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It’s Like Driving Miss Daisy – Except She’s a He and in the Front Seat. And Her Butt is Thirty Times Larger than Her Head.


So, you know how you open the pantry door and take out the leash, and your dog dances the happy dance and practically trips you as he races to the front door?  And then he sighs loudly as you wander around the house looking for your keys?  And then he starts whining and barking at you when you tell him to wait a second because you lost your phone and he lets loose a barrage of doggie expletives because you are wasting precious time interrogating everyone in the household?  And then you finally get to the point where you can open the door, but you can’t because he has wedged himself in front of it to make absolutely sure that you don’t leave without him?  So, you have to pull the door open and slide him across the floor until he realizes that the moment of departure has finally arrived?  And then, he races out the door and you yell at him to wait and to stop running because he has a broken knee?

And he does.  Wait, I mean.

By the car door.

Because he does not want to go for a walk.

He wants to go for a ride.

Chauffeured by you.

And even though it’s raining and cold and you have absolutely nowhere to take him, you feel sorry for the poor guy who, despite his torn ligaments, has been dancing by the front door every time you put on your shoes for the last three days.  So, you let him jump on to the passenger seat and you ignore his muddy feet, and you ignore the seat belt beeper that warns you that someone more than 35 pounds is sitting next to you, and you ignore the fact that you should not be rewarding a dog who ate your book of strategies for winning Scrabble out of pure spite for anything that takes your attention away from him.

You drive your silly dog to the neighborhood nearby where the houses are far from the road, so maybe no one will notice that you are on a joyride with your bulldog.  And you slow down to let him watch deer grazing in the yards.  You even roll down the window so he can inform the deer that they better watch out because, if he feels like it, he’s going to heave his 60 pounds through that window and plop onto the ground and then there will be trouble.

And then you move on.

After wandering around for about fifteen minutes, you finally pull back into your own driveway.  Your dog lumbers out of the car slowly.  He follows you to the front door.  Exploring the neighborhood on his own four paws holds no appeal.  As soon as you get inside, he sprawls out on the floor with a sigh.

You can’t tell if it’s a sigh of contentment or disappointment.

But at least he won’t be eating any more books any time soon.


I Don’t Know Why I Always Think of These Things When It’s Too Late.

Well, it turns out you guys are psychic after all!  You correctly chose the tacky/ugly Firepants Rummage Sale Contest winner – the evil clown!   (Good job, Dad!)   We should have purchased it and snuck it into someone’s suitcase to give him or her a nice surprise upon returning home, but, alas, I only just thought of that idea.  Actually, it would have been really funny if it had been in my daughter’s suitcase, as she discovered a note that her luggage had been “inspected” when we got home.

I would like to have seen the look on the TSA Agent’s face upon finding that wicked little souvenir rolled up in her underwear…

TSA Note


One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Winning Entry in the Firepants Rummage Sale Contest

I don’t know how I came to be so fortunate, but our Tennessee Family Reunion happened to coincide with the exact dates of the The World’s Longest Yard Sale.


I mean, what are the odds?  Especially when I had no knowledge that such a sale existed?!!!!!!!

Here’s how we found out:  Once Cap’n Firepants and I stopped yelling at each other about where we should each go, we noticed an inordinate amount of traffic on our route to Chuckles Entertainment Center, and mentioned this to the man kind enough to take our money for our round of Bible Verse Miniature Golf.

“Oh, yeah, that happens every year when we have The World’s Longest Yard Sale,”  he said.

So, of course, I thought this was some kind of hyperbole.  But it turned out it wasn’t.  There really is such an event and we just happened to be smack, dab in the middle of it.  The sale, I kid you not, goes 690 miles from Michigan to Alabama.

And we almost missed it.

We almost missed the chance to buy 3 pairs of socks for $400!!!!

We nearly lost our opportunity to buy 3 pairs of socks for the bargain price of $400!!!!

I could not allow such a momentous event to take place under our noses without attending it, ourselves.  So, all Family Reunion plans were completely readjusted in order to make room in the schedule for a visit to The World’s Longest Yard Sale.  And, just to make things interesting, I threw down the gauntlet.

“We all put in a dollar, and whoever takes the picture of the tackiest, ugliest item at the sale wins the pool,” I challenged.

And so, folks, I give you some of the entries in the Firepants Rummage Sale Contest.  It is only some because some people (I won’t name any names, Crash, even though all you did the entire week of our Family Reunion was take pictures) did not send me an entry.

Now, we actually already determined a winner.  And it’s no coincidence that he happens to be the patriarch of this fine family;) But I’m going to let you decide who the rightful champion should be…

Entry #1 - the sexy dog costume that would be perfect for Wonderbutt to wear next Halloween

Entry #1 – the sexy dog costume that would be perfect for Wonderbutt to wear next Halloween

#2 - the baby doll who has no problem sticking its foot in its mouth

#2 – the baby doll who has no problem sticking its foot in its mouth

#3 - the evil clown from my nightmares who dismembered the baby doll in the previous picture

#3 – the evil clown from my nightmares who dismembered the baby doll in the previous picture

If You Would Just Go Where I Tell You to Go, We Wouldn’t Have These Problems. We’d Still Have Problems. Just Different Ones.

What kind of path?

Bible verse at Chuckles Miniature Golf Course.  (I’m not absolutely sure how it relates to putt-putt.) This is what I’m going to read to Cap’n Firepants the next time he needs directions.

If I ever divorce Cap’n Firepants, I will cite the reason as being “irreconcilable differences induced by Yahoo.”  Just because, ten years ago, we spent an hour trying to find a hotel to which I had printed Yahoo directions and I finally realized that the top of the directions stated, “We could not find the address you searched, so we have given you driving directions to the center of the town,” my husband has completely lost all faith in my navigation ability.  Technically, I guess he should have faulted my reading ability, but he likes to misplace blame.

He never had faith in my driving ability.  But I can’t really blame that on Yahoo.  The man has trust issues, and I guess I didn’t really help matters when I backed into his parked truck one day.

So, you can probably picture the dilemma we face when we travel somewhere unfamiliar.  Cap’n Firepants drives, and I sit in the passenger seat telling him where to go.  And he ignores me.

That’s why I like flying.

This should have all changed when I downloaded my new nifty smartphone app that actually speaks to you and tells you exactly where to go.

But, Cap’n Firepants refuses to take it seriously, perhaps because it is a woman’s voice, or maybe because she periodically mispronounces street names (Alamo is said, “A Lamb, Oh!), but the most likely reason is because I am the one holding the phone.

He constantly questions the woman – “Why is she saying to go down that street?  I’m pretty sure it’s the next one.”

And when I tell him that I’m pretty sure she knows what she is talking about because she is crowdsourced by millions of people, he scoffs and goes whatever way his superior intuition, crowdsourced by every male with which he has had contact in his life, directs him.

This happened, several times, while we were on vacation in Tennessee.  But the most memorable example from that trip was when we were on our way to Chuckles Entertainment Center.

“It says to turn right on Chuckles Parkway,” I said.

“But I see it right there,” he responded.

“Yes, but if we turn right now, we are not turning on Chuckles Parkway.”

“So we’ll get there faster.”

“Don’t you think she would tell us if there was a faster way to get there?”


So, we turned right.  Into the Lowe’s parking lot.  And drove all the way to the back of the lot where we could clearly see Chuckles Entertainment Center.

Below us.

If we had packed our parachutes, we definitely could have gotten there faster.

“This is going on my blog, you know,” I said.  To his credit, he did not push me over the cliff.

Now that I think about it, Yahoo’s probably not the only reason for our irreconcilable differences.

I Promise I Haven’t Locked My Child in a Closet for the Last Ten Years

It became quite clear while we were on vacation that my child has led ten years of a very deprived life.  Evidently, this is an ideal child-rearing strategy because it truly makes kids appreciate the simple things.

Mom, get a picture of that dragonfly!

Mom, quick, get a picture of that dragonfly!

Mom, look at that frog!!!  He's just sitting there!  He's so cute!

Mom, look at that frog!!! He’s just sitting there! He’s so cute!

You can do what with this?  OMG!  It's like a helicopter!!!  Can I take one of these home?!!!!!

You can do what with this? OMG! It’s like a helicopter!!! Can I take one of these home?!!!!!

Chasing fireflies and a light-up frisbee in the dark, playing tetherball at the beach, and taking a satisfying nap in the rental car during a two-hour drive all completely delighted Dimples.

But nothing compared to the ultimate entertainment – the Whirlpool tub in the master bedroom of our condo.

TubDimples is not deterred by the fact that this huge tub is in the master bathroom, which is connected to the master bedroom, which is not the bedroom in which she sleeps.  Because she is not the master.  This makes no difference to her because, by her estimation, these tubs are designed especially for her, and it is her intent to monopolize all use of the tub for the duration of our visit.  Any plans that I may have of relaxing with a book and a glass of wine quickly take a back seat to Dimples’ tub schedule.

Just to give you an idea of her complete enjoyment of this amenity, here is a video I took on our last night there.  I was standing outside the bathroom door as she reveled in her final bath.  So, the video is of the door.  So, really, it’s the audio that might be interesting.  But there is a picture at the end.  Because, despite all evidence to the contrary, I don’t believe in complete sensory deprivation.

Don’t Wear a Thong When You Ride a Horse and Other Advice for City Girls

So, once we made the rare sighting of the Pedal Tavern during our photo safari of downtown Nashville, we hopped in the car and drove for two hours to a place in the country where our family reunion was taking place.

I like to think of myself as an adventurous person, but I am much more comfortable with taking my life into my hands by jay-running between speeding cars in the city than I am with hiking through poison-ivy infested woods.

My daughter’s first priority for vacation was to go horseback riding.  I’ve done this several times, so I know the basics: wear close-toed shoes, put your left foot in the stirrup first so you don’t end up facing the horse’s rear end, and don’t let yourself fall off.  Despite the fact that my horse, Maverick, emulated his Top Gun namesake by showing no regard for anyone but himself and nearly decapitating me on low-hanging branches several times, I did pretty well.

It wasn’t until that evening that I realized my wardrobe mistake.  Major chafage pain in the posterior region informed me that I should be less concerned about panty lines the next time I go trotting through the forest.  I know this is TMI, but I feel it is my duty to warn my fashion-minded readers about the consequences of improper undergarments when riding a horse.  No one thinks to tell you these things. Sure, they will give you a helmet to keep you from cracking your head open, but no one mentions the importance of protecting your crack.

I did get advice later on that day about the ramifications of picking up toads.  The kids seemed so enamored with one that was hanging out by the sidewalk that I swept it up in my hands to give them a better look.

“Ewww.  It’s going to pee on you!” approximately 10 people shouted to me at the same time.

Now, I’ve had held lots of strange animals – hedgehogs, snakes, tarantulas, hissing cockroaches, etc…  And, a few of them have peed on me.  It’s no big deal.  You set the animal down, go wash off the tiny drop of urine and all is good.  So, I wasn’t too intimidated by this warning.

Toad pee, though, is a bit different than hedgehog pee.  Apparently, a toad’s bladder holds an unprecedented volume of pee.  Picture yourself holding a water balloon that is the size of the palm of your hand, and a dime-sized hole suddenly opens in the bottom of the balloon.  Oh, and to this picture, add a bunch of kids of various ages watching you closely to see if you are going to screech and pitch the poor toad 10 feet into the air as soon as it dumps urine all over you.

Ironically, my efforts to encourage the kids to observe nature more closely ended up with them observing me intently for signs of a freak out.

I will tell you , quite proudly, that I did not toss the toad.  Nor did I freak out.  In fact, I calmly held the toad for another couple of minutes – until it released another gallon of pee all over my fingers.  Then I prudently set it down and said, “Well, that’s enough for now.  Why don’t you go chase fireflies?” (to the kids, not the toad.  Although I guess the toad might be interested in eating fireflies, too, but I was a bit too ticked off at him to be giving him meal or entertainment suggestions) and walked quickly to the bathroom to wash my hands.

Well, as quickly as one can walk when your butt cheeks are on fire.

My sister took a picture of me holding the toad.  This is not the picture.  I got this from

My sister took a picture of me holding the toad. This is not the picture. I got this from

I’ve Chosen the Vehicle I’m Renting For My Next Road Trip

It’s mildly disappointing to travel 900 miles in 2 and a half hours and find out you ended up exactly where you started.  Particularly if you spent $1000 for the pleasure.

You may have surmised from the last post regarding the unceremonious deposit of Wonderbutt (and his sister, Mrs. P.I.B.) at the kennel that the Firepants family was about to embark on a vacation.

We live in Texas.  We flew to Nashville for the first leg of our trip.

As we wandered around downtown Nashville, I had my camera ready for exotic pictures of this new locale.  But it turns out Nashville is just like San Antonio – only more.  It’s like someone turned on the Texas radio station in their Ford pickup and cranked up the volume full blast just to make sure the cows on the ranch in the next county could hear.

More cowboy hats.

More cowboy boots.

More cowboy boots.

More bar-b-q.

More country music.

Same street names.

Same tourist traps.

I might as well have just stayed at home and taken a cab downtown for half the price.

I tried to hide my disappointment and to enthusiastically involve the family in my observations.

Look!  It's a Riverwalk!  (Just like San Antonio)

Look! It’s a Riverwalk! (Just like San Antonio – except our river is more like a creek.)

Look, it's the Hard Rock Cafe!  Oh yeah, we have one of those, too.

Look, it’s the Hard Rock Cafe! Oh yeah, we have one of those, too.

Look, it's a random, weird, red sculpture in the middle of town.  Yup, got that in SA.

Look, it’s a random, weird, red sculpture in the middle of town. Yup, got that in SA.

“Look!  There’s a poor homeless person on the sidewalk playing a broken drum!”  I’m pretty sure it’s the same guy I saw in SA three days ago.

And then I saw it.  I jumped up and down (to the chagrin of my husband, Cap’n Firepants, who prefers to blend into the crowd).

“Look!  Look!” I pointed to the novel sight – something we definitely do NOT have in San Antonio.

“What?” my 10-year-old daughter cried.

“A bar!  On wheels!  That you pedal!  Down the street while you’re drinking!” I exclaimed.

Finally –  something she can write about on her, “What I Did on Summer Vacation” essay.

Nashville Pedal Cab

It’s All Fun and Games Until You Figure Out Where Your Butt Just Ended Up…

There’s nothing like trying to get your car loaded and looking up to see a 60 pound bulldog missile headed straight for you.  That is what you get for not making sure the storm door was completely latched.

No one will blame you for leaping 10 feet straight into the air to avoid being “bulled” over.

However, you might be considered culpable for leaving an animal in the car when it’s 540 degrees outside.  And there do not seem to be any legal loopholes for stubborn pets named Wonderbutt who refuse to believe you when you tell them that you have no intention of driving anywhere in the next 20 minutes.  Nor do there seem to be allowances for bullish dogs who will likely give you a hernia if you try to forcibly drag them out of the hot oven they insist on occupying because they have no intention of allowing you to leave them behind to miss all of the fun you surely have when they are cruelly abandoned in the air-conditioned house while you go on your exciting adventures to the grocery store and the gas station.

So, you must sigh, completely rearrange your plans, crank up the a/c in the car, and assign your 10 year old daughter to sit beside the resolute runaway as you quickly finish your preparations, grab your purse, and lock up the house.

Wonderbutt grins at me that he won this round.

Wonderbutt grins at me that he won this round.

And you chauffeur your smug canine to the destination to which you were not so eager to arrive in the first place.

The Boarding Kennel.

Weekend Gotaway – A Request from the Dictator

“I noticed you didn’t mention the Scrabble games at all!  So the Dictator doesn’t get the glory of winning 1 measly game…”

This was The Dictator’s response to my series about The Ranch Weekend.  I must admit that I had every intention of mentioning our Scrabble Tournament, but I was so busy whining about my sleep deprivation that I could not squeeze it into my other posts.

I don’t remember when The Dictator and I started our Scrabble Tournaments, but they are always one of the highlights of my trips to The Ranch.  Primarily because no one else will play Scrabble with me.  Even my Words with Friends games have become Words with People Who Avoid My Challenges to a New Game.

My sister, Crash, and her entire family, refuse to play Scrabble with me.  Crash was a good sport about playing with me until I told her that the dictionary was for checking a word after someone challenged it, and that you can’t just browse the dictionary for a good word before you play your tiles.  In her estimation, this defeated the whole purpose of playing the game, which I guess was to just see who was the best cheater.

The Dictator likes to accuse me of cheating – unless, of course, she is winning.  She, Nigella (our other Ranch Friend), and I are pretty evenly matched.  I think that it would be a hard call to determine who is the Scrabble Champion of The Ranch.  And, quite frankly, I would be afraid of any trophy that could be won – seeing as it would probably be taken from the Wall of Death.

During our most recent Ranch Weekend, The Dictator won the first game, and I won the second.  This win may have come at the cost of any respect that The Dictator’s mother might have had for me, as I desperately played a word for the male anatomy (which got a triple word score) right before she arrived for a visit – and the word loomed large in the bottom corner of the board the entire time she observed our game.  Though she never asked – and there were two other suspects, one of whom brought home a cat that she had named “Boner” during Spring Break when she was a teenager – I am pretty certain that Mrs. Dictator knew I was the culprit, probably aided by the fact that my face was red for the remainder of the game.

A third game, though planned, never came to fruition.  Most likely, Nigella’s luck would have turned, and she would have actually gotten some consonants during the final game, sweeping us all away, and creating yet another frustrating tie that would leave us all grumbling that one more game would have shown the true Weekend Winner.  Instead, Nigella and The Dictator played “Chickenfoot Dominoes” with the younger generation for the remainder of our visit, a game far too dependent on my non-existent luck for my taste.

And, so I end my seemingly endless series of posts about our 3-day Weekend Gotaway, with a tribute to my Scrabble Colleagues.  I love your chutzpah and hope that we will continue our games way past the time when we wheezily roll our wheelchairs up to the table in our jaunty jacquard pantsuits, spreading a single game over an entire three-day weekend to make time for our frequent naps and breaks for medication.

photo credit: knittinandnoodlin via photo pin cc

Poop Bugs

We interrupt our laborious Labor Day weekend posts to bring you a docublogumentary post from the elusive Cap’n Firepants.  My husband, who usually has to force himself to show any interest in my blogging world, for some reason took it upon himself to provide me with a topic that he thought would fascinate my readers – The Amazing Poop Bugs of  Southeast Texas.

Every time we go to The Ranch, our citified group cannot get over the miraculous work of the dung beetles in the yard.  We usually have a combined total of at least four dogs when we all converge on The Ranch – and four dogs make a lot of poop.  But, no scooping is necessary because these little insects remove it faster than we can.  Well, faster than we, who have absolutely no desire to spend our weekend of relaxation scooping poop, are inclined to do.

This time, the Cap’n decided that the 10 other people who read my blog might actually want to know about these creatures – and would like photos.  So, I give you some morning coffee worthy pics of bowel movement-dozing beetles.  You can thank the Cap’n for this educational post.

Approximately 5.1 billion beetles converge on a poop pile in the middle of the yard.
photo credit:  Cap’n Firepants


Vladimir Pooptin assigns each beetle a ball of poop twice as high as itself to roll across the yard to the Designated Poop Beetle Warehouse, which we still have not discovered.
photo credit: Cap’n Firepants

Rebel Poop Beetles, looking for political asylum, roll their poop balls out of the yard and onto the concrete patio.
photo credit: Cap’n Firepants

In about an hour, the pile of poop is gone.  No sign that it ever existed.  I’m not sure where it goes.  But, as long as it isn’t in my suitcase, I’m good with this process.

We’ve talked about bringing a pack of Poop Bugs back to our house, so we would never have to scoop Wonderbutt’s Poop Pen again.  We’ve talked about breeding them, and marketing them to pet owners and parents of potty training toddlers.

But none of us wants to touch them.

So, instead, for twenty years, we have watched the Poop Bugs perform their magic, and dreamed of making millions of dollars off these remarkably disgusting, but industrious little creatures.

Just one of the many highlights of our weekends at The Ranch…

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