Friday, July 5, 2013

It’s raining, it’s pouring ...

It’s raining, it’s pouring ...

1 June 2013, Warsaw, Poland
This month is starting out well.  Yesterday I did some laundry so that I’d have clean undies and tees when I’m in Scotland next week.  Since I’m staying at my friend Marta’s (my old) flat and her beau Łukaś is also here, I offered to do his light colored items too.  After all, he’s cooked both nights for us.  This morning all was dry, and my two tee-shirts needed a bit of ironing.  I told Łukaś that I’d iron his dress shirt too, and he replied, “You don’t need to.  I like to iron.”  In my entire life I have never before met a man who likes to iron ... and I’m the only woman I know who confesses to that.  One more reason why I like Marta’s fella.  And adding to the good start-of-the-month, the two little black rectangles are gone from my desktop. Hmmm.....

4 June 2013, Ayr, Scotland
After expecting cold, rainy weather, my friend Connie and I have been more than pleasantly surprised at the sunshine and warm days we’ve had so far.

Connie left Minneapolis on Saturday, I left Warsaw on Sunday and the ‘twain’ met in Amsterdam for the flight together to Glasgow.  I know Connie was getting nervous about whether I’d make it, and frankly so was I.  I only had 45 minutes between flights to start with.  Then my flight left about 10 minutes late and of course once we arrived, everyone moved like the proverbial molasses in January to deplane.  I don’t think I’ve walked that fast through an airport since I ran my sister through O’Hare in my college days.  Huffing and puffing I made it to the Glasgow gate, saw Connie in the inner waiting area; she’d cleared the security hurdle but not checked onto the plane.  Big smile, big wave, easy flight.  Unfortunately KLM broke one of the four wheels on her suitcase, so we made a long detour to get the paperwork for a claim on her flight insurance.  

Our rental car was easy to find but not so easy to start; the ignition lock took a bit of work to finally get things going.  However, with limited terror on Connie’s part, we got out of the airport, onto the highway and into Ayr.  She was a great navigator despite her protests.  Since I’d stayed on the same street last year, I had a vague idea where we were going once we got to Ayr Town Centre ... and we finally got there in one piece.  Phew.  Got settled, then went out walking and for dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant.
Connie in the driver's seat

This B&B is across the street from where I stayed a year ago. We have a clear view across the back yard to the sea front, as it’s called on the road signs.  Quite comfortable and nicely done.  No common lounge as in the other, and breakfast is either at 7 am or our preferred, 8:30.  Connie tried the “full Scottish” yesterday and didn’t eat again until dinner last night.

The manager/cook/cleaner is Magdalena from southwestern Poland, and she was quite excited to learn of my Polish connections.  Connie shared with Magdalena the Śliwki candies that I had brought for her.

Yesterday we wandered Ayr and window shopped, I ordered documents at the Ayr Registrar’s Office, and we visited two of the cottages that I wanted to see.  One is a bit closer to the roadway and not as close to town.  But inside it’s quite beautiful and does have a gated garden.  We weren’t able to get inside the other place, but it’s in a very quiet area, has a patio/garden adjacent to the cottage and a separate area with playground for kids.  Both have off street parking.  Will be a tough decision.

Today I bit the bullet and drove to Glasgow.  I am getting the hang of left-side driving, but it’s still nerve wracking.  We parked at Buchanan Galleries, a huge modern shopping mall to which my Google Maps could direct us pretty easily.  For about three hours we walked the pedestrian malls looking for Flossy’s, a Spanish shoe that Connie had seen yesterday.  We were sitting at the bus stop outside the Ayr Town Hall waiting for lunch hour closing to finish.  A young woman with an adorable child was waiting for the bus wearing some these cute shoes, which Connie complimented.  They were Flossy’s, which the woman said could be bought “in any sports’ shoe store.”  Hah!  We actually did finally find them in a couple of shoe stores in Glasgow, figured out Connie’s UK size (as opposed to her European or American size, all three are different) and did some try ons.  But alas, because they only come in whole sizes, they didn’t fit.  I tried too with similar luck.  And I couldn’t find any Tom’s that I especially liked that fit either. (I bought my first - pink - pair in Glasgow last summer.)
Connie shoots a piper in Glasgow

Back in Ayr, I stopped to pick up my mother’s birth certificate and grandparents’ marriage license that I’d ordered yesterday.  Now we’re playing on our electronic equipment (my laptop, Connie’s iPad) before heading out to dinner at The Tree House.  Tomorrow on to Edinburgh Castle!
6 June, Glasgow Airport, Scotland
What a day we had yesterday.  We checked out of the B&B with final good byes and “do widzenia’s” to Magdalena. She was a delightful hostess.  I’m going to keep that place in mind in case I get more guests than I can handle next year.  Anyway, I drove cross country to Edinburgh Castle with Connie navigating, using the GPS in my iPhone.  She’s much better than she gives herself credit for.  Plus I would never have driven without her ... much too stressful.  Amazingly I found a parking place on the street right at the side of the castle, the same long hill that Tomery, Tooz, Annie and I had walked up last year.  Unfortunately the meter would only take enough coins for 70 minutes.  But since I had bought the tickets on line, we had no waiting to get into the castle.  We restocked the meter, got 90 minutes that time, then went shopping along the Royal Mile and ate lunch in a pub.  Slowest service on earth and we had to order at the bar.  But Connie said her hamburger was good and so was my salad.  We bought assorted souvenirs for family and friends.  The iPhone got us back on the road to Glasgow, though I had no idea how we were going.  We got almost there when the phone battery died.  I was despairing that I’d never find the hotel -- we had quite the time finding it last year -- when there it was, on the right side of the highway.  I quickly exited at the next turn off and somehow figured out the round abouts and turns and there we were.  Quite a relief.  After settling in and resting for a bit, we decided to return the rental car, then cab back and have dinner at a new restaurant next to the hotel.  I made a wrong turn and we almost ended up in the Clyde Tunnel (sound familiar, Annie?).  Rental return went smoothly, but our cab driver was crabby because he didn’t want our fare.  We were a local fare, which would mean he could buck the line on return to the airport,  a perk that he didn’t want to leave unused, but he really wanted to go home (it was almost 8 pm).  So did we!

Later, Warsaw Airport, Poland
Mass confusion as I tried to figure out where I was supposed to meet the taxi I’d ordered.  My bad Polish, the dispatcher’s less-than-perfect English and a lot of construction at the airport didn’t help.  Finally called Marta who contacted the cab company, and we agreed I’d wait in front of the Marriott Courtyard, which is right across the street from the main terminal.

8 June, Kraków
Enjoyed last evening with Marta, Łukasz, the cats and dog, then got up early to catch a train to Kraków.  I’m staying in a hotel around the corner from David and Inga’s flat, so I know the area well -- and it’s right on the river, although my window overlooks the back of some neighboring buildings.  And for some reason I got a room that well equipped for someone in a wheelchair.  Ah, well, I haven’t spent too much time here.

Unpacked and hung up a few things, then went up to the Główny Rynek (main square) for a “kebob” (gyros sandwich) at my favorite cafe for those and a bit of shopping.  Got a French press coffee pot for about $3 in EMPiK, a big book store; no International Herald Tribune though.  Met Ula for dinner at an outdoor cafe on the square, then a small ice cream cone (coconut, of course) and some walking while we planned today.  In my room I watched a French movie, “All Together,” in English.  It starred Jane Fonda and Geraldine Chaplin, among others.  It’s about five aging friends (in their 70s) who decide to live together. 

Now I’m trying to stay awake to finish this.  Ula picked me up and we visited the new Kraków Under Occupation Museum that has been set up in the old Schindler factory on Lipowa Street and a new gallery featuring art about Galicia (the southern Poland and southeastern Ukraine territory that was part of Austro-Hungary in the 19th Century).  both are in Podgórze section of the city where the actual walled ghetto was built.  It’s across the river from Kazimierz, which is an area also inhabited by many Jews before the war.  The occupation museum chronicles Jewish life in Poland before the war as well as the formation of the walled ghetto and extermination camps by the Nazis.  I hope my photos can do it justice.  The art gallery has a photo exhibit of Jewish life in Galicia.  Both museums are excellent additions to Kraków’s cultural offerings.  

 That's me outside the entrance to the old Schindler factory at Lipowa 4 in Kraków.  It's now an excellent museum to the Occupation of the city during World War II and to pre-war Jewish history.  Below is Schindler's desk, part of an exhibit of his old office in the factory.

Ula and I visited the park that was made in the location of the old quarry.  If you saw the film Schindler's List, we're in the area where the overseer sits on his horse above the quarry.

Afterwards, we walked across the foot bridge to Kazimierz, stopping at the open market to look at what was on sale (from cheap jewelry to not-so-cheap menorahs), then going on to Szeroka Street for a coffee break.  Tonight we went to a nearby outdoor “grill” and had kiełbasa and a mix of salads for dinner, then (again) ice cream.  (I know, Tomery, I have exceeded my ‘cheating’ days!).

10 June, Warsaw
Rain.  Will it ever stop raining ... here ... anywhere?  Dorota D., Jacek and Franek returned from the lakes region last night and had to take a bunch of detours because the rain had closed two bridges and the Wisłastrada riverside roadway due to flooding!  

And today it started raining again.  I had forgotten that I promised the son of a colleague from the Center that I’d meet his cousin’s girlfriend and her friend who are traveling in Europe this summer.  He called me at 8 and by 10:30 I was at his apartment meeting Ashley and Anna, seniors majoring in math at the University of South Carolina.  That apartment is around the corner from Marta’s so was easy to find.  They’ve been using Eurail passes throughout Europe but took an overnight bus from Berlin to Warsaw, arriving around 6 am.  We took a tram and bus to the Old Town and had coffee before I had to leave for lunch with Gina, her only day to get together. We caught up at the end of the afternoon when I took Ashley and Anna to IKO, Dorota and Małgosia’s language school, then directed them to the Wedel shop for chocolate as thick and dark as North Sea oil while I went to a cooking class with some IKO students.  We learned how to make (and got to try) chłodnik, a cold summer soup that can only be made when the beets are new and young.  Delicious.  Perhaps I’ll insert the recipe.

11 June
Who’d a thunk it?  Polish museums are closed on Tuesdays!  Or at least the two that we tried to visit today -- a new national museum to the Warsaw Uprising and a new Jewish museum commemorating the ghetto uprising.  Did a lot of kilometers on the bus and on foot getting to/from both, both closed.  We finally went to the Belvedere Restaurant in Łazienki Park for coffee and dessert.  Saw one of the peacocks that inhabit the park outside the restaurant and a couple of others at Łazienki Palace.  As we approached the palace, I could see that the side was covered with sheeting printed like the side of the palace.  At least the front was visible.  We joined the throngs of school kids and tourists, took some photos but decided not to take the tour.  Instead we trudged up the hill to Belvedere, the palace that was the Polish White House when I moved here and is on the Belvedere Vodka bottles, then on to a tram and homeward.  After leaving them at their apartment, I went to Marta’s to use the Internet and walk Arya.  I just called a cab to take me to Dorota’s where I’m staying.  I am too pooped to schlepp to the bus etc.

13 June
After-dinner conversations with Dorota and Jacek are always interesting, stimulating and eclectic.  We covered economics, politics and society in US and Poland plus a bit on Europe ... we covered family stories which segued into laundry.  Dorota offered to wash my dirty clothes when she did a few loads of theirs.  Since I have a pile of whites and could use some clean undies, I was delighted.  But women here still often wash with hot water, something I haven’t done in decades.  And I have a brand new pair of white trousers in a smaller size than last year that I would like to still fit into after laundering.  So I asked Dorota if she uses hot water to wash.  She noted that the whites cycle called for 40C, which seemed hot to me.  And that led to her saying that her dad insisted that you have to wash bed linens, sleeping clothes and towels in boiling water at least once a year to kill the germs.  Funny that a Polish male of his generation should be the laundry guru.  They’re aren’t known for their participation in household chores.

PS  Laundry done.  Trousers dry and ironed but still need to be tried on.

Franiu and his medals

18 June
Lots has happened since I last wrote though nothing earth shattering.  Like Kraków, Warsaw is overrun by school children of all sizes and ages on their field trips.  It’s kind of fun to see the littlest one decked out in those reflective vests that crossing guards usually wear.  Not a bad way to keep track and to ensure they are visible as they chatter and plow through the busy streets.

We continue to get our share of rain and perhaps the share of several other countries.  I spent the weekend in Milanówek with Maryla and her family. Tomek, her son, and I met at a commuter train station just east of the city center and road out together.  As a result, we actually got seats, something the hoards who boarded at the Śródmieście (center city) station did not.  The weekend was very relaxing, especially sitting in the back garden. I even fell asleep in my lounge chair on Saturday afternoon and dozed for an hour.  Sunday I took a long walk with Tomek searching for an Internet cafe.  No such luck.  The one that we saw is only open Monday through Friday only.  We did find numerous bakeries, places to buy ice cream, lots of signs for dentist offices and even a kebab place with Arabic and Polish signage.  Although some streets in the town are still dirt, as so many more were in 1991 when my Peace Corps colleagues lived there, most are paved and have sidewalks that don’t require eternal vigilance to ensure you don’t trip over the many broken segments.  Also spent some time on Sunday helping Maryla sign up for LinkedIn, something strongly requested by her employer which provided detailed guidance.  Hardest part was using a PC again!

I’ve been wanting to take Dorota and family out to dinner as a small ‘thank you’ for their hospitality.  Last night we finally got organized and went to Samira, a Lebanese place that they love ... and I do too now.  All my favorite foods plus some interesting and tasty bread that was a little like focaccia, along with the traditional pita.  Franiu is a great eater for a five-year-old.  He ate everything, then drank five glasses of hot sweet tea.  I would never have found the restaurant on my own -- it’s tucked way back behind the national library with only one way to enter the long wooded drive to the restaurant and a tire repair workshop next door.  The restaurant also has a deli with Middle Eastern specialities, including a nice selection of fresh olives.  Dorota bought some to take home, and I got four small pieces of baklava.

Got word last week that David and family will arrive in Kraków from DC on Thursday. I organized a hotel room for myself so I can meet them at the airport, and after talking to Inga via email, arranged a rental car.  I’ll meet up with Inga’s friend Danusia, whom I’ve met during the garage protest a few years ago, and we’ll go to the airport together to greet the Reenes.

19 June, Kraków
The day has been hot as hell.  Dorota dropped me to the train station, then I walked across to the Marriott to use the free wi-fi in the Lobby Bar. Wanted to check email; I am definitely an Internet addict!  I took the 10:50 am express train to Kraków and thankfully the two men with whom I shared a compartment left the window and door open -- good cross breezes helped the heat during the journey.  I had thought I’d take a cab to Hotel Pod Wawelem, at least a 20 minute walk on a less hot day, then decided that I needed the exercise so walked anyway and sweated profusely.  After changing and getting some lunch, I walked back to the bus station to check on buses from Limanowa (the nearest town of any size to David and Inga’s działka) to Kraków and connections from there to Sandomierz.  If at all possible, I need to go to Hala’s before I return to the US.  And I stopped at the American Bookstore in the Galleria to buy a couple of dead trees, just in case I can’t re-charge my Kindle at some point.  I’ve enjoyed Phillipa Gregory’s historical novels about England and found one that I haven’t read yet.  

20 June
David & Inga in Kraków
“The Eagle has landed,” as I wrote to David’s Army today.  I went to the airport with their friends Danusia and Krzysztof, and we were joined by Franciszka’s friend Aga.  The Reenes arrive weary but happy to be in Poland. Arrangements at the rental car place went pretty smoothly, and everything fit in the trunk.  Danusia had found David and Inga a studio apartment in the “home” building, so while Inga got everything settled and organized, David took a nap, and the rest of us went to the cafe on the river plaza.  Several other Kraków friends plus Robert from Warsaw/Kielce joined us, as did David and Inga eventually.  We sat for several hours happily catching up.  It felt so good.
Now Tosia is off with her friend Adriana and will join us at the działka on Saturday.  Frankie will come to the działka after a trip to Portugal with Aga and her family.  Both girls are going to join old friends at school on the last day of the school year tomorrow. 

21 June, Willa Reene on the mountainside high above the village of Łacko 
... and not far from Nowy Sacz where I lived as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Villa Reene

On a clear day you can see Slovakia
After a morning and early afternoon of dental appointments and grocery shopping, David, Inga and I drove the couple of hours south and east to their działka.  Inga found this perfect piece of land several years ago and fell in love with it on sight. I remember, kept comparing other places to this one.  Land is not easily bought in this region, but eventually they were able to. We stopped briefly to greet the nearest neighbors, then up the stone drive to the cottage where we were greeted by a big welcome sign made by Anka, one of the neighbors.
The small two-story wooden cottage was built from scratch with an awesome view of mountains and valleys and forests for miles and miles. I can understand Inga’s commitment to this place, David’s desire to be here. Inside, the walls of unstained interior paneling along with big windows make for a bright and cheery main floor: a small L-shaped kitchen, bathroom and salon.  Upstairs are two bedrooms.  Metal roll-down exterior shades protect the place from weather and prying eyes when they aren’t here.  A big wide deck surrounds the front and one side of the cottage where one segment has a canvas roof.  With Danusia and Krzysztof’s help, hot running water, unlimited electricity and a new shower awaited.  Inga is ecstatic over the running water as carrying water was not her favorite chore, and the shower is pure joy.

Inga has designed the cottage much like a travel trailer; space is utilized to the max. It’s well stocked with everything needed, including her bread cutter.  David made much of the furniture, including the beautiful wooden picnic table and benches where we’ll eat on the deck and the day bed/sofa in the living room where I’ll sleep.

Tonight Inga went to the house where Anka and her children live with her husband’s family (he is working full time in Germany).  She took ‘thank you’ gifts from the US and brought back assorted packages that had been shipped or left there -- from four cases of wine, two blow-up mattresses, a tent and small pool for the kids to a portable air conditioner that Inga installed upstairs.  We finish the evening unpacking and stowing and enjoying a glass of white wine while thunder rolls around the darkening skies but no rain falls.  David had extolled this sauvignon blanc and I agree: it’s delightful even thought it’s not cold.  As my sister taught me, I took a picture of the label so I can look for it back home. Inga takes a before-bed shower and steps from the bathroom with wet hair and a huge grim on her face.  I think taking a hot shower has been the best part of her day.  Now she truly believes she won’t have to schlepp water anymore.

23 June
This morning I awoke to a short thunder storm, complete with downpour but I didn’t see any lightning.  We had a little rain yesterday afternoon and the rumbling was louder and nearer than before but not storm.  David and I had talked about how much we both love a good thunder-and-lightning storm.

We had a lot of excitement yesterday.  The freezing compartment of the hand-me-down refrigerator wasn’t working.  So when Inga went shopping, she returned with many full  bags from the grocery, a new refrigerator and two men to do the heavy lifting.  David and I emptied the old one while Inga’s caravan drove up the winding road to the cottage.  Now the old one is on the side deck and stocked with beverages.  The new one runs smoothly top and bottom.  I was flabbergasted at the price, PLN 1299 (about $400).  If I’d had to replace my refrigerator, I’d’ve had to pay $1299 for one only slightly bigger.  Anyway ...

While we waited four hours for the new refrigerator to settle and be plugged in, we returned all of the perishables to old one, stowed groceries and as advertised, in two seconds Inga had the tent up.  A three-person tent was among her purchases.  She staked it to the side deck and was going to foot-pump an air mattress but had trouble with the connection.  That task was completed later by her friend Dorota-from-Kielce’s son Błaźej, who would use the mattress in the tent.  By the time Dorota, Błaźej and Tosia arrived, we were relaxing with visiting neighbors at the big picnic table outside.  More neighbors arrived later and we enjoyed kiełbasa and burgers from the grill along with our beer, wine, juice until after 11.  Nice way to end the day.

David just left for his morning walk, something he really enjoys.  The only change I’ve noticed is his speech -- he has more difficulty finding the right word, Polish or English, than I recall. Otherwise he seems much the same as when I saw him in May.  He does have a bigger appetite, a side effect of his current meds, so eats a little often.

After lunch, Tosia went to the neighbors where there are children to play with and a trampoline to jump on.  More recently, Anka walked up with her two children, Adrian, 3, and Zusia,1.  She asked if my name was Zuzanna, as Dorota did yesterday.  So I explained in basic Polish my nickname and legal given name.  I’m getting better at that.

The sun came out, so Dorota, David, Anka and I drank wine and beer at the picnic table and visited while Inga supervised Błaźej cutting weeds and grass in the front yard.  It’s way too steep for any kind of lawn mower so a super-sized weed eater does the job nicely ... as did Błaźej.  Soon we’ll fix something for dinner (we went into Łacko for pizza for a late lunch) -- Inga bought parówki (hot dogs) to go with the rolls Dorota brought yesterday ... but better yet, we could eat left overs.  We have a few burgers from last night, pizza from lunch, David’s kotlet schabowy i kapusta (pork cutlet and saurerkraut) rom Friday lunch ... lots to choose from.  And we’ve been chilling new bottles of wine.

24 June
Dorota, Błaźej, Tosia and I drove to Zakopane with the help of Dorota’s GPS, a somber male voice that quickly became grating.  Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains has  changed a lot since my last visit in the mid ‘90s.  It’s like Aspen in a lot of ways -- a real town with real residents plus lots of winter sports, tourists and expensive homes and flats ... and over-developing quickly.  Rain limited with we could do, but we were able to do some shopping for Inga’s birthday on Saturday and in my case, also buy a few gifts to take home.  A good day despite the weather.

25 June
Last night we had a doozy of a thunder storm, one a native Western Pennsylvanian could be proud of -- continuous rolling claps of thunder, wide swaths of lightning, deluges of rain.  Typically, I fell asleep before it ended.  I awoke to bright blue skies dotted with a few fluffy white clouds, a rising temperature and the promise of a beautiful day in the mountains.  Not.  It’s about 6 pm and since early afternoon, the temps have steadily dropped, a cold breeze has moved in and the sky has clouded over.  

Inga, Tosia, Błaźej and I went into Łacko for some shopping, and I not only found a post office to mail the postcards I bought yesterday in Zakopane but also an Internet “cafe.”  No coffee nor much else but a helpful young man who spoke English and set the wi-fi code for me.  He has a computer repair and service shop that also has three desktops and wi-fi for customer use.  I downloaded about 200 messages, half selling me something and easy to delete.  Got off a quick message to family and friends, forwarded bank statement and utility bill notices to my sister, then asked what I owed for my wi-fi use.  Two złoty (less than $1); I gave him 10, thanked him over his protest of my “over-payment.”

Although I called Hala to arrange my return tomorrow to Sandomiez (via car to Limanowa and buses to Kraków and Sandomierz), that plan may change.  Inga is concerned that when David awoke early this morning, he was exhibiting some of the same symptoms as he had before the last seizure.  We’re in a wait-and-see mode; he’s taken his meds and seems okay.  But I have alerted Hala that I may not get to Sandomierz.

26 June
David seems fine.  He continues to walk up the hillside every morning for an hour or two, taking sandwiches along so stave off the medication-induced hunger.  Some old gents who live further up often walk along.  He’s mostly speaking Polish.  Not sure if that’s a function of being here or if his brain works better in Polish than English.  He’s always spoken Polish first when he’s had seizures, much to the doctors’ surprise.  As in DC, Inga has made it possible for David not to have to walk steps too much, even thought thebedrooms are upstairs.  She got a portable toilet for their room and nightly takes up fresh water, various snacks, coffee fixings.  David commented that since that one room had everything necessary, perhaps the cottage had been over-built.

Anka came up for a visit this afternoon while Inga, Tosia and I were tearing apart all of the boxes that we’d accumulated and putting the pieces in the old rain collection tanks for use in bonfires.  Before this year, the cabin had no water source other than catching rain from the gutters for washing bodies and dishes and schlepping five-liter bottles from the store for drinking and cooking.  Sinking a well and septic tank were among the projects that Danuta and Krzysztof (and I’m sure the neighbors too) oversaw before our arrival.

Inga built a fire in the pit using some of the cardboard and wood and baked potatoes and heated leftover kielbasa and parówki (hotdogs) from yesterday.  We opened some new bottles of wine.  David certainly made some excellent selections -- all whites, either sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.  While I’ve like some better than others, they have all been quite good.  I’ve used my sister’s method of remembering and taken a few photos with my digital camera.

27 June
I’m wearing a turtleneck, tee-shirt, hoodie and denim jacket, I’m barely warm and it’s the 27th of June.  What’s wrong with this picture?  We’ve continued to have lousy weather, but it hasn’t kept us idle.  Inga reminds me frequently that her projects are her relaxation.  And she has something almost daily. Her energy astounds me. 

This afternoon we went to lunch at a nearby zajazd (inn) that is known for it’s good local fare.  On the way back, I returned to my wi-fi guy (100 messages, mostly deletable without reading) while David got a haircut.  Then we stopped to get a few more concrete blocks at the building supply yard.  We’d picked some up the other day, and Błaźej helped Inga set a base for the kaplica (like a grotto).  It’s where the two new pieces of naive art will go.  

Today Inga’s project was to make more stable steps down from the deck.  The wooden blocks and planks move too easily.  She and Dorota tried to level the ground and lay the blocks. Since I was a third wheel and yawning, a function of the overcast weather, I laid down and half-slept for an hour.  I awoke to the sounds of David in the kitchen and a truck in the yard ... I recalled Inga saying they were going back to the building supply yard for more blocks.  They’d also returned with a truckload of gravel.  I quickly put on my shoes and went to help.  We spread gravel around the driveway, made a path to the recycling and a base for steps from the far-side deck where the grill sits.  Adrian, the three-year-old from the nearest house, joined us and carried empty buckets that Dorota and I refilled and Inga carried across the deck.  Steps were set and leveled on both sides of the deck and the driveway gravel spread just in time for a fine rain to start.  Tosia walked Adi home with a bag of scraps for their dog.  We feasted on leftovers for dinner since we had a refrigerator full from lunches yesterday and today.

Inga has a new beau, Adi

28 June, Warsaw
With only a minute to go before its closing, Dorota D. pulled into the Toyota dealer on Zakopiańska street south of Kraków last night ... and was able to get someone to replace the headlight bulb that had burned out.  See, P-IVs, things are changing in our adopted country.

Dorota drove down this morning so that she could see David, and I rode back with her.  A long trip made longer by all of the traffic for first-day-of-school-holidays and Friday-going-to-the-southern-mountains traffic coupled with occasional rain.  We took a slightly different route through Kraków, around the east side rather than usual west, because we missed a turn. But we easily found the highway to Kielce, Radom, Warsaw.  We finally got to her house about 1 am.  Her husband Jacek was waiting for us.

 We had three Dorotas at the działka -- Dorota D., David’s and my first Polish language teacher., Dorota from Kielce who’d been with us all week, Dorota with Eric who are friends of David and Inga, and .  That’s how I remember and keep them straight.

Działka visitors - Dorota D., David, Eric standing; Dorota from Kielce, Inga in David's górale hat, Eric's wife Dorota - posed for me before Dorota D. and I left for Warsaw.  

On the way back, we had a minute to spare before closing when Dorota pulled into the Toyota dealer just outside Kraków.  One of the headlights was out and needed replacing.  And someone actually was available and made the change for us.  The times they are a'changin' in Poland.  It was 1 am before we arrived.

30 June, Paris, France
I think I’ve been away too long.  I’m not paying good attention.  When I knew that I wouldn’t go back to Sandomierz, I’d told Hala that I’d left all my dollars and some clothes that I would just get in December; she said she’d get the wallet and put it in a safe place ... then we talked yesterday and she said found the wallet and three keys ... the keys to my building, condo and post box in Minneapolis.  Thank heavens for Skype Out (banked credit for calling any phone number).  I caught my sister at home and arranged to get her set of my keys.  Took a letter to the Główna Poczta (main post office) at almost 10 pm last night.  (Yes, that PO is open 24 hours a day with real people helping you.)  The letter had some document copies that Inga may need.  I mailed in care of Anka, the neighbor at the działka ... and forgot to put on the post code.  Then today I checked in at Chopin Airport and didn’t look at my luggage receipt ... or I would have noticed the agent booked my suitcase through to Minneapolis although that flight is tomorrow afternoon.  I schlepped around Charles de Gaulle Airport for more than an hour while some of the French baggage handlers had an “industrial action” but I did finally get the bag.  Clean undies for tomorrow!

I’m at the Ibis which is right at the airport, tiny room but comfortable, clean and convenient, the 3 Cs of travel.  I decided not to try to go into Paris by train for dinner even though it’s an easy trip.  Took a walk around the area: a Hilton and a Novotel are within a few minutes on foot.  I wanted to check out what other places had to offer in the way of food.  But I will probably go downstairs and eat Italian.  When I get back to Minneapolis, I’ll be back into a serious detox again ... and get to meet my Godson's new son, Alijah.

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