And then we went on vacation

You may or may not recall that every few years my father and stepmother gather up their collective children and grandchildren and take us all somewhere to sit around eating ourselves silly and telling embarrassing stories about the past. It’s magical. My little nuclear family missed the last trip (which was three years ago) for Reasons and so this is our first time all together in five years. In preparation I went back and read my posts from the very first trip, which was a cruise, so it was fresh in my mind that when the cousins first met, Gerber had just turned one, Banana was a painfully shy preschooler, Chickadee was in middle school, and Monkey was—though we didn’t know it at the time—ten and about to have a really tough year. (And if you’ve been reading here forever, allow me to blow your mind by pointing out that now when we sit around and play cards at night, Chickadee drinks with us—legally!—and Monkey had to request time off from work and also trim his beard before we left. Yeah.) So when we arrived this time, Banana remembered us but is now a nearly-13-year-old gazelle who is entirely unaware of how beautiful she is and huffs and rolls her eyes at everything her mother dares to say or do, and Gerber is now the age Monkey was on the first trip, tall and enthusiastic and impish and remembering us not at all. I told Gerber that the first time we met, he wasn’t even walking yet and Chickie carried him all over the cruise ship with a pocket full of Cheerios, popping them into his mouth whenever he got fussy, and his eyes got big and he laughed and laughed.

All of this is to say: It is a Very Good Thing we’re doing this now, because I think I didn’t even know how much I needed it.

Let’s pause for a minute and go back. When I was last with you (yes yes, I know, it was forever ago) everything was terrible because dead fridge, sick dog, mice, WOE IS US, etc., so SURELY EVERYTHING GOT BETTER after that and settled down because how much bad luck can one family actually have?

Haaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahaa. Ha. Ha. (Help.)

So Duncan came home from the vet hospital and was all better. He slept for what seemed like two days straight and we all fussed over him and gave him extra treats and we exhaled and relaxed. Sure, both dogs were now on (different) expensive prescription foods but everyone was okay.

Then the trip was coming up, you know, and the dogs were looking shaggy, so I took them to be groomed. We did a bit of a Goldilocks thing with dog grooming for a while; I used to get them done at our vet, but the groomer there kept saying that if I dropped them off first thing in the morning they’d be done first, and I kept dropping them off at the buttcrack of dawn and then they wouldn’t be done until mid-afternoon. After a few times I gave up, and we’ve tried a few different groomers and this last one seemed perfect. SEEMED is the operative word in that sentence, by the way. Because:

I took the dogs in to be groomed, and groomed they were, and they smelled like baby flowers [sidebar: “Why do you say that?” Otto loves to ask me. “What’s the difference between smelling like flowers and BABY flowers?” “IT’S DIFFERENT,” I insist, although I cannot explain how or why], and we were counting down to the trip, and a day after they’d been groomed, Duncan got up at 4:45ish in the morning and wandered to the far corner of our bedroom and expelled an unholy amount of bodily fluids (that’s as descriptive as I’m gonna get on that).

Our first thought, of course, was that he was having some sort of recurrence of his previous gastric ailment, though this time the method of expulsion was, er, the opposite end from that ordeal. This was alarming, of course, as they’d never figured out what was wrong with him in the first place. We spent the day alternating between running to throw down a doggie pee pad under him and hustling him outside, and I cooked him some rice, and he was just… unwell. Meanwhile, we were worried, because the trip was coming up and we couldn’t leave him if he was sick.

It was a long day, and I would love to tell you that first episode was the only time we weren’t able to catch him, but instead I will tell you that I don’t want to get into specifics but I sure did pull out the carpet steamer and clean every carpet and rug on the first floor the next day, because the only other alternative was to burn the house down. (Sick dogs: Motivating you to clean your house!) Also Duncan was obviously sick but not nearly as miserable as he’d been the previous time, plus he was still eating and drinking, so it was a waiting game. We were worried, but not panicked.

The day after THAT, I had to take Chickadee to Atlanta again, so the night before I asked Otto if he could stay home and keep an eye on Duncan. He said of course. And then Licorice starting getting sick, too. So!

Off Chickie and I went in the wee hours the next morning, while Otto waited for the vet to open so that he could bring the dogs in to be seen. We did our thing in Atlanta and by the time we got home, both dogs had been diagnosed with the canine equivalent of norovirus (yay! except no!) and given twenty thousand different medications that all had to be given at different times (I exaggerate, but Otto did print out a spreadsheet for us to use to keep track, no lie), and the vet told us they almost certainly caught it… at the groomer. Other than the vet visit, Otto had spent the day barricaded in our kitchen (on the easy-to-clean floor, ahem) with two very pissed-off dogs. I thought that was a pretty smart choice but not terribly comfortable for all involved, so that’s how we ended up sitting around our family room that night with a giant tarp covering up the rug, as one does. Every time Duncan moved, he was horrified. He did NOT like the tarp. But I had just cleaned that rug and so every time he lifted up his paws and cocked his head and looked at me like WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO THE FLOOR?? I called him my favorite shitty little dog, which was mean but also true.

One of those meds bound up the horror, thankfully, and within about a day they were back to normal. Thank God.

IN THE MEANTIME, there wasn’t anything else we needed to do. Kidding! I was doing my yearly thing with my beloved community theater where they were dumb enough to put me on the Board, where I spend about a month designing our new brochure, culling our mailing list, and wondering why in the world I ever volunteered to do this. And then it all got finished and I’m as proud as if I just gave birth and I remembered why I do it. Timing-wise it all got done just a few days before we had to leave.

I’m sure some other stuff happened but basically my brain says all that mattered in the last month can be filed either under SICK DOGS or FINISH THE DAMN BROCHURE. And finally, it was The Day We Were Leaving and hooray, we made it! Who’s ready to head out on vacation?? MEEEEEEE!!!!

That morning I got into the shower, washed my hair, and started shaving my legs while mentally reviewing whether or not I’d packed everything I’d need. I’m right-handed, so I was shaving with the razor in my right hand, leg propped up on the little seat in our shower, and I remembered I needed to pack one of the bottles sitting there. So—I can totally multitask!—I reached across my body with my left hand to move that bottle to the edge of the shower so I’d remember to take it.

Well. That was my plan, anyway. What I actually DID was reach toward the bottle with my left hand and somehow collide with the razor in my right hand.

[Those of you who are of delicate constitutions—ahem, DAD—should skip this part.]

It was one of those “Hang on, what just happened?” time-stopping things. I straightened up and looked at my pointer finger on my left hand, which was bleeding profusely. I turned to look at the razor in my other hand. I pulled it a little closer to my face, because I’m blind and (obviously) I don’t wear my glasses in the shower. Stuck in the blades of my razor was… half my fingernail. Oh. OHHHHH. Shit.

Somehow I managed to finish showering and get out. I wrapped up my finger and found Otto and asked him to come help me and somehow we assessed the damage (diagnosis: EWWWWW) and bandaged me up and I got dressed. Obviously we ended up leaving on time and now we are on vacation, but… here is a short list of everyday tasks one might want to conduct which you might not realize would involve one’s non-dominant hand pointer finger:
1) Everything

It hurts, is my point, and I am almost certainly going to lose the rest of this nail (I am, after all, a nail bed injury expert), but hopefully not before we finish talking and laughing and eating and drinking and going out for groceries and doing it all over again.

Today my stepbrother’s entire family and Otto and Chickadee are going ziplining. In the rain. Those of us who prefer to stay dry and on the ground are going to hang around here at the house we’re renting. My father, who is an architect and also a painter, took me to a local art store yesterday and helped me pick out a small paint set and some supplies. I cannot paint (or even draw) to save my life, but I am 47 years old and it finally occurred to me to ask my dad to teach me. It will probably end in frustration and tears but who knows? Maybe there’s a secret inner artist deep inside me who’s been unlocked through a mysterious combination of exposure to dog effluvia, injury, and childhood memories. Stranger things have happened.


  1. Mary K

    Note to self: DO NOT multitask while holding sharp objects!

    I hope your vacation is wonderfully injury- and effluvia-free!

  2. Jenna

    Oh no!! Feel better!!!!

    I can I commiserate on the finger thing, tho. But instead of a razor, my left middle finger was caught/slammed in my office front door, nearly cutting the tip off, through/across the nail. been a month, and still not fully healed, but I was lucky enough to keep the tip…the nail is another story, it may never grow back. and bonus, the way the ‘cut’ swells throughout the day, it looks like I have a certain male anatomy as my finger….hahahaaha…not.

    Enjoy your vacation.

    • Adelaide Dupont

      Oh the slamming!

      And the closing – especially when it comes to concertina folders and file boxes in the early 2010s.

      And these nails which never grow back!

      Yes – it does look very tipped like a good circumcision [thank you Shuttleworth for being frank in a research paper].

  3. Sarahd

    At least “and then we went on vacation” is one of the better story endings I can think of! Other than maybe “and then we won the lottery” or “and then Jason Mamoa walked in”. Point is, happy ending! Right?!

  4. RuthWells

    WOMAN. Seriously. Did you kick kittens in a previous life??? Enjoy the well-earned respite!

  5. Laura

    I hope your vacation memories override all the yuckiness that preceded it!

  6. Adelaide Dupont

    “I took the dogs in to be groomed, and groomed they were, and they smelled like baby flowers [sidebar: “Why do you say that?” Otto loves to ask me. “What’s the difference between smelling like flowers and BABY flowers?” “IT’S DIFFERENT,” I insist, although I cannot explain how or why], and we were counting down to the trip, and a day after they’d been groomed, Duncan got up at 4:45ish in the morning and wandered to the far corner of our bedroom and expelled an unholy amount of bodily fluids (that’s as descriptive as I’m gonna get on that).”

    I think I can explain baby flowers.

    When I was young there was a big smell of a daffodil or a crocus – some of my first impressions of flowers-as-flowers.

    They had an extra freshness which was very fleeting and transient.

    The grown-up smells – while enduring – were never the same.

    I think also a fresh cut or prune of a rose provokes that effect.

    For the rest, there’s Marcel Proust and madeleines.

    You hope the child’s perception of difference and uncertainty turns not into fear and rejection.

    Also the impression of mist and dew and light.

    Oh, Duncan! And, yes, sick dogs do motivate people to clean.

    And the nail bed injury expert – yours truly injured a nail bed of hers in May 1997 on the left thumb and some years later during the 2008 season of Big Brother, the little left finger this time.

    Another way baby flowers smell is through their fertilisation and their early decay.

  7. Jeanie

    I hope you enjoy the hell out of the rest of your vacation! You deserve it. I’m so glad the dogs are better. I’ve been worried about them. I got my dogs flu shots, so here’s hoping.

  8. Arnebya

    Every time I think I’ve decided to get a dog I read something that deters me. THANK YOU.

    Also, I tried multitasking while cooking the other day. Somehow I forgot I’d taken the top off of the frying chicken and what I needed was across that pan, sooooooo yeah. My forearm is going purple to grey now. And ouch.

    • Mir

      I always said that if I couldn’t be a good example, at least I could serve as a horrible warning.

      Also OUCH. Take care of that arm, girlfriend!

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