Otter Silliness

Okay, so who had the doubled-up super mega hurricane on their 2020 Disaster Bingo Score Sheet? I sure didn’t, although I feel a little stupid that I didn’t expect it. Right now, I’m basically permanently strapped into a five-point harness and hanging on for the ride.

No, it’s not a straight jacket, yet – but if we keep getting Murder Hornet Alerts, it just may turn into one.

That’s why I’ve been signed up for the Reverse Alert System since Harvey.   If you’re interested about getting warnings (sometimes before dawn) about rip tides, flooding, hurricanes and impending Nights of the Lepus, you can sign up for this system here:  Be aware: they will call, text and email you to safety whether you like it or night, and removing you name from the list is more arduous than astronaut training combined with unknotting kite string.  Safety first, though, right?

Because I’m lazy and because robocallers keep phoning from local numbers regarding my expiring warranty on Boris  (my car that I bought used from a Chinese guy’s Russian uncle and which never had a warranty), I tend to let everything go to voicemail.  And then, because I hate listening to people talk about non-existent car warranties, I tend to read the message after it’s translated by visual voicemail.

At best, talk to text is riddled with inaccuracies, but most of the time you can figure out what the message was within some kind of reason.  That’s why I was only moderately concerned when I received this from the Reverse Alert System on Monday:

“This is a message for me so I am going to system a high risk of recurrence today and she also continue do much of the week leave Heights for the coastal otters could reach sixty nine feet from Wednesday through Thursday and subside on Friday?”


If I’m being honest, 69-foot Coastal otters seemed like par for the course, although I did feel like the City may have buried the lead a little on this one.

Because of the threat of otter invasion, I am hereby advocating that we take all the necessary steps to prepare for future cuteness incursions.

  • Step 1: don’t be any kind of invertebrate, or the otters will eat you. Also try not to be a bird or a fish for the duration of the invasion.  “Otters are HUNGRY animals,” warned one expert.  “If you see a 69 foot otter, be prepared by carrying a five gallon bucket of jumbo shrimp with you everywhere you go! Leave the bucket in your car when you’re not actively being threatened,” he continued.  “The riper the better!”
  • Don’t leave your car near where the gigantic otters were last sighted. Clever creatures, they’ll use trucks to crack open restaurants. Otters carry tractor-trailers and store food in the loose skin under their armpits – who needs a purse!?!?
  • Otters tend to stick together, floating in formations called “rafts” to sleep. You should stay together, too.  Try to pick friends who are slow and prone to stopping to make obvious statements like, “Hey, Chuck! Will you look at that giant otter!”  You can run while they’re taking a selfie.

Obviously, the best way to avoid otter attacks is to not live in an area prone to giant otters.  Unfortunately, we’ve all made our choice here in the Coastal Bend.  Be sure to get the reverse alert system.  Be prepared. Stay Safe!  Otter season won’t last forever.

boxing otter smallotter at bob hall smallpeekaboo otter small

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The Skeerdy List

I’ve written approximately 400 times about how Stadler is terrified of sky bangs.  It doesn’t matter if it’s gunshots, fireworks, thunderstorms, or high winds, my freight train of a dog barrels onto my lap for protection – where she remains for the duration, shaking, drooling and panting.

You’ve read my tales of erecting great walls to keep her away, and I promise this isn’t another of those.

Jan and Dale generously allow Stadler to come to work with me.  My poor co-dependent dog has been a GO puppy most of her life, a travel dog who comes with me everywhere.  She doesn’t like being left even at Grandpa Daycare where she gets many treats and is friends with their compost pile opossum, Blossom.

Once (when I left her to be babysat for a mere hour so that I could mow my lawn) she escaped from the Rev and came trotting home.

I don’t know what her game plan was.  What if I hadn’t been home?  Would my hound have plopped smugly in front of the garage and waited for me whilst the Rev panicked?

If I’m being honest, I was so impressed that Stadler-Rocket-Surgery-Bair knew her way home (it’s five blocks and a straight shot) I let her into the house and gave her a biscuit.

In any case, I was inspired to write this article when yesterday at the Moon Office, Stadler yelped like her tail caught on fire for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON!

Jan witnessed this and said, “Hey, nothing happened to you!  I saw that.”

Stadler had the decency to look moderately chagrined.

The thing is this happens constantly.  Here is a brief list of the things my dog is afraid of:

Vacuum cleaners – she goes outside the second one is deployed



Window air conditioning units

Spray cans

The microwave – The dog hides outside. I have to yell “Stadler is safety” when I’m done using the appliance because she no longer trusts the ding.  She’s been afraid of it since the historic “Time the Lid Was on the Tupperware too Tight and There Was a Moderate Explosion.”

Water – she is the worlds only hydrophobic Labrador.  She won’t swim in lakes, rivers, the ocean.  She hates baths and is impossible to get into the tub. This phobia does not extend, however, to gross stagnant ditch water.  Of that, Stadler is a big fan.

Gardening gloves – don’t ask me

New food bowls – we must use the same one she chewed up as a puppy otherwise she dumps the food on the floor and hides the bowl under the furniture.

Recumbent bicycles – she thinks they’re some kind of evil attack insect

Squirrels – one threw a nut at her and hit her in the face six years ago.  On the dog jog she still wants to hotly pursue them.  When trapped in the car in the driveway, however, she visibly hides from the squirrel tree. That may just be shame, though.  I’d be pretty embarrassed myself if I let a squirrel beat me up.

The neighbor dog – she bravely fought Bella through the fence for four years.  When they met, Stadler ran back to our yard and hid behind a bush.

Shark hoodies

Men with beards that are not the G.P.

Yard art

She once spent fifteen minutes frantically barking at a palm frond

Ice machines

Garbage trucks

And probably, for all I know, the Winter Olympics.

The thing about Stadler (as ‘fraidy as she may be) is that she has a really great attitude about it.  Imagine being plagued by anxiety that was relieved by the vacuum cleaner being put back in a closet?  And then just going about your day with a bounce in your step, knowing that the next treatie or bite of chicken is right around the corner?

Stadler is an infinite optimist when it comes to food.

Maybe that’s all it takes to recover from fear – a little hiding and a big treat.  I’m willing to try it if you are.

Ab’s Note: Thanks for your response my column of last week entitled, “Crafty Cathys.”  I was heartened to learn to so many people shared my problem. Casey Rather posted a comment on the Moon’s Facebook page (the Island Moon Newspaper) that read, “We need to create a support group, with social distancing and wearing masks and find a shared space. The only thing allowed out of the space are finished products but we can bring in all of our products to share, or this could be done after we know more about Covid and don’t have to worry too much about sanitizing which may be a couple years but hey it’s a thought right?”

crafty logo

Well, Casey, I thought that was a terrific idea!  Thank you!  I’ve made us all a Facebook group for exactly this purpose.  You can find it by searching for “Crafty Cathys Abigail Bair” or by visiting my page (@abigailbairwriter).  It’s a private group to prevent looky-loos, but membership is automatic.

Here is a synopsis of what the group is about:

The Crafty Cathys is a support group for people who are addicted to purchasing craft supplies, but who also fail to use said supplies once the money is spent.


The goal of this loosely knit confederacy of armchair crafting fans is to generate enough social excitement for our projects that we actually complete a few.


… or at least THINK about completing a few.


We’ll offer support from concept through construction. Post whatever ideas you have for the group to evaluate. It helps to talk through designs before you try to write/knit/paint/carve/etc. them.


Be kind to each other. Art is not only hard work; it can be tough on the soul as well. The bottom line is, to paraphrase Charles Bukowski, ‘there are too many artists in the world and too little art.”


Let’s make some stuff!


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Welco Padre

I gotta say, folks, I never anticipated a surprise party from a hurricane.  While Harvey lolled like a gorging hippopotamus over the Gulf, Hanna slipped in quick as a fox raiding a henhouse.

As Hanna built herself up into a tizzy over the Gulf last weekend, my Kansan parents became increasingly worried.

Friday afternoon, Mom called and said, “We need to come over and board up your windows.  Hanna is a hurricane.”

“Let me call Jan,” I replied.

Island Moon publisher Jan Rankin grew up in South Florida and is my go-to storm advisor on anything that originates over an ocean.

“Are you boardin’ ‘er up?” I asked, although Jan and Dale have very cool metallic shutters that (when installed) make their pink house look like a background shot in a David Lynch movie.

“Hech no!” Hialeah Jan replied, “It’s only a CAT 1.”

Experience told the truth once again.  I lost power on Saturday for around 11 hours.  After about 8 of those, Stadler, myself and the contents of my freezer bravely evacuated to the Rev’s house where they still had air conditioning and internet.

AEP returned my service by around 11 p.m. that night, but Stadler was more comfortable with the whole pack together, so we stayed.

I fretted the night  away about my hurricane preparation errors.  I forgot to put the trashcans in the garage.  I left one of the electric blue plastic lawn chairs on the deck.  I didn’t board anything up.

My worry was in vain.  I returned the next morning to find that the winds hadn’t even tipped over my big green can, and the chair (rather than crashing through the kitchen windows) had mostly stayed where I so irresponsibly left it.

Harvey tore the roof off of the house – causing eight months of loathsome interaction with carpetbagging Disaster Capitalists.

Later Sunday afternoon, I phoned the Rev and G.P. to see if they wanted to drive out to the Island to check on the Moon offices and on Island Presbyterian Church (where my Mom is the new pastor).

“I don’t really want to go out there,” said the G.P. (who had been obsessively spying on the hurricane since it was a tropical storm).  “We’ll take the S.U.V.”

A few minutes later we set out to the Island (all of us wearing our masks without complaint).  As we exited the JFK Bridge, I noticed that the “Welco Padre” banner that hangs on the Day & Night Boardwalk Shopping Center sign was still intact.

P1030005“Look, ma!” I exclaimed, “We’re still half welcome on the Island!”

The Moon office was fine except for a power outage.

When we pulled up to check on the church, there was already a family of good Samaritans cleaning the palm debris out of the parking lot.  They looked a little embarrassed when Mom thanked them.  “This,” they appeared to be thinking, “is what you’re supposed to do after a hurricane.”

They weren’t wrong.

Here’s the deal: Hanna was a wussicane compared to Harvey, yet some people are behaving much worse than they did when confronted by real disaster.  Mild inconvenience appears to be more angering than having to talk to Dorothy over at All State about having one’s roof blown to the magical Land of Oz.

After Harvey, communities banded together to clean up the debris, help small business recover, share stories of that storm and those long-past, find homes for the homeless, and clothes, food and toys for those without.  One notable Hurricane Hero brought a truck full of ice-cold beer which he handed out for free to exhausted workers.

Hanna wasn’t even close to Harvey.  Why not count your lucky stars, set your trashcan back on its wheels, help a neighbor if you can, and worry about the next one?

The National Weather Service predicts that Hanna is only the first of many, and certainly we can learn from her.

If this, however, is the benchmark for behavior, it’s going to be a damned long season.

We all chose to live on the Gulf – a place that breeds toughness like other places breed rabbits.  It’s not all beaches, excellent tacos, and margaritas.  If you were fooled by a Jimmy Buffet song, sorry – buy a map that’s not printed on a restaurant placemat.

We ought to be at least as resilient as the seemingly half-indestructible “Welco Padre” sign – and if you feel like you can’t be – well…

… GO!

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My Bathroom Bestiary

I don’t know about you, but since the latest COVID-19 explosion I’ve been balancing on an ebbing wave of self-care. Unfortunately, as in actual surfing, I often fall off the board and wind up dog paddling in a sea of day drinking and Divorce Court. In troubled times, it’s hard to tell where self-care ends, and self-indulgence begins. However, with a possibility of as many as nineteen hurricanes this year on top of the plague, murder hornets, global warming, and my backyard (which may morph into leafy terminator and kill us all) I’ve stopped bothering to differentiate between the two.

If there was ever a moment to eat those fries if you got ‘em, this seems like it.

You can’t totally let go the reins, though, because there are still questions about whether the world is ending. If there’s one thing that the Mayan Apocalypse of 2012 has proven it’s that you can’t trust people who have an exact date for Armageddon. All you can do is chain your Reverend Mom to the brick pillars on your front porch (the Rev is the only one in our family in any danger of being raptured) and hope she’s still there when you get home from work.

It’s tough not to look for signs of the end times, though – especially now. I find myself observing things that in the before-times might have just passed me by. For instance, this week’s self-indulgence party included the addition of some waffle cones and a pint of HEB Creamy Creations Poteet Strawberry ice cream (highly recommend) to my curbside order. When I unpacked my JOY waffle cones, I noticed that one of the serving suggestions was to fill the cones with salad.

3xt2wxjgy5451That’s right: put lettuce in your waffle cone.  Yummy!

The box indicated that a good reason to fill an ice cream cone with salad would be if you were camping because it’s more “fun.” I don’t know why you couldn’t eat the salad out of whatever container you brought it in, and I’m not sure adding incongruous items to waffle cones is my definition of fun. Still, in and of itself, dramatically stupid marketing overreach probably isn’t a signifier of the apocalypse, right?

And that’s when I discovered the toad.

He was a little hopper, blessed with the fiercely disappointed mien shared by most of his brethren. As he stared sourly up at me from my bathroom floor, his expression resembled that of the Pat Fellers (my high school English teacher) every single time I dared to use words like “mien” and “brethren.”

“That sort of language may do you some good on your ACT,” Ms. Fellers would hiss, “but is unnecessary when describing the shortage of tater tots in the cafeteria.”

This toad was judging me.

Finding a toad at all was somewhat concerning. Some of you may remember Barry-the-house-lizard from earlier this summer. I hunted that guy for a week before he developed a profound affection for my wicker laundry basket, and I was finally able to transplant him into my front window box.

I’m pretty sure that Barry got in through the dog door, but Toadward couldn’t have possibly made the same journey. My friend Amber suggested that perhaps Stadler-the-dog brought him in, but Stadler has been “off” toads ever since she licked one and her tongue swelled up to the size of a small cat.

I decided that Toadward was either a Demogorgon or a precursor to a Biblical plague. I shut the bathroom door and regrouped on the sofa until nature called.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to use the facilities defensively clutching a dustpan and your worst spatula like a shield and sword. If you haven’t, you’re missing a solid opportunity to feel very stupid. My defenses were necessary, though, because right as things were reaching a plumbing crescendo, Toadward hopped out from behind the toilet and onto my foot.

I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t startled, but I MAY pretend that I didn’t jump so high I tripped over my own underpants. I may further state (although not under oath) that during the commotion the toad did not get tangled (along with my ankles) inside my shorts and unmentionables. I would further state, that I did not wriggle out of my pants like a nudist toddler and toss them as far from me as possible, and that I later did not run, naked from the waist down, into the backyard and shake the toad out of my panties into a potted plant.

Instead, I might aver that I caught the little guy with the dustpan and my worst spatula.

I might also say that to reward myself for my awesome bravery, I went directly into my kitchen and stuffed a waffle cone with some leftover salad.

I didn’t. I poured myself a vodka drink and sat around pants-less for 45 minutes.

I guess it’s not the apocalypse quite yet.

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Good Henchmen Are Hard to Find


I had another one of “those” mornings today.

My daily “Allergies or COVID Self-check” went as it normally does.  I took a Claritin and after about fifteen minutes I stopped worrying that my sneezy, coughing, water-y eyes, and vague nausea were heralds of the plague.

Then the juice hit the blower, quite literally, as I spilled approximately eleven-ty billion ounces of black cherry flavored XTREME energy drink all over my expensive mechanical keyboard.

I sopped up the mess using a combination of a dish rag and an entire roll of paper towels, but I fear my keyboard will never be the same.

My thought, as I was sopping, was, “Man, this kind of stuff wouldn’t happen if only I had an evil army robot henchrabbits.”


“Now, Ab,” you might be thinking, “I’ve put up with a lot from you over the years.  I once read a graphic, thousand-word column on dead possum disposal, for goodness sakes!  But, evil robot henchrabbits are the last straw! What’s going on here?”

At least, that’s what everyone who follows my Facebook page has been saying, lately, in response to my varied public lamentations regarding my lack of henchrabbits.

My plan to rule the world (or at least get some mechanical robo-bunnies) began simply enough.

“I need some henchmen,” I thought, and (since I had gone so far as to think it) regurgitated it onto my Facebook page like the notion was about to win me a million dollars and a pet unicorn named Chauncey.

About ten minutes (and a few likes later) someone responded, “Okay. What for?”

I was stumped.  What does one actually require henchmen for?  I don’t have anyone that I particularly need beaten up.  There’s a ton of yardwork, but I feel like Hench people would refuse that sort of manual labor.  Plus, men eat a lot.  Would I just wind up with a bunch of dudes lounging around my house drinking beer, eating all my snacks, watching t.v. and playing online poker?

That did not represent an improvement upon my current situation.  I get all the beer and the snacks and infinite use of the remote-control right now and have no desire to cede any of those items.

“It might be fun to go camping or something,” I suggested, lame.  Most people seemed to agree that camping would be a lark, (especially if we had smores) but couldn’t imagine why I’d need a bunch of Hench people to go set up a tent on the beach.

This was a valid point.

Like most things in life, I was easily deterred, but not before I had written a Craigslist ad.

“Wanted: Hench people for ill-conceived plot to overthrow all international governments, probably. Sometime, definitely.  We’re working up to it.  Qualifications include but are not limited to: encyclopedic knowledge of Pinky and the Brain, a moral inability to steal someone’s remote control, tent pitching. Willingness to do yardwork as an unpaid intern a definite plus.”

I did not get the response I was looking for.  I did, however, get several inappropriate pictures. I’m not counting that as a win.

It was worse than the time I wrote a bunch of missed-connection ads challenging all the people who stare at me when I’m mowing my lawn to rap battles.

That’s when I decided henchmen were out and henchrabbits were in. Robots were the obvious solution to all the food and remote-control issues.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are like a million uses for an evil army of robotic henchrabbits.  The other day, for instance, I got a flat tire on my bike and Stadler-the-dog got super angry because she didn’t get her run.  If I had henchrabbits, however, I could just let the dog chase the bunny army around the yard until she got tired and gave up.

And think about this: if a meth-head or Jesus salesman came to the door, but it was answered by a stack of four, red-eyed, malevolent henchrabbits, I’ll bet they wouldn’t come back.

My epiphany lasted about four minutes before I realized that

1) I have no idea how to even begin building an evil army of robotic henchrabbits,


And 2) Even if I DID know how to build an evil-robo-Hench rabbit army, the process would take a long time and I need my evil robotic Hench rabbit army YESTERDAY.


The obvious complications have in no way stopped me from desiring henchrabbits, and I may yet figure it out.

All I know for sure is that I won’t be looking for help on Craigslist.  A good henchman/rabbit is hard to find.

This column is dedicated to the fifteen people who said that I couldn’t write an entire column on imaginary henchrabbits.  It’s like you never met me

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Why I Wear Pants

I hate pants. They are strangely engineered, uncomfortable, hot, flatulence balloons. The second thing I do when I walk through my front door (after slingshotting my bra in the general direction of the hamper) is drop my pants.

I was recently tricked by a headline that read, “Police Advise Local to Wear Pants When Going to the Mailbox – You Know Who You Are” and thought they were talking about me until I saw that the dateline was from somewhere in Maryland.

Lately, though, the anti-mask movement has got me re-thinking stance on pants in public.  Do I really have to wear them at all? Can anyone actually make me? What about MY rights!?!

Am I a sheep because I cover my lady tackle when I go to the supermarket? Certainly, I’m not wearing pants for comfort. And even though I could be cited for nudity (or perhaps sexual harassment), shouldn’t I rebel against the cultural and medical standards that suggest rubbing my nude butt on all the cereal might be bad for public health?

I certainly don’t want to be a sheep.

Unlike many of the people who seem to be overnight online ovine experts, I have met sheep. They are the dumbest, most cantankerous, disaster-prone animals on the planet who will follow a bellwether (a slightly smarter, meaner, and equally disaster-prone sheep) over a cliff.

I have seen twenty sheep stuck for hours in the corner of a pen because they couldn’t figure out how to back up.

I guess the assertion is that sheep don’t think for themselves. You should see them when you throw some feed in the trough, though. They’re dumb, but they’re also greedy – which can be a rough combination in terms of survival.

That’s why sheep stick together. Somewhere, long ago, their tiny, fluffy micro-brains clicked to the notion that they are safer as a flock than they are apart – and they’ve clung to that spark an idea through millennia of evolution.

Try to separate a sheep from the herd and you’ll have an argument on your hands.

That’s the thing, even sheep (some of which are so dumb that they have to be prevented from drowning themselves in the stock tank) know what anti-maskers fail to grasp: we are stronger as a group.

Every individual reading this (whether consciously or not) has decided at some point in their lives that living in society is nicer than being alone in the wilderness. Society gives us security, running water, electricity, the internet, books, cellular phones, medical care, vast varieties of food and drink, cloth we didn’t have to weave ourselves, EZ-Cheese, and Netflix. But, like all major decisions, opting to live in a community requires some compromise.

For instance, we agree to cover our bathroom tackle when we go to the grocery store.

Are we less “free” because we hide our junk when we don’t really want to? Maybe, but when we chose Cap’n Crunch over “let’s make some soup out of this rock” we tacitly agreed to follow rules of the community we chose to live in.

The keyword here is “community.” We protect our community and the people in it not only because it’s the moral thing to do, but because we are part of what comprises a community.

By protecting the whole, we are ultimately protecting ourselves.

Pants may be uncomfortable, but they’ve been proven at a success rate of nearly 100% — there was an unfortunate white-trouser-translucency incident back in 2010 – to protect my fellow humans from encountering my Downton Abi.

I also understand why junk containment is preferable to the alternative. There are some things I don’t want to see when I’m trying to buy soup.

We all uncomplainingly conceded a bit of our freedom ( at least I haven’t seen many naked people running around, but I also haven’t been out to Kleberg county lately) to promote the collective good of not having to see a bunch of hairy, gross, fat, fungal, naked people in the cereal aisle.

At the end of the day, if occasionally being asked to wear pants totally negates your stash of personal freedom, you have a desperately narrow view of what it means to be free.

Nudity is not a public health crisis.

COVID-19 is.

Wearing masks helps protect other people from getting COVID-19 from you. Other people wearing masks protect you from them. Many people with the disease are asymptomatic (meaning they don’t show any signs of illness), but still contagious. It’s all of us, together, fighting against a disease that is killing and debilitating our friends, our families, our guests, and our enemies equally.

Some people might say that the ultimate act of cowardice is refusing to endure a bit of mild discomfort to potentially save a life.

The more disease there is; the more risk for everyone.

COVID-19 doesn’t have any empathy. You should. This is a battle that can be won, but only if we use both our heads and our hearts. Show people you care about them and understand that the masks other people wear are emblems of them caring about you. That’s what community is. We work together for the collective good.

Sheep figured that out a long time ago.

Why can’t you?



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Welcome To Hell

I have often wondered (given my obvious trajectory) what Hell is going to be like.

“Maybe all the rock stars will be there,” I say soothingly to myself.  I know I’ll never get to meet them and instead will wind up being roommates with a two fingered (in total) banjo player aptly named “Twang,” but it’s still nice to dream.

Self-comfort is much easier than actually changing my ways.  I prefer general delusion in many aspects of my life to actual work, as is evidenced by the current condition of my backyard.

That’s why I’ve decided to extend, to you, THE COMMUNITY the following exciting offer!

The following  is a paid advertorial and does not represent the views of the publishers, editors, writers, security dogs, or the pretend janitor.

If you’re like me and are curious about how you’ll do in Hell, I’d like to extend you a unique opportunity to COME WORK IN MY BACKYARD.

For no money down with zero interest until 2085, you can spend your days:

Pulling up kudzu

Chopping down and dragging 30-foot bamboo stalks across a half acre backyard to the curb where the city will manage to just miss picking them up.  BONUS: you may even get to pay a $200 fine after trying to explain to a judge why you failed to read a website!

Not satisfied with kudzu?  Ask us about our bindweed collection.

Feeling like a challenge? Try cleaning out the four-foot-deep stagnant pond.  Mosquitoes the size of Volkswagen Beetles GUARANTEED! Bonus drowning in muck hazard available for advanced participants!

Conquer intense heat, clay soil, weeds specifically tailored to your personal allergen profile, snakes, poisonous insects, and toxic sludge all for the LOW, LOW price of zero down, zero for 780 months!

Imagine yourself sweating, cussing, getting pooped on by grackles and sneak-tackled by our in-house “helpful” Labrador Retriever.

You, too, can curse your very existence!

If you love backing through mine fields, you’re sure to enjoy our numerous tripping hazards including: concrete blocks in unexpected places, tree clumps, gigantic logs, discarded yard art, huge piles of bamboo and a plethora of tennis balls!

Our Platinum guests have the privilege of cleaning other people’s beer cans out of the drainage ditch.  Spilling half a can of hot Miller Light down the front of your body is a real treat on a hot day!  Just watch as the biting flies flock to you!

Too exhausted to cook dinner?  After a long, searing day of tear-down landscaping, you will enjoy a delicious bowl of cereal and yogurt.  Inability to lift a gallon of milk GUARANTEED!  Bonus: we only have one kind of cereal and IT IS REALLY GROSS!!

Cap’n Crunch is for weaklings.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “You know, I really need more tetanus in my life?”  If so, Ab’s Hell on Earth is the place for you!  We’ve got upwards of one million sharp, rusty objects that can give you all the tetanus you’ve ever wanted with one tiny poke.  Roofing nails, sharp pieces of pipe, strange gardening implements, and a ton of rebar ALL COATED IN RUST await your arrival.  And WHO KNOWS what’s in the bottom of the pond!  Along with the guaranteed giardia, there is almost certainly a lake of unplumbed, virgin tetanus just waiting for you to sample it!  You may even get electrocuted!  There are tons of cords running out of the pond – AND NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE CONNECTED TO!

Join us for Camp Dumb Mudder this June and July!  Space is limited, but gross cereal is plentiful.  RSVP now by emailing

See you in Hell!

If you prefer not to go to Hell (or Camp Dumb Mudder) maybe you should check the Rev out this Sunday.  She is the new pastor at Island Presbyterian and would be happy to instruct you re: salvation.

She will not, however, even step foot in my yard.

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Thunder Dog Productions

Dark and stormy nights aren’t a great beginning to any story set in my house.  As many of you know, Stadler-the-Dog Bair has a major fear of sky booms.  She thinks that anytime we have a rash of thunder bummers the sky Gods are hungry for Labrador.

In the past, Stadler has taken evasive action by physically lying across my chest, shaking, panting and drooling on my face.  That was bad enough.   I don’t know if you’ve ever spent a night squashed by an 80-pound dog while being waterboarded with drool, but it’s unpleasant.  She also fear-sheds thousands of kilostadlers (the SI measurement for dog hair) worth of fluff during this process.

Many a morning, I’ve fought my way out of my bedroom both soggy and covered in stuck-on black fur, looking like an angry but (thankfully) petite bigfoot.

By the way, drooled on dog fur must be removed with the hose because otherwise it will clog the shower drain.  Hosing oneself off bright and early when the yard is already a mud pit from the previous night’s rain is no fun, despite what the actively-biting-the-water dog thinks.

We’ve tried all the stuff to curtail this behavior: prescription drugs, expensive thunder shirts, swaddling, herbs, Benadryl, melatonin, witchcraft and prayer.  Nothing works.

I had decided that I was just going to have to accept that my dog is a weirdo chicken and live with it.  Recently, however, Stadler turned on the turbo.

She’s always tried to be as close to me as possible during storms, but now the dog is literally trying to dig a hole in my abdomen and crawl in.

I call this “tauntauning” after what Han did to the Tauntaun in “Empire Strikes Back” to save Luke from the cold on Hoth (yes, I am 100% that big of a nerd).

Here is the exact definition: Tauntaun (verb, regular) to attempt to dig a hole in the abdomen of another creature with the express purpose of crawling in said hole to escape the elements.  Example: My dog nearly tauntauned me the other night due to thunderstorm terror.

Obviously, tauntauning is not a survivable situation.  I did my best to comfort the poor dog, but she wouldn’t stop with two-inch-claws to the gut.  I tried to put a pillow between her talons and my tender belly, but she ripped it in about thirteen seconds.

Then the yelling started.  Stadler annihilated a twenty-five-dollar pillow trying to eviscerate me, and (frankly) it really ticked me off.  I went to the bathroom to regroup.

The dog (who has been pretending to be afraid of the bathroom since the Great Bath Battle of 2013) followed me in and sat on my feet while I used the facilities.

“There’s no going back to bed,” I thought to myself.  “I might as well try the couch.  She can’t get me there; there’s not enough room, plus she knows she’s not allowed on the sofa.”

I don’t know why I completely ignored the fact that the dog has been sneaking up on the couch since the day I got it.  It was 2:30 a.m. — maybe cut me some slack.

I adjourned to the living room and proceeded to build myself a comfy little couch nest while Stadler panted, shook, drooled and watched me.

I curled into my comfy little sanctuary with a sigh of great relief, which was soon violently expelled by Stadler executing a gigantic leap over the coffee table and directly onto my solar plexus. 

“Cussword, cussword, cussword Stadler,” I rasped, rolling so both the dog and me were dumped onto the floor, pinioned between the table and the couch.  After much clawing, pushing, whining, honking, yelling and an uncomfortable number of further pejoratives, we finally escaped.

I backed into the middle of the room, hands on my hips, and eyeballed the situation.

“Clearly, a structure must be built – one that can withstand battering dogs, a barricade, if you will,” is the gist of what I was thinking, but really my mental voice sounded more like, “Rasselfratting dog, not get me dog [chain of expletives].”

I went into the bedroom and (in several trips) carried out construction materials consisting of: every pillow in the house, an old memory foam bed topper, some pool noodles, two lawn chairs, and 21 Encyclopedia Britannicas that still list Iraq as “Persia.”

Then I began to build my great edifice.

I will admit that I was lacking the perfect geometries of the builders of the great pyramids.  I’ll confess that this was no Machu Picchu.  If I’m being honest, the whole structure was haphazard.  Bear in mind, I was only trying to defeat a terror-stricken dog, not trying to communicate with ancient aliens.  Also, said dog was really hampering progress by getting directly in the way of every move I made.

After about an hour of piling and refinement (when the whole thing collapsed), I had built a Great Wall between the couch and the rest of the house.

Then I had to take a quarter of it all down to get onto the couch, but it was now 4 a.m. so we’re not going to say anything about that.

I crawled into my nest and barricaded myself back in, snuggling down in a fluffy nest of pillows and blankets to finally get some sleep.

Stadler paced around the perimeter whining, a literal wolf at the gates.  I was still mad at her, so I ignored her angry yips and began to drift off into a well-earned slumber.

The storm was blowing itself out.

Suddenly, my wall began to creak ominously.

“Oh shi……..!” I yelped as a pile of Encyclopedia Britannicas and the worst lawn chairs money can buy landed atop me.

I struggled for a moment to push the weighty detritus off myself and onto the coffee table.  Then, I felt the tiniest boop of a wet nose on my forearm.

Stadler had tunneled under the barricade and squirreled in between the couch and the coffee table.  The piles of crap on the table made it impossible for her to move it any further away from the couch, so the dog was effectively trapped.

She seemed happy with herself, though, so I decided to let her have her den.

I fell asleep, despite the regular nose boops Stadler doled out as a courtesy.

In the morning, I climbed over the rubble and freed the dog (who seemed to have entirely forgotten her attempt to tauntaun me).  We walked outside and breathed the storm-fresh morning air.

“Walls fail in the face of significant motivation,” I mused aloud to my big black dog, now sitting calmly as a Saint at my feet.

Stadler smiled up at me beatifically with an expression that said, “I know.”

She then went inside and promptly fell asleep on the floor.  I tried to disturb her slumber out of pure revenge by dismantling my fallen wall.

The dog snored right through all the noise I deliberately made.

Next time, I’m locking myself in the bathroom and sleeping in the tub.

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Dances with Karens

Identifying the Wild Karen

If you don’t know what a “Karen” is, Asa Romano provided this summary in a February 2020 article for Vox: “On one level, we’ve seen all of this before: After all, resentment toward the upper middle class — what we might call “bourgeoisophobia” — has been around since the middle class itself, often coming most strongly from members of that very middle class. What has changed are Karen’s specific offensive traits: Like all bourgeoisie stereotypes before her, she’s snobbish, prudish, and hypocritical. But now, she’s against science on principle, which is definitely a new twist to the traditional bourgeois model. And the chief way she manifests her class consciousness is not by, say, being a patron of the arts, but by being aggressively rude to the help.”

You can find free-range Karens posting annoying “live, laugh, love” memes on social media, claiming that vaccines cause everything from ADD to Zika, or yelling at the manager of a Burger King.

If you spot an unrestrained Karen, your best bet is to hide behind a fixture until the Karen in question storms off to battle the next minimum wage employee who fails to predict exactly the correct number of ketchup packets to include with her order.
Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to reason with the Karen. Karens are immune to reason, logic, and common sense. Instead, it is recommended by the CDC that you play

“Let it Go” from Walt Disney’s “Frozen” as loudly as you can. Then, wait until the Karen holds her finger up in the face of whomever she is currently “telling a thing or two about a thing or three” and begins to sing along.

Make sure you have the song on repeat.

This will pacify most Karens, enabling the poor souls trapped in the Karen Blast Radius to tiptoe away.

If you spot a Karen, be sure to make a note in your Karening Journal, which you should be carrying with you at all times. Coronavirus has spurred the equivalent of a Karen Fallout and there has never been a better time to catalog all the various types.

Rise of the Karen

I don’t know why it’s suddenly okay to be more rude than ever to people who are simply trying to do a necessary job (cashiers, bank tellers, hairstylists), but I’ve witnessed more volatile Karens throwing tantrums in the past couple of weeks than I have in years – and that’s without going anywhere.

Yesterday, when attempting to buy a life-saving bottle of Pinto Grigio at my local CVS, I watched a Karen berate a store clerk for not performing his job the way she thought it should be done.

“You’re supposed to scan my card FIRST,” the Wild Karen complained bitterly, inserting her debit card into the reader.

“Most of the time that’s true, ma’am,” replied the clerk (who is always working and is super nice), “but in this case we run it through the machine.”

“WHAT DO I DO NEXT, THEN?!!?” screamed the Karen.

“Just follow the instructions on the screen, please,” continued the clerk.

“Your customer service skills are terrible,” the Karen hurled back acidly, looking around for the manager. “You clearly don’t know how to do your job.” I watched as she followed the directions on the screen and got her discount.

“You don’t deserve to work here,” she spat.
That’s when I kind of lost it. “Your humanity skills are horrible,” I hissed.

She turned and stomped one foot like a rhino who has successfully put out a fire and is looking for something else to stomp.

I help my ground. She completed her transaction and left the store.

Then I apologized profusely to the clerk on her behalf.

“She’s always like that,” he replied. “We just try not to engage her.”

The Perils of Karening

I’ve been aware of the privilege of being a “white lady of a certain age” ever since I moved to Texas and suddenly became a “ma’am.” Generally, I don’t benefit from it too much because I dress like a homeless person whose clothes accidentally got run through a paper shredder. In my opinion, it’s too hot here to wear anything heavier than a few items strung carelessly over one’s more prurient parts. I’d wear a loin cloth if I thought I could get away with it.

This New Year’s, however, I thought to myself, “Maybe if I stop dressing like I’ve been stranded on a desert island for ten years, I’d be able to do things like career advancement or something.” So, I resolved to buy myself some new clothes and really get with that whole conformist picture.

Basically, I intended to disguise myself as a Karen and reap the rewards of bourgeoise – but swore to use my privilege for good rather than evil.

Karen Terror is a real force to be reckoned with.

I failed immediately, because I think dressing nicely means wearing gigantic black clothing that causes me to look like a particularly hairy Uncle Fester. Still, it was an upgrade because nothing had an actual hole in it.

Then, because I have ADD and my “focus is brokus,” I gave up on that project, put back on my old duds, and started messing with the toxic sludge pit in my backyard that used to be a beautiful and decorative koi pond.

I stink at being even a fake Karen.

Karen Jam

Last Saturday, I tried HEB curbside pick up for the first time. There are not enough nice things to say about it, and about HEB’s actions during this crisis in general. The curbside lot wasn’t full, and it was quite pleasant to wait for my groceries to be delivered directly into the trunk of my car.

HEB itself was fuller than I had ever seen it, which resulted in a traffic snarl in the parking lot. Cars were jammed every which way, and no one could move. Then, just as the situation seemed as bad as it could be, a truck pulling a trailed with two jet skis on it entered the lot and somehow got tangled right in the middle of the mess.
Horns blared. Windows were rolled down. People shouted.
It was like some kind of dog pile where the last kid is the biggest and runs all the way from across the room to gain enough momentum to squash you good, all the while screaming, “WHEEE!!!’

I suspect, however, that the driver of the truck was not a Karen, but rather her male counterpart, the Kyle.

Please be kind to other people, especially to those hero/hostages who work for minimum wage and have been keeping all of us alive. If you’d like to learn more about this crisis, be sure to watch this video before YouTube takes it down

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The Great Pie Melee

As many of you may be aware, Mother’s Day is barreling down upon us like a locomotive fueled by Red Bull and cocaine.  As she is blessed with two terrible children, my Mom (the Rev) never expects much in the way of holiday felicitations.

Once I made her a card that simply said, “Sorry about your uterus.”

She was not amused, but I thought it was hilarious.

Last year, however, in a moment of sheer epiphany, I bought the Rev an electric kettle.  I knew my parents needed a new one since my father (the G.P.) had recently left their last water boiler on the gas stove so long it turned into a pile of what the Rev described as “melted slag and toxic fumes.”

“He’s going to burn the house down, Ab!” she complained bitterly, omitting to mention that she had done the exact same thing to the kettle prior.

When she opened the new water cooker box, she was visibly thrilled.  The thick glass machine featured blue LED lights (for that early morning nightclub experience) and not one, but TWO automatic shut-off features to prevent melting.

The G.P. was so impressed that he opined that it was the best thing since the automatic transmission and was tied with the polio vaccine.

The bar was set pretty high for this year.

I was at a loss this morning, so I phoned the Rev looking for solutions.

“Mom, what do you want for Mother’s Day,” I whined, hoping to have to come up with any more creative cards based on the female reproductive system.

“I don’t need anything, Ab,” she replied.

Now some of you would stop right here and just not get your Mother anything for her day, but you would be fools.  I know people don’t know the Danger Zone when they see it (even if there is a whole highway pointing at it with Kenny Loggins sing-yelling warning in the background), so for those of you who are slow in this respect: WHEN YOUR MOM SAYS SHE DOESN’T WANT ANYTHING, SHE WANTS ONLY THE PERFECT THING.

Sorry to yell, but it’s true.

The stakes had just been raised.

“Okay, Mom,” I continued in trepidation, “I have three ideas.  I guess you can just pick which one you want.”

“Let me hear them,” the Rev replied so smugly that she could have been smuggling smug in from Smugsylvania.

“I just got this really awesome blow drier.  It makes my hair look like a competent person did it….”

The Rev cut me off with a loud “I DO NOT WANT A BLOW DRIER! Do you even know your own mother?”

“But, it’s a really good blow drier…” I began, only to be met with the kind of low growl you hear right before the tiger tears your hand off.

“Next, what about a machine that makes mini pies?  It’s super easy and it would probably save you hundred of dollars a year in Dad-related pie purchases.”

“I don’t really like making pies,” she began, only to be interrupted herself by my father yelling, “PIE!?!?!?” from five rooms away.

Evidently, the old man’s pie-dy senses had tingled even at the mere mention of delectable pastries. My father can detect pie talk anywhere within a three-mile radius.  At Thanksgiving, he walked home early, but with both pumpkin and pecan pies balanced in one hand as he controlled Rowlfie with the other. If you ask him, he will happily deliver his entire rating system of grocery store pie quality from Sara Lee on down.

Dad barreled into the back bedroom to argue in favor of the machine that produces his favorite snack. In much the same tone in which decades earlier I had begged for a Snoopy Sno-Cone machine he averred, “Kris, think how much money it will save us on PIE!”

Thus began the Great Pie Melee of 2020.

My parents bickered for twenty minutes, while I listed in stunned appreciation.

“You can have one for Father’s Day,” the Rev finally shouted. “What was the third thing?”

“I don’t remember,” I replied.

“GET THE PIE THING THEN,” yelled my Dad, down but unbeaten.

Now I don’t’ know what to do.  I guess I’m going to get the pie thing, but maybe also make the Rev card.

What do you guys think of “Fallopian for you?”

She really should have just opted for the blow drier.


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