Monthly Archives: August 2012

Praying My Way Through Prague

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. ~ King James Bible, Matthew 7:7

I looked at the calendar today and realized that I missed an anniversary. Not my wedding anniversary, but a rather delightful one nevertheless.

It was two years ago this month that Sausage was conceived.

I know, I know, TMI. Well, it’s my blog, and I’ll talk about whatever I want to. So there.

Anyway, two years ago, in mid-August, Loving Husband and I went on a trip. We were still living in Sicily at that point, and we were coming up on our return to the US, so we were trying to get as much travel in as we could while we were so advantageously situated.

We packed a bag and hopped on a plane to Prague. That’s in the Czech Republic, for those of you who don’t know (it’s okay, I too am a product of an American public school education, I understand).

I had been wanting to go to Prague for a long time. It’s a beautiful city — it managed to avoid heavy bombing during World War II, so much of its Art Nouveau and medieval architecture remains intact. I was excited to go to the Mucha Museum, and Loving Husband was delighted to go to a country with heavy, Eastern European food. Needless to say, we looked forward to consuming much in the way of art and goulash.

Wild boar goulash with ginger dumpling and cranberry sauce. GET. IN. MY. FACE.

But a little backstory is in order here, as well. See, at this point we had been trying to have a baby for a year. I had had two miscarriages and countless tests to determine why I couldn’t maintain a pregnancy. I had been in therapy for nearly a year, since just after the first miscarriage my doctor and I decided that, with my history of depression, I was at a high risk of relapse. So we arrived in Prague soul-aching and damaged, clinging to whatever we could find of hope and normalcy.

The Czech Republic proved to be a very welcome distraction from doctor visits, blood tests, and therapy sessions. We stayed in the Ambassador Zlat√° Husa Hotel, right on Wenceslas Square, which is the commercial center of Prague. It was walking distance to everything, and there were street meat carts out on the square, which meant that Loving Husband was just about in heaven.

Wenceslas Square in the evening.

I won’t go into all the things that we saw and did. If you look at a guidebook for Prague, we hit all the major sights — the cathedral, the palace, the astronomical clock tower. We saw a Black Light Theater show, and bought an insanely overpriced calendar at the Mucha Museum. We took a day trip to Kutn√° Hora, where we saw the famous Sedlec Bone Church, the less-famous silver mine, and our first wild hedgehog. We drank Czech beer with every meal and sopped up our gravy with savory dumplings. We walked and walked and walked until I thought my feet would fall off, and then we walked some more. We talked trash about other tourists and how obnoxious they were.

Kozel Dunkel. Reason enough to head to the Czech Republic.

And I prayed.

Now, I’m not religious. Spiritual, yes, but not religious. I have problems with organized religion and, frequently, with its followers. But in the Czech Republic, I prayed.

There have been a lot of holy people who have made Prague their home over the years. People who founded churches, who did good deeds, and are still revered. I made a point of learning about them so that I could pray to them.

The first one we encountered was Saint John of Nepomuk. There is a large statue of him on the Charles Bridge, over the river Vltava — this commemorates his martyrdom, thrown from the bridge into the river on the order of the king. A few meters (yards plus a little, for you Americans again) away from the statue, though, is a small cross and (relatively) modest image of the saint, supposedly marking the actual spot from which he was thrown. Legend has it that if you touch that cross and the image of the saint, and you make a wish, it will come true within a year and a day. You can only do so once in your life, so you’d better make the wish a good one. I wished for a healthy baby.

Praying to John of Nepomuk.

The second holy man that we encountered was Rabbi Loew, a famous scholar, philosopher, and Jewish mystic in the 16th century. Legend has it that he built the Golem of Prague, which made my nerdy little D&D-playing heart happy. Rabbi Loew is buried in Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery — a site so fascinating that it could be a whole post all by itself — and people frequently leave prayers at his monument, written on slips of paper and weighted with pebbles. I left my prayer on a small ledge at the back of the monument, under a pink pebble. I prayed for a healthy baby.

A tombstone from Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery. Yes, I did the flare on purpose. Because I’m ARTSY, that’s why.

The third pilgrimage I made was a rather odd one. Actually, I found it to be downright weird and uncanny, but there you go. In the Church of Our Lady Victorious, an important artifact is housed — it’s called the Infant of Prague, a small statue of the child Jesus that supposedly once belonged to Saint Teresa of Avila. I pretty much just saw a really creepy doll with a whole lot of expensive changes of clothes, but there you go — I’m not Catholic, I don’t get it. Nevertheless, the church was flooded with devotees, lighting candles and chanting the novena prayer which was printed in every language imaginable. I lit my candle, I said the words. I ask that my prayer be granted … I urgently ask that my prayer be granted … I know that my prayer will be granted. I prayed for a healthy baby.

Now, lest you fear that I had become a little bit crazy, praying to every statue and poppet that promised me a wish come true, you can be certain that Loving Husband and I did, in fact, remember to do all those other things that are required when you want a baby. Repeatedly.

It was fun.

Sausage’s future Mama and Daddy.

And two weeks later, we had a positive pregnancy test.

Sausage was born the following May. A healthy, beautiful, wonderful baby.

But we decided against naming him Infant Nepomuk Loew. We’re grateful and all, but seriously. Poor kid’s going to have enough issues when he finds out that I call him Sausage on my blog.

Hedgehog!

The Fraggle, The Count, And The Very Sad Day

You can learn to sing/ You can learn the special words that live in everything/ Teach your ear to hear the stones/ Listen to the trees/ Magic is as magic does/ It lives in you and me. ~ Fraggle Rock episode “Wembley’s Wonderful Whoopie Water”

I hadn’t really planned to post today. Life, the universe, and everything sort of tumbled down around my head this week, and the idea of posting — even the idea of catching up on reading blogs — has been overwhelming.
But then I saw a news article. A horribly sad one, one which took some of the light and joy and whimsy out of the world.

Jerry Nelson died.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, Jerry Nelson is the Muppeteer who is responsible for performing more characters in the worlds created by Jim Henson than I could possibly list; most people would know him as Herry Monster, Count Von Count, and (most importantly, at least to my mind) Gobo Fraggle.

I rediscovered Fraggle Rock several years ago, when I found a copy of the first season on DVD for half price, and I just couldn’t resist reconnecting with my childhood. I expected to have a few laughs with it and then move on.

What surprised me in watching the show again was how complex it was, how it dealt with the very adult problems of responsibility, the importance of friendship, and cooperation between people who share a world but can’t see eye-to-eye. It was a show that was intended to change the world.

And it did, at least for some of us who were the right age, and in the right place at the right time. The idealism of the early 1980’s may lie deeply buried in many of my generation, but it’s there, and we learned it from Fraggle Rock.

That’s right. I’m a Fraggle Rock mega-fan.

Part of what made that show so successful, what made it have such an impact on my young and impressionable mind, was its characters. They weren’t just Muppets, doing silly things and singing silly songs — they were people, they had depth, and it was their performers who gave them that depth.

That’s why I’m so sad to hear of Jerry Nelson’s passing. His distinctively sharp voice may be more recognizable for his work on Sesame Street, but his was the voice of Marjorie, the wise Trash Heap, which taught me that Gorgs are people too; his was the voice of Pa Gorg, who taught me that even pompous blow-hards are capable of love; and his was the voice of Gobo Fraggle, who taught me that it’s easy to be brave and good and strong, so long as you have friends who love you.

So now I’ll just let the man speak for himself. Thanks for all the good times, Mr. Nelson. You will be missed.

Why Didn’t I Post Today?

Quote; quotey quotey quote, quote? Quote quote! ~ Kathy V.

Why didn’t I post today?

I intended to when I woke up.

I mean, yeah, I had to deal with breakfasts for myself and everyone else. And there was coffee to make.

(Photo by shuttermon)

And Star Trek The Next Generation was on, an episode that I don’t think I’ve seen before; either that or I haven’t seen it in twenty years, which is essentially the same thing.

Mmm. Patrick Stewart is sexy.

But why didn’t I post?

Okay, so I never get any writing done while the baby is awake. He demands stories, and wrestling, and block-building, and boo-boo kissing. So that takes time.

And then the nap time routine takes up time as well, with all the nursing and storytelling and brushing of teeth and singing.

Sleepy Sausage.

But once he was in bed, shouldn’t I have written something?

After I had more coffee, of course. That goes without saying.

And oh, you guys. Your blogs today were all so GOOD. I mean, I had to read them all.

I had to comment on them too, of course. I wouldn’t want my blogging friends to think that I wasn’t reading their posts, and just pressing the ‘like’ button seems so impersonal. I try to do that only if I have no time at all.

Wait! What’s that noise? Dammit. There’s a cat vomiting somewhere. Grab the paper towels and the carpet cleaner, they ALWAYS puke on something porous and stainable.

Now, to write something!

Oh no! I haven’t checked Facebook yet today! Now I have to catch up on news stories (can you even BELIEVE what that guy said? Outrage!) and life stories (OH. EM. GEE. My college roommate’s new baby is a-DOR-able!) and story stories (more blogs to read? Yes please!)

Oops! I was supposed to do some laundry. But I have to rewash what I put in the washer two days ago and forgot about, because of the stink.

(Photo by miko)

So why didn’t I post today?

Oooh! Lunchtime!

But there’s nothing to eat. Maybe if I stare into the refrigerator for fifteen minutes, something new will miraculously show up.

Nope. Peanut butter and jelly on bread ends, then.

Whoops! Baby’s awake!

Baby’s awake? Seriously? Where did the time go?

Okay, I shove the remaining sandwich into my mouth. Writing will just have to wait.

Change the diaper. Lunchtime for the baby, now.

Man, waffles take forever to toast.

Alright. He’s fed. Now for the cleanup.

How did peanut butter get THERE? Clean that up.

And the child is screaming and pointing at the door. Why?

Oh. The recycling truck is outside and he wants to go watch it. Drop everything to bring him onto the porch to wave at the recycling guys.

What a beautiful day it is! Okay. Throw on some clean clothes and grab the stroller, it’s time for a walking adventure!

Meet our friends B and S at the swings. Fun! This kid loves the swings!

Stylish Sausage!

Strike up a conversation with another woman at the park. Look at me, making friends!

Never mind. She just asked if I’m expecting again. Now I’m mad. Okay, so this jumper is unflattering, but still. Were you raised by wolves? Have you no sense of common courtesy? You NEVER ask a woman if she’s pregnant! Never!

“No. Oh, look at the time! We need to be moving on. It was nice to meet you!” Grr.

B and I take the babies to the bar to drown our sorrows. Okay, drown might be an overstatement when we each have one beer, but there you go. And from the dirty looks directed at us by the other bar patrons, they clearly think that I’m preggers as well. This jumper has got to go.

Ack! It’s dinner time! We say our goodbyes and head home to feed our babies.

Hurrah! Loving Husband pulls up just as we reach the house! Now I can have a break, maybe write a little!

Well, after he changes his clothes and uses the bathroom. Why does he always save the lengthy bathroom visits for home?

Okay, he’s feeding the baby. Good. Now I can change out of the awful jumper.

And have a glass of wine. Just one, though!

(Photo by theswedish)

Now I can write.

Wait! There are new blog posts to read! You guys are all so PROLIFIC. How do you find the time?

Time to get the bambino into his bed. Bedtime routine, take two.

I’m hungry. But I should write!

After dinner. Then I’ll write a little.

Dinner! How did I get so lucky to have a husband who cooks? I must have been a very good girl in a previous life.

Mmm, that was good. Now let’s just cuddle on the couch a bit before bed, okay?

Nice.

Tired. It’s bedtime, right?

Okay. Clean up the kitchen and the living room. Let’s go to bed.

(Photo by brainloc)

Wait! I didn’t write anything!

Why didn’t I post today? Sigh. I’ll post tomorrow.

Good night.