Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cooking Adventure

On the last day of the year I did something I've never done before. I made scones for a late breakfast, or as it would be called in Poland, Second Breakfast. They came out quite well, so it will not be the last time to make scones.

Take it easy everyone on New Year's Eve. Here the temperature is a roaring 3 degrees -- on the Farenheit scale! I'm spending the day watching DVDs primarily, since the TV channels have decided no one wants to watch TV, so there is nothing on TV worth watching. I just finished The Courtship of Eddie's Father -- good movie and interesting to see Ronnie Howard in a different role than Opie. I have a good stack of books to get me through a couple of very cold days, too.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

One Step for Moving

Hurrah! A very, very old sofa is out of the house along with a very tippy computer table. More would have gone if the weather was better. Many things in the basement need to leave. When the weather is better I will do that.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Reservation Adventure

Today I got the final dates for going to Poland to teach English. I did my plane reservation and when it came back, I realized I had the wrong flight home. It was to leave Warsaw at 6:45 AM, and that would mean I have to be at the airport at 4:45 AM. Considering that I will be staying about a 90 minute drive away and couldn't leave on Friday night even to be in Warsaw, my heart dropped, almost literally! Lucky for me! I found this mistake soon even to change the reservation, without fee!!!, for a 12:30 PM departure, much better!!! (The fee for changing a reservation would be $250 so I'm very glad that I made a correction quickly.) Unfortunately is costs twice as much to fly in the summer as the winter. I'm sure the fuel costs the same, as the does the cost for the crew! Perhaps when I retire I can do some volunteer work in the winter!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Steps Towards a New Adventure

Today I went to see if there was a piece of luggage on sale that would help with my upcoming Poland trip. Hurrah! I found a very nice piece, called a tote, that will hold my laptop plus a lot of other things at the same time. I'd like to take my laptop with me this summer to use it at least with the high level students during English classes. For example, it will be interesting to acquaint them with microlending through the web site, but also I think we could use some of the English translations on this web site for polishing up English translations. This piece of luggage is just perfect for my upcoming trip.

And I've sent an offer to teach an extra class at the Reymontowka site for village kids who come from families who can't afford the two week overnight summer camp. The kids who come to summer camp aren't from rich families; yet I know I've met kids who come from families who couldn't afford the summer camp, and I'd like to help them too. I hope this will work out.

Warning! It's six months yet until I leave. Undoubtedly there will be other preparatory activities mentioned in the blog.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

DVD Adventures

I can't remember the last time when I didn't have to be working like crazy. I have all the websites nearly ready for the Spring semester, but discovered today, I need to fine tune them just a bit, but that can wait.

Yesterday I wandered up to the nearby library to take back a DVD after returning the case only last Tuesday. I found where the foreign language, including the Polish DVDs are hidden in this library. I brought home Noce i Dnie and have now finished it, all 4 + hours of it. I really enjoyed it. I have Vabank II waiting. (Earlier this fall I also watched Pod Niemen). I've also finished watching One, Two, Three, set in Berlin in the early 1960s. I didn't know that Jimmy Cagney could do comedy. I've only seen him in much different roles. My daughter and I watched an interesting Australian film on Christmas Day, too. It is Bush Christmas. We watched the original one made in the late 1940s. Netflix says that Nicole Kidman starred in a remake of this film, but Netflix apparently doesn't have this version.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Adventures with Animals

A picture was passed down to me through my father's family. It is a pastel drawing of a collie dog and cat, done by his cousin in about 1916. I didn't know quite what to do with it during the house downsizing project. My granddaughter loves animals, so I wondered if she would want it. I showed it to my daughter expecting to get a very negative reaction, but she said we needed to keep this in the family -- that was enough a surprise to make me almost fall off the couch! She asked, however, if the frame could be changed. I agree with that, for the frame was quite ugly. The nearby frame shop fixed it up with an antique, but greatly attractive frame, and also made it acid free so that my granddaughter can pass it down to her granddaugher some day. Much to my delight my granddaughter loved the picture.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Adventure --Early

Yesterday I started out to fly to Lincoln, NE. I found my seat and then a woman, obviously from Africa, sat next to me with a very tired and crying infant. She also had two boys traveling with her; one appeared to be about five years old, the other maybe around three years old. The two boys were to sit down across the aisle, but the little one wouldn't. He was even in a seat in the wrong row. I offered to change seats, sitting with the oldest boy so that she could have the younger boy with her. Just as we were about to take off, the flight attendant arrived. Without my knowing it, the boy had rung for the flight attendant.

The flight attendant had just again returned to the front when again she came down the aisle, past us asking, "Do you need something?" Quickly she returned to the front as if to get some supplies. As she started back she asked, "Is there a nurse here?" Another woman jumped up and went with her. After a bit of time we were informed that a passenger had a medical emergency.

We waited for the paramedics to come on board. While this was all going on the boy with me told me the last plane he was one had a TV screen in the seat. Thus, I knew he had been on an international flight of some kind. He went asleep, really hard.

After awhile we were told we all had to leave the plane to allow it to be cleaned. I could not awake the boy, the mom had her hands full with the two others. A man nearby offered to carry the boy off the plane. When we got into the gate area, this man went into his briefcase and came out with packages of cheese, crackers, and carrots, and offered these to all the little kids associated with this flight.

I called my friends to tell them I was in the gate, not on the plane. After a few minutes the African woman asked if she could use my phone to call those in Lincoln waiting for her. She showed me the number and, since is started with +1, I knew she been calling them internationally. With a bit of trial and error, because even leaving off +1 left too many numbers, we were able to connect.

Finally came the time to get back on. My "boy" was still almost sound asleep and I walked him on the plane that way. The flight to Lincoln was uneventful. But by now we had three sleeping children, luggage to pick up from gate check, and only two adults. I called my waiting friends and asked them to come to the gate as closely as they could rather than waiting by baggage. I just couldn't imagine how we could get these sleeping children down the escalator safely.

Now another man offered to carry the sleeping infant, the mom guided the younger boy, and I got the older boy off the plane. Have you even tried to walk a sleeping child across that 12 inch wide step that connects to the jet way? We picked up the gate check luggage and got out into the public area. My friends met us all there, grabbed the luggage we were toting, and directed us to an elevator. I had flown through this airport many times and never knew there was an elevator.

My friends and the extra man helped the woman collect her luggage from the baggage area. I tried again to call her friends, but only got voice mail. I explained to the woman that her friends must be on the way, that the airport was small, they could easily find her. She gave me hug and thanked me for helping. This whole experience is really what Christmas is all about and it can happen any day.

When I was sure she was safe and OK, we left. My friends drove about ten minutes and just as we were parking at a restaurant, my phone rang. It was the mysterious number. I told the caller that the people from Uganda had arrived and the children were very sleepy.

I learned the woman had started out from Uganda. I can't imagine making a trip that long across so many time zones with three children.

This morning we wondered if those boys were still tucked in bed sleeping.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Glorious Adventure

Last evening was university graduation. Since I go to graduation twice yearly what made this glorious? My younger daughter graduated. She looked beautiful. I met her as she exited the stage and gave her a big hug. She worked hard for this, as do all the students in our university, a university with a mission to educate working adults.

Good thing I had a bit of a glow for it took me nearly one hour to get out of the parking ramp!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Adventures with Dogs

Today I was scheduled to meet with a doctoral student in a small town usually about a 35 minute drive from here. The weather yesterday made the drive anything but usual. The streets were the next thing to really slippery. I started across the Mendota Bridge and then I saw the dogs. The sun was square in the middle of the horizon and I saw the two sun dogs on either side. My view was even more spectacular than the picture with this message -- this picture posted on Kare 11 TV's site taken by one of their photographers. The sun dogs were very, very vivid. They truly looked like two vertical rainbows. I saw this view the whole way to my destination. I'll remember this day for a long time.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Global Brunch

Today I had the pleasure of taking two guests, one from China and one from Poland, to brunch. We had a lovely time at the Nicollett Island Inn. The food was wonderful, but outshadowed by the good conversation. We talked about what Americans find strange when they visit China or Poland, and what my friends find strange about the United States.

After brunch, my Polish friend and I participated in an American custom,taking things back. She had purchased some shoes and then after speaking with her husband decided to exchange them for some better choices. This great custom of return doesn't take place in Poland. I told her to go home this this: On December 26 a store such as Target will have a multitude of tables right at the front door to take care of all the returns coming in that day.

I feel so fortunate to have stumbled into an activity that allows me to do something such as having brunch with people from two other countries.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Aluminum rims

For the 2nd time in two months, I've had to take my car for repairs because a tire was getting very low. Again the answer is a leak around the rim, a problem with aluminum rims. This car is 7 years old and this is the first time I've had these problems. Annoying, but at the same time, compared to most in the world, I should be thankful I have a car.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Airport Adventure

Today is a day I've awaited for for a long time. Dorota arrived today from Poland. I started watching her flight from Europe on the web about the time that the plane reached the Canadian/US border at New Brunswick and Maine. She came via Paris to Atlanta. I cleaned up all kinds of odd jobs off my desk while watching the plane move down the eastern seaboard. I saw it arrived in Atlanta late and that she only had an hour to catch her flight to the Twin Cities. I was happy when I saw the next flight come up with a late time! I left home when I saw this flight was over Indiana, mostly because I could hardly stand the waiting anymore.

At the airport I saw a huge group of people gathering where I was waiting. I asked a woman who they were expecting. She explained her daughter and son-in-law where bringing home a baby from Colombia. Oh, did that all bring back memories. And was this little guy a heart throb when he got here.

Meanwhile, where was Dorota? Finally my cell phone rang and she asked where I was. She had come down a different stair, had collected her luggage, and was waiting for me at our fall back meeting place of a coffee shop in the baggage area. It is so good to see her here again in Minnesota!

I brought her to the family she will stay with while she is here, arriving there at about 8:30 PM. She has been up and traveling since 10 PM last night Minnesota time! Now we will have some fun later in the week.