Sunday, February 24, 2013

Przypominamy, proszę skasować bilet!!!

Please remember to validate your ticket!!!
I don’t know why the local public transportation administration insists on the !!! One would suffice. Or suffice!

If I could convey a message to the public transportation administration it would be this:

I always validate my ticket.

Thank you for the reminder!!!

old school vs. new school

I’m getting used to life with only one car. Most days are good actually. Friday, my worst car-less day, would have been great if not for the snow. We started from a walk to school at 7:15 in snow flurries. Then I grabbed the bus close to school and travelled as far across the city as possible as to still be considered in the city, but aha, I can reach my destination on one bus (plus a little walking). Lessons, lessons, lessons and I took off running trying to catch the tram at 6 after the hour which would deposit me directly in front of my next company. No such luck due to an adorable class of pre-schoolers on a very cold and snowy walk who were completely blocking the sidewalk. Made if for the 10 after tram and along with aforementioned pre-schoolers headed to the center.

My favorite part about public transport is that I can observe the city. This trip allowed me to observe what would have been our neighborhood if we had bought the huge (130 square meters) apartment we first considered. Now, I can say that I am relieved that we didn’t. Not that I have anything against prisons, per se, but I am definitely glad that we don’t live opposite one.

I arrived in the center and went to my most regular and resilient student. 5 days a week of English with Chris? No problem. 90 minutes later, I was back on the street and hoofing it to my next lesson. I arrived covered in snow to a surprised student eating her lunch. I gave her a heartfelt (and stomach growling) smacznego and she welcomed me in out of the snow.

An hour later that same fantastic lady dropped me off close to the bus stop saving me 30 minutes of snow walking (boss obviously out of the office). I helped a very sweet dziaduś to find his way and we were off somewhat in the direction of home. Got off the bus and headed to school on foot. It was snowing to beat all hell. Walked with the kids in a bunny hop formation so that the blowing snow hit me directly in the face but kept them protected. Got home, made tea, drank tea, made more tea, couldn’t get warm for the next 6 hours.

Except for the cold and the snow and the longer time to get around the city, Friday was a good day. I didn’t have to worry about driving. I didn’t have to find a parking spot. My biggest worry was to hit the STOP!!! button for przystanek na żądanie but someone else got to it before me. I, of course, remembered to validate my ticket. I like to gapić się so I never ride na gapę. I can’t look out the windows and look out for kanary at the same time. It’s too stressful.

In case you are planning a return to public transportation such as I have, I can give you a few pointers.

Things You Should Not Do On Public Transport
1. You should never allow your dog to shit on the bus and then exit as if nothing has happened. (no comment)
2. Blow your nose without a tissue. (happens)
3. Smell bad. (happens)
4. Smell bad and try to cover it with drug store perfume. (happens)
5. Cut your nails. (in all fairness this was at the bus stop but still gross)
6. Touch me for any reason. (apparently I am magnetic)
7. Talk loudly on the phone and say “wiesz co” every other second.
8. Do your English homework in front of me all wrong (not officially forbidden, just drives me crazy)
9. Drink beer (happened but it was the ticket inspector drinking beer with the tram driver at the pętla – yes, the driver drove our tram after drinking and the inspector checked our tickets – jazda z prądem!!!)
10. Forget to validate your ticket. (if happens, speak English and give some English name and random local address)
11. Pass out in the seat and urinate. (it wasn’t me)
12. Put acid on the seats. (happened)
13. Forget to check seats for acid or any other liquid before sitting. (see points 11 and 12)
14. Smile. (strictly forbidden, almost never happens)

Validate your ticket and enjoy the ride!

Need help finding your way around the city?


Thursday, February 21, 2013

I am 26

Ha, ha. I just wanted a chance to say that I am 26. I haven't said it for a long time. It feels good, but wrong.
I actually am not 26, but Kielbasa Stories is 26th in the Top 100 International Exchange & Experience Blogs 2013.

I wanted to brag, brag a bit. Check out the list. There are some cool blogs on there.

Thanks to everyone who voted :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another snowy day

Woke up to snow again this morning. Snow, I love – on a day off. Snow on my face. Snow on my tongue. Even shoveling snow, my job as a kid, I see now was a bit fun. Instant gratification – one minute the snow’s there, the next minute it is shoveled neatly on the edge of the driveway. I exaggerate of course. It wasn’t the next minute but perhaps the next hour but still the job was done until the next snow.

Snow, I do not love as I tread to the bus stop on the unshoveled sidewalk. Snow that seems to be coming down horizontally and somehow making its way under the defense of my umbrella, collar and scarf to reach my neck. Work day snow I could do without.

I am looking forward to spring. The anticipation is driving me crazy. There are so many things I have planned for spring – plans for Easter, for our house, for our garden, but mainly just going outside. Not to mention the cold. I will not miss the cold, not that it ever really leaves me. I am perpetually cold. For those who are not, I cannot emphasize enough how uncomfortable it is to be constantly cold. When people ask me if I am cold, incredulously, as they are not, I no longer deny it. There’s no sense to deny it especially when I have goose bumps on my face. Yes, on my face. Some people get wypieczki. I get goose bumps.

I know that there are beautiful poems in Polish about winter and spring. I found a wonderful webpage once and lost myself in the beautiful words. I spent the better part of an hour searching but I cannot find that page -the page I came upon by chance, I now cannot find with any amount of searching, just when I need someone, even a poet, to convince me of the pleasures to be taken from winter and the certainty that spring is on its way.

I was more successful searching in English.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    "Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Very beautiful sentiments indeed, but my heart is unfortunately neither romantic nor poetic. This is more my speed:

“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
Carl Reiner

Happy snow day to you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Unwanted Guests

Winter Break is over. Ho hum, a month and a half to Easter and another month after that to Majówka. Anyhow, I took advantage of the time off to do a lot of nothing, read some books for the 3rd time (go Marian Keyes!), watch endless episodes of Keeping Up Appearances and ‘allo, ‘allo and clean the house. But just when I had planned on getting all house proud (it almost never happens to me) a mouse went and died in the ceiling in the kids’ room. Thankfully, it had the courtesy to die in a room which we can close off but it would’ve been much better to die elsewhere or to not die at all and live out its fulfilled mouse life. One good thing is that the kids’ room remained spotless all week long.

We also have another unwanted house guest. I think (ok, I hope, knock on wood) that we have him foiled. It’s a beech marten (kuna domowa). A dear little thing but not so nice when it makes its home in the space between your porch and the roof. Even worse when everyone is asleep and you can hear it scurrying on the metal roof. We hit it with a triple threat. It is a well-known fact, according to a neighbor and the internet, that beech martens (or kunas as we call them in our house) don’t like the smell of humans. Threat one of our triple threat –a rag drenched in human sweat courtesy of Misiu after a run. Threat two was my idea as I had the vinegar out trying to absorb the mouse smell. We drenched another rag with vinegar and placed it along with the first one. Threat three may be overkill but it adds a nice touch. We hung wind chimes which we hope will serve to deter and not entertain the kuna – fingers crossed. It’s working so far and was a much better alternative to the other internet recommended idea of poisoning the little creature. It’s also not as easy as you’d think involving fresh eggs (as in fresh out of the hen), poison and plastic gloves (no human smell).
We would just get a dog (it might also help with our mole problem, and oh, our pesky neighbor problem), but it’s just too much work for us and even if we got someone to help us with it, the poor doggy would be lonely. Or not. Letting your dog roam free seems to be the thing to do in our village. Dogs run in packs, right? Not in our village. Our girls report regularly on the ekipa of dogs in our field. And you know what? It is an ekipa, the same 4 village dogs, each different from the next, wandering around the village together probably having adventures like in some Disney movie.

My one-week detox-diet plans went by the wayside. You see, before spring every year when I notice that winter has made me a bit roly-poly (all blame placed on winter not my penchant for all thing edible), I embark on a two-month long slummy to yummy diet plan. It is a plan of my own making created in spring 7 years ago when Lizzie was born. I usually kick it off with a stomach-shrinking, super-strict week one just to get the ball rolling. I had planned it for last week, but unfortunately my detox plan coincided with a week with nothing to do (read “eat”) plus Fat Thursday (aka Donut Day) which I was totally unprepared for thanks to my beautiful Vogue 2013 pocket calendar purchased at Empik which does not have any of the Polish holidays marked in it. Beh.

I am not proud to say that I alone ate 4 enormous donuts. I had to after scouring the village to get just the right ones. The first bakery was a no-go from the get-go. We didn’t even cross the threshold as we noticed a sign on the door with the shameful news “brak pączków”. I gave an equally shameful tsk, tsk to the bakery ladies through the window. One lady was having herself a coffee and the other was biting her fingernails with a f**k  all expression on her face. The next bakery we tried is one of my favorites due to its location next to the church. Just because I don’t partake of the services doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to sit sipping my latte and commenting on the outfits of all the female parishioners. I thought we were good to go and we weren’t even discouraged by the long line. When we saw the donuts just drenched in glaze, however, we had to move on. The third bakery turned out to be the last. They had lightly glazed donuts and unglazed with a dusting of powdered sugar. We got 12 in all, some with marmalade, some with adwokat and the rest with the traditional rose jam. As we left, I scoffed at the ladies who were buying single donuts to go. Who buys and eats just one donut? Not me, that’s for sure.

Full of donutty energy, I decided to clean the house, something I do rather irregularly and infrequently. So irregularly and infrequently that once after a big clean Rosie emerged from the kitchen enquiring as to the whereabouts of the birthday cake. You see, we always clean for somebody’s birthday, therefore, according to the Rosie theorem of cleaning:
If birthday, then cleaning.
If cleaning, then birthday.
There are no birthdays in the works for another 2 months but I cleaned anyhow. My greatest cleaning challenge had to be the stairs. Well, actually, my greatest cleaning challenge would have to be the beams in the “cathedral ceiling” upstairs. I can’t reach them, even with a ladder. It’s that simple. Well, truth be told, the greatest of all great cleaning challenges wound have to be the basement, a place I never, ever go. I suppose then the stairs are not my greatest cleaning challenge, but they are the greatest of the challenges that I am willing to take on. The stairs are old, as old as the house. They are pine and perhaps over the years were painted several times but now they are just worn pine, even worn off in some places. And dirty. I mean we clean them as in regularly removing debris and wiping down. This time I decided to scrub them, scrub them completely clean. I soon discovered that it’s not possible or least it won’t be possible in one run. I scrubbed and scrubbed waiting to get the effect of scrubbed pine as in the lovely scrubbed pine kitchen table the heroine in my book had bought for her kitchen (along with a blue Aga cook stove).

I must confess that the effect was not achieved despite all the scrubbing and changing the water for fresh water for each and every step. Believe me, it was necessary. Lizzie even asked me why I was cleaning the steps with coffee, the water was that dirty and discolored from the wood. You must think we live like pigs, but really, we’ve just been performing rudimentary cleaning on the stairs as were were planning to tear them our and put in new ones. Those plans have not come through as we want finished concrete stairs and nobody will do it. Finished concrete stairs for your terrace? Yes ma’am. Finished concrete stairs in your house? Inside? No way, Jose. So the stairs have just been there performing their lowly duty of getting us from downstairs to upstairs and back down again. They are kind of growing on us actually, hence the cleaning. I suppose its the first good cleaning those stairs have had in about 30 years. We bought the house about 10 years ago. Nobody lived in it for about 10 years before our purchase. Previously, the man who lived in our house lived without water and electricity. One might say he lived zgodnie z naturą but in fact it was more like zgodnie z denaturatą, and he certainly did not clean before he died (he fell down the basement stairs after having had too much to drink). Prior to him, were the original owners, well, not exactly the original owners. The original owners were German. I mean the original Polish owners who lived out their days here is this home so I rather doubt the stairs had got themselves a good cleaning then either. Jeez, maybe it’s the first comprehensive cleaning in 40 years even. So what do our stairs look like after a good scrub? Surprisingly similar to the way they looked before the scrub. Beh.

I also had the pleasure of visiting the local DMV. I was all prepared for battle when I realized the the local DMV had gone and got themselves organized. You still have to ask who’s last in line but  it’s far better than it used to be. I presented my akt zgonu for my car, the old plates plus my kwit for 10 zloty and got back a paper to give the insurance company to recoup some of the insurance for my dead car. I wanted to ask the clerk if he remembered me, but I lost my nerve. It was the same clerk who registered my car some years ago and while holding my (American) passport in his hand explained to me that he couldn’t register my car without a PESEL number (it’s like a social security #). I am now the proud owner of a PESEL number but at that time I only possessed a NIP (tax id #). He went on to explain in a booming, authoritative voice that “every person born in Poland has a PESEL”. I replied that I wholeheartedly agreed, but that I was not fortunate enough to have been born in Poland. That got a few chuckles from the other folks waiting in line to be served.

So now I’ve run out of books to read. I stopped in to Empik before my week off but couldn’t find anything new to read. I am at the mercy of the Empik foreign language buyers thus doomed to read the complete works of Marian Keyes. Well, doomed is not the right word because I love Marian Keyes. If not M.K. then I’ll have to read all the Jeremy Clarkson books or perhaps Risk In Banking: A Post-Crisis Perspective by Leszek Czarnecki.

My new favorite word, thanks to Marian Keyes, is “narky”. It means irritable and easily annoyed. I’m planning to introduce it into my business English lessons in manner of “Good morning Mr Bank President, Sir. Why so narky today?” I’d like to introduce Jolly Boys and Jolly Girls, as well as, Feathery Stroker but it would require too much explanation. I feel bad enough for having taught my students shelf butt, fugly and later, bitches. Really,  I can’t help myself. When I exit a room of twenty-something computer programmers, I just cannot say good-bye or see you later. The later, bitches just pours out despite myself.

I have really written a lot today. I gotta keep busy. It’s the hunger. Last week’s detox week has become this week’s detox week. Until next time all I can say is later, bitches.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I definitely need a minute

Vote your favorite IX13 blog I need a minute to get back to reality after a week of “Winter Break”. I have about a million e-mails to sort through and another million spams on Kielbasa Stories. Kielbasa Stories has been nominated for iX13 -International eXchange and eXperience blog competition. Anyone may vote once until February 17th, just click on the icon above. The winners will be ranked according to number of votes and announced on February 20th. Spam or not spam? Can’t decide.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Badum tissssssh!

If you are a teacher of so-called business English, for sure you’ve done a lesson about starting your own business - if not out of accountability for the business English knowledge of your students then just for the pure pleasure of listening to them try to pronounce “entrepreneurial”.

I had such a lesson this week. Despite the massive brain power in the room, we didn’t come up with any mind-blowing business ideas. After covering all the various forms of doing business with the pros and cons and all the possible synonyms to “set up”, we basically just sat around feeling sorry for ourselves that our last name wasn’t McDonald.

I am a sole trader, one of the forms of doing business listed in the textbook. According to our textbook, it is one the riskiest forms of doing business with an extremely high failure rate. We tried to put the blame on ZUS but considering that our book is published in England we were hard pressed to come up with a justification. The textbook claims that 9 out of 10 sole proprietorships fail while only 0.9% of franchises fail. Can anyone say, “d’ya want fries with that”? Of course these are English stats, so I asked my students:

If 9 out of 10 sole-proprietorships in England fail, what do you suppose the rate of failure is for Poland?

Reply of  my new, star student:

9 out of 10 in England, you say? In Poland, I’d have to say 11 out of 10.

Badum tissssssh!

PS If you’d like to check where your country ranks in the “ease of doing business” ranking, check out this page :

In starting a business the United States ranks 4th while Poland ranks 124th.

PS2 This barely has anything to do with the post, but here it is anyhow. Enjoy!

But why is their ice cream so good?!