Monday, September 12, 2011

One of the first meetings I ever attended was at the Diplomat Hotel. Ivan Klíma spoke. (I know that he spoke again in a recent year.) He talked about time he'd spent in America, he talked about his books, he talked about getting rid of communism. I was especially lured by My Golden Trades, buying it very soon, reading it, and highly recommending it to others, but not actually forcing them to read it! Now and then I read it again.

At an early Christmas bazaar in the Pyramid Hotel I worked at the Canadian-USA table with Joan Drabek who became a very good friend. Even at that first meeting we enjoyed working together. When I went home I told my husband about her. It turned out that he had been interviewed by her father-in-law for Voice of America in 1963. Joan and her husband Jan visited us, spending a month of vacation here in 1996 and coming to two of our children's weddings in 1997. Joan served as president of Women's Group later. We also visited them in their apartment in Prague. Jan worked for Havel in Prague and elsewhere, but he also is an author. We have and have read some of his books.

George and have have gone to 6 Balls, always with others - an artist friend and 2 of our children; Aunt Hana and her granddaughter at the Forum; friends from Canada at the Marriott; President Anja Haanpas and friends at the Citizens' Building on namestí Míru; and my mother-in-law at the Marriott and at the Prague Castle. The first ball was at the Diplomat Hotel. Edna, our artist friend had been restoring a fresco in the chapel. Caroline was working at the Prague Post, David was working with us. We won several prizes at the ball!! I yielded to someone's entreaty for the stuffed animal, but Edna and I most happily used the coupon for a delicious lunch at Parma Restaurant!

We have enjoyed visits from group members. One day Linda, Grace, and Jane arrived here. It was great talking with all of them. Linda was a ballet teacher from Cape Town, who was sending her son to Czech schools where he was doing just fine. Linda showed how she had asked for eggs when she'd forgotten the word in Czech. She flapped her "wings" and clucked, setting all in the grocery store laughing. Jane had been in the film world. Later we went to a reception and a Turkish restaurant with then. Jane bought a king size bed from us - at that time I had to have the mattress made by an upholsterer here. I'm still friends with Grace. Her then teenaged daughter spent several weeks here and planted flowers to bloom for some weddings.

Our first Charity Group chairwoman was Elizabeth Poulsen-Hansen. She and I developed a little exchange - Fokus, a sheltered workshop in Pelhrimov, made slippers. Women's Group paid for them, I took the slippers to Elizabeth who gave them to people in the refugee camps in northern Bohemia. This was continued until the refugees did not want any more slippers and the Fokus workshop people did not want to make any more!

Elizabeth and her family planned to come visit us. However, it happened that Olga Havlová would open our first Christmas Bazaar, so Elizabeth had to stay in Prague. Her husband, the Danish ambassador, and his friend, the Finnish ambassador, did come. The men had wanted to go on a hunt, so my husband and our son arranged it. The ladies who helped me baked and prepared refreshments. After the hunt some Czech folk dancers performed. I was sorry that Elizabeth could not come. We visited them at their home in Copenhagen later on.

Beginning the Facade at Last!

As you are about to get dressed someone walks past your window. You quickly close the shutters. But what would you do if the room you're in is on the second floor [European/British first floor]?? This is very startling. The bricklayers had moved the scaffolding around a corner and now were walking on the planks outside the window. We'd hoped for repairs to the facade for many years. Right now just the
facade of the chapel is being repaired. The chapel is not a separate building - it's at the western corner
of the Zámek. They had repaired the western side and the sacristy and now were starting on the south side, facing the platz.

Some outside re
pairs were done immediately, notably windows. Windows were broken, frames and/or glass. We were going to live here all winter! Some window openings were only openings, some had flapping frames with glass on the ground or on the inside floor. Some were covered with plastic. A few were boarded up.

The first Christmas eve we thought someone was trying noisily to break in. It was a flapping window.

A carpenter friend came to insure that all windows had glass and framing. In rooms we were living that first winter he fixed

double windows. In rooms we only walked through he fixed single windows. He warned me never to open a certain window in the Grand Dining Room. If I had, it would have crashed below. Then he returned to his wood shop to make enough frames for the whole Zámek. As was typical of him, he made many more. Later we used some for screen windows in summers warm enough for screens! A glazier very skillfully filled all the new window frames - that is, of as many as we needed.

Did you ever read Kidnapped? Remember the wicked uncle sending the boy up a stairway? Only a flash of
lightening saved the boy from stepping off into nothingness. We had a balcony like that. There was a wall with a door, so we were not in very great danger. But there was no balcony. Father and son blacksmiths visited, looking for work. We ordered a new lacy stairwell surround, an iron bed, and a half-round table. Then my husband commissioned the new balcony. When it arrived we hired a crane to lift it up. The same glazier added the glass it needed.

Today the balcony is filled with plants, the half-round iron table, and a wicker settee. It is a lovely place to sit and read, or just relax and gaze outside.


In George's grandmother's bedroom was a hole to the stars [or to sun, clouds, rain, hail, snow ] We fixed the

hole and reroofed the first spring.

The facade very badly and still needs restoration.but many other things clamored for money. Outfitting carpenter shops, farm machinery, seeds, fertilizer, hiring a few workers were important needs. The facade waited in its dilapadated state. At last a grant became available. Little by little the facade its regaining its High-Baroque gold.