An assortment of words and phrases as typed by me. It's not that I have anything to say, I just love the sound of my own typing...

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Quest for the meaning of 'Lo'

This morning as I prepared to go to work I thought it would be best to check the thermometer.  As you can see the outside temperature was 'Lo.'  But, what does that mean?  I had no choice, I had to go outside and find out for myself!

So, the first thing I did was collect my defensive gear.  Today was a day for gloves and a beanie.  Lo, here I come!

At first I thought I would ride my trusty stallion, but on entering the carpark it could not be seen.  Wait, there it is in the middle hiding under the snow.  My stallion is cunning!

I turned to begin my quest for the meaning of 'Lo,' and Lo, there in front of me was my children's preschool.  I can only hope that my kids were sitting down to a warm breakfast.  But not me, I was on a quest!

 The early signs were not promising.  Perhaps I should have heeded this sign?  But my students were waiting for me, and so I had to press on.

Soon I came to a fork in the road.  Should I take the narrow road or the broad road?

I took the wide road and soon discovered that there was nowhere to rest in this quest for 'Lo.'

Unfortunately some other travellers were not as fortunate as I were...

When crossing the bridge that spanned the mighty river I could not help but notice another traveller distributing food to the birds that lay below the bridge.

Here is the sun rising as I cross the bridge.

 From below the bridge smoke could be seen rising from the murky waters below.

I pressed on...
 At this point I lost feeling in my legs.  It was if the little red man was controlling me!

 Here are some icicles.  In the background you can see the smoke stack for the communal heater.

 At this point I lost feeling in my cheeks.
 At last I see that I am nearing my destination

Only one more corner!

 When I look at this shopfront, I feel very sorry for the mannequins wearing nothing much...

At last I arrive at school.  Now I truly understand the meaning of 'Lo.'

I apologise for the low quality of the photo's.  I took all the pictures with my phone camera because that is the only camera I can operate whilst wearing my thick gloves.  You can click on the photo's for bigger, clearer images.
It was actually minus 22 degrees Celsius when I left home and my thermometer only reads down to minus 20.
Apparently the night before it was minus 27.  Cold eh?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Creative Space - updated

I have good news!
The rest of my order from the Book Depository arrived yesterday.  Only two weeks later than expected (probably due to the inclement weather and Poczta Polska)

Now I have all the tools I need to start editing my NaNo novel in January and a nice little novel to keep me going until then :)
Jola (my wife) is looking forward to using the Christmas Ideas at PreSchool, just as long as no-one else steals her ideas...

Monday, 13 December 2010

My Creative Space

"Monday is my Sunday, I don't have a thing to do except try and get up while it's still light" - the Whitlams

NaNoWriMo finished last month.  I wrote my book and now I am struggling to find things to fill my time with.  Today I have been very good.  I have cleaned my desk, tidied the living room, done some ironing and organised all my receipts.  Busy day.

I was even going to update my profile picture for Facebook, but I'm not feeling very photogenic today.  Instead I took some photo's of my 'creative space.'

The first image we have is my 'at hand' bookshelf.  At the moment it is quite empty.  I haven't finished reading my Charter's yet, but I will soon, promise.  You can also see theTruth and an expectant bookmark, waiting for my next read.  Which looks like a book called 'What the Dog Saw' by Malcolm Gladwell.

This second image shows my 1.5Tb backup disk drive (very important, and also useful for keeping my laptop disk clutter free), laser printer for making 'screaming outs' for my children, a semi-decent set of headphones and an assortment of stationery.  In the background you can see our Scottish flag cum curtain (the Australian flag is at the other end of the window).

This, the third picture shows my modem (recently upgraded to 8Mb/s - wow), a mess of cables (all entirely necessary, but tangled all the same).  That's my MacBook off the picture; it's quite boring so I didn't include it in the picture.  In the foreground you can see my Tesco clubcard letter.  They've given me 9zl worth of vouchers, but I always forget to take it with me when I go to the shops.  Under that is my 'CV' that I have written in order to apply for Polish citizenship.  Jola has very kindly translated it for me.  All I have to do now is type it up, in Polish.

I hear about a lot of my friends who have too much work and not enough hours.  My heart goes out to you, really!  Maybe I'm just thinking that, because it's Monday and I have my day off.  I was going to go shopping, but it has been snowing all day and I can't see my car (again).

In January I plan to start editing my NaNo book.  Apparently there is a possibility I could get it published, which would be great.  But for now I am going to make myself another cup of tea...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Mysterious Red Fruit

In my fruit bowl I have a red fruit.  Well at least I think it is a fruit.

The Ugly Duckling in my fruit bowl

I'm really not even sure how it got there.  Did I buy it by accident?  Was it a gift from one of my wife's students?  Maybe it is an advanced listening device installed by our landlords?

In any event it has been sitting on our fruit bowl now for a couple of weeks.  When it first arrived we thought it was some sort of tomato because it was green, like a tomato that isn't ripe.  Now it is red.  Does that mean we can eat it now?  Whatever it is?

I suspect that it is one of those Chinese fruits that are so popular at the moment.  Some poor Chinese peasant probably picked it and put it in a train.  The train travelled a thousand kilometres to the port.  From the port the ship took our little fruit across oceans before arriving somewhere in Europe.  Then some truck driver drove another thousand kilometres to deliver it to our shop.
Now, somehow it is sitting in my fruit bowl.

I must eat it.  To do anything less would be insulting to the Chinese peasant who picked it from his (or her) tree, the train driver, the captain of the ship, the truck driver and the shop assistants who made it possible for this fruit to sit in my fruit bowl.  Even though I still have no idea what it is.

Does anybody know what it is and what I should do with it?

Here is another view (if it helps)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

BBC 100 Book list

I've stolen this blog idea from my friend Kathy,  the difference is that I've used the official BBC list from 2003

These are the instructions I have used:

Bold those books you've read in their entirety. 
Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
The Stand, Stephen King
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
The BFG, Roald Dahl
Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
Mort, Terry Pratchett
The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
The Magus, John Fowles
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
Perfume, Patrick Süskind
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
Matilda, Roald Dahl
Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
Ulysses, James Joyce
Bleak House, Charles Dickens
Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
The Twits, Roald Dahl
I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
Holes, Louis Sachar
Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
Magician, Raymond E Feist
On The Road, Jack Kerouac
The Godfather, Mario Puzo
The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Katherine, Anya Seton
Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

It looks like I've read 7 of the books in their entirety.  I really don't understand this list though.  So I'm not going to make any more comments.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Half way through NaNoWriMo

Today is the fifteenth of November.
At the end of today I should have written 25,000 words.  A monumental achievement if ever I have seen it (but I'm not there yet).

My characters are woody, the subplot is still very 'sub' and my motivation is waning.  But not to worry!  Today is a new day and who knows what will happen in the life of Daphne and Zbigniew?  (That's what I get for using a random name generator to pick my lead character's names)

Considering converting a subplot into something worth writing about

But today the kids are back at Pre-School after a four day weekend.  We spent yesterday morning at Elim in Lwowek, which was lovely.

Also in the last few weeks we have finished watching the fifth series of Doctor Who - we love Doctor Who - even though he looks like Matt Smith.  (for you Doctor Who fans, I can also recommend this version starring Rowan Atkinson)

I should stop procrastinating now, I had planned to start typing an hour ago.  Only 2,724 words to go today!

(I would also like to make mention of the terrible carnage that occurred in the last four days on Polish roads.  My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected.)

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Counting down...

As I write this, I am less than 24 hours from starting NaNoWriMo 2010.

Further evidence that I am ready for a novelling adventure
Very shortly I will be heading off to church, then we will be heading off to Jola's parents for the night.
Monday is a holiday in Poland (All Saints Day) and we will be spending the day with her parents, brother and Grandmother.

But, that does not mean that I will not find time to write.  I only have to write 1,667 words each day in order to reach my target.  Based on last year that should take an average of two hours a day.  Time that I would have otherwise spent on facebook, watching TV or faffing about.

So if YOU haven't yet signed up to write a novel in November, I don't know what's holding you back.

Cheers for now!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo

Today is October 27
It’s approaching the end of the month, so of course I have a lot of things on my mind.  For example making sure I have recorded all of my hours at work; making sure I have paid all the bills due this month; finishing off my Australian tax return (all I have to do now is lodge it); and preparing for NaNoWriMo.

Last year my preparations for NaNoWriMo were pretty much non-existent.  I found out on the 1st of November and managed to type up almost 2,000 words in the first day.  I had no plot, nor did I really have any characters.  All I had was an introduction to a story which didn’t fully coalesce until a few days later.
So, in order to avoid the mistakes of last year I have spent the last few weeks and months preparing.  So, here is what I have done:
1. Read some books.  In the last couple of months I have managed to read an assortment of books including:
(I would like to thank my sister for introducing me to the Book Depository, which delivers books worldwide without charging postage and handling)

2. I have updated my author profile on the NaNoWriMo website

3. I have tried to blog more regularly in order to get back into the habit of writing (not very successfully)

4. Blocked most of my Facebook applications and installed Tweetdeck so I don’t get distracted

5. I have an idea for a story and the glimmerings of a plot (I don’t know if ‘glimmering’ is the right word here, but I’ve used it anyway)

6. Asked my wife if she minded I spend two or three hours a day sitting in front of the computer every night.  Funnily enough she didn’t seem to mind too much.

7. Downloaded the latest version of Scrivener.  The software of writers.

That’s it, I’m ready now.  Only a few more days to go before I start my next novel adventure.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Monthly Journal Oct 2010

Malcolm and Jola’s Monthly Journal

October 2010

“Haven’t I always done everything you asked me?”
- Destiny’s Child

Warm salutations!

Welcome back.  When I wrote the last Monthly Journal I was feeling a bit lazy.  I guess I didn’t know just how lazy I would be.  It has taken only six months to write this Monthly Journal.  Of course I’d like you to think that we haven’t written it because we have been too busy.  But that is simply not true.  It doesn’t actually take much effort to write one of these things…  But I’m getting side-tracked.

Since last April a great many things have happened in our little lives.  The biggest thing that happened of course was summer.  One of the most wonderful things about being a teacher is that we get a two month summer holiday every year.  It is just a pity that we are casual teachers and we don’t actually get paid for those precious six weeks or so in the sun.  This year we went to the Mazurian lakes.  There are a few nice pictures here:

Daddy and Chris kicking the water

Also check out some photos of our kids playing in the sun:

Over summer we bought ourselves a car.  We decided to take the plunge when we discovered the cost of using public transport to get to our holiday.  It was cheaper to buy a car (including insurance and gas) than to take the train/bus to our holiday place.  The kids like us having a car because now we don’t have to walk to the shops all the time.  Also we have been able to take a few trips into the surrounding countryside.  I’d love to drive a bit further (eg to the Czech Republic and Germany), but the price of petrol is still quite high here and Ela gets car sick too easily.  Not to mention that I am still waiting for my permanent visa.

Exploring Legnica the easy way

Now there is a story.  In June we applied for my permanent visa.  We filled in all of the forms, submitted all of our documents, had our ‘Green Card’ style interview and we were waiting for the final decision when we were (very politely) informed that we had actually applied too early and that we had to submit all of the documents again.  We were not happy; and are still waiting to hear back from the second application.

Talking about applications, Jola finished her Masters and scored top marks.  We are very proud of her!  Now she is a Master of Teaching (or something like that).

My two girls sleeping in a tent

Jola has started her new job as an English speaking pre-school teacher at Happy Kids (There are a few photos of her and her group at this website - just click on ‘Galeria’).  She seems to be enjoying it.  Apparently her class is the best behaved.  This is obviously because she is the best teacher (maybe I’m just biased).  It has meant a few changes for us.  This is the first time since we have been married that she has had a full time job.  Mostly it means that I am stuck at home by myself during the day.

The kids have started pre-school at Kubus Puchatek For the most part they are loving it.  Little Chris had a few issues with missing mummy and daddy (mostly daddy), but now is doing much better.  But having said that, they have spent two weeks at home because they caught various bugs from the other school kids.  Fortunately they didn’t catch chicken pox when all of the other children did (our kids were immunised when they were younger).

My little MasterChefs

We also have a new flat now, which is wonderful.  Our old flat was cheap and cold and not very nice.  Our new flat is nice and warm and 250 zloty more expensive.  Actually it’s kind of funny because we are renting from mine and Jola’s boss’s parents.  So our boss pays us and then we pay their parents most of our wages the next day.  We feel a bit like serfs…

You can see our block of flats second from top and the kids pre-school is the T shaped building on the bottom

I think that that’s about all I can write about at the moment.  If you have any questions, then send us an email   (we like emails)

Malcolm, Jola, Ela & Chris