Posts tagged Czechoslovakia

Looking for a particular rock

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My flower bed with begonias

I haven’t written on this blog for a week or so, I have either the Carnegie to work on or weeding the many gardens we have on the farm.  I’m not complaining and am grateful for the health and energy to do both.  When one sees vast improvement, that gives further motivation to keep going. The other day, however, I was working with several areas that we see out of kitchen window while doing dishes.  I asked my husband if he could tell the difference and he didn’t.  Oh well, *I* know that the quack grass that I had pulled several months ago was back covering over the cream colored bricks and it was also covering over the other bricks by the bird bath.  I wanted the big rocks to show that had been handled by my paternal grandpa, taken out of our rich, Red River Valley soil. I also have a couple of rocks from my mom’s side of the family that her dad, my grandpa would have handled and taken out of his field in North Dakota. The only thing is that they had to do yearly rock picking because there were rocks that kept emerging. Contrary to that, you have to go a LONG way on our fertile soil to find any kind of rock.

Speaking of rocks, several weeks ago I was using my power gloves to weed one of our vegetable gardens. My folks had come out to help. My dad does the spin trim around buildings or he goes out in the back woods and mows the tall grass down.  I DO remember when I was trying to yank my one left glove off, it was stuck and not moving.  I yanked some more and finally it gave way.  The funny thing is that I never looked to see why the glove wouldn’t give way. Instead, I kept working with pulling out the weeds or raking the ones I had already pulled or what my mom had pulled. I placed (rather threw down) my gloves on the lawn near the south edge of the garden. Later I picked them up again to do cutting of tall, nasty weeds south of one of our barns.  I was outside long past the time my folks went back into town. During these LONG summer nights, my usual time to come indoors is about 10:10 or 10:15 p.m.  The days are supposedly getting shorter, good thing, because that decreases my time to be out working!

I went to bed after a shower to get all the weed dust and dirt off of me.  At 3:15 a.m is when I reached down to my left hand to find that I was missing my diamond that Ken had given to me 23 years ago.  I went to the bathroom to see that only the four prongs were showing and at that moment realized that what my glove had been stuck on were one of the prongs. Thus, my diamond was somewhere in the vegetable garden perhaps covered up by snow peas, tomatoes, yellow beans or worse yet, in the grass nearby. At about 5:30 a.m. I went out with a flashlight to fruitlessly look around for any glint of diamond. I went back inside to write my first newspaper article that I had been struggling to write.  I had a kind of passion or empathy for the person I was trying to highlight due to my own loss.

When I had gotten back into bed I told my husband that I was missing my diamond. Maybe he was not fully awake but he said something to the effect that it was just a diamond and that it would get replaced.  I had that same feeling too…just a diamond that had been worth a LOT back when my husband had money to buy it.  Since I had been trying to write an article about an artist from Czechoslovakia who had been imprisoned for his rallying against communism, I compared my loss to his. For 3 1/2 years total he had been tortured, lost his dental practice, his health and almost his family of wife and two sons.  He got out soon after Prague Spring and ended up in New York jobless and then my hometown.  For almost as many years as he had been in prison, he lived in freedom and painted and painted for a livelihood.  So to compare my losing a diamond to the life he had gone through, that was my thought too, it was just a diamond.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t go out to weed and water my vegetable garden and look for that particular rock.  There are many rocks and broken pieces of glass in this particular place.  It could be that it was not even IN the glove at the time I struggled getting it off and that the prongs were there to resist.  No one had ever told me to get those prongs snug to the diamond but now I know to do that with the new diamond that my husband helped me pick out. I should be getting it any time in the next week or so.  It will have six prongs and I will wear it with pride.  I know I have a husband who loves me and my Mom and Dad do too.  They helped to pay for some of this particular rock.

Yes, lesson learned, I will have to take off this precious jewel whenever I am gardening because that is a lot of abuse it takes as I tug at the weeds that resolutely want to stay in my garden where they are NOT wanted.

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Flatlands of rich soil that my dad mows down

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“Journey for Freedom” from Czechoslovakia

I have been interested in what happened in the small country of Czechoslovakia, especially around the late 1960s.  According to my husband who knows such things, there was what was called the “Prague Spring,” This happened when Novotny, who was a Stalinist type ruler of communism, was replaced by Dubcek.  This next leader wanted to present to the Czech people “communism with a human face.” That happened in spring of 1968 where people, who had been living as a satellite nation under communism since 1948, were given fresh hope. However, by August 20, 1968, that is when the USSR invaded Prague and replaced Dubcek with another leader.  Many horrifying things happened during this time period to those living in Prague and elsewhere in the country of Czechoslovakia. I have had students, while teaching in Kyiv, Ukraine, write about what their grandparents and parents survived during that tumultuous time in 1968.

Talking to someone about the artist Antonin Boubin, who lived in my hometown from 1970-1974, they told me about a motivational speaker named Peter Vodenka who wrote a book titled “Journey for Freedom.” He planned with his wife for ten years to leave his homeland of Czechoslovakia to experience freedom in the U.S.  He did NOT even tell his parents or other close family members what they were planning to do. Then he left by way of another country with his wife and two young children. His escape was figured out and subsequently followed by police gunfire before he reached the safe zone inside a free border. I need to get this book. Though it is self published, by all reviews, it promises to be a riveting read. Peter first ended up in Beach, North Dakota working a menial job because he did not know English. However, he has progressed to being a motivational speaker and doing many other things while enjoying his American freedoms. I wonder if he ever met up with the Boubin family members?

While looking up ANY information I could about Antonin Boubin, I found this written by his granddaughter, daughter to his son Olda. She wrote the following about the persecution her family in Czechlozovakia had suffered from 1948-1969.  “Because of increased fear of the death of his family, my grandfather and his family eventually fled from their country. Grandfather and his oldest son (Tony) first travelled to Vienna. Then, using fake passports, my father and grandmother escaped on the last train to leave Czechoslovakia before the communists closed the borders to travel. My dad’s (Olda) last memory of his country of origin was incredible fear that they would be discovered. While on the train, a young boy spat at a Russian soldier. The train stopped and both the boy and his father were shot and killed.  Eventually in 1969, my dad and his family were sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Crookston, Minnesota where my grandfather Anton lived for a couple of years before his death in 1974. Unable to practice his dental profession, he made a meager living providing for his family by painting beautiful paintings from his memories of beautiful Czechoslovakia.”

Antonin Boubin, in order to make a living for his family, during the 3-4 years of his freedom in the U.S. did many paintings which are prized by their owners.  I have made a copy of one of his paintings, I hope to see many more in August when owners will get together to compare notes about what they knew of this great man.

colored poppies for paper

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