Christmas ornaments

Today I went on another adventure with my neighbor Zdene.  She is always coming up with something interesting and fun to do. She organizes a trip, including chartering a bus, and invites the whole village to join her. We split the cost, which normally is under $5.00, not bad for a day of entertainment. The ladies bake sweets to bring along. A few bottles of liquor is tucked away in coat pockets. Once we get on the bus the routine is always the same. The ladies pass around their sweets, which we sample and give a great deal of praise for their efforts. The praise is genuine because the sweets are always delicious. Then the alcohol is passed around to warm us up on a cold morning. Our adventure today took us to see a Christmas ornament factory in a small village near Chrudim.  The tour through the factory was quite interesting.  I had believed that these ornaments of glass must be blown with some sort of machine.  To my surprise I found the workers blowing the ornaments by mouth, one at a time.  A group of experienced artisans sit at a long bench with blow torches in front of them.  They take a glass tube and hold it over the fire for a few minutes and then they blow through the tube to form the glass bulbs, birds, hearts, snowmen and Santa.  From there the glass is taken to another room where it is hand painted.  The painters are mostly women. They sit at tables, facing one another. A tray of ornaments sit in front of each woman. She adds a touch of paint then passes the try to the next woman. There are several steps in painting the ornaments, at least five steps from putting the mercury inside the bulbs to the final coat of glitter on the outside.  We finally ended up in a room full of beautiful ornaments ready to purchase.  I was surprised to see that the prices of these lovely hand worked bulbs were from .50 to $2.00.  I have seen them in the States for as much as $15.00.  I saw many of the old fashion bulbs we used to have when I was a child, little gingerbread houses, birds, snowmen and Santa.  When I choose a red heart as one of my ornaments a woman at a bench asked me who my heart belonged to. I told her my heart belongs to my husband, Gianfranco. She motioned me over to her bench and with a small brush, the size of a pen, she wrote his name across the face of my heart with an expert hand. My Christmas tree will have a few new ornaments hanging on its branches this year, including my heart which everyone can see belongs to my husband, Gianfranco.

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