Friday, December 17, 2010

The Happiness Project

This is title of the book I am reading. The author is Gretchen Rubin. I came across this book in my local library on the shelf for "Best bets". It means I cannot renew the book and I will have to return it today. I am only on the page 84 of almost 300 pages. I procrastinated in reading it last week, and procrastination is actually one of my favorite topics lately. I even made Power Point presentation for my family about procrastination.

Now back to my topic about happiness. After I gave this presentation to my boys here, they seemed totally unfazed. I do not know if me telling them that what they do is called procrastination will make any difference right now. But, I believe that all experiences that we have in our life, including me giving this presentation to them, shape somehow who we are or who we become. Act now! Do something meaningful. Enjoy now, as Gretchen Rubin says on page 84 of her book.

p.s. You may think I am procrastinating now, but you are wrong: there is laundry in the drier. So the perfect time to guilt free blogging is while doing laundry :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cooking with love and love for cooking

For me it goes both ways. In my tiny kitchen I find solace that is hard to find anywhere else. When it comes to cooking I do not know about procrastination. It is always good time for me to cook. I love cooking and I rarely follow the recipe. If I do, it makes me really nervous, I usually screw up something and it does not turn out to be the way I want it. Well, I do follow recipes sometimes, it sometimes turn out to be OK, but I always modify something as I usually do not have all the ingredients the recipe is calling for. This is what I hate the most about recipes because in each and every one of them is an ingredient that I do not have. So, I cook "from my head". I do not think that I am able to make the same meal twice, because I always make it differently. Ingredients may be similar, but I add them in different order, I add different quantities, and I try it as I cook and decide what is the next step.

My family loves my cooking. I explained them that it tastes so good because "I cook with love". There is no tasty homemade meal if the love is not one of the ingredients. The love is magical. It combines that spices and ingredients in a perfect way. Adding love to your cooking with make your meals to be not only testy, but in a way your vehicle to spread the love.

For tonight I am planning on making the meal called "Turli tava". My son asked me several times to translate this word. We do not have translation of this word into Serbian, so when it is translated from Turkish - turli means "mixed" and tava means "pan". It is Turkish or Middle Eastern dish, but I adopted it through my Macedonian roots. It calls for all different kind of vegetables (mainly eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, onion, pepper) including the main ingredient okra. You can make it to be vegetarian, or with meat. When I make it with meat, I like to buy nice, fresh veal stew. It is fairly easy to make. The most of preparation is cutting veggies, and stewing the meat with onions, before everything is combined and put in the oven to bake for few hours. I like this to be baked in the slow heat to combine flavors. My hubby likes to add few pieces of bacon on top. I am not particularly in favor of this, but I will do it today because he specifically asked for it. This is another thing about my cooking: it is my way or highway. I do not like any suggestions, and like to add things just the way I feel they should be added.

Here is the recipe for "Turli tava"

■1 kg. mixed meat

■potatoes, tomatoes, paprika

■onions, okra

■aubergine, string beans

■1 ground onion piece

■cooking oil, salt

■red mixed pepper


Chop the meat and fry it in a pan with cooking oil. Chop the vegetables into small pieces, add the meat and some cooking oil and water. Put enough water so the mixture is boiled and still there is no much left after baking. Add spices and boil for a while. After that put it into a crockery baking dish and bake it on 2000 C for 1,5 hours. Stir the mixture 2-3 times during baking. The food is ready when it becomes brown.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Report

Every journey starts with the first step. The same holds the truth when it comes to my understanding of meditation. For a longest time, and I can say, all of my life I resisted even thinking about meditation. It is boring, I thought. How is it possible not to think anything ( this is how I imagined what meditation is)? I cannot be so quiet in my mind, it is too busy to meditate. However, recently I discovered that meditation is not at all what I thought it was. In short, it is not "not thinking about anything", it is just focusing on your own being, your own present state of mind, body and soul. It is acknowledging there are things going on around you, and inside you, but the point is not to let these things destruct you from being aware of your lightness, your highness, your ability to connect to the higher power, to the shining light that we all belong to.

But, there is a problem with that. Now that I know what meditation is, I still do not do it. I am too anxious to let it go, to let go everything around me, to focus on only myself, only my own presence, my own existence. As if I am going to meet with the stranger, someone who bothers me, as if I just cannot stand my own company, as if my own company is burden to me, as if I, me and myself are just a group of those boring people who have nothing new to say to the world. Is this too harsh to say? Maybe, but at least it is honest!

Moreover, although I still cannot make myself relaxed enough to enjoy my own company in meditative state, I am aware of how dangerous is when people try to escape from their own being, their own feeling, their own fears. I may say: I will try to connect with myself, which I think I never did in the past. Will this bring me to a better place?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yugoslavian Airlines ( Jugoslovenski Avio Transport ) - JAT

It was a sunny day in March of 1990 when I took off from Belgrade "Surcin" airport to Toronto. Cannot remember JAT flight number (although I am sure that I still have somewhere that old airline paper ticket!), but it was DC-10 aircraft. Those were good days for JAT, also dubbed as “Joke About Time”, but known for the finest and best trained pilots and crews in the world. It was not obvious then, that it was actually counting its last days of fame. Soon, the UN economic sanctions against, what was left of the Yugoslavia, came into effect, and as the rest of economy JAT was struggling to stay alive, started renting its fleet and crew to foreign countries. Airport "Surcin" was shut down to international flights, sad but true, for at one time world class city with the world class airline, travelers were boarding buses to be driven to Budapest, Hungary (some 300 km away - or around 5 hours on the bus) or Sofia, Bulgaria (around the same distance) to fly to their destinations. The point of departure was in front of downtown hotel “Slavija”. At any time day or night, one could see groups of tired people with large suitcases, waiting to board the bus, or minibus that will take them to the place from where they will be able to fly. I was among them just one time, in September of 1993, leaving Belgrade to fly out from Budapest via Berlin, on Lufthansa flight to Toronto (with the transfer in Munich); a very long journey for the modern day aviation, especially when flying from the European capital.

It has been now 15 years since sanctions were lifted, but not much progress has been made for the national airline. Yes, it changed its logo, twice. Once to show the name “Yugoslav Airlines”, second time to hide the word “Yugoslav”, where “Y” is actually “J”, because of differences in spelling, in the word Jat.

Yes, it started flying around Europe and other international destinations, but it never flew over Atlantic again. For us who live on this side of the world it means changing the planes in one of the European hubs: London, Paris, Prague, Munich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam. The choice depends which airline has "seat sale". Some complain that passengers flying to the certain places are treated as "cattle", sent to the most uncomfortable terminals to board the aircraft that will take them to their final destination. This may be open for discussion. I personally had both experiences, and not enough flying to determine whether this is true or not. It is maybe matter of perception, but our perception is our reality.

With the loss of my country, I lost the airline, too. The airline which brought me here, now renamed “Jat Airways”, easily mistaken for “Jet Airways”, major Indian airline company. The acronym Jat still has original word in it - "Yugoslav", although the country does not exist anymore. There was some discussion about renaming it differently, but it seems that by keeping the old name, I guess the airline is clinging to the old fame. But those days are long gone by. With the old fleet, depleted assets, next to bankrupt finances, the future of the airline is unknown. We all know that Jat Airways is not the only airline in the world that is struggling, and it is in a good company of Alitalia (another national carrier that needs to be bailed out), and other, around the world airlines, which went bankrupt, or were swallowed by larger and stronger ones.

But what is the sad part of this story is not the reality that airlines are facing these days: the rise in fuel costs, more expensive airport security, more taxes and less passengers who are willing to pay astronomical airfares, the rise of low budget, low cost airlines, and growing army of very unhappy, grumpy passengers. I am sad for different reason. I not only lost the country where I was born, but I lost the airline that brought me here. I had chance to fly only one more transatlantic flight with JAT. It was in October of 1991. The time of Vukovar siege, the height of nationalistic euphoria, only few months before UN economic sanctions shut down Belgrade airport and expelled JAT from the world flying scene. JAT, as we knew it, no more. The airline we grew to love and trust gradually started disappearing from the world radar, just as the country that was her home.

Jat Airways, who knows, maybe they will fly again over mighty Atlantic, but before that they will have to replace their fleet with the newer aircraft that will be safe to fly with. Until then, next time flight to Belgrade will be a long one, exhausting one, with change of planes, going through security couple more times, boarding another plane that will bring me to the place I once called home, the place that I left flying with one of the finest airlines in the world - JAT!

Monday, October 4, 2010

What would happen if you disconnect from the world of technology?

Seriously? Would anyone care? Would the Earth stop moving, because you did not update your Facebook status, or reply the the e mail, or check the latest news? What would happen if you disappear from the Internet for a little while? Are you afraid that no one will notice, and that your presence is insignificant to the lives of others? Maybe?

If we know that it is not so good for us,why we do not think more about how to get rid of this time consuming and time wasting, for our survival totally unnecessary activity? Is it because we are lonely? Some will argue that the more narcissistic you are, the more you will want others to know about you and admire you, so you will be posting things on the Facebook, that will show your persona as cool, trendy, upbeat, creative, and the more "likes" you get, the more food for your ego. But is it that simple? I am flirting with the idea of getting disconnected from the technology, or better to say, part of the technology that I am using for the entertainment, for some time now. I have few reasons for that. Number one, I would like to be a role model for my son, who is spending way too much time on the computer. Two, I would like to have more time for "soul surfing" and finding out what is that exactly what is holding me back, and making me feel depressed at times. Three, I would like to clear my mind for my own ideas and creativity. Four, and so on... I am sure you have your own list of the reasons to quit.

However, this may be harder than you and I have ever thought. Why? For starters, I have at any time at least one computer in my home on. It is hard to quit smoking if the cigarettes are all over the place. Second, even if I turn it off, I will think of the reason why should I put it on ( like I need a recipe, or I have to check the e mail to see if someone important e mailed, or I need to check directions on Google Earth ). Yes, I am very sneaky! So once I am online, the first thing will be to suppress the urge to go on the Facebook, and the longer I hold that urge, the stronger it gets... Bang:

So what are you going to do to save your soul from this menace? Any suggestions? Maybe something similar to AA's 12 step program? Or maybe disconnecting can be easy as 1-2-3 only if you are motivated? I am sending this question to the Universe: How do you become the whole again once you exposed all of you, or all of you want to be you, on the Facebook?

Disconnect now!

Friday, October 1, 2010

It is October, already!

Yesterday was the very last day of September. It is truly unbelievable how this month flew for me. Today I woke up realizing that autumn is here, big time. Although I say I love autumn, because of the most beautiful colors that it paints in Ontario, I love summer more, and I already miss it. I love going to Georgian Bay. My faves: Balm Beach before the fence was built, Awenda Provincial Park, beach number 3, before 5 pm, beach number 4 to enjoy the sunset.

Also, this summer I went to Belgrade and, among other things, had a couple of beautiful beach outings, with my son, to Ada Ciganlija. What I like about going to the beach in Belgrade is that in Belgrade you can have a beer on the beach, unlike here. It really is a bonus, sitting in the shade, on the beach chair, with your feet in the water, drinking cold beer and reading, for example, some trashy Belgrade newspaper, such as "Kurir".

Anyway, now memories of Belgrade look like much better when filtered though the time that passed since I came back. Actually, I was almost sick for a month after I came back. Not really sick, but sick from too much emotions that I cannot digest anymore. As if I was sucked in the black hole, and came back.

Belgrade looks perfect to me now, from the safe distance. What I noticed this time is the fact that I just do not belong there. That's it. But, this being said, I have to mention that my love for Belgrade is really strange one. I love you my beautiful Belgrade, but I do not miss you, not anymore - how about that!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Duncan and the seagull

Today, I will open the window and show you the sky, the sea, the boat, the boater, the piper, and one man's final destination. The story will tell itself in a moment, but you have to pay attention to the seagull, flying with its wings still, soaring the skies, as if he came to the picture to show the presence of the man's spirit, the one whose ashes were about to be thrown in the wind, from the boat, about one and half mile away from the shore. It was a perfect day for the funeral. The day before big storm was coming the boat's way. The piper was the last minute addition. The day before he was happily piping during the cocktail party at the lawn of the local mansion turned into small hotel. It was oysters and champagne party. She, the lady who was about to bury her husband at the sea, took a notice of the piper. His name was Duncan. Her thoughts went back to the time when her late husband's face all lit up in the nursing home, with all his memory lost, but remembered the music when the piper showed up. Duncan was more than willing to come and join the small crew of the boater, the lady, and the minister who will not be able to attend because in the sequence of events, the funeral had to be preformed right away. The storm was coming, and the boater knew that if they do not do it on that day, that late afternoon, they would have to delay it for weeks. So the story goes, telling itself, and you are looking through the window to catch the glimpse of the sea, the boat, the seagull, the piper. "MacCrimmon Will Never Return"

"No more, no more, no more returning;
In peace nor in war is he returning;
Till dawns the great day of doom and burning,
MacCrimmon is home no more returning.

The breeze of the bens is gently blowing;
The brooks in the glens are softly flowing;
Where boughs their darkest shades are throwing,
Birds mourn for thee who ne'er returnest."

And there it was: the sound of the pipes, the sight of the seagull soaring the skies, the boat, not very big one sitting on the bed of sea, awaiting the big storm, the boater, the piper, the lady, and one perfect day for the the ashes of the man to be returned home.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The rain washed out the protest

The picture I took while on my lunch break, on Thursday, June 24. Native Protest. Chanting was: "I stole the Native Land."

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The happiness comes in little bits and pieces. Like memory sketches of times that in retrospect look better than they felt in real time. Or anticipation of the event we believe will bring us joy. But it is always elusive. The moment you believe you are happy , you start worrying about not being happy anymore when that moment passes. As if present happiness is only achievable when you can totally forget about past and future. But your mind will play tricks on you. It will be almost impossible to continue being happy. Happiness is just a moment in time. It is so expensive to be happy that it makes me wonder how to find happiness in not being happy. Like, I know I am not the best I could be NOW, but I see the potential, and although I am NOT happy, I am happy that I can change and undertake that journey of transformation. Enjoy it and be part of process, Being happy in unhappiness. Pushing yourself to the limits. Achieving in transformation. Happiness is just a dream.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wedding at St. Lawrence Market

And with permission of Andrej Acin I am publishing this photo here. Thanks to him I found out that this was not a real wedding. It was promotional campaign for travel agency :)

The building that houses St. Lawrence Market was first built in 1831, but burnt down in 1849, only to be rebuilt in 1850 as St. Lawrence Hall, that stands in its place until today. There is some magic around old buildings. Their walls and floors emit the energy of all the times the building has been living in. If you tune in, you can sense old and new times, you can hear steps of those walking those floors decades ago, or you can smell the smells and hear the sounds of the times long gone by. But yesterday, there was more to St. Lawrence Market than just food. In between two meat counters, beside tables where people were eating their take out breakfast/lunch, there was a beautiful scene, almost like from the movie. The bride in old fashioned bridal gown, with tiara, and bouquet of silk large roses, dark pink colour, the groom with the baloon flower in his taxedo, bride's maid in beautiful pink dress (absolutely beautiful pink). And then, the opera singer appear, with knitted red scarf, singing arias from Carmen and other operas... For a moment time stopped and felt as if we all were on the big cloud surrounded with bubbles.

Yes, bride and groom were giving away tiny bottles to blow bubbles. I will call this picture in my mental photo album: Wedding at St. Lawrence Market. Long live bride and groom. They for sure are creative!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Facebook "friend request"

I received recently the "friend request" from someone that I do not know. Curious to find out why this person wants to be my FB friend, I sent the message asking: "Why do you want to be my FB friend?" and the reply was: "Because I love communism... How old are you?". I was puzzled, so I replied: "I do not see what your love for communism have to do with my age?" I think I added: "I am very old:)". I am still waiting for the reply. The individual who sent me FB request has an octopus as his profile picture. I do not know what to think. Maybe it is one of those young adults in search for identity, looking for a sexy communist girlfiend ( which I am certainly not, and I am not even sure how come they did not see my profile picture where I am standing at the entrance of Universal Studios in Florida - with my son). So it makes me rethink joining FB groups - I thought that they unite people around common interests. It never occured to me that it could be place for someone to look for some kind of romance:)

While looking around the Internet, I stumbled upon this link that has nothing to do with my post, but here it is nevertheless:)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Have you filed your taxes?

Here is a bigger picture. If you ever wondered where your tax dollars go, here it is. As you can see more than 25 percent of the income tax revenue goes back to the citizens. It means that the tax dollars are used to fund programs such as Employment Insurance, Children’s Benefits and Seniors Benefits.

Let's look at federal expenses for the fiscal year of 2008-2009.

The Canadian tax system is based on self-assessment. The United States, Australia, and New Zealand also use the self-assessment system. Self-assessment is considered the most economical and efficient way to collect income tax.

Under the self-assessment system, non-residents with Canadian income and Canadian residents are responsible for making sure they have paid their taxes according to the Income Tax Act. Income and deductions are listed on the return so both the taxpayer and the CRA can calculate the taxes the taxpayer has to pay

Below are some of the milestones in Canadian taxation.

Canada first collected personal income tax in 1917.
The organization that evolved into the CRA was founded in 1927.
Starting in 1966, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions were collected from employers and self-employed Canadians.
In 1972, Revenue Canada Taxation began to collect Unemployment Insurance premiums (now called Employment Insurance or EI).
The federal government began to collect the goods and services tax (GST) in 1991.
The Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) program was introduced in 1993.
The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) program was introduced in July 2006.
The Working Income tax Benefit (WITB) program was introduced in 2007.

Even though you may not have to file a tax return, you may want to. By filing a tax return, you could qualify for a tax refund, credit, or benefit. For more information, go to Benefits of filing a tax return.

If you pay more tax than you owe during the year you could qualify for a tax refund. The tax refund cheque is sent out with a Notice of Assessment or deposited into your bank account if you have asked for direct deposit.

Whether you get a refund or not, you may qualify for a tax credit or benefit.

So what are you waiting for:)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

One day in March

Wake up, do exercises, eat breakfast ( blueberries with cereal, coffee, one vitamin C - chewable and cod fish liver oil - Norwegian ), check if there is any windchill, stop to hear the bird chirping ( no it is not spring yet, but imagine...), decide what to wear, apply makeup, walk bravely to the new day, think positive, do not give up whatever you are doing.

A note to myself: in spite of other people's schadenfreude (, be the way you are, continue being happy for other people's successes, as well as your own.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What is your nationality?

I was asked the other day by someone what was my nationality. This is an excerpt from our conversation:

The person: "What is your nationality?"

Me: "Canadian."

The person: "But you have an accent."

Me: "So what?"

The end.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

If you ever get the traffic ticket

And you want to fight it in the court. And when you get the court date, you realize that there is no way Hose that you can attend the trial, and you decide to go to postpone the court date here is what happens, and it is not as easy as it sounds, be prepared to spend few hours working on this one:

1. You go to 137 Edward Street where you wait in line to get the number so that you can file the motion to postpone the trial ( the affidavit that you cannot be present at the trial for whatever your reason is ).

2. You wait for about 1 hour before Customer Service rep calls your number

3. You have a lengthy conversation with the rep, who tells you that you have to be present in court to file your motion to postpone the trial, and you explain to the rep that there is no way Hose that you can be in the court on any given day before some time in May, and the rep goes to his supervisor, and comes back after 15 minutes (you have no idea where he went, while your parking is about to expire). Finally he tells you that it is alright, postpones that date, but you are not finished yet.

4. You have to go to the court where your trial was set, to the prosecutor's office and get it stamped ( it is unclear why because they just stamp the paper that you have to bring back to 137 Edward )

5. After you have your paper stamped you go back to 137 Edward and file your papers ( they call it you "serve" papers )

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I in the mirror

This morning I looked at myself in the mirror. Like I do every morning, I guess. But this morning, I took a closer look, while holding my head with hands, "ironing" some of the deep wrinkles and looking straight in my eyes. Did I see a stranger for a moment? Less than a moment, for a split second. Who is that woman looking at me? What did I discover looking at her? How can I know her better, and accept her for who she is? This was just the beginning, I know now. On the road of letting things go, giving up attempts to control things that cannot be controlled by her ( by me ? ), accepting of reality ( car that is too old - born in 1993, not having enough money to buy two airfares to Europe, at age of 48 not having a stable career, not having any money saved for retirement...and so on - reality is pounding in my head like too loud drum).

Today is sunny day. It is cold, but it is sunny. It is very bright, very revealing. It would be nice day to go to the beach if it was summer. The summer was way too short. I remember the last day of summer, not by calendar, but by me, when I was sunbathing on my very own balcony. It was one day in September. I remember, I was thinking - this must be the last day of summer for me, I was trying to talk to the sun to go down a little bit slower, I was just making myself comfortable, my book was there ( something about Michael Jackson ), I applied sun tanning oil, my hands were oily, I wiped them on the towel, but sun did not listen to me. There is this big tree that was my enemy, because in less than half an hour the sun will reach it's branches. I love that tree for it leaves, but they are in my way now. The sun will soon be behind them leaving me to long for it's heat, it's caress, it's promise of beautiful sounds and smells of the beach ( even on my balcony, weird, isn't it?).

Anyway, worth mentioning is that I typed few times "son" instead "sun". My son gave me an assignment to read about Great Depression in his history book. He says: "You read first, so that you can help me do my assignment." That meant he was good at planning, and delegating work, and understanding the process. I think: he could become a manager right away. I cannot do that, I like to do work myself, I do not like to delegate, and I am not at ease when I give some work to be done for me by other people. I have no confidence that other people will do a good job, and that is not the trait of a leader. I am no leader, but my son is. He is not aware of that though, he just wants to make his life easier. Me to, that's why I do everything by myself. I cannot stand other people doing things that I can do: driving me, cooking for me, doing my hair, my nails, I do not know - I must be weird. However, I do not mind if my, I will call him husband, washes dishes. I love that. He is so detail oriented, the dishes sparkle after he washes them, and the sink is like new. I do not know how he does that. But, he is really good at that. Also he is good at folding laundry. He is actually an expert on that.

So, this is a little bit about me. I am a little bit disappointed that I discovered that some people I respect very much do not have the same set of values as I. But, hey, who says that my values are the best, except me of course. About my values, some other time, maybe. Maybe not?