If you are beginning to wonder if my posts about last weekend will never end, then you are finally on the road to understanding the unusual time-sucking Black Hole that the Firepants Family endures on a daily basis. Wonderbutt will be more than happy to lead you down that merry path.
After my first sleepless night at The Ranch, I smothered myself with a pillow the next morning while the rest of the The Ranch visitors carried on with life, completely oblivious to the fact that I had spent my evening cleaning up cat vomit and trying to keep Wonderbutt from dismembering the vomiter.
I finally entered the kitchen around 9:30, only to find most of the household gone. They had taken the four dogs for a jaunt.
Moments into my breakfast, the crew returned. Dimples, my fully dressed daughter, was wet. It was not raining.
“I had to save Wonderbutt from drowning,” she proudly announced. “I think I need a shower.”
You may not remember this, but we tested the whole, “Are Bulldogs Buoyant?” question last year around this time, when Wonderbutt decided to take a plunge into the pond at The Ranch once he saw that everyone else was doing it. Wonderbutt may be stubborn, but he apparently caves to canine peer pressure quite easily.
Wonderbutt proved that yes, bulldogs can swim, at least when they weigh 15 pounds less than he does now. I’m not sure where the fine line is, but it seems he crossed over it, because this year he couldn’t keep his head above the water. Fortunately the water was only about 3 feet deep, so Dimples waded out to save him.
Wonderbutt does not feel guilt or shame – or humiliation. He did not seem to be embarrassed one bit that he was the only dog out of four that had to be carried back to land by a 9 year old girl who weighs less than he does. To be fair, the other three dogs were a bit too tired from the whole experience to taunt him very much.
I must admit that the thought did cross my mind, for one very brief moment, that, if he had drowned, I might actually sleep that night. But I can feel guilt, and immediately banished that thought from my head. It was then followed by the tempting thought of drowning the cat, instead. But, I did not want The Dictator to impale me on her Wall of Death, so I did not voice this thought, much less act on it.
Instead, I went outside to the porch to console our oblivious Wonderbutt for his failed attempt to cross the Channel this summer.
“I think you need to find a different Olympic sport,” I informed him. “Swimming does not appear to be your best skill. I’m thinking you should try the luge. I have a feeling your, uh, shape might be an asset in that event.”
His enthusiasm for this new idea was unbridled.
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.
This is my submission to the Hobbler’s Labor Day Weekend Pity Party Extravaganza. I admit this is a bit late, which is really not like me. I’m usually early for things. But, when you think about it, 99% of my posts would pretty much fall under the Pity Party category – so you could say that I was at least a year early for this festive event. Or, you could say that you just don’t care. Which is pretty much the response I get for 99.1% of my posts. Which is why you should pity me.
The reason that I am late is because the Firepants Family went out of town to visit our good friend, The Dictator, at her ranch. For 3/5 of the Firepants Family, this is a Wondrous Adventure Out in the Country. For the remaining fraction of the clan, it is an Anxiety Inducing 72 Hours of Sleep Deprivation.
Ranch weekends begin with the planning and the packing. Dimples (9) is pretty self-sufficient in the gathering of necessities as long as she is given a packing checklist. I, too, have a packing checklist. I don’t think the Cap’n has a packing checklist. If he did, it would be longer than the checklist for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, longer than Noah’s checklist for the Ark, and probably even longer than the list of things the Republicans plan to change if they get back in office.
Here is my idea of packing for a weekend getaway:
And, here is the Cap’n’s:
Let’s just say that it’s good we decided not to bring 1/5 of the family (Mrs. P.I.B. – our golden retriever) on this trip, because she would have had to ride on the top of the car. And we all know how that brilliant idea turned out for Mitt Romney.
The other reason Mrs. P.I.B. did not make the trip this time is because she paces and pants the entire time we are at the ranch, has done this for eleven years, and we finally decided that it’s quite possible she is not really happy on these trips, and that we really aren’t happy when she is not happy.
As it was, Wonderbutt, got to ride in the front seat, while Dimples and I sat in the back seat with even more bags of necessary items.
Cap’n Firepants asked me about three times if we had packed Wonderbutt’s food. Since it was smushed in the backseat in a plastic bin for charcoal right between Dimples and me, you can imagine my chagrin when he kept asking me this question.
“YES, I have his food. It’s in this charcoal canister on top of my foot!” I answered for the last time.
“That’s not his food. That’s the charcoal,” the Cap’n replied. “In the charcoal container,” he added, with only a slight implication of the word “stupid” at the end of his observation. And, since we were only 10 minutes away from the house, we got to turn around, and go back. And then try to figure out how to fit the second charcoal container – which had dog food, thank you very much – into our very packed car. We briefly entertained the thought of leaving the dog behind so we could find a place for the dog food, but you will be happy to know that we decided to leave the kid behind instead.
Just joking. Of course, we left neither kid nor dog behind. I volunteered to sacrifice my berth, but the Cap’n stubbornly wedged the 2nd container into the car, and we embarked on our trip a second time.
4/5 of the Firepants Family on the way to the ranch. With 1/5 of the family already experiencing strong misgivings about this whole enterprise.
Hmmm. Who do you think the not-so-enthusiastic car passenger could possibly have been?
Stay tuned this week for more reasons to pity Mrs. Cap’n Firepants…
One of our relatives has been visiting this week. She has been living in Spain, and is in the States for a two-month visit. A few of the other relatives were asking her what brought her here for the summer. Every time, the relative patiently answered that she was here to “visit family and to renew my visa”.
Last night, at dinner, my mother-in-law said, “I know she needs to stay a little while because she still needs to – what is it, again?”
Our 9-year-old, Dimples, who had already heard the question asked and answered several times, helpfully supplied the answer, “Renew her credit card.”
I think she’s seen one too many Olympic commercials.
A few months ago, I wrote about one of my parking pet peeves – Backer Inners. Now, I have a confession to make.
The reason that Backer Inners drive me crazy (no pun intended) is because I am a Wait Arounder.
I know. You hate me.
I am one of those
vultures people who drive through a parking lot, looking for cars that are about to pull out. When I see people entering a car, I glide to a stop a few feet from their spot, and put on my turn signal to politely indicate that I plan to use that spot as soon as they vacate it.
One of my friends despises Wait Arounders. She deliberately takes her time getting into her car, adjusting her mirror, checking her makeup, shaving her legs, etc…, until the Wait Arounder eventually gives up and goes hunting for another spot.
I am worried that one day, my friend will be in a parking lot and I will inadvertently Wait Around, not knowing that she is the person in the car, and it will become a Stubborn Test of Wills that will end up on the 6:00 news.
I may be a Wait Arounder, but I am a well-mannered Wait Arounder. Unlike the one I encountered today.
Dimples and I left a restaurant, and got in our car. I turned on the air, and then thought it might be good to check my iPad to see if her books had come in at the library so we could swing by to pick them up.
I heard the honk, and looked around. There were two cars parked pretty close to each side, but they were empty. No one was behind me.
“What was that?” Dimples asked. “Was that you?” She likes to blame me for anything that irritates her.
“No. I think someone was just locking their car.”
Honk. Honk. HONKETY HONK HONK!
I looked a little bit farther. A truck was waiting, and the driver was looking at me angrily. He was a Wait Arounder. And he was rudely insinuating that I was being rude by not Backering Out.
I thought about my friend, the Anti-Wait Arounder. I knew what she would do.
Dimples looked at me expectantly. I have been trying to teach her to be more assertive.
But the truck driver looked rather big and red-faced. And possibly shotgun carrying.
I have also been trying to teach my daughter to stay alive.
I pulled out of the spot.
“Some people are so impatient,” I said to Dimples in a calm voice. I turned up the radio.
And said some very not nice things under my breath about rude Wait Arounders.
That’ll teach him.
“This all comes from having a husband who has a sketchy history with lizards.” This is what I was thinking Sunday night when I was in the middle of risking my life on the mean streets of Boston.
My day started early in the a.m when I started getting ready for my trip to Boston.
In the middle of my shower, I decided I should shave my legs in case my plane crashed. Then, I told myself that I needed to remember to pack a razor. Then I put my foot on my little teak table in my shower. And then I bent down and was face to face with a lizard.
I am not freaked out by lizards – though it is somewhat disconcerting to find one in my shower. I responded to this surprise visit by finishing my business, and then grabbing Cap’n Firepants’ phone from his bedside table so I could take a picture.
“Whadrudoin?” the Cap’n sleepily asked.
“Documenting the lizard in our shower.”
It’s a testament to Cap’n Firepants that he did not ask any follow up questions.
A few minutes later, the Cap’n got up to take his shower.
“Where is the lizard?” he asked.
“Why?” I said, cautiously. Actually, I think I said, “Why? Don’t you dare kill him. He’s cute.” The Cap’n and I differ on the treatment of varmint trespassers. He likes to squish them under his foot, while I generally pick them up and take them outside.
“So I don’t step on him by accident,” he responded, to my relief.
The point of this whole story is that I completely forgot to pack my razor, due to my fear that Cap’n Firepants might squish the unfortunate lizard in our shower. This is what I realized when I reached my Boston hotel later that evening after my exciting adventures barely evading the law for flying under an assumed name that wasn’t even my choice to assume in the first place. (See yesterday’s post for that fun story.)
So I decided to make a trek around 8:30 at night to the local CVS pharmacy.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned before that I completely lack any kind of map-reading skills, night sight, or sense of direction. Or common sense.
Oh, and I was alone.
Of course I went 10 blocks in the wrong direction at the beginning of my trek. But I finally found the CVS with the help of the good people of Harvard Square.
There were some decidedly unacademic looking people hanging out at the CVS.
Quite a few seemed to be having an attack of the munchies.
But I made it back to the hotel safe and sound, and confident in the fact that I would have smooth legs during my first day on the Harvard campus.
Now I am going to include a picture of the lizard and, in retrospect, it really wasn’t worth risking my life to take. I am telling you this now because I don’t know how to make captions on my pics using the WordPress iPad app.
This is going to be a Yelling Post. It is that time of the month, and I am sorry if that is T.M.I. but I feel that I should give you fair warning.
First of all, I would like to yell at the veteran bloggers out there who either A.) did not warn me that there is some kind of summer slump that completely decimates your number of readers, or 2.) did not tell me that the quality of my writing has plummeted so deeply that I am shedding fans faster than Wonderbutt can pee all over my new furniture.
Secondly, I am yelling at Apple. Or Adobe. Or all technology companies. To Flash or not to Flash. I don’t care. But come up with a friggin’ consensus. Because of your shenanigans, I have to bring my 10 million pound laptop to my conference in Cambridge next week.
Which leads to me airline companies. It’s not all of you. Just the one that I happen to be flying tomorrow that charges for people to check one bag. I would say your name, but you will have my life and, more importantly, my luggage in your hands tomorrow. You took away my meals. You took away my free wings and my tour of the cockpit. And now you want me to pay to check one suitcase!!!!!!! Which I would not have to bring if I did not have to bring my laptop. Because I was planning to bring my super lite iPad.
My laptop not only weighs 10 million pounds, but it is antiquated. Plus, I dropped it a couple of years ago, and the back button has never been the same. But, now I have to bring the laptop because my conference at Harvard requires access to “Flash-enabled” websites. Which means my brilliant idea of taking one personal item and a carry-on is out the window. Because I HATE dragging a Bunch of Stuff with me when I have to change planes – and a 10 million pound laptop plus a full carry-on falls within my definition of a Bunch of Stuff.
So, now I must check a bag. And pay $25 for that checked bag. Going and coming. And they will probably lose it. And then I will be stuck at Harvard with an antique laptop and no clean underwear. And everyone at Harvard will laugh at me. Because of the horribly old laptop. They won’t know about the underwear. I hope.