Sunday, November 25, 2001

The weather is great! For the last few days it has been in the upper 60�s f. Today, all of Artsakh has observed and celebrated the birthday of its most respected and loved hero, Monte �Avo� Melkonian. This year, the morning gathering of people in Martuni was larger than I�ve ever seen in the last 4 years. I can�t say it was the weather, because in the last 4 years, the weather has been warmer then it was today. As we were standing around talking, one person noticed the large turnout and said that it seems that over time, people have become even more acceptant of Monte, as his picture which hangs on many walls is still up, as appose to those �hero�s� that have been uncovered for who they really are and no longer have a place on our walls. Everyone seemed to agree. The usual government officials came from Stepanagert to participate in the laying of flowers at Monte�s statue. Children from the Monte Melkonian pre-school recited and sang about Monte. A musical ensemble preformed traditional Armenian music. In the evening as we do every year, the children of the house where I use to stay when my house was being constructed, came by and made dinner, baked a b-day cake and we celebrated Monte�s 44th birthday.

Saturday, November 24, 2001

This woodstove is great! I don�t have it completely figured out yet, but I�m getting the hang of it. At one point last night, my room was 92f and this morning when I woke it was down to 69f. It�s another warm day. Outside, 62.3f is the high so far and it's going up. It�s not mini-summer, but it�s a heck of a lot better then maxi-winter. The jeep is coming along and I guess it should be ready in a couple of days if the weather holds out.

Friday, November 23, 2001

I finally got settled into my �winter� room. Yesterday I ordered from Uncle Vasken, a veteran tinsmith, a new woodstove, which cost me less than $10 including all the pipes. I picked it up and my neighbor came by a little while ago and installed it for me. I guess tonight I�ll try it out if it gets cold. Today the sun was out and the same neighbor and I worked on fixing up my jeep, which I burned out the motor on it last year. Last weekend while making my way to Stepanagert and almost not getting there, I decided that I can�t live without a jeep and need to get it in working order. If the whole week has weather like we did today, by the middle of next week, my jeep should be ready and I�ll really be set for winter.

Thursday, November 22, 2001

Well the winds are starting to kick up again and the month of planning to go to Yerevan for Thanksgiving dinner has been canceled. I was going to leave two days ago, but the road between Goris and Sisian was closed due to high winds. Big trucks were being tossed around like toys. The road opened up last night around 8p, but has to be closed again if Yerevan got snow. I�m moving into the other room today and installing the woodstove (white walls or not) so when the power goes out (which it will) I can keep warm. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Monday, November 19, 2001

Last night I was talking with Madlene on Instant Messenger when I noticed that my indoor/outdoor thermometer was acting a little strange. The temperature was dropping at a rapid rate. Then it started to rain and very heavy gusts of wind followed. As I was telling Madlene about these acts of nature, the power went out. I told Madlene I was going to have to log off soon, as the battery on my laptop had not yet charged from the night before when we had a blackout. I went to my guest room and got the comforter off the bed, as I knew if tonight was going to be anything like the night before, I was going to need the extra warmth. So I got in bed and waited for the power to come back on. At some point I fell asleep and woke around 7 o�clock the next morning to find that it was not only 35f outside and there was snow on the ground, but it was 52f in my room and the power had still not come back on. I picked up the phone to call a friend in another neighborhood to see if they had power, but the line was dead. My Stepanagert line was working, so I called the switchboard operator to ask if they had power, figuring that maybe it was all of Artsakh. She said no, only yesterday around 6p did they loose power for about 15 minutes. I decided that it was too early to get up, being that it was Sunday and the only thing I had to do was go to Stepanagert with my neighbor at noon and got back into my warm bed. At 11a, I woke again, still no power. I was not about to take a shower, as it was way too cold, but I did wash my hair, being that the bathroom was considerably warmer than my room. I dressed really warm and headed out. Now there are two roads that lead to Stepanagert from Martuni. The shorter of the two is a mountain road and being that a friend of mine was also to come with us to Stepanagert and he lives in a village in the direction of that mountain road, my neighbor was confident that even if there was snow on the road, my car should be able to pass. To shorten that part of the story, I will say that we just barely made it over the pass and God bless that person that invented chains! It appears that all of Artsakh got snow. Babik and Dadik each got a little white cap of snow.

We returned to Martuni via Aghdam, as it was dark when we left Stepanagert and knew that the mountain road would be ice by the time we got to the pass. I had to drive my friend back to his village and on the way back to Martuni, I guess I drove through one big puddle too many, and my engine must have sucked into the carburetor water and died. It�s happened before and after sitting in the dark for about a half hour to let things dry, the engine started and I made my way home. They tell me the power came back on around 6p and the temperature in my room is rising. I think winter has really come this time, though someone in my friends village told me that it really not winter yet, it�s just nature warning us to get ready for what�s to come soon. White walls or not, it looks like I�m going to have to put in a woodstove in my room for those days that we have blackouts.

Friday, November 16, 2001

My family history on my father's side appears to be filled with lots of movement. From what I can figure in what recorded history I have, it started out with my great-great-grandfather Kevork, who as a boy of 11 or 12 years old left his native home in Artsakh after having an argument with his eldest of 9 bothers and ended up settling in Dilijan, Armenia in the 1850's. Of his grandchildren, my grandfather Ivan (Vahan was his real name, but the Russians knew him as Ivan), against his stepfather's wishes, left Diljan in 1915 as an officer in the Czar's army, to defend the Armenians of Erzrum, and later Van. Though he never talked about his past life, it appears that he was a member of a Tashnag organized cavalry, who had planned in Dilijan for my grandfather to go with the Russian army to Erzrum, desert and regroup with his fellow Armenian horsemen. Out of circumstance and the price put on his head by the Bolsheviks if he happened to return to Armenia (most of his comrades who returned were executed), he ended up settling in Baghdad, Iraq where he raised his family. Though he always referred to Dilijan when talking of things of beauty, he never told his children about his life there. In 1946, a friend of my grandfather's who had been in Iran on business, brought him a letter given to him by a General from the Soviet Red army. It seems that this General had gone to the Armenian Church in Tehran and was asking about my grandfather. When his friend overheard the conversation, he stepped forward to help. My father recalls that my grandfather was very shaken by this news and tried to communicate with the General, but by the time he managed to get a message to Tehran, the Red army had pulled out. It turned out that the General was my Grandfather's first-cousin, Minas Manoogian. From there on, our branch of the family seemed to go further and further from our homeland, settling in various parts of the world, most of them eventually in the United States. The first exploration to find our roots was initiated in 1962 by my uncle, a Bishop in the Armenian church, who with the help of His Holiness Vasken I's driver, found his way to Dilijan to look for our family. It seemed to be an impossible task, as everyone whom this very clever driver asked had no idea who Ivan Manoogian was. As they were just about to give up their search, my uncle spotted an old man sitting under a tree and instructed the driver to puller over and ask him. This man was very old, hard of hearing, visually impaired, and perhaps forgetful. So in a loud voice the driver asked if he had ever heard of Ivan Manoogian. The old man in a very concise and methodical tone told them, ah, yes, he left long ago and left his bride waiting. Then he said Jeloyents. The driver was confused, as it seemed the old man was talking nonsense. But my uncle continued the conversation and the old man instructed them as to where to find the family. Word spread quickly about the arrival of the Bishop son of one of Dilijan's fedayee warriors who had left and never returned. My uncle was whisked away to a house where a huge crowd of people had gathered. At this point my uncle was very concerned -- if this were not the right family, what was he going to do? His fears were soon allayed when an old woman walked into the room. She was the spitting image of my grandfather. It was my grandfather's sister. With her was my grandfather's first love and fianc�e, whom he had left back in 1915 to go off to war, still wearing the ring he gave her, although she had later married someone else after giving up hope that he would return, she still was considered a member of the family. It turned out that the name Jeloyents was given to the family, as they were landowners who hired Jelos, Assyrian migrant workers, to cultivate their fields. This would distinguish them from Manoogians, who had other epithets describing their trades. So now we take a leap forward to 1989 and my first trip to Armenia. Armenia was facing a fuel shortage and one of my desired was to visit my relatives in Dilijan as my parents had on their first trip to Armenia in 1985. My cousin on my mother's side who lives in Yerevan along with her husband saw that meeting with government officials was getting very boring for me and they invited me to go fishing at Lake Sevan. I knew that Sevan was on the road to Dilijan and asked would it be too much to go to Dilijan instead? They told me that, due to the fuel shortage, they only had enough to get to Sevan and back, but if for some reason we found fuel in Sevan, we could go all the way there. I told my mom the great news and asked her for an address. She said that I was dreaming if I thought I would get all the way to Dilijan. That morning we headed to Sevan to fish. My cousin's husband, who also happens to be a Manoogian, but is not related to me, grew up in Sevan and knew it like the back of his hand. He first took us to a restaurant that overlooks the lake for fish (the famous ishkhan dzuk) and all the fixings. Then it was time to go fishing, but before we made our way down to the lakeshore, we drove by a place that might have fuel. We arrived at a gas station that had a very long line of cars and better than that, fuel. We waited in line for our turn. While we were waiting, I pulled out my video camera and got out of the car to take some pictures. I guess the camera, my short pants and New Balance tennis shoes got the attention of the other people waiting, thus the questioning. After the word of America, I�m not interested in selling my shoes and we were going to Dilijan got around, our car was magically whisked to the front of the line and the tank and two canisters were filled up. My cousin later told me that one thing that probably contributed to the fast service was the video camera and the gas station operator not wanting me to record him selling black-market fuel. So we were now on our way to Dilijan. Though we didn't have the address, I knew we would find the family. I mean I was armed with the information of Jeloyents and a famous Red army General, not to mention that there were no less than 300 Manoogians who were related to me living there. Surely everyone had to have heard the story and would point us in the right direction. So after the windy mountain road and an episode of motion sickness, leaving lunch on the side of the road, we arrived in Dilijan. We first went to the post office to ask where we could find Manoogian/Jeloyents. The workers there didn't seem to have a clue. We made our way to the center of town and I told my cousin to look for an old man, he is bound to know. We found an old man, who also was of no use. But standing near by and listening to the conversation was a young woman who asked if the Bishop were here. She poked her head into the car to find me and said, "I know where your family lives." This woman was a little girl and remembered when my uncle had come in 1962 and as she showed us the road to one of the Manoogian houses, she recalled her observations. We arrived to a house on a hillside and the woman walked ahead of us, telling the people inside of my arrival. I was greeted by an old woman of 75, who led me to a room where I found an old man sleeping. She called out to him to get up, as the Bishop's brother's son had come. As the man got out of bed, I saw he was wearing a military uniform and could only figure it had to be the General. Age 94 or not, he stood up tall. As I approached him, he got upset and said "It's not possible that the bishop has a son!" I was somewhat taken back by his comment, but his wife said in a louder voice, "No, it's not his son, it's his brother's son." The General took one step forward and embraced me with tears in his eyes and began to kiss me. We sat down and with my cousin video taping, he told me the story of my grandfather and what had happened. He gifted me a book that was written about him following an award he received from Mikhail Gorbachev for his many years of military service to the Soviet army. Following that visit, I was driven down the street to one of his sons' houses, where they slaughtered a pig, set out a table and the General's family gathered to welcome me home. I've been back to Dilijan a number of times since and met the entire Manoogian family one time, which is now well over 300 strong. Next thing I need to do is find the family here is Artsakh, which I will one day do, thus ending this journey which started 150 years ago.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Tree Planting Day

Today was tree planting day in Artsakh. In the city of Martuni, where I live, 200 trees were planted. This afternoon people came out in force with shovels, brooms and buckets, not only plant trees, but to also clean the streets. In general, our streets are kept rather clean, but today after the people passed through, pulling weeds and clearing anything that really didn't belong, things looked rather nice. I had lunch at the mayor's house and he commented on how well things were going and said that as a rule, a man in his lifetime needs to build one house, have and educate one child to the age of 18 and plant one tree. He said that he has planted one tree today (and in his lifetime has planted dozens of others), is educating his children and is only left with the task of one day building a house. He told me that all that's left for me is to have and educate a child and is confident I will do that one day.

Saturday, November 10, 2001

Well the weather is starting to warm up again. Could this be mini-summer running on Armenian time? All I can say is that if it is, bring it on. I was able to get out and wash my car today. Since my return from Yerevan a couple of weeks ago, I have not had the time, nor has the weather permitted me to do so. It has almost become embarrassing to drive around, thus making a walk the better mode of transportation. Much of my time these days has been devoted to writing. I decided that this winter (which I was convinced had already come) would be the time to sit down extract from my journals the modern Armenian history I have witnessed for the last 12 years. I�m not sure if this is material that will ever be published, but for the possible benefit of Armenians who may never have the chance to see this place for themselves, it could give a different perspective of life in Armenia and Artsakh that they would never know otherwise. I don�t want to claim to be a writer and will say that I have no formal training what so ever in writing. If one day I actually attempt to get this work published, you can be sure a professional writer will iron out all the kinks and enforce the rules of writing for me. So keeping that in mind, the following is another shortened log version of one of those stories.

After the earthquake of 1988 that killed tens of thousands of Armenians and left many more than that homeless, I was given the opportunity to come to Armenia on a fact finding mission with my parents. They were working with the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church to investigate the building of a library in Stepanavan, Armenia. I went along to video tape everything and also get a chance to see Armenia for the first time. What I saw of Armenia as a guest of the government was quite impressive. What I saw when everyone else was drinking at dinner and I would go out for fresh air and invite myself into government officials' neighbors houses was quite a different picture. I guess we have to remember that this was the tail end of the Soviet Union, and it did collapse the following year. One night we had dinner at the home of the Sardarabad museum's curator. The ride back that followed was quite interesting. It seems that everyone that night had too much to drink (all but me). My parents got a ride back to hotel Armenia with the director of the National Library, Henrik Liloyan. I rode in the InTourist van that was assigned to us while we were there, with a bunch of librarians. Our driver, Benik, had been sitting next to Liloyan at dinner and apparently, Liloyan was filling the driver's glass for him to drink as well. All I can say is that the screams from the librarians when Benik was driving like a drunken madman, coming very close to hitting the cars in front of us, as he would swerve around them with horn blaring, was quite frightening even for me. I was in the back of the van and could see that this joy ride could end in our becoming a statistic. So I stood up and called out to Benik, �You know, I�ve come all the way from America and have really wanted to drive in Armenia, so why don�t you give me a chance to do that now?� Benik pulled over the van and I made my way to the front. Now mind you, this was a Soviet-made van with no power anything, and the car I was driving in the States was fully loaded. So I sat behind the wheel, and Benik gave me some pointers on the brakes and so on. We got started and Benik, still in a playful mood, was pushing on my knee to give more gas, so we would go faster. Well, little did he know that in the states, I was the king of comedy traffic school, thanks to my annual speeding tickets that I would get for breaking the speed of sound (the sound of a CHP siren). So I played along and drove just like he was, in the middle of the road, not between the lines, but on the line (government vehicles have always done that and do even to this day), honking the horn as I was getting right up behind cars before swerving around them. Well, the librarians seemed a little at ease. We soon found our way to the hotel, and I pulled up in front. I guess Liloyan�s driver had taken a shortcut, as they were out front of the hotel waiting. So when I got out of the driver's door, Liloyan thought that it was another van. He looked a bit confused and upset when I walked passed him as we made out way into the hotel. The next day he told my father that this was the first time in InTourist history that a tourist had driven one of their vehicles and if something had happened with me behind the wheel, he would have had some real problems. I wonder what would have happened if Benik had crashed and it came out that Liloyan was the one filling his glass? Anyway, nothing happened. Our trip concluded with Benik dropping us off at the airport a couple of days later. Well, years passed and I always wondered what became of Benik. In 1994, while getting into a mashroot (a privately owned van which move on a fixed route, taking on passengers), someone in front of the van called out my name. It was Benik�s son, who was with us back in 1989, when Benik was our driver. And who was at the wheel of the van itself? Benik. Yes, still driving, not for the government, but for himself now. He told me that after that trip, because of that driving adventure we had, he almost got himself shipped off to Siberia, no joke. Fortunately, some relative of his had connections and resources to pay a bribe to get Liloyan to forget the whole thing ever happened and let Benik off the hook. So Benik gave me his phone number so we could get together and reminisce. God, if I were him, I would just want to forget the whole thing, but I guess we did have some good times on that visit together.

Friday, November 09, 2001

Hi everyone. I just wanted to post this little note about Raffi and Risk. There is nothing lucky about that game and what cards he gets dealt (he always says that to try to make the looser feel better). It�s all skill. I�ve played Risk with him before and well I guess there is really no way to say this nicely, but Raffi is a total American when it comes to that game. Take no prisoners and before you get �demolished�, he acts like he�s your best friend so you wont attack him. Well I guess it's the object of the game and there really is nothing nice about war. I feel sorry for Viken and can�t imagine how Zabel keeps falling into that trap. I guess she likes it when he acts ruff and the smile on his face when wiping you out is kind of cute (I can hear her saying that). All I can say is that if our war was being fought on the Risk game board and Raffi was our commander, we would be soaking up some sun right now on the Caspian. Now Monopoly is a different story. I�ve never played Raffi and I have never felt defeated at that game ever, even when I loose. Just like in real life, when the game is over, you can't take the money with you.
The first opportunity I had to visit Artsakh was in the first week of June, 1993. It was a long waited discovery trip, which I had tried to do the previous October with no success due to a lack of transportation. Going to Artsakh was intended to give me a better understanding of what was really going on and to see firsthand what could be so special about this land that people were willing to die for it. Not only did most of my questions get answered on that trip, but what I saw and experienced changed my life forever. Though I could write volumes about that trip and plan to do so one day, the story I will share with you today took place on the last day of that first trip, where I found myself in the village of Vaghuhas in the Mardakert region. This was a village that during the war, changed hands a couple of times and the last time the Azeris took it, they burned down every house and almost every barn there. We had stayed the night before in one of the barns that were still intact. So that morning the people in our group were being offered a tour of the destruction and to visit the last outpost the Azeris had on a hilltop in the village which still had the remains of the invaders littered there. I passed on the offer and stayed behind to slaughter lambs so we could take them with us to Yerevan, as at that time there was a meat shortage in Armenia and Artsakh has a surplus. So almost everyone went off and left me, our driver Vartan and some of the villagers behind. I had brought with me from America a duffel bag full of new baby clothes to pass out to the villagers and had sent out word about the baby clothes before going off to a yard where hundreds of lambs awaited my arrival. With me I had my mother's new Swiss Army knife, which she lent to me just before I left for Artsakh (she could not come along, as she was conducting a workshop in Yerevan). So with this new razor sharp knife, I slaughtered and skinned 3 lambs. Then the experienced villager who had slaughtered, skinned and cleaned 2 other lambs, came over and cleaned out the guts of the 3 lambs I had left hanging. We chopped up the meat and hauled it back to the barn where we later loaded it into our jeep. Being it was my first time to slaughter a lamb and my lack of experience, I was covered from head to toe with blood and was in need of a bath. I got my towel and shampoo and began to head to the stream. The woman in whose barn we were staying told me that the stream was cold and I would get sick. I told her that I was going to also be washing my hair and it would be better if I went to the stream. She insisted that this would not be a good idea and ordered a couple of boys to go to the stream to bring water which she would heat for me. I could not argue and the boys soon returned with the water, which she heated. She then put out a large pan on the ground in the yard, next to the barn door. I was not sure what to make of this, but figured that if these people have no problem with taking a bath in the yard, then I better get over any shame of my body I may have and take a bath. Besides, there really was no one around other than this village woman, who had probably seen everything and a couple of friends of mine (one of them was her brother), so what�s the big deal. I took off my clothes and stood in the pan and she proceeded to pour water over my head. I lathered up. As she was rinsing me off and I could open my eyes, what do I see, but the village women with their children, who had gathered at a table near us where we had put out the baby clothes. They didn�t seem disturbed at the scene so I just played it cool like business as usual and lathered up again (I always soap up twice). While I was lathering, I hear the sounds of an approaching group. It was the explorers returning from their hike. With them was this village woman�s husband. He asked her what was going on? She told him in a very normal tone that she was giving me a bath. He said, okay, just asking. So I rinsed, dried off and got dressed. No big deal. No one really talked about it, it was not a big deal. I thought to myself that I had just experienced real Armenian village life. One big family looking out for each other. The following year when I came for a visit, the village had changed quite a bit. There were now houses. The village woman was now a widow, as her husband had been killed in a battle a couple of months following my last trip there. The bond that I had with his family had effectively made me the 5th child of the family and talking openly was not a big deal. So as we were all sitting around that night, reminiscing of the days of my first visit, the question came up about the bath. She confessed it was the first time that anything like that had happened in the village, but thought that in the US that�s the way we must do things, and she didn�t want to make me uncomfortable by saying anything. I was still a little confused and only figured out how the whole thing happened, but not until the next morning, when I decided to wash my hair, shave and nothing more. The water was heated this time by her daughter and the same pan was brought out for me to hold my head over while washing my hair. It seems at that first time when I told her I was going to also wash my hair, she had understood I was interested in only washing my hair and not take a bath. So when she put the pan out in the yard, she had never expected that I would get undressed and stand in it. I mean maybe only in some third world country they do that, but not here or in the US. Live and learn, and boy did they learn a lot about me. I�m sure that I was the talk of the village for quite some time after that. I mean how often is it that you get some Armenian from America coming to a remote village for a visit, let alone one that takes a public bath? Well it sure is a good argument for not immigrating to America. And if that much good came out of it, then it was well worth it. One thing I will say is that after that experience, I got over any shame I may have of my body and my level of self-confidence is much higher too (not that it was ever low). Oh, and for those of you that are wondering if I had enough sense to keep on my underwear (because every time I tell this story I get that question), the answer is no, because you can never get really clean wearing dirty underwear when taking a bath.

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Bad News

Bad news is always so difficult to report. I called to my house my neighbor who has lots of experience with livestock to look at Shakar, as she had not been eating on her own and what she was being force-fed, she was not holding down. He told me that she appeared to be ill with a cold or flu and was taken off mothers milk too soon so her immune system could develop to protect her from getting sick. The illness and a lack of nourishment was a bad combination for her. He said that she was too small to medicate with anything he had (he deals with cows, pigs and livestock of that nature). He said that her chances of survival were not promising and to wait and see what happens. I checked on her every hour and tried to feed her, but she was still not keeping anything down. That evening, I went to my neighbors house for dinner and when I returned, I found she was very weak. An hour later, she passed away. My neighbor came over and helped me put her to her final place of rest in my back yard. I called Madlene who was saddened, but was more concerned with how I was doing. She told me that we need to remember Shakar as the puppy that brought us joy, as Shakar would have wanted it that way. Shakar will be missed and remembered.

Monday, November 05, 2001

Shakar has been a joy and a pain to have around. The joy part is her companionship and playfulness. The pain part is her seeming to not want to eat on her own. I always leave out a bowl of water and food for her, but in the end it seems that she has to be hand fed. I know Madlene was having a similar problem and maybe it has to do with her only being 40 days old. I hope that�s all it is. I was advised to show her the bowl and when she gets good and hungry, she will figure it out. I tried that yesterday and all that did was make her very weak and those puppy-dog-eyes that much more painful for me too look into (I�m a pushover for that kind of stuff). So I�m looking for any suggestion of what to do. The weather has been great these last few days. No rain and the sun has been out. I put Shakar out in the sun as much as I can and she seems to like that allot. I�ve been taking advantage of this weather to get in some nice long hikes to the neighboring villages to visit friends. It never fails that people will ask me if my car is broken when they see me on foot. I tell them that my car will get plenty of use when it starts to rain and worse than that, snow. Well not much more going on right now that�s worth reporting.

Thursday, November 01, 2001

Last night I returned from a trip to Yerevan. It was a blast, but very tiring for me since I was constantly on the run seeing people. With me I brought the daughters of a close friend of mine who were on a three day vacation. We stayed at Madlene's house and she was the perfect hostess and the girls fell in love with her. I would guess that they could have got on her nerves a bit, since one of the girls never leaves home without a videotape of her favorite music videos which has to be going all the time and has to be loud. Madlene did comment to me that she is 16 years old again, which I'm not sure if that means she was enjoying herself with the wildness of youth again or not. One night we went to a Karaoke bar and another night to a disco. I never really did any of that stuff in the US, most probably because I never had the time, but here, life is different. So my family has grown a little bit. When I was in Yerevan, I adopted a dog. She is so cute. Her Mom and I felt that it would be better that she grew up in the country and what better place then in Artsakh. It was a good deal for all of us, since I was in need of a dog and she was in need of a home with a yard. So I went with her Mom to the pet store to get some supplies. We got puppy kibbles and a basket to take her to Artsakh in. Her Mom got her a going away present of some rawhide bone things. Oh, and if you have not figured it out, the puppy is Shakar, Madlene�s dog. Well I wish I had more time to write, but Shakar is doing what she use to do to Madlene, sitting on my lap giving me the look and nudges of how can that stupid computer be more important than me, so I have to get going.