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travel preparations, yeay!

This is pretty much representative of my state of mind at the moment. Add a few whooping noises, some folksy sing-along-clap-your-hands music and a couple of wild dance moves and you’ve got it.

rainbow sparkles

I hear you scratching your heads and whispering to each other. “Wasn’t she kinda maudlin lately? Whining about living at home and complaining about being lost-lost-lost and all that stuff?” Yes, you’re right! But then the end of the month arrived and I suddenly realized how very, very little time there is until I take off on my trip the the USA and now I’m all sparkling and giddy and full of last-minute things to do!

Organize presents is a big one. I’m staying with a couple of friends at different times throughout the trip, some of which I’ve met face-to-face, others that I haven’t yet met in person, some of which have travelled a lot, others that have never been to Germany or even Europe. So of course I need presents. Representative of Germany, but not laden with clichés. Personal, but not too specific so that I run the risk of them not liking it. I think I’m doing a good job so far, I’ve got most of them sorted. Yes, photo-books are included, as is one of my favourite German movies, a cooking book, some literature and quite a bit of music. Now I only need a handful of very small favour-like presents that I can give to new friends and spontaneous hosts on the road and then I’m good.

I love giving presents. You might have gathered that already.

Then there’s the packing list. I’m travelling with a very good friend for most of the trip and we’ve both decided to take as few things as humanely possible. Or maybe that should be as womanly possible. (Why do women always, always pack so much more than men?!?) Anyway, we want to buy clothes and stuff over there, so I sent my friend the list of things I propose to pack into my backpack and asked her to take everything down that she thinks I don’t need. She hasn’t got back to me yet, so maybe you guys could cast your eyes over this and give me some feedback:

clothes: underclothing (3x), socks (3x), hiking boots, normal shoes (1x), jeans (1x), shorts (1x), shirts (2x), jumper/hoodie (1)

bathroom stuff: comb, hairclips, etc., medium-sized towel (1x), toothbrush, 1 miniature version of: toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo

technical stuff: camera, second battery for camera, charger, external drive (with all my photos and music, for sharing), phone, phone charger, mp3-player, USB cable for the player, adapter (because we all really need different electricity systems… makes so much sense!) …. MAYBE: camcorder

arbitrary and/or important things: passport, credit card, travel diary, pen, sunglasses, train ticket, plane ticket, host presents, wedding present, pen knife, aspirin, my sunshine-yellow sarong, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road – most of which goes into a large across-the-shoulders-bag

So, anything important missing? Anything I can leave safely behind? I think I’m pretty good with this list. 🙂

Also, when did we get to a point where the technical equipment that we deem necessary far outweighs all the rest in volume and complexity?

Other things I need/want to do include cleaning the house before I leave (or at least my room, my office and so on), finishing the wedding present, comparing some prices on tablet computers so I can maybe see about getting one over there for cheaper, finding out about a good and affordable pre-paid phone number for one month, contacting a number of people to confirm dates, meet up with a number of people to say goodbye to (like my pregnant friend, who will have her baby just a few days after I return, which means I’m leaving her alone for the last stretch of her pregnancy, which I feel slightly guilty about, but to my defense, I didn’t know she was pregnant when I organized this trip!).

And I’m not going to look at anything to do with my job (or non-job) situation, I’m not going to make any decisions and I’m not going to think up any new plans or ideas. Time enough for that when I get back. And the best bit about that is that when someone on the road asks me what I do, I won’t say “Talk to you.” or “Breathing.” in a half-annoyed, half-patronizing way as I usually do, but I’ll just be able to say: “Live.” At this point, I’m so free that I can go in any direction whatsoever. I’m totally flexible, open for any suggestions. Let’s see what the world has to offer.

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a bit of excitement

WHAT a day!!!

Actually, most of the day wasn’t too horribly bad, but I felt like saying ‘What a day!’ right now. And that is because of what happened in the morning. I’d been up for something like fourty minutes, but I wasn’t awake yet, just sitting in front of my laptop with bleary eyes, checking through my feeds and double-clicking everything I wanted to read later, once I was officially awake (this process includes a large cup of tea). Then I noticed movement outside my window, which faces the street, and saw my Mum’s friend Ilona come up to the door with her dog, and when she saw me through the window, wave her arms and shout: “Emergency! Emergency!”

The last time she’d done that, she wanted to borrow some jewelry for a festive occasion. I hope you can understand that I didn’t get into a panic straight away. I opened the front door to her, about to say good morning and ask her in for a coffee, when she said: “Nobby [= our dog] has collapsed. Your Mum wants someone to come up to where she is with the car, he needs to go to the vet immediately.” I was looking at her until the word ‘collapsed’, after that I’d already turned around, was jumping up the stairs in double-quick time, grabbed the car keys and was almost out the door again when my sister and Dad asked what was up, and I just told them “Nobby’s collapsed, gotta go”. Then I was off, with my middle sister right behind me.

Luckily she’d paid attention when Ilona said where we had to go, because I hadn’t even thought to ask (yes, I know, I’m smart that way), so we drove – way too fast – up the paved road next to the cemetery, then turned left behind it and raced the shiny new(ish) car down the mud-and-gravel-track. Finally we could see my Mum, and she was in an even worse predicament than I’d expected. Because not only did she have a dog that had collapsed and was obviously in pain on her hands, no, exactly that morning my cousin had also brought over her five months old baby daughter, so that we could look after her while she went to see the doctor. And there was my poor Mum, sitting on the ground with one arm around the dog, who was trying to sit up despite the pain, and one hand on the pram, gently rocking it to stop little baby Sarah from crying.

It would have been funny, if it hadn’t been so horrible. So I ran to open the back of the car, my sister lifted the dog (who weighs 26 kilos) and carried him around the car and sat in the back with him and we left Mum and Sarah standing on the track, while I drove backwards almost all the way (no room to turn), then turned onto another track that led us down the fields back to civilization and a road. Three minutes later I was in the vet’s examination room, stroking poor Nobby’s head with one hand, and my sister’s back with the other – she was crying by then and holding on to the dog so he wouldn’t move around too much. And it wasn’t even remotely funny any more.

We’re lucky to have a very competent, very friendly vet who lives basically down the street from us, and he’s looked after Nobby all his life. So when he came in and I tried to explain what had happened (“Well, I wasn’t there, but apparently he saw a hare and took off after it and then just sort of collapsed and yelped in pain, and then he couldn’t get up, and I think he can’t even sit, and look, he’s bleeding there, at the side and …”) and he just looked at the way our baby was sitting and said: “I already see what’s wrong. We might have a problem.” … well, at that point, I really wanted to give up being the heroic big sister who keeps the cool head and start crying myself.

But, to cut it short, we were INCREDIBLY lucky. Or Nobby was. Instead of a broken hip or a slipped disc or … well, another really, really horrible possibility that happened to the first dog we ever had and that had hovered in all our minds all this time… it seems that he’s only got a severe attack of lumbago (what an ugly word… in German, we call it ‘witch shot’, because it feels like a witch pointed a gnarly finger and shot a curse at you while your back was turned). Everything on the x-ray picture looked just fine, so he got three injections (painkiller, something to strengthen the immune system or something, and a shot of cortisone) and the order to go home and lie still all day. We were to call our vet in the late afternoon and report on his progress.

So that’s what we did. Except for the lying still part. Yes, I know that was the only thing we were really supposed to do, but whoever said that dogs sleep most of the day, obviously never met Nobby. He can’t stand not being in the middle of the action and he usually spends all day just trotting after any family member he can find, lying on their feet, getting up to check what the rest are doing, patrolling the garden, urging us to play with him, hunting flies and bees, barking every time any neighbour dares use the street in front of our house and jumping up from wherever he is any time someones comes into the house to either bark and dance around them (= non-family member) or try and flatten them by jumping with both front paws into their stomach and then making them play with him (= family members).

Problem: we’ve got a dog with lumbago/a witch’s curse, trying to jump up and walk around, while his hind legs collapse after every third step. The solution: one-on-one dogsitting with the sitting part taken literally. Almost. I used both my arms and most of the weight in my upper body to flatten him, while my mother pressed down his head into the ground with one hand, which seriously confused him and prevented him getting up.

Alright, we did let him walk for a bit in the late afternoon. I wanted to both giggle and cry when I saw how happy he was to be moving again and how awkwardly he walked and how his legs just gave way every third or fourth step. Such an idiot dog. And I really cannot tell you how happy, how relieved I am that it’s only this, and nothing worse.

And because you’ve been so patient and read through to here, you get some pictures of the patient. Although he’s not yet a patient on these.

our dog Nobby being silly

Nobby, being his usually silly self, about to roll on the grass

Nobby being pensive

Nobby, being all regal and pensive in pretty scenery

woolly Nobby

Nobby being cute and woolly and sleepy

Nobby napping

Nobby in blissful napping mode because my youngest sister is scratching his belly