Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Sound of Zadar

Remember the Sound of Music? know, the movie with Julie Andrews as the nanny of all those little von Trapp kids that went around singing...?

Papa von Trapp is from Zadar!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What the Heck is THAT!?!?

Sestra Lucija

We had a visitor last night...Sestra Lucija, parish nun...and sometimes parish mule (...but for the good). I've seen her bring teenage boys, resting with tranquillity alight their butts when they should have been kneeling, to their knees, during church. She clucks her tongue at ornary members of the church choir. When a man, clearly mentally-ill, tried to abscond with a consecrated host, she almost tackled him. She can't sing a note to save her life but God loves her. a country where priests are demi-Gods, we thought it would be nice to call Sestra Lucija, for a social visit.

We asked her about her calling.

Lucija (nee Anica) was the youngest of five children. Her aunt, a nun, came for a visit and took young Lucija's arm and said, simply, "she's coming back to the convent with me."

"Ok." said young Lucija (age 15).

...and that's the end of the story...

We were completely charmed.

If given the opportunity to live a 100 lives, she told us later, she would choose this path all over again. This all sort of exposes the modern idea of vocational discernment, which is the cold examination of preferences and rewards, for what it is...spiritual narcissism. Don't you think that God, who is infinitely intelligent, knows all that we are capable of percieving and will communicate with us using those means? Sometimes there are no extraordinary signs...laser beams and light shows...sometimes the signs are as ordinary as "she's coming back to the convent with me."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Croatian as a Second Language

Professor Marko Longin once said that the richness of a language can measured by the breadth of its curse words. Croatian has a veritable tome of curses...none of which I will canvas here....but I'll say that they can be quite colorful. Nevertheless, I can attest to the fact that the Croatian language is deep. Very deep. For example, Croatians don't simply cut something, if they're cutting something like a tree, the verb, sjeći, is best...if they're talking about hair, then it's šišati...but wait!....perhaps it's a length of cloth that they're cutting, then rezati is most appropriate. Cut, cut, and cut. You can imagine the difficulty for foreigners.

There are problems with pronunciation. Lj, for example. Two distinct letters in English, one in Croatian. To blunder the pronunciation of this letter means that instead of people (ljudi), you end up demented (ludi). However, far and away, the biggest hurdle is the endings, in particular. English has none, Croatian has seven. All of them completely logical to the native speaker and completely lud to everyone else. And as it is still relatively rare for someone outside the bloodline to learn Croatian, the average Croatian ear is not attuned to extrapolate what someone like me is probably saying, particularly here in Dalmatia. Thus, I have been on the business-end of a great many blank stares after performing, what seemed to me to be, oratory fireworks. Fortunately, I get fewer and fewer blank stares; more and more looks of shock and if the family dog suddenly stood up and recited The Raven. Frankly, I prefer that but look forward to just conversing like an average person.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Outstanding show. I'll note that we were also entirely encouraged by the fact that the venue was P-A-C...PACKED! Standing room only. Besides friends...I actually saw someone from the church choir, thank you very much...oh, and an arch-enemy or two (but we took it in stride...let's avoid messiness).

And afterwards, amidst the gaping maw of one burst-into-flames Novi Radio reporter, WE - who are entirely too boring - walked away with the knock back some cocoas, of course.

What a beautiful thing to give someone....the knowledge that there isn't something wrong with them.