Farewell, Dobrzyn

It’s with a heavy heart—as usual—that I take leave of my human and animal friends in Dobrzyn. And although the cherries may go uneaten, I know that Hili and Cyrus will not go unloved.

Here are a few photographs of quotidian life here, a relaxing combination of work, walkies, five meals a day, and cherry pie (Malgorzata, amazingly, has made good on her promise that I would have fresh cherry pie every day).

Cyrus is an old dog (estimated to be 11 or 12), and so he has occasional joint pain and walks stiffly. Yesterday Andrzej gave him a pain pill cunningly concealed in a juicy bit of beef that I’d purchased for the d*g a few days before:

1. Cyrus gets pill

I may have posted this earlier on this trip, but in case I didn’t, this is an old-style wooden house in town, of which there are a few. About a century old or more, they are typical of the houses that the Jewish residents of Dobrzyn inhabited before the war. I’m told that about a third of the town’s inhabitants before the war were Jews; now, as far as Malgorzata knows, she’s the only person of the 3000 in Dobrzyn of Jewish ancestry. (Andrzej was brought up Catholic, but both of them are now atheists.)


Third breakfast, the meal formerly known as “lunch.” Beside the usual assortment of cheese, ham, garden vegetables, and sausage, we had oscypek, baked smoked sheep cheese from the Tatra mountains (I believe this local variety was made of cow’s milk). My lunchtime tipple of blackcurrant juice is visible at lower left (why don’t American supermarkets stock this stuff?)

2. Lunch

Many cherries still hang in the orchard. Although locals are invited to harvest these stragglers, few do it, and so there are many pies that will never be made. It’s the laws of physics.

3. Cherries

This is one of the many trees whose cherries weren’t ripe at harvest. You can see all the fruit waiting to be picked (actually, the cherries should be a bit darker than those above).

4. Cherry tree

These are ready for picking; sadly, their fate is not a pie, but withering on the tree:


Twice a day, Cyrus chases his ball on the soccer field during walkies to the river.

5. Cyrus and ball

A happy d*g with his ball:


This is an old child’s toy—perhaps a Polish version of a teddy bear—that Malgorzata found upstairs after the lodgers moved out. (They’re now gone, so the upstairs is empty.) Not a very cuddly toy!

6. Teddy bear

Below: a violation of the Laws of Nature, though cute nevertheless. Hili, of course, is the dominant partner in the relationship:

7. Cytus and Hili

A typical scene: I am working at the computer with Hili sleeping next to me. I thoughtfully provide her with a blanket to make her more comfortable, and also tuck her in. (Photo by Malgorzata)

8. hili and me

This is the penultimate pie, which I finished by eating from the pie dish rather than soiling another dish. (Photo by Malgorzata.)

9. eating pie

True to form, when that pie was gone Malgorzata made another. I picked and pitted the cherries. The plastic cherry-pitter is truly an amazing device: it’s simple in design but stupendously effective. (Photo by Andrzej).

10. pitting cherries

I found a cherry shaped like a butt! Andrzej says he’s never seen one like this.

11. Butt cherry

The pitted cherries are put in a sieve over a bowl, and fresh cherry juice drops into the bowl: enough to allow us a glass each:

12. Cherry juice

Last night’s dinner: four-cheese quiche made with leeks, cream, and spices—served with salad and, of course, a cold Zubr.

13. Last supper

Goodbye to my friends!:


Goodnight and farewell!

14. Goodnight


  1. Posted August 15, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Beautiful. What life shld be like for all people. The earlier pic of the yellow house that had belonged to a Jewish family before the Nazis arrived is heart wrenching, esp when considered alongside these pictures of the happiness like that described at the end of “Candide.”

  2. Posted August 15, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the wonderful photos!

  3. bluemaas
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    For black currant tipple, one may try these two sites:

    http://www.amazon.com/Knudsen-Black-Currant-Juice-Ounce/dp/B0046HEEAK and


    Is from amazon for me rather pricey @ ~$9.50 / two pints’ worth (32 ounces) only, and (some of) Iowa’s local chain of Hy – Vee groceries sells the Knudsen – brand one for ~that much as well. The in – town cooperative, Wheatsfield, sells it for $8.69 / same volume.

    Iowa happens to have no sales tax on (almost all actual) food items. Teas, an exception apparently, and all alcoholic tipples are taxed.


  4. darrelle
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Parting is, without doubt, such sweet sorrow.

    (It sounds better in the original Klingon.)

    Leaving after a great time spent with family or friends always makes me melancholy. We really should visit those we hold dear more often, but there just doesn’t seem to be the time or resources.

  5. Posted August 15, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your visit. Andrzej and Malgorzata now seem like old friends, and of course Hili always has been. To help create the virtual reality, yesterday I bought a cherry pie from Krogers. It must be a pale imitation.

  6. Linda Calhoun
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    “…the upstairs is now empty.”

    Wow, Jerry, too bad you’re a city person. If I were you, I’d be renting that apartment in a heartbeat.

    Thank you for sharing your visits there. The place sounds really wonderful. L

  7. Claudia Baker
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Everything about this is sweet and lovely and heart-warming. If I lived nearby, I would pick some cherries for sure, and make pies and cherry crumble.

  8. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Curious about those houses. We have seen horizontal siding and this one, vertical siding. I’m sure they have replaced the windows, maybe a couple of times. The roofing looks like something you would see back here many years ago when they first begin using asphalt shingles – a roll version of the shingle roof.

    Such a waste of good cherries. Free cherries, you would think people would be all over them.

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    To have good friends, and be treated like family in their home, is one of the greatest joys in life.

  10. Jenny Haniver
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Given the recent spate of posts about Poland and the Islamic “martyrdom” going on apace, though today doesn’t mark his birth or death date, it might be well to remember Kazimierz Łyszczyński, a Pole and an atheist martyr, who lived in the 17th century. I’m certainly not at all well informed about the history of atheism and skepticism in Poland, would love to know more — I find that there’s a dispute over whether he was actually an atheist; also that Communist Poland used his case for historical propaganda, but I think it’s indisputable that at the very least he was highly skeptical of theism. I hadn’t come across mention of him in any posts, and wonder why.

  11. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Wikipedia has an article on the town duo of Golub-Dobrzyń in Poland. Some interesting pictures of historical landmarks (including the castle) but none of the picturesque stuff that JAC has posted here. Looks very bucolic on Google satellite here.

  12. Posted August 15, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me from the little I know about Chicago is that it would be one of the places in the US where central and eastern European food would be obtainable. There’s likely some obscure corner store somewhere that sells the currant juice! Of course, that’s not an explanation about supermarkets …

  13. barn owl
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Glucosamine supplements might also help Cyrus’ arthritis (if he’s not already on them) – the vet recommended them for my elderly Labrador retriever. You can get them in the form of a chewy treat that is (apparently) quite tasty, as dogs are happy to nom them without any gustatory disguise. My sports medicine doc recommends glucosamine supplements for humans too, and it’s one of the few for which there’s actually convincing science in support.

    Turmeric as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis is trendy now, and I know a few people who’ve given “golden paste” to their dogs. I don’t know about the science behind turmeric as a treatment though.

    • Posted August 15, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      A daily tablespoon of coconut oil would help too. Good for all kinds of other stuff too.

      • barn owl
        Posted August 15, 2016 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Coconut oil makes a good skin lotion for humans too. I would use it more often, but my dogs will not stop licking my legs.

    • Pete T
      Posted August 16, 2016 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      It is likely that glucosamine has no benefit above placebo. A study in dogs from about 10 years ago showed some benefit (measured on radiographic changes) but this result has not proven repeatable. For those who wish to persist with glucosamine products, a large proportion of such products, when analysed, have much less glucosamine in them than advertised. To my knowledge (which I’d be more than happy to have updated) the only ‘supplement’ that has convincing evidence behind it for arthritis in dogs is the omega 3 fatty acid combination found in a particular brand of dog food. Coconut oil and other such oils may well mimic this combination but have yet to have scientific evidence to support them. Turmeric has no evidence to support its use as far as I am aware but widespread anecdotal support (as might be said of homeopathy!). For the trendy people out there then boswellia products may well prove to have some benefit and has the advantage of not yet being discredited.

  14. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    It all looks so wonderful! Thanks for sharing so much of your trip with us. I felt like I was a part of it, and could almost taste the food and hear Hili purring. 🙂

  15. Posted August 15, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful ‘retreat’ with us, Jerry! Have a safe grope-free trip, if that’s not too much to ask for.

  16. Jiten
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    The blackcurrant juice, is it actual fresh juice or is it like the Ribena that we drink here in the UK? Ribena is a concentrated cordial that you dilute with water first, for those unfamiliar with it.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 15, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      That looks like “cherry sweat,” not cordial. The Real McCoy.
      It is reasonably available in Britain (though probably made from concentrate – why double the cost by moving a tonne of water around with every tonne of paying product?)
      Hie thee along to your local “German Delicatessan”, a.k.a. Lidl and get a couple of jars of preserved cherries (steam-sterilised in the jar ; only about 80% stoned) ; drain the juice off from the cherries (for a pie – or I like them as an addition to porridge for winter breakfast), and slurp away. Very toothsome.

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