Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Some comments on the situation of sexual minorities in BiH

Those of you who regularly read 'Bosnia Vault' (linked on the side, do not bug me for a link, this is not my computer, and I have enough trouble trenutno! When my own machine can be used, ther will be linkies again!)

Anyway, Shaina linked to some news about the chaos generated by Wahabbitthugs toward the Gay Festival.

I knew some sort of incident was likely. I knew if I had remained in Sarajevo, that the downtown area would be off my places to go list for the days of said festival.

Balkans people in general are quite uncomfortable with gay people.
The brother of my landlady there, a man who works for the Foreign Ministry of BiH and who has traveled the world did not know mucyh about gay people. He is a very pious Muslim, but NOT REPEAT NOT a Wahabbi! His wife doesn't wear a scarf, but does wear long skirts. She is of an age where the scarf isn't mandatory anyway, unless you are praying or in the mosque. Women of an age to get hot flashes are in fact exempted from covering. Few people know this!

His daughter dresses like a normal high school aged girl in Europe, admittedly on the modest side of that, and she doesn't wear a scarf. If he were a Wahabbi, she'd be wearing a scarf even if his wife didn't!

Anyway, I remember havign a conversation with him, where he was very plainly trying to get comfortable with the idea of gay people. He was teasing me that I needed to find a husband for D. (D. lost her husband in the war, and never remarried.)He said, 'It doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman, these are modern times.' I said, 'Well, I am glad you decided on this latitude, because finding someone good enough for our D. is not going to be an easy job! Most of the men out there are NOT good enough!' Then he asked me if I knew that 10 percent of all living cratures are gay. I knew that years ago. An Austrian/Scots cousin told me ALL about it years ago! (He's gay, half the men left of his tiny clan are gay...)So I said, 'Remember when I told you I spent many years in San Francisco?' 'Yes..you did...' 'Well that town is a big place for gay people. I am totally used to gay people. Not only that, EVERYONE is a little bit gay!'
Then I explained that the Native American people actually VALUED gay people because gay people help non-gay people understand the opposite sex. Gay people are as natural as anyone else.

Left un-discyssed was wgt /everTy Scripture considered by Jews, Christians and Muslims condemns gay people so much! I would have liked to discuss that! I do think it has to do with control freaks in the early days of all three religious groups, and with the fact that gays cross the boundries.

I mean it is scientific FACT that a certain proportion of all living critters are gay.

So it's a problem of faith for some people.

Me personally, the fact that Mladic and Karadzic got to live nicely while everyone belonging to me has to struggle, THAT is a crisis of faith, not whet some people choose to do with their 'naughty bits'!

That said, the disturbances did not puzzle me. Ceric is a noted wimp, the Cardinal in Sarajevo, rather 'conservative' in all the wrong ways, ditto the guy in charge of the Orthodox Church, I am not sure where the leader of the Jewish community is about these matters.

Anyway, being a sensitive person, I did not open that discussion. I would have liked to.

There are Wahabbis in Sarajevo. My personal diary has a 'Niqabi Count' Section, a 'Female Bosnian Soldeir' section and a 'Female Police Officer' section.

Most women who wear the face veil are married to 'foreign volunteers' who have managed to stay on in BiH. The men in question seek them out from poor families, they are young, and then the guys insist on full coverage so that the other Arab or Afghani guys don't covet their wives. I mean it is a known fact that Bosnian womean are very beautiful. So that is what is up with that. The veil wasn't so common in BiH even before Tito, it was a town thing, not a general population thing. Older, religious Bosnian women of ALL religions cover their hair, the way you tell who is what religion is HOW they tie t heir scarves. This often goes with the lack of a realization that their outfits could use a long slip underneath! I mean i often sat in the shop with my friends, and after some woman who plainly was very pious, walked by and the full sun revealed her legs, would say to either B. or D.
'treba potsuknija!'(She needs a slip!)

Anyway, the Wahabbi take on all this is extreme, but there's Christians right here in America that are as bad, if not worse.

what my worst proble with it is that there are no actual 'modeate leaders' in ANY religion. Moderate gets shouted down or beaten down in ALL religions. As well moderates waste their time on stuff that doesn't matter to regular people. I am talking again about ALL religions here!

Sometimes, keeping private stuff private is the best answer...for a long time this will be the case in the Balkans.

And the regioin does need to grow up on the whole question of gay people.

I read something interestinga bout Iran in this regard...

Transgender people are actually fairly common there ... women who get an operation to become men...I was surprised as Hell to read that this operation is LEGAL in Iran, and the government will PAY for a lot of the considerable cost of the operation... I am still gobsmacked over this concept.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Beautiful and Sunny in the Gulag,

It is bgeautiful and sunny in the Gulag, in fact I got to go to the fair on Dollar Day with my daughter and her family. It was crowded. We ran into many old friends, especially She and I did. But so did my son-in-law. One person I knew here is in the nursing home, I never thougth I'd see THaT day! We ran into her son, that is how we knew. She was a major power in local party politics too.

I am delighted to say someone from the Pictish Anti-Defamation Society has discovered my picture of a Pictish wild boar. Of interest to me in Sarajevo, was that an artist in Bascarsija had copper plate work with wild boars that looked Pictish to me, and my first view of a stecak showed wild boars. I was fascinated with stecci before I knew my family had some Bosnian ancestry, because of this famous stecak which was in an art book belonging to my late mother, and which I got to personally examine in Sarajevo.

Pictish people were early inhabitants of Scotland and Ireland, in Ireland they were called 'Fir Bolg' which means 'Men with bags'. They were put into menial labor by the Celts. They were called Picts by the Romans, because they were elaborately tatooed.

Some say the famous vitrified forts in Scotland were build by Pictish people.

Due to the fact I have a lot of hair, my mother called me a little Pict, and a Scottish-Austrian friend of mine said I was very Pictish. But t he same hairyness is not unusual in Balkans people either. In fact it is considered a mark of beauty!

I think the Pictish people were far more widespread in antiquity than just the British Isles. More later when there is more time.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar....

Not that I have a lot to do with cigars! I missed my big fat chance to try a Cubano, they are legal and available in BiH!

The Frued quote has more to do with the font differences. I dislike Ariel, it is plain. I miss Georgia, but some computers for whatever reason don't offer Georgia in Blogspot.

I have been totally out of touch with everything Balkanski other than the huge quantity of lokum and of tahan halva given to me by friends in Sarajevo, the same halva that kept me in carina tako dugo! Nothing like being stuck in carina when nature is urgently calling! Welcome back to America INDEED! haha

Yes I felt about as welcome as kuga! (the bubonic plague for those of you in Rio Del!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Finally recovering.

Well I am back, and actually waking up somewhat at the right time for this side of the Planet! The thing is that hearing the azan first tiing every day got me used to waking up automatically VERY early for a non-farming American. But coffee is resetting my clock. I realized that no form of coffee might help me stay awake when the sun was up and make me more useful. My new job here is minding one kid during his father-'s school time, then I can go into town with the help of friends. actually once all the etnic cleansing OOOPS I meant Road Improvements! gets done, it is going to be doable to get a bus from time to time to get into the Greater Yakima Gulag. I live in a sharshija called Selah for now.

A HUGE inspiration for the Yakima Gulag Literary Gazett is BACK! YES the Jethro Gazette! and it's FREE! This is a publication objected to HIGHLY by Ministarstvo Veselje and the Ministry of Information! Therefore it is MUST reading for all zeks and for all urki who wish to be zeks instead of mere urki!

That actually so far was the best news, besides the fact a friend of mine is seeing some success as an artist. I got a lot of good painting ideas in Sarajevo, but did not wish to carry back like paintings! They would have been too big! I will paint here instead.and see if I can sell them, and I am working on a guide book inteded for people who want to be in Sarajevo longer than a couple weeks.

It will be illustrated with my photos and some sketches. I hope it will be a hit!

I am also gearing up for NaNo! My one real American friend in my time in Sarajevo was met because of NaNo.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Exhausted, Dazed...

Well I am back in the Gulag, my trip was in some ways very grueling. My dear friends in Bascarsija gave me Tarhan Halva and Lokum to carry home, a considerable amount of it, and I carried it along with other things, I had to use 3 forms to declare my stuff that I got in BiH, and learned that it was under the limit. I could have gotten one of those vests! I was afraid of exceeding the limit, which last time I was traveling was something like $400, I have wanted a Bosnian vest with silver or gold or mixed embroidery, the real metal for a long time. I really could not afford it though. Where would I ever WEAR such an item, but I wanted one, I drool over good sarm the way other women drool over diamonds or mink.

Anyway the Tarhan Halva and the Lokum I asked the flight attendant aabout it, and she said, 'If you declare it they generally will allow you to keep it!' This is for things like sweets. That would be the good news. The bad news is that it meant I had to go through the Agriculture Department inspection, along with a man who bought tulip bulbs in Holland for his wife. Inspection in Sarajevo is faster than in the States because they actually have a much more modern set up for this. The bad part is that the baggage got put on two carosels, that made it take way too long. I was really wrung out. I thought about taking a room in Seattle and just resting, there were rooms, then I thought, if I got a taxi right away I could get onto Greyhound and just do it. It was late when I got in so I called a friend who lives in my old neighborhood and she got me. We went past my old house. It is awful what those people have been doing to the roses! I swear I will haunt them for it! The Hell Hound House is still in business, they are breeding baby little Hell Hounds, dog houses every where. I am using the Yakima Gulag Narodni Biblioteka because of the total lack of internet access for me at my friends. Later I go to my daughter's and I can put up pix and all that. The Gulag is under some sort of major reconstruction AGAIN! Especially the Former Mall.
For those who did not understand my last post, I was at Sea-Tac, using a kiosk and I was having a hard time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Drugarica Katjusa ce privjaviti u Yakimu Gulag Sutra dan

Dear Comrades, We

Monday, September 15, 2008



Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
The promised picture.


A Walk in Latinluk

Today, like yesterday is heavily rainy. I have had a total concept change on what to wear on the trip as a result, since rain seems to be the order of the day throughout Europe. I am going with black, not the lovely turquoise colored outfit. I don't want it spoiled!

O.K. We are don with Trivia! I went to the travel agency, again not open at 9:00 AM, So I wandered down to Latinluk, and had a look at the Sarajevsko Pivara. If you love beer you need to go, if you love life you need to go and at least look. The Brewery was for much of the siege the only source of clean water for the entire city, and people risked their lives to get water from there.

The building is smaller than the now out of immediate use Guinness plant in Dublin, but Sarajevsko of course is very good beer, I hadn't found the dark variety in any stores though, so I went into the little pub, where you can get things like a sausage, a slice of cheese and a beer. I just had a beer, a small one. It was delicious. The place is very nicely furnished. Again definately worth going and it isn't at all far from the Latinski Most, right accross the road from St. Anthony's Church.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Rare Judge's Chair

Rare Judge's Chair
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
For those of you who are fans of 'sitting in judgement'


A Fist Full of Dinars!

A Fist Full of Dinars!
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
A guy named Nijaz in Bascarsija runs a little private museum cum war surplus place called the 'Sarajevo War Museum'. This is part of the display. One pays a couple KM to get in, and it smells like an Army Surplus store in the U.S. Army brats and hunters will know what I mean. Old military gear has a certain smell.

Friday, September 12, 2008


September 11 Anniversary

BHT1 ran a feature film based on September 11, and a documentary, which was the Gore Vidal documentary. Both BHT1 and FTV did run news coverage of the commemorations in the U.S. of this terrible event.

It should be noted most Bosnian people felt very bad for America and they sent people to help with DNA identification of victims.

BiH has thanks to the awful war, one of the best DNA labs in the world in Tuzla.

As well bin-Ladin is not a popular figure here.

Packing is proceeding apace. I am feeling very bad about leaving.

I had a meeting to settle all accounts with my landlord. Everything is settled to everyone's satisfaction. I told my landlady's brother, 'Don't worry, I am not going to write mean things about you on my blog!' Well not entirely true, he should have finished reading my manuscript! But all financial dealings went fine.

I asked him how the fast was going. I have heard Ramzan described many ways, but 'relaxing!' was a first! He said it was going o.k. for him and was 'relaxing'!

Me I don't know if I could handle it, especially this time of year! It is so hot and muggy, I am being really careful to be patient with anyone, in case they are fasting and not having an easy time. I am more careful walking around for the same reason. People are usually pretty mellow, but if it is hot, late in the day, maybe people will be a little more tired. Give someone that extra few seconds to count change, it's better for them and better for you!

T.V. programming has included the Para-Olympics. I have never seen the Para-Olympics on T.V. before, I watched the BiH team cream the Egyptian team. Both sides played very hard. Egypt was not easily beaten!

As well special programs for Ramzan, some religious, some about the culture here, and some musical are pretty common. The time for Iftar, (when to eat after a day of fasting) is shown on most channels fairly close to when it happens. A lot of cafes are open, but less busy until that time. Fasting is by no means 100%, there are exemptions for various reasons, travel, illness, pregnancy, etc. And of course Sarajevo has a non-Muslim population who are still going to go to cafes and sit in the shade, have a coffee and a smoke if that's what they are into. Some cafes don't open until Iftar time. A couple at least in Baščaršija have signs to that effect.

I went to the Sarajevo War Museum yesterday. Everything in there is for sale. I got the owner's number for a friend of mine who deals in militaria. I think he might be interested.

It had things from the recent war, and WWII, as well as Yugoslav equipment, and German equipment from WWII. Stuff like ruck-sacks, uniforms, patches, and of course ARBiH stuff.

LOTS of Dinars! I'll put up some pix.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


It's kind of an odd summer job ii

It's kind of an odd summer job ii
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
This is the same pair. note the name tags!


So it's kind of an odd summer job, but it pays right?

So it's kind of an odd summer job, but it pays right?
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
Well I can think of worse summer jobs, there are a few people paid to wear traditional attire so that tourists can photograph them. They have name tags and so on. One of my friends tells me back in the days of Yugoslavia, people in Baščaršija ALL wore either the traditional Bosnian attire, or they dressed in the styles of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I said, 'It might be a cool idea to revive that!'

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Baščaršija Old and New

Baščaršija Old and New
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag


Information on the Srebenica Related Trials, Thanks Owen

"The judgment in the civil court cases brought by Srebrenica survivors against the Dutch state is due to be delivered in the District Court in The Hague on Wednesday morning, September 10.

Hasan Nuhanovic and the family of Rizo Mustafic are seeking to hold the Dutch state accountable for handing their relatives over to be murdered by the troops of Ratko Mladic at Srebrenica in July 1995.

The Dutch UN forces had a Security Council mandate to protect the civilian population of Srebrenica. Instead they ordered 5-6000 refugees to leave the protection of their base at Potocari at a time when refugees were already being killed and raped only metres from the base entrance.

This is a potentially ground-breaking case as far as the responsibility of the international community for civilians under its protection is concerned.

For further information see attached press release or contact Liesbeth Zegveld, who is representing the relatives, at:



Taking care of loose ends...

Today I acquired a different suitcase, it was used previously by a friend across the road in Baščaršija, Hadži Mujo, in fact he used this suitcase on Hajj! It is in far better shape than what I arrived with. I probably ought to get some duct tape someplace. It still has the Hajj markings. People here really feel it will bring me special luck! It already is a blessing, you have NO idea how hard it can be to get decent, mid priced luggage here, not a lot of outlets, and the one in Baščaršija where I looked had just cloth wheeled bags, for varying prices, and the guy charges differently for foreigners than for Bosnians. My friends NEVER do that, they have the same price regardless!

So I tried going out to Robot Komerce, that was not for me! I had ankle problems, and then was sort of misplaced, again, not BADLY misplaced, but it was hot out, and I decided to turn back before I had any REAL trouble. Then Hadži Mujo showed up and offered the suitcase, it is a decent size, not too big, not too small, in excellent condition as well. So I paid him something because the man saved me endless hassle and some expense!

I have to go right back home and find the guarantee papers for a mobile phone that I got that never worked right. I'll take the suitcase home on this run then go back into town. I have other stuff to do.

Thanks to AR for a picture of the rose variety! If possible supply a name, I think I know what it's called, but I want to be sure, maybe I could try getting such a rose to grow at my daughters. If not at least I will know....

Monday, September 08, 2008


A favorite building...

A favorite building...
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag


Čili mixed according to Our Exacting Standards...

Čili mixed according to Our Exacting Standards...
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
Had guests last night, this is the pre-mix for really nice New Mexico Red.


Humid today in Sarajevo.

Yesterday I had reason to be glad my travel arrangements are entirely by air,there was a huge bus accident in Croatia, 19 killed,and Iforget how many injure. I was sad to see that. I am off to shop for a suitcase or bag with wheels, my ones I came with are not in wonderful shape.

That can be fun here! Or NOT! Depends how much you like people yelling and screaming! I had a discussion with one sales person that was noisier than my break-up with the F.(former) S.O. In fact it was up there with giving my ex-husband the old heave ho! Which is saying something!

I am going to check the Pijaca on Ciglane, but maybe tomorrow. Any of you ever see the film Green Card?

Well, since the F.S.O. isn't part of my life, one of the girls at the shop has been trying to fix me up, and the guy who owns the shop across the street has an uncle.... I have nothing to lose meeting the guy. . .. .

Saturday, September 06, 2008



Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
took this this morning.


Huge WWII Bomb Found in Bihać

So some guy is running one of those digger machines, and he hits something hard, gets out to see what it is and realizes he is damned lucky to be ALIVE, instead of scattered from Hell to Breakfast all over town. He had found a great big WWII bomb, and the resting place perhaps of many other huge WWII bombs. I learned that between the Allies and the NAZIs Bihać was bombed over 50 times in the course of WWII.

The election process has started here, local elections. There's carefully labeled T.V. programming, with the warning that the program has Political Content. There are election posters. I saw an SDP one on one of the kafanas that has a lovely little enclosed garden area. There are short programs on how to vote, so that nobody ends up having a problem figuring out their ballots. Now if there were just someone to vote for!



Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
Yesterday, I made little pancakes, and used up the last of the delicious rose jam. I felt sad doing that, because rose jam is not that available in the States, I have tried making jam in the past and all my efforts were disasters! i may have a go at it if I can find some source of unpolluted roses, I have a recipe that was in Oslobođenje, it calls for a variety of rose that might not be available in the U.S. but I am sure any large fragrant red or pink rose would work.

coffee, and a shot of medovaća, incidentally this was from the Healing Herbs festival. The makers are Orthodox Bosnians, and they are justly proud of their product. Coffee of course, just instant that morning.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Flashback City

Last night there was about a 3 point something earthquake. At the time I did not know it was an earthquake, at first I thought someone was trying to break into my landlady's place or upstairs, but no, and then the sound stopped and started again, that roar that sounds like a bunker buster bomb going off, or a big shell. A few friends of mine were here for the war, and while I wasn't here or elsewhere for anyone's war, I have some idea of the sound, so I woke up shakey.

That said, here is what really is bugging me today: Sarah Palin. I cannot abide the woman's voice or her manner. I do not want so much as the tip of her pinky anyplace near the thing that sets off the missiles or bombs, because she might get into a snit and just hit the thing. Seriously...

I know the sound of peri-menopausal P.M.S. when I hear it, and that is what I heard.
The sad fact in America is that women never get much power or influence until they are in the peri-mnopausal years and it's a rough time for most women physically. This woman has had six kids so it is bound to be a bit worse. Those of you who have experienced it do not need explainations of the physical facts, the hot flashes, the abnormally heavy periods, the worse than before P.M.S.

To try and work any job under those circumstances can be a brutal experience.

Then there's the social facts of menopause, which in my opinion are a bit worse in America. Everything is dealt with by pills and this situation sometimes requires sympathy and a calm ear. Not that available in America, and men handle this stuff badly because they don't understand.

The sad thing though is a woman who sounds like that in public is in trouble, and should NOT repeat NOT be holding high office, or seeking some high office, she needs a rest, not work.

The other thing is she is totally violating her daughter's right to privacy, and the daughter's boyfriend's right to privacy. This is NOT 'Meet the Fockers' This is an American Election for the most powerful office in America, and maybe the world.

Another thing, voice matters, how we speak matters, it matters FAR more than what we wear. I find no fault with Sarah Palin's appearance whether it is what she looks like or what she wears. She appears to be a typical middle class American woman. Nothing wrong with that.

What I can't endure is that voice. That voice sounds like generations raised in trailer parks. It is shrill and provacative, not at all calm or measured.

She sounds like every miserably bad female boss I ever had, and I have had several, some of whom at least SOUNDED better than her.

Back to the kids. To me there is no excuse to be in political life, have kids and preach abstinance and have a kid turn up pregnant. Presumably there is the money to take care of one's kids properly, and there ought to be the time for one on one discussions of life and sex.

I raised two children in often very difficult circumstances. Neither was pregnant or made someone else pregnant in their teens.

Both waited until they were self supporting to even explore the romantic side of life.

It isn't impossible to sit with kids and explain the FINANCIAL consequences of being pregnant young,or making someone else pregnant young for that matter, and why it pays to wait to have sex.

Young people are practical, you don't need to put the fear of God into them so much as the fear of lifelong extreme poverty.

Making a show of those kids is a disgrace! Far more of a disgrace than the girl being pregnant.



Bija, Shop

Bija, Shop
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
Bija is the owner of the shop, she is very nice, and really has a keen sense of fashion. She has been someone wonderful to know here! This view, for those in the know shows Badem, a good place to get spices which is next door. And if you keep walking, straight, you will be on Obala Kulin Ban.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Editor is Planning Return to t he Gulag.

Today We (editorial We not royal We!) left the flat early. Today is the first day of Ramzan here, and I hope any Muslim readers who are fasting have a good fast. A good many of my friends are fasting. I noted a sign at the ljetne bašte by the Saudi Embassy that says they won't have the outdoor cafe open during Ramzan. I don't know how many places which serve food will be closed.

Speaking of food, I got some fresh absolutely fresh pinto beans, I am having those for dinner! Absolutely fresh pinto beans are delicious and don't give me gas!

There were some people behind the Markale selling them.

The anniversary of the shellings of the Markale, and the old City hall were observed. There are a lot of flowers and wreaths by the Markale.

Anyway, I am going to be fairly busy planning my return to captivity. Today I got the prices from one place, and she said, Tuesday she'd check again. I am checking other agencies besides that one.

It looks like I will leave 15 September, 14 September really because the cheapest way out may be to take a train to Zagreb, and overnight there, then fly a route that will take me to Paris, Amsterdam and then Seattle and then ground transport to the Gulag.

I have been away nearly a year, and it feels weird to be going back.

I have been taking alternate routes down the hill to see stuff I missed out on other times. The children here all return to school today.

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