Archive for the ‘Vacation 2009’ Category

Pic for a Sith.

The Dude sent a pic perfectly suited for the Sith.

A Sith BBQ thingy.


That is all.

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I’m going to try to lay out the vacation better than I have so far.  I have just not felt well enough to do so until now.  We’ll go backwards through the story.  It is a well known literary device called “going backwards through the story” and is used when all other flashes of inspiration fail utterly.

Seattle:  Part Deux.

We left my father’s house in a flurry of suitcases which were packed so tightly that the addition of a single crazy straw would have created miniature black holes and torn the fabric of the space-time continuum.  Seven nearly-black-holes were safely packed in the back of our rental car and we were on our way.

That rental car, by the way, is one of the single biggest reasons for economic upturn, costing over $1,000 for two weeks.  Ow.  But we did our part.

Our drive north towards Seattle was rather dull.  It was spiced up a bit by my continued wheezing and gasping for breath.  I sounded like a veteran Darth Vader impersonator and scared the kids silly.

As mentioned in an earlier post, we stopped off at Albany, Oregon to go to the ER.  Albany is better than Deliverance, but still has that certain air about it that causes one’s senses to cry out in alarm.  Possibly this is because of the pulp mill.

I shuffled into the ER and said “(wheeze) I feel horrible (rattle) and am (wheeze) having trouble (gasp) breathing…”  In a near-state of laid-back panic they rushed me into triage where I sat next to this little clock sign with a cartoon rooster that said “Back in 15 minutes”.  Fifteen minutes later the nurse waddled in and began with the important questions – do you have insurance, ID, note from your mother, proof of citizenship (can be waived if you are president), and a DNA registry number?   I had some of them and presented them for her myopic review.

I was passed through the Portals of Well-Being and led to a bed.  The nurse there assisted me in putting on a hospital gown that looked suspiciously like a Thneed from Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax.  It wasn’t scratchy at all so it is possible it actually was from a Truffula Tree, which is unusual, even in Oregon.

The nurse carefully looked me over for places to put electrodes and promptly slapped them on whatever part had the most hair – maybe she had a dual major in Nursing/Waxing.

I explained that I couldn’t breathe and was having tingling/numbness in my fingertips and that I was beyond exhausted.  I actually was able to relax a tiny bit in the bed which is very nice considering they are normally made from gravel and bone fragments.  She turned on the monitors and set the volume for the most pleasing setting where the monitor sounds go <BONK> <BONK><CRASH><WHEE!-WHEE!-WHEE!> at irregular intervals.  I was lucky – the sound from the bed next to me was that of machine guns punctuated by the screaming of livestock in a slaughter yard.  The guy’s moaning did me no favors, either.  Geez, get a room, willya?

A half hour later the doctor came by, read the chart, asked me the exact same questions by rote, yawned, and then ignored everything I told him.  He suggested a nebulizer treatment – which didn’t seem necessary to me because everything was quite nebulous already, thank you.  It looked like a gigantic medical hookah, and was steaming and puffing all over the place.  I admit I did get a little excited when I saw that it definitely looked SteamPunk – brass, wood, and leather all over.

To my great surprise it worked.  I could breathe again, which was a mixed blessing because of the way Albany smells, but I decided to make the best of it – we were to be leaving Albany as soon as possible.

We left Albany after another hour wait at the local witch-doctor/pharmacy for an inhaler, some rooster charms, and some round clear pills that looked like fish eggs.

Four child-entertaining-but-adult-IQ-draining DVD’s later we found ourselves in Kent, Washington.  If you’ve never been there, Kent is one of those towns where they drink the beer and then eat the glass.  We got settled into our hotel easily enough and then set about to find a Denny’s for a midnight dinner in a town where everyone seemed to have fresh stitches somewhere on their body.  FrankenStein boy seemed to fit in nicely.

We found a Denny’s and bought a meal that would be familiar to any parent of young children – waffles and cheese sandwiches that weren’t even touched and two adult meals that were covered in congealed grease.  I ate with gusto since I hadn’t had a meal in four days.  It was fantastic until the second-to-last bite when the congealed grease staged a revolt in my lower intestine.

Back at the hotel we whipped the kids silly with SpongeBob toys and pillows until they stayed in bed and then collapsed on our own bed.  Our flight left at 4:30pm the next day so rushing wasn’t necessary.  Rushing would not have worked out well anyway as I was winded every time I had to use the stairs – two steps (wheeze wheeze cough… wait) – two more steps (wheeze wheeze cough… wait).  You get the idea, but it was ever so much worse when I had to carry nearly-black-hole-luggage.  I should be clear here and note that the wife also had pneumonia/tuberculosis/bronchitis/ebola (or whatever this bug is), too, just not as bad.

The airport was a gasping blur.  It whirled around me and drifting through the air were Burger King meals and fries (Cruel Wife and kids) and for me the Udon Noodle Bowl from the Udon-Is-Us airport fast-food joint.  Our standing-room-only flight left 30 minutes late but was made up for by ascending to 63,000 feet and quadrupling our carbon footprint by burning double the fuel and coal mixed with passenger clothes at regular intervals.  Several Goths and karaoke singers disappeared during the flight so I suspect the attendants were surreptitiously lightening the load a bit, too.

Arrived at DTW airport, got our luggage except for one piece which couldn’t make it to the carousel (“lost”) but was somehow correctly delivered 50 feet away to the lost luggage room.  I think they do that so you are later impressed with their ability to snatch lost luggage from the brink of the abyss.  I wasn’t impressed.

We wheezed our way to the shuttle bus, on to our car, and back home in record time.  Cruel Wife ignored every suggestion painted on the roadway and treated signs of every stripe with utter contempt.  I cheered weakly from the shotgun seat and the kids shouted “Do that again!  Cut another semi-truck off again, Mom!”

I was so happy to be home!  Everyone should be so lucky to make it home to die horribly.  Everyone was exhausted and fell asleep quite rapidly even though we were on Pacific Time, certainly by 4am.

We all woke up bright-tailed and bushy-eyed at 2pm.  A few hours later we picked up Zoe-pup.  She piddled her dog britches.  I piddled my jeans.  It was, as I may have said before, a regular piddle-party.

Now a week later, I sit here, drinking narcotic cough syrup which does marginal good, and eating Ceftin.  Ceftin is the second-line antibiotic since the Amoxicillan did not do any good.  Ceftin’s claim to fame is that if you let it dissolve in your mouth the rotten-leaves flavor actually makes the cough syrup taste good by contrast, and  is so intense that drinking out of a dairy-farm manure-pumping pipe sounds like a great way to get the flavor out of your mouth.  Or licking your dog’s butt.  Haven’t tried the pipe yet.

GirlHead has been horribly annoying yet so damn cute I turn into a puddle of goo.  I have no natural defenses against her.  More later.

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After much thought after the fact I have come to the conclusion that last week I did indeed have swine flu.  Last week I was too damn sick to care, though.

If you think you’re coming down with it, this site might be useful but you might see it in a more favorable light after you have recovered.

Honest, you’d not have seen me laugh at it last week.  This week it has a certain dry entertainment value.  Seriously, if you start running a raging fever, contact your doctor before the nasty bastard cough kicks in.  It all comes on pretty quick so within a day you’ll know if you’re sick or if you’re just being a weenie.  You’ll know.  You won’t need a FAQ sheet to know you’re sick.


As hinted at in yesterday’s post titled “My Own Porch”, Hellboy (my male progeny) had a fountain fall on him.  It was a steel fountain.  Heavier than sin and twice as ugly.

The fountain fell on the three-year-old boy in the picture below.

gashed Hellboy

Hellboy with 16 stitches and a huge headache.

The story unfolded in the usual fashion, with great commotion and hysteria.  Not undeserved commotion at all, however.

Suddenly I heard a great deal of shouting and someone came around the corner screaming “Hellboy is hurt bad!”

I walk outside thinking “Ok, so he broke a finger or something…”

I arrive and am faced with a scene of outright carnage.  Blood is all over the boy, Cruel Wife is crying and trying to hold his thrashing body still with pressure to his head, in-laws have ahold of his little arms and legs, and the boy is shrieking.  Blood is splashed on the concrete.

I look over and see the now-toppled Fountain of Doom.  Notice how it hit hard enough to knock a 15lb paver out of the ring the fountain was in.

foutain of doom

Click to embiggenify the image.

I run inside and am looking for a phone.  Can’t find a phone.  Can’t find a phone.  Can’t find a damned phone!  Damn rental places!  Turns out they didn’t have one.  I whip out my cell phone and dial 911 and give them the address.  I tell them he’s got a huge laceration on his forehead and that he appears to be bleeding from the nose, which has me a bit concerned.  At this point I’m thinking injury in the sinus region and envisioning all manner of crushing injuries.

I ran to find GirlHead, who was distraught.  She wanted to see her brother and go with us.  I forcefully but gently assured her that she did not want to see him and that I would not permit it, and let her know that when it was ok to come see him I’d have one of her uncles drive her over to the hospital.

Three years pass and the ambulance arrives.  Cruel Wife and Hellboy move as a unit onto a stretcher and I ride shotgun.  The hospital is only 5 minutes away but takes hours to get there.

The ER staff expertly took him for CT scans and found him to be ok.  Noticing that he had a bunch of exposed bone in the wouund they went about preparations and stitched him up.  He was tough enough through the whole procedure, only crying twice – once as they injected the wound with epinephrine to slow the bleeding and lidocaine to deaden the area for stitching, and the second time was on the last stitch where the lidocaine hadn’t quite covered the eyebrow area.

I swelled with pride at how tough he was.  I told him that I’ve seen BIG GUYS carry on more than that for less, myself included.

The next day Hellboy was running a fever which gave us cause for alarm and he was put on antibiotics for that.  As it turned out he had the same fever/flu that I later came down with but either way the antibiotics were a good idea.

The rental owners had only this to say:  “Well, he shouldn’t have been climbing on the fountain.”   For legal reasons I won’t go into the specifics of the fountain itself other than to say that no engineer would have signed off on that monstrosity and that it is amazing that it even stood in the first place.

Sadly, for the rest of the week the pool and hot tub were off limits to Cruel Wife, Hellboy, and myself.  Only GirlHead was able to have access to the water.

A side note.  While we were gone and before any adult thought of it, my girl ran to find materials and started making a get-well card for her brother.  It said “Hirt bad get wel soon” and had all sorts of flowers and stickers on it and her name spelled out as pretty as can be.  Now if that isn’t enough to bring a tear to a daddy’s eye, I don’t know what is.

The rest of the week was spent going from place to place in Seattle, and the high point of that for me was visiting Pike St. Market and getting a Pork Hombow.

pork hombow

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My Own Porch.

Rarely does a sick dog go lie under the neighbor’s porch.

There’s a reason for that.

Being sick away from home is about as attractive as stripping buck-naked, dousing one’s self in cold turpentine, and crawling through red-hot broken glass.

We spent the first half of vacation with Cruel Wife’s family – her parents, Sister1 and her family, and Sister2 and her family.  For a total of… let’s see… 8 adults and ten children.  That was a story in and of itself.  Eight days’ worth of story.

But then a week ago today, we drove to see my family down in Orygun.

And got sick.

Driving from Seattle to Orygun, I had a bitch-kitty of a headache.  We stopped at Troglodyteville, Washington† for a pit stop.  Troglodyteville is sort of the armpit of the groin of Washington and the service road that we found ourselves on was basically the poop-chute of the armpit of the groin of Washington.  Now, if you’ve followed the tale of my life for the last two years you know that headaches related to my neck injury are nothing new, so I thought little of it.  What I did not know was that I had a viral passenger.

We arrived in Hometownville, Orygun four hours later and I started hanging out with my family, who were engaging in reunionizing in earnest anticipation of a pit roasting of many pounds of pig.

My father asked if I wanted to help out with the BBQ preparations.  I begged off, figuring that he and my brother could do it.  Last year they did it with my supervision – then I had said “Gee you’ve got it too hot, it will burn up” and it turned out wonderful to my great amazement.

Sunday morning rolled around – I got up feeling pretty cruddy.   I go to the kitchen were my sister says “How does well-done pork sound?”

I look at her warily and say “Mmmmph… huh?”

She says to go look at the pork.

Well, my dad and brother did the same thing they did last year – got it too hot except this year they did not fully seal the pit with dirt to choke off all oxygen.

This year, the environment inside the pit was the surface of the sun.  This year, the pork was in a pit that must have climbed upwards of 700 degrees for most of the night.  In fact, the pit got so hot that the sheet metal was blackened, the grass all around the pit was blackened, and smoke was billowing out of the pit.  This year, we had big chunks of charcoal where the pig once lay in the pit.

I could not stop laughing.  Yes, it was horrible of me.  I rubbed it in.   I laughed, I cried, I hooted, and I chortled.

And then I got horribly horribly ill.   Little did I know that my viral passenger held an open-house and opened the doors for an infection.  For four days I ran a fever of 102-103F.  I was wracked with coughs, chills, shakes, sweats.  By the time I finally got ahold of a doctor I had coughed so much that it felt like daggers in my chest and my ribs screamed with the strain.  I was hacking up flecks of blood.   Everything was coming up browns, yellows, and greens.

The doc prescribed amoxicillin, 2/day, 875mg each.  I crept around like warmed-over death, with my guts torn out by the antibiotic, coughing, not sleeping, not eating.  Even as of today I’ve had perhaps five light meals in the last six days.  Great way to lose 15 pounds.

My grandfather used to say that he knew he was sick when Graveyard Stew sounded good.  Graveyard Stew is essentially lightly toasted toast floating in warm milk (milktoast) and only is supposed to sound good when you’re in the graveyard with one foot actually in the grave.  Well, I was feeling so rotten even Milquetoast didn’t sound appealing.  I spent the lion’s share of the week wishing I could be here at home where I could at least feel like I was dying in my own bed.

Yesterday as we drove north to Seattle we got as far as Albany, Orygun when I said “Cruel Wife, we need to go to the hospital.”   I had the shakes, my fingers were tingling/numb, and I couldn’t breathe without a huge effort and even then only half in and half out.  So in the ER they determined that I did not have pneumonia (whew) but did have bad bad bronchitis (ok) and needed a nebulizer treatment to get my lungs to relax.  Did the trick.  I was able to draw a complete breath in and out and actually move some crap out of my lungs.

Our flight today was a tough ordeal.  Can’t move fast without getting winded and I have no energy to speak of.  The good news is that this is the best I’ve felt since a week ago and I think I’m going to live.  Living actually sounds like a reward, not a punishment.

Cruel Wife got the cough/sick thing but no fever.  My boy (Hellboy) had the fever and cough, too.

Why was he on antibiotics if we only figured out later what was wrong with him?  Good question.

Because in the FIRST week of our vacation, he nearly succeeded in getting crushed by a 300lb fountain which collapsed on him and gashed his little forehead open to the bone, for a total of 16 stitches.  From hairline to eyebrow went the laceration, from head to toe went the blood, and from the rental place to the hospital went the ambulance.

But that’s another story.  We thought the fever was an infection from his head wound.

We’re back, and we’re happy to be back.

I miss my Zoe-pup.  We pick her up tomorrow from the sitters.  She’ll probably pee her little dog britches and I’ll probably pee my big Lemur King shorts when we see each other.

Troglodyteville is not the town’s real name.  A false name has been used to protect myself from the knuckle-dragging troglodytes that live there on the off chance that one of them knows how to read and comes across this blog.

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