Month: September 2014

tak

My favorite Czech word, I think…  Pronounced as “dock” sorta, but the d is kinda like t.  Anyway, this cute little word means ‘there / done / take that!’  I use it every chance I get – when the retired guy does something significant – made coffee, washed the last dish, folded the last piece of laundry, stacked the last piece of wood, picked the final stinging bastard nettle, shoveled my last shovelful, figured out the last coin to give the dude at the checkout, took that last swallow of good Czech dark beer, wiped my ass – a nice all-purpose expression – when she hears me say “tak”, my woman knows I am adding value by checking another thing offa my lista.  If you come here, use this word – folks will think you’re a local.

Today, upon completion of wiping off the sloppy paint job from our historic ceiling wood in the kitchen – tak – mine is off to the garden.  Up the hill, thru the castle courtyards, thru the castle garden, then the meadow, across the bridge, turn right up the hill towards our gate, and I cross paths with Tippy.

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Tippy owns a hostel not in the historic center, but on the river and in a charming area – we cross paths once a week, usually when she is coming from or going for a jog thru the forest on the road that passes the garden..  Tippy is also a musician and singer, we can catch her performing a couple times a month for sure.  Real sweet, friendly and nice character, a true Krumlovian..

Looking ahead to achieving real Krumlovcian status, for me it’s gonna definitely be OVAB – Organic Vegan American Brad – and they’ll ask me – what’s the ph of your soil? or the relative humidity in your greenhouse? or how’d that Designed Experiment for reducing slugs on kale leaves turn out?  Maybe I’ll show off my IKEA shoulder bag full of foraged stinging nettle snips..  They’ll know me by the bibs and the wild hair.

Yah, stopped haircuts for a while, since we moved.  Jana wants to see what my afro looks like, I get a lot of head rubbing by my woman – looks like hell but I appreciate the attention.  When I look in the mirror, I am reminded of mom licking her fingers and trying to get my cowlick to stay down so my hair looked nice for Sunday School.. Maybe she’d sneak a little piece of her gum on it..

So, yah, another day in paradise – not warm paradise, more of a crisp fall paradise today.  Monday & Sunday, I harvested a bunch of tops of fresh growth nettle – snipped em off into my big IKEA bag – then at home, removed the individual leaves and blanched em.  Used too much salt the first round, won’t use any from now on.  Know this stuff is loaded with vitamins & nutrients – and it’s FREE and it grows like crazy in our garden – that which is being harvested is regrowth from my first scything..  Put those bastard stinging leaves in boiling water for 2 minutes, and voila – you can handle it and eat it and use it in that awesome garbanzo spinach soup, in place of the spinach.

Today’s garden bounty was a hooded sweatshirt pouch and a half of hazelnuts in the shell.  I’ve been torturing our biggest of 3 hazelnut tree/bushes, and he pruned branches have the highest percent of pest-free fruit.  The nuts on the ground mostly have a tiny black spot on them, which means there’s a nasty worm inside..  Hazelnut tree wood regenerates and can be harvested every 7 years, or so I’ve read and am testing – am removing the large diameter branches (more than 4 inches) so the next generation can grow straight and not rubbing..   Anyway, nice to bring some bounty home from the garden, whether it’s foraged or grown..

And I rewarded myself with a Primator 24!

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Wednesday…

After a day at the garden, I sleep real well, and I work at the garden every day.  We’ve been staying up til at least ten, and sans job, there is no pressure to get up early.  Unless of course we are awaken by a ringing doorbell.

We’ve been squeezing our general contractor (GC) to get plumbing work (tub set, valves installed) done in the bathroom (so I can tile), electrical work done throughout the house, and our exterior restored – so several trades involved, all as arranged by our GC.  Yesterday, Wednesday, two electricians rang our doorbell at 08:00, just as we were about to wake up – yah..  So in the fog, we toured them around the house, reviewing the scope of the work – this is not their first time here, so it was a refresh.  Turns out our GC was in contact with them but didn’t let us know about the appointment..  Anyway, these electricians were dressed in matching suits – dark grey with orange highlights, and they look like 70’s rock band members..  And they don’t speak English and I don’t speak Czech – but I am the designated early morning greeter of doorbell ringers, so I ventured down and opened the door and wished them good morning and gave em some English as I summoned my sweetie to come figure out which 70’s band these guys were members of.  Turns out they were electricians, and their matching outfits – even including the friggin shoes – causes me to hypothesize that every trade here has its particular color-coded outfits.  Interestingly these visiting trade folks always arrive in duets, I mean pairs.  Showed em around, expected they’d at a minimum install washer & dryer outlets and hang a few chandeliers (first priority tasks explained to GC), then they left as quick as they arrived, with agreement that we’d get together again soon.

Having opened boxes and improved the categorization of garage stuff the day before, I embarked on similar activities at home, needing to expose chandeliers and hoping to discover where Jack was hiding.  Speaking of the packers, those guys were experts in deception – in what they wrote on boxes – they said to make sure there’s no issues with importing our stuff, but it also challenges us to find the hidden, mal-described stuff.  This treasure hunt could have been avoided by having box deliverers unpack everything but I opted for us to be responsible for that pleasure..  So this opening of taped and creatively-labeled boxes is a bit like re-gifting to ourselves.  In the kitchen, in the bottom layer of a tall box labeled Glassware/Décor/Vase Boxes, Jack was discovered wrapped in three layers of kraft paper with seal unbroken…..so I made sure he was OK, and he was pretty OK..

Hire electricians to install outlets & switches and hang light fixtures?  Ya know, I’m just not comfortable working with this whole stone/brick/mortar/plaster construction technique.  Don’t want fancy light fixtures that I hung falling from our ceilings.  So am opting to pay the pros to do stuff while I watch.  On the other hand, we want this stuff done once and right, so we support the local workforce.

Just before noon, I was in front of our home, disassembling a chandelier crate so as to improve its sustainable disposition, and another pair of dudes approached me – one quite unshaven big biker dude looking guy and a smaller less dangerous looking chap.  Big guy started talking Czech, asking me questions – at first I thought this could be the second wave of plain clothes foreigner police following up on my residency application – til I heard the word ‘Kohout’ – ah, he’s from our GC’s company – looks like he might be a collection agent – so I summon my sweetie from her office to see if we owe the contractor any money, only to learn that the big dude is in charge of our exterior work and the little dude provides scaffolding.  So we walk around, talk about the job, they take some measurements.  And the big dude notices my forearm Krumlov tattoo, so he reveals his Jimi Hendrix forearm tattoo – so I had another one of those precious moments – the American showing off his tattoo of a Czech image to a Czech, whilst the Czech shows off his tattoo of an American icon to the American.

Rockers gone, Jack discovered, Jana workday started (3pm local), I head to garden.  Since garage is less cluttered, I opted this time to take the bike.  Walk ten minutes to garage, hop on bike and begin the journey – up to go down, but mostly up.  Holy shit, bicycling is a major advance in transportation method.  And holy shit, pedaling uphill in my lowest gear can take me quite quickly to the point of exhaustion – requiring dismount, breath-catching and bike walking til I am suitably recovered to pedal again.  Had to walk the bike twice on my trip up Krasne Udoli  (beautiful valley) street, and those stops and walks will serve as benchmarks to measure future performances against.

At dusk, I coast and brake down Krasne Udoli, then ride the same roads back to the garage, where I dismount and park and store my precious steed…  Since one of the routes home from the garage, takes me past the Eggenberg Brewery, I choose that route and stop in and grab a cold one for the walk.  Open container is legal, and the gal doesn’t ask for any ID.

It’s raining this morning.  So I’ve taken some time to write.  Usually I’m so damn busy enjoying this life in this awesome place with this beautiful person, that I don’t allow posting time..  Here’s a picture of what was on the hot plate yesterday – a foraged harvest of elderberries, yellow Mirabelle plums and purple plums, cooked down then honey added, to make quite a healthy sweet and tart syrup for oatmeal and other uses..   Pretty neat…

Ciao, Brad

 

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