Jesus as Chocolate
This is a controversy I don't understand.
I went to see Pope John Paul II when he visited Slovakia, and the Vatican had little booths set up selling candles in the shape of the pope's head, which I first mistook for lollipops but let's save that for another time.
But a Jesus made of chocolate, that no one is saying will be eaten, and a pope whose head I am supposed to light on fire (and authorized to do so by the Vatican) while listening to him speak....
... again, what's the controversy about the Chocolate Jesus?
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
This is the Heidentor in Petronell, a couple of miles outside of Hainburg. It is from the 4th C AD, but no one knows really what it was used for.
I like the windmills nearby.
Austria reportedly gets almost 25 percent of it's energy from windmills.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
One of the reasons my work in Tbilisi was scheduled for last week was, apparently, so that it would coincide with the fifth anniversary celebration of the journalism school.
Brief background: The Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management (CSJMM) was started by the International Center for Journalists (five years ago, of course) to train journalists in the Republic of Georgia, and surrounding Caucasus nations (including Armenia, Azerbaijan, and now Kazakhstan). Since the education they currently get in journalism is non-existent (universities still use Stalin-era textbooks, and student are taught only theory, not practical application--akin to a surgeon never learning to operate, but only reading about it), this program offers something most certainly needed.
I was a "founding faculty member" and have gone back each year since to teach a crash course in Visual Journalism.
A huge percentage of the graduates have created stellar careers for themselves--from Harvard Nieman Fellowships, to Berkeley researchers, lead anchormen, executive editors, foreign correspondents, etc.--- I must say, I was quite moved by seeing them all there. Got a little choked up, I did. Anyhow, it's nice when your students become your colleagues. It's a fantastic feeling.
Two current J School Kazakh students, Asset and Dinara--and Dinara's son playing games on the cell phone--talk with former Georgia PAO officer Victoria Sloan
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Remi buried a banana in the back yard this morning.
I had brought two bananas and my coffee back into bed this morning, and left the garden doors off the bedroom open so Remi could come and go as she wanted.
So she came onto the bed, skived off with a banana, and buried it just beyond the patio.
It's taking me a long time to get settled back in after Tbilisi. Always does. I leave for Armenia after Easter and it feels like this week has flown by. So much to do. And my body feels like it's 101 years old.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Left the apartment in Tbilisi at 230 for a 430 flight. Arrived back in Hainburg sometime around 8am, but the key to the front door doesn't work (housesitter lost original, and new one is cheap and bad)--so all my comings and goings are carried out through the garden doors off the kitchen.
Rested on a blanket in the back yard, bundled in a coat but with the sun warming my face. Remi was hyper and kept jumping over me, digging holes, leaving her toys under my chin, and finally positioning herself right in my line of sun.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
My last day in Tbilisi.
Simulataneously taught two groups of young journalists 8-10 hours a day, sometimes without a break. There are 50 of them!
But of course I'm really proud of them and had a hard time keeping my emotions in check when I said goodbye.
I blamed it on exhaustion.
My flight leaves at 430 am, which means I have a 230 pickup. The electricity went off an hour ago and I haven't packed yet. So will I be packing in the dark?
I'm at a restaurant that has wifi and a generator (and this street doesn't seem to be effected). I only have 17 percent left on my battery there. Talk about going down to the wire.
Hopefully, after I finish my soup and head home, the lights will be back on. And heat. But mainly lights.
The photographer sitting next to me just now saw me straining to see my screen becauseof the sunlight, so she offered to pull the blinds down.
They are really hard to work and so she inched them down piece by piece, teeny bit by teeny bit and muttered "This is the Georgian way."
I started laughing and then she started laughing and then said about the Soviet system: "Nothing ever works right, but everything lasts forever."
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The best foot massage is at the Metropole Hotel in Saigon.
The most comprehensive pedicure is at Ici Paris on Abashidze Street in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Check out some other services on offer at Ici Paris:
Every Day Hair-Do
Hair Wave by Curlers
Correction of Hair for Women
Correction of Hair for Men
And let's see what else is on offer:
Correction of Eyebrows
Temporary Eyelash Grafting
And for the body:
Isometric Gymnastics for the Face
Isometric Gymnastics for the Breast
Thursday, March 22, 2007
I don't know what his drug of choice is, but he has been passed out twice on the bottom stair in the hallway of the apartment building in Tbilisi.
He uses the stairstep as a pillow, while positioning the rest of his body on the landing.
He seems to get offended when you step over him.
He also seems to have some sort of schedule because he is gone before dark.
And he's too young to be this far gone.
In any case, after I stepped over him tonight, I went into the apartment and was overwhelmed with the smell of gas.
Called the landlord and fled.
Out on the street, I bought a small bag of popcorn and before I could slip it into my bag, I was accosted by a small but surprisingly strong and persistent street kid who, when I didn't give him my food, grabbed my scarf and started to hang on it.
I want to go home.
Posted by Patti McCracken at 4:24 PM
Monday, March 19, 2007
I'm in Tbilisi and will be here through the end of the week.
Found out this morning that a very admired and respected colleague from DC is gravely ill. He actually was key in founding this program I'm working with here in the Republic of Georgia... successfully celebrating its fifth anniversary at the end of the week.
He's fairly young, has always been very fit. Has a son still in high school.
I'm still walking into walls.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I'm off to Georgia tomorrow (Republic of, not State).
Went to the doctor this afternoon, who poked around my abdomen and when I yipped in pain, wondered if I didn't have appendicitis.
He said he'd check the situation again tomorrow and then advised against having an appendectomy in Tbilisi.
Uhhh, right-o Doctor.
While I was in the waiting room, a five-year-old boy was escorted into another room whereupon he screamed bloody murder. Bloody murder. Exquisite shrieks for 2 or 3 minutes straight.
Apparently, this little guy is famous for it so they have to take him into a back room whenever they need to give him a shot. I just find it hard to believe that was a back room he was in. Sounded like he'd crawled inside my ears.
If the doctor really does think this is appendicitis, I'll obviously have to cancel my trip. Remi will be happy, but 50 Georgian journalists will be ticked.
Posted by Patti McCracken at 11:03 PM
Monday, March 12, 2007
Remi did it again.
Hunted up a big ole lizard, and this time got him clamped in her jaws.
Unfortunately, no camera handy to record, although it would have caught nothing but flying dirt--she was fast and furious.
Leashed her (while she was thrashing around with the poor lizard in her mouth) and scooted her away.
Worried that the lizard could release a poison...is that possible? I don't know, but don't want to take chances.
The next thing is to keep snakes out of the yard, apparently a Jack Russell specialty.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
It's spring here in Hainburg.
Had what began as a leisurely phone conversation with my friend in the late morning, wherein he told me he found out he has high blood pressure. He said he's gonna cut back on the wine and cigarettes. But not, apparently, the fried chicken, which I could hear him cooking in the background.
Anyhow, went with Remi to the cafe later, where some pics of her were being snapped (she was being especially star-like).
Afterward we went for a drive with Sir George, down toward the Slovak end of the Danube, the road to which is aligned with horse farms and sheep.
On the way back, we saw some sheep napping inside a big rig truck, enjoying the shade it was giving off.
Back at home I slept off a beer while Rear Window was on, and then went out for some ambling through some more farm fields.
Remi rolled in I don't know what, and something is completely hyping her out, because after all that walking (miles!), rolling, running and wrestle-playing (she met two friends along the way), she's still bouncing around like a rubber ball.
Friday, March 09, 2007
The city of Washington, DC is refurbishing an old Civil War hospital, and pieces of the surrounding fence are missing. They've put out a call to residents to return anything that was, er, borrowed over the last 100+ years.
This reminded of another time the police asked the residents to return city property.
When I lived there in the '80s and '90s, someone started chopping off all the parking meters. It started small, but in a few months you couldn't even find a valid meter on, say, K Street. It was like Christmas for me because you are allowed to park in a place where the meter is clearly broken (at least it was okay back then). The problem for me wasn't paying for the parking, but paying the huge fine when you would inevitably be two minutes late to run down and feed the damn thing.
Anyhow, the police asked for people to be on the lookout for others skiving off with the tops of parking meters.
But some guy had apparently been calling for months, to no avail. He lived on the second floor of an old rowhouse, and he could see into the neighbor's yard and watched as the pile of parking meters accumulated day after day.
He kept calling but no one came to check it out. Finally, the thief's fence broke and the meters came tumbling out into the alley. THIS caught the attention of the police and my glorious days of free parking were over.
Along the same lines, I take advantage of Sir George's status as a taxi. More than once, I've parked in a taxi lane in Vienna and Bratislava. I figure if an old lady can flag me down in the middle of the road and demand I take her to the local fair, then I can play the taxi card when parking.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
She is getting her hair all over my sofa.
Folded up beside me like a little compact suitcase, her tangle of legs are layered under a belly that softly rises and falls with each breath. The ears are on standby mode; the eyelids twitch from time to time, as if they'll soon open, but her will is too weak to resist the weight of sleep in the cocoon I have made here for her.
The rain is smacking at the window, telling us to stay put, telling us not to hazard going out into the wet and muddy mess it has spawned. Stay, says the rain, you two stay inside and nestle.
I have put my hand on her to draw out some comfort. As I do this, I am delivered back to the time when I first met her as a young pup, no older than six quick weeks.
I was on a journalism assignment in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, housed with three others in a spectacular home owned by a corrupt, and therefore wealthy, customs agent. A bad man. He had moved his family into the shanty next door so that he could make big American dollars renting out his own place, meanwhile leaving his family to live without indoor plumbing or proper electricity.
The bad man had brought the newborn Jack Russell home from somewhere (stolen from whom?) and placed her in a box lid on our stoop, and as I leaned down to look in at this little tumble of mostly white fur, she struggled to clamber out to get close to me. I helped her by scooping her small body into my hand and holding her close.
She found an untroubled spot there with me, burrowing her muzzle deep into the crook of my arm and falling fast asleep, her shallow breaths releasing quickly from her exhausted self. Careful not to wake her, I sat stiffly on the concrete, her body tucked between my elbow and my ribcage, the soft leather of the old coat protecting her from the cold, the same coat worn when I cradled my own dog for the last time four years earlier.
And here I was with this young little one, thousands of miles from home, wearing my worn out jacket in a worn out country, soothing a worn out, frightened and battered newborn pup. Two foreigners sharing an untroubled spot on a stoop in Tbilisi. Far from home.
It is enough to say that this puppy was being terribly abused by the bad man, and that she was in dire need of medical care and that I bribed him so I could take her with me back to my home in Austria, out of harm's way.
On the flight back she played in my lap (in between play sessions with the flight attendants at the back of the plane), and the German passenger seated next to me asked what was her name.
She doesn't have one, I said. I only have her temporarily until I can find a good home for her.
"Temporary," he said. "Right. Temporary for the next 10-15 years."
He was right, as it turns out.
She has become Remi.
When I was struggling my way through college, I worked with a guy named John Bresnahan. He is the funniest person I've ever known.
Johnny came in one day and sat down in Tim's chair and said "Sparky..."--he called me Sparky because he said we all had to have newsroom names. I called him Johnny Star.
"Sparky," he said, "I've sunk to a new low. I washed my clothes in the bathtub."
"No, I've done that before," I said. "No money for the laundromat, so you use the bathtub."
"Yea, but I dried my pants in the oven. On 350."
Monday, March 05, 2007
A few days ago the Swiss Army accidentally invaded Lichtenstein. Almost 200 Swiss soldiers were marching, marching, marching (probably in search of a pub) when they inadvertently marched several hundred yards across the border into Lichtenstein, a tiny nation of 34,000. Lichtenstein had to be informed by Swiss officials of the unintended invasion, but weren't too concerned when they heard that the foraying forces had weapons with them, but no ammunition.
Posted by Patti McCracken at 8:52 PM
Friday, March 02, 2007
Useful Phrases to Know While Visiting a Doctor in the Czech Republic:
I have been vaccinated.
Byl jsem ockovany.
I'm on the pill.
Uzivam antikoncepcni prasky.
I haven't had my period in ... months.
Nemenstruovala jsem uz .... mesice.
and the always necessary:
I have my own syringe.
Mam svoji injekcni strikacku.