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Tuesday on Sunday


It was a lovely Christmas in Úterý. I was invited via Karla, who met Štěpanka and her son Michael when Štěpanka was an exchange scholar in Pittsburgh. Štěpanka is a scholar of Czech-American immigration and has published a well-regarded book on the subject, and her son Michael is going to high school in Prague. They also have a sweet feline companion named Vegetka (Michael thought she was lazy, so I guess that is a sort of Czech version of 'vegging' out as in sit around and be lazy). We made a pretty cozy group in the small cottage.

All in all, it was a very Czech Štědrý den (Christmas Eve). This is traditionally a bigger celebration for Czechs. As dusk was falling at 16.00 we attended a Catholic "midnight" mass in Úterý's magnificent (unheated) Baroque church. Then we wandered back to the cottage--making our way through the haze of coal and wood smoke since there is no gas service in the village--for a traditional dinner of potato salad and fried carp. I had initial misgivings about the carp, but it was delicious and quite light. Then we exchanged some small gifts (chocolate, books, wine) and talked.

We had a more "American" Christmas Day. Karla and Štěpanka cooked the main dishes. We had visions of a great vegetable feast (well, not really, but it could have turned out that way). Štěpanka had a goose which she baked in the oven and Karla made yams (a rarity here) and roasted root vegetables. This was the first time I've ever had Christmas goose. I planned a pumpking pie for dessert, but there was a strange disaster with the crust--it turned into a buttery goop at the bottom of the pan. (I forgot my camera so there's no picture to proove it.) Complete disaster was averted by Karla who had the wherewithal to reform the goop into a pie-crust-shaped mass into which we poured the pumpkin filling. Considering the circumstances, the pie turned out well. It was served with whipped cream, graciously provided by Michael. We then walked around the village looking for Christmas decorations at the other cottages.

Other highlights were the snowball fight between Michael, Karla, and me; a walk around the village during which Michael filled us in on the gossip (including the details about the local arsonist, the sausage dogs, and the many 'shortcuts' around the village outskirts); a very large, red-spotted concrete mushroom in a neighbor's backyard, but not a single garden gnome (I guess the gnomes celebrated Christmas elsewhere); peering through the keyhole of the other baroque church--or was it gothic redone as baroque...hmmm...one never can tell--just up the hill from the village; and the German guy using the cemetery wall as a latrine.

As I say, I forgot my camera, so you'll just have to imagine the scene. I have to admit it was quite idyllic, and the peace and charm of the village was worlds away from the Prague (or even Brno) bustle. (Karla posted some of her pictures.)

Comments:

Blogger Karla said . . .

How could I possibly have forgotten to mention the arsonist?! (Even though I photographed some of the evidence.) I admit I wasn't planning to mention the cemetery. Both of us left out the pit-bull, which is probably safest.    

2:50 PM, December 28, 2005


Anonymous bvann said . . .

Hello Jesse! What a wonderful christmas blog. I am enjoying vicariously sharing yours and Karla's experiences. I hope you remember me--I am Barbara Vann; we met in language school 2 summers ago.    

8:31 PM, December 29, 2005


Blogger morskyjezek said . . .

Hi Barbara! No of course I haven't forgotten. I hope that the vicarious life is almost as good as actually being here. :) Well, I'll send you an email. Thanks for reading and posting!!    

10:54 PM, December 30, 2005


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