Sacs & Flaps

Happy Wife (HW) took The Black Dog to the vet this morning to have his anal glands expressed. The technician, a perky young blonde woman who he was unusually enamored with, performed the procedure

Anal sacs, or anal glands, carry some smelly fluid and occasionally need to be expressed, or emptied. Many dogs express them by themselves every time they poop — the sacs are around a dog’s anus — but occasionally the sacs fill with fluid and your dog needs some help to release the fluid

I am very glad such fluid releasers exist in this world. If it were left to me said glands surely would go unexpressed, causing the dog to suffer an uncertain term of discomfort before the problem resolved on its own. Cowardice, maybe, but unrepentantly so. As HW is wont to point out in mixed company, I am a doctor, yes, but not the kind that helps people, or, evidently, dogs either. As if more proof were required of who the real caregiver is in this family, after she returned from the vet, consumed her latte and was reassured to see The Dog comfortably at rest beneath the kitchen table – the place he knows where food will most likely fall – I made her another latte for the drive to Palmer where she is by now, checking in on a friend in hospice afflicted with late stage cancer. Meanwhile, I am here at my desk, getting you up to date. The Dog is downstairs. I can hear him dreaming. Probably about that blonde at the vet if I had to guess.

So long 2018! For all the reasons I noted in the 2018 Nibblet, our annual newsletter we mail out every year to family and friends (over 50 this year!), ’18 was a busy year for us in terms of travel. For example, HW’s professional conference in Utqiaġvik, AK (formerly Barrow) Phoenix, a family & friends visit to Wisconsin, cycling in France, touristy stuff in Spain, and of course numerous trips to and from our Nest in Seward, where we hosted a variety of guests this year, some of who experienced exceptionally fine weather. (Note that cruise liner headed south to a port who knows where)

Our trip to France wasn’t entirely uneventful. We went with two other couples, one from Colorado and one from Anchorage. We traveled with the latter on an Alaska airlines flight to Seattle. From there they flew British Airways to London, and then on to Toulouse, France. We boarded Condor airlines bound for Frankfurt, or so we thought, and from there to Toulouse. We weren’t in the air more than forty-five minutes, seated in premium class eagerly waiting for the free food and drink service to start, when the pilot comes on and in a grave voice says… well, I didn’t know because it was in German. But based on the reaction of the German-speaking passengers on board, it didn’t seem good. Then he repeats everything in English. There was a problem with the flap controller on the left wing. Bad enough to require attention so we need to land to have it checked out before proceeding to Frankfurt. Crap. It’s already like a nine and a half hour flight, and now this? Worse, the plane is too heavy to land at Seattle, so, he says, “We’re diverting to Portland to land. But before we can we need to dump a bunch of fuel, so don’t be alarmed when you see all that fuel pouring out the wings.” Great.

It must’ve been two hours or more before we finally landed in Portland, where we were met by fire trucks on the tarmac readied to spray cold foamy stuff on the landing gear to cool the brakes. That takes an hour or more before finally the plane is moving again, now being pulled by a tow truck to the gate because evidently the competency of the landing gear is still in question. Oy vey. More waiting on the plane at the gate before the pilot flatly announces – first in German then English – “The flap controller cannot be repaired tonight.” Scheiße. The crew ordered us to disembark to the terminal, where everything was closed being it was almost midnight, to fetch our bags and then await further instruction, which never came, at least not how they told us it would. Imagine three hundred exhausted, uninformed, angry passengers standing, leaning, sitting -whatever – in an otherwise empty terminal straining to hear an overwhelmed, officious-sounding woman shout instructions on how everyone will be provided a hotel room to stay in overnight. In the morning, she promised, we will call all the hotels with further instructions. Yeah, right.

Long story short – I said screw that. I called La Quinta on my own and got us a room, where we devoured a Domino’s pizza in bed (surprisingly, given neither of us thought we had an appetite), and then crashed. Next morning I call Condor to find out what the hell’s going on. Overnight they had flown another 767 to Portland. It’s scheduled to leave for Frankfurt at 6:30 PM – almost exactly 24 hours after our original flight departed Seattle the prior day. I get us checked in over the phone and then we shuttle back to the airport and wait for hours to board the plane. Which is mercifully on time. Nine hours later we land in Frankfurt, connect to a 1.5 hour flight to Toulouse, where we fetch our bags and find our driver, Patrice, waiting to drive our jet-lagged asses fifty-five miles to Limoux. Mostly in the dark. In a deluge of rain.

When finally we arrive at our digs in Limoux, damp and weary, we push through a huge front door schlepping our bags behind us, there to find our friends and others on the bike tour seated around a long table on an outdoor patio, just finishing up a nice dinner complete with red wine and a light dessert.

“Bonjour!” they all say, “Bonjour!”