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Bleatings and salivations, greetings and salutations,

It's your old fuzzy pal Marko with another percolating pint of profundity. 'Tis Coffee Hour, Tea Time, a Hot Cocoa Hootenanny, the Era of Eggnog -- Or simply, a place to rest your heels and wet your whistle here in a quieter quarter of the vast orange cesspool. Sit a spell and spin a story to share.

My writing environs are somewhat unusual today. I'm off in the mountains that form the border between the Czech Republic and Poland. I've got a bitsy little netbook computer with a clumsy keyboard to plickity-tlip on. Can't even get a good clickity-clack out of this thing. No sign of a Spell Check app hidding among the spruce covered hills either, so it's bound to be a bumpy ride.

The usual disclaimers also apply here. The comments are open to all and everything while my usual yowling that fills the void beyond the ginger hairball may be safely ignored.

I'm seated with my back to one of the five windows of a partially spruce panneled room under a heavy beam braced ceiling. The walls above the panneling are mostly roughly smoothed wooden beams painted with a thick brown paint, the spaces between the beams filled with thin boards, packed with clay and plaster and coated with whitewash.

Around all four walls are hung hunting trophies. Nothing glass-eyed and grinning though. Mostly bits of roe deer craniums with their delicate, pronged antlers still attached neatly mounted on little shields of stained wood. There are a few racks from larger deer, they seem enormous among the roe deer remnants. And there's one tail fan from a black pheasant with the date and place it was killed in gold paint on the curiously shaped bit of wood it has been attached to.

A couple of signed lithographs of roe deer, a monocrome painting (perhaps ink wash? watercolor?) of a black pheasant displaying his tail while a couple of curious females peer over the grass behind him. Another lithograph on the opposite wall of a Springer Spaniel, or similar pooch, with a limp rabbit clamped in its mouth. Two small oil paintings both featuring a broad stretch of mountain river with pine covered hills and ragged, snowy peaks in the background of a scene that wasn't painted from any of these windows. You don't find peaks like those in the Czech Republic. For ragged, steep and rocky you've got to head into Slovakia or preferably south into the Austrian Alps. And now I've noticed that the painting that was always here is gone. A deftly rendered oil painting, larger than the painting of the black pheasant, showing a snow covered lane in a little village with the light low and rosy, the shadows cool and blue-violet. It could have been painted in almost any small village around here. Not now of course, the fields around here are green and liberally dotted with yellow wildflowers.

I miss that painting.

Above the high, beige-curtained windows are wooden shelves that display a few odd pieces of ceramics, mostly jugs and pitchers with only two that seem to belong to each other. In the corner of the room opposite my seat there is a broad, squat, brown glazed tile stove with a broad sheet of iron to cook on and two little ovens with metal doors that rise in a chest-high tower and are topped by a jointed length of thick iron stovepipe that doubles back over the stove before vanishing into the wall.

Most of the furniture in this room, our dining room for our stay here, are pine benches covered with a motley collection of cushions and matching pine tables. There's a large, cream-colored, chipped paint slathered, cupboard taking up one corner. It's topped with a small, kitschy ornate porcelean clock and a carved wooden figurine of the patron of these mountains, he looks a bit like a flat-hatted Gandalf, complete with long pipe-- I think someone has lost his staff. In the stories however, he's a character more akin to Paul Bunyan with a bit of Tom Bombadil mixed in. He's partially hidden by a dusty tangle of plastic plant, some sort of ivy perhaps. Whatever it's supposed to be, it's balanced by a different plastic plant on the opposite end of the cupboard. Some of the plastic leaves cascade over the glass doors of the upper secion of the cupboard. there are three cream painted, wood framed doors, each featuring the same large sticker of a bunch of multicolored pastel roses that doesn't do much to conceal the oddments of ceramics and bric-a-brac adorning the shelves behind them. Shall I now describe the old, steel grey Panasonic television on the table covered with the brown checkered plastic table cloth?

Maybe not. I suppose none of this is terribly interesting. I don't really expect this is going to be widely read and appreciated. But for me, writing isn't always about communication. I enjoy the act of writing. It's a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle; finding pieces, making connections, and taking a moment to admire the results before lifting it by one corner and trying to fold it back into the box without it falling completely apart-- oh, wait, I think I've muddled my metaphor. I will sit back a minute after I've finished writing before I publish it. Perhaps publishing is like putting the puzzle away. It will then be a puzzle for someone else to put together. Hopefully it will hold together. Hopefully there won't be too many pieces that have fallen out. I don't know why I put puzzles back into the box like that. I myself don't want any pieces stuck together before I begin a puzzle. Must be really annoying to tear one of my puzzles apart-- so much time lost in destroying the puzzle just to rebuild it. And here I've built a puzzle of words and stuffed it in a box. And here you come along to tear it apart piece by piece, piece from piece-- starting up in one corner and working your way through this 1000 piece puzzle. And when you've finally reduced my words to a jumbled, multicolored pile you can flip over the ones that are showing their backs to you, sift out the edge pieces, and begin to put it all together. Good luck, and patience to you as you attempt to make sense of this.

I'm sitting here watching one of the most wonderful people to have shared a portion of my life get a fire started in the stove and sweep up some of the mess of splinters and dust, bits of bark and ash that have accumulated on the floor. I'm curious to see how long the wood I split this morning will last. We've just returned from a long hike up, up, up along a ridge and around and back down, down, down before climbing the hill, as the rain began, for home. We're, all of us, a little lacking in energy and eagerly anticipating dinner. My little family is enjoying a long weekend in a cabin, more properly called a chalupa , with a couple of friends and their kids. Oh, and we have one girl on loan from her parents. 4 adults and 6 children, relaxing with various games and unhurried tasks, as the rain falls outside on the pasture around us and the forests that stretch on beyond and over the rising lines of hills. We've been coming to this place, with various configurations of friends, for a dozen years or so-- once or twice a year, in the spring and autumn.

The man who rents this place to us lives just down the hill from us. He's an interesting character-- well, I find him interesting. His last name is Schlitz and is related to the beer brewing American family of the same name. He has a shelf of Schlitz Beer coasters and cans and things that people have given him over the years. Less than a week ago he was lying in a hospital in Prague after a procedure to clear out a narrowed artery ended up causing a minor stroke. Now he walks with a walker and has said he'll have to sell off or slaughter his cow and goats-- at least until he's better able to take care of his animals again. Living on his own at age 73 I suppose he's just being practical but we've always looked forward to visiting him and seeing his collection of critters. Everyone in this whole valley knows him. He was something of a caretaker for the forests here for most of his life. I think he looks like a white-haired Charlton Heston.

When we arrived yesterday and he told us about his hospital stay and told us about how he'd have to stop caring for any animals for awhile he looked up at me and said, "70 years and I didn't even have a health insurance card, but the last three years have been ... this is what the end looks like." -- said with a grin and a glint in his eye but I know that not that long ago he was having radiation treatments for some form of cancer. So I wonder how much longer we'll be coming here. How many more times will I be able to sit under these antlers? Many of the people who usually come with us to this retreat in the mountains did not come this week. Of the four adults here, I'm the only man; divorces have also trimmed our troop. Maybe, even if the seemingly unsinkable Schlitz recovers fully, we'll be seeking a smaller place to rent as our children get older and are less interested in spending their vacations with their parents. There are a lot of years in this place, this room, and I'll be sorry to say goodbye to it. This visit has a special feel to it. I find myself staring at the carpet, trying to memorize the pattern. I hope we manage to spend an evening with Mr. Schlitz before we leave.

Supposedly there are lynx stalking the forests here again. They're slowly moving back into the area from the northeast. I spent some time examining tracks in the mud and sand today: roe deer, wild boar, a big horse of the working variety, and the occasional large dog. I left a few tracks of my own.

I hope I'll be back to leave more tracks in the autumn.

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Fri May 10, 2013 at 12:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We've been enjoying the opening of fishing season. (15+ / 0-)

    This was last night's supper.

    baked bluegill.

    Leftover fish. Hmmm....what to do with leftover fish?

    creole fish cake lunch.

    Make fish cakes for lunch, of course.  

    Bear is on a baked potato with broccoli and cheese kick at the moment. It is, at least, relatively cheap and healthy.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Fri May 10, 2013 at 12:26:55 PM PDT

  •  How awful, kos ate my Cookie Jar (14+ / 0-)

    There's a stomach ache for ya'.

    I thought I'd leave this diary pretty much unadorned and next week I'll post a diary of photos from my trip to the green and lovely, though not so giant, Giant Mountains.

    I've taken a couple of photos of bugs that I think are well worth a closer look.

    Love to all, I hope this message finds you all comfortable and calm. The rest of my weekend promises to be rainy and cool.

    My lack of Spell Check didn't make your teeth itch too much did it?

    Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

    by Marko the Werelynx on Fri May 10, 2013 at 12:28:11 PM PDT

  •  Places we'll never go again: (12+ / 0-)

    is it better to know it when you're there? Or not suspect until afterward? As with other kinds of loss, there's are arguments on both sides. I can never decide if I'd rather realize I must fully appreciate this visit because there won't be another, or if I'd rather have my visit not colored by the foreknowledge of loss. The ideal answer would be that, if you live each moment fully, you don't need the warning, but I am often distracted by other things. Will I ever learn?

    I hope Mr. Schlitz does well, and you do have more chances to visit that place after all. It sounds like a lovely and cozy setting. Thanks for your story, Marko, and for taking time out from your vacation to share it.

  •  a sense of place (7+ / 0-)

    can be so important.  I'm like that too.  Enjoy your time in the woods.

    here...  attempting to write, and the well is dry.  sigh...

    •  Creativity (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes, Ooooh, Wee Mama

      For me, the worst thing I can do is to sit somewhere and try to be creative. I usually need to get out for a walk, a change of environment, before I feel much like writing or doing some artwork.

      One thing that always helped me to start a bit of writing was an exercise that I did in a creative writing class where we'd be given a set amount of time to write and were then just left to fill a page with whatever nonsense sprang to mind, random words and disjointed phrases, descriptions of what we had for breakfast ...

      We sometimes came up with the seeds for some wonderful short stories.

      Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

      by Marko the Werelynx on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:12:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  temping the muse (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marko the Werelynx

        great ideas you have there!  I also use the limited time trick, although as I get older it works less well.

        Recently,  I simply fall asleep.  Somehow, the brain gets organized during my nap.  Once fully awake, the brain is chugging on all 8 cylinders.  

        Speaking of a sense of place, here is June Tabor's song about a sense of place.  "

        And, noticing down thread, if you can handle "a shot of slivovice" you are blessed with a great constitution.  Never could deal with the stuff myself.

        Glad that your work is being rescued!

        •  Thanks for introducing me to June Tabor! (0+ / 0-)

          What a lovely voice she has. 'Tabor' is the Czech word for 'camp' by the way ...

          That slivovice was one of the smoother shots I've ever had. Very tasty, and that's from a guy who usually refuses to drink the potent stuff. Generally those home distilled concoctions are rather harsh. I've got a bottle of the apple version "jablkovice" and a bottle of the pear version "hruškovice" that will probably evaporate completely away through their corks before I manage to finish them.

          I think my ability to drink alcohol has somewhat diminished as I age. I rarely have more than 2 drinks in an evening.

          Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

          by Marko the Werelynx on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:30:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  What a beautiful story (4+ / 0-)

    I can feel the warmth of the hearth and the  sense of well being that you feel from all that surrounds and fills you.

    'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' Greek Proverb

    by janis b on Fri May 10, 2013 at 08:22:12 PM PDT

  •  Just to complete the circle-- (3+ / 0-)

    I'm reading this from the Rockies in CO, drinking a Stella Artois.

    Tell me a story about something you did/saw in Poland, please.

    If there anything similar to U.S. west coast salmon there?

    The better I know people, the more I like my dog.

    by Thinking Fella on Fri May 10, 2013 at 08:40:18 PM PDT

    •  The Rockies (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thinking Fella, Joy of Fishes, Ooooh

      Now those are proper mountains!

      Much to my regret, I've never spent much time in the large country to the north of me. I've danced across the open border many times in these mountains. One route up the tallest mountain in the Czech Republic follows the Czech/Polish border and you can run a slalom course around the white, stone markers. Atop the mountain the view into Poland is striking for the amount of water you can see. There are some very large reservoirs among the foothills of the Giant Mountains in Poland.

      Once a minibus I was riding in stopped briefly for gas in Poland. Not much to relate and who wants to be regaled with tales of the filling stations of the world?

      I was with a lovely group of people at that filling station though. I was returning to the Czech Republic with a group of teens from a trip to Northern Germany. Most of the kids were from a Czech village on the border with Poland.

      One of these years I hope to go camping in Poland. along the Russian border I've heard there's a huge, gorgeous national park. Poland has more old growth forests than this little country.

      There are Atlantic salmon in Portugal and Norway. I don't know if we get much of any salmon working their way down-- er, up here from the North Sea. I know there's quite an industry built around the Baltic salmon in Poland. They're rightly famous for their smoked salmon.

      Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

      by Marko the Werelynx on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:03:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marko the Werelynx, Ooooh

        I've met people from Poland who all seemed to be from some vacation spot in mountains, and their pics were gorgeous.
        Also, I've been told that "Poland" in Polish translates to 'Land of Fields' or a place good for crops. 'Fecund Land', perhaps? I dunno. Every Polish salad I've had is beets. Or cabbage. Or beets & cabbage...

        The better I know people, the more I like my dog.

        by Thinking Fella on Sat May 11, 2013 at 06:05:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Really beautiful, Marko, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marko the Werelynx

    I feel like I just took a trip with you, and without having to go through all the airport drama that accompanies travel these days.

    I'm glad this got rescued or I would have missed it, I get busy at work on Fridays and miss your posts, and weekends fly by in a flash. Thank you for sharing your rented chalupa with us, I hope you get to return in the Fall as well.

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

    by Ooooh on Sat May 11, 2013 at 09:02:29 AM PDT

    •  So good to see you here, sweet Ooooh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm rather spoiled by the number of my diaries that have been rescued lately. I'm glad this one found you. Next week I'll be posting another diary relating to this trip unless something intervenes. I have some photographs I'd like to share but I don't even want to try to organize and edit photos on this little machine-- it is however, a grand step up from writing and posting on a mobile phone right?

      I'm just finishing my dinner; mixed salad with salsa and a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches cut into cubes and tossed in. Just before I made my strange, improvised dinner I was down visiting Mr. Schlitz. I missed out on dinner with my raucus band but I shared a shot of slivovice (plum liquor) and some pleasant conversation with our host.

      I found out a few interesting things like that the Schlitz family is originally from Germany (well, I knew that) but that there is a town called Schlitz and a Schloss called Schlitz in the area that their family comes from. And the Schlitz that moved to the US and started one of the first breweries there was the brother of the Schlitz that went east and settled in the Sudetenland in these here Giant Mountains.

      I also learned what happened to that lovely winter scene oil painting-- it was "misplaced". Turns out that it was painted by Mr. Schlitz's uncle, and his grandfather was also a painter, one of his sons is a sculptor who now mostly does landscape architechture.

      I got to hear his stories about how things changed here after the Russians took over in 1968. And I asked him about his thoughts on the latest Czech presidential elections. I think he and I are similar in our politics-- at least in some areas.

      I also found out that he has a grandson going to school in Boston and how it was for them to hear about the bombing and how Mr. Schlitz thought his grandson looked a bit like one of the bombers. I should probably not spread that around too much-- folks will be wanting to bomb the Czech Republic again.

      I thought to ask about the return of the lynxes to this area but he doesn't believe they're here to stay. He'd also heard the news about someone finding tracks.

      Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

      by Marko the Werelynx on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:39:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your remark about specialness you feel (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marko the Werelynx

        in your current visit to the Schlitz chalupa-try saying that 3 times fast ;-)- reminded me of something I've noticed, frequently after a time of exalted sweetness and joy, something happens. Until recently I would have said I only notice this before someone dies, but within the last couple months my sister described exactly such a halcyon time just before she and her daughter had a car accident due to my niece having a seizure while she was driving! That day resulted in many changes within the family, so now I see that it can precede not only death, but other kinds of transition as well.

        It is experimentation day in the kitchen here at Casa Ooooh, I am making a Turkey Fajita Meatloaf-I started out making a turkey meatloaf and was inspired by things I found on hand...I hope it does not turn out to be a mistake! There is already a pan of gluten free peanut butter brownies cooling, I hope they taste as good as they smell.

        Thank you for sharing your vacation with us, Marko, I hope I remember to look for your post next Friday. Cheers!

        There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

        by Ooooh on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:58:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Those Roe deer are something! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marko the Werelynx

    Tiny and with little tusks!

    My husband's Cousin let him shoot a couple on his permit! We have the little skulls on wooden shields in our basement!

    Helps when you have an Uncle who is a game warden too.

    He also was able to shoot boar. It was very memorable, going out with the men in the village, drinking and chasing the boar into a clearing where everyone could shoot them in the snow. The killed boar were all cut up and distributed among the whole village for winter meat.

    Afterwards, they all went to the local Hostinec and drank and told stories and sang! He had a really nice time....but that was some years ago and now we are kicking 70 as well while many of the hunters he went with that winter are no longer around anymore. They all were heavy smokers and drinkers!

    The woods are beautiful in the snow in winter.

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:48:55 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for sharing that, (0+ / 0-)

      I used to do a little hunting with my father back stateside. I've spent a little bit of time around hunters here but I've never gone hunting with them. We had a corn field planted around our own chalupa last year and the wild boar were causing a lot of damage. A couple of hunters and their dog asked our permission to set up camp for awhile on our land but they soon realized that the wild piggies had already moved on.

      I grew up with Sears & Roebuck catalogs and didn't know what a roe buck was until I moved to Europe.

      And yes, I've always loved the woods in winter. We only saw a few icy leftovers of the snow. According to Mr. Schlitz there wasn't enough snow this year.

      Whereabouts was your husband hunting?

      Saving the elusive werelynx though swag.

      by Marko the Werelynx on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:16:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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