The Poopy Potok

There are a few vocabulary words that may come in handy when reading this post. First, potok means creek. Selo is the word for village.

FYI all puns are intended. Here we go.

My first hint of the crappy truth came one day as I was foraging for walnuts down a hill by the local creek. Bits of trash was strewn about the creek bed, an old horses skull looked up at me from a ways off, and then… A few yards away, I saw an outhouse precariously perched over the tinkling creek. I was a bit shocked.

Immediately, a school field trip to Cowan’s Gap Pennsylvania State park came to mind. I remembered the park rangers telling us if we are out in nature, never defecate near water. He gave valid scientific reason about spreading diseases. E-coli is one of the bacteria found in fecal mater and probably making a dangerous cocktail creek. That memo never made to these here parts.

At that time, I was living in a nearby town. We have done some moving around and now are in a little selo a.k.a. a village. Since seeing that lone wooden water closet, I have come to see that practice was common here. There is one other stilted out house that has pilings leading up to the tall narrow waste station pimped out with abandoned car rim decor. Fancy digs for the village.

Imagine making your way down the hill to the mosquito infested creek to relieve yourself only to become a victim of the buzzing little vampires. You would most certainly be itching your booty bites for some time to come.

Now, most people have indoor plumbing. Still, the pipes that leave the home that carry the sewage, often carry the waste, straight down to the stream. Hmm. This took me some time to grasp.

Village trash is also often dumped into the streams and over hills in hidden or not so hidden locals. This really vexed me. The land is gorgeous, and the people don’t take pride in what great beauty they are free to behold.

As I pondered this, I remembered that back in the 70’s trash was dumped willy nilly in the Pennsylvania countryside. And, when I lived in NY, I recall having a conversation at the bank of the great Husdon river about how laws had been made to clean it up. The Hudson was once the same as every waterway in Serbia. People threw their trash and companies emptied waste directly into the river. No fish survived the pollution.

Years later, the Hudson has a thriving ecosystem of birds, fish, and other forms of life. The river is beautiful. The banks are a lovely place for a picnic or stroll. But it took a great deal of effort and education. And that took time. That is what Serbia needs as well.

Slight rabbit trail… Just this week, for the first time in 4 years, my hubby has cleaned up the potok. Literally, 4 days ago. It was an eyesore, and now it is only slightly less than pristine. I mean, there is still poo but no trash. 🙂 It’s the little things. Again, pun intended. 😉
This post has been a work in progress and just as I was polishing it up, without a word to the muz he cleaned it up. Hallelujah! Angels are singing over here! You cannot imagine my joy. Really, you can’t.

Back to the regularly scheduled blog….

My thoughts of these and other questionable habits have been pondered for years. I used to be critical and judgy. Over time, I have come out the other side of these thoughts. I realized, that the privileges of living in a land of infrastructure and laws that preserved nature’s purity was never granted in this region in small villages. There is no trash removal as in the city. Villages are occupied mostly by the ederly. They have less. Most don’t have cars in my region.

Life here is more precarious than the old wooden outhouses perched above bubbling brooks.

This country has survived many wars and renaming of the land time and again. The people are resilient, they offer gracious hospitality, and the land is a sight to behold. Serbia is a fantastic place. Infrastructure will eventually be put in place. For now, I love the land for what it is. Every land is a work in progress as are we.

Grace and understanding of the social system, economy, and the cultural traditions and their history is key to living here. I am learning. Hopefully, I am becoming a better human.

Find the beauty where you are and love one another.

Covid Test Serbia

On Monday, our little had a really sore throat in the morning before school. The protocol is that she gets a COVID test before returning to school. This morning, I took her on my own with my poor Serbian skills to the doctor. We live in a small town, and I really feel bad for the people who have to deal with me. I am sure having to try to explain things to foreigner is the las thing overworked medical staff want to do.

Upon our arrival, there was just a short wait to see Dr. Nice Lady in pediatrics (the covid section).  She was smiling, kind and so helpful. She even spoke a little English. She has no idea how grateful I was. Our little didn’t have a temperature but her throat is red. Dr. Nice Lady asked the usual question and asked if we had been in contact with anyone with COVID. We haven’t to our knowledge. The Doc listened to the heart and lungs, and looked at her throat. She called in a nurse for blood testing and then sent us to wait for a COVID nasal swab. 

It is a short walk to the other side of the hospital. We waited outside the building with about 3 men. She came out within 5 minutes and swabbed the nose. It was not pleasant, but not horrible like I had imagined. I thought there would be tears and lots of squirming. Our little is a trooper! 

In less than 10 min, the lady returned with negative results. Then we headed back to the original office for the final paperwork.  The doctor was on break. Our wait was about 20 min. I am not complaining. I know, back home we have waited much longer and paid through the nose. The hospital staff was congenial. The service was quick and efficient. I was relieved.  

We went to pharmacy/apoteka next door for the prescription. There was a little misunderstanding and language stress. But a drug rep was able to help translate. The stress is short-lived. I learn from each experience. Looking for the positives makes for a sunny outlook.

I was really nervous about going on my own. But I have accomplished one more intimidating task. I am stronger and more confident now. Hooray!

Our little one is off school for a week. Homework will be done. But I will turn off my morning alarm. Maybe I will get a little more sleep.

My friends, stay healthy, and love one another.

I am over the Currier and Ives meets COVID winter the part dva

FINALLY spring is arriving. The birds are chirping, blossoms are are blooming, and the chill is dissipating. THANK GOD! Yesterday was divine, I continued painting my barn front sunshine and flowers mural after I taught a few classes. Today is a blustery partly sunny partly grey day. Not as outdoor friendly. I shall stoke the fire and write. Oh and teach.

Lately, the covid restrictions have ramped up despite the well organized vaccinations around Serbia. We will be staying isolated. Living our Currier and Ives meets internet lives. Let me share a bit of what I mean.

Wood Burning Woes

All winter and for the last few years, I have been posting village pics that make people reminiscent of the days of yesteryear. Trust me, often it isn’t as cool as you think. I am longing for homes well insulated and heated not by a romantic fire that I must feed like the plant from Little Shop of Horrors. Feed me Seymore! I am over it!

All winter, I wake to feed the animals and the fires. Upstairs and downstairs I stock the wood supplies and keep the fires going to ensure our bodies stay warm.

It starts out cozy and moves on slowly to monotonous. We are beyond that now, and I am exceeding grateful the warmth and signs of spring’s divine return. Halelujah! Imagine a chorus. ‘Cause that is what’s going on in my mind.

I was just sharing these same thoughts with two other expats that live in villages. The Canadian shared that he had put some logs in the cooking part of the stove to dry out. Dry wood burns better than wet wood and he had seen a neighbor baba do the very same. It is a brilliant idea. But the wood had dried in time and then caught fire. Whoops! He quickly moved them into the wood burning part and aired out his home, thus inviting the cold back in that he was trying to kick out. LOL Ah, we all have these funny, but not funny stories.

Mother Goose doesn’t wear a bonnet here. She has brass knuckles and bears her teeth. Her bite is worse than her honk!

Every week, I make a short trek to the neighbor dairy maid turned baba. She is always wearing the baba uniform. The typical garb is a dark long sleeve shirt, a wool sweater, an ancient skirt paired with an apron, thick black tights, completed with the black rubber slip on shoes.

When I venture over during the day, I am on guard. The neighbors geese have been let out to roam, free range without fences. They are just one of the village terrorist groups. The miniature Mafia dogs up the hill are another. Then there are the little school house security dogs. Both canine crews are short in stature with Napoleon complexes. But lets get back to the geese.

These geese take freedoms with the neighbors yards that are not sufficiently fenced. Ours is one of those poorly fenced. Yesterday, I found a huge goose poop right in front of my door. I am sure that is the furry of a scorned goose. The retribution from being chided harshly with a big stick as I passed by on my way for milk. This is the terrorism I face on my routine walk for milk. The geese gang up on me and harass me as I pass by. They would and HAVE bitten me when my guard was down. It hurts. So, now, I always grab a big stick to scare them off. Sometimes it keeps them running away depending on their mood. Other times it does little to deter their savage need for blood. Seriously, you would think they were carnivores!

The winter’s early sunset makes for a very cold, walk with the phone flashlight lighting my way. Our dog Ginger insists on accompanying me and we set the neighbor dogs to barking as we pass by. The evening post-milking pickup is usually quick and I head home lugging 4 litters of fresh warm milk.

Upon my return, I boil the milk and let it cool until morning. I bottle it and freeze a few liters using only one bottle for immediate use.

The spring has elongated the days and my jaunt to retrieve the milk is now lit by the setting sun and I am grateful, even if the aggravating geese are still at large. I am also thankful that the milk is fresh and it is whole. No additives or preservatives. Straight from Dobrila the cow.

Currier and Ives is not as sweet as it looks my friends. The Golden days of old are only that way in our memories or on canvas. Trust me!

As always, try to find the good and beautiful where you are. Be kind. This will make each day golden for you and others.

Taste of the Old Mountains Stara Planina

My friends, I have a real treat to share with you today. I am a year late posting, but as this is winter and these are some good old stick to your ribs and keep you warm recipes, this post is right on time! Let me introduce your to the mouth watering tastes of Stara Planina. Join me for a virtual potluck brought to you by many mountain babas (grandmas) exploring the gastronomic heritage of the old mountains.

I was thrilled when a friend of mine invited me to an international event that showcased the most popular recipes of the region. These are the staple foods that graced the tables across the mountains that boarder Serbia and Bulgaria. This Serbian “soul food” keeps shepherds full while tending sheep and goats. This flavorful bouquet supplies the energy to complete challenging tasks of herding sheep or piling a haystack worthy of of little boy blue style nap!

These recipes are almost as old as the craggy peaks with that much depth of flavor. You cannot go wrong with any of these .

The day was overcast. The sky was spitting rain intermittently. As we walked up the building there was a bit of bustling outside. Some of the good stuff was being prepared alfresco! There was a corn meal mixed with cheese called belmuz. A kind gentleman was stirring the cauldron and handing out samples. What a delightful start!

Moving to the inside we were delighted to see the tables filled with a feast fit for a king, with recipes are almost as old as the hills Let’s start with the appetizers.

The ingredients for each of these recipes are homegrown, raised, or made in house from their own cows, milk, eggs. Village cheeses are popular. Making cheese is not a thing of the past. This art is alive and well. These local cheeses are used to create personal cheese balls that make scrumptious appetizers.

Swirling sandwiches and pastries are a visual and culinary delight. The snail style finger sandwiches are filling and varied in their ingredients.

Filo rose pastries melt in your mouth with each buttery crispy bite.

My favorite dish is stewed cabbage and ham! Choice bits of pink pork with flavorful fatty bits cooked soft in a huge pot infusing each bite. Just the thought instigates a pool of saliva that left unchecked could create dog style drool! It is that good.

I encourage you to watch the videos in English or not. They may inspire you to try your hand at one or create your own mouth watering dish. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP2SXBABFmJccT9iIWJpuZQ/videos

Visit their Facebook page for more ideas and links that may boost your culinary creations. This is the PERFECT TIME! Get too it!

https://www.facebook.com/ukusstareplanine/

My desire is for you to be inspired to come visit and taste these stellar meals first hand in this breath taking land. I love this place. You will too.

For the record, I make no profit off of this post. It is not sponsored or encouraged by anyone. It is solely inspired by my love of Serbia, it people, culture, and food. Come visit!

Sve za Beba~All for Baby Traditions in Serbia 1

When I came to Serbia so many years ago,  I was in awe of the different traditions. Having wet hair and going out in any weather is inviting death as well as opening two windows at once that will bring the dreaded draft or promaja.

Enter the Bumbo Seat (Used worldwide…. but probably not in the Balkans) An infant seat that looks like it should be used in Bars from drunks who tend to fall off their stools.    But then, babies are like little drunks. Think about it!  They pee themselves, spill their drinks, vomit without warning, and there is no reasoning with them.

A month or so after my entrance to the Balkans I was taken by surprise. Visiting a friend who is a nurse in Serbia she fretted a bit when I sat her infant on my lap. She told me, Babies must not sit up or their hips can be damaged. I was so shocked. I had never heard this before. Not to mention, I had lots of experience in caring for infants from birth and none of them had ever had hip problems.

I questioned myself for a while wondering if I had lost my marbles and maybe this was a thing in the west and I was just unaware. But no, that wasn’t the case.  And in fact, they have seats called Bumbo made specifically for babies to sit in. !!! For real! Here is proof!

The hip problem is such a worry that mothers put a clothe wrap around the diaper that serves as a little brace to keep the babies hips secure.  That is worn til they are 6 months old.

NEW INFO!!! added 3/10/15 a day after the initial posting.

Here is the reason for the care of Serbian baby hips, and it is all in regional genetics. I had pondered this so many times.Finally answer that makes sense!

A kind reader was generous to share this info with me!

Former Yugoslavia had the second highest incidence of dysplasia of the hip in the world. It’s most probably genetic. Almost 10% of all babies in the 1970’s had hip dysplasia, mostly girls, so people are quite freaked out about it. It was not until the mandatory sonograms were introduced that this number was reduced.

Here is an online bit of research I found after having that helpful comment.

http://www.doiserbia.nb.rs/img/doi/0370-8179/2009/0370-81790908402S.pdf

That was probably my first shock concerning what is thought  to keep babies healthy here in Serbia. The next one came along not too long after.

I will write about that one soon!

Sveti Nikola~ Saints on Sunday

Taken directly from Wikipedia….He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, a practice celebrated on his feast day―St Nicholas Day (6 December, Gregorian calendar, in Western Christianity and 19 December, Julian calendar, in Eastern Christianity) ;[7] and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of “Saint Nikolaos”. (End copy paste from Wiki.

It is celebrated twice a year. All of them maybe. I am unsure.In December this is a fasting slava. It is also celebrated in May. This is not a fasting slava. Much better food is served in my opinion. 🙂

This is our patron saint. Every family has one in Serbia. When it is your Saints day, it is the custom in Serbia and only Serbia, that you have a dinner and invite your friends.  They come at an appointed time. Most likely that you will be serving loads of people over two or three days.

I love this Saint and how he became one. Everyone should strive to be a secret giver.  Random or non-random acts of kindness are a great way to make life better. Giving is so much better than receiving.

Happy Sunday!

Dobar Dan Y’all!

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.  🙂

Attention Animal Lovers!! Help!

There is a dog sanctuary that will probably soon be shut down. There are just a few days left. A petition is raising awareness and collecting signatures from around the world to stop the dogs from losing their homes and keep them alive. They will surely be collected if this is not stopped. What will happen to them is uncertain.

Where is this happening? Nis, Serbia. Please help! Please please please sign the petition.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/399/617/989/450-dogs-to-be-evicted-on-christmas-day-massive-international-protest/

Here is an article in Serbian about it: http://www.telegraf.rs/vesti/1352635-gori-internet-zbog-srbije-i-nisa-akcija-spasavanja-niskih-pasa-postala-svetski-trend-ukljucite-se-foto

Sasha has done a great job for years helping the strays of the city.

There is also an organization that has gotten involved,Serbia’s forgotten Paws is doing a tremendous job with collecting strays, caring for them, and trying to find them homes! People from around the globe have joined in and made pilgrimages to Serbia to help. Please Check out their site here and like it! https://www.facebook.com/serbiasforgottenpawspage

Thanks for your support!

 

Saints on Sunday~ Saint George

Once upon a time there was a blogger in the Serbian realm who I anticipated reading. The Real Housewife of Belgrade was a great story-teller. Funny and informative, and everyone loved her. I am sure they still do, but she has exited the great land of Serbia.

Her Sunday legacy was to write about  Churches she visited in her European travels. There were lots of Church on Sunday posts. And I loved that idea. I have done a few of them myself. But I wanted to use the idea and make it my own. I always felt a bit like a poor knock off.

Here’s the deal. I am Protestant.I miss going to church on Sunday.  And the Orthodox Christianity has the same God, but many different traditions. The church is freezing cold in the winter. I cannot understand anything. (The service are held in old Serbian. About 10% of the population of Serbia may understand.) so I don’t go.

FYI It is an old tradition like Catholics holding some of their Masses in Latin… All Masses were in Latin before the 1960’s. Thank God things have changed in the Catholic Church so people can hear the Gospel. I have no proof, but more people may attend if they could understand. That is just my Western brain thinking.

Since arriving here, learning about Slavas (dinners) and patron Saints of  families, I have wanted to learn more about the Saints. It is a new Christian education. I know the Bible fairly well. I went to a Christian college and even studied Hebrew for a better understanding. But the saints heralded  here are not in the Bible.

Enter my epiphany and self-education with Saints on Sunday posts!

We will begin with St. George. Why? Because I like that there is a dragon in the picture of this saint! I love dragons, but since I am a Game of Thrones fan, I can see how unwieldy they can be. Thus, slaying them was a must. 😦

 

Here is the story of St. George as per Wikipedia.  Yes, I did Copy/Paste!  😛

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

According to the Golden Legend, the narrative episode of Saint George and the Dragon took place somewhere he called “Silene”, in Libya; the Golden Legend is the first to place this story in Libya as a sufficiently exotic locale, where a dragon might be found. In the tenth-century Georgian narrative, the place is the fictional city of Lasia, and the idolatrous emperor who rules the city is called Selinus.[8]

The town had a pond, as large as a lake, where a plague-bearing dragon dwelt that poisoned all the countryside. To appease the dragon, the people of Silene used to feed it two sheep every day, and when the sheep failed, they fed it their children, chosen by lottery. It happened that the lot fell on the king’s daughter, who is called Sabra in some versions of the story.[9] The king, distraught with grief, told the people they could have all his gold and silver and half of his kingdom if his daughter were spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, dressed as a bride, to be fed to the dragon.[8]

Saint-George by chance rode past the lake. The princess, trembling, sought to send him away, but George vowed to remain. The dragon reared out of the lake while they were conversing. Saint George fortified himself with the Sign of the Cross,[10] charged it on horseback with his lance, and gave it a grievous wound. He then called to the princess to throw him her girdle, and he put it around the dragon’s neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a meek beast on a leash.[citation needed]

The princess and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the people at its approach. But Saint George called out to them, saying that if they consented to become Christians and be baptised, he would slay the dragon before them. The king and the people of Silene converted to Christianity, George slew the dragon, and the body was carted out of the city on four ox-carts. “Fifteen thousand men baptized, without women and children.” On the site where the dragon died, the king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George, and from its altar a spring arose whose waters cured all disease.[11]

Traditionally, the sword[12] with which St. George slew the dragon was called Ascalon, a name recalling the city of Ashkelon, Israel. From this tradition, the name Ascalon was used by Winston Churchill for his personal aircraft during World War II (records at Bletchley Park), since St. George is the Patron Saint of England.

There is more to read on the Wiki site if you are interested. But I thought that would be sufficient!

I thought it was a decent story. Someday I will tell it to the Munchkin!

Happy Sunday Y’all!

Crkva na Sunday (Church on Sunday)~Manastir Lešje

A while back, we visited one of the coolest Monasteries EVER! Lesje is the eighth wonder of the world. I am in love with that place. No, really, I am.

An Orthodox Monastery with a great reverence for the Creator. You can feel it. This place is so beautiful and ethereal, if there were a church in The Lord of the Rings, this would be it!

If you are planning to visit south-eastern Serbia, this place should be on your radar.  You won’t regret it.

Like every monastery, it has gardens and massive green houses for growing food. Lesje also has a wonderful fish hatchery! They raise their own trout! The fresh flowing water add a feeling of calm. Watching the fish swim about is also cathartic!

This place is a visual poem,a work of art. Lesje is place set apart from the world. Please enjoy the rest of the pics that prove how extraordinary it is.

The entrance to the sanctuary John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

I would love to hear these bells chime!

There are some really amazing monasteries and ancient churches here in Serbia. You could learn so much from visiting them! No doubt, you will leave refreshed, ready for your next adventure. Dobar Dan y’all!