Monday, April 29, 2013

Uwaga: Rambling post about nothing

I should probably say that mam wszystko w nosie or even mam wszystko gdzieś but the truth is mam wszystko w dupie. Głęboko w dupie

I’m sorry to write it. Sorry that you have to read it. Even sorrier about the hits KS is going to get with those key words, except the person doing that search is just a dirty bugger. Me? I’m just having a bad day.

Oh to be Lewandowski* for a day.

I talked to my father yesterday evening. Maybe that’s why I’m in a funk. I always get homesick after talking to my parents. My father is still unaware that we live on different planets as he complained of his tax bill. In addition to what he already paid in, he had to pay an amount of money above that, which is more than I take in in a whole year. Beh. But I’m glad that he has it and I’m glad that he’s spending it. My parents earned every last penny of that money. We may not have spent a lot of time together when I was a kid but I know that what worried them most (besides the safety of me and my sister) was their security in their older years.

I have to give up my pet peeve – littering. Not that my anti-littering campaign has eradicated littering. It’s just for my own sanity bo szlag mnie trafi every time I go, well, just about anywhere. I’ve decided to just look the other way because otherwise I’m gonna lose it. Just like I look the other way when I see my next-door neighbor. Either she has real problems at work or is incredibly susceptible to stress. At least once a month, she has a real freak-out which usually ends with her locking herself in the bathroom and bawling. Loudly. That’s the only wall we share so we can hear everything, even if we’re not trying. And yes, I admit to trying the first 2 times it happened. I wanted to know if she needed help or something. Mam wszystko w dupie, but I’m not so apathetic to not worry if my neighbor is ok. Through our eavesdropping, we ascertained that her boyfriend was not beating her and in fact has the patience of a saint. I mean how many times can you say, “Kotku, wcale nie musisz tam pracować”?

I’m still not running and the person who designed my new running shoes hates people. Well, hates people who intend to run in those shoes outside in the real world. Those shoes are great for controlled indoor activities such as shopping, but are not made for running on forest trails or sandy, stony paths. The shoes have a kind of waffled bottom which picks up and carries everything from the running surface. You could do CSI on what’s in my shoes and tell me exactly where I’ve been lately. Seriously.

I finally watched the Hunger Games. I haven’t read the books. I had the opportunity to watch it on the airplane last year, but chose instead to watch Adele’s concert twice and some movie with Robert Pattinson in it. I don’t remember the name, but he’s not a vampire. That should narrow it down considerably. Misiu watched HG’s in the seat in front of me so I caught a few of the scenes. The whole premise seemed so disturbing that I put off watching it until now. And I was disturbed as I watched it and for awhile after too. But as I thought about it, worse things happen in the world every day. In many places in the world, kids have worse odds than the those forced to play in the Hunger Games. Beh.

Finally, there has been a kind of compromise on the Ratuj maluchy front. The age for starting 1st grade will still be 6. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is the situation for the kids born in 2007 and 2008 – the last transition kids. Kids born in 2008 are required to go to school at 6, while kids from 2007 could go next year at 6 or wait until the year after that and go to 1st grade at 7 with the kids from 2008. Considering that about 70% of parents have not opted to send their 6-year-olds, that could mean a “double class” of all the left-over 7-year-olds plus the mandatory 6-year-olds. To release some of the pressure, the government has divided the class of 2008 into 2 groups, allowing kids from the second half of the year to start school later. What do the Ratuj maluchy parents have to say to the new proposal? Karolina Elbanowska, leader of the Ratuj maluchy campaign who was quoted in Wyborcza “Nie chcemy sześciolatków w szkołach nigdy: ani za rok, ani za try lata”. I guess ona też ma wszystko w dupie.

Ok Chris, pull up your socks. You have a lot to get done before Majówka.

*Robert Lewandowski is a Polish soccer player who plays for the German team Borussia Dortmund. In a recent match he alone scored 4 goals in the 4-1 win against Real Madrid. Amazing!Lewandowki, however, is criticized for not scoring as many goals while playing on the Polish national team. I didn’t watch the game as I cannot tolerate large groups of German people shouting in unison. It makes me think strange thoughts.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Genius of Evil

All the middle-schoolers from the “senior year” of middle school are knee deep in exams right now. With these exam results they will apply to high schools and keep their fingers crossed that they get into their first choice.

What? I remember going through the same thing except it was the SATs and I was worried about college.

I asked one of my students, a teenaged boy, what high schools were on his dream list. He included “the math high school”, “the humanistic high school” and the local Catholic high school. The choices didn’t seem to jive with any specific career choice so I asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up.

Stroking his pet terrier sitting in his lap he replied, “A genius of evil, mwah- ha-ha.”

I can’t make this stuff up.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Polish Cuisine, American-Style…

…or something like that.

American people like their ethnic food. Even in my small hometown we have a pizzeria owned by a family who emigrated from Sicily years ago. There’s a Chinese restaurant owned and operated by a family from China as well. Another local restaurant has “sushi night” and you can even find “Thai Chicken” on the truck stop’s menu.

Besides all the funny questions my friends asked me about Poland, another common question was, “Can you make pierogies?” When I answered that in fact, I can, I got almost as many accolades as when I told them that I gave birth without anesthetics, twice.

The cuisine of my family was heavily influenced by my maternal grandmother who was not Polish, but worked her whole life in the food service industry. She liked to cook for us, but she didn’t like to eat. That’s why we had to buy her clothes in the children’s department.

My paternal grandmother, on the other hand, had some Polish roots. She was a Mihalik and her family some generations back  hailed from the Nowy Targ area. I guess that makes me a goralka. Now, wait a minute. If you think I’ve been hiding my Polish roots all this time, you’re wrong. Cooking “halupki” (gołąbki) and using the word “dupa” does not a Polish Babcia make. This grandma cooked a lot. I don’t know if she liked to cook, but she had to being the mother of 8 children. She was a specialist in making the food go far and she enjoyed her meals with us, that’s for sure.

Some of my extended family have compiled and printed some family recipes. I have to say that most of them are really bastardized versions of Polish dishes and some are unrecognizable. That doesn’t matter, however. It’s a nice and humorous look at part of my family’s culinary  history. Smacznego and enjoy.















And these two recipes below are my favorite. Nothing really Polish about them, but I love that the Never Fail Cake is placed opposite the Better Than Sex Cake.



Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ratuj maluchy

I’ve changed my mind about this “Ratuj maluchy” campaign. This is the campaign of parents against the latest education reform in which children will start 1st grade at 6 instead of 7 (among other things). Oh, it’s not what you think. I still think it’s a good idea for kids to start 1st grade at 6. That hasn’t changed.

What I have changed my mind about is the parents who support a campaign called “Save the children”. I would better understand a campaign that was fighting to give parents more leeway in choosing when to start school something like “Give us a say”  but “Save the children”? Save the children from what? School as the enemy? What an odd name for the campaign.  I will stop trying to persuade those parents that 1st grade is cool, that kids can learn to read and write at 6 and that 6 is a great age to start, that 1st grade is not stealing their childhood, that 1st graders can do math, that the stairs are not too steep and that the 2nd and 3rd graders are not beating the 1st graders up in the halls and that the kids get to play inside and outside every single day.

Here’s my proposition to the “Ratuj maluchy” parents:

Save your children. Don’t send them to school at 6. Maybe not even at 7 if you don’t want to. I’m sending my kids and they will thrive with or without your children.

Lizzie is an awesome 1st grader. She can write cursive already which even surprised me, the education optimist. She can add and subtract double digit numbers. She still has a bit of a problem telling time but who can blame her, the bell just rings and she’s knows if she is on time or late. She’s started to learn multiplication not in 1st grade, but at świetlica (the day room) where they have a chart on the wall that interested her. It called the tabliczka mnożenia. For fun I call it the tabliczka mrożenia (frozen table). I think I am very clever, the kids not so much.

PS If you want a reason not to send your children to school, here’s one. Kids like puzzles, right? History and geography made fun.

A quote from the article:

Układanka przeznaczona jest dla dzieci od szóstego roku życia, ma 58 elementów. Na jednym z nich znajdują się Smoleńsk i Katyń, a pod nimi adnotacja: "Mord polskich oficerów w 1940 r. Śmierć Prezydenta Lecha Kaczyńskiego w prawdopodobnym zamachu 2010 r."


This 58-piece puzzle is for children from age 6. On one of them there is Smoleńsk and Katyń with the captions: “Massacre of Polish officers 1940. Death of President Lech Kaczyński in an alleged assassination in 2010.”


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It’s a big deal

My Lizzie turned 7. It’s a big deal! She’s a big 7 year-old with 7 year-old problems. No more baby stuff for her. It’s all race cars and basketball from here on out…well, until it turns into boys and basketball.

Happy 7th birthday sweetheart!



This is the race car cake Lizzie requested. I was planning to make it round with a race track but she said she wanted a “rectangle cake”.  Her next requirement besides rectangles and race cars was that the cake had to have a “7” and also car tires. So in case you were wondering what those black things at the the bottom of the cake were supposed to be, well, they’re supposed to be tires…or something similar to tires.


Oreo tires. At least they taste good :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dare I say it?

The sun is shining.

This comic strip may look graphic but for those in the know, it is just Marzanna. School kids make a Marzanna effigy and throw it in the river on the first day of spring. Sometimes they burn it or toss it in the river. Some people burn it and toss it into the river. It’s a kind of farewell to winter and hello to spring. I saw the kids going out to the river on the first day of spring. Their Marzanna’s were adorable – a cross between a ragdoll and a scarecrow. And the look on the kids’ faces – priceless. They were so excited to go to the river. One teacher was dressed up as a flower. The kids were wearing snowsuits.  The older kids have their fun too and as I have been told after drowning Marzanna, older kids consider the 1st day of spring as a great day to cut school. Halloween doesn’t seem so bad now does it?

If you’ve got sun, enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


April 10th marks the anniversary of the 2010 plane crash near the city of Smoleńsk in Russia where all 96 people on board were killed including (then) president of Poland Lech Kaczyński and his wife and many other Polish politicians as well as family members of the Katyn massacre.  They were headed to a Katyn massacre memorial event when the accident occurred. I remember hearing the shocking news 3 years ago. Despite many of the rumors, reports and Russian conspiracy theories that have come out since then, I still believe it was just a terrible and tragic accident and nothing more.

The plane crash near Smoleńsk, while an important event, often dominates the headlines here even 3 years later. For those of us who live in Poland, it sometimes feels like Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk, Smoleńsk….

And that’s all I want to say about it. I don’t want to say more.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Got my new running shoes... what am I waiting for?

I walk a lot. I mean I walk a significant distance each day at a brisk pace. And it is not for exercise. It's for transportation.

Last year, I told myself that I was going to run. Misiu runs. Sometimes he runs while I walk the same route. I attempted to run last spring. I gave up pretty fast.

I used to run. That's not really important regarding my level of fitness now because the last time I ran was probably 15 years ago. It is important, however, regarding the psychological aspect of running. I know that if I can fight through the tough start, it'll be worth it. I know that running can be pleasurable, even addictive. What I enjoyed about running (besides being able to eat whatever I wanted) was the time to think over my life. I also enjoyed just letting my mind wander, even go blank and just concentrate on the candence of my foot strikes on the ground.

Let's say that I was waiting for spring. I don't want to jinx it, but I think spring is here. I still haven't run yet. I can't complain that it is boring, not with views like this.


Why do I want to return to running, if you can even call it a return after 15 years? Well, I would enjoy eating whatever I want without dire consequences for my waistline. That would be cool, but what I really need is to walk faster in my everyday life. When I drive I try to take the route that gets me to my destination faster. When I am on the bus, I keep my fingers crossed that we'll be on time. It's only natural that when my own legs are my transport that I'd want them to go faster, get me to my destination quicker.

So that's it in a nutshell. Probably the most uninspiring reason to start running ever, but 100% true.

Don't call it a comeback...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

No cóż

No cóż. It happened. I talked to the priest at school. I had no choice really. He was filling in for another teacher in świetlica (the day room, as google translate calls it). OK, he seems to be a nice, smiling guy. I'll admit that, but as I have said before as long as he is working in a public school, I have no respect for him.

I came to the day room and looked at the mass of kids, all busy with different activities. There were a lot of little blond heads, so I tried to remember what color Lizzie was wearing that day. I spotted her and the priest struck up a conversation with me as Lizzie finished her drawing.

Priest (puts his religious book aside): Good afternoon. I have something to show you.

Chris: Good afternoon. Surely you don't.

Priest: Just a minute. Here it is. (holds up a child's drawing, obviously not Lizzie's) What do you see?

It looked like a Japanese anime princess in a pink dress with flowing hair or a Monster High character perhaps. That's too much in Polish so I very eloquently stated...

Chris: Baba w sukience.

Priest: It's supposed to be me.

Chris: No cóż.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

You were supposed to do one thing….

Tusk was supposed to build me some roads. He was supposed to build, build, build and then rest on the 7th day or so the joke went. I got the one road I was waiting for. I don’t know about the rest of Poland. “My” road probably had less to do with Tusk and more to do with Dutkiewicz, but I don’t care. The roads exist.

You, Janusz! You were supposed to uphold the constitution and fight for the execution of separation of church and state which already exists in the constitution. That’s what you promised. And I don’t care about the crucifix hanging in the sejm. I care about the crucifix hanging in my childrens’ classrooms. I believed you despite that press conference where you were swinging a plastic penis around. For some reason I thought you’d try a little harder to do something about it or at least go down fighting. Beh! Nic.

Pali (390)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sprzątaczka zatrzasnęła się w biurze i spędziła tam całe Święta Wielkanocne

Sprzątaczka zatrzasnęła się w biurze i spędziła tam całe Święta Wielkanocne

An office cleaning lady got herself locked in the company and spent the whole Easter weekend stuck in the office building. Oh that poor lady. On the radio, it was reported that when she came out she only asked about her poor husband and how he managed spending a whole 3 days at home alone.

I can sympathize with her completely. I mean not about the poor husband spending the weekend at home alone. My husband is much younger than hers and very, very zaradny. I mean about getting locked in at work…because it happened to me. Luckily, my imprisonment didn’t last nearly as long as hers did and the only thing hurt was my pride. I can doubly sympathize with her because I used to live in an office building…in PZU to be exact.

Those were the days!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A secular Easter czyli Wielkanoc bez Jezusa

a lovely grave candle for Easter

Our Easter started Friday, Good Friday that is. Good or not, Misiu was out of town on his weekly biznes trip.I absolutely had to go to one company and while I did, the girls' favorite Ciocia came to stay with them. Why is she their favorite you ask? I asked the same thing. The answer, "Because you can sit on her, Mommy". And she was being sat on when I returned.

My first lesson is pretty far away but, thank goodness, it can be reached by one bus. The bus is usually pretty crowded with school kids and people going to work, so I hoped that the bus would be less crowded considering school was out and many people took a day off for Easter. The way there was easy peasy. The way back, however, was not. I should mention that the bus passes one of the major cemeteries of the city. The cemetery itself looked beautiful. I'm not a fan of plastic flowers, but from the street the cemetery looked like a happy and cheerful place. And the market around the cemetery was rockin', selling beautiful wreaths and huge ornamental candles. As you can imagine the bus on the way back was packed, completely packed with older people.

I usually stand on the bus, so I didn't really care about there not being seats. And there weren't. Any seats. That's not good on a bus full of older people who haven't eaten (Good Friday fast). The old folks had started a kind of casting of who was worse off and most deserving of a seat. As I was 30 or even 40 years younger than most of the other passengers, I didn't participate in the casting. That didn't stop one lady from placing the blame for the lack of seats on me. I explained to her kindly that I couldn't give up my seat any more than I already had as I had not even sat down and was already standing, but that did not seem to satisfy her. It seemed that I was taking up too much space for her liking. Happy Easter!

The real follies began when passengers tried to get off the bus. When one person stood from a seat, all the other folks jockeyed for the seat without a care to the fact that they were blocking the aisle or even the door for exiting passengers. Then the pojedynek began. Nobody can fight like two old people. "Ladies, you are blocking the door! Nobody can get off!", said one old man. And the ladies to that, "You shouldn't wait to the last minute to get off the bus!" The shame. What would Jesus think?

On the way back home, I stopped at the butcher's which looked like a shop in deep PRL. Nothing. So I bought nothing. At home we spent the rest of the day making pickled eggs and czwikła and packing for the weekend. Misiu came home and we were off.

Saturday morning we finished our shopping in the village. The shops were calm and orderly and the butcher was fully stocked. What a relief. After that we took a stroll around the village. We enjoyed a nice pit stop at the local bakery where all hell was breaking loose as people scrambled to buy the last loaves of bread. I sat back enjoying my latte and keeping a watch out the window for people coming to church with their baskets. After that we came back home to cook, decorate eggs and enjoy our time together.
Mazurek made easy

Did you know that Pan Jezus użył? That's what Rosie told us one day after preschool last week. It was so sweet that I didn't have the heart to tell her that it should be ożył. Anyhow, I didn't have to. Lizzie wkroczyła do akcji. "Pan Jezus nie ożył tak naprawdę. Jest tylko bajka".

I już po tłumaczenie.

So how do you celebrate Easter without Jesus? The same as we always do. Well, not exactly the same because of the weather, but more or less the same. We treat Easter as a celebration of spring. We usually spend a lot of time outside and weather permitting we plant a few things in the garden. Well except for this year because of the snow. It snowed a foot on Easter Sunday. We cook a lot of eggs and cakes and decorate the house for spring. Sometimes we even clean the windows ;) Most importantly we spend time together.

our Easter eggs - Sesame Street and Spiderman
This Easter was the Easter of wildlife. Because of the snow animals are coming closer to homes to find something to eat. We saw a lot of birds, deer and even had a close encounter with a wild boar. We don't know who was more surprised the boar or the humans, but I think it was the humans.

something like this
The Easter bunny visited us and she (me) had to wrap up warm to hide little presents in the garden. It just started to snow as we began our hunt and snowed for the next 7 hours. We stayed inside and ate, played, watched tv and read.

Oh and I almost forgot that Rosie turned 5. She couldn't quite understand how it was possible that Lizzie was born on Easter but now her birthday is on Easter, but after she got her cake she was happy enough.

it may not look so great but it tastes delicious

Happy Birthday my baby Rosie. May all your wishes come true!
Mr and Mrs Chick wishing you a Happy Easter!

That's another holiday that just flew right by. I guess that's how it is as you get older. In two weeks it'll be Lizzie's birthday and after that Majówka. Not long after that, the school year will be wrapping up. Where does all the time go?

We were planning to throw the girls a joint birthday party in the village during the long May weekend - a birthday party complete with a horse and carriage ride around the ponds. snowed on Halloween, it snowed on Christmas, it snowed on Easter....could it snow on Majówka? It did a few years back. Hmmm, we may have to change our plans.

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!!!