Life in Poland

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.

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  • Reply
    February 14, 2013 at 2:07 am

    kindle!!!!thats your answer to books!have plenty to share!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2013 at 10:46 am

    M- I agree with you 100%. Maybe I will get a Kindle for Valentine's Day. What a pleasure it would be to have English titles, as many as I want, at my fingertips. I went to Empik again today because I am a glutton for punishment. The top selling title this week is 50 Shades of Grey in Polish. Beh.

  • Reply
    February 14, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Good luck with your slummy to yummy diet. And you shouldn't feel guilty for eating all those donuts. Everybody knows that those eaten on Fat Thursday do not make you put on weight. :)I am jealous about all this time you have and books you get to read and yes – i was also going to suggest a Kindle. Even though it doesn't feel like a book, doesn't smell like one and you shouldn't read it in a bath – it gives you so much choice! I actually use iBooks on iPhone and iPad which is similar (not so eye-friendly) and this way I get to read books wherever I am and no matter how little time I have (doctor's waiting room or outside of babies' room, waiting for them to fall asleep). So have you received one as a gift today? :)Haha, and from your previous posts and from this one, I can only imagine how fun it is to have you as a business English teacher. 🙂 Laters!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Hanna- Thanks for the encouragement. So far it is slow going but the first week is always like that. Things will pick up when the weather gets better.Normally I don't have a chance to read anything for pleasure but because we were home for winter break I had 7 days of nothing to do. And how did you know that I read in the bath ;)And about me as a fun teacher, you'd have to ask my students. Some days I'm not to fun esp when homework has not been done. Slowly but surely my students keep getting younger (not that I am getting any older) and they've started more and more to call me Pani. Beh.Off to work. On today's menu we have:President of IT companyMain Accountant of educational institutionOffice Adminstration and Sales team of an American company sell industrial machineryWoohoo!Oh, I didn't get a kindle for V-day yesterday.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    First German cleaning, first Polish cleaning and now first American cleaning. Truly international stairs you have there 🙂

  • Reply
    Porady prawne Poznań
    February 18, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Nie mogę przestać o tym myśleć

  • Reply
    February 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    papageno- I like the way you think! You know I come from the land of disposal housing so I was very excited to hear the history of my house. Not too long ago I discovered that the beams upstairs are numbered, a discovery my husband made years ago.

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