Dobrzyn: last day

March 15, 2023 • 12:10 pm

Tomorrow I depart, having spent seven days and eight nights in Dobrzyn with my friends and three cats (and bonus cats; see below). It seems like only a handful of days, and it’ll be back to Chicago, with a duckless spring and summer in the offing. Here are a few photos from my last few days here.

First, the kitties. The uber-affectionate Szaron, who slept with me many nights and was on my lap the rest of the time:

I want to take this cat home. I don’t think they’d miss one. .

Szaron on my lap (photo by Malgorzata). It’s hard to work on the laptop and pet a needy cat at the same time!

Kulka: Hili’s nemesis:

Baby Kulka:

Andrzej at work with Kulka:

Kulka really belongs to Paulina, who rescued her when she was a tiny kitten—sick, abandoned and sodden. Now restored to the status of a healthy and chunky queen (neutered), Kulka spends a lot of time upstairs with Paulina and Mariusz, and often goes onto the roof to inspect the orchard:

The queen herself, Ms. Hili:

Malgorzata is angry because Hili has scratched up her new chair. She says that the cat does this not to sharpen her claws, but to get attention:

A relevant cartoon from reader Divy:

Yesterday we paid a visit to Elzbieta and Andrzej the Second’s house, which, after five years or so of delay, has finally gotten started. The driveway into the housing site, with both dogs on view:

The concrete foundations are in place as well as some of the timbers, and they’ve dug a well. Here’s the house under construction. There will probably be two floors, with two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room on the ground floor.

The interior, looking out. Along with Mietek and Leon, they now have an additional three cats, who belonged to the owner of the nearest house but who abandoned them when he went to prison. They also inherited two dogs, so they’ll have five cats and two dogs when they move in. You can see one tuxedo cat below, along with the entrance, made with hundred-year-old wood from a house in the mountains of Southern Poland:

The interior. All the framing and walls should be up by May:

Elzbieta and Andrzej the Second spend much of their time preparing an extensive garden around the house. The site is in a large meadow that slopes down to a stream. Part of the garden:

. . . and the meadow running down to the stream. The pile of wood is from the old house taken down in southern Poland:

They were excited to show us the work of their resident beavers, which have only recently moved into the stream and have already built two dams, producing two small ponds. Before the beavers came, the stream was so narrow you could step over it. Now there are dams:

Lower dam:

The pool produced above the lower dam:

The beavers’ handiwork (we don’t know how many animals there are):

Gnaw marks on a limb:

The beavers have tunneled into the bank and made two exit holes in the meadow, presumably to graze in safety:

At intervals there are trails from the stream up to the meadow, each ending in an area of cropped grass (these are presumably grazing areas):

Elzbieta managed to take a movie of the shy beavers, and I put it on YouTube. Their house is about 15 minutes from Dobrzyn, much closer than their present flat in Włocławek, 45 minutes away. They will move into the new place when the master bedroom and bathroom are finished.

The view up to the house from the meadow, with a dog and Andrzej the First and Andrzej the Second:

Andrzej the Second and one of the dogs:

And two of the three cats. First, the tuxedo cat (Leon and Mietek stayed home):

And Helenka, a tabby (I didn’t see the third cat). The photo is by Elzbieta:

Andrzej the First and I by the stream with the d*g. Photo by Andrzej the Second:

The two Andrzejs, Elzbieta, and Malgorzata with d*g and cat:

I brought Elzbieta a pair of cat socks, as she had seen them on the Internet but they’re not available on Poland. But they were on Etsy! She sent me this photo last night:

Andrzej the Second is a dab hand at making homemade liqueurs. A few years ago he gave me a bottle of homemade cherry liqueur; this year my gift was a bottle of his homemade dogwood liqueur. Cornus is the genus of dogwood. Don’t ask how it’s made, as it’s a trade secret. All I know is that it’s very strong, over 150 proof.

Dinner last night was very good: Malgorzata made a souffle with spinach and five kinds of cheese, which was delicious. Here it is coming out of the oven:

. . . and on the table with my half liter of Zubr (“Bison”) beer:

Zubr now comes in cans, also a half liter.

Dessert: a Swedish apple cake named “annorlunda äppelkaka”:

Tonight’s farewell dinner, just polished off a few minutes ago: chicken thighs, corn, and a Swedish dish: klyft potatis (“wedge-shaped potatoes”, boiled and then roasted), along with a half liter of Zubr. Yum!

. . . and a cake that just came out of the oven. It’s a mystery cake, because I was not told the ingredients and have to guess them after tasting it. Can you guess what’s in it?

And so it’s farewell to Dobrzyń nad Wisłą and to my friends and the three cats—for the time being.

23 thoughts on “Dobrzyn: last day

  1. so what is Jerry’s relationship to Andrzej family? If they are not family, how did they meet? I follow this website for years and I don’t think I ever read about it.

    1. You couldn’t have been following it for years as I was here several years ago. At any rate, Andrzej and Malgorzata run a Polish humanistic website called Listy z Naszego Sadu (“Letters from our Orchard”;, although before that it was a rationalist site called Rajionalista”. They asked to translate some of my posts into Polish and of course I agreed, and we began an email correspondence and eventually they invited me here. It was delightful; very peaceful with friendship and cats and food and a cherry orchard, and I’ve since been back several times.

      1. I never read about the story of how you met or if you were family before. I’ve been following most posts since 2015.
        It’s nice to have a friendship like that!

  2. Cake-almond?

    Your grey hair matches – clear that kitty belongs with you! You should get a cat again perhaps..

    1. I was going to guess it was an almond cake, too, from the color. I’m not sure if M. used almond flour, but I want to give a plug to almond flour even if she didn’t. In recent years, I’ve taken to replacing half of the wheat flour in recipes with almond flour. It helps reduce the hefty carb count of baked goods like pancakes and brownies and increases the nutritional value at the same time. And only a pastry chef could detect any difference in taste or texture.

  3. Thank you so much for the update and the photos. It’s wonderful to see the progress–finally–on the house and also to know that Elzbieta and Andrzej 2 adopted the cats and dogs from the neighbors who just abandoned them (I think you’ve mentioned that before). The souffle looks absolutely delicious. I’m really glad you finally were able to get back to Dobryzn!.

  4. That new home looks like it will be a happy one in such a gorgeous setting complete with beavers, a pond and a dam. Lucky animals to have found such a great and loving home.
    I’m so glad you were able to get to see Hili and her family and eat such delicious food.
    Looks like it was a great week. The photos were fun to see.

  5. I wish there had been a chance to meet and collect third signature on my WEIT. 🙂
    Anyway, it’s great to hear that you enjoyed a week in Poland. Have a safe trip back to Chicago!

  6. I imagine it was different visiting during winter, but it’s nice to know a place through the seasons. Thanks for sharing your trip with us readers. I’m glad Szaron was so affectionate towards you, and that you got some needed R&R.

  7. Glad you had a fulfilling trip. I enjoyed seeing the rest of the family, the orchard, and environs. A the second will be living in a lovely rolling meadow it appears…a great place for all the pets to run. Please have a safe flight home.

  8. Lovely post, so many cats and dogs. I have to admit that I’m incredibly envious of the fact there are beavers building dams at the bottom of the garden. I’m honestly unable to think of anything I’d cherish more.

    Regarding the mystery dish, I guessed it was some sort of Bakewell Tart variant, containing almonds, butter etc. But mashed potatoes too? That’s a new one on me!

    Beavers at the bottom of the garden. Wow!

  9. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

    It puts a smile on my face to read your travel posts and see the pictures. The weather and environs really remind me of when I lived in Germany. The photos could almost be from my own family album.

    Going old school on the structure of the new home. Very cool.

  10. I want to take this cat home. I don’t think they’d miss one. .

    Best wishes for a safe journey for you both!

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