Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Budapest Cardigan Arrives

I did finish the baby sweater finally. Here it is riding first class from Salzburg to Vienna. I ended up using Louisa Harding's Jasmine Lace Edge from Natural Knits. Somewhere in the "luggages" is half a shrug made of the same color of Hempathy. I like the look of this with light denim.


Arriving in Salzburg we were shocked to feel chilly! There are bells ringing all the time - every 15 minutes and everyone carries a musical instrument around. The Fortress Museum is very nice, especially the room dedicated to puppets. Most of the rooms display weapons and armor. Mr. Lear got a bullseye on his very first shot with a crossbow. Not realizing he has had years of virtual medieval weapon practice, the munitions fraulein exclaimed, "very impressive!" - just like a Bond girl.

Our nicest meals of the trip were here under the chestnut trees in the beer garden. The coolest afternoons were spent drawing and painting in the parks. We stayed at Haus Wartenberg, a big old house a little outside downtown. We had a large room at the top of the house with windows all across it and we watched a storm blow in over the mountains. The day we left we heard music. It sounded too real to be a stereo, and yet it was too big to be real. Sure enough, stuffed into the livingroom was an orchestra rehearsing in shorts.

Budapest to Salzburg

The train from Budapest to Vienna was very nice, some cards, some knitting, some Kit Kats. The train from Vienna to Salzburg was very quiet. It rained. This is what the Austrian business traveler and I saw.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Early in the morning we set out to find some breakfast before the day became too hot. I wish I had a picture of the bakery we found. We ate knots of pastry dough filled with farmers' cheese and raisins and crescents filled with poppy seeds and swirls of hazelnut and cinnemon and we saved the long twists covered in pumpkin seeds and cheese and salt for later. As we made our way back home we passed a doorway that was open and filled with puppets hung up like rows of drycleaning waiting for the woman at the sewing machine to attend them. When she saw us, she pulled open the gate and let the marionettes down from their hangers. I know she wanted to make the children smile, but it was so overwhelming to suddenly have a small geisha flirting with you in Hungarian and a small turn of the century gentleman growing bored of you, crossing his legs and sitting on the puppeteer's bare foot. It was just one of those moments when your mind is trying to tread water but you are floating away. It is one of my favorite moments from the trip. We walked home and went to bed.

Vampires in Budapest

The record-breaking weather in Budapest as well as our jet lag led us into a kind of vampire existence - we roamed the city at night and then tucked ourselves into darkness during the harsh hours of daylight. Our first night out we met up with friends at the Szechenyi Baths. We enjoyed the waterfall, the whirlpool, the bubbly springs and the jacuzzi centerpiece. When they closed at 10pm they played a Hungarian song from the 1950s that sounds just like the Chipmunks. It is a nice way to let everyone know it is time to withdraw! We pulled on our clothes and soggily went out into the night making our way down Andrassy utca, past bench after bench of locals out catching the slight breeze while their apartments cooled. We enjoyed a round of citrom Fantas and a package of sandwich cookies. I don't know the last time I walked home from the pool with wet hair drinking soda and eating snacks!

Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Mittens

I can't tell you how gratifying it is to see these mittens in the midst of all the steel and fiberglass in the Air and Space Museum Annex.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

View from the Temple of Invention

We began our trip in DC at the National Portrait Gallery's Portico Cafe high above 8th Street. The building was originally the Patent Office, the country's "Temple of Invention", and contained government offices and a museum. The view is very strange to me, as the neighborhood has changed so much since I lived in an apartment just visible in the photo. The museum itself has recently undergone a six-year renovation.

The eye portrait in the photo is from a work by David Beck the Gallery commissioned to celebrate the reopening. It is called MVSEVM and it is a kind of fold-out dollhouse museum/jewelry box in one. (For a more academic description and photos see page 12.) I was so excited to see an entire section devoted to eye portraits! There are tiny drawers of specimens, walls of miniature portraits, and a small room of natural history treasures. We stood around it looking in and then as if by wishing, we entered it a week later when we visited the Natural History Museum in Vienna!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Berkeley to Budapest

Our bags are packed and we're ready to go.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Miniature Eye Portraits

We've come up with some lovely travel bugs using our eye portraits and some small plastic keyrings. We simply cut out our favorite eye pictures, ran them through the Photoshop watercolor filter and printed them out. The diningroom table is littered with eyes - I love them all. I think we will have to make some keyrings for our very own. And lips! These long rectangular labels are made for lip portraits! I read that Queen Luise of Prussia commissioned portraits of all her children's eyes as a gift for the King. I feel a birthday present coming on! I would like to find larger keyrings, or luggage tags, and then epoxy some pearls onto the frames - or brass doo-dads. I think this will require the rotary tool!

I'm also paging through Gwen Diehn's The Decorated Page to get my travel journal ready for action. Too often I return home with a bag full of ticket stubs and this and that and it just sits in an envelope somewhere. This time I'm bringing the glue stick!

I'm not sure the new runcible phone is going to work in Eastern Europe, or want to send photos. I am sure I'll have some wonderful pastry shots come August.

Pozsony Kipfli

I broke down last night and decided I had to have the walnut crescent cookies from Kaffeehaus. I have never made cookies that needed yeast before - I murdered the first teaspoon. If your household likes to eat dough, they will be put off by this one - the sweetness is all in the filling and the powdered sugar sprinkled on afterwards. If you have helpers, make a little extra walnut filling. These were still quite good this morning for breakfast!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Budapest research

I've been reading up on the Dobos Torte in Rick Rodgers' Kaffeehaus and now I am starving. I've also been reading about miniature eye portraits. Mr Lear and the children enjoy geocaching, especially on trips, so we've decided to place these small portraits of our eyes in a cache in Budapest or Vienna and see if they make their way home. I need to track down some pearls and gilt to make proper eighteenth century frames. I'm also knitting the Budapest cardigan in between loads of laundry using Barbara Walker's "Knitting from the Top" directions for a one piece cardigan with little set-in sleeves - as she says, "it is only a small crescent on the needles." And all I can think is crescent rolls and crescent cookies, and I must have some.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Budapest Cardigan

I have a baby sweater due in Budapest next week. I've been looking through all my baby books and can't find just the one I want. I'm using Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy in deep red, and I want there to be some lace - very close to Louisa Harding's Jasmine Lace Edge Cardigan in "Natural Knits" but maybe with a crochet border? I have to get this going.

Saturday, July 7, 2007


Late in the afternoon when people around here start asking what’s for supper, I clear the kitchen table by sweeping all the work of the day - papers, books, yarn and whatnots - into the Runcible Bin. Later when I retrieve these bits, I often find an idea has formed inside the bin. These ideas will be logged here.