dancersI guess I’ve been asleep at the wheel, or texting or something because I woke up this morning and it was May already. Eight months later and so many things have taken place so many people have been met and so many places have been seen. Somehow, while I was sleeping we passed through Fall, Winter and are in the middle of Spring. I have around three more classes in May with many of my students while others carry over into June. Meanwhile life in the states goes on without me, The Giants are on a winning streak, Republicans are still trying to scare us about the evils of Obamacare wasting everyone’s time with useless votes to repeal it, Clive Bundy still has cattle on welfare and an armed militia guarding his mind in Nevada and The Game of Thrones has me captivated. I missed the witch burning fires last Wednesday because I had to work. So I missed another party, this time with fire. My camera also gave up the ghost last Thursday. It happened, of course, at a moment when I really wanted to use it. I guess the grinding sound I heard was a dead give away. I’ve schlepped that thing all around the U.S. as well as half of Europe over the past 6 or 7 years. I managed to pick up a cheap-o camera here so we’ll see how the pictures turn out. It’s not as fancy schmancy as my Canon, but, as the Irish say, “It’ll do.” With a little less than a month and a half left on my contract there are still many places I want to see. With Poland so close a visit to Krakow and Auschwitz is on my list as well as Budapest in Hungary. Meanwhile back at the ranch, sights within the Czech border are also doable. Right now, though, I need to focus on my classes and bring them to closure before I literally ride into the sunset. I’ve already started to ship stuff home, like winter clothes and some books and gifts given to me over the year. I didn’t think it would be has hard as it was to pack boxes to ship. It is as if the reality of leaving is starting to sink in. I really love this place and it’s people. I love my family as well and that is what will get me out the door of my flat and on the train to Prague come June.

Things change, life goes on and experiences come and go. I am a little wistful today sitting on my balcony in downtown Vsetín. Last Sunday, our family dog was put down. Her name was Tootsie and she was a flop-eared deer Chihuahua (meaning she had long legs and fur the color of deer fur). She was brought to our home in Pacifica by my daughter who begged to have her stay. Initially I didn’t like her much but in a style she would repeat over and over, she kept trying to win her way into my heart and finally won. Even after my daughter moved out leaving us with the dog I considered Tootsie part of the family and a happy companion. She would actually smile when we came home from our various jobs going berserk when we came in the front door. Even though she was small she was fearless and attacked a skunk twice on two separate occasions in our back yard suffering the consequences. Well actually, we all suffered the consequences. She had many endearing qualities one of which was to crawl inside my sweater while I was on the couch and go to sleep. She liked burrowing especially in the middle of the night when she would climb inside our bed and make her way down to my feet to sleep. I remember after we left our home in Pacifica and were moving to a no-pet apartment in Menlo Park I drove the 700 miles or so to Portland so that Tootsie could live with my daughter and her dog. I stopped at every rest stop on Interstate 5 to give the dog a pee break. Nothing. When I stopped for the night in Yreka near the California border with Oregon, I took her out several times to do her “thing.” Again, nothing. It was only when I got her back into the motel room that she let go with the Niagara Falls of piss. I couldn’t get mad at her, I just quickly cleaned it up and gave her more water to drink. I was sad to leave her in Portland for my long trek back to the Bay Area by myself this time, but I knew she was in good hands and would have a happy life. She was old by this time, but every time I would visit Portland she would still wag her tail and jump on me. It was only in this last year that her health went down hill rapidly. I didn’t witness it but I know it would have been difficult to watch the decline. Putting a pet down is never easy and it shouldn’t be but I’m happy that she is finally at rest with no pain and with thousands of skunks to chase. I miss her, even way over here. She was someone (yes a person) who I could talk to and would agree with me all of the time. I doubt if Clive Bundy could say the same thing about his cows.

and so it goes…