These past few months have been beyond crazy. I didn't write much these months because I was running around half the globe, dealing with a VERY sick puppy, and trying to move... I've pulled the following together as best I can:
I would prefer never to have to plan any trip in advance. I would so prefer to say, "hey, this weekend, let's go to Prague, or something. But, unfortunately, due to my job and the way all life seems to work now, I have to plan things months advance. And the biggest problem with that is that, once that trip rolls around and all tickets and reservations are non-refundable and non-transferable, life may have changed dramatically, and the timing of the trip that looked so good months ago is now awful.
We planned our trip to Norway for July, after we had already booked our trip to California for September. But as those trips approached, I realized I needed to go to a conference in Barcelona in August. I really, REALLY do not like traveling this much back-to-back. I loathe leaving the dogs so often, in such a short amount of time. They loathe it too. They become nervous and anxious and more prone to illness. I also like having several weeks to process a previous trip, to think about all that I saw and experienced.
And on top of ALL of this craziness, I am studying another Master's Degree course, AND, we have been looking for an apartment. ARGH!!!
I need downtime. I'm not young anymore. I can't keep going at this pace, people.
So, that's the explanation for still not having the travelogues for these trips done at the time that I'm publishing this blog update.
On a weekend when we actually were HERE, we went to see Fahrenheit 911 in Köln -- the only place it played in the area entirely in English (it played several places, but with Moore's dialogue dubbed). We were so impressed with ourselves to negotiate the train and underground and get there in time. Usually we're late whenever we try that.
The film is something every American should see, definitely. However, it's not nearly as good as Bowling for Columbine . I knew most of what was noted in the film, as did Stefan, because I bitch about it constantly, but there were still jaw dropping revelations. We were the only people in the theater who laughed over the little clip from the song "Cocaine." The three most chilling scenes for me:
It's infuriating that people have to go to the movies to find out what should be on the national news regularly . WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE AMERICAN PRESS?! They are such lackies for the Shrub. Liberal press, my ass.
As most of you know already, while I was in Norway, Buster developed a life-threatening infection in his throat. A few days before I left, Buster wasn't finishing his breakfast entirely, but I would simply leave it in the bedroom with him, and when I got back from work, it would be gone. I thought his tummy was a bit upset, that's all. What I didn't realize is that Buster must have had a small sore or something in his throat. While I was gone, he slowly but surely stopped eating, and then became seriously, dangerously ill. Mario, my dog sitter, took him to the vet and was given a complicated combination of medicine that Buster had to be given throughout the day, and he took off work for two days and stayed here with the dogs in order to administer them. But he often threw them up, and he continued to not eat. He was not going to make it. Barb, my neighbor, left an urgent message on Stefan's cell phone for us on the Saturday before we got home, describing the situation in full -- I got the message in Sweden that evening, and there was no way to get home sooner than two days. I was devastated, and terrified that I would lose Buster before I even got home.
I did finally get home around 3:30 in the afternoon two days later, and when I opened the door and saw Buster, I burst into tears. He looked like he was dieing. He was dieing. By then, he hadn't eaten in days. And in addition to being so dangerously thin, he was shaking all over from the pain. He never even tried to bark -- something he always did before when I came home. There was a note from Mario, saying Buster was much better, and all I could think was, Jesus, if this is better, what the hell did he look like yesterday?
I took him to the vet the next day, to get more medication and advice, and Dr. Hermann said to keep trying to get him to eat. He also gave him another antibiotic shot. Now, picture this: here was Buster, who looks like death warmed over, and he was as happy as could be going to the vet. There he was, skin and bones, practically galloping the whole way down the street. He loves the vet. He thinks of it as Club Med. I think he was also just really happy that I was home. Albi charmed everyone at the vet's office as usual, and while Dr. Hermann was treating Buster, she was getting petted by all the staff and told how beautiful she is. She didn't want to leave.
There was one thing that Mario hadn't tried with Buster -- human food. So I went to the grocery and got cooked chicken, canned chicken, canned turkey, canned tuna and hard cheese -- all the things I forbid him to eat, but I know Mamaw gives it to him when we've been in Spottsville (which she admitted later on the phone). It worked. Buster, at last, ate. I gave him just a little at a time, every hour or so, for a few days. Then I gave him nothing but canned food. I also figured out that one of three medications was making him puke, so I quit giving it to him -- I figured what was most important was him getting food down, and him keeping the other medications down.
It took more than two weeks, and giving Buster canned food instead of dry food, but he fully recovered, knock wood. Buster HATED the medication. I would have to surprise him, stick the syringe into his mouth (sans needle, ofcourse) squirt it as quickly as possible, and then hold his mouth closed. I was afraid he'd hate me after a while, but I think he was so happy that I was home that he didn't care within seconds of when I was done each time administering the meds. Plus, he was loving the food. After a full week, I started giving him a bit of dried food mixed with the canned, and have been changing the ratio a little very week since.
It took days for him to start to bark again -- and two weeks to bark as much as usual (when it's time to eat or walk). He started wanting to go outside again to lay in the back yard. I cannot tell you just how wonderful it was to sit in the back yard with my dogs at long last, Buster asleep in the grass, and Albi defending the back yard against evil intruders passing by (good thing she's on the leash).
Now that this health crisis is over, I can see another problem that Buster has -- his back left leg. It's soooooo weak. He stumbles quite a lot. When did Buster get old?
But, otherwise, he really is fine.
Abli is laying underneath my desk, as I write this particular part, and she is in this perfect position to stare right up at me, right at my face. Her face is framed by my arms as I type. And I keep laughing, because I will glance down, and there she is, looking up earnestly at me, like the cat in Shrek 2. It's so funny. And Buster keeps rushing up out of no where to lick her frantically. And when she growls too much and I pull her away, he licks me frantically. Then he walks away and lays down.
Albi the Princess has not liked me going out of town so much AT ALL, and I think a bit neglected in all this Buster illness, and now feels the need to sit at me feet most anywhere I sit in my apartment. She's in a mommy phase, which will no doubt change when we move to Sinzig in October, when she gets so much more time with Stefan, who she worships.
Oh, by the way -- my friend Anne in South Africa (who is an amazing photographer), has a photo of What Buster and Wiley used to look like, in their younger days. I burst into tears when I found this online recently. They are so beautiful.
We did finally find an apartment, in July, in Sinzig, but we won't move in until October. It's gorgeous , but is going to be a big change and big challenge. We will be on the bottom floor of a house on a big hill overlooking a vast part of the Ahr River valley. Two walls of our living room are made up entirely of windows with this lovely vast Ahr River valley view. One wall of our bedroom is made up entirely of windows, with the same view. There's a small second bedroom through the kitchen that will be Stefan's office and our guest bedroom. We have a nice-sized bathroom. We also have a tiny storage area. When I first saw the drive way, that is so steep I'm scared to walk down it, and the 85 steps that go up along side it to the house, I said, "No way." I didn't see any reason to even look at the place. But once we got inside, I really liked it. There was something about it that felt really right. And that view -- zowie.
We will have a big terrace, but no yard. Well, not to speak up. The yard is a scary-steep, plant-covered slanting drop from the end of the terrace to the driveway below. Every time Albi follows Busty into the bushes on the hill my heart stops, because I'm so afraid she'll just tumble over. Buster definitely would. Not sure why they didn't choose to terrace the land all the way down, and create a criss-crossing walk way somewhere in it -- would have made the climb longer, but not so steep.
The landlord is an architect, who designed the entire house -- he and his wife live on the top floor and on half the bottom floor, though most of the bottom floor that he occupies seems to be his office. He also has a dog -- Busty -- who is a big, black German shepard mix. Busty looks totally scary and barks alot, but is, it seems to me, a sweetie. We'll get our dogs together the weekend before we move in together, on the walk along the Ahr, and then all walk back together, so that Busty understands that Albi and Buster are part of the pack now. I hope they all like each other...
Our driveway is so steep that I doubt Stefan will ever be able to get his car up it. You have to have a four-wheeled drive vehicle to get up it -- I'm not kidding. Buster cannot get up and down the driveway nor the steps. So, I'll be getting a bike wagen (Germans drive around with their kids in them behind their bicycles), and twice every day -- yes, twice every day -- Buster will get a ride up and down this hill, and then we will walk to the tiny park nearby, and maybe even all the way to the river.
The upside of the steep hill? Hopefully, I will be forced to lose weight -- I'll be on the forced excercise program that I was on at WKU, basically. I'll also have a 10 minute bike ride to the train station, 15-20 minute ride to work on the train (including the wait for the train), and a 15 minute bike ride to the office. I currently get up around 7 now, but I dawdle for two hours and don't rush at all to get to work at, say, 9:30. Once we move, I'll get up with Stefan, much earlier, and there will be no dawdling.
I've had a complete turnaround with my OU studies, because my current course, D830 Ecology, Justice and Citizenship. It has made me even more energized about environmental issues -- something I didn't know was possible -- and it's helped me see how environmental issues are a part of almost every social issue and social problem of our lives. I want to work in an organization concerned with environmental issues!!
Both because I have a good tutor (so, that's two bad ones and two good ones so far), and because I have finally figured out my own formula for putting together my assignments, my grades have been terrific this time around. I'm so less stressed this time around, and everyone has commented on it.
This course ends in October and I will then have my postgraduate degree in Development Management! Just two courses to go for the Master's. My next course is going to be KILLER in terms of difficulty and amount of work. Argh. But I don't want to think about that right now...
I'm cutting way, way back on posting photos to my web site -- the ones I have are already eating up too much space, no matter how much I cut back. So, as of our trip to Norway, you have to subscribe to a special Yahoo group I've created specifically for the posting of photos, if you want to see new travel pictures. First, create a Yahoo ID, if you don't have one already. to get one, go to www.yahoo.com and get one! You won't get "spammed" because you have a Yahoo ID. Then, contact me and let me know, and I'll give you details on how to join.
No one wants to drink with me anymore, because after one beer, I start going off about the end of civilization, which is upon us, per two films: Alien vs. Predator and Jason vs. Freddie. It's insulting. It's beyond insulting. What the hell is next? Jar Jar vs. Dobby ? How about the ghosts from Poltergeist against the ghosts from Amityville Horror ? What makes me mad is that people will actually go see these stupid things! ARGH!
Dan Savage is a guy who writes a very funny column dispensing sex and romance advice. Sometimes I think he's mean when he should be helpful... but most times, he makes me laugh outloud. As part of a recent column dispensing advice to someone, he wrote this:
"...check out the local goth scene in your area, as some of those girls might not be too spooked by your fantasy. But there's always a catch: I've never actually seen an extremely beautiful goth girl myself-most of them seem to have weight problems, which has always struck me as strangely contradictory. From the neck up, the look cultivated by goth girls seems to say, "O, we despair of this world and long for the sweet embrace of death!" From the neck down, their look seems to say, "I'll take the bacon cheeseburger, two orders of fries, and a Diet Coke, please."
Don't forget! Stefan is planning for his motorbike trip in the USA for May 2005 and he is still in need of some key information! Please read about the info he is looking for, and any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
What's Been Interesting to Me Lately
When the apocalypse comes, can I have your car?
Have you seen this George Bush ad?. So funny, it hurts.
I know everyone and their brother has seen the This Land is Your Land parody, but just in case you have somehow missed it.
What political leanings define you REALLY? Take this quiz and find out. I'm a Left-Liberal (oh, aren't we all surprised...)
Very helpful database of Wireless Network Hotspots around the world.
The Modern Language Association's Language Map (USA) displays the locations and approximate numbers of speakers of the 30 languages most commonly spoken in the United States of America. Any search you perform will include a list of all languages spoken in the state, ranked by number of speakers using 2000 Census data. For example, more than 19 million people in California speak English; nearly 12.5 million speak languages other than English. Spanish speakers (more than 8 million) lead the list and Navajo speakers round out the list with about 1800 speakers across the state.
Hope you will consider becoming an online volunteer and providing your time and expertise to help organizations working in and for the developing world. This terrific free service is brought to you and the world by the United Nations, about which I have many feelings.
If you have read this blog, PLEASE let me know. Comments are welcomed, and motivate me to keep writing.
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