Thursday, 29 September 2011


Fabulous colours,
fresh mornings and steamy windscreen, when taking kids to school and kindergarten,
my husband's bike tours before winter comes (and mine, too),
still lives of vegetables at the greengrocer's,
the smell of new (note)books,
the murmur of the printer,
the warmth of rosary beads,
the sensation of starting things anew.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

teacher on holiday

I like many things about teaching but today I want to mention holidays. I've never had to alter my notion of July and August as holidays (ok, maybe except for the times of my youth when I worked in summer). Students go on holiday, and so do I.

That does not mean I am as free as the wind and idle. Towards the end of June I simply change into an itinerant mother with two kids, bags, backpacks, baskets and the like. In the beginning I have to kick myself out of the office, because I delude myself I love the perfect predictability of daily routines and don't want to jump into the chaos of searching for my belongings arranged in new places, "no schedule" or a makeshift schedule of you-never-know-what-the-weather-will-be-like.

But after several days of being a professional holiday maker, I don't know how I was able to stick to the office for the whole year, to do my chores and not much more than this.

Right now I'm in the countryside, it's been a two-week stay already. There's the hammock, black and red currant, birds chirping, and nearly no traffic apart from incidental bikes or tractors. Husband and children, all of us together from dawn to dusk, like in some "Little House on the Prairie" series.

So sad it can't last forever. But maybe then it wouldn't be this precious. Besides, it's only the beginning of July. Soon I'll pack the bags again and move elsewhere.

And for all those who envy;) I'd like to remind that the only hindrance of a two-month holiday (when you have your own business, like me) is that it is totally... unpaid. Isn't but freedom priceless?

Saturday, 28 May 2011

mother's day

With our sonny's play in the kindergarten yet to come (this Monday), the celebrations of the Mother's Day resulted in the following bunch of lovely gifts (the card from my 7-year-old daughter):

There were also two paper flowers made with a drinking straw, and singing songs, including Happy Birthday to You (in English, I'm proud to say! The success, however, is to be attributed to the kindergarten teacher, not me...)

And a song, a song! J.J. Barrie 1976.

Music Downloads | Free Music at

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

save me, san francisco

What a great day, what an unexpected surprise! I have just received mail (it sounds like I'm describing vintage postal delivery most of the time here;) from the Polish Radio "Trójka". Radio Station Three, as a more-or-less accurate translation would have it, is the legendary, non-commercial radio, which has developed over the decades its own unique, intelligent and witty style - in fact, anything that is the reverse of the word "cliché".

So this is the envelope, and this is the gift - actually a prize in a competition: "Save Me, San Francisco" album by the band Train. But it's so unusual for another reason, too - it's from a very special person. It's my and my husband's favourite - since we were about 14 years old, I suppose - radio broadcaster, Marek Niedźwiecki.

The word "broadcaster" does not seem to be "capacious" enough to contain all that he has meant for the radio-listeners' subculture of people who don't watch tv, but choose listening. Marek Niedźwiecki knows all about music but never to show off; he tells stories. He picks up the pieces of the ordinary and the unusual, with no pathos but with charming simplicity, and turns his programmes into poetry, into the ambience of one-to-one meeting of friends.

There's a postcard with a few lines attached to the CD as well. I'll put it into my treasure box forever! Marek Niedźdwiecki's Top 30 has grown into a part of our biography, me and my  husband as children started school each Monday morning from sharing with each other the news from the chart (as there were no private phones available then to share on Friday or Saturday evening!). Still, whenever possible to get close to the radio, I listen to Markomania, to the music selected from the albums the existence of which would often remain unknown to me, and the music is one generous gift in itself.

Btw. our friend Joseph from in India listens to "Trójka", too; on-line, to learn Polish!

frank again

I've been reading Frank McCourt's Teacher Man for a couple of days now. I've read his Pulitzer Prize Winner, Angela's Ashes, and 'Tis. A Memoir. I got hold of the former in a second hand clothes shop that used to be packed full with books every Wednesday (not any more, what a pity!), and I used to think: how can people treat books in such a mean way - so as to throw them away, often new, untouched, straight from the bookshop shelf? And on the other hand: what a great benevolence, to give away excellent fiction, thank you very much!

As for Angela's Ashes: a memoir par excellence. McCourt is that kind of writer who immediately establishes a link between himself and the reader. So I felt I was a confidant of the story of his miserable childhood right from the first page. His recollection of the Irish slum (the Limerick "lane", which doomed children to have no prospects for social advance) was, although dramatic, never hopeless. I simply loved his sense of humour, the vividness of the storytelling, the honesty and the acute sense of observation. He died last year on my birthday, which I found a mysterious coincidence - and look forward to meeting him in person when my story, too, comes to an end.

And now: the Teacher Man - his memories of work in American high schools. In twenty pages it has made me laugh several times already.

Saturday, 16 April 2011


In the era of electronic mail and word processing I receive a surprising, seemingly old-fashioned, gift via postal service. It's a beautiful moleskine: "the legendary notebook of Hemingway, Picasso, Chatwin," as the information attached to it says. It's a present from a friend-writer, a person who wouldn't laugh at the idea of daily  (no matter the state of the mind and spirit) exercise of writing. A couple of sentences, random at the first glance, to which, nonetheless, you have to select the proper register and some leitmotif, so that even just one paragraph is a miniature of an entity.

I don't think the moleskine will turn me into a proper writer in my mother tongue, which I dare regret, but every word from the attached booklet on its history sounds so promising: Capturing reality on the move, preserving details, impressing the unique aspects of experience upon paper: Moleskine  is a reservoir of ideas and feelings, a battery that stores discoveries an perceptions without depletion. So be it.

Monday, 11 April 2011

the polish way

I can't understand why Poland becomes mainly in-famous in the world news. I wish we would come up, as a nation, with some surprising act of cooperation, succeeded with childcare or research in medicine.

Instead, the world is reading about quarrels, the origin of which is obscure after a time. Even if people are of different opinion, I'd like it some other way, I'd like it more civil, braver, respectful. But I shouldn't be naive: to see it is not a usual way to handle things here it was enough to attend today's parent teacher meeting at school. It's good people don't bite, otherwise some would need stitches and bandages.

"Division mars Poland's Smolensk plane crash anniversary"


Tuesday, 5 April 2011


A postcard from the other hemisphere is not so obvious these days, but how will you call a friend from the other hemisphere dropping by for dinner? A total surprise, and so was it last Saturday.

It was our friend Joseph From India, I hesitate to say "Chennai", because he seems to be always on the move somewhere between Calcutta, Mumbai and Chennai. Needless to say, I wouldn't expect anyone from Wrocław to call in without some two weeks of previous arrangements and negotiations, searching through schedules, and cancelling everything on the day before due to natural disasters of flu and the like.

With Joseph it was far simpler: we got a text message, saying that he'd just come to Wrocław to see us that Saturday, which we thought was an All Fools' Day hoax. But it wasn't, and to our great surprise Joseph did turn up in our place for dinner, and we had a totally unplanned grand evening together, including piano and guitar playing (our friend is very talented). A real, inspiring "jam session", as some people suggested we should call it!

Distances may not be as huge as they seem, we agreed, wishing his business trips would run across Europe more often:)

Friday, 1 April 2011

postcard from the other hemisphere

When I looked into my "snail mail" box, to my surprise I found more than bills to be stored on the "guilt pile". There was an amazingly green postcard, with a stamp showing spectacular scenery of mountain peaks seen form the flat surface of azure water. It was a postcard from my Student, who went on a two-month cycle tour across New Zealand.

I texted her after the earthquake in Christchurch, but at that time the group was still exploring the northern island. Now they've moved south, where vegetation is far more exotic. She says it's great, even though the showers that made the recent days so wet that she cycles in wet clothes, sleeps in a wet tent and eats wet sandwiches.

Of course I'm very happy that during this 3300-kilometre route she's able to remember about her E.T.*!

You can learn about the expedition on the website of the organizers, CROTOS Travellers' Association.
* English Teacher

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

in touch with everyday life

With my personal aversion to war, I am surprised how the news have become overtaken with Libyan issues, which for sure are of utmost importance, but I'd like to hear more about Japan dealing with the aftermath of the recent disaster. In the news the spotlights are on places where things explode or crush or drip with blood, as if humanity could only recognize itself in the moment of a blast and violence. Cameras never focus on the quotidien, the ordinary, the routines of everyday life that you have to build up from the rubble.

Nice to follow the diary of a Red Cross aid by Kathy Mueller, however scarce and so much lesser in volume than the fireworks of "breaking news" it may seem.

Friday, 18 March 2011

from the news

From BBC live I learn that in Japan, in the areas affected by the disaster, people are starving in hospitals. How come?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

upside down

I wanted to write a review of King's Speech today, but after seeing the pictures of snow falling on tsunami victims in Japan - the people stranded in debris of their former homes - I guess I'm not able to at the moment.

If I lived any nearer, I'd offer a bed in our flat.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

king's speech

Gripping, moving, intelligent, funny!
Made me quite speechless today, so this has to suffice for now - until I get my voice back.

Friday, 4 March 2011

old love never dies

I came across the word "autodidact" today which immediately made me remember my first English handbook. I found it on my Dad's bookshelf; the title read "Język angielski dla samouków" ("Teach Yourself English Manual") and the edition dated 1958. It consisted of twelve booklets and a glossary. I fell in love with it at the first sight and started rewriting phrases that sounded absolutely charming, like "my pen is read" or "the book is on the table". At that time I was perhaps thirteen which nowadays would sound strange for a beginner's age, as children (including my own) start practising in kindergarten. In that era, however, every Polish child was supposed to learn and adore Russian and in less frequent cases had the opportunity to pick up some German. English was an extravagance.

I remember this fascination with English never stopped in my teens. I used to watch "Demspey and Makepiece" or "Robin of Sherwood" tv series with a pencil and a piece of paper to note down phrases. A year after I'd discovered the dusty handbook, I got my first private English teacher, just at the other end of the city, a half an hour drive (my parents were hoping one day I would leave our communist country for some democratic, English speaking one). But then the Round Table occurred, and I have never emigrated nor had the chance to contemplate such possibility, as well as never stopped exploring English.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

on the wonders of reading in the library

All right. I've just brought my daughter to some workshop for kids in the nearby library. Which means, I have time to explore.

It's definitely my kind of place. I remember coming to different libraries, always with a bit late delivery of books due a week or two weeks earlier, but always with the sense of entering a world that is complete in itself in a most amazing way. What overwhelmed me to the degree that I seemed to lose my breath was the amount of books still to be read. Probably it was the same feeling that Ali Baba must have experienced when he'd said "Open Sesame!" and entered the cave.

So, let me excuse you for a while. There are namely some shelves that I presently should see to. First, biographies. With no electricity and internet at home today, it turns out a surprisingly great day.

Monday, 14 February 2011

on the dangers of reading in a coffee shop

A coffee shop is not always the best place to read books, even if it is Starbucks with delicious beverages. There is something off-putting in this totally exposed lounge, in the proximity of tables - even though they've furnished the place with cosy sofas and armchairs, you are still just inches away from your neighbour.

So, yesterday I needed just twenty minutes to have a hot chocolate and finish reading "The Horse and His Boy" - one of the Chronicles of Narnia. I had cherished the very thought of such a luxury and looked forward to it with the enthusiasm of a child beginning vacation. However, I was disturbed all the time by the couple sitting at the nearest table, who quite freely discussed the complexities of their sex life. Actually, "sex lives," one should say, because it was actually some sort of counselling, the woman sharing her experience to help the man sort things out for himself with his girlfriend. I will not condescend to quoting.

Enchanted by C.S. Lewis's storytelling and the complete universe he was able to create, I felt I belonged somewhere else, where you can chivalric ideals, honour, friendship - and one true love in a lifetime. The question is: do we have to enter it these days through a closet? Wardrobe, I mean?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

my cup of tea

It's all because I'm not used to writing semi-formal, popular science texts for everyone and no one in particular. I'm far better with small audience, everyday topics, ups and downs of an ordinary individual torn between different roles that our times impose on women, who are supposed these days to be the female version of the superman. I feel much more relaxed when I'm not too serious about staff and about myself in general. And that's where writing becomes fun in itself.

That's why my blog posts here are so scarce. After all, it's a "teacher's blog" - and shouldn't a teacher set example for his/her students? Isn't it expected from a teacher to be a role-model of some kind?

But there is still some hope left for me as the author of this blog. From what the statistics say, most people find this website when they're looking for some facts about the former British PM, Margaret Thatcher. But they have absolutely no idea, how to spell the surname. Thus, they end up here, with a Polish teacher of English, who could not in the least be called an "Iron Lady". Not even an "ironing lady" - because I don't iron. So, bearing in mind the absence of the Reader, maybe it wouldn't do much harm if this writing of mine was less "teacher's" and more "blogging".

Thursday, 10 February 2011

the queue

I was born before 1989, in fact even quite some time before the '80s began, which might not be an advantage if I was a model living by the scheduled catwalk appearances, but it has granted me at least some partial experience of the unforgettable "lean years" of the communist era in Poland.

Unaware of my parents' toil to organize the daily life when no consumer goods were available - not even powdered milk for babies - I remember those times as rich in unexpected surprises. As a child, like all the playground friends, I used to collect chocolate papers. That's right. We had no idea how the "Suchard" or "Milka" chocolate tasted, but we could smell it on the paper it'd been wrapped in. So we kept the papers in boxes and traded them each day for somethng new, but I don't think I'd ever spoken to the first-user, who might have had been lucky enough to receive that chocolate from an uncle in West Germany or to buy it in "Pewex" - a shop selling delicatessen for US dollars. But yes, sometimes we too got a parcel from abroad - and now imagine how we used to cherish each bite, each munch of marsh mellows. Or take that coconut, the frist I and my brother had seen in our lives, that we kept so long before tasting it that it went completely dry.

So, I was unspeakably happy when I found on the BBC news today that you can actually go back in time by playing a new Polish board game - "The Queue". It is about shopping when all the goods were rationed there was nothing to shop for except for vinegar on the empty shelves. And only when "they" (government administration, since nearly all the business was state owned) "threw" something onto those shelves (like for example toilet paper or coffee), your parents would take you to the shop as well, as each of the "queuers" was allowed to buy only one item. Therefore, each pair of hands was an advantage. That's how the gigantic queues were formed, like the one from one of the popular "crisis" photos of the crowd in front of the butcher's:

I've already bought the game and will play it - with my friends and kids. And I love it's stylish box design.