Ah, but let’s start at the beginning.
Saturday, day of the weekly movie night at the Stately English Manor (home of our friends, their daughter, and various cats), and Baby Harbat is feeling warm. Strike that. Hot. We take her temperature with the purple Elmo thermometer: 102.5. She gets her first installment of ibuprofen, which drops her temperature enough to go to the party, get strawberry on the white couch, and watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with us. By the end, she’s sitting on the couch, her eyelids drooping. When we get home, her temp has hit 104. More ibuprofen and cold washcloths on her neck. She’s awake every hour throughout the night. Once, I come in and put a washcloth on her neck and she calmly reaches up, takes it off, and says in a small voice, “Thank you.” This kid is better at 104 than I am at 98. At 3 in the morning, I am woken by the sound of a helicopter. Lights flash in the window, and I hear over a loudspeaker, “Come out with your hands up!” This gets me out of bed in a single leap, interrupting my dream of doing stop-time animation on a clay stick figure. The chopper is circling around our neighborhood and Something is Going Down. Baby Harbat is awake, and the police helicopter circles for another half hour. It is very hot in the house and our ceiling fan has stopped working.
I feel feverish just reliving that night. BH is sprightly and laughing the morning, as her fever has dropped. I go out for a morning run while the girls get ready for a day trip to Pasadena to see Huntington Gardens. Once they leave, I have the day to myself to do…chores! First on the agenda is the fence.
[sigh] The fence.
I put up the second row of rails and, in principal, the fence is finished. My wife sees crookedness when she looks at the fence. I have rebuilt one section of fence three times. It is still not right, and I now understand the Fence Project is something to keep me busy up to, and through, retirement. It will never be right, never be good enough. I will not include pictures because I don’t want Internet asking me why that one rail is crooked. Before my run I had to explain to an old codger, who stopped his pickup in the middle of the road to gawk and offer unwelcome and unhelpful “advice”, that there are only two ways to build a fence. One is with rails parallel to the ground, which will make it look crooked. The other is with level rails that die into the ground, which makes it look as if the fence is collapsing. My running buddies thought the chicken wire was because I was setting up a cockfighting ring in the front yard.
God help me, the fence. [sigh]
With temps finally hitting the mid-90s by Sunday afternoon, I made it into the pool and did some crazy jumps, explored around with my mask and snorkel, and fixed the skimmer flapper door with some wire. Then it was rest time. But no! I lay down for three minutes, then decided to get up and make fresh cucumber soup, a bean salad with our garden tomatoes, and cheese quesadillas. And two loaves of multigrain bread. All was ready when the girls arrived home. Baby Harbat was very tired and hot, my wife commented on the crookedness of the fence, and BH spat out her quesadillas and spilled soup on her new shirt. [end scene]
Which brings us to this morning. After another night of BH waking every hour with sweats and crying (hers), my wife got her up and changed her, then I took over and tried to get her to eat breakfast. Yogurt with flax seeds, her usual favorite, was met with finger wagging and, “No no no.” Then I tried wheat bread with butter. No no no. Finally she ate a banana, then spilled yogurt on her new outfit. I made her and my lunch, and got ready. Amazing, I thought, I’ll actually be on time to work! BH is dressed and everybody is about ready, and as I pick up BH, I feel something sticky on her leg. Now I understand that fever is the first part, and a complete digestive shunt comes next. This was a diaper blowout exceeding everything I previously understood about biology, anatomy, and physics. It was everywhere like…well…imagine putting a cherry bomb in a vat of chocolate pudding.