Happy Memorial Day!

I just wanted to give a shout out to everyone who has served in the US Military, and THANK YOU for your service! It’s easy for us to all think that Memorial Day is the start of summer vacation travel, BBQs, and picnics, but we wouldn’t be able to celebrate this day without the sacrifices our veterans made for us. Thank you, thank you………and to my dad, who is a Battle of the Bulge survivor and is still alive and kicking (strongly) at 94 1/2…I thank you for surviving that year you spent in the army hospital with shrapnel in your body and having the will to go on because you believed in your adopted country, the USA. I am now living in your birth country and Becki and I had the Croatian equivalent of hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill and flew the American flag proudly today.

I don’t have a picture of today’s dinner but I do have one of the fantastic duck dinner we had on Saturday.

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Fresh young roast duck with mlinci and broccoli. One of my favorites! Anyone who visits us here in Donja Stubica will need to partake of this regional favorite. I think we have the recipe down pat and if we ever open our place as a B and B ( which is a goal ) this will be on the menu.

We got some more rain today, along with a lot of thunder and lightning. The garden got a good soaking and everything smells fresher after a Spring rain. Tomorrow I will be working in the back laying bark down and finishing planting the rest of the flowers we bought this past weekend at the Saturday market.

Have a great rest of the Holiday weekend and see you soon!

My new composition- Child Of The Universe

Child of the Universe

I am a child of the Universe,
I want the best for you and me;
How can I reach the goal of oneness
When in the way is my humanity?

Just reach out and touch,
Listen and hear.
Inhale the world’s goodness
And exhale human fear.

I am a product of my environment,
I buy and sell commodities;
I use and throw away with excess,
Making my planet so diseased.

Just reach out and touch,
Listen and hear.
Mother Earth is telling us
How close her end is near.

I am the image of my Creator,
I’ve been told prophets have died for me;
I want to honor their sacrifice
By staying pure karmic-ly.

Just reach out and touch,
Listen and hear.
Use all your senses,
to feel how close to God you’re near.

I am a child of the Universe,
I will awaken to the call;
To make this world a better place
For all creatures great and small.

c Susan Vesna 5-17-2014

Let me know what you think…….

Settling into our routine

Hi! It’s been about ten days since we arrived, and I am finally starting to get my sleep habits back to normal and feel human upon rising and having my first cup of coffee. Becki unfortunately still has issues with sleeping through the night and rises anytime between 2 and 3AM to make Face Time calls back to the states, peruse Facebook, scour the Internet and do who knows what before crawling back into her bed for another couple hours of sleep  prior to the roosters starting to crow next door. She gets so mad at me because I can fall asleep within a few minutes and sleep soundly like a baby until 8 or 9 hours later.

So, she gets even with me by having me do the back breaking work of getting the garden ready to plant.Image

As you can see, I was just finishing up planting the zucchini and squash in that area of the garden. We will have those veggies along with bush beans, swiss chard, beets, carrots, onions,tomatoes and potatoes when Mother Nature blesses us with warm sunshine and water so our organic garden grows and feeds us later this summer.

When we arrived, we were coming out of some pretty torrential rains which completely flooded and displaced thousands in the Eastern part of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. You may have seen some reports on TV news in the states, but I assure you, it’s even worse that what you hear. At least 8000 in Croatia, 11,000 in Bosnia and Serbia are without shelter, water and food; not to mention that this area is agricultural and losses of animals including cows and pigs is unfathomable. Today it was reported that over 19 tons of animal carcasses have been removed to prevent disease from setting in, and the next big risk is cholera, diphtheria and hepatitis  due to the mosquitoes starting to breed in the stagnant waters…….

The Red Cross is collecting clothes, bedding, water, food and toys from people who have barely enough to donate, but know what it is like to endure a disaster since it’s only been 20 years since the war here. Also, the Balkan countries have seemed to put aside their differences to do whatever it takes to help each other recover from this natural disaster that has been teemed even more destructive than the last three wars combined.  We did our part and donated extra clothes, toys  and bedding to our local Red Cross. It was a mere pittance in the scope of this disaster, so I am asking you to donate to the American Red Cross and ask that your donations go to the Balkan region and the flood victims.

 

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Lucy, our cat is back and enjoying our company once again while we have been planting the flower boxes, the garden and other areas. She was really mad for awhile, but her stomach has forgiven us so all is well. We’re cooking roast duck for dinner today and it’s about ready to come out of the oven, so I will sign off for now!

 

 

 

Part Two

I have now been up for 32 hours and am currently sitting in the living room of my Croatia house watching a rerun of NCIS on the tv…..I will be going to bed shortly but figured that I needed to write my memories down before I forgot the stuff that happened today. Well, long story short, we got here but our bags did not. I think they are still in Philly somewhere…..I am so pissed at US Airways…ever since the merger with American, they have a really crappy attitude and customer service is really lacking….except for my friend who works in the re-booking dept, he is still the best! I am really hoping that our bags finally show up because we had some things that we needed for the house…keeping fingers crossed…anyway, as we were waiting for passport control in Zagreb, a pilot for US Airways was standing behind us and we started talking about the merger. He said he had 32 years in with the company and he is retiring in 134 days. He says the merger is the biggest cluster he has ever seen, and as you know when America West bought US Air it wasn’t a friendly merger, but this one beats that ten fold. I can see a big difference in just the past seven months from my personal flying experiences.

I’m ranting, I’m tired and am going to bed, but it will be so nice to sink into my down comforters….see you sometime later!

It’s two days later and I have to admit that the first night after being up for 32 hours was a better sleep for me than last night. We discovered that we have something living in the ceiling between the sheet-rock and the roof. I have no clue as to what it is but it is loud and scurries across the ceiling and sounds like a herd of elephants. I think it is only one animal, but can not be sure at this point. Fortunately a couple other people have heard it so they know we are not crazy. Drazen came over today to settle up our accounts from over the winter and he heard it too. He said he would climb up onto the roof on Monday when the weather gets better and will take off some tiles to see if he can identify what the critter is and possibly rescue and/or relocate it. I was also told by our neighbors that we have a big wasp nest in our woodpile out back and that needs to be taken care of as well. It’s always something…….oh, by the way, the cats in the hood have all discovered that we are back so they are starting to come around for food and to let us know that they have been on mouse patrol while we were gone. Life goes on in the village whether you are there or not!

As far as our suitcases are concerned, we got them delivered to the house around 5PM last night. It seems that when we were told in Phoenix that we could not check our bags all the way through to our final destination because we were flying on a split reservation, we had to retrieve them from baggage claim and re-check them on the Zagreb.It took a full half hour from when our plane landed for us to get them in baggage claim, then it took about ten minutes more to get them to the ticketing counter and explain our dilemma to the person behind the counter.Even though she put a rush and priority tag on our bags, by the time they cleared TSA it was too late to make our plane. As it was, Becki and I had just 15 minutes to spare before we would have been forced to take the next flight out, so our bags sat in Philly overnight until the next day when they flew on to Zagreb……..

Now, I ask you, does this make any sense? The reason the counter agent in Phoenix would not check our bags through was because we had to be on the same flights as our bags.Seems that on a split reservation, some unsavory characters could get off at the first destination,not re-board to their second and the bags would show up somewhere without being claimed and potentially be a hazard…….well, our bags flew a day later than us,and we weren’t on the same plane,so what’s the difference????? Also, my bag was gone through and did not have the usual paper warning that it was inspected. I know that because all of the vitamins and first aid supplies were on top of my packed clothes, instead of under my jacket where I had packed them. I think someone thought I might have some valuable prescription drugs in my case and were going to help themselves until they saw it was just OTC vitamins…

Everything arrived intact and we are none the worse for wear, catching up on our sleep and re-acclimating to European time, and just enjoying being back in familiar surroundings. Tomorrow we will go to the outdoor market and buy plants for the flower boxes on the terraces, and on Sunday we are going to a party for our neighbor’s daughter who is celebrating her second communion in the church. The custom is you get your first communion around age twelve, and your second around sixteen. If you don’t get your second communion, when you have children they can not be baptized in the church, so this is a big deal supposedly……..another new experience for us to take part in and be included in the culture of the country.

See you again soon!

Flying across the pond….Part One

We started out from home yesterday by kissing the puppies goodbye.image

I know they knew we were leaving because they usually cry and whine to go with, but this time they stayed on the couch very quiet after getting petted and kissed. As tears were streaming down my face walking out the door to get in the car, I had a horrible thought that I might never see them again, because one never knows what fate has in store. I got in the car and drove with Becki in the passenger seat, and our daughter and grandson in the back and headed out towards Sky Harbor airport….no wait! We were going to the Hampton Inn to spend the night before leaving at the crack of dawn the next day. Okay, I can do this…we all sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity until Erin said Paulie had fallen fast asleep. Of course I wanted to turn on the radio at that point but couldn’t so I dried my eyes and sucked up my sadness of leaving my best furry friends for five months and turned my attention to the start of our journey.

IMG_1549We arrived at our hotel, unloaded the suitcases, said our goodbyes and then went inside to check in. We got settled and then Becki said she wanted to go across the street to get some Chinese food for dinner. So we headed out to the Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center and found a restaurant open for us to have dinner at. We enjoyed a tea infused roast duck, moo shu pork and vegetable chow mein over pan-fried noodles. When we were thoroughly stuffed and had our left overs put in a to go container, we headed back to our hotel.

Becki being the friendly one spotted two women who we’re taking pictures of each other around the statues that graced the entrance. Beck struck up a conversation and before you can say ” hallelujah, Jesus !” , these two ladies were holding our hands in a prayer circle and in true revival fashion were praying for our safe trip, the health of the pilots, the safety of the plane, and God knows what else….I was kind of in awe of what was coming out of her mouth, but I have to admit, black folk know how to pray! Glory!

Anyway, we parted company and made our way back across the street to our hotel knowing that we had been blessed. We watched some TV, and then turned in for the short night since we were getting up at 4AM for the shuttle to the airport.

The next morning we arrived at the First class check in counter and were told that we could not check our bags all the way through to Zagreb as we had done in the past. We had to retrieve our bags in Philly and then recheck them on to our final destination because we were flying on a split itinerary. Holy shit, Batman! Our leisurely two-hour lay over had just turned into a nail-biting expedition of can we make the next flight? We were due to land at 2:25PM but that turned into 2:50, and then when our bags took another half hour to arrive on the conveyor belt, I was beside myself as we still had to navigate another ticket counter, security, and walk three terminals from where we were!

Our plane to Frankfurt started boarding at 3:40PM, and we arrived at the gate at 4, only 15 minutes to spare before we would have missed our connection. Fortunately we had upgraded to business class so we found our comfy seats and crashed!    IMG_0781

We finally got off the ground about 45 minutes late because of the line up of planes ahead of us on the Tarmac but that wouldn’t have helped us since the plane had pushed off from the gate. Now I am writing this after dinner and several drinks and now I will take a nap as it is 1:30AM in Frankfurt, our next destination.

Once In Awhile

Once In Awhile

This is a song I wrote many, many years ago and have been shopping around to various publishers. I admit that I am not the greatest singer out there and my voice has changed in the past years, so look past the vocals and let me know how you like the song, ok?

I have been told that it is a really good song but doesn’t have a “strong enough hook” in today’s market………would you like to hear it on the radio? I wouldn’t be the one to record it, I’m just trying to get it out there.

 

Thanks for your feedback!

Solly’s Summer Splash!

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Solly’s Summer Splash

1 shot of Bombay Sapphire Gin
2 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
Seltzer
1/2 shot of triple sec
Fresh blueberry juice
Lime
ice

In a tall glass place several ice cubes, pour the gin over the cubes then add the ruby red grapefruit juice and seltzer to about 1 inch below the rim of the glass. Squeeze a lime quarter and mix together. Add a couple teaspoons of fresh blueberry juice for color, then float the Triple Sec on the top and garnish with a lime wedge.

I like it with the ice, but it can be shaken and served in a martini glass as well.

The color is a dark pink and tastes delicious! It’s also very light and refreshing, perfect for a hot summer day.

 

I’m sitting here watching the Kentucky Derby, and realizing that I didn’t have any mint to make a Mint Julep, so I experimented with what I had in the fridge and came up with a very refreshing light drink. It’s getting really hot here in Arizona, and both Becki and I are looking forward to leaving for Croatia on Friday, so this was a two fold experiment…….get rid of left over juice and find something refreshing to drink on this 93 degree day!

Enjoy!!!

 

Grand Canyon

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Becki and I had an opportunity to take a side trip to the Grand Canyon in AZ the last three days before we go back to Phoenix and pack our bags to head across the pond to Croatia, so we loaded up our little Tioga RV and twisted the arm of our good friend and neighbor to join us on a little road trip to the Grand Canyon.Image

These are our two vehicles, but this picture was taken on a previous trip to Quartzsite. I only wanted you to see what we travel in.

 

Anyway, we got a reservation in Williams, AZ at the Grand Canyon Railroad RV park and we headed up north. We decided to ride the rails to the Canyon  and it was a really fun trip.

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We saw a Wild West Gunfighter show and then we boarded our first class car at 9:15AM for our trip north.

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Here’s a picture of me having a refreshment on our way. We had entertainers serenade us, and train robbers rob us, and food to eat and an open bar to refresh us while we were on the three hour ride to the canyon. Once there we went up to the South Rim and had lunch at El Tovar, which is the oldest hotel on the South rim and has recently been renovated. I had an awesome sandwich called the “El Tovar Club” which consisted of smoked turkey, applewood smoked duck bacon, brie cheese, lettuce and tomato on a ciabatta bun. Becki had a grilled Reuben sandwich and our friend had the veggie sandwich which was really good. Then we shared a rather large piece of chocolate cream pie ( delish!) and then went out to look at the canyon and gather in some energy before we took the train back to Williams and our RV’s.Image

This is a brass marker that lines up the various peaks, ridges and canyons in the Grand Canyon. I was very impressed to read that there is an Isis Temple, Cheops Pyramid, Buddha Temple, Zoroaster Temple, and other interesting named places in the canyon.Image

We headed back to the train and boarded at 3 PM for our return trip home. Again, we had entertainers of all kinds to sing to us and we had a few rousing choruses of “You Are My Sunshine” on the train car before we got back to Williams. All in all we had a great trip and I recommend it to anyone traveling in AZ as a must see.

Countdown to Croatia………

Our house in Donja Stubica, Croatia

Our house in Donja Stubica, Croatia

We are getting excited! Only a couple weeks until we head back to our little house on the other side of the world in Croatia. I know I haven’t posted a lot since we returned from my magnificent birthday jaunt to Seattle and Raleigh, NC, but know that we have been busy preparing for our next chapter in our adventures…..

Both Becki and I have been keeping very busy as we purchased a 25 ft Class C motor home (it’s the kind with a bed over the cab) and we have been taking advantage of the nice weather in Arizona by going camping to Quartzsite, Lake Pleasant, and currently we are at the Grand Canyon for the next three days. We are cramming in a lot of traveling within the state of AZ before we head across the pond for the rest of the year.

I want to welcome those of you that followed me on susanvesna.blogspot.com and let you know that this will be my new home for awhile as I am finding a site that can accommodate my posting some of my music for you to enjoy as well as my pictures. You can still see my previous posts on my blogspot.com blog if you want to catch up on our adventures from last year.

So, bookmark this page and enjoy armchair traveling with us as we set out for our fourth installment of our Croatian adventure this summer.

Part Four: Getting adopted into an Irish family!

I have to admit that I am a person of my word, even if I end up in an adventure I never expected or imagined…..to digress a little bit, and give you a background on how Becki and I ended up in Raleigh, NC you have to go back in time to last October when we were returning from our home in Croatia to our winter residence in Arizona. When I purchased our tickets last year we were originally supposed to fly home via Brussels, Belgium. I got an email saying that our trip had been rerouted through London-Heathrow instead. Okay, we could do that although the connection was a little tight and Heathrow is a HUGE airport. Our flight from Zagreb, Croatia was on time in leaving which would have given us enough time to circumnavigate Terminal 1 in London, but I noticed that we were circling as we were getting close to London. We had made two complete rotations before our captain came on the intercom and said that we would have another delay in landing and that we would have to circle another 20 minutes or so. Oh man, we were getting close to the “run or miss your plane” deadline and I started getting anxious. When we finally touched down we had to cover a lot of territory to even get to our new gate. We also had been bumped up to Envoy class and you have to check in 30 minutes before takeoff or the seats would be given away. I stopped at a US Airways customer service counter to see how far we still needed to go. The man at the desk told us we had another ten minute walk and that we would make it, but by the time we reached our gate our Envoy seats had been given to someone else and we had to sit in coach. We did get the bulkhead, but if the man had called the gate and told them that we were on our way we would have been sitting up in the front of the plane instead of the “cheap” seats.

Anyway, we did have two seats together on the bulkhead just behind Envoy in Row 5, and there were two empty seats behind us in Row 6. The plane was almost fully boarded when a couple came rushing in and sat directly behind us. I detected a definite Irish accent from the woman and a New York accent from the man. I gathered that they had also rushed to catch this flight to Philly and sympathized with them. After we had taken off and the flight attendant announced that the inflight service would be starting, I heard a loud Irish voice behind us saying ” where’s the party?”…. Becki instantly answered “right here” and we instantly bonded and became fast friends. It turns out that they had a similar experience as we did, they were trying to get home to Raleigh, NC and their first flight was cancelled from Ireland, so they had to go to Heathrow and were also scheduled in Envoy class but missed the check-in so they ended up in coach behind us.

The flight attendant was a fantastic woman who recognized that we were making the best of a bad situation and she went above and beyond to provide the best service she could. I think it helped when I bought a $175 bottle of Johnnie Walker Scotch from the duty-free shop, but I would have done it anyway, because we didn’t have to pay for any liquor the rest of the flight. I went back to use the restroom and she was sitting there so I struck up a conversation with her and told her about us losing our seats, she said that she would take care of us for the remainder of the flight and did our friends behind us need anything as well? I said they were drinking wine but I wasn’t sure what kind, and wouldn’t you know it, the gentleman had come up behind me to ask if he could get some more wine and then everything clicked….we were well taken care of for the remainder of the trip to Philly. We found out that our new friends lived in Raleigh, NC and they invited us to their annual St Patrick’s Day party.

Well, to make a long story short, we ended up flying to Raleigh, NC after my birthday party in Seattle and we had a blast! Our hosts were amazing, the party was really fun, we met a lot of new friends and have a standing invitation to come back any time we desire to. I have a lot of pics from our visit, but will post more of them in a few days. Thank you Anna and Louie, you made my birthday celebration one to remember!