Month: August 2014

Fungus Amongus

Every day, at the garden, I notice at least one person, usually pretty old, smiling and making the journey down the gravel road from the woods towards town, with a load of mushrooms.  Preferred traditional carrying accessory is a wicker basket (for air flow, preferably made by the hunter), tho grocery bags and little plastic pails also work.  A proud experienced successful hunter will, of course put the biggest and best shrooms on top, for lookers or competitors to see.

For my birthday, I requested my sweetie to join me on a mushroom hunt, to the forest we could see in the distance during our walk to the garden.  Jana learned from her uncles which species are safe to collect and good to eat, so that’s what we look for; there are other edibles but also some dangerous ones, so we stick with what we know…

Thanks to Jana’s ‘map my walk’ app, we know that our fungus collecting adventure covered 6.6 miles, during 4 hours, and burnt 3432 calories…  We live in a low spot, so every walk is uphill, which I trust the app takes into account.

Shrooming is competitive here, we figure that Sunday isn’t a prime finding day, that the real enthusiasts got the best ones in the mornings during the week.  But holy shit, we found a sweet spot, filled our bags half full and pulled ourselves away, leaving many more than we wanted to deal with right now.  Half our bounty are sliced thin and laid out to dry, the other half are in a delicious soup.

We’re nearing the end of the shroom season, for the species we collect..  But the weather and conditions here are pretty perfect.  This past couple weeks we’ve had rainy mornings and steamy afternoons, perfect fungus weather.  Next season, we’ll be more competitive and better prepared to process and store large quantities.

As far as I know, these ain’t edibles, but were abundant and huge…  Jana said she’s never seen so many mushrooms as we did today….  me too 🙂


A happy shroomer, with her trusty knife, useful for both cutting the stem and for peeling the slimy skin off the klouzeks…


Don’t pick the green ones, they’re deadly..


During the walk home, we helped ourselves to a couple dozen of these yellow plums, they’ll be great in smoothies…


Here’s the drying slices…


Of course, the return trip took us thru the castle garden…..which is always worth a couple pictures..


We were shrooming somewhere out yonder….


Another day in paradise!


The Wellness Program

The daily walk to the garden is part of the Wellness Program, for both of us.  For Jana, the walk is a break from her home office routine, and we get a chance to sit and talk and relax when she arrives..  My favorite distraction..  For me, the walk takes me to a day of good stuff – digging, cutting, scything, pruning, sawing, raking and planning.  Projects on the horizon, short term, are construction of two different levels of flat paved sitting areas to fit the outdoor furniture we brought along, and steps to get to them, and of course, a couple levels of double-dug vegetable garden plots, and a greenhouse of sorts for winter leafy greens, and stone terracing walls between levels.  The design of all this is dynamic, and Jana has given me full authority to do what feels right…

Speaking of leafy greens, ya couldn’t find kale if yer life depended on it….at least where we have looked in Prague & in Krumlov.  So we’re excited to get on with our own… And our first round of sprouting kale seeds just poked thru soil in the starter frame, so we’ll start dealing with rabbits and snails and slugs and a whole new level of challenges once seedlings are set in the ground.  It seems the Krumlov farmers markets no longer occur, and the assortment of organic veggies is real limited – another opportunity for a yet unrealized market..

Anyway, my Wellness Program includes a brisk uphill walk, carrying a backpack loaded with camera, two warm Eggenberg beers, a liter of tap water and yesterday’s compostables.  Half the time, I pass thru the castle garden, with rows of manicured rose bushes and perfect hedges and awesome water fountains, other times I take one of two routes – the fastest just alongside the outside of the castle garden wall, the other thru the town square then meandering up the Krasne Udoli (beautiful valley) road.  All the trips take me past amazing views, this is such a picturesque town..  Upon arrival at garden, I set the beers in the spring-fed creek to cool, put on my work boots, acknowledge the neighbor if he’s there (and he’s usually there) and proceed to do whatever work moves me til I can’t move, then take a break in a strategic spot where I enjoy the view and consider my options and plan my next task, and repeat and repeat.  Tho the neighbor claims to not see for shit, he usually interrupts my tasks to check the sharpness of my scythe blade or correct my technique or to share some advising words.  When he speaks Czech to me, I speak English to him, so we are technically exchanging words, but when we perform charades, the exchange becomes more effective and fun..  After what seems like 3 hours, or when Jana arrives, I’ll enjoy one beer; the other is for the walk home..

When it feels like I’m done being productive, I change out of my work stuff, open #2 and head home.  It’s a downhill trip.  Most of the time, I take the fast castle route, outside the castle garden walls (garden closes at 7pm), passing thru the castle courtyards, admiring the views….  These walks ain’t just good for the ticker, they’re good for the soul.

Here’s a couple related pictures…like uphill scything….


And my Eggie’s cooling…


My favorite garden neighbor sharing plums, and strawberry growing advice with my favorite person…  Note that there are two wearers of Dickies stonewashed bibs in town, me and the neighbor, same size tho look like he’s needing a bit more room..


A cool view down the castle garden inside hedge border, whilst exiting the castle garden.


Friday nite whilst walking home a bit earlier than normal, some folks were launching a balloon…  Note the two closest kids, one with blue hair, the other with pink – no, the circus ain’t in town, just part of the new ‘normal’.

IMG_5027  IMG_5033

And finally, a selfie…


A traffic mirror outside a blind corner outside the castle garden wall..

So far so good…



I must say, this is awesome…  How often can one examine his situation and claim ‘No place I’d rather be, Nobody I’d rather be with, Nothing I’d rather be doing’.  If my sweetie’s with me, all 3 are satisfied, if not only two.

Today marks Jana’s first remote Kohler working day, and my first blogging day.  I’ll get better and fancier, maybe.

Maybe not.

Still a little upside down, getting used to it.  One third of our stuff is in the garage, the 19 square meter space a half mile away, about as close as we could hope to find one.  All our container-shipped stuff arrived as wrapped and as identified by the wrappers – so the descriptions of what’s inside aren’t real accurate nor intuitive nor complete.

When we unloaded the container, at a location on the edge of the city, into ‘shuttle’ loads, we shuttled to 3 different locations – house (domu), garage (garaz) and garden (zahrada).  We chose for the container unloaders to leave everything in the garage wrapped, so we could take care of it as time allowed, not fully realizing the volume of packing materials involved nor how full the garage would become.  So the garage is about two-thirds full, and about one-third unwrapped, and Jack Daniels is neither on a description nor yet discovered, but am pretty sure he’s there.  (Denny paid me a 1.75 of Jack as part of some deal..)  As much as I look forward to getting thru all that stuff, I wouldn’t be totally upset if someone broke in and stole everything.. except for Jack..  But unwrapping and opening and discovering is exciting, like gifts from some ‘happy moving’ party, even when it turns out to be something we hadn’t intended to bring along, like the 120-volt clock radio from our bedroom.

Our farewell parties were special, heartwarming.  So many friends and family, so many kind words and hugs.  Like if you could attend your own funeral, only better.  Some words didn’t come, feelings were strong, hugs and handshakes and tears.  And how cool was it to have my fave cousin Nancy Lou and hubby Kevin stay with us at Lake Horseshoe for our final days…

As I become more disciplined, I will add pictures and stories.  Like about when the unloaders arrived at our house – rang the doorbell 30 minutes earlier than the planned phone call (to say they were in the area), Jana just exiting the shower and I hadn’t washed nor breakfasted nor dressed for anything other than answering the door, but soon found myself in a foreign car, with 3 of 4 non-English speakers, providing navigation to garage and garden but with no means of communicating to Jana where in the hell I was…  Like James Bond or Jason Bourne, the mind plays with the situation.

Thank you Tanya for brainstorming the ‘reality Czech’ title, thank you Honza for setting up the blog account, even if it had to be in Montenegro (dot me).  Thanks Liz, Honza, and Tinkie for being great kids.  Thanks Denny for being the best man, thanks Christian for being a great friend and brewing partner, thanks Mary for an awesome gift.  Thanks sibs for being awesome.

Jedna means one.

Sorry to be so far away.  Cesky Krumlov is not just a cool place to live but also an awesome place to visit.