Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Sunny and nice in Sarajevo!

It is nice out today, I had some stuff to do in town, so I got out kind of early. There are two D.P. stores in the neighborhood, one turns out to be the home of SHRIMP! quite hard to get in Sarajevo, these were frozen shrimp and I am going to do something involving shrimp soon. I also discovered it is the cheapest place to get chocolate! Always a plus.

Anyway, I stayed up way too late again. I watched 'Ace Ventura, Pet Detective', very funny in a cheesy way. I watched part of 'Palindromes' I never heard of it, lots of movies I never heard of get shown here. I think that The Ministarstvo Veselje, Central Committee AND Army Council all agreed that this film did not belong in The Soviet of Washington, or the Yakima Gulag. In fact this movie made me scream for export controls, as it was fairly sick in places. Maybe they were trying for some satire, but really good satire it wasn't. Keep this film far away from small children! I will not burden my readers with some of the sick stuff that was in th is film. Just trust me, it wasn't fit for human consumption.

Ace Ventura on th e other hand was hilarious, I loved when the slumlord shows up and Ace's personal pets are all hidden. Then the slumlord goes away and out pop all sorts of cool critters! Penguins from the fridge, a dog or two, an otter was hiding in the toilet, some cats, a few highly amusing birds.

Speaking of birds, one of my favorite little between shows fillers on FTV is a show called 'Ptice Bosna i Hercegovina'. Lovely information about all birds that either live here year round, or are just passing through. I try to watch it notebook in hand, partly because I like birds, and partly because the words for many birds are not present in TCLD (The Crappy Little Dictionary)

I finally know for sure the first name of the guy on 'Positivna Geografija'! His first name is Nisvet. He looks like he would be right at home on the Yakama Rez! I love the show, and all it does is get better. He made a trip to Linz, Austria. Linz is a lovely town, sadly famous for being the birthplace of Adolf Hitler. Nisvet however was visiting BiH diaspora types, and exploring the interaction of people from BiH and Austrians.

I also found out what place is the most popular for suicide here in Sarajevo. There was a picture of it in the paper. Most great cities have a favorite 'jumping off place'. I suppose it is better for the cops and the general public if everyone knows where to go 'check out', 'cash in their chips' etc.

Oslobođenja has proved to be a FAR better place to put an ad than Oglasi! I have not got numbers as far as response, but the people who have responded have indeed been more serious! Once I have a third one, I will start the first class off. I am glad to note that so far the interest is mostly in conversational English, which I am quite good at. They asked APPROPRIATE questions, like what State in the U.S. I am from. I don't mind that, it is so they have some notion what accent I have. No one has asked my age, or what I look like so far *knocks on wood*

I told them all so far, that once I am up to 3 I will organize a brief meeting in town. I also said, conversational works better in small groups, AND given that the prices of classes given by individuals have gone down, I need small groups to make it worth MY while! I think 3 or 4 at a time is good. I hope I can build on the first group.

The S.O. is very much on the mend. He seems less depressed. He still gets dizzy, but I suspect that this problem is a little less. I chewed him out for taking the tram and the bus to my place. The tram at his end is fairly empty if you time it right, but the bus from downtown is SO crowded, and even though Sarajevans give old guys who don't look well a seat, I mean really they are good about it! Still when a bus is REALLY crowded, that isn't always possible! Trams can look like something in Mumbai, with people hanging off them at crowded times of the day!

My Baščaršija friends are planning a buying trip to Turkey soon.

Saturday, April 26, 2008



Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
I thought people would enjoy seeing local labeling for local products. The S.O. and I had a discussion about what we buy and what we wont. I told him I would rather buy stuff that is not from China. These socks would be an example actually of pretty decent local product. I like the lable too.


Sretan Vaskrs to those of my readers who are Orthodox!

Because I know some of you DO sneak the occasional peek at these humble pages! :)

So The S.O. made it to my place. Thanks to one of my Bascarsija friends I had a lot of Stinging Nettles and made therefore, Irish Stinging Nettle soup, and he ate like two bowls of it, and later I made chicken soup, just for a change, threw in some vegetables. We watched movies, and I did see signs of considerable improvement. He is more relaxed for one thing. I think being as sick as he was before finally requiring treatment is scary in and of itself. Perhaps that makes people feel worse. Anyway, he arrived bearing fresh bread from Klas, which was very nice and soft, and bananas. I had to laugh because I wasn't sure he would have enough appetite for bread, and while I was briefly out yesterday morning I bought a bunch of bananas also! Nema problema, bananas are good! So we had nettle soup and attacked the beautiful fresh bread. Then we hung out watching stuff on T.V.

I did not know this yesterday, but now I do, today, is the anniversary of the famous 'Bitka na Neretvi'! This is the subject of a film, which will be shown on FTV tonight. Since it is a classic, sometimes it is shown on cable Stateside, and even, rarely, on broadcast channels. It's popped up a time or two even in the Gulag! Along with 'Pretty Village, Pretty Flame' and 'Welcome to Sarajevo'. When they show any of t hese films in the States it is always at some un-Godly hour when even I was too tired to stay up and watch. Anyway since it is a war movie, if the S.O. had come over today, maybe I would not have been able to see it. He does not like war movies. I think we only watched a couple together in the entire time we have known each other, 'Full Metal Jacket' and some really old film with Richard Burton playing a German sent home on leave to his totally wrecked, bombed out home town. I don't know the name of the film, it did not involve a lot of direct violence. It was a very good film though. We both went out into the garden after that film and watched the bees at work.
Anyway, it was good we got to spend some time together, and I have to say, women always feel better if the appetites of their loved ones, whether a man or their children return to normal! Nettle soup has a lot of good things in it and is delicious, we both love the stuff!
I made lots, some is in the freezer now.
Then I walked him to the taxi stand. He still has dizzyness, but he tells me it has improved a bit. In another couple months he will be better than he has been in years God willing!
So no response to my little ad that I put up in the Student center,

I put one for 7 days in Oslobodenje, because at 1KM a day, it seemed pretty reasonable to me. I am going to do a sliding scale deal actually. Some things people might need to learn from me might not be worth the going rate in this town, and some might actually be worth more.

Homework help, or proof-reading an academic paper isn't the same level of service that say, accent correction or starting someone off from the begining is.

I am hoping that by Monday, I will have gotten some response from people who are not turkeys! :)

I am also preparing little ads to go into the Medisinski Fakultet and the Ekonomski Fakultet just to see what happens. Those are the easiest ones for me to get to in the course of my normal routine.
I am also preparing basic lesson plans. I anticipate some people will be in the service industry, sales, taxi drivers, food service. Most internet cafes have at least one employee who can speak some English too. Some of them may want to improve it, although most of the Geek community speak pretty decent English. You sort of pick it up using computers bit by bit.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Well, I should have gone into town ANYWAY on Tuesday!

Because one of my friends brought me some žara, aka kopriva, aka Stinging Nettles. These are a bit dry, but will still make soup. I took magazines I already have read, and I am going to go find the office of Oslobođeje. I was not feeling particularly wild about stairs today so instead of my usual place, I came to Click, which is well lighted, and the only stairs are to the bathroom. Since I skipped breakfast, I don't think I will need that service. This place is well lit, and not as hot as the other place. That is a plus, if I get too hot, it is not a good thing.

So no reaction to the ad at the Studenski Dom. That is not pleasing, but maybe it wasn't noticed yet. So we shall see. I am thinking Oslobođenje may work out better. Everyone tells me the REALLY best place to put an ad is Dnevni Avaz, well that I might do if I already plan to go out to Ilidža. Otherwise it is too far away for me to be enchanted with the idea of getting lost. I would take a taxi. I don't know my way around Stup. Basically, maps are only a mild suggestion here. Streets have reconstruction, the signs are not always visible, etc. itd 7rl. So today I have two reasons to regret having left my camera at home. 1. Out in front of the Katedrale, is a HUGE very realistic looking giant papier mache strawberry. It really is kind of cool, in a creepy 'imagine yourself as an ant at a picnic' sort of way, then there is the amazing condition of the building I will shortly be going. I feel I owe it to my readers to somehow convey this. Well, if I place a second ad, I will bring a camera and take a picture.

I do hope I can get some results one way or another. It would be nice if it were sooner rather than later.

Yesterday there was hail, and a lot of rain, but it was later in the day after I got back in. Today, I am carrying my refurbished umbrella, as I probably will need it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Fun silly stuff I had almost forgotten about!

Learn to Draw with Sketchplanet


Today is nice, but you should have seen the rain yestersday!

Well, I did go out only long enough to put up a hand written (and decorated!) ad for English lessons, help with English homework, and so on at the Student housing down the way from me. The idea to do it was suggested by Owen, but I wasn't online yesterday, so he can't take credit for the advice. The same advice came from one of my two friends that run the dress shop in Bascarsija.

It is a nice day out, unfortunately there is a big demonstration downtown. Basically by the Parlament this time. Last week a politician beat up a reporter. It isn't the first time this has happened, neither in general nor by this particular politician who is a representative of 'Party for BiH' (Stranka za BiH in Bosnian). Anyway, it is large, and blocking traffic and a good reason to stay closer to home. My landlady seems to have left for Austria. I got to meet her mother, a lovely older woman, who was delighted I speak a little Bosnian. She was out enjoying the sunshine, while the landlady did some of the extensive garden work that she did this visit. She even was doing some work late into the night before leaving!

I had gone to sleep early because of having been out in that rain! After being out in the rain, the best place to be is bed, with a book and a glass of medovaca on the night-stand!

What was I doing out in the rain? After putting up my ad, I decided that crossing the road to come down here was NOT a plan! Especially after getting my umbrella blown inside out! That was almost funny!. I know how to fix an umbrella so I took the messed up umbrella back home. I went to the maloprodovnica on the corner. The guy in there was like 'Your umbrella is FINISHED! You should throw it away!' and I said, 'I know how to fix it, it will be as good as new when I am done!' 'Which it is actually. I plan to stitch it a little so it doesn't break again.

Anyway, I picked up a few packets of t he S.O.'s favorite chicken noodle soup mix. I do stuff with it like ad vegetables and a few dumplings, and it is pretty good.

I got in and of course got all my wet things off, put them on the radiators, cursed the strange heating system that won't let us get any heat, even though I cranked it up to 30, for the benefit of my landlady's mother, and her father-in-law, because the other annoying thing about the heating, is my setting controls downstairs! That is not fair to either them or me. I am trying not to spend a fortune on gas! :). I don't need to be all that warm. If I am too warm I get hot flashes! :)

Anyway, tomorrow, I will go do my other ad, and hopefully get some decent people, and put up hand written ads elsewhere. Educational facilities are scattered all over Sarajevo. I am by no means limiting my ad campaign to the newspapers.

One thing really distresses me, and that is that several people are advertising that they teach English, and are charging extremely low prices for it. Of course odds are their students will all end up talking like 'Borat'! It's like the same people who charged 10KM last time. I recognize the phone numbers! One guy was 25KM a lesson, and would go to your house. Now it's like why are they all at 5KM? EXCUSE me but teaching a language WELL is hard work! You get what you pay for!
Anyway, I am just going to put, cijene po odgovor. I never put a price in the ad. But I will name and justify a price when someone S.M.S.s me.

Some student that just needs minor homework help should not need to pay the same as someone starting at the beginning. Then again someone who speaks some English and even reads and writes a little may need major work with their grammar, or they may need a serious accent coach. English is not an easy language for Bosnian people to pick up, an amazing number do know some! Usually, people know numbers, how to count change, or tell a price, Hello, Goodbye, Thank you.

The people who would really benefit from English lessons are taxi-drivers, people who work in stores, especially stores catering to tourists, and often these people want to learn English, they know it would be good for business.

Notes on American stuff, Hillary may be ahead a little in Pennsylvania, but only by 5% I don't call that a wonderful lead! It is a lead that she can easily blow.
I frankly still feel burned by her exaggerations about Tuzla. Totally a bad idea, and really an insult to the soldiers and even the Secret Service guys who made the area secure. That was pretty key in changing my mind and switching me to Obama.

I hope that whoever becomes president, keeps Charles English in Sarajevo, he is really very effective and well liked here.
He was on the news again in his trademark green necktie.

The S.O. continues to improve, he still has the problem with being dizzy a lot of the time, and had to go have that checked out. They are going to try some new medications on him, which I hope will work. Everything else thank God is going well. He is feeling quite a lot better.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Hot weather in Sarajevo.

It isn't just warm here todazy, it is downright HOT! I did not feel up for a bunch of stairs, so I came to Club Click, since the only stairs are to the bathrooms.

I was waiting for th e bus, and a lady who looked vaguely familiar was also waiting. I could not place her face, anyway both of us sat on the bench and she very nicely dusted off a piece of cardboard, and put it where I could sit. Another woman came, we discussed t hat t he bus was a little late, and I said there had been one that I wasn't fast enough to catch. I must have made some particularly juicy gramatical error. They asked where I was from, and I told them. Then each said where she was from. The woman who looked vaguely familiar is from Srebenica. She probably has been on the news and that is how her face looked familiar.

Anyway I have to go pay the power bill. That is the smallest this time. I got to meet the landlady's very sweet mother. She is almost blind and nearly deaf, but it is possible to see that she was once a very beautiful woman. She has very great dignity. The landlady was doing more gardening work.

I have had a few ideas about what to do about the class. At any rate, it is nice out today, I may as well enjoy it as I go take care of business.

The S.O. has to go and have a follow up exam, but I do think he is going to be o.k. He did like the Irish Nettle Soup.
I t hink he liked the salmon but just wasn't hungry enough to eat more of it. He only had a couple bites of a very small piece, just to try it. Anyway I do hope I can get some decent students, because that would make all t he difference.

Last night I watched. 'Teško je Biti Fin' Very good film, do see it if you get the chance!
The main male character, the cabbie, looks a little bit like my favorite cabbie here. The acting is great, there is a lot of humor, and another plus is you can see a lot of every day Sarajevo.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I need to post a rant.

I probably will feel better after I post this rant. O.K. I had what I considered decent response to my ad for English classes, as in 4 people. Well, not one of them was actually SERIOUS! Not one of them showed. I sent out reminder SMSes, one did say they had meant to call, but had an exam at that time, the other simply never showed after bothering me in the morning with a bunch of personal questions.
Then I waited an hour and that person was a no-show. That is NOT o.k. to do with people. I don't care what country you are in, where you are from, it is rude. R.U.D.E. nekulturno.
O.K. I am going to put my ad in a different publication the next time. Maybe the readership of 'Oglasi' isn't what I want for students.
Next ad is going to say, Serious students only. then the rest of what my old ad said.
The other phone numbers I will keep, and I will tag them as having jerked me around.

O.K. the BETTER part of today! The S.O. did make it over. He has lost 10 kilos, he said he has to be careful of his diet and other stuff for 3 months, but probably will be a lot better after 3 months. We had a pleasant lunch together and watched a music show together. My landlady has been doing a LOT of yard work. This included massive weeding, lawn mowing, and placement of lovely flowers. She has a regular lawnmower. Regular readers of my blog should enjoy the irony! :).

It is lovely out there, Today it is HOT! No rain. In my flat it was kind of cold, I had to put up the heat for my landlady, because her mother was there, and some other older relatives who don't like to be cold. My heat affects the downstairs. THAT is another case of Bad Design! :)

Anyway, the longer days meant I could come down here, check my e-mail and post a blog. I am not doing anything else. I don't want to be out TOO long. I will have to go home to cool off!

Last night, I watched 'Pecat' which keeps getting more strange, and interesting, and then 'Sleeper Cell' which got more unlikely as it went along, but it still was good.
10th Episode reached the kind of crescendo that should go with the end of a series. I don't know what they can do to top it. Maybe water-boarding all the guys?
Anyway, it was pretty good. I did learn a few useful phrases. I also know some phrases were not translated literally, mostly mean things said between a couple of the bad guys.

I was really glad to see the S.O. it has been a bit over a month. He actually seemed in halfway decent shape. He ate some of the Irish Nettle Soup, and seemed to like it, and had a little of the salmon. He wasn't able to eat much. He kept saying how sorry he was that he could not eat more of the salmon. What he could eat came to like a tablespoon! Still he did seem to like it. He ate all his Irish Nettle Soup and told me there was a similar recipe extent in BiH.
This is true, I went out and got a card for him so I could top up his credit on his cell phone for him, and showed him again how to do it, then cleared his messages for him, showed him my old messages, and again how to retrieve them. That may take some time. I walked him to the cab stand, because he did not feel up for my English class. He said he might want to do it some other time, when he feels better. He used to speak a little English, and he still can read a little. I gave him something to read out loud in English once shortly after I got here, and he read it surprisingly well! Bosnian is orthographic, and English has this crazy spelling that even drives native speakers nuts! He managed though, and I feel I can take a little credit, I did help him with it, but Teacher Mary, at Y.V.C.C. deserves most of the credit!
Anyway, it is so lovely not to have rain!

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Blue and White

Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
O.K. I have this really kitschy Hungarian vest, and I decided the kaleidescope treatment might be fun, so here it is.


A late start to the day

I woke up at a pretty reasonable time, caught Euronews, and heard about the amazing dump of snow in Galicia, Spain. More of the 'Global Warming My Ass Spring'! Here the weather has been changeable. Yesterday on the way home, there was both sunshine and rain at the same time. Very weird, and the Roma were out selling umbrellas.

The water was fairly deep in places actually, but I was mostly in even places. I have gotten to the point of knowing which pavers are a bit loose and can avoid them better. Given that the weather is too warm for boots, I need to know that, because a loose paver can mess up my ankle and ground me for the rest of the week. So just knowing that is good.

I ate a little something and then thoroughly vaccuummed the house. I have been too wiped out to do it when I came home the last few days, and it really needed to get done. The vacuum is really a nice little lightweight canister, and the place isn't big so it doesn't take all that long.

The fake sheepskin on the couches has worried me, because I sit on it and of course it is then flat. I thought, 'Maybe I should try vacuuming it!' That turned out to be a good idea, it looks like new.

I made sort of a sign-in sheet for the class, with people's phone numbers and where known, their names. In another part of the notebook I noted which students already know some English, and in one case, the student actually spells pretty decently. I am wondering if the thing they want is conversational work and maybe help with accent. I can do that!

Anyway, yesterday I called the S.O. to see how he was doing. He will come over on Monday ako Bog daj, and we can have lunch. He is not going to stay long. I believe either his brother or his nephew will be bringing him. He doesn't even try going places alone yet. He shouldn't just yet, he still is very wobbly. It is sad really because up until fairly recently, he was remarkably strong and lively for a guy his age. Hell I have known 20 year olds that were less enthusiastic about life, and less energetic.

I told him about the English class, and said he was welcome to join in for free. The landlady may well come too. She speaks pretty decent English, with a strong Austrian accent. She sounds like a female Arnold! :).

Anyway it will be nice to earn a little something!
I will start with who I got, and see how it goes. Ako Bog daj, I want to hold classes several times a week, at least 3 days a week.

My first class meeting, I will find out just where each person is in learning English, and do a lesson called 'You know more English than you think you do!'

I plan to find out what each person hopes to accomplish by learning English too. Some may need it for a specific job. To a point I can personalize things if I know that.

The S.O. was really happy about the class. He even had a few helpful suggestions.

Friday, April 18, 2008


So we sit and talk about just stuff...

Well, I have had five people contact me to be in my class, of whom I think four will be serious students. A couple of them wanted individual lessons, unfortunately they were male, and I don't want to be alone with any men thank you! The S.O. would not care for that. As part of a group, that would be o.k., just not alone.

I will be doing individual instruction with one teenage girl, she takes classes already, it is more like tutoring in her case.

The S.O. is improving, not as fast as he would like, but steadily. He is still pretty tired, and sort of surprised by how much effort it takes to do the simplest things. I can sympathize. I have had illnesses that wiped me out like that! I told him 'You will be better bit by bit. Don't worry too much.'

I hope to see him Monday.
My landlady came to town unexpectedly. She came to the shop and was surprised to see me there. It is the people at the shop that turned me on to her brother, so that the flat was rented. I don't think she realized I speak enough Bosnian to talk pretty easily with them! We mostly speak in English. She wants to come to my first class and I told her, to go right ahead!
While I was out, another potential student SMSed me in pretty fair English. I SMSed back bi-lingually. I think this student is female. My goal is to get things so I have at least two or three class days, and the students can float between at their convenience.

I am still working on the other novel a bit, here and there. It is in some ways going more easily. Less that actually needs research.

Well I hope everyone has a nice weekend. I probably won't be on the net over the weekend.

Thursday, April 17, 2008



Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
A lot of people over at Flikr are angry about the whole new allowing tiny video clips. I personally love it! Sometimes video can be fun! I haven't played with the kaleidescope videos in a long time.


Yeah! the water was back!

I went and hung out down in Bascarsija, went to the internet cafe down there, had lunch at Hodzic # 2, which is a good place to eat. I had liver. They make really excellent grilled liver, and serve it with a half slice of somun, and I had a fake beer with it. The waiter there speaks a little English. He really did not need to do that, he could have got by with talking slower. Anyway, I went on home, one my street, I noticed a woman who was wearing a LOT of black, in fact she was a neqabi, and that is rare up in this neighborhood. She looked like she belonged in the cast of 'Pecat'! I went in and turned on the faucet just to see what would happen, and loud hissing noises, like if you had a really angry baby dragon, then water, but it came out with a lot of air. I already know you just run the water for a bit until that stops. Then the first order of business was to fill the water bottles I used, and then fill some more Just in Case.
After that, I cooked up some Irish Stinging Nettle Soup. There are recipes on the 'net , just google it. Mine was varied by the addition of some Vegeta. I figured nothing in it would mess up the taste, and it would make up for the fact I had no chicken stock.
It came out very nice.
Irish Nettle Soup

Stinging Nettles are used here in the local folk medicine for ulcers, and other stomach trouble, as well as for anemia. They have a lot of vitamin K are a very good source of calcium, and they contain a lot of Vitamin C. Then the S.O. called and said that he wasn't feeling too awful and he wanted to come see me when he next had to go for follow-up care up at the hospital. I am going to tell him to take a cab up the hill, and I'll pay for it. He probably should not walk up the hill. Not just yet anyway. It won't come to a lot of cab fare.
I mentioned to him that I was making Irish Stinging Nettle Soup at the time he called, and he said 'Stinging Nettles are really good!'
I have to agree as the resulting soup turned out just lovely, perhaps it is the best soup I ever made from scratch in my life. It takes very little time to make. Oh for my vegetarian friends, and vegan friends, you can substitute margerine, for butter, and you can use soy milk in this soup.

I picked up a copy of 'Dani' while I was out. There is a new mosque proposed for up in Ciglane. There was a picture of what it would look like on the front cover, and I found it to be a really awful modern design. It looks like what would happen if 'The Jetsons' converted! It looks simply AWEFUL! There are several really nice old historic mosques in the immediate area. This mosque would sit on the only playground in the immediate area. Given what streets are like here, playgrounds are not just a nice thing to have, but vital! There is no post office in the area, and even a lot of Muslims are not exactly for the building of this edifice.
The design of the thing just screams SEE WE ARE TO MODERN!.
I am not so sure if architecture on this order is what being modern is all about that that would be such a Good Thing.
One of the really positive things in Islam and the culture of Muslim people is the artistic sensibility. This just isn't beautiful. I am being very even handed here, I don't like modern churches EITHER. To see some beautiful hill marred by a church that looks like the agitator of a washing machine just pisses me off. It is mostly Catholics who put up that sort of thing here.
To paraphrase the famous James Joyce quote, 'cross Dublin without finding a pub, that's a good puzzle!' Cross Sarajevo without finding a mosque, that would be a real challenge. It isn't like there aren't enough to go around! :).
The kids need their playground. That to me is more important.


Just have a look how ugly this is! Barn red, what is with the minaret? Simply atrocious!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Rain and No WATER in Bjelava! (and a bunch of other parts of Sarajevo)

So I got home yesterday and I was about to cook the stinging nettles I brought home the day before. The thing with stinging nettles is while they are cleaner than spinach they still should be washed. This time of year they apparently don't get buggy, but later in the year they do. It takes a lot of water and you really can't touch them. Once cooked they taste like spinach made of velvet. I made some into a tea, it is used for your stomach, and I planned on doing Irish Nettle Soup. Well a whole shopping bag full of stinging nettles to wash and nothing like enough water in empty cola bottles, did not sound like fun to me, so I washed the garlicky tasting leaves, or rather some of them and a tomato, and cut up some suho meso instead. Less intense on the water. I do have some reserve in the hot water filled radiators, it is the only reason the place is still warm though, so obviously when I realized there was a problem I did not run hot water!
Basically the paper said the water would be off until 10 o'clock at night. There is a good reason, they are fixing a big water main and Bjelava is not the only area of Sarajevo without water. This morning it still wasn't running. I really was dreading the lack of water combined with a call from Nature!
Unfortunately that happened. It takes about four litres to really flush the toilet.
So After all the fun with no water I decided to get out of the house. Had to go pay the gas bill anyway, and no water. So I will be bumming around town and eatting out. I understand when the water needs to be out, this happens here when they have to fix some part of the system, but two days, or overnight is most unusual. If it has to be two days people ought to get more advance warning so that they can fill all their empty cola bottles and PLAN for two days of no water. It is bad enough for someone like me, but I started thinking about the dorms just down the road, the students who are in class all day and who perhaps don't have a stockpile of water. That is not good! Even my stockpile of water is not really enough for two days worth.
To make matters even more fun, it is RAINING!
I am going to put in a second ad for my class. One student seems to think it is fun to SMS me a lot. I didn't mind at first but he wants to start earlier, and I set the time on Sunday at 3pm. That is firm. So I did not even reply. I will reply later and say that class is at the agreed time 3pm Sunday and to bring a pencil, a pen and a notebook, and if he likes a small tape recorder. The other student stopped once they had the adress and directions. That student was from outside the neighborhood, so I gave bus directions. I should see if that student can recieve multimedia messages because I could actually FILM the approach to my street and place and send that. Or send a little hand drawn map. There are people who don't know where my street is who have lived in Sarajevo forever, because the name was something else before the war.
Anyway, two students isn't going to be worth my while so I need to get at least four more. I'd actually like abotu 8. There is room for 8. Each person who brings in another paying student is going to get a free lesson.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008



Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
This dance group was unusually good, sorry for not having sound, my equipment doesn't allow for that. The music was fun too.


Anniversary of the founding of the Bosnian Army

I have wondered what was up with all the ads for the Bosnian Army on BHT1. It isn't like this country has or even needs a big army at this point. These ads were very well done though, and have been run a lot.

The S.O. went to a follow up exam yesterday, his brother took him. I am glad someone did, because he told me in some frustration that just going back up those four flights of stairs was miserable. I said 'Well you were in the hospital a long time, you were very sick, it is going to take time to be something like normal.' He still sounded sad, so I said 'Well I am glad you at least can call me!' He asked me where I'd been most of the day, I guess he had called while I was out, so I told him. And that was that. I think it may be longer before he can come over. At least I am in some sort of shape to be able to go see him, when he is up for it. He isn't yet.

On the way home yesterday I got some stinging nettles and some leaves that taste very garlicky and some rose hips. The lady that sold these things was a cute village lady, probably about 60, in a scarf and dimije. She was really adorable. if she was a whole four feet tall I'd be surprised. She knew all the medicinal uses of her plants too. For 1KM fresh, relatively bug free green leafies is a deal!
I am looking up a recipe for stinging nettle soup. I used to have an Irish cook book that had a recipe, but you tend to keep the weight down when you go places like Sarajevo! So Google is my FRIEND again!
A second student messaged me about the class, I have set a class time now, and I will see whether another ad is even necessary. I want at least six students.
It is BEAUTIFUL out today! GORGEOUS. Last night there was sheet lightening all around. I tried to photograph it or film it but it was not predictable enough so I gave up and just enjoyed the show. Batteries must be getting old again, I notice that the reaction time on my camera gets bad when that happens. I am relieved I found a place nearby to get more.
It really is nice here in Spring. I am hearing more American and English voices when I am out and about. The buses are more crowded because people actually feel like going someplace.
I had to go pay a bill, and took it to the Main Post Office, there was a pigeon flying around in there. That provided some entertainment while I waited.

Monday, April 14, 2008


If you search Google for this page, I am on page 12


which is considerable progress, it used to be you couldn't find me by just typing in 'yakima'


Some good news....

The S.O. really is going to be better. He has some follow up care that he had to see to. I still have flu like symptoms so I said not to come over. I want to be totally safe company! If I don't feel better in a day or so I am going to go to a private clinic and see what is going on.

At least we can call each other and he understands why I wasn't there. I told him I found some truely instant soup locally. I got lots of packets of it for him. You boil water and put the soup in a mug, and put the water in the soup. He has complained that he makes soup and he can only eat one bowl and then it spoils on him. So I have had my eye out for a solution to this problem. I live near to some of the dorms for the University of Sarajevo, and I bet those packets are popular with the students! I haven't seen them elsewhere. But now that I know they are available, I can ask if other flavors are available.

I also heard from the former Chair of Democrats Abroad in Sarajevo, and found out I was right, everyone had moved on. So maybe I will be organizing! That might be kind of fun!
Also got my first student. I am going to put another ad because I have not had other calls, and I want a class of at least six. The next ad will say bring a friend for one class at half price.
It is lovely out today I got two pairs of decent shoes while I was out.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Sunny today in Sarajevo

I still feel a little less than wonderful. I was trying to log into th e Obama site, and basically I can't without doing a contribution. I have nothing against that except that if you use internet cafes that has to be done CAREFULLY so that shoulder surfing doesn't become a problem. But I did hear from Democrats Abroad, there are no members of Democrats Abroad here, not right now, I'm IT, and the other ones that will be in Sarajevo will be Obama people. Anyway, I am frustrated about the site, I understand where they are coming from, bandwidth aint free and people need to pay, but right now, it is physically not so possible.
Anyway, I can do that tomorrow in a less populated internet cafe, with the privacy screens up, or come here when it is less busy.
Sundays are ALWAYS busy in here.
I'm at Club BIT. They lowered their prices and are still a good internet cafe.

Yesterday, my second attempt to reach the S.O. was sucessful. He sounds terrible. Sometimes when people have been in the hospital a long time, they need to rest from being in the hospital, and he was really very ill.
He did not seem to understand that with the flu, and no help getting there, going to see him wasn't possible. Signage here can be a real problem, too small even with glasses.
I really don't like getting lost in hospitals! The one here is HUGE. You could fit every hospital in the Yakima Valley in there, and still have lots of room for three or four more hospitals. The relative that is my contact person was simply too busy to take me, sometimes he couldn't even go himself and then I kept getting sick myself. I explained that to him and it was like he did not understand.
This is not like him. He doesn't want to see anyone with a cold or the flu normally, because he has always caught cold or the flu a bit more easily than average.
His voice did not sound right, and he sounded just generally tired. I told him I would come see him when I myself was well, and knew for sure he couldn't catch anything from me. I mean it too. I just don't dare right now. I don't want to cause him further illness, he hasn't had the best of times.
I will call him every day until I can go see him.I also found some nice single serving soup packets. They might not have them in his area. For some reason they do around here, and they have smaller tins of the lovely creamed herring with dill. He liked that stuff one time when he came over, I fixed it and potatoes and it was good, but the big tin is too big for just him. He wouldn't be able to eat it all.
And if it's o.k. for him to have it, of course I'll take him some medovaca.

I went and got more in the Markale while I was out yesterday, and some rose-hip syrup from the same guy. The Markale can be chaotic at the best of times, but it was relatively quiet this time so I got to talk more with the guy who makes it. He is from Hercegovina. I am guessing he is a Bosnian Croat. He makes not just all the traditional Bosnian forms of alchol, and sells them, he makes syrups from things like cherries, rose-hips, pomegranate and all are of high quality. It isn't that I finished the other medovaca, there is actually a third left, I just wanted to make sure there was enough on hand.
Really it is excellent!
The guy asked me what part of the U.S. I am from and I told him, and said 'Imade mead back home but I can't find the right sort of yeast here.' and I explained that making medovaca was not possible for me because in the States you have to have a special permit to have a still, and it gets to be a lot of hassle. He told me his father had lived and worked in the U.S. for 15 years, Bridgeport, Philadelphia, New York and Chicago. Probably did factory work.
All his labels are hand made, he uses bottles from other things. I should find out if he'd like my old glass bottles.
I have errands tomorrow which have to be taken care of. If I actually AM over this flu, and it is not rotten out, I will go see the S.O. if he is up for a visit.
Otherwise I will just call him.
I need to go and put his credit into his mobile phone for him. That process frustrates the Hell out of him. It involves a sequence of 14 numbers. If he had his phone on and next to him in bed, he would not need to get up to answer the house line. Actually he doesn't get it that you don't need credit to receive calls, or to call say, an ambulance or the police. I never leave home without mine for that very reason. He probably ought to never leave the ROOM without his.
So he is home, but I do not think he is really and truly out of the woods yet.

Oh results of the ad, one wrong number from outside the Sarajevo area, and in the middle of the night some drunk guy called and told me in heavily accented English to perform an anatomically challenging act upon myself if you know what I mean and I think you do.

My ad is located next to another ad which includes a picture of a really pretty lady who does need to put on some clothes. He may have thought he was calling her!
Of course I hung up and then he tried back. His number was a mobile number also.
All I can do is make not of the number and not answer. I may put it in contacts with an unflattering name.

That way I won't answer. I'm sure rude phone calls are illegal here, they are most places, but with mobile phones there is enough anonymity that probably BHTelecom can't do anything.

I am really glad I put my mobile number and not the house number. My mobile number only reveals that I have a mobile account, and the ad reveals Sarajevo Kanton, nothing else.

I watched 'Pecat' last night. It gets better all the time. I was too tired to stay up for 'Sleeper Cell' which I like, despite it needing a little work. I find Darwin a sympathetic character and the last episode I saw, with the Afghan was very good.
But it is on too late for me. I am not the night owl I once was.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Out in the rain again.

It seems like it rains every time I seriously must go out. I don't know why this is, but I guess I ought to be glad it isn't snow. So far the landlord's brother likes my little novel. I did tell him I had ideas for changes, nothing major, just fleshing out my bad guy.

My friend who has the dress shop was looking especially nice today. I thought she had caught cold, and it turned out no, she had been crying, a lot because a neighbor of hers died, a young man of 28 years old. He got cancer and was dead in 3 months. She has known him all his life, she is a little older than him. Anyway that was sad, because he was a nice person. And of course even hearing of such a thing makes you feel bad. So we sat and had coffee.

My ad is out, so far no response. Where it was placed made us all laugh. I remarked to my landlord's brother that it was placed right by the picture of the woman who badly needed to put some clothes on! I said, well the ad should be noticed in such a spot, but probably it explains the wrong number from outside Sarajevo Kanton! I only put my mobile number and said to send an SMS. That is easier really because giving the house line would tie me down. There is competition in the teaching English line, one professor, and one 'highly educated returnee' but no one who is actually a native speaker. So I guess I will have to hang in there and wait for results. I also told my friends at the shop t hey could come free, but I hoped they would bring friends.
For them if t hey came free and it improved their business, that would be great.
I have not heard from the S.O. I SMSed his relative yesterday and no reply. He did have out of town business people he had to host, he may not have been able to go see the S.O. himself, let alone take me. I tried calling him at home. It is entirely possible they kept him longer.
I could not have gone to see him yesterday because I got another little cold. A little cold for me might not be so little for him. So I guess I will try his place again in the course of the day and call his relative later if all else fails.
The weather has been very changeable.
I could not use my usual internet cafe, they had some sort of class going. So I come back down the stairs and I thought it was SNOWING! No it wasn't snow at all, it was some sort of fuzzy little tree seeds. They looked like wingless moths. Cool in a creepy sort of way.
I also learned today that they use the same kind of 'evil eye' beads here that are used in Turkey.
Basically my friend decided to dust her shop displays, and mop, sort of therapy. So she showed me things that are placed too high for me to see. She has some lovely necklaces with real stones, from India, and some other odds and ends high up.
Anyway I got a couple scarves from her. A lady came in and got a skirt.
My friend has taken my advice about always wearing at least one item from her own stock.

Friday, April 11, 2008


So some more rain here...and Police Reform passess...

I woke up with a bit of a cough again. Yesterday the S.O.'s relative did not call me. I was home all day ready to go. In his defense, he has had to host some out of town people and it is to do with work and he warned me that he might not be able to help me go there. The hospital is not all that far away, but it is huge, and the signage leaves a lot to be desired. Anyway the S.O. may be getting out today, and I am not able to see him either way until this cold goes away. If he catches a cold it could be very dangerous for him.

I am of course really pissed off that I have yet another cold.

Still not a damn thing I can do about it. At least if the S.O. is home we will be in phone contact again. That would be nice.

So the big news here was police reform passed yesterday night. Watching the session was painful. It was avoidable but all the other viewing alternatives were worse for some reason yesterday. So I sat and watched a debate I could barely follow at times.

I understand spoken Bosnian, I speak well enough to get by and read it passably, but if people talk fast I am in trouble right away sometimes. This debate got ugly.
Still the bill passed and that is important, even a watered down bill is important because BiH has to have police reform to join the EU.

Past readers know that I am something of a Euroskeptic, but in the case of this part of Europe, the EU is a Good Thing. The countries here ought to have the chance to join.

For one thing getting in and out of Bosnia is hard, especially out, especially if you are Bosnian. Most people here remember when Tito was alive and Yugoslav passport meant you could go almost anyplace, even places Americans can't go, and they miss that freedom of movement. Actually freedom means NOTHING if you can't go anyplace.

As well it is good for young people in particular to travel. I have a friend back in the general area of the Yakima Gulag who was offered a chance to study for a month in France. I told her 'GO FOR IT! DO IT NOW! and gave her all the reasons a person should go on one of these deals, both serious and humorous.

I hope she does it!

If I'd had a similar opportunity at her age, I would have gone, damn the torpedos full speed ahead!

People always think they can do these things later, when they have saved up etc. That isn't so. I can tell you too that it isn't that possible to go some places at all if you are depending on a walker to help you get there!

Do It NOW and have something besides hemorrhoids to bore people with in your old age!

I used to know a guy in San Francisco, a barman named Paddy Nolan. If a customer, a regular walked in looking depressed, he would slam a shot of Irish whiskey down in front of that person and say 'Drink up! You'll be a long time dead!'

He has been dead a long time now. It's fairly close to his death anniversary. We all die sometime, and I think it is a sin not to go out there and experience the world to the best of your ability.

He did what he liked doing, I do what I like doing. It used to be I couldn't, I had Responsibilities, and they were real. I couldn't just go where I felt like going. Now it is different. I don't really have to do anything but pay taxes and die. Actually my tax status is I don't have to pay taxes this year in my home country, here they have some sort of tax you pay every time you buy something or use a service, I pay that. That's kind of it.

I put up some new pictures on my flikr page. You can go there by clicking on the photograph below. Nothing special, just daily life here.


workers of the world unite!

workers of the world unite!
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
The graffiti at the internet club is pretty good. I could not resist this one, it has been begging for me to photograph it for AGES!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Bears HATE CeCa!

This is kind of a 'Mind Improvement' item found in Oslobodenje a while back, I was just too busy to blog it.

Bears do not like turbofolk and they HATE CeCa!
There was a bee keeper in Serbia who kept having his hives robbed by bears. Well he set things up so that every time the bears showed up to steal his honey from his bees, they would be BLASTED with louder than live Turbofolk especially CeCa whice would cause them to flee, and the bees didn't care. They were just glad to have their hives undisturbed by the ravages of bears. Bad enough the humans take honey but it is predictable.

The power went out one night so the bears were not run off by CeCa and ate all the honey so the man sued the town and the electric company for his losses to bears.


Medovaca je zakon!

Medovaca je zakon!
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
What is medovaca? my non-balkanci readers may ask. It is mead that has been run through a still, and the only thing better than mead is medovaca. there should be a mark on that 'c' I'll fix that when I am next in Bascarsija.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Partly Sunny.

I had errands to run today. So now I know where the snail mail is slithering off to! It never makes it down the stairs AT ALL, it goes upstairs to the English people. I shall have to introduce myself. It is awkward because I haven't done so sooner.

I try not to bother people. (no comments from the Peanut Gallery! )

Anyway that was good news on a number of fronts, for one thing it is generally a good idea to keep your bills paid.

Anyway a fellow Democrat is planning to move here to Sarajevo. An Obama supporter, and that was welcome news. Since I know the city, I can probably even be a little helpful.

I did get my ad placed in one place yesterday. The other place looked not like an office for a newspaper but a fancy place for ladies clothes, VERY fancy, like for rich ladies.

Buildings are not always numbered in an orderly sequence, there are a lot of b.b. s that means 'bez broj' 'without number' and that can confuse matters. I know it is on that street, I don't want to take a taxis someplace I know I can get to on my own two feet! And I can, but I may have to make another couple tries before actually finding the place. The other place yesterday was not that hard to find once I got directions from someone. The challenge there was the seemingly endless succession of murky stairs. NEVER a good thing if you don't see well, adn then the office was four stories up (as Americans count them) over a courtyard that really needs some work. The staff there were friendly and helpful and it did not cost too much to place the ad. So I may leave it at one ad if I don't find the other place and do get response. I won't see response until at least Friday.

I stayed up late and watched 'Cotton Mary', a movie set in Kerala State, India, the part of India with the most Christians. These ones I believe were Protestant. Anyway a fascinating movie, here and there very creepy. I usually am up on Indian films shown outside India, this one like the majority of them, NEVER made it tot the Gulag. No reason it shouldn't have but the zeks and urki there don't get Indian film, not enough people from India to make it worth the theater's while to show an Indian film. Few Indian films even make it to the Soviet of Washington. Pity because the ones that are not pure Bollywood rot can be good!
This one was very nicely filmed. Italians were involved, the casting was brilliant and the sets were perfect.

Joe-Bob says check it out, no blood, three and a half breasts and one dead creepy looking fish or tongue or something.
Some fairly neat elephants too.
It was in interesting step back in time. Do check it out if you see it someplace near you.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Sunny in Sarajevo

Last night, and most of yesterday while I was at home I watched documentaries and films about the war here that were shown in honor of Dan Oslobođenje Sarajeva, and that included half of 'Saveršen Krug' all of 'Nafaka', second time. Reception is decent enough at my present flat that I could get a better look at the second film. 'Saveršen Krug' is the story of a drunk, who lives in Sarajevo alone, his family left and he is alone, then he finds two orphan boys, one is deaf and a dog, the dog has been injured in the war and doesn't have the use of it's back legs, so they build sort of a cart so the dog can pull herself along. The filming is great. The drunk is played by Josip Pejaković, who is a wonderful actor, and the kids were terrific, the DOG was terrific.
See it if you get the chance! Warning, it is a war film, people die, people suffer, do not expect it to be light entertainment! That said, it is not pointlessly bloody.
'Nafaka' is a great film, I had not realized how Bollywood part of it was. In color you see that. That is all I can say without spoiling the film. Anyway it is a good film but again, do not expect light entertainment.
In both cases, your troubles are going to be set into perspective big time, unless you like live in Darfur or something.
There was a documentary called 'Sjećas li se Sarajeva' (Do you remember Sarajevo?) A lot of it was people's home videos of their daily life. It is very gritty and utterly terrifying because you see what a war does to a city and it's people in grim detail.
I am finally over the flu! I had a merry run around today placing one of my ads. Then I was STARVING hungry. I went for a steak. The place I picked is mostly for tourists, but the smell of meat cooking was irresistible there. The waiter spoke English, and I had the best steak I ever had in Sarajevo. Steak here can be a bad thing!
This was the Bosnian House, the waiter out front wears male Bosnian traditional dress, he is older and it makes him look really cool. The younger waiters are in uniform also, but something different. This place is reasonably priced, but upscale. They have alcohol if you want it. I didn't as I don't customarily order even a beer if I am on my own. The waiter was a BIG Obama fan. That it turns out is rare here! He however thought Obama is Muslim. I was in the middle of explaining that no he isn't, when a policeman came in. People here clam up in front of policemen. So the discussion came to an abrupt end. I ate my steak. The policeman was only in to get a cola, and continue on his beat. Baščaršija is very well policed. It has video camera surveillance now. Given how common pick-pockets and beggers have been in the past, this is welcome by most people in the area.
In America the A.C.L.U. would be all over this! :)
Segregation has been big news here. In a number of towns, Muslim kids and non-Muslim kids attend school in different shifts! In one town the parents want a totally new school because the school in use now, was the concentration camp during the war and they would just as soon not have to be reminded of what happened there.
It was ironic to me to sit home, watch stuff to do with the war, and also some news items about the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, and then see in a totally new country, 'segregation, seperate but equal'
I far prefer 'Brotherhood and Unity'!
The S.O. is still in the hospital, it has been 3 weeks. I have not been well enough to go see him. I had the flu and then caught cold again and again. Finally 3 days in a row I woke up without congestion or a cough! So now I can go see him. I will call his relative who has been my contact person and see about that. Then again, as long as he has been in, he may be out soon. So far no news on that front.
I should know something soon.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Dan Oslobodenje Sarajeva

This day marks when the NAZI occupiers left Sarajevo. The usual official persons will place flowers at the Eternal Flame. I was kind of surprised to find places open at all. It is fairly early here as I post this, 9:19 AM to be exact. I got here roughly 8:30 AM. It may have been a mistake to leave the house at all, my ankle acted up on the way down. It is nice enough out that I did not want to wear boots. I get tired of the weight of them sometimes. I wore my crummy little no-tie sneakers. The only thing uglier is 'Crocs' I actually saw a woman wearing a horrible pair of 'Crocs' at the news stand on my street a couple days ago. People here generally wear nice shoes. It is a point of pride actually. Bosnia had a pretty decent shoe industry before the war. My boots are of local manufacture actually and very good, the best pair I ever had. But if it is relatively warm out, my feet sweat in them and I hate to sweat. Especially I hate for my feet to sweat.

Last night I watched 'Pecat', forgive the lack of diacritical marks I am down at BIT and the keyboards here are American and I am too lazy and tired to get out my deal that has those marks, or to mess with hot-keys. 'Pecat' is sort of a mini series set here in Sarajevo. Part of the fun is seeing places I have been, the other part of the fun is how damned CREEPY this show is! For one thing it is a lot more plausible than 'Twin Peaks'! They have a terrorist cell, and the terrorists are creepy, at times funny and at times scary. There is one terrorist who is married to a very hot looking blonde. She is a niqabi so you don't find out she is a hot looking blonde until she gets home. She is in this black stuff until she gets home with this little kids bike. She gets in the house and starts taking the outer stuff off. This is done in a totally matter of fact way, but somehow it is provocative. Then you see her husband! He has almost a village idiot leer, and bad teeth, and a beard almost as big as he is!
Together they seem totally a mis-match! I mean she is beautiful!
Then there is the terrorist caught at the airport. He didn't start off as even being Muslim! He has this robot like voice too. He is played by a fairly good looking actor. The woman at the airport who is questioning him is sure he is Up To No Good, but there is no reason to hold him. So he is let go.
There is a Croat family who are at a christening and there is a young man being told the truth as to who his father is.
The series is very tightly written and would be a success internationally I believe.
I wanted to stay up for 'Sleeper Cell' To FTV's credit it was only delayed by the big boxing match, not pre-empted. I could not stay up that late t hough. I have been recovering from the flu. I set an alarm and it woke me, but my bed was just the right temperature and I decided to not get up and go to the cold living room.
Other T.V. stuff, there was an article about another escaped zek! A famous escapee! Kyle McLaughlin! He was a star in 'Twin Peaks' and has a real fan base here in BiH! They did not mention that he was born and raised in our Gulag! SRAMOTA! Kyle je nas!
Kyle was a graduate of A.C. Davis High School and my son had one of his former teachers. In fact this former drama teacher told my son he should go into acting. My son was rather dubious about the whole idea. I tried to encourage it actually. He said 'If anyone in this family ought to act, it ought to be my sister!'
Actually either one of them would have done well if they had taken that path!
On to more filmness since it seems to be that kind of day.
Yesterday in 'Oslobodenje' there was front page news that Danis Tanovic who won the Best Foreign Film Oscar for 'No Man's Land' is in town and he brough Colin Farrell, a famous Irish actor here to do a film called 'Triage'. It is about the war of course, and a reporter.Filming is to take place in Spain, Ireland and BiH.
The news was an exclusive for 'Oslobodenje'.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Mostar Sevdah Reunion make it onto Euronews!

Mostar Sevdah Reunion participated in a music festival in Brussels called 'Balkans Traffic' It was from what I could see a cool music festival, and Ms. Butler was there! So rumors of the group's collapse are 100% not true! They are alive and kickin' out the jams!

Other groups from the region were shown, but MSR got the first bit of film, and probably the longest, although they were not interviewed.

The front man for 'Emir and Frozen Camels' was sort of interviewed in 'Dnevni Avaz'. He is funny, he said his house pet was his mobile phone!


Again rain

Woke up again fairly late. I checked my various e-mails. No word on the S.O.'s condition today, but it is early. I still don't dare go see him, again I woke up congested. I am not badly congested, but I ran a temperature last night for a bit. I made an early night of it, forgoing a couple nice films and instead read from a book by Aleksandr Hemon.
I love Aleksandr Hemon, he wrote at least a couple of really good stories for the 'New Yorker' in English. He is from Sarajevo, and I read his stuff in Bosnian for 'Dani' regularly. This is 'Man without a past' and it is pretty funny in places.
It is in Bosnian. I am slogging through. I took some pictures of the daffodil, and the quince tree, now in magnificent bloom.
As well I joined the 'Democrats Abroad' website.
I was informed by my landlord's brother that the Republicans actually have an OFFICE here in Sarajevo!
Meanwhile my search for other Democrats in Sarajevo has been frustrating! I know there are some. There have to be!
Anyway, at least I was able to locate the website, it took several searches to do it.
Amazing how much work the Internet can be sometimes!
I am nervous about the S.O. His relative says he is improving steadily, but given that I can't go see him until I am not sniffing, coughing, waking up congested or otherwise out of order, I don't know for myself how he is doing.
The S.O. has always caught cold easily. I haven't, but they say it takes awhile, up to 2 years for your immune system to adapt to new germs. There are plenty of new germs here! :)
At least there is someone willing to give me updates, and greet the S.O. from me.
I worked a little on the new novel and had a coffee here. It is nice here. I hear some voices that almost sound American in here.
Well time to pay up and then I may go out and have soup, there is a place for it nearby. Bosnia is sort of famous for soup, even the packaged soups are better here than most other places. I should suggest to someone that Bosnian packaged soups be exported to the U.S. because they would be a nice change from Ramen noodles. Unfortuantely the single serving concept hasn't arrived here. Most make four bowls of soup. To an American it would be two bowls, but that might be too much in some circumstances.
Microwavable isn't in the vocabulary here. Microwaves are getting more common. I could have had one, but I don't do microwave foods that much. A microwave is one more thing to clean too.
My usual quick meal is either suho meso, or tinned fish, and some hashbrowns. I find the local potatoes make WONDERFUL hashbrowns, and one potato is usually enough for me.
That or I go out and have cevapi. Up here it isn't expensive to do that.
I forgot the cable so I can't put my pictures on Flikr. *slaps forehead* Next time ako Bog daj!

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Some good news!

I called the S.O.'s relative at the usual time, and he thinks the S.O. may soon be out of the hospital, as well if I am well enough, and the S.O. is well enough, I may be permitted to visit him! That was the best news I have had on that front in some time! Hvala Bog! In fact he said call ahead and he would take me! That was sweet of him!

Anyway I sat around the other internet cafe awhile. Then I went to have a burek and a cola. (here you do not say coke! too close to a slang word for certain special female body parts! sort of like saying cola in Spanish! A thing that was hard for me to get used to! Besides I was afraid of being served the local wanna-be, but that has never happened, a request for a cola has always resulted in just what I asked for!)

I am down at Click now. Click is nice too, I accidentally locked myself in their bathroom however! I am sure loud cries of 'Pomoc! Molim Pomoc!' were the last thing the nice young man there wanted to hear!

All is well that ends well.


Malo više snijeg!

Well the weather girl was not lying! I went out today, waited at the bus stop and mixed in with the rain were tiny hard pellets of snow. I feel sorry for the quince tree which is in bloom under such conditions!

I have to meet someone in Baščaršija so I am out even though the weather sucks. It is too early for my meeting so I came here to Easynet, and they even had my favorite spot open! Wooohooo!

The S.O. is still in the hospital. He can't have visitors. The relative I talk with does keep me appraised of what is going on. So far not much progress either way and to be honest I am worried even though he says the S.O. will be fine.

Unfortunately I keep catching little colds so even if I could visit, I couldn't just now. It isn't like the little stuff I catch is BAD but it would be for him. So I can only call and see how he is doing.

Meanwhile I have decided to hang in there for at least the next three months and see what happens. I am annoyed that the ads for my English classes have not made their appearance yet. I suppose I need to make another one, and at least take that one in personally. I often am near the office for Oslobođenje so that is ok, Avaz is a little off my usual routine, and that means I need to mail it in again. These are free ads which can only have 10 words.

I woke up late today, at least once or twice with the change to spring time I do that. This despite weeks of getting myself up earlier on purpose. Good thing my meeting was for later anyway!

So off to find out if there are any other Obama supporters here in Sarajevo! So far no reply. What do I have to do to make contact? I went to the website! I joined some expat groups and so far no contact!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Under the Wire

Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
I had a good clear shot at t his magpie, but it took off, probably because it was early and the flash went off and startled it. there was a lot of snow that day and it was still on the wires.


They say we will get some rain today

I was getting spoiled by the recent lovely weather, and my ears itched a lot last night. So I watched the news. They said the 'S' word, that's right, the weather announcer said 'može snijeg' which means there could be snow! So knowing I needed to be out today, I changed what I was planning to wear.

It is early, too early to call the S.O.'s nephew. So for today I do not know how he is. He could really slow down as he talks! I get like every second word, and on a mobile phone it is a little worse. I actually wish he had time to do text messages. I only call him when I am sure he would be on lunch break.

So while I probably will know something soon, you won't until tomorrow unless it is significant one way or the other.

The fact I have had to 1. arrange to pay my next 3 month's rent and 2. I have had the flu and it has given me more than the usual problems, means I could not go visit him.

I tend to go deal with using a Bankomat as early in the day as possible, fewer dodgy characters about, and I can go home and put it in a safe place.

The tourist season looks to be off to a decent start. That is good, because people should visit BiH on general principle, and it is good for the country if lots of people do visit.

Yesterday on the bus, it was fairly crowded, a kind person made sure I could sit. She is from the neighborhood, and probably noticed earlier in the year and last year that I had ankle problems. My ankles are ok right now, I am careful though and try to sit on the bus rather than stand, because with the roller-coaster streets here, you get pulled this way and that. I finally learned the Bosnian expression for 'roller coaster' T.V. is my FRIEND! the phrase in English would mean 'death train'! Anyway I sat next to a very tall guy. The front four seats of busses here are really meant for people disabled not by just ANY cause, but people disabled in the war! So I felt guilty sitting there. I notice another thing here, and that is that as much as possible, younger people do offer seats to older people and what is really very touching, women will offer a seat to a man if he looks particularly tired, or if they even t hink he was in the war.

That I think is really a nice thing about this town.

Yesterday I had a particularly long wait for the bus, and I did not want to walk up the hill even on the good sidewalk, so I waited. There was a funny old man, he could not stand up straight anymore, and used a cane. He kept looking at me. It got a little uncomfortable, so I went someplace else, he did not follow me, I don't know how in fact he expected to get onto a bus! Anyway this lady came by who had really huge ankles. She had a very nice dress and coat and about the ugliest shoes I have seen on a woman here! They were not Crocs, they were like men's shoes.

It reminded me of stories about my Aunt Lil, since gone to her reward. My grandmother could never talk about Aunt Lil without saying 'you know Lil, she is HUGE' That Aunt was not Jewish, but she made her fortune in Hollywood by becoming a kosher caterer. She was very good too.

An early employment trauma led to her taking up that job. She was hired by a rich Jewish family, and there was a family recipe that involved pork chops cooked in milk, from the kosher point of view a REAL NO NO! Pork and then the whole meat and milk thing, So anyway she serves this, and the family and the guests all ate it. There was an uncomfortable silence during the meal though.

Later her employer went to the kitchen and explained the whole kosher thing. Aunt Lil had not know about all this, and of course was very sorry. So her employer trained her, and she mastered the sort of cuisine these people wanted.

She saved her money and opened her own small catering business some years later. Anyway Aunt Lil being both tall and heavy had very big feet, she was embarressed to go to a shoe store, so she would not do that. She instead ordered her shoes from men's shoe catalogues. These shoes were also wide, and she ordered white a lot because of her job as a cook she wore white most of the time anyway and she ordered the kind of shoes that have those decorative holes in them, like spectator shoes often have.

She died sometime in the 1980s, right after my grandmother. I never got to meet her at all due to a huge feud between my grandmother and her. My mother did not dare get in touch with her due to this feud.

Anyway I was looking at this woman wondering how someone that short could have such ankles and the old guy looked at me and winked. It was funny on another score, this town is full of really good looking women. While I am not ugly, I would not class myself as drop dead gorgeous either.

Stuck there in the very front seat, was a notice in English and in Bosnian to watch out for pick pockets. It was hard to read the sign due to small letters and the fact it was pretty faded.

So I got to my street and went home.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


This and That

Turns out the S.O. is still in the hospital, his relative did not return my call because he was out of town and could not reach me or be reached until he got back. Before I could say anything about how worried I had been he apologized profusely for not having called!
That was really good. The S.O. is going to be o.k. they are just being extra careful of him and who knows, he could come out better than he went in. I would be delighted if they figured out what the Hell has been making him so dizzy.

There is a company that fixes building facades across from the bus stop I usually use,(because I don't need to cross the road if I use it!) Anyway for the last three days there have been police vehicles there and I have no idea why! The police here are not a particularly heavy presence, so I really wonder what is going on with that!?

I cased one of the book stands to see what was available there, and noticed a book on the whole pyramid thing.
It is nice out today, but when I left it was fairly cold out.

More foreigners in Baščaršija lately.

Yesterday since I did not have to carry anything at all, I decided to go to the Sarajevska Museum, which is near where Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand was assasinated. The museum is pretty small, the entry fee is 2KM and they have items related to the assassination mostly, for example the murder weapon, and some teacups used by the unfortunate royal couple before they were assassinated. As well there are items related to the life here in those days and some back ground information on resistance to Austrian occupation of Bosnia and Hercegovina. The opposition was pretty serious and never gets covered in histor y books in other countries.
I found the signage to be a problem, but the museum's curator was extremely helpful. He doesn't speak English, but some signage is in English.
There is a short film about the assasination too. It has archival news reel footage and clips from a film made in the 1970s.
I followed that up with a walk to as far as Inat Kuća. I still felt a bit off so I did not eat there.
It looks like an attractive restaurant though and I will get around to eating there once!

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