Freaky Home Remedies and Ask Babci

by Sandy L on October 4, 2011

Babci talks a lot.  In fact, she talks non-stop when I’m around her.  I understand why she does that.  She grew up with a dozen people in her house and now it’s just her, so whenever I come over she feels like she needs to get all her talking in to make up for the days she’s had no one to talk to.  She loves to go up to random people in the grocery store, cut them off with her shopping cart and tell them advice in broken English that most of the time the poor people are like “I have no idea what she said.”  Sometimes I let the people fend for themselves, but other times when I’m in more of a hurry, I pry her away from whichever poor victim she cornered.  I particularly cringe when she goes up to new moms and gives them child rearing  advice because some of her old world methods are pretty scary.

I remember when I was a little girl and my mom put on “Banki” on my back to make me feel better.  It’s the equivalent of leeches.  Banki are these little circular globes that you swab with some alcohol, light on fire then stick on your back.  The fire goes out, creates a vacuum and then you get these giant hickeys all over your body.  The premise is that it’s a way to suck the bad blood out of you and make you feel better.    It’s making a bit of a comeback in the holistic medicine community and is called “Fire Cupping”.   I guess it’s a lot more sanitary than leeches.   By the way, Babci swears that doing this makes her feel better when she’s really sick but I don’t know if it’s the placebo effect or not. (If you click on that photo, it’ll take you to pictures and a video, if you’re curious enough to learn more.)

Image via Spa Week Blog

When I was 5 I had pneumonia and it wasn’t getting better and despite my mom’s numerous healing methods so she took me to the hospital.  It was like a circus around me and I was the freak show.  The doctor who examined me had never seen the effects of banki in real life but learned about it in med school.  He brought in all the young doctors to show them what my mom’s home remedy looked like.    In a way, I was glad and relieved because I was afraid that my mom would get in trouble for child abuse. After all, my back was covered in big purple bruises.  Luckily the doctor knew she meant me no harm and proceeded to treat my real symptoms after the freak show was over.


At any rate, the point of my post is that Babci loves to talk and I know there are more pearls of wisdom in her brain that I’m not accessing. I just never can think straight when I’m around her because she’s shooting off stories like a machine gun and most of the time they are stories I’ve already heard 10,000 times before.

I want to access some new ones and her opinion on various topics that she may not bring up on her own.  I’m 100% sure she will be open to telling me stuff but I need some help in figuring out what to ask.

What would you ask Babci?  It can be anything.  The only thing topic that is taboo is sex.  Everything else is fair game. Please help.



{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly October 4, 2011 at 8:10 AM

I love getting ‘cupped’!

Here’s what I want to know (it’s just a start):
How to deal with sassy teen girls. Sorry, Sandy, but she probably has something to say on the subject 😉
Advise on sleeping through the night?
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction (anything to recommend?)
Advice on cleaning products?
What have you pickled?


Sandy L October 4, 2011 at 7:23 PM

Molly Thanks. My mom and I did not get along at all when I was a “sassy teen”. We fought nonstop but I will ask.


Kris @ Everyday Tips October 4, 2011 at 8:33 AM

I would ask her about sex… (just kidding)

I would ask her about the family tree, and I mean really ask. I am not saying ‘oh 3rd Uncle so and so is from the Ukraine’. But like my grandma never wanted to talk about the family tree. I have my suspicions of what was going on, (I think her sister might really have been her mother…) but I could never find anything out. Maybe your family is skeleton free though. 🙂 That is for you though, just to find out more about where you come from.

For me, I would like to ask the following:
1. What does she think of Americans today, and compared to when she first came to this country.
2. If she could publish any recipe, which one would it be?
3. Favorite home remedy?
4. If she could have chosen any career, what would it have been?
5. What is the one thing she would love to be able to do if she could, or place she could travel to and see?
6. What is her least favorite place on earth?
7. What is the best lesson she learned in her life? Or, if she could teach the world one thing and we all had to listen, what would it be?
8. Does she wish she could drive?
9. Would she rather have been born when she was, or born now? Is she glad she was born in Poland, or does she wish she had been born in America. (Or somewhere else)?

By the way, cupping is a big hit with the celebrities, Babci was just a trend setter.


Sandy L October 4, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Kris – yes, she regrets not getting her license. My father forbid her to and she is still bitter about it. Great questions.


Little House October 4, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Hmmm… I’d want to hear Babci’s opinion on how America is changing; both demographically and growth wise. And maybe how she feels about the economy.

My step mom is practicing acupuncture and has also used cupping. It does seem to be making a come back. 😉


Sandy L October 4, 2011 at 7:29 PM

Little House – Babci loves America and her life has gotten progressively better as our family income has grown. It got loads better once I started making decent money and could help her out. I’d say she’s be pretty positive about America now. She also knows how lucky we are that my family hasn’t been impacted by layoffs. She is always telling me to work while I can because you never know when the opportunity to earn money will be taken away from you.


Niki October 4, 2011 at 10:49 AM

I have seen fire cupping before, but that picture makes it look very painful. Is it?

I am curious about cleaning supplies too. You know, besides vinegar.


Sandy L October 4, 2011 at 7:25 PM

Niki – it is not painful at all. It’s almost like being massaged.


Kellen October 4, 2011 at 3:06 PM

I’d want to know how to tell which wild mushrooms are good to eat. Except I probably still wouldn’t eat them, since that’s a bit scary.

But maybe some gardening tips? Which fruit trees and berry bushes are good to grow?


Sandy L October 4, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Kellen good ones – Babci hates apple trees because they need to be sprayed a lot to keep from being bug infested. Things like peaches and pears are low maintenance.


The Biz of Life October 4, 2011 at 8:31 PM

Never been cupped, never want to be cupped. I’d like to hear here opinion on how America, its people and their attitudes, have changed between the time she first arrived in the country and now.


Sandy L October 5, 2011 at 5:21 AM

Biz – good question. She always compares and contrasts America with Poland, but never the America from the 60’s and now…besides the fact that it’s a whole lot more expensive and harder to get ahead without a degree.


Erin October 4, 2011 at 8:45 PM

First off my husband and I love the Babci 🙂 Infact we often find ourselves saying what would Babci think of this or that 🙂 Anyhow I have two questions for her, one is can you reuse the glass cans (from like spaghetti sauce) for canning? If her answer is yes, then my other question is how do you get them to reseal?


Sandy L October 5, 2011 at 5:26 AM

Erin – she used to use non canning jars for canning, but the yield is lower because you do have some that seal and some that don’t. It’s a total crapshoot. The ones that don’t seal, you have to do over with a new lid and jar. Sometimes those spaghetti bottles fit with canning lids though which is better. Now that she can afford canning lids, she uses them instead. It’s the classic issue of time vs money. Canning is very time consuming. Using non-canning products can work, but it usually takes more time because of the do overs. I don’t can to save money. I do it to make a product that you can’t buy in stores, so I always use fresh lids. She now uses non-canning jars just to store things in the fridge (like the rest of us use tupperware).


heather in europe October 4, 2011 at 10:57 PM

What is Babci’s opinion/memories about the countries/people surrounding Poland: Russia, Germany, Lithuania, Ukraine, etc?
I’m curious on this one as my Lithuanian relatives have certain thoughts and opinions on their neighbors. 😉


Sandy L October 5, 2011 at 5:30 AM

Heather – the border in Poland moved so many times that at one point all of those races were within Polish boundaries. Even if someone grew up in Poland but in the old Ukrainian border, she would refer to a person as that Ukrainian. Generally speaking, she did not trust people from the surrounding countries for obvious historical reasons. I’m curious what your Lithuanian relatives thought.


growingmygirls October 5, 2011 at 12:42 AM

I too would be interested in anything Babci might have to say about parenting sassy pre-teens and teens, because we’ve all got to get through it. And I’m interested in how she found time/mental space for herself — how she hung onto herself — in whatever the language for that would have been in her time and however her culture and family did that. With 12 people in the house, must have been really hard, but we all do it somehow. I have a friend whose mother did it by getting up every morning at 5:30 am to read the paper and smoke a cigarette before waking the kids.
What a nice post!


Sandy L October 5, 2011 at 5:34 AM

GrowingmyGirls – she had a twin sister which she was very close to growing up. They had a special bond and used to swing from treetops together and get into mischief. She has always loved the outdoors and would have rather spent time in the field doing heavy farm work than in the house cooking. (Much like laura from little house on the prairie books). I think digging in the earth has always been her sanctuary, even now. Nowadays that she’s alone all the time, she gets her company from her plants and birds.


Andrew @ 101 Centavos October 6, 2011 at 5:11 AM

Sitting down with Babci over pie and coffee, questions to ask….
– Advice on growing up with a houseful of people.
– Favorite way to fertilize in the garden.
– What kind of garden pests she hates, and how to deal with them. Any other gardening topic…
– Jelly making (I know you’ve already covered this)
– Any other home remedy (my mom was very fond of dosing us with lemon juice and sugar for upset stomachs)
– Would she move everyone back to Poland if she could. Why or why not?
– Favorite proverbs (I’m sure these would come out in conversation anyway)
– Favorite food. Polish and American.
– Thoughts on American restaurants.
Is that enough for an afternoon and a few slices of pie?


Sandy L October 7, 2011 at 1:19 AM

101 – She definitely would not move back to Poland. She loves America, although now Poland is so Westernized, there’s hardly a difference. There are family issues she’d like to avoid as well though. She only really is close to her twin sister. She has issues with her other siblings. They are pretty selfish and money grubbing and she doesn’t want to be beating everybody away nonstop because there are a lot of them who are looking for handouts. Most of the family think she’s rich because she lives in America.

I’ll address some of the other items in future posts. Thanks so much for the ideas.


Ted A. October 6, 2011 at 11:30 PM

With all of your stories about Babci resourcefulness, frugality, and practicality, I’m left with just one question… Does she ever indulge herself with anything truly frivolous? (that is, besides making Karl blush)


Sandy L October 7, 2011 at 1:25 AM

Ted – her rose garden and buying crap at tag sales. She particularly has an overabundance of cookware, dishes, rugs and reams and reams of fabric.

For the others, Karl is a cute friend of ours that Babci slapped across the rear one day as he was leaving our house. It’s worth a whole article because the story is funny as hell.


Lindy Mint October 7, 2011 at 8:08 PM

In high school we did our own form of “fire cupping” with jars, peanut butter, and matches. I had no idea it was actually used for something other than sleepover entertainment.


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