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!

 

 

 

 

 

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While we were gone Part 1

Little Munchkin learned a ton of new words, and how to interact with other kids of all ages. We stayed at my brother’s house. There were five other kids there. Five cousins to cuddle with, tease, yell at, and mostly learn lots of new things from.

But first, I must say she was a stellar travel buddy, All except for the part when she peed on me on the first flight from Belgrade to Frankfurt. 😉

At an airport somewhere in the U.S.

The entire trip was great. The time with family, especially the cousins was Brilliant for her and them. She learned lots of English, and even taught them a little Serbian too!

We did so much!

She lifted weights with the oldest cousin.

Most of the time she asserted herself and said the  that big N-O word with the youngest cousin “R”. But they learned to get along by the end of our trip.

Like I said she learned a lots of new English words. Her new words are: horse, shy, shoes, up, pucky (belly button), baby, knock knock, done- with and an emphasis on the “n”, stuck,  pee and poop. She also says “go” when when she wants to leave or you to go where she wants you. I can’t remember the rest just now. She also learned new names. Most of the cousins. The cat Kay Kay, and even a family friend. But for her Aunt Lissa she just called her “Mom”. Classic!

Her favorite food was Oscar Meyer’s cheese filled hot dogs. I cannot lie they are good! I gained 5 kilos or 10 lbs eating all the good stuff I can’t get here. I don’t regret that a bit!

One of the biggest changes Munchkin made was going from being absolutely opposed to holding hands to loving it! That is making life a bit easier.

The above pic was taken on our way in to the auditorium where a Christmas music presentation was held. My middle niece “K” sang and we all enjoyed it.

We attended a few wrestling matches and got to see two of my nephews on the mats. That was wonderful.

I got to go to my old church and see several old friends. I also reunited with a very good friend from middle school.  🙂

This little road trip had a diamond in the rough awaiting us….

A patriotic fellow sporting the Confederate and national flag via his shirt and a decorative plate bumper for his bicycle.  When I leaned out of the passenger side window to take a pic of the view from the front he let a rebel yell and flashed all three of his teeth. He is quite a catch ladies, but no word on if he is single or not! 😉

More to come.

Dobar dan Y’all!

Let them eat Cake

This is really a yummy apple bread, but in Serbia, Bread isn’t sweet and this IS!

I realized a lot of expats like myself are at a loss when baking abroad, I was! It is always a good bit of trial and error. Even when you use someone’s tried and true recipes, if the ingredients aren’t the same. The end product most certainly will not be either.

I have found that using recipes that I have never tasted before are better for me. I have no expectations. For instance. I could make something that I know and love, only to be disappointed with the outcome of perfectly good tasting cake. But when it doesn’t taste like what I am used to. 😦 I am not happy.

Now, I go to allrecipes.com and find a recipe that uses products I have access to here in Serbia. Or sometimes I use Pinterest. This recipe was on Pinterest, via Eva Bakes blog. She makes it with an extra topping, you can check it all out here. The topping is extra work and lots of extra calories. No thanks! this is yummy enough! I use an extra cup or two of apples. But that is all I have done to modify the recipe.

With out further rambling, here is the recipe that I get loads of compliments on! It makes two 8 inch round cakes.

Apple Bread (Cake)

Preheat your oven to 350 F or 175 C

Lightly grease two 8″ cake pans

~5 or 6 cups Apples I used the ones from our apple grove. I don’t know the name. I peel, core, and chop them. I do this before preheating, greasing pans and such. Or I used some from the freezer. We had a lot of apples!!

~4 eggs no particular size. Whatever the chickens lay, I use!

~1 cup vegetable oil

~2 tsp vanilla

~2 tsp baking soda

~2 tsp salt

~2 tsp cinnamon

~3 cups flour

~2 cups sugar

1 or 2 cups walnuts optional. That would be even more yummy. I must try that next time!! I love a little g

Beat eggs till fluffy, add oil, baking soda, salt, cinnamon,and vanilla.  Beat thoroughly. In increments add the flour and sugar… Stirring adding stirring etc.

Add the apple pieces last and mix thoroughly. Then pour half the batter in one pan, half in the other. and bake for one hour. Probably one at a time, depending on the size of your oven.

Remove it from the oven when it feels firm to touch. It is best to let it cool a few minutes. Don’t wait too long or someone else will eat it all! This screams Autumn! sweet, moist, Nom Nom Nom!!

This is the wonderfully organic and yummy blessing of living here in Serbia!!

Enjoy!!

Dobar dan Y’all!

Munckin Monday~Past and Present

One of my fellow blogger friends recently posted some childhood pics of herself in her  blog and I decided to do the same with a twist. I am sharing a view of myself and my little one to see how the genes were spliced.  😉

This is me about 40 years ago!

I think I loved the water as much as my little one does!

And for a little look at the similarities….

Or the lack thereof! She is much more of a miniature of her Daddy.

Maybe she will grow to look a little more like me in time?

But I think we have the same eyes.

My cousin is chilling on the right. That’s me on the left with the elfish uniform.  I guess it is appropriate for Christmas pics… (Shrug) still rather embarrassing to be mistaken for an elf!

Grandpa Jones and his first two little girls are happy to celebrate their second Christmas  holiday together. Grandpa liked to spoil us! And still does. I love you Grandpa! He is 90 now, still going strong!

Here’s one of of just the two of us! I love this pic! This was my first Christmas.

And one of my Munchkin and her Serbian Grandpa.

Lots of love in both pics!

I really liked sharing these. I think I will have to do it again.

On the Munchkin front, I am starting to introduce potty training. I started using clothe diapers except at night. I am setting her on the potty. I am not in a rush, my goal is November. No stress, just want to stop paying for pampers!  If you have any advice, I am all ears!!! 🙂 Thanks!

Photography Friday~ a place to sit

Barn porch seating for a rest from field work. Don’t mind if I do!

 

Catch a ride on a gypsy wagon. and enjoy the view as the world goes by.

If the day is too hot and the stoop in front of your shop is being showered with sun, move your table and chairs to the shadier side of the street. and enjoy.

When the day is done and you need to rest. finding a swing is just the thing.

Munchkin Monday is back

The little monster has gotten over her first cold and terrorized us slightly. She has been wanting to stay up all night. We put the kibash on that and quick. After a few days of carefully planned naps and fun in the village with Grandma, Hvala Bogu (Thank God!) She is sleeping through the night again.

She is learning so much. She understands both English and Serbian. Her speech has kinda stopped. I think learning two languages at once has her a little confused.  She still babbles on like she is having a conversation and when she laughs my heart practically burst with joy.

Dancing is one of her favorite things to do. She gets so excited to hear music. The smile that lights up her face is as catching as a yawn.

Her temper is just as quick as her smile when she is tired. When she doesn’t want to be set down and needs a nap the tantrum sets in like a little storm. I carefully set her on the carpet and let her go to town while I make her milk. These storms pass quickly. (Now.) I  know later we are in for some slow moving hurricanes with this one! Scary.

When she is tired of being indoors, she brings us her shoes or ours. She loves going out to play, swing,

and cross the town bridge over and over. She walks back and forth with no regard for bicyclist or larger beings who are in her path. scooching her out of their way is a SIN and must be punished with slight flailing and looks that kill. The bridge has few of the locks of love that are so in fashion here in Europe. The munchkin loves to play with the chains and clank the locks.

I love the bridge too. Numerous frogs sing in chorus and rounds, and the view is nothing less than beautiful.

Sometimes when we are out on walks we get lucky and run into friends. That is nothing less than joyous for me and the Munchkin.

I could get a cavity watching her play with her friends. So Sweet!

Water is a source of joy for all children (and many pets) and I am learning to use that toy/tool as a source of a break from the craziness. The other day I put a basin on the linoleum with just enough water to splash in and she was happy to play alone for 15 minutes! Win!

On the other had her love of water can be a little interruptive? Just the other day I was giving my self a mini pedicure. The foot bath I had going was so cool, I got a visitor. and was ousted! I had to give up and strip the munchkin down… But who could be mad at this little face?

In conclusion. I must say I am crazy about this little water creature.

Dobar Dan!

Photography Friday Paralia, Greece

The little seas side town of Paralia, Greece was a pleasure to visit. Cafes lined the beach and sidewalks. Touristy shops selling trinkets and clothes were plentiful. But the most eye catching thing I saw was this car!

The exterior was less decadent than the interior.

Hello excess!

I think one might need a bath or cleansing ritual to ride in that bling mobile!

A less assuming vehicle with more curb appeal in my opinion is the cute little Fica turned convertible. This rolling reklama (commercial) is evidence how popular Serbian visitors are in this town.

Traveling in a Serbian pack, I shocked a few people there. I would speak partially in Serbian but mostly in English to my travel buddy. More than once I was asked why I was speaking English.  The border crossings were a bit amusing too. The only U.S. Passports in a bus of Serbs was an oddity. Though, most border guards acted like it was natural.

Speaking of Border crossings… I love seeing all the different flags! The Serbian one:

The writing at the bottom says I love Serbia

The Macedonian one:

The Greek flags colors are my favorite. I love blue and white.

A tourist ship with two Greek Flags!

End rabbit trail. OK, back to the Paralia pics.

I prefer the natural beauty of an every day occurrence. The serenity of sunrise is never less then Blissful.

Mornings stillness and lack of distraction is just what this girl loves.

Simplicity in the quiet morning hours without the noise and excitement of the rest of the world. It is like having  the town to yourself.

Mount Olympus peeks from behind the sleepy hotels. not creature stirs on the beach.

The sea side church watches over the town.

The Church is very impressive. The steps are marble. I would be afraid of them in the rain. Very slippery.

I love the reflection of the church next door in the cafe windows.

Have a great weekend!

Traveling Tuesday… Walking through Paralia, Greece

It has been a month now since my Greece trip. I was thinking about it today as I thought about home and the fisherman’s harbor that was across the street from the place I use to literally dump crabs on the the tables of tourists. (They paid me to do it.)

This was the view from my “office” on a good evening back in the U.S.

No fisherman action in the evening here. but truth be told, it isn’t to far off the action I saw at dawn in Paralia at the local fisherman’s marina. Accept of course they use smaller nets than the big ships back home use and no rods to be seen. Like anyone working on a boat, there is lots of prep work for the trip out on the water.

All along the docks on this early April morning, the local fishermen and women are mending and straightening their nets. In the distance, Mt. Olympus looms.  A friendly bunch at such an early hour. They didn’t even mind when I asked to take their pictures, or more accurately lifted my camera and gave them an imploring look. It worked. A smile and a nod gave me the green light.

I could have stayed at the marina all day long, I felt at home there, even if I can’t speak a lick of Greek!. Holy hard language! Pardon the New Testament pun. 😉

One fellow sipped his coffee as he worked on his nets.

This side of Paralia or (Paralija if you are Serbian) was less touristy and filled with lots of stray dogs. restaurants closed til the start of summer lined the area. An old  amusement park and cart race sat on the out skirts of town.

This way to the cart racing facility The faded sign would keep better if it was taken down in the off season…

The mountains framed by the rides makes a great pic, but I was a bit shocked to see the rides all sitting out waiting for summer to start. The salt air is not so good for the mechanics… I would have reservations about getting any of these rides. 😦

Lots of doggies like this one were walking the streets. Some traveled in packs that were quite intimidating. One such pack escorted me for a short while as I strolled with trepidation.

The large dogs who were my short term companions.

They were all larger and could do some damage. Soon they ran off chasing a poor littler dog who was in their territory. This is a dog eat dog world for sure!

Canals intruded on the north side of town. This lazy little turtle sunned himself til I came alone and interrupted him.

More on Greece later. Happy Tuesday! Travel when you can!

Dobar Dan!

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