December 15th-18th

A nice long weekend away from work - both jobs - and lazing around in the warmth of the Southwest. Number One Son and I flew down to Phoenix to spend a long weekend doing holiday-like stuff with Dad. Here's an overview.

Panther came by the house last Thursday evening after the Grind at the Wet Spot and curled up in the recliner in front of the fireplace. Son crashed on the futon and at oh-dark-thirty in the ayem Panther drove us down to Sea-Tac.

We got to the airport in plenty of time to get the seats we wanted [I prefer an aisle and he prefers a window, both being our individual ways to avoid claustrophobia in those dinky little seats]. The flight down was notable only for an encounter with a socially integrated PBFH [psycho bitch from hell (tm)]. Narcissistic, self-is-center-of-the-universe richbitch physician's wife, barging on the plane with too many packages after being told to check them, lets the whole passenger line wait while she rearranges them a few times walking the aisle without the single thought of an apology, talks compulsively the entire flight to the poor folks in the seats ahead of me and then when I put my hand out to stop her from grabbing my leather jacket from the overhead, she goes off on me. I figured out that she was used to a life of impervious and invulnerable privilege when she had the audacity to reach out, tap me on my shoulder patronizingly and tell me to see a psychiatrist for my anger issues. Seriously, now. Would you think to reach out and touch a stranger who looked like me [large, hairy and bearded, piercings and tattoos evident, clad in a kinky tshirt and lots of black leather] when you've already decided he had anger issues? Argh. I'm a psychiatric health care professional who gets paid to deal with crazy people like her, but __I was on vacation__! I secured her hand from being able to touch me again - she didn't like this - and told her "You may not touch me". Meanwhile my son was standing shoulder to shoulder with me, telling her firmly "Back away. Just back away." I apologized to the anxious appearing stew for the commotion, snickered when the PBFH's shopping bags shredded halfway off the plane, and mentioned to the head stew "Tsk tsk. She'd been told to check all those extra bags...".

That passed [yes, I had anger issues, but only with the one person in the entire universe (the PBFH) right then]. Into the Sky Harbor Airport and Dad wasn't there. He and I have been meeting each other's flights for over 30 years and we always wait at the gate. He wasn't there. No answer at the home phone, no Dad waiting down at Baggage Claim, no answer at any other relative's house. No answer to overhead page, no answer to overhead page in the other terminals. Dad is 76 and I let my imagination take flight. I prepared myself for seeing a relative walk up the terminal with a grim expression on their face. I figured out what the cab fare to his place would be. I thought about how my son would take bad news, how I would. After 2 1/2 hours we finally got through to someone living near him who said, "Oh, yeah, he's home. I just saw him."

It turns out that - at this airport only - parking is bad and expensive so the agreement all the family has with everyone is to meet near the taxi stand with luggage in hand. Dad hadn't let us know. He came back over to the airport that he'd cruised around 20 times prior to going home and got us. What a relief - but the mortality thoughts had been all too real, all too imminent, all too painful, all too possible.

The next few days were a blur of pleasant nothing. Sleep in, eat, hang out. We spent a lot of time with Dad sitting there doing crossword puzzles and Son and I taking turns surfing the net or reading, but it was all of us together, three generations of guys in our family, the occasional "Hey, listen to this" interjection, and it was wonderful. Shared recipes, exchanged favorite search engines, trained Dad on ICQ, tinkered in the kitchen. Saturday we did what has turned into a tradition - several hours wandering the acres of swap meet outside Scottsdale picking up neat stuff and junk both. Later at the local mall I paid $9 for a half pound of French Roast and made appropriate "shoulda bought in Seattle before I left" sounds to them. Harumph.

Gift exchange was haphazard and happened over the entire long weekend, nothing wrapped. I bought Son a bunch of kitchen stuff for his new apartment and gave him a cookbook that is a compilation of generations of our family's recipes, a gift certificate for Uwajimaya and he gave me kitchen stuff also.

Recently when Dad's partner passed away a bunch of the folks around his [and her] home, a retirement trailer park, decided to do a memorial for her. They got a bargain in Mexico for lace handmade tablecloths and bought enough for the entire clubhouse at the park. Enough folks kept donating to the effort that there was a bunch of money left over and Dad is holding onto it. When he sees something in the paper he deems worthy [child left orphaned by a fire, family fighting immense bills for special care child, etc] he sends along a check. Dad doesn't need a thing I could gift him with so I gave him a check for fifty bucks for the fund, which doubled what he had left in it; he was quite touched by the remembrance. He clipped out another needy family news story while I was there.

No PBFH on the flight home Monday early, although we were greeted at the sidewalk with a ticket agent telling our skycap that our flight had been cancelled. There were no problems getting on another just an hour later and in short order we were greeting a jumping up and down Panther at the gate back at SeaTac.

Four days of tshirt weather in Phoenix, temps around 65-70 and sunny, having to put a muffler and heavy jacket was a fine welcome-home. Oh, well, at least it's green here. I understand those who find the desert beautiful, but only academically. Green is life.

Arriving home I found out that I was again one of the Luckiest Men In The Universe. I'd arranged for Panther to do our transfers and Kevin came over and fed and cursed at the cat daily while we were gone... but I also asked Hazel to come over and do her housecleaning magic in my absence and did she ever! Normally I rip the place to shreds packing at the last minute and come home to the mess, which is a disheartening way to end a vacation. This time I came home to a sterile kitchen, vac'd floor, laundry all done and put away, fireplace cleaned out and fresh log in place, bed linen changed and turned down, porcelain all clean, even a note on the coffee maker saying "loaded and ready to turn on". This is the way to go! Hazel is a goddess!

Panther ran Son on home to his place on the Eastside after dropping me off, and I dinked around clearing out email and yelling at the cable modem clueless help desk dinks. Lemme tell you how bad it was. I was offline when I got home so I called. I got an announcement recording telling me that my 3 state region was down, the first line guy told me the same but didn't know for how long so I was put in the queue for the second line guy. Got another recording while waiting telling me that Washington, Oregon, and Idaho were all still down, and then the second line guy comes on the phone. "I'm sorry, sir, but it isn't written on my whiteboard in front of me that there is an outage so I don't know what could be wrong". Once I worked my way up to bleve* I got exceedingly polite. Coldly polite. Demanded to talk with his supervisor. No managers exist. The only, repeat ONLY, thing he had to offer was that management would call me back within 24-48 hours if I requested it. Just then I saw my connection come back up so I requested that I do receive the call and hung up. Argh. Please note, Throckmorton fans world wide. I'm a formerly satisfied @home customer. I may again be happy, I am when it works. As long as they keep trying to "improve it to serve you better" things are gonna be fucked and they HAVE to do something better with the help desk.

{* BLEVE is a fire department term, the acronym for 'boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion' It is a very good verb for the sorts of devastation one can do when encountering knuckle dragging pneumocephalic copraphagics.}

Monday eased down wonderfully. I met with Elf and Omaha and their charming one-year-old daughter for dinner, and then Omaha and I went to Tubs for a relaxing evening. This is the date postponed from a few weeks ago when Omaha threw her back out. We had a nice time, soaked and played and exchanged orgasms and both left with headaches, body aches and upset tummies a distant memory. Along with having my housekeeper come in while I'm gone, scheduling a lightweight pleasant evening of sensualism the day of my return from vacation is a nice touch to keep in mind as well.

And here we are. I've been experimenting with Napster while doing this journal entry. Number One Son, the geek, installed it for me and it's not only easy, it's fun! All of you Burke fans out there, enter Judy Henske into Napster if you want to see what he is talking about. I'll keep on Napstering while I get some website reviews done today, and tomorrow spend the day at my Other Job. It's the one day I'm scheduled there until the 26th, so have high hopes to continue my resting up & recharging.

I'll keep in touch. Life is good.

. [listened to during this journal composition: Judy Henske, Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia, Tony Bennett, Queen, Jorma Kaukonen, Frank Sinatra, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy & Brian Setzer, Tom Lehrer, and a techno trance remix of Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor. Tomorrow I'll work on more diversity....]

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