Go Hilltoppers!
March 2008

 
Albi is doing great. If you saw her out walking with me every morning, you might never know she had a major operation in January. If you look for it, you will see her scar and that she's missing several nipples -- but, well, most people don't look. She runs, she jumps, she hunts mice, she plays with other dogs -- but she doesn't play rough anymore, and she will not tolerate a dog pushing against her chest. People who know she had surgery are floored with how fantastic she looks.

Albi's cancer treatments continue. For one month, Stefan has given her a shot every three days, then an additional shot every six days, and I gave her the oral drops medication every evening. Then she's off that for a month, then back on it again for most of April. I can only manage to prepare the medications for Stefan to load the syringe; try as I might, I just can't give the shots myself. And I really want to be able to do that; I think it's an important skill to have. This medicine regime was designed by a company called Heel, and came at the suggestion of our vet. Feel free to write me for more information. I also have Albi on an additional anti-cancer regime, one I found at www.dogcancer.co.uk. I printed out the company's information for vets for Albi's doctor, and she said that she had no problem with me trying it. So, I am. At GREAT expense, thanks to the horrifically weak dollar. All treatments are over at the end of April. And then we hope that Albi's next x-ray (not sure when that will be) will be as clear as her last one. The reality is that we really won't know if she's cancer free until the end of the year.

In retrospect, I see that we're very lucky with Albi, that we have this chance to fight this with her and have such fantastic quality time with her right now, running around the neighborhood as usual and being silly. Because I'm very sad to say that our landlords have not been as lucky: some of you met Busty, our landlords' big black barky dog who loved to look ferocious but really just wanted his back scratched and was deeply afraid of fireworks and vets. He stopped eating for a few days at the start of March, so our landlords took him to the vet. The x-ray came back with blotches all over his internal organs. Surgery was scheduled immediately for that night, but upon opening him up, they found that his internal organs were over-run with cancer, and they put him down right then and there. One morning he was outside barking at me, as usual, and the next morning he was gone. I completely broke down at the news, and cried off and off for the next 24 hours. I miss him very much -- he was part of the experience of living here in Sinzig. He was so kind to Albi and Buster (he was terribly confused by Buster ignoring his ferocious bark and just trotting right up to him).

A few weeks later, I dreamed of Wiley. He was very old, but his eyes were clear, and he was giving me that sweet look of intense loyalty that freaked out a vet in Austin when he saw it once upon a time. Yesterday, I remembered to write about the dream in my journal, and just do a little remembering -- you just never do get over the loss of a dog. And today, as I was walking Albi in the snow, I encountered something for the first time ever in my seven years of Germany: an Australian shepherd. Two, actually. Darker brown that Wiley, but with the same light brown faces. I had a chat with the owner, who rarely meets anyone in Germany who knows what kind of dogs she has. She said that, indeed, she's struggling with some dog aggression issues (that's a trademark of the breed). But her two dogs were happily playing with Albi, frolicking in the snow. They were having a ball. And I heard my own voice in my head say, Oh, look, Albi's finally getting to play with Wiley. And oh how I almost burst into tears right then...

If Buster comes back to me in some form, it will be to demand food.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Glory, glory, hallelujah -- there's an Irish pub in Sinzig! I think it's called the Celtic Pub. Guinness on tap and an owner/bar tender who plays awesome Irish music (both old and new). We visit weekly. It's near the Sinzig train station (but not our flat).

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

CNN International, for reasons I will never know but will always be grateful for, showed almost the entire North Korean concert by the New York Philharmonic instead of World Sport, Larry King, etc. I was in heaven. Especially when they played Gershwin's "An American in Paris." Don't give me that USA-has-no-culture-of-it's-own crap. There is NOTHING like that piece; it's sexy, it's fun, and I want to take my clothes off and dance every time I hear it. Which, ofcourse, would not be a good thing to do at a philharmonic concert, especially one that's trying to establish better relations between two countries. Or, wait, maybe that is JUST what is needed!

What a lovely thing to have witnessed live.

It brought back memories of a cultural exchange with a "hostile" nation that I got to be a part of: back in the late 1980s, Hartford Stage, where I was working at the time, hosted a director from the Pushkin Theater in Moscow. He didn't speak any English at all. And, yet, his production of The Paper Gramophone at Hartford Stage moved us all to tears. It remains one of my favorite productions of all time. He treated every staff person with the utmost kindness and respect, no matter what their role, and made me understand the family that is artists all over the world.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

I am obsessed with the Internet Movie Database. I input the title of almost every television show I see, and certainly every movie I see, even a movie that's on but I don't watch -- I just see it while flipping channels -- into IMDB to see what comes up. And then I start clicking around on the actors or the writers and the trivia and before I know it I've wasted an hour.

My latest favorite bit of trivia from knocking around on IMDB: during the shooting of the TV show "Lost in Space", June Lockhart had the biggest parking space on the 20th Century-Fox lot because she would often drive her favorite vehicle to work - a 1913 fire truck.

Someday, when I'm famous, that's exactly what I'm going to drive to work. Clearly June Lockhart is infinitely cooler than we have ever given her credit.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Betsy, one of two I know in Austin, wrote this to me in early March

"And I swear if I hear the term Texas Two-Step used in a non-dancing sense or any more pundits spouting "well, as they say in Texas [follow with some idiocy I've never said in my life, like "all hat and no cattle"], you will hear me scream all the way in Sinzig. Yes, I realize we've brought this on ourselves with our larger-than-lifeyness, but dang."
When I asked her if I could put it on my blog, she said: "Sure, go ahead and tell 'em who's whining but not to expect a reply because lately I've been busier than a one-armed roper at a rattlesnake roundup." Ah, Texas...
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Got to watch the University of Kentucky play on TV for the first time since March 2007, when I saw them in a hotel in Dubai. The last time I saw them on TV in the NCAA was in 2000 -- yes, eight years ago. Thank you, CBS, for the free NCAA tourney coverage! (I even enjoyed the commercials -- yes, that's how desperate I am for TV in English).

But the video was delayed by at least 15 seconds, so I was watching another web site showing up-to-date scores as well. I'd flip back and forth between the almost-live video and the live scoreboard. It was weird to flip back to the video and know what was going to happen. March Madness, indeed.

Here's something I rarely get to say during March Madness: Go Hilltoppers! And, no, I don't know what Big Red "is". Just that he is.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Per all the gift cards from the wedding, we spent a day up at the Globetrotter store in Cologne. It's kind of like REI, and carries many of the same products. It's a HUGE store of several floors, and its center opens up to overlook a giant indoor pool where people test kayaks and scuba gear. They also have a sub zero room to test coats (with a video screen showing body heat that isn't held in by whatever you are wearing) and a room that simulates hurricanes to test rain jackets. I should have brought my camera. I'm such a gear queer when it comes to outdoor stores.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Still digging The Twilight Zone and all of its many, many special features. What a wonderful husband I have to get me such an appropriate gift... One episode that got to me more than ever before was "Nothing in the Dark", with then newcomer Robert Redford. Near the end, as I watched, I remembered how much the first mentor I ever had, Carolyn Meyers, had adored Mr. Redford, and how, in between her teaching me all of the fundamentals of arts marketing and life in general, she would make hysterically-funny comments about her crush. And in the episode, just about the time that Redford's character revealed himself to be Mr. Death, I started thinking of that same character taking Carolyn's hand, just like the character in "Nothing in the Dark", and leading her away. As those of you who were in contact with me while I was in Afghanistan know, I lost contact with Carolyn back when I lived in Austin, and when I tried to find her last year, I found out she had died. I'm still beating myself up for that. I don't think I'll ever be able to watch this episode without thinking of her. And maybe that's a great thing.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

As many of you know, I've always had a problem with "Saint" Paul. Like my Baptist preacher's wife grandmother, I think some woman broke his heart and/or out-preached him and women have been paying for it ever since.

If you are a history geek like I am, or wonder why I think Paul is a poophead, listen to this interview with Professor John Dominic Crossan regarding his book In Search of Paul: How Jesus' Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom. It's excellent, no matter what your religious affiliation (or lack their of).

I love hearing John Dominic Crossan talk. His classes must fill up oh-so-quickly.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

I've been experimenting with Yahoo!Answers, specifically the "Community Service" and "Government and Nonprofits" sections. I've blogged about why.

Recently, someone asked on one of those sections, "How can I develop my knowledge about general things? I feel that I don't have broad mind." Actually, the question was riddled with grammar and punctuation errors, like most things on Yahoo!Answers, but I decided to fix it up for reposting here.

Normally, I don't answer questions that are off-topic. But for this one, I decided to answer, because I feel so passionately about it:

Read. Read whatever you want -- novels, non-fiction, magazines, graphic novels, whatever -- but read regularly. Read at least 30 minutes **every** day. My favorite time to read is the hour before I go to sleep. It may sound simplistic, but I assure you, it works. Not only will you become more knowledgeable about a variety of things, not only will your vocabulary and grammar improve dramatically, you will also hone your abilities to concentrate, something that I find very much lacking among many job candidates I interview. You will also become better and better at retaining information. And the more you read, the faster you will read, and the more you will comprehend from reading.
The tagline on my Yahoo!Answers avatar, by the way, says "Read More Books."

Being able to read and comprehend large amounts of text seems to be a disappearing ability. Which is strange, as this ability has been fundamental to my job success, and it's an ability that seems to be increasing in importance.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

I expect some derisive comments from motorcycle riders in the USA once we move back (in 2009), per our insistence on wearing bike gear and helmets when we ride. What can I say: we really like our heads and skin.

Stefan found a web site recently that shows why we believe our gear is fundamentally necessary equipment for motorbike riding: at first, you look at it and think, hey, pretty blonde girl in a topless photo. But wait... that's not a tattoo down her side...

It's hard to look in the mirror and think that my scars are already an entire year old. Touching my stomach and rib cage, I can't imagine looking this way and feeling this pain for the rest of my life. I still feel as if at any moment I will wake up from this terrible dream and be comfortable in my own skin once again. Knowing that it's real, that there is nothing I can do to change it, I am reminded of my mistakes every minute of everyday. I am also reminded how lucky I am to be alive as I close my eyes and remember why I still feel pain after an entire year of healing. Imagining that if I had not survived the accident, I wouldn't have anything to touch at all...
Also see:
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

One of the things I learned while living in Afghanistan is that the BIGGEST movie star in the world is ShahRukh Khan. And if you don't know who that is, you must live in the USA. The international NGO that gets him as their spokesperson is lucky indeed -- people will do or buy whatever he tells them to or whatever he does or buys himself.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE or PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Yes, I'm still plugging away at Achieving public dialogue, one of the free courses offered on OpenLearn, and open content initiative of Open University.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Thanks to all those who keep sending me a message on my Nabaztag Bunny. Keep them coming! The best are those from Stefan, telling me things like, "I'll bring home some milk on my way home from work unless I forget."

To send a message to me, go to the Nabaztag web site and click on "My friend has a bunny." Register a user name, and then send me a message! My user name is juanabunny (which is pronounced "wannabunny" in Spanish). Be sure to say who you are ("Hi, this is Alan Rickman") because, otherwise, I won't know who it is when the bunny talks to me.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Reminder: we're planning on moving in APRIL 2009 to the USA. We really need advice regarding moving companies FROM Germany to the USA. For the first three months, we will probably be in Louisville, Kentucky, though we have no firm plans yet. Once we get a car and handle some other things, we'll be heading to the Portland, Oregon area, unless some fabulous job offer from some other wonderful place drops in my lap.

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Books I was reading during this blawg:

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

I support the:
National Education Association, great public schools in the USA for every child
Thank you, NEA, for being there for me and ensuring that I got a great education.
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Keep the wild in your heard, not in your home; make no wild or exotic creature a pet

_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

If you have read this blawg, PLEASE let me know.
Comments are welcomed, and motivate me to keep writing --
without comments, I start to think I'm talking to cyberair.


Essays home page | My Germany home page | contact me


This is a personal non-business-related page

The personal opinions expressed on this page are solely those of Ms. Cravens, unless otherwise noted.