Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Real Conversation at Local Video Store:

The Mister: "Is Team America funny? Would you recommend it?"

Video Store Employee: "It's pretty funny. You won't like it if you're patriotic"

Me: "Pardon?"

VSE: "You won't like it if you're patriotic"

Me: "We're Canadian"

VSE: "I know"

Me: "We live in Canada"

VSE: "I know" (getting that "What is your problem?" look on her face)

The Mister (giving me "The Look"): "Leave her alone"


Monday, May 23, 2005

Farmers Granddaughter

From left to right: Uja Lazar, Uja Jovan, Ujina Ankica, Majka, Deda. Kneeling: Uja Mirko, my oldest cousin Danica.

Since I finally got around to scanning some old family photos, I thought I'd share some of them with you.
Cynical C pointed out once that all photos that came out of Eastern European countries until the 80's, looked like they were taken in the 1930's and he's right.
The above photo must have been taken around 1963 or so. I'd like to point out some things that I find amusing in this photo, and I've numbered them to make it easier.
1. Is Kobasice (sausages) hanging from the tree on the left. I guess getting ready to be put in the smoke house which would be behind the photographer.
2. Frozen clothes on the line. I distinctly remember stiff clothing being brought in from outdoors to thaw. Go figure what the point of that is.
3. Uja (yes, THE Uja as a youth) is holding a bottle of Slivovica (Plum Brandy-homemade hootch, probably 110 proof) and if you can see...the bottle is almost empty.
4. The apparent need for Eastern Europeans to take photos outdoors in the middle of winter. (More proof to follow)
5. My Dedas (Grandpa) subara (pronounced Shoo-bara) the Russian winter headgear of most men back in those days.

Here are my parents in Germany.
Again with the picture outside in the freezing cold.
Just look at my mothers clenched left fist and frozen hair.

Uja with Lassie, a Serbian dog who never saw the inside of the house.
Again with the outside, no coat winter photo.

There's plenty more where that came from....

Kiki sent me this link a Radenska Mineral Water commercial representing all the parts of the Former YU, which I thought was great. Have a look yourself. I still love a Radenska with a little blackberry syrup.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Taxi Story #1

A long time ago when I was single and traveled with a group of girls on weekends to clubs, before I could drive, I used to often depend on someone in the group for a ride home.
One Saturday night I was talked into going to a club way out in the East End with a promise that if I came, I would get a ride back home.
Well, when I was ready to go home, the girl who had promised me the ride home backed out, and tried to pawn me off on two guys she knew who were driving west.
I refused, for obvious reasons.
I’m not getting in a car with two guys I’ve never met before.
I don’t care if they’re wearing Boy Scout uniforms.
I was pissed.
I had $17 on me, and I was at least $24 away from home.
I hailed a cab, and told the Cab Driver that I only had $17 and to take me as far as he could. I figured I’d walk the rest of the way and freeze my ass off in my skimpy outfit and high heels.
The Cab Driver asked me about my situation, and it didn’t take much for me to spill how I was dumped by a “friend” who promised me a ride home and then left me on the other side of the city with no way home.
When I saw the meter go past $17, I said so to the driver.
He waved his hand and said to me in a heavy Chinese accent, “I drive you. I have daughter. I don’t want nothing happen to my daughter. I don’t want nothing happen to you”.

I was so grateful. I paid him the $17 and told him if he came back tomorrow, I would have the remaining owed money for him. He refused. Dismissing me with a wave of his hand as he shook his head.

Believe it or not, a few years later, I got into his cab again.
It took me a moment to recognize him. But, when I did, I asked him if he remembered me, and what he did for me that cold January night.
He said that he did.
When I got out of the cab, I tried to tip him $20, but again…he dismissed me with a wave of his hand, and was stern in telling me “no” he wouldn’t accept.
There are good people out there.
Doing good things for others.

Taxi Story #2

During the bombings of Serbia, during one ride, the driver asked me what my nationality was.
I told him.
He told me that he was Iranian.
Then he said with a tsk, and a head shake: “It’s your country’s turn to be persecuted”.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

If you’re driving along the highway during rush hour and you look over to the car next to you and the woman in the car is crying, not sobbing, but you can see that the hot tears are streaming down her face.
Does your heart soften?
Do you wonder what could have happened to make her weep?
Do you wish that you could stop and comfort her?
Blanche DuBois might have had a point when she said that she could depend upon the kindness of strangers.
Strangers don’t have a connection to you.
You can tell them things that you couldn’t tell someone in your life circle.

When I looked over, my heart was full for her.
I don’t know her…
But, I have been her.
I am her.

I don’t know about you, but my car is sometimes my sanctuary.
It’s a place where I am alone with my thoughts, fears and insecurities.
It’s a place where I talk to myself in my head.
Sort things out, sometimes unpleasant things.
Sometimes I pray, and talk to God.
Beg for guidance…because this is truly a shitty place....and we all have hopes and wishes.

But, as the old adage says:
"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride"

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I Love My Dentist

I know that this is a strange thing to say...because, let's face it; who loves their Dentist?

I do.

Let me clarify, I don't love the dental process, but what makes me keep my appointments is knowing that I'll see Noah, and we'll chat and catch up.
Many years ago, The Mister and I got a flyer through our Balliol Street apartment mail slot telling of a new Dentist in the area.
I hadn't been in a long time, even though I had a Dental plan and everything.

I hate the Dentist.
I've had bad experiences.

I made an appointment, and from there it's been a long relationship.
When we started out, he was a single guy just out of school...now, he's a married guy with 3 adorable children.
I could go on and on about how fair, loyal and decent he is.
Not to mention hilarious.

I would bore you.
I've told him over and over that I would never cheat on him with another Dentist.

If you are looking for a Dentist, I'm willing to share him with you...only because I care about you, gentle reader, and your dental health.

When we took this picture, (taken by the lovely and wonderful Anne) the first thing he said was, "This isn't going on your website is it?".
To which I replied, "It's advertising".

Noah Belman at Yonge and Eglinton.
Tell him I sent you and he'll tell you a good joke.

*couldn't you just squeeze his face?*

Thursday, May 05, 2005


"Every man has a map in his heart of his own country, and the heart will never allow you to forget this map"
Alexander McCall Smith
When I was in my early twenties, I was floundering.
I didn't know what I wanted from life.
I had just come back from trying to live in NYC.

I was screwed up.
I was lost. I was between jobs when my mother offered me a trip with her to see family "back home". I jumped at the chance to leave again. To escape my own skin.

When we got to my Majkas (grandmother) house after the tears of reuniting, I asked where my Deda (grandfather) was. Majka said, "He's over at that no good Julishka's house", a place he went to drink and talk with old friends. She said, "Go get him and bring him back".
I stepped out onto the dusty Vojvodjanska road and stopped.
Where the hell was I going?
I hadn't been back since I was 14 years old.
I turned the corner, and suddenly I thought I might know my way.
As I walked, I felt an overwhelming feeling of belonging. I felt completed and peaceful somehow. Of all the places I'll ever go in my life, this was the place that I had started from.

When I turned the corner of Julishka's street I saw my Deda in the distance, sitting on a bench in front of Julishka's house. I recognized him immediately sitting between some of his old friends.

He stood up as I got closer, looked at me from the distance and then he spread his arms wide, and in that Vojvodjanska drawl he exclaimed, "Angel of mine....child of mine...."

These are the moments in a persons life that are never forgotten.
These are the moments that let you know that your soul belongs someplace.

That you are not lost.
You belong somewhere, to someone.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Babaroga and Other Lies
Serbian Parents Tell Their Kids...

Hristos Vaskrese to all who celebrate today.

We were over at my Ujas house today and as Turkish Coffee was being passed around, the conversation went to how drinking Turkish Coffee as a kid would either grow you a tail or a mustache.
These are things we were told as children to discourage us from wanting to drink it before we were old enough.
This led the conversation to other fibs we were told.

While we were on the topic of such things, I leaned over and said to mama:
"Hey Ma, didn't you buy me from some Gypsies at the Pijaca (open market)?".
Without skipping a beat, Mama replied:
"Ya, dey gaddet all kinda tings yu ken buy an da pijaca"

Tetka Ljuba laughed and threw in,
"I fall aff da gypsy karavan, dees iz hou my parents get me"

We're big on the gypsy theme in my family.

My cousin said that they were told by Uja that people by the name of Mr and Mrs Smith were constantly inquiring as to the price of his children, should he decide to sell them.
So, whenever they were misbehaving...
the idea of selling them to Mr and Mrs Smith would come up.

Babaroga was used to make sure little children were in their homes by dark.
In my little head, the breakdown of the name said everything.
Baba: Meaning old lady or grandma
Roga/Rogovi: Meaning horns

Which of course could only mean one thing:
Beelzebubs' Grandma....
and that can't be good for a little kid out after dark.
I asked "What ever happened to Babaroga? Is she still working?"
"Eh," says Uja, "She leave da town, bah she gonna kam bek ven mai grrls hev da keeds"

Ask me why I have trust issues.