Tuesday, 28 August 2007

keeping fit

You can see the full session of my pumpkin workout here.

Mr H, I stole your phrase and used it in the title of the album.


You know you have been away for too long when you realise you have no idea who your best mates’ new mates are. I was talking to Tabitha today over Skype, catching up on this and that. We got to a point in the conversation when I had to stop her and exclaim “geez Tabitha, I have no bloody idea who the hell you are talking about. All these new people. I know no one!” Tabitha replied “Yup. You are officially out of the loop dude. When I’m being asked how I know Libby and Hugh for example, I often start the explanation with there once was this girl named Justyna”. I groaned “oh crap, my footprints are fading!” At this point Skype cut out and I really did disappear. How sad.

Also I tried to return my cross-eyed specs yesterday. I went to the optometrist and told the lady I made a really big mistake and could I just return the frames minus the lenses cost because they make me look so awful. She said no. "Next time don't make such hasty decisions. All I can suggest is you give them away" she advised. Return policies always thrill me in Poland. Pity I don't have any friends with really wide heads.

And another thing. I finally managed to stack it on my bike. After a good 12 months of dodging traffic, horse buggies, trash-metal-and-shit guys, dicky tourists and hideous pigeons, I crashed in a very pathetic way. It was all my fault. I convinced myself I could tackle the river terrain around Tyniec with my Ukrainian, 30-year old, rickety gear less wonder pretending it was a mountain bike. It's not. My back wheel slid in the dirt on a steep ascend by the river bank and I failed to lift it out in time. The bike toppled to the side in slow-mo, lazily tossing my sad arse to its knees, head bowed in the dirt. Tragic. "You ok?" Michal came rushing over. "Yes" I bluntly responded and with determination got back on and peddled away. Now something came loose in the bike's frame and it squeaks more than ever.

Monday, 27 August 2007

hole in the wall

I didn't get a chance to do anything with the pumpkin over the weekend. It is sitting by the wall, and I occasionally use it as a stool. To stand on, as well as it to sit on. It is indeed a sturdy little sucker. Instead, Saturday was spent on home renovating. Exaggeration aside, it was spent on putting a hole in the wall. Michal has grand plans. The hole will be turned into a cupboard. With shelves and a door. I await with anticipation. It is desperately needed to store all the jars filled with pickles, fruit and whatnot. Winter is coming after all. The family is preparing us for hibernation. Latest count: 4 jars of wild cherries, 3 jars of pickles, 2 jars of stewed apples, 1 jar of mushrooms. See. This is how Poland survived before Tesco (ala Woolies). I just need to find a jar large enough for the pumpkin. I hear it pickles well in vinegar.

pumpkin stool

day trip

Over a week ago we went to Suchedniow to pick up Michal’s grandparents to take them back to Krakow for the day. Last time they were both in Krakow was in 1976 at Marek’s (Michal’s dad) graduation. It was a treat seeing them get so excited about the day trip. There was no complaining, no tsk tsking, no pains in the neck, no ‘lets go home soon’, no old people whining. It was great. They were happy to see the sites, eat my spicy pasta (Helena even asked to take some sauce home – fancy that! I got to put shit in a jar for someone else, so it could be reheated the very next day), they liked our apartment and appreciated both the Singer sewing machine and Michal’s new power saw. Pluses all round. The most entertaining moment was when they saw some break dancers in the town square. Helena stopped and stared and then exclaimed "oh my, these young men really are twisted". Noice.

It's nice to have grandparents who not only give you slippers and stewed apples, but who are also keen to see a bit beyond their front fence. I hope that I am as easygoing and enthusiastic as Helena and Mietek when I am their age. Or be like my babcia Zosia, who at the age of 70 still went camping with us, slept on a blow up mattress, and the only nanerish thing about her was keeping each individual piece of her clothing is separate plastic bags. The rustling would wake the whole camp ground in the morning.

Helena and Mietek

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

pumpkin dog

I convinced Matylda (Michal's mum) to grow some pumpkins this year. Pumpkins aren't all that big of a veg on a Polish plate. Pumpkin bread, soup, scones, salad, quiche etc are all unheard of. The poor Polish pumpkin has existed for the sole purpose of feeding pigs in winter with. But I am marketing the return of this super vegetable! Matylda complied and the pumpkins in her garden are huge. One is being grown to its hugest possible size - so far it weighs about 30 kilos (not shown here). We were given the one on the photo to take back to Krakow. It is now on our kitchen table and I am wondering what the hell am I going to do with all that flesh? Ideas anyone? Please remember that I do not have an oven. And yes, pots of pumpkin (and coconut milk) soup, are already being planned.

Aza the dog and the pumpkin

a shitter

I went to listen to a lecture today. It was given by a founding partner of a leading labour law firm in the States. The informal lecture was organised by the firm I used to work for (incidentally a firm also specialising in labour and employment – and no, not for the plaintiffs). It was great to listen to a man in his seventies talk about his love for the law (and going up against Jimmy Hoffa in the 1960s). I have forgotten what it feels like to be stimulated by the profession I was once fond of. I looked at my fellow solicitors in the room wondering whether they felt the same insufficiency of the Polish legal system that I feel. Whether listening to the passionate American was a huge slap in the head for them. It was for me. Sigh, what the hell am I doing here…

Meanwhile, Michal is looking at architectural designs for a house we're planning to build next year. I really should get over myself.

And one more thing. My glasses broke a couple of months ago. They were stuck together, albeit not with sticky tape. The super glue I implemented continued to let me down. So I began to search high and low for new frames and kept getting disappointed. Finally last Friday I thought I found the ones least harrowing and had the lenses ordered. The optometrist said the frames were a tad wide for my head. But I insisted they were fine. I picked them up today. “So what do you think?” I said to Michal. “Bit wide for your head. Looks like you’re cross-eyed”. Great.

Monday, 13 August 2007

what's your hobby?

It is a fact. Poland is full of freaky Christians. And I am not talking about the evangelical types inhabiting the bible belt of the US southern states who like to clap and dance and on occasion join a cult or stick a ‘Jesus loves my ma’ sticker on the boot of their car. I’m talking about the fundamentalist freaks. The ones who fuck up the state by blindly voting for the party that their local priest is sodomising. The ones who never actually question the need for separating the church from the state (wake up Poland!!!). The ones who spend their last pennies of their pension on petrol for the brand swanking Merc their fat priest is driving. AND the ones who spend weeks on pilgrimages, at the ripe age of 16, when they should be getting pissed and listening to loud guitar with their friends. Ok, or some raw NWA or whatever the equivalent is today.

Yes, welcome to the annual Pilgrimage to the Shining Mountain!! August is the month where presbyteries across Poland motivate their ‘flock’ and organise ‘excursions’ to the Hill in Czestochowa, where an old painting of the Madonna is hung (Poland’s patron and some would say the Pope’s only mistress. Yeah yeah, everyone knows John Paul II had a thing for Mary). Kids young and old, don comfortable shoes, sing hymns, hold hands, communally pray and walk for weeks across Poland to reach the Hill, AND PRAY SOME MORE. They cross villages, forests and streams all for Jesus. Or Mary. And for a bit of snogging action when the priests aren’t looking. The ‘faithful’ sleep in tents or are put up at local houses in various villages, fed and are sent on their way. People, usually equally freaky Christians who are too old to do the walk themselves, open their homes and hearts and dress the streets in flowers for the ‘youth who will save Poland’. From what? Progress!

We were on our way to Warsaw when I saw this phenomenon in action. I wet my pants with excitement and nearly fell out of the car when taking happy snaps. The traffic would come to a halt, watch the freak show, read the banners (the pilgrimage participants have their own banner representing the town that they are from), toot in support, or gape at the fucked-upness of it all. I did. Then I turned to Michal and said: “if our kid ever tells us he wants to go on a pilgrimage, I will punch him”. Screw tolerance.

freaks in action. Check out the portable speakers they carry. So god can hear them.

heavy freak action

Friday, 10 August 2007


It is late. Michal is in bed snoring. I am googling sailing bags (a wedding present - maybe) and listening to Radio Trojka (Radio 3). Turns out that Architecture in Helsinki will be playing in Myslowice, Poland next Friday. See. Wanky Aussie bands are making their way here too!!


Last weekend was a good weekend. Marcin (aka Floorboy) took us down to the lake where his grandmother has left the family a tidy little house. We spent the first day sightseeing, looking at old ruins of castles, and the next day giving windsurfing ‘a go’. I bruised my ribs. And my hips. And didn’t manage to sail much at all. Kai Budd, on the other hand (a mate from uni and Ayesha’s brother), who came to stay with us for a couple of nights, was the only one in the entire group of beginners who set sail. We looked on with jealousy and disbelief. Marcin put it down to ‘aussie genes’. The board was suitably christened with a non-alcoholic champagne and named Fela. Hopefully we will make our way down to the lake again soon, so I can regain my dignity by wearing boardies over my swimmers so that my arse does not hang out. Such a mistake.

Marcin's uncle, Tukan, Paulina, Magda, Michal, Marcin -
having brekkie in the garden

Kai windsurfing

ruins of old castle

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

due respect

Many of you commented on the 'hat' photo. It was my dad's idea. He ran around the house like a madman looking for a stapler. Once he stapled the 'crown' to his own, he dragged my mum out of the bathroom and wacked a similar piece on her head. He was pissing his pants all the while he was doing it. If you know my dad, you know that he shakes a lot when he laughs. I was very much amused. I have therefore included one more photo. I have covered his offensive nipple appropriately. It was a hot day and Jasiek refused to wear a shirt whilst wallpapering. His gut, it appeared, needed 'to breathe'.

Monday, 6 August 2007

the kings of wallpaper

The Jaskies came and stayed with us for a week. It was nice having them both sleep in our bed, whilst Michal and I took the couch in the living room. They arrived with news from the west and wild cherry liqueur, home made by Jasiek. It was the best damn cherry liqueur I have ever tasted! My dad is becoming a master of the brew. They brought over a litre and we polished it off in one evening. Apart from hanging the Jaskies were put into good use too. My dad and I hung some wallpaper in the living room. A wallpaper feature wall. It was bloody harder than expected. The damn thing was very difficult to align and it takes a lot of patience to get all the bubbles out. Like covering your exercise books with contact. Except on a bigger scale. See end result below.