Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
I’ve been off the grid, mostly, for the last few days. Both electronically off the grid and mentally off the grid. I’m still working on getting my anti-depressant medication to sync with my physical hard drive, and I encountered a bit of an epic fail at the end of last week. Getting out of bed was completely unappealing – though I managed to avoid the need for any John Denver sing-alongs being conducted at the foot of my mattress. I’m not really sure the rest of the Firepants family actually knows any John Denver songs, so I might have had to settle for Dimples’ version of “Gangnam Style”, which would certainly put me over the edge.
I have a new little pill that allows me to look at a pile of laundry without hyperventilating. But, of course, the new medicine has its own side-effect, namely Insomnia. I was kind of hoping it would just balance out my other pill, which induces drowsiness, since I am supposed to take them both at the same time. But Pill #1 surrendered to Pill #2 without even a whimper of complaint. Which I consider quite a betrayal considering how adamant Pill #1 has been that I sleep through my entire life up until now. Typical bully. So, I am now cheerfully awake at 3 in the morning instead of mournfully tired at 3 in the afternoon. Except I am tired because I was awake at 3 A.M. But my body says that’s just plain silly, and to go ahead and do the stuff I didn’t do for three days right now because I was feeling so overwhelmed, but now is probably even more overwhelming, but that’s okay because I took Pill #2. And then it will be bed time, at which time my body will say, “O.K. You can lay down, but you shall remain hyper alert like a jaguar in the jungle. You might as well just think about all of things you are going to do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next 50 years of your life, because we are going to have plenty of time to get everything all planned out since you are not a jaguar in the jungle and it is unlikely you will actually have to pounce on anything during the next 7 hours.”
So, anyway, this is my way of apologizing for not commenting on anyone’s blog recently. Please send your letters of complaint to Pill #1. And, if you notice that I have begun to comment on your blogs at odd hours of the night, then you can rest assured that Pill #2 is behind that and that I am not actually a stalker. Unless you live in Australia or New Zealand. In which case, I think my comments appear at odd hours of the night anyway, so it would be the normal time comments that you can blame on Pill #2. But I’m still not a stalker.
Our bulldog, Wonderbutt, is fickle. Like some people you may know, he is always looking for the next best thing – whether it’s a better treat, a squeakier toy, or a more gullible sucker to give him a butt massage. Loyalty to products or people has never been one of Wonderbutt’s strong suits.
Case in point: we’ve only had the dog for two years, but he has slept in more beds than I have my entire life. (I don’t have pictures of Bed #1-3, as Wonderbutt destroyed them early in his Pernicious Puppy Phase.)
In the meantime, our 11-year-old golden retriever, Mrs. Pain in the Butt, has had two beds that I can think of – the carpet and the concrete floor. So, after noticing that the concrete floor has become a bit of challenge for our arthritic dog, the Firepants Family made a trip to Petsmart to hand-select the Perfect Pallet for Mrs. P.I.B.
Twenty minutes after this picture was taken…
And, later that evening:
By the next day, Wonderbutt had a Bedding Command Post. Which did not seem to offend Mrs. P.I.B. in the slightest.
When Wonderbutt becomes famous some day, I expect I will be able to sell his Collection of Cots on eBay with the label, “Wonderbutt Slept Here”…
So, in Weekend Gotaway, Part I, we packed and got on the road. It was a truly riveting story, and you should totally read it if you missed it. If you don’t read it, you will have no idea what is going on in this post. You will be reading at a clickety-clackety pace, and then stop, and say, “Huh? Why is this bulldog driving?” Seriously. Read on at your own risk.
So, Wonderbutt the Bulldog got us to The Dictator’s Ranch with a little help from Cap’n Firepants. (See, I told you to do your homework…)
Since you guys seemed to enjoy Wonderbutt’s front seat photo so much, here is another.
We arrived at the ranch, and then proceeded to unload the warehouse of goods that Cap’n Firepants deemed absolutely necessary for our three-day weekend. Wonderbutt did his best to help with the unloading by racing in front of our feet and stopping suddenly to sniff the butts of The Dictator’s three dogs ad nauseum.
After saying “hello” to the Wall of Death, which is an ironic remnant from The Dictator’s father’s hunting days, (The Dictator and her vegetarian husband both being fierce animal rights activists), I was ready for bed.
At The Ranch, the Firepants family sleeps in one king-sized bed. I use the term “sleep” loosely. I have never actually slept at The Ranch. In the 20+ years that I’ve known The Dictator and visited The Ranch, I have spent more time desperately trying to sleep than I have spent complaining about the Cap’n’s overpacking. That is a lot of time.
Part of the problem used to be Mrs. P.I.B., our constantly panting and pacing over-anxious Golden Retriever. But, we did not bring her this time. So, I expected some major snooze time.
I settled on the couch in the living room so Wonderbutt and I could complete our nightly ritual of him falling asleep on my lap, me waiting until the snoring and gases can not be borne any longer, and then me slipping out from under him to go to bed, leaving him to slumber until the morning.
Not meant to be. Because there was a new element at The Ranch. A cat. And Wonderbutt has never seen a cat except the one that taunts him in our backyard. So, you can see how this is going…
The cat had arranged itself on the other couch, and Wonderbutt, as they like to say in Texas, was “fit to be tied”. He could not stand that cat just laying on the sofa. I’m still not certain if he wanted the sofa or the cat.
So, I finally had to bring Wonderbutt into the Firepants Family Bedroom. Because I did not want to leave him alone with the cat, or to have to add Wonderbutt’s head to the Wall of Death in the morning.
Wonderbutt could not get settled. Even though he could not see the cat, he was well aware that it still existed. For hours, he whined at the door, and then he circled around his bed, then whined at the door, then circled around his bed… You get the idea.
Then he got really frantic, so I decided to go back to the living room to see if a chupacabra had somehow gotten into The Ranch since that could be the only possible explanation for a ballistic bulldog in the bedroom.
No worries. Just the cat throwing up everywhere.
I cleaned that up, which was quite a feat since Wonderbutt felt that this would be the perfect time to attack the cat during its Moment of Weakness.
I brought Wonderbutt back to the bedroom, and informed him, in no uncertain terms, that he better darn well go to sleep because I’d had a long week of returning back to school and leaving him alone in the house for 8 hours a day.
Finally, my logic seemed to sink in. He let out a big sigh, and five minutes later the snoring started. It was about 3 AM.
Then, Cap’n Firepants suddenly popped up in bed, and started walking toward the door.
“DON”T YOU DARE WAKE HIM UP!” I hissed. “WHERE IN THE WORLD DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING?”
“To sleep on the couch. Your daughter keeps slapping me in the face in her sleep.”
“GET BACK IN THIS BED RIGHT NOW OR THE WALL OF DEATH IS GOING TO GET ANOTHER MOUNT.”
I get a bit cranky when I’ve had no sleep.
And that’s how our first night at The Ranch went.
I have been very drowsy lately. At first, I thought this was just another symptom brought on my Diet Coke withdrawal. But then I realized that it’s been about 2 months since I gave it up. I don’t even think drug addicts take two months to withdraw. Then, because I am a licensed hypochondriac, I immediately attributed this to the as-yet-unidentified disease that is eating away my insides.
I informed my husband that a doctor’s visit might be in order.
“Maybe you should first try to get more than 5 hours of sleep a night,” my husband dryly recommended.
“I get more than -” I started to argue.
But then I decided to count. O.K. I get 5 1/2. That’s almost 8. I mean, if you count by 2’s and round up, you’re nearly there when you get to 6.
I am 43 years old. I am apparently in that odd window of decades when 5 1/2 hours of sleep is not enough. It worked fine during my twenties. And it will apparently be plenty when I am in my 80’s. But at 43, in arguably the most active decade of my life, I am supposed to slow down more.
At 11:30 at night, I am not ready for bed. I am busy playing Sudoku on my iPad and laughing with my friends on Friends. I have to make myself turn off the lights and set the alarm. It takes a half hour to shut my brain down and fall asleep.
At 5:30 in the morning, I am not ready to get up. I have to make myself turn off the alarm and turn on the lights. I am not laughing. And if there were any Friends around at that time of day, they would be so horrified at my monstrous morning personality that they would run screaming off the set of my life.
Except Dimples, who I overheard the other morning grumpily informing her father that she is “not a morning person”.
She gets it. We compete with each other every morning to see who can sustain the longest glare.
I stupidly chose a profession, teaching, which requires me to be on the spot and cheerful at 7:30 in the morning. If I could go back to talk to my 20 year old self, I would walk in during one of her particularly vicious hangovers and make her repeat the directions for a complex task – such as writing your name at the top of your paper – 20 times, interrupting her to ask if I can go to the bathroom or did she know that it’s my cousin’s aunt’s boyfriends’ birthday next Friday, and then tell my stupid self that this is how it feels to be a teacher when you are not a morning person.
She will ignore me. Stupid I-can-change-the-world-on-6-hours-of-sleep -even-4-if-I-have-to 20 year old Idiot.
See how irritable I am? I really think it’s the disease talking.
In retrospect, the following events may have possibly contributed to my near-death experience the next morning.
“You’re going to have to sleep on the couch tonight, Mom,” Dimples informed me the other day when I picked her up from school.
“Oh really?” I responded, a bit sarcastically. Considering her comment was a line I would normally hear from Cap’n Firepants, my husband, it was a little disconcerting to hear it from my 9 year old daughter instead. Particularly since, as far as I knew, I had not recently committed any transgressions deserving of this punishment – at least none that she would know about.
“It’s supposed to rain,” she sagely predicted. And now it all made sense. Maybe not to you, yet. But it did to me. Although I refused to share in her pessimism. Or optimism – depending on whose glass with water that is not up to the brim we are staring at.
I informed Cap’n Firepants of the Forecast According to Dimples when he got home from work. He did not seem impressed.
The night passed normally – until about 3 A.M.
Wonderbutt, our bulldog, woke us up. He was barking outside in his pen. This is what he does when he wants our attention, since we have a baby gate that blocks him from The Forbidden Section of bedrooms.
Once Wonderbutt woke us up, I could clearly hear the sound of Mrs. P.I.B., our 10 year old golden retriever, frantically whining out in the hallway right next to our door.
Where she shouldn’t have been because of said baby gate.
And then the crash of thunder.
Cap’n Firepants sat up, and I groaned.
“I HATE IT when she’s right,” I said, as I got up.
I opened the bedroom door, and Mrs. P.I.B. swept past me, panting as though her life depended on it.
Out in the hall, Wonderbutt had returned from outside, and was seated on the other side of the overturned gate, waiting patiently for me to come out and keep him company.
Mrs. P.I.B. cannot sleep through a storm unless she is in our bedroom. Wonderbutt cannot sleep in our bedroom because he A. Snores, and 2. eats everything. This is normally not a problem, but he apparently does not care for being the only one on the Other Side of the Gate. So, I am the Designated Defender, who gets to keep him company on stormy nights.
We settle onto the couch with an old comforter. He snuggles up, and is soon asleep, though we both jump a few times during enormous thunder crashes.
About an hour later, the storm has gotten quieter. But Wonderbutt has gotten louder. His snores are less surprising than the thunder but just as disturbing. I finally work my way out from under him, and stumble to the guest bedroom – the closest room to the Border that Must Not be Crossed.
About 20 minutes, I hear Wonderbutt whining very close to my door. He has realized I abandoned him, and does not care to be alone.
I get up and look out the door.
He has carried the entire King Size comforter to the Border in order to register his protest – or communicate his loneliness; I am not sure which.
I get back on the couch.
An hour later, after a few dozing off periods broken by Stupendous Snores, I squint to see the miraculously still-working cable box time, and realize that I must get up.
I go back to the bedroom to get ready for work.
Dimples is soundly sleeping in my spot on the bed.
It turns out she is an optimist after all.
*Our Golden Retriever will from now on be referred to as Mrs. P.I.B. (Pain in the Butt) for reasons which will become apparent.
This weekend, Wonderbutt got his first introduction to The Ranch. Being ten, Mrs. P.I.B. has been to the ranch at least ten times, but Wonderbutt, being not even a year old, got his first opportunity this past weekend.
The Ranch belongs to the family of one my best friends. My friend likes to call herself The Delegator. We feel that she is better suited to being called The Dictator (affectionately, of course). T.D. and her husband brought three dogs and a cat. Cap’n Firepants and I brought our two dogs, and, of course, Dimples. Another mutual friend (Nigella, to me, since she is beautiful and cooks wonderfully) brought her daughter.
All in all, it was a happy gathering of five dogs, five adults, two kids, and two cats (one cat is a permanent resident). In a two bedroom no-dishwasher house. WITH NO INTERNET ACCESS!
I was worried about Wonderbutt’s behavior during this trip. As regular readers know, he is not exactly past his teething stage. In addition, he has a dog door at home, and such a thing does not exist at The Ranch. Plus, he has never been within a foot of a cat before. Or a cow.
When we arrived, the usual butt sniffing ensued. Then the dogs had their turn. (Just making sure you’re paying attention.) Everyone seemed to hesitantly agree to get along for the weekend. Except for The Dictator, Nigella, and I. We have a running Scrabble enmity, and we were all determined to win. The atmosphere was tense. This would be good practice for my Adult Spelling Bee, I thought. But more on that later.
Wonderbutt baptized the saltillo tile twice within the first few hours. I felt like a mom whose ten year old still wears diapers. Leaky ones. When I saw all of the possible objects of his chewing affection strewn all over the house, I inwardly groaned. I anticipated spending the whole weekend chasing after him and pulling flip flops, friendship bracelets, and television remotes out of his mouth.
Happily, there were too many other things to occupy Wonderbutt’s time. Figuring out his limits as he stole other dog’s bones and toys seemed to be his primary objective, but he seemed to be pretty good at knowing when to back down.
After an afternoon of racing around and sniffing all of the new animals, objects, and people, Wonderbutt was quite satisfied to curl up with his butt in my face on the sofa after the lights went out. Being one of the rare times that he was not regularly passing gas, I decided I had the best end once his snoring started. I pulled a pillow over my head and fell asleep.
But Mrs. P.I.B. had other ideas. That anxiety-ridden dog cannot relax. She is so worried she is going to miss something that she cannot stay in one place for more than fifteen minutes every time we come to The Ranch. And when animals and humans are distributed in various rooms throughout the house, she comes as close to a dog having a heart attack as I’ve ever seen.
She pants and paces and whines. If you let her into the room she is whining outside of, she stays about five minutes, and then starts whining to be let back out.
This was my first evening. Wonderbutt happily sacked out and sawing logs while Mrs.P.I.B. would settle down, get up, pant in my ear, whine by a bedroom door and start the rotation all over again. At five thirty a.m. I finally tagged Cap’n Firepants in the bedroom and sent him out to deal with Mrs. P.I.B. as I firmly closed the door behind him. Then I got into bed with Dimples. Which, to be honest, was not a whole lot more restful.
Tomorrow’s post – Wonderbutt meets the cat and attempts to slip and slide. And Mrs. P.I.B. narrowly escapes sleeping in the pasture with the cows.