Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Batchin' it again

I am again a temporary bachelor. The wife and kids are right now near the Polish-German border in a town called Biale, near Chojnow. The nearest city of any size is Wroclaw.

Things change. When Chojnow was a German town, it was called Hainau - where the Treaty of Hainau was signed. Wroclaw was Breslau before the war. Now it's Polish territory, but a favorite destination of German tourists come to see the land their families used to live in. The Poles are happy to see the money come in - they just wish it didn't come attached to so many Germans.

I took off a week to visit a friend in Texas with the man cancer - you know, the one we're all going to get eventually if something else doesn't happen first. It was actually a bit of a relief to find out how easy it is becoming to treat.

After that I went camping in the Ouachitaw Mountains for a couple of days. I've got a new tent about the size of an airplane hanger to accomodate my growing family and I wanted to test drive it. I also wanted to spend some time working out in the woods and meditating.

So what the heck, I was bored and lonely. I just kept thinking about how much more fun it would be with my family and the only "meditating" I did was staring into the campfire drinking beer. I guess I'm a confirmed family guy after all.

*When the family comes back we may have to go to Los Angeles. In true Polish bureaucratic fashion, the local consulate (the one in L.A. though Chicago is closer...) told us that we should get the new baby's Polish passport in Warsaw. Except that now the Warsaw office has told us that we have to do it in America - and in person at that.

Looks like that tent will get a family workout quite soon.


  • At 10:12 AM, Blogger gun-totin-wacko said…

    Question for you: I read someplace (perhaps even one of your old posts) that when Stalin first redid the borders, the Germans in the east were still living in their homes when the Poles were moved in. And the two groups would wind up sitting in the same house, staring at each other with hate-filled eyes. Never sounded too plausible though. Any thoughts?

    I liked the line about "they just wish it didn't come attached to so many Germans.". As a real-live 'Merican, it's hard to fathom the feelings in Europe. Some years ago, one of the national news shows was doing something about Poland & Germany. The reporter was talking about something, and suddenly a Baboushka came right into the shot, and ranted in Polish about something. They translated it as something along the line of "Can't trust those Germans. They're no good, etc."

    My mom was born here, though in a community where Polish was the common tongue, and it's her first language (ironic since she doesn't really speak it anymore). At any rate, she could understand enough to say the translation was accurate in that clip.

    But then, I suppose teh Poles have a lot of reasons to hate the Germans. And the Russians. As an (alleged)African proverb states, "when elephants fight, the grass gets trampled".

  • At 6:37 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    I heard that story about the Germans having to share the houses they were being dispossessed of from my wife, who heard it from relatives who'd lived through the times. So yes, I'd place some credence in it.

    Where did your mom grow up? The first Polish I ever heard was from a gentelman who grew up in the Polish community in Buffalo, New York. I was on my way to Poland at the time and it damn near made me turn back!

    Oddly enough, a Polish professor told me once that the Polish-German border was one of the most peaceful in Europe for a long time - but no one believes it anymore.

    Trouble is in Europe, when relations are good, populations mingle. There are cities like Lodz in Poland, which were inhabited mostly by Germans and Yiddish-speaking Jews, who got along just fine thank you. Germans colonized heavily in Ukraine and along the Volga.

    So when relations go south... well you learn the truth of that old saw, "Good fences make good neighbors."

  • At 5:36 PM, Blogger gun-totin-wacko said…

    My mom is from the mighty metropolis of Posen (or Poznan) Michigan. According to wikipedia, the town with the highest proportion of self-described Poles in the US. And until about 30 years ago, I think the remainder of the town was German. At a guess, I'd say it was probably 70%-20%.

    Of course, my Grandma's family was at least part German (or Prussian), and she considered herself Polish.

    Interesting place when I was a kid: My grandparents would be arguing, and jump into Polish in mid-sentence. Usually, right when things got interesting. When the phone rang, you never knew if the person on the other end would immediately start talking in Polish, and so on. My Grandpa spoke English with a heavy accent until he died-my understanding is he only learned it when his rebellious daughters started getting really serious with an Irishman and an Italian.


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