The First Road Trip

I’m sitting here with my hot water bottle, contemplating. It’s like those pauses in the day you used to take when looking up at the clouds. Or those big think-ins on a Sunday morning when it was just you, your bed and a slow morning. I do this thing with a caster oil pack and my hot water bottle that requires me to be still for a while. And today I’m in no mood to watch Netflix as this happens – I’d rather just think.

Anyhow, while thinking I began to consider road trips – particularly since I’m still making friends with the little blue car we bought – and my mind drifted back in time to my and Zsolt’s very first road trip.

Fade from hot water bottle scene to a bright sunny day in Hungary. We are in a car. I am eating a pastry that looks like a short and wide cinnamon bun while Zsolt is driving.

We were going to Austria, which is snug against the Hungarian boarder. The trip started off with the limp ‘bang’ as the car lost all power just outside of Pecs. It cut out as we began to drive down a hill, and Zsolt pulled it over to the side. We both got out of the car to stand by the side of the road while Zsolt called his father for help. I opened up my brown paper bag and pulled out a second pastry to enjoy.

As it turned out, the wire connected to the battery came off and that is why the car died. Sweet relief, we could still go on our trip to Vienna. One very memorable thing about waiting on the side of the road was this woman who pulled over. . .

Zsolt and Laszlo are hunched over the engine, not having a clue what went wrong but trying to magically fix the car nevertheless, when a car pulls over and out steps this woman. She’s wearing leather. A lot of leather. And it’s yellow. Fixing her driving gloves, she strides over to the group of us by the car engine, and wades in – looking the motor, pointing at things, saying stuff. It’s all in Hungarian – I don’t understand a thing. But she seems confident!

Then Laszlo (Zsolt’s dad) gets a map from the glove compartment, and opens it on the trunk. They all gather around the map, and I am wonder how in the world does a map relate to fixing a car?

It doesn’t! The Yellow leather lady is just lost and needs directions. She  had  no clue what might be wrong with the car.

So weird!

Anyhow, eventually a mechanic showed up and everything is fixed up. Zsolt and I head towards Austria, and Laszlo heads back to Pecs for lunch.

Now here is the thing about road trips – they can be stretches of very boring moments, punctuated by wonderful discoveries. Vienna was beautiful without doubt, (parks everywhere) but it wasn’t my favourite part of the experience.

The best part of my first road trip with Zsolt, was the Széchenyi Palace. This is a mansion/mini palace (more mansion than palace) where Zsolt booked us to stay for two nights. It’s right by the border of Hungary and Austria, and very useful for catching the train to Vienna.

When we checked into the palace, the fellow working the front desk said it was his ancestor who used to own the place. And he whipped out a 5000 forint bill and show us a picture of his great great great (I don’t know how many greats) grandfather. The guy on the bill and this dude really did look alike!

How utterly bizarre to know your family once owned all this beautiful property, and had enough status to be featured on national money – and now – after it was stripped away – he remained there to check in passing travellers.  It makes me a bit sad, honestly. But in any case, this fellow was very proud of his history.

The Széchenyi Palace was a wonderful discovery. The place was quiet and overlooked by tourists. So it felt like we had the place to ourselves. The hallways absorbed all sound as your walked along them, with thick carpeting and old furniture gobbling up our voices. And the room we stayed in – the room wrapped around you – huge windows – but all dark wood panelling, and a tall bed in dark wood with thick blankets. There was a small hallway with doors on either side that seperated the washroom from the bedroom. At night, to use the loo, you’d find yourself in between rooms, lost in pure pitch black while groping for an ancient light switch. It was the perfect place for ghosts to hang out.

And during the day, after crossing the manicured garden out front, there was this gorgeous walk – it stretched straight out from the palace and far, far, back into what was now a farmer’s field (though I imagine once, before the land was seized by ‘the people’ it was all wooded), a corridor of field lined with tall trees – all the way down to a memorial. This was where the original Széchenyi honoured his wife.

It struck me as fascinating that a grave should be placed so far from the palace, but also very understandable. In walking between the home and the memorial, there is nothing to do except contemplate – to look at the clouds and trees, to look at the stone marker far away, to think and reflect.

What better way to remember someone than to create a passage where all a person can do is remember and reflect?

So that was my first road trip with Zsolt. We made it to Vienna and had a lovely visit. But what I really remember are the unexpected moments, the women in yellow, my cinnamon pastry and this palace where the history seeped from the floors, walls and rooms.

Now we have this little blue car here in Canada. Canada doesn’t hold the mysteries that Europe does, and yet . . . we will see. I hope to be surprised by unexpected discoveries. If nothing else, I’d like another pastry.


Well it’s the middle of the week and all is well. Quite happily my eye appointment was moved into May, and apart from an MRI of my brain next week, I can comfortably continue getting on with smaller things. Just this morning I decided to lay late in bed and indulge in more sleep. And it was just so lovely because my hips were not sore, my lungs were not thick, my guts didn’t hurt and my head was screwed on. All is well.

The fatigue continues to be a problem. But when things come up, I try to push past that heavy body feeling. For instance, the other day we celebrated a birthday in the family. I prepared all kinds of appetizers, as well as a painting craft. It knocked the stuffing out of me, but the food was great.

And then I had visits from friends and family. This of course is very special. If I had the mojo, I’d write a lovely post about how much it meant to me – but I don’t really have it in me right now. Except that my aunt and cousin flew in from the USA for literally 1.5 days worth of visiting me. Once upon a time, they had a cottage in Quebec, and we would all gather there as a family during the holidays. I still like to remember going to the village coffee shop, or walking around the Tremblant village, or enjoying movies in the basement. It was also where Lulu spent her final days. I think her being able to live in such a beautiful setting was such a gift, and such a sacrifice on the part of my aunt, who took care of her each day.

When then came to visit me the other day, it was a bit like the cottage again, in that we just hung out and ate and chatted. It made me wish they all lived closer. But life takes us in many separate directions, and there isn’t much to be done about it.

And finally, Zsolt and I bought ourselves a car. It’s a little 2011 Fiesta. We bought it because when I looked at my list of goals for ‘mission remission’ last year – literally none of them had come true. We even tried to get a puppy, only to find I’m crazy allergic to poodles. So for the past month we have been browsing Because of being too easily overwhelmed, we often saw interesting/affordable options but then I couldn’t bring myself to follow through on the steps for purchasing. But eventually we found the little Fiesta, and it was easier to manage the purchase. SO for the sake of ticking a box and having something that is ours, and for going to appointments and, most importantly, having adventures, we bought the car.

I should feel a lot more excited about it than I currently am. Maybe once the nerves wear off excitement will follow? Maybe once spring truly arrives, and we can road trip around Ottawa and enjoy the sunshine… hopefully then I’ll be all smiles. Maybe it needs a name?. That might be the key.

And there you go. This isn’t much of a post, but it is an update. Sooner or later I’ll write a proper story about something interesting. In the meanwhile, you can imagine us in this tiny car driving around the city. Or me sleeping in bed. Whatever floats your boat, you weirdos!

Hair Care

Sometimes I take a shower, shampoo my head and style my  hair. It looks something like this . . .

Then I go out into the Canadian Winter with my hat on, OR I take a nap OR I do anything except sit still as a mannequin,  and it becomes something like this…

The next day, Mom and I go for a cup of tea. I’m too tired for a shower and assume my appearance is fine. But my hair is sneaky and does something like this…

The next day, I’m off to another tea shop (because that’s basically all I can manage lately) and forget to look in the mirror at all, having just woken from yet another nap and needing to rush myself back to the land of the awake. But then I go to the ladies room at the cafe.

Upon looking in the mirror I realize I look something like this:


Then this

Then, after a while, this…

Because what can you do? At least it is hair. And hey, at least I’m out of the house.

That’s the end of my story.

Time for a nap.

P.S. That sweater is wool, you would wear it every day too if you felt as cold as I get!