Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Review

It's been a quiet month for comments. But any lack of quantity has been made up by the amazing quality of your thoughts.

Zeppelin playground outside the museum

Thank you Jim for explaining the differences between a zeppelin and a blimp.

Even after spending more than two hours at the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, I'm not sure I understood the distinction.

Trying to figure out a new title for the blog that will come after this one brought out the most comments, both on the blog and by email. 

tRa likes "Roving Hedgehog" as a blog title and wonders if I have a totem animal. Ironically, the hedgehog has always been my totem animal, so that won't work. Her point that the word write does not need to be in the title is a good one.

Jim, Shirley and Michael offer up a variety of new names. Jim, in particular, was impressive in both number and range. Some of my favorites include wordsmithy, popupmeercat, and rosetta stone. Unfortunately, some names are already taken.

In any case, I'm still pondering that name choice. Hopefully, I'll figure it out before August 25th.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Growing up, every Saturday I was supposed to weed for an hour. It did not make me fond of gardening. I'm still not excited by the thought of grubbing around in the dirt.

However, plants grow and need to be managed. Weeds grow very fast (like weeds, in fact) and need to be pulled out. And if you don't want cranky neighbors, you should really police your borders. Unfortunately, we have been traveling a lot this spring and summer, and when we've been home, I've been pretending I don't have a front garden.

So, of course, it looks like this:

Flowers, weeds, and more weeds, all intertwined and overgrown. But last Sunday morning before it got too hot, my honey and I went out and started working in the garden. I was determined to pull out my least favorite weeds and work on the plants threaten to overtake my neighbors' newly landscaped yard.

We already had a brick barrier, but I discovered that their landscape engineer had put in a second brick barrier on their own property. Smart man.

After working for an hour or two, I am very proud to say I had created a nice no-man's-land for weeds.

The dark chips are my neighbor's yard and the light chips were put in by me. I feel that I can successfully keep weeds out of that thin strip of land, at the very least.

It's true that my front yard is still totally overgrown and needs a lot more attention. It's also true that it probably isn't going to get attention from me any time soon.

Too bad that proud feeling isn't quite enough to make me want to do it some more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vacation Day

I'm taking the day off today. Everyone have a sunny beach day and you can catch my writing tomorrow . . .

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Camera? No!

The lack of a camera is starting to interfere with my ability to write this blog. I know that the words are the primary way I tell stories about my life, leave and the pursuit of authorness. However, a photo or two breaks up the paragraphs, adds a little visual spice and generally improves my writing.

So, what are the options? I can use pictures that I took before my camera broke, but I'm pretty much done writing about all the topics that those pictures illustrate.

At times I use images from the internet, but I'm not sure how ethical it is and besides, generic photos aren't always the best at illuminating my personal story.

For example, I had originally planned on writing about the work my honey and I did on our front garden yesterday. But I wanted to have some photos to highlight my main points. I tried to take a photo with the photo booth function on my computer, but it's not really designed for outdoor shots.

Then I hunted up my old camera, because I thought it might still have some functionality, although I couldn't really remember what was wrong with it. I don't need a memory, though because I have this blog. And all I need to do is find the post where I wrote about the camera's problems!

It needed new batteries, which I installed and went out and got the photos of my garden in the evening light. Now all I have to do is find the cord that attaches the old camera to the computer in order to download the photos so I can upload the photos onto the blogosphere.

I'm planning on that happening today, so look for a garden blog tomorrow. And here's hoping that soon the new camera comes back fixed, or they send me a replacement. That way, my words and photographs will continue to complement one another on these pages.

Sunday Photo

It's been hot here and last night we went to the lake and had a picnic. I swam to cool off and I was reminded of this picture I caught of a kid jumping off a pylon into Lake Neuchâtel. It looked like he and his buddies were having fun.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Recurring Theme

There are a number of topics that I know I have written quite a bit about. Pain — from broken toes, strained backs, and water polo. Life goals — how I'm not very good at setting them, or following through on them, or even remembering them. Writing — of course, 'cause that's what I do every day, and what I'm trying to figure out how to do for life.

But the subject I want to touch on today is the value of friends, especially old. Often when I am thinking about something to write about, I search old posts to make sure I'm not repeating myself. Today, though, I know that I am most definitely repeating myself. I searched the blog for posts that contained the word "friends". I got to fifty before I gave up and stopped counting. That's more than 10% of my writing!

I have a lot of friends, from the many different stages of my life and it's hard to keep in touch with them all. (That must be why facebook is so popular. As my niece said, "It's a way to communicate without actually interacting." When I repeated that to my sister, she replied, "Isn't that the same as your blog?" Which it is, I guess.)

That being said, however, in our latest trip to Europe, my honey and I had the excellent fortune to connect with some really good friends. We've known all of them for over twenty years. Two of them from International House, one I played water polo with at Berkeley, and one friend was someone my mother and stepdad met backpacking through Mexico twenty-nine years ago this summer.

Although I've written before about the special joy of hanging with old friends, I feel like I need to write about it one more time. (After all, it's been more than six months since I wrote on that topic.) I want all my friends, old and new, to know how much I appreciate their presence in my life.

Just some of the activities we enjoyed with our friends on our recent trip: eating dinner, drinking a beer, enjoying summer pie, playing croquet, meeting their children, touring museums and towns, seeing their workplaces, learning new games, marvelling at their different customs (Danish graduation rituals, I'm talking about you!), and generally just hanging out together.

I am in awe at just how comfortable these relationships continue to be. And how wonderful and welcoming our friends were. They picked us up at airports and train stations, cooked for us, welcomed us into their homes, and saw us off after our visit was over.

Our conversations ranged wide and far. We talked about our shared experiences in the past, the World Cup, Danish history, economics, American politics, the Gruffalo books, Swiss taxes, scuba diving, and the future. And I want to continue the conversations that we started, but were unable to finish due to the lack of time.

It's hard not to gush about how brilliant my friends are. But what I have realized as I have struggled with trying to express what I feel about my friends, is that the genius of all friends is how amazing they are. And that thought helps me to understand why I feel so upbeat in my life.

Yes, life can be a struggle, and my life hasn't always happened the way I wanted it to, but my wonderful family and friends have always been there for me. Sometimes right beside me, often in the background, and at times so far away I could barely see them. But no matter where they are, my friends support me in being me and figuring out life positively.

So thanks to all my friends and family for all that you do and all that you are. I love all of you!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Creative Scaffolding

Scaffolding is a term used in education to describe a method of supporting students' learning. Af first, the teacher provides strong support. Then as time goes by and students' abilities grow, the scaffolding is slowly "dismantled" or lessened until the student becomes proficient.

But today I want to discuss actual scaffolding. Here in the United States, scaffolding is usually completely utilitarian, covering up construction on large buildings. It is often quite ugly. In my recent travels in Europe, I had the interesting experience of being very impressed with the creativity builders use for their scaffolding.

In Italy, a building on the Grand Canal was being redone. That doesn't mean, however, that the tourists have to gaze on frightful scaffolding.

No, much better for the scaffolding to have the image of what will be when all the building is complete.

Germany, on the other hand, promotes a version of "green scaffolding". Plants and flowers crawl all over the tubing.

The fragrance as well as the beauty must make a more pleasant work site.

This is not to say that all the scaffolding in Europe was beautiful or unique. There were plenty of ugly construction sites. Still, any time I saw one of these different ways to dress up the ugly business of progress, it made me smile. Hope it does you too.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stuck. Stuck!

I haven't really written much about writer's block, because I haven't suffered much from it yet. Yes, there are times when I haven't been working on the book as much as I could. Or times where I abandoned one post topic that I was having trouble writing in order to write about something completely different.

But I haven't struggled a lot with writer's block . . . until now.

Calvin puts a kid's spin on an odd term, and an even odder feeling. From the cartoon, Hobbes looks unconvinced. I'm unconvinced too.

I can't seem to get any further on the profound post I'm trying to write, and no other themes seem to interest me. On the other hand, here I am with my butt in the chair writing.

"They" say that if you can't think of what to write about, then you should just write that over and over until you do think of something to write about. Sounds kinda boring to me, but I suppose that's what I'm doing right now, just a jot more creatively.

Here's hoping I get "unstuck" tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Internet Rocks!

Last week when I was trying out possible new names for blogs, I searched "writing disease" on the internet. Amazingly, it turns out there is actually something called hypergraphia, a desire to write so intense that it could be called a disease. There is also a condition known as skin writing, which is a disorder where your skin is so sensitive you can "write" on it.

But what was more interesting to me were the websites that were lists of the best blogs about certain diseases. seems to compile and rate blogs by, for and about living with many diseases. Crohn's disease, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis all have a list.

I clicked on the website entitled "The 14 Best Parkinson's Blogs of 2014." There are a wide variety listed. Some are written by people afflicted with the disease, others by doctors or foundations. One blog is even funded by a pharmaceutical company!

Kevin Mazur/MJF/WireImage
While I was clicking around, I found one blog post that wanted to introduce everyone to the foxtrialfinder on the Michael J. Fox Foundation website. It helps increase the flow of willing study participants. Studies need patients with Parkinson's and control patients that do not have the disease.

The foxtrialfinder asks you questions about where you live, what you're willing to do, your relationship to Parkinson's and after doing some magic calculating, lets you know what studies would be interested in having you as a participant.

It absolutely floors me at times how cool the internet can be!

PS I'm still working on that difficult post. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I'm taking an extra day to write a post that I want to get just right. The extraordinary heat (no air-conditioning in my life) made it impossible to stay up late last night to finish. I'll be the manipulator of words today and get it out to the world tomorrow. 

Stay cool!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Seeking a New Name

One of the very first things that I learned about writing a blog is that I picked the wrong name for this one. Wrong name, wrong web address. OK, not wrong, but not good either.

Although it exactly explains the legal term for my year off, and sets it apart from a sabbatical, it's too long, too clunky, and just a wee bit odd. I could have called it gap year, my fantastic leave, or simply woo-hoo!

The reality is that this blog will end sometime in late August, but a new one will rise. It will need to be called something else, because no matter how you look at it, my leave will definitively be over once I start back to work.

At the moment, I think the focus will be squarely on writing, but other than that I have no details. Except that it needs a new name.

I thought about newbie writer, but that's already taken, and if I keep writing for a long time, I wouldn't want to still have that be the name. Some twist on the writing disease, from Saturday's quote by William Carlos Williams is intriguing, but I'm not sure exactly how to word it.

And lots of the good names seem to be taken: livelaughwrite, writerlylife, livewrite. I don't know, maybe I'm trying to be too clever. Or maybe the word write shouldn't be in the name at all.

This is a request for any of your ideas or thoughts on the subject, dear readers, punny, clever or just plain good. What should the new name of my weekly blog be? Thanks for thinking about it. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Can't stop writing . . .

Apparently I am addicted to writing a daily blog. Because more than two weeks after I said that I was going to take some days off, I haven't really done so. Oh, I know that I have missed at least one day completely, and then there was the forgetfulness of yesterday.

Funnily enough, though, those were both accidents. The first time, I thought that I had pre-scheduled a post. Who knows what yesterday was about, but I was already thinking about writing this post for then!

I'm not quite sure why I can't stop. I really should be spending any time I have left working on the novel. I wish I wrote in my writer's notebook more. I don't want to always be thinking about the next post. I certainly know that I won't be able to continue once school starts.

There are obviously positives too. Every day without fail my butt is in a chair and I spend time writing. Many friends and family let me know that they appreciate my writing and will miss not "hearing" my voice in their ears. There are probably other benefits that I haven't even figured out yet.

But, I'm going to have to start the process of stopping. Otherwise, it will be too much like cold turkey in late August. So I am hereby announcing that I am going to take Sundays off. That's right, I'll take a vacation day once a week.

However, because I don't want to leave my followers with nothing, instead of writing, I'll post a photograph from this amazing year of leave.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I forgot!

So jetlagged, apparently I was so tired last night I completely forgot to write a post or even remember I had a blog.

Don't let anyone tell you that jet lag goes away after a day or two. See you tomorrow with a little more coherence. . .

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Demon Camera

For the last four or five days of our vacation, our camera was possessed. Or perhaps more accurately stated, it seemed to have a mind of its own, and what it wanted was to control the photographs we took.

As soon as it was turned on, it automatically set the exposure it felt best suited the scene. And once it had decided, there was no changing any setting. No forward zoom, flash, or panorama. Nothing. And if we quickly managed to reset it, the camera responded to our efforts by not allowing any photo to be taken.

The main result of this bizarre malfunction was that I could take no close-ups. I would have liked to have had a zoomed-in photo of the mama coot on her nest, and of the nearby Alps in an unclouded moment.

On the other hand, I managed to get some good photographs in spite of my camera's obsessive control. I learned to manipulate it. If I didn't get the exposure I wanted, I would shut off the camera and try it again.

Long range view from Chaumont — 1100 meters
Yesterday I took the devil camera back to the store I bought it from. Its behavior perplexed the saleslady as well, but she determined that the best course of action was to send it back to the company for them to fix. Worst case scenario? It'll take six to eight weeks to resolve.

I'm hoping for faster, but I'll keep you informed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

European birds

As I looked through my many, many vacation photos to create an easy post for the jet lag sort of day that today will be, I realized I had a number of photos of birds.

Because we were often near the water, we saw all sorts of birds that I could not possibly identify. They were always fun to watch.

One bird I could identify easily were the swans. They were very common and always elegant.

My last swim of the trip was yesterday morning quite early. As I was exiting the lake, I heard a strange hurmphing noise behind me. Startled, I looked back to find that a pair of swans had swum to shore only five feet away!

This bird was having fun diving again and again to nibble on something down below the pier we were on. The water was clear enough to be able to make out what it was doing.

My camera started acting up a couple of days ago, so I never managed to get a good shot of the coot that was nesting nearby the boat we were living on. It made me quite curious about the precise details of our coots' lives. 

Such amazing creatures, birds!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thoughts of Home

We are winging our way home today. In the morning, we started by Lac Neuchatel in our small boat, walked to the train station, and took a two-hour train to the Zurich airport. Then we flew to Amsterdam, and about the time this post arrived, we hopefully made our connection to America.

It's a curious phenomenon. When you first start a trip, you stop thinking of home fairly quickly. However, the closer you get to the end of your trip, the harder it is to stay in the moment.

We have been doing some lovely hiking and biking, plus the lake views are beautiful, but my mind is occupied with tasks I will need to complete once I return. Pick up the mail, write some bills, make sure not to forget a doctor's appointment . . .

Every time I felt my brain shift, I tried very hard to shift it back to whatever was happening: looking at a river flow down a gorge, dropping my potato in the fondue pot, drinking absinthe with friends, it's all been pretty amazing.

And I am very lucky to have experienced it all.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Boat Life

It's an interesting life, staying on a boat. I have never done it before, and I would have thought that my tendency toward motion sickness would have made it impossible. However, with a steady diet of crackers and carbonated beverages, I seem to be managing. (It helps that we have only left the harbor once.)

Waking up mere steps from the lakeshore is fantastic and eating many of our meals in the open air is great too! What is surprising to me is that I like it so much, considering that it is a motorboat. I have always had a preference, some may snobbiness, in favor of sailboats. But I find that a motorboat seems to be just as comfortable.

There is a fridge, well-stocked with wine and beer by our friend. Electricity lights the evenings, and a coffee machine starts my honey's day out right.

For entertainment, besides the constant interplay of blue sky, clouds and rain, we have a mama coot nesting on a nearby boat, while her mate brings her plastic to line the nest. This morning we witnessed a fight between two waterbirds with mohawks.

And, of course, any time those clouds clear to the south, we have a view of the not-so-distant Alps.

The lake from the top of the city
Our friend says that he has had a series of boats since he was eighteen. He has had this boat for ten years and he only switched to sailboats because you need sun, wind, and no rain for a sailboat, while for a motorboat, you need only gas. He is on his boat every day, sometimes for breakfast and/or dinner, but almost always for lunch, as he works quite close to the harbour.

The only downsides to the boat are the small toilet and the bed. The bed is  a little better than sleeping on the ground, but not by much and it's a funny shape that requires a bit of contortion for tall people. The harbour has showers, which we used this morning, but otherwise we've been swimming in the lake, as we do when we're camping.

All in all, we're happy to be living on the boat, but we're not sad that tomorrow night we'll be sleeping on a regular bed. We'll miss the lake, though.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

No W-Lan!

Sorry, staying on my friend's boat! No internet service. Check back tomorrow!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

German road signs

Last week when we rented a car, we realized that we didn't know very much about German road signs. And although most of them don't have any words on them, we still couldn't always understand them.

It took us a while to figure out that this sign, for example, means no passing. It was especially difficult to interpret because we most often saw it on a divided autobahn with two or three lanes and no apparent reason that one shouldn't pass. (And it seemed to be frequently ignored in those circumstances.)

This sign also perplexed us. It means the end of any speed limit, and we decided we knew what it meant when all the cars around us immediately increased their speed by at least twenty kilometers.

All in all, we did a fairly good job. No accidents, not even any close calls, and my honey had fun driving fast. Still, if I rented a car in a foreign country again, I would do some homework ahead of time. After all, isn't that what the world wide spidernet is for?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Quêlle fromage!

Gruyere cheese is my honey's favorite cheese, so while we are in Switzerland we decided to visit the town of Gruyères in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. We moved from the German speaking part of Switzerland to where they speak French.

We also travelled from a lakeside to halfway up a mountain. Switzerland has many mountain ranges, so I'm not exactly sure which group we are currently in. For all I know, they are all part of the Alps.

Gruyères in the mist
In any case, Gruyères is a charming medieval town which is probably usually crawling with tourists. The persistent rain seemed to keep their number somewhat in check. And it was cold enough to enjoy fondue, a dish rarely eaten in summer.

Yesterday we toured a demonstration dairy and today (still raining) we will take a "dairy hike". The demonstration dairy was a little hokey, but they process more than 12,000 liters of milk a day, sending it on its way to make excellent Gruyere cheese.

One of the coolest things about the tour were the vials of scents of the many different kinds of plants that the cows eat. I never knew I liked smells that much. We're looking forward to tasting Gruyere d'Alpage, which is cheese made from milk from cows that are eating the summer grasses and wildflowers of the high Alps.

PS Today's title is courtesy of a dear friend, who often used that mangled Franglish phrase!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Graf Zeppelin

Turns out that zeppelins, also known as blimps, were named after the man who invented them. And he was a count!

It also turns out that Graf (Count) Zeppelin was from the Bodensee area and he started his company building Zeppelins on the north shore of the lake.

We learned these facts and many, many more during our two-hour visit to the Zeppelin museum in Friedrichshafen a few days ago.

The museum took us from LZ-1, the very first luftschiffe, or airship to the modern blimps that mostly seem to exist for advertising. A large part of the museum was devoted to the Hindenburg, the 129th version of the Luftschiffe.

Inside and outside of a zeppelin
There was a replica of parts of the Hindenburg, as well as a variety of artifacts. Uniforms of crew members to menus, and even some twisted girders. Additionally, you could watch films of the disaster and read the newspaper reports. (German newspapers stressed the number of survivors rather than the number who died.)

It was an amazing place and I could go back again, because my brain filled up way too fast and I was unable to fit in any more facts. One interesting fact that I did manage to absorb was that the US demanded a zeppelin as part of the reparations from World War II. I wonder what we did with it.

Somewhere over the Bodensee

Not surprisingly, we saw at least two blimps in the air during our bicycle ride around the Bodensee.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rain, rain go away!

Come again sometime after our vacation is over and we aren't outside every day . . . (doesn't really fit the tune, does it?)

My honey and I rode our bikes mostly in the rain yesterday. At times we were a little bit wet, sometimes more wet, and for a period of time, completely soaked. Well, at least our front sides which faced the rain.

Water, water everywhere
We tried to take a break at a museum about the Rhein River, which we crossed shortly before it enters the Bodensee. Unfortunately, it was closed. Only open from Wednesdays to Sundays. Ah, well, so goes life at times. It's a good thing we dry off easily. And that our bike tour operators supplied us with waterproof panniers.

In spite of the rain, the trip has been fascinating. We have learned about the Rhein river, Zeppelin airships, and stone and bronze age civilizations that lived in stilt houses over the lake. As an added bonus, I have managed to swim three times and hope I get the chance to swim in Switzerland before we return to Germany.

There is more rain forecast for today, but as a woman said to us yesterday, "In good weather, anyone can bicycle." I guess that means we're not just anyone. We're nuts!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lake Constance . . .

. . . is a beuatiful place. (They call it the Bodensee in German.) Parts of it are quite touristy, as there has been a tourist industry here in some places for more than one hundred years.

Bodensee by day
On our first day out, we crossed the upper arm of the Bodensee by ferry to shorten the distance we bicycled. Every town has a small harbor, so we wondered about the possibility of chartering a sailboat to circumnavigate the lake. Except for my seasickness problem, and the fact that we don't know how to sail, it sounds like a winning plan!

Bodensee by night
This is a historic steamship that is over one hundred years old. I'm not sure when it was renovated, but it was fun to watch arrive at the pier after an elegant supper cruise. All of the lighthouses on the lake were flashing, which we were told is a signal that a storm is coming and you should get off of the lake. The faster they flash, the quicker you should move toward a safe harbor.

Today it is cold and rainy, so I may not take so many photos. On the other hand, we will bicycle through a small part of Austria, ending in Switzerland this evening, probaably needing dry clothes and a hot shower. We will also cross the Rhein river where it enters the Bodensee, so it's possible there will be many photo opportunities.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Playing hooky today

A long bike ride yesterday, up early this morning to catch a ferry, no time to write.

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Climbing the Brocken

OK, so I told you that to tell you this . . .

My back had been getting better each day, so we decided to go on a hike. We went way overboard and it is possible that the Brocken has broken us. It definitely bent us quite a bit. I think we were deceived by trying to figure out the kilometers.

After a short bus ride, the hike up was eight kilometers and a little over 300 meters of altitude. It was a lovely, mostly clear day (of which the Brocken has very few). At the start there were few other hikers, although they gained in number as we approached the top.

One cool surprise was a steam train that went to the top. The trains were fun to hear and to watch pass by.

The view from the peak was all that everyone said it could be.

View from the top of the Brocken

The problem was the descent. Deciding to hike back to our original starting point added four kilometers and an additional 300 meter altitude drop. Not one of our best ideas. We made it back, but were lucky that the sun sets late in Germany in the summer.

Calves, ankles, knees, and back are all still sore and recovering. Shares in ibuprofen companies should be purchased. We are grateful that bicycling is not weight-bearing, as we start our four day bike trip around Lake Constance today.

Long may the weekend warriors limp!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

On the ferry

We survived driving our rental car in Germany. My honey got up to 160-170 km on the Autobahn while I gripped my door tightly. Hiking too much and then relaxing in a thermal bath has kept us busy.

Last night our hotel had no W-LAN (wifi), so I am writing this on the ferry to Konstanz on the south side of the Bodensee. Pretty cool!

The cool photo I promised, even the right size!

It's raining lightly now and the short-term forecast also calls for rain. So much for biking around the sunny Bodensee, sitting in biergartens enjoying ourselves. We can only hope that the forecast is wrong.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Monkey Glands

Two weeks ago I stood up from a chair wrongly and hurt my back. Not unusual for me, but the length and intensity of this particular injury was worse than normal. Because I thought it would hurt for a few days and then resolve itself, I went on a planned weekend to a rustic cabin with my book group for a few days.

But it hurt to move in any way. Sitting, standing, laying down, walking, it was all painful. The RICE cure (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) did not seem to be working at all. So when I came back from my weekend away, I went to my chiropractor.

She thought it was some sort of disc problem, due to my symptoms and the persistence of the pain.

So my chiropractor did what she does, and there was some relief, although it didn't last. That night I was unable to sleep for the pain and the knowledge that I was going to be flying that day to Europe for three weeks. So I made an early morning appointment with my doctor.

My doctor's opinion was also major muscular strain and she prescribed a muscle relaxant, an opiate pain medication, and a topical pain relief cream.

When I went to get the prescription filled, the pharmacist told me that he didn't think much of the cream, and recommended an over-the-counter cream that he claimed many of his patients liked.  I bought it.

Later that day at the chiropractor for one last adjustment before the flight, she lent me a TENS unit for electrical pain relief. I took it and said thank you.

I brought every single pain remedy I could think of, even though when I researched some of them, some studies showed that the remedy didn't seem to do anymore than a placebo. I didn't care, if the placebo effect was as good as I could get I would take it.

The whole situation led me to a pretty horrifying thought. Although I sincerely believe in animal's rights, if someone had told me that monkey glands would quickly solve my pain, I would have seriously considered it. It made me realize how desperate and shallow I am when every move I make hurts. And how glad I am that monkey glands are not treatment for back pain.

By the way, I am considering using "Monkey Glands" as a title for the book I will write in November. I don't know what it is about yet, but I like that title.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sitting on a House

First off, to my daily readers, I need to apologize. I thought that I had scheduled Part II of Copenhagen for yesterday. However, when I logged on this morning to post a very short "playing hooky" message for today, I realized nothing had posted for the first of July.

I decided to save the hooky post for the future and scheduled the already written Copenhagen post for this morning. Sorry! You may now return to your regulary scheduled post below.

The only reason that I feel free to write about the current trip that my honey and I are taking is because we have an awesome young man living at our house and taking care of it for us. Housesitting, if you will, although our roof is quite tall and dangerous, so I hope he does all his sitting inside.

It's such a ridiculous phrase, it got me curious. Turns out that housesit is a twentieth-century word that followed the word babysitting. Babysitting showed up in the United States sometime in the late forties according to several dictionaries. Not very old, but not new either.

But back to our housesitter. He is an Italian student working on his Ph.D. and is very polite. I know he is polite because he didn't say anything about our incredible mess AND he took us out to a very nice dinner. 

It's very calming to know that there is someone at your home when you're gone. Someone responsible who will collect any mail that the post office mistakenly delivers, who will pick up the free weekly newspaper that you can't unsubscribe from, who will bring inside the religious tracts, ads, and other pieces of paper that accumulate.

So thanks to those willing to live in a stranger's house, try to figure out their television set, wonder why they have three bottles of mustard in the fridge. I salute you!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen (Part II)

There is a lovely open-air museum close to where our friends live in the outskirts of Copenhagen. We went on two separate occasions, because it turned out that they open up the windmill and turn on the water mill on Sunday. So we had to go back to look at the amazing engineering. Totally worth it.

We got the chance to climb into this windmill!
The museum is on a huge piece of land and consists of over fifty buildings, including houses, barns, smithys and mills from all over Denmark and from many different time periods. It is a national museum that has been open for about one hundred years.

Look at that thatched roof — incredible!
Most of the buildings have furnishings from a specific year. It's an easy and interesting way to learn a lot about Denmark's history and way of life. And as a special treat, we ate some aebleskiver at the picnic area.