Monday, May 14, 2007


'Sorry, friends... I've been on vacation... Or what passes for a vacation when your parents are, ummmm, older. Twice a year my Dad and stepmom go to the beach. This is somewhat difficult 'cos my Dad's in a wheelchair, one of those hulking electric things that weigh 300 lbs when you aren't sitting in them. The chair is, of course, a very cool thing because it allows him to be pretty mobile without anyone having to push him, and his shoulders are too arthritic for him to push himself.

The folks live at a retirement village in North Carolina. They have their 'own' duplex, but the place also has assisted living apts, and a health center where they do long-term nursing care. It's a very nice place. You get one meal fixed for you a day (you fix the others yourself in your very own kitchen) and the food choices are good. There are maids. There's a pool with a wheelchair ramp (very groovy!). Of course, it's hideously expensive by my standards, but Dad worked backed when there was retirement, so they can afford it. (Retirement! What a concept!)

This winter, Dad got a cold, which turned into pneumonia, which meant he had to stay in the health center for fourteen weeks. He got a bedsore on his heel and it's not been responding quickly to treatment. Which means that he still has it, and, in order to take him on vacation, someone (that would be me) had to learn the 'protocol' for dressing the wound twice a day. Sounds like a vacation already, huh?

We always take a LOT of stuff to the beach. We go to Bald Head Island, which is where Cape Fear is. It is nothing like the movie, Cape Fear, but it is a lot like the sixties TV show, The Prisoner, with Patrick McGoohan. I guess part of it is that you're only allowed to drive around in a golf cart when you're on the island... (Unless, of course, you're a contractor, putting up another multi-million dollar house on the protected sand dunes...) (Protected from people walking on them, that is... Not from houses dropping on them...) There's a store on the island, but things there are expensive, and they don't know how to store wine, so we take our own... Here's a partial list of what we take:

- a couple cases of wine (important things first)
- food
- Dad's medical stuff... this year it was about four boxes full...
- suitcases
- rubber boats
- dvds... Hey, you never know what the weather's going to be like!
- a regular wheelchair

This year the weather sucked. Let's be up front about it. It was rainy, cold, windy and buggy... North Carolina has a lot of mosquitoes and they all decided to go to the beach at the same time we did. They also have 'no see ums,' and ticks. The two days it was sunny, it was incredibly windy, but there were no bugs (except the ticks) and the sky was a beautiful blue. The palm and palmetto leaves whipped in the wind making a kind of clacking sound...

Dad likes to swim. Since it's really hard to cross sand in a wheelchair, we take him to a pool. It took four people to get him from the 'push' wheelchair into the pool, which we accomplished by having him sit on the edge of the pool on a towel and then picking up its sides and carrying him down to the next step. Now, that's a workout! Once in the water my Dad can run around and do exercises and all sorts of stuff. He can't really swim anymore 'cos of the arthritis, but he tries anyway.

There are marvellous birds on the island because the back side of it is a tidal marsh formed by the Cape Fear River. There are ibises (ibi?), egrets, herons, clapper rails, and this year, for the first time in my life, I saw a painted bunting. I thot for a minute I was having a flashback, but, no, it was a bird. I did not see any alligators this year, but I saw a lot of turtles.

Since it rained a lot, we watched dvds. My sister Leslie had brought along the first season of Supernatural. Now, I admit it, I'm a weanie. I hate being scared. I do yoga and tai chi so I can maintain my calm demeanor in public. And to me, these shows were terrifying. I mean why oh why on earth would any two people enter a haunted house, armed only with a fluttering candle and then split up when they hear clanking chains? Not that the boys in Supernatural are that stupid... No, they have a complete arsenal of things designed to kill the bad guys which they keep in the trunk of their car (a '67 Chevy Impala) and they listen to anthem rock, which was what made the show for me personally... AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foreigner, Bad Company, and Blue Oyster Cult, whose logo features in one of the shows, (and is the clue that lets our boys figure out what is going on).

I have to tell you I don't watch a lot of tv. Hell, I don't even own a tv! I mostly watch things on my computer if I need to or wait 'til the famdamily goes to the beach. That's how I found out about Firefly, which I absolutely loved. So it's odd that I mention three tv shows in one post. Get your fill... It probably won't happen again!

We also go around and look at the houses... My sister, Pam, takes pictures of the birds and lizards and other wildlife. We read, mostly trashy mysteries (hey! we're at the beach!) except Dad, who only reads fiction in Spanish and is stuck in the middle of the Alatriste books by Perez-Reverte.

So one of my favorite things about going on vacation is flying. I love looking at clouds from above and landforms. (I like looking at clouds from below as long as there's blue space between the clouds.) This year when I flew home, we flew over thunderstorms as the sun was setting. It was very beautiful. My camera was in my suitcase, but I have my trusty new cellphone, a Motorola RAZr phone (their spelling, not mine), which takes pretty good pictures and has a zoom function! The pic at the top of the page is the view from my window...

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