Slavic Saturday

This post too is a sort-of crossover between Behind the Iron Curtain and Slavic Saturday.

Karel Gott was an important figure of Czech culture. He was a stable star of our music scene for sixty years – my whole life and some more. His parents wanted him to have a respectable working-class job, but he wanted to be an artist – specifically a painter. But by coincidence, he ended up famous not as a painter, but as a singer.

He was exceptional in one way – even during the communist regime, he became very popular in West Germany, to the point that the regime went to quite a long way to actually keep him as a valuable source of revenue. So after he once overstayed his visa, the president himself has pleaded with him to return. He was allowed to come back and he was not punished for flirting with emigration.

However, he has somehow managed to not tarnish his name by any shady collaborations with the regime – too much. Most of his support was by filling concert halls and selling records, and only once did he openly shill, by reading a pre-prepared speech chastising the movement Charter 77.

But his popularity was such that even after the regime fell, it did not suffer. He got involved in the velvet revolution just enough to show he knows where the political wind is blowing, and afterward continued as if nothing happened. There were attempts to dig up dirt on him, and he did indeed do some stupid things when he was young, but nothing could shake his star from the top of Czech musical heaven. He was a bit of a clueless idiot when it came to politics – for example, he thought that Trump is a good politician and that refugee crisis in Europe is a result of some conspiracy – but that could not tarnish his reputation either in a nation of clueless racist idiots, so there’s that.

Nothing could shake him. Nothing but death. He died this week after a prolonged battle with leukemia, at the age of 80.

I did not particularly like him. I do not know why, but his singing has always rubbed me the wrong way. I never found his voice to be pleasant to listen to, with some exceptions. But I have always felt some connection to him, partly because we share the first name and partly because he was simply everywhere.  I have also read his book “Říkám to písní” (I say it with a song) and he seemed like a reasonably nice person then. But his opinions about Trump and his conspiratorial theorizing were just daft babblings of a privileged dude who has no clue. I have mixed feelings now.

He recorded this song in 1966 when he was young and I was not born yet. But it is a song about the inevitable end of his star and his life and for some reason one of those that I like.

Hospi-tales: Of being stupid and emergency care

Well, as you all know I used the last week to to enjoy the benefits of socialised healthcare. This first post will mostly explain about some good things about our system and some bad things about being tough.

I’ve been having some back troubles since summer. They usually flared up, subsided, no problem, right? So when my left thigh started hurting whenever I got out of the car or sat for too long, I didn’t heed it but thought “it will pass”. Please, don’t be me. I don’t know if the worst could have been avoided if I’d gone to the doc then, but I’d be kicking my own ass if I could reach it anyway.

Well, on Friday last week the pain increased to the level that I called my GP. I got an appointment for Friday this week… Saturday morning I decided it could not wait and made Mr drive me to the on duty GP. This is one level of German healthcare meant to prevent people with colds clogging the ER. Problem is that sometimes the person is not a GP but a specialised doctor,though I think they changed the rules and exempted specialists who are not able to diagnose an actual emergency like psychiatrists or eye doctors. The post is located in the hospital so they can react quickly in case of an emergency. The nice doc examined me, determined I had no neurological failure and sent me home with more pain medication. After lunch I had to admit that it wasn’t working and had Mr drive me to the ER.

Well, the system to keep the ER unclogged only works to a certain degree. I saw them send people next door, telling them that yes, their cold was bad but a case for the GP, but there were others who insisted to be an emergency. There was a guy who insisted he’d been waiting for hours (it was 45 minutes, as the friendly receptionist told him) and who demanded to be seen immediately. When he got told he had to wait he told them “well, just tear it up, I’m going home!” And of course actual emergencies and I do understand that an old lady with chest pain is probably more serious than me. But I was never good at making my pain heard, so I got pushed to the back of the line until I told them after two hours that I was about to puke on the floor from pain. That got their attention. I got sent for x-rays (nothing to see, thankfully) and hooked up to IV painkiller. I was offered to stay and first declined (I am not the smartest cookie), but when the painkiller didn’t show any effect I decided to stay.

The morale, dear children: go see your doctor if you can. Don’t wait until you become a Saturday afternoon emergency.

Jack’s Walk

Jack, October 3, 2019 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack, October 3, 2019 ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s been rainy and damp for a few days and this morning the temp was only 10°. It’s certainly not my favourite weather, but as my dad used to say, “it’s better than no weather at all.” Jack says he doesn’t mind the change. He has more energy when it’s cool and it gives him a reason to grow hair. Jack likes to grow hair, lots and lots of hair, and by the end of winter he has a thick, lush insulating coat which he then sheds all over everything come spring – except Jack never does a full shed. Normally we go to the east coast for the summer and Jack needs an undercoat to swim in the cold waters of the Atlantic. This year, though, we fooled him and stayed home in hot and humid Ontario where his remaining undercoat was unnecessary. I kept waiting for him to shed through June and July and even August, but Jack held on to that undercoat through all the hot days of summer. By the end of August I’d given up and figured he’d just start the slow build up to maximum coverage for winter. I was wrong. At the beginning of September Jack went into full shed mode and the hair came out in heaps and clumps and, Oh Boy, did it come out fast. It’s only the second time in Jack’s life that he’s been without his undercoat and neck ruff and the first time was way back when he was a puppy. He isn’t quite finished shedding yet either. You can see the blondish bits around his neck starting to clump and by tomorrow they’ll be ready to pluck. Soon he should start putting on new hair and I’d like to track how long it takes for him to grow his thick, full coat back so I’m going to photograph him about once a month to see how long it takes before he’s as hairy as a wookiee again. Here he is today looking svelte(ish) at the beginning of Autumn. We’ll see how it grows.

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

I’m sorry that Jack and I didn’t get here yesterday. By the time I got home from Michigan I was so tired that I totally crashed. Jack didn’t mind the crash. He was so happy to see me that he’s glued himself to me and he won’t let me out of his sight. He’s been quietly following me around wherever I go and he just sits and watches me. It’s a bit unnerving, but I understand. Jack’s been feeling a bit left out since my mother took sick and I started spending most of my time at the nursing home. Then, just I started cutting back a bit from that, I took off completely for 2 days. Poor Bubba. He’s used to having me to himself most of the day.

The time away was just what I needed. I got to play with giant snakes and giant tortoises and I even held a tarantula. We accidentally discovered the largest Salvation Army store in North America and spent hours roaming through the place looking at all kinds of interesting stuff. My friend found a brand new Anne Klein black wool coat for $21.00. I found several funky pieces to add to my wardrobe and as we were checking out we were given an extra 30% discount because we were early birds. We hit a few other stores, found a few more deals, ate out, talked, laughed and finally made it home, tired but happy. Today it’s back to reality and even though I’ll be extra tired for a day or two my mind is clearer and I’m ready to return to caregiving.

The Art of Book Design: Thy Servant a Dog

Told by Boots, Edited by Rudyard Kipling. Thy Servant a Dog. London, McMillan and Company, 1930. photo via: Abe Books

Told by Boots, Edited by Rudyard Kipling. Thy Servant a Dog. London, McMillan and Company, 1930. (Dust Jacket photo via: Maxinjo@pinterest)


The book is available to read at The Internet Archive

Well, ouch.

Before you send out parties in search for your missing host: I’m in hospital with a nice big spinal disc herniation. Sorry for the not working link, you can google it yourselves.

They’re trying to get the pain under control with medication, cortisol injections in the spine and physiotherapy. If that doesn’t work they’ll transfer me to the university hospital. I’m sick and tired of this shit, and patience has never been my strong suit.

My BFF has brought me a plush llama. I miss y’all.