Gratitudes from abroad


“He stumbled upon the thing he had forgotten he was searching for and in that moment lost not his mind but his heart.”            From Mark Slouka’s collection of short stories, “Lost Lake”

My thoughts when I visit Macedonia. My heart is constantly being refreshed, and expands with each passing moment. The reasons vary minute to minute, scene to scene, encounter to encounter, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Here are a few of my favorite things thus far . . .

Being on hand to share a friend’s wedding; we met on Skype when working on a project after I returned to the States. (Have I mentioned how much I appreciate Skype?) Last fall when I visited, we  had dinner with one of my favorite people in the world, who introduced us. We spent an evening of laughter, grilled meats and salads with a current Peace Corps Volunteer. Time and distance has not affected the friendships. This year the wedding brought us together again for a fantastic evening of music, singing, dancing, and laughing. The evening and their friendships are very special to me.

The Happy Couple borrowed from their FB page!


Spending my days and nights with the dear friends, who have opened their home to me while I am here. We pass the time talking about life, family, work and clothes; eating the delicious foods she prepares between work and play;  and critiquing the movies we watch good and bad, and laughing our way through both.


And, yes, I ate them. They were grilled to perfection, with a side of tiny potato and red onion salad.


Walking here, there and everywhere. Feeling like a kid each time I step out a door and into the sun, not knowing what lies ahead, but knowing my heart will be affected by it all. (Many more photos to share, but here are a few.) 

One of Ohrid's beautiful streets


The view in Stenje, Macedonia, a village on Prepsa Lake, a few kilometers from Albania


Behind the glass at Villa Jovan in Ohrid
The colors and angles never cease to delight me.


Planning road trips with a group of friends; arguing over (discussing) destinations; and yet, knowing wherever we go, we will have fun. And, we do. Last year Struga, Vevchani, Makedonski Brod and beyond. This year, Luktraki and Edessa, Greece. Next time, who knows?



Gyros are pork or chicken, usually served with French fries with options for mustard and/or ketchup! A dab of tzatziki is there for the asking. I hate to admit it, but I prefer American.


The warm mountain waters of Loutraki, Greece our first destination that day


A natural pool at Loutraki, Greece, I call it "Watching the clock in paradise."


Looking down the falls in Edessa, Greece
Now, looking up in Edessa, Greece


Chestnuts, roadside in Greece


Coffee – lots of coffee – with friends at outdoor cafés watching the world go by, and in backyards and balconies enjoying the fresh air and sun. 


Cappuccino, enough said.


Music is everywhere. Concert violins on opening night of a classical music festival; American rock-and-roll blaring from cafés and being sung by a talented bride at her wedding; Pavarotti and Joe Cocker on a road trip; traditional Macedonian in the villages, mountains, cities and towns –  when and wherever Macedonians gather.


Stefan Milenkovich


Music in the mountains from my Peace Corps days.

Food – salty, sweet; mild and hot;  fresh, slow-cooked; tangy, tasty and all of it made with love and attention to presentation. Here are a few of the Fall’s freshest.  


Kiwi, almost ready.


Pomegranates - red, ripe and delicious in just a few weeks


Hope wherever you are, you take a moment to savor what you love and time to explore the rest.  And, to consider the possibility as Mark Slouka notes that:

“living appropriately sometimes requires a drawing back, a slow renunciation of  much that mattered once.”






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