Cherry Bomb

Last summer,  my two small nephews came to visit for a month.  The problem with kids, especially little boys, is that they can be highly gross — even for a family that takes disgustingness pretty much in stride.   Once, the Rev had to drive home with two Newfoundlands who had just both been sprayed by skunks, (twice — the boys were pretty slow on the uptake). She didn’t even bother to mention the incident for a few days.

“Mom, the dogs reek!” I screeched, home on one of my many larder raids.  “What happened?”

“They’re fine.  They just got hit by a bunch of skunks.  Your father washed them with tomato juice! What’s the big deal?”

For about a year, anytime the dogs got wet you could smell the lingering stench, but it takes more than stinky dogs to faze the Rev.

Little boys, however, tend to be more terrible than even big dogs. Getting Avery to take his nightly shower involved a “Dukes of Hazzard” style chase, threats,  bribery, and finally bodily hurling the child into the running water.  Then you had to stand in front of the door, blocking it so that he couldn’t escape.  I think he used soap twice the entire time he was here, and that was only because the Rev soaped him.

One evening, all of us adult people were exhausted.  Mom wasn’t feeling well and had retired for the evening, so Dad called in the B-Team (me).

“Ab, I’m tired and Mom crapped out.  I don’t know what I’m going to feed these kids.  Get over here.”

“I’ll bring pizza,” I replied.

When I walked into my parents’ living room, the small children were flung over the furniture as though they were boy-shaped afghans.  Lolling and bored, Jovanni barely turned his eyes away from the television long enough to notice my presence.  Avery got right up and started bouncing on the couch.

“Hi Ab!” he exclaimed.  “Did you bring PIZZA?!?”

“Yep! Pepperoni!”


I went into the kitchen and began pre-heating the oven.  I noticed a fresh bag of cherries on the counter beside a dustpan just full of pits. Full, it would have weighed around four pounds, but the sack on the Rev’s counter was greatly depleted.  Avery came running into the kitchen, grabbed a handful of cherries out of the bag (depositing a very sticky mess of pits in the dustpan) and raced back into the living room.  I decided that I should investigate.

“Avery,” I asked, “how many cherries have you eaten today?”

“A BILLIONTY MILLION,” Avery replied, helpfully showing me his sticky, pit-filled fist.  Further research seemed to be in order.

“Mom?” I yelled through the Rev’s closed bedroom door.

“WHAT? I’M SICK!” came the wheezing, irritated reply.

“Did you just buy that bag of cherries today, though?” I asked.

“Yes.  This afternoon.  Go talk to your father.”

That seemed like sound advice.  I found the G.P.  shooting billiards in the Great Room.

“Dad, I think Avery ate like three pounds of cherries, maybe more, ” I ratted.

“Yeah, so?  That’s what they’re there for.”

“Isn’t three pounds kind of … excessive?”

“Fruit is good for him,” Dad huffed.  There is little sympathy for snitches in my family.

I went back into the living room and told Avery he couldn’t have any more cherries.  Instead, I made the kids a veggie tray. Avery gleefully plowed through the cucumbers.

I served the boys and the G.P. their pizza out on the couch.  They had found a cartoon that they all wanted to watch, and were happily ensconced.  Avery wasn’t touching his pizza.

“You need to eat your dinner,” I ordered.

“Okay,” he replied, slowly nibbling a corner.

“Really?!? You were so hungry!  At least finish your milk.”

He chugged the last of his milk and scurried off to get a book he wanted to show me…

And stopped dead….

Turned to face his grandfather (who was watching the tv while simultaneously sneering at his own piece of pizza)….

And simply EXPLODED!

I had never seen anything like it, except possibly in the “Witches of Eastwick.”  A flood of used cherries erupted from the child like a geyser of goop.  I started laughing and shouting lines from “The Exorcist.”

Avery ran to the bathroom, leaving a trail of viscous, red slime behind him.  I headed to get the paper towels.

When I got back into the living room, Jovanni was standing in his chair, clucking like an upset hen.  I walked over to assess the pile, got down on my knees and started to wipe.

“What the hell are you doing, Ab?” queried the G.P.

“I’m cleaning up the puke, Dad?”

“What the Hell?  Did a kid barf?”

Avery had literally burst two feet in front of the Dad’s face.  I guess the G.P. was not a fan of the pizza.

“Stand aside,” ordered my father, impersonating Batman.  “Don’t waste good paper towels on upchuck.”  He went to the kitchen and returned with the broom and plastic dustpan.

“But, Dad, your broom will smell gross forever!”

“Out of my way!” Dad commanded. “Let an expert handle this.”

I went to the bathroom to find Avery sitting dejectedly on the side of the tub.  I threw him in the shower, as the Rev barreled angrily down the hallway.

She popped her head in the bathroom.  “Is Avery ok?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I relied.  “He ate like three pounds of cherries and blew up.”


“At least. I told Dad about it!”

My mother looked at me scornfully, as though I should have known better.

“YOU SAID YOU WERE SICK!” I whined. “I told an adult!”

“You ARE an adult, Ab,” she rejoined as she stomped away to comfort Jovanni, who was sobbing like he was next in line to contract ebola.

“Shows what you know,” I muttered as I cleaned up the slime trail.

“Can I have some pizza now, Ab?” asked Avery, freshly washed and pajama clad.

“You’re hungry?  After that??”

I’m ALWAYS hungry,” he replied.

Then he ate three pieces of pizza.

They’re coming back in June.  We’re investing heavily in Scotch Guard.

Posted in Humor | 1 Comment



Captain “Knees and Elbows” herself.

I don’t know about your neighborhood, but in mine, explosions seem to be kind of a big deal.  Any day that is a holiday (and I’m talking about really marginal ones like national buy-your-secretary-a-thing-or-she’s-gonna-be-really-mad-at-you day, or national hamburger day) seems like an excellent excuse for the people who live near me to set off fireworks.  Small occasions aren’t so bad — I guess secretaries don’t rate the full twenty-one-Black-Cat salute – but New Year’s and Fourth of July cause my neighborhood to sound like Syria on “everyone gets a half stick of dynamite and a Bic lighter” Tuesday.

Now look, to be fair, I like blowing things up as much as the next person.  Once, when I was little, my brother, the neighbor kids and I surgically dissected about two thousand Black Cats, dumping the gun powder into a gallon glass jug, which we buried in the back yard, and ignited.  We anticipated neither the loudness of the subsequent BOOM, nor the giant crater that it left, so we didn’t have a good story ready when the Rev and the local Sherriff came running.  I think I tried something like, “MAN, DID YOU SEE THAT METEOR!?” but the smell of gun powder hung heavy in the air, and the block-headed neighbor kid was already squealing like a pig on roller skates.

So, although my criminal history indicates that I would be in favor of more rather than fewer fireworks, my current situations puts me in a dramatically different philosophical position.

You see, Stadler (my gigantic, intellectually challenged black Lab) is terrified of fireworks.  I don’t know if all of you have seen Stadler, but she is essentially a big ball of ebony fluff, three inch teeth, and assorted protruding parts – the better to stab me with.  Underneath her glossy coat, the dogs seems to have been loosely assembled from boxes labeled “Elbows,” “Knees,” and “Miscellaneous Pterodactyl Bits (pokey).”  This isn’t Stadler’s fault, and in most situations her general tendency to skewer me is at least manageable, if regrettable.

Not, however, when there are fireworks.

When the first big explosion goes off, “CRACK-POP-BANG-BOOOM,” my weird dog springs bravely into action — leaping on top of me as though I were a live grenade and she was sacrificing herself to save the squad.  Then, paralyzed with fear, she waits for me to explode, which I generally do, screaming, “AHHHHH! Get off me you enormous fuzzy jerk,” spitting balls of fluff out of my mouth at the same time, and trying to save my kidneys/liver/crotch from being skewered like a kabob by one of her protuberances. Stadler, instinctive protector of home and family, is of the opinion that when the chips are down, we throw everything at the invisible bad guys – including approximately 17 tons of fur and a whole lot of slobber.

Then she refuses move until the explosions stop – shaking, panting, drooling, wild-eyed and insufferable.

As inconvenient and painful as this is, I love my stupid dog, so I have taken some pains to deal with it.  She has doggy “night-night” drops from her vet which turn her into a happy, drunken stumble-pup.  She does much better when I dose her.  However, for the pills to be maximally effective, it’s best if she takes them well before the explosions start.  On New Year’s Eve, this was no problem.  I anticipated the fireworks and acted accordingly.


On New Year’s Eve Eve Eve (29th) , and New Year’s Eve Eve (30th), and New Year’s Day (1st), and New Year’s Day After New Year’s Day (January 2nd), I didn’t anticipate that the neighborhood would still sound like a war zone.

Even on New Year’s Eve, fireworks were illegal where I live, and I’m sure lots of people called the cops.  I, however, didn’t want to urinate on anybody’s birthday cake.  I get it.  Fireworks are fun.  Besides, I wasn’t entirely sure that the already beleaguered Corpus Christi Police Department would look too kindly on a woman demanding that the put a stop to fireworks because “my damned dog won’t get off me and I can taste my kidneys!”

Can you imagine the CCPD trying to zero in on the genesis of the stupid fireworks?

“Shut up, Bart.  Just listen!”

“Sarge: I see ‘em!  I think they’re coming from two blocks east.”


Let’s definitely designate a whole squadron of CCPD to spread out and chase fireworks – you know, because no one in Corpus ever gets robbed or anything (sarcasm alert).

Obviously, the cops can’t do a lot about the problem – but those of you who are being jerks about fireworks definitely can.  Why don’t you designate ONE NIGHT/holiday to blow stuff up? For instance, if the holiday is New Year’s Eve, fireworks happen only on December 31st.  What about Fourth of July?  If you have to ask, I’m thinking maybe you’re not getting this concept, BUT only blow stuff up on July 4th.  If, on some other occasion, you feel the need lose a thumb to a cherry bomb,  drive out in the country somewhere and explode stuff until your little heart is content (probably get permission first, unless you feel like getting shot adds to the experience). Igniting explosives in a residential neighborhood at 12:32 a.m. on January 2nd is just stupid.  If you’re going to be an idiot, go do it where no one else has to hear you.

Last night, burdened with the flu that’s been going around, and squished by the dog, I nearly exploded with NyQuil (Original Green Jaeger-and-Embalming-Fluid Flavor) powered Hulk rage and tracked down the offenders on my own.  It sounded like it was down to two warring homes a few blocks away.  Imagine me, sick, dressed as though I were headed for a winter vacation on the ice planet Hoth, plastered with abused Kleenex, followed by a giant, terrified Labrador actively trying to scrabble up my snow boots and perch on my head, slamming my car door, walking up to your home, and to hammer on your door.  You answer, thinking it’s the cops finally catching you, excuse at ready  – only to be accosted by what looks like a leaky Kleenex Monster in a pink ski mask, screaming at you to, “QUIT WITH THE STUPID FIREWORKS ALREADY, IT’S APRIL 15th!”

“Ma’am,” you would reply, terrified despite your drunkenness and size advantage, by generalized rage and clear psychosis, “I’m sorry but it’s only January 2nd.”


“We’ll stop,” you promise, gently pushing me backwards so that you can close, deadbolt, chain, and push a heavy dresser in front of your door before calling the police.

“See that you do,” I would return, loading the dog up in the car and heading home, leaving in my wake only debilitating fear and (probably) disintegrating Kleenex.

Or, we could just do this the easy way, and you could cut the bull crap.  As James Brown once noted, “I don’t know karate, but I know KA-RAZY.” No one wants to have to call your mother.

Posted in Humor | 1 Comment

Christmas Socks

Jovanni bookplatesmIt’s finally happened.  I’ve become the weird aunt from “A Christmas Story” who makes strange Christmas gifts for children, and expects appreciation.  I didn’t craft anything as egregious as a pink, fuzzy bunny suit for an 11-year-old boy this year, but I came remarkably close, making backpacks for my nephews, heavily featuring cats in space and happy fish with lots of teeth.  They also got new Christmas stockings made from the scraps, and homemade book plates for the literal truckload of knock-knock joke books I sent them. I always try to find creative ways to torture their father at Christmas.  I am aware that none of this is as fun as even the tiniest box of Star Wars-themed Legos, but I can’t seem to help myself.  I think it may be genetic.

Both of my grandmothers were die hard crafters.  One was excellent, a patient perfectionist down to the last detail.  Grandma Jasmin could rapidly turn out the most beautiful gifts, but she knew better than to make stuff for children.  She always bought us some kind of big, shiny wonderful toy because love can, absolutely, be purchased from an eight year old (at least in the short term).

Grandma Betty, on the other hand, was not especially good at making gifts – though sheanerybookplate did it every single year.  Once, she knitted my father a sweater that had arms so long they reached to the floor.  Due to said  “over reaching,”  she ran out of yarn for the left one, and just filled in with scraps – creating one, very long, very rainbow sleeve.  Grandma Betty also thought that our last name was ripe for puns, and so sent us horrible Christmas sweatshirts every single year with (often sparkly) bear appliques on them.  You could tell which ones were for myself and my mother because they had the attractive addition of a lacy Peter Pan collar.  There are about 10 family photos of us wearing these atrocities.  We all look utterly miserable, except the Rev. She smiles like she’s decided to cheerfully murder us all.  This is justifiable since it took her about four hours, nine million threats of violent death, and no small amount of bloodshed to wrangle us into those photos.

I think, however, my real inspiration for Christmas crafting is my mother.

One Christmas, when I was around eight years old, we were extremely poor, and there wasn’t enough money to buy gifts for the extended family.  That didn’t stop the Rev.  This should come as no surprise – runaway locomotives can’t stop Mom-the-Intrepid.  She put on her big girl britches and did something about it.

That year, the Rev grew her own horehound to make my Grandma’s favorite candy.  She sewed perfect moleskin shirts for my father and grandfather.  We couldn’t afford Christmas decorations, so she went, singlehanded, out into the woods, chopped down a small pine tree (which only LOOKED SMALL comparatively – in the house, it was enormous), strapped it to the roof of her car, and hauled it home.  The fact that she didn’t have a chainsaw was no deterrent.  Mom would’ve cut the thing down with a steak knife if she had to.

She put her kids to work.  We were official Christmas elves, making about 3,500 feet of paper chain which festooned the walls, the tree, and most often (when the cruddy Scotch tape gave out) the floor.  She forced us to listen to loud Christmas carols while stringing popcorn and cranberries.  This didn’t work out so well since forcing a needle through a cranberry is like trying to puncture a rock with a licorice whip.  My brother quit immediately.  I kept trying, but the cranberries got further and further apart, while my brother sneakily ate all the popcorn.  We wound up with one, extremely short strand of mostly popcorn on the tree.  It didn’t even go around once. It was magical.

There was one huge problem that year, distressing to the degree that I threw a fit so epic the neighbors are probably still talking about it: OUR STOCKINGS WERE GONE!  How, I reasoned, could Santa fill non-existent Christmas socks! To a kid, this is the definition of tragedy.  “It will be okay,” the Rev said. “We’ll just use regular socks.  Santa will know.”

Have you ever seen the size of an eight-year-old’s socks?  I was sure I was going to get three marbles and a jolly rancher from Santa that year.  Unacceptable!  I sobbed even lounder.

Finally, Mom gave in and grabbed her scrap bag.  “I’ll try to make some stockings, Ab, but I don’t have a pattern.”

“Can’t you just use one of Daddy’s socks?” I asked, still sniveling (I was a world champion sniveler).

“Maybe.  Go get me one, please,” she replied.

I trotted off to my father’s drawer, returning with his biggest, thickest, walk-outside-in-the-snow-without-shoes-on-because-this-sock-is-essentially-a-boot sock.  The Rev laughed a little at my greedy transparency as she pinned it to some plaid flannel and began to cut.  About an hour later, my brother and I had beautiful stockings.  Mine had a green satin cuff.  His was blue.  We still use them to this day – even though Santa Claus has long been in our rearview mirror.  They have always been only ours.  No one else in the whole world has the same ones.

My head has been turned in this life by many new and shiny items, but never once have I wanted a different stocking.  Nor have I needed one.  I think this is why I spend endless hours each year painting, sewing, writing, baking, illustrating and crocheting gifts for the people that I love.  I am not the craftsman that my Mother is, although each season I get a little better – the Rev provides excellent technical-support.   The present I’m really trying to give isn’t just a silly backpack.  It’s continuity – a link to my mother and grandmothers — who toiled for months until blinded by tiny stitches, fingers raw from needle pokes, they finally placed their gift under the tree for some snotty little twit to open and say, “AWWWW… THIS SUCKS!”

While disdain is natural, (and certainly one I expressed on many Christmases myself) my nephews had better be prepared to fake some gratitude.  Otherwise, 2018 will be the year of the pink, fuzzy bunny suit.

Crafting aunties are downright merciless.

Posted in Humor | 1 Comment

Hellular Phone

de facto chrgerLast week, approximately every single electronic device in my house shot craps.  The vacuum cleaner set out upon a course of self-improvement, deciding that it no longer wanted to suck, rebelliously kicking the dog hair and dirt right out the back of its roller.  My Roku decided that disco was a valuable new trend in television viewing and started flashing the programs on and off.  My sewing machine (in copious use this time of year) mysteriously shut down in the middle of a seam and wouldn’t kick back on.  My cheap iron wouldn’t heat up (no more grilled cheese). My modem decided to play cat and mouse with my internet service provider, and my waterproof iPod  tried to electrocute me in the swimming pool prior to ‘shuffling’ off this mortal coil.  Worst of all, though, my cellphone wouldn’t charge.

I know this has happened to a lot of you as well – your cellphone charges increasingly slowly, you have to carefully connect the charging cable, wiggling it into perfect synchrony with the innards of the phone, and then one day: WHAMMO, no charge-o, no mo’ (usually approximately 14 minutes after the warranty expires). I thought maybe the end of the phone was nigh, but I was hoping to not have to buy a new one until I got Christmas out of the way.  Phones (even the crappy ones I buy) are notoriously expensive.  I tried several methods of phone salvation I found on the internet.

First, I minutely adjusted the tiny tab within the charging port.  The Wikihow page said to remove the battery first, but my phone (as previously noted) was a junker.  Popping the battery could be done, but you’d have to use a bludgeon to get it out.  I turned the phone off and proceeded with the work.  In retrospect, my super pointy eyebrow tweezers may have not been the best tool for the job.  By the time I was done, the tab was certainly “pushed up,” but it also looked like it had been chewed on by carpenter ants.  I plugged the phone in with no results, but by this point I was considering any lack of electrocution a win.

As I moved the cable around, trying to find the sweet spot, I soon realized that if I looped the cord back around the phone, I could get some contact.  Unfortunately, the cord didn’t want to stay twisted in a position that defied at least three laws of physics and probably at least one of thermodynamics.  I had to weigh it down with a hammer.

I left my new charging station to work on the kitchen counter, and set about figuring out where to get a phone repaired in Corpus Christi, with brief forays into Sewing Machine Junction and the Great and Terrible Territory of Vacuum Cleaner Dissection.  Eventually, my phone got charged up to 100% and I transferred (for the first time my history of phone ownership) all my contacts to my SIM card.  The little bar dimmed down to 96% after this activity, so (just to see if I could make it through the holidays with a little dopey engineering and some luck) I attempted to plug it back into my hammer rig.  No dice.  This was the phone’s final charge.

That’s when every person in my contacts list decided it would be an awesome idea to text me photos and videos.  To put this in perspective, only three people on the planet regularly text me, and one of them is Facebook’s password reminder service.  That day, however, people I hadn’t spoken to in years decided it would be an auspicious time to send me pictures of their flooring/neighbor’s cat/houseplant with at least one of their thumbs at the side of the frame.  Then they wanted to have a looooonggg talk about it.  Try explaining that your phone has no charge when your phone is dwindling slowly away to nothing like a terrible actress hamming up a consumptive death scene – you keep thinking it’s done, but it never quite is. *Cough.

I loaded up and went off the cell phone repair shop.  Being a dork, I picked the one with the absolutely dumbest name.  Pro-tip:  adding a “z” to make a word plural doesn’t make cellphone repair an ‘edgy’ business.  It’s still cellphone repair.  The only thing dangerous about it is possibly having to tell a customer that their $1000 phone (worth literally $1.72 in materials) isn’t repairable.  Believe me, in that scenario, that ‘z’ won’t save you.  After waiting in line for a bit, a nice gentleman told me my phone wasn’t repairable because it was an “international phone.”  I’m pretty sure that was industry speak for, “Sorry, lady, your phone is trash unless you intend to use it for target practice.”  I was okay with this since their average price for phone repairs (on the Apples and Samsungs that evidently aren’t ‘international’) was hovering around $100, and my whole phone cost $40 to begin with.

I went home and ordered a new phone from Amazon.  I splurged and got one with a super battery, figuring that if I had to charge it less, the fragile port would be preserved longer.  The phone, plus an extra 32G of memory was $99 – quite a hit for poor little me.  Then I spent the two terrible days in the Gulag of No Phone.  I didn’t realize how much my life is ruled by the device until I was cut off.  It does everything!  It monitors my sleeping, exercise and eating habits. It gives me my email and lets me check my account balances.  I read all of my morning newspapers on the phone.  It tells me the temperature outside.  All my music is accessible on my phone – I actually had to listen to the RADIO in my car – BLECH.  Oh, and it allows me to communicate with my family and friends.

It took those entire two days to convince the Rev and the G.P. that my phone wasn’t working, and even then they were a little shaky on the topic.  Ten minutes after the new phone arrived and was set-up, I got a text from my Dad that read, “You can have my old iPhone if you want.”

After a considerable moment of face palming, I wrote back: “Thanks, Pops. That might have worked, but I now have a new phone…which is how I got your text message.”

“Have some gratitude,” Dad replied, “as least you HAVE a phone now.”

He was right.  Gratitude is important.  I’ll find mine just as soon as I figure out where I put all the screws to the vacuum cleaner.

Posted in Humor | Leave a comment

Bag Heroes


Stadler models her new, biodegradable poop bag.

I feel like I should start off by warning you, gentle reader that this entire column is about a topic that no one is entirely comfortable discussing.  It’s considered gauche to talk about dog excrement, (unless you’re screaming at ISAC about why a local dog park is the environmental equivalent of a poop tsunami) but it’s important to think about how we dispose of all waste.  I made a pretty grave mistake in that respect, and you could be making it, too.

Working this past year for the Island Moon, I’ve been exposed to lots of articles regarding the safety and preservation of wildlife – especially marine animals.  I don’t know how many pictures we’ve printed of poor turtles trapped in various kinds of refuse.  Plastic grocery bags and six pack rings appear to be the worst offenders.  For years, I’ve been physically unable to throw out those rings without cutting them to little shreds, trying to be sure nothing would get caught in them.  The grocery bags were tougher.  I made a resolution to stop using them entirely after chasing an HEB bag halfway across Arizona (I was convinced everyone would know it was mine due to my Texas license plates).  I started bringing my own canvas totes to the store.  I was successful about 30% of the time.  While it was better than nothing, I was still hauling an awful lot plastic home with me.  I heroically reconciled this failure by using the grocery sacks to pick up dog poop.

To be clear, our family disposes of an awful lot of dog excreta.  I know there’s been a ton of accusations flying around the Island regarding dog owners’ overall ineptitude when it comes to picking up waste, but from what I know about the sheer amounts our two dogs produce, I’d say Islanders are doing a heck of a job.  It would take about five days for Stadler and Rowlfie (who has a definite “spread the Rowlf” philosophy on bathroom activities) to blanket this place with an inescapable minefield of dog fewmets.  You have to do the math before you get to do the yelling, folks.

In many ways it would be better to leave doodie on the ground to naturally disintegrate and provide fertilizer to some species of plants.  However, there are also compelling reasons to pick it up.   Feces can spread disease, but more importantly, stepping in it while wearing flip flops is just awful.  Even if I had a day where I got lazy, and stopped caring about the foot health of my fellow humans, Stadler’s preferred bathroom moment is at a four-way intersection with cars at every stop sign. She is not a crypto-crapper – she loves spectators.  Her de facto audiences, however, rarely return the sentiment. Try not picking up poop while under the watchful glare of four car-loads of people who have been forced to wait for a dog to finish her business sometime.  You can call me from the hospital and let me know how it went.

Digressions aside, for a long time I thought I was doing a very good thing by reusing those troublesome plastic grocery bags as free dog poop containment units.  It wasn’t upcycling, but it was a start.  One particularly pusillanimous Thursday, however, I was playing my usual game of Lara Croft Poo Raider*, when I realized that there was a good chance that I had just hermetically sealed and preserved a big load of dog waste for the foreseeable eternity.  When I got home, I looked up decomposition rates of plastic bags.  Google helpfully said that it takes 10 – 1000 years for them to fully rot in a landfill.  I love Stadler to bits, but I really don’t think the next 100+ generations of humans need to deal with disposing of her droppings.  Clearly, I was not the hero I thought I was.

I took my problem to the Rev, adding “and what if the dog poop actually makes the turtles want to eat the plastic bags.  That can kill them.  I don’t want turtles to DIIIIEEEEE!” I shrieked, appalled at my personal foray into total idiocy.

“There is no accounting for the taste of turtles,” the Rev calmly agreed, and immediately began shopping for biodegradable waste bags on Amazon.

As in all purchasing ventures these days, the amount of options was overwhelming.  You can get everything from sacks that disappear completely in 18 months, to compostable bags, to ones you can flush down your toilet.  Mom and I had a good laugh at the flushie ones.  There’s no way a Rowlf offering would go down a standard sewer pipe.  The products had a varying price point, but on average, the biodegradable bags ran about 3 to 15 cents each.  It’s quite a leap up from free, but not prohibitively costly either.

We wound up buying one of the less expensive products.  The new bags will biodegrade completely in a landfill within ten months.  In my experience, poop turns to dust in about five weeks — although the process can be hurried along if you run it over with a lawn mower.  This makes for total waste disposal in under a year.  Plus, the new containment units are made of a thicker material than the old HEB bags.  It’s nice to use something that doesn’t have small holes in it.  My chances of Dirty Sanchez-ing myself have decreased astronomically.

I feel much better about the whole situation.  I’m still worried that somehow the turtles will get ahold of the bags and decide to feast on poo stew, but I’m not sure that I can stop them either.  Turtle Epicureanism is weird on a good day.

We have to pick up the dog poop.  It’s part of responsible dog ownership.  We also ought to be accountable for our world, and what we leave behind.  I would definitely prefer that my legacy be something other than a nine story high stack of grocery sacks full of dog poo. I suppose it could be worse — but not very much.

*I duplicate Croft’s target-shooting-from-horseback move, except instead of horses, rifles, and targets I use a bicycle, bags of dog poop and conveniently open city trash cans.  It’s a lot less sexy when I do it.

Posted in Humor | Leave a comment

Wine Fest


Wine-on-a-string is a pretty good idea after you’ve had six or seven glasses.  I can’t figure out how to get it OFF the string, however — short of a needle nosed pliers attack. I guess it’s permanent.

When my friend Tamera sent me a text message that read, “Hey, wanna be my VIP plus one to Winefest next weekend,” I’m afraid I responded with the emoji equivalent of an atomic bomb.  Heck yeah wanted to go to Winefest!

Tamera and I thought that we probably ought to be responsible adults and take an Uber to the event.  Because I’m cheap, however, I decided that my parents couldn’t possibly be doing anything on a Saturday afternoon that was more important than saving their kid twenty-eight bucks in cab fare. I called the Rev and asked if she or the G.P. could drive us.

“First of all, Ab, it’s our wedding anniversary.  We’ve been married 44 years.”

I had, of course, completely forgotten that my parents were married in the first place, relegating that bit of information into the small cubby in the back of my brain that I’ve reserved for filling out emergency room forms and complicated applications to buy cold medicine.  I recovered admirably:

“I KNOW, Mom! Duh! I meant do you and Dad want to go to Winefest with us?”

The Rev didn’t fall for it, but she’s also too wise to let an opportunity to drink a bunch of good wine fly by.

“Bruce,” she hollered, “do you want to go to the Wine Festival tomorrow?”

“Well, yeah, I want to go to the wine festival,” Dad replied. It’s nice that we’re all on the same page about something.  I suspect that this is why all the fruit flies in our family appear to be 27th generation alcoholics.

The morning of the event dawned bright and blustery. Tamera arrived at my place around noon and we walked the short distance to my parents’ house.

Dad answered the door in his underpants.

“I’m not quite ready,” he announced, stomping off to his bedroom.

Mom came in and said, “I knew you were on your way, but I didn’t tell him to get ready.” The Rev can be pretty Machiavellian if you forget her anniversary and then lie about it.

When Mom says she’s not mad, she’s madder than ever.

“Your father says he’s driving us,” the Rev continued. “I wanted to take an Uber, but he thinks that’s silly.”

Dad, like me, sometimes gets lost on the way to the grocery store.

Eventually, after all the dogs and people had been allowed a brief bathroom constitutional, purses and bags were lost and then recovered, my Mother had donned her floppy hat that rattled with the shells of deceased crustaceans, and everyone who wanted a walking stick got one, we loaded up into Mom’s Prius (the G.P. calls it the ‘Science Car’) and off we went.

We made it downtown with little trouble, and then promptly paid ten bucks to park the car. We all had to sign in at separate booths, so we split up to get our bags and bands.

We got signed in and a nice man handed us glasses on strange copper lanyards filled with sparkling wine.  Tamera and I instantly felt better, although it took us several glasses to figure out why wine-glasses-on-string were a good idea.  We began the search for my parents, stopping for refills as we went.

Eventually, we found them sitting on a shady park bench.   Mom and Tamera were starving, so off we went in search of food.  It took Dad and I about four minutes to lose both of them.  I headed out to find Tamera (Mom is slow and easy to track), leaving Dad drinking a glass of watermelon wine by a tall bar.  Then everybody got lost again for another hour.  We were all drinking the whole time, though, so no one cared.

Tamera and I found my parents sitting on another bench, this time at the nexus of four impractically loud bands simultaneously signing what sounded like every song released from 1991-1996.  “There you are!” I yelled to my Mother, who had a happy (slightly glazed) expression and an empty glass.

“We’re fine!” the Rev yelled back. Turns out people had been handing them booze tickets as they sat. My parents were now the Rockefellers of Wine Fest.  I suspected low level panhandling, but as it was their anniversary, I didn’t accuse them of it. They did look awfully cute.

Tamera and I went off to refill all the glasses, and found them again – this time sitting in a white gazebo.  Dad had taken off his blood pressure monitoring watch and was trying to put it on Mom to see if it was working.  “Hold still, Kris. The damned thing says I’m dead. I want to see if it’s right!”

As the Rev tried to put it on to her own wrist, pressing the buttons to get a reading, the G.P. kept telling her she was doing it wrong, which caused her pulse to go up – the reader beeping more and more frantically the angrier she got. Finally, she gave up and handed it back to Dad, saying, “You’re not dead, dear.”

That’s when Dad spotted the cases of grapes.  For some reason, the people who coordinated the event thought it would be cute to have a stomping session, and so procured about 40 cases of grapes for the event.  “I want grapes now,” said Dad, “but they’re not selling them anywhere.”

We’d all had about seven glasses of wine at this point, which is probably why no one tried to stop me when I said “I’ll go steal you a case, Dad. No one will even notice.”

Dad’s eyes lit up.

“I could just pull the car around to that side street and you could just haul butt across the park and jump in the back!”

“Yeah! I have on my Converse” I replied, sticking out my feet in case he hadn’t noticed my high tops on his own.

Dad frowned, his brow furrowed in concentration.  “I don’t know, though, I’d probably get lost trying to drive around the block.”

“That’s true,” Mom replied, smugly, finishing her wine.  “It’s time to go. Once you guys start with the heists, it’s only a matter of time before someone winds up in the hoosegow.”

“Happy Anniversary!” I crowed. “Isn’t the traditional gift for 44 years bail money anyway?”

“No,” replied my Mother, “and it’s not wine either…but it probably ought to be.”

Dad looked at me slyly, and said very softly, “How long do you think I have to be married to her before someone buys me some whiskey?”

“Dear,” my mother replied, catching him in the act, “you’ve been drinking whiskey this whole time. I’m sure it helped.”

And that, gentle reader, is evidently how you stay married for 44 years.  Congrats parental units! I’m awfully glad you made it.

Posted in Humor | Leave a comment

Going to the Dogs

Once upon a time, quite a long time ago, the Rev decided to go to the Humane Society and adopt a puppy.  My parents had recently lost their beloved black Lab-Chow-Sabre-Toothed-Wolf-Hybrid, Orph, to a particularly virulent form of cancer, and Mom missed having a dog.  That day, instead of returning home with one regular-sized, normal puppy (as she promised she would), she showed up instead with two 35-pound-eight-week-old-balls-of-black-fluff with paws the size of salad plates.  “The shelter said they were Labs,” Mom said when she called me later, “but they seem a little too big.”

That’s because they were Newfoundlands.

“The Boys,” as the enormous dogs were known in the family vernacular, grew and grew until they weighed around 160 pounds each.  They were powerful animals who were only controllable by grace of being both slow moving and dim witted.  They were also extremely gentle, loving, and (often) sleepy creatures. Dad swears that Farley’s first conscious thought didn’t arrive until he was age two. It was simply, “WANT CHICKEN.” Giant breeds are rarely plagued by existential crises.

That all changed one Thanksgiving.

The Rev was playing hostess to her extremely particular mother-in-law, my Grandma Jasmin. I had long since established myself as the penultimate family weirdo (second only to Great Uncle Lenoard – don’t ask) by shaving my head at age 16 in order to get a tattoo from a convict in a tornado cellar.  My Dad thought it was ‘cool,’ which shows what good rebelling does in an unusual family. Grandma Jasmin still loved me (although once, at Safeway, I did catch her trying to pretend we weren’t related), and had learned to put up with what she affectionately called my “damn nonsense.” She did not extend the same courtesy to the Rev

Grandma Jasmin didn’t think that dogs belonged in any house, including the Rev’s.  Over the years, Orph had won her over somewhat, and family members had witnessed Grandma sneaking the dog tiny bits of roast beef from the dinner table.  The Boys, however, were just TOO BIG for inside.  I had also brought with me my black Lab/Husky mix, Basil, a dog that has gone down in the annals of the family history as “the smartest dog to ever have lived.”  In total, there was right around 400 pounds of dog in the Rev’s house, which added up to approximately 18 metric tons of dog hair, and an awful lot of dog stink.  Grandma Jasmin was not amused.

As the feast cooked, the smell of roasting turkey began to fill the house.  The Boys adjourned to the kitchen to sleep in front of the stove, drooling vast puddles onto the black and white tiled floor — effectively preventing Mom from opening the oven door.

“WILL YOU BOYS GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!” Mom screamed every twenty minutes or so.

Fergus and Farley would emerge, sleep befuddled, to sit in the dining room watching the basting of the beasty with perked ears and bright eyes.  As soon as Mom was finished, they’d sneak right back in to the kitchen, returning to their post, causing everyone to have to step through them to get more wine – until I put the box on the porch.  Kansas in November has some advantages.

Every single year, the Rev says Thanksgiving Dinner will be at noon, and that we all have to get to her house early for ‘family time.’  We have never, on any occasion in the history of time, eaten any earlier than 6 p.m. She usually puts a plate of desultory vegetables (we call them CRUD-ites) out for us to snack on, and makes “secret recipe” (back of the box) Chex mix to help absorb the booze.  Everybody gets cranky by 2 p.m., and once dinner is served we look like a conclave of wood chippers in a Christmas tree dump, rather than a happy Norman Rockwell style family holiday tableau.

The major thing that messed up this Thanksgiving was that I had been blatantly sneaking all  the dogs nibbles since 10 a.m. – yelling, “It’s Thanksgiving for dogs, too” every time I got caught.  That got Basil thinking.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been around a very, very smart dog before, but there are usually signs that they’re on to something.  I ignored some pretty big portents that day.  I blame starvation and Franzia Blush (which I suspect is made of kerosene, dirty socks, and sugar beets).

We waited all day, getting fussier and fussier.  The dogs slept and drooled.  Finally, the moment arrived when the Rev pulled the golden brown turkey from the oven.

“Go sit down,” commanded the kitchen Gestapo, “It’s dinner time!”  We raced to the table, faster than ravenous raccoons at an all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet.

The turkey was a king, weighing 26 pounds – by far the biggest the Rev had ever cooked.  She slid the big bird from the roasting pan onto her china serving platter, and turned to the stove to make quick gravy from the hot juices.

That’s when the unwieldy ninjas attacked.  Stealthily, the huge dogs crept up behind my mother, intent as ocelots on their prey.  The Rev happily stirred corn starch into the thickening sauce as she sang along with the Christmas carols she insisted on blasting while she cooked.

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly….Fa la la la la la la, la la la ….”

A massive crash sounded from the kitchen.


Farley, as a puppy, hogging up the bird bath.

We leapt up from the table and ran to the doorway.  There, on the slick floor, was my mother attempting to wrestle a 26 pound turkey out of the jaws of approximately 320 pounds of Newfoundland. Basil (the mastermind) soared over all of them, plowing her way through my starving family like a wide receiver looking for a pay raise — clutching an entire turkey leg in her maw.

Mom let loose a great roar, and fought her way to her feet, holding what was left of the massive turkey above her head, screaming at the dogs to “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE THIS SECOND!”  The Boys tucked their tails between their legs and scrammed.  We parted like the Red Sea to let them by, still staring (awe struck) at the Rev, who by now looked like she’d been baptized with stuffing.

“What the hell are you looking at?” yelled Mom.  “GO. SIT. DOWN.” Behind us, cowering at the edge of the living room, The Boys sat.

We adjourned to the table.  Water started to run in the kitchen, and moments later, the Rev delivered the turkey, daring us to make even a peep.  She placed the bird in the center of the spread, respectfully turning the side that still had a leg towards my grandmother.

We feasted in silence.  After a short while I heard a strange smacking noise coming from underneath the festive holiday cloth.

I surreptitiously peeked, and there was Basil, daintily tearing apart her turkey leg while my Dad snuck her pieces of dinner roll.

To this day, when confronted with this story the Rev will puff like an adder and say, “THAT TURKEY WAS STILL GOOD.” My dad usually replies (quietly because we’re all really kind of scared of Mom), “We’re just lucky we didn’t all get worms.”

Happy Thanksgiving, folks.

I sincerely hope you don’t get worms.

Posted in Humor | Leave a comment