How the East Was Won


This is a story dedicated to those pioneering families who turned their back on the traditional life-in-a-box and instead pointed their wagons in directions hitherto unchartered to plant their red & white flags on virgin territory and settle just outside Warsaw!

Jethro and his brother Linus built their wagons from scraps of wood they had collected from those places that say “Skup Palet”. They loaded up their wives, Lileth and Dora and their kids; Zeb, Agatha, Jeb, Rebecca and Abraham as well as those few essentials that would be needed for their journey – Sat-Nav, plasma TV, iPhone, bucket of bigos and a frozen carp.

After crossing the Rio Grande

they fought their way through the woods

and then braved the snowy plains

until, ravaged by hunger and chased by wolves, they finally arrived at Szangri-Lar and decided this was to be their home.

They were not the first to arrive as an assortment of misfits and outlaws had already settled on main street.

Unlike many settlements, Szangri-Lar was lacking many of the basic facilities one might expect to find. It had no saloon, blacksmith, casino, bank, pony express office, doctor, sheriff, house of ill repute. Nothing useful at all in fact and the only things that could be obtained on main street were cheap alcohol, roof tiles and the servicing of air conditioning equipment. No matter, the pioneers were in love with the place and so at the end of main street they staked their claim to over 3,000 m2 of prime……..forest…..and started building. In such a primitive and lawless land they had to do everything for themselves, roads, utilities, fencing, tree-felling, everything and yet after only three years, give or take a few delays, their 400 m2 home on the prairie was in that temptingly half-finished state so they all moved in.

The effort took its toll on Jethro, who died the week after they moved in. Lileth and Dora both gave birth to three children during the construction, requiring major adjustments to the upstairs bedroom layout but eventually they were settled enough to organise the ‘dziki dziki parapetowka’.

Friends came from far and wide, arranging their wagons in a circle around the home to protect against Indian attacks.

In memory of the long journey, a traditional trail-tent was erected in the grounds and a bonfire built for the feasting.

The elders and young men went forth to the woods, six guns at their sides and returned with a plentiful supply of wild kiełbaska shot as the dogs flushed them from the undergrowth. Everyone roasted them on the open fire, feasted and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Who knows, one day they might even build a railroad!


26 thoughts on “How the East Was Won

  1. Looks like they’ve got the space for a railroad!

    Beautiful house and it will be well hidden by the trees in summer. It looks like it’s been added on Photoshop – almost too perfect.

    And well away from the sights and sounds of Warsaw! Bliss.

  2. Whenever I visit people who have done this I’m torn between congratulating them and asking them if they are completely barking mad!

    It really is very similar to the settlement of the USA back in the mid 1800’s except that the Yanks were a bit more organised than this government is!

  3. “We have no oil and gas, we don’t have high tech. Our centers of development, are far, far behind others. We will never be an extraordinary tourist attraction. Poland is quite a mediocre country in some regards. The only natural resource that we have, and with which we can compete, is freedom.”

    Donald Tusk.

  4. Guest – you (Donald) summed up it quite nicely – I would also add that I have learned, through experience, to be very disappointed with Executives in business here – I have coached over 87 people worldwide in business principles, soft skills, etc. and 14 here in Poland (mainly multinational companies, Polish companies are closed shops on executive training!!!)- the Polish businessmen lag behind others considerably, at least the generation aged 40 and up (who are unfortunately the ‘leaders’ or CEO’s in many cases – mainly because they are still focused on a land grab mentality. They play lip servive to business ethics and think little of long term strategy. A bright light is however on the horizon as some of the younger executive’s I have worked with are grasping the fundamentals of business quite well….so in a generation or two Polish business will be a force to be reckoned with…I hope.

    Here’s 3 principles that Polish business people should work on:

    1) work on something that matters more than money
    2) Create more value than you capture (that’s the kind of DNA that’s winning the day now)
    3) Take the long view

    Follow this and you will rid yourselves of the the Polish complex…after all it is only Polish people that keep it alive.

  5. I’m just having a good laugh at the thought of anyone doing 1/ or 3/ or understanding 2/! :)

    “Something that matters more than money”….tee hee.

  6. Point 1 – should remind people that financial success is not the only goal or the only measure of success. It’s easy to get caught up in the heady buzz of making money. You should regard money as fuel for what you really want to do, not as a goal in and of itself. Money is like gas in the car — you need to pay attention or you’ll end up on the side of the road — but a life lived well is not a tour of gas stations!!!

  7. Point 2 – simple examples Google or MonsterBoard. Yes Google makes billions but they provide real value and others make millions off their ad programs, so they help others. MonsterBoard created a global job site, recruitment companies use the job site to search resumes and get their opportunities out to a wider audience than they could standing alone – both companies provide more value than they create. Amazon is another case in point.

  8. A little bit it’s looks like Maryla Rodowicz house!

    But her is olders and (probably) in Konstancin.

    P.S. Scatts I see you have some inclinations to joke from yourself! :-)

  9. Dat – I think the gas tank analogy is fine if you already have enough money to live the life you want to live. Most people don’t and are therefore interested in getting to that point before they allow themselves to come over all philosophical about how “money isn’t everything”.

    Material Girl – yes I do have such inclinations!

  10. Scatts my point is that money should not be the main goal. When I set up my first company (see my latest post ( I worked in an incubator with approximately 19 other start-ups. I established a network group with the founders, of the 4 that went on to build sustainable businesses none of the founders were purely focused on money, none had garganturian ego’s as Jim Collins would say in Good to Great and Built to Last – “they wanted to build something that would last”, so far they have succeeded. 5 that failed first time got the message and their second efforts payed off – these people have helped countless others, employees, families, communities prosper. I have countless friends, contacts that I know the same – sure they have reaped the financial benefits of their efforts and through good luck – but I know money was not the driving force. It never has been and never will be with me. I think people take their eye off the ball when money is the driving force and that is the problem in Poland today.

    If people re-align their sights, focus on achieveing a goal that has meaning (meaning can be addressed in point 2 not just humanitarian issues) and will be bigger than them then they will have success broader than what can come from money alone.

  11. Fair enough, Dat. I agree with your general thrust here but I have to tell you that it is REALLY tough to think big thoughts when you’re worrying about how to pay next month’s rent/school fee/whatever.

    Also that there are not many families out there who would be happy to hear hubby say “Well dear, we may be homeless and junior may need to leave that good school but I’ve got a very good feeling about how many other people will, in the long term, benefit from our suffering!”.

    I think there are just more people living closer to the edge than you imagine.

  12. Dat and Scatts,

    you have right both.

    Scatts – the last sentention.
    For people who live always in affluence there’s hard to understand hunger for goods. For the people who work and live in big cities like in Poland Warszawa, Gdańsk, Kraków 1 zloty is nothing. For people from country villages, who have no work, or work from time to time or have big families or just earn much less money than citypeople 1 zloty is big. They will be many times turn that coin between fingers before they spend it. I remember the comunists time, when f.e. chocolate you can buy only in “Pewex” for $ or “bons=polish dollars” – extra bonus from government, which normal people didn’t have. Later were so called boutiques where private initiative (first “businessmen”) sold things from the west, especially to eat. But there was very expensive. Normal Poles have no money to buy it. I remember my nose many time sticken to those shopwindows. But I could only lick.
    Later, when they introduce for 5 years the money prize for good results in learn I spent whole my first grant/stipend for 2 books and 1 kilo of bananas. I am ashamed to these days of it that I ate them all myself.


    One of the sentence I stole and try to live with and I lament, that sb else (probably one of the secretary ONZ) produce it, is:

    “The money is bad master, but it’s a very good servant”!!!

  13. MaterialGirl – great quote and oh so true.

    PS – I’m glad your tongue didn’t stick to the window or you would never have been able to taste the pleasure of those banana’s when you got them (I’m sorry if that sounds a little rude it was not the intention)

  14. It was a metaphor (with tongue). The windows were too dirty! ;-) Yes I know that you are laughing a little bit, that I invented it after seeing “Charlie and the manufactury of chocolate”. But it was trough.There were nothing in normal shops, only vinegar. People fighting for toilet paper, women for the bread when they threw it. (These are observed by me or heard stories from my family witness). Go to Africa and live for 1$ like Africans, then you perhaps will understand it.
    Nevertheless, happily I had got good childhood.

  15. Material Girl – I know it was tough. My mother-in-law (Polish doctor) once served her husband (African doctor) a tin of dog food from the rations, it was all they had in the shop, they left and went to Africa:-) ….my wife is half Polish, half African – maybe you chose Africa as an analogy because you know of my activities relative to the Millenium Development Goals?

  16. So, I recall now. It was you who hadn’t kept the goal in the very decisive moment! That’s why OUR lost!!!
    So, your mother-in-law is probably in fact Chinese! (Or just wanted to check “how deep was her husband love”! ;) We’ve never eaten cats and dogs (it wasn’t Petersburg siege), although some old people believe that dogs fat cures a lot of diseases! (Thats probably why disappeared one of my dogs – so called “cornfed”). :(

  17. MaterialGirl – nope she is Polish born and bred and from a long long line and only 51 years old so not so old…I think Scatts is older:-) ). Did you know that the Swiss also eat Dog? The only Europeans to do so apparantly – thankfully moya zona’s mum has now converted to be a vegetarian. so no more dog food….

  18. Bad Swiss, bad Swiss! They always look how to swerve. Good to know – I’ll never kiss any Swiss! :)

    Yes, now your mother-in-law can when she is after her menopause!
    I’ve tried once to be vegetarian, but I couldn’t stay for longer. Every month menstruation which causes lost of iron, brings you sometimes when you are woman to anaemia.
    I like animals not only on the plate!

    I heard the stories like these one. Short after II world war some people obtained a box from America with white powder. They hadn’t any idea what was it. They couldn’t read english. They decided that’s help from UNRRA, so that had to be powdered milk and drunk it with water. For few months they obtained translated papers – that was some of their relatives.

    So, do you suggest that Scatts is a little bit coquette? ;) If I remember he’s confessing to 48!

    P.S. Maybe your mother-in-law has some Tartars connection? For example one woman from my family who made the biggest money is really slant-eyed, although I don’t know she had ever eaten dogs food. ;)

  19. Oy! I’ll have no casting of doubt on my age, especially so close to my birthday.

    If you really want to know I’ll have my 50th birthday sometime soon (exact date withheld in a feeble attempt at data security!).

    However, with everyone around me being so much younger I don’t really feel like an old man – yet! ;)

    Don’t forget this is the Age of Aquarius and I have special powers for a year or two at least granted by the alignment of planets so watch out!

  20. My father is also Aquarius. :) So, my mother used to gave him buckets with words “Aquarius – water” (when we didn’t have the water into the tap and sent him to well. Unfortunatelly, it had to be before the age of Aquarius, because he hadn’t special powers. Had to done it by himself. ;)

  21. MaterialGirl – my wife also suffered from a lack of iron, and had regular iron tablets, blood analysis, etc. etc. then when she converted to vegetarian (now vegan) the balance changed and she has no problems even at THE time of the month….please read the China Study, you can get an extract here – this debunks the iron myth. 2 female doctors in our family have converted and now reap the benefits.

    Scatts – you’re kidding right, is this one of those I’ll be 50 every year type things, could have sworn you hit the big 50 last year!!! anyhow you have a young mind and good humour so I am sure you will forgive me talking about your age…

  22. Colin,

    Which group of blad has your wife?
    There’s some theory about it which one could not eat meat and which one have to.
    Some of medicines could also caused anaemia.

    One girl from my family had attack of the appendix after chinese treatment!

    Don’t be afraid Scatts. He is not so bad as he looks like, :D although I must admit that attention of my “sauron eye” draw one of his unfair opinion and his groundless (only of because being British) feeling of superiority.

    To my “brilliant ideas” which should brings me diamonds I include the last one, which unfortunately fizzled out!!! :( is that one:
    I observed in Polandians Ania’s ferment, so I wanted to make competition: Fight between Ania and Scatts. naturally not real (Scatts certainly couldn’t hit the woman even with the flower). Ania (fighter for polish catholics) would made ironical remarks and Scatts (representative of godlesses losted in Poland) would run circles (that would help him lost his weight). The winner would be this one who would be tired first.

    My modest person would be hold the bank and making bets saying: “Mesdames et Mesieurs faites vos jeux, s’il vous plait”! :D

    Bad lack, they destroy all my plans. Ania wrongly priced Scatts intention and he explained it.

    Why I hadn’t foresawn it and planed the new option?!!!? :(

  23. Hahaha Instead of winner I naturally thought about loser!!! Translation (especially in hurry) is full of ambushes!!!

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