Sunday, October 31, 2010

meet the family



slovenia has to be one of the most beautiful places hardly anyone ever visits. 


and it happens to be the land of my ancestors.........
........in fact, this very spot~


my mother's family came from this southern region called bela krajina, known for its grape growing climate. thanks to my mother's brother, who tracked down our long lost relatives some 23 years ago, we now know the exact town where we came from. only a handful of us have visited since then, and it was amazing for the first time to look into the eyes of long-lost blood relatives.

my mother's grandfather and his brothers all emigrated to america in the late 19th/early 20th century, but the oldest ultimately returned to take over the family farm. the next eldest - my mother's grandfather - never did return to the old country, but never wanted to give up his land. in the end, his children (my grandfather and his siblings) sold the land to their uncle and gave up their birthright. 

my cousins anton and maja helped me trace our family trees - we ended up filling in each other's blanks

anton showed me his great-grandfather's record book of all accounts from my great-grandfather's land - my great-grandfather paid his brother a certain amount each year to maintain the land, and this ledger kept all the accounts straight.

don't you just love the perfect, old-fashioned script?

grandfather joze took me to see where he was born. this monument is dedicated to all the villagers who died when grabovec was bombed in WWII.

one of the bombs killed his little sister, who was playing in a nearby well

in metlika are three churches, side by side, which have templar roots - this is where our ancestors are buried. it was a few days before all soul's day, and slovenians take great care to decorate the graves with flowers and keep candles burning all night....

once we got back to the farm, anton, tanja and their daughters gave us a tour of the vineyard and wine cellar - anja the eldest daughter beckoning us on

anton tapping the vat in his wine cellar

being october the harvest is finished and now the process of winemaking begins --

lucky us got to share in the latest vintage!

daughter katya is an accomplished harmonica player (what we call the accordion - a treasured slovenian instrument) and she treated us to an impromptu concert, filling the house and our hearts with music~

before we left, anton and tanja gave us bottles of their finest wines to take back home with us......a gift from their hearts to ours. 

just seeing my mother's name on the label made me feel so close to her, and understand for the first time what roots really are and how powerful it is to connect with them......

joze, francesca, maja, marija, yuri, urske, katja, anja, tanja and anton, thank you for making us feel at home♡

slovenia is no longer some place on a map that i mix up with slovakia -- no longer a place 'somewhere over there' where people live with whom i have no connection --- no longer a place lost in the mists of my memory. it is real and now it lives in my heart, too.

we are already talking about returning next september - (and hopefully encourage many more of our family to come along) - to help with the harvest: picking grapes during the day, making meals together (if tanja lets us in her kitchen!) and celebrating with the fruit of the vine in evenings...



here's to looking into the eyes of distant relatives and then closing the distance........

xo♡a


29 comments:

  1. How lovely and touching, this re-connection, bringing together people who have blood ties and cultural ties that go back millenia. Is this the first time you visited Slovenia?
    How did you communicate with the relatives?

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  2. just a jump over the pond and a huge leap for family connections. thinking of our deceased on all hallow's eve seeing the grave sites on both continents.

    so the younger brothers were paid for their share - oh well - no old unpaid debts or claims on beautiful slovenia. looking forward to the harvest next sept.

    loved all the photos.

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  3. Panda-just read the Jakljevic post. How wonderful it is to discover this branch of our family. First from our Uncle and Anut and then from Cousin M'Liss and now you. I hope to join a return trip back to the region next fall and experience the hospitality of our Slovenian relatives. Can't wait to hear your stories!
    Love-Famous

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  4. How wonderful to trace back your roots and find another part of your family still living there. Loved that last line Amanda and the old penmanship. They really took a pride with their letters and figures not too long ago didn't they. My dad told me they used to get their knuckles whacked with a stick to keep their fingers flat when writing, he's not far off eighty and has a lovely style but I hate to think how much pain he went through to get it.

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  5. It seems fitting that on my first visit to your beautiful blog, I get to meet your family even as you are discovering and connecting with them. I have heard such wonderful things about Slovenia from other friends as well. Hopefully, I will get there soon. Either way, I will definitely becoming back for further travels with Persephone and you...

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  6. What a wonderful thing to make this kind of familial connection. A joy, indeed!

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  7. Amanda, this post is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. I love that group shot of you all--I can definitely see a family resemblance :-)

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  8. How wonderful to connect with family that lives so far away. There is something about places with our roots that always feels good when we are drawn back. We left our home town that had been my home and my family's home for several generations. Now that we're back, I'm beginning to see the value of deep roots. Thanks for sharing your story. I loved your pictures.

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  9. What a poignant post. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see your relatives for the first time. It is a magical experience.

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  10. This is a wonderful post and I love the love that you found upon your visit with history.

    My family roots on my mothers side begin in northern italy and i am yet to visit.... this is a very encouraging post.

    keep having fun
    x Robyn

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  11. Amanda, what an amazing story! I can only imagine how it felt to turn the pages of the old journal and visit the places that give your family such a rich history. Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos with us.

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  12. Amazing photos and beautiful faces. Great trip and story too! Regards.

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  13. I love this re-connecting! We have experienced it from the other side, with our Argentina cousins. My grandmother`s brother had emigrated to Buenos Aires, and one day I found their address in a drawer and wrote the family, asking, Are you still there? After some odyssee the letter was delivered, and the writing began. Then they came over here and visited the places they had only heard of, and saw their blood-relatives (us) and for the first time knew and "felt" about roots.
    It is so rewarding on both sides!

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  14. What a delightful fun post - I love genealogy and tracking down distant relatives!! and in such a beautiful country. delightful

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  15. Amanda, this is just incredible. I have read this post and looked at the photos three times and left because i didn't have the words to say what i felt.
    And now i still don't. Incredible, brilliant, amazing, moving, and more. I know how much this means to you, i can hear it in your voice and see it in your beautiful face. It would mean the world to me too.
    I've never seen anything like this, i'm still at a loss for words.
    You are so blessed.

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  16. What a beautiful land to call home. I love that first image of you too. I can see some family resemblance in that group shot. I do love the beauty of old penmanship. It looks like a fun reunion.

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  17. Dear Amanda.... now I know why we seemed so connected! Your family from Slovenia, mine from Croatia. (My Mum's Maiden name is Kosanovic!)

    This post brought tears to my eyes because I felt all the emotion you and your family showed....in your eyes, gestures and hearts.

    My Mum was the catalyst who tracked down our relatives many, many years ago.... and I remember the wonderful feeling to connect with long-lost family.

    What a beautiful land! What a wonderful family! I feel that many of your State-side relatives WILL return with you next September!

    A toast to ALL the Jakljevics!

    Love,

    ♥ Robin ♥

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  18. What a thrilling post, Amanda! Genealogy is a subject near and dear to my heart. My husband has traveled through Slovenia on business and said that it is some beautiful country. Thanks for sharing this special experience with us. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  19. CLosing the distance is a wonderful thing to be able to achieve, Amanda. Right now I am in the middle of organising (with two cousins) a family reunion here in Australia for March of 2011. How it goes as well as your reunion with long long relatives went.

    Lovely post. Thank you.

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  20. rosaria - this is my first trip to slovenia --- and we were in contact via email - my relatives run an agritourism farm so they have a website!

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    dd - i feel lucky to be able to have traveled here..

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    deb - we are seriously considering returning for the harvest next september -- wouldn't it be great if more stateside yoks were able to come for a reunion?

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    famous - as i told deb, we are seriously considering another trip -- so please mark your calendar for next september! i thought of you, deb and john the whole time i was there and knew you would all love it... xo

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  21. yoli - thanks for reading my friend..

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    annie - wow - your poor dad -- that's one way to make someone learn to write well!!

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    lorenzo - so nice to meet you and thanks for visiting! i look forward to more visits to the alchemist and his pillow ;-)

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    r-bear - this has indeed been a joy...xx

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  22. japra - that's so nice you see a resemblance! i did too but thought it might be just wishing thinking........;-)

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    nancy - it sounds like you have a story to tell about your connection to your home town -- so glad you have re-found it and all the happiness which that entails~

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    loree - you hit it on the mark -- it has been magical♡

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    robyn - i hope you are able to follow your lineage to northern italy and trace your family - what a beautiful place in which to have roots...xx

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  23. julie - i felt like i was watching history before my eyes with every page of that journal.....

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    phivos - efharisto poli! ;-)

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    geli - what a find for you to come across that address in a desk and then how serendipitous for you that your family was still there! have you been to visit them in argentina?

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    mim - have you had success tracking down your own relatives? some of my family swears by ancestry.com--

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  24. oh lori - you are so sweet!! it is truly a powerful thing to reconnect and even tho i've left slovenia i am still processing the whole thing......will take some time no doubt!!

    sending love and hugs to you dear lori!♡

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    sarah - it's an odd thing to face distant relatives and try to see any family resemblance -- i was hoping there might be -- so glad you think so!

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    robin - well well - will wonders never cease!! how cool we are from a very similar stock of people. we fell in love with croatia and its people as well -- could have traveled in both countries for many more weeks.....toasting you with kruskovac miss kosanovic!! xxx

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    willow - how lucky for your husband to be in a business where he gets to travel to such an exotic place! i think after this experience i might become more involved in geneaology myself ;-)

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    julie - how lovely to have that help in planning -- best of luck for a completely memorable reunion♡

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  25. Another moving and delightful post Amanda, with pictures that do your writing justice too. Only we who live far from our roots can have the pleasure of returning. I do thank you for sharing. Καλα Ταξυδια Αμαντα μου.

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  26. I loved this. I love the photos and the connection felt with your family. Thank you so much for sharing- and most of all-- your family is beautiful.

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  27. The complete story of your family and the reconnection fits in a blog entry. You did it in a very attractive, touchy and sweet way !

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