Samstag, 30. Mai 2015

Puppy school

We live in a neighborhood surrounded by green. Behind us is a beautiful cemetery with open green spaces for people to hang out (where I've not spent much time since getting a dog; they're forbidden in the cemetery), next to that are the community gardens and on the other side of our building is a big school field.
But on a sunny afternoon, I like to take my 4 year old Basset to the path that winds between 4 new large apartment buildings. These apartments are full of young families and the children come out to greet my dog and we have, what I call "puppy school."
Bassets have a reputation of being friendly to other dogs and small children, but as Penny excels at being the laziest of bassets, she's also the friendliest of bassets. Kids can sometimes be unnerved by her droopy eyes, which expose some of her third eyelid, but they love her massive paws and her strange stature. With Penny (who has immense patience for small humans), the children learn how to approach a dog. They stick a hand out to pat her head and then pull it quickly back when Penny thrusts her head forward to sniff their hand. "Sie wollte mich bissen!" (she wanted to bite me!) they say. I then explain that dogs need to smell things that come near them. They don't know names and so they have to have a sniff of a person as an introduction. The children then let Penny sniff them and are rewarded with a doggy tummy as she throws her short body on the grass or asphalt and they learn which parts a dog likes to have rubbed. They learn that when a dog moves it's head quickly, it means that they are not pleased or curious.
Last night, we had some friends to dinner and thy brought their sweet son Lars. Lars knows Penny and seemed less nervous around her with his increasing height. He learned quickly - as many children do - that Penny respects a "no!" or "stop!" from a child more than any other command from anyone else. He played with her with a pingpong ball and when she gave it back to him without crushing it, he would give her a treat. He did this by letting her take it and then feeling around her teeth as she tried to take it in her mouth without chewing his fingers. Luckily, she's good at this, but we had to remind Lars that only doctors should investigate an animal's teeth.
There came a time where Penny was taking a well-deserved rest from playing with a toddler. "Penny Ufstah!" (Penny get up!) lars said over and over. Penny offered her belly in a show of disinterest and we explained to Lars that she needed a rest. "Schlaf guet" said Lars and he went to give her a good night kiss on her side. He then thought it was funny to try to kiss her nose. "Hünde han das nüt gern Lars" (Dogs don't like that Lars) his parents told him. But he gave it a few more goes and Penny lunged for him. My heart was in my throat. I was devastated. Lars seemed ok, but i was so fearful that we may have just given him a life-long fear of dogs. His mother - who has admitted a "respect for dogs" in the past - calmly and off-handedly told him that that is Penny saying no more kisses on the nose. Lars giggled and kissed Penny on the rump and Penny pretended to relax (her shoulder would show any dog-owner that she was not truly relaxed.)
We got Lars to play a different game and all was forgiven. At the time that Lars was trying to kiss Penny and I was on the other side of the room and it was Ivo that was overseeing the interaction (along with Lars' mother.) I think that I'll need to train Ivo in the art of puppy school. 

Donnerstag, 28. Mai 2015

throwback thursday

Last night, Ivo and I watched Gattaca to prompt discussion on an initiative that's up for a vote this June. The initiative is about whether or not to allow genetic testing on embryos before they're implanted via IVF.
During the film, I told Ivo "People used to give each other locks of their hair as a romantic gesture - I wish that I had a lock of mom's hair from before she got sick." And then  I stumbled across this lock of my hair in my wooden keepsake box today. (Who am I kidding? My whole apartment is my husband and my keepsake box.)
On Halloween 1997, I fainted on my way out to celebrate with friends. Two of us were dressed as Spice Girls, and I was sporty spice (I was under-weight enough from a summer of illness, that I could have been posh spice.) I didn't trust my body enough to go out and my loving sister - who was in town and remains one of the best caretakers I know - stayed home with me to keep me company and make sure that I didn't collapse again.
The fainting and some other symptoms made it clear to me that I was beginning my second flare-up of IBD, which was disappointing because I'd just had my lower intestine removed and was supposedly cured of my ulcerative colitits. But it would turn out that I had Crohn's disease and I knew it that night. I knew that I'd have to go back on high doses of steroids and antibiotics, that my hair would thin and my moustache would come back with a vengeance. As I told my sister all of this, she said "you could shave your head." She reminded me that I had the power to choose when and how much hair I would lose if I shaved it. So I called my Christmas Ball date and asked if he'd still go with me if I shaved my head and he said yes so we got to it.
We chopped off my sporty-spice ponytail and then indiscriminately chopped at my hair, which was full of drugs from my last hospitalization. She'd just gotten a tattoo that day so I took the business card from the tattoo parlor and taped a lock of my cut hair on it and saved it.
That night, mom was out celebrating Halloween and called to check up on me. I had a towel around my neck and sat in a circle of my hair scraps on a sheet that we'd laid out on the living room floor and told mom that Kendra was shaving my head. "Is that what you want?" my mom asked, with a kind voice. "Oh yeah!"
Mom returned to the group with whom she was celebrating and said "I had to check in. One of my daughters is sick and she's shaving her head." One of the people in the group sighed and said "oh! sick? like.....sick?" and pointed to her head. Mom told me about it later, while she was stroking my fuzzy, round head. "Your head is so round because you're a C-section baby." She told me.
I still think that there's no better time in life to shave one's head than as a teenager. Although, the first time I went to church with my mom after shaving it, I offered to wear a hat or a scarf. "No!" she said "someone will think that you're sick and they'll pray for you!"
"But I am sick!" I told her.
But it was true. With my low weight and bald head, I did look more like a cancer patient than someone whose immune system was attacking her guts.
10/31/97 Keng gets a tattoo I go Bald

Christmas Ball - after 5 weeks of growth

Sonntag, 17. Mai 2015

A to Z challenge affirmation

Yesterday, my husband and I went to the Landesmusem for the 1515 Marignano exhibit. We passed by Needle Park (mentioned in my D post) and entered their temporary building, which has been erected for use while a large portion of the building is being renovated.
On our way there, Ivo was sharing facts about the exhibit and we quickly realized that I knew just as much as he did about many of the memorable bits about the wars that supposedly led to the Swiss being officially recognized as a neutral state.
While much of the information was known to me, it was very cool to see the costumes and tools and armament and banners on the 16th century Swiss who were fighting other peoples wars for them. I just had to avoid the multimedia room with graphic films about the fighting. I also got to see the original inspiration for the papal guard, which I'd written about in my V post!

picture property of Landesmuseum Zürich

Samstag, 2. Mai 2015

2nd of May

water canons at stauffacher 2009
My first May 1st in Switzerland was sunny and warm. We went to the proper parade after the illegals parade and then dined behind the police station and escaped to our neighborhood before the schwarze block bashed through.
That night, we went to dinner and a movie and I felt profoundly guilty taking advantage of businesses that made their workers work on worker's day. But we walked to both places and took a tour of the destruction on our way. Bus shelters were shattered, the high-end car dealership around the corner from our place was smashed to bits and a woman who should have been taking the day off was cleaning up the glass shards.
Since that day, that same car dealership has hosted a grill party for a group of hells angels any time that labor day was sunny. The dealership provides the grills, meats and benches and the hells angels provide security.
Now I have a basset hound, I can't go anywhere near any teargassed areas. (The poor dear suffers from it.) Plus the weather has been poor the last few May days, (so much for April showers bringing May flowers.) I had actually intended to go this year, as so many of my friends now have small children and want to expose them to the more wholesome and political parts of the day. But the weather (and a vicious sore throat) kept me away.) An early morning pre-rain walk with my dog today revealed that the rain hadn't just kept me away yesterday. The bus shelters were still standing and I didn't see one broken window.
So I missed out on this important annual celebration, but Eurovision is just around the corner.....

cow catchers (crowd control vehicles) by Birzirksgebäude in 2009