Emergency measures have been initiated when our intrepid vacationers, Garry and Marilyn Armstrong of Uxbridge, Massachusetts realized they have bigger problems than they realized … and that’s saying something.

Maintenance at the 1 star Cape Winds In Hyannis is rumored to be on the way to unclog both of Unit 17’s toilets. When Mrs. Armstrong reported the problem, Front Desk replied with “That’s odd!”

“I, ” responded Mrs. Armstrong, “Would not describe it as such. “I would call it clogged.”

Informed of the problem, Mr. Armstrong pulled the covers over his face. What a dump.



It’s 76 miles as the road goes, but it took three hours. Which wasn’t bad considering it was a snail trail all the way. Friday night traffic is bad and the roads to the Cape are the most crowded. No matter. We were in a good mood. Patient. No screaming and cursing as we were cut off and tail-gated crawling to Cape Cod.

Baseball. The soothing cure all.
Baseball. The soothing cure-all.

Finally we got here. I got a bad feeling. You probably know what I mean. The asphalt in the parking lot is all broken. It feels dilapidated. You try to find the office and you can’t because there’s a backhoe parked in front of it. And in your heart, you know your room is directly behind the backhoe. Yup, I knew it. I asked for a different room. I just couldn’t do a week staring at the ass end of a backhoe.

“The last lady loved it. She had three little kids and said it would keep them interested.”

“We don’t have little kids. I prefer not to spend my week on the Cape up close and personal with a back hoe.” Humor? My head hurts.

The only other available unit is on the second floor. No elevator. No help with our stuff, of which there was, as usual, way too much. I had asked for a room with handicapped access. “Well,” she said, “You’d have to talk to your exchange group about that.” Right.

We needed a place to sleep. It was getting late. We were tired.

Garry had A Look. I know that look. He’s pissed, figures it’s not worth fighting over because it’s futile. He spent years on the road and he knows a dump when he sees one. And, as he points out later as he is hauling several tons of stuff up a steep flight of stairs … “We’ve stayed in worse.’

The old futon in the "living room." What a beauty!
The old futon in the “living room.” What a beauty!

Indeed we have. The place in Montreal with the hot and cold running cockroaches. That was very bad. This place IS a dump, but there are worse dumps. At least the WiFi works.

The mattress on the bed may have had some spring, a hint of softness … a long time ago. Long, long time ago. Now, it’s weary. Made bitter by hard use, it is lumpy and unforgiving. I sense 8 nights of torture awaiting us. Don’t stay at the Cape Wind in Hyannis. You’ll be sorry.

The bed is hard as a rock. The ancient futon in the living room is ugly and stained, but oddly comfortable. The TV works and the National League playoff series starts tonight. If there’s baseball, Garry is good to go. Until we hit that bed. That’s going to hurt. A lot. We brought our own pillows. Maybe I’ll sleep out here in the living room on the futon.

The bathroom. Garry looked. “It has,” he said, “A certain ‘je ne sais quoi.’ ” Yes, that certainly is true. I was laughing hysterically when I pulled out a camera and took a few shots of it. “Je ne sais quoi” like this is too good to not share.


No baking dish. I use the broiler drip pan. I ask about getting one. Tomorrow. Hopefully. How about a bulb for the lamp in the living room? Tomorrow. Hangers for the closet? It’s a big closet, but not useful with no hangers. Tomorrow — if they have any (good luck). The dresser is tiny, just three small drawers — more like an oversized night table. I give two to Garry and decide to keep everything except my underwear in the duffel.

We moved to the futon in the living room. It took less than 15 minutes for Garry to cry “uncle.” I didn’t last that long. Now we are in the living room. If I think of this as an adventure, I might enjoy it for the sheer hilarity. You can’t make this stuff up.

It’s a dump. But, for the next week, it’s our dump.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinity – GRAND CANYON

Infinite Grand Canyon

Talk about infinity. Arizona’s Grand Canyon is overwhelming, almost incomprehensible in its vastness and seems to go on forever. Visually, it does.


I went to the cardiac surgeon the other day. I explained about the money problem. He apparently understood. Wow. A rational, friendly guy. With whom I had a normal conversation. I’m not used to that. I kept waiting for hostilities to break out, but they didn’t.

We put together a sort of plan. I need to reorganize my health insurance so I can afford the surgery. This means it will have to be after the turn of the year. In any case, it will take me that long to figure out how to get through to Medicare while the government is closed for business. I’m trying to stay calm, but I’m screaming inside.

The doctor said since I’ve made it this far — and I can breathe and am not all swollen with water retention — I’m likely survive another few months. How comforting is that?


Meanwhile, I have nightly dreams I’m drowning in my sleep and can’t breathe. It’s my fear throttling me. Even though I’m essentially asymptomatic, it doesn’t make the fear go away. I control while I’m conscious, but at night, those demons are fast.

Diagram of the human heart 1. Superior Vena Ca...

The good doctor found it puzzling. I should be symptomatic as Hell. Go figure, right? My mitral valve is barely working and the aortic valve is 75% blocked by an over-developed muscle in the left ventricle. Because the mitral valve is not working, the muscle has had to work extra hard — apparently for some time — to move blood around. Which has made it grow big enough to block the aortic valve. In addition to replacing the mitral valve, they have to do a little creative slice and dice on that muscle. The fun never stops.

The lack of symptoms had the doctor looking at me funny. He kept checking for signs of swelling in my ankles and wrists. There wasn’t any. “You sure you aren’t taking medication?”

“Just hydrochlorothiazide … 25 mg. Standard dose … been taking it for years.”

“No Lasix?”

“No. I have a recliner. I keep my feet up. You know, about a year ago, I was having a really big problem with swollen ankles. I looked like I had elephant legs. Then it went away.”

“Just … went away?”

“Yeah. Just went away.”

My Surgeon who isn't too busy to see me.
My Surgeon. He isn’t too busy to see me.

“That’s strange. Symptoms don’t usually just … go away. Not without medication. And you’ve seen your cardiologist?”

“No. My cardiologist is too busy to see me until next February.”

“Right. I forgot. You have a phantom cardiologist.”

“Yeah. He seems to be the only game in town, so to speak and he’s a very busy man. So I haven’t seen a cardiologist at all. Just you. And a nurse practitioner. Who didn’t mention the whole thing with the aortic valve. I think she was 12. Barely in puberty.”

Laughter. Not guffaws. More like amicable chuckles.

“Well, when you get your insurance straightened out, we’ll get you scheduled. Get your teeth taken care of in the meantime.”

“Will do. And thanks.”

Maybe I don’t need heart valves? Perhaps I could skip this whole thing? Ah … ephemeral dreams of improved health. I dream of surgery not done with my life nonetheless lived.