If We Were Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare.

We haven’t had a

Weekend Coffee Share

in a while, so I thought we could have one today, ’cause I have a couple things to share with you all, and I want to hear how you’ve been doing, too. 🙂 So if you feel like having a cuppa, or something yummy to eat, come along and join me, and I’ll be super happy to have you here! 🙂

Grab a cup of your favourite coffee (we only have black, whole bean coffee in here right now, which I personally think is the best, but if you’d like something fancier you can bring it with yourself). I can also offer you some tea (we do have plenty of these), or cocoa, or some orange juice, or kefir if you like it or want to find out what it’s like, or plain tap water, or you can bring some other drink that you like. I don’t have much interesting stuff where food is involved, if you’re properly hungry and are a meat eater there’s a fair bit of meat left because we didn’t manage to eat everything for lunch, or I can make you a sandwich, but otherwise I suggest you bring something yourself if you’d like a snack with your coffee or something. Yeah I know, bad Bibiel, what sort of coffee share it is without providing your guests with snacks, and a proper variety of coffees. Will try to prepare myself better next time. 😀

 

So if you’re sitting comfortably and have something to munch and/or sip on, let’s get into it. 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d ask each of you how you’re doing…?

If we were having coffee, I’d start with the mundane topic of weather and share what it’s been like here this week. Because it’s been quite warm, if not hot, for late summer, at least here. It’s a common thing that late August is all gloomy and rainy, and then the first few days of September it gets maliciously hot so that poor kids who are starting school are melting indoors and want to go out and play but can’t cus they have to do some goddam fractions or whatever else they have to do, but after these few days it usually gets a fair bit colder and stays this way. Well, not this year. This year, the first week of September was very very windy and rainy and quite chilly, whereas this week it was as high as 27 C on Tuesday. It felt a lot fresher outside though than the temps would suggest and was just nice and summery. Then yesterday we got pretty bad rain and storms, and today it’s cooler but still very sunny.

If we were having coffee, I’dfill you in on

the Sofi situation.

In the post above I wrote how Sofi is suspected by her new GP to possibly have Marfan syndrome and that she’s gonna have genetic testing in February. In the meantime, my Mum had been ruminating about it quite a lot, which is not her normal, but she’s now feeling a lot better about it as it seems. Like, whatever will be, will be. The good thing is that Sofi doesn’t have, to our knowledge, any major complications that can arise from this condition, so even if she ends up being diagnosed with it, I personally figure that we should feel lucky that despite this diagnosis, she’s been doing this well so far. Mum agrees with me, and Sofi herself doesn’t think much of it. What had been particularly bothering my Mum, and still does, to an extend, is Sofi’s height, as she’s already like 180 cm and shows no signs of wanting to stop growing any time soon. I mean, maybe she herself wants, but her hormones or whatever is in charge does not. Since the genetic testing is still to come and we still have to wait quite a while, there’s no other news strictly where it comes to Marfan’s, but, as you may remember, all the worry related to that also made my Mum worry that Sofi could have polycystic ovaries and that that may be the reason behind her still growing and still not menstruating. So she had her first gynaecologist’s appointment about a month ago or so, and, while she was extremely anxious before that, it all went well and there were no bad news, everything is perfectly fine with Sofiwhere gynaecology is concerned.

If we were having coffee, speaking of Sofi (wow, what a cool rhyme lol, and yes, in case you’re wondering, this Sofi is pronounced like coffee with an S, not like Sophie because that’s how most Polish people say Sophie), I’d also tell you that recently she got vaccinated. Not for Covid, but for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (these sound really weird in English :O ). She got the vaccine on Thursday, then started having some arm pain in the evening. The next day her arm hurt even more but she still went to school as normal, but when she came back she was feeling horrid. She had a headache, sore throat, achy muscles, couldn’t breathe normally and was very tired and weak and had a bit of a cough. She was supposed to go have her nails done after school, which she did, but as soon as she came back she just went to bed, so it all felt kind of concerning given that she’s normally very strong and healthy. But I guess that could be the exact reason why she reacted to this vaccine so fiercely. She didn’t get up for the rest of the day and by the evening she seemed like she had some fever and it got quite creepy because not only did she have muscle aches but her skin seemed extremely sensitive to touch pretty much all over her and she couldn’t even change position easily ’cause she said it hurt so badly. My Mum claims though that as long as you’re hungry while sick, things are looking good, and by late evening Sofi got a wild craving for fast food so I got her some. When I was a kid I also got wild and very specific food cravings whenever I had fever, and especially at night, so it either must be a common thing that I didn’t realise or it’s genetic for us. 😀 On Saturday things were a little bit better and Sofi really wanted to go pick mushrooms with Mum, so she did, but she was quite drained by the time she came back and spent the rest of the day in bed. So has been the case today, and she’s also got a stuffed nose. Mum doesn’t really know what to do, since these appear to be vaccine side effects so it seems counterproductive to her to give Sofi some medicines because she thinks her body needs to deal with all this on her own. If things won’t get better until tomorrow, which it doesn’t seem like they will, Mum will take her to the doctor.

If we were having coffee, I’d share with you something about which I already wrote a couple times here, but not much and only in passing. This is not like a huge news or anything breakthrough, but I think it’s worth noting in its own place. This something is that I’ve kinda sorta started learning Norwegian, I guess it was some time in July. I think I’ve written at least one coffee share since but I still had too much turmoil in my brain surrounding it so didn’t feel able to write anything constructive. Perhaps you remember that, as long as my favourite languages list is, and despite it features languages like Swedish, Faroese or Sami, Norwegian had never been on it. And I’m still not sure whether it is now. But for some reason I’ve been feeling more drawn to it lately, and also want to have a closer look at how it works, so that I have some more idea about it other than simply through my Swedish. I don’t know why I’d need it because I could already understand a fair bit of (especially written) bokmål Norwegian (there are two written Norwegian languages – bokmål which is like more classic and nynorsk which is more modern and rural) via Swedish, but that’s what’s happening right now. I started to realise my feelings for Norwegian were deepening in late June, around the time when we were on our camper trip in Masuria, and Sofi and me rode in the back of the camper, on the bed, where if the roads were bumpy, it made us jump up high to the ceiling, so when people ask me “why oh WHY Norwegian? Have you got a faza or did something specific happen involving this language that made you love it out of the blue?” I say perhaps because I got a brain injury from all the close encounters between my skull and the ceiling on the trip, ’cause I really have no better ideas. I mean, I could tell you now, at the point where I am currently, that I like Norwegian for its extreme diversity, like, it’s one language, but it’s two languages, and in practice, as some say, there are more dialects than people there. 😀 This definitely contributes to me liking it now. But I only got to experience this phenomenon first-hand after I got into it. And my feelings started to deepen before I decided to go with the flow and get into it and try to learn it. And it wasn’t like these feelings came and I embraced them right away, far from it. At the beginning it was freakishly intense and I didn’t know what was going on and I was really reluctant to do it, actually. I mean, I’m learning Welsh right now, it’s my first Celtic language and it’s more difficult than any language I’ve learned before, have still like a dozen or so languages that I want to learn in the future, Sofi says I should be treated for that ’cause something’s wrong with me, so I seriously can’t afford another language, someone save me or it’s gonna kill me! In the end though, I just had no willpower left to resist my brain any longer and got pulled into it properly. It felt like I had no choice but make room for Norwegian in my life.

The situation isn’t as bad as I feared, since I already know English and Swedish so there’s a whole lot of similarities between Swedish and Norwegian, they’re generally mutually intelligible, and Norwegian and English also share some common ancestry being both Germanic languages. That means it doesn’t really feel like I am learning a completely new language. More like a complicated dialect or something. It’s not like I have to learn everything in a sort of linear, structured way, starting from the very basics, because a lot of vocabulary I’m either completely familiar with or can figure out without much trouble, and a lot of grammar also already makes sense. Also, compared to Welsh, learning Norwegian is also way easier due to the wider availability of all sorts of materials. I’d long forgotten what sort of luxury it is to be able to learn a language via your mother tongue, and there are plenty of Polish immigrants in Norway, so plenty of Norwegian online courses, workbooks, whatever you want. Only problem is that a lot of the Polish material I’ve looked into isn’t of particularly good quality, like they teach a terribly unnatural accent if not plain wrong pronunciation (like you in Norwegian is du, where the u sound is pronounced like in the English word you, while I’ve found a Polish resource where they teach you that it’s pronounced with an oo sound, more like the German du. Except when you pronounce it like that in Norwegian it’s spelled do and it means the loo 😀 ) or only give you an idea about some stiff, official bokmål which might be a thing in writing but no one speaks like that. So I still tend to stick to the English stuff for the most part, and am also able to learn Norwegian in Norwegian itself, especially from written materials. So with a bit of effort on my part, I managed to make it work so that I can squeeze in both Welsh, which is still in the centre stage, and Norwegian, which I learn usually on weekends plus a lot of exposure in the meantime. It feels kind of weird to call it learning though, because for me language-learning is when your brain lets out steam and your brain muscles get all sore and pulsating, whereas here it’s rarely this intense. It’s still enjoyable though. I still wouldn’t say that I love Norwegian as much as I do all “my” languages, but I think if it won’t disappear as randomly as it appeared I’m probably going to get there and I do like it a lot. I mean, I’ve never disliked it, but now I like it more than ever, yet still don’t love like I do Swedish, Welsh & co. Like I said, I love the whole diversity in it and I’m loving more and more how it sounds. It’s so cheerful and childish compared to Swedish, and at the same time kind of more rugged than Swedish and less fluid, to me Swedish sounds more serious and sort of posher.

I don’t even know yet what I want to achieve with this whole Norwegian “learning” and where I want to go, what for etc. but maybe things will clear up. I guess it might come in handy when I’ll start with Sami. Maybe I’ll finally pluck up the courage to read all those Norwegian books my Mum bought me, thinking they were Swedish, including a grammar book from I guess the 50’s. :DBut overall, while I usually try to aim for as much fluency and familiiarity with a language as possible, at least for now I’m taking it very easy with Norwegian and don’t have any wild ambitions or anything, we’ll just see how it develops, I’m not in charge here anyway, my brain has taken over while I was on those Masuria holidays. Who knows, perhaps it’s just a short episode and I’ll soon be over it?

Now that I’m no more reluctant and have accepted the state of things and flowing along with it, I’m thinking that perhaps there’s something like destiny or whatever involved here, because I’ve had several people in my life who have told me in one way or another that I should learn Norwegian. My Swedish teacher started learning it at some point during the years he was teaching me and could go on and on and on about it and would often try to tempt me into it too saying stuff like that, actually, Norwegian is just like a little dialect of Swedish. It made me think what Norwegians would think of someone putting things this way and I thought it sounded quite diminishing. Like, I myself am half Kashubian, and while I don’t have a strong bond with the Kashubian language (I can barely understand it when someone speaks fluently) or culture, and also am far from supporting the separatistic notion that some Kashubians have, one of the reasons being that I personally identify as Polish far more than Kashubian, nevertheless it really irks me when people call Kashubian a dialect of Polish ’cause it’s just not a dialect. One day he devoted the entire lesson to introducing all sorts of Norwegian phrases and idioms to me that he wanted me to translate to prove to me how Norwegian is very easy when you speak English and Swedish. Sure, but at that point I just didn’t feel it, and if I don’t feel a language there’s no point in trying to convince me. It’s as if you tried to make someone be friends with or date someone else just because YOU think they’d make good friends or couple, while the individuals in question feel totally indifferent about each other. Now that I’m learning both languages, I totally agree that, while Norwegian as it is now certainly is not a dialect of Swedish, in many aspects it really seems like it could be. 😀

Then there was a classmate I had at the blind school, who didn’t know about my Scandinavian interests (which I was trying to suppress at the time because I temporarily wasn’t able to learn Swedish and it was a huge source of frustration to dwell on it or expose myself to Swedish in those circumstances) and for some weird reason he told me several times how in his mind he associates me with Norway, which I found rather hilarious. He didn’t know why either. Later my paternal cousins have come up with some weird theory I’ve no clue how, that we have some Norwegian ancestry. It’s always seemed doubtful to my Dad and my gran and me too, but in the past they would often say how I should rather learn Norwegian than Swedish ’cause we allegedly have some distant family connection to Norway.

And lastly there was my late friend Jacek from Helsinki, who shortly after we first met said that, as much as he praises my learning Swedish and considers it aesthetically superior over other Scandinavian languages, he felt that perhaps Norwegian would have been a better option for me, because of all them weird dialects and because they have two languages instead of one so I’d probably have more fun. All of these people would probably be happy now that it has come true, after all, lol.

I also have THREE uncles who all work in Norway (one full-time and two get sent there from time to time for some longer-ish periods) and one has told my family that apparently he’s learned to communicate in the language decently. He never said that to me, although we have talked about Norwegian vs Swedish several times, and he never talked Norwegian in front of me, but now I have to admit I’m looking forward to some bigger family gathering where all of these uncles of mine will be present so I can break the news to them and we can find out who can snakke (speak) better than Bibiel *evil laugh*. Or maybe I’m in for a surprise and any/all of them actually snakker better than Bibiel, which would be just as cool, they’ve certainly had more exposure than me and more potential opportunities to practice with people! 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d mention that we’re having a bit of a national Catholic holiday today. This is because it’s the day of beatification of cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the Primate of Poland. Beatification means that he is now known as blessed (which is like a step below canonisation when a person is proclaimed saint) and a primate is the archbishop of a country. Even due to his function alone, he was a very important and valued figure in the Polish Catholic church during his life and still is very much valued and respected due to his huge positive influence on the church and aspects like the so-called folk devotion to Mary, to name just one thing. Along with him, another person who was beatified was mother Elżbieta Róża Czacka who was the foundress of the religious order who leads the blind school I went to, and also the foundress of the school and everything around it as well. She was blind herself ever since she was 22, I believe, and is said to be the first person in Poland who has taken the problem of education of the blind seriously. This school is relatively well-known and quite a few people who have nothing or very little to do with the blind have heard about it somewhere and back in my school days they would ask my Mum whether I go to THAT school. I am talking about this because now that she and the whole blind centre and the order she founded have been talked a lot in the media and churches in the period leading up to the beatification, I’ve got quite a few people from my family and even beyond, asking me things like whether I’m happy that she’s gonna be beatified, and I found the amount of that and this specific phrasing of the question quite interesting so I thought I’d write a little bit about that and how I feel about it. Am I happy? Yes, I’m very happy! I feel tempted to throw an “obviously” in there, but since I’ve got this question so often perhaps it’s not so obvious for some reason. But I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t be happy. We definitely can’t complain about lack of representation of disabilities among saints but the more the merrier, and also I’ve got a feeling that blindness in general has gotten a little bit of spotlight in the Catholic church due to this, because they are telling her story everywhere now and obviously it’s impossible to tell her story without talking about blindness and the blind. Also while I can think of several blind saints, most of them have lived quite a long time ago and when reading about their lives there’s not much you can learn about their experience with blindness specifically, perhaps except for my dear patron saint bl. Margaret de Citta di Castello but she has also lived quite some time ago. So I think mother Elżbieta (or should I be saying Elizabeth in English now?… I never know if you should translate saints’/blesseds’ names or not, it seems so inconsistent) is going to be particularly relatable and close to the hearts of many blind people, and I think that sort of connection is important. I know many who have loved her long before she has been beatified, even if they were too young to know her or didn’t get a chance to meet her personally. I’ve heard of some blind people from that school who actually regard her as a sort of mother figure or something. And beyond that, whether it’s her or someone else, I think a beatification of someone new is generally a very happy event in itself for the Church as a community. My Mum also asked me whether I feel any sort of bond with her, which I think is a more interesting question. We’ve both had the same disability, so on this level I think there is some connection that I feel to her. Also, while personally I have very mixed feelings about both the school and my experience there, i feel grateful to her for the mere fact that she founded it, because the whole thing was extremely courageous of her, and that she devoted herself to the blind so much and on so many levels. One thing I’m extremely grateful to her for is that she adapted Braille to the Polish language. But I don’t feel much of an emotional bond with her like a lot of blind folks do. Or a very strong spiritual one. When I was at school, they’d talk a lot about her and I remember one person once suggested to me that if I struggle with homesickness and stuff like that, I could think of mother Elżbieta as my second mum or a mother figure or something, that some people have this sort of bond with her. I initially really tried and really wanted to, but somehow didn’t feel it. Then not much later I got truly sick of all that talking about it being our second home and stuff like that and I internally rebelled against it all, so there was no way I could think of her as my mum. When I was older, I read her writings and letters and several biographies and a couple memoirs involving her. She was incredibly wise and virtuous and strong-willed and in many aspects very extraordinary and fascinating, and while I didn’t see that at school because I had vastly different outlook on things and vastly different things on my mind, now I do admire her deep devotion to the Cross. Yet when I read her writings she doesn’t come across as someone whom I could truly feel close to. With all her admirable traits and all the great things she did, I think we just are too different for such a close bond to be possible. Or maybe I just have a somehow skewed perception of her despite all the stuff I read about her. And the mixed feelings I have about the school surely get in the way too, even though it doesn’t have to do with her directly. Like I said, the saint I do feel more of a connection to, and who also happens to have been blind and multiply disabled is bl. Margaret of Castello.

If we were having coffee, last, but not least, I’d share about a major purchase I recently made. I got myself an iPad, YAY! Now this is really a huge thing because not long ago I thought I wouldn’t be able to be able to use a smartphone, due to the touchscreen, and now I’m getting a second Apple device. This is because, actually, recently I had been considering a possibility of transitioning to a Mac from my Windows computer. Yeah, I’ve transitioned to a new computer over a year ago, but I’m sure Sofi would be more than keen to inherit this one from me, and also some of its parametres are well above what I need. I’ve recently got to hear a lot about how it looks in practice to use a Mac with VoiceOver (the built-in screen reader) and I was like, huh, this doesn’t sound quite as difficult as I thought. It sounds way more intuitive and non-geek-friendly than Windows. And I really have grown to like the way Apple does things ever since I’ve got my iPhone, while at the same time Windows irks me in more and more ways. Yet I’ve also heard about several blind people who have tried using Mac and it didn’t really work out too well, and because it’s not like I am incredibly tech savvy or anything, it felt risky, especially that Mac OS computers are not the cheapest in the world as everyone knows. So I was playing around with that idea for a long time until I figured that perhaps a cool golden mean would be getting an iPad, because I’ve heard of some blind users who just use an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard as their primary device rather than a laptop or a computer, which they only use when something is just physically impossible to do on an iPad. Perhaps if I tried that, I would be able to say more decidedly in a couple of years how worth it and how risky for me getting a Mac is. And I guess in a year or two I’ll be able to apply for funding which you can get for an assistive device, and a computer counts as one. Since I don’t need anything more than a MacBook Air, perhaps the funding would even cover that if I’m lucky and counting right.

So in the end I got an iPad 8 and Apple says it should be here tomorrow and I’m really really curious and a little bit apprehensive. One thing I’m kind of afraid of not working out as well as I’d like is typing. I do a lot of writing, but while I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone as well as my Braille-Sense which works like a Braille Display and Bluetooth keyboard at once, I find writing on iPhone a pretty arduous experience, especially on the Braille-Sense which I prefer for longer writing because it’s easier and faster to review what I write. Except in the end it’s not because the cursor often flies around so it’s hard not to make mistakes, or in some apps it will randomly throw me out of the edit field after every few characters, or it will be very slow and freezy or otherwise buggy. Since iPad is essentially the same system, I’m not sure whether I can hope for much difference there. But it’s not like I am supposed to ditch the Windows computer and rely on the iPad for everything from tomorrow on. If, after a year or a few, I’ll come to the conclusion that I like the Apple ecosystem increasingly and the only thing that stops me from using iPad full-time is the typing, I might still get the Mac as I don’t think it has the same typing issues as iOS devices do.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee? 🙂