April 10, 2014 – People to Remember

It is most appropriate to lead off the wonderful people Linda met with Lajos, the minister at our partner church.

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In his trip to Iowa we were able to host him for a meal at our farm.

Linda tagged along on a regional minister’s meeting.

Some spouses waited patiently for the meeting to end.

Here Linda is with Nora, the English teacher at the seminary.

Food

and drink on a girl’s night out with Nora.

Linda also was honored to meet a Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church.  He’s my kind of guy as he insisted Linda bring a gift of hospitality home with her for me – some pálinka from his own stock – a distilled spirit of fruit juices – the saying in Hungary is “what can be used to prepare jam can also be used to produce pálinka.”

This is Izalda, she and Linda spent some time working together on her English before a big exam.  She passed!  Izalda was very kind taking Linda to the Market, walking around town, and generally begin very cheerful to be around.

This woma,Maria, is one of hte first women to graduate from the Unitarian seminary in Transylvania.

Finally, Linda whooping it up with the students after hours.

lastdinner

I’ll end the time in Transylvania with this photograph of the good-by supper she had in the seminary.

April 9, 2014 – Teaching at the Seminary

One of the primary reasons for Linda’s trip was to teach English to ministers, seminary students, and a high school class.

This is a group of ministers she was able to meet with.  As many churches in Transylvania have partner churches inthe U.S., an effort is made for the ministers to improve their English skills to be able to communicate with their partner church in the U.S.

Here’s Linda in the classroom with some high schoolers.

In the central courtyard there was a human chess game going on with students acting as the chess pieces.

She spent the most time with the students in seminary.

For one assignment, they were split up into groups.

For the final assignment, Linda had them pretend they were coming to the U.S. and present a U.S.-style  service and present it in English.

Oneof Linda’s favorite shots from the trip – with all the students.

April 7, 2014 – Transylvanian Churches

Linda had a chance to visit churches in a few villages.

Unitarian Church in Tortodfalva

The church in Tordatfalva.

Unitarian Church in Transylvania

Linda’s there!

Unitarian Church in Tortodfalva Interior

Here’s an inside view of a “typical” church.  The minister preaches from the raised pulpit, the minister’s wife sits in the box below the pulpit, then men on one side of the church and the women on the other side.

Unitarian Pulpit

The raised pulpit for the minister.

The banner the Ames partner church gave to the Tordatfalva church.

After services in the school, parishoners gather for treats and wine hour (we have coffee hour).

Lajos in another nearby village church.

Transylvanian Church

The interior of yet another church.

The parsonage.

Linda with Tunde, the minister’s wife and the church president and his wife.

chimney cakes

Chimney cakes are a traditional treat in this part of the world.

old ladies eating pastries

Coffee hour is chimney cakes and wine!

snake and dove symbol

Nearly every Tranyslvanian Unitarian church has this imagry of a Dove of Peace standing on top of the world, encircled by the Serpent of Wisdom that is swallowing its own tail, symbolizing the  everlasting cycle of life, and topped with the Crown of King John Sigismund of Transylvania, who issued  issued the Edict of Torda, the first broad decree of religious freedom in the modern history of Europe.

April 6, 2014 – Images from Tordatfalva

Another of the economic enhancements of the villages  is tourism.

This is a small cabin being remodeled for a children’s camp.  You can see some of the timber and frame pieces getting replaced.  The minister insisted they keep the original structure rather than build  new with “modern” 2×4 framing.

This man is the church president in front of another structure with a big bad wolf in the background.

Grape arbors are very common and part of nearly every fence and porch.

bucket and well

Thirsty?

natural spring water

Linda swears by the naturally carbonated spring water.

Finally, her home for her days in the villages.

April 2, 2014 – Transylvanian Agriculture

Linda got a chance to spend a few days near in the Carpathian Mountains and experienced a chance to see some agricultural enterprises while visiting the site of the Ames Unitarian Fellowship’s partner church in Tordotfalva.

Transylvania Beekeepers

The region has an abundance of fruit trees and pastures, so beekeeping is an important enterprise. This couple cares for the bees. The smaller boxes on the top rails are to raise queens to sell.

This is some of the foundation inside the special queen boxes.

bee waterer

This is a homemade bee waterer. Bees need lots of edges to safely land and drink water without having to land on water. This piece of wood has an upside down jar of water and it is positioned over a newly planted apple tree so the water that escapes waters the tree.

plowing with horse

Getting ready to plant potatoes. The villagers still use horses, one of the arguments being, once you buy a tractor, that tractor isn’t able to reproduce itself!

The potato planter follows behind.

The ministers in many of the villages take responsiblity for the economic well-being of the area and often manage many acres of land. Here Lajos shows off one of the orchards.

They have a machine which takes raw apples and converts them into “Naked” brand like apple juice. The apples go in here.

value-added apple product

Here’s another part of the crushing/squeezing.

The screen takes out the big chunks.

The vat pasturizes the juice.

At the end, the juice is squirted into bags that are put into…

boxes, like Americans use to buy wine.

Other fruits like plum can be bottled as well. It’s a great way for the people of the region to take raw fruit and make a value-added, non-perishible product.

March 30, 2014 – Transylvania, Dracula, and Segesvár

For Linda’s two weeks in Transylvania, I might as well start with the most famous (for Americans, at least) of all Transylvanian icons – Dracula. Of course, the “inspiration” for Bram Stoker’s Dracula was, in part “Vlad the Impaler” who lived in this place in the 1400s. Here’s just a line telling what kind of a guy he was from a publication in the 1500s: “He roasted children, whom he fed to their mothers. And (he) cut off the breasts of women, and forced their husbands to eat them. After that, he had them all impaled.”  The city is named Sighisoara or Segesvár (the first is the Romanian name, the second is the Hungarian name; Transylvania was part of Hungary until the borders were redrawn  after WW1 when it became part of Romania).

The fortified city was built in the late 1100s or early 1200s when the King of Hungary invited German craftsmen to settle and defend his kingdom.

Segesvarc or Sighisoara

This place is one of the best examples of a preserved  small medieval fortified city.  It is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Segesvarc or Sighisoara

The approach to part of the city.

Segesvarc or Sighisoara

These buildings are all inside the citadel.

Segesvarc or Sighisoara bastion

Linda in front of one of the bastions – each bastion was occupied by a separate guild where they would practice their craft and be on guard. A guild in medieval times according to Wikipedia is ” an association based on  trades, confraternities of textile workers, masons, carpenters, carvers, glass workers, each of whom controlled secrets of traditionally imparted technology, the “arts” or “mysteries” of their crafts. Usually the founders were free independent master craftsmen who hired apprentices.  

February 15, 2014 – Linda Named Transylvanian Scholar!

Linda was selected as her seminary’s inaugural “Transylvanian Scholar.” It means a couple weeks in the Transylvania region of Romania – a description of the trip is below:

Under the direction of Meadville Lombard’s English teacher at the Protestant Institute in Kolozsvar, the Transylvanian Scholars’ primary duty will be to introduce theological and colloquial language to the Unitarian seminarians in various conversational and classroom settings. This may include holding discussion groups around issues of ministry and/or religion, conducting discussions about sermons, assisting the English Teacher with her classroom curriculum, etc. Again, these duties will be directed by the English Teacher.

sem

Seminary is triangular building in this google map.

Additionally, in coordination with the Unitarian seminary faculty at the Institute and The Hungarian Unitarian Church, the Transylvanian Scholar will be asked to deliver occasional “lectures” to students, ministers and faculty on various elements of North American Unitarian Universalism. Topics to be addressed might include ministry, theological education, international Unitarianism or other topics of interest to the students.

Finally, the Transylvanian Scholar may be asked to assist faculty with English texts. He/she may be asked to proofread publications, web pages, etc.

During the stay, the Transylvanian Scholar will have opportunities to travel throughout the region of Transylvania becoming acquainted with Unitarian culture, history and practice there.

January 18, 2014 – A Night on the Town

The Maintence Shop on the Iowa State Campus has brought the best upcoming acts for 40 years. Last night we saw the latest in a series of great shows in the small intimate setting. This time, it was the Lone Bellow.

Mark and Linda before the show.

We “double dated” with Emma and Jacob.

The Lone Bellow was a rare group that could alternately get the crowd amped up and vice-versa, could command complete silence, depending on the song. In the second song of the evening, the lead singer broke a guitar string and relayed a story he hoped not to share. At a show in Chicago last night, his guitar was ripped off. Now a guitar is a pretty initmate thing to a musician. He was playing his spare guitar, and now was down to 5 strings. Of course, the opening artist hopped up and offered his acoustic guitar – and he used it and a few songs later the roadie had restrung his guitar.

Instead of being angry, he said, he had to think that the guitar was going to lead to some great song that comes from the person who stole it. A nice, optimistic spin on the heartbreaking loss. At any rate, a video of the band follows.

December 12, 2013 – I Didn’t Get a White House Greeting Card

I certainly didn’t get an official White House greeting card, but someone else in the family did!

And no, certainly not because we contributed any money, but as a reminder of when Linda was honored at the White House where she met with the Secretary of Agriculture and President as a “Champion of Change” for rural America last year.

November 29, 2013 – Black Friday at Unity Church

Today Linda was invited to give the message at Unity Unitarian Church in St. Paul.  The front of the church was beginning its seasonal decoration.

The service was an antidote to the rush to buy “things.”  Part of the service included stories about gifts that congrgants had recieved that meant more to them over time, and not necessarily gifts that came in fancy wrapping paper.  It was a good reminder about what kinds of gifts are important over time.

November 3, 2013 – Linda in the Guest Pulpit

Linda has been invited to speak for the “Black Friday” service at Unity Church in the Twin Cities. So if you are in the neighborhood that weekend, stop in!  A short explanation of the service from the announcement:

“Unity Church’s sixth annual “Black Friday at Church” celebration offers you an opportunity to launch the holiday season with spiritual renewal, fellowship, and good cheer, instead of habitual consumerism.

Join fellow Unity Church members, families, friends, neighbors and colleagues on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving Day for a joyous, intergenerational worship service. Activities for children and families, as well as child care, will be provided.

September 22, 2013 – Fillin’ the Freezer

Emma played the good daughter when she said she’d come home from school Sunday afternoon to help us move 40-some chickens from outside to the freezer.  It certainly kept the line moving much faster than it otherwise would have.  Linda and Emma cut up all but about 10 of them for parts for quicker meals than a whole roasting chicken, but we left a few to roast or BBQ whole.

The plucker does an amazing job of taking the feathers off.  A just-plucked chicken must be the model for a rubber chicken!

It’s nice to know where the chicken we eat comes from and have a year’s worth of chicken in the freezer.  Especially now that the U.S. made it ok to sell chicken processed in China in the U.S. without having to reveal county-of-origin labeling laws.

August 15, 2013 – Peach and Pear Season Begins

The best-ever peach, pear and apple season at high hopes continues with the first harvest of pears and peaches.

Taking the earliest-ripening peaches over to the house.

reliance peach

While we knew that pears ripened best off the tree, when the first few started falling, I thought it was time to figure out when to pick them. One source said if you lift a pear horizontal to the ground, if it breaks from the branch, it’s ready to take inside and put in the fridge for longer keeping, or in the house for a few days for immediate eating.

We’ve got three of these baskets of pears in the fridge, waiting…