Saturday, June 27, 2009

Zakopane Adventures Begin

We all arrived in Zakopane about 6:30 PM on Saturday night. Life is normal here too -- rain and road construction made it slow going sometimes. We had a supper of Polish crepes. Everyone is about ready to crash. But poor Dorota, she has to drive the 2 hours back to Krakow to pick up a volunteer whose first flight leg was late and caused her to lose her connections. They will not be back here until about 2 AM. More later when there is time and the wireless gets fixed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

I did some walking more in the business area of the city to learn how things are laid out, to plan for when I arrive back in Warsaw in mid-July. I visited St. Alexander's Church, a new one to me. Its design is based on the Pantheon. The rounded ceiling is covered with rows and rows of flower designs. I marveled at the variety and also the math that was needed to design each row to get smaller as it moved towards the summit. I thought this church is small enough that it feels like a place one could really worship and feel like one belonged. Then I walked across the street and got an iced coffee. I pulled out the guidebook and found that originally this church was cathedral size and was dedicated to Alexander of Russia when he was also king of Poland. After WWII it was restored only to this small size. I was right about its feeling. It is highly sought for weddings.

It was hot and humid! I was ever so grateful when I reached the Hotel Jan Soebieski, the place I'll stay upon my return. I went into the cafe for lunch. Oh,the lack of prepositions in Polish produce some interesting translations. I ordered potato and zucchini pancakes with smoked trout and Balkan yogurt. Well, the dish that came was a complete filet of smoked trout on a pancake with a side of yogurt garnished with sprouts. It was beautiful, it was delicious! In English we would feature the trout, not the pancake. My waiter gave me elegant service, but when I ordered he said, "Is that all?" One can see that the serving is quite enough.

But I had room for dessert. This is Pear Charlotte. It also was delicious, and notice of the garnish of chocolate lattice.

Almost decided to take a taxi back to the B&B, but the halfway destination didn't look to far. 30 minutes later I wished I had grabbed a taxi. The streets are busy, and so the crossings are done in tunnels under the street-- up and down stairs, through tunnels.

I was glad when I found my favorite Coffee Heaven. I needed a rest. And thankful cold drinks are making their way to Poland-- Central Europe has a traditional aversion to cold drinks. I ordered a Pina Colada, non-alcholic since this is a coffee shop not a bar. I did fine in Polish until the question of here or take away. In response to my blank look, the barista changed to English.

Rainy evening. I completed a form that Hungary Fulbright asked for just on Monday before my leaving. So I have only two work tasks left to accomplish now. I curled up in my duvet and read a book. Now it's midnight Polish time, but only 4 PM by my clock and I'm wide awake.

Got word my real estate agent is showing the property to three more buyers, and also I'm totally approved for the apartment to which I'll be moving.

Traveling Adventures

Photos appear backward -- Curious wall art in Warsaw
Sandwich presentation on KLM plane
Sunrise colors
About 20 minutes before I left home, the signs to sell my house were posted. (Today, June 25 my agent tells me she has two showings for the property.) I walked up to the #23 bus. I like this one for it has a layover, and so there is no rush to get the luggage on the bus. The bus driver asked me if I was running away. Since the For sale signs just went up, I told him yes. When he found out it was Poland, he told me his parents met in Chicago, found they were both from Warsaw. They would like to return, but he thinks since they are in their 80s, the trip would be too difficult. I agreed that a long plane ride with a significant time shift could be challenge. He said, "No, the food." I laughed and told him the food in Poland was better than ours. He waa shocked. People still carry the old images of the post WWII and Communist days.

My next adventure begins at the airport. I observed the escort service to bring a blind woman to the Northwest gate desk. Since we were 90 minutes away from flight time, no one was there. She was wearing a heavy back pack. I walked over and asked if she was would like to sit with me until someone came to the desk. I learned she grew up in Iowa just like me, but had lived in Norway for the past 30 years. We had a very nice visit, got her escort arranged for the plane boarding. When I got on I found her in the row ahead of me. I surely enjoyed meeting her.

We ended up leaving 2 hours late due to "breaker" problem, but other than that the flight was uneventful. Because it is so close to mid-summer, and we were flying very far north, there really was no true darkness. The colors of the sunset and the sunrise were magnificent.

The delay at the beginning meant I really needed to move along in Amseterdam. I got to the Warsaw flight just as the boarding began. We were served little cheese sandwiches in a very classy package.

Found Warsaw to be cool and rainy. My driver said another guest was shortly expected, so he fixed me up with a cup of tea in the coffee shop. Shortly a guest from Texas arrived, and we were off to the B & B. It seems like home now.

I went across the street to the shop and got orange juice and yogurt. Came back and had a snack and then settled down for a nap. About 5 PM I got up and went out to supper. I had spinach tortelli with prosciutto(spelled wrong!) in cream sauce, along with a glass of my favorite black currant juice. Poor food indeed!!!

Up and down night, since my bio clock is all mixed up. Went to breakfast about 9:30 AM and then off to get my train ticket for tomorrow. Look for more news when I hit the wireless in Zakopane on Saturday or Sunday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Leavin' on the Jet Plane

The Twin Cities are under a heat index warning. It's ugly hot! In 5 hours I'm walking to the corner and getting on tne bus on tne way to the airport on the way to Poland. I've worked very hard getting everything to move when I return. My property all goes on sale today. It's time for a change! Better stories to come!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New LIving Space

This morning I signed the paper giving me an apartment for any time after August 15. That is the day I return from Poland, and a Saturday besides. Certainly won't move that day. Even though I've downsized and got rid of lots of things I still have too much!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Let the Adventure Begin

Today I signed the papers to put all my property up for sale on the same day that I leave for Poland. The realator is quite optimistic this will sell, since this is a very desirable part of the city.

Tomorrow I'm going to look at an apartment. So check back then.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Expensive Adventures

I went back to the car service this morning and a new computer, called a PCM, was installed in my car. They also fixed a transmission leak we've been following. The bill was expensive, but less than I anticipated. However, buying a computer for car costs as much as buying one with a keyboard!

I got home in time for the 1-800-Got Junk Guys. Four college age guys came and moved out a mattress, box spring, a dresser, a very heavy bottom of a computer hutch desk, and a very, very heavy freezer. They had to take off the back door to get some of this out, and even take off the latch for the screen door. This bill with tax was right at $300, and they earned every penny of it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Unplanned Adventures

I got up at 5 AM this morning, did some packing and then tackled the garage. By 9 AM I had it all swept out and had things packed up that had to go to hazardous waste. However, upon checking I found that hazardous waste didn't open until 11 AM and I was due to pick up my friend at 11:30. I started on e-mail instead and found Global Volunteers didn't have one of the necessary forms. I tried over and over to get into its extranet without success.

I picked up my friend and took him to a liquor store for more wine shopping, then to a grocery store where he could do some food shopping and also use the ATM. Then we went to where he though he was to pick up his car. After some running around we found we were totally in the wrong place. So we took about 20 minute drive to the right place. At last he got his car and started on the next leg of his trip to eastern Wisconsin.

Then I hit my car service place to see that was the reason a diagnostic light had come on. Didn't like the answer. It's a malfunctioning computer. I have to go back tomorrow again and the check will need to be in the four figures! Ugh!!

I came back home and picked up my dry cleaning, so that is done. Got keys made for the realator. On Friday I sign the documents to put things on sale. Found out I have to have city inspection, so there goes another $150.

On Saturday, I'm going to go look at an apartment. Suddenly that seems like a better choice than buying somethng this fall.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Playing Tourist 3

Today I had to go to work in the morning so my friend went to the Titanic exhibit at the Science Museum. I finished my last task as department chair, and I'm oh, so glad to be done with that job.

On my way home from work I stopped at a storage center and picked up a box that will hold a large painting and large mirror. I also got a box for packing dishes and came home and started to do that. The other objects will be a two person job. I need some help, but I'm glad to have solved this problem.

I went back to the hotel and picked up my friend at 1:30. We went on a tour of the Alexander Ramsey house. In one of the rooms the guide was speaking about how it is possible to get copies made of the very old wall papers. We were all admiring a small area in which a reproduction, but exact copy of the original copy of the wallpaper was placed. My friend noticed that the reproduction had been hung upside down!

Then I drove him to the old Schmidt brewery where he did some photos. I took him to an ATM, and then we went to my office for a bit so I could show up the photography in my office -- mine and three pieces that were done by my friend, Bruce Behnke (see It began to really rain while we were walking around to various places in the university.

Our next destination was the W. A. Frost restaurant. We were too early for our dinner reservation so we enjoyed some time in the bar. Then we had a splendid dinner. I had grilled salmon over shrimp risotto. This isn't what I usually cook!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Playing Tourist 2

We drove extensively all over Saint Paul, looked at a lot of the old houses, asked a cab driver to take our photo in front of Landmark Center and then did a similar drive around Minneapolis. My friend likes Saint Paul best. We had a lunch at Cafe Latte late, so really were not hungry for a big dinner. We stopped for a light dinner at Highland Cafe, for it's possible there to have wine or beer with dinner. Me, I stuck to Diet Coke since I'm the driver. Then we went to Haskell's and went wine shopping, for him to take as hostess gifts to the people he will be staying with in Wisconsin. On the way back to his hotel we took a short detour through Irvine Park and added the Ramsey House to our possible itineary for tomorrow.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Playing Tourist

I met a friend at the airport tonight. This is his first time in the Midwest other than for flying through the Chicago airport. We drove along Mississippi River Blvd and stopped at the overlook for the Ford Dam and Lock 1 on the Mississippi River. We are having a drought in this part of Minnesota. For the first time ever no water is flowing over the Ford Dam.

Then we drove along Summit Avenue, one of the most beautiful streets in any city. We went to Salut Restaurant for dinner and had nice conversation. We will start out being tourists again tomorrow at 10:30. He's living for a couple of days on Pacific time zone.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Steps Towards Adventures

Tomorrow a friend is flying in from California to spend a few days here. And of course on June 23 I'm leaving for Poland, so every day remains intense.

This morning I finished the final module for the new course I will be teaching in the fall. It was a delight to send all 39 pages off to Online Learning to turn into html code! I have yet to finish the syllabus for this course. This evening I worked on revisions for another online course I'll be teaching in the fall. I have everything done for that except for the revision of one module. All this work must be done now because I'm returning from Poland 36 hours before our fall semester starts. I don't want to be spending my time in Poland doing this work.

I went and got a manicure. My nails were really beat up with the combination of keyboarding and the fetching and toting for getting ready to move. Then I went to a car wash new to me and got a super-duper car wash so I'm ready for driving about a guest. When I left the car wash some sort of warning light came on. I drove up to work, about one mile, parked and got out the manual to see what the problem was. The advice was that sign meant something might be loose, and if the problem didn't resolve itself by, for example, tightening the gas cap, to seek assistance. Oh swell! Just what I need in the midst of a few intense days. I completed my work and errands around work, problem solving all the time about when I might be able to get into the car service shop. On my way home, I had to slam on the brakes suddenly to avoid hitting a car, and wow! the light went out. What a good way to solve a problem.

Suddenly it looks possible to get most of the tasks done before I leave!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More Adventure than I May Want

I met with my real estate representative this afternoon. Much to my amazement she believes my property will sell quickly. The upshot of this is that I may not have a home to come back to when I leave Poland. I have to have everything ready to possibly move into storage while I'm gone. That's a lot to get done in less than 2 weeks!

Mundane Adventures

Yesterday I took another load to the Goodwill and then took a cooler, a cash box, and a hand cart to Mano a Mano. There I relieved the packing room from some excess bubble wrap.

I finished another module for the online course I'm creating and decided to go to the laundromat to wash some rugs. While there I ran into a woman I've met at church. We've eaten dinner together at least three times on what we call Wellspring Wednesdays. Every time she asks my name, but last night she started out with, "how do you I know you, from the coffee shop?" I can remember her name and where she works. I must not be memorable.

Then I headed over to work and returned books to both the university and public library. I went into the office and signed some papers to keep activities moving along. I made a copy of an independent study course for which I'll be the evaluator. I'll take the copy along with me so that if this student has questions or concerns while I'm in Poland, I'll have a ready reference. Thankfully this course runs 140 days from time of registration, so I don't have to finish it up before I return. I scored a good packing box, too, while standing at the office mailboxes.

Next I went to another building where my office is. I left a six inch stack of papers, mostly journal articles I've been using for this course. That's a pile out of the house. I found another box, too. Boxes are important when one is trying to move. Now with the Mano a Mano bubble wrap I'm in business again for packing.

I headed to Culver's to eat a sandwich. There I was approached by a woman desperately asking me if I had anything to fix a tire. She explained her car was on the nearby freeway with a nail in a tire; that she had one hour to get it off the road before it was towed. We went to a hardware store and they had nothing to help her. I gave her all the cash I had -- $14.00, and said that was all I could do.

I stoppped at Target and found a pump to add air to a tire. That will help me with my recurrent low tire problem -- we now know this problem is due to having my car damaged with a collision. I'm sure the tire will be flat when I come home from home Poland. Now I can pump it up myself. I'll rest easier a lot of nights in Poland knowing I have this tool now.

Clicking off tasks one at a time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Internet Adventures

I'm planning to meet my first Polish student (one I taught in 2002) at his new flat while I'm acclimating to Europe time in Warsaw. We've done most of our planning through our Facebook pages. He just sent me a link to the Warsaw city train map and now I know where I'm going. I can find the schedule through the PKP Online Schedule and know what time I get to the right station and whether or not it's a direct train or requires a transfer. What did we do before the Internet?

Well, back to another Internet adventure. Working on the online courses for fall that need to be done before I leave.

Monday, June 8, 2009

14 Days and Counting

Yesterday on the blog, Poland Our Future, a You Tube video shows beautiful Poland. Tonight I'm still working on creating modules for a fall semester online course that must be ready when I return. Photos are my screen saver and while trying to figure out what to write next in a module, one of my Poland photos popped up. I'm down to 14 days and counting to start seeing some of these views again.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Adventures through Motivation

Today on the Poland Our Future blog there is a You Tube video about Poland as a beautiful country. I'm leaving for Poland in 16 days, and this almost made me homesick! This gave me motivation to keep working on everything that has to get done first. I went to basement and started hauling out things I wanted to put into the bagster. These were big objects and it took a good deal of determination to get them up the stairs. I got out everything I want to dispose, but I could only get a 2 cubic yard bagster at the nearby hardware store, so there are still things sitting on the back patio waiting for the next bagster purchase. But it feels good to have most of it out of the house and now I can start to do the final cleaning of the basement.

This afternoon I got the wires taken down that used to support a very large grape vine in my side yard. The also took determination and problem solving. It's amazing what one can do to hooks on a post with a screw driver for leverage and hammer for power. The wires are now all residing in the bagster too, ready for the truck to come tomorrow and take away this much of the mess.

The grape vine must have been nearly 50 years old and didn't make it through the last winter. I couldn't get my clippers to cut through the dead, woody vines. Then all of a sudden I pulled and it all came right up out the ground. I pulled it over the corner of the yard that I use for informal composting of leaves and grass.

Now I have to get back to writing the last two modules for the new online course I'm creating. I can get one done yet this evening if I apply some of the same determination I've been using all day.

Oh, not to mention the cover fell off the N key on my computer and that took some determined attention today as well.

I'm thankful for the You Tube video motivation.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Adventures at Auto Service

I spent the afternoon at the auto service and finally solved some problems. During the past year the tire on the driver's side continued to lose air all the time. Last Saturday it was carefully checked and found to be OK. Today we finally solved the problem. The wheel rim is bent.Then my brain clicked in. That's why this problem has appeared after 6 years of no problems. This is a left over from the time someone backed into the driver's side of the car and thoroughly crashed it. As the service man said, "No one would think to look at the inside of the tire."

I went primarily because the oil light was coming on everytime the RPM fell below 1000. Ah, it was a switch problem. Oh, how nice it was to drive home without the bing, bing, bing of the oil light everytime I had to stop or drive slowly.

Then the service man came out and said the car was running rough. Yes, I know. That's when the problem was diagnosed as bad spark plugs and poor ignition cables. Fixing this solved a problem I've been complaining about for about 18 months. The car was becoming hard to start and battery light always came on when starting the car. I'm poorer on the debit card, but this is like having a new car again.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Adventures with Granddaughters

This afternoon my new granddaughter had her first outing. I took she and her mom to the WIC office. Then we stopped by Walmart for a few minutes. Nilima wasn't a bit impressed with her first outing. She basically slept through all of it.

My older granddaughter brought home a Math Excellence Certificate this afternoon from her school. There are three days of school left. My older granddaughter will spend Monday at Valley Fair.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Adventures with Free Market

I'm cleaning things out of the garage in preparation for moving. One item left is a compost bin, still in the box. What to do with that? Last night while looking at Ramsey County Public Health web site about recycling and reusing, I found the Twin Cities Free Market. I posted this on the Free Market web site. When I got up this morning I had 11 new e-mails asking about this. By 2 PM I had a total of 25. Meanwhile I had gone to the one with the earliest date and time and contacted this person. She arrived at 3:30 PM to pick this up from my house. I had to answer the other e-mail explaining the item was gone and go to the Free Market web site and remove the item. Other than that, this was a very easy way to move something out of the garage into good use.

Monday, June 1, 2009

On the 20+ Day Count Down

Tonight I bought my health insurance for Europe and also did the online work to have my mail forwarded to my daughter's home while I'm gone.

Also got word, finally, that the title on the house is cleared up and I can put the undeveloped lot for sale. Waiting for my real estate agent to get back to me about the plan.

Big and Little Sister

Here's the little one with her big sister. Of course, the big sister was off to school and her Mom had to do some business regarding the insurance for the little one. Thus on the third day of life Grammy became the babysitter.