Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Evening in Budapest with the Gipsy Band!

Dear Friends,

Again we keep traveling on our journey. Today's column has just come out in the paper so please click on at the bottom for the column. It has been great fun writing back and forth with my editor about my trip.

Here is a video of our Christmas Evening in Budapest with the Gipsy Band! The column will explain it all!

We are off to London this a.m. for a week in England with my mum! It will be a wonderful week and another adventure!

Lou Ann

The Gipsy Band at the Black Raven Restaurant on Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Blue Danube River

Dear Friends,

When I was a little girl my dad and I would play the song, The Blue Danube. It is a wonderful waltz tune. I have been on the Danube before when I was in college and traveling in Europe, the way it should be money and one train ticket!

Yesterday Philip and I climbed up (no, we did not take the bus) Gellert Hill where Bishop Gellert (years past) was rolled down that hill into the Danube for trying to bring Christianity to Budapest. He was dead upon his arrival into the river.

Here is a photo of the Danube River from part way up Gellert Hill.

So, we are now packing, having our last breakfast in Budapest in our little flat and flying off to England for yet another adventure! Stay tuned!

Lou Ann

The Blue Danube River

Sorry for all this space below....couldn't get rid of it!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Photos from Prague and Budapest

Dear Friends,

I have taken hundreds of photos and have memories and stories for a lifetime. It is difficult to find time to post while enjoying everything, but I do like you coming along with us. Here are just a few photos and a fun video from the trip. I imagine I will be posting about this trip for another month! As always, thanks for following us. I hope your Christmas was joyful!

Lou Ann

I took this photo on Christmas Day evening. It was foggy all day so all my photos are gray. But in the evening we were walking at dusk back to St. Matyas Church, and I thought it was so stunning. It almost doesn't look real! This was in Budapest.

Everywhere we go there is hot wine...on street corners, in shops, outside of restaurants (help yourself kind of deal), so we always stop. Here we are on Christmas Day at the Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest trying to get warm!

This is the top of of another church! I didn't have to convert to black and white, that is the color of the sky! Budapest.

Philip took this photo of me at the entrance of the Charles Bridge in Prague. I have noticed that all the photos of us look like we have gained the 10 pounts of Eastern Europe travel. I think it is due to layers of clothing and pastport/money bags hanging around our necks under our winter coats!

This is a church in Mor in Hungary. This has been the ONLY morning that we have seen blue skies for the entire time. Ah, the sun does shine in Easter Europe.

Musicans on The Charles Bridge in Prague.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Eve in Budapest

Click here for this mid-week column!

There was an extra column this week for my newspapers back home. This one is the story of Christmas Eve in Budapest.

So much more to write about and add photos, but as for now we are heading off to the village of Pustavam for a day or two.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

When we return I will add photos and the story of Christmas here, but to give you a hint, it involves gypsy musicians!

As always, thanks for reading.
Lou Ann

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone from Lou Ann and Philip in Eastern Europe. We wish you many stories and memories this Christmas.

Christmas tree in the Old Town Square in Prague

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Bone Church

Click here for this week's column about the Bone Church.

This week's article focusing on the first week of our trip and a train adventure to the Bone Church in Kutna Hora. It was an amazing experience. Please enjoy the photos and video as well, all were taken inside the Bone Church!
 As always, Lou Ann

Just click and watch!



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Old Town Square in Prague

Just click on the arrow and enjoy!

Dear Friends,

We have spent the past two days in Prague. We drove into the city, parked, and spent two days walking and traveling on the Metro system.

Most of our time was spent on the Old Town Square with thousands of other folks enjoying the Krist Kindle Market in preparation for Christmas. I have attended these markets in Chicago, but I was not prepared for flocks of folks from all over the world, the scents of mulled wine and roasted almonds, and the architectural beauty.

Above is a short video of the Astronomical clock. You might need to see it a couple of times to catch all the movements!

We also listened to Old World Music at St. Martins in the Wall Church. Of course, the old (1300s) church was all stone and very cold. We sat in the middle of the front row and listened for over an hour to the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, and other composers. When the music of Albinoni began I burst into tears and did not stop until the piece was finished. I was the first up on my feet for the standing ovation at the end of the concert.

The evening ended in a small cafe for a late supper, a walk on the St. Charles Bridge where St. John of Nepomuk was thrown overboard (and drowned) as he would not tell the Queen's confessions. We walked over to the square for one more hot mulled wine and another look at the clock!

As always, thanks for reading and watching!

The Charles Bridge late into the evening.

Here I am rubbing the belly of St.John of Nepomuk on the Charles Bridge. This is where he was thrown into the Vltava River. Although I am not sure that rubbing his belly is  a good thing as he drowned!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our Prague Reunion and First Travel Days!

Dear Friends,

My flights took me to Atlanta, Amsterdam and then into Prague. By the time I was  on the flight to Prague the language immediately changed to German and Czech. There was one other woman who spoke English and was from America. We found each among the crowd and got our luggage together. I think she might be a TV star, but I didn't ask her. We just quickly became friends. I had a room reservation near the airport, she was heading to the Hilton downtown. We said our farewells and I, with my suitcase following behind me, walked through the airport door.

The hotel was close and not even of Prague origin. It being The Courtyard by Marriott (sorry for your disillusionment!) However, after a shower and a short nap, I bundled back up and headed out into the dark misty evening in Prague back over to the airport to wait for another flight from Amsterdam.

At 17:50 Philip came around the corner, and I can't tell you how glad I was to see him! It was very romantic to meet him in Prague, and aren't you surprised?

We were rested by morning and, with a rented car, headed out into the countryside. We had lunch in Plzen, the home of the Pilsner beer, of which we sampled as well. Back on the road we headed toward the small village of Nepomuk to a little cottage.

This cottage and village are delightful. Even with the gray drizzle of the day, we made friends in shops, cemeteries, churches and the grocery store. It is the perfect village, no one speaks English. In fact I am sure we are the only Americans here. I am in love with this village and this little cottage already.

The cottage has a wonderful hob in the kitchen, efficient lights and appliances and heat and water which come on when they feel like it! My job is to build the fire, Philip brings in the wood and turns the water on!

We just were hooked up to the Internet today so I hope to get the updates and photos coming your way.

Tomorrow morning we head to Prague for a couple of days to enjoy the city and the symphony tomorrow evening.

So, for tonight, farewell, as always thanks for reading and watching!

Lou Ann

This photo was taken on one of our walks through the village today.
This is typical of Nepomuk.

I tried to visit this store earlier, but everyone closes an hour for lunch.
In the afternoon we went back to buy fresh mistletoe. There were baskets of mistletoe outside the shop. The women did not speak English, but were so friendly and helpful. Philip knows some German and so did the woman to his right. She kissed me on the checks and gave us candy for
our pockets. The woman on the left wrapped our mistletoe in paper. They agreed
to have their photo taken! Everyone was happy. I think I would like to work there!

This church is St.John's of Nepomuk built four or five hundred years ago. We were peering through the fence when the caretaker care upon us. He told us (in German) that no one uses this church now or goes in. He opened the large gates for us and let us wander about. It was so quiet and reverent.

Here is the same church taken outside of the gates.
It is majestic, and the clock still works!

Here is a video I took this evening on the village square at Nepomuk
The town closes up at 7. It is very still and quiet.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

See you in Prague!

This week's column.

Dear Folks,

With the news of the past 24 hours, my column seems frivolous and too joyous. I actually called my editor to pull this column. Mike replied that the world needed a distraction from this horrible event.

So, here it is, and yes I am leaving for Prague, Budapest and Londonn for a three week holiday. I will try to post photos and notes each day if possible.

As always, thanks for reading, and God bless us all.

Lou Ann

Friday, December 14, 2012

What can we say?

Dear Friends,
How do we go about the rest of our day? How do we finish up our Christmas trees, pack for trips, bake cookies for children?
Today Jonah had his second grade Christmas program at his school. Karen, Aaron and I say in the front row. He could barely contain his joy at seeing us sitting there smiling, winking, nodding...
The other children were the same practically dancing on stage waving at their families. The songs were wonderful with lots of hand motions and audience participation. We took photos and videos of these beautiful shiny children.
I biked home on this sunny day, opened up the laptop, and read the news. I am stunned and ill at the same time. Children dead. Teachers dead. What has become of us as a nation, as people, as friends and neighbors?
This cannot continue, and we cannot or will not, live our lives in fear.
This nation has gone into deep mourning. I sit here in front of the TV with a cup of tea gone cold.
What more is there to say?
Lou Ann

The Geminid Meteor Showers

Dear Folks,
Here is just a glance into the Geminid Meteor Shower taking place right now. My own naturalist, Fred Wooley, says this is a spectacular sight, one of the best of the year. Even though this video is short, please use the full screen. This video is from SkyWatch!
These showers are visible from late evening until early dawn. I have had lots of sightings from friends on these showers.
One of the reasons they are so beautiful this December is due to the New Moon and the spectacular brilliance of these winter skies.
There is still time to watch, go on outside late tonight or early in the morning. Take out a cup of coffee, lean back on the old truck and enjoy this world we live in.
Lou Ann

Monday, December 10, 2012

Candles on my Christmas Tree

A long time Christmas tradition at my house is to put candles on our Christmas
tree. This tradition originated in Germany, of course, where so many of our customs began.

Years ago when I was first married, I ordered the candle holders from Germany. These are the same ones I still use with red candles tucked inside. Once or twice a season the candles are lit and those fortunate enough to be present sing several Christmas carols, including "Oh Christmas Tree" in German. Last night was the Indiana family Christmas, and we lit the tree. (Notice the large yellow bowl on the is filled with water!)

It is an absolutely breaktaking sight and very humbling as well.

Please enjoy this week's column with Christmas traditions! As always, I thank you for reading and enjoying.

Lou Ann

Click here for this week's column on Christmas traditions


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Sunset in Northern Indiana

Last night the boys, and their friends, were playing in the garden at sunset. Jonah came running in to the house and said, "Hurry, hurry you have to see the sunset, we can make a memory."
He was right.
The sky was incredibly lovely and, even though I live in town, there is still plenty of beauty with the houses and trees silhouetting the sky.
Later on in the evening I took a late walk, and the sky was brilliant with the beginning of the winter skies. My neighborhood is decked out for Christmas this year making everything so festive. In a way it was like a fairy land.
I came home, made tea, opened the curtains in my bedroom and fell asleep letting Jupiter reign over this old house.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Russian Nesting Dolls

Dear Friends,

This wooden Russian nesting doll is just one of the traditions that we enjoy at Christmas. I do not remember when I first received this toy, but it was quite a while ago. My children all enjoyed it, and now my little folks are enjoying it as well.

I have also taken it to schools to share along with Holiday stories. I love to pull out each doll one at a time, they are always amazed. I believe there are eight dolls total in this collection. The kids are also surprised that I did not lose any of the dolls. Of course, it is because I always put my toys away! Hmmm....

So, here is just one tradition that this Homan family enjoys during the season.

What is one of yours?

Oh, tomorrow the pickle! Where is it hidden?

Lou Ann

Monday, December 03, 2012

A weekend of Gypsy Stories, Helen Frost and John McCutcheon

Dear Friends,
Sometimes weekends turn out to be extraordinary as this one was. I drove my same pathway to Indianapolis (3 hours south) to tell my Gypsy Stories in the library at the Children's Museum. It was a free day at the museum, and it was wonderful to see all the families spending the day together.
Without changing clothes, I drove over to the History Center to the Author Fair to spend time with some of my favorite Indiana authors. I bought a book from Norbert Krapf and gushed over his work. I then spent time with poet, author, and friend, Helen Frost. I have watched Helen's work over the years change and evolve. Her latest book, "Step Gently Out," is a book of poems and photographs. All of my grandchildren already own signed copies. I don't think it is too late to order one of your own, it is spectacular!
I then spent the evening with Storytelling Arts of Indiana as they hosted musician, song-writer, and storyteller, John McCutcheon.
His featured piece, "Christmas in the Trenches," is such a moving story, I never tire of hearing it. The stage at the History Center was full of instruments, and he used them all.
At 12:30 a.m. Ellen and I finally had supper at our favorite hang out, Steak n' Shake (although we were good and didn't have the shakes.)
I did an interview with Helen Frost at the Author Fair, and here it is. I was scolded by a friend for not having enough quirky videos on my blog. So here is a fun video with a twist at the end. It is a little difficult to hear because of all the talking at the fair!
As always, enjoy,
Lou Ann


Helen Frost at the Author Fair in Indianapolis

Saturday, December 01, 2012

This week's column takes a look at the kindness of strangers....

Click here for this week's column.

Dear Folks,

This week's column is about angels among us...those who randomly give with no thought of recognition.

As always, thank you for reading, and don't forget to drop a coin or two into the coffer when no one is looking.

Lou Ann