Then there's the housework stuff. You expect dust bunnies to reproduce, but what are the towels doing in the dirty clothes basket? Do I need to move them into the light, or should I shelter my innocent little socks from towel sex? No, wait, socks don't need to be sheltered. Not only are they asexual, they apparently kill their young. I seldom get back all the socks I put into the load of laundry. And in a variant of the Wash the Car to Make it Rain trick, I have discovered that if you bend over the flower beds and pull weeds until you can barely stand up straight, you have just created an environment for a whole set of new weedsto thrive.
But I did accomplish one rare thing over the weekend: I made my 16 year old grandson, Skater Dude, laugh. The tv was tuned to a drag race, and all you could see in the closeup of the driver was beautiful eyes.
Skater Dude: There's a girl driving --- or is it just a very pretty guy?
Mitey Mite & Dolphin in unison: A guy wearing eye shadow?
Mitey Mite : Well, they DO call it a drag race.
MM: You know, I think English is the only language in which the letter "I" is pronounced "eye".
Prof: How do they pronounce it in other languages?
[Small contemplative silence.]
Prof: Then how do they pronounce "E"?
Prof: So how do they pronounce "A"?
But, of course, there it fell apart, because I can think of no other language in which the letter "A" is pronounced as either "O" or "U", thereby ruining my opportunity to invent a who's- on - first type routine with vowels as the subject. Yes, I was teased, tantalized, and ultimately frustrated.
I have been to some of the world's most beautiful cities -- Paris, Budapest, San Francisco, Salzburg, Venice -- and I have never seen anything to match Dubrovnik. It is breathtaking. You can walk all the way around the old city wall for incredible views, then visit a museum, shop, or have a meal at the waterfront.As you go north from Dubrovnik, you find forests and waterfalls -- lots and lots of waterfalls. We went to two national parks, Krka (pronounced Keerka) and Plitvice (Plit-veet-cee), which each have literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of waterfalls. They have built wooden paths over, under, and around the waterfalls. It is an unbelievable experience to walk through these parks.
Of course, we also saw a lot of this. I took this view from our hotel window, and later asked the girl at the desk what had happened to the church next door. "It was damaged in the fighting." What a shame, I said. "Oh, it's okay. That is the Orthodox church. It's abandoned. Our church is still there." Translation: virtually every town is "pure" now. It may be Roman Catholic, or Greek Orthodox, or Muslim, but they fought really nasty battles to segregate themselves according to religion. You see damaged, burned, and empty houses, but you also see a lot of construction. I suspect that houses are going for back taxes, now that the original owners are either dead or run off to some other place.
We went to Ljublana, Slovenia, for an afternoon
and to Pula, Croatia, where we found this Roman ampitheater, which is in such good shape that they hold concerts in it today.
The most surprising place of all was Bosnia. This bridge is in Mostar, and leads to what is essentially an Arab market. There were fascinating things for sale, but what I liked best were the ball-point pens made from spent bullet casings. It is a step toward the hope that someday all swords will be hammered into plowshares.
It is difficult to imagine the hatred the Balkan people have for one another, because they are so incredibly nice and helpful to strangers. They are also the cleanest people I have ever seen. Someone was always vacuuming the porch, or pulling the dust cover off the air conditioner so they could dust it, or sweeping out the cracks in the street. We were never afraid. Sometimes we would catch a little whiff of the hatred, as in the comments of the hotel clerk, but for the most part they just seem really sick of war, and wanting to build good lives and a strong future.