It’s that time of year again…the weather is cooling (a little bit), the Halloween store is back, and the pumpkin spiced lattes are invading.  There may not be much of a change in the colors around North Padre Island, and maybe (as a unit) we’re not terribly concerned about fishnet stockings on sale for $5.99, or coffee laced with pumpkin pie seasoning, but it is time for us to start getting ready for the Animal Hospital of Padre Island’s yearly costume contest.  It might not seem like a big deal, but (in the past) this event packed a whopping purse of $1000 for the winner, and it’s always a hoot to see the hilarious costumes Island creativity generates.  My long-time favorite has been the year Moon Publisher Jan Rankin won for dressing her dog Riley P. up as a mosquito fogging truck.  Last year, the Moon staff didn’t compete, although I valiantly begged Jan and Dale to dress their current dog Lizzy up as “Lizzy Bor-Dog” and themselves as her victims.

“Too dark,’ mused Jan. “We can’t just dress up like we got axe murdered by our dog, Ab.”

“Jan, it’s called Halloween, not Hollow-Weenie,” I argued, but the subject was closed.

A very pretty girl dressed as Pocohontas (“Poco-Hotness” in Moon office vernacular) and her pug won the big purse.  While this costume was very cute, it definitely wasn’t up to the standards of the one-woman Island Moon Dog Couture and Treat Dispenser, Jan Rankin.  While Jan has yet to share her top-secret plan for costuming Lizzy (I’m desperately hoping that she dresses Dale up as Sherlock Holmes and Lizzy as the Hound of the Baskervilles), I’ve been throwing suggestions for my poor dog Stadler’s outfit around like they were 5-for-a-dollar ping pong balls that just might win me a mostly-alive goldfish at the county fair.

The BatdogAll my other notions pale before this one: Stadler is BATDOG!  The idea came to me the other day as I watched my pup sleep in her customary position in front of the box fan by my bed.  She snoozes with all four paws in the air, head lolled off to one side, tongue slightly stuck out — hogging every breath of breeze from the big fan. In this pose, Stadler looks remarkably like a flying fox. More importantly, she looks enough like a big, fluffy (if befuddled) bat to warrant me dressing up as Batman.

Now, I’m not saying that I have the chest for it, but neither did Clooney, and at least parts of my padding would be au natural.  Also, I always want a cape. If you ask me what I’m doing at any given moment in my life, including trying to get  someone to give me the Heimlich because I’m choking to death on a Dorito, somewhere in the recesses of my brain lurks the thought  that “this would be WAY better if I only had a cape.”  When I was little, I would combine non-cape wearing super heroes with cape wearing ones just so I could wrap my mother’s towels around my neck and jump off the furniture.  So what if Spiderman didn’t have a cape?  He clearly needed one – especially because I only had the two pairs of under-roos and Wonder Woman was in the wash.

And, as I thought further about our situation, I realized that it’s not just about me, capes, and excuses for wearing them.  Stadler might actually BE BATDOG! She’s constructed the perfect cover: hyper, doesn’t consistently remember how rugs work, bumbling, extremely angry at the mailman for no discernible reason, buries ice cubes in the back yard and then gets upset when they’re gone, sometimes forgets that you can’t run directly through inanimate objects… but only by day…by night: BATDOG! I really thought I had cracked her cover, but many people who know both of us strongly disagreed.  The most notable BATDOG debunker was my friend (and expert resource on the rules to “The Floor is Hot Lava”), Paddy.  His first thought was that I was “losing it” and “needed some sleep,” but after a brilliant salvo in which I told him the amount of last year’s prize money, he came on board with his own suggestions.

“Get her one of those T-Rex costumes everyone is wearing,” he insisted.

“She’s a girl dog, Paddy.  The only dinosaur costumes available for girl dogs will be slutty because that’s how Halloween works. One time, I tried to find an insane clown costume because I was going to be one of the “Killer Klowns From Outerspace,”  but the only ones available in girl sizes looked like they were supposed to be really tacky prostitutes with terrible perms.”

“On that note,” Paddy continued, “you could dress her up like Sarah Jessica Parker from Sex and the City.  All you’d need is a horse mask and an Appletini.”

“NO! Out of the question! I’d have to go as professional apologist, Matthew Broderick… Plus, there’s a chance that she really is BATDOG!”

“Ab, Stadler is NOT BATDOG. You’re going to have to face it.  Plus, if you try to make this costume, you’re going to wind up hot gluing yourself and six yards of black satin to the floor, and I’ll have to drive to Corpus and rescue you. “

“I’m not giving up on BATDOG. Get your own dog if you want to dictate dog costumes. I already taught her to get all whack-a-doodle every time I yell, ‘BATDOG!’ She’d be totally ready to fight crime, if she could ever find any…or knew what it was.”

“Just make her wear a fez,” Paddy sighed. “There’s nothing funnier than a dog in a fez.”

He may be correct.

However, just in case of a Halloween Paddy incursion, I’ve created a hard and fast rule amongst my friends: “No putting Stadler in a horse mask and trying to pass her off as Sarah Jessica Parker.” I think it’s safer for everyone.




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Oh! The Humanity!

mooseheadI never thought I’d be moved to write about exorbitant human generosity, but this week has done it.  Witnessing people trying to help others impacted by Hurricane Harvey through donating the absolutely most random stuff in the world has pushed me right over the edge.  I know we all feel bad for people who lost everything.  We feel guilty because our homes didn’t get hit.  It’s instinctive.  We were taught to share.  However, just because you inherited two stuffed moose heads from your Uncle Elroy (which puts you in the enviable position of owning an entire EXTRA MOOSE HEAD), doesn’t mean that you should load your second best-only-slightly-nappy-but-with-a-lot-of-good-moosing-left-in-it moose head up in your car and earnestly try to donate it to people who haven’t got any moose heads at all. Moose heads, while being wonderful conversation pieces, aren’t really terrific tools for cleaning up hurricane debris.

While moose head donations may seem a bit hyperbolic (although I guarantee you that someone has donated at least one sad victim of inexpert taxidermy to this cause), they serve as an excellent metaphor for all the useless stuff people gave.  Folks in Houston are begging for an immediate stained underwear, prom dress and winter coat cease fire.  Port Aransas and Rockport have both stopped accepting goods, instead asking for cash and volunteer labor. Yesterday, a donation center in Rockport was forced to adopt a ‘please just come and take it approach’ to a vast parking lot of used clothing that was about to get rained on and ruined.

Yet, almost everywhere I look, people are still posted up alongside the road collecting



even more stuff with absolutely no rhyme or reason.  “We’ll take anything” is not a great philosophy because all things are not equally useful.  Do you take just anything camping with you?  What do you need more on a construction site – a moose head or a broom? The problem with just giving everything is multi-facted: 1) the stuff has to be sorted which takes volunteers away from more useful tasks; 2) there’s no place to store the extra stuff once it’s sorted; 3) tons of the stuff that isn’t useful will take up landfill space that the community desperately needs to dispose storm debris.

I know folks are trying to help.  I know they’re donating nice things to help people get back on their feet – things that maybe they struggled to buy in the first place. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Uncle Elroy to bag both the moose.  However, people don’t have houses with four walls and a roof. Driving around Port Aransas pitchforking used end tables and moose heads out the back of your 1983 Datsun pick-up truck isn’t helping anybody right now.  Maybe that’s a tiny exaggeration, but essentially chucking chifferobes is the equivalent of donating that fluffy, corseted prom dress — except maybe a little better because you can stand on a chifferobe when you need to work on some of the higher up bits.  Having nothing at all is far superior to having an excess of the wrong kinds of things.  Nothing is easy to carry, you never have to worry about it getting rained on or ruined, looters already have a whole lot of it, and you never have to pretend to be grateful when someone gives it to you.

If you want to help, there are several very good ways to go about it.  Almost always, lists of items people need in disasters are released by reliable organizations like the Red Cross.  Don’t deviate from the list.  If a city is asking for cash or volunteers, either volunteer or give them cash – don’t load up grandma’s old  ottoman and expect that to fix the swimming pool.  If communities are asking for clothing donations, don’t go to your closet and just start throwing everything in a bag.  STOP! THINK! Say to yourself, “What would I need if I were there?”  Two pairs of shorts, a couple of nice t-shirts and a pair of good shoes  will go a lot further for people in need than 17 plaid polyester leisure suits,  3 down ski jackets and a “sexy” teddy that looks like it’s made of grommets and black dental floss.  Fold clean clothing items and sort them according to type.  Absolutely do not donate your stained underpants.  Yes, people need underwear, but this is another case where nothing is better than something.  If you want to donate underwear, buy new ones and donate those.

Hold on to your bulky items for later.  Someone is probably going to need that old microwave that is the approximate size of a bull elephant at some point, but not right now.  THINK! If something can’t be carried easily, or would be ruined if left out in the elements, now is not the time to donate it.  Just wait. If you still feel guilty, send cash.  Seriously, a $2 donation is more meaningful right now than dropping off your love stained futon from college.  Just leave that bad boy in the shame corner of your garage, where it belongs.

The Rev’s church’s relief organization (Presbyterian Disaster Assistance – hilariously P.D.A. for short) is an excellent resource on useful items to give during a disaster.  You can go to their website at  They suggest that you provide 5 gallon, re-sealable  “Clean-up Buckets” that contain items like clothesline, laundry detergent, household cleaners, scouring pads, gloves, dust masks and bug spray (please visit their website for a complete list and instructions on how to safely pack and seal your bucket). They also give directions for creating hygiene kits and school kits for kids.  These recommendations are made based upon years of disaster relief efforts world-wide.  The great thing about kits like these is that they don’t expire, and are easily stored.  If the organization winds up with  too many, they can use them next time.

The moral of this story is: GIVE THOUGHTFULLY.  Follow instructions when you can, and when there aren’t any, take the advice of organizations who know what to do.  Throwing moose heads and ottomans at this problem is ultimately only going to make it far worse, even if they’re really nice and attractive moose heads and ottomans.

It’ll be okay.  You really can help.  Just think about it, be careful and do the right thing.  You’ve got a fine head on your shoulders.  Uncle Elroy would be proud.

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On Suburban Road Warriours and Why We Can’t Use the Blue Gott Cooler Anymore

Adulthood is a funny old thing. Last week, I was stuck in a tiny hotel room in San Antonio with my parents and both big dogs. I’m not going to sugar coat it: we fought. At one point, the G.P. (my Dad) decided that we had only migrated from Hell to high water because he was sure that the creek behind our hotel was going to flood. It had a long way to go – from the dry culvert to the top was about fifteen feet. Dad wouldn’t give it up though, and in a (masterful battle) flood plain plots were deployed, and everyone accused everyone else of not being able to read a map. Then Dad got further infuriated because slices in the loaf of whole wheat bread Mom brought to the evacuation were “too big.” He also tried to walk both dogs in the middle of the night wearing only what he described as “my worst pair of underpants.” Family Time should be redefined as the length of the prison sentence you get for knocking out your own father with a tub of Country Crock.

We didn’t stay in San Antonio long. The G.P. couldn’t stand not knowing what was going on back home, so Friday morning he insisted that we white knuckle it back. I was pretty sure that driving into a hurricane is generally considered a bad idea, but I was out-shouted. Luckily, we made it home in one piece and neither of our homes sustained too much damage. We lost fences, one tree and had a few shingles in the yard. We also had no power, we were on a boil and we were supposed to limit our use of the toilet. It wasn’t bad at all, especially compared to the horrors I had been mentally preparing myself for. As we watched the news all night on Thursday, I swear I was just waiting for my little yellow house to blow past the guy from the Weather Channel – merrily skipping down Shoreline Drive, free at last from the terrible shackles of its slab foundation.

My father is in his element when faced what most people would consider “privation.” He would be totally happy holed up under a tarp in a swamp as long as he had his guitar, a whiskey coke, and a hammer to kill the alligators. The Rev and I both thought it was stupid to return to Corpus before it was recommended. When Dad determined that everything was fine on the home front, he was like a smug cat that had eaten an entire pet shop full of canaries. The smug rolled off of him in waves of smugness so thick and smuggy that I’m pretty sure it’s what forced the storm North to poor Houston.
While Dad didn’t give two licks about the power, the boil, or the toilet situation, his rich retiree neighbors had a different take. I had two of them come up to me as I was unpacking the car, and angrily demand to know how they were supposed to “boil water when the electricity is off.”

“Do you have a gas grill?” I asked on both occasions.

“Yes,” both people replied, furious that they hadn’t thought of it. I was legitimately concerned for them.

The power was still off at Dad’s house 42 hours later when the Rev and my brother (who is visiting from Hawaii – Bairs are among the only people stupid enough to fly directly into a hurricane for a “vacation”) got home. I went over to check on them when I finished work, but the dark house was deserted. It reeked of gas fumes from the G.P.’s generator. He had managed to plug in the fridge and his guitar amp – because priorities. The machine chugged along, locomotive loud, as I banged the front door shut.
At that point, I observed that the G.P.’s block had undergone a not-so-subtle character shift. Instead of the obsessively manicured yards of yore, now the houses boasted trashcan fires in the front yard. Small yappy dogs were staked around the perimeters serving as early looter alert systems. The floral chintz sofas were drug into the front yards with great disregard for fabric preservation. I’m sure that somewhere there were some hot dogs on sticks waiting to be roasted over the flames – at least I vehemently hope they were hot dogs. You could almost feel the ubiquitous car-on-blocks waiting to happen. I started checking the houses to see if they’d sprouted wheels.

Evidently, it only takes about 73 hours of semi-serious privation for my Dad’s elderly and wealthy neighbors to transform from people who can’t figure out how to boil water without electricity, into leather-studded-bandolier-wearing, Mohawk-in-back-of-the-bald-spot-sporting Road Warriors in plaid cotton boxer shorts. They clung like limpets to the white sock and black sandal combination. I really think that one of these ancient guys should serve as the unofficial mascot for Hurricane Harvey. He’ll be pictured fiercely brandishing a hot dog laden stick on all the t-shirts. The caption will simply read, “Survivor.” He’s certainly easier to draw than a 7 foot tall invisible rabbit.

We’re not sure if the original Road Warrior was happy about the return of my brother and The Rev. Mom was still mad at him, and she’s a fearsome creature when she’s enraged. Plus, he’d managed to essentially turn the house into what looked like the offspring of a hobo encampment and a dirty gas station bathroom. He was about three hours away from re-inventing the ultra-hygienic-towel-on-a-roller. Because the G.P. still loves Mom even when she’s mad, he helpfully told her not to put potable water in the blue Gott cooler. “The toilet seat fit perfectly,” he said.
Mom moved in with me. It took her about three seconds to claim my Queen-sized bed with the two super fluffy feather beds and the 12 inch memory foam. Stadler and I have been relegated to my guest room where we’re piled into my nephew’s old twin. It still kind of smells a little like pee, but it has Incredible Hulk sheets so we don’t mind too much. We must all do what we can.

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she heard someone say, “I am glad of my struggle because through it I know my strength.” In contrast, I posted that I had accidentally invented a Swiss Army Plunger (axe head on one side, hammer head on the other perpendicular to a long shaft with a plunger mounted on top), which I declared made me a complete genius. It would probably be better to focus on the former right now. However, if anyone knows how you get on Shark Tank, shoot me a line – I’ve got an exciting new multi-tool to pitch.

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Cat Extraction

Office Kitty

The bastard in question.

The other day, Jan Rankin sent me a text message saying that a kind soul had agreed to adopt the cat currently residing under the Moon office.  He’s a little black and white kitty, and he seems like he’s a pretty nice guy.  Us Moon Monkeys figure he got dumped.

This is the second feline we’ve had under the building.  The first “Office Kitty” was a grumpy cuss who would yowl at Jan if she was even a few minutes late with his daily can of Fancy Feast.  When he disappeared, (as Island cats often do) Jan was heartbroken.   The theories about the whereabouts of original Office Kitty weren’t hopeful, and often ended in coyote.  Jan-the-animal-lover wasn’t going to let that happen twice.

We haven’t quite figured out how we’re going to extract Office Kitty II out from under the building, but I have several excellent PLANS (Moon Disclaimer: these plans are in no way official nor have they been agreed upon by the rest of the staff.  We accept no liability, but apologize in advance — just in case.)

Plan One: the Socratic Approach:   Jan and I will put on togas and stand in front of the office, vigorously debating the merits of the cat’s return to polite society.  Jan will argue that human companionship is paramount for a healthy feline emotional life.  I will counter with the assertion that daily feedings which require no effort upon the part of the eater are the highest possible achievement of cat-kind – especially if you can gently bite a human hand while it’s in the process of feeding you.  Then we’ll discuss the Great World of Kitchen Counters that have stuff sitting on them which no one is currently knocking off.  Office Kitty will then realize the error of his ways and march of his own free will into the waiting cat carrier so we can take him over to Dr. Kresser and neuter him.   Please don’t warn him about the neutering part.  I’d hate to waste a good toga.

Plan Tw — The Fudd Method: “Be vewwwy quiet.  I’m hunting kitties.”  This approach focuses on the natural greed of the cat.  We’ll create a line of kitty treats that leads to a cardboard box held up by a stick attached to a string.  Then Jan and I will hide behind the porch, wait until the cat enters the trap, and then jerk the string to pull the box down on its head.  This approach requires more than cat treats, a box, a stick and a string.  We’re also going to need a box of white wine, two red solo cups and a cooler.  There is a chance that we’ll get pretty drunk while we’re waiting, which will cause us to get pretty loud, which in turn will scare the cat.  Plus, after a certain amount of “waiting” Jan and I would probably wind up crawling around the perimeter of the building going, “Here stupid kitty, kitty…don’t get eaten by coyotes.”  That’s just funny for everyone – including the cat.

Plan Three — Paper Mache Cat Decoys: You may think this method sounds silly, but it’s gaining a lot of traction around the office.  I suggested it to Jan yesterday, claiming that Office Kitty will emerge just to see what all the other “cats are doing.”  Jan suggested that we soak the decoys in catnip, and enthusiastically started trying to carve a “cat whistle” out of a Stripes straw using a paperclip.  The biggest problem is that, historically, anything Jan and I try to craft turns out looking like a weird lizard.

Plan 4 —  Fishing for Kitties: Oh for a rod, a reel and a cat toy!  One person “casts” under the building and tries to lure the cat out while the other hides off to the side with a laundry basket to drop on its unsuspecting little head.  The downside is that whoever has to drop the basket is totally going to miss, and the cat will throw a literal hissy fit.  The upside is the argument that will ensue between the two humans as to whose fault it was.  “Dammit, Abi.  I told you to wait until he cleared the steps! Now we have to start over.”

“No way, you should have lured him further to the right, like in the plan!”

The most likely outcome is that we’ll get the cat toy stuck under the building on 200 pound test and someone has to crawl under there to untangle it.  It’s pretty gross under the building (largely due to its fairly constant occupation by unsupervised cats), but no one wants to lose a good lure.

Plan 5 — Secret Protocol Omega 9

The Fantasy: Jan and I wait until midnight and approach the office dressed head to toe in black, equipped with Batman level tool belts.  We will also be able to bend in weird ways to sneak under any possible cat-crafted laser security.  After approaching the building via 27 backflips each, we will crouch along the edge and make complicated hand signals indicating our next move.  Then we will roll easily under the edge of the office, one of us grabbing the cat gently, but firmly in a Tom-Brady-style-deflated-football cradling move.  We will stuff the cat in a backpack with plenty of ventilation, and crawl out, cartwheeling one-handed back into the darkness.

The reality: We arrive at vastly different times, and wind up getting into a screaming fight about who is and isn’t wearing the “right kind of black” resulting in both of us stomping off in frustration.

If I’m being honest, none of these plans are particularly good.  The truth is, though, we probably will wind up trying a slightly more realistic version of all of them – with the predicted results.  In the end, Jan will wind up sitting worried and dejected on the office steps.  She’s devoted a lot of time to making sure this cat survives, and if we can’t get him out of there, he probably won’t.   She’ll be pretty low about the whole situation – and that’s when the damned cat will crawl into her lap, purring like crazy.  That’s just what cats do, and that’s why they’re worth saving – even if the process is (frankly) pretty dumb.

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When I was 14 years old, I made the choice to become an ovo-lacto vegetarian.  I would eat animal products (like eggs and milk) but not meat.  It was not an easy transition.  My grandfather raised cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens – many of which wound up at the slaughterhouse.  I still remember my first vegetarian Thanksgiving.  My regal Grandpa Harold was amused.  He didn’t think I’d last, and there was no way I was getting the satisfaction of him thinking my decision was anything other than typical teenage rebellion.  My Gram was positive that I’d die within a week due to lack of protein — she tried to sneak meat into my food for the next decade. Ron, our farm foreman, was outraged.  He told me as I passed him the potatoes, that what I was doing was an insult to my family, to our way of life, and directly to my Grandfather.  Grandpa’s eyes twinkled.  He always did like a little sass.

I did last, though – as a strict ovo-lacto vegetarian for 14 further years, until I moved to Honduras and had to fish for food.  I got pretty skinny before I got good at it.  I still don’t eat red meat.

Why would I become a vegetarian when bacon tastes so good?  Almost every meat eater in my life has asked me some derivation of that question, and I’ve thought about it for a long time.  I originally stopped eating meat because my best friend in high school, Karen, quit and got really thin.  I was vain and chunky – but that’s not why I kept going.

When I was little, we lived on our family farm.  There weren’t a lot of other kids around, and my parents worked all the time.  My brother wasn’t born until I was 3, and I really wasn’t keen on the whole idea of having a baby around anyway.  At some point, against everyone’s wishes, my Grandfather gave me a young goat to keep me company.  Her name was Schwanlea.  I spent every minute I could with that goat, and continually freed her when the Rev tried to pen her up.  She got on top of the cars and ate the garden.  She ate everything.  When my little brother started to toddle, I taught her to run at full speed across the yard and knock him diapers over tea kettle.  This did not win me any big-sister-of-the-year awards, and wound up getting poor Schwanlea de-horned.  Eventually, we moved away from the farm.   Schwanlea stayed behind.  I got to see her on holidays, and she always remembered me.  Grandpa bred her and built himself a good sized goat herd.  I always missed her.  I still do.

We moved to Montana first, and then to South Dakota.  I recall one winter supper especially.  I was maybe six or seven years old at the time, and we were eating weird tasting spaghetti.

“What kind of meat is this,” the G.P. asked.

“Goat,” replied my Mother.

It was one of Schwanlea’s kids.  My Grandpa had shipped us the meat. I threw up and cried myself to sleep for about two weeks after that.  From then on, I was suspicious about meat.  You never know when you might be eating your best friend.

Grandpa always warned us not to name the lambs.

There are many other experiences that made meat distasteful to me, but fundamentally I think that animals are sentient – that they have feelings, that they know that they exist, that they understand pain and feel joy.  There is a bitter algebra at play here.  How can I eat a chicken and not eat a cow?  It boils down to this: everyone has a level.  If I can kill, slaughter, and prepare meat without overwhelming guilt or sorrow, then I can eat it.  If I’m not morally or emotionally strong enough to do it myself, then I shouldn’t eat it.  Killing is a regrettable business.  It’s not one that we should hand off to other people lightly, at least I don’t feel that I should.  Meat doesn’t come only from the supermarket.

Other people are different.  The Rev for example could bottle feed a baby calf while saying, “Oh baby calf, you’re so cute! I’ll eat your face.” And she means it.  It would take about four hours of actual hunger before Mom started getting out the cookbooks looking for the best recipe for “Neighbor’s Cat.”  Dad (who used to kill badgers with a hammer to protect the farm) seems to think that killing is a distasteful but necessary part of being a man.  I know how to fish and snap a chicken’s neck.  We all have levels.  That we have a choice in what we eat is an amazing luxury.

People get angry with me because I don’t eat enough meat, or because I eat too much.  New vegetarians are often preachy.  I’m I was insufferable at age 14.  What you find out though, is that no matter how vegan you happen to be, there’s someone out there who is more so.  This is true of every single vegetarian … except one. That guy has the right to get holier-than-thou on everyone else, but I’ll bet he’s pretty tired from all the foraging.

I once knew a young Buddhist acolyte.  He lived in Canada, and every fall on a certain holy day, the monks would go to a local pet store and buy every goldfish.  The slow, but joyous procession would march down to the river bank, and set all the fish free at once.  Then, having done their good deed, they would turn and dance joyously back to the monastery, the acolytes bringing up the rear.  My friend said it took a minute, but that all the goldfish died due to the shock from the cold Canadian water.  “Plop…plop…plop…they all floated to the top.”  He didn’t think the monks knew.

On the other hand, meat eaters are often just as aggressive, and have been known to literally try to shove hamburgers into my mouth.  They pretend it’s a joke.  I don’t hang out with people like that twice.

The choices I make in this world – what I eat, what I wear, who I love – are not necessarily an indictment of the way anyone else chooses to live their life.  My choices are an expression of myself.  You aren’t me.  You don’t have to understand.  You don’t have to do it, too.

We don’t all fit into the same sized pants.  Why would anyone ever think we could all fit into the same lives?  Relax.  I’m not going to eat you.

goat 2

A goat will stand on anything that is raises the goat even slightly higher off of the ground including; hills, dog houses, cows, hippos, canteloupes, turtles, trucks, motorcycle sidecars, giraffes, stuffed animals, fences, tractors, the outhouse, little kids, grain troughs, roofs, my Mom, and (in one spectacular example of the greatness that is the goat) our house cat, Ginger. She was not amused.

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An Open Letter to the Guy Who Left His Tighty Whities on the Street

Dear Sir,

I don’t know what compelled you to discard your not very gently used tighty whities by the roadside.  I can only imagine that you had a personal emergency situation and decided that throwing them out your car window was the equivalent of magically transporting them into another dimension, preferably one populated entirely by appreciative dung beetles.  I can assure you that this is not what happened.

Instead, your underpants sat in the middle of the road, being run over by cars and soaked by last night’s rain, until my dogs found them this morning, that is.

A bit of background here: I am responsible for the exercise needs of two large dogs, Rowlfie and Stadler.  At a combined weight of 154lbs, they possess the towing strength of approximately one Clydesdale – two when they see a cat.  I give them their work out by attaching their harnesses to a two-headed leash with a handle like a waterski tow cable, and let them haul me around the neighborhood on my bike (Gertrude), while I burn out the brakes and yell, “NO SQUIRRELS.”  It is, admittedly, a pretty stupid way to save time since it’s ultimately going to wind up at a minimum breaking both my legs and rupturing my spleen.  However, the canine contingent seems to really enjoy it.

The morning was pleasantly cool – a mere 83 degrees and I was excited to go for a long “ride.”  By the time we reached the street in question, the dogs had settled in to a nice companionable trot and everyone was enjoying the beautiful morning by the sea.  I noticed your downstairs debris from about half a block away, but mistook them for an HEB bag.  Not thinking the dogs would have any interest in said stupid bag, I continued on course, happily listening to my music and thinking that the world wasn’t such a terrible place after all.

Unfortunately, thanks at least in part to people like you; the world is not a bucolic paradise.  It is, in a word, often quite crappy.

I turned my gaze from observing the way sunlight runs liquid down the palm fronds back to my happy dogs, thinking that one of them might shoot me a thankful grin.  Instead I witnessed my ever-curious, pokey-nosed Black Lab, Stadler, gleefully scoop your streaked tighty whities into her eager jaws and then begin tossing them up into the air, catching them as she ran. She didn’t miss a stride.

“OH NO!  GOD NO!” I screamed, immediately and accurately assessing a situation so terrible that the story must pass into urban legend, a cautionary tale to terrify young dog owners.

“RELEASE!” I yelled, trying to get her to drop your underpants as a Gertrude ground to a wheel peeling halt.

Stadler, carrying a prize so spectacular that any compulsion for obedience was vehemently overridden, did not release.  I dismounted and tugged her closer to me so that I could remove her new most favorite toy from her jaws. I grabbed your underpants by what I hope was the waistband and began to pull.  The circuits of Stadler’s admittedly small brain lit up like an ambitious Christmas tree.  “GAME!  GAME!  GAME WITH AB! TOY!!!” She began to pull in earnest, planting her back feet and mock growling.

I hollered at my poor dog, all the while trying to ignore the fact that I was trying to wrestle a pair of underpants of the genus Horrible Horribulus away from her.  Stadler began to give way a tiny bit as I pulled her front feet off the ground, but still hung on like a barnacle.  I started to try to shake all 74 pounds of her off, still yelling stuff like, “STADLER!  THIS IS DISGUSTING! OH GOD!!  EWWWW!!!”

And that’s when 82lb Rowlfie joined in, grabbing a corner left unclaimed by the original combatants.  Rowlf snapped his gator mouth shut, braced his stocky bulldog body and started pulling for all he was worth.  I am nothing if not competitive, and there was absolutely no way these dogs were going to take your nasty man panties home with us.  I uttered a cuss so long and profoundly disturbing that it can’t be reproduced in print (I know this because I tried and the paper kept catching on fire), placed my other hand on your undies and faced the rapturous canines.

After a couple of minutes, Rowlfie’s weight and strength dislodged Stadler.  She tried to get back in, but she couldn’t maneuver around Rowlf to get another bite of your drawers.  I reeled Rowlfie in like I had a swordfish on the line, gradually winding your tighty whites around my right fist.  Eventually, I won the terrible taffy pull, dislodging old Rowlf with one great final tug.  Exultantly, I held your corrupt contribution aloft as I remounted Gertrude, and made to start our ride anew.

I probably should have noticed that both dogs were sitting, ears perked forward, staring almost lasciviously at their new FAVORITE TOY OF ALL TIME as I held it out of reach.   I didn’t, though, because trying to mount a bicycle holding a leash in one hand and a pair of disgusting underwear in the other is more difficult than you might imagine.  As I accomplished the task and made ready to resume our journey, I angrily hurled your beleaguered briefs at the nearest curb.  They flew like a fastball and landed in the gutter with a disgusting “splat.”

And that’s when both dogs ran directly over me and my bike to retrieve them.

As I lay in the street, my helmet knocked cockeyed and my body bereft of all air, I watched the now uncontrolled canines joyously tearing your underpants to shreds.  They fought until they finally stretched the elastic waistband to its breaking point, and then scooped up the remains and brought them over to me (still tangled, defeated in Gertrude’s frame)  – to see if maybe I could fix the toy so that they could play some more.

Eventually, I managed to tear the scraps out of their dog faces – although I’m pretty sure at least some fabric made it into their digestive systems.  This time, I bagged your trash pants in a poop sack and went home.

The final resting place of your tighty whities was in my big green city dumpster.  They were given an eloquent final eulogy the premise of which was, “Sons of blanks who throw their blanking downstairs detritus out the car window so the blanking dogs can get it.”  If you would like to hear it, please contact me at, subject line: “Penitent Douche Canoe.”  I will be happy to recite it for you verbatim.  You owe me a heartfelt apology and three pink “Hello Kitty” Band-Aids.


Abigail Bair


Some people are altogether too pleased with themselves.


Posted in Humor | 1 Comment

Super Fly Super Fry

Earlier this year, I noticed that I was lacking in the arena of culinary prowess. I could reliably concoct such delicacies as cut up vegetables with ranch dressing, cheese and pickle sandwiches, pizza pockets, and microwave popcorn – but those dishes lacked panache, even if served on the nice plates.  I decided that since I have oodles of time, I might as well do something productive with it and learn to cook.

The problem with being single and trying to learn to cook is that you always wind up with tons of extra goodies.   It’s tough to eat one splurge meal and then go back to a heathy diet of chicken chunks, roasted broccoli and quinoa when there’s a five layer chocolate cake and 4 pounds of lasagna sitting in your fridge.  Also, I’ve been taught my entire life that wasting food is the moral equivalent of hitting a starving person in the face with a baseball bat.   Even if I can’t exactly tell you where the starving children are, I know they’re somewhere and they’re very angry that I fed the extra pasta to the dog.

My inelegant solution to the Leftover Conundrum is to invite my parents and friends over to eat, and then load them down with all the extra stuff.  The problem with feeding the Rev and the G.P. is that Dad is a finicky eater.  He passionately despises every white condiment and sauce; mayonnaise being the prime offender.   However, the G.P. loves pie the way Scrooge McDuck loves gold, and the promise of the dessert greatly increases the probability that Dad will show.   I’m pretty sure he’d swim in pie given appropriate amounts and a little privacy.   Mom is much easier.  I called her last Tuesday and told her I was craving coconut shrimp and invited them over for a Friday night pig out.  The Rev didn’t hesitate.  “We’re IN!” she exulted, not even bothering to check with Dad.

I decided the menu would consist of coconut shrimp, French fries, fried breaded cod, a cucumber salad with a simple vinaigrette, homemade bread, and strawberry rhubarb pie.  My friend Tamara offered to bring ingredients for fresh mango margaritas.

superflyOn Friday, I got up early to start cooking.   My bread had to proof for a couple of hours before I could pop it in the oven, so I opened my new cookbook to the page that read: “Foolproof Pie Crust.” I started gathering ingredients …until I got to the line that read “1/4 cup of vodka.”  Um…what?  I read the text again, and then the entire recipe which said that the vodka helps make the crust moist enough to roll out easily, but evaporates so that the result is a “flaky and soft.”  That sounded a little like dandruff to me, but I had vowed to actually do all the steps of the recipe, rather than just the ones that seemed sane.   I had, however, recently consumed my emergency medicinal vodka because it was critical that I watch a Lifetime Television for Women movie of the week, and I needed to turn off 83% of my brain to enjoy it.

I rode my bike to the booze palace, taking Stadler (who thinks cheese sandwiches are the culinary equivalent of dinner service at the Ritz) along.  It was only 8:30 in the morning.  The lights were on, but the doors were locked.  We peeped through the windows, Stadler’s black nose leaving a delicate snot print, but no one was there.  Store hours weren’t posted, but morning exercise makes me insufferably positive, so I cheerily thought I’d try again later, and rode home.

At 10:30, we returned to the now bustling store.  I blithely asked the clerk for her cheapest bottle of vodka. Still wearing my dog jogging outfit (which is basically a ragtag assemblage of holey clothes worn in optimistic layers to prevent slips of nips and nether cheeks), I looked pretty messy and sweaty.  The look the clerk gave me resembled the frigid glare of a librarian who has just caught a tontine of teenagers gleefully defacing a rack of public health pamphlets celebrating “The Wonders of the Human Prostate.”

“It’s for baking!” I cried, defensively.  “I only need 2 ounces.”

“Oh, well how about these small bottles of Absolut.  They’re $2 each,” she sailed smoothly from suspicion into sales mode.

“What’s that one over there for $1.78,” I responded, eyeing a pint on the lowest shelf.

“That’s more than you need,” she said, misgivings restored.

“Just the alcohol content is important.” I insisted.

“Okay,” she tersely replied, ringing up the small bottle with exaggerated irritation.

I was still riding high on endorphins, and so didn’t immediately grasp that my ratty apparel and sweaty dishevelment caused the saleslady to think that I was one bandana on a stick away from being an alcoholic hobo whom she’d ultimately have to evict from her parking lot for publically swilling rot gut hooch while arguing with vodka induced Valkyries.  It’s also possible that she witnessed my curious Labrador and myself peeping (creepily) through her store windows.  Plus, Stadler did leave a snot print.  That tends to irritate some people.  I made a mental note to wear a hat and extra-large sunglasses next time.  Incognito is often the only way to go.

Dinner went very well.  My Dad was satisfied with the fare, going so far as to say that the coconut shrimp was “delicious” and that it was amazing how you could make much better meals at home than you can get at restaurants, for less money – completely dismissing the fact that it took me 8 hours to prepare the meal and two to clean it all up.   As I was packing up leftovers in my Hillbilly Tupperware (cottage cheese tubs I save for leftover dispersal, since anyone born after 1985 is categorically unable to wash and return borrowed dishes) the G.P. allowed that although my strawberry rhubarb pie was “perfect,” I was a flawed chef.

“I’ll bet you have mayonnaise in your refrigerator!” he accused.

“Sure do,” I replied.

“Gross!” he snorted, disgusted.

“Be sure to bring my pie home,” he ordered the Rev, and walked out my front door.

The Rev took a genteel sip of her margarita, and said (with a sly grin), “Someday, I’m going to tell that son of a bitch what’s in his beloved deviled eggs.”

She did bring him his pie, though.  Love endures.

Posted in Humor | 1 Comment