Friday, April 17, 2009

Poland 4, Catlets 2

Guess whose birthdays it was today?

Of course I had to bring home something from Poland. There was so much lovely pottery and I'm a sucker for such things. I almost bought a jug/pitcher to add to my not inconsiderable collection, but decided on these instead.

On our last day in Poland we went to Zakapone and Chocolow, near the Slovak border, and saw these beautiful traditional wooden houses. They look new but some of them are quite old - well over a hundred years - and according to our guide, they look new because the women scrub them - the actual outsides of the houses - every spring, which cleans off the... whatever it is that makes wood go silvery... and also removes the woodworm eggs.
Why the women, one asks oneself? A job for a man, I'd have thought. I'm glad no one depends on me to rid our house of woodworm. I don't mind cleaning inside but the line must be drawn somewhere, and washing the entire house definitely falls outside that line, in my view.

The house on the left is the old family house and workshop of a woodcarver. The one on the right is where he lives with his family.

This one is much more elaborate and was designed by the artist Stanislaw Witkiewicz (1885-1939), who was inspired by the distinctive architectural style of wooden houses in Zakopane and helped to make Zakopane a popular place for artists to live and later for tourists to visit.

Zakapone main street. We ate Polish dumplings for lunch. They were very sustaining: excellent for those who have to go and till the fields, shovel the snow or wash the house, but perhaps a bit filling for the average tourist.

The Tatra mountains. Look at the pile of snow! And the stunning scenery!

A wooden church.

And another. Quite beautiful.

Back in the apartment in Krakow, I rather liked this nifty arrangement: a cupboard with a drying rack and a drip tray underneath it. A boon for the housewife, exhausted from house-scrubbing and unable to be bothered putting the dishes away. Just close the door and the kitchen is tidy.
The weather was lovely in Poland: sunny and about 70/20 degrees. As we arrived back home and were alighting from the plane into a chilly, grey Scottish spring day, I heard one flight attendant say to another, "The first time I flew with you, you gave the arrival announcement and you said, 'Welcome to the tropical paradise that is Edinburgh.'"

Happy Birthday, Cassie and Sirius, our little furry friends. What would life be like without you? (Well, cheaper, simpler and with fewer stringy bits hanging from the sofas and rips in the wallpaper... . But we love you lots!)


  1. Hello Isabelle! I have really been enjoying your posts and pictures about your trip to Poland. The houses on today's are just gorgeous. I would definitely love to live in a little wooden house!

    Happy birthday to the kitties!

  2. hose houses are gorgeous. But the washing of them wouldn't be. Can you imagine how much those women must dread Spring?

  3. Anonymous12:37 am

    Surely a good spray of baygon would kill woodworm. That would be my solution.

    Beautiful buildings!

  4. The houses are beautiful. What a job washing them!

    We've added two catlets to our household. The household seems to revolve around them!

  5. In that last shot Sirius looks like he's prodding Cassie and saying Wake up sis, it's our birthday! Smile!

    (Poland looks pretty. Who knew?)

  6. Wonderful houses, churches, house scrubbing women and, of course, catlets! This gives me a new insight into my late mother-in-law's mania for scrubbing! She'd fit right in with those Polish ladies [she came from a country in that general area] and wonder why I wasn't eager to join the scrubbing party.....certainly work for the menfolk!

  7. Washing the entire house is the ultimate spring clean!

  8. I showed my mum your Poland posts and she has now gone off to persuade my Dad that a return trip to Zakopane is in order! Happy Birthday to the catlets too. I don't know when our cat's birthday is - she was feral, born in a cardboard box factory in Broxburn. We only know it was in May so we let her share my birthday - she will be 17 next month. A venerable lady, indeed. But she still scratches the chair in our kitchen too.

  9. You have really brought Poland alive to me. I will definitely put it on my list of destinations for the future....a very long list unfortunately.

    Happy birthday catlets!

    Lesley x

  10. Happy Birthday to the Catlets! Topsy will never be accorded the honour of a birthday party -good grief...But her funeral will be something to celebrate, according to Ken The Person Who Chose Her.
    Your comments and photos of your trip to Poland have been so interesting, Isabelle. It is not a place I knew much about, other than the beautiful Warsaw Concerto, one of my favourite pieces of music. But going by your pictures, they have come a long way since the War, and worked hard to get there, God bless them.

  11. Happy Birthday to the Catlets! They're looking gorgeous as usual!

    LOVE, love those pictures of the wooden houses. I'm with you though -- I can barely keep up with the inside of the house -- the outside would never get done if it waited on me to scrub it. Thanks for posting about your trip -- I'd love to go there someday!

  12. I loved the photos and your descriptions. But as for house scrubbing - sounds like it would take all the skin off the knuckles. Happy birthday to the catlets, beautiful creatures that they are.

  13. Those houses are so beautiful. So much work to make them last a hundred years!

    I finally answered (the first of) the interview questions you posed to me Isabelle, it's long winded and you get a bonus short history of my parents' courtship.

    I think the catlets are the definition of "sleekit" - so shiny! Our beastie-monsters were born somewhere around our wedding anniversary, but in the year we first met. We adopted them when they were a year old. It's very sweet that they are as old as our relationship, now seven years!

  14. How interesting! I love the photo's and I too want to visit Poland. I've often thought about some kind of drip dry contraption for my kitchen. Just the thing!

  15. Isabelle, you're right, though Webster's lists smooth, sleek as secondary meanings for sleekit. Theyr'

  16. oops,

    They're cats, so they're pretty sly too.

  17. Happy Birthday to two cherished lucky cats!

    I would love to see those houses. Scrub them though? NO!

  18. Happy birthday Cassie and Sirius, did you eat your cupcakes? I don't think I would like to scrub a house. Have a Happy Earth Day.