Monday, December 31, 2007

Hot Damn!


Know the fireworks that make the big booms? The ones you see at 4th of July celebrations or some New Year's celebrations? The ones that the "pros" get to light? Everyday, normal folks got their hands on them here. We're booming all over the place. It started to snow so there was a bit of fog, but then it lifted and we could see all sorts of fireworks going off. There are also quite a few going off in our backyard. My grandmother said that she liked the fireworks that looked like a spider plant - long tendrils. We have those here. People in the apartments are shooting them off from their apartments! Our apartment smells like smoke and every so often, is illuminated in red, green, or white. If I was a bird, tonight I'd be walking.

Happy New Year Dear Reader!

I'm totally stealing this from Logtar, whom I've never met and just recently started reading. (I figure if you make it to a blogger happy hour, you're good people and I should check out your blog.)

Appetizer
Name 2 things you would like to accomplish in 2008.

Only two? Sheesh. I want to take better photos. So I need to learn patience so I can learn to take better photos!

I would like to be able to find another job where I feel successful - that doesn't mean make a lot of money, that means being good at what I'm doing and enjoying it.

Soup
With which cartoon character do you share personality traits?

Garfield - I like naps and hate Mondays (well, not at present) and maybe Space Ghost - sometimes I say off-the-wall things.

Salad
What time of day (or night) were you born?

Uh, Auntie Em, Sister, when was I born? I was thinking it was 11:34 am, but I'm not sure.

Main Course
Tell us something special about your hometown.

They have a wonderful trail system so if you're a bike-rider or Roller-blader, you can see a lot of nature and get some exercise.

Dessert
If you could receive a letter from anyone in the world, who would you want to get one from?

First thought was my mother. Almost 14 years she's been gone, though some days it doesn't feel like it was so long ago.

Apertif

What is your favorite household appliance?

I currently don't have a dishwasher. I would love to have one right now.

Happy 2008 Dear Reader! Assuming the fireworks and the earthquakes don't get us, look for more scribblings from Sarajevo in the New Year!


A Definite First

Watching The Incredibles. I'm sitting on one couch; Wiley's on the other. All of a sudden, we both start shaking, like a Sumo wrestler is walking across the room. I think that maybe there was a firecracker/M80 that exploded too close to the apartment, or the people we share a wall with are moving something, or perhaps drilling into the floor, but I have to admit that they'd have to be using a Bobcat to get the shaking we experienced.

So, we're convinced we just experienced our first earthquake. Bosnia, in the last 100 years, has had 1000 significant earthquakes - that is, those that could be felt. Sarajevo doesn't seem to be an area of high activity, though we are in the mountains. Back in 1969, an earthquake destroyed Banja (Ban-yah) Luka (I think you get that one), which is a couple hours away.

What an interesting way to end the year.

The Grocery Store

I go to the grocery store to get money from the ATM to pay rent tomorrow. Surprise, the ATM is off-line. So I leave the grocery store and go to the little grocery store to get some milk and OJ. I whip out my card and think everything is going ok, and then they ask for my ID, which I forgot to get out of Wiley's wallet. I don't always carry my wallet, so he puts my ID in his because he always carries his. When I realize they want my ID, I pull out every other card I own that has my name on it - my Hertz card, even my voter ID registration, and I point to all of these things that have my signature on them and tell them the signatures are the same. Not that they can understand me - nobody spoke English and of course, my Bosnian is verrryyy limited. By this time, patrons are lining up and everyone is looking at my cards. In the end, they wrote down my credit card number on the receipt and stuffed it away. Wiley hadn't yet gotten on the tram to go to the post office, so I met him and got my ID, and then I went back and showed them that I was who I said I was. The checker laughed it off, basically saying I didn't have to do that (I think, but who really knows?), but it made me feel better.

Being the paranoid person that I am, I will be checking my card online every single day to make sure it's not being used by someone else. While I know who the checker is - she checks us out every time we go to the little store - I don't know the 20 year-old who told her to write down my number, nor do I know the little old lady or the man behind her checking out my stuff.

Victory!!!!!!

I WON MY FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE! Woo hoo!!! I had to really shake things up this week, as my QB, Benny from the Steelers, was out. He'd done very well, but with that darned ankle, he sat out so he could play in the postseason game. So I grabbed Tod Collins, who gave me almost 9 points. I was livid yesterday when I got up because my defense not only didn't score me any points, but took some away! Below are my horses and how they fared. The highlight of my horses? Not that Tomlinson. It was my tight-end, Crumpler. He'd done nothing for me all season, but when the chips were down and I needed to win, he stepped up. Good job, dude.

Obese Delinquents (0)
PosPlayerGame StatusOppFanPts
QBT.Collins WASFinalDAL8.78
22 Comp, 9 Inc, 3 Sckd, 244 Pyds, 2 Rshs, -2 Rshyds, 1 TDs...
WRC.Johnson CINFinal@MIA21.00
1 Rshs, 9 Rshyds, 4 Recs, 131 Recyds, 2 TDs
WRS.Moss WASFinalDAL15.75
8 Recs, 115 Recyds, 1 TDs, 12 Retyds
RBL.Tomlinson SDFinal@OAK9.65
16 Rshs, 56 Rshyds, 1 Recs, 7 Recyds, 1 TDs
RBC.Portis WASFinalDAL18.55
25 Rshs, 104 Rshyds, 4 Recs, 27 Recyds, 2 TDs, 1 Fmb, 1 Lst
TEA.Crumpler ATLFinalSEA16.85
3 Recs, 67 Recyds, 2 TDs
W/TT.Holt STLFinal@ARI8.15
7 Recs, 93 Recyds
W/RC.Taylor MINFinal@DEN2.10
10 Rshs, 83 Rshyds, 3 Recs, 9 Recyds, 2 Fmb, 2 Lst
KN.Kaeding SDFinal@OAK14.00
1 FGG29, 2 FGG39, 3 XPG
DEFDEF NEFinal@NYG-3.00
98 Retyds, 1 Scks, 1 Int, 35 PtsAllw
Points111.83

Repeat after me: I'm #1!! *does a victory dance*

The funny thing is, I don't really care for football. I'm not a sports person by nature. But my competitive streak is alive and well. And I won!!!

What a GLORIOUS Monday for once!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Chewing

Since we're seven hours ahead of the States, we heard about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto just after 5 pm. I can't say I'm surprised - after all, she didn't have a Pope-mobile, and she was a target ever since she returned to Pakistan. But it was surprising that they got to her so soon (who "they" are remains to be seen - I've seen lots o' talk saying al-Queda, Bushies, Musharraf). And it's very sad and unfortunate - there are a lot of problems already in Pakistan - ungovernable mountains, unstable leadership, a possible civil war on the horizon. Normally I try to stay informed on the sidelines, but Dan at Gone Mild posted a blogger background on Pakistan, and for the one or two readers that I have, I thought I should pass it on so people can be more informed. Digby has a nice little post here. And Juan Cole, president of the Global Americana Institute, posts at Informed Comment, which is a blog on the Middle East, history and religion. Not only has he posted on Bhutto, but he gives us a view of what's going on in Pakistan (riots, the cities shutting down), as well as recently commenting on Mike Huckabee's really dumb comments on Pakistan and foreign policy.

Get informed and educated, America. You have the tools. Be ready you must when the time comes to vote.

Enough Already!

You really would think that a city that was under siege for 3 years wouldn't care for the sound of anything sounding like a mortar being shot or a gun being fired. Why people shoot fireworks off here - that go boom very loudly - for Ramadan, for Christmas, and no doubt, for New Year's, is beyond me.

Some Things I've Learned in 2007

I totally copy Spyder because she's my hero. She copies Zhu because she's her hero. Somebody copy me because I want to be your hero.

1. When you try to be funny, you usually aren't. Hence, blog-writing sometimes is a tough thing to do because the main point of my blog is to inform as well as entertain.

2. I can leave the comforts of the US and survive in a foreign country.

3. With a few modifications, I can even cook and bake in said foreign country.

4. Change is a constant process, especially within, and it's easy to get stuck or go back to your old ways that were destructive.

5. I've learned to accept people for what they are willing to give of themselves. I found stronger friendships with some people, and less strong friendships than I would've liked with others, but I've let it go and continue to nurture the friendships that are mutual.

6. I learned how to crochet some damned-neat stuff.

7. Wiley and I can live together and we both really enjoy it. Sure as hell beats being in a long-distance relationship for 2.5 years.

8. I can kill houseplants in a matter of days. Flowers, I can keep alive, so long as they're not attached to plants. Outside, flowers and plants are fine. But give me a plant and hope it sticks around awhile, and you're just wishing against destiny.

9. I forgot a lot more than I thought I did. Back at work, there was some training we took that said you forget a lot of shyt in a matter of weeks...of course, now I don't remember, but I think it was something like you forget 75% of what you've learned 3 weeks later. So imagine my surprise when I crack open my GRE book and look at the math section. Factorials? Oh, yeah, I knew about those a long time ago, but I seriously haven't thought about them since 10th grade.

10. I can survive without my cats, but I miss them everyday.

11. When one doesn't own a car, one finds other means of transportation, which usually means walking, and when it's not freezing-your-cajones-off-cold, it's actually pleasant.

12. I really, really, really like the sun and water. Sharks be damned.

To those of you meeting up tonight, have a good one!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Good Things

Name three good things you did today.

1. I went jogging.

2. I booked a photographer for my wedding.

3. I put a smile on my aunt's face by giving her a unique Christmas gift that arrived yesterday.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oops.

While I was reaching for bread, I knocked over a bowl of clementines and the bowl crashed on the floor. And broke into two large pieces and many small pieces. Even if I could glue it back together, I wouldn't even know if super glue was available here. So it got tossed.

Some trams have been nearly empty going into town today. Almost makes me want to go outside in the cold and foggy day. But not quite.

Instead, I've started making the wedding favors. I figure now is when I have the time, so I might as well get as much done as possible.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Not McLovin' It

Today: get on somewhat empty tram, go to police station. Have copies in hand and fill out form. Bureaucrat says, "You need to make this an official document. Go to municipality."

Get back on more crowded tram to go home, get original, and go down the street to have some lady stamp our papers and have help from a man behind us who thinks we don't understand what's being said to us. Has anyone over here ever heard of WAITING IN LINE BEHIND THE LINE ON THE FLOOR instead of crowding around the window? 'Cuz it's been three months and still I'm looking for the pieces of own private bubble that has been shattered numerous times.

So, get back on a REALLY crowded tram and get off at the police station. Bureaucrat #2 says we need documentation this time proving our landlord really is our landlord. "But if it is easier on you, he can bring all your paperwork with him." Right, like I'm going to hand over my passport to a practical stranger. I think not.

Get on yet another tram and while I fume, we head out to a bridal salon. There are approximately six dresses on mannequins that are all way smaller than me. The store owner doesn't speak one ounce of English, so poor Wiley is stuck in the middle translating. Uneasiness abounds. The lady told me since I'm practically a midget, I should stick to A-line/princess cuts. Well, that narrows down the choices.

After that experience, we tried a turkey kebap, which was fine, then found a DVD/computer games/CD shop. We now own an unofficial copy of Superbad. This is a nice end to a rotten day. My big glass of Bailey's should help.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Wonderful Dubrovnik


Wiley and I took a spur of the moment trip to Dubrovnik last weekend. The weather forecast looked good, so off we went. We got to the bus station at 6:30 (because bus is the usual way to travel here) for a 7:15 departure, and after an hour and 15 minutes of waiting in the freezing-my-toes-off cold, the bus finally arrived. The driver said the battery had died and he’d spent all this time charging it up. After another hour on the bus, I could finally wiggle my toes without pain. We called the Begovic Boarding House where we were staying and told them we’d be late and settled in for the ride. About an hour out of Sarajevo, we turned a corner and all of a sudden, sunlight hit us and stayed with us for the entire ride.

And what a ride it was! The scenery was beautiful. Our Lonely Planet book said the view was nicer from the train and that the bus ride was less than great, but I really enjoyed the scenery. I always wondered why people had lots of clementines whenever we walked around. Then I saw the groves of clementine trees. Thousands of them! And lemon and orange too! Not long after spotting those, we saw the Adriatic. All I can say is wow. What a glorious sight.

We arrived on time in Dubrovnik, and our driver was waiting for us. When we told him where we were from, he said, “Kansas City is where they had that big chemical explosion last year.” It seems KC makes international news at times. We were shown our apartment, which had one bedroom and a twin bed in the kitchen. Unfortunately, there was no ventilation, so we had to heat each room with the single space heater provided us, and the first night, I was mighty cold. But the apartment was very nice and inexpensive to stay. It’s in a little area called Lapad, which is about 2 miles or so from the old part of Dubrovnik. We walked down to the beach, watched the sun set on the Adriatic, and then headed to a place called Atlantic for dinner.

Dubrovnik is a happening place in the summer. Party, party, party, but in the winter, it’s much quieter. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves for about an hour, and then another couple came in and sat in a different part of the restaurant, so then we had half a restaurant to ourselves. They served great Italian. We actually went there for dinner Saturday night as well.

On Saturday, we went to the old part of Dubrovnik and walked around the walled city. There were lots of shops, places to drink coffee, and a lot of washed stone. I don’t know why, but it seems that every place that has stone streets feels a need to wash them. We had coffee and tea and then walked along the top of the city walls. Talk about neat! The entire old city was laid out before us. Afterward, we stopped at a restaurant right next to the harbor and I had some cheese and olive oil with bread while Wiley had all sorts of crustaceans in rice. He said it was delicious, but to me it looked like rice with ketchup and bad-smelling crustaceans. But then again, I don’t like seafood. At night, we returned to take some pictures since the stone walls were outlined like the Plaza for Christmas. The shots didn’t turn out very well, but it was nice to see.

On Sunday, we took a two hour ferry to an island called Mljet (that’s Mil-yet to you, but really there’s no “I” in between the M and the L), where we walked around the national forest and questioned our sanity while listening to absolute silence. There are two lakes in the national park, known as Greater and Lesser Lake (and no, I’m not kidding). In the middle of Greater Lake is an island with a 12th century monastery on it that you can visit. Of course, being “winter”, no one’s there, so we could only gaze at it. We had lunch at a little restaurant where again we were served cheese with olive oil and bread. I didn’t like this cheese as much, but what was fun was the myriad cats running around. I saw one, and then it would run off, and I’d see another, and it would run off. When we were served our food, not less than 6 cats surrounded our table. Two of them were so small – very petite and under 6 pounds, like my little Dixie, but even smaller. And they weren’t kittens. I was tempted to take them back with me, but Mljet is a nice place for them to live. The temperatures are very mild; not like in Sarajevo. When we got back to Dubrovnik, it was dinnertime, so we had dinner inside the city walls at Mea Culpa, the best pizza place in town. It was very good, and our waiter looked like one of Wiley’s friends.

We left Monday morning to come back to Sarajevo, and the city must’ve been sad to see us go because the sun hid behind clouds all day. I know I was incredibly sad to leave, so I’m scheming to get a vacation home along the coast somewhere before prices get even more outrageous. Anyone interested in going in with me?

So that was our trip, and now we’re back, and you can view some of the pictures here. I took over 700. There’s no way I’m uploading all of them!

Sretan (Sray-tahn) Bozic (Bo, like Bo Duke, z as in “pleasure”, and itch), which means Merry Christmas!

Fantasy Football Highrollers, Listen Up


So, last week, Brian Westbrook of the Philadelphia Eagles smartly held onto the ball and let the clock run out, effectively keeping the ball from Dallas. Good news for the Eagles. Bad news for gamblers.

Wiley reads The Sportsguy on ESPN.com, who said that he's got a friend who's a high-roller, and is in a FF league that costs $100,000 to join.

My head whipped around so quickly that I now have pain.

Exsqueeze me? ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS TO JOIN A FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE? You've got to be kidding me. Seriously??? This ain't right.

Highrollers, let me make this request of you. If you have nothing better to do than to join a FF league for $100,000, how about you give me your money and I will spend it very wisely? I would like to get a graduate edumacation, and as you well know, edumacation these days is much pricier than it used to be. If there's anything left over from said edumacation, then I would use that money to buy a home. Or, I could give some of that money to Sarajevo, who could use it to build more than 2 km of road each year. Please, I implore you, it's time to let somebody else be in charge of your money, because you spend it stupidly.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Upcoming Review of Weekend

Wiley and I went to Dubrovnik for the weekend. I need time to formulate everything so I tell it just right, and I have to upload the pictures. I took well over 700, but don't worry, I'll only post the best ones. Let me just say this: if I ever own a vacation home, or vacation apartment, it will be here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What a Role Model!

Apparently the little sister of Britney Spears wants to be more in the spotlight, too. The star of Zoey 101, a Nickelodeon show, is pregnant. 12 weeks. By her 18-year old boyfriend.

And she's 16.

Look, kids are going to do what they're going to do, and hopefully they're counseled on at least knowing how to wrap the salami, but for crying out loud, if you are a child star and kids look up to you, perhaps getting knocked up at 16 isn't the best thing.

Then again, this is a Spears, and with her big sister as a role model, should we expect any better from this one?

Monday, December 17, 2007

This Week's Fun

This week, we will be making our way to the police station again to renew our residency permits. There's just one small snag: we don't have stamps from the Bosnians proving we got into the country. Clearly, we did, but apparently on the overnight buses, they don't see a need to stamp your passport. We have stamps from Croatia and Slovenia, so hopefully that will suffice; if not, we'll be taking a quickie trip to Dubrovnik to get our stamps before the end of the month!

The weather is clear today - no snow - but of course, it's wet. And cold. And I'm still in shorts.

Anointed

I've done a bad job of keeping up with the blogs I read. With my internet cutting in and out last week, I didn't do much of anything online. So Spyder nudged me to her site and lo and behold, she's given me a Citizen of the World award! Originally, it comes from Zhu from the My New Life in Canada blog, and this is the post talking about it. My award goes to our friend who's currently in Romania. I can't find his blog - Hey, Romanian Man, if you're reading this, help me out!

The Eyes Have It

The other day, I noticed these tiny little wrinkles under my eyes. I remember when I first saw them on a friend of mine about six years ago. I thought, I hope I don't get those, and how do I stop them from appearing?

Normally I don't give much thought to wrinkles and fine lines. But in light of upcoming nuptials and meeting people for the first time, I thought perhaps I should try to impede their deepening crevices. So I went online and looked at eye creams. Prevention.com is the first site I usually go to because I like their workout ideas, and while I was looking around, I found a site for this creme called Deception. It was endorsed by Oprah, and as the world knows, once you've been touched by Oprah, you're set for life. No use doing any of your own research; just believe some talk-show host who's a little full of herself. So I look at it and the ingredients, and see that emu oil is listed. Emu oil??? While I am not a vegetarian, or a vegan, I'm not sure I want to try emu oil, though I have to admit that the testimonials were pretty convincing. I move on and try to find some other creams, and now my head is spinning. So Dear Reader, if you have any eye creams that you think have worked wonders for those little crows' feet and lines, I'm all eyes. Do tell.

Then I decided to look at makeup tricks, specifically for the eyes. I like my eyes. I think they're pretty. But I think I could dress them up more, especially for a shindig. And anytime I look for makeup tricks for the eyes, I'm always looking at someone's eye and brow that look nothing like mine. My eyebrows are really far away from my eye - we're talking about an inch away from my eye. Most others' that are teaching you tricks are maybe 1/4 of an inch from their eye. It's easy to make eyes look dramatic when you don't have that much skin to cover. Where are the faces that look like mine? Bah.

Now I'm going back to Facebook to play TV trivia and get myself more points.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Here Birdy Birdy Birdy

Well, we're trying it again, if not a little early. Wiley and I went to Mercator on Thursday to get some groceries, and we found a real, honest-to-goodness turkey breast - 4 pounds. It was frozen stiff. After two days, it's finally thawed out enough that we can attempt to roast it. I'm really wishing we had one of those turkey bags...those work great, and no basting required.

Last night we went out for Indian with some friends, and it was so, so tasty. I have enough left over for lunch. It's been a little jewel for us - it's a popular place for take-out, but not a lot actually stay in and eat. It was us and another table last night, which is just fine with me! Afterward, we went out for cake. My cake was ok, but it had that darned marmalade in it. Marmalade's ok, but I'm not sure I like it with my chocolate cake. But my friends got the Havana cake. I don't know what's in it other than whipped cream and cinnamon, but that's the next cake I'll get. We even got a dollop of hazlenut ice cream.

It's colder here now. Currently, it's snowing. Again. This time, it snowed and I didn't have to go to the doctor like all the other times it's snowed. I only had to go out last night to the Indian joint, but we walked very very quickly. You see, the wind howls here. Our friends told us it was -5 Celsius last night. In other words, damn cold. Had I known it was going to be that cold, I would've worn my hat. Live and learn. And in the apartment, I can wear shorts.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cut Off

One thing I've absolutely hated about yesterday and today is how fickle my internet connection has been. So I'm going to make this entry short and sweet.

One thing I love about living over here is the fact that I get really crisp granny smith apples. They are sooooo tasty, and bigger than they are at home. It also seems that apples are now in season. Today, we saw two men carrying two large bags apiece of apples...not granny smiths, though.

Another thing I love love love about living here is the fact that they don't really have commercials that I can understand. So I don't see any "You must get this to be cool" or "You have to do that to feel good about yourself". I just flipped through the channels, and stopped on MTV, where I saw a video of Mariah Carey blingin' it with Snoop Dogg. The woman is a whore, plain and simple. She's hardly dressed, she got new twins from the looks of it (trust me when I tell you I could see the entire left one without the nipple), and she's wiggling around in front of the camera. I am sooooooooooooo glad I don't have to deal with Hollywood and "the glam". Sure, there are idols here, but I don't know who they are, so it doesn't matter. Their endorsements mean nothing to me!

This is one thing I hope to remember every single day when I'm back in the States. Like Grandpa, I will mute the commercials. They're bad for you.

Missing Home

My sister sent me some pictures of Lil B's trip to Hartman Reserve, which is a nice place to be outside, among the leaves, trees and cardinals. I remember going there a lot when I was a kid. Looking at all those sixth-graders, and my niece, made me miss home. It's been fun living abroad, and especially fun living with Wiley, and home is where you are, blah blah blah, but it's not home. People don't wear sweatshirts here. We don't have clean air here, or fluoridated water. We don't have ice storms and idiot drivers of the same caliber here. It's the little things you notice and miss the most.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Flying

Every so often, I look for a flight home when it's time to go, since I came on a one-way ticket. Today's flight took me from Munich to Memphis in the middle of May. The first time at the site, I went with a roundtrip ticket. Total price: $808.00. Then, just for giggles, I clicked on one-way. The price for the same flight? $4200.00. What a ripoff!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Bakin Business

More packages arrived, and with them, good ol' American goodness: Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Goldfish, Reece's PB trees, even some Doritos! I also got cream of tartar and baking powder. So, once I got my baking ingredients, I set to work. As you can see, I made mini sugar cookies. The first batch that came out of the oven were pretty good, though burned a bit on the bottom. The next two sheets' full were complete bummers, as I broke over half of them getting them off the not-quite-a-cookie-sheet. Then I realized that flouring the sheet would be a good idea, so the last batch came out quite well. I wasn't able to find food coloring, so all the cookies were iced white with little balls on top. After all, sugar is sugar and the tastebuds don't care what the sugar looks like.

In addition to these, I made carrot cupcakes, which turned out pretty well, though just a bit flat. I winged the cream cheese icing, but Wiley didn't complain, and he's still alive, so I must've done all right.

I've also been decorating the apartment. While not exactly construction paper, it does the job and the apartment is festive. Now, time to watch The Grinch!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Frenzied

How is it possible that I feel crunched for time when I have hardly anything to do but plan a small wedding that's not taking place for at least another 10 months?

I blame The Knot. I just get engaged, sign up on the site so I can start looking at wedding dresses, and already, I have a list of 180 things to do, and 17 of them are overdue. And some of them, I might add, are completely ridiculous.

But what has me up in arms at this present time is that when I clicked on the photo gallery of bridal hairstyles, all of these brides have something in common with each other that they don't share with me: they all have long hair.

Is it a sin to be a bride with short hair? Could you be just a little less homogenized and give me some pictures with short-haired brides, please, Knot? Sheesh.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This pretty much sums up what I think about American politics

I used to read Tom Friedman all of the time, and I even gave a copy of the book to my Dad and assigned almost the whole thing in one of my classes, but I've gotten away from reading him because it just gets me irritated that he's been saying the same things for years and no progress has been made on solving any of the big problems our country faces. His opinion article in today's New York Times pretty much sum up my feelings.

After 9/11 I remember hoping that the energy and unity that resulted from the attacks would be used to break the deadlock and go about solving the big problems facing our country and not spent engaging in knee jerk reactions to the attacks. At the time, I was just worried that we would get bogged down in Afghanistan. I couldn't have fathomed that we'd be sinking a trillion dollars, all of our international goodwill (not to mention the tremendous human cost) into Iraq. Instead of uniting the country behind energy and international policies that could have dramatically improved the future of the US in world politics and the world economy, we've used up the Army and Marine Corps, spent the surplus and then some, and turned our backs on the values that make the US a place that the whole world (still) admires.

Instead, we have a political climate defined entirely by that horrible sickness in our stomachs that we all felt when we saw those towers fall. I don't only blame the Neanderthal Republicans, because there has been no real alternative from the Democrats. No one of any standing has stood up like Huckabee did to Romney at the debate and said "We are better than this." There are real enemies out there (like Saddam and certain members of the Iranian government); but our best weapons are not bullets and bombs. The best we can do is to actually behave better than they do.... to lead the world by our own example instead of wasting our waning power to use force to get what we want.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Humdinger

Does anybody else ever have the lyrics to "Ring of Fire" going through their heads when they eat something spicy?

I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down,down,down
and the flames went higher.
And it burns,burns,burns
the ring of fire
the ring of fire.


Noses are Not for Me

Went to the doctor. This time, instead of a long silver tube stuck up my nose, he stuck in a huge Q-tip-type sponge into each nostril to figure out how bad my septum is deviated. He told me surgery would give me the ability to take in 20% more oxygen. "Very important if you're pregnant," he told me. But it looks like if I don't fix it, I'm going to have this stuffy problem the entire time I'm here. Advantages to fixing it here: cheap - maybe $450. I'd need 10 days off work - not a problem since I'm not working. Disadvantage: I don't have a problem in the US, so if I fix it here, who's to say I won't screw it up when I'm home?

This feels like a Monday.

Really Pissed.

Why must everything be so difficult in this country??????? Wiley took a Christmas package to be mailed to the post office, and we can't send over silver or gold. I have some jewels to send abroad, and I have no idea if they're made of silver or stainless steel. The post office informed Wiley that not only do we get the privilege of having them open our carefully wrapped package and root through our gifts, but we also have to pay for it, and if they open up our stuff and determine that it is indeed silver, then THEY JUST TAKE IT!!!!! Are you kidding me??????????

Vienna Pictures


As promised, we've uploaded the pictures from Vienna. Melinda did a wonderful job and we have tons of great pictures. This picture is the view from the horse drawn carriage where I proposed. You can see the rest of the pictures here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Engaged

More on Vienna to come when I've gone through the pictures, but imagine a chilly, windy night. Wiley and I walk around the center of Vienna, taking in the stores and the lights, killing time. Finally, when it's dark enough, we approach a fiaker (fee-ah-ker), otherwise known as the guy who drives the horse-drawn carriage. We hop into a carriage that has a bit of a hood on it (good thing, since it was quite chilly), and the two white horses gallop into action. We see the Jewish museum, three of the many places Mozart lived, the Hofburg, city hall from a distance all lit up, the glockenspiel, and lots of buildings. And as we viewed the sights, Wiley asked me to marry him.

Do you think I said yes?

Well, I did. And just as I said I would, my nose started running, so I gave him an abbreviated kiss so I could take care of it and really kiss him. Damn noses. No plans as of yet...maybe get married in Sarajevo, maybe wait until we're back on US soil...no idea what will happen. But what a romantic evening!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Viennatime

This weekend will be known as Viennatime. Tomorrow, we are on a bus for 15 hours, starting at 8 am. I hope we don't run into a traffic jam on Bosnia's seemingly only road out of the country. I also hope that the Slovenian border patrol strike doesn't affect us too much. But I have two books and an ipod

The weather looks to be awesome: rain and snow showers all weekend with a high of 40. I will love this in my wool coat. Must pack umbrella and consider a poncho.

I'm excited to go (so much food to try - chestnuts, gluwein, gingerbread - and sights to see), but the excitement is tempered because my boy, Rewind, had to go back to the vet yesterday because he was still throwing up. His food has now been switched to something wet and stinky, but I'm told he kept it down yesterday. Thankfully we'll be traveling half of the day while his catsitters are sleeping, so if there are any updates, I should get cell reception by the time they're up. So have a good weekend, and I'll be back Monday.

Awesome

So I'm watching "Man Eaters" on Animal Planet, and they're highlighting great white sharks and how they're moving north thanks to global warming. I turn to Wiley and say, "I only want to swim in lakes and crystal clear ponds." He laughs at me. I turn back to the program, and then we heard that in the past nine years, out of 473 attacks, only 64 have been fatal. They then say that more people are killed by falling coconuts than by sharks.

"So what, are you going to avoid coconut trees now?" Wiley asks.

Yep.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Are the Prominent Catching Up to Us?

It seems the rich are just now getting the info. that most of us have understood for years: shopping at Costco (or Sam's Club because they're really very similar, though Costco cakes are the absolute best and if you haven't had one, go put in an order and get the chocolate mousse as the filling) is a good thing. They save you money because you buy in bulk.

But there are still some people in the world who are afraid of what others would think of them, going to such a place. From the NYT:

One Washington hostess who loves Costco didn’t want people to know that her husband likes to hang out in the food court munching the quarter-pound hot dogs ($1.50 with a soda).

Read the article for yourself and have a laugh because you've been in the know much longer than the so-called elite.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Jason Lee is a Golden God

No, Dear Reader, it's not a fluke; you're reading the same title as a previous post from my previous blog. I'm watching Almost Famous again, and I tell you, I just love this movie. Funny that I saw it about three years after it was released thanks to a coworker. I met up with this chick who I'd only talked to online, and we split the costs of hotel and gas and followed a band who is pretty much now defunct now around the Midwest for four days. Yes, I took off work for this, and everyone knew what I was doing. One of my coworkers said that I reminded her of Penny Lane, the groupie - nay, Bandaide - played by Kate Hudson. Mind you, I did not run around in a skimpy top or huge coat, nor did I get to sleep with any band members (I was married, after all), but I did get on the tourbus, got to get into shows early, got to "hang out" with the band a bit. I didn't have all the fun of being in hotel rooms or anything like that, but I have to tell you, what I experienced was a fabulous time. I'd rather be the one getting onstage inspiring others instead of being in front of it sometimes, but the air is charged with this energy right before a show, and it's awesome feeling it.

And of course, I love watching Jason Lee. I didn't watch Earl too often when I had a chance, but I really like the movies he's done, even if some of them were a little more than questionable. He's good. He's one of the ones who makes me wonder how some people get it right time after time after time. Before he was an actor, he was a professional skateboarder. Hang with me here - yes, I said get it right. Being a pro skateboarder has its advantages, and my guess is it pays a bit more than the average salary. But here he is, a pro in his work, and he decides to be an actor. And that seems to be paying off too. So what is it he's got? Talent? Luck? Is he a hard worker? What determines that one person has the Midas touch with whatever he does, while others try and try and fail or make little progress each time?

Doing Better

I've gotten word that my boy has kept down his water and about an 1/8 of a cup of food. He's even started purring again. So he might be getting better; now let's just hope he stays that way.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rallying the Troops

My boy, Rewind, apparently is feeling under the weather again. I got an email saying he was being taken to the emergency vet because he wasn't keeping his food down and was pooping outside his litterbox. I called and he was given two shots, one an antinausea drug and the other an antacid, to quiet down his tummy so he could drink again. He won't get food until Sunday night, and hopefully his tummy feels good enough not to reject it. If that works and he feels better, then he'll have to take Pepcid AC. If not, I'm worried this could be the end of my kitty. So say a prayer that my puma will pull through and keep biting vets for a long time.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pissed.

I spent quite a few hours yesterday proofing a paper for someone. Because I know that computers can crap out at any time, and my IT help desk at work always drilled it into me to save, save, save, I hit the save button continuously, thinking I was doing the right thing.

Today, with only five pages to go, I can't find my saved document. I've looked everywhere. Clipit told me that the filepath was invalid. Try somewhere else, he suggested. To no avail. So I had to go through the paper again. Now I am done, but I will go through one more time to make sure I remembered every change I made yesterday. I hope to get a backrub for this, as sitting in this damned chair all day is cramping me up.

There is snow outside, and the apartment is HOT!

When we moved into our apartment, the agent told us that the apartment had "city heat", which means that we don't really have any control over how warm our apartment is. In the ads, they frequently call it "floor heat", because in addition to a radiator in every room, the parquet floor is heated. The only place in the apartment where the floor is cold is the kitchen, which has tile. We also don't have any real control over how much heat we get. Supposedly you can adjust something on the radiators, but I haven't figured out how. We don't pay by how much heat we use; instead, we pay by the square meter. The heat is turned on based on some formula (x number of days under a certain temperature), and we pay 50 bucks a month every month that it is turned on.

The result, is that there is still snow outside, it is very cold, and we have two windows open. I just put on a pair of shorts. We've had two big snowstorms, and the only blanket we have in the living room is the thin blanket Melinda stole from the airplane. By they time I get done climbing the 6 floors to our apartment, I am very warm when I come in from the cold outside, and then our apartment is toasty as well. I can't get my winter clothes off fast enough.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gettin' It From All Sides

Ok people, here's the deal: I got two people telling me, begging me, to join Facebook. I've been through the tour. I've looked at Wiley's page. Now I'm asking those of you who belong what's so great about Facebook (and I know some of you readers are because I found you!). Keep in mind I'm almost 31, not in grad school and not currently working. I don't understand the pokes or the throwing of turkeys or dolls. So, in layman's terms, what's so cool about this when I already have this blog and two email accounts?

UPDATE: I think most of my readers either don't use Facebook or are just too busy shopping to give me any advice. So I took it upon myself to go ahead and join Facebook (merry Christmas Cara!), and I've been messing with it ever since I signed up. And still I only have two friends.

Move over Turkey, Time For Christmas!!

Read it and weep, Dear Reader: I have two Christmas presents to go, and then I'm done. Today, Wiley and I picked up a few things we needed. We walked into town. We walked back from town. We got splashed by cars whizzing by too fast on a sidewalk too close to the street. But by golly, we got Christmas presents.

And now I'm listening to Bob Rivers. In case you don't know, his group makes parodies, and they have some good songs, which made me wonder what others top Christmas tunes were. Here are my top 10:

1. The 12 Pains of Christmas by Bob Rivers
2. O Holy Night
3. Charlie Brown's Christmas songs by Vince Guaraldi - all of them are just realllly good but I love the jazzy version of What Child is This
4. Sleigh Ride by the Boston Pops
5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by Burl Ives
6. The Chimney Song by Bob Rivers
7. Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby (you know this one from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation where Clark is fantasizing about the saleslady taking off her red swimsuit)
8. Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
9. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Elmo and Patsy
10. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee

So Dear Reader, tell me what your songs are. And I'm tagging Cara, Heather and Spyder, so you guys have to do it! And boogie on down while you make cookies! I will be.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!


Melinda and I had our Thanksgiving lunch. It was just the two of us. We had a full spread. Check out all of the dishes here. We had to make some of it last night because we just have the one casserole dish, and several dishes were a challenge since there is no Campbell's condensed soup here in Bosnia. We had to use powdered cream of mushroom and cream of broccoli soup, but they all turned out pretty well. Our "bird" was a smoked turkey breast that we just warmed up. It turned out pretty darned well.

Melinda here. Wiley wrote the top part but then said I could add or edit (he left out a word up there). This is what cooking's all about, Dear Reader: making do with what you got to see how it'll turn out. And I'm pretty impressed with how we were able to pull it all together. The turkey was interesting...parts of it tasted like deli meat, while parts of it tasted like real turkey. Of course, I'll be very happy when I can make a real bird, where you pull the meat off the bones (though I'm happy not to be dealing with bones), but this was better than I thought it would be.

So have a happy Thanksgiving, Dear Reader, and remember: doorbusters start at 4 am!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

First Course Served

With no condensed cream soup and no Velveeta, we made a helluva tasty cheesy broccoli rice casserole. We tried to resist, but we had to sample. Tomorrow just wasn't soon enough.

Tasty vittles! My guess is this is going to be the crown jewel, as the turkey breast we bought is already smoked (I didn't realize this at the store). I just hope we didn't get 2.5 pounds of deli meat.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Score!

Today while getting some more groceries for our Thanksgiving dinner, we found peanut butter in the cheese section. I don't know why some people refrigerate peanut butter - it tears the bread - but they do. So we bought some to try it out, knowing that there could be a shock to our system.

But lo and behold, it tastes like Skippy!! And it doesn't have to be refrigerated. So now we have some nice creamy peanut butter to take the place of the creamy $5 Skippy we bought in Graz that's half the size of what we get at home.

How much lower will the dollar sink against the Euro? Come on, greenbacks, you're killing us here.

New York Makes Us Proud

Get a group of men together to watch obese delinquents play football, and they reward the world by gathering together at a gate to chant to women they spot to show some boobs.

Classy.

Here are some snippets from the New York Times article:

At halftime of the Jets’ home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, several hundred men lined one of Giants Stadium’s two pedestrian ramps at Gate D. Three deep in some areas, they whistled and jumped up and down. Then they began an obscenity-laced chant, demanding that the few women in the gathering expose their breasts.

The mood of previous Gate D crowds — captured on video clips posted on YouTube — sometimes bordered on hostile, not unlike the spirit of infamously aggressive European soccer hooligans. One clip online shows a woman being groped by a man standing next to her.

But the Gate D tradition at Giants Stadium apparently is unique to Jets games; the Gate D ramps are comparatively empty at Giants games. Perhaps forlorn Jets fans, who have rarely had a winning team to support, are seeking alternative entertainment on game days.

“This is the game,” said Patrick Scofield, a 20-year-old from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who has attended several Jets games the last two seasons.

Denisse Rivera, a 23-year-old from the Bronx, was on a first date Sunday. When she arrived at the crowd at Gate D, several men pointed at her, signaling men at all levels to chant in her direction. After a brief moment of hesitation, she flashed them. Then she took a bow.

Very classy.

My question is, if she didn't let the twins out, would the men just start to undress her - help her along, maybe? Because you know, all women are exhibitionists. They just don't know it. And before you know it, any woman in the area at that time will either be groped, or worse, raped.

Pigs.

The Catsitters

I check in with my catsitters regularly. To the cats, they are known as slaves because cats do not have owners. I've found out a few interesting things:


Rewind, my puma, still likes climbing into open drawers.











Deeder, my little black panther, apparently likes to watch her slave floss.







Dixie, an "evil purr machine", gets her slave up at 5:45 everyday without fail. She has a cold nose that she knows how to work.







I love my little furballs, and I miss them a lot. I look forward to getting them back when we return. Until then, I'm amused at their antics and facets of their personalities that surprise the catsitters.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks

Since we're seven hours ahead of the Midwest, we will be celebrating our Thanksgiving just a bit earlier than you (and we're starting the cooking on Wednesday due to only having one casserole dish and needing to cook 2 casseroles, a turkey breast, and possibly stuffing in said casserole dish), so I started thinking of all the things I'm thankful for, and I thought I'd share. In no particular order, I am thankful for the following things:

Family and friends. My family's been good to me, Wiley and his family have been good to me, and I have some kick-ass friends I would donate kidneys and eggs to if the need ever arose.

Good health seems to be something of a rarity between my friends and me. While I'm still taking an antihistamine resembling something like Zyrtec, that's pretty minor compared to what others have had to deal with, so I'm thankful that my health is still pretty strong.

Fellow bloggers are appreciated by me. They keep me in the loop about what's going on in KC and with themselves by providing posts on their blogs.

Technology is very much appreciated. Without technology, I wouldn't be able to read those blogs or have one of my own to keep others in the loop about what's happening with me.

I'm thankful that I'm experiencing another culture with someone I love. Not only do I get the benefit of finally living with someone (not just in the same city, but in the same apartment!) I've dated for quite awhile, but I get to do it while living in a completely different country, something I would never have the balls to do all by myself. I don't consider this a character flaw; it simply is what I know of myself to be true.

And there are more, of course, but the last one I'll post tonight is the fact that I am thankful that my little Letizen pills are not child-proof. I just push and out they come on the other side of the foil. Genius.

This House is Clean

My nose, that is. Today I had my second follow-up appointment with my ENT doctor, and he said my sinus infection is gone. However, he said it was important to keep everything clear, so I'm to keep spraying solution up my nose, and then he gave me what I think is a decongestant to take at night because I told him that that's when I am most congested. (I will look it up before I take it, don't worry.)

And then, we went grocery shopping at a different Mercator and picked up a few items for our Thanksgiving meal we're attempting to prepare. And what should greet me as I walk in but gold and red Christmas decorations! There were balls, and little trees, and even hats - one had white braids on it. Just for fun, I tried it on to make Wiley laugh, which he did. Apparently I looked ridiculous, but there were no cameras around for proof! Anyway, we picked up some food for our feast, even these little slices of cherry cobbler. Wiley told me to look at the label - it says, "Kolac (coal-atch) fit", so they must think these little things are healthy! Now I don't feel guilty for getting them! What a good day it's been.

And to top it all off, my fantasy football horses won for the week! I am in second place. I have Chester Taylor, and he gave me 30 points - about 14 more than the supposed #1 horse, LaDanian Tomlinson.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Wonder When

Missouri will actually get some good press. Lately we had the story about the woman who killed the pregnant lady and stole the baby, and now this.

For those of you who don't want to click, in essence, a fictitious boy named Josh contacted a girl named Megan, a 13 year-old who had been diagnosed with ADD and depression, on MySpace. Six weeks after initiating contact, the boy abruptly ended contact, telling Megan she wasn't a very nice person and was mean to her friends. Then there were messages posted about Megan saying she was a slut and fat, which upset her, and she hung herself and died.

This is the part that just floors me: Josh was made up by a neighboring family - a mother, her daughter and "another person". The daughter was a former friend of Megan's. Mom told police she wanted to gain Megan's trust to see what she was saying about her daughter.

Although Megan's parents said they monitored her online communication, she was underage when she opened up her account. A bit of a problem there. And a mother went fishing online to see what this kid was saying about her daughter. An even bigger problem.

Whatever happened to telling kids that it doesn't matter what others say about them? That the only opinion that matters is their own? Or how about teaching some coping mechanisms for the bullies of the world, since they're always around? And by the way, girls are much better bullies than boys. Boys hit; girls are aggressive in other ways, which are really quite painful. Read Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons to give you an idea if you're really clueless...but me thinks some of you gals can think of grade school examples in your own lives where you were either the bully or the target.

To the mom who created the profile just to see what this other girl was saying about your daughter, you should be prosecuted. You and your daughter and that "other person" all need to go in for some extensive counseling on how to deal with your problems. Grow up.

Still Going

It started snowing Friday night. It hasn't stopped for more than 15 minutes.

It's really quite beautiful, especially when you stay inside.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Let me Lead You

I took this from Heather. I went to the site just to see what it was, and this was what I got:



Wiley just about sprayed his tea all over the room.

Then I did another test on the same site, this time to figure out which classic movie I was:



Other choices included Schindler's List, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Sunset Blvd., Wuthering Heights, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Godfather.

Wiley's surprised I wasn't the Godfather. Maybe next time.

Meetin' the Gang

Wiley and I had dinner last night with colleagues of his from Graz, Austria. They were here for a conference, so after the conference, we got ready to go into town to a place called Spite House. The owner of the house made the government move his restaurant one board at a time since they wanted his land to build City Hall (which turned into the library, which then turned into #1 target during the war).

It had just started snowing when we left our apartment. I wore my black boots.

In snow, when it's slippery, these boots are a bad idea. But I thought I'd be ok because we were going to take a taxi. Only when we got outside, there were no taxis at the taxi stand, where there are normally about 10. So we walked a bit farther to the tram stop. We waited for a bit, got more snow on us, and then boarded a tram that was kinda full but not terribly full. Then Wiley said, "Ok, it's time we get off," so we stepped off the tram.

And the restaurant was about another 15 minute walk from where we got off.

By the time we got to the restaurant, my hair, which had hairspray in it, was shellacked, my feet were freezing, and my coat was wet. Since I had my boots on, and they have no traction, I had to walk about twice as slow. This put me in a rather sour mood.

Dinner was nice. I had a lot of salad with tomatoes and cucumbers, tried a couple of their appetizers, and then they brought out the main course, which was a type of stew. It was pretty good, but I don't really want to think about the meat that I might've eaten. We had musical entertainment in the form of a violinist, guitarist and accordion player (is that an accordionist?). We also had some teens do some traditional dancing for us. One of the girls looked exactly like Toula from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. At one point, they grabbed some of the professors and they tried to dance with the girls. At least they didn't fall over. We even got invited to one of their houses in Graz for Easter! Yay - another 12 hour busride.

After about three and a half hours, we decided to go home. We walked, and tried to hail a cab, but got ignored, and so we walked on to the tram stop, and finally a cab stopped for us. He gave us the cheery news that cabs were raising their rates the next day. Whoopie!

While we were walking and I was trying desperately not to fall, I realized that I will never wear these boots again when it's wet, and I always need an umbrella or a hat or I'm going to die.

And of course, it's snowing again today.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Switching it Up

Hi! We've gotten a couple of interesting comments on the blog, and I think they're spam, so we're changing the comments. From here on out, your comment will not automatically post. It will be sent to us to review, and we'll post it if we know you or we figure out you're legit. We've also included word verification, so you'll have to put in whatever word pops up on your screen. Sorry to make the comments a little more difficult, but I'm tired of having people post crap on the blog.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Discovery

So tonight, as I'm cleaning, I'm watching the Discovery channel. (I already sang my Journey song, thankyouverymuch.) There was a show on called "Most Evil", I think, so I half-heartedly listened to it while shuffling from kitchen to living room to bedroom. Then I sit down, and the show is over, but then they have these people on talking about diving.

I watched "What About Bob?" today. Don't ask me why, but I love that movie. The son, Siggy, won't dive. As I watched this, I thought, What's so scary about diving?

This thought occurred to me again as I was watching these people - 1 adult and 2 kids, no less, talk about how long they've been cliff diving.

CLIFF diving?????

One of the kids, a girl who is 12, is supposedly the best female cliff-diver of whatever country she's from (I didn't catch that part). She talked about how when you jump off a cliff, it's a wonderful feeling she equated to flying. For a minute, I pondered whether this is something I should someday try. I would like to feel like I'm flying through the air. But then I thought, I have dreams where I'm falling and I'm certainly not happy to feel like I'm flying, so maybe this is something I will avoid.

So, let's review:

Diving into a pool or lake or anything where you're no more than 15-20 feet above: not scary.

Cliff diving: scary enough to leave my ass on the beach.

2nd Coming

The snow started later in the evening. Big, fat flakes. I wondered if they would stick.

This morning, the Emerald Curtain was a bit brighter. I knew what this meant.

I got up, looked outside the window, and even bigger, fatter flakes were falling. I looked down, and the sidewalk had been plowed. With an actual plow. I noticed the five inches on top of the hedge. In other words, a perfect day to stay inside.

But do you think that's what happened? Oh, no.

We walked over to the burek shop so Wiley could eat some burek. But they were closed. So we decided to go on to Mercator, the grocery store farthest from our house but our favorite. We trekked through snow and slush. We jumped over lakes in the roads. A car splashed us with dirty water and I ended up with four big glops of slush on my leg and jacket. Once there, we hit the jackpot - vanilla cookie smelling votives and some Christmas votives that are copper and red glitter, which will be perfect around the apartment, a spiral notebook (I swear this is the only place I've seen spirals), tea that smells like cinnamon, BACON that we have to cut ourselves, and even a fresh turkey breast, so we can cook it for Thanksgiving! Last, but not least, was the small cart of Christmas candy right next to the canned fruit. They were candy sticks, and probably not very appetizing, but there was jolly old St. Nick staring back at me! I squealed and told Wiley that he walked right past them.

The one thing we forgot at the store was matches (but I wouldn't even know where to look for them). But Wiley will get them tonight while he's out at dinner with people from Austria who invited him to a conference taking place tomorrow.

That's right - I'll be alone in the evening! This is a first. I plan on blasting all my neighbors with my computer speakers and singing Journey's greatest hits while wearing white socks and a white t-shirt ala Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Don't stop believin'!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Amazing Things

Always in the bathroom, I see bugs. Ants have migrated from the kitchen to the bathroom. I have no idea why, but it seems there's a trail in the wall between the two rooms.

How do I know this? As I'm using the facilities this evening, I notice an ant on the floor. It has a seed that fell from the top of a piece of bread that I failed to pick up.

I don't eat bread in the bathroom. Neither does Wiley.

What an enterprising, hungry little fella. Had he made it home, I'm sure he would've been a hero.

I left him attached to his prize as I picked him up with some toilet paper and flushed him.

No Texas for Me

I've just been a newshound this evening.

http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/14578516/detail.html

Basically, the article says that a cat scratched a vet tech in El Paso, TX, which requires a call to animal control:

"Veterinarian offices must report any bites or scratches to authorities, but even though the ordinance doesn't call for the owner to get a ticket if the animal has received its proper vaccinations, the officer issued one anyway."

My little Rewind was notorious at his last vet as being a bit "touchy". The current vet I take him to is pretty good with him, but whenever he gets his shots, I'm still the one who has to cradle him like a baby and put the E-collar on him to make sure he doesn't bite anyone. He freaks if anyone else touches him. (His first vet experience was rather bad - he had to have stitches put in his third eyelid to heal his eye when he ran into the attic and got a piece of fiberglass in his eye after running through the insulation, and taking the stitches out was rather traumatic for him - and me.)

Other than that, he's my little puma. If he was a lion, we'd be in trouble and I'd likely be dead, but he's got more personality than any other cat I've met, and he's very lovey to me and Wiley.

Getting Home?

This CNN article kinda makes me cringe.

My favorite part of the article where we could be screwed coming home is where the ticket agents scan the line:

You're off the flight

This is an extreme form of punishment, but not as uncommon as you would expect. "My airline actually tells its agents and supervisors to scan the gate areas for passengers with too many carry-on bags, oversized luggage, oversized passengers and anyone who looks inebriated -- which, if you've flown lately, could be half of the flight," says one ticket agent for a major airline, who asked that I not use his name.

Coming home, we're each going to have two suitcases and two carry-on bags. Maybe I should just stay here....

If

If this actually works and he's cured, expect more stories like it.

Still, I think this is better than any news on Paris Hilton.

Will This Be Us Someday?

This is why I'll never live in Nicaragua or any of the other 35 countries that have a no-exception ban on abortion. Thanks to Sassywho for posting the article.

Stop the Insanity

I don't know why I keep having odd dreams, but I do. Wiley tells me that's why I sleep so long - because I don't actually sleep. Last night's dreams involved lions and tigers (no bears, oh my). They were on football teams, and I was a coach. There were actual people on teams, but the only thing I remember about them is that we all sat down and ate lunch, and some old guy kept paying for my stuff. The next dream involved a friend of mine from college, who had a baby with her hubby, and I insisted on a paternity test because I suspected some hanky-panky between her and my then hubby. When she brought her hubby and her kid, I could tell right away that it was his kid because she looked so much like him. So I told her I didn't need the test. She asked why I suspected her in the first place, and I told her it was because she didn't balk when I asked for the paternity test. Then she told me that she in fact had an affair with him. I woke up, really irritated, because I really did think my ex had an affair with someone (but not her) and he swore up and down that he didn't. When I woke up, I thought, Well, now what? What's past is past, but I'm really mad and maybe I should tell him that. But oh, wait, he's got my cat. And then my senses fully came to me and I realized it was just a dream.

The dream Sunday night was kinda fun - a lot of my former coworkers were in it, and we were at a Halloween party. One attorney friend wore a Michael Jackson sparkly jacket, and another had on the same knit tights that I had on...I don't know what I was, but I do remember a black short skirt. But my friend was a feather duster, and she said, "Chicken" whenever she came up to dust you. She'd whirl around like she was mechanical and say, "Chicken," and then you'd get dusted. Very strange.

Maybe I should try sleeping less.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Remember the Vets


In KC, we have the WWI memorial. XO has some great pictures on his blog about the time he spent there yesterday, not to mention some very sobering pictures. The picture of the poppy fields is incredible. Each poppy represents 1,000 soldiers who died during the war. The total is over 37 million over four years.

My grandfather was a veteran of WWII, my father a former Marine who never told me about his experiences with the military before his death last year.

War is a terrible thing. It is paid for dearly with the lives of soldiers, both young and old. Remember the veterans today for all their sacrifices for us, past and present. Remember the families of those who never make it home.

Black Bottom

Wiley burned the oatmeal. The black in the bottom of the pan looks like it's about a half-inch thick. This will require an all-day soak. I put some salt in the pan, and if that doesn't work, I'll try the baking soda. A few other sites suggested boiling vinegar (but that would smell just as bad as the oatmeal), boiling dishwashing soap, or using Coke to clean it out. Coke is now a delicacy, so I shan't be trying that.

Burned oatmeal smells awful. Yuck.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Adventures in Food

Since the only real post I put on the last blog was about food in Croatia, I thought I’d better write a sequel for Sarajevo. My food experience in Sarajevo has been dramatically different than in Zagreb, both because I have a kitchen and I have Melinda along. If you remember, my diet in Zagreb was very limited to meat, taters, and cabbage. There are no such limits here in Sarajevo. We are limited only by our imaginations and what is available at the grocery store (and our ability to identify what is at the grocery store).

We haven’t done a lot of eating out, because we’re really trying to keep the reins on the budget so that we can travel. Sarajevo has a lot of nice restaurants, ranging from the best Mexican place I’ve found in Europe to a very serviceable Indian Restaurant right down the road from us. We’ve only tried Italian/pizza once, but that went pretty well. There is also the normal Bosnian fare of grilled meats, etc. Sometimes that is a challenge for Melinda, since she won’t eat lamb or veal, both of which are staples here.

Fast food here is dominated by Čevapi and Burek. Čevapi is grilled pieces of beef and lamb in a kind of soft pita bread with raw onions. Čevapi is the meal that everyone says you have to have in Sarajevo, and it is available EVERYWHERE. Problem is, Melinda and I don’t really like it. I like the flavor of the meat, but neither of us are big fans of raw onions or bread slathered in grease. So, don’t tell anyone, but we’re not huge fans of Bosnia’s national food. However, I love Burek. Burek is the meat version of Bosnian pies called Pita. You can have them filled with spinach, potato, cheese or meat. If you fill it with meat, then it is called Burek. It is basically philo dough filled with meat formed in rolls that can form a snake like a cinnamon roll or be set out in rows or even like a pie. Melinda isn’t as enthusiastic about them, but I can convince her to eat them from time to time, especially when they are fresh.

Cooking at home has been a string of adventures and near-disasters. We bought barley instead of oatmeal, which actually turned out pretty well. We made lasagna that turned into soup… we also made lasagna using tomato soup (which, ironically, did not turn into soup). We’ve had success making pizza, although the “pizza cheese” is expensive and molds quickly when you buy the value bag. We’ve made a variety of pastas (gorgonzola, tomato with olive, alfredo) and even experimented with pumpkin seed-breaded pork loin. Lately, we’ve been eating a lot of chicken noodle soup with popcorn popped in a pot.

Even with all this eating, I’ve lost some weight. I don’t know if it is living on the 6th floor, not having a car, or what we are eating, but my clothes are quite a bit looser.

Arrested Development?

I saw this on Heather's and Spyder's blogs, so I thought I'd see where I was at.

cash advance

Wiley's not so sure this is a good thing.

New City

Yesterday, Wiley and I got on a tram and went out to Ilidza (il-id-ja), a town near Sarajevo - about 20 minutes away on the tram. Wiley told me this was another place we could've lived. We could've rented an unfurnished house for cheaper than our apartment. While we didn't stay in the actual town very long, we went to the park, which was really nice. Wiley said we didn't actually make it to the park, but just along the long long long road which leads to it. I forgot my hat and the wind was really blowing yesterday, so I turned around. But the part we saw was pretty - there were large houses, like US houses, along the road, and there were some hotels overlooking a fountain that had been drained. Today it's supposed to snow this morning but then be sunny. Maybe we'll attempt another trip out there. If I ever built a house in Bosnia, I would like it to be out there. Apparently, I'm not alone because there were quite a few new houses. And it seems that that part of Ilidza draws money - we saw a Hummer and a BMW at a little cafe. A gallon of gas here costs around $5.60 - that's $185 just to fill up the tank!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Making Waves

Today, I read an article in the NYT about how cruising is becoming more elite. They're reintroducing the class-system.

Excuse me?

The article says that passengers don't really want to have a vacation with other people. They don't want to go onshore with the masses or stand in a buffet line.

I think this is complete bullshit, and I'm calling it.

Having gone on three cruises myself, I can say that a) part of the fun of going on a cruise is mingling with people you might not ordinarily meet, and b) there are plenty of ways to get away from people. I'm not a huge fan of large crowds, so breakfast was always a bit difficult, but here's a thought: if you want to eat by yourself, most of the cruiselines offer 24-hour room service. I had it once when I was sick. We got ready for dinner, and all of a sudden, I had a horrible case of sea-sickness. I wanted to stop the boat and get off. Instead, I took a dramamine, laid down for a bit and then we ordered our dinner in the cabin.

When it comes to eating, there are plenty of ways to not be around people: instead of going to the regular restaurant for dinner, try a trattoria. I did this, and it was great. Choose to eat at a table for two instead of a table for 6 or 8. Skip high tea.

As for getting away other times, go lay on the side of the ship in a lounger. My then-husband and I were the only two on that side of the ship when we sat and read and watched the waves go by. Head to the library - there was nobody in there when we went.

I can understand that the pools can be a little busy, but you are on a cruise. It's not like that's the only water you'll come across.

The article also mentions that they are tailoring excursions to be more private too. This is something that I won't make a fuss about. If you want to spend the day with a Russian family at their dacha in St. Petersburg (which the article says is an option), then go ahead. But I do wonder why spending some time with a single family is really different - aren't you still strangers?? Isn't that the point of making parts of a cruiseship exclusive - so you can be by yourself?

Give me a break. This is just another ploy by big companies to tell you you're special, and they'll prove it if you pay for it. Apparently, it's working because even though the cabins cost 20% more, they're selling out. People, get some self-esteem.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Beautiful, Chilling Day

This morning, I woke up just a little after 8. In my old life, that would've been sleeping in, but since retirement, I've been able to sleep until 10, though sleep isn't always restful and I have strange dreams. Like the other night - I dreamed that I was playing my violin at a friend's wedding, only the notes weren't on paper - I was reading crochet stitches and having a hard time reading them! Finally, I gave up and just played from memory, which went much better. So maybe crocheting tons of scarves and granny squares is getting to me...

Anyway, today has a been a typical fall day like I know them in the States. It's very very windy. The river was littered with little yellow polka dots - all the leaves have finally been swayed to begin their journey downstream. The clouds are all different colors - dark grey, almost purple, next to white streams, with little ribbons of blue sky peeking through. We went to the yarn lady again today so I could get some more creme-colored yarn, and it was just chilly enough to need my wool coat and a scarf. After lunch, it sprinkled on us a bit - oh, Sarajevo, I think it rains here as much as it does in Seattle or Kauai - but it wasn't enough to really put a damper on things. Even though there are clouds in the sky, I can look out my living room window as I blog and see the hills through and behind the apartment buildings. It's a beautiful sight, and it makes me happy to be here.

I think there might've been something in that Indian food.

Mmm mmm Good

Wiley and I decided to go out today for lunch since our kitchen sink drain was still leaking. While walking around one day, we found an Indian restaurant just down the street from our apartment, so today we decided to try them out. I had chicken kurma, or chicken korma, and Wiley had a split dish consisting of palak paneer and vegetable korma. The kormas tasted completely different from each other, but both were tasty. We also got some stuffed naan - they didn't have my veggie samosas, but they had naan stuffed with potatoes and peas, and when I tasted it, except for the deep-fat-fried goodness that makes up the outside of the samosa, it tasted the same. They even had mango lassis, which I didn't try this time - must save something for next time. As we were finishing, our landlord called and said he was on his way to check out the drain, and when we came home, it was fixed! So now I have a functioning kitchen again, and I can begin a most important thing: making cookies. *grins broadly*

Gluwein, Here We Come

To the tune of I've Been Working on the Railroad:

We are going to Vienna,
On a bus all day.
We are going to Vienna,
Just to pass some time away.

Can't you hear the gluwein calling,
We'll rise up early in the morn,
Yay, we're going on a bus trip,
To see Vienna adorned.

At the end of the month, Wiley and I are going to Vienna to see the city lit up in Christmas lights. They have gluwein, which is sweet hot wine, on the street, along with a Christmas market. The last time we were in Vienna, we were there just a day and didn't get to see too much of the town (though we did see the Vienna city marathon), so this time, we're going for a few days. The only downside is the busride there and the busride back - long ride. Good thing I have more books!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fly

Today, I found my wings. Wiley had an appointment, so about half an hour after he left, I put on my shoes, looked up a few words in Bosnian, and then hoofed it down to the bascarcija for some Christmas shopping. First, I stopped by my yarn lady and tried to ask her how to find what I needed. She didn't understand a word until I showed her what I needed and then asked if I should go to the bascarcija. She said yes, so off I went. I found exactly what I was looking for, was able to speak English and German have people understand me and I understood them, and then, since my feet were hurting, I mustered up the courage to get onto a trolley bus, stamp my ticket and sit down. I even got off at the right stop.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A-walking We Will Go

Last night, we walked into town to meet our new friend for coffee. The coffee bar was a wonderful little gem - big tables and a nice big upstairs so you don't have to ask someone to move their chair so you can get out. We were there for quite some time, trading stories about our lives. Wiley and I had a wonderful time.

Today, we struck out around 9:30 for Dobrinje, which is where my doctor is. We walked around all the little shops there and went to the doctor a half-hour early. And, we got in. Try doing that in the US. This time, my doctor was the head honcho, who spoke English with a Russian accent. He had two cronies with him. He surprised me by telling me that I look like the women in Bosnia. For once, I was speechless because I don't think I look like any of them! He told me that my infection isn't gone yet, so I have another antibiotic, decongestant and nose spray to take for a week or so, and then I go back again for a checkup. This visit was a bit more invasive. He stuck these long silver tubes with lights on the end up my nose and lit up each nostril; not exactly pleasant, though it was kinda fun to see one side light up like Rudolph. Then they stuck something that looked like a drill in my ears, testing the inner ear, and that received an all-clear. They are convinced I've done something to my nose. Yes, it's crooked. No, I don't know why. No, I don't remember having any trauma, though I suppose it's possible a wayward volleyball hit me in the face and I don't remember it. Otherwise, I can't think of anything. Then he asked if my mom had problems delivering me. From what I've been told (because while I was there, my memory isn't that good), I was a baby in distress born with the cord around my neck, but can that cause nose problems?? Since this may not be the last time we live abroad, I'm seriously considering talking to Che, as he's known around the office, about the operation he had to repair his deviated septum to avoid further problems with unclean air. I want no one sticking those tubes up my nose again, even if the ones wielding them are nice.

We also went to the Embassy today so Wiley could get a new passport. Very imposing structure. We went early, so we walked around that part of town, and it's beautiful!!! Very Austrian-looking. We found a place to eat, where I had "Vienna steak", which was originally lamb, but they made it out of chicken for me, and gave me a side of fries (and no, I didn't ask). Wiley had some soup. Then we went to the Embassy, where we handed over our passports and were told to go inside. Just as I turn, the guy who has my passport, who received my passport with Wiley's, stopped me and asked if we were together. After I said yes, they opened the door and we stepped through a metal detector, handed over our bags, watched as they ran them through the conveyor belt, watched as they searched Wiley's bag, found our cell phones, turned them off and handed them over, then walked back through the metal detector and got hand-wanded before being told to go through another door to talk to someone about the passport. They were waiting for us, and that took no time at all, and then we were out.

Yesterday, we walked somewhere between seven and eight miles, and today, we walked three. That's a heck of a lot more walking than I did in the States, but the scale has hardly budged for me! Darn their hot chocolates!