Ves najboljoš

I’m afraid this post will be rather untranslatable, but I’ll do my best.

First Pooh:

This is a page from the original copy of Winnie-the-Pooh as “improved” by me as a child before I convinced myself that I sucked artistically (here you can find another example of my Pooh art). The language is Slovenian since I tend to swing that way. For everybody else here is a part of it in English:

 So Owl wrote…and this is what he wrote:


Pooh looked on admiringly.

“I’m just saying ‘A Happy Birthday’,” said Owl carelessly.

“It’s a nice long one,” said Pooh, very much impressed by it.

I was very impressed too when two days ago on my bthuthdy (when I gave myself gelato) special presents came rolling in. Well, the messenger brought them, but they got opened live via Skype.

The messenger’s present were the original Pooh copy and a brand new one, and browsing through the old one I remembered EXACTLY how it felt to hold the book so many years ago and colour it in. Rather impatiently, I recall.

Here is a collection of other gifts, so dear to my heart.

Sister found an online offer of a book necklace with a key. The books are real!

This bag was amore’s gift, not bestia’s, but the feeling is mutual. (The other side of the bag in the featured photo above.)

Father’s own handiwork, a (n)jam made of home-grown žižole (Ziziphus jujuba, commonly called jujube, red date, Chinese date, Korean date, or Indian date).

The envelope bearing this photo of me on my 5th birthday (if not mistaken), together with both my grandmothers and my beautiful and VERY young mother (taken by father)…

…contained this poem written by mom. Even though the last line says: “Manči, translate!” I shall not do it, only reveal that it mentions Thursday Doors, and includes Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain in the same line, hilariously written in the Serbian write-as-you-speak style as “Prl Đem” and “Krt Kbejn”.

Thank you all for all the lovely things, memories and wishes, and for bringing us together even when we are apart. ❤

Photo: a © signature mmm production

Year 3 Anno Domini

Three years ago today my prince in a dark Ford snatched me away from everything I’d known, together with most of my belongings, and delivered me from Slovenia to the south of Tuscany where I’ve stayed till this day. You who were willing to bet that I’d return quickly, I wonder how many cases of whiskey this makes by now.

We kept cramming the car. So many boxes and bags. Slowly packing and waiting for amore I was sure that I had too much stuff to fit in the car. Therefore I packed winter stuff separately. After all, I was southbound. And it’s true – from April to November there is no need for socks, let alone anything else.

Highway stop near Trieste showing the first stage of our travel and the directions of winds. We are headed to where libeccio blows.

When amore told me via skype to measure my round table that I kept on my porch, which I’d already called “Tuscany table” much earlier than any talk of Tuscany was born, I didn’t have any measuring tape at hand so I took an A4 paper sheet and measured it with that. After that I had to google the measurements of an A4 sheet. I forwarded the results to amore and he proclaimed that the table is too broad to fit in the car by the palm of his hand (10 cm).

When he arrived and saw the situation with his own eyes, he immediately knew that the table would easily fit. It turned out that I’d been wrong in my calculation for exactly 10 cm. But by then I’d already said goodbye to the table in my mind. It is poor form to take the Tuscany table all the way to Tuscany.

As we were cramming the car, with back seats folded, I could not help but admire how much space there was. Everything fit: all my boxes and bags, even the winter stuff. We put my orchid in as well. Must be a potted plant when moving, I saw it in American films.

Orchid at the end of the road after much dust had been raised.

And in the end, since the car still seemed half full, I pushed my office chair in as well. (The orchid died a while ago, whereas in the chair I’m sitting right now.)

And off we went. Actually, it was me behind the wheel so we can’t call it whisking away. And I drove all the way to Florence, about 480 km, where he took over for the remaining two hours and a half.

Finally in new home: our volcano (nah) and the ford which could do it all.

And now? In a sense, it is still exactly like it was three years ago: I’m happy, not too homesick (especially since I visit about three times a year and I’ve got visitors even more often), exploring my surroundings, taking it easy. And yet it is completely different too: a few months after my arrival we got bestia, which changes everything and now I can’t even imagine not having him.

The first things I have unpacked in my new home. The framed photo is of one of the three dogs that our family brought up by the bottle. The story of how we found them is touching and you can find it in my blog if you are lucky (hint: it was posted in March last year).

Okay, I know a bit more Italian now (here I’ve written about my early language learning). Enough to explain to the vet any trouble, and defend myself when people think I don’t understand them. I find it typical that the words I use most often are allora, va bene, eccolo, and my favourite, tutto a posto.

So here I am, 260 photo folders later (not to count the photos but there are a LOT), with two years of blogging behind me (and one year on FB!), with red painted nails, on my hands too (!), with an e-reader (and I was SO against them!) but also with many new books, and with newly acquired taste for melanzane, zucchini and this fruit:

I took this photo on the day of my arrival, thinking – how cute, tomatoes are indeed considered fruit here: they put them in the fruit bowl! Then I saw the skull and bones, chuckled at the thought of my theory that natives let the settlers have all the plants from the nightshade family forgetting to inform them they were poisonous, and ran to take the photo.

Little did I know that in no time at all I’d learn to enjoy the best ragu, melanzane parmigiana (which is a COMPLETELY RED DISH, something I used to run away from) and pasta with tuna in tomato sauce. The only thing I (still) don’t eat are raw tomatos in salad. And cetrioli. Too much chlorophyll. 😀

In short, it’s been good for me here, and I’ve been good for it (that is to say he and him, well, bestia is alright too). There is no reason why it shouldn’t continue to be just so. Grazie per tutto!

First photo shoot on the roof in 2013.

(And you who had to say in the typically Slovenian malevolent, down-putting, jinxing, jealous manner how you were willing to bet that this wouldn’t last and that I’d return in no time – beware that I don’t return for real if only to collect those cases of whiskey you owe me by now.)

As the poet Rade Šerbedžija says (I’ve translated the entire poem here):

we are still here
we have yet to be scattered by beasts

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

You and me – best of all worlds. 🙂

Photo: a © signature mmm production

The only thing that makes life worth living is the possibility of experiencing now and then a perfect moment. And perhaps even more than that, it’s having the ability to recall such moments in their totality, to contemplate them like jewels.
—John Bowles

Six friends doing their own perfect take on Village People for sister’s 30. Photo: MM

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Dance

States of mind and trust

That state of mind and trust when you realise:

that you are in Prague, it’s 40 degrees C before the rain, and you will hear Pearl Jam in a few hours

that zen is real and it is breathing down your neck (Lake Bolsena)

that you might win this game (I came second, Lake Zbilje, Slovenia)

that mom is scared and wishes to go but nothing bad will happen, again (in Vulci)

that you are about to leave Piran and Slovenia and sleep in another country tonight and every other night (taken almost three years ago on the day of the move)

that you are in the land of carciofi and Settimana enigmistica now (the scene I witnessed upon entering my new home)

that Pearl Jam were on to something with Yield (just around the corner)

that a house has indeed grown where there was none, as has the first dog, and sister (in Piran)

THAT WE HAVE JUST GOT A BESTIA! (Taken his first moment in our garden.)

that father WILL impersonate ancient architecture (in Pitigliano)

that the coming year will hopefully be just as sunny and chatty (taken on the last day of last year in Lucija).

Photo: a © signature mmm production (except cards by a kind donator)

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: State of Mind

Darling Nicky, cin cin!

Today celebrates my oldest (that is, earliest) friend.

First her father and my father met in their Maribor, went to school and played basketball together for team Branik. Below is a photo from 1963. (I’ll let you guess who the fathers are. :D) (ADD-IT: I removed the fresh re-enactment of this photo because it will be published in a book soon.)


Then they married (one woman each) and moved to Ljubljana. First her father, then mine. Then we were born in the same year, first her, then me. Then came the year when she got a brother, and me a sister. Then they got a dog.

Thank you for hosting us at your beautiful summer camp on the island of Krk last summer (more photos from there here). Who would say that you’d find a place that can rival Duba.

I hope we can one day have some fun together over here – possibly with the third gracia – and talk about the times when we were crazy and young. Welcome! (Captions available by clicking on each photo)

Photo: MM & MC (Oldest friends) & MB (Three gracias) & archive MB (basketball team)

Tanti auguuuuuuuuuuuri per te
tanti auguuuuuri per te
tanti auguri, cara Nika
tanti auguri per te!

Three tails of Ljubljana dragon

Today is the Slovenian Cultural Holiday, and conveniently, and surprisingly for me (even though apparently since 1991), it’s a day off work. (Another case of “If you live long enough.”) So I bring you three Slovenian tails, or better tales, or better raps, since in Slovenian “rep” = a tail.

The first two have stuck in my memory after hearing them for the first time on the radio when I was last in Slovenia, whereas the last one is an old favourite. Love me some rap/hiphop.

First, a story about an actual elderly woman (in the video portrayed by a well-known actress) who lives in the same building as the rapper Rok Trkaj and who must walk the stairs without the elevator despite her osteoporosis, so he often carries her bags for her and he’d promised her to write a rap about old people for a change. And he did.

I’ll always remember him because he walked over half of Slovenia or more to promote one of his records, and by the line from an epic hip hop battle: “Ti si morski sadež in tole tlele je bla rižota.” (“You are a frutta di mare and this right now was a risotto.”) Can’t beat my feeding preferences. (Even though in this battle, and in many more, he was beaten by the king of Slovenian hiphop, N’toko. I’ve translated his song “I’m a Slovenian” here.)

The second song is calling young people to

“…go out, even if it rains.
Go out, even if it snows.
I’d like to return to those times
when time was running more slowly
when in rough times nobody was reaching for their phones
because we didn’t have any
and yet we still connected
we shared good memories by talking to each other
sunny days we spent in the street, on the bike
images remained in our minds without a single like.
Technology has brought us together
but also set us apart
showing it all, concealing the soul
rules have changed
we make friends with a click
no need to say a word.
Look up, look me in the eye
shake my hand, have a beer with me
I’m here before you in flesh and blood.
Go out, that’s where life truly happens.”
(translated on the spot by Manja Maksimovič)

Trubarjeva, Ljubljana

And Murat knows what he is saying because a while ago he and Jose did the song Nazaj (“Back”) with a similar sentiment, in which Slovenian legend Benč repeats the words from his old song about how he wishes to return in time but knows it is not to be. And then Murat & Jose add:

So quickly that we can’t even see
in such a noise that we can’t hear a thing
on and on, as fast as we can
hey folks, by the way, do we even know where we go?

There is no doubt about the difference in quality of life back then and now. Never mind the holiday where there was none.

Photo: MM

Featured photo: Statue of greatest Slovenian poet France Prešeren, whose death was turned into the national cultural holiday. All the photos taken in Ljubljana this summer.

Happy birthday, stric Matic!

Today celebrates my fun-loving uncle.

Once upon a time my uncle heard the Bosnian band Zabranjeno pušenje and was so pleased with its sarcasm and especially “Zenica blues” that it is now included in his standard repertoire.

I made him two tapes with their music. We went to hear them in concert in Tivoli hall in Ljubljana and there he was approached by a security man and asked to put out his cigarette, even though this was years before the restriction law. Funny that, considering that Zabranjeno pušenje means No smoking. When many years later uncle sold me his belladonna ford, the tapes were still in it.

The album of the band that includes “Zenica blues” is called Das ist Walter. The intro is taken from the partisan film “Walter Defends Sarajevo”. It’s a dialogue between two Germans overlooking the city.

Merkwürdig! Seit ich in Sarajevo bin, suche ich Walter und finde ihn nicht. Und jetzt, wo ich gehen muss, weiss ich wer er ist.

– Sie wissen wer Walter ist?! Sagen Sie mir sofort seinen Namen!

– Ich werde ihn Ihnen zeigen… Sehen Sie diese Stadt? Das ist Walter!

In short, the hero Walter, who the Germans are desperately trying to get hold of, is the entire city of Sarajevo.

For some years now, “Das ist Walter” is also a restaurant in Ljubljana (with branches in some other cities) serving Bosnian meat delicacies such as ćevapčići. Even though we had mighty fun the last time we were there with their Italian menu (“prava bosanska čorba”, real Bosnian stew, became “lawyer’s stew”, because “pravo” also means “law” and google translate was at work), but that’s all good because not only čevapčiči are great but also uncle is in love with their beer. And for an expert like him that says a lot.

And here is another Bosnian band, Dubioza kolektiv, that probably he doesn’t know yet. They say that Walter will be back. And when he comes, he’ll be pissed off. No matter how he might look. 😀

Ovaj grad, ova zemlja = This town, this country
ima zajeban karakter = has a messed up character
najviše kad treba = when we need him most
vratiće se Walter = Walter will return

Happy birthday, Matic, and I wish you many more Walters just when you need them!

Photo: MM

Her generation

She would be ninety today. My grandmother, the mother of my father.

The cat is green. The granddaughter is the first child far and wide. Photo: BM

The man next to her – her husband and my grandfather – died today too, on her birthday, which is why after that she never celebrated it. She celebrated daily though, life, love, little things, tender mercies. This one is for her generation. It will never return, yet it will never grow old either.

And this is me channelling her with the view of her bridge over the Drava river in Maribor from her window.

Cin cin, baca Zana!

Photo: MM

SL-WEEK 23: Narrowmost

It has been known for some time that today is the day ISIS had chosen to attack Roma. For today the Jubilee Year was launched in Vatican.

No no, can’t be today, I thought. Today, as every year, is special for three other things.

This is when I jump on Sylvain’s narrow challenge. Watch me.

First, the last time I saw my friend who celebrates today, it was a narrow escape. Our bestia loves her like I do, just a little too much. 😀 Hey, Darja, happy birthday and looking forward to pouncing on you again!


Second is a bit related considering how much she had to listen to the Doors in her car on our way to Paris (and to me singing every note along every instrument). AND she went to see the Oliver Stone movie with me, in Paris. AND to the grave. So nice of her.

Jim Morrison was born on this day back in 1943. I chose this song because it is

cool and slow with plenty of precision
with a back beat narrow and hard to master.

Additionally, it includes one of my favourite lyrics in the world that also applies to my blogger friends. Hey, Jim.

I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft

And the third, sad event: today John Lennon was shot in New York 35 years ago. I was ten. This was the first time that I realised that the world WILL kill some people off. And not even burp.

This song begins:

I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

And we will never know just how much truth is out there to give, and take. Hey, John. Long live truth-seekers.

Since amore works in Roma, I was a bit uneasy as today approached. And then yesterday he informed me that today is holiday in Italy! So we had a wonderful, peaceful, unexpected day off. Hail Mary and your immaculate conception. (And all calm in Roma too.)

And to bring the word narrow to its narrowest meaning, this is a photo challenge after all, here is Piran, Slovenia, and its narrowness.

Photo: MM

For Sylvain Landry’s SL-WEEK 23: Narrow

SL-WEEK 22: Transparency + transparency

First, the regular transparency of a shop-window. You can also observe the evolution from my first digital camera to the second. Yes, I’ve only had two.

And then the one I wish it was predominant. The transparency of institutions. These three buildings form three sides of the same square in my birthtown, Ljubljana. This square has seen plenty of action. In snow, in heat. Talk of dreams and new days and sandwiches, bizarre celebrations, fierce demonstrations.

One is my mom’s former workplace, right up there on the 12th floor. She worked in PR and was a bright example of her branch.

Next is one of the first supermarkets in the city. Almost Mexi.

And the last one is the Parliament.

Photo: MM

For Sylvain Landry’s SL-WEEK 22: Transparency