Category: slovakia

Mikulas and Chester Greenwood

Ear Muffs-Black W20S35ATen years ago, I had no idea two men were going to affect my Decembers every year. Which two men? Mikulas and Chester Greenwood, of course. Mikulas is a guy most of you at least have a concept of. Comes at night, delivers presents to good girls and boys, wears a red coat and all that? And he puts the presents in their shoes, of course. TRC and DC love the fact that they get TWO days of presents in December: Christmas and Mikulas. He came last night, and so yesterday we all cleaned up our shoes and set them out for the requisite loot (note: in Slovakia, I guess he just typically brings candy, nuts and fruit. I had a talk with him back when Denisa and I got married, and I persuaded him to throw in a little extra toy each year. Because I’m a capitalist, and that’s how we roll.) TRC got a cool buildable car, and DC got a Cinderella jewelry set. They’re ecstatic. And they avoided getting the dreaded onions or raw potatoes, instead of presents. 🙂

Chester is the inventor of the earmuff and a town local, and each year we celebrate his warm ears by having a parade in his honor. I took the kids out to check out the festivities this year. Maine parades are pretty fun: they involve some floats, lots of firetrucks, and snow plows. This year there were a bunch of people on roller-skis, too. The Chester Greenwood parade is unique because all the floats and cars have to involve earmuffs somehow. So you get buses with earmuffs, cars with earmuffs–earmuffs all around. Check out the local coverage.

So to those of you who missed the festivities, happy Chester Greenwood Day, and here’s hoping Mikulas comes to visit you next year. If you’d remember to put your shoes out the night of the 5th, that might help your odds . . .

Mikulas and Santa Claus

Yesterday, Mikulas came to visit our house. For those of you who aren’t Slovak, that means TRC and DC spiffied up their shoes two nights ago, then left them out. In the morning, voila! The shoes were filled with candy and some small presents. TRC got a WALL-E spinning toothbrush,and DC got a little puppy stuffed animal. They went over very well. Of course, this is also the first year that TRC has gone to school, which means it’s the first year he could tell other kids all about how excited he was that Mikulas had come, only to have those kids have no clue what he was talking about. We had prepared him for this, however. You see, Mikulas only comes to Slovaks. Since TRC is the only Slovak in his class, none of the other kids would have gotten a visit.

This only makes Mikulas that much cooler, of course.

TRC also spent some time writing his list to Santa over the holiday. It took quite a bit of narrowing, but this is what he’s down to:

Erector Set
Nerf Gun
Legos (Pirates or Power Miners)
Transformers (Animated version)
Scooter (with 2 wheels–he was very specific)
Interactive WALL-E Robot

He wrote most of the list on his own–and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. Now it’s off in the mail, and it’s up to Santa just what he gets. TRC thinks he should get a fair bit, especially since he’s “usually good when he sleeps,” as he phrased it in his letter the the Jolly Old Elf.

Did I mention I love Christmas?

Ireland Pictures and More

And just so I don’t get any complaints that my blog’s gettin’ too churchy for all y’all, here are some pictures of the family trip to Dublin on the way home from Slovakia. This was a fun trip, although everyone living in a small hotel room for four nights wasn’t necessarily the easiest thing we’ve done. Our days there consisted of waking up in the morning, feeding the baby, letting her get a good nap in and then heading out around 11. We tried to be back around 6 for her to get another good nap in before she ate one last time and went to sleep. Where did we put her to bed? In one of the suitcases which we stuck in the bathroom. Yeah. It was well padded, no worries–and she fit it fine and was very happy, thank you very much. World traveling with small children can be challenging, but we made it work. In the evening, we all watched some movies and then went to bed for another day.

What did we see? The Book of Kells, Malahide Castle, Dublin Castle, The National Archaeological Museum, The Hundred Guilder Print (one of my favorite Rembrandt etchings, and the one used as the CD cover for my grandfather’s oratorio The Redeemer), Christ Church Cathedral, Trinity College, Temple Bar, Stephen’s Green, Iveagh Gardens and more, not to mention a huge playground, hordes of double decker buses, tourists galore and circus performers and other stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting. Good times. Check out the pictures, plus a few of where we were staying in Slovakia.

You Asked For It!


And so it begins. We’ve spent the day packing, running last minute errands and checking the status of Dublin airport. It appears like everything there is fixed–delays abound, but at least there are no cancellations today. Let’s hope the same holds true for tomorrow. I’d post some pictures . . . but I’ve already packed the camera and the cables. So sorry. We leave tomorrow at 5:20 for a flight at 9:50. Anyone who wants to see us off at Bratislava airport better be there at 7:50, because that’ll be your one chance. 🙂

Writing update: I discovered a few days ago that I had made a major plotting error about 10,000 words back. One of the difficulties of this book has been adapting the original into a new setting and all with new characters. As I’ve mentioned before, some of these characters just refuse to behave the same way as the original (something which I take to be a good sign). Anyway, I was writing at a fast clip, and then the next thing I knew, I hit a brick wall. Nothing felt right. I tried four or five different approaches to keep going, but they all felt flat. So I took a while and looked at the book as a whole to try and figure out what was going wrong. In the end I found the mistake, along with a few other fairly major ones. I have since reworked the material, and it feels like I can now progress.

It’s funny. Sometimes writing a book feels to me like doing a maze. There are dead ends in your plot, you take wrong turns with actions or characters and have to do some retracing until you’re back on the right path. The more complex the book and the more characters you have, the more chances you have for mistakes. One of the criticisms of the original was that the characters felt too much like pawns at times, doing things so that the plot could advance rather than doing things that they would logically do. I didn’t see it at the time, but that’s been very apparent during this revision. Hopefully I’m doing a better job of it now.

Watched Curse of the Jade Scorpion two nights ago. I’m a Woody Allen fan, and this one is no exception for me. No, it’s no Annie Hall, and it’s not as memorable to me as Bullets Over Broadway or one of my other favorites, The Purple Rose of Cairo. But it’s got fun characters, snappy dialogue and is just an overall good time. Of course, like almost all of Allen’s films, if you can’t stand a little risque humor (or a lot), you’re best steering clear. In any case, three stars for me, and I’m happy because it’s one of the Allen films DKC likes, too.

To Be Brief

Dentist appointment come and gone. Teeth appear good. And there was much rejoicing.

Writing is going well, although there are times that I’m not so sure of that. Times like these are when I wish I had a writing group. Instead, I just read it outloud to DKC and hope for the best.

Went to a Slovak mall today. Like an American one, but smaller. Took about twenty minutes to check the whole thing out.

Not  much else to report–gearing up for the Ireland trip. Just as a warning, I don’t think I’ll be able to blog in Ireland. I know you’re all crying about that, but don’t worry. I’ll update when I’m back in the states.

Watched A Beautiful Mind last night. (Did I mention I watched Cinderella Man over the weekend? I did. Loved it as much as I did the first time. Three and a half stars.) Russell Crowe is a diverse actor, I’ll give him that. I loved Mind the first time, but the second time it lost some of its oomph. Any time a movie packs a big twist into it, it risks its rewatchability. Sixth Sense worked, Mind . . . not as well. I hate giving things away, though, so I’ll leave it at that. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the first time. First time, three and a half stars. Second time, three. Did it deserve it’s best picture Oscar? I won’t say no to that, although I still am bummed Fellowship of the Ring lost that one. Some have criticized Mind, calling it overrated. I think Howard’s use of POV and the way he adapted Nash’s problems to the screen are remarkable and redeem some of the flaws I see in the film now, so I wouldn’t call it overrated. (And I disagree with most of that list, anyway. Just linked it for reference.)

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