Monday, June 30, 2008

Natural mutation

Our time in Yellowstone has led Matt to grow antlers!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Now in Cody, Wyoming...

...and on our way to Yellowstone tomorrow. Big driving day today, although I'm not sure exactly how many miles. Left the Mount Rushmore / Hill City KOA at around 10:30, drove up I-90 to Sheridan, Wyoming, then over US 14 through the, um, Bighorn Mountains to Cody where we're now ensconsed in the Cody KOA. Yes, much to my sister's chagrin, it's turning in to a KOA Fiesta this trip.

In the mean time, we've got new tents! Here's one...

The other looks exactly the same, and hopefully they're more wind-proof than the old ones...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Last night in South Dakota

Well, it's our last night in South Dakota. We're back in tents, the weather appears to be clear (and cool, thankfully), and tomorrow we head west in to Wyoming.

Today's travelogue: Got up, packed up, moved to the tent site, set up the new tents and the surviving old one, then hopped in the monster Jeep and headed to Jewel Cave National Monument for the "Scenic" tour. It was sweet. Not your standard issue "lots of stalagmites and stalactites" cave, but still really cool. And we had a great ranger for the tour, which always makes things good.

After that we hit the Crazy Horse memorial, which is insanely impressive. Apparently we completely blew it yesterday...June 26th is Mrs. Whatshisname's birthday and they do a "nighttime blast" on her birthday every year. I heard it, but apparently it was an awesome sight. Anyhow, the visitor center is super sweet, although the "orientation" movie was a bit cheesy and packed with sales pitch. Because the whole visitor center thing is a way to raise money to continue carving, because they aren't taking any state or Federal money, which is pretty cool. Anyhow, if you find yourself in the Black Hills it's definitely worth the stop, and while $27 per car is steeper than Mt. Rushmore, it's for a good cause!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What's a Kamping Kabin, you ask?

OK, so you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway. It's a cabin with bunk beds and mattresses that you can rent from the good folk at KOA. And we're doing that tonight. Why? Well, because the forecast calls for thunderstorms, and after the other night we're weather wooses. So we're spending another night under a roof before moving out into the new tents we bought from Target today. And it sounds like a good idea, since even as I type the wind is picking up and big scary clouds are rolling overhead. Hmm...probably time to move inside, eh? Yes. Definitely time.


As you can see, the girls have harnessed a wild Jackelope! OK, it's not really was tamed by the fine folks at Wall Drug, then put in their back yard. Wasn't that nice of them?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Weather's here, wish you were windy and wet

And by "Weather" I mean "rolling thunderstorm with high gusty winds". Which, when you combine it with two tents with fiberglass poles, equals "poles break and we spend the night in the cars." Which then leads to "let's check in to a motel tonight and find somewhere to buy some new tents."

So today we're off for a shortened tour of the Badlands, followed by the ever-popular Wall Drug, then the Ramada Inn in Black Hawk, SD for a nap and a swim, then off to Mt. Rushmore this evening before a nice sleep in an air-conditioned, bug-free bed!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


And not just any corn, a whole palace of corn!

Monday, June 23, 2008

First might camping

Today's highlights: Spam Museum, miles of straight highway, and salad for dinner!

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Last night under a roof...

Thanks to the hospitality of Team Monkey Disaster we spent a lovely, if warm, evening under a roof last night. Paige and I scored the mattress on the floor, Molly beat out her sister at rock-scissors-paper to score the fold-out futon, and Maya, Logan and Megan crashed on the carpet. Older brother/nephew Matt, mean while, opted for the couch on the ground floor, followed by the floor of the ground floor. He probably should have taken my advice and gone with Charlie's room...

So today we head south to I-90, then east a bit to the Spam Museum (which, we've been advised, will take all of 20 minutes), then west toward South Dakota. Not sure how far we'll get, or where we'll stay. Also not sure if there will be internets there, so the next few posts may be via cell phone yet again!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The open road

We're on the road, in St. Paul visiting with the Moes. Yahoo!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wisconsin Fish Fry!

How much fish? Three kinds, that's how much! Only 2 from WI, though...

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday relaxation

Friday's update: kayaking, custard, sun and humidity! I'll write more on, oh, Sunday night when we're at the Moe's and can actually type on a computer instead of on a cell phone.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

At last!

Well, we're finally in Wisconsin and at the Chicken Family Reunion. And nothing says reunion like Apples to Apples!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mid-day train update

As expected, eastern Montana is full of a whole lot of nothin'!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No longer waiting on a train...

Now ON the train! And look! A really bright window!

Waitin' on a train...

Paige is knitting, Maya's watching, Logan's reading, I'm texting. W00t!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Stitches are out!

Horay for that. And if you wondered what it's like to have stitches taken out right next to your eyeball, well, it stings. But they're out, and as you can see I'm looking dandy. Still a bit puffy, and I'm on the ointment for another, oh, 10 days or more, but what the heck. I'm seeing much better, I don't have to ice constantly (although icing is fine if I want to...), and all is well in the world.

And more importantly, we start the big trip tomorrow! Work a half day, go get Mom, come home, panic, do some last-minute packing, then head up to Edmonds to get on the train to Milwaukee. So tomorrow's post, unless I go crazy and e-mail something in, will likely be a cell-phone photo and brief text message of us hanging out on the train. In fact, posting will be spotty for the next few weeks while we're on the trip. I'll try to do a phone photo post daily, and we'll likely take some "blogging and knitting breaks", as Paige put it, at cafes and other locations with WiFi along the way, but that's about it. More fluid details of the trip when we're back in July!

And now, the last face photos for a long, long while:

Here's the full-face I said,
not too swolen now! Lip's still a bit numb,
but seems to be more reactive.

The open-eye close-up: still on the ointment,
and there's some residual dye from the
eye exam today, but overall looking
better than last week!

And with the eye closed: no stitches, just some rogue eyelashes!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

In between fighting over insanely stupid things, the kids helped mow the lawn today. But they still made me pay them, which I suppose means it wasn't a Father's Day gift after all...although sitting in a chair supervising rather than doing the mowing myself was a gift...Today was Maya's first attempt at mowing and Logan's second. They both did fine, although Maya wins style points for wearing the dress...

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Soccer? Apparently.

As you can see from my tweet (or was it a twoosh? I'll never get this lingo down...) over there on the right my eye surgery has apparently turned me in to a soccer fan. Or maybe I just like having it on in the's great background noise, especially the Europe 2008 tournament on ESPN 2, 'cause the guys doing the play-by-play and color have terrific accents. I'm not sure what part of the United Kingdom they're from, but I totally want to have a pint with them. One of them has to be Irish, but the other guy...well, I'm stumped. Wherever it is, though, I'm sure they know how to drink.

It'll be a shock tomorrow, then, when I watch the USA / podunk Caribbean country game tomorrow, 'cause I'm sure those dudes will be off in Europe and we'll be stuck with Kobe Jones. Not that there's anything wrong with Kobe, but he ain't Irish.

Friday, June 13, 2008

There's no sex like puppet sex

On stage at eye update tonight, 'cause it's getting old. And there's little change from yesterday, so what's the point?

Instead, I'll plug a musical. I know, I know, it's hard to believe. I'm not much for the musical theater thing. I mean sure, I've got a BA in Theater, I stage-managed and played in the orchestra for numerous musicals, but that was enough. I'm not lining up to get pre-sale tickets for "Phantom" or anything. But when the musical involves the possibility of full-frontal puppet nudity, then I'm on board! Which is why I went to see Avenue Q tonight.

Avenue Q, in case you're like me six months ago and haven't heard of it, "has not been authorized or approved in any manner by The Jim Henson Company or Sesame Workshop which have no responsibility for its content." Which I'm sure they have to say, and I'm sure is true, but you know the Henson and Sesame people love the show. Sure, the branding people and the lawyers might not, but I'm sure the dude in the Big Bird suit was there on opening night.

Basically the show is about Princeton, a muppet dude who graduates college with a BA in English (second only to Theater for useless paper) and doesn't know what to do with his life. So he moves to Avenue Q and learns life's lessons. Lessons like "The Internet was made for Porn". And the most important message of all, "in a volatile market, the only truly safe investment is porn." Oh, and he falls in love with a monster girl along the way.

So, if you're in Seattle (running through next weekend) or Portland (opening in a couple weeks) you should get tickets 'cause it's hilarious. If you're in New York, it's still on Broadway. And if you're not in one of those places go to the web site and check the tour schedule 'cause it might be somewhere nearby. Or plan a vacation. Or hell, just get your own puppet and do it yourself. 'cause the Trekkie Monster would want you to.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Now 100% patch free and 200% visioned

So the doctor took off the eye patch today and said "well, that didn't really do anything..." Which isn't exactly what I was looking for, to be honest. And worse yet, after not using the eye for a day I'm now way more double-visioned than I was before. Which is really, really annoying. So it's back to ice and the antibiotic ointment, which apparently also has cortisone in it and may help reduce the swelling.

Alls I know for sure is the stitches will come out Monday afternoon, and the train leaves Tuesday afternoon, and my vision better be back to something resembling normal by a week from Sunday or my 18-year-old nephew is going to log some serious highway miles!

Tonight's head, those
eyes don't line up at all! No wonder
I was seeing two cameras when I took the picture!

Oooh, goopy! The yellow is from the
dye the eye doctor put in there and
not from Jaundice. At least that's
my understanding...

Gee, with the eye closed it almost looks
normal. Well, except for those stitches...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spoke too soon...

The stitches are still there. Only now you can't see them because of this sweet eye patch!

Turns out that my eye is more swollen than the doctor wants it to be, so he stuck this eye patch on to put some pressure on the eye and hopefully squeeze the juices out of it. Or words to that effect. The big drawback was that due to my facial hair he had to put some "stinky stuff" on to help the tape stick. Not sure if it was spirit gum or some other adhesive, but it definitely smells a bit too flowery.

So all this eye patch stuff pretty much killed my plan to return to work today and bask in my co-worker's sympathy. It's just too dang hard focusing on stuff with only one eye, not to mention that the lack of peripheral vision on the left side would make it way too easy for people to sneak up on me and give me a dope slap.

Oh, and in case the head shot wasn't detailed enough, here's an unnecessary close-up of the patch. Not pirate, more "war wound". Only without the blood and gore.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stitches come out tomorrow!

That's the good news. The bad news is I still look like crap. In fact, as you can see in the close-up below, I've got a kind of gooey stuff going on in the eye. Can't tell if it's tears, left-over ointment from this afternoon, or if my eye is now exuding that jelly that Spam comes packed in. I'm hoping one of the first two, 'cause I'm not a huge fan of Spam.

Anyhoo, tomorrow at 10:10 I go back in to the eye doctor to get examined and have the stitches out. Hopefully he'll say "everything looks great and your eye will be a delicious blend of spices and ham." Hopefully.

Here's today's head shot. Man, not the
most flattering angle, is it?

In the open-eye close-up you can see the
goo I'm talking about. OK, maybe it's
not Spam juice. Maybe it's royal jelly.

Tomorrow, no stitches to mar
the right side of this shot.

Monday, June 09, 2008

It's getting old.

The blurriness. The double vision. The generally sore eyes. It's getting old. I'm ready to move on. I'm also ready to no longer look like I got smacked in the face. And to no longer have a numb lip that always feels chapped. I don't know if it actually IS chapped, but it sure feels that way. At least today I was able to smile mildly normally...

Here we have today's attempt to
smile and look cheerful...

I also figured I'd give a real close-up
instead of those far-away close-ups
I did earlier. You get a better look
at the rheumy eye, assuming I'm
using "rheumy" correctly...

And in this closed-eye version you can see
that I still can't close it all the way without
also closing the other eye. Which might
be leading to some of the
soreness...or not. I just don't know.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday's big news: I actually left the house!

Hard to believe, but I did indeed leave the house today. Didn't drive, naturally, since I'm still seeing a blurry double set of everything, but I did go for a walk up to a friend's house to borrow some camping cookware for our big trip. Paige and Maya met Logan and I there on their way back from the store. A very productive day, I must say...if by "productive" you mean "sit around watching 'Ice Road Truckers' while icing your face, then go for a walk and borrow some pots". Which I do.

Also watched "Raiders of the Lost Ark" for the first time in, that Harrison Ford was a young dude back then! The kids were interested for about 10 minutes, then distracted by Club Penguin. Heathens.

Anyhoo, we all know why you're here: more photos of my swolen ugly eye. So here we go:

The full-facial shot, with an attempt at a smile.
The left upper lip is still pretty much numb, so that's
about all the smile you're getting.

The open-eye close-up. Starting to get
pink, but still mostly yellow-ish.

And with the eye closed you get more
of the pinkness. Not sure what's
going on with that eye brow...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Another day, another blurry update

Yes, blurry indeed. Still seeing double, and in fact today it looks like of like the angle I mentioned yesterday has increased. But, oddly, the second image is blurred more today than yesterday. Not sure what that means, but it might have something to do with the ointment I'm jamming in my eye three times a day...

Anyhoo, here are today's update photos. Per Paige, the weird part is that my left eye doesn't quite line up right with the right one, which one would expect given the double vision thing...

The full-face shot...not sure if it shows
the uneven eyes or not...

Open-eyed close-up...nice neat
stitches, I must say!

And the close-eyed closeup.
Well, as closed as it'll go on its own...

Also looks like I'm starting to get some discoloration, although it's still the yellow kind. And the doctor promised me a true-blue (well, black & blue) shiner! What a rip!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday update

So, here we are on Friday, two days after surgery. Got some sleep last night, which is good, and the double vision is shrinking. Although right now it's also kind of offset and at an angle, which is odd...yesterday I was seeing the second image below the primary. Today it's below, off a bit to he right, and appears to be rotated about 1 or 2 degrees clockwise. If I had mad photoshop skillz I'd post a picture of what it looks like, but I don't. And how would I know if I got it right anyway, what with the blurred vision? Exactly.

Anyhow, here are a couple shots of what I look like today. No huge discoloration yet, but some definite swelling...

Full head shot (well, minus the top part...)
shows off the puffiness nicely, I think.

The open eye version...

And the closed. Oddly I don't seem to be able
to close the eye completely unless I also
close the other, which makes it hard to
line up the camera right.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Surgery recap with photos!

No, not photos of the actual procedure...and no one offered me a video of it or anything either, so I don't think any are forthcoming. But here's the rundown...

Got up yesterday morning, did a little work so I could avoid taking a sick day, then around 11 Paige and I headed to Group Health Central. Got parked, got checked in, paid the co-pay (a whopping $15...I'm assuming a bill for more will come later), picked up a living will form (which I then proceeded not to fill out 'cause I didn't have a pen...) and went back to the prep room (after a wait of like 5 minutes...I swear to God in all the appointments I've had since this dang accident that was the shortest by far).

In the prep room I was given these sweet clothes:

Socks with grippy bits on the downside

A sweet surgical gown

A gown with an air conditioner attachment!

And just to be safe, the word "Yes" written
above the eye they were supposed to work on.

I then talked to the anesthesiologist, the doctor, a nurse, another nurse, the anesthesiologist's assistant, and probably some other nurses. I got weighed in the gown, which was great since apparently my clothes weigh 7 pounds or so, 'cause that's what I'd lost since I was weighed the afternoon before (the fact that I hadn't eaten since 10 PM probably didn't hurt). Eventually someone stuck an IV port in my arm (which Paige didn't photograph 'cause it was standard issue) and it was time to go off to the OR.

Having never had surgery at Group Health (my only prior surgical experience was an outpatient elbow job at a private surgical clinic) I wasn't sure what to expect. But it was fairly standard: long hallway, lots of doors with people being worked on. The only difference with my room was that, for some reason, the windows in the door were boarded up. I really should have asked why, but I had other things on my mind.

The last things I remember were the anesthesiologist's assistant pinning my left arm up in a blanket because "there's no arm rest on this side and it'll get all floppy". That and looking up at the lights. Then it was 2+ hours later and I was in another room being spooned ice and given some saltines. And let me tell you, saltines and crushed ice in a totally dry mouth are not a good combination. Especially when your throat is kind of sore from the intubation tube, which according to Paige they had to insert twice because my stiff neck wouldn't extend far enough the first time. Fun!

After downing the crackers and a couple vicodin I was hauled up to my "EOS" or Extended Observation Station". Also known as "hospital room". And Paige was allowed in to see me and take another photo:

Relaxed in bed, icing the face, unable to smile
right because my left upper lip is numb again. Stupid lip.

Some time after that they asked if I was nauseous. I wasn't...had been a couple times right after surgery, but that had subsided. So they brought in dinner, which did the trick. As soon as the lid came off and the smell of teryaki chicken (which I love) hit my nose, the nausea hit haaaarrrrdddd. So back went the lid, away went the tray, and I breathed through my mouth for a while. Eventually I was able to eat a roll and a few bites of chicken, but not much else.

Eventually, maybe around 9 (after Paige had left, come back with Maya, and left again) I had an apetite so I ate the carrot cake I'd "forgotten" to send home with her and a few mint Milanos she'd left behind. Then asked for a couple yogurts. And then at around 11:30 some cheese and crackers. Nothing like eating healthy in the middle of the night...

The night itself was, while not miserable, also not restful. I was warm most of the time, until I realized I was still wearing two pairs of socks. I wasn't very comfortable, since I'm not used to sleeping on an incline. I was balancing ice bags on my face using a pillow case (which, by the way, is very effective...). It was noisy, and when I put my ear plugs in I could hear my pulse rushing in my ears. And speaking of my pulse, it was elevated...not crazy, but up in the 110 range rather than my usual resting pulse of like 60 or so. Oh, and I had to get up and pee about every hour. So all in all I basically dozed off and on all night but never really slept. I don't think, anyway...

The other complaint about Group Health is the TV. I mean, really. In this day and age of digital cable, compact satellite, TiVo etc. if you're bed-ridden you should at least have something to watch, right? Wrong. Four channels, all broadcast: ABC, wavy NBC, PBS and CW. And to navigate, one button that goes up, then off, then on, then up, then off. Someone needs to set up an endowment with Group Health to pay for basic cable. Seriously.

Anyhow, this morning Dr. Kim came in, took off the bandage, looked at my eye, said it was moving fine (even if the double vision is worse than it was post-accident), told me to ice it all the time (except when blogging...I'm sure he said that), gave me 95 pills and ointments to use, and sent me on my way. Well, kind of...first Paige had to show up and take another photo:

Me this morning right before I got dressed.

Then I had to wait around for my final dose of antibiotics, a shot of some kind of steroid to help with swelling, and for the last of my meds to show up from the pharmacy. And finally at 11 or so we were free and came home, where after icing some more, taking some drugs, and eating some lunch I started this little blog entry, which has now taken 4 or 5 hours to complete. Whew!

One final picture, of my eye all swollen and puffy this afternoon:

Post-op cell phone update

Quick post-op update: checked out and on the way home. Double vision's back, but that's as expected. Hope it clears up soon!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Another eye shot

Haven't posted a picture of the eye lately, so I figured that since it's going to look like crap later today I might as well post some "before" shots, right? Right.

So, as you can see, there's still a couple red patches, but other than that I look normal. You'd never know that my left eye has recessed 0.5 mm since last week. I'm going to get the wife to bring the camera to the hospital so we can get some post-op shots with me looking all groggy and bandaged to post tomorrow when I get back home!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008

This one goes to 11

Yes, it's true, Logan Chicken is officially 11 today. Here, as last year, is a lovely slide show of his birthdays through the years...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Gotta love the Brits

Why? Because they say stuff like this: "It's sweaty on there but I'm going round and round until I vomit."

Nothing sticks it too the man like drunken revelry on the Tube.