The action of the book takes place in late 70’s in south of Spain. Luys Forest, an old writer, who strongly supported Franco’s dictatorship, and used to be an official chronicler in his regime, goes to his house by the sea to write an autobiography, settle accounts with his past and exculpate himself. His lonely stay is disturbed by the arrival of his twenty something years old hippie, impertinent niece, Marina, who comes to make an article about her uncle and offers him help with typing out his book. Through the chapters and evening talks of the two of them we get to know Forest’s past, in which he conscientiously changes or adds some facts. Or so he thinks. During her stay with Forest, Marina tries to seduce him. She invites lovers of both genders, smokes weed and takes amphetamine, walks naked around the house, and asks him intimate questions. When she finally achieves her goal, the truth of who they really are to each other comes to light.
The novel is filled with subtle eroticism, however the main plot constitute contemplations of Forest, in which the truth mingles with fiction, the memory plays tricks on man’s mind, the lies cover reality. A good read.
PS. I post a Polish book cover because I like the design.
Today Bubbles proposed to show or tell what made you laugh this weekend. I have no doubts of what to write about. This is my story...
I bought my dad for Christmas a CD with a rather lively music. On the first day of Christmas he played it loudly in the living room and made the most ridiculous dance ever, including shaking ass and ninja-like kick-offs! I had my camera by my hand so I grabbed it and recorded him. When we watched it, my mum, dad and I, we all cried with laughter. If I posted it in YouTube I'm sure he'd quickly become a star. But I cannot do that :] Anyway, it was fun and I still laugh when I remind myself that dance.
When receiving this prize some "stuff" has to be done, so here there are the steps to follow in the "Versatile Blogger Award":
1. Be sure to thank and link back to the person who gave you the award
2. Share seven things about yourself
3. Pass the award to other bloggers who you think deserve it
4. Be sure to let the bloggers know you chose them to receive the award
Seven things about myself:
1. I am not sure I've mentioned earlier that my real name is Agnieszka. Aga is a short version I use mostly for foreign friends. My full name seems to be difficult to pronounce, especially for English speakers. My name as well as surname is very common so I meet people with my surname all the time. There was even a girl in my primary school named exactly like me in a parallel class.
2. I love travelling. According to Facebook I've visited 6% of the countries in the world. My goal is 100% but I'm not sure if it's even possible;) So far my favourite place on Earth is actually the land where Beatriz who gave me award comes from - Galicia in Spain. She posted a nice movie with photos in her blog so you can see why:) I have my favourite place in Poland too, in the land of lakes Mazury where I go every summer since I'm 10 and where I met my first penpal.
3. I also love books. I spend hours and my last money in the bookstores. With my mum we have a saying "For books I don't grudge". Unfortunatelly, I haven't had much time lately to read:( I hope it changes in the new year.
4. I learn Spanish and Russian. I can communicate in Spanish and I'm a beginner in Russian. I've been learning German for 9 years and all I can say is introduce myself. Sad, I know. I guess it's just not a language for me, because I think in others I'm doing quite well, so I'm not totally language un-tallented.
5. I am known for getting lost. Even if I was somewhere several times before. I won't share the stories of me getting lost to spare myself looking like an idiot:P But I am REALLY hopeless when it comes to sence of locality.
6. I don't know what's going on in the Hollywood world because I always choose to go to some European, South American or other part of the world movie. So if you ask me about some new film that everyone around talks about, my most probable answer will be I haven't seen it. I still haven't watched Avatar :S
7. No matter how tired I am during a day I get alive in the evening. Knowing I'll have to wake up early the next day is a real pain for me as I have to force myself to go to bed. I love when it dark outside and I can only learn at nights. My brain works best then.
Christmas in Poland in some points probably looks like in other countries, in others it deffers. We decorate Christmas tree, buy gifts… *cough*… Santa brings gifts and we fest on Christmas Eve together with the whole family. But of course, we can’t start eating before the first star shines! And even before we sit by the table, we share an “opłatek” between us, wishing each person all the best in the coming year. “Opłatek” looks like the Host and tastes like it, but it’s not the same thing. We also share it with friends before Christmas and we send it together with Christmas cards. People in the country also share “opłatek” with animals, but only these which are believed to have been in the stable where the baby Jesus was born. It is also believed that these animals can talk this one night in the year. As far as I know we are the only country that has this tradition (let me know if I’m wrong :) )
All right, we shared an “opłatek”, now we can sit and start eating. On the table, under the cloth we put some hay (as baby Jesus was lying on the hay after being born) and we leave one empty place by the table for an unexpected guest. We have 12 traditional dishes (like 12 Apostoles). The “must be’s” are:
• Borsht (beetroot soup) with little dumplings filled with mushrooms. The dumplings are called “uszka” which means “little ears”. Probably the name is because of their shape :)
• Pierogi with sauerkraut and mushrooms. Or some other filling but on Christmas Eve this one is the most popular.
• Fish in jelly.
• Kutia, which is a sweet meal made of wheat, poppy seeds, honey and all sorts of nuts and raisins. We don’t prepare it in my home, but this is a typical traditional dish that is prepared specifically for Christmas.
As you noticed, there’s no red meat or birds. Meat, excluding fish, is not eaten on Christmas Eve at all.
That day we also get presents. We don’t wait till Christmas Day. If there are no kids in the family there’s no problem with gifts. But if there are children, someone must pretend Santa for a while or get the attention of kids somewhere else and then put the presents under the tree. When I was a kid my grandpa always went outside and knocked in the window. Me and my cousins were running to see Santa (who disappeared too quickly) and at that time the rest of the adults put the gifts under the tree. I need to mention that “our” Santa comes from Lapland – in Finland, not from the North Pole or Coca-Cola factories.
At 12 o clock at night there is a mass in church, were people also share “opłatek” with strangers. Then we have two (not just one) days of Christmas. Time for rest after all the preparations and to watch Home Alone ;P
On Sunday I went for "The Nutcracker" performed by Moscow City Ballet. It's such a magical story. It's about a girl who falls asleep on a Christmas Eve night and in her dream the toys become alive. The Nutcracker changes into a prince and saves her from the Mouse King. They travel through the Land of Flowers and visit Spain, Arabia, China and Russia were they see the typical dances of these countries. It's such beautiful and colorful performance. Plus the amazing music. I knew some pieces of the music although I never realized they were from "The Nutcracker".
Moscow City Ballet was founded in 1988 and they're considered one of the best ballet groups in the world. They travel a lot, performing in different countries, so you might have a chance to see them as well ;)
The only thing I didn't like was the amount of children that came to see it. They didn't know what's going on and constantly asked their parents questions and commented loundly every now and then. Ugh. I understand that that people want their kids to have contact with culture but come on, if they're too small to understand the story and they get bored with it, why not wait wait couple of years when they will get it?
All in all, not to end with complaining I must say I enjoyed the ballet and loved the costumes, the music and every step made on the scene.
Catherine Morland is a casual girl with a big heart and big imagination, although a bit naïve. When she turns seventeen her family friends, Mr. and Mrs. Allen take her with them to visit Bath, where she enjoys balls and makes new acquaintances. She meets Isabella Thorpe with whom she quickly becomes friends and who soon becomes her brothers fiancé and Isabella’s rough mannered brother - John Thorpe. At the same time she also meets the Tilneys – Eleanor and her brother Henry, a sympathetic and clever young boy, who unlike other men, shares her interest in gothic novellas which she avidly reads. No wonder Catherine falls in love with him. When the Tilneys invite her to their house in Northanger, which turns out to be a real Abbey, Catherine imagines it to be full of dark secrets, like in her favorite novels. She get’s lost in her own fantasies which turn out to be nothing more than just fantasies when colliding with reality. In the meantime the situation in Bath where the rest of her friends stayed as well as the situation in Northanger gets complicated. Catherine must face the truth about friendship and the importance of family wealth and connections. In my opinion (and as the main character would say) the book is very agreeable.
The Tuesday is over according to my clock, but here's my "Show me on a Tusday... a simple recipe" entry. Potato pancakes is my number 2 (after pierogi) favourite meal. Unfortunatelly it's not really healthy and must have thousands of calories, so I don't eat them often. But I get really wild when my dad makes them :D Unfortunatelly, for some misterious reason, although I make them from the same recipe as my dad, they don't come up so good, huh. I must admit he's potato pancakes master :P
1 table spoon of flour (or more if it's needed)
some salt, pepper and some oil
How to do it?
Grate potatoes and onion. Mix them with flour, egg, add salt and pepper. Fry (on big heat).
Most people sprinkle the pancakes with sugar but I prefer without.
Hello on a next Tuesday with Burst's of Bubbles. Today's entry is about drinks. My favourite drinks are:
Hot drink: Tea! - I cannot live without it. I drink 1-2 litres of tea every day! When I watch a movie at home or when I write a letter or I do something on a computer or I read a book... I must have tea. My favourite is simply Earl Grey with a slice of lemon. I ocasionally drink flavoured fruity tea too. The "special edition" of my standard Earl Grey with lemon is Earl Grey with lemon, lime, grapefruit and brown sugar of which once a friend told me and it's really the best tea ever!
Surprisingly, when I am thirsty I must drink something cold. Hot drinks (even if it's tea) don't satissfy my thirst. Therefore I mostly drink water, but whenever I can I drink...
2. Cold drink:Grapefruit juice! - must be freshly squeezed of course. Sometimes I mix it with orange but I prefer plain one. I don't like ready juices that you can buy at shops and I only drink them ocationally when I visit someone. The same goes with soda's - only when I visit someone. Although I must admit when I go to some hot place for vacation I suddenly start liking coke O.o
3. Alcoholic drink:Mojito! - the taste of it is heavenly. I don't drink it much though because in most places they don't serve it and if they eventually do, it's not good. So, the only option is to make it by myself at home or order when on vacation in some other country (I don't go that much abroad :P). Ah, and it must be with soda water, not with sprite! With limes, not with lemon or with any substitute of lemon juice! And with brown sugar, not with white!
I just realized all my favourite drinks include citrus fruits :)
Yes, it's today. A very important day for kids, for adults not so much. That is because at night of 5th to 6th December Saint Nicolas puts little gifts for kids under the pillows or inside the slippers (depends on the house, he always put MY gifts under the pillow). It is a foretaste of Christmas.
Now my mum replaced him and gave me two books. Unfortunatelly one is out of my interest, because it's a biography of a man, whose travel books I really love, but I cannot stand himself for his radical political views and open manifest against homosexuals (whoever knows me, knows how sensitive I am on this topic, or any other form of intolerance). So, no, I don't want to read about that.
The second book I got is a book of a German author - Steffen Moller, who is living in Poland. I already read other his book, where he made his observations about Poles - the culture, mentality, habits and compared us with Germans. The book was witty and pointed out the things about Polish that I haven't even realised they might be surprising for others as I don't even think about them daily, they're natural for me. The new book is more about his personal experiences in both counries than just Poles in general, which might be interesting as well.
The book was only published in Poland and in Germany (under the title "Vita Classica").
Like I needed more books;P My bookshelf is straining under the books I haven't yet had a chance to read! But, well, what can I say, I am happy :D
We have a really snowy and frosty weather outside so I thought about this Polish song about winter that every child knows, the text of which was written by Maria Konopnicka - a poet and novelist from the turn of 19th and 20th century. Unfortunatelly, the video of only good version of the song that I found in YouTube is unavailable to post on other sites, so if you're interested in it just click the link.
Couple of days ago I finished reading a very scary, mysterious and keeping in tension novel of Bram Stoker from 1897. That wasn’t a first book about vampires that was ever written but surely the most significant one, because who hasn’t heard of Count Dracula?
The story starts in Transylvania, where a young lawyer Jonathan Harker is sent to accomplish formalities of real estate transaction with Count Dracula in his castle. At first nothing announces horrifying scenes that Harker is going to experience, the Count is very hospitable and polite, but soon the young man realizes he’s imprisoned. Somehow he manage to escape, but it’s just the beginning of his troubles.
The novel consists of pieces of diaries and letters of main characters, affected by Dracula’s arrival to England, so we can see the story in the eyes of all of them. There are also pieces of newspapers describing essential events connected with vampire’s malice actions. It’s a totally absorbing, frightful and worth reading book.
Today I went to Pasion de Buena Vista concert. I saw a poster advertising this concert some two moths ago, when driving to university. As I love Buena Vista Social Club, I bought tickets straight away. I was so excited about it all the time. And finally the day has come! I loved every minute of the concert. There was so much energy in their music, and so many emocions in the ballads sang by Inocente "Pachin" Fernandez-Jimenez.
After a concert I bougth a CD and got an autograph from Pachin! and from another singer whose name is Marieta (I couldn't find her full name). I am so happy because of it! It's my first ever autograph of a musician, and of so great one! That was a joyful day :)
Tonight is a magical night – Andrew’s Night. A holiday which has pagan roots. Why is it so magical? Tonight you can find out who your future husband will be! To know it, you just have to play some fortune-telling games.
The most popular one is pouring hot wax through a hole of a key to a bowl with cold water. From the shape of the shade on the wall of the figure you get when the wax stiffens, you can guess what is going to happen to you in the future.
Other popular game includes shoes. Only unmarried girls can take part in it. They must put their shoes from the left foot in a row in front of the door (starting from the opposite wall of course). Then they should move last shoe in a row to the beginning until some shoe crosses the threshold. The owner of that shoe is going to get married first.
There is also a game in which you write boy’s names on the big paper heart. In the back of the heart the girls need to insert a pin. The name the pin went through is a name of her future husband.
I think this is my favourite postcard. The title of it is: "Picnic in the Spring" by Shin Yun-bok (1758~?) from a collection of Gansong Art Gallery - Colors on paper.
The description on the back sais:
Three couple of young men and ladies are returning from picnic in the spring when azeleas are in full blossom. A lady with a spray of azelea in her hair, another lady waiting for a man light a cigarette for her, untidy behaviors of the men in a pleasant mood after spring outgoing match with the relaxed scenery of the spring to add deep atmosphere.
There's also a note for sender and recipient: Sender: Please write on the back of the fan and include it in the envelope together with this note to send Recipient: We hope for you to decorate your home with this piece or hang it on a wall to cherish sender's sincerity for a long while.
Christmas is coming with big steps. The TV started emitting Christmas commercials and there are Christmas decoration in shops. Time to start thinking about Christmas cards or gifts for penpals. But, the truth is I feel a bit lost here. Before I met my current penpals in Interpals, I was only sending a card to my old penpal. Now, not all of my penpals celebrate Christmas. Should I then send them a card or gift or omit them? And what with others? I am scared of, what if I send something small and get something big myself? Then my penpal might be disappointed? And what if I send something and don’t get anything? Then my penpal might feel ashamed or bad? I was a bit lost with that case last year, and this year I still don’t know what to do. Do you usually send Christmas gifts or just wishes or nothing?
First of all I would like to express my happiness of the fact that after visit in a club my clothes didn’t stink with smoke. On 15th November 2010 Poland introduced a prohibition of smoking in public places and I could enjoy it’s result on Friday night. The smokers feel indignant with it, they say it’s against democracy, it’s discrimination of them, that people who go to the pub or club should expect that people smoke there and if they don’t want to sit in the stinky mist they can not go in there at all. Then isn’t that opinion a discrimination of non-smokers? Weren’t the non-smokers discriminated for all these years? So now the non-smokers feel relief. Finally they don’t have to breath the smoke, finally their hair and clothes won’t stink after a meeting with friends in a restaurant. The smokers can always go out, smoke there and come back in. Noone denies them smoking. They are only denied poisoning those who don’t choose to smoke. Why is it so hard to understand to some people? Anyway, I was waiting for this act to be passed for a long time, since it works well in other countries I had occasion to visit and now that it finally got into effect I just wanna scream… YEEEEEEAAH!
Second, I would like to express my happiness of my grandmas’ 90th birthday which was on Saturday and today we organize a small party for her. My dad prepared chicken soup, Greek style fish (which is a Polish dish that has nothing to do with Greece, besides the name). My mum prepared a Polish vegetable salad (though I discovered with astonishment that it’s not known in all parts of Poland, yet in many houses it’s traditionally served on every holidays, birthdays, names days etc.). It consists of all types of vegetables, eggs and mayonnaise. I once read an article that it became popular during communistic times, as there wasn’t much food in the shops, so people were growing vegetables and fruit in their gardens (if they had one), the mayonnaise was one of the things possible to buy often and so, this salad became traditional. It’s also my dads’ birthday today and in two days, my dogs’… though we’re not celebrating this event, hehe.
Polish vegetable salad
Greek style fish
In the end, let me introduce a cute song I got to know yesterday on my Russian classes. It’s a song for kids from some Russian cartoon, about a lazy boy who doesn’t want to help his brothers. I guess it is supposed to teach children that if they won’t work hard, they won’t get anything, but the lyrics “Это мы не проходили, Это нам не задавали” (we didn’t learn it, that wasn’t required), just ask to be taken as a motto :P
As it's free of work day I had plenty of time to stir spinach so I decided to make a spinach yogurt soup - Lassi a la Saag from Bursts of Bubbles recipe. It's the first Pakistani dish I have ever tried. I'm afraid it's not thick enough. Oh well, I'll do better next time :S But it'a real feast for such a spinach lover as I am.
And it's a free day because it's our Independence Day today. It's an anniversary of Poland getting back it's independence after 123 years of partitions in 1918. We celebrate it rather calmly, without fireworks. All that happens are some military parades and people hang flags in front of their houses. And I make a soup ;)
“Zorba the Greek” is a beautiful story about friendship between young, educated man who in his life follows the voice of reason and an older, simple man – Zorba, who lives the moment.
There is a nice fragment in a book, where Zorba sends a letter to his friend:
“I discovered a beautiful green stone. Come immediately”
Young man wants to go with all his heart but due to the bad situation in his country and all the problems around, he decides to stay. In the next letter from Zorba there is a message:
“Not trying to offend you, boss, but you’re a scribbler. You could too, poor man, for once in your life see a beautiful green stone, but you didn’t.”
I feel I am such a scribbler too. My common sense stops me from following my heart too often. Because what if it won’t work out, what if I’ll lose what I already have, what if something bad happens to me, what if, what if, what if…
Postcards are a big part of the penpalling world. I’ve got many wonderful postcards from my lovely penpals and I wanted to expose them in my room. I was planning to buy a cork board for that purpose, but I always forgot about it when at shopping mall, plus I have slanting walls in my room, so I’m not sure if such a board would fit. Finally, after checking if a scotch tape won’t destroy the postcards, I sticked them to the walls.
Wall nr 1, by the desk
Wall nr 2, over the bed
I know it’s not a big collection, but each one means a lot to me because they’re all from my friends who thought of me when sending them. Where do you keep your postcards?
1st November – is All Saint’s Day. It’s a catholic holiday celebrated in memory of all saints.
2nd November – is Day of the Dead. It descend from a pagan celebrations of “beggars”, which used to take place four times a year, and the purpose was to commemorate the dead. People used to feed the souls of the dead who were arriving from the beyond that day. They also used to bake special bread and shared it with beggars who were praying for the souls of the dead (therefore the name of celebrations). It was adopted in XII century as a catholic holiday and diminished to be celebrated just once a year.
Since only 1st November is free of work, it is celebrated also as Day of the Dead. It doesn't remind the old pagan holiday enymore. We just visit graves of our relatives and close people, leave flowers and candles and recall memories about them with pensiveness.
Halloween isn’t really celebrated in Poland. It’s becoming more popular for the last couple of years, but since we have a rather serious holiday tomorrow and many people leave their homes to visit their family graves in different parts of the country, most people don’t go out tonight. I find Halloween fun and it would be great to celebrate it… if it only was on some other day! However I would like to wish lots of fun tonight to everyone who celebrates Halloween.
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.
Harpier cries 'Tis time, 'tis time.
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
It's a fragment of "Macbeth", scene 4 act 1. I thought it would be appropriate for today. And below - a song I've been having in my mind all day long. Enjoy :)
I had no letters for almost three empty weeks, but “bad times” passed away in the end of this week, when I got four letters in just two days! Such a joy :D I wonder if the letters prefer to travel in groups, because it happens quite often that I have nothing to reply to and then several letters come at one time. Does that happen to you?
Plus, I had my first Russian class today and my new teacher seems to be better than the last one. I really like how Russian language sounds. And my Spanish classes start next week, I’m already excited! I wish my brain could adopt languages faster, I have few more on my wish list.