“KIKO-LILO”

GIGO is an acronym in the computer field that means if you, the operator, puts “bad” or inaccurate data into a computer, the computer will release “bad” or inaccurate data out. GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out; a computer processes what you give it, nothing more.

I think life is like that, too. If we put garbage into our lives or into ourselves, that is what we get back. You see, I believe we can’t receive what we don’t already have or share. Huh? Well, if we lack or do not share kindness, generosity or love, I believe we will find it difficult to receive those gifts or their benefits, and that when they are offered or presented to us, we won’t be able to recognize, accept or experience them.

I find that when I’m feeling misunderstood or I think that others are being unkind, I’m always better off looking inside myself before I respond or criticize. When I take the time to ask myself, if my heart is full or if I’m feeling happy and fulfilled – before questioning or complaining about the actions or motives of others – I end-up feeling better and the situation works out better in the long run. An added bonus is that when I feel better, the world becomes a better place, and I find it easier to create the life I want. 

Taking a few seconds to question my state of mind immediately shifts my perspective and helps me focus my attention where it can do me the most good – on myself and what I can change. 

So, that’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. Nothing too profound or original, but something I try to remember and act on daily. I don’t accomplish my goal as often as I would like, but I’m working on it.

I truly believe GIGO, but prefer to put a positive spin on it: Kindness in, kindness out. Love in, love out. I call it “KIKO-LILO”, which now that I think about it, could be an acronym for happiness. Well, not exactly an acronym, but I think you know what I mean . . .

Have a great weekend.

The ajvar trilogy

 

In Macedonia, making ajvar is not only a tradition, it’s part of the fabric of life. 

Families gather in villages, towns and cities for days of roasting, plunging, peeling, cooking, and stirring deep red peppers to creamy perfection. The aroma of roasting peppers permeates the autumn air. Kilos* of peppers are bought in Macedonian fresh markets, pazzars, for the equivalent of American pennies. 

Fall pazzar favorites

*One kilo equals 2.2+ pounds.

No onions added to ajvar; I just liked the photo!

Their pungent crimson, thick, flesh dominates the cooking scene at this time of year. It seems every family has a special recipe for creating this rich spread, which is scooped into sterilized jars, set on shelves and shared with family and guests throughout the winter.

Peppers in waiting

Fresh peppers are stuffed with cheese or meat and baked to perfection. Peppers of all shapes, colors, and intensity – burn-your-mouth-hot to sweet and mild – are served at almost every meal swimming in oil. The remaining peppers adorn walls and balconies, and are dried so large chunks of their leathery, slightly crisp, dusty-flavored goodness can be added to a delicious array of meats and bean dishes to warm up meals during the colder months. 

This year my American guest, Annie, and I had the honor of being on-hand for part of my friend Dragica’s ajvar-making odyssey. Dragica’s spirit and love of life flavors everything she does, her tasty ajvar being no exception. 

Dragica dancing the day away

We arrived after the ruby red capsicum had been roasted and peeled – a full day’s work.  Our day of ajvar making (watching) began when the wood was burning and the peppers were slid from a huge pail into an even wider-mouth enamel pot for the long and arduous cooking and stirring process. Ajvar is always made outdoors, and city neighbors set-up shop in garages and backyards.

Pails of ground roasted peppers

Ajvar making neighbor Martin

Sweet and fun neighbor, hamming it up for the camera

This year, after enjoying Turkish coffee and rakija in the mid-morning shade and chatting in broken English and Macedonian with her friendly and interesting neighbors, we moved to the steamy garage to talk with Dragica’s husband and college-aged sons, Marjan and Dan, who were home for ajvar making.

The art of stirring

Cooking it down to red-orange richness

Fanning the fire

We decided the process might benefit from some literary inspiration – Dragica loves writing poetry, and within minutes we had created the following masterpieces. (Please remember these words were created with love, just like ajvar, and followed some homemade rakija sipping, which is basically moonshine-light, and is also part of the Macedonia way of life. I must admit not everyone was sipping, but those of us who did felt even warmer and cozier.)

And, now without further ado . . .

 

The Ajvar Trilogy

Created with love and inspired by moments shared by Dragica, Marjan, Dan, Annie and me.

The Flavor of Ajvar

Red as the burning coals
Hot as a chick
Ladle mixing food, family and friends
Circle of life
Tastes so fine, makes me want to drink a bottle of wine.
With bread and cheese, we will eat with ease
Rex sits watching like TV.

 Notes: Rex is their huge German Shepard, who sat  quietly by. Can you guess which lines her sons added?

Lace in the window

Smiling faces looking down
Cooling breeze
Smell of smoke and peppers overtakes the day.
Mother and sons, paddling together.
More oil, much better.

Ajvar Beach

Many friendly people sit on ajvar beach.
Who asks what is that?
Foreign fires burning,
Roasting tradition.
The End
 
Kinda, sort-of . . .
 

Lace in the windows

 

As always, wish you were here . . . comments encouraged; literary critiques, no so much . . . :-)

We ended our ajvar visit by teaching Annie basic oro steps – Macedonia’s traditional and still favorite dance, and she reciprocated by sharing some salsa moves. I love international exchange!

I hope you find a way to enjoy some traditional fall activities over the next few weeks. Sharing time with family and friends as our earthly axis tilts away from the sun, is a wonderful way to warm-up your life.

More moments worth waiting for

A delicate and much more beautiful way of keeping flies outside.

 

Breakfast at Villa Dihovo. Yogurt, no sugar, light and refreshing. Delicious zelnik with  homemade phyllo dough.

 

 

 

 

Drying hot peppers and hazelnuts for the winter. Later, the peppers will be slow cooked to perfection with meats and beans.

 

Wine tasting ahead.

 

Cheese, meats and almonds with wines at Tikves winery in Macedonia.

 

Wishful Thinking Works: Create the life you really want.

Patrice Koerper is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, who served in Macedonia from 2006-2009. She is happy to have traveled back to Macedonia in the fall of 2010 for two months, where she hosted 5 Americans for 3-4 weeks while visiting friends and working on projects. This year, she is thrilled to return to Macedonia, hosting one American, working and playing in a country she loves. Next, she is heading to the Republic of Georgia for a three-month Response Corps assignment with the United States Peace Corps.

Patrice’s main passion and occupation is Wishful Thinking Works life coaching and workshops, which combined with her family and friends, and travels are all part of the life she is really wants. 

 

Waiting and watching

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

G.K. Chesterton via Jason Miko’s web page

My three years in the Peace Corps taught me the value of waiting and watching to see what unfolds. Here’s a few moments that unfolded while having coffee in the market this week.

 

Shoemaker, making things better.

Not so much a throwaway society.

I like the idea of second chances.

 

Wishful Thinking Works: Create the life you really want.

Patrice Koerper is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, who served in Macedonia from 2006-2009. She is happy to have traveled back to Macedonia in the fall of 2010 for two months, where she hosted 5 Americans for 3-4 weeks while visiting friends and working on projects. This year, she is thrilled to return to Macedonia, hosting one American, working and playing in a country she loves. Next, she is heading to the Republic of Georgia for a three month Response Corps assignment with the United States Peace Corps.

Patrice’s main passion and occupation is Wishful Thinking Works life coaching and workshops, which combined with her family and friends, and travels are all part of the life she is really wants. 

 

An inspiring comment . . .

I wanted to share a comment I received from a high school friend whose path has crisscrossed with mine. I truly  believe that inspiration, like happiness, is contagious. You see, I’m constantly catching it from you, my clients, my friends and my family!  I hope today you are inspired by someone or something so you can pass it on.

“So you inspired me to the life I have always wanted.  I realized no one would hand it to me …wishing and dreaming needed to progress to actually doing something about it. 1 month later my house is packed and my husband and I will embark on the next adventure of a lifetime, 9-15-2011 is a big day for us. Will be toasting each other and a toast to you dear friend and mentor. While I am not able to yet go to Macedonia with you and enjoy that red wine..it is on my new list of dreams…Diane Berry Purser”

 Thank you, Diane, and best wishes for your new and exciting adventure!

What’s on your list of dreams? What one thing can you do today to move you closer to your dreams?

My bags are unpacked . . .

 

We are all traveling, just on different paths.                     P. Koerper, 2008

I have settled back into Bitola, Macedonia where I spent three years as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer from 2006-09. This is my second trip back to visit my friends and work on projects in this ever beautiful, ancient country.

Today I head to Greece to meet an American, who will be joining me here for two weeks. She heard me talk at a library in Florida about Macedonia, and decided to join me this year. Her adventure will be magnified as we try to cross the Greek border, which is closed due to strikes. I love that she sees this as all part of the fun. She travels well.

Speaking of adventures, here are a few photos from Bitola. I am having trouble loading photos, many more to follow.   To say I am glad to be back, doesn’t begin to capture the feelings I’m experiencing. There is a sweet sense of self that emerges each time I am here. I love walking foreign streets, and feeling like I am home.

View of Bitola from my friend Evi’s balcony where I am staying.

Bridal bread from a traditional village wedding.

Dancing the oro at traditional village wedding

 

Hope your journey is going well, and your path is bringing you much joy. And, as always, wish you were here.

My bags are packed . . .

Hi,

I head out today for my next adventure. I’m a jumble of mixed feelings, as always, when leaving family and friends behind and exciting new challenges lie ahead. I’ve truly had to put my Courage Diet to use while planning the next five months of my life.

What have you been thinking about doing? What’s been on your mind lately? Is it time to dust off old dreams, design new ones, to follow you heart or your head into a new way of living or maybe just tweak the tried and true ways that have worked for you in the past?

Or, maybe, just maybe, it is time to relax, to plan nothing new, to add little to your plate, to simply soak-up and savor what you already have. To inhale, hold it, and then slowly exhale.

Either way, you have all day to do it. Isn’t that great?

Enjoy! I’ll write soon from Macedonia, land of Alexander the Great, mountain villages, rich red wines, tasty red pepper spread and so many people and places I love.

Until then, check out, Macedonia Loves You. Yup, that’s me and lots of great photos of the first stop of my journey.

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