Roads without names... 

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

Jablonka 2008

September 2008 - Oh Deer, Oh Deer, Oh Deer

 

“We are, perhaps, uniquely among the earths creatures, the worry animal. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take in the idea of dying.” - Lewis Thomas.

 

As you enter my little lane from the main road, you first cross a small creek, then through the trees you head up a steep bank. High above and then to your right, can be seen a curious structure, hugging the edge of the slope. Once inside the iron gates, you will see the promise it makes for itself, this little cottage nestled among the forest trees much like the witches cottage of Hansel and Gretel.  Perhaps a dog kennel, maybe a guest house, or even a cottage for an elderly woman who no longer needs the big school house. Then too, as it had once been, once again a stable for a couple horses.

 

The previous owner built the cottage as a stable so he could ride in the forest with his son. His dream turned into a father’s nightmare as one day the horse threw him to the ground and his son watched him writhing in pain. The ambulance took him to the hospital where they cared for his injured spine. No longer able to work, the horses were sold and their dream home put on the market, advertised as “Horse Property”. It was just in time for me to turn his defeat into my own dream.

 

The stable sits idle except for storing some odds and ends. I don’t dream of being a horse owner, my Cockers are enough to worry about when I go away. When ones lives in the country, there is always the temptation to acquire a few assorted animals; lambs for eating, goats with milk for making cheese, hens to lay fresh morning eggs. Traveling the nameless roads reveal my neighbor’s plights that have put nooses around their necks. I Baaa, Neeee,  and cluck as I pass. It is enough for me.  

 

An adjacent small strip of land the width of a two lane road sits to the left of the cottage and stretches far to the north where another forest of Linden trees waits. The avenue is flanked on the left by my schoolhouse, and the forest to the right and forms a dead end cul-de-sac. It had been used as pasture for the horses, then planted in wheat by Mr. Tizik. Since he has gone, it lays fallow to a host of wild flowers and gregarious leafy weeds. 

 

My kitchen window overlooks this little strip of land and each time I pass, I am compelled to see what  may be there. Birds and animals seem to gather near the fence, perhaps because they see the forest reflection in my window. Birds sit momentarily on the fence, then head for the trees. If I am lucky, I may find who they are in my little bird book; Tits, Warblers, Sparrows, Buntings, Nutcrackers, Woodpeckers. But if I am even luckier, I can catch a bright red squirrel tight roping the fence top or a glimpse of a deer snacking on the sumptuous growth before disappearing down the hill to the trickling creek below. There is a  protectiveness of the cul-de-sac and I treasure having this closeness to their world.

 

Early this spring, I spotted two does, the first a soft gray color I called Grayson, the other a delicious red I named Reddy. They notice me, turning their heads this way and that, with  perked ears and soft dark eyes, mouths with dangling leaves slowly being devoured. They stop momentarily only to chew at a tick on their backside, then continue their foraging. Some mornings I can see they have bedded down and only their ears reveal where they are.

 

It was early one morning in May that I noticed Grayson laying in the sunshine among the dandelions and daisies. It seemed odd at first because usually they are on their feet by the time I emerge from my bed. I watched intently as she nosed at her backside, then with a slither,  rose. Aand as any breeder will tell you, the stance meant only one thing. I held my breath. Could it be so? And then, there it was, tiny, wet and wobbling on shaky knees, blinking eyes taking in the morning light. His mother paid no mind as he also began to nose at leaves. It was Bambi all over again.  As the day called for my attention, I would return to look again and again, watching for signs of the pair. But they had journeyed down to the creek as quickly as they came. Grayson had teaching to do.

 

Towards evening Grayson and Bambi  returned, this time with Reddy who had two little fawns at her side. The three fawns had found their legs and nosed about the weeds while their mothers watched guard of me at the window. As the weeks passed, I often caught the fawns frolicking among the daisies, chasing each other much like puppies do.

 

The summer passed quickly as I watched the family grow and their juvenile spots began to fade. Then one evening  I heard the crack of gunshots close by. Saturday, Sera and Bailey froze in their tracks, listening. And my fears were answered as now only Reddy returned with one of her two fawns and Grayson’s Bambi at her side. My heart sank deeply, wondering if the familiar trio would make it through hunting season. Luckily they did.  The weeds have now grown within inches of Reddy’s back now and only the movement of the  tall daisies and brush tells me there are still two little fawns close by. And each time I see them, I am grateful for the specialness they bring to my heart.

 

The sister to Joseph Caruso dropped by to tell me how thankful she and her mother were for my finding Joseph and Maria in Vegas. She cried deep tears of joy as I tried to understand her thankfulness through her Slovak and how her mother cried for 2 hours as she fondled the pictures he had given me for them. One doesn’t need to know the language to feel  heartfelt words of gratitude.

 

Finding long lost relatives is exciting and one never knows what a day may bring. Not too long ago my friend Annette Hagglund in Sweden discovered I have a living relative in Sweden who was looking on-line for the same pedigree that contained my mother’s father. I learned his surname was not as Carlson, but spelled Karlsson. It is gratifying to research our past and learn where our genes have been and what they did centuries ago. I learned they were businessmen, land owners and butchers back to the 17th century.

 

And then, by chance someone in Denver came across my Roads Without Names website when doing a Yahoo search and  these Letters from Jablonka. Her husband’s Grandfather is supposed to have been born in Jablonka, Austria and could it possibly be the same Jablonka I write about.  He was born in 1888 and I was pleased to tell her that it is very possible as Jablonka was part of Austria until 1917 when it became Czechoslovakia after WWI, and now Slovakia with the fall of Communism. They came with their family to Europe in September and hoped to discover their heritage. However, they could not rent a car into Slovakia and had to abandon their wish. It seems Austria has not accepted Slovakia as a member of the European Union and still regards it as a Communist country. There was a way to go by train from Vienna and rent a car in Bratislava (only 45 minutes away), but they had not known it could be done. Perhaps a return trip is roaming in their thoughts for next year.

 

My website has found another Slovak-American, Jan Duga. Jan lives in New York and his father is from the small village of Rudnik near Jablonka. As we age and retirement beckons, thoughts seem to explore the possibilities we have.  Jan had visited relatives in Myjava a few years ago with his father.

 

Then the Koznek family arrived one morning at the gates. Craig, Andrea and Josef live in Seattle, Washington. Andrea’s mother lives in Bratislava with a summer home in Jablonka. They too are looking to relocate to this side of the world.

 

Our nights are growing  colder, spring had flown into fall without hesitating for summer. Saturday welcomes back our family hedgehog on his way to the garage for his winter hibernation. He waits in a ball while she barks at him in the evening darkness. He is an old fellow, with little hair like the younger ones we see laying dead in the roads. He is somewhere safe inside under the collection of kindling wood. But the Hedgehog family grows as we find another younger one roaming into the rock house behind some tiles. Each morning she snorts at the corner of the garage and at the tiles to check if they are  still there. Saturday is the tracker, Sera the pointer and Bailey, well Bailey is my guardian (or mine his) and hasn’t found his real job as yet.

 

My neighbor tells me that Jablonka has a dog licensing ordinance. I am surprised as the mayor’s daughter never told me I must pay anything. Here, no one comes to your door or sends a notice when taxes and fees are due, you just must know and go to the office and pay your annual $10 per dog and like the taxes, you can do it anytime in the year.  No bills are mailed. She checks for me and comes back to say only residences under 70 years must pay. With more than half of the people in Jablonka over 70 years of age, I don’t think dog licensing is a money maker for the village coffer.

 

It is said that nostalgia is a cure for old age depression, and no better time than now when politicians and TV news reporters are whispering the “R“ word and even the “D” word now and then. I know that somewhere some kid is building a precious nostalgia backpack that he will wear longer than any video game or iPod tune and it was so for me. Is it no wonder then, while doing my weekly shopping at Tesco, a never seen there before coconut flew into my basket. I was instantly transported to a far away time as a child in Chicago.

I am sitting in the back seat of our old crank handle Ford as we  pulled into the parking lot of the Autopoint building to pick up my mother. It is a chilly October day and we are anticipating a warm dinner when we get home. As we had turned the corner we had passed a man selling round hairy brown balls of curiosity. My father, now jobless, told me about these gems that grew on tall palm trees and that inside they contained a sweet white meat, delicious for eating. He told me of warmer climates where they grew along sandy sun drenched beaches. Perhaps the vision was so intense that it was there and then my  appetite for actually seeing them one day, swaying in a warm breeze, took form. Soon, Daddy was off bargaining with the man and my mouth began watering with anticipation of this yet unknown delight. In the car, we stared helplessly at the hairy brown ball keeping its secret. Out of the car again with the nut in tow, Daddy was showing it to a building workman. I watched as the man took his hammer and heard the loud crack of thunder as he gave the nut a wallop.  With  a broad smile, my father returned with the white pieces in his hand. We chewed, savoring each bite of the delicious coconut meat.

 

When my mother emerged from the building where she had been working, there was much shouting on her part for spending the money on just trivia. But I remember mostly my father saying the “occasion” was good for the soul that needed to be fed also.

 

It was several days later when I decided it was time for the coconut. With my hammer, I went outside to the garden and gave it an almighty whack. The sound resonated through the forest like that of a .22 rifle, just as my mind had remembered so long ago. An then it happened. Just the other side of the fence there was a rustling of dried brush and my heart sank into defeat, realizing my precious deer would no longer trust my little-de-sac of safety. I wonder now how long it will be to erase the stinging sound, if ever, from  innocent of their minds.

 

Weeks passed and my frequent watching for their return failed to provide any sign of my four legged neighbors. Once in a while, a new family would drop by to nibble on the leafy growth, then pass on their way. Once there was a scrawny youngster with a new growth of horns emerging between his ears. Another family was clothed in a darker charcoal gray with a rusty bottom instead of the shimmering white of the Reddy family.

 

As the  temperatures drop, so does the fallen golden Lipa tree leaves, piling high in the driveway. Soon the snow will return for another season. The 12ft long logs have arrived but remain outside the gates waiting for someone to cut them into a size for the fireplace. I wait. Meanwhile I wait for my deer family to return.  There is much waiting being done in Jablonka.

 

Dovidenia for now,

 

gyn

 

June 2008 - Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave

 

“The gentle reader will never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad.” - Mark Twain

 

Vines cling to the ground, trailing up and over the rock path in my Meditation Garden and strive to find their way to strangling the plants I have tenderly placed these past years.

 

Vines stalk the ground like foot soldiers, marching up and over the rock path in my Meditation Garden, overwhelming/strangling/determined to eradicate (something better suiting the metaphor) all the plants I have tenderly placed there these past few years.

 

No meditating now, I have work to do.  I  pace myself, waiting to weed just after a light rain when roots will yield more easily from this soil. Once the sun has its chance, it will quickly bake the dirt hard and make it impossible to get to the roots until the next rain. Along the road to Piestany one sees many crumbling structures made with bricks from this clay soil, structures that once stood proudly from this preferred building material. It was there, it was easy, it did the job with only labor as a cost. But with time and weather as its enemy, fired clay bricks are now its replacement.

 

So, I dig and pull and dig and pull while Bailey makes his way through the tall grass, collecting dried seeds and leaves in his long coat. Sera and Saturday follow. I try not to think about the chore ahead, that of battling  the collection they bring inside. I unearth juniper fronds buried in dirt and wood chip mulch that had slid down the slope during last winter’s snow. I peel away the growth of tangling morning glories and bramble vines that wind around my junipers. In spite of this, there is new growth coming among a few broken branches. My mind plans my trip to Vesele and the Garden School for new members to fill the empty spaces and replace those that didn‘t weather the winter. Vesele is my extravagance, finding new flowers and old favorites among the Center’s shaded paths. I read their labels and find the Latin names in my trusty California Sunset Garden Book to know if they will survive in my Zone II garden.

 

I make my weekly trip to Tesco and stop on the way in Vesele. I park the Rover alongside the new Garden School building. Still bathed in its structure of red clay bricks, it wait’s unfinished and unoccupied. I see little progress after the 4 years I have been coming there. But some day it will be a grand and an inviting  building, standing guardian for the many acres of growing plants.

 

There is only one woman who can speak English there, but she is  not always available. She is young and possibly the manager or owner as I often see her leading a trail of workers. “Do vie” she greeted me one day with her hello in Slovak. Trying to be polite, I happily responded with “Dovidenia” (good-bye), getting the “D” words confused. I do try to  use the little language I think I know, but there are so many similar words in my limited vocabulary. She giggled as she passed, at our exchange of hello-goodbye and I realized I got it wrong. Now I just say “Ahoy” when I greet someone.

 

The other workers do put up with my limited vocabulary and sign language, and the time it takes to help me figure out how high a plant may grow or the color of its flowers. We smile and try to understand each other until we finally think we got it right.

 

My garden is about 2/3 finished but ever growing as is the Garden Center‘s selections. I am pleased to find an old favorite this time, the pyracantha, and knew just where they were to go. Ever mindful of my shrinking dollar, at only 40skk a plant, I quickly put 5 in my cart as the price is a bargain even though they are small and I can see they are freshly replanted in their new container. I don’t remember ever seeing any plant less than 60skk.

 

When I prepared to pay for my prizes, I could only find a young woman that usually would be putting the identification tags on the plants. When I looked at the receipt, I noticed she had charged me 60skk. Even if it was still a bargain, I wanted the price as marked out in the yard where I found them. I did not like being cheated (Americans are that way), so I pointed to the receipt and held up 4 fingers to indicate the over pricing. Flustered, she called for help to figure out what I was trying to say. Along came the usual group of non English speaking women, and looked at the receipt and my 4 fingers. “Ahh” they exclaimed with smiles and a pat on my back and added 60skk to my receipt. At first I was puzzled as to why it suddenly became more expensive instead of lowered. Then the  lightening bolt of reason hit me as I saw she had only run up 3 instead of the 5 plants in my cart. Past visions of fellow travelers arguing over prices with venders in third world countries flashed before my eyes and I realized I was about to be one of those embarrassing ugly Americans.

 

“It is only pennies” I had reminded one fellow traveler, “not worth making an international incident over”.

 

I quickly smiled along with the others, paid my bill, said my Dequium, and wearing my halo made of what they considered an honest American, carried my pyracanthas to the car. The goodwill  I had just purchased for about a dollar would last me many future months to come. There was no need to continue the incident and tell them I had overpaid for 5, not the 4 plants wrongly charged for.

 

Sometimes I meet people who teach English and they have asked me why I don’t learn Slovak. I have tried, but as even they tell me, it is a most difficult language and would take more years than I have left to ever get fluent. Besides, there is much more adventure and stories to tell by my limitation and most people I meet want to practice their English talking with me. So, I manage graciously with my affliction.

 

As the year begins to flourish, so does the preparations for the introduction of the euro as our currency. People are quickly buying up any homes they can as they fear the euro will drive prices even higher. This is causing a huge housing bubble and the value of my house is escalating as well. Some weekends I find families at my gate wanting to know if my house is for sale. Jablonka is not only a farming community, but also a resort destination. With many businesses building out this way in what was once sunflower fields, new homes are being built at a faster pace than ever before to beat the January 1st   deadline. Currently, it takes 32 Slovak koruns to make one euro with one dollar making 19 koruns. I find it as prices raise and my dollar falls like an escalator pair and then  with inflation creeping in, it makes it too difficult to know what I am paying for anything.  Slovakia qualified for the Euro status by keeping inflation under 2.5%. Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic didn’t make the requirements, going higher. I just try to keep the weekly food bill under 1,000 skk by buying less and more “like to haves” remain on the shelves.

 

Another EU requirement is that it will be illegal to grow poppies in Slovakia. On the surface that seems reasonable to the outside world as a combatant to the world of drugs. But it is a crisis for much of the Slovaks because one of their historic culinary delights is  the gray poppy seeds in their baked goods. Every farmer’s field has an innocent 300 meter patch of the white 5 ft tall flowers growing next to the corn and other family vegetables. At full bloom, the wife carefully harvests the dark gray seeds for baking kolaches, biscuits and cakes.  Still, May and June bring about the wild red poppies in along the roads and in the fields. What of them?

 

My 75th birthday in April came and went with little festivities; an iPod from my daughter Dana that I have yet to install as also my new laptop I bought on my last trip to Vegas. I am in hopes of finding a new Internet service that will allow me to download some audible books. My current service via my cell phone cannot do it. An Internet Provider in Myjava is planning on installing a signal here in Jablonka. Until then, the iPod and my laptop wait on my dining room table.

 

Andrea and Rudi bring me a potted Lavender plant and a mushroom stump. The Lavendula is special as it blooms most of the year and I place it on the railing near the door and the garden . The mushroom stump is a plastic bag filled with sawdust and mushroom spores. Andrea pokes holes in the bag with a nail, and instructs me to put it in the cellar near a window, water it once a week and in three weeks, the bag will sprout wonderful mushrooms. Pull them off and freeze them, returning the tree to the cellar for a second crop.  Unlike button mushrooms, they must be cooked for 10 minutes before eating. Sure enough, the tiny mushroom groups burst forth from the bag and grew until they become giant ripe clusters.

 

“When they lose their grayness and the edges turn upwards, you know they are ready to harvest” Andrea told me.

 

Eagerly I broke off the full size clumps from the first harvest. They have already been a  wonderful addition to my Mexican Pork Stew, Spaghetti Sauce and Chinese Fried Rice and more wait in the freezer. The mushroom stump is something new this year and an exciting enterprise for the consumer.  Slovakia is well known for its forest mushrooms and it is not unusual to see people carrying wicker baskets  into the wooded areas after a soft rain. I am delighted to finally grow some I feel safe to eat and that are so economical and delicious. If only I could have eaten those that graced my walls and hid among the grass in the garden. Not a chance. I will stick with the stump.

 

Dovidenia until next time,

 

gyn

 

 

April 2008 - Sounds Of Silence

 

“We cannot change who we are, but we can change what is important in our lives” Gyn Gerhardt

 

Green flannel sheets

Vanilla, five spice powder, bay leaves

Fix broken molar

Flannel nightgowns

Peanut butter

New prescription glasses

Corn tortillas

Birthday present for grandson

New laptop with Vista

Sweat suit

Close out storage, bank account, safe deposit box

Find son for ninety year old mother.

 

When I meet new Slovak friends, they usually tell me of how they had a relative who defected when the Soviet Union won Czechoslovakia as the spoils of war at the end of World War II. Mostly it was young men who chose not to live under the government rules, slipping from under the Iron Curtain in their quest for freedom. Many left wives and young children behind and it is these children, now grown, that tell me of their life without a father.

 

It isn’t very often I can do something to repay the kindness of the many Slovak friends I have made these past four years, so when one of them asked me to try to locate her son Joseph, I was more than willing to give it a try. Finding someone who may or may not still be alive and having only a last known assumed name is a challenge. Oddly enough, the last known address was in Las Vegas. Armed with the little information given me and his Las Vegas address (now over 5 years old), I turned to the Internet. As the name I was given is rather common,  I found a history of Mafia ties and other criminal activities, but nothing current in the past 4 years, nothing linking this Italian name (I have actually changed the name given me to protect his privacy) to a Slovakia-born son. What I did find were prison sentences. Knocking on prison doors looking for a defector didn’t thrill my bones.

 

Enter Eddie LaRue, Private Investigator, Las Vegas gumshoe extraordinaire. The name invokes romantic images of rumbled trench coats, day-old beards and unkempt hair. Shades of worn paper-back novels and old TV series flash across one’s mind as the tongue sounds the name, Eddie LaRue. I might envision a sleazy office at the head of creaky wooden stairs befitting of any old west sleuth. Opening the door, I might find an Elaine, a ditzy blond filing her nails, crossed legs clothed in silk, skirt up to her……

 

“He ain’t here. What can I do you for” she might say with deep crimson glossy gum-smacking lips as she continues her filing.

 

But the real Eddie LaRue is just the guy next door, somebody’s husband, father, and grandfather. He mows the lawn, does shopping at Wal-Mart and barbecues on Sundays. However, he also just happens to be the husband of my dear Cocker Spaniel breeder/handler friend, Terrie.  Like most youngsters who read  Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys when they were growing up, Eddie never got it out of his skin and has been doing his sleuthing in Vegas ever since.  A couple times a year you just might see him on TV talking about a high profile case he’s working. And Elaine is actually a conservative matron who does her job assisting her boss in a professional manner. So, when I asked Terrie for hints on how to narrow my search, I was thrilled that I knew someone who could help an old woman in Slovakia find the whereabouts of her long-lost son before she died.

 

“Elaine can do it in her spare time. She has access to places you can’t go to. Most probably he is dead which is why he stopped writing”, Terrie offered.

 

A few weeks later, Terrie gave me a 30 page report of the last 40 years of the very Joseph Caruso we were looking for, one tracing every city address where he ever lived  since coming to America. He was still alive and living only 2 miles from where I was staying.

 

I went to the address on the report but found no one at home. I did find  a German Shepard, on guard behind a glass patio door, warning me not to break into the house (which I had no intentions of doing). I came back a few hours later and saw a man with the dog coming out of the apartment.

 

“Hello, are you Joseph Caruso?” I asked politely from a safe distance. Puzzled, he responded in the affirmative. I could sense his fear of why I was asking. I quickly told him who I was and that I brought word from his family in Slovakia. Clearly unnerved, he invited me inside to learn more and especially how I was able to find him.

 

Once inside I met his lovely wife Maria and he began his story of intrigue, how he escaped wearing a stolen German soldier’s uniform and made his way underground to Italy. There he found a man who could smuggle him into America. He had been compelled to write about the injustice of the government and in doing so, would be cause for arrest. To this day, he still feared the KGB would find him and kept into hiding, fearing any link to his family in Czechoslovakia would bring them harm. I told him I was sure now with the country’s split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia and  their membership in the  European Union, the KGB was no longer looking for him. I do know that other defectors who went to America regularly visit Slovakia and hoped he would see his mother before she died. 

 

Recently, Slovakia and the United States signed an agreement that visas are no longer required between the two countries. At last this now makes me legally in the country  and my years of trying to be here with the elusive visa are now at rest. Zuzana’s lawyer cousin continues to resolve the problem of the ownership of my house and car. Next year it hopefully may  be completed under another forthcoming Slovak agreement.

 

Before I left for Jablonka, Joseph gave me an envelope with a letter and pictures inside for his mother. But he stilled feared any direct contact to them, asking if I would be the go-between which of course I agreed to do. It is my hope that one day he will return to his birthplace and his mother can once again hold his hands and smile upon her long lost son’s face as only a mother can do.

 

Completing my yearly health mission to Las Vegas and my “to-do list”, and with my two suitcases chocked full of  purchases, I headed home to my beloved Jablonka. I was “good to go” for another year and also eager to deliver the report and envelope to Joseph Caruso’s mother.

 

Andrea and Rudy brought me home from the airport, along with Saturday and Sera who had spent the month with Zuzana. They still had not closed the deal on the Tizik house. Two years of trying still had them left hanging in limbo, but our friendship is as solid as if were already neighbors. I was eager to rejoin my dogs and feel the joy of sleeping once again in my own bed. Distant journeys are refreshing, making the homecoming even more spectacular.

 

The last of the glistening winter snow laid wait for me and much of March gave revisits from time to time. Then, on the sunny morning of March 9th as I walked in the crisp morning air, I was startled by a strange silence. The winter birds had fled for new vistas. Saturday sniffed at the garage corner where her hedgehog had hibernated for the winter. That night she and Sera barked nonstop at the gates. In the glow of the streetlight, I investigated to see the family hedgehog curled up in his ball on his way with his summer journey. The following day the summer birds arrived, full of songs and chirping just as eager to be home as we were.

 

But the Tittlemouse family was not as eager to leave my house as was evident by their digestive droppings found here and there. Saturday was on duty, letting me know where the mice were with her plaintive barking as she chased them from hidihole to hidihole. They had no manners and brazenly appeared as if they had a right to be there, paying me no notice. I would wake some nights hearing them gnawing on something near my bed. During the day one worked feverishly to build a door through the paneling of the bathroom. I answered him back with a hard thumping of my broom stick, telling them to go away, but to no avail. The gnawed on in spite of me. Desperately, I sought out there entrances and decided the large opening under the sink, cut to allow the water pipes and drain access, was a likely suspect. Then Saturday chased one that fled into a crack in a loose kitchen cabinet baseboard. I hammered the opening shut right behind him. Then I retrieved the Rat Glue tube and squirted out a good glob onto a sheet of paper, placing it under the sink near the pipe hole behind my pots and pans.

 

That night I went to sleep thinking all was under control. But at 5:00 a.m. I woke to a loud crash coming from the kitchen. I could hear my pots and pans under the sink going in all directions. Then came a moment of silence followed by a loud bang. Somehow I was now in the center of a “Twilight Zone” episode  The clever Slovak mouse had freed himself from my glue paper and distributed the glue all over my pots and pans. Then with all his might (I am assuming it was a male), he had burst through the baseboard to freedom. The war was on.

 

In Myjava I found a Mouse and Rat Glue Trap. It is a piece of wood with a ¼ inch layer of that same sticky glue. I bought enough traps to line the entrance to the kitchen where they regularly sauntered, and set them in place after the dogs were in bed. They used to waltz in that way when I was cooking without a by your glance. It wasn’t 5 minutes until the mouse appeared at the doorway, sniffed the traps and returned to his hidihole. In the morning the traps were still empty.

 

At my wits end, I returned to Myjava and  purchase some botanical rat and mouse poison, something I was hesitant to use because of the dogs. The pink-one-inch-square pieces came with a glove to wear when handling them. Supposedly they are only potent for up to 10 days, then become useless. I tossed a few pieces under furniture, under the sink and places I knew they had been but not reachable by the dogs. I was hopeful the risk was worth the effort. After this last resort, I did not know what I’d do next.

 

The next day as I put the dogs in their pen, I found the clever rascals had eaten 2/3rds of one of the pieces and deposited the remainder in the dogs’ empty dish. The rake of their teeth proved the morsel to their liking. A second partially eaten piece was placed in the canister lid of one of my lower kitchen cupboards. They were either wanting to share their found wealth or wanting to punish us. It was Sera then, who came on duty to point me in the direction of the poisoned mice. While she had not been a participant in the finding of the live ones, she was good to find the dead varmints, keeping a safe distance from their bodies, and making me take notice by looking at them, then me,  and then them again. We made a good team, the three of us.  Yet, I still knew I had to find the source of their entrance, and hopefully there would be just one.

 

“Saturday, find the mouse”, I pleaded. And like the good hunter she is, she sniffed the air and after following what could have been a track, she came to a patch of dirt in the very center of the house, a patch near my computer desk that had been under the wooden stairs up to the classroom of the schoolhouse. I had to remove the stairs themselves when the mushrooms had invaded as they had rotted away, leaving just dirt beneath. Sure enough, I could see a tiny hole in one corner. Out we went and into the garden and returned with a pail of stones and poured them over the dirt in two layers. Then we waited. And as I wrote on my computer, we heard the gnawing at the stones. Good job Saturday, you found the source. Off I went to the building supply house in Myjava and purchased some ready mix cement. I think cement with a layer of stones on top will look very nice in the room.

 

It has been said that when one problem is solved, wait three hours and another life changing happening will slip into its place. So, while I slept soundly that night without any disturbances, the morning brought a deafening silence when  I slipped my teacup into the microwave and pressed the start button. I hold off on buying a new microwave, using an electric kettle for my tea. It is only a lifestyle annoyance, perhaps starving off something of more grandiose proportions in my future. In the meantime, I look for a rise in the dollar against the euro and a bargain at Tesco for the replacement microwave.

 

Life is idyllic once more  as Spring bursts forth in the garden. The tulips are in bloom and the grass grows high while we continue to seek out a gardener to mow it. It has been 4 weeks now and the stones  remain silent, without the sound of  big teeth gnawing at them. No longer does Saturday chase the  mice around the house, nor Sera find any more dead ones. We wait only for Bailey, Murphy and Nicholas to come home from the shows with their ribbons and merry greetings to complete our Jablonka postcard.

 

Dovidenia for now,

gyn

 

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Gyn Gerhardt