Roads without names... 

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Welcome to read about my journey along the roads without  names...

Jablonka 2005 

Getting To Know You  - November 12th

This past year has made such a difference in my adventure to this unknown (to me) country. It has been a good summer and with the help of Andrej, I am beginning to make the school house mine. I move easily now, knowing these unnamed roads with their twists and turns, up hills and down dales, with their many bicycled travellers and their vistas of farm houses and crops of wheat, sunflowers, and corn nestled in the Biele Karpaty mountains. I move easily now thru the small villages of Tura Luka, Krajne, Stara Tura, Senica, Kuty on my way to visit Zuzana in Stupava.  I have found my "shops" where I visit and find new and exciting tastes for my palate. Oh, the poor vegetarians without the envy of my taste buds that speak for the culture of this proud country. 

I wave my hand as I pass the locals in Jablonka that I have yet to meet, in my green Rover. But they know me now and wave back knowingly without curiosity as I move among them. Maybe next year I will sit with them in the newly built outdoor porch of the Jablonka Tavern and sip a beer as a warm summer's eve. The porch adds a charm now to my village, a bit of color against the stark modernism of Communism now past. And there have been some new houses here in Jablonka built also with charm. The Posta clerk in the City Hall across the street greets this lone American/Jablonian with ease now and the Postwoman will slip me my mail without asking when she spots me in the village. Growth is visible with the road to Piestany now sprouting up new business buildings, showing there is progress in this part of Slovakia. There will be work for the many unemployed and I hope that some day small restaurants will again prosper like the Jablonka Tavern has now.

I have learned much about this country and that it is customary to bestow a box of chocolates on the workers you have dealings with as a thank you for their efforts. I had wondered why the aisle for boxed candy outnumber any other aisle in the supermarkets and I now understand  why they are always so crowded. When I turned in my tax forms with the box of chocolates to the Myjava Office, off course, there was the usual protest with large smiles. But always the gift stays with them when I leave because it is the custom.

I have also learned that while Halloween is the second most commercial holiday in America, it is not celebrated in Slovakia. I worried as I took Andrej home on that Monday that I would see too may children in the late hour of the dimly lit villages. Instead, it was the dark clothed adults along the roads, lighting  votive candles where their loved ones had died. The cemeteries are filled shoulder to shoulder with yellow, white and rust colored chrysanthemums hugging the tall monuments on All Hallows night, lit with thousands of candles flickering in the darkness. November 1st is a big National holiday for remembering the dead. There are no trick or treaters.

And, I have learned that while America may be obsessed with speeding limitations, Slovakia has no concern for speeding but does provide frequent official document and seatbelt usage checking as well as other law patrols. Heaven forbid one should forget to have their car lights on from October 15th to March 15th or a $200 fine is in order. While I drive the speed limits through the villages, I am always passed by impatient drivers. 

Dear Andrej still wears his becoming smile altho it has not been a year without problems for him. No, car, no job, raising a family with his parents one bedroom flat with five other people. But now there is a good job with Whirlpool as a service repairman and a car looms in his near future as the company will pay for half of it. He dreams of adding a satellite mapping system to make it easier to locate his customers. Andrej is just like me in traveling these unknown roads. His life, like most villagers, has kept him within his own community and places like Bratislava are only foreign lands for him. Yet, he still awaits a flat to purchase and wonders if a monetary gift might speed up the process. There is much waiting to be done for everyone in this country.

Like sparkling jewels, the leaves of the Birch tree swirl from the heavens. Saturday watches them and tries to catch them before they touch the ground. Soon there are too many and she grows tired of her game. I watch as she climbs the stairs to the soccer field, races across the grass still dotted with white daisies, makes the turn at the fence and in full bore heads down to the front yard, hair flying in her speed, amber's and topazes cling to her ebony coat. Then I listen as she roars across the front yard through the dried leaves and then up the cobblestone drive  and slides to a perfect stop in front of me. Proudly, she is the  winner of the the race with imaginary opponents. She is a winner in my heart of hearts. I love you, little girl and I love us being here in our school house. But, does she understand our lives as we both know it will be different in a few days? Does she know when I take her to Zuzana's on Monday, I will leave without her as I drive to Vienna, kicking and screaming,  for my trip back to Vegas? Mustn't think about that now. Must just hold these moments close to my heart and dream about my return next March and all the adventures we will be having next summer. While the sleepless nights are still on the agenda from time to time, most of the problems of being an alien are slipping away. I cannot imagine any other life that could make me happier in my twilight years. Goodbye for now sweet Jablonka. And only for now, goodbye my dear little Saturday. I will be back for you.

Some days, life sucks. I went to bed last night feeling I had hit my zenith
of dreams. I had made a Swedish pancake for dinner filled with the last of the summer raspberries. It was the topper for a wonderful day at the newly discovered Garden Center in Vessile. I have spent a year trying to find a place to purchase plants for the meditation garden and they had quite a few on my list. I can just see the wisteria vines creeping up the stone walls of the small rock summer house. When I took Saturday out for the evening,The last glimpse of the night brought me the elusive big dipper that seemed to sit on the tops of the trees to the north, another wonderful discovery living out in the clear skies of the country.

 

Yet, I woke this morning with a turbulent river of annoyance streaming
through my body. I felt annoyed at the very things I loved about my
adventure, but most of all I felt annoyed at my being annoyed, annoyed
because while I was healthy and safe, so many are suffering and facing death and so many have lost everything in the ravages of hurricane Katrina and Rita. I am so lucky to be here in this beauty and peace. But the child in me remain impatient for even more. I want the full Monty, I want the things I envision to come into being with the people coming as they said they would, to help me dress my school house, to help me solve my legal problems. Why do they offer empty promises and then, showing no guilt for not letting me know
there are other plans on their agendas for the day, just forget about me?
And so my thinly worn patience said there was nothing I could do to ease the annoyance except look to another day when maybe they will come. Is this another carryover from the Communist culture? Do businesses not understand the market economy rules of serving the customer? I am annoyed by all of
this, by my not being able to put the short term goals to rest.

 

He went from this door to that door, down long corridors, tapping knuckles, with me following close behind. The door would open and then we went to another door to repeat the progress in the Myjava City Hall. I had lost hope that my Slovak friends could help me with the late filing of the annual business taxes, now overdo for the previous year and decided to struggle with the problem on my own. No one here spoke English, but somehow my plight was recognized and a nice gentleman took pity on me and guided me along the corridors. One door that opened had me signing a paper that had been stored
in a file cabinet. Finally my guide who spoke as many English words as I
spoke Slovak, told me to sit in a chair in the hallway for 5 minutes. While
I sat, I saw people opening and closing doors as they crisscrossed across the hall before me. Finally, a young woman produced a stack of papers and my dark haired guide took me outside where he commented "New Orleans" as the rain dripped from his cap and we hurried for cover into the near by hotel lobby. After tapping out a number or two, he handed me his cell phone and on the other end a man announcing himself as Vlado, relayed the message in
broken English that I was to return the completed papers ASAP. And so one American conquered the maze of the first step in paying the business taxes in Slovakia. Tuesday I will go to Zuzana to find help in filling them out. Six months now, and finally I have the first part of my legal struggle in tow. The steps that must follow to end this so called sham business I needed back then to purchase my school house, will wait until I return next year.

 

They alighted from the bus, the three plump dumpling ladies with their dried apple faces under their white tulip caps and dirndl skirts stopping just above their knees. To the shops they went with their baskets for the
supplies of the day, shops that contain their needs but not mine. The rain
has softened now as I head for the Rover across the way. And my troubling annoyance grows weary as they bring to mind the cookies I long to bake in my new oven remaining as just recipes in my books. There is no such thing as baking powder or brown sugar or vanilla or peanut butter in these shops. My palate longs for the tastes and smells I had grown accustom to and my list of supplies to bring from Vegas next year grows longer in my small note boo But, for these dumpling ladies, they will find all their needs to spread a savory table for their families in these small shops. They will bake without the smells I long for and not be annoyed as I find myself now on this dreary October day. I will go home now to waiting Saturday and we will curl up in
front of the TV and ride out this storm of turbulence still raging within.
Saturday will put her head on my lap and everything will seem better again.
But for today, life sucks.

September 8th - Mushrooms

Oh dear, the summer has slipped away and in just two months I will be boarding my plane out of Vienna for Las Vegas. I feel depressed just thinking about leaving my school house and my life here in Jablonka. I am so comfortable now even with still some plans for remodeling yet to come. But the kitchen, diningroom, bedroom, bathroom and den are almost completed to my liking. 

Roaming the country roads reveal them standing now, as tall but naked soldiers, their green uniforms now withered

away to the winds, just skeletons of their former selves. They turn their heads no more and for miles upon miles they are now just a blur in memories of the living. Somewhere their black seeds are being ground into oil and somewhere else  the seeds are getting ready for winter bird feeding. Goodbye my dear sunflowers. See you again next July.

Musta licked my hand and danced around me as if she knew I was the one who put a roof over his head. My eyesore is now home for a Bernease Mountain dog, guarding  a thousand or more exotic birds residing next to my new American friends, Ed and Linnie's, home. My world now expands to their village of Brestovec just the other side of Myjava. I spent a delightful day at their charming home that ended with a bucket of homemade mushroom soup and spatzle made by Betka, Musta's owner, to take home with me.

Gathering wild mushrooms in this country is a normal pastime and one can usually see locals coming and going along the roads after a rain, and then disappearing into the woods with baskets to be filled. One can never go hungry here in Slovakia and when there was food shortages during the wars, the people could still live off the countryside.  Wild mushrooms, apples, pears, and nuts are all free for the taking along the roads. And of course there is plenty of fish, deer and boar living in the woods as well as game birds. My father was a small child when he left Germany for America with his parents, but he already had known the pleasures of finding edible mushrooms. So, when I was a small child, we would go into the woods in Chicago and gather what mushrooms we could find and he would make this wonderful soup. Of course the rest of the family waited for us to double over in pain, believing they were poisonous. But I had faith in my father and we lived on to savor every spoonful. 

Andrej and his father came last weekend to assemble my IKEA bookcase to hold my cookbook collection and restore the gardens to well mowed lawns. We have enjoyed enough rain this summer to make for rapid grow of the grass that could not be left any longer to the intermittent sunny days without once again needing major scything. Andrej was excited to tell me about his new job with Whirlpool, repairing appliances. He will take home about $450 a month. sorrowfully, I will only get him one or two days a month now and th emeditation garden has been put off until next spring. When I told him about the soup from Betka, Andrej slipped out to my woods and soon returned with an armful of wild mushrooms, some of the hugest mushrooms I have ever seen, some a foot tall and with caps some 8 inches across. This is the kind he likes best and enjoys breaded and fried.  Andrea's father had also

been collecting and gave me a couple of another type to add to my soup pot.  I am going to make a nice mushroom soup today as I have far too many to eat for one meal.  If I decide to forage myself,  I will bring my findings to Mr. Tizik to evaluate  before I eat them. Andrej did add than already over 100 Slovaks have died from poisonous mushrooms this year.

My epistle to you was just interrupted by the chime of my gate bell. I peered out my window to see a little grey haired man and a companion with a TV camera perched atop his shoulders. Since I am still in my jammies while I write, I decided to remain without detection. In time they drove off. What I find curious is why have they sought me out and how do they know I am here and how could they find me as they did? Remember, there are no named roads in this part of the country, just random house numbers in any village. So, you see my dear friends, life is exciting here and without a dull moment to spare. next week I am off to Sweden do judge the Swedish American Cocker National. I will finally get to meet some of our Listers and am really excited about doing their show. I will have a day sto spare in Stockholm to hopefully see the castle where my maternal grandfather baked bread and pies for the King at the turn of the last century. You see, cooking is in my genes. Dovidenia for now, gyn.

August 15th - The Old Kitchen As It Was

Where did the summer go? Somehow I think I missed it as my thoughts return to starting a fire in the fireplace again. I try to hold off hoping it will get warmer tomorrow as it is still August. The Tizik wheat has been

harvested and the hay baled. Today the remnants produce a pungent odor with its gray smoke as they are burned black to replenish the soil. The Lipa trees have stopped singing and the spent blossoms have dropped to the ground, some finding refuge in Saturday's coat. The gypsy caravan of now honey filled hives that has been parked

the other side of my forest have been moved somewhere else, the bees having done their work with my Lipa trees. The sunflower congregation out in the fields have bowed their heads as if in prayer, heavy and laden with their black ripened seeds. Here, the grocery store shelves have an abundance of sunflower oil for cooking, where I am used to seeing mostly corn oil in America.

And as I wander the roads through the many small villages, my thoughts always go to thinking that there must be another American hidden in those silent houses I pass. Surely I am not the only one who has ventured into this former Communist country. Surely there is another alien who might have untangled the legal ropes and would share their experience with me, giving some peace for my mind. The laws here are so ambivalent when it comes to foreigners. No one seems to know just what to do with us. Of course, as of May 2004 and entry into the European Union, what had been before now is being changed. But who might know? I can't seem to get any straight answers on how to proceed. I must just continue to abide by faith this will all work one day in my favor and I can continue to enjoy my school house retreat.

The school house and the Rover seem to love having their hands in my pockets these days, grasping for coins to feed their needs. Andrej has done his magic and my kitchen sparkles with renewed interest as I enjoy the new white porcelain country sink and the new white oven. Their brightness makes the kitchen lighter now as I have just one small window at the far end of the narrow room. I am filled with joy as my schoolhouse becomes mine with these small touches. I ma baking now, first a pizza, then a carrot cake and today some oatmeal cookies and barbecued spareribs.As for my trusty Rover, gas prices are now about $5.70 a gallon and the thirsty soul gulps a lot as I meander down these nameless roads. And of course small things continue to break and annoy, impeding my travels in the process, this last time confining me for almost 3 weeks. But Andrej has a friend and the friend has a brother who is versed in electrical repairs and so it was he who fixed the electrical system so the Rover can start and again giving me back my freedom.

But, before there was a new sink and oven, and before there was the satellite dish, and the Stihl, and the Huskavarna mower, and the fireplace, and even before there was Andrej, there was Buchta. Buchta was my first handyman who slayed the high weeds that had engulfed my lawns when I first arrived May of 2004. It had been Buchta who spoke not a word of English but insisted talking at me, knowing I did not understand a word he was saying. It was Buchta who fought with my neighbors, the Tizik's, sending them crying to my doorstep because of his harsh words to them and what I was to learn later, their fear he would steal from me. I sense from all I meet here that there is this fear of thievery, something we as Americans know is possible yet do not make our daily worry. They had remembered Buchta when he had worked rebuilding my school house for the prior owner, years before. And it was Buchta who knew I wanted to send the eyesore in my front yard away, the eyesore of a rusted kennel run that contained a poorly built dog house.  In Slovakia, it seems every house has an outdoor kennel for a guard dog and mine was so equipped. Yet, for me these "dog jails" are not my style. I never built any kennels to house my dogs or let them spend their hours confined under the clouds or stars or snow or rain. For me, my dogs enjoy the yard with me and sleep in the house as members of my family. So, even back 18 months ago, Buchta knew I wanted the dog run dispersed with. Twice he brought someone to see it, confer in Slovak, and then to disappear with no further contact. Finally about a month ago, Andrej and Miro moved the cage on the back of a tractor to the Tizik front yard. Mr. Tizik will raise some small birds in the jail. now there was only the  unsightly house itself remaining to trouble the view from my front windows.

So, just as I was leaving to visit Zuzana a few days ago, who should be at my gate, but Buchta with another prospect for my dog house. While I did not remain hopeful, however, this time when I returned, I was joyous to see the eyesore was now finally gone, the man having returned in my absence to pluck the dog house for his own, and somewhere in Slovakia, some poor dog is now sniffing out his new house for his role as a guard dog.

But my dear friends, this is not the end of my tale for what small gift we give brings back to us a greater reward for our kindness. For today, the recipient of the eyesore arrived at my gates with another gentleman to thank me for the dog house. Much to my surprise, the new gentleman introduces himself as Ed Konecnik, another American with a home nearby in Myjava. Of course I invited Ed and his wife Linnie to come for lunch so we could compare our Slovak war stories. It turns out that the Konecniks live in New York and summer in Myjava. They enjoy the summers here visiting the various spas here and in the neighboring countries, something I have yet to explore. Ed inherited his property in 1980 when his grandmother died. He had a battle with the Communist government back then, just being American. But, he did manage to raze the old homestead and rebuild a new structure. Lots of legal gymnastics of course still remain and we both tossed about what little we know about the laws for foreigners, laws still in transition and unknown even by the resident lawyers. But what has been settled by the European Union is that in 2011, foreigners will be able to own property in Slovakia. In the meantime, Zuzana and I will be sorting out what is to be done for now.

And so I now travel these roads feeling less isolated, less alone knowing the Koncniks have been through this maze of legal gymnastics. Misery does love company. Even though they will be returning to America in three weeks time, I feel more relaxed about the situation now, and that I will not be tossed out on my ear one day. If they can continue to have a home here, then so can I.

July 30th - Zuzana

The past month has brought miles and miles of yellow fields of sunflowers lining the roads of my travels. It is a curious thing to see green on one side of the road and their yellow faces on the other as they follow the sun's path. Of course, later in the day when I return, the opposite view is true. They must have very strong necks to handle this phenomenon of following the sun every day of their lives. 

Living in a foreign country where one does not know the laws or the language has its difficulties, and I am not without mine. But I am finding a comforting support in the may Angels that have come to help me. The people of Slovakia are very giving of their caring about this foreigner and the closure of the book on my contact here of last year was instrumental in bringing me Zuzana. This pretty and slim interesting mother of three very delightful children, a boy (Lucas) nine and twin girls (Linda and Simone) seven, plus a few Briard's and a couple Cockers, saved

me from a nervous breakdown. Never having met me except for a brief

introduction, she tended to my Rover while I was in Las Vegas last year and met me and Saturday at the airport in Vienna upon my return in  April. Our relationship has grown and we have been enjoying each other's company ever since. I am so privileged to have her in my life and if it took a heap of stress from my prior mentor, it was well worth the strain to now have Zuzana as part of my adventure.

One thing I have learned here in Slovakia, car registrations are very unlike

the USA. You are responsible for initiating the renewal process, nothing is mailed to you for remittance. The every other year renewal process consists of a thorough inspection of one's vehicle like nothing I have ever known before. For the occasion, Zuzana drove the 100 km to hold my hand through the process. We had to go to Nova Mesta for the official government validation. The Rover had the usual smog test and then was put on a rack for a scrutinized inspection of every part of the car including the water for the windshield wipers front and rear. Tires were tested by a device that simulated the potholes in the road and each brake shoe tested for an even pressure to both. Without a perfect pass the registration could not be renewed. Well, the Rover failed. Seems the rear wiper fluid was not being delivered to the window (spilled on the floor) and the brakes pulled on one side unevenly. Also, the one headlight lens was scratched and did not deliver enough lumens

and the tires were the wrong size for the car. This meant disaster for Gyn

as these repairs could take many weeks to get the parts from Rover in England. We had just been through 2 months of waiting for parts before.

  A Communist hangover, I suppose, is the sporatic checks by the Police. Unannounced uniformed roadside men will raise what appears to be a red ping pong paddle, indicating you are to pull over for an inspection of your papers. I must furnish the passport, driver's license, European driving permit, insurance card and the required pink registration card indicating you have had the car inspected. So far I have been stopped three times and the last time it was indicated my pink card reflected the old license number and not number of my new EU plates and was due to expire anyway in one month. Now I had had the car inspected when I bought  it last year in Bratislava, and again when I obtained the new plates for Jablonka. That didn't matter as the pink card never was changed to reflect any inspections. What did matter was the date on this pink card requiring another inspection and another $30. 

Well, Zuzana just happens to have a friend who owns the Mercedes and Rover dealership in Bratislava. It was Ivan who had helped fix

the Rover the last time the temperature gauge broke. So, Zuzana was quite aware of what to do. She called her friend and relayed the work that need to be done as we stood there, then set out to make things right for the present. She explained to the tester how it would make this American stranded for months in Jablonka without the parts, giving the gentleman her best smile with twinkling eyes. He smiled and twinkled back, I smiled not knowing what was going on but it seemed a good thing to do. We all laughed and after paying my $30, the gentleman shook our hands as he gave me the required updated new pink card, telling us we now had another two years to make it right with the Rover.

Zuzana lives in the village of Stupava just outside of Bratislava and an

hours drive to Vienna. The village has all the charm I wished from Jablonka. There are several small restaurants and one can get a delicious lunch including wine for about $2. During the summer, a family from Slovenia makes and operates an ice cream parlor which is better than any I have ever tasted in the whole world. Ice cream is my weakness and now I am excited to have found this one as there is no Ben and Jerry to be had. The homes are a bit more upscale than Jablonka and the shops have some very fashionable clothes. Like most of the larger villages, there are two

churches, Catholic and Anglican. I was surprised to learn that during

Communism, unlike Russia where Churches were turned into concert halls, here in Slovakia the people still maintained their religious customs.

 Although Zuzana is a modern woman with a modern home, I was surprised to see she still walks to the market three times a day for each meal's purchase as they did centuries ago. Some traditions remain.  

Zuzana is now a stay at home mom, but once sang opera for the Bratislava Philharmonic. It was there she met her husband, Martin,  who still sings. But this summer, he is taking his holiday by singing for the Saint Margarethen Folk Festival in Austria and has invited me to enjoy the performance with Zuzana as his guest. I have never been exposed to much Opera and was excited about the evening.

We wended our way through the vineyards of northern Austria to St.

Margarethen, located just 45 minutes from Bratislava. It is a small village but home to a huge canyon of sheer

thirty story cliffs holding back the earth. Four thousand, five hundred of

us streamed with anticipation down the path that led to our seats.

You could hear the gasps of delight when we reached the canyon floor and  stood in awe in the dusk before a

massive stage for the Bezet opera, "Carmen". Life size cathedrals, buildings bridges, and castles hugged and climbed the cliffs. Windmills with the likes of Don Quixote stood tall atop it all alit in breathtaking splendor. It made me think of the Las Vegas Casinos that have replicated populous destination points for the traveller. Every detail was without flaw. Actors and dancers come from all over Europe to participate in the Festival. There are actually three Carmen's who rotate performances. The actors are all sponsored and a man of means has leased the canyon for 10 years. This is the third year for the Festival.

In a prior life, I spend twenty years making sets and acting in little

theatre. It was my world before dogs and nothing I ever saw during my tenure could compare to the staging of this performance. Besides the outstanding music with a cast of three hundred performers, there were over a dozen horses, some doing performances of their own as well as assisting the staging with soldiers and principles riding atop, or pulling vintage carriages. Adding to the drama, some actors descended the cliffs by ropes. Our seats were located in the next to last 59th row and claimed a price tag of 142 Euros (about $170) and was well worth the price had we paid for it. Between acts, the stage torches went out with

the lights and gorgeous roses were superimposed upon the entire blackened stage. Intermission brought about 15 minutes of extraordinary fireworks before we retreated to the refreshment area. Here there were small houses named for the major characters and along with gourmet food was wine from the area, all labeled expressly as "Carmen". I must add that my red wine was smooth as satin and upon inquire found it came from the vineyard "Wind". I still remember it's

mellow flow and wish I could have taken a bottle or two home with me.

In the dark of midnight, Zuzana and I stretched the return by getting lost

and even coming upon the customs border crossing we had used earlier, now being closed. Now, with being members of the European Union, many of these check points may soon be permanently closed. Next year the currency for these countries will decidedly be the Euro. That will be a welcome relief as living in such close proximity to each other and having not only the various languages to deal with, there is the matter of the different currencies as well. We did finally find an open crossing and managed to climb into bed at 3 am, enriched by the wonder of the night. I am so fortunate to have Zuzana in my life...ciao, gyn

July 15th - The Gymnasium

It is the peak of summer here in Jablonka with morning temperatures in the low 50's and the highs in the low 80's, all very pleasant. The Lipa tree is singing with millions of bees making their honey, some getting so drunk they fall to the ground, buzz a bit and die. Of course this presents a problem for Saturday, as she has taken to catching anything with an annoying buzz and these are easy prey. But I am afraid for her, so our morning trip down the cobblestone drive to the gate now must go in the opposite direction up to the soccer field for her safety for the next couple weeks. Flies in the house are one thing, but buzzing bee's could be a dangerous thing. As for me, I sneak out when Saturday is in her pen to gather the Lipa blossoms for drying. They make a very wonderful medicinal tea and if you ever see the Slovakian flag, you will see the Lipa tree on it as it is th eNational Tree of Slovakia.

Yesterday I saw a monstrous bundle of hay walking past my gates on very thin legs. It was Mr. Tizik. After his week in the hospital and the slow recovery period, he is finally up and about tending to his farm and as is the custom here, carrying his load for the cows on his back. Andrej said they are not sure just what caused his attack and so next week they are going to do a CT scan. There has been mutterings among the family about selling the Tizik farm but while Mrs. Tizik has had it with the work, Mr. Tizik will not hear of it. He plans on dying while tending to his property. Unfortunately, Mrs. Tizik must comply and so continues with the outdoor activities of raking and hauling the hay herself as well. Both these charming people are in their 70's and stand less than 5 ft tall.

Old structures do present unexpected problems and my school house is no exception. While the new fireplace has cut down on the mushroom growth, the door leading to the guest room and gymnasium part of the house was still well decorated with their presence. So, the solution began with the collapsing stairs from the den to the door. Andrej finally called the "stair man" to come for an estimate. He has had this same experience himself and the conclusion was to tear away all the wood from the door and stairs and build new with a foundation of concrete. Andrej set about the task of ripping away the wood frame and rotted wooden stairs and now it is my turn to remove any remaining traces of the mushrooms and treat the bare bricks with bleach. I reminded Andrej of the plans to one day cut a doorway through on that same wall from the den to the gymnasium. So we decided to hold off until his other friend can drill through and make a doorway and join the new stairs between the gymnasium and the guest room with one span, encompassing both rooms. Jackhammering a 20 inch brick wall will be a mess I am not looking forward to, but it will make such a difference in the flow of the house. The pictures are of the gymnasium and show the west wall on the top and the east wall to the bottom. It is the east wall  with the green table that is the space where the hole will be cut and hopefully soon the double doors to the den will go. Looking through the opening we will see the fireplace and the new bedroom door of the den. But, knowing the way promises are spun in Slovakia, I have a gut feeling the opening won't come about until next year as it is common for everyone to take the month of August off for their holiday, leaving little time to complete the job before colder weather sets in. I don't want to be left with a big gap to the gymnasium for my small fireplace to heat. I might end up like a railroad fireman on a train feeding the small box with wood at a fevered pace......dovidenia, gyn

June 26th - Hello Mrs. Tizik

  It is not unusual to have my door open to let in the cool morning air. The flies don't come to visit until it gets warmer.  Somehow screens have not yet come to Jablonka, so we just let life drift in as it may with the quiet breeze. Saturday likes it as well, because she can plan her future in the forthcoming meditation garden instead of the oriental carpet in the den where I sit mainly at the computer. In the distance I can hear Andrej waving the magic Stihl wand over the tall grass out front, the last of the high growth. Mr.Shimak would not be coming today as promised to install my satellite dish. Maybe tomorrow. I say maybe,as I have learned that here in Slovakia there is a habit to make promises that go the way of the wind. Perhaps it gives one an  alpha dominance of power to make others wait endlessly in need of whatever one needs at the moment. Meditation gardens can be very useful during these times.

  A soft breeze brushed my eye and as I looked up there was Mrs. Tizik.

Somehow the dry rivers of her suntanned face seemed deeper today. I could tell she was on the verge of tears and I quickly put my arms around her small frame as she began her lament. Language is just words between the power of inflections that reveal the guts one spills. I gently guided her outside and down the driveway to Andrej. She had just washed her hair and it was combed, but still wet as she continued telling me what I suppose was about  what had happened to Mr. Tizik the day before. When we got to the Lipa tree, we sat on my new bench and waited for Andrej to notice we were there so he could come and tell me what she was saying, as if I could not guess. We sat there

for some time, her calloused hand in mine, until the whirling of the weed eater paused. "Andrej", I called. "Come tell me if Grandmother has any news about Grandfather".

There is a protocol here in Slovakia, to always refer to people by their formal names until they initiate a more friendlier reporte by allowing the use of their first name. If I have been given the honor, I am not sure. They can call me gyn, but I am reluctant tot call them Christina and Milan for now. Mr. and Mrs. Tizik or Grandfather and Grandmother must remain our relationship. 

  

Grandfather Tizik was still hospitalized with an intravenous tube attached

to his arm. He was back to his old self, wanting to get back to his mowing machine and the farm, not confined to a bed surrounded by strangers.  But is seems there may have been a slight heart attack or a stroke and he is going nowhere for the moment until more tests are run. Grandmother will be taken to visit him later today. We

continued sitting there while Mrs. Tizik talked about the hard voda and

shampoo. Some Slovak words are very familiar and one can sort of get the gist of what is being said through recognition. She then began talking about the Lipa tree we sat under and now just beginning to blossom. Winter stayed late this year and so then is the cycle of the harvest. Last year about this time the tree was alive and singing for all it's worth with bees drawing nectar from each tiny bloom. I remember the book I read as a child by Kate Seredy called "The Singing Tree" and now I have several of my own Lipa trees to listen to in the spring. Soon after, the

drying blooms must be harvested for an outrageously healthful tea (or Chi in Slovak). I dried a few last year and it was wonderfully delicious.

The conversation began to wain and so I rose and took her to the garden and selected a handful of my cilantro for her to take home.  I remembered the watercress she parted with after a trip to the lovely creek just below my hillside. She was smiling by now and the furrows on her face were now softer, having felt a comfort in telling her story to a stranger who she knew did not understand the words she has been saying. But it didn't matter. What mattered was that someone cared about her worry enough to listen and I just happened to be that somebody. Do psychiatrists really listen to what their clients are saying or do they just say "Yes, huh huh, hmmm" in the proper spaces and then collect their fee on your way out?

Mrs. Tizik went on her way as Saturday and I returned to our respected tasks. It was about an hour later when I heard Andrej calling me to come. As I strolled out down the driveway, I could see Mrs. Tizik in her boots and apron with a small bottle in her hand. "It is for you" Andrej said, "It is just made fresh milk from the cows. You will see how rich with cream it is". I held the warm bottle in my hands as I gazed into the smiling eyes of Mrs. Tizik. There is no greater pleasure than a gift given with love and

appreciation. One does not need to know a language of words when one hears the language of the heart.

June 25th -  Myjava Folkloria

The streets of the center of Myjava were closed as the people milled about in the exhibits, purchasing the native crafts. The air was filled with the excitement and a myriad of languages among the crowd. Soon the music and parade dancers from 26 different countries filled the main street, some as far away as Bulgaria. Once each reached the square, they climbed the stairs to the stage and began their demonstration of their regional dance. I was surprised to see a majority of elderly people performing. Later the troops would retreat to the outdoor amphitheater for a full afternoon of dancing into the night. Next year, I thought, next year I will spend the whole day instead just a taste of history as a treat for my eyes and ears. But for only today I have John from Czech here to help me before he leave this week for the summer in Canada. Now we must work on getting the things I needed done, the first of which was arranging for the Satellite installation. So it was done and next week Andrej would come to sponsor me as only Slovak citizens could sign up for the service.

I just knew it was going to happen. Women's intuition maybe, but when Andrej walked out of the store with our signed agreement for the satellite service, I felt it in my bones when I saw the ambulance come roaring by. "Where is the hospital here in Myjava? I asked. "Are you not feeling well?" he inquired. "I am fine" I said, but I have been thinking that if one of the Tizik's should become ill, I may have to take them to the hospital and I wouldn't know where it was. And since we don't speak the same language, how could they give me directions? ".

The three of us old people up on the hill and me with the only car, I

thought I might be able to be of service one day and it would help if I knew the way. Certainly they would not drive the tractor the 6 km if they were ill. The roads are always full of people driving tractors as it is the

general mode of transportation in these county hills and it is not unusual

to see a few parked outside the Posta or the Potraviny (grocery store).

Tractors, bicycles, foot and the bus are the common modes of transportation.

 Before heading home, we decided to have a Fanta (Andrej had a beer as I was the driver) to celebrate my finally acquiring the Satellite service. It is an interesting country where I can have a business, utilities, buy a house and a car, but I cannot subscribe to a satellite service. It is only for Slovakians. So, dear Andrej is now obligated for my 9 English speaking channels and 100 other channels of various languages including Slovak, Czech, French, German and Spanish. Cost per month is $18. They were kind enough to waive the deposit for the control unit and Andrej arranged for the installer to come out tomorrow (Sunday) to make the installation of the dish. He knew my house (perk for living in a small village on roads without names), as he was the one who installed the built in local TV antennae (which was not able to get me one single local station on my new digital TV). So tomorrow evening hopefully I will be finally enjoying CNN News, CNBC, and most British comedies I had also enjoyed in Las Vegas, in my wonderful new bedroom instead of snippets of what is happening in the world on my computer.

It was about 5pm when Andrej brought his 6 month old son and wife over to see my cuckoo clock perform its musical oration when he told me that Mr. Tizik was not feeling well, acting very strange and disorientated, and grandson-in-law Martin is driving over to take him to the hospital. Mrs. Tizik was of course too overwrought to do anything herself. That left Andrej to finish the Tizik's mowing to feed their cows. For some reason, most of the milk cows here do not lay out grazing in fields, but stay in the barns and the field is delivered to them. Perhaps it is because the terrain is hilly an unfenced. And it wasn't too long afterward but a stream of several tractors made their way up our lane to the Tizik house to take care of the things that needed doing.  It was just two weeks ago today that the Tizik couple had their 50th wedding celebration and had danced away the night.

Early the following morning, there was Mr. Tizik out mowing the weeds with his new mowing machine. I marveled at the stamina of this small, slight  and gentle man who never stops from sunup 'til past sundown. Such is the life of a

farmer in Slovakia....Ciao, gyn

Let me share with you the third garden of my home in Jablonka, which I refer to as the soccer field. What you see is just half of it as it slopes to the right to another level. Saturday loves to wander up there to chase birds. I love the thought of one day having all my friends over for a bar-b-que and perhaps a mini dog show.  There is plenty room for a show and an Obedience or Agility ring. The garage sports a summer kitchen and a boys and a girls outdoor restroom to the right on one level down. The whole property is surrounded by Mr. Tizik's wheat field and then starts the forest with the many songbirds. Sometimes I do see the deer enjoying their breakfast and dinner of Tizik wheat and one can see  downed stalks where they sometimes laid for a rest. sometimes I have seen hunters walking on the forest edge. Some carry rifles and some carry just a wicker basket as they hunt for mushrooms. I hope one day to be a hunter of  the forest mushrooms, too. 

It is now 10:00 pm and in the faint evening light, the whirling sound echoes through the hills, hills that once had my neighbor bent over his scythe, swinging his arms to and fro. But today progress has come to the Tizik farm and Mr. Tizik is enjoying his new weed machine, mowing the fields between his wheat crops. Behind him, Mrs. Tizik rakes out the grass to dry and in a few days they will gather it and bring it on their backs to store for cow fodder. In the distance the Cuckoo bird does not sleep, maybe annoyed by the disturbance, so announces it is umpteen o'clock. Go to bed, Mr. Tizik. And where am I? In my bed in my new bedroom gazing out my window as the drama in the hills enfolds. My clothes are hung neatly in my new closets. In a few days John will arrive to take me to get the TV to complete the setting. But for now, I am content to just lie here and enjoy the moment.

Despite an all night drinking bash, Andrej managed to make progress last weekend. With his wife in Jablonka cooking for the party, as Andrej said "When the cat's away, the mice will play". We stopped first in the market place in his town of Nova Mesto and picked up my new weed whacker and a much needed drill. He located an excellent Stihl model that even I can use on occasion to keep the grass under control. The shop owner was proud to announce he had relatives in Texas and the Stihl is from the USA. More expensive of course, but easily repaired if need be. Andrej was reluctant to invest in the one made in China at Tesco (Walmart). I agreed. The drill is one we can use to drill into the brick walls so I can hang my heavy mirrors and paintings. I am sure my two items cost as much as Mr. Tizik's marvelous weed mower if not more.

Back home, Andrej finished the task of assembling the closets before we joined the Tizik Anniversary party. The couple were dressed in their traditional costumes and glowing with all the friends who had joined them in their 50th celebration. The music played and everybody danced into the night. The food was delicious and plentiful as was the Borovicka. Their son-in-law was obnoxious and the 3 grandson-in-laws retreated to their own corner while their wives tried to make peace. Family gathering are not that much unlike those I remembered in America and add a bit of "the spirit" and tempers fly.

Still a bit bleary eyed from the drink the night before, the 3 younger men managed to come by later on Sunday and moved my bed into the new room. Miro who had previously lived with the father-in-law, has now moved out into an apartment in Nova Mesto and was very happy to take some of that old furniture (like Mrs. Tizik's) stored in my garage. The city owns all apartments in the villages after the take down of Communism and there is a 6 month waiting list with 150 families vying for the 75 available in Nova Nesto. With a salary of under $600 a month as a sheet rock installer, it is difficult to manage a rent of $300 when you are a family of 4. So, the furniture was appreciated and I was glad to finally give something back for all the help given me.

Next Saturday is the Annual Folk Festival in Myjava. If you ever plan to come for a visit, you might think about the 3rd weekend in June so as not to miss this world famous occasion. The weather and countryside is beautiful this time of year, and my new guest room awaits your visit. Ciao for now....gyn

Please meet my dear friend Andrej. 

This photo of him is when he was next door helping with the harvest of the Tizik wheat.

Well, now that Andrej is back in my life, things are beginning to take shape in the old school house. Three quarters of the gardens are mowed with a first cut but rainy weather curtailed finishing the job. Now what had been mowed is ready for another whack. My trip to buy the weed eater was in Slovak custom, a fruitless adventure. I went to the place in Myjava where I purchased the lawnmower last year and presented my brochure from Andrej with the Coibri I was to buy, circled. I began with my usual opening of "Prosim,do you speak English". A big smile came across the clerk's  face as she asked if I lived in Jablonka. Puzzled I replied, I so did. "Andrej, Andrej" she replied and began dialing her cell phone and sure enough she had Andrej on the phone and telling him it would take two weeks to order it. Then the phone was passed to me and Andrej told me to wait and he would see if the dealer in his town could have one in stock. Later when I met up with Andrej, it seems this woman and her husband are social friends of Andrej. Being the only American around, I guess my history has far reaching fingers. So, again in Slovak tradition, it is now two weeks and the weed eater has not even been ordered as Andrej is trying to find the every best one suited for my needs. Well, I have grown accustom to the waiting game but it is a bit frustrating.  I had ordered the needed parts for my Rover from England,  7 weeks ago and they have not touched down on Slovak soil so far. I was told the usual two weeks of course.

 But  with the gardens semi mowed, Saturday is in her glory chasing the birds from the lawns. It has taken a month for her to discover what she was bred to do and now I have never known any of my dogs to be happier.  She races down the driveway to see if the passing parade of the Tizik free range poultry is outside the big iron gates for her to bark at. Disappointed, she races up the slopes hunting for the wayward birds, searching each level to see if they are there. Cockers have a story of their own to tell.

 So, my put together IKEA wardrobe is out of the box and starting to take shape in my new bedroom. I am dreaming of moving in within two weeks, give or take a month. I will pick up Andrej in the morning and hope he completes it this weekend and hangs the new ceiling lamp. Then we can work on getting the bed and dresser moved in and perhaps John will come to help hook up the TV. I am so full of plans, plans for this and plans for that. It is what one does when one must wait for things to happen.

 The Rover boiled over when it tried to make it through the mount pass to Nova Mesto where Andrej lives, about 35 klms away.. I was reluctant to try that route again. So, Andrej had me take him home last week, showing me a back road  that is just awesome. The narrow road wanders through the forest and  through several tiny little villages built in the shadow of castle ruins and ancient cathedrals, some dating back to about 1,000 A.D. when Rome ruled the land. When I got home, I looked in my tourist guide to learn about the surrounding history. Somewhere close is some neolithic remains dating back to 100,000 BC.

 Andrej temporarily lives with his parents in his father's company owed flat. It is on the grounds of an abandoned processing white wash mine. I was rather taken aback by the shoddy unkempt surroundings. His father had worked for the company for 15 years which entitled him to be given his flat. Then the company went bankrupt and the bank reprocessed the flat. It has just one bedroom and  now the 80 year old grandmother is moving in and Andrej has to leave with his wife and 6 month old baby. The parents sleep in the kitchen on a hid-a-bed.  The difficulty is Andrej has lost his job, has no car and of course no money, yet must find housing. Now I understand why he likes coming here and escaping in the garden with all the song birds and peaceful surroundings.

 Well, last week Andrej informed me that the very tall pole with the decorated Christmas tree atop down in the Jablonka town (?) square was not signaling the arrival of a small restaurant as I had hoped. It was there in celebration of May 1st. Eons ago, when a boy  decided to court a girl, he would go into the woods and select a small pine tree, decorate it and place it at her front door, announcing his intentions to the village. Today they erect this pole higher than any tree or building in the village with the decorated tree at the top. Then all the couples come together and gather around the pole, celebrating their love. It is so touching to be where this tradition is still in existence. In fact, I caught Andrej making a garland while mowing my lawns. He had taken a stalk of grass and threaded wild strawberries on it for his wife of 14 years. Tomorrow, he will be only working half a day as his grandparents-in-law (my neighbors) are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and of course the whole family (some 70 or so) will be coming and bringing many traditional foods. Andrej's wife has been cooking for several days. The Tizik's will of course be dressed in their traditional regional costumes of blue and white.  

It is a differentlife here, truly an adventure of a lifetime. Thanks for listening.....gyn

 

fireplace.jpg

May 29th

 

Well, the weather is finally getting warmer and I haven't made a fire in the

fireplace now for 4 days. Now with  a peep inside you can see my wonderful

new fireplace that has dried out this section of the house and now is a

comfortable 70 degrees. To the right is the new door to my dreamed of

bedroom. I had the windows open to let the

warmth inside and with it came the beautiful melody of the forest birds and

of course flies, annoying flies. I have with me my wonderful leather "bugger

 fly swatter from Australia and have been chasing the devils around.

Saturday hates them as well and hides under the desk to get out of their

buzz. Yesterday she was so proud of herself because she caught one and was

able to kill it and spit it out at my feet to show me. I swear she was

smiling. So now I am just cracking a window by inches to let in the

refreshing air but not those testy buggers.

 

The days of waiting are very difficult for this American brought up on

instant gratification. When we want something, we want it NOW. So, the

waiting for someone to appear who will do the myriad of chores I have now

prioritized from most urgent to whenever, is a daunting task that keeps me

awake with anxiety some nights. My neighbor has hired someone to chop his

wood for next winter's fire. I mosied over to ask if he spoke English so I

could hire him as well. But alas his English vocabulary was just as big as

my Slovak one and that was that. I am chipping away at the tasks as I am

able. I did take grass shears down the driveway so I could at least get the

Rover out to the store, but 5 acres on many levels is a lot to manage on

knees and back that way. The mower I have must be carried from level to

lever which is not something I can do. Now the weeds are too high anyway. So

I bought a window paint scraper to begin cleaning up the windows, another

daunting task with 12 separate small windows to a room, stacked 2 high 3

wide and parallel doubled, but something I can do.

 

But yesterday it was so beautiful outside, I decided to take a bucket of

water and wash the mud off the car. Spring brought with it some marvelous

rain and then the ensuing mud on the roads. Speaking of country roads,

winter brought many pot holes, some so big I know I could travel directly

through them to Las Vegas on the other side of the earth. The road crew is

making their way toward Jablonka, but until they get here, one would think

we are all drunk on Boravicka as we attempt to dodge the craters. prior to

the fall of Communism, the road crew went through each village on a regular

basis. But now each village must pay for their own road repairs and not

every village has the means in the village coffers.

 

But, I digress. The outside faucet still has yet to give any water, making

for my task list of course, so the bucket from the kitchen sink is my method

of necessity. There are no car washes in this part of the country. So, as I

am swirling the dirt off the car, I look up and to my surprise, there stands

Andrej. He apologizes for not coming sooner but I am in shock to have him

there at all. His sister Jana had indicated he was not going to work for me

anymore. As it turns out, it was her lack of English skills that sent a

wrong impression and Andrej hitched a ride with a friend on his motorcycle

and was there to attack my weeds. The rest of the day was spent enjoying the

delicious odor of newly cut grass wafting though my windows and filling the

spaces in my house. As I suspected, the mower could only manage a few places

and before long Andrej borrowed the huge scythe from my neighbor and

finished the front lawn by hand. In a few days after the grass dries out, my

neighbors will come to rake it up and take it to feed their cows. Monday I

go into Myjava and purchase the gas powered Colibi (means Hummingbird)

weedwacker he recommended to begin trimming around the edges and under the

bushes. Yes, I can do that. Later, three of his friends came to help him

move the old furniture out of my new bedroom into the garage. They are

having a party tonight in Andrej house here in Jablonka. I tried to give

then $15 to buy beer for their party, but of course in the Slovak way, they

refused any payment.  It will be the last party for Andrej as he has to try

to sell his beautiful country house. Would cost $20,000 to make it livable.

But with an income of $400 a month and a new baby, it is a dream for someone

less to have now. He is hoping to get $16,000 for it. I can see the broken

dream welling in his eyes as she speaks and I try to convince him to find a

way to hold on to that dream. I know the twists and turns of roads we must

travel but we must never forsake our dreams for regrets.

 

So, with my heart all a flutter that I still have Andrej to help me, and

with the lingering odor of new mown grass filling my senses, I am off to

attack those windows in my soon to be new bedroom......gyn

May 25th

 

As promised, here is a picture of the rear of the house. The bulb garden is to the right and the future meditation garden to the left outside the back door (which is the one I mainly use as a front entrance). Far to the left is the two car garage.. That stone house in the center is for entertaining or maybe a puppy shelter. Lots of possibilities. Of course, remember these pictures were taken October of 2003 when I was first considering buying this house, so there is much more growth now. Up the left side are stairs leading to the soccer field.

 It has been a month since my return to Slovakia and I am amazed at the
changes I see in the landscape.  The once bare trees are now in full spring greenery and my grass is almost knee high again. Andrej is himself too busy to come now, so I just wait and enjoy the sounds of the many birds. I find myself answering the Cuckoo and the Whip-O-will's calls. Big machines are working past sundown on the surrounding hills turning over the dirt in anticipation of planting. Some places the wheat has already sprouted. My zucchini, chives and cilantro have peeked their heads above the soil and I am eagerly ready to add them to my cooking.

 Cooking. I am limited for now to the microwave and the cook top, but have picked out the oven I need replaced. Finding someone to install it is
another matter. Seems the yellow pages of service industries are non
existent in this section of the country. Families support each other doing
installations of needed items. This support group is very strong and an
outsider like me finds that it is very hard to find someone willing to work
for money doing odd jobs, especially with me not savvy in the language to negotiate the terms. Oh, there are plenty of businesses selling the items, but one is greeted with blank stares when one needs someone to do the work. I surmise that under Communism, this network of labor bartering became a necessity and moving to a free market economy will take further time in the out lying areas. As Andrej told me, the government takes their huge bite out of anything you earn working for a salary, but trading talents makes their world go around without so much as a coin.  So, I make do with what I have, waiting for some angel to appear and install my wants.

 But back to cooking. Spring is bringing a flurry of produce to the markets and I am discovering why French restaurants in the US are so expensive. They use ingredients that are plentiful and inexpensive in Europe but cost an arm and a leg or are non existent unless imported, elsewhere. Yesterday I brought home a big bunch of white asparagus from the super market. I have never seen anything like it before, even in the top grocery stores around
Beverly Hills unless they were in cans. Some of the stems are as thick as
ones big toe. Cost for this huge grouping which would take two hands to grasp was a mere $1.66.  Tonight I will prepare them with the pork chops and potatoes I bought. Potatoes. Now there is another interesting experience. These potatoes look like those we find anywhere in the world, but the taste is so, well, SO POTATO. The flavor is far more intense than I have ever known. It seems the German potato salad I grew up with never tasted this good before. And you don't peel them and cut them up in pieces to boil, but leave them in their jackets to cook, slipping off the skins while still warm They say to cut them before cooking makes them  too watery. Even the bacon comes in several varieties, but chunked, not like Farmer John's sliced packages. So, as I now look at my numerous European cook books, I am reading the recipes in a whole different light. Those that I once though too expensive to make or couldn't find the ingredients, are now not only accessible, but affordable as well. Cream not only comes ready for coffee or
whipping, but comes as double or triple creams. And the yogurt counter is as long as our cereal aisles. Ciao, as they say here, for now.....gyn


May 5th, 2005

 Well, I am enjoying reading "Under The Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes. The
book  is a very popular read (as well as a movie) and with me writing a
similar one, it makes me able to dissect it for comparison. It is said
everyone has a book inside of them and so mine comes forth in the isolation
(which I love) of Jablonka. I do feel a comfort in the trials and
tribulations she went through to get the reconstruction done. Makes my
projects very simple and less stressful knowing just how much worse it could
have been. Of course my book will be much different as it centers on a
senior citizen on her own rather than a mid aged couple finding a summer
retreat. What it does point out is just how much I wish Jablonka was a real
village with little shops to browse in and to be able to sit with a cup of
tea and see the world go by. Jablonka is not Tuscany. The villagers here
just seem to be walking with purpose from here to there and occasionally
stop and chat as they pass. The biggest gathering is the bus stop as they
wait for a delivery from the driver or to board. BUT, I did notice something
the other day as I came down the hill from the gas station with my computer
in tow and my load of messages from you all. There is a very tall pole now
with a tree on the top of it. It is higher than anything in the center of
town. Now, that usually means a new building of some sort is going up or it
could be a May Pole for a founding village celebration. I know Myjava is
famous for its celebration in June and people do come from all over the
world for it. Myjava is the civic center for the 6 small villages which
includes Jablonka. I am wishing it will be a small restaurant as the single
bar does not offer food and is only open later in the day. Jablonka needs
some charm to it. I do not believe Communism fostered the creativity as I
found in the nearby free countries of Germany, Austria, and France. They
seemed to have stressed a conservative austere life with no frivolity of the
mind.

 When I first arrived this time and I had no cell phone to communicate with
the outside world, my friend John from Czech was coming to help me. It was
getting later than the hour he planned to arrive and thinking he might be
lost, I drove the 2 km to the village center. I kept the motor running as I
asked a cluster of some young girls if anyone about their age had stopped
them for directions to the old school house. Of course they were too young
to know there had been a school in Jablonka. With just 6 or 7 people around,
I crossed over to ask another couple near the bar if my friend had inquired
of them. One of the girls ran after me to warn me not to leave my car
running (just 12 feet away mind you), as it could be stolen. By whom I
pondered as I looked around. All of these people were definitely residents
and unlikely of the mind to steal a car. Yet, while Jablonka has such
concern for their neighbors, I do sense a strong worry about theft from
outsiders. Secure locks are more apparent than potential vagrants. Jablonka
is not the sort of village an outsider would frequent. It is simply  a bus
stop and a post office and a grocery store, nothing more. As luck would have
    it, just as I headed back to the house, John tooted his horn as he came upon              me in his car.

 The latest scenario is Andrej lost his job and with it the company provided
car. I sit here with many projects for him to do yet he is 30 km away. I
offered to go get him and thereby providing him with a few kronuns to tide
him over. He thinks he can borrow a car from someone. In the meantime, I
must try and use the rickety shower to bathe Saturday and the lawn is
growing too rapidly before the eye and I fear the mower will rebuff it. I am
learning patience as I wish to move into my new bedroom one day soon.
Without Andrej it just isn't going to happen. Neither is the new kitchen
sink or the new oven going to be installed. Well, hopefully by next November
all will be completed before I leave my beloved school house once again for
bustling Vegas.

 I planted some cilantro and chives in a small pot near the door yesterday.
We shall see if they sprout. It has been drizzling, so I figured it a good
time as we haven't decided how to get water from the one outside faucet as
yet. Andrej I need you. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful the house
is now that the dampness is out of the walls. My dishes even air dry now
where they had been just as wet 12 hours after I had washed them the night
before. Simple pleasures one takes joy in. And, even though it may be a
comfortable 66 degrees inside when I get up in the morning, on the rainy
days I do build a fire to take the chill away. Carrying in the wood and
going through the ritual are still a novelty for me and time I have in
abundance to spend as I may. The blooming bulb garden is now about weed free
and I am working on clearing a space for a small patio where I can sit and
sip my morning tea, listening to the many birds of the forest as I watch
Saturday investigate the garden. She is so interested in the many red tulips
sniffing at them on each excursion outside and occasionally just sitting
amid the blooms as if waiting for someone to take her picture. Ciao for now.

 ....gyn


 

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Gyn Gerhardt