expat blogger

living in Serbia

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rebel with out a clue (Take 2)

 We got a new kitten.
Tomo  a.k.a. Tomo da voz ( or Thomas the train)
He is a little spitfire tomkitten from the street.
I was was running the stairs in our apt building for the second time. And after a little while I heard a meowing coming from the first level. I thought a little kitten had gotten trapped inside so I went to investigate. There he was coming toward the steps crying, and when I bent down he came straight to me.

Then I saw a neighbor lady. The little kitten jumped straight from my arms to the arms of my neighbor. With a little hacking up of the Serbian language, I got that the cat was a stray and they just allowed him into feed him a bit and let him back out.  I wasn't sure I understood correctly, so when she offered me the cat I declined. I misunderstand a lot. I went on running the stairs. A little while later at the bottom of the steps I saw her letting him out, I asked again in my limited Serbian,  "he is not yours?" She said no and offered him to me again. I said, maybe I will take him up to play. Needless to say, Milan and I were instantly hooked.

 The day before I had gone on the great Christmas tree hunt. I went on an adventurous hike to the nearest  Chinese store and bought a little "Charlie Brown" tree for 200 dinars, or less than $4. I brought it home and decorated it as a toy for our future kitten. Tomo loves playing with the lower branches.

Strange but true (I am thinking there should be a strange but true section in all the notes, what do you think?)
I got pulled over walking down the street here. Pretty funny, huh? I was taking pics in a neighborhood and freaked out the residents... I was taking picture of interesting houses and other culturally things and I guess some strange blond girl walking around with the camera puts people on edge.

The weather here has been beyond strange. The entire month of November was unseasonably warm. And now December is having it's share of warm days as well. Yesterday is was too nice to wear a coat,  I wore a sweater and ballet flats with no socks. It was appropriate. Yet, when I went to visit a friends mom she had a heart attack when she saw I had on no socks. "It's December!" she said. I got the same reply from my Mama when I went to visit. And she freaked out when she found out I didn't have a coat either. I assured Mama I had been doing this my entire life and I had been fine, but I doubt she believed me. I suppose if it is December I should layer up no matter what the weather is.

 Honey tooth paste
A little while ago Milan got us honey toothpaste for when we ran out of ours. We just finished our tube and I tried the honey "flavored" colgate. It is Minty and nothing like honey. I think that is good. I  can't imagine brushing with honey would be good for my coffee strained, not so pearly whites.

Back to the kitchen
I have beat the fear of the strange oven here. I started baking and cooking. Today I successfully made two Pumpkin pies from scratch, along with scratch crusts. I am happy to report, they came out very tastey in spite of some substitutions that were necessary.

I have also made liver and onions. Well, it was actually liver, kidneys, and lungs with onions. They turned out well, but it's not how Milan's mom makes it, so he didn't like it. Too bad. he he he It is closer to how my grandma used to make it and that makes me happy. Tomo likes it too, so that is two against one!

I also made curry Chicken with Basmati rice. I love this, I could make it every day. I have also made some other lovely meals, but I just had to let you know I have conquered the fear of cooking here. Next should probably be driving.

Hog Heaven
A couple of days later we went to the village. Our purpose there was to help Uncle Milosh kill the pigs.... well, not exactly my purpose. ;)
It was my first double pig day. I am to much of a wuss to watch the killing, but once the the last breath has escaped and the piggies were "eating from the eternal pig trough in the sky", I don't feel bad looking over the remaining process. Maybe one day I will be able to watch and photograph from beginning to end, and then again, maybe not.

My help was not needed for most of the two days they spent cutting, cleaning, grinding, boiling, and stirring. I went on a walk-a-bout in the village and on the second day all the way to the next village. I did try to help, for the record.

On our second day there I got to help prepare some food. I discovered our house had a green house in the back! Milan and I went  into the covered garden and picked fresh celery root. We also had fresh potatoes. We brought them all to the courtyard in the front of the house, still covered in dirt. Aunt Slavica gave me a bowl to put them in once they were peeled. She also told me I should clean them first. He he he  (dripping with sarcasm) Why?

The soil was really like clay. Cleaning off the veggies was difficult. The dirt in my garden growing up was much easier to dispel with water.

Potato Peels or part 2 of strange but true
While I was peeling the potatoes, Milan was telling Uncle Milosh that in the US we sometimes eat potato peels with the rest of the potato. Milosh didn't believe him. There are a few reasons for this. First,  the peels seem to be different, thicker and rougher. Second, There are no birds that eat the potato bugs here. Pesticides must be used heavily to ensure a crop of potatoes. The pesticide resides mainly in the skins. They say here if you eat the skins you will get sick. And I hear if you eat them raw you get a fever. Eww raw potatoes, doesn't sound good at all anyway.
Deda still thinks we are making it all up. People don't eat potato peels, that is just nonsense!

In the wonderful village of Vina I ran into an old friends from my last trip. The little lady Dobrila, lit up when I called down to her. She walked with me a little while and showed me her barn. I got to meet her husband, Sveta. He's known as a talker in the village and he didn't disappoint.  Both Dobrila and Sveta are warm and friendly. It was great to see her again and meet her husband.

Their barn is a little ways down the road from the house and I got a tour. They even let the calves in to feed while I was there for the full effect. Here are some of the other inhabitants...
the sheep with Sveta, and the piggies with their mommy.

At the end of my first days trot around the to take in the sites I came upon my Great Aunt's house. Baba Lubinka always invites me in for coffee and sends me away with treats no matter how much I protest. I sat with here a while and we looked a pictures.  She is such a gentle little woman. 

I must tell you lately I have been seeing a lot of dried gourds used for ladles. I even saw one on Lubinka's stove. Notice she has an electric stove and a wood burning one. This is normal in the villages and in some town homes as well.

While walking by the school, I was happy to see the village children out waiting to be released. I got a few nice pics.

The following day I had a nice hike down to Slatina, the neighboring village. This village was much different than Vina. It was smaller and it seemed older.  When I asked Milan about it, he said it was because Vina had a mine there for so many years and brought a bit of wealth to the village. Slatina was lovely just the same.

I walked from one end of the village to the other. I saw just a few people along the way, as well as several dogs chained or fenced during my the walk. At the far end of the village I was confronted by a large dog and then another. I thought they might be some of the stray dogs that run around scavenging for food. Just the day before, my Uncle Milosh had warned me about a pack of dogs in Vina, and I was alert. When I saw one and then another coming toward me, I knew I had to appear fearless. I took a step forward and yelled loudly. The closest dog turned around retreated. The other dog did the same. I did too. Back the way I came from and then back to Vina. Maybe they were wild and maybe they weren't. But all that matters is I didn't get attacked.

Enjoy the last few pics. Thank you for reading! as always I love to hear what you think. Thanks for commenting! Enjoy the Slatina pics below.

This is an ancient cross. The writing very old Cyrilic script.
An old house in Slatina and then a view of some of the newer homes.

When I came home I found out the house here on the right is a cousin's house. 

1 comment:

Abby said...

Such amazing adventures! So happy to be reading about them too! And, btw, raw potatos used to be a favorite of mine when I was a kid...I tried it a few years ago and really wonder WHY? Why did I like them raw?? So much better boiled then mashed with TONS of butter and salt!!! hee hee. Little Tomo is SO cute, looks like such a sweetie! I bet he is a comfort to you :) Love you T! Miss you but love reading your amazing stories! Keep writing! I love the randomness! Keeps me entertained :) Love ya, Abs