Wednesday: Dobrzyn

July 30, 2014 • 1:09 pm

It’s less than a week until I leave, but the time has sped by. Take yesterday, for instance. I got up, wrote some things on this website, ate, patted the Polish cat, ate, worked a bit, ate, picked cherries, helped make a pie (Malgorzata did most of the work), ate, read a book (de Waal’s The Bonobo and the Atheist, which is replete with cringe-making atheist bashing), and so to bed.  Where did the day go?

At any rate, nothing extraordinary happened yesterday, but small comforts are valuable. One of them, of course, is the Feline Princess of Poland, shown here in her many aspects. One can’t have too many pictures of Hili.

At breakfast, she put her butt in one of her three food bowls (one for milk, one for dry food, one for wet food):

Butt in food bowl

The Europeans are suffering under what they call a “heat wave,” though it’s only 32°C (about 90°F), a temperature that would be regarded as tolerable in Chicago.  Nevertheless, Hili disdains cuddles in the heat, and sprawls in heat-disseminating positions on the couch:




Is there anything sweeter than the peace of a sleeping cat?

Sleeping cat

In the afternoon, Hili had an attack of hilarity (or something) on the lawn after chasing bees:

Spaz attack 2
The cherry harvest finished yesterday, and there was nary a cherry to be seen. Neverththeless, Malgorzata promised to make a cherry pie (with a walnut-and-almond crust) if I managed to fill a small bucket with cherries. Braving the afternoon heat, I ambled through the orchard, picking one lone cherry from one tree, three from another, and so on. It took a long time to fill this bucket, and I swear that there is not an edible cherry left in the 3,000 trees. This is THE END 🙁 :


The resultant pie. I’ve just had a luscious slice for breakfast:


Dinner last night was beef tenderloin (rare for me), potatoes, salad, and a premium Polish beer (see below). It turned out that the darkish beer had a weird, funky taste. Reading the back label, Malgorzata found that it was a “winter beer,” recommended to be warmed up with herbs, fruits, vanilla, and cinnamon added. I don’t know why anyone would do that to a beer (though I do like mulled wine on occasion), but the beer was almost undrinkable: the one off-note in an otherwise great dinner.

Do any readers do this to beer in the winter?


This is the beer. In the unlikely event you see it, avoid it!



26 thoughts on “Wednesday: Dobrzyn

  1. Winter brews with spices are very common amongst US micros. It comes from the Belgian tradition (mainly, for the US). But Scandinavia anf France also do them, as do the Brits with “winter wrmers”. Winter wrmers also contributed to the US micro phenomenon.

    Belgian beers often use spices and herbs (orange peel, coriander, star anise, woodruff, etc.) Hops are not the only herb for beers!

    (I am biased, I love Belgian beer. I don’t like all non-traditional beers. I’m very partial to European beers, in particular: Belgian, south German, northwest French (Flanders), UK bitters, and of course Czech Pils. most US micros are far over-hopped for my taste. (That did not used to be the case. My taste changed after spending a lot of time in Europe.))

    1. “most US micros are far over-hopped for my taste.”

      I do love a good IPA, but damn, I couldn’t agree more. US micros seem to do little else these days. I am thoroughly sick of IPAs. Just a few nights ago I was in a local establishment known for its very large craft beer selection and of the three rows of taps behind the bar at least 75% of them were IPAs. This has become typical at bars and stores.

  2. A shame about de Waal’s The Bonobo and the Atheist, but I feared that was the case by reading various reviews.
    And in all fairness to her highness, there little space on that shelf for proper etiquette.

    1. I heard an interview with de Waal & I wanted to reach through the radio & slap him (not hard, just a little slap). 🙂

      1. lol. Well, if you ever see him, slap him once for me. Just a little slap from you, and you can go ahead and haul off and let him have it from me. I’m not shy, especially in all things vicarious. 🙂

  3. The Bonobo and the Atheist was bafflingly anti-atheist. On the one hand, de Waal proposes that outspoken American atheists must have suffered some sort of religious-based trauma in childhood (the adult consequences of being atheistic, both politically and more broadly in America, he quickly skips over), but… on the other hand, he treats outspoken atheists as people (well, straw-men, at least) fit for nothing but to be ridiculed.

    Even if we *were* to accept his first proposition wholesale, in what other context would we ever wholeheartedly sanction mocking people who’ve undergone trauma?

    He also condemns “Neo-Atheism” for solely focussing on the god question (a conclusion he seems to have drawn from attendance at a single debate), but then mocks Sam Harris for grappling with the question of morality. Again, I was left wondering if he realizes how contradictory these positions are.

    De Waal’s wobbly on a lot of things that aren’t specific to primatology, though. In my review I also took umbrage with his mischaracterization of T. H. Huxley’s position on animal emotions. Huxley significantly observed that human beings are akin to other animal species in that the majority of our actions can be performed in an automatic manner, too (in contrast with Descartes, for instance, who believed that other animals were soulless automatons while human beings had free will/a soul that impelled the body to act). But de Waal uses a wobbly turn of phrase to suggest that Huxley’s view of humans as automatons (i.e. that there’s no empirical indication that human action stems from a spirit acting upon the body) implies a view that humans don’t have feelings.

    For the above reasons, as much as I enjoyed the parts of this book directly stemming from de Waal’s research, I wish he’d practised the same, careful rigour when broaching topics outside his primary domain.

    As a final aside, Dr. Coyne, I love making pie myself, so all these photos of fresh cherry pie tremendously gladden the heart. Cheers!

    1. Actually, Descartes thought a lot of what we do is automatic as well. In fact, he’s often given credit for discovering the reflex. He has a whole book which tries to show that passions and emotions are largely bodily, even. Of course, the book is almost never discussed in philosophy courses. Like _Le Monde_ it shows how revolutionary and heretical Descartes really was. (Also recently published biographies, which emphasize his refusal to attend church, etc.)

  4. Picking cherries is a heck of a lot easier than harvesting raspberries. A Kevlar suit, visored helmet, steel-toed boots, and steel-mesh gloves are needed!

    That pic of Hili having a spaz attack is hilarious! If she was chasing bees, I hope she wasn’t stung.

    1. Raspberries are nothing – I harvested the gooseberry crop a week or so ago. A painful business…

    2. And a hard learned lesson from picking wild blackberries back in the day when I lived on Vancouver Island, always bring a pair of secateurs with you so you can “prune” your way out without excessive lose of flesh and blood.

      1. I once wore flip flops and shorts into the tangle that is the woods of my property. I ended up entangled in not only a raspberry bush but a bunch of poison nettles. That was awful but because I was young, it didn’t bother me as much – now I think it would kill me as my whole nervous system is more sensitive (I blame years working in corporate IT).

  5. The weather here has been a chilly for July – around 23 C. I like that weather but some are disappointed.

  6. First time poster here, but avid beer drinker/brewer. Most winter warmer beers already have spices added, and you drink them cool to room temp. Never heard of mulled beer! Google translate from the brewey website:
    Drink recipes inspired by Martin Urzędowa – living in the sixteenth century physician and herbalist, author, issued in 1595 ‘Herbarium Polish’. It is, in fact, dark beer, with a set of copyright spices from the hand of our brewers. Great to heat in the winter evenings. During the summer, chilled – will quench thirst.”
    “Copyright spices’ may be the problem – who knows what is in there!

  7. The BBC reports:
    #BBCtrending: Poles #EatApples to annoy Putin

    On Wednesday, Russia announced a ban some fruit and vegetable imports – including apples – from Poland “for sanitary reasons”. Polish food producers say the ban is politically motivated as a response to EU sanctions, a claim Russia denies. In response, Poles have been showing their support for local farmers by campaigning on social media. It started on Twitter when the journalist Grzegorz Nawacki shared an image of himself eating an apple and used the hashtag #jedzjabłka, which means “eat apples.”

    I ate an apple today, but it was a US production.

    We need a first-person report from the front lines. If only we knew someone who is in Poland at present, and has access to apples.

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