Monday, 20 December 2010

Christmas countdown: 4 days left

I've been up for a couple of hours this morning, since I had to wake my son up early, so that he'd have enough time to get tired by noon - when some medical test in sleep is scheduled for him.

There is still no trace of the sun, I really have no idea as to the exact time it shows up these days. Our alarm clocks get us out of bed typically about eight o'clock, which means we're late for most of places but in quite a good mood.

So, as you may guess, I'm rather miserable today in those pitch dark, polar night like circumstances. But - I'm thinking about my twin brother who's just checking in at the London Luton Airport, where traffic was paralysed on Saturday. And I'm, every now and then, checking the on-line live flight information, because the word "cancelled" still tends to appear all to often. Anyway, I hope his pink Wizzair plane will carry him here today, to Wrocław.

At the same time, when I look through the news, I see I didn't have the slightest idea what was happening at the British airports last weekend. Thousands of passengers had to radically change their plans for Christmas.

And here - one of my absolutely favourite Christmas song. About another type of travelling strain.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Christmas countdown: 6 days left

The closer to Christmas it gets, the more I feel I won't be able to carry out all the plans. Fortunately, I won't have to put to death any carp or any other living creature, but cooking now seems to be a challenge - not to mention shopping for groceries preceding the cooking itself.

Of course, the closer to Christmas it gets, the more I am aware that it is and yet it is not about the ginger cookies and snow, and presents, most of which, by the way, are now hidden in the wardrobe of my "home office"*. They all matter only as the things that help (re)creating or strengthening the link with the others. Being tired as I am now, it's easier to let go of things that are secondary - say, some huge tidying up, cleaning the windows - to give just some examples of the activities traditionally linked with Christmas in Poland, which kill the housewives dead only to present them served on the Christmas table along with dumplings and cabbage. Now, more than ever,with that incredible chill outside and the rush of completing the last tasks before we're free to celebrate, it seems to me, that "togetherness" - is what Christmas is about. If I have any Christmas wishes, is that the Readers may experience just that.

* my office at my home, but also - the UK government department for immigration and passports, drugs policy, counter-terrorism, police, and science and research:)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas countdown: 9 days left

I've never believed that a picture is worth a thousand words (come on, words are like clay with which you can make entire worlds!) but take a look at these below. My husband took those pictures for our friend in India, who - after visiting our remote country a couple of times - expresses the strong will to return. He has even mastered quite a few words in Polish and keeps on learning new phrases, which we truly admire, as they must sound like real tongue-twisters. Even though we'd be happy to see him end up in here, we feel one should have a larger picture of what it is to live in that nearly polar circumstances (it's a joke! it's only moderate climate). So this is what winter is like in here. You wake up and start searching through the snow banks, and one of them may turn out to be your car. You're lucky when there's a helping hand (here - our sonny's):

PS. This night we are told to expect -20 degrees. Centigrade...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Christmas countdown: 10 days left

Yesterday we had a vast skating rink all around. Then came the snow, white, fluffy, like powdered sugar, with all those miriads of sparkles.
I've lost my gloves, which I'd had only for a month and with which I believed to have looked like a genuine lady. Heartbroken and mourning my gloves, I'm reading the BBC news, and lo! there's a note about Poland, too, which happens once or twice a qaurter of the year, always with respect to some embarrassing situation or failure.

So now they echo the stir made by the first Afro-American MP in the Polish Parliament. And here comes this:

Racism is still a problem in Poland, where it is not uncommon for well-educated people to make racist jokes, our correspondent says. 
Fristly. There are so few Afro-Americans in our country (they too, just like BBC news, may not find our "emerging economy" attractive enough), that you have to explain to the kids on pics that people may be different colour and that white is only one from many options.

Secondly: it's true, many people would not even know they'd told a racist joke. But, to be honest, I haven't heard anybody telling one for dozen or so years now. I believe we're a freindly nation that respects the others, especially the disrespected ones; we might not have had slavery in our history, but experienced all sorts of repression and deprivation. I hope I'm not too idealistic about that!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas countdown: 13 days left

After a fabulous, white morning (it was quite a challenge, digging the car up from the snow), around lunch time (while I'm studying hard at my translation school) - it starts raining. What this gigantic snowmelt brings about are not merely some puddles, no: imagine a great deal of water, a sea, an ocean of water in the middle of a big city - and what it takes to find any dry patch to set your foot on! Swimming along the street, with my shoes completely soaked, I wonder if it's time we started building an ark.

In the meantime (again), our home ginger cookies factory goes on manufacturing first rate products! These are my daughetr's:

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Christmas countdown: 14 days left

I think children add some magical flavour, otherwise a bit forgotten by the adults, to waiting for Christmas. Our living room turns into one large (physically - very small, however!) artists' study, and Christmas decorations appear in wholesale amounts.

At present our son is also fascinated with the "Pettson and Findus" book series (Pettson och Findus in its original Swedish version). So we're reading. Those lovely, wise stories, so richly decorated, are, however, entirely devoid of "glamour" - an old lone man and his lively cat enjoy small things and have adventures as the small things begin to complicate.

Unmissable, for the kids and adults alike! :)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Christmas countdown: 15 days left

I can't keep up with the days and the dates, and the time keeps counting down till Christmas by itself. There's no possibility to negotiate, to ask for at least half an hour daily more, and no business training on "how to make the others give you what you want" could teach me to extort even a couple of more minutes, not to mention days.

In the meantime, in which I think my life generally happens, we're busy preparing Christmas stuff. My daughter is painting with acrylic paints a box for ginger cookies, the ginger-flavoured dough's in the fridge and bedtime stories revolve around Christmas trees, waiting for the Santa and adventures on the snow.

Outside the window, the snow is melting and only now I know it was better with the frost. At the moment, the street is covered with the dirty porridge. Why can I never enjoy things on time?

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Christmas countdown: 19 days left

My daughter goes to a playdate - her classmate invites her to decorate ginger cookies together. In general, almost everyone I talked to today is baking, has just baked or is planning to bake ginger cookies. I've been eating them a lot recently, my favourite "Speculatius" - German Spiced Cookies.

Today the teachers at my postgraduate translation school are trying to spoil the fun of waiting for Christmas by making prophecies about tests and exams. First, I have to pull down my head from the clouds.

playdate - an arranged appointment for children to get together for a few hours to play

Friday, 3 December 2010

Christmas countdown: 20 days left

And yet, even in those Arctic conditions, you can find reasons to laugh out loud. Like for example this story about a woman in Kent, who called the police to inform that someone had stolen a snowman from outside her house. Which she said she noticed when she had gone outside "for a fag".

With my friend we're preparing presents for the classmates of our daughters, and I can't help thinking that I made a mistake the moment I entered the teacher-parent association. Wouldn't that be nicer to pay in a small amount of money and not to care anymore who will take care of organizing the Santa Claus' Day at school? So we need to organize one last thing: a "wrapping meeting" - which means meet and wrap up the presents that the other parents will feel free to criticise.

Christmas countdown: 21 days left

The journey to the pharmacy is like a pilgrimage through the desert of snow. I'm astounded how this short distance of about 300 meters changes in different seasons. In summer it's a short walk, long enough to take a break or find inspiration for a short blog post, but short enough not to get exhausted.

But not today. It's the end of the day, almost 7 p.m. I'm really amazed by this winter landscape, by this abundance of snow everywhere - to begin with the snow banks over the cars that people parked a couple of days ago and so they stay, and to finish with the streets, along which the cars are moving shakily, like modern amphibians. My shoes are wet inside, and those -10 degrees, in general, make my heart sink. Just like the whole municipal road service - I wasn't ready for winter.

PS. I had to change the headings to match the idea of countdown, which I realized only today - what a shame.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Christmas countdown: 22 days left

It's freezing cold. I'm freezing. Last year I said goodbye to my faux sheepskin coat before shutting the wardrobe's door forever, at least for that particular item of clothing which made me look like an old-age pensioner, a ball with four short limbs, or like Paddington Brown in winter. So I'm wearing my Coco Chanel-like (Id' like to believe) salt-and-pepper flimsy overcoat and I wonder, what price I am going to pay for the sake of fashionable (hopefully) looks. Pneumonia?

The frost is -9, my Firefox toolbar kindly reports, but "it feels like -17". My son, even in his thick snowsuit, refuses to go out, but still, we have to go and believe me, today we're closer than ever to the Arctic Circle. I know, the Emperor Penguins are far braver, they can stand even minus forty something (degrees Centigrade, not Fahrenheit!). I quickly organize self-help in those unfavourable conditions: my staple diet is fat cheese, herrings, chocolate and hot coffee. Towards the end of winter I'll surely be as slim as Claudia Schiffer in her prime.

In those survival conditions, when all I'd like to do is glue myself to the radiator, I take a break from work to look through some books that might make nice Christmas gifts. They are very good books, insightful, interesting, all "must-have"s. Then I realize these are actually the books I myself would like to find under the Christmas tree. Oops.

faux = artificial
in one's prime = at one's best age