Monday, April 17, 2017

Betty MacDonald, Monica Sone and a tree with 10.000 eggs








mrs. piggle wiggle, hello_english_cassette_FRONT

Pippi, you're the best.  

Hello 'Pussy' it's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Pippi Longstocking: 


This year, the White House was slow to make tickets available or to detail its Easter Egg Roll plans, leaving some of the event devotees to fret that the first family would do away with the longtime tradition, which dates back to 1878.











Do you have any idea why we feel so ashamed? I do!  
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 plague_English_1994_paperback_FRONT
  
Should I remain in bed, leave my country or fight against the dragon?

( see also the story by Wolfgang Hampel
' Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say ' )
plague_english_1948_paperback_FRONT
plague_German_1952_hardcover_bookjacket - cleaned_FRONT

The Egg and I Film Illustration























 


Click images for alternate views
Bildergebnis für Betty MacDonald Christmas
Betty MacDonald in the living room at Vashon on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle author Betty MacDonald on Vashon Island
<p>Time Out of Mind (1947) - avec Betty et Don MacDonald et Phyllis Calvert</p>

Betty and Don MacDonald in Hollywood

Bild könnte enthalten: eine oder mehrere Personen und Personen, die sitzen



Betty MacDonald's mother Sydney with grandchild Alison Beck
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Kein automatischer Alternativtext verfügbar.

Bild könnte enthalten: 1 Person
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Betty MacDonald fan club fans,

History of the Egg tree in Saalfeld

The Egg tree of Saalfeld

Happy Easter to all our Betty MacDonald fan club fans in 40 countries around the World.

What would our one and only Betty MacDonald say to this  Egg tree in Saalfeld in Germany?

Imagine to see this unique tree with 10.000 eggs!


I guess to Betty MacDonald it would be kind of a shock but I'd like to see it. 

Many visitors from all over the world are huge fans of the Egg tree in Saalfeld.

Wolfgang Hampel's updated Betty MacDonald biography and some of his new very funny poems are one of the many very interesting subjects in Betty MacDonald fan club newsletter April.  

Late Betty MacDonald Fan Club Honor Member Monica Sone, author of Nisei Daughter and Betty MacDonald's friend described as Kimi in Betty MacDonald's The plague and I, praises the Betty MacDonald essay written by author Claire Dederer:

Thank you so much for Claire Dederer's essay on Betty.

Betty would have been so pleased and also astounded that someone had studied her books on such a deep level.

Claire's understanding of Betty's character, also reveals Claire's own ability to do very intelligent, creative analysis.

I am profoundly happy with this, in memory of a wonderful human being.

Love,

Monica Sone

Claire Dederer, Author of Poser : My Life In Twenty-Three Yoga Poses
lives in Seattle and writes about books and culture for the New York Times, Vogue, Newsday, and many other publications:

Thank you so much for this.

It means the world to me. If one can treasure an email, I will treasure this one.

It would be my honor to donate a book to the Betty MacDonald Fan club.

Yours,

Claire Dederer




Wolfgang Hampel's Betty MacDonald and Ma and Pa Kettle biography and Betty MacDonald interviews have fans in 40 countries. I'm one of their many devoted fans. 



Many Betty MacDonald  - and Wolfgang Hampel fans are very interested in a Wolfgang Hampel CD and DVD with his very funny poems and stories.

Happy Easter to you all!


We have many colourful Betty MacDonald Easter eggs for you. 

One of these Betty MacDonald fan club Easter surprises is the new outstanding website of beloved Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli. 



Don't miss it, please. 

 














Surprise, surprise!

We found new radio manuscripts and shows. 

We are working on Betty MacDonald fan club exhibit and an updated Betty MacDonald documentary.

Betty MacDonald fan club newsletter April  includes a letter by Betty MacDonald, mentioning Dorita Hess and other very important persons in her books.




Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel  told us that Betty MacDonald fan club research team does an excellent job in supporting him with his several Betty MacDonald projects especially an updated Betty MacDonald biography.

Betty MacDonald fan club event team is very happy to hear from you and they got some really great ideas for the next International event. 

Thanks a lot! 


You can join Eurovision Song Contest Fan Club on Facebook.

Join us, please. We have lots of fun and joy and had several International ESC meetings in the past. 


Vita Magica with Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel and Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Letizia Maninco was outstanding.

The audience enjoyed it very much.
 
Wolfgang Hampel's Vita Magica is  fascinating because he includes Betty MacDonald, other members of the Bard family and Betty MacDonald fan club honor members.

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli  and our 'Italian Betty MacDonald' - Betty MacDonald fan club honor member author and artist Letizia Mancino belong to the most popular Betty MacDonald fan club teams in our history.

Their many devoted fans are waiting for a new Mr. Tigerli adventure.

Letizia Mancino's  magical Betty MacDonald Gallery  is a special gift for our Betty MacDonald fan club fans. 




We'll have several International Betty MacDonald fan club events  in 2017.


Join us in voting for your favourite city, please. 



Wolfgang Hampel's  Vita Magica guest was a very famous TV lady, author and singer and she is our new Betty MacDonald fan club honor member.

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli is our beloved Betty MacDonald fan club honor member.


I guess our Casanova adores our Betty MacDonald fan club honor member very much because author and TV moderator Tatjana Geßler is a very beautiful, charming and intelligent lady. 


Tatjana Geßler's books are outstanding. I've read several of them. 

Enjoy Betty MacDonald's very beautiful Vashon Island, please.





Great Betty MacDonald fan club news!
 

You can join 

Betty MacDonald fan club

Betty MacDonald Society

Vita Magica

 

on Facebook.

 

Thank you so much in advance for your support and interest.

If you join Betty MacDonald fan club blog as a follower during March you'll receive a very special Betty MacDonald fan club Welcome gift.

Send your email-address to our contact address, please. 


Great news!

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli is back and his fans are delighted.

We'll have several International Betty MacDonald fan club events  in 2017. 

Don't miss Wolfgang Hampel's Vita Magica March, please. 

You'll enjoy it very much. 



You can see brilliant Brad Craft. 



"This is Me," by Bad Kid Billy. [Official Music Video]


Seems I'm in this for a hot second.  I remember being asked to participate one day on the street in front of the bookstore where I work.  I didn't think to ask what it was for, or even so much as the name of the song or the band.  Didn't want to be late coming back from lunch.  Silly bugger.  The very nice young woman with the green hair also featured herein happens to work at Magus Books.  She mentioned she'd seen me.  Told me the name of the band, and here we are.



Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Monica Sone and other Betty MacDonald fan club honor members will be included in Wolfgang Hampel's new project 'Vita Magica'. 
 





We got very interesting new info for updated Betty MacDonald biography.

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel and Betty MacDonald fan club research team are going to include all these new details and info in updated Betty MacDonald biography.

If you'd like to join Betty MacDonald fan club you only have to press the join button on Betty MacDonald fan club blog.


New Betty MacDonald fan club fans will receive a special Betty MacDonald fan club Welcome gift during April.  

Send us your email address to our contact address, please.


Wolfgang Hampel's Vita Magica February was outstanding and so was Vita Magica Betty MacDonald event with Wolfgang Hampel, Thomas Bödigheimer and Friedrich von Hoheneichen


 
We are going to publish some new Betty MacDonald fan club interviews  by Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel.
 

Wolfgang Hampel and Betty MacDonald fan club research team are working on an updated Betty MacDonald biography.
 


This very new Betty MacDonald biography includes all the results we got during a very successful Betty MacDonald fan club research which started in 1983.

You'll be able to find unique Betty MacDonald treasures in our Betty MacDonald biography.

Betty MacDonald biography includes for example interviews with Betty MacDonald, her family and friends.

We got many letters by Betty MacDonald and other family members even very important original ones.


Our goal is to publish a Betty MacDonald biography that shows all the details of Betty MacDonald's life and work but also to present her fascinating siblings.

Dear Betty MacDonald fan club fans let us know please what you are interested most in a future Betty MacDonald biography.  

Do you prefer an e-book or a so called real book?
 
Vita Magica by Wolfgang Hampel is really fascinating and very interesting.



Wolfgang Hampel and Friends of Vita Magica visited Minister of Science of Baden-Württemberg, Theresia Bauer in Stuttgart.

They visited Landtag and had a great time there.
 

Do you have any books by Betty MacDonald and Mary Bard Jensen with funny or interesting dedications? 


If so would you be so kind to share them?


Our next Betty MacDonald fan club project is a collection of these unique dedications.


If you share your dedication from your Betty MacDonald - and Mary Bard Jensen collection you might be the winner of our new Betty MacDonald fan club items.


Thank you so much in advance for your support.



 


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_vqvrCz_OYTo/S7hJGYQaymI/AAAAAAAAFIw/W--wXFF912Y/s1600/M7a



 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Thank you so much for sending us your favourite Betty MacDonald quote.


We are so glad that our beloved Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli is back.

New  Betty MacDonald documentary will be very interesting with many new interviews.

Alison Bard Burnett and other Betty MacDonald fan club honor members will be included in Wolfgang Hampel's fascinating project Vita Magica.







Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel interviewed Betty MacDonald's daughter Joan MacDonald Keil and her husband Jerry Keil.

This interview will be published for the first time ever.



New Betty MacDonald documentary will be very interesting with many interviews never published before.


We adore Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli 


Thank you so much for sharing this witty memories with us.


Wolfgang Hampel's literary event Vita Magica is very fascinating because he is going to include Betty MacDonald, other members of the Bard family and Betty MacDonald fan club honor members.

It's simply great to read Wolfgang Hampel's  new very well researched  stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett,  Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others.

 


Linde Lund and many fans from all over the world  adore this funny sketch by Wolfgang Hampel very much although our German isn't the best.

I won't ever forget the way Wolfgang Hampel is shouting ' Brexit '.

Don't miss it, please.

It's simply great!

You can hear that Wolfgang Hampel got an outstandig voice.

He presented one of Linde Lund's favourite songs ' Try to remember ' like a professional singer.

Thanks a million!

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli  and our 'Italian Betty MacDonald' - Betty MacDonald fan club honor member author and artist Letizia Mancino belong to the most popular Betty MacDonald fan club teams in our history.

Their many devoted fans are waiting for a new Mr. Tigerli adventure.

Letizia Mancino's  magical Betty MacDonald Gallery  is a special gift for Betty MacDonald fan club fans from all over the world.


Don't miss Brad Craft's 'More friends', please. 

Betty MacDonald's very beautiful Vashon Island is one of my favourites.


I agree with Betty in this very witty Betty MacDonald story  Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say by Wolfgang Hampel.

I can't imagine to live in a country with him as so-called elected President although there are very good reasons to remain there to fight against these brainless politics.


 

About 21,000 people are set to arrive at the White House lawn on Monday for the annual Easter Egg Roll, typically one of the year’s largest White House events and one that is expected to test the hostessing chops of first lady Melania Trump.

The affair is expected to be smaller than it was under first lady Michelle Obama, whose Easter Egg Rolls drew celebrities, professional athletes and big-name musicians. Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s spokeswoman, said this week that the first lady decided to scale back the event because she worried it had grown too large, creating long lines for some activities.

The White House said military bands, the New Jersey-based pop-rock band Bro4, and the Martin Family Circus are set to perform and commemorative eggs have been ordered. There will also be a “reading nook, music stage, official egg roll, and other fun events,” according to the White House website.
The Easter Egg Roll drew about 35,000 people in 2016, when the Obama White House organized a carnival-like event that highlighted the former first lady’s “Let’s Move” health and fitness initiative. That year, singer Idina Menzel, Silento and others performed and the young attendees watched cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs and shot hoops and batted tennis balls on courts alongside professional athletes.

Did dinosaurs fart their way to extinction?



I think the future dinosaur flatulence will be the behaviour of 'Pussy' and his very strange government.

Poor World!    Poor America! 

Don't miss these very interesting articles below, please. 



The most difficult case in Mrs.Piggle-Wiggle's career 



mrs. piggle wiggle's magic_korean_2011_hardcover_FRONT



Hello 'Pussy', this is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. 

You took calls from foreign leaders on unsecured phone lines, without consultung the State Department. We have to change your silly behaviour with a new Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle cure. I know you are the most difficult case in my career - but we have to try everything.......................













Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel sent his brilliant thoughts. Thank you so much dear Wolfgang!  Bildergebnis für Donald Trump and Lady Liberty      

Hi Libi, nice to meet you. Can you feel it?




I'm the most powerful leader in the world.




Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say

Copyright 2016 by Wolfgang Hampel

All rights reserved 


Betty MacDonald was sitting on her egg-shaped cloud and listened to a rather strange guy.

He said to his friends: So sorry to keep you waiting. Very complicated business! Very complicated!

Betty said: Obviously much too complicated for you old toupee!

Besides him ( by the way the  First Lady's place ) his 10 year old son was bored to death and listened to this 'exciting' victory speech. 

The old man could be his great-grandfather.

The boy was very tired and thought: I don't know what this old guy is talking about. Come on and finish it, please. I'd like to go to bed.

Dear 'great-grandfather' continued  and praised the Democratic candidate.

He congratulated her and her family for a very strong campaign although he wanted to put her in jail.

He always called her the most corrupt person ever and repeated it over and over again in the fashion of a Tibetan prayer wheel.

She is so corrupt. She is so corrupt.  Do you know how corrupt she is? 

Betty MacDonald couldn't believe it when he said: She has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.

Afterwards old toupee praised his parents, wife, children, siblings and friends. 

He asked the same question like a parrot all the time:

Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?
I know you are here!

Betty MacDonald answered: No Pussy they are not! They left the country.

They immigrated to Canada because they are very much afraid of the future in the U.S.A. with you as their leader like the majority of all so-called more or less normal citizens. 

By the way keep your finger far away from the pussies and the Red Button, please.


I'm going to fly with my egg-shaped cloud to Canada within a minute too.

Away - away - there is nothing more to say! 


Real vs. Ersatz







I am neither Christian enough nor charitable enough to like anybody just because he is alive and breathing. I want people to interest or amuse me. I want them fascinating and witty or so dul as to be different. I want them either intellectually stimulating or wonderfully corny; perfectly charming or hundred percent stinker. I like my chosen companions to be distinguishable from the undulating masses and I don't care how. - Betty MacDonald




Daniel Mount wrote a great article about Betty MacDonald and her garden.

We hope you'll enjoy it very much.

I adore Mount Rainier and Betty MacDonald's outstanding descriptions

Can you remember in which book you can find it?

If so let us know, please and you might be the next Betty MacDonald fan club contest winner. 

I hope we'll be able to read Wolfgang Hampel's  new very well researched  stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett,  Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others - very soon.

It' s such a pleasure to read them. 

Let's go to magical Betty MacDonald's  Vashon Island.



Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  and Betty MacDonald fan club research team share their recent Betty MacDonald fan club research results.

Congratulations! They found the most interesting and important info for Wolfgang Hampel's oustanding  Betty MacDonald biography.

I enjoy Bradley Craft's story very much.  


Don't miss our Betty MacDonald fan club contests, please. 

 
You can win a never published before Alison Bard Burnett interview by Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel. 

Good luck!  

This CD is a golden treasure because Betty MacDonald's very witty sister Alison Bard Burnett shares unique stories about Betty MacDonald, Mary Bard Jensen, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Nancy and Plum. 





Wolfgang Hampel's Betty MacDonald and Ma and Pa Kettle biography and Betty MacDonald interviews have fans in 40 countries. I'm one of their many devoted fans. 


Many Betty MacDonald  - and Wolfgang Hampel fans are very interested in a Wolfgang Hampel CD and DVD with his very funny poems and stories.


We are going to publish new Betty MacDonald essays on Betty MacDonald's gardens and nature in Washington State.
 

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerl is beloved all over the World.

We are so happy that our 'Casanova'  is back.



Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel and Betty MacDonald fan club research team are going to share very interesting info on ' Betty MacDonald and the movie The Egg and I '. 

Another rare episode (from March 21 1952) of the short-lived comedy soap opera, "The Egg and I," based on best selling book by Betty MacDonald which also became a popular film.

The series premiered on September 3, 1951, the same day as "Search for Tomorrow," and ended on August 1, 1952. 

Although it did well in the ratings, it had difficulty attracting a steady sponsor. This episode features Betty Lynn (later known for her work on "The Andy Griffith Show") as Betty MacDonald, John Craven as Bob MacDonald, Doris Rich as Ma Kettle, and Frank Twedell as Pa Kettle.


Betty MacDonald fan club exhibition will be fascinating with the international book editions and letters by Betty MacDonald.

 
I can't wait to see the new Betty MacDonald documentary.

Enjoy a great breakfast at the bookstore with Brad and Nick, please.

Enjoy a great Easter Monday,

Walter 




la_conner_daffodil_festival_photo_winner_2014
Dare we face the question of just how much of the darkness around us is of our own making? - Betty MacDonald



Don't miss this very special book, please.

you can join 

Betty MacDonald fan club

Betty MacDonald Society  

Vita Magica  

Eurovision Song Contest Fan Club 

on Facebook



Vita Magica Betty MacDonald event with Wolfgang Hampel, Thomas Bödigheimer and Friedrich von Hoheneichen

Vita Magica 

Betty MacDonald 

Betty MacDonald fan club 

Betty MacDonald fan club on Facebook

Betty MacDonald forum  

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) - The Egg and I 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( Polski)   

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - LinkFang ( German ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Academic ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel -   

Wolfgang Hampel - DBpedia  ( English / German )

Wolfgang Hampel - people check ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Memim ( English )

Vashon Island - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French ) 


Wolfgang Hampel - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - Wikipedia ( English)

Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel 

Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD

Betty MacDonald fan club items 

Betty MacDonald fan club items  - comments

Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I  

Betty MacDonald fan club groups 


Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  


Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Greta Larson











21,000 people and 18,000 eggs: the Trump White House braces for its first Easter Egg Roll

 









About 21,000 people are set to arrive at the White House lawn on Monday for the annual Easter Egg Roll, typically one of the year’s largest White House events and one that is expected to test the hostessing chops of first lady Melania Trump.

The affair is expected to be smaller than it was under first lady Michelle Obama, whose Easter Egg Rolls drew celebrities, professional athletes and big-name musicians. Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s spokeswoman, said this week that the first lady decided to scale back the event because she worried it had grown too large, creating long lines for some activities.

The White House said military bands, the New Jersey-based pop-rock band Bro4, and the Martin Family Circus are set to perform and commemorative eggs have been ordered. There will also be a “reading nook, music stage, official egg roll, and other fun events,” according to the White House website.

The Easter Egg Roll drew about 35,000 people in 2016, when the Obama White House organized a carnival-like event that highlighted the former first lady’s “Let’s Move” health and fitness initiative. That year, singer Idina Menzel, Silento and others performed and the young attendees watched cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs and shot hoops and batted tennis balls on courts alongside professional athletes.



This year, the White House was slow to make tickets available or to detail its Easter Egg Roll plans, leaving some of the event devotees to fret that the first family would do away with the longtime tradition, which dates back to 1878. Wells Wood Turning, the Maine company that has manufactured the commemorative wooden eggs in years past, sent a frantic tweet on Feb. 20 to President Trump and other members of the first family, warning that a manufacturing deadline was looming.

But the White House came through, releasing tickets in mid-March and distributing them via an online lottery and to “schools, children’s’ hospitals and military and law enforcement families,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday. He said 18,000 eggs have been ordered, “which is in line for years past.”

Times Insider

My Own Private Easter Egg-Gate












 
The 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll. This year’s event has generated more controversy than usual. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

My first hint that the White House Easter Egg Roll in the age of President Trump might be a fraught subject came, fittingly, through Mr. Trump’s favorite medium: Twitter.











One afternoon in March, in between stories about the collapse of his health care overhaul and his immigration crackdown, I spotted a tweet announcing that the commemorative wooden egg the White House would hand out at the annual gathering on the South Lawn would be “GOLD.”
This seemed appropriate for a commander in chief with a fondness for all things gilded, from the Louis XIV-style accents that drip from every corner of his Manhattan penthouse to the color of his signature logos.
I retweeted the announcement with a comment: “Forget those silly pastel/rainbow colors of White House Easter Egg Rolls past; Trump’s Easter eggs will be GOLD.”
Moments later, I noticed another tweet showing that the Trumps were also unveiling pastel-colored eggs. Then a quick internet search reminded me that last year, for their final Easter Egg Roll, the Obamas, too, had featured a golden egg in addition to the traditional brightly colored ones.

I quickly corrected myself on Twitter, but for many of Mr. Trump’s ardent supporters, the damage had been done. Over the next several hours and for more than a week afterward, I received hundreds of angry and ugly messages from people who were outraged by my comment, calling for a public apology to the president, my resignation or firing, and worse. More than two weeks later, I still receive at least one or two insults per day related to what I have come to refer to as Easter egg-gate.
To them, my tweet was an egregious example of “fake news” from The New York Times. The reaction was far more vitriolic than any I have experienced covering more serious topics, such as allegations that Mr. Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia or his attempts to impose a travel ban.
It also suggested that a story I had been picking away at for weeks about the Trumps’ plans for their first-ever Easter Egg Roll might have more resonance than your typical bunnies-and-Peeps tale. The subject seemed to touch a nerve, not because it was important on its own but because the event was seen as a reflection of the president himself.
I first became interested in the Easter Egg Roll after a colleague alerted me to another quiet drama unfolding on Twitter: The wood products manufacturer that makes the commemorative eggs had been using the platform to nudge Mr. Trump to submit an order for the Egg Roll before he missed the production deadline.
Intrigued, I began calling sources who might know something about the planning of the event. Many professed ignorance and even some alarm about whether Mr. Trump would hold the Easter Egg Roll at all; others told me plans were underway but the event would be scaled back — to about 20,000 attendees from nearly twice that many last year.
It seemed an apt metaphor for a White House plagued with understaffing and disorganization from the start.
White House press aides answered my queries politely and promised to look into the matter. Then there were weeks of silence. So as I juggled coverage of health care and taxes, Nafta and wiretapping, I investigated the Easter Egg Roll — calling anyone I could think of who might know something about it.
Right before my deadline, a White House official emailed to say that what I had heard about a smaller event was “just not accurate,” though she did not give me numbers to demonstrate otherwise. By then I had nailed down the figures myself.

When my story ran in the paper on Wednesday, it shared space on the front page with one I wrote about the White House accusing Russia of covering up the Syrian government’s culpability in a chemical weapons attack on its own people.

And on Thursday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, revealed the number of attendees expected at Monday’s Egg Roll: 21,000.
















 
President Trump in the Oval Office. As the first president in American history never to have served in government or the military, he has faced an especially steep learning curve. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — For President Trump, the road to changing his mind on China included a discussion with corporate executives in the State Dining Room of the White House in February. When the conversation turned to China’s currency, the executives had a simple message for the president: You’re wrong.
Mr. Trump had long insisted that China was devaluing its currency and should be punished, but the executives pushed back and told him Beijing had actually stopped. And while Mr. Trump at first resisted — as late as this month calling the Chinese “world champions” of currency manipulation — after many talks like the one in February he reversed himself, declaring this week that “they’re not currency manipulators” after all.
For any new occupant of the White House, the early months are like a graduate seminar in policy crammed into every half-hour meeting. What made sense on the campaign trail may have little bearing on reality in the Oval Office, and the education of a president can be rocky even for former governors or senators. For Mr. Trump, the first president in American history never to have served in government or the military, the learning curve is especially steep.
The past week has made that abundantly clear. He discovered that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia may not be the “best friend” he imagined and that staying out of the civil war in Syria was harder than he assumed. He acknowledged that 10 minutes of listening to China’s president made him realize he did not fully understand the complexity of North Korea. He dropped his opposition to the Export-Import Bank after learning more about it. And he said he no longer thought NATO was “obsolete.”

Just weeks ago, in the midst of failed efforts to scrap President Barack Obama’s health care program, he acknowledged that the issue was more involved than the repeal-and-replace mantra of a campaign rally. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” he said with amazement. Nobody except anyone who had spent any time in Washington policy making. But for Mr. Trump, never much of a policy wonk, it was an eye opener.
“As he governs, he is realizing that the campaign talk doesn’t fit neatly into governing and he needs a different approach, one that gets results,” said Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and a friend of the president’s. “So he will discard things and people that don’t work out, and those that do work, he will magnify. That’s how he became successful in business and entertainment.”
One person’s education, of course, may be another’s betrayal. To some of his supporters, the pivots suggest that Mr. Trump the outsider may have been captured by Wall Street veterans in his White House, while Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, is sidelined.
It got to the point that Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist radio show host, focused his Thursday program on defending the president against his own base. “Is Trump selling us out?” Mr. Jones asked. “And the answer is no. In fact, Trump is attempting to co-opt the establishment.”














To be sure, Mr. Trump remains a historically unpredictable president, given to impulse, still tilting at the Washington establishment and supporting ideological measures popular with his conservative base, including legislation he signed on Thursday targeting Planned Parenthood. Even as establishment figures seek to influence him, he has not given up on his most polarizing priorities, and few can forecast where he will take his presidency. Mr. Trump is still Mr. Trump, and he believes he got to the White House by following instinct.
But he arrived at the White House surrounded by advisers who, like him, were neophytes to governing. His White House chief of staff, chief strategist, senior adviser, counselor and national economics adviser have no prior government experience of consequence. Nor do his secretaries of state, Treasury, commerce, housing or education.
At first, Mr. Trump dismissed the importance of receiving his intelligence briefing every day, arguing that he did not learn much. He figured it would be easy to ban visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries and build a border wall while forcing Mexico to pay for it. He had never heard of the congressional procedures that forced him to push for health care changes before overhauling the tax code.
But as seasoned hands got access to him, he retreated from some of his provocative promises. He delayed his vow to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem after King Abdullah II of Jordan rushed to Washington to warn him of a violent backlash among Arabs. He abandoned his intention to bring back torture in terrorism interrogations after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him it was ineffective.
He has not appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, ripped up or renegotiated the nuclear agreement with Iran, reversed Mr. Obama’s Cuba policy or terminated his predecessor’s program permitting younger unauthorized immigrants to stay.
So much of this is new to Mr. Trump that only after he publicly accused Mr. Obama of having wiretapped his telephones last year did he ask aides how the system of obtaining eavesdropping warrants from a special foreign intelligence court worked.
The Export-Import Bank, which helps finance purchases of American exports, is a telling example. During the campaign, Mr. Trump sided with conservatives who wanted to eliminate it because the government should not finance large corporations and effectively pick winners and losers in a free-market economy. But on Wednesday, Mr. Trump embraced the bank.
“I was very much opposed to Ex-Im Bank because I said what do we need that for IBM and General Electric,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “It turns out that, first of all, lots of small companies will really be helped, the vendor companies. But also maybe more importantly, other countries give” such aid, and so “we lose a tremendous amount of business.”


Fred P. Hochberg, who just stepped down as chairman of the bank, said he was heartened by Mr. Trump’s reversal, noting that Ronald Reagan and Mr. Obama had also opposed the bank only to rethink their positions.
“I’ve probably never met a chief executive who didn’t have a different perspective when they occupy that chair than when they’re on the outside, whether you’re a mayor or you’re running a company,” Mr. Hochberg said. “And we ought to applaud people when they learn and they change their minds.”
In the same Journal interview, Mr. Trump described his learning process on North Korea, which is developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. When he invited President Xi Jinping of China to his Mar-a-Lago estate, Mr. Trump said he believed Beijing could simply pressure North Korea to stop its activities. Then, he said, Mr. Xi reviewed the history of China and Korea for him.
“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know, I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power over” North Korea, he added. “But it’s not what you would think.”

Mr. Trump sometimes cloaks his evolving positions by declaring victory before retreating. For instance, he had criticized NATO for not fighting terrorism and leaving the financial burden to the United States. As he met with NATO’s secretary general on Wednesday, Mr. Trump asserted that the alliance had changed.

“You look at the president’s position, where he wanted to see NATO, in particular, evolve to, and it’s moving exactly in the direction that he said,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday.

But the alliance has hardly changed in three months. Just three more members out of 28 have committed to raise military spending to target levels by next year, and the only shift in NATO’s approach to terrorism was to create a new intelligence office before Mr. Trump’s inauguration.
Karen Hughes, who was White House counselor to President George W. Bush, said no president can be fully informed about all the issues that will confront him.
“Obviously, most presidents aren’t nuclear scientists,” she said. “What is important is that the White House provide a disciplined process for the experts to present their views, which are often differing. The president’s role as the chief executive and decision maker is to listen to, question and probe the expert recommendations, then apply informed judgment to the decision.”




The Opinion Pages | Editorials

Mr. Trump’s Fickle Diplomacy


Until a few days ago, Americans and the world had reason to think that the Trump administration’s policy toward Russia would involve cooperation and harmony and seek to reverse the acrimony and dysfunction that had come to characterize relations between the Kremlin and the Obama administration.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump fawned over Russia’s assertively proud leader, Vladimir Putin, praising him for “doing a great job” and calling him a “stronger leader” than Barack Obama. As to policy, he seemed almost an apologist for Mr. Putin’s aggressive behavior in Syria, his annexation of Crimea and his transparent efforts to undermine the NATO alliance. Findings by the American intelligence community that Russia had intervened in the election on Mr. Trump’s behalf seemed further evidence of a bromance, if not something more sinister.
Three months into the Trump presidency, Russia-American relations are as tense as ever, a casualty of Mr. Putin’s ruthless behavior and Mr. Trump’s changing views and whiplash approach to policy, infuriating Russians who had every reason to believe they would have a pal in the White House.
While both men could end up losers, there is a greater chance that Mr. Trump, a foreign policy neophyte who has bungled his presidential debut, will find it hard to prevail over the nefarious ways of Mr. Putin, a former K.G.B. agent. Mr. Putin’s approach to international engagement, which involves expanding efforts to meddle in countries from Europe to Libya and beyond, has been largely consistent; Mr. Trump’s has been anything but.
This, in turn, has shaken the confidence of allies that depend on America for prudent, steady leadership.


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s trip to Moscow on Wednesday was further evidence of how low Russian-American relations have sunk since Mr. Trump, reversing earlier opposition to intervening in Syria’s civil war, launched 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian air base after President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians. The Russians have strongly supported Mr. Assad despite his brutality.
Russian leaders kept Mr. Tillerson wondering for most of the day whether an encounter with Mr. Putin would take place. Once they did meet — it was the first between Mr. Putin and a top Trump administration official — the results were not encouraging. Mr. Putin said bilateral trust has “degraded,” while Mr. Tillerson said relations were “at a low point.” Back in New York, Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s chemical attack, the eighth time it has protected Mr. Assad from diplomatic action.

Since the airstrikes, administration officials have steadily increased their criticism of Russia, which has variously denied that a chemical attack occurred and has blamed it on anti-Assad rebels, giving Mr. Trump, the master of misdirection, a taste of his own medicine. On Tuesday, the White House accused Russia of a cover-up. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump weighed in, saying Russia most likely knew of Mr. Assad’s plan to gas his own people and promising that Mr. Putin will come under increasing pressure to abandon Mr. Assad — “truly an evil person” — and to help end the Syrian civil war.

Some of Mr. Trump’s critics have wondered whether he ordered the airstrikes, at least partly, to deflect attention from allegations that he and his allies had collaborated with the Kremlin during the presidential campaign. Congressional and F.B.I. investigations into these matters must continue. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the F.B.I. last summer obtained a secret court order to monitor the communications of a Trump adviser, Carter Page, the clearest evidence so far that Mr. Page may have been acting as an agent of a foreign power.

One important question is whether the chill in the relationship will make it harder for Mr. Trump to engage Moscow in the struggle to defeat the Islamic State in Syria; cooperation on that front, always questionable, now seems impossible.
Another is whether an angry Mr. Putin will intensify his mischief in Europe. He doesn’t have the strongest hand — his economy is in trouble — but he has thousands of nuclear weapons and a proven ability to chip away at the Western liberal order. The challenge is for Mr. Trump to develop a coherent strategy to address those threats.
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Politics

The Latest Test for the White House? Pulling Off Its Easter Egg Roll
















Trump Administration Hunts for Easter Eggs, and Senior Staff

The White House is as much as two months behind recent standards for presidential transitions, leaving 90 percent of the positions considered critical to leadership unfilled. It did, however, manage to order the eggs for the Easter egg roll.
By A.J. CHAVAR and JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS on Publish Date April 11, 2017. Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »
 

WASHINGTON — President Trump received an urgent warning in February, informing him of a crucial date he was about to miss.
“FYI manufacturing deadlines for the Easter eggs are near,” said a Twitter post directed at Mr. Trump; the first lady, Melania Trump; and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump. “Please reach out!”
























The message came from Wells Wood Turning & Finishing, the company that supplies commemorative wooden eggs for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, the 138-year-old celebration that has drawn 35,000 people to the South Lawn in recent years.
The staff of the company, based in Buckfield, Me., wondered whether the Trumps planned to continue distributing the wooden eggs as party favors, or whether they were even going to have a White House Easter Egg Roll at all.


By early March, the White House announced that the roll was on — Monday, to be exact — and soon followed up with a rush order for the wooden eggs.
By that time, the ovoid uncertainty had raised a question perhaps not as consequential as investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election, a legally dubious travel ban and a collapsed health care bill, but no less a window into the inner workings of the Trump administration: Could this White House, plagued by slow hiring and lacking an on-site first lady, manage to pull off the largest, most elaborate and most heavily scrutinized public event of the year?
“It’s the single most high-profile event that takes place at the White House each year, and the White House and the first lady are judged on how well they put it on,” said Melinda Bates, who organized eight years of Easter Egg Rolls as director of the White House Visitors Office under President Bill Clinton. “I’m really concerned for the Trump people, because they have failed to fill some really vital posts, and this thing is all hands on deck.”
White House party catastrophes have been the stuff of presidential nightmares in the past. During his first year in office, President Barack Obama drew harsh criticism for lax security procedures after a pair of aspiring reality-show celebrities successfully crashed a state dinner honoring the prime minister of India, with one of them managing to buttonhole Mr. Obama for a handshake.
The late start in planning by the Trump White House points to a smaller and less ambitious Egg Roll than in previous years. There may be half as many guests, a fraction of the number of volunteers to manage the invasion of the South Lawn, and military bands in place of A-list entertainers like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Idina Menzel and Silentó who have performed for Egg Rolls past.


White House officials did not respond to several weeks’ worth of inquiries about the Easter Egg Roll, typically a heavily and enthusiastically promoted affair, and declined to provide basic information such as how many people are expected to attend. It is unclear, for instance, whether Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, will reprise his appearance in a bunny suit for the event, as he did a decade ago when George W. Bush was president and Mr. Spicer was an aide in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Stephanie Grisham, who started as Mrs. Trump’s communications director on Monday, had previously denied that the event was being scaled back from past years. But she acknowledged on Tuesday that attendance this year would be “a bit less,” based on feedback from former officials who had said “the event had become so large that many children were not able to enjoy the planned activities.”
“Our team has been working very hard to make this year’s event a success,” Ms. Grisham said. “I am confident that the success of this year’s Easter Egg Roll will speak for itself.”

The evidence points to a quickly thrown-together affair that people close to the planning said would probably draw about 20,000 people — substantially smaller than last year’s Easter Egg Roll, which drew 37,000. It will be staffed by 500 volunteers, Ms. Grisham said, half the usual. Ms. Grisham said she did not have “firm numbers” on the overall number of attendees, and those who provided estimates did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to describe the plans for the Easter Egg Roll, which are still evolving just a week before the event.

The White House has ordered 40,000 of the commemorative eggs — about half of the roughly 85,000 ordered in 2016 — with 18,000 to be given away at the Easter Egg Roll and another 22,000 available for sale, according to Lara Kline, the vice president for marketing and communications at the White House Historical Association, the official retailer.

The relatively small number, Ms. Kline said, “is due to the limited manufacturing window for this year’s Easter Egg Roll.”
The employees at Wells Wood Turning were not alone in wondering whether the White House would ever get in touch.

Washington-area public schools that normally receive blocks of tickets for as many as 4,000 children have yet to hear from the White House, according to representatives for school systems in the District of Columbia; Arlington, Va.; and Alexandria, Va. Several groups representing military families, who have accounted for as many as 3,000 guests in recent years, also said they had yet to be contacted.
“I’ve had quite a few families from across the country reach out and say: ‘Hey, are we getting tickets? Our family wants to drive in for the event,’” said Ashley Broadway-Mack, the president of the American Military Partner Association, which represents the families of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members and has received tickets for five to 10 of them for each of the last several years. “Unfortunately, the Trump administration has not reached out about it.”
But Ms. Grisham said on Tuesday that tickets had been set aside for schools, children’s hospitals and military families. She could not say how many.













 
The 2013 White House Easter Egg Roll. The planning for this year’s event appears to be behind schedule. Credit Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

Even Curious George and Elmo did not know for sure that the Easter Egg Roll was happening until late last month, when the White House first contacted PBS Kids to ask if it could provide costumed characters.

“We just got word about this year’s Egg Roll and are working on planning,” Jennifer Rankin Byrne, the senior director of media relations for PBS, said on March 20.

The Easter Egg Roll has been crowded in past years with cast members from “Sesame Street,” but this year, there will be a lone emissary.

“PBS asked us to participate with them, and we agreed to provide a ‘Sesame Street’ character,” said Elizabeth Weinreb Fishman, the vice president for strategic communications for Sesame Workshop. She declined to say which character would attend, referring questions to the White House.
Members of Congress have not received word from the White House about whether they will get tickets to distribute to their constituents. One aide to a Republican lawmaker said White House officials “seem to be a bit behind schedule.”

Nor have the organizers of the Yoga Garden featured on the South Lawn during Obama-era Easter Egg Rolls been asked to share their asanas.
“No one has reached out to me about the 2017 event,” said Leah Cullis, the yogi who coordinated the Yoga Garden for all eight of the Obamas’ Easter Egg Rolls.
Mrs. Trump, who lives in New York and has had a limited presence in Washington since her husband was sworn in, has been slow to hire a staff for the East Wing, which typically takes the lead on the Easter Egg Roll. She named a chief of staff and social secretary in early February but has yet to announce a director for the Visitors Office, normally the crucial player in the daunting execution of the event.
“You don’t understand what a beast this thing is to plan until you go and plan your first one,” said Ellie Schafer, who organized Easter Egg Rolls for the Obamas as the director of the White House Visitors Office from 2009 to 2016. “Every administration tries to put its own stamp on it, but the stakes are high because it’s such a Washington tradition, and people just love it and have very strong feelings about it.”
Ms. Bates, whose memoir “White House Story” documents the challenges of planning Clinton-era Easter Egg Rolls, said the event was a window — up to a point — into the competence of an administration.

“If you can pull off an Easter Egg Roll,” she said, “you can do anything.”
















la_conner_daffodil_festival_photo_winner_2014

In the Garden: A Welcome Sign of Spring


By Charles Kidder

 



Perhaps the first plant I could recognize and name as a child was the daffodil, a welcome sight and fragrance after a long New York winter. And although native to the Mediterranean, daffodils (Narcissus species) have been in Virginia since at least the middle of the seventeenth century.
Beginning in the 1890s, Gloucester County became a center of daffodil production for much of the eastern United States. Much of this revolved around “wild” or naturalized daffodils that were cut and shipped north. By the middle of the twentieth century, this industry was rapidly dying off for a variety of reasons. But Gloucester County still has one daffodil breeder of note and continues to celebrate its floral heritage with the Daffodil Festival on the last weekend of March. More on that later.
The various Narcissus species, hybrids and cultivars are commonly referred to as either daffodils, jonquils or even simply narcissus, the latter especially when referring to the paper whites commonly forced indoors. The term jonquil is commonly used in certain regions for any daffodil, but technically refers only to one group that has narrow reed-like foliage. The various daffodils are divided into 13 divisions—or 12, if you believe some sources—that are based on flower shape and heritage. For example, Division 1 daffodils are called Trumpets, since the central portion or trumpet is quite long. Regardless of division, colors range from yellow to white, perhaps with some pink or orange in the trumpets. If you seek out specialty nurseries, hundreds of cultivars are available.



All daffodils have similar cultural requirements. As for the amount of sun they want, the more the better. Part sun, or about six hours per day, is sufficient, but less sun than that will lead to reduced blooming, even though the plants may soldier on for a long time. And sunlight in a deciduous woodland does not really count as full sunlight. As for soil, good drainage is important to avoid bulb rot. If your soil is unusually sodden, either amend it with gravel or put daffodils in a raised bed.
Daffodil bulbs should be planted at a depth equal to about three times their diameter, so a two-inch bulb should be six inches deep. Six inches is also a good distance between bulbs. Farther apart and they lose visual impact; closer, and they will require division sooner. Bulbs will look funny planted like soldiers in a straight line, so if you have ten bulbs, better to either plant them in two groups of five, or in a staggered double row. If you are planting a very large number, you can avoid an overly orderly appearance by picking up a handful and tossing them to the general area in which you wish to plant.
There are any number of “new, improved, back-saving!!” bulb planters out there. Use whatever works best for you, which might just be an ordinary trowel or even a garden shovel. And remember: nothing says you have to plant one bulb at a time. You can take a spade and dig up a good-sized hole with one or two punches, and then throw in three to five bulbs. For even larger areas, a rototiller might be the quickest option. And do the bulbs have to be pointy-side up? That’s the ideal, but the shoot will always get turned around and pointed toward the sky anyway. If you’re in a hurry, ensuring that the bulbs are at least on their side would be a good compromise.


Amending your soil with compost will definitely give your daffodils a boost, but there’s no need to fertilize when planting—which of course is not now, but in mid-to-late fall. In very early spring, a balanced fertilizer—about 5-5-5 or 10-10-10 is best—should be sprinkled around the plants just as their foliage emerges. (You can also do this in the fall, but that assumes you’ll remember where your daffodils are!) And speaking of feeding your daffodils, we all know what to do with their foliage, which is there to provide nutrients for the bulb, right? Doing nothing is perfectly okay. Or when the foliage turns yellow and lies on the ground, you can throw some mulch on it if the sight offends you. Do not cut the foliage off while it’s still green or tie it up in cutesy knots! That prevents movement of nutrients down to the bulb; plus, it takes a lot of valuable gardening time.


But back to Gloucester County. The annual Daffodil Festival takes place on the last weekend of March and includes the usual attractions: a parade, a queen, entertainers, a race, a car show, and of course, daffodils. (A full schedule is available on the county’s website. There’s also a link to the history of daffodil farming in this corner of Virginia.) On Saturday they will be running frequent buses over to Brent and Becky’s Bulbs for tours and shopping. Brent and Becky Heath own a business that has been in the family for several generations, at one time operating as the Daffodil Mart. Although they now sell many other types of bulbs, daffodils are still a specialty, with over 200 varieties available.



Once planted, daffodils tend to naturalize, meaning they spread slowly, but never seem to become invasive. Part of their secret to longevity might be their poisonous nature: deer and other critters don’t bother them, so you can enjoy your host of daffodils for many years.

 






















Betty MacDonald fan club fans,

we share a very special gift by beloved and very popular Betty MacDonald Fan Club Honor member Letizia Mancino.


We know you'll enjoy it as much as we do.

Thanks a Million, dear Letizia Mancino.


You are an outstanding writer and artist.

We are so proud and happy to have you with us.

Letizia writes: One should not underestimate Wolfgang Hampel’s talent in speedily mobilizing Betty MacDonald’s friends.

We agree. Thank you so much dear Wolfgang Hampel for doing this. You founded Betty MacDonald Fan Club with four members.

Now we have members in 40 countries around the world. A dream came true.

Mary Holmes did an excellent job in translating this great story. 


Thank you so much dear Mary Holmes. 


We are really very grateful.

All the best to Letizia, Wolfgang and Mary and to all Betty MacDonald Fan Club fans from all over the world!

Lenard 






Following in Betty’s footsteps in Seattle:

or some small talk with Betty

Copyright 2011/2016 by Letizia Mancino
All rights reserved
translated by Mary Holmes

We were going to Canada in the summer. “When we are in Edmonton”, I said to Christoph Cremer, “let’s make a quick trip to Seattle”. And that’s how it happened. At Edmonton Airport we climbed into a plane and two hours later we landed in the city where Betty had lived. I was so happy to be in Seattle at last and to be able to trace Betty’s tracks!

Wolfgang Hampel had told Betty’s friends about our arrival.
They were happy to plan a small marathon through the town and it’s surroundings with us. We only had a few days free. One should not underestimate Wolfgang’s talent in speedily mobilizing Betty’s friends, even though it was holiday time. E-mails flew backwards and forwards between Heidelberg and Seattle, and soon a well prepared itinerary was ready for us. Shortly before my departure Wolfgang handed me several parcels, presents for Betty MacDonald's friends. I rushed to pack the heavy gifts in my luggage but because of the extra weight had to throw out a pair of pajamas!

After we had landed we took a taxi to the Hotel in downtown Seattle. I was so curious to see everything. I turned my head in all directions like one of the hungry hens from Betty’s farm searching for food! Fortunately it was quite a short journey otherwise I would have lost my head like a loose screw!
Our hotel room was on the 22nd floor and looked directly out onto the 16-lane highway. There might have been even more than 16 but it made me too giddy to count! It was like a glimpse of hell! “And is this Seattle?” I asked myself. I was horrified! The cars racing by were enough to drive one mad. The traffic roared by day and night.
We immediately contacted Betty MacDonald's friends and let them know we had arrived and they confirmed the times when we should see them.

On the next morning I planned my first excursion tracing Betty’s tracks. I spread out the map of Seattle. “Oh dear” I realized “the Olympic Peninsula is much too far away for me to get there.”
Betty nodded to me! “Very difficult, Letizia, without a car.”

“But I so much wanted to see your chicken farm”

“My chickens are no longer there and you can admire the mountains from a distance”

But I wanted to go there. I left the hotel and walked to the waterfront where the State Ferry terminal is. Mamma mia, the streets in Seattle are so steep! I couldn’t prevent my feet from running down the hill. Why hadn’t I asked for brakes to be fixed on my shoes? I looked at the drivers. How incredibly good they must be to accelerate away from the red traffic lights. The people were walking uphill towards me as briskly as agile salmon. Good heavens, these Americans! I tried to keep my balance. The force of gravity is relentless. I grasped hold of objects where I could and staggered down.
In Canada a friend had warned me that in Seattle I would see a lot of people with crutches.

Betty laughed. “ It’s not surprising, Letizia, walking salmon don’t fall directly into the soft mouth of a bear!”
“ Betty, stop making these gruesome remarks. We are not in Firlands!”

I went further. Like a small deranged ant at the foot of a palace monster I came to a tunnel. The noise was unbearable. On the motorway, “The Alaskan Way Viaduct”, cars, busses and trucks were driving at the speed of light right over my head. They puffed out their poisonous gas into the open balconies and cultivated terraces of the luxurious sky- scrapers without a thought in the world. America! You are crazy!
“Betty, are all people in Seattle deaf? Or is it perhaps a privilege for wealthy people to be able to enjoy having cars so near to their eyes and noses to save them from boredom?”

“When the fog democratically allows everything to disappear into nothing, it makes a bit of a change, Letizia”

“ Your irony is incorrigible, Betty, but tell me, Seattle is meant to be a beautiful city, But where?”

I had at last reached the State Ferry terminal.

“No Madam, the ferry for Vashon Island doesn’t start from here,” one of the men in the ticket office tells me. ”Take a buss and go to the ferry terminal in West Seattle.”
Betty explained to me “The island lies in Puget Sound and not in Elliott Bay! It is opposite the airport. You must have seen it when you were landing!”
“Betty, when I am landing I shut my eyes and pray!”

It’s time for lunch. The weather is beautiful and warm. Who said to me that it always rains here?
“Sure to be some envious man who wanted to frighten you away from coming to Seattle. The city is really beautiful, you’ll see. Stay by the waterfront, choose the best restaurant with a view of Elliott Bay and enjoy it.”
“Thank you Betty!”

I find a table on the terrace of “Elliott’s Oyster House”. The view of the island is wonderful. It lies quietly in the sun like a green fleecy cushion on the blue water.
Betty plays with my words:
“Vashon Island is a big cushion, even bigger than Bainbridge which you see in front of your eyes, Letizia. The islands look similar. They have well kept houses and beautiful gardens”.

I relax during this introduction, “Bainbridge” you are Vashon Island, and order a mineral water.

“At one time the hotel belonging to the parents of Monica Sone stood on the waterfront.”
“Oh, of your friend Kimi!” Unfortunately I forget to ask Betty exactly where it was.

My mind wanders and I think of my mountain hike back to the hotel! “Why is there no donkey for tourists?” Betty laughs:

“I’m sure you can walk back to the hotel. “Letizia can do everything.””

“Yes, Betty, I am my own donkey!”

But I don’t remember that San Francisco is so steep. It doesn’t matter, I sit and wait. The waiter comes and brings me the menu. I almost fall off my chair!
“ What, you have geoduck on the menu! I have to try it” (I confess I hate the look of geoduck meat. Betty’s recipe with the pieces made me feel quite sick – I must try Betty’s favourite dish!)
“Proof that you love me!” said Betty enthusiastically “ Isn’t the way to the heart through the stomach?”

I order the geoduck. The waiter looks at me. He would have liked to recommend oysters.
“Geoduck no good for you!”
Had he perhaps read my deepest thoughts? Fate! Then no geoduck. “No good for me.”

“Neither geoduck nor tuberculosis in Seattle” whispered Betty in my ear!
“Oh Betty, my best friend, you take such good care of me!”

I order salmon with salad.

“Which salmon? Those that swim in water or those that run through Seattle?”

“Betty, I believe you want me to have a taste of your black humour.”

“Enjoy it then, Letizia.”

During lunch we talked about tuberculosis, and that quite spoilt our appetite.

“Have you read my book “The Plague and I”?”

“Oh Betty, I’ve started to read it twice but both times I felt so sad I had to stop again!”

“But why?” asked Betty “Nearly everybody has tuberculosis! I recovered very quickly and put on 20 pounds! There was no talk of me wasting away! What did you think of my jokes in the book?”

“Those would have been a good reason for choosing another sanitorium. I would have been afraid of becoming a victim of your humour! You would have certainly given me a nickname! You always thought up such amusing names!” Betty laughed.

“You’re right. I would have called you “Roman nose”. I would have said to Urbi and Orbi “ Early this morning “Roman nose” was brought here. She speaks broken English, doesn’t eat geoduck but she does love cats.”

“Oh Betty, I would have felt so ashamed to cough. To cough in your presence, how embarrassing! You would have talked about how I coughed, how many coughs!”

“It depends on that “how”, Letizia!”

“Please, leave Goethe quotations out of it. You have certainly learnt from the Indians how to differentiate between noises. It’s incredible how you can distinguish between so many sorts of cough! At least 10!”

“So few?”

”And also your descriptions of the patients and the nurses were pitiless. An artistic revenge! The smallest pimple on their face didn’t escape your notice! Amazing.”

“ I was also pitiless to myself. Don’t forget my irony against myself!”

Betty was silent. She was thinking about Kimi, the “Princess” from Japan! No, she had only written good things about her best friend, Monica Sone, in her book “The Plague and I”. A deep friendship had started in the hospital. The pearl that developed from the illness.
“Isn’t it wonderful, Betty, that an unknown seed can make its way into a mollusk in the sea and develop into a beautiful jewel?” Betty is paying attention.

“Betty, the friendship between you and Monica reminds me of Goethe’s poem “Gingo-Biloba”. You must know it?” Betty nods and I begin to recite it:


The leaf of this Eastern tree
Which has been entrusted to my garden
Offers a feast of secret significance,
For the edification of the initiate.

Is it one living thing.
That has become divided within itself?
Are these two who have chosen each other,
So that we know them as one?

The friendship with Monica is like the wonderful gingo-biloba leaf, the tree from the east. Betty was touched. There was a deep feeling of trust between us.
“Our friendship never broke up, partly because she was in distress, endangered by the deadly illness. We understood and supplemented each other. We were like one lung with two lobes, one from the east and one from the west!”
“A beautiful picture, Betty. You were like two red gingo-biloba leaves!”

Betty was sad and said ” Monica, although Japanese, before she really knew me felt she was also an American. But she was interned in America, Letizia, during the second world war. Isn’t that terrible?”

“Betty, I never knew her personally. I have only seen her on a video, but what dignity in her face, and she speaks and moves so gracefully!”

“Fate could not change her”

“Yes, Betty, like the gingo-biloba tree in Hiroshima. It was the only tree that blossomed again after the atom bomb!”

The bill came and I paid at once. In America one is urged away from the table when one has finished eating. If one wants to go on chatting one has to order something else.
“That’s why all those people gossiping at the tables are so fat!” Betty remarks. “Haven’t you seen how many massively obese people walk around in the streets of America. Like dustbins that have never been emptied!” With this typically unsentimental remark Betty ended our conversation.

Ciao! I so enjoyed the talk; the humour, the irony and the empathy. I waved to her and now I too felt like moving! I take a lovely walk along the waterfront.

Now I am back in Heidelberg and when I think about how Betty’s “Princessin” left this world on September 5th and that in August I was speaking about her with Betty in Seattle I feel very sad. The readers who knew her well (we feel that every author and hero of a book is nearer to us than our fleeting neighbours next door) yes we, who thought of her as immortal, cannot believe that even she would die after 92 years. How unforeseen and unexpected that her death should come four days after her birthday on September 1th. On September 5th I was on my way to Turkey, once again in seventh heaven, looking back on the unforgettable days in Seattle. I was flying from west to east towards the rising sun.



Ein lyrisches Portrait von Hilde Domin
Anne MacDonald Canham

 




 









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Is this Mr. Tigerli?


Dare we face the question of just how much of the darkness around us is of our own making? - Betty MacDonald
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Betty MacDonald