Baby Freddy’s Day Out, Part 1

This is not so much a regular old blog post as it is an epic journey. We’ve got a Great Flood, foul beasts, a frightful dwarf, and a touch of the supernatural. And it’s all true.

The cast:





You can probably see where I’m going with this tale. If you are eating fudge, you might want to put it away.


In a land approximately five weeks ago, we had heavy rains for a few days straight. The dogs do not like doing their business out in rain and wet grass and mud. If they had their druthers, they would relieve themselves indoors, on the plushest of carpeting, while we hand-feed them Snausages and lavishly praise them for being good dogs. When it’s raining outside, forget it. They simply won’t go. They’ll just stand there, huddled together on the porch, pleading with their big Fievel eyes for us to please stop the animal cruelty. Our hearts break, we usher the poor babies inside, and one of them promptly takes a whiz or a shiz right on the floor in front of us. Why do they think we put them outside in the first place? To eat Snausages without them?

Accidents happen, whatever. But this one rainy eve, accidents kept happening. Brent was away for the night so it was just me, armed with a spray bottle of cleaner and a roll of toilet paper to fight the forces of fecalness.

It all started when I was getting into bed. I laid down and slid my feet under the covers…and into wetness. A quick sniff of the wet area confirmed that it was pee all over the bed and my feet. So gross. I yelled, “Who peed?” and Swoozie and Mertle scampered away to their respective safe spots – Swoozie in her crate, and Mertle on the desk chair in my office. I don’t know why she runs to the office; perhaps it is so that she has easy access to the computer in case she needs to send an SOS email to the ASPCA. Ebby doesn’t understand shame so he just sat there looking up at me and was likely listening to the calliope music that we believe plays constantly in his head. Doo doo doodooloodle. .

With pee on my feet and irritation in my heart, I trudged – as lightly as possible because I had pee on my feet – to the bathroom. Once in the hallway, I was greeted by a pile of poop. “Hello,” it said, “I am here to stink up the place!” Wonderful. “Who pooped?” I shouted sternly. Swoozie and Mertle were still hiding, but faithful little Ebby was right behind me. “Did you do this?” I asked him. He merely cocked his head.

First things first, I washed my feet. Ebby is a poop eater, so I trapped him in the bathroom with me. Then I cleaned up the Number Two and herded all the dogs downstairs to go outside. Guess what was downstairs? More of the brown stuff. Damn it, pugs! I threw the dogs outside, cleaned up the brown, then went back upstairs to take care of the peepee bed. I stripped the bedding and scrubbed the mattress, and dried it as best as I could with my hair dryer. I put clean sheets and a new blanket on the bed and went downstairs to let the dogs back in. They ran inside and I turned to go upstairs and, almost right in front of me, was another pile of excrement. Either I missed it the first time, or this was magic poo. I was starting to feel like I was in one of those scenes from a horror movie where the heroine tries to run away, but the monster appears right in front of her, and when she turns and runs in the opposite direction, there the monster is again.

I uttered my standard line, but this time with more feeling: WHO POOPED? It’s hard to bellow the word “poop” if your tendency is to drag out vowel sounds for emphasis. If you’re not careful with the enunciation, it sounds like “P-EWWW-PED.”

Got it cleaned up, then went upstairs to bed. I thought that I would be going to bed at that point. How naive of me. I’m sure you know what was waiting for me on the bedroom floor. Was it a youngish Burt Reynolds lounging nude on an animal rug? Nope, it was excrement. It was always excrement, and oh, was it smug excrement.

aghhMy eyes and nostrils bulged at this new heap. Picture Arnold Schwarzenegger’s angry face. But it gets worse. Or have I said that already? Because things wouldn’t stop getting worse. The latest ‘worse’? Swoozie hopped up on my freshly-made bed and proceeded to void her bladder. I had no words. I held up my hand as if to tell Swoozie, her urine, and the excrement on the floor to talk to the hand. Words still failing me, and needing to get away from the furry doo-doo machines, I left the bedroom and headed to my office. I needed a safe place, a stool-free zone in which to take a few deep breaths and collect myself before beginning the next round of cleaning.

I walked into the office and – there was poop on the floor. I immediately exited the office.

Back in the hallway, all three dogs were now standing side-by-side, watching me. They seemed to be saying, “Um, are you busy? Cuz I could really go for a Snausage right now…”


*Yes, there is MORE to this story. My friends, we are only a third of the way through. Fortunately for everyone, this is the end of the turdy portion.

It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy

In my last post, I wrote about an episode of Little House on the Prairie where Pa has to take a crap job. Refresher:


Note that his job is to hold the drill while somebody else swings the sledge hammer. This would have made a great arcade game – Whack-A-Pa.

I have never had a sledge hammer whizzing by my head, but I do have some cred when it comes to undesirable jobs. I worked in a plastics factory where my job was to get burned by plastic cups coming down the line. I have cleaned up excrement left behind by strangers. I have hauled rocks on a makeshift sled while cows stared at me. I worked at McDonalds during the Beanie Baby Happy Meal craze, where it was not uncommon to witness adult customers descending into grief and madness upon learning that the monkey beanie was all sold out and all we had left was the crab.

worstjobBut the worst job of all, the job out of all the others that I hated the most, the job where if you told me that I had to go back and work it, I would be so displeased I would probably toss you in a vat of acid so that I could pretend our conversation had never happened, that job would be….

Chester Cheetah. That’s right, the cool-guy cheetah and mascot of cheese-flavored puffed corn snacks. My fate crossed paths with Chester’s when I was hired to be him for the grand opening of the Super Walmart in my hometown. My job description:

  • Wear Chester Cheetah costume
  • Dance around, greet customers, and promote an atmosphere of celebration
  • Hand out free  mini-bags of Cheetos to any children who weren’t scared of me

Based on those details, it’s a total dream job. However. That costume was hot as balls.  I had to wear a furry, long-sleeved, footed-pajama getup, clown shoes, gloves, and a headpiece that fully engulfed my own head. This was in August in Kansas, where it gets so hot and muggy, the heat waves are sweating. Right now it’s August and here is what has to say about today:


Sure, I was inside the Walmart, but I was stationed in the entryway where the outside’s 100-degree heat billowed in every time the automatic doors opened, which happened all day long. Grand opening of Super Walmart in a small town = endless stream of shoppers. The air conditioning didn’t stand a chance against those odds. There was a little fan inside the Cheetah’s headpiece, but it conked out early on.

Gumby was also there that day, and the guy inside that costume mentioned a few times how his fan was working just fine. Jerk.

No fan, weak AC, and having to dance around meant that I was wretchedly hot all day long. I have never sweat that much in my life. My hair was soaked, my clothes were drenched. There were smells coming off my body that I didn’t recognize; possibly…it was the stench of human flesh being steamed alive. It seemed the day would never end and I lamented the fact that I wasn’t overheated to the point of feeling ill. Heat exhaustion would give me a legitimate reason to hang up the Chester head early.

Then an idea occurred to me. I could feign heat exhaustion and pretend to faint! I nixed the thought immediately, though. You are not the kind of person who fake-faints, I scolded myself. I had to agree with myself; I had more pride than that. But heat and sweat and an excruciating stream of Adult Contemporary music on the loudspeaker can break a person. As time failed to wear on, I started plotting out the Big Swoon. I’d wait until there were enough people around to see me drop, but not so crowded that nobody would notice. I would wave at a group of shoppers, do a dance move like the Mashed Potato or perhaps the Walk Like an Egyptian. Once I had their attention, I’d pause, raise one costume-bound wrist to my forehead, and then collapse. I figured that the inherent cushioning of the outfit would allow me to fall realistically and safely. The shoppers would rush towards me, pry the Chester head off me, and I’d pretend to regain consciousness. “Water,” I would whisper. Somebody would help me stand up and the crowd would break into applause. I’d wave at them as I was escorted to the back room, where I’d be honorably discharged from the costume and maybe even given a popsicle to help me cool down. The hypothetical popsicle might have been what pushed me over the edge. I decided to carry out the plan.

The first time a good moment to faint presented itself, I chickened out and afterward decreed that that was just a practice round and that the next time, the next time,  I would really go through with it. To make it easier, I decided to skip the theatrics and go straight for the swoon.

Tensed and ready for action, I watched and waited for the right moment in the same way a batter holds for the perfect pitch. My home-run opportunity eventually came. The store was experiencing a lull and there were cashiers and cart wranglers standing around, and a small group of people had just come through the door. It was a ripe opportunity that had to be timed just right – the customers had to be close enough to see me, but if I waited too long and they passed me, all would be lost.

My heart pounding, I lurched forward, bent my knees, and…froze. I stared at the floor tiles and urged myself, “Now, go, do it! Fall, you chicken, fall!” It’s a strange moment, when you find yourself giving yourself a  motivational talk in order to fake-faint. I looked at the shoppers coming toward me, nondescript people who just wanted to see the new Super Walmart and who were oblivious to the Chester Cheetah mini-drama that was about to transpire right in front of them. I just couldn’t do it. With a sigh, I straightened my legs, did a Michael Jackson twirl, and gave them their free Cheetos.

Nice thing was, all that scheming made time go by a teensy bit faster and my shift finally ended. And even though it was a one-day job, to this day it feels like I was there for 40 years. I would love to know, what is the worst job you have ever worked? Can you top Chester?

Little House on the Prairie S1E3: The Hundred Mile Walk

Oh, butterballs. It’s high time I got back in the Michael Landon groove, a groove from which no one should stray too far from in the first place. And speaking of straying, the next  episode up is The Hundred Mile Walk, where Pa strays from the homestead to work a doozy of job.

More on that in a minute. First we have to talk about how the beginning of this episode was very emotional for me. It wasn’t because of the heavy rains that destroyed Pa’s wheat crop and also the hopes and dreams of the whole family. No, I was upset because it was supposed to be a grasshopper plague that ruins the harvest.

How distraught was I over this omission? Remember in Poltergeist when all hell is breaking loose and Craig T. Nelson is screaming at the greedy land developer for moving the headstones and not the bodies? That’s how I felt. I wanted to grab NBC by the lapels and say, “It was supposed to rain grasshoppers, you sonsabitches! It was supposed to rain grasshoppers and not water!

From On the Banks of Plum Creek (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1937):

The cloud was hailing grasshoppers. The cloud was grasshoppers. Their bodies hid the sun and made darkness. Their thin, large wings gleamed and glittered. The rasping whirring of their wings filled the whole air and they hit the ground and the house with noise of a hailstorm. (194-195)

You can’t read that shit as a child and not have it stay with you forever. One minute you’re reading about little girls jumping off haystacks and what Ma wore to church, and then all of a sudden a raging grasshopper swarm blots out the sun.

Laura tried to beat them off. Their claws clung to her skin and her dress. They looked at her with bulging eyes, turning their heads this way and that. Mary ran screaming into the house. Grasshoppers covered the ground, there was not one bare bit to step on. Laura had to step on grasshoppers and they smashed squirming and slimy under her feet. (195)

Freaky! The grasshopper chapters were so strange and unexpected, it felt as though Laura Ingalls Wilder decided to throw down some speculative fiction in the middle of all her prairie goodness. Who would have guessed that the grasshopper invasion was a real thing? I didn’t know we lived in a world where such things happened.

But happen, it did. The grasshoppers were actually Rocky Mountain Locusts and they tore up Minnesota and other Great Plains states starting in 1874. There were so many of them, they wiped out fields and stopped trains. Chickens gorged on them (the way I would stuff my face if there was ever a mashed potato swarm), and then when it came time to cook and eat the chickens, they tasted all funny… all grasshoppery. Then cold weather came and the grasshoppers died, but not before laying their eggs and setting up the sequel: Son of Rocky Mountain Locust Plague, which debuted the following spring. 

The cartoon below, drawn by Kansas artist Henry Worrall, illustrates the formidability of the grasshoppers. 

Also worth noting, Henry Worrall is attractive, in a bowtied, Marquis de Sade kind of way.

I suppose I understand why the grasshoppers were left out of the TV show. A crushing horde of grasshoppers probably would have been out of budget for NBC, not to mention ecologically unsound. Still, they could have figured something else out, like filming it in stop-motion. Imagine it, a claymation pestilence. My heart is breaking all over again.

Enough about the grasshoppers though, let’s talk about TV Ingalls. I talk a lot of trash on Pa, but I understand what he was going through in this episode. Not that I have ever experienced a failed crop just a few days short of harvest, but, like Pa, I have felt the sting of not getting money that I have been counting on. For instances, I have my lottery winnings completely spent in my head, but have I won yet? Not even a half pence. Have I ever actually played the lottery? Again, no, but that is also part of my lottery-winning fantasy – I just get handed the money, without actually having to figure out how to fill out that little card that looks like the answer sheet for a standardized test. That’s the dream, man. 

That’s not a perfect analogy because the big storm in this week’s episode is pretty much the opposite of winning the lottery. It ruins the livelihoods of all the Walnut Grove farmers and they come knocking on Mr. Hanson’s (the town miller) door to beg for loans. One guy says, “I’ll even pay you interest!” Mr. Hanson tells them, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Leave me alone, you broke-ass fools.” I mean, he says it as nicely as possible and then explains how they are all screwed, not just the farmers. I felt sorry for all of them, especially the guy with the sick wife and five kids. On the verge of tears, he tells Hansen that he has no idea what he’s going to do if Hansen doesn’t lend him the money. I thought to myself, “Yikes, what is he going to do?” But then I cheered up somewhat after it occurred to me that at least there is always prostitution. He could hook his way through the lean times. Right or wrong, that’s what cheered me up.

To make enough money for the family to get through the winter, Pa decides to set out on foot looking for work. The fam makes a big to-do about Pa’s boots being in bad shape, but Pa thinks they’ll hold up. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.

The next scene gives us brand-spanking new characters, another family hit hard by the grasshoppers storm. The dad, a sassy ginger, is also setting out to get work, and the mother, a sassy ginger, is not pleased about it. Although the job itself is not revealed, she makes the work sounds dangerous. Foreshadowing abounds when the father says, “I’ll be coming back to farm for the rest of my life.” Clearly, this dude is going to die.

Pa and Ginger Dad meet each other on the road and they become instant besties. Later they show a little kindness to another traveler who just so happens to be a boot maker and just so happens to be carrying around a pair in Pa’s size. How coincidental! These are nice boots, too, like the kind you can buy at the Renaissance Festival. They bond around a campfire and Ginger Dad tells them he is headed to a place where jobs are available, but the work is hard and dangerous. Pa and Bootsie don’t have any other job prospects so they decide to along. 

The employment ends up being at a rock quarry, where Pa and Bootsie land the positions of Human Jackhammer Associates. They form a “Double Jack” team, where their job is to drill holes in big rocks. so that dynamite can be put in the holes to blow the rocks into smaller pieces. The workflow goes like this:  one man crouches and holds a drill (the chisel? the wedge?) in place while the other hits the drill with this enormous sledgehammer. They switch places so that the swinger can take a “break” by holding the drill. As Ginger Dad explains it, the man wielding the hammer needs a good eye, and the man holding the drill needs strong nerves. If the man with the hammer misses, the man holding the drill will “have to pick his nose with his elbow.” Somebody gets these people some automation, please! jobs The show gleefully demonstrates just how appalling this job is, and then draws out a bunch of tension when Pa and Bootsie go up to bat. Even though I knew that Pa isn’t going to lose his hands over this job, I was still in suspense. I made Brent watch this scene and he said that it looked like the actors were really doing the double jacking.

Bootsie hesitates when it is his turn to swing the hammer, but then Pa winks at him and that Michael Landon magic gives Bootsie the confidence he needs to do the job. They go on to become the top team and even win the cash prize in the Double Jack (ahem) Off. That is, a competition among the double jack teams to see who is the best.

After the Double Jack Off, Ginger Dad unsurprisingly gets blown up by dynamite. No spin-off for him.

The subplot was Ma trying to salvage the wheat crop. She rallies the other farmer ladies and comes up with a system for hauling the wheat in and beating it with brooms to dry it out. She works hard in this episode, too, but  we’re never told what happens with Ma’s harvest. Yo, LHOTP, Ma’s work is just as important as Pa’s.

This episode was meh. No grasshoppers, I was not moved to tears, the subplot was not resolved, and there were way too many shots of armpit sweat.

Dog Park Point

In my house, invoking the words dog and park will cause hysteria among the canine population. You mention the words and they run in circles, wiggle, whine, jump on each other, jump on me, and follow me from room to room like ducklings.

You don’t say dog park unless you mean business. If you’re going to talk about the dog park but not actually go, you have to call it the D.P.

Going to the D.P. makes me happy, too. There is a scenic spot with a tiny waterfall.



Lawrence, KS dog park

Lawrence, KS dog park

It took me two years of going to the dog park to even find the water, and now that I know where I’m going, I feel like I’m in the know.  No, even better, I feel like I’m at The Point. Let me explain the wonder and mystery of the Point. When I was middle school/freshman age, all the cool kids swam at this watering hole somewhere in the woods near the public pool. You’d hear them casually mention swimming at “The Point” as they called it and then you’d jump in and ask for exact directions and they’d just give you an enigmatic shrug and walk away.The Point was an elusive devil, a symbolic representation of popularity and ‘cool kid’ status.  I could never reach it, despite multiple attempts. Possibly the Point was a mystical dimension and I simply was not hip enough for it to reveal itself to me.

But now I have my own Point, thank you very much. The Dog Park Point. Now play in your head the opening chords of “Bad to the Bone” and you’ll really get the picture of me being cool at the D.P.

Here are some pictures from a recent dog park excursion.

pug, dog park




Swoozie is such a good little model; she will always stop and pose for me. I’m not so lucky with the other two. Upon exiting the car, Mertle loses her mind and is physically unable to stop running around long enough for a picture. She’s like the Hyper Hypo on SNL.


Then there’s Ebby, who is constantly in the state of pooping. That is no joke. I have so many pictures of Ebby deucing it up at the dog park that I would probably end up on a Poop Perv watchlist if the wrong person ever got a glimpse of my hard drive.

Ebby hates getting his paws wet, but if everyone else is wading in the water, Ebby will follow.


I can see why Ebby might not feel like swimming for fun. According to his Facebook page, he’s always fighting ocean crime and patrolling the waves in his Water Ferarri.


Sometimes, though, he’ll get in the water without the lobster getup. Either way, he’s pretty cute.



Ebby’s Facebook page is here, and he needs friends! In case you’re wondering, Ebby’s FB comes heartily endorsed by Art Linkletter.


You can’t argue with Mr. Linkletter. Trust me.

No More Swirlies



So, I’ve got angst.

I can’t go into too many details just yet, but suffice to say that this is real-world, big-time goings-onsesses. This isn’t me being bummed because I watched the scene in the Neverending Story where Artax drowns in the Swamp of Sorrow. Or the scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit where the cute little cartoon shoe is dipped slowly to its death in the acid bath. Even though both cause me a great deal of anguish.

My deal isn’t life or death, though. My loved ones are all healthy and safe. Brent and I are cool, especially after our big talk where I told him I don’t like it when he pokes his finger in my belly button. For years, I’d just squirm away when it happened, but I finally grabbed his pointed finger just as it was about to enter the button zone and said, “You know what? I don’t like the belly button swirlies. People die from such pokes. And, it’s kind of rude when you smell your finger afterwards.”*

It took a few times of telling him this for the message to sink in, but now my belly button is blissfully free of Brent’s finger. My home life is happy. Brent and I hang out on the loveseat with our 50 billion dogs and life can’t get much better in those moments.

A wise cross stitch pattern once asked God to grant it the serenity to change some stuff and accept other things and so on…and you can see where I am headed with this. There are certain aspects of my life that I have no control over. I will always be the best Dr. Mario player in the world. I can’t help that. I also must accept that my nose is like a leaky faucet when it comes to snot, which I believe is a consequence of a youthful phase I went through where I was constantly making myself sneeze.

I think I’m going to start cross stitching.

As for the things that I have the power to change – well, I don’t always follow through. Like my hair, which is is looking like the crazy-hair wigs worn by movie actors who are playing cavemen. I know it looks all smooth in the picture I posted, but that was awhile ago. Of course, I can change my hair. But with easy tasks like that, I just think, “Eh, tomorrow I’ll make an appointment.” And maybe that is what I do with everything. Just put it off until it either goes away or becomes enough of a problem that action must be taken.

I think the source of my angst – my angst hole, if you will – is all about inaction and, I don’t know, not being all that accountable or proactive. This is not the internal ache of depression; instead I feel alert and ready to make stuff happen.

Maybe in the near future I will be able to be more specific, but for now you are welcome to speculate. I’ll give you a hint. Rocky Horror Picture Show. Just kidding, that’s not a real hint.

*Footnote time, or else Brent is going to be like, “Why didn’t you tell them about some of your annoying habits that vex me?” And I would respond, “Because this isn’t about your angst, Brent, it’s about mine.” But I’ll throw Future Brent a bone here. A couple weekends ago he told me that he feels like he is always cleaning up after me. My stellar comeback was, “No way because I’m always cleaning up after you!”  He asked me to give him some examples and I couldn’t think of any but I knew there were at least 7. I set forth cleaning the lower level of the house in an indignant manner. I figured this would jog my memory and provide me with plenty of examples of his systematic slovenliness. Unfortunately for me, the list I came up with was paltry. I had to stretch yogurt cups and yogurt lids into two entries. Same with coffee beans and coffee stains. This was not the comeuppance I had hoped to deliver. The list was so disappointing that I had to add PUBES just to make myself feel better.


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