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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Maramureş 2010 (photos by D. Ratliff)

Nancy Ratliff at Old Biserica, Bârsana

Friday, 29 October
I am pleased to report that new Cluj Fulbrighters Dan Ratliff and Aline Cautis have accepted my offer to drive them on some weekend tours while we are all here in Romania together.  On Friday, we loaded Klaus for a weekend in Maramures, and along with Dan's wife Nancy Ratliff, we headed north, taking the scenic route out of Cluj through Chinteni, and then cutting east across broad Transilvanian farmlands to the main road, which we found just south of Gherla. Our ride north took us all afternoon, as we stopped often for photo opps, as in Glod (which, it turns out, is not the village where the "Kazakstan" scenes in "Borat" were filmed.  That Glod is far south and east, near Ploiesti). It was a glorious day, and we took good advantage of it.

Saturday, 30 October
It is Halloween time in Maramureş, but here it is less about goblins than about forebears. November 1st is The Day of the Dead in Latin countries such as Romania, and All Saints Day in the English-speaking Christian world.  It is a day when Romanian families decorate the graves of ancestors and dead relatives.  Since the day itself falls on a Monday, and is not a national holiday, this weekend is the time when Romanian cemeteries will be jammed with visitors, and bright with flowers and candles brought to decorate and illuminate the graves.  These were much in evidence at Săpânța's famous "Merry Cemetery," of which much more was open to visitors than on our last visit in 2009.

Decorated Graves at Săpânța
Before reaching the cemetery Saturday afternoon, we had spent the day visiting some of the sights of the area, including the serene wooden monastery at Barsana.  Here are some scenes from our morning.

Autumn in Middle Earth

Biserica at Mănăsteria Bârsana

The hay is also harvested at the Monastery.

One can scarcely find a metal fastener at Bârsana

A steeplejack's challenge.
Nancy and Dan Ratliff at Mânasteria Bârsana

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Good Day to Die

Monday, 25 October, saw the passing of two good friends of mine, one in Campton, and one in Fellbach.

RUSSELL PALMER, Campton, New Hampshire, U.S.A.

In Campton, Mr. Russell Palmer died in his home.  He was a farmer and retired road construction superintendent.  Russ lived on the Daniel Webster Highway, at the DaWeHi Farm.  When I-93 was extended north of Plymouth in the 1960s, that farm was cut off from its western acreage, as the highway pretty well bisected his family's property.  So, in 1971-'72 Russell subdivided part of his western land, and built a pair of "spec houses" on the western side of the highway.  One was a red chalet, which the new young (29) plant manager at Beebe River, Duncan McDougall, bought from him in February, 1973.  Russell and I became fast friends.  We did not see a lot of each other, but made it a practice to drop by once or twice a year. Usually it was I stopping at the farmhouse on my way to Plymouth. But occasionally Russ would drop by the chalet, or later our current Campton house on Route 175.  I enjoyed these coffee chats with Russ.  Russ was an intelligent and incisive observer of the world.  He stayed active all his life.  When last we spoke, in the summer of 2009, Russ was out mowing around his fire pond as I rode by on my Ducati.  Seeing him there, I had to turn around and come back a bit to catch his eye.  But when he saw me, Russ rode his little lawn tractor up to the roadside, and I removed my helmet, so we could exchange a few words.  Shirl says that Russ' son Christopher called yesterday to say that Russell was standing in the house, and simply died within five seconds, at 98 years of age.  God rest his soul.

Frau Hilde Schmid, in the gray suit, next to grandsons, Max and Ferdi

FRAU HILDE SCHMID, Fellbach, Baden-
Württemberg, Germany

In Fellbach, Germany, Frau Hilde Schmid of the shoe-care and plastic mold-making company nico-Schmid, GMBH, died of Parkinson's disease, from which she had been ill for several years.  I met Frau Schmid (I never called her Hilde) at the Norbert Schmid Company, GMBH, in Fellbach in 1988.  I was then president of Rochester Shoe Tree Company of Plymouth and Ashland, New Hampshire, and met Hilde's son Dietmar at the National Shoe Fair, held at the Javits Center in Manhattan, New York.  Dietmar was a young manager with his father's company, and Hilde was then acting COO, as Norbert was pretty much retired by then.  At the NY shoe show, Dietmar expressed interest in importing American red cedar shoe trees into Europe, where their deodorizing and leather-drying qualities would be innovative.  In the process of developing a business relationship, I traveled to Fellbach for my first visit, and found myself sitting across a conference table from Frau Schmid.  She spoke in German, and I in English, with Dietmar acting as interpreter.  It proved a successful meeting, and the business relationship developed that day has continued for the ensuing 21 years.  I credit the quality of the entire Schmid family for that, but especially the wisdom and integrity of Frau Hilde Schmid.  Frau Schmid was delighted in 1989, when I returned to stop in with my son Jamie, who was making his first trip to Europe, on our way to an IBM-sponsored conference on the "Factory of the Future" in Barcelona.  And some years later, though in the early days of her Parkinson's ordeal, Frau Schmid had dinner with us on a visit that I made to Fellbach on personal business.  I asked Dietmar if I might see her this past September, when I arrived in Fellbach to collect Klaus, but as she was hospitalized at the time, Dietmar felt it best that I not do so.  At the time, Frau Schmid was still living at home, with 24-hour care, except when her troubles demanded hospitalization.  In the end, she had only two days in the hospital.

My dear friends Russell and Hilde, may God grant you peace in His kingdom.  The Twenty-fifth of October, 2010, appears to have been a good day to die (as one day we all shall do), for God was taking very good people home that day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And Ended in Judeţul Bistriţa-Nasaud

Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and warmer than had been our week.  I was still hunting for a particular old case study that I wanted to assign to my Labor Management students this week.  It is one I wrote when I worked for Wick Skinner at HBS, way back in 1970-71, but it is a good workforce management case called, "United Vehicle Corporation - Metal Stanping Division."  I had used it at UBB in 2008, but couldn't find a copy at home before coming over, and neither Moni nor Meli could find it in their archives.

So, as it happened, I mentioned my case study search to Dora Faur on Sunday morning.  She told me she thought she had a copy in her files at home in Bistriţa.  "Want to take a ride on this beautiful Sunday?"  I asked.  Hence the following pictures of Dora's family, Alexandru M.'s family, and Dora's ancestral home in Budeşti, where she lived for the first three years of her life with her grandparents.  Note that her maternal Grandfather makes his own wine, with the help of a neighbor lad, and that her Grandfather Faur owns a Jeep Cherokee (above), of which he is quite proud, as well as a colorful tractor (below).

Augustin MICAN

Raluca Teodora and Teodor FAUR, Doamna Claudia and Augustin MICAN
Dora Above Birthplace: Budeşti, Judeţul Bistriţa-Nasaud

Grandfather's Farm

Learning to make wine

Material handling, country style.

Doamna FAUR's Dad, at his home.

Grandfather FAUR with Raluca Teodora.

We headed home at dusk, along with the cows.
It was a good weekend.  And Dora had the case in her files!

The Weekend began at the Garden

Saturday I attended a conference on sustainable development, about which I have plenty left to learn.  It began with a guided tour of the Botanical Garden here in Cluj, which I must admit was a most interesting three hours.  Here are a few of the dozens of pictures I took there.
The Conferees
Tbree Chinese students joined us for the tour of Gradina Botanica.  The hostesses are Leonina Suciu and Alexandra Mutiu, of FSEGA

Though it is October, still there were blossoms.

Amazonian Water Lillies

The variety of plant life is amazing.  Business is a simple subject.

African desert "stone plants."

Professor Liviu SOFONEA of Sibiu

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fulbright Orientation - Bucharest

(Happy anniversary, Shirl.  Today makes 37, going for 70!)

It was a slow-starting day, because yesterday and last night were so exhausting.

I drove yesterday from Cluj to Sibiu with new Fulbright artist Aline C.  On the way, I put her in touch with Victoria M., as Aline needs an apartment for the year in Cluj, and "our" old apartment in Piata M. V. is still available.

In Sibiu we picked up Charles H., fellow 2008-09 Fulbright alumnus who is this month finally getting around to going home to Illinois, and Staci D., and the four of us ate lunch at a great place just off Sibiu's impressive Piata Mare.  At the restaurant Charles introduced me to native Clujian and Lucian Blaga University English professor Dr. Eugen (?). (Charles, please send me Eugen's family name, as I would love to get to know him better.) 

We proceded to Bucharest, making a final stop for mici at the famous truck stop/grill in the mountains above Pitesti.

By the time we got to Casa Victor it was pitch dark, and raining.  I was put in the "room across the street."  It is a large room on the ground floor of the house in which Casa Victor's owner, Mihai Ioncea, grew up.  Last night it was the wrong place for me.  I needed familiar, and I got cold and strange.  The light switches were strangely located, and I fumbled for five minutes in the dark trying to find them.  The bed had only a sheet and a thin cover, no blankets.  And it was both cold and wet outside, and no heat on in the room.  And I was brain-dead from the 11-hour drive with straining eyes.

To make matters worse, as I lay shivering and trying to sleep, nature called, and I discovered I had eaten the wrong food somewhere that day.  I made ten trips last night, if I made one.  And I was feverish, to boot.

So, I did not rise to the wake-up call this morning.  I slept until 11, and arrived at the orientation some three hours late.  Everyone was very understanding, and I was able to meet the new crew of U.S. Grantees.  I was both surprised and pleased to see that the senior Fulbrighters this year included at least three of over 60 years, and one who is over 70.  I do not know if that is normal, or whether I started a trend.

Anyway, it appears to be a very good bunch, and I have offered my chauffering services to a couple of Fulbright couples, for weekend tours later this fall of my beloved Maramures and Bucovina.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Robert Kawadwa Matovu

It is Saturday night, and only a few of us are in the dorm (for that is what Economica II is), most being away for the weekend, I guess.  Having bought today some smoked pork with which to add flavor to my ciorba de varza, and a salami and some cheese, I went at about 6:00 PM to the kitchen on my floor, and started to prepare my supper.  I realized I had forgotten to buy bread, but, I had wine, meat, cheese, and soup.  I'd get by.

The kitchen is almost at the opposite end of the hall.  I was heading back to get plates and napkins, as I had decided to eat at the kitchen's table, when a man came from the stairwell, and started to open the door.  He and I spotted each other.  He was African.  (That meant he looked American, to me.)  I was curious, so I greeted him, "Hello. I am Professor Duncan McDougall."  By now he was unlocking his door, the very next room to mine, though on the far side of the stairs from my room.  "I am Robert," he said, with a British accent.

To make a long story short, Robert brought the bread, and we shared a most interesting conversation over supper in the spartan kitchen on our floor.  Robert is the son of Byron Kawadwa, "the most famous playwright of Uganda."  Robert is 37, and is pursuing at FSEGA a masters degree in international business.  But his background is in theatre and drama, in rural developmental work, and in NGOs that work with the children of HIV-infected parents, or having HIV themselves.  Robert's wife and two children remain in Uganda, where she runs a small business.  Robert "left the bush and came straight to the airport to fly to Cluj" last December, and expects to remain here for over one more year.  His famous father died when Robert was three, murdered by "one of Uganda's brutal dictatorial regiemes."  (Perhaps, the notorious Idi Amin.) 

Though I did not mention it to Robert, I was reminded of Ovidius (Ovid), the poet banished from Rome by Caesar Augustus to Tomiş, now Constanţa, Romania, for "the crime of poetry."  Honest artists run afoul of politicians. You can almost postulate that.

Robert has hopes of one day earning a Ph.D.  And, he is a Mormon.  In my experience, that fact alone makes his ultimate success highly probable.

I suggested that Robert contact BYU, and see if they would be able to support him through a doctoral program.  I must say, I hope they will do so, for I met tonight a gentleman with a kind heart, and an active mind, who had to leave our table at 7:00 to attend a religious conference of Mormons, here in Cluj.