The Red Shirt Diaries #22

Vacation Edition.

Step aside, Myrtle. You’re not the only allegedly domesticated animal that wants to kill me. My brother’s dog, Buster, has a different animal psychosis that may prove equally lethal to my feline frenemy’s efforts at home.

Alliteratively – definitely not affectionately – called Bastard by yours truly, he’s had nothing but vicious growls and barks for me since the second time we’ve met. How long do you think that takes to become tedious?

Yeah. Not long.

He’s vicious sounding, but I’ve never really thought he would intentionally hurt me. My uncle may think otherwise after having his fingers nipped by Bastard the first time they met. I think it was an accident. The damn dog seems pretty hapless in his predatory skills.

But you know the saying, sometimes even a blind dog finds a bone.

Still, I do try to maintain a sense of optimism. Well, about people anyway. And since Bastard is my brother’s dog…I give it a shot.

Our vacation house is a six bedroom affair, two masters down stairs and four bedrooms upstairs that share two Jack and Jill style bathrooms. My uncle and his family are sharing one set of bedrooms and my brother and I are sharing the other with my sister and brother in law.

And that’s how I died in my mind this morning.

Because my siblings insist on traveling with their dogs, they lock them in the bedrooms when they are gone so they don’t bug the rest of us. They leave the water bowl in the bathroom between, which I think is wise given the inherent doofiness of dogs.

However, that works against me when everyone else leaves before I shower for the day. I went into the bathroom to get ready for the day, cheerfully greeting Bastard when he saw me – AKA: growled at me – through my sister’s bedroom door. I also noted that the sister-unit had left two of the drawers on the vanity open while getting herself ready this morning, but really thought nothing of it…it’s just my programming from my days as an Ops Manager in a department store, those Cosmetics Girls were always reporting broken drawers and related leg injuries after running into open drawers full speed.

Until

I poked my head into my sister’s room to say hi to her dog, Rex.

Bastard went crazy and started barking at me until I pulled my head back into the bathroom. Admonishing the insanine – insane + canine = insanine…Chrisism – to knock it off, I realized just in time that I was about to trip backward over the open drawers.

Near miss.

Fortunately, a side effect of living with Myrtle is cat-like reflexes. My life has literally depended upon them.

That could’ve been a blow to the temple or impact trauma that would not have ended well for this Red Shirt. Keeping what was left of my cool, I closed my sister’s bedroom door and the vanity drawers and took my shower, thinking about how mad Myrtle would have been if I let another animal kill me.

Better luck next time, Bastard.

The Red Shirt Diaries #22

I Should Be…

Sleeping:

It is 2 AM, after all. But I went upstairs after dinner to charge my phone and woke up at about 1 AM. After tossing and turning for a while, I came downstairs to do something productive.

So fat – er, far – I’ve had a bowl of Kettle Chips and a Coke Zero.

Job Hunting?:

My sister asked me a few months back if I’d ever considered expanding my job search to Bend, Oregon versus just waiting for a position in Portland that I want.

Yeah, but now that your kid is getting ready to move there for college, I gotta wait a couple years so it isn’t weird.

I never claimed to be a reasonable person, a non-claim I fully embrace since the State of Oregon rejected my unemployment claim on the grounds that a reasonable person would not quit a job simply because a company failed to enforce its policies from its own employee handbook. Given that measurement, I’d rather be unemployed and unreasonable.

The thing is, now that I’m with the whole fam-damily in nearby Sunriver, all I wanna do is not leave.

Ergo, I should at least see what jobs are available here.

Reading:

I’m about two decades behind – ok…only a month -on my WordPress Reader content. I should be better about that…if only because there’s no easy way to go back a month to the last entry I read.

Scroll, scroll, scrolling I a-go!

Writing:

Yes, I know that I am writing…as a procrastination tool. I’ve got several V.O.D.s that I could be working on cleaning up – particularly one about visiting my cousins when I was young that’s been on my mind this week as I reunite with my family. The entry is about my second cousins, but having my first cousins around this week has pulled me back to it…

There’s also several new blog ideas that I’ve got in draft mode – V.O.D. stands for Very Old Draft, incidentally – that I’m putting off: a lil something about how I’m trading my time for money these days, a piece on Crazy Rich Asians that is morphing into a diversity piece as it sits being neglected and a Dating Into Oblivion update/catch up piece.

Instead, I turned on the fire, read a bit, snacked a bit and jerked this place-holder piece off into the blogosphere…I’m on vacation, after all.

Now, since I opted for caffeine over alcohol with my chips and ergo – won’t be sleeping anytime soon…back to reading!

PS: “ergo” usage count in this blog entry – 2. No, 3!

#lazywriting

I Should Be…

Farewell, Summer

Yesterday was the first day of Fall.  It certainly showed here in the PNW, too, all cool, gray and drizzly.

Wonderful!

Another reminder of how pecadelicious – Chrisism- my body is.  With my AC set at 70 in the Summer, I’m comfortable.  With my heat set at 70 in the winter, I’m freezing.

However, I was reminded as I noted the change of seasons that I never shared my vacation story, and it’s been a month.

It’s funny, I’m about to step into my sixth decade – ok, stumble or possibly stagger – but I can still be the bratty kid that complains to my parents that we haven’t had a family vacation forever.

I really rather rely on my elder and only sister for this type of stuff.  Her three younger brothers are borderline loners – at best.  Once Mom-Donna officially retires from her holding-the-family-together duties, the mantle will be hers to wear.  Mom has tried a few slow steps back from her matriarchal role, but still steps back in with statements of the, “I’d like to host one more holiday while I still can” type.  

She’s such a Prince Philip sometimes.

The result of my mild tantrum, nevertheless, was the parental gift of a summertime family vacation this past Christmas.

Finally, after a long break we were getting the Galby clan back together again in Central Oregon’s high desert retreat, Sunriver.

It’s always fun.

Always.

We’re together under one roof again, yet still free to pursue whatever we want throughout the day, coming together each night for dinner as a group.  Everyone takes a night of cooking duties, which is enjoyable for everyone.  Dad’s night – being the patriarch – is hosting dinner out at a restaurant.  The ‘Phew, as the youngest on the other hand, dips into his hard earned Birthday and possibly allowance fundage to treat us all to pizza delivery on the night of our arrival.

It’s a good ritual.  Plus, it provides me a chance to cook for people, which seldom happens outside of MNSC.

It just occurred to me that the last couple of family get togethers in the desert have proved near – or actually – fatal.

The last trip out for a Christmas getaway a couple years back was interrupted by a Christmas phone call from my ex, Sacha to tell me he had colon cancer…a story for another time.  Maybe.

That Christmas holiday was – more importantly to me – also marred with our family’s collective concern for dad, who had recently had a coronary procedure after which he wasn’t feeling well.

The trip before that was Rib’s first family vacation.  This was maybe five years ago?  Before the pizza even arrived, we were booking a flight for him to ABQ to attend his grandmother’ funeral.  Enviably, as I tap this out in a coffee house, he is with his new beau and family at Munich’s Oktoberfest.​

​I love that this video he sent me of his family vacation was so timely as I reminisced about mine.

Beyond those recent vacation danger moments, I’d say our other vacations were reasonably trauma free.  

Well

There was the Bike Ride Incident and The Nose Hair Situation, both of which I blame exclusively on my Black Sheep Brother.  Only one of which is near funny.  Black Sheep Bro and I went trail riding with the ‘Phew, I think he was still aged in single digits at the time.  We were having a blast leading him through the trails with a vague goal of finding a path to the ever elusive Benham Falls when he just barely nicked a fallen log that had been cut through to preserve the bike trail’s passability.

He.

Went.

Flying.Poor kid.  Right into a tree.

Little fucker scared the hell out of me and BSB before walking it off.

Talk about a dodged bullet.  I thought for sure my only nephew – at the time – was going to spend the rest of his Halloweens dressed as Stephen Hawking.

Things have changed since then.

I’d sent my bike home with mom and dad the week before after they came to town for a lunch date.  Er, doctor’s appointment.  When they picked me up, all I had to do was show up on the curb with my suitcase.

And a case of wine.

That’s a good change, in my opinion!  My sister had put in a request for some of that good stuff I’m always going out to Hood River for, so I took two bottles each from two of my favorite wineries out there.  I was reserving those for my night of cooking.  But since it’s also Summer, I rounded out my case with eight bottles of Rose.

My parents clucked their tongues at my “extra” baggage.  Not only because their car was also full of their bags, food for the week and doggie travel needs, but also because they had also brought a case of wine.

Great minds…meet the Galby clan!

We made it all fit.

Plus, a growler I’d gotten at 2.0 and Little Buddy’s wedding the day before.

And a huge watermelon The Silver Fox had gifted us.

As we made off on our way, I rationalized two cases of wine being barely enough if even four of the six legal drinkers partook with any regularity.  Really, that’s an easy three bottles a night, closer to four.

Five.  Five a night, tops.

As I mentioned, we all still take our bikes, but only my sister’s family unit rode together.  I put in daily rides, except for arrival and departure days.  It was good.  I’d spent the prior couple of weeks in spin class to trim up a bit.  But nothing prepared my ass for 15-20 mile rides in the saddle of a real bike.  My butt was less bun, more hamburger by the time I left.  But a nice 60+ mile four day stretch was good for me.  

After a successful jump start in spin, with minimal discomfort to my never-healing knee, I had aspirations of riding to the top of the Cinder Dome of the mega-volcano Newberry Crater.  Once the hills hit “straight up” status, my knee straight up refused.

Oh, well.  I still got plenty of exercise and just enough sun, even without the view from the top of the dome.

For my brother’s part, he pedaled to the store one evening, only to return grumpy or confused.  Hard to say.  He was all disturbed at how everyone he passed greeted him.  

I told you…loners.

Anyway, I’d noticed it on my rides. too.  It hadn’t bothered me, though.  I enjoy the social nicety of greeting passersby.  I was more interested in the range of greeting; from the apex vocal salutation to this:which was kind of a very minimal entry.  It was also an indictment for the homogenized environment we were spending the week in.  The darkest skin in this high desert mecca was simply overexposed and under sun screened.

This was the first time we didn’t – not a single one of us, let alone the group – spend time laying about at the pool.  There was a sister’s family rafting trip and a brother and nephew kayaking excursion, otherwise it was fairly pedestrian adventures.  Shopping in Sunriver or heading into Bend for some…shopping.

My sister and brother-in-law took the ‘Phew to look at COCC – that’s for you, Diezel.  He was considering Central Oregon Community Colkege for his first two years, but came back ambivalent.

I cannot believe I’m days away from having an 18 year old nephew!

While they were doing campus tours, the rest of us took off for the High Desert Museum.  Quite a way to spend an afternoon, with some self-improvement undertones.  It’s a nice mix of self-guided educational exhibits and nature path wanderings.

There were way more pics taken than I can comfortably squeeze into my humble blog post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw something in just for Diezel’s enjoyment, so he knows he’s never too far from my thoughts.

So, enjoy, my friend and chosen family member!

Just to shake it up, no humans died or had close calls this time around.  But Buddy, my parent’s dog decided to give us all a scare, with a late day trip to the vet.  The local Sunriver vet wasn’t equipped to handle his situation and escalated him to Bend, 20 miles away.  This resulted in a doped up doggie and my parents enjoying my carbonara reheated.

But, in spite of the changes, the important things remain…

Each of us, being there, for one.  It was touch and go for me.  Mom and dad had picked a seemingly random week in August, the month that usually works for all of us.  Little did we know that we’d signed on for the biggest travel debacle in Oregon highway history: the 2017 eclipse.  

With the increase in tourists traveling in and me working at the airport, I was fairly certain I’d be asked to cancel my vacation.  The request was just to be back for the two days prior as people landed and one million tourists and 27,000 rental cars hit the road.

I was more than willing to fly back instead of risk the road trip…ODOT was tactfully suggesting that people take not only plenty of water for their travel, but also relief vessels, if you get my drift.

I don’t want to be that close to my family.  Hello, Alaska Airlines!

In addition to being there, also the food!

I think cooking for people is the simplest way to show love.  It’s demonstratively caring for them by providing sustenance.  Sharing stories and time over the table.  Figuratively or literally breaking bread together…there is – to me – no better way to illustrate family.

And every night, there we were…gathered at the table celebrating our bond.

Not a bad Christmas gift, parentals…thank you!

Farewell, Summer

The Red Shirt Diaries #13

Apoc-eclipse Edition.

Regardless of your curiosity and enthusiasm, this is happening.

How does this fit into The Red Shirt Diaries – given that it’s really just a tongue in cheek monologue about my potential demise?

Well, a variety of ways, depending on your beliefs surrounding apocalypses and the opportunity for either mystical or man-made mayhem.

I can dispatch with the mystical variety pretty quickly…since I’ve been known to be brief never, you can feel free to be skeptical.

I guess if you run into your doppelgänger during an eclipse, you’re supposed to resist the temptation to fight them.

Now, I have no idea where this piece of advice originates or why it assumes my instinct would be to fight my doppelgänger, but let’s be honest here:  does it really seem likely that either of us would win a physical confrontation?

No.  No, it does not.

One of the other things I’ve heard is that animals will behave strangely during the eclipse.  Specifically, I’ve been warned not to respond to talking dogs.  Luckily for me, I just left all of my family dogs in Sunriver yesterday so that I could be at work at the airport during the eclipse, leaving me safe from canine kind as well as the Supreme Overlord of the Earth, Mistress Myrtle.

AKA:  The Most Disturbing Feline In the World

But just to be safe, I think I’ll steer clear of the airport’s Pet Relief Area.

Speaking of vacation…my family planned its vacation in Sunriver last year and just happened to do a Monday-Monday trip to – get this – avoid the vacation traffic that comes standard with all Summer Sundays.

Yeah, that’s Monday, August 14th through Monday, August 21st.

The eclipse is on August 21st.

Sunriver is close enough to totality that I could spit on it…and I’m not a particularly accomplished spitter.

Fretting that my family would be stuck in traffic with the anticipated hundreds of thousands of eclipse watchers – and possibly their dopplegangers – I chose to leave on Saturday versus Monday and risk being late to or unprepared forwork Tuesday.

Not to worry, my boss expected me back on Sunday.  It’s nice to be needed.

Making margaritas of the situation, my family extended their stay until Thursday.

Ah, retired life!

But, since I mentioned vacation in the path of totality, let’s delve into a more likely death scenario:  Fatality in Totality.

Obviously, I’ve already cheated death by flying home in a puddle jumper and evading totality – see TRSD 14 – but it’s still on my mind because I really can’t wrap my mind around 100,000 people surviving a weekend in a town that is normally populated with a measly 6,000 souls.

Or 12,000 soles, assuming a zero amputation rate.  Aw, hell…I’m using round numbers anyway.

Seriously, Capt Can’t has trouble anticipating bottled water needs for our five stores at PDX and its 25,000 daily travelers…and he does this every week and has 11 years experience.  How can we reasonably expect a literal small business in a small town to figure out the bottled water needs for an assumed number of people for an uncertain duration of stay during a once in a lifetime occurrence?

And would that small business want to?

It’s a big risk and logistical nightmare for a small business to assume.  This should literally be BYOEverything.

But last week – no, the week before – I was at lunch with my parents and mom mentioned seeing a story on the news about people renting semi trailers to park on the roadside, stock them with water and essentials and sell that shit right off the back of the trailer.

Those crafty bastards.

Of course, we assumed this would be strictly a cash endeavor…what could possibly go wrong?!?

And there you have the perfect storm for man made mayhem:  demand outstripping supply and a trailer – literally – full of money.

Goodbye, humanity.

Of course, by the time we were on the road, headed toward totality, we’d moved past that fear.

We realized that each of us having packeda case of wine – 24 bottles, total – that we (they, remember…I bailed out early like the corporate coward that I am) could fill our emptied wine bottles with water for the ride home.  This took care of recycling, hydration and waste disposal all in one if the historic traffic jam came to pass.

I wholeheartedly support my family’s decision to extend their stay versus risking getting stuck in 10-12 hours of traffic jam and potentially having to pee into a wine bottle in front of one another.

Our mutual reluctance to end up in that position proves we are related.

And ensures we’ll all live to see whatever the next overhyped once in a lifetime occurrence is!

In case you’re curious, by the way, we order about 13 pallets of water each week.  If I recall, a semi trailer holds 28 pallets.  So for 175,000 weekly travelers – 100% of whom do not shop at our stores, either, because they don’t have to sustain themselves like they’re trapped in a Mad Max movie – we order nearly half a semi of water.  

People camping outside in the peak of the Central Oregon High Desert?  Yeah, that’s gonna be some serious Thunderdome shit right there.

The Red Shirt Diaries #13