Stork Smiles

Twice this week I saw a stork flying over head with twigs in it’s mouth flying to a rooftop nest somewhere. We are all about fixing up our homes and taking care of our families.

This stork is probably the offspring of the famous stork family that has annually returned to the residence high atop the old Town T.V. station/theatre. You can watch them roost. and sometimes catch a glimpse of stork hatch-lings. They are only small from a distance.

It is believed in Serbia, that if a stork makes a town home that places is very healthy. Storks are thought to be particular about where they nest. I think that is a sweet thought that can make you hometown proud. Not sure of the truth of it. They have few natural predators.

Photo link address http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2654333 Taken by Djoka listed on June 2007 Listed on All Travels.com

The local storks always make me smile and I feel blessed to watch them soar overhead. Once I watched one glide just about the Timok River and then stand on the banks watching for a fresh froggy or fish to gulp down.

With a wingspan of over 6 feet (from Wiki: wingspan is 155–215 cm or 61–85 in) seeing one seeming hover over the water is a sight you don’t soon forget.

They really are majestic.

In other bird news, I saw this tiny prefab home on a house last week and loved it! I doubt a storks big toe talon would fit inside.

Not a stork nest.

Thank God spring has arrived and our eyes can feast on natures goodness. Blue skies, puffy white clouds, sunny days, and lots of gorgeous creatures!

Dobar Dan!

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Acorns Serb Style

Not long ago, I was in the field working on cherries. The nature loving tree hugger that I am was thrilled to find a new (to me) kind of acorn.

Check these out. I love the fuzzy hats! They are so fun!

Instantly, I was reminded of the big furry hats traditional Serbian kolo dancers wear in one of the dances I saw. I love the traditional costumes. They are gorgeous.

Life does imitate nature.

I love Serbia.

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.

Knjazevac Charming Beauty

My town is exceptional in its beauty. So much so, that it won an award this year. It will be will be listed in the network of “European Destinations of Excellence” Here are the pics to prove it!
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Above is the Main Street bridge.

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The view of a locals enjoying drinks at Casa Dolce cafe and beyond to St. Georges Church in the distance.

And below a boy casts his fishing line into the Timok River.
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Then there is the iconic opposite side of the Timok. Post card material.

One of my town favorites is the old arch rimmed pavilion. A brilliant place to sit and watch the world go by.

The town is filled with beauty everywhere, sometimes it sneaks up on me.

cool and old

cool and old

See, even the ruins are lovely! And if you look up above the door, you will see it used to be an arched doorway.

Bright colors, painstaking iron work and carved wood doors create the kind of eye candy that decorates the town.
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This is my town, and it is stunning no matter what the season.
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Even the people are gorgeous and their traditional costumes are fantastic, not to mention the dancing! Anyone for the Kolo? OPA!
Yellow scarves ans red socksIf you are thinking of making the trip to visit us contact one of these agencies, They have English speakers who can help you.

Come visit!  We can chat over coffee, or even better,  Rakija!

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https://www.facebook.com/turistickaorganizacija.opstineknjazevac?fref=nf

https://www.facebook.com/groups/knjazevacinfo/

Dobar Dan Y’all!

 

 

The Healing Power of Nature~in honor of Earth day

I want to urge you to take time to get out and enjoy the feel and smell of the freshness of spring.

Camping in Byron Bay, Austrailia

I have always been in love with the outdoors. I love big water. I was born next to Lake Erie. Later moved to an ocean town.

At the same time I love camping in the wilderness. Walking trails and watching for little critters as I go.

I found the best fit for the two of those loves at Anastasia State park in St. Augustine, FL. I would go there and pitch my little mini tent all alone and just breath for a few days.

Working in the field, Vina, Serbia

At night, on my way to the toilet, I may cross paths with a raccoon or a opossum.Something that people only see on discovery channel or youtube videos. . And there they are in my path.

On our farm here in Serbia, I get my chance for soul breathing every time we go out into the fields. I see birds nests in the trees and on the ground. I see the tracks of wild pigs. I hear the call of birds in the air and the wind in the trees.

A monarch on Milkweed Assateague, Maryland

Soul breathing is something I came up with as I wrote this. It just seems about right. We are animals. Mammals. Our souls know where we belong. And when we are in natural surroundings, it is a bit of good medicine for the soul. Not to mention the vitamin D we get from the sun!

A wild horse that crossed out path. Assateague Island

If you are keen on being inspired by nature or downsizing for super sizing your life, one of these two Ted Talk videos may be the ticket. I enjoyed then both.

The first video inspires humility, gratitude, and grace. All good things. I could use more of that in myself.

Next up is the not unattractive scientist who loves turtles. I loved a turtle once til it bit me. I may or may not have been petting its head at the age of 4. Mr. Turtle didn’t like being pet like a cat. Lesson learned!

I digress. This is an inspiring nature video. If you are interested, click the link below!

Dobar Dan Y’all!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever Wednesday~ field work

Yesterday, we literally were working in the fields. I saw three field mice when I disturbed their shredded corn husk nests. The pair of us, my man and I were picking up piles of corn stalks to stack and use later in planting our baby sour cherry trees. I also saw a tiny lizard on the same field.

The hubby and I made quick work of that small field and soon we were off to harvest walnuts. A very long stick was used to beat the upper branches to free some of the clingy nuts, that was the tall man’s job. I scavenged on the ground for those who had already given up tree hugging. The pastures floor was riddled with nuts and I soon had my bucket full.

http://www.nuts.com/gifts/bucketsofnuts/walnuts.html (My bucket was much less commercial looking.)

Buck kept us company. Our “hot dog” style mutt, ran from one of us to the other and around the field and regulated the vehicles that passed occasionally.  Once he tried to steal some nuts from my bucket, but he wasn’t pleased with the taste.

Back at the house there were a few more trees to smack and more nuts to harvest. One of the biggest trees stands over a small ridge where a small creek trickles below.

The hollow under the ridge was covered with nuts, so we went back for our boots and went down the hill like Jack and Jill. This was the easiest place to find them with no long grasses hiding them, and there were so many!

While we were down there, the hubby found an old horse or cow skull. You don’t see that everyday. Well, unless you have a love for south west  art including cow skulls….

Soon the munchkin made her way down via Baba’s arms and when she saw me, it was all over. Back to Munchkin duty. Thanks God for naps that allow me to sneak away for a bit.

It is morning now, and she will soon wake from her long nights nap so I will bit you adieu for now and share more stories next time.

Wish me luck, I have my third TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) class tonight. I have been taking an online free class in TEFL course and I am excited I have learned so much to help me do a better job!! Can’t wait to use my new skills!! Thank you TEFL boot camp!

Happy Hump day Y’all!

Whatever Wednesday~ Assateague Love

 

I took these pics a few years ago. I will dedicate this post to my LOVE. 🙂 I love you, or in Serbian, Volim Te!

I took these pics a few years ago when I was childless and had sooo much free time! lol    I used to love to take long walks on the beach alone (only because the muz hates sand). And I love to get creative with the shells, driftwood, and other sea stuff that washed up.

September was my favorite month to do this. There are no crowds, great weather, and more cool shells, ship wreck pottery or sea glass for me, with bonus of maybe seeing dolphins occasionally playing in the surf.

While it was a great place to call home, I wouldn’t have been able to have the adventures in Serbia if I hadn’t left. Hooray for travel!

It doesn’t mean I don’t miss seeing these vistas.

Maryland Seafood is the best! I do miss that too!

On really hot days the horses hang out near the ocean for the cool breezes, just like us!

 

If you want to see more of my favorite island, click any of these links below:

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2010/09/september-at-assateague-island.html  (This one is my favorite… with a crappy youtube video made during mating season. RISQUE! Hello sex ed for horses!)

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2010/10/just-another-day-in-paradise-assateague.html

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2012/06/trip-to-island.html

 

 

 

Photography Friday~ Barn & Garden pics

We spent a few days in the village this week. It was peaceful and beautiful. Food fresh from the garden fills our stomachs. Going to the back of the house is like visiting the produce section of the grocery store.

Our seedlings are growing well. I have done a good bit of weeding, and it is nice to see the progress! They got a bit of a parasite and we have to give them some  medicine. Soon they will be all better. Lots of tender loving care is going into raising these babies just like with the Munchkin.

One afternoon, I got a decent break from motherhood and retreated to the barn loft with a cup of tea. The smells of hay and drying grains kept me company.

Old roof tiles stacked and ready when needed.

And even though I was enjoying the break from my little one, my mind went to her as I looked at the vines hugging the barn beams like my Munchkin hugs my legs.

The loft was quiet, not even the sound of the chirping chicks below made it up the narrow  barn stairs.

 

The “stairs” are little more than a latter with double rungs and a rail. But they do the job. What a great place to have as a retreat.

Soon enough the sound of my Goldilocks brought me back to reality. Baba had gone up to the rooftop terrace to show the Munchkin where I was.

Then it was back to the grind… 😉

I have lost my groove

No, not my dancing groove. In fact, I dance now more than I used too. The Munchkin likes no LOVES to dance and so we do, Daily! IT is my blogging groove that is missing. I have been back and forth so much between the village and town, then with the PMS from hell and trying to balance my new summer life… I am all out of sorts.

This is a big holiday weekend back home, the kick off of summer and the big working season at the beach where I used to live for the last 20 years. (Enter Cha-ching cash register sound here!) I think that has a lot to do with my mental state.  I miss my job, friends and my old life in general.

At the same time, the work on the farm here has picked up. I have written about most of the work I have done, NOT MUCH.  I go with the intention of working. Millie throws a fit and all agree I should stay with her. 😦 It is frustrating. I am used to working for the family, providing, now I just babysit. though I guess it isn’t babysitting when it is your own child. But it leaves me feeling useless. unproductive. confined. IT Sucks!

People here in Serbia say it is the best job there is. I think I have even heard that at home too. but I would agree to disagree. I want a job that makes money.

On the other hand, people here ask me when I will put her in Preschool. and I think, “WHAT?!” she is only 15 months old and I don’t have a job. Why on Earth would I let someone else raise her?  What a juxtaposition of thoughts, huh?

Furthermore, Consternation in my marriage is dismaying. We had agreed we would work on the farm. My lack of work there is the problem for both of us really. and my desire not to go to the village is also a problem. But as I wrote above, often I end up staying with the munchkin in the cold village house. unable to help. This means more time with the blessed in-laws who I don’t dislike. It is just exhausting.. more than most in-laws because we don’t speak the same language. Even though I am not technically working, it is stressful and I get so tired. (So, why bother even going to the village?)

Compounding the difficulty of going to (not) work in the village, we don’t return home when the work is done, we STAY for dinner. The food is getting repetitive and not what I want, in spite of my mother in law trying her hardest to please me… It is also what the hubby has been missing for years. HE is in hog heaven, literally as most of the food is PORK!. for me it is just more time stuck in the cold village house. I think to myself, “What did I get myself into. How long can I do this?”

The time in the village is nice (imagine the italics is a sarcasm font). but when we have a day “off” in town. it is a day to work for me. laundry, cleaning, fitting in coffee with friends if I don’t just sit in the apt recuperating from over stimulation. I think it is all getting a bit too much. it is affecting my desire to write sadly. The writing is my life therapy. my link home. and I am slacking.

Am I complaining? or am I just a complaining? lol Maybe I just need a kick in the @$$. Mea culpa.  Adjusting to a new life takes so much time! Damn this Culture shock.

These are my consolation prizes (for my living here and your reading this rant). The vistas on the way to the village are pricele$$.

Now that spring has turned the hills all green and flowery, the entire drive is eye candy.

Lush greens, purples, and reds so vibrant you can taste them.

And fields of poppies that are like a painting providing the calm of opium.  (strictly metaphorically speaking obviously or I wouldn’t have had to write this post!)

Hopefully this will work as an enema to work all the crap out of my brain and get on with my life. Bring on the sunshine!

Happier posts to come soon.
Dobar Dan