Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 1

We gathered for breakfast at 8:00, a typical Polish breakfast which was a bit of surprise to some of the team members. By now it seems normal to me! The rest of the morning we did the Global Volunteers ritural, personal goals, team goals, and team characteristics. We met briefly with the English teacher. I walked then with one of the volunteers about 20 minutes to a church where she stayed for mass, while I went over the nearby shop and got a ice cream bar. Oh, they are so good in Poland. About 30 minutes later we were off to a typical midday meal -- obiad. I cautioned the new volunteers when they ladled out the first course of soup, that more was coming. We were all stuffed when it was done.

In the afternoon all the students and volunteers first walked to famous house museum in Zakopane and then through the oldest cemetary in Zakopane. Then we walked along the main street, a walking street only, where there are an immense amount of shops and kiosks. The temperature was approaching hot, so after two hours of walking I was glad to see the hotel. I put Ella Fitzgerald on the I-pod and had a cat nap.

We gathered at 5:30 for a Polish lesson. This was followed by the evening meal, a light meal always. We then met with all the teachers who had come along with the students. The English teacher then gave us a match with our students. There was a bit of time for planning the next day's lessons before everyone went to our planning room, where there is a TV, to watch the Euro 2008 football final. Most everyone was pleased that Spain won against Germany, for Germany had knocked Poland out of the finals.

One of the team members wrote a goal of falling into bed exhausted everynight happy. I believe we achieved that goal yesterday.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chapter 1 is on its way

I got myself and two suitcases the two blocks to the Powisle train station and got onto the train to Siedlce with the help of a gracious woman who lifted up one of the bags. The ride to Siedlce was easy. A very nice young man asked me in Polish if I wanted help and thankfully I can understand that much Polish and can say Prosze. Dorota was waiting for me. We went to the Hotel Janusz and got my settled into a room. Then we had lunch at a typical Polish restaurant. From there we went exploring to find me a second hotel for when I return to Siedlce. Off to Dorota's flat to relax a bit and then we drove out into the country to pick up her mother, who had been visiting friends at a summer home. I met one of the students who will be at the 2nd summer camp at Reymontowka. After that she dropped me at the hotel and I took off walking for the bankomat to get money and then to the supermarket for water and chocolate for the next day's bus trip. About 7 PM a thunderstorm blew in convincing me the best thing to do for an evening meal was to simply go downstairs to the hotel restaurant. A lovely meal. After that I really crashed out only to wake about 1AM for awhile. Don't know why, for that is 6 PM at home, hardly a time to wake up and get going.

Dorota picked me up at 7:15 and we went to the bus pickup point. I watched and managed our luggage while she took her car home to her flat and then walked back. We were away from Siedlce at 8 AM, stopped at Radom about 10 AM at McDonalds for the bathroom, Coca-Cola, coffee, and ice cream -- all the necessarium of life.

We arrived at the Krakow airport about 3 PM. We found about half the team assembled there. The remaining members arrived on the Chicago-Krakow flight-- but alas two team members are missing their luggage. Once the necessary paperwork was filed for the luggage, we started for Zakopane. Supper was waiting us, we briefly settled into our rooms, and then we met for a short team meeting for introductions. We are a heavy midwest group -- 3 from Minnesota, 4 from Iowa, one from Wisconsin, 1 from Michagan. The remaining members of our group of 14 come from states such as Connecticut and D.C. It will be a good group.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Getting Settled Adventures

It's my 2nd morning in Warsaw. Yesterday was a lovely summer day. I first went to the train station and had no problem getting a ticket. Jutro? Tak jutro, meaning yes, I truly wanted a ticket for tomorrow which is now today. Then I wandered by a coffee shop and elected for a cold Coca Cola. After that I wandered along Nowy Swiat until I stumbled into a nice city square. I sat in the shade and read a book for awhile, trying to remind myself it is a vacation. Then I wandered through the Saxon Gardens, discovering both there and across the square historical displays on placards. Then back along Nowy Swiat to the Living Room restaurant for a lovely lunch. Then it was definitely nap time. After my nap I went back to the train station to survey just how it worked to catch the train to Siedlce. Came back up the hill and bought some yogurt. Wandered along Nowy Swiat again enjoying a lovely summer evening. Back to the B & B about dark. Slept well. Now off to Siedlce.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

No Adventures

Sometime no adventures is the best adventure. My flight from MSP to Amsterdam was just fine, and I found the connection to Warsaw with a minimum of trouble. The driver from the B&B was waiting for me. I got into the B& B about 6 PM Warsaw time, 14 hours of travel altogether. They made me a nice cup of expresso and then I went to my room and crashed out. The only thing that has gone wrong is that I managed to soak up a nightgown with shampoo that got crushed during the transit. I had a second one and washing the first one was easy.

It's hot in Warsaw. Feels very humid. Yesterday afternoon was 85 and think today is working on the same. I'm going to sight see for bit and then go crash out in the room again. First, I'll stop across the street and buy more water and a Big Milk, one of my favorite ice cream bars.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Leaving -- the Adventures of Small Aggravations

One task I had to get done was get the new license tabs on my car.Once one is at the license bureau then that's just a 30 second task. My heart sagged when they handed me new license plates instead. I went out and looked at the rusted on screws. Oh sugar! Why now?!? After a couple of days, I decided I had left enough money at the car service center that I should get a favor. Sure enough! Come any time. So mission accomplished.

Then last Wednesday the cable started acting incorrectly. I had a service appointment scheduled for Satursday which Comcast cancelled without any explanation. I complained and found a wonderful woman named Barbara who said she would give me "seasonal service" while I was gone. The TV doesn't even act wrong this morning,but worse than that I think the cable is totally turned off. Hence I couldn't get to the Internet to the do the last minute grading for my online course. So now I'm at Caribou using their wireless service. Also I'm out of luck of simply listening to Minnesota Public Radio over the web -- I guess I should buy a radio! My last one moved out with a daughter and I've never bought one again since then.

I thought I'll get a couple more DVDs from the library to tide me over until I leave. Couldn't get into the parking lot because it is full of people watching a Little League game.

The plane can't leave soon enough.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Neighborhood Adventures

Life continues in the neighborhood providing unexpected moments. The umbrella appeared on Sunday. About 10 PM on Saturday a severe thunderstorm hit the neighborhood. It didn't seem as exciting as the ones I had experienced in Lincoln about one month ago. However, Sunday morning I looked out the window and wondered what was in my driveway. I put my glasses on and that didn't help either. All I could see was a metal shaft and a green triangle and a beige triangle. I pulled on a robe and went out and discovered it was a large umbrella. I turned it around as pictured. After I was dressed and ready to face the day I went walking in the alley until I saw a patio set that looked like it matched. I knocked on the door and asked if an umbrella was missing -- and was lucky to find the right household on the first try.

The school picture comes from just up the street. I came home one day and saw the children all involved in building the structures. I couldn't quite figure out what they were doing. Today I was walking along and noticed a girl and her mother out with a hose. Ah, the children are growing vegetables and flowers. The frames are for what looks like their squash crop. Good idea to have kids in the 21st century learn a bit more about where food comes from.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Getting Ready for Adventures

Every once in awhile it's nice to have life slow down. I've been working at least 60 hour weeks for way too long this year. While there is much to do, I've just been napping and reading for a couple of days before getting into the final push of leaving for Poland.

The bags are basically packed. I'm rather proud. I have packed teaching supplies, things Dorota left behind last December when her bags were too heavy, and the clothing I think I need for almost six weeks in two 21 inch bags. I could probably have put it all into one large bag, but it's easier to have a small bag for weekend trips.

I need to make at least one more trip to work to take care of final details. Then it's the hair and nail appointments. It's hard to wait.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Adventures with the Health Care System

Today I went with my older daughter to an appointment as a source of emotional support for a difficult procedure she needed. We arrived 5 minutes before our scheduled time, waited until 10 minutes after the scheduled time to be acknowledged and asked to review some paper work, then we sat until 35 minutes after the appointment before she was called. A medical assistant took her height and blood pressure and then we were put in an exam room, where we waited for another 50 minutes! This kind of wait does nothing for someone anxious about an upcoming procedure. I can hardly wait for this whole system to be turned upside down. When people say we have the best system in the world I only wish they would search out how things are done in some other places.

Now if I had been in some other country people would criticize their national health system for being ineffective. How often we fail to see that the one we have has all the warts of other systems, that payor source has little to do with it.

Also I know in some countries there would be complaints about the lack of American customer service. We fail to see the lack of "customer service" in some of our systems, too.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Adventures Depend upon the Perspective

Yesterday I was walking on the Capitol grounds to take some photos for a picture book to take to Poland. I happened upon this little guy and thought: "How cute!" Then I remembered my Squirrely Adventures of December and January. (You may find blogs under those months.) Adventures certainly depend upon the perspective. Maybe this is a good thing to know and remember before setting off on a long trip.

My "nut" for the day was a wonderful concert by the Schubert Club. It was a revue of 125 years of music that had been performed at various concerts of the Schubert Club, all music with deep Minnesota connections. What a splendid evening.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Surprising Adventures

I have recently had some pleasant and surprising shopping adventures. For years I've avoided a restaurant only about two blocks from my house because the food wasn't very good. Even when the owners changed it didn't come onto my list. Then one day someone at work mentioned that she and her husband drive over here to go to this restaurant. I thought I should give it a try and one morning had a splendid spinach omelet. Then I noticed a sign about a Friday breakfast special and was delighted indeed with the strawberry and banana crepe.

I've been searching for a bag to cover my new camera, but one that doesn't scream "Camera inside." I've looked everywhere. Then I decided to stop at the REI store. I've not been there for years, and simply couldn't believe my eyes. The waterfall scene is quite improbable about 50 yards for a busy freeway. What a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Planned and Unplanned Adventures

Over the Memorial Day weekend I flew to Lincoln NE to spend time with friends. My schedule coincided with the every two year Lincoln Quilt Guild exhibit. My friend and I had a wonderful time visiting this huge exhibit.

The unplanned part of the weekend were the storms. Two nights found heavy thunderstorms moving through the Lincoln area. There was much clean up to do. We were lucky however to escape the tornados that moved into Iowa and Minnesota at the same time.

I just checked the plane fare thinking about a trip again in about 6 months. Already the plane fare is up $150!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Traveling Adventure

I took the photo primarily to check out the "sport" feature on my camera. I'm delighted I can take a picture in which the tarmac attendant was waving the wand and there isn't a blur. Being able to do this was certainly one reason for the new camera.

Having this photo though gave me the idea to describe travel. This picture was taken at the Lincoln, NE, airport. It is a very short walk from the gate to the plane. At the MSP airport one deplanes and walks a bit, and then the next leg of the trip is 3 moving sidewalks. Then another short walk to a tram. The tram delivers one at the top of a terminal leg. It's another short walk and then an escalator to the baggage claim area.

When the bag is recovered, it's a short walk to yet another escalator. Then it is a 100 yard walk (think football field) to the next tram. This takes one of the area of the light rail. The escalator to the train is very deep. Actually this dumps one at the point to buy a ticket. Then it's another escalator to the train level.

Next it's a 12 minutes ride to the stop where I catch a bus. The buses all do a layover at the station and it's more than a little irritating to watch a bus pull in and then the driver shuts the door and wanders over to the small building where drivers take a break. At last the door opens and then it's 10 minute ride to where I get off and finish off with a 4 block walk home.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Definitely Adventures Here

I have two experiences that show just how diverse Minnesota and Saint Paul is becoming. Last Friday evening I stopped at a nearby grocery store for a few items. Most of the other customers checking out were young Hasidic men wearing traditional dress. The check out persons were one Caucasian, One Asian, and one African American. Looking about I saw customers of many other racial origins including one woman, wearing a tank top, who had an artificial arm. Maybe the best of this whole experience is that no longer do persons with a disability need to hide in public.

Coming home just a few minutes ago,I saw the wonderful combination of a Little League Team all decked out in their uniforms, getting ready to play a game in the nearby park, all mixed up with persons of Asian Indian origin all decked out in clothing that would have not been noticed in New Delhi. They were just leaving an ethnic church service held at the nearby Catholic Church. I've been seeing them for about the last six months every Sunday. Part of me wonders, though, if these are the Asian Indians from Guyana who have recently immigrated into the Twin Cities. I had one student from this community in my spring semester class.