Monday, October 20, 2014

As seen in Poland: A beautiful autumn day

Our warm autumn weather is fleeting, soon to give way to gray, rainy days. It’s time to enjoy the sunshine while we can.

Our options were to rake the leaves in the yard or leave those leaves for later and get out of the house.













I think we made the right decision.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Day

Today is Teacher Appreciation Day a.k.a. Teacher’s Day czyli Dzień Nauczyciela a.k.a.Dzień Edukacji Narodowej. Whatever you call it, it is a day to bring something nice to school for your teacher(s).

I remember my first Teacher’s Day in Poland. I was a teacher, and I did not know that it was Teacher’s Day. I didn’t even know that such a day existed. I also came to school on November 1st because nobody told me it was a public holiday. Anyhow, the kids in my first group gave me chocolates, flowers, best wishes and promptly informed me that we cannot have a “real” lesson in honor of Teacher’s Day. They said we should play hangman and eat the chocolates. In honor of Teacher’s Day, I would have much rather gone home and eaten all the chocolates myself, but when in Rome…

In my daughters’ school they had a special assembly in honor of Teacher’s Day, so they had to wear galowy strój today. Lizzie found a mug with her teacher’s name on it. She was very happy to give it as a present along with a box a tea, some chocolates, and a homemade card. Her teacher has an unusual name, the kind of name you almost never find on a mug, so the teacher was pretty happy about it.She hugged and kissed Lizzie, said thank you and then immediately brewed up a cup of tea in her new mug. Lizzie was so proud. Lizzie’s classroom teacher, the IT teacher, the English teacher, and the priest all got flowers as well. The parents of one of Lizzie’s classmates own a flower shop. They played games the rest of day.

Rosie’s group arranged to buy flowers and a box of chocolates for their teacher and for all the kids to make cards at home. They had a poem recitation contest for 1st graders and then played games the rest of the day too. I sent Rosie in with “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. She must have done a good job because Lizzie, Rosie and Misiu ran into one daddy from school at the supermarket and he said it was impressive. Great job Rosie!

I am happy to report that there were no kartkówki today.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jutro kartkówka!

40-year-old smart, sexy, witty mother/wife/human being extraordinaire, czyli ja: Lizzie! You have a kartkówka tomorrow.

Lizzie, 3rd grader extraordinaire: What!? Karkówka for dinner tomorrow?

Ja: No, not karkówka (pork neck), karT-kówka. I’m checking your Librus (e-grade book) and it says that you have a kartkówka tomorrow. (stern look from mother)

Lizzie: Ooooh myyyy gaaaawd!!!! (long pause) What’s a kartkówka?

Ja: It’s a quiz.

Lizzie: Ooooh myyyy gaaaawd!!!! (long pause) What’s a quiz?

Ja: It’s like a small test. It comes from the word “kartka”.

Lizzie: Ooooh myyyy gaaaawd!!!! (long pause) A quiz on what?

Ja: I don’t know. It doesn’t say. I thought you’d know.

Lizzie: No idea. Oh well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

So I'm like basically a celebrity now.

Okay, so not really. Unless walking your kids to school, going to work, picking up your kids from school, going back to work, cooking, cleaning, and laundry is the new definition of celebrity. Like orange is the new black and stressed-out mom is the new celebrity? No?

Who would have thought the beginning of October would be so busy. We’ve got school, homework, dance lessons, soccer practice, and then more homework and work, work and more work. But work is good. Work is a blessing. Even if it is correcting endless texts about erectile dysfunction. Okay, who am I kidding? Endless texts. They just seem endless because I'm still on the first page.

The rainy season has started which allows us to play our favorite morning game as we walk to school – kupa czy ślimak? (poop or slug?) – Sometimes they look identical. They are each gross, but if I had to accidentally step on one or in one, I’d prefer the ślimak. I guess if I am a celebrity I should probably Instagram that, right?

What else is up? Politicians and priests have said so many out-there things lately, I have given up trying to pay attention. Notorious Krystyna Pawłowicz has announced her contest to re-name “gender” which is used in Poland in English or something similar to English, but as far as the meaning of the word it is used almost exclusively incorrectly. I've stopped referring to Krystyna Pawłowicz as Professor Pawłowicz, well, because. Here’s her quote on the topic,
“Jak po polsku nazwać to, co lewactwo ukrywa pod słowem ‘gender’, walki z naturą, z kobietą, mężczyzną i dziećmi, walki z wiarą w Boga?”
“How to call it in Polish, this what the leftists are concealing behind this word ‘gender’, a fight against neighbor, between women, men and children, a fight against faith in God?”
And on the same topic, a quote by archbishop Stanisław Gądecki,
“Niektórym rodzicom podoba się uczenie chłopców, że winni po sobie sprzątać, a nie czekać, aż zrobią to za nich dziewczynki.” 
“Some parents like to teach their boys that they should clean up after themselves and not wait for a girl to do if for them.”
He warns of "lansowaną pod płaszczykiem programu równościowego ideologią genderyzmu".
I don’t know if it comes out clearly in English but he’s against boys cleaning up after themselves.

There were some other politicians who said something weird about incest but I don’t even want to think about it or write about it.

I went to a lovely event last week. It was a kind of fashion show event and Misiu accompanied me which took a lot of scheduling, but we did it somehow. It was very nice and very well-organized czyli da się. Either this city is small or I know a lot of people because I got to see some old acquaintances and catch up. I had my make-up done professionally so I was rockin’ that smoky eye. I got a lot of compliments too…did I mention there were a lot of gays there? It was compliments galore for Chris.

I learned a new word – szpaner, something like 'a show-off'. There were a couple of celebrities that were paid to be there. That means they have to talk with you even if they don't want to and that they encourage you to take pictures with them…to the point where their assistant may ask you if you want to take a selfie with said celebrity. Apparently answering 'no' is kind of a faux pas, but you're a hit with the gays after that. Anyhow, people were crazy, jumping around, posing for selfies, taking pictures on the stage and on the catwalk. My friend said, “I think we are some of the few people here having an actual good time instead of an Instagram good time.” One guy took a picture with me and then walked away as I was introducing myself, asking the girl with him if I was “somebody”. Cra – zeee.

Oh, and by the way, I am somebody.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Get your pottery on, ladies

As we do each autumn, we took a trip to the Polish pottery mecca, the town of Bolesławiec in southwestern Poland. It was a bright, crisp day with blue skies and changing leaves. After packing our pottery purchases safely in the car, we stopped off in Jawor to visit some friends and spend a lovely afternoon in the backyard under the walnut tree – eating karkówka, smoking cigars, and soaking up the sun. It was a great way to spend our Saturday.


I don’t know what it is about that Polish pottery, but we Americans just really like it. I was initially attracted to it most likely because it’s incredibly expensive in the States, and I associated it with some kind of luxury. I know, lame of me.

I had held off on buying any because I planned to return to the US and that stuff is heavy. Additionally, I don’t like things matchy-matchy. I’m kind of a messy with my style. But then I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner hosted by two friends, one American and one British. They were roommates and shared a love of Bolesławiec pottery, but different patterns. Due to the number of guests, they had to mix up their sets, and it was lovely. After that I bought my first pieces and have continued to buy more and more each year.

Noticing that we were down to just one mug that wasn’t chipped and that we’ve recently broken a couple of bowls, we thought it was time to go for our trip – let’s say to replenish. As we pulled into the parking lot of our favorite shop, we were pleased to see that there were just two other cars there. Sweet shopping in peace – not like one time when a bus full of Americans from Germany converged on a bus of shop owners from Ukraine. It was chaos.


A bus pulls in.


Hundreds of people pour out. (OK, it sounded like hundreds)

We are surrounded by mom jeans, sensible shoes and “Oh my gaaawd. Isn’t this place so cuuute?!”
It’s as if a bus with my mom and all her friends have invaded the store.

If you are American and you have arrived here by Googling “Polish pottery”, you must know that I speak with the utmost affection for my fellow Americans who get their pottery fix here in Poland…and that I am so jealous the ladies from the military can ship the stuff home free (that’s what one lady from the group said).

I understand that these ladies (well, predominantly ladies) have been cooped up in a bus together for who knows how long. They are happy to get out and stretch their legs. They’ve got a bit of party bus atmosphere going on which is great. They take over the shop, talk, shout, compare sets, select what they want, pay for it, and get out of there. I have always wondered where they go after that, if they visit someplace else or if they are just coming back from some other trip destination.

Maybe I should ask them, but it’s kind of nosey, isn’t it? Anyhow, they share a lot of information amongst themselves so sometimes you don’t have to ask.

You know when you don’t understand a foreign language people are speaking and you think everybody is arguing or talking about you? I used to have that feeling in Poland, but it usually turned out to be my sister-in-law telling a story (she’s very expressive) or a group of German tourists who are a bit louder than the average group of Poles on the street. Well, American ladies, I understand what you are saying and I have to tell you that you are pretty loud there in those pottery shops. I know, I know, you’re excited to get off the bus and get your pottery on, but for the other shoppers you are really, really loud…but polite. You don’t push. You say excuse me. But you do shout at each from across the shop which is unusual for the other shoppers, and you often sit down on the floor to examine the selection on lower shelves which is so strange for the other shoppers that they comment on it. I wouldn’t even comment on it here except that every time I have been there, an American customer has plopped down on the floor to sort out his/her patterns and the other shoppers have commented on it. Because for them (I guess now I can say us) it is very unusual. Polish shoppers don’t do that and I haven’t noticed that German shoppers do it either. Plus, right before entering the store, I have lectured my kids on proper pottery store behavior, and it is pretty hard to explain to them why they can’t shout or sit on the floor if they other shoppers can do it.

So here I am torn. It’s like when you hate on your siblings, but look out when the neighbor kids start talking shite about your little brother. I guess it is like that. I just want you to know that it’s cool that you visit Poland and that you spread your pottery passion, but you should know that your behavior is unusual for others and they sometimes comment it. I’m not asking you to change. I’m just letting you know.

Anyhow, I overheard the best conversation. Maybe I don’t need to use the word overhear if the people were shouting –just hear. OK, I heard the best conversation. It was like listening to my mom and her best friend.
Joanne: Carol, Carol, Carol (clapping of hands to get Carol’s attention), Carol! I am talking to you!
Carol (pronounced here as Care – All) is way across the store and finally hears Joanne. Carol joins Joanne on the other side of the store.
Carol: Joanne, look at this pattern. Isn’t that just precious? It looks just like that one from the other place we were the last time we were here.
Joanne: Do you know if they have wi-fi here? They had wi-fi at the other place, but I do not know if they have wi-fi here.
Carol: Heavens, I do not know. Why do you need wi-fi?
Joanne: Well, I want to use my iPad. I wanted to take some pictures of these here dishes.
Carol: You do not need wi-fi to use your iPad to take pictures.
Joanne: Well, I did not realize that. Thank you very much for telling me that. I did not realize that. My, my.
It just made my day. Carol and Joanne, I am sending you a heartfelt “cheers” from my morning tea in my new Bolesławiec mug. To you!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

One month til Halloween!

Halloween is coming in one month! Yippeee!

Have I mentioned that I love Halloween?

Well, yes, actually I have. 

Yep, I’m one of those idiots. Count me in!

Halloween w Polsce – Uprzedź domowników zanim do nich pójdziesz, bo inaczej ich nie będzie

It’s true, if you don’t warn people (or even if you do) sometimes they don’t answer the door. We’re probably not going to trick-or-treat this year.

I choose that American one, definitely the American one.

Halloween falls on a Friday this year so we will probably have a small party Saturday afternoon in the village just for us and the neighbor kids. Trick-or-treating in our neighborhood in the city has always worked out well. One neighbor in our building made a poster informing the building that we were going to be trick-or-treating and if they wanted a visit to hang a paper pumpkin on their door (paper pumpkins provided). It worked out great, and we were always sure that we weren’t bothering anybody who didn’t want to see us. In the village, we asked our immediate neighbors if they’d accept a Halloween visit at the door. Most of them invited us to come and seemed excited. They know that I’m American ,and we offered them candy for their kids and candy to give back to the trick-or-treaters…but…when it came time to actually answer the door only 2 houses answered. One family even switched off the lights after we ran the bell.

We’ve been planning out our costumes as well. Rosie is planning to be Katy Perry so basically she will dress as she normally does each day for school plus a wig and some lipstick. Lizzie is planning to be Onslow from the British comedy “Keeping up Appearances” which is her favorite television program. He looks like this -

I’m thinking – tank top, sweater vest, jeans, trucker hat, drawn on tattoos, a beer can (empty), a packet of fags (empty) and a well-rehearsed, “Oh nice!” - his catch phrase.

I’m planning to be a hipster so I just need to cuff my skinny jeans and grow a beard – maybe grab a craft beer and walk around talking about the importance of quality hops.

Misiu will be dressed in a costume which I call “SuperTrans”. He doesn’t really like that name. He’ll be Clark Kent caught in the middle of his transition to Superman, hence the name SuperTrans. At least I think I’m clever.

I’m just wondering who’s going to grow out of Halloween first, me or the kids?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Co zrobić z dynią?

Placek dyniowy!


Jak sprawdzałam przepisy po polsku na dynie większość była na dania mięsne albo pikantne ale nie słodkie. Jak już przejdę przez ten cały czasochłonny proces od dyni do ugotowanego puree, chcę potem ugotować/upiec coś lepszego niż pikantny sos do makaronu albo krem z dyni. Ja chcę deser! Mój ulubiony deser - pumpkin pie! To jest przepis mojej mamy na pumpkin pie - wersja bez spodu. Jeszcze udoskonaliłam go troszeczke i zmniejszyłam ilość cukru do norm Europejskich - nie na smak przeciętnego Amerykanina. Smacznego.

Przepis na placek dyniowy Chris –
1 szklanka mąki
1 ½ łyżeczki proszku do pieczenia
1/8 łyżeczki soli
przyprawy do smaku (cynamon, imbir, gałka)
½ kostki masła
¾ szklanki cukru (biały lub brązowy)
2 jajka
½ łyżeczka ekstraktu waniliowego
1 puszka niesłodzonego skondensowanego mleka
3 szklanki miąższu dyni (gotowane i zmiksowane)
Sposób przyrządzania
  1. Podgrzać piekarnik do 180°C. Smarować naczynie masłem (boki i dno) i odstawić na bok.
  1. Zmieszać razem mąkę, proszek do pieczenia, sól i przyprawy.
  1. W dużej misce ubić razem cukier i masło (lekko zmiękczone). Wbić 2 jajka.
  1. Dodać suche składniki i wanilię. Zmieszać.
  1. Dodać dynię i zmieszać.
  1. Dodać mleko i zmieszać łyżką.
  1. Wlać do naczynia. Piec w temp. 180°C przez ok. 45 min – 1 godz. Ostudzić przed podaniem.

In English...

Chris’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe – The no-crust version
1 cup flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
spices to taste (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg)
½ square butter
¾ cup sugar (white or brown)
2 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 can evaporated milk (non-sweetened)
3 cups pumpkin (cooked and mixed)
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease one glass pie pan with butter (bottom and sides) and set aside.
  1. Sift or mix together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
  1. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter (slightly softened). Beat in 2 eggs.
  1. Add dry ingredients and vanilla. Mix.
  1. Add pumpkin and mix.
  1. Add milk and stir with a spoon.
  1. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 180°C for about 1 hour. Let cool before cutting.
1 cup=235 ml
1 tsp.=5ml