Monday, October 13, 2014

Passing down the crazy

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For the first time ever ladies and gents.... public water fountain on the Old Town Square. Now if they would just add one, or 32, public restrooms, we'd be in business.
The sign reads, "Woda do picia" (water for drinking)


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Oh, we piciaed! We piciaed like pros.


For some reason blogger won't let me comment on any of my last few posts. If you've been waiting for me to respond, I promise, I haven't been avoiding you. Blogger is just kind of a piece every now and then.

There is so much I want to say about all of this. It interests me. I'm not moving mountains with my words but I am genuinely intrigued and want to discuss it. I appreciate your willingness to comment and share your stories.

When Martin asks people why they don't allow cold drinks, why they don't drink tap water, why the child has to wear a hat once the temp. goes below 70, why children can't sit on the ground (I'll get to that in a second), he usually gets this response first...

 "That's just what you do or don't do (sometimes ending with, "in Poland")!" Depending on the age of the person it will also be accompanied with something like a shocked scowl. Those exist here.

He strongly dislikes that response. And bless his heart he almost always retorts with, " What do you mean, that's just "what you do"?!" No, it's not. You don't JUST DO anything!!"

And here's the thing. He's right. But perhaps it's not that the other person is wrong, perhaps it's because the other person is, in fact, Polish. Could it be?

I sincerely want to know why. I want to know the old wives tales. I want to know the wisdom and the "wisdom" that has been passed down from generation to generation here in this country.

For whatever reason, perhaps Communism, perhaps homogeneity, perhaps patriotism, perhaps all three in one... seems to have frozen Poland for a couple generations. These "isms" are still around because these generations are still around. But they won't be for long. The generations that bring us these delightful parental admonishments and pearls of wisdom meant to protect our health will die some day.

 For better or for worse each generation relies far less on familial wisdom and more and more on books, experts, t.v. programs, mom's groups, and the like for information about how to do things, how to raise kids, health issues, nutrition, home remedies, recipes, how to fix a toilet... There's a reason of course. Sometimes our mom's and grandma's are just plain wrong. A lot of the wisdom passed down can be traced back to superstition, lack of knowledge of the way the body works, or just some sort of short term fix that turned in to 'how's it done always and forever.'

(let's not be too hasty to "throw the baby out with the bath water" as the English would say.... I am most impressed that many people here, and their children, know  natural remedies that Americans don't even bother to research. There are many other examples as well but this one comes to mind first.)

Or are they? Are they wrong?

Don't all of these "isms" have some truth to them? Don't they all stem from something real at some point in history that causes such strong reactions? So strong as to actually create fears and prejudices, and "just do/don't do?!" Right?

And in some areas it is still being passed on, to my children's generation, despite the books, and knowledge at our finger tips, and proof that there is no "just do/don't do."

Gosh, I wish I were a better writer. I think it's all clear but then it's not. And of course none of this is all that important. It's just so interesting to me. Truly interesting.

I learned today: No matter what, no matter the temperature outside/inside or what the baby is wearing, under no circumstances save, perhaps, an emergency, should a child be placed to sit directly on the ground/floor/grass. It's been insinuated before, but today I was told the truth of the matter. Very authoritatively. This is interesting!!!

(and humbling)

(let me take  a moment here to say that if you want to be truly humbled, truly truly humbled, move to a different country where no matter how hard you try you will make a cultural or linguistic faux pas every.single.day, sometimes several times a day, and you will gently, or not so gently be corrected by the general public every.single.day..................they are moments of grace, or moments to sin... you "get" to choose, every.single.day.)


I asked Martin why.

He said he thinks it has something to do with the kidneys - the floor/ground/grass is cold, and this is bad for the kidneys. Anyone?

We're both baffled.

 I might just have to start asking people.

Oy. Won't that be a can of worms. :)

P.S. This post hearkens back to an older post from early 2014. So, you know, it's been on my mind. Some great comments over there. ;)


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Another question for my readers...

Why are people so afraid to give children cold drinks?

That is all.

No, wait, there's more.

Summer before last we had a 4th of July party and invited some of the neighborhood children for the fireworks. They also ate some chips and some drank some drinks. One such child, we'll call him "Jack," was having fun, eating, drinking, joinign int he revelry. His mother came to check on him, enters the yard and immediately rushes to his side...

"You haven't drunken anything cold, have you?"

Jack: No

"are you sure?!"

Jack: Yes, I'm sure, I haven't drunken anything cold.

I mean, this mother was worried. Really worried. I don't know what she would have done if he had said yes. I don't really want to find out.



Weird.



Fast forward to this past 4th of July...

Jack is back. Eating and playing. And then Jack gets thirsty.

"Excuse me, sir, do you have any drinks that are not cold?"

Martin looks in the ice chest full of ice and cold beverages, water, beer, juice, soda.....

"No, I'm sorry, but this soda hasn't been in there too long, it's not too cold, do you want that?"

Jack feels the bottle, "no sir, I can't have that. My mother doesn't allow me to drink cold drinks."

Major props to Jack for being so obedient. Seriously. The kid was thirsty and he followed his mother's instructions. Way to go Jack.

Now for my REAL question. How scared did his mother make him of drinking cold drinks, that a child of 8 would be so terrified of cold drinks so as to forgo drinking anything at all at a party? I mean, I felt bad for him. (and we did find him something in the end) Then again, maybe he's just an obedient child and, like many children, doesn't quite understand why he can't do something, but he was simply following the rules.

Again his mother came to join us and again she asked him if he drank something cold and Martin walked right up and said.

"No, he didn't, he said you wouldn't like it, he did just what you told him."

She smiled. All was well.

But, seriously... cold drinks. What't the deal?

(I have had people not want to sell me drinks because they were cold and I had children with me, like clearly I wouldn't want the cold drink since my children would be drinking it and they seemed quite flabbergasted when I actually asked for a cold drink, or ice.)

To round out me question for today I will share with you something that happened not 2 hours ago.

I go the store with all the kids, walk in a store and attempt to buy a water.

Lady asks me: "kjfhahkckjhsoivhsvn, cieplo?"
"Przepraszam"? (ok, she wants to know something about the water, she's holding the bottle up and talking about the water being warm... but I pulled a cold one out of the little fridge so.... ugh, Kacio where are you ? Veronica stop pulling my hair!... "Hejjo, go find Kacio!" Felix, please stop teasing you sister!)

Lady asks again: Do you want a warm one?

Um, um, (whatever! I just want to buy the water and leave, why the heck is she asking me this, I don't understand??! Is the cold water broken in some way? Is it rotten? Expired?...)
"Tak, tak, prosze." (when in doubt be polite and nod)

She went and put back my gloriously cold water and returned with a room temp. one.

Sigh.

I mean, I understood the question, but I didn't understand what she meant by it. Why is she even asking this question? I grabbed the cold one on purpose... you do SELL cold waters!

Double sigh.

Oh, Poland, you gotta give me a break here.

(next time I'm just gonna skip to the worst sin ever by asking her to fill my baby's sippy cup with... dun, dun, dunnnnn... Woda prosto z kranu!  Mwahahahahahaha....)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fun Photo Friday

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I (mostly) love the shirts with the English.
They make me laugh.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Your questions.

I get a lot of email from readers. I'd say that half of them are the "I know exactly what you're talking about, I have been there!" kind, and those are great. It can be a lonely place to enter a new country and feel like you're the first to do so. You're not! I promise! But sometimes it feels like it.... the other emails I get are often questions. Most of the questions are in the vein of... "my husband and I are thinking of moving to Poland can you tell me..." or "My wife and I are transplanting ourselves and our kids to Poland next year and plan on homeschooling, can we do it ...?" These are also great emails to receive because sometime our sanity is questioned by those around us. And yet, at least once a month I hear from people who are choosing to do just that and they want to end up here, in Poland So, you know, we're trendy.  Always nice to be on the cutting edge of something. ;)

So, maybe some of you all have questions. I don't know. Maybe. Post away. I can't promise that I will answer all of them. But as for me, I often have questions for Poles/Poland. I wish I had a place to ask them all.

In the spirit of "going first" here are a few questions for my Polish, living in Poland, (or not, I guess), readers....

- What's with the crazy hair? (especially the whole, only one half of the head shaved)
- Why do they make the "L" drivers drive so slowly?!
- Why do so many people have their children sit in the front seat of the car and their spouse/other adult in the back? Isn't that dangerous?

There ya go. Curiosity. I've got lots more but we'll start slow.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rancho Texas! Dębniki Days, country music... kind of like home.

In Krakow there are "districts" of the city, kind of like neighborhoods although they span more than just a few streets. You know, districts. Often these different districts will celebrate the anniversary of the district or just sort of throw a big party to celebrate the area. We don't live in Dębniki. It's actually a really nice area of town and it has a little city center that we would love to own a piece of in the future but I'm pretty sure that's down on like number 8 or 9 on our property acquiring list (we have a list, oh yes, we do, and while it's true we're still working on #1, we might make it to number 3 before we die so the list is relevant!). And seeing as how I don't have my own ranch in Texas yet (that's #2 - I have high hopes), we have to settle for just pretending to live near the area by crashing their big ol' party.

The theme this year: Country Style!

Awesome. (and a bit scary, I'm not gonna lie... there was much talk of how much this "Texas style" would be *Polified...)

The festivities were held at a restaurant called... get this... Rancho Texas!!!

Yeeeeah, buddy.

The music, at least right when we got there, luckily, was country-ish (not so much later on when some local ladies had a mini American Idol thing goin' on. sigh), the food was typical Polish sausage type stuff, which is as close to Bar-B-Q as it comes without actually having real Bar-B-Q. They had beer on tap, out of plastic cups. Straight up Texas style right there. And there were even horses for the children to ride! We loved it. I loved it. It was a fun time. I even spotted a cowboy hat and a pair of cowboy boots. I didn't wear mine of course, that would have been a little too cliche and I am far too cool for that, ;), but I was glad to see someone else sportin' a pair of really not practical footwear, all in the name of neighborhood solidarity.

If you blurred your eyes for a minute, took in the smells of roasting animal flesh and slightly stale beer, the sounds of country music played on acoustic guitars, and didn't listen to a durn thing any real life person was sayin', it was almost like being back home at a really small, tiny, backyard state fair.

I also have to take this moment to give a nod to my husband who misses all of these Texan things just as much as I do and who took the time to seek it out and plan for us to go. Thanks, hon, sorry I wouldn't two-step with you, I don't like to call attention to our freak show of a family any more than I have to. ;)

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Ignore me picking food out of my teeth and the FLY IN MY CONDIMENTS and just listen to the music...



* polified
pr. (poe - lih - fied)
verb
past tense
to make more Polish as by adding Polish food, custom, or taste to an already existing item of different ethnic/regional origin

: Susan polified her lasagna by inserting a layer of cabbage between the mozzarella and cottage cheese.

: The  polification of the home was complete with the addition of the wiatrolap and one large wall without windows.

: The mayor order 23 more directional signs and advertisements to be added to main street in an attempt to polify the city.


 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why are you staring at us?


Why are you staring at us? Why?

Is it because I wear those silly cowboy boots?
Is it because my son is wearing pink crocs ( "I like pink, mama!" "me too, Kacio!") and purple pants?
Is it because my daughter is wearing two different colored socks?

Such little things.

That can't be it because you just nudged the person standing next to you and now they're staring. It must be something else.

Is it because I am wearing my baby in a backpack carrier?
Is it because I'm speaking English to the children?
Is it because my husband is speaking Polish to the children?

Not everyday fare, for sure.

That can't be it because now you're not only both staring but you're whispering and shaking your head and...and... wait... scowling?

I just waved and smiled at you to let you know I can see you staring and scowling and shaking your head and whispering. But you didn't smile back at me. You just kept staring and scowling.

That's weird.

I sure wish I knew what was going on.

Until then I'll just assume the best. I'll assume that you stop and stare and scowl and whisper and not return smiles to ALL the people you pass by.

 I'll say a sincere prayer for you.
That you become a happier person.
A more joyful person.

A person that sees a happy family and smiles.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

random house stuff, other random stuff, book question

We signed the contract with the bank for the loan. That's good news. Only about a year after starting to apply and 2 year after buying the land. Some of us might be discouraged by the time it has taken us to get this far. Some of of us might like to recall certain conversations where certain people promised certain other people that we would not be living where we are right now for more than 2 years. And even then, those same people like to remind the others that they knew it all along, and it's ok because the "internal calculate for real life time" time line (versus the building contract time line aka OTHER PERSON'S time line) has the house finishing well into next fall (even though next summer has been talked about ad nauseam), one year from now, and anything before then will feel like a wonderful fairy tale dream. It all works out in the end you see.

You would think I'd be a bit more like !!!! and HEY, LISTEN TO THIS, and much more ohmygoshyouwon'tbelieveiti'msohappyyouwon'tbelieveit about the whole signing for the money thing but what you  don't know is that up until the day of the signing we were being told that there was a possibility that the bank wouldn't have the papers ready which would mean the offer would have expired (past 60 days from first offer) and we would have to START ALL OVER.

Insert this face...
130115-214442
Classic.

So, rather than a big high five or excited calls to parents or romantic dinner to celebrate, Martin and I just let out the loudest sigh of relief heard 'round the world. Or, parking lot of the bank.

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This is the parking lot where we signed other papers the week before. I can double park better than you can.


Anyway, it's done. We can now tell out builder to go crazy, don't stop for nothin' let us know when you need us...

So far...
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They are building the outside walls of the "parter"/0 level/first floor/main floor...whatever you call it in your country. It is, as it should be, very exciting.

On the weekends we have been living it up in town. We saw the 20th annual Dachshund parade (we went last year as well, twice in a row = family tradition). A Pole and American won best male and female dogs in the show. The girl dog was American. How apt.

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our cousin playing the cymbals
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another cousin, sister to the cymbal playing cousin, on the far right, playing the greatest instrument in the world, in sunglasses.
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Eating large cupcakes at Cupcake Corner after Mass which is just around the corner from our beloved St. Giles English language Mass. We have been going every weekend lately. Balm for the soul. (I appreciate Martin's willingness to let us go every weekend, when we can). Bad for the pocketbook...those cupcakes are 'spensive.

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As Lina would say "the whole family!"

Oh yeah, and school started last week. That's a big one, but I don't have any photos of that. Martin is working really hard with the boys to get their Polish where it should be. They have passed all tests with flying colors but at the same time they just don't think in Polish, and that's what we want. I keep threatening to send them to school for a semester or two until it gets to be like second nature but Martin wants to try this first. We'll see...

That reminds me. Any good books for kids, in Polish, that you all would recommend? They like books that come in a series and they like adventure and "questing" books (whatever that means). They are currently reading the Redwall Series in English but we need more in Polish. Any suggestions?

Oh, and I got a hair cut. So that was fun.

Come back Friday for a riveting tale about my deep connection with Dr. Dre. The rapper. Yeah, that's right. Friday.