The Balkan life….

Sometimes when I am in our village I have blogging ideas. I may be in the field, or stuck upstairs waiting for my Munchkin to wake up. Often I am with out pen and paper but the trusty IPhone is there willing and able with a note pad! I write my thoughts and now I am sharing them with you.

Notice the lady with the large heavy hoe. She is wearing the traditional Baba uniform. The Black skirt and stockings. The large wool sweater and probably an apron. The foot wear is like a thick rubber ballet shoe. Normally they are accompanied with thick homemade wool socks that cover the stockings. This is good for all types of work. Even working the land.

 

 

Language Acquisition: my TT Tuesday

I think I have done three of four Ted Talks Tuesdays. I will continue to do them. I use them as a mini class to inspire me to learn about something I have great interest.  If you have an interest in language learning, I hope they inspire you as well.

Benny the Irish Polyglot gave this great speech on becoming fluent in many languages. Hope you will find it inspiring too.

 

Munchkin Monday 4.14.2014

Wee haw is still the word she uses for swinging. it is her own word. not Serbian or English

Chuti i Bezi is  what she likes to say to Daddy most right now. Actually that isn’t true.. but that is what he claims. Bezi means go away. and Chuti is like shut up. Not very nice. she has a very bossy streak… not unlike me. ;)

Making a tent in the bed and playing in the home-made one are the next best things to Peppa Pig.(Peppa Pig is on non-stop.) Making the bed tent equals us laying down and lifting our legs to hoist the covers up and create the tent. Presently, she calls all tents tunnels. I try to correct here, but I am getting used to being wrong already. It is inevitable she is right.

She loves running into friends in the park. We get a little play time in and then we walk home together.

Eating is only an occasional pass time. One day she will, and the next she won’t, but milk is always on the menu!

“Oh dear” is her new exclamation for angst. “Oh no” when something is broken or she has thrown dropped on the floor.

Play dough is best ground up in the fingers till it becomes flour again. Or Mommy is to make balls and eggs from it…. so she can again become a human mill creating Play dough flour.

She loves sitting on Daddy’s lap and reclining against his chest.

She is saying Pweez (please) and Thank you when she wants things. But not all the time.

That’s “the end” for this episode!

 

 

Farmer Problems, love stories and other village tales

Now that I am working on the farm here (in Serbia), I see that problems facing farmers in this neck of the woods are quite often different from the ones at home. The history of the land changes how things are done. The land is cut up into tiny sections or plots to farm, unlike back in the US where the fields being farmed are most often acres and acres for one farmer.

When a person decides to farm instead of moving to the city to get a job (like everyone else) a delicate process begins, finding land that is flat enough and close enough to other plots. All this at a good price. This can be tricky, and more complicated when people know you have worked in the U.S. and have an American wife!  Yep, the price goes up for us… but we are savvy and patient, we don’t buy over priced land.

This how it works for us: Mama makes calls to family member and friends begin to see if anyone has land they want to sell. When she does manage to acquire some, Then the game of “Connect the Plots” gets more interesting. And maybe you get lucky with some that are almost side by side.

This is where we are now. A few of the plots are quite close together, one is only separated by a long strip that is literally only two or three meters wide and a football field long.

Enter a love story half a century old. A woman long ago scorned and her thwarted desire breaks the connection. Quite literally, she was arranged to be married to the hubby’s father. He married someone else, my awesome Mother-in-law and they had my adorable hubby.

Rabbit trail…….Arranged marriages were quite common here not all that long ago. The hubby’s grandparents had an arranged marriage. Two prominent village families combined their land and their children. Talk about family business!

Back to the blog in progress~The sour old bitty won’t let it go, even though the land it just sitting there, and hasn’t been worked for YEARS. Still, she won’t let it go even for monetary gain! Her loss.

This is not the only love story of old that marks the village. Once I came downstairs to Mama having coffee with two of the neighbor women. I am not sure how they came to be sitting next to each other, but I noticed they only spoke to Mama and not each other. A strange tension was tangible.

After they left, Mama had a giggle about how they didn’t like each other. Back in the day, when they were both young girls, they had liked the same boy. One married the now long dead fellow and had a family. The other lived with her mother the rest of her life. These women were practically next door neighbors for eighty years!!!, and they refuse to speak to each other. :( Sad.

 

Choosing to be happy and letting things go is such a healthier lifestyle. Imagine the laughs they could have together if they only let the dead guy go and focused on life and friendship!

I can see how these things fester. We take a couple of dirt roads to get to our fields, this spring while one farmer was plowing his field, he decided to widen it a bit. The rest of the farmers using the gritty dirt road were a bit put off by his adding a few feet to his field by plowing into the well-traveled earth.  That kind of thing sticks in your craw. And when Papa drives the tractor on that strip, he steers the wheels over that bit of plowed patch so that the road again will be widened and the greedy goose won’t prosper from common property.

This is not the only episode of over plowing this season that has been an issue. One of our new fields (that abuts the sour old bitty’s unworked patch on the left) was measured, marked and planted. The knowledge of how much space we would need for the tractor to get around the trees guided our work. Two very large stones were placed at the edge our field and his to be out-of-the-way of the plows. The farmer, then plowed a full meter into our field. It isn’t like it will ruin our crops, our trees are another meter over so no harm done to them. But he won’t be reaping anything from our fields to be sure!

Distrust is something that seems to be ingrained in the heads of people here and it is no wonder. The hubby and I were interested in some land not far from one of our families biggest field’s. The very old village drunk was keen for some more beer and was eager to sell us land he was far to old to work.

We made arrangements to see the plot and picked up the antique gent for a look at the piece that was his. His rickety frame wobbled out to meet us on the road and we helped him climb slowly into the wagon.

To make a long story short, it turned out to be a nice piece of flat land with complications staggering. The son didn’t want us to buy it. From what I heard, he was a drunk too, and he didn’t want to work the land he wanted to sell it to spend the money on adult beverages. That apple didn’t fall far from the tree! He threatened my husband, but the hubby isn’t easily intimidated. ;)

When the paperwork was to be done and all was on its way to being signed in the city office, hubby got a look at the plot of land on a computer. It was not the same one he was shown.

Dah    Dah     Duh!     What a twist to this tale! After seeing the land, working out a price, repelling threats, and paying fees for paper work, we find out we almost bought and worked a completely different piece of land!

It pays to do things the right way and make sure things are handled properly!

I am positive there will be more village tales to come, I am always hearing old stories and experiencing new cultural things.
Thanks for stopping by!  I would love to hear if you have had any similar experiences. or interesting cultural stories. Please leave me a comment! :)

Dobar Dan Y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no such Thing as a Dumb Question pt. II: Why did WWI start because some duke was killed?

lafemmet:

Fascinating history!

Originally posted on Kickass History:

The First World War was a defining moment of the Twentieth Century , and of our times . While assassinations are by no means trivial in world diplomacy, what was precisely important about Archduke Franz Ferdinand, why did Serbia support the Black Hand organization, and furthermore, why were Germany and Russia so angry about it? The usual explanation is a combination of three factors: Imperialism, Alliances, and the Arms Race. However, while an adequate general explanation of the period hitherto, this ignores the complex underlying reasons for the crises in the Balkan region which initially brought the various nations of Europe into such a brutal conflict and century defining event. The First World War is still one of the most destructive in terms of human loss, cultural artifacts, and last, but certainly least, financially. Why did World War One start because some duke was killed?
Ferdinand isn't his last name, which would technically be von Hapsburg.

This guy.

and why was this guy so pissed off? and why was…

View original 718 more words

Life lessons learned on the farm

I mentioned in my last post we have a new (used) toy on the farm, our Italian tiller. I will call this “toy”  Pecky because it expands and retracts like a pecker. And because there is a rooster on the sticker.

 

Pecky the tiller is a dynamo, it chews up  the ground like cookie monster does cookies. The tilling arm extends until the sensor pushes it back from a tree like we would step to the side to avoid a pole in our path. This machines work hard so we don’t have to hoe the field all up to stop the weeds. Like the rest of us it isn’t perfect. If the machine is tilling without guidance from a human, it can easily chew up baby trees because the sensor is only going to notice the big ones.

Like most farm machines, it is big, and heavy. It has to be. This makes it hard for little people like me to control it. You need a strong arm. Mine is not that strong.

Another downfall of the machine is the jostled while not in use, or it isn’t on level ground, the tilling teeth will slowly extend. *Spoiler alert* Our fields aren’t all that flat, so my job was very difficult.

I learned this all the hard way on the first day. I was the one sitting on the back of the tractor holding our little work horse rooster by the reins.

This is where the lessons began, but they didn’t end there.

As I was struggling with Pecky, I began to explain the problems I was having to the Muz. I guess he thought I was just being lazy or I just didn’t know what I was talking about, because he didn’t believe me.

How could his wonderful new toy be extending on its own, Of course it wouldn’t. I had to be the operator. His mule like wit made me want to quit, but this is my land too. Quitting isn’t much of an option for me. I like to see a job completed.

I worked on noticing one issue after another and tried to tell the Muz, but he wasn’t hearing it. I started to hate the machine by the end of that day.

The next day we were at it again and again he didn’t believe me. At the end of the day he wanted to go to a field of seedlings, and take the sensor off. That means it would be all my arm strength in pulling the tiller to keep the baby seedlings safe as Pecky rolled by with an insatiable appetite.

My arms were both sore and tired. I knew that I wasn’t capable of keeping our new baby trees from the spiraling teeth, so I refused to do it. He would have to drive the tractor and pull the rope himself.

After one row he stopped, he wanted to know if I was really going to make him plow an acre of our seedling sour cherries himself. I prayed for wisdom and the right words as I walked down the field to speak with him. Speaking simply and calmly, I told him, I wasn’t strong enough, I just couldn’t do it.

He pressed on and tilled up the field as I walked around removing large stones from the field that would harm Pecky’s teeth.

I was relieved to go home at the end of the day, and an even better surprise awaited me. We would have no baby sitter the next day as Baba had to go out of town. I was relieved that the Muz and Papa had to be the tilling team.  I knew by the end of the next day, the Muz would see I was right. Thankfully he did. He admitted it immediately upon his return home the following evening.

Even after he worked out some of the bugs he would still complain about how sore his arm and hand were from pulling on Pecky’s cord to make it retract all day. All I could say was, “I told you!”

I am not writing this for him to read and see the” I told you so” thing. I am writing this for me.

Experiences like these are good for all of us. They are painful to go through. But I learned several lessons. Some were reruns or reminders of truths previously learned.

Relationship lessons

1. Sometimes no matter how much you explain something, a person must learn by experiencing it themselves.

2. We need to be patient with our loved ones.

3. Quitting may not be a bad thing sometimes.

4. Trust yourself. Only you know how strong you are. Don’t let others tell you that you are strong enough when you know you aren’t. And don’t let them stop you when you are!

5. Tomorrow is a new day, with more to learn.

6. Perspective is everything. Sometimes getting a new one is the only option.

Pecky lessons

1. Don’t be too cocky, no one is perfect.

2.  If we get too shaken up sometimes we bare our teeth.

3. Gravity can get to us all. We just need to know we can pull ourselves back up, even if it takes a little time and lots of effort.

4. Be sensitive to the big ones and the little ones.

5. Get rid of the weeds in your life. Weeds consume the life-giving water and nutrients.  Without them you to grow stronger and bare more fruit.

 

 

 

Life Update~ Progress on the land

Lots of progress in the land.

New tiller for the back of the tractor.

Land cleared…by hand.. The hubbies and mine. We are tired!

 

There is about of meter cleared out from the trees for a long stretch. Prickery trees and vines make the work very hard. but very satisfying.

Cherry Trees are blossoming

This is one of the wild cherry trees beside our fields.

You can see a blossoming sour cherries in a field below. Up close the blossoms look like big puffs of cotton.

Bees are buzzing.

New seedlings planted last fall are doing well!

Our muscles are sore, But the progress is great.

We have had some wonderful spring thunder showers.

Munchkin was fascinated by the big thundering booms.

 

The rain and mud that follows is giving us some much-needed rest! Yippee!

Time for some play.

Celebrating in the park with Munchkin is fun.

One of her favorite things to do it blowing on Dandelions that have turned white. She doesn’t mind sharing that with her kitty friends.

Dobar Dan Y’all!

Ted Talks Tuesday. For Women and a Better World

One of the purposes of my life is to encourage and empower women. I am finding Ted Talks particular helpful for me, and maybe you will too.

I was incredibly moved by this  Talk by Manal al-Sharif. She is the women who filmed herself driving in Saudi Arabia. She has a lot of great quotes.
The points that most struck me are these.

A country is not free unless the women are free. 

This is so true, and like in her example, it is not just about law it is about cultural traditions and beliefs. Often I feel like I live in a Muslim country. And, in fact, Serbia was ruled by Muslims Turks for 400 years. The hangover of that occupation and oppression has left a serious mark. I feel it daily. Women must be very strong here. They must speak up for themselves and know their worth. Sadly, many do not and it continuing the oppression of women.

It is not only about the system, it is about the women. 

There is a quote I have seen here and there, “What you allow will continue”. It is not only about the people who appear to be in control. It is about everyone. If you put up with bullying and believe what is said, you allow yourself to be made less. It is your fault for not standing up for yourself, and it is a VERY bad example for your children and the rest of society. Everyone benefits from a strong smart society of Men And Women.

You get stronger only if you stick up for yourself and others. Being quiet and keeping the peace not only harms you but also the entire society. If you don’t put forth effort for change, nothing will happen.

Her last statement is the key to it all. “Who do you think is more difficult to face, governments or oppressive societies?”

It is obviously the societies, There are always norms or beliefs held to be true that if you do not heed them there are cultural sanctions. I feel like I fight them daily here, but I am different because this is not my natural society. That gives me freedoms others do not have. It also gives me a different view of what is right or proper. Fighting cultural norms are not so hard for me as for women here.

There are some freedoms in being a foreigner, but there are also some larger constraints. If and when I speak out about things that are wrong in my new society, it may be seen as a mean or unfair critique of that society. But if I don’t speak up, I won’t know if it is or not. I also won’t know if what I say may help empower or enlighten others to things that may not be seen as clearly as me. There is a better than average chance I will speak up if I can speak in English. I am not terribly afraid to rock boats. I like the way they rock most of the time. :)

In my humble opinion, I think that women need to question the limitations put on them. Look at norms with logic. Think, really think about the things you feel are stopping you. It may just be yourself or an idea in the society and nothing more. Take the initiative for change. Trust me, I know that I am no one of great importance. I am just a women who wants a better life for herself, her family and her friends, and for the rest of Serbia. The little steps we take can turn out to be big ones. You just never know.

If you think this applies only to women in eastern countries you are far from the truth. There are so many things that need to change all over the world. Please apply these ideas to your own life for a bit of change for the good. :)

It took 100 women of their society to  make a change in Saudi Arabia. Only 100! imagine what just a few can do in yours.

Please watch this Ted Talk. You may just find it inspiring too!

Please share your thoughts, questions, or any comments you have. Dialogue is enlightening.  :)

Munchkin Monday~ Counting and Colors

Munchkin is talking and singing and learning. She watches and copies. Her English is surpassing the Serbian at the moment, but that is because I am her main teacher.

Twinkle Twinkle (little Star is the only real song she sings, and those are the only words to the song she says as well. It is just “Twinkle twinkle” over and over. and I could listen to it forever.

 

Colors have been concurred, though purple remains to be a challenge. It is just another pink to her.  Is that normal?

I love that she points and says, “Lellow car, red car!” She is so excited to learn and colors are fun.

Baba and Daddy are working on her Serbian and she is learning that a little more slowly, she understands but is more likely to be verbal in English. Accept for the words, what’s that? or rather, “Staj je to?” She says it all the time and sometimes just to hear herself talk.

Because of her love of spiders, and the numerous times she has watched “Itsy bitsy Spider” videos on her kindle app and on Youtube, she now has an obsession with water spouts. They seem to be placed every few meters on the downtown streets. She notices all of them!

We are working on numbers now and if she is not yet grasping the concept she is getting that there is a rhythm in counting. I am noticing numbers everywhere and now and eager to show her and get her excited about them.

 

I think about it even when we are in the garden or the barn. Yesterday I saw this thin piece of wood and could help but make a clock for her to see the numbers while she was outside playing. Grandpa added the DOXA. I think it is a Serbian brand clock.

Everyday bring new and exciting adventures. She is more and more aware of her surroundings and I must take what she says to be true more than before. If she says “spider” there probably is one.

Last night as we were driving home she said, “Daddy Whoa!” when we passed a car. The bright lights and fast pace shocked here. It was so funny to see that she notices now. Her exclamations are hilarious. “Uh oh, oh dear, oh no” are quite common.

“Ne”  and “NO NO NO” are the words she will use to stop you if want to interfere in a task that she knows is a no no. And Bezi! is my favorite. She says that when she wants you to go away.

She knows when she is doing things she need to keep quiet about, when you discover her deeds, she will speak with authority and determination.

I found her yesterday in the pigs water dish, elbow deep.. It was just sitting out there soaking in the sun. being cleaned for the next round of pigs we raise. Millie of course can’t resist a “cuddle” (her word for puddle). She was splashing and enjoying til mommy the killjoy came along!

When I inquired what she was doing, she said, “Mommy NO!” I knew I had to stop the fun without even seeing the water dish from behind the make shift recycled skid fence.

 

The first Vasher of the season was this past week. Munchkin had her first Merry go round ride after a good bounce on the trampoline. She wanted me to join her, and I wanted to too. Sadly, it was not allowed. :( 

The Merry Go Round was her favorite. When I took her off the ride to head home, she was fine at first and then the crying started. It didn’t end all the way home! What fun pushing a stroller through  hoards of people who keep turning to see why your little one is crying. Glad that is over!

Teaching her has been going really slow lately, because we have been in the field more than anything else.  It is serious labor, but exciting to see the progress a few people can make in the land. Hard work really pays off in the long run. That is really an all around truth.

 

Back to the grind…

Dobar Dan Y’all!

 

 

I had a dream…. of slavery

I just woke up from a dream. The sun is not up yet and  I come out of the dreamy haze with relief and still a huge weight on my consciousness. In the wee hours of the morning, I can just make out that my little one is sound asleep beside me. She had inched herself up to the top of the bed and was using the entire pillow as her mattress.  I pull her down under the covers to keep her warm.

I couldn’t shake the feeling of the dream. Sleep again evades me. So I will share this tale of fear. I am afraid for some, reality is and much worse.

Surrounded by the surreal fuzziness of dream state, not caring for truth or logic, I found myself moving back to the apt I had lived in NY. I arrived late and exhausted. I crawled into bed and realized I needed something so I moved to the floor  to find it. On my hands and knees I searched. I was wearing a t-shirt and undies. normal sleep attire. Immediately, I heard voices. My land lady pleading with someone.  I wanted to flee to the safely of the closet. Fear struck me and weighed me down like a stomach full of bricks.

Instantly my landlady and a strange man were there and I was  frozen in the crawling position, in my underwear in front of a stranger. The man was openly eyeing me with nauseating lust. I was without a place to hide. If I could have only made it to the closet… he wouldn’t know I was there.

As time went on I found out he was keeping a young girl there hostage. a sex slave She and the landlady had wrist bracelets like shocking dog collars, but much more sinister. They glowed green like evil eyes. They were prisoners of the house.

He made his way to me and I felt the fear and revulsion engulf me. He kissed me and talked to me as if I was his possession with no choice or means of escape. I was trapped. I learned how the other girl felt. Hopeless, ever fearful, and just a shadow of human life. Freedom was just a dream of the past.

The young girl was his. Her body was not her own. He came and used her when he wanted. Her small room was her only solace.

So many thoughts raced through my mind.

in this situation you learn new things and new ways to be fearful. You try to hide your fear and disgust. you don’t say anything. You are an animal in a trap. no voice or words.

I kept thinking of the girl, she was so young missing her life. No one would care for her if she was sick, she had only to wait and for him to come to her. traumatized by the horrible reality that she was a modern-day slave…like so many others in this world. living in darkness, taken from her family. depression grips and becomes a shackle. A dungeonous life.

You can imagine the relief I felt as reality struck. But for many, a life worse than this is reality. The profits from captured women forced into  prostitution are so great that stopping these people  is next to impossible. These vile subhuman, who sacrifice the lives of others,  including young girls and boys are so powerful, and the desire of so many is so great that this will continue.

Men paying to use these slaves tell themselves lies that the women have chosen this life. But deep down they must know that is not true.

Victims are surviving physically, but dead inside. Hope is beyond their reach.

This is still heavy on my chest. I have such a burden to help, and I just don’t know how. Eastern European living makes me think of it more. Though I know it is just as much of a reality back in the US.