Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Erntedankfest 2014, 1 von 2


With thanks to this vegan Canadian blogger in Thailand! 1863 von Präsident Abraham Lincoln verkündigt kommt Erntedankfest in den Vereinigten Staaten jeden vierten Donnerstag in November wieder. Aber dieses Jahr haben wir mehrmals gefeiert. Zuerst fand ein Abendessen bei unserer Kirchengemeinde statt. Freiwillige Köche arbeiteten tagsüber, um ein traditionelles Mahl anzurichten: Truthahn mit Füllung und Bratensosse, weisse Kartoffelbrei, Mais, grüne Bohne mit Speck, Süsskartoffelbrei mit Ananas (!), Brötchen, und--was ich am liebsten habe--Cranberrysosse. Leider habe ich meine Kamera mitgebracht aber nicht vewendet--sogar während der Musik die Michael, eine Sopranistin, und ein Saxofonspieler gemacht haben. Mein Teller sah ungefähr so aus (Foto vom Internet geliehen):

Die gesammelte Gemeinde, von der Bühne aus.

Dann haben die Medizinstudentinnen im ersten Jahr ein Abendessen organisiert. Jede/r hat eine Speise mitgebracht: Truthahn, Chili, Hackbällchen, geröstete Gemüse, Maisbrot, Kuchen. Wir haben gemischten Salat beigetragen. Auf englisch nennen wir es einen "Potluck." (Ich weiss, dass die Deustche solche Parties auch haben, aber das richte Wort kenne ich nicht.) Gutes Essen passt immer mit Fanta, nicht wahr?

Mehr teile ich später. Viele Studenten geniessen eine Woche Pause von Vorlesungen, aber die Medizinstudenten im dritten oder vierten Jahr, die in Kliniken studieren, müssen jeden Tag ausser Donnerstag arbeiten. Einige von uns haben vor, ein Potluck-Mahl zu haben. Ich verspreche Fotos davon!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fancy Schmancy

Do you ever fix a nice breakfast on the weekend and serve it on good china, because you're tired of looking at your everyday dishes? Yeah, us too.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dance of the Children

This weekend, Dear Husband and I performed together. He is the accompanist for an adult choir in our community. When I traveled with them to Central Europe two years ago, the director asked me to choreograph and perform a dance to Eliza Gilkeyson's "Requiem" for the 2005 tsunami victims in Indonesia. I later reprised that piece for their fall concert. Earlier this fall, she introduced me to Kurt Bestor's "Prayer for the Children" and asked me to do interpret it in movement for this year's fall concert in honor of America's veterans. In fact, The Chorale was so kind as to dedicate this piece to me "in gratitude and friendship...for bringing the beauty of dance to the music of The Chorale. Thank you for your grace and lyrically sensitive interpretation of this poignant song." This is how it begins:
Can you hear the prayer of the children?
On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room.
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry,
Turning heavenward toward the light.

Crying, Who will help me
To see the morning light-of one more day?
But if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take.
It would be easy to pantomime most of the words, but I felt that would trivialize it. Instead, I made a word document of the lyrics and highlighted a few phrases to anchor my interpretation, like "prayer" and "tears to cry." The sun and its light is another repeating motif. I created more and less stylized gestures to fit these phrases. Then I strung movements in between them that expressed the mood of the lines, which was a combination of sadness, hope, and--in the most difficult part--anger and violence.

"Prayer of the Children" was an interesting selection to include on the program, which otherwise consisted of crowd-pleasers like "The Last Full Measure of Devotion" and "Proud to Serve." Kurt Bestor explains on his blog about how he came write this little piece about the unrest after Tito died in Yugoslavia--and how it became a staple of youth choirs in the 1990s during the violent breakup of that country. The penultimate line, "Can you hear the prayer of the children?" is sung in Croatian.

Between some of the songs on the program, the maestra read remembrances from Americans who fought during World War II. She connected "Prayer" with the rest of the program by reading a poem written by a boy who died in the Shoah (or Holocaust).
A little garden,
fragrant and full of roses.
The path the little boy trudges
is exceedingly narrow.

A small boy,
tender like a budding blossom,
but when the blossoms bloom,
the little boy will be no more.
Franta (Frantisek) Bass was born in Brno on September 4, 1930; deported to the Terezin concentration camp on December 2, 1941; and died in Auschwitz on October 28, 1944. He was only fourteen years old when he was murdered. She had discovered his poem when we visited the museum at Terezin two years ago.

For the performance, I eschewed my usual white leotard and flowing skirt in favor of my paternal grandfather's Bohemian blouse with beautiful embroidery and cut-out lace, his wide, black and red sash, and simple black dance pants. A friend put my hair in french braids. I figured this costume was suitably "Eastern European" and besides, my grandfather is a WWI Marine veteran.

The week before the concert I spent several hours finishing the choreography and polishing the presentation. Unfortunately, I seem to have peaked too early: I think the best rendition I gave was the night of the dress rehearsal, when I danced for the choir. (So they could satisfy their curiosity first, and then pay attention to the director like they're supposed to.) When we did it a second time, with them singing and me dancing, I injured my foot coming out of a split leap awkwardly. I applied iced and ibuprofen immediately and went to the student health center the next morning--aka the morning of the concert--where an exam and xrays confirmed I had not broken a toe. The doctor did not want me to dance at all, but I couldn't bear the thought of not going through with it, so I let him "buddy tape" my toes, replaced the split leaps with grapevine steps, and danced anyway. I am not entirely happy with the way it went, but many audience members told me afterwards that it was beautiful. After all, they do not know what the choreography should have looked like (in my head), so I guess what happened was a good enough representation of the horrors of war and national chauvinism, which is not all glory and honor and valor, but also little children orphaned, injured, and killed, like little Franta.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Today I feel euphorian"

Image courtesy
Back in October, I posted some thoughts about psychiatry and included an Ogden Nash poem at the end. I challenged you, Dear Reader, to write a mental Status Examination for the narrator of “No Doctors Today, Thank You. Here's the poem again, followed by my mental status examination (MSE). Please read with tongue firmly in cheek!
No Doctors Today, Thank You
~Ogden Nash
They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful, well, today I feel euphorian,
Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetite of a Victorian.
Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes,
Today I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle any swashes?
This is my euphorian day,
I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away.
I will tame me a caribou
And bedeck it with marabou.
I will pen me my memoirs.
Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was!
I wasn't much of a hand for the boudoirs,
I was generally to be found where the food was.
Does anybody want any flotsam?
I've gotsam.
Does anybody want any jetsam?
I can getsam.
I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer,
I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer.
I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because I am wearing moccasins,
And I practically know the difference between serums and antitoccasins.
Kind people, don't think me purse-proud, don't set me down as vainglorious,
I'm just a little euphorious. 

Mental Status Examination

Appearance: Patient appears his stated age. He is dressed appropriately in pants, shirt, and tie. He is wearing glasses. Hygiene average.

Behavior/Attitude: Patient demonstrates psychomotor agitation: straddling his chair, pacing around the room, and play-acting. He makes intermittent eye contact but cooperates with the interview.

Speech: Patient uses what sounds like a stage voice. His speech is loud, verbose, pressured, and peppered with neologisms like “antitoccasins” and “Berlitzer.” Language skills above average.

Mood: “Today I feel euphorian.”

Affect: Mood congruent, euphoric.

Thought Process: Confused, with frequent flight of ideas and clang associations (caribou/marabou, flotsam/got some, etc.) bordering on word salad.

Thought Content: Fixated on his euphoric mood. Some delusions of grandeur (agility of a Greek god, being a swashbuckler) and also magical thinking (that he will “ring the heavens”). No suicidal or homicidal ideation.

Perception: Evident visual and auditory hallucinations, as patient speaks and gesticulates as if he were on a stage in front of an audience.

Sensorium and Cognition: Awake. Uncertain orientation to person, place, and time. Memory not formally assessed.

Insight: Fair, in that he knows he can put his shoes on or take them off without un/tying laces; but poor in that he does not think he needs a doctor despite his (hypo)mania and psychosis.

Judgment: Poor, in that he would go outside in the rain without his galoshes.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 2014

In a previous post I described everything about our marathon weekend except the race. This is the post about all 26+ miles and 5+ hours.

Breakfast did not come with our hotel room, so the morning of the race we got up in the dark and ate the yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, zucchini bread, and bananas that I had brought with us. DH took a hot shower and then applied twice as much clothing as he planned to run in. Then we headed downstairs. Here you can see the lobby of our hotel, which was on the start line, full of runners. It is 15 minutes before the start of the race, and they are supposed to be in their corrals. "Hey," said Dear Husband, "they may be insane, but they're not stupid." Temperature at race time: 32 degree Fahrenheit.

Rod Burgundy agrees:
"I immediately regret this decision."
The sun came up while we milled around in the open, too-slow-to-be-seeded corral. Just before the gun sounded, I collected DH's extra layers, then walked along the sidewalk as he approached the starting line. After he took off, I went back to the hotel, deposited his things, picked up my purse, and went back out. I cheered the runners along their course--even surprising DH at the 2.5-mile mark as he rounded a corner--as I made my way across downtown Indianapolis to meet up with DH's parents, who had come to do the "drive and cheer" with me.

The three of us spent the morning driving a big, looping circle around the race course in central Indy. We stopped first at the 13.1-mile mark with a noisemaker, some balloons, and a personalized sign. Some of the other signs were pretty clever: "That seems like a lot of work for a free banana" or "I'm impressed with your stamina: call me!" One guy was offering "free high fives," and a kid had a sign that said "Press here for speed." Click here to see more Super Signs from the race.

In case you were wondering, I don't do marathons. Heck, I don't even run, unless it's on one of those special stair-climbing ellipticals. I have flat feet and bum knees and can only go 15-20 minutes on a treadmill or regular elliptical machine before my feet start burning with nerve pain. I had to give up Zumba and Pi-Yo because the repetitive movements made my knees hurt for days afterwards.

Instead, I cheer. For everybody. Some spectators wait quietly along the course until their runner comes along; I shout and clap for all of them: "Go, go, go! Looking good! That's it: one foot in the front of the other! You can do this--you ARE doing it! Nice form! Run, Forrest, run! So far, so great! I believe in flying unicorns!" That was for the couple in matching unicorn headbands, rainbow tails, and wings. And of course, "Whooooo!" I was hoarse by the time DH had finished the race. Maybe I should take up voice training?

DH accepts a high five from his mother at 13 miles.
Despite it being the day after Halloween there were few runners or spectators in costume. I wore my jester hat with the bells on the tips, carried a wooden noisemaker that is supposed to sound like "crickets," and generally made a noisy fool of myself. When we moved to the ¾ mark (18.5 miles) at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, some of the runners remembered our sign and my silly hat.

Raising the roof at 18.5 miles. A DJ was spinning
rap tunes on the other side of the circle drive in
front of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
DH was making good time, so we closed the circle by driving back to downtown Indianapolis, where we took advantage of $5 event parking at a garage one block from the finish line. ($5 ?!?! Only in Indianapolis. Even football parking in our small town costs $10.) We ate lunch brought from home in the warmth of the car before getting out to stand at the final turn of the race course. The wait was longer than we had anticipated because, as DH explained later, the last fourth of the course involved some serious and unexpected hills that were physically difficult and mentally demoralizing. He ended up having to walk a couple times. And yet, he found the strength in himself to run the last mile, finishing in 4 hours, 40 minutes, and 11 seconds--only 10 minutes behind his goal of 4.5 hours!

Rounding the last corner into the final straightaway
--and looking pretty darn good in stretch pants.

To Journey With You Wherever Life’s Adventures May Take Us

This weekend Dear Husband and I traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, so he could run in his first marathon, the 7th annual Monumental Marathon. This post provides a quick overview; the next one contains his finishing time and the immortal line, "[marathon runners] are insane, but they're not stupid!"

Race weekend always begins with an expo of vendors. This is where we pick up his race packet and test his timer by waving his bib over a pad hooked up to a computer screen. We also look for a pair of running pants, since we couldn't find his swishy exercise pants, and the weather forecast calls for a wind chill around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The first and biggest stand we check out offers moderately priced pants that are too big for him, or expensive pants in his size with "muscle-gripping technology" to support his joints and massage his muscles while running--to the tune of 100 bucks. We settle on a low-tech pair of men's black stretch pants for $20.

Then it is on to the pasta feed. Carb-loading the day before a race is a time-honored tradition that usually involves a buffet of pasta and breadsticks, with meat and veggies for those who want them. The organizers need a place to put all those people in downtown Indy on a Friday night, so they set up a big tent with heaters at the finish line. Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating. It is cold and very windy, and in the photo you can see the tent sides flapping. At one point, the far end of the tent starts to lift up, despite the sandbags on the poles, and suddenly 1, 2, 3 tables overturn like dominoes. The workmen eating at the table behind us get up to hold the tent down, and I put the cap on the bottle of water DH and I are sharing and start making an exit plan. Sure enough, the operations manager shuts down the tent and the pasta feed midway through dinner. We can't believe we dropped $20 a plate (pre-paid) on luke-warm pasta, eaten in life-threatening conditions. Meanwhile, the loudspeakers are playing popular tunes like "Criss Cross"; they should have put on "Fly Me to the Moon."

After dinner, we go back to the hotel to warm up and watch a couple movies. I had packed "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," because it is Halloween after all, and "Happy Feet," because at least one of us needs to have a sense of humor about this whole running 26.2 miles thing. DH did waddle like a penguin after the race, but his feet were NOT happy.

In case you were wondering, this race is called the Monumental Marathon because it starts and finishes near the Soldiers and Sailors obelisk in Monument Circle at the heart of Indianapolis. Constructed 1887-1902, it commemorates the state's participation in various conflicts: that's Victory aka Miss Indiana with a sword, eagle, and "the torch of civilization" on top. Underneath is the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum. (Both are closed for renovations until further notice.) To the right you can see the day-glo-t-shirted tail of the Kids "Fun Run" 5K going by. The race course loops back to come at the monument from the east before heading north for 10 miles. It then turns southwest and zigzags to the Indianapolis Museum of Art before following the White River State Park trail back into downtown Indy. Although locals gave DH a surprised look when he mentioned afterwards that the hills had been tough, the course elevation map shows some serious hillage, particularly in the second half.

I'll satisfy your curiosity now by saying that Dear Husband completed his first marathon! And we are so proud of him. After he fueled up at the finish line (water, banana, and Steak N Shake chili), we trundled back to our hotel room so he could take a long, hot shower and a nap. Then we went out to dinner to at The Eagle's Nest, a rotating rooftop restaurant where we had celebrated our second wedding anniversary.

The restaurant takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to make one revolution. Some of Indianapolis is scenic to look at, like the Greco-Roman capitol building built in 1878 (see above). Some of the city is not scenic, like the roof of the convention center (built in 1972) and the factories with smokestacks in the background. We could also see Lucas Oil Stadium and the Eli Lilly headquarters. Did you know Lilly was the first company to produce injectable insulin on a large scale?

Dinner was okay: DH had the prime rib, with a big baked potato and (overcooked) asparagus. I ordered the seared lamb rib eye with mashed potatoes and ragout of peas, asparagus, and lamb demi. DH usually eats more slowly than I do, and sure enough this time I had cleared my plate well before he did. The lamb tasted good, but it was really more of a show piece than a dinner serving. (I didn't take a photograph of it because I was trying to spare you my food porn!) Still hungry, I immediately ordered a beet salad, which the server was kind enough to comp us. I wish he could have done something about the wine: $10 for what amounted to half a glass. Just over one revolution later, we skipped dessert and ambled slowly back to our hotel to watch an excellent South African film, Tsotsi.

Sunday morning we were up early again, ate the same cold breakfast, packed our bags, and checked out. The drive home was sunny and uneventful. It was a good marathon weekend. Stay tuned for DH's next 26.2 miler in April 2015!

Editor's note: The title of this blog is a line from our wedding vows.