Flat Stanley a.k.a. Marcello does Serbia

One of my fellow expats in rural Serbia has created a musical mixture of the East meets  West. Paul Shapera created this excellent little video and the music. He is quite a talented fellow! Enjoy a glimpse into Marcello’s visit to Serbia.

Flat Stanley paper cut-outs have made their way around the world from classrooms in the U.S. to teach kids about geography.

Here is a little blip about Stanley…. Flat Stanley is a 1964 children’s book written by Jeff Brown (January 1, 1926 – December 3, 2003).

Stanley Lambchop and his younger brother Arthur are given a big bulletin board by their father to display pictures and posters. He hangs it on the wall over Stanley’s bed. During the night the board falls from the wall, flattening Stanley in his sleep. He survives and makes the best of his altered state, and soon he is entering locked rooms by sliding under the door, and playing with his younger brother by being used as a kite. One special advantage is that Flat Stanley can now visit his friends by being mailed in an envelope. Stanley even helps catch some art museum thieves by posing as a painting on the wall. Eventually, Stanley is tired of being flat and Arthur changes him back to his proper shape with a bicycle pump. Thank you Wikipedia for all the above info!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Stanley

The Urban Dictionary has another meaning for a Flat Stanley. I will let you check a bit of naughtiness out here>> http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Flat+Stanley

Advertisements

Blessed with GREAT neighbors

I cannot believe how lucky I am. I was just reading another blog about finding good neighbors. I realized. I have hit the jackpot. I have an English teacher neighbor that has become so important to me. She is steps from my front door. My two best friends also live very close. And, I really love the people in my building. They are Wonderful.

It took too long to find that out. But now that I know them, life is so much Better.
Serbian People are amazing!

Ziveli! (Cheers)

 

No Bread Plates

Up on the left you can see my plate. My bread perched on the side of the plate. I just can let it sit on the table. This pic is from our Jan 6 Orthodox Christmas Eve dinner. Fish is common as it is a fasting day for Orthodox Christians. No Dairy or Meat.

Crumbs litter the table, bread sits on the naked tablecloth. I was a bit stunned by this at first, and I still try to perch my bread on the edge of the plate. It seems strange to me that it doesn’t have its own place to sit.

There is always a loaf of fresh backed bread at the bigger meal. It is sliced and everyone takes some as if it is a bit of daily communion. No one cares about the crumbs that scatter about.

The tablecloth is carefully removed and shaken outside after every meal. It makes the birds very happy.  🙂

The 100 Step Village~Stogazevac, Serbia

The 100 step village

I was on the top of a very tall hill, and I found fossilized coral. The muz (hubby) and I walked to the bottom of the hill and at the edge of the stream we were about to cross, when we found a stone with a shell fossil in it. He says this is not uncommon here. I am like a kid in a candy store. Sometimes, I feel I should be on a treasure hunt all the time.

This trek up the small mountain was just beyond the 100 step village.  It was a typical old village, quiet and quaint.

A rakija still was in service, and 2 men catered to what the muz calls the “happy” machine. We parked the car in front of their modest, but nice, town building. A passing Baba told us our car will safe there. This was the start our little adventure.  It is small but full of character and friendly people. We also met a nice couple of goats too. 🙂

Stogazovac is the” one hundred step village”.  Just past that beautiful little cluster of homes, is a 14th Century church. On the way to the church. you bypass paved roads and walk along with towering rocks to your right and a steep ravine to your left. At the bottom of the ravine, there is a creek trickling along. A ways up, the creek is dammed up to create a wonderful little swimming hole. There is such a difference in temperature as you descend to the waters edge. Fascinating how water has carved a deep crevice in so much stone.

The mountainous rocks tower over the road like sky scrapers. At some points there is a half tunnel carved in the rock to create the path to the old church. Trust me the pictures don’t do it justice!

We stopped a ways down because we though we had lost our way, and decided rest for a picnic. We sat at the roads edge, which had transformed into pastoral land was now mostly flat. Initially, we sat smack dab on the top of an ant hill. Ant bites are worse than their bark. We moved quickly!

When we had finished our fresh-baked bread with fresh, soft farm cheese baked inside, we saw behind was the church. It had been hidden by the natural skyscraper. It was nestled in just behind it.

The view back from our picnic sight.

It only took us a few minutes to find the path to the plank bridge that crossed the brook. We walked up the very steep hill to the top, and then rested to catch our breath.

The 14th century church had a fresh coat of paint and a new roof, but it was ancient. The walls were nearly 3 feet thick.

I can easily understand how people could find peace and worship inside or out. God had created a beautiful place. Man had made good use of the natural beauty. It is awesome there.

I was glad it was a Sunday when we came. I wish we could come here every Sunday. But soon the snow will cover the ground and getting up the hill will be impossible.

After we explored inside the church and out we made our way back down the hill to go back home. When we were about to pass through a place in the road, flanked by two massive rocks, a billy-goat came through like gang busters, and stopped when he saw us, sizing us up.  He retreated when the muz took a step forward. Probably smart. If I were a betting woman, I would put my money on the muz. He has been known to head butt bigger animals creatures and knock them down.

This billy-goat and his agile friend proceeded to climb the rock as we passed through the natural gateway.

Rabbit trail....The goats warmed my heart. I grew up on a farm with goats. My grandpa once put me on the back of our kind billy-goat and I held onto the horns. I remember his back being very pointy and not at all comfortable like a horse. End rabbit trail…
On the other side of the towering rock gateway, we were greeted by two village children, the goats caretakers. They said “Dobar Dan” or good day to each of us, and then kept looking back at us.
They were bewildered by my English. I love the wonder in their eyes. I wish I could sit and chat with all of them. I used to be a village child myself. I am pretty sure we have more in common than not! Just a difference of birth place and language.

The walk back to the car was fun, I stopped to take a pic of the same couple of gents making the countries favorite liquor, rakija. (This is pronounced rah-key-a.) One of the men said to me, “Odakle ste?” (Where are you from?) When I said “America”, it was fun to see the reaction on their faces. The village reactions and sweet interactions are so much different from the ones of regular town folks.

This was a magical day.

Giving Thanks to beat the Expat Blues

In just a couple of weeks, the American Thanksgiving holiday will be here. This post is about giving Thanks for what I have… and to kick my Negative Nancy into a Sunshine Sally.

I know how lucky I am to be living in Europe. The ultimate trip. Living abroad! I am Thankful I do not just dream about going somewhere, I actually have!  Now, I just have to deal with the repercussions of the big move!

I am thankful for this Blog!  It is a place where I can come to say anything. This is my therapists couch and my clay on a wheel. The end product may end up looking like my second grade clay bowl, but it is mine. and I love it!

I noticed today, as I talked with my two closest friends, I was being overly critical, judgmental, and negative. It happens often when I feel myself getting depressed. It is the kind of expat depression that doesn’t last long, but can feel like an eternity at the time.

Expat Blues before a holiday or at anytime is not out the norm. I just Googled “expat depression” and a slew of sites popped up, But first as I was typing in my search words it offered more… expat depression China, Germany, and so on.
I have heard of Beijing Blues, and having a Shanglow day in Shanghai. I would add Balkan Blues or Serbian Sadness. It happens and you just have to find your way out of the jungle and move on, knowing that you do love this place, just not all the time.

I am Thankful that the internet lets us commiserate. Knowing you are not alone is comforting.

I am Thankful that I get to work in Nature! For numerous reasons the great out doors is home. When I am in the fields, I don’t feel judged. I am able to just be me, breathe the fresh air and enjoy God’s creation. Usually, I am getting a great workout at the same time.

Incidentally, getting out of the house and working out are the too many things that kick expat depression in the rear. I am Thankful that I get to do that often!

It is when I come back to town, I feel like an alien. I feel that I just don’t fit in here. And as I just read in Sunny Sanguinity, ” I don’t always want to be different. But I want to be me.”

I don’t always mind being that stranger, sometimes I relish it. I am Thankful that being different isn’t always bad. 

I am Thankful for the internet! I can message people online and skype! Hallelujah! I need to do that!

I am Thankful for my Family. All of them! I am a lucky girl to have so many loved ones.

I am Thankful for Friends! I love you all! Thanks for being there for me.

Ok, I need to go back to bed… T minus three hours till I get up… I am Thankful Munchkin goes to preschool!  

I am Thankful that I get to go cuddle with my hubby and little one in a King size bed!

I am Thankful that writing this post lifted my spirits and I feel at peace! See, being Thankful helps!!!!!!

 

Cabbage Patch Kids

It’s harvest time! This week we were getting down and dirty in the garden. The only things that were naughty were the phallic looking or overly suggestive carrots. Shocking really how pornographic they can be.  Sorry no pics… I was afraid I may be reported for vegetable porn.

First, we conquered the cabbage patch. Profitable work, and fun ta boot! The hubby picked and peeled the balls of leaves. Cleaning off the layers of snail eaten bits and then passed me the heads to stack in the wheel barrel.

We filled three or four barrels. I toyed with calling this post “catching cabbage”. Rain has soaked the cabbage heads and made them heavy. As I caught them, they smacked hard against my fingers and palms and a spray of water would fly past.

After so much rain we were lucky to have a good harvest, but still we lost some of them to rotten soaking messes that stank of gooey, slimy leaves. Yum!

The next day it was celery root, beets, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. To be sure, my hands are dry and rough after digging in the clay for soil that is is our garden. It sucks the moisture right out of the fingers. I will digging dirt out from under my nails for some time.

The smell of  the pigs premium export filled our nostrils. We listened to them serenade us with their grunts and squeals from inside the adjacent pen inside the barn. It’s amazing how the smell of pigs and cows are the same the world over.That scent takes me back to childhood. It is strange, how it makes me feel at home.

Serbs always ask me how I like going to work in the village. I guess they assume it is foreign to me. But it is the place I feel most at home. My days of walking the streets of NYC have not spoiled me for life on the farm. I love the country life.

Our village kitty especially brings me joy. Lenka the kitten was our shadow, meowing time to time for attention and cuddles. At 3 months, she is already earning her keep catching mice! What a great little cat!

 

This is the kind of sweet sweaty labor that makes coming home at the end of the day, and taking a shower feel so good.

Dobar Dan Y’all!

Back to the Balkans


Hey all! Three months have passed in a flash. Back to the norm and back to blogging.
Writing has become kind of an addiction. I really missed writing and reading others posts.

Summer was a crazy, visiting family, and working hard.

Now, There are large lists of things to do. Soon, Munchkin should begin preschool. I can spend time really studying Serbian.

Our biggest new adventure is fixing up the family home that we will moved to eventually.
Now that it is empty we can begin to fix it up! 🙂 New windows, a heating system, and some interior changes will be made. My Pinterest pinning frenzy has begun!
For now I will leave you with some pics of our future home. I am so excited!!

The terrace view. Not grand, but a great place for coffee or tea!

The downstairs entrance… I am crazy for the doors!

I will give you a tour of the inside soon. Hope you all had an amazing summer! Happy Fall!
Dobar Dan Y’all

Meanwhile Back on the Farm… Pt 2

The rain is back with a vengeance.

I drove over the mountain today and the clouds sat so heavily  on the top that at some points visibility was a car length or two ahead. 😦

I always see strange sight on the road, and today was no exception. I saw a flatbed truck with only a few poles around the sides carrying a large bull and a cow. I couldn’t believe there was practically nothing keeping them on the truck bed. And this wasn’t on the small back road. This was a major highway! Culture shock! yes!

I enjoyed the day in the next big city with another expat. It was my first solo trip driving  the hour south. That is the stuff that boosts confidence.

Here, I barely drive. But back home, I drove all the time. I used to drive from the East coast to California for school! In Serbia, I am less than eager to drive. I don’t have to really, everything is so close. I walk everywhere.

The rain has caused severe flooding and loss of life.

Here is a heart warming video I found that shows some amazing animal rescues.

Fast forward two weeks…

Rain has stopped and time has flown with crazy busy Slava prep  and celebration.  Stress is mounting from the looming trip and separation from Munchkin and hubby. Still, life is good.

Hope you are all well.

Dobar Dan Y’all!

We Interrupt the Regularly Scheduled Program…Epic floods in Serbia and Bosnia

I am south-east Serbia, so I am not affected, but so many are. Entire towns and regions are devastated. Photo credit: https://twitter.com/Balkanist/status/467753725587886080

I don’t know if you have heard, but there are tens of thousands of people evacuated from their towns. One report I read stated that 15,475 people were evacuated.

 

Please pray for Serbia and Bosnia. Photo Credit: Saska Bogeski

I know that some people are having some flooding on the east coast, but it is not the same at all. This is the worst flooding Serbia has seen in 120 years.  Many have died and many are missing. The PM is not releasing numbers until it is all over, and I think that is wise.

Some in the town of  Loznica are stranded and are awaiting help. They are without power, water, and medicine. A rescue attempt was made but failed.

Photo credit

Sabac, a town in western Serbia was saved by 10,000 volunteers who showed up to build a levy that would keep out flood waters. If the levy broke, the waters would have risen to the third floor of the buildings.

Photo credit: Dragan Djedovic

Flooding has created mudslides. Rushing waters have hit cement homes, and those homes have crumbled and fell.

Photo Credit: Anonymous Srbija on Facebook

Help for the people is coming from within Serbia. Our town and every other town has collection venues. Cars and trucks are being packed loaded and sent off to lend aid.

Lots more help is coming from other countries. Russia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Austria,  Germany, U.S., France, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Israel, the Czech Republic, and Croatia. 

Like I said, I live in south-east Serbia, we have had lots of rain in the last month. But not such epic proportions. and we are not located on a large river. Just the little Timok River that is now high and muddy. It has stopped most of the work on our farm, but nothing else.

We are lucky, but so many families and animals aren’t.

This is truly a horrible blow to a country that is already having such economic difficulty.

I fear the flooding will have dire effects on the farmers and their crops. That will drive the cost of the food and hurt the people even more. I could cry for the people here. This is devastating.

Please help if you can.

Thank you on behalf of the many in need.

Links for new stories on the floods:

http://inserbia.info/today/2014/05/floods-in-serbia-15475-people-so-far-evacuated-sabac-secured/

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2014&mm=05&dd=16&nav_id=90346

http://inserbia.info/today/2014/05/floods-in-serbia-sabac-loznica-cut-off-lucani-completely-flooded/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27454669

Meanwhile back on the farm…. Pt 1

We are back to work… well, we were for 3 days.

Now, a bit of a break and time for coffee with friends!

Grand Reklama 😉

Almost a month straight of rain has soaked the ground.

Weeds grew like wildfire over the land.

I had to clear weeds from the baby trees by hand or hoe, and the hubby ran the plow and the tiller over the rest of the fields.

When we were sore and tired, things looked a lot neater, and the trees will have less competition for nutrients.

One of our fields slopes down to a small creek that became more like a river after all the clouds burst like water balloons. God’s water balloon battle left the lowest trees with their feet soaking for a few days.  But all is well, unless we get too much rain again.

Mother’s day was another work day, but it was also a great family day. Baba made an awesome breakfast pizza. I love Baba’s cooking!

Munchkin stayed with Baba and Deda for a two nights, and didn’t want to come home! What a nice break for the Mommy and Daddy! 🙂

Dobar Dan Y’all!