Sunday, May 21, 2006

Why I'm glad I live in Slovenia: Reason #3595

Because I can enjoy what the country offers without having to pay (at a minimum) $3595 for the privilege. And that's not including airfare, which the tour agency says runs from $1000-1200 round trip. Who the hell can afford this kind of trip? And where is the money going? If my math is correct, that works out to about $300 per night.

Although prices have been going up in recent years, Slovenia is still a relatively inexpensive corner of Europe to travel in. A couple of weeks ago I paid about $25 per person (plus 4 euros for each dog) for a room and half board at a farm tourism place in Selca, near Škofja Loka. At Christmas I really splurged and paid an extravagant $60 per person (plus 10 euros for a dog) per day for half board and a good-sized room with a balcony and view of the sea in a classy hotel in Portorož. The cost included free access to the thermal pool complex and a discounted rate for the 12-room sauna complex.

From where I live, the places mentioned in this itinerary are a few hours and half a tank of gas distant at most. How extraordinarily lucky I am.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Junkie without a drug

There's an agility competition in Slovenska Bistrica today, and I'm not there. A shortage of funds and abundance of work conspired to keep me at home this weekend. And now I'm going through withdrawal. Wasting time moping and longing and craving instead of mowing the lawn, digging up the soil, preparing materials for a seminar, and accomplishing myriad other accumulated tasks.

And text messaging my teammates in Slovenska Bistrica, where the news after the first run is: Primož/Aron and France/Kena disqualified, Nuška/Aika ... in first place! Good luck in the second run!

Update: Nuška and Aika got five faults in the second run and came fourth overall. Or, as Primož put it, "je dosegla nehvaležno 4. mesto." Never mind--fourth place is an impressive achievement, cup or no cup.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

This is a border collie. (And an Australian shepherd.)

Isoglossia has linked to my blog with the phrase "border collie." For the benefit of readers migrating from there to here, I am posting a photo of a border collie. Otherwise they might think a border collie looks like a beanstalk, the subject of my last post.

(The border collie is the one on the left. This picture was taken today, by Lilit, who, unlike me, has a digital camera. One of these days I will join the rest of you in the 21st century.)

Update: Many more photos of frolicking dogs here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

From the "what a wonderful world" department

Or maybe the department of banal, but profound, observations:

I find it truly amazing that I can toss a few seeds into dirt, and have edible plants come up not long after. I planted some green beans about ten days ago. At first I thought some critters had run off with most or all of the seeds, but today there are discernible bean plants in every single spot where I dropped the seeds. I expect to go out there tomorrow and see a beanstalk leading to a castle and a giant in the sky.

Now if only I had a digital camera, I could show you what it looks like. Sort of like this.

From the "what a small world" department

Today I called Telekom Slovenije to let them know that the wires hooking me up to phone (and ADSL internet) service are in imminent danger of being blown down. Some near neighbors of mine recently put a new roof on their house, and in the process inadvertently ripped out the telephone line to mine. A guy from Telekom (same jolly fellow who installed a new phone and ADSL for me a year and a half ago) came out promptly to diagnose and fix the problem when I reported the loss of service last week, but apparently the solution was only temporary, because my near neighbor has been warning me for a couple of days now that the next strong wind will take down the wire.

So this morning I called 116 to report the problem. I was talking on my cell phone outside so I could get the house number (so the repairmen will know where to go) as well as take a closer look at the wire--it is indeed hanging precariously and flapping about. I had both dogs with me: Olivia the beast was leashed, while Lyra the wonder dog was free to roam. However, she roamed into somebody else's garden, and so I called her back (obedient soul that she is, of course she responded immediately. Well, sort of immediately.). Anyway, the woman at the other end of the line heard me talking to Lyra--in English--which led to an explanation/apology on my part that I had dogs with me, which led her to ask "which breed?", which led to a discussion of border collies and agility and her cousin from Občina/Opicina (in Italy just across the border from Slovenia) who has a border collie and competes most weekends in agility. From her description it sounded like the dog was a blue merle. I think I know who she means. I'll ask next time we meet--maybe tomorrow.

I'm something of a recluse by nature, and really cherish my solitude, but even so I like having friendly human social interactions with people who provide the services of modern life that we often take for granted. A few years ago I got the "ABC" thingie for the avtocesta (an electronic device that allows you to sail through toll booths--assuming you have enough credits--instead of paying manually each time you exit the motorway). I almost always get on and off in Senožeče, where one person staffs the booth for both directions (in contrast to the multiple lanes in Sežana). While the ABC lanes are very convenient (especially when you exit in Ljubljana), I found that I missed the contact with the guys who worked in Senožeče. There are probably only three or four who work there, in shifts, and I used to know most of them by sight, since I would make eye contact and exchange greetings with them whenever I passed through, to take my turnpike ticket before getting on, and pay it when I got off. Now I just look at the numbers on an electronic board that tell me how much toll money I have left, and bypass the humans. It feels rude.

But I still make a point of topping up in Senožeče, not Ljubljana.

More cute silly dog photos because I don't have time to write

These are a few months old. Just got them back recently (won't somebody please buy me a nice digital camera?). I keep intending to write up the last two episodes of "Adventures in agility" but the time slips by--and there's already another one coming up tomorrow. In the meantime, my garden is crying out for my attention. Bye.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Note to self:

Do NOT leave toilet paper roll and Olivia unattended in same room.