there. I heard Country Hannukah, Oldies Hannukah, Rapping Hannukah, I even found - this is great - Hispanic Hannukah (my favorite was the song Ocho Kandilitos). There were serious songs about the rededication of the temple and the blessing of the candles, there were funny songs about Santa and Hannukah Harry getting into a fight, there were even recipe songs about Latkah and matza.

I don't know, maybe its sad, but I almost had as much fun listening to Radio Hannukah as I do BBC1. If you have satellite radio, you HAVE to check it out! Its so festive and really gives Twelve Days of Christmas a run for its money!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back In The Not So Friendly Skies

It's Tuesday morning and after a nice long weekend where - gasp -I was HOME for four solid days ( you would not believe what I got accomplished ), I'm back on a plane.

I'm boarding right now at 5:30 a.m. and it's already a delight! I'm headed out to Conneticut, but I'm flying into Laguardia (as in New York). My first pleasurable experience was when I checked in last night and, because I had booked so last minute, all the seats were taken and the only one open was 22E, as in 22Eeeek! A delightful middle seat at the back of the plane. I suppose it's good for me as 1K to experience this every once in a while so I'm able to stay in touch with my roots where I came from. When I got to the gate, the upgrade board listed me as number 10 in a line of 86 people waiting for an upgrade!

Everyone at the gate was in business attire and talking business mumbo jumbo. They board first class and 1k at the same time and everyone had crammed into the queue, piled on top of each other. And then, in case I wondered where I was headed, that lovely east coast disposition began to flow like love through the snaking, unidentifiable line... "excuse me - where do you think you're going?". "I'm 1k so I'm trying to board" "well get in line buddy, we're all 1 k!".(that conversation was not me as I like to just stand back when it gets like that and watch in amusement.)

Oh- and in case you wonder, there's nothing like being snug in a seat between Indian guy and the smell of old Yiddish coffee breath guy at 6am! It screams - NEW YORK - talk about melting pot.

Sigh - I can't wait to breath the clean ocean air in Waterbury, after I fight through wonderful morning traffic in NYC.

It doesn't get any better than this! Ok - think all the happy thoughts about the last four days!:).

Hope everyone at a happy happy thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Speaking Of Mines....

I know that I mentioned I was cleaning up some stuff on my hard drive on other places and I came upon some forgotten pictures and video clips.

Then, I happened to go through that mining town in PA and it linked some stuff back with me that I figured it was about time to share.

Its all MINE RELATION :) Get the double entendre :) Well, at least you will in a few minutes...

So, a few years back, mom, dad, Aunt June and I crossed the pond to jolly old England where we had the great fortune to be re-related with some of our relations.

Some of the really interesting ones that we were able to meet up with were the Askews in Bolton-Upon-Dearne in Yorkshire, England.

Bolton is an old mining community ... old being the operative word as it is no longer a mining community. All of the family worked in the mines there, including our cousin (I supposed he would be like my third cousin) Terence.

This is Terence, his wife Gillian, and myself. This picture is actually from a few years after the first visit when I was able to go back with a friend and we stopped over to see them again. Much of the Askew family still lives in and around Bolton-On-Dearne.

Let's see if I can get the family relations right...

This is Terence....
This was my (our) great-great grandpa and grandma... Sarah and Joseph Askew
Sarah and Joseph had 13 children....

They had John.....

...who was Terence's grandpa...

They also had Joseph -- who was my/our great-grandpa...

Joseph married Fanny - our great-grandma

Joseph and Fanny Askew ... I suppose I could say that I never got to kiss our Fanny :)


Great-Grandpa and Grandma had 6 children -- Grandpa Charles being the only boy.

GG Joseph worked in the mines and they lived in Bolton-Upon-Dearne in this cute little row house -- all 6 of them....

Grandpa and all the sisters went to this school right down the road....


One day there was an accident in the mine and Great Grandpa got severely hurt. They brough him home, barely alive, and laid him on the kitchen table where he passed away.....

Grandpa Charles was about 11 when great grandpa died. After this, gg Fanny took up laundry and such in their house for a while and then they ended up moving over to Rochdale, Lancashire so Grandpa Charles could work in the cotton mills.

I'll put a list of family at the bottom - Terence sent it over our way...

First, a few pictures of the old family stomping grounds....

As I mentioned before, there are no more mines in Bolton-On-Dearne. They were all turned into the lovely landscape you see below.

They do have paths around the area and you can go up and still see some of the caps that are over the old air shafts from the mines.

This is the cemetary that all the family is buried in....

Our first visit over when Terence brough us around and showed us the town.

Abraham was another brother of Great Grandpa Joseph. He was gassed in the trenches in WWI -- was never married.

I have to check who this Askew is -- he was one of the nephews of Great Grandpa as the dates would indicate.
One of Great Grandpa Askew's sisters - Elizabeth Clarkson

Another one of his sisters - Sarah Ann

Our Great Grandpa's headstone....

Incidentally - if you'll look at the before and after - when mom and all of us were there back in 2007, they were dingy looking. When Kim and I were back in 2008, some of the family had had some of the headstones cleaned off including Joseph's and Great Great Grandma's (look at the headstone at the top of the blog and then the one below for Sarah).

One more aside - another member of the family who lives in Bristol that we had visited was Doreen. Doreen is the daughter of Grandpa Charles' sister, Hetty. Its creepy how much mom and she not only look alike, but even their actions were very very similar.... Genetic????
Here's a little family table that Terence was kind enough to share.... As you can see - we have family in Australia too :)!

Children of Joseph and Sarah Askew.

William Never Married

John Married Catherine Hayes. My Grandparents

Joseph Married Fanny Heeson Your Great Grandparents. Children: Charles, Lucy, Hetty, Bertha, Doris, Ann

Abraham Never Married

George Married Elsie Pocklington. Emigrated to U.S.A Children: Lawrence, Betty.

Sarah Ann Married James Whitworth

Elizabeth Married Jack Clarkson

Polly Married Martin Swidells

Lucy Married Albert Cooper Emigrated to U.S.A.

Emma Married Herbert Swift Emigrated To Australia 1920s

Agnes Married William Burton Their son Billy went to Australia with his Aunt Emma.

Florence Married Jack Stephenson

Susan Married William Grainger

And last, but not least - here's a little clip (albeit sideways :)) of Terence talking about working in the mines -- it reminded me so much of grandpa when he talked, it was kind of eerie....

video