The Jiffy Pop Experiment

Anyone who owns a cat already knows that difficult challenges are daily hurdles that one must somehow get over.   Living with a cat like Annie, hurdle days are good days because they are few and far between, normally it’s hills, mountains, and volcanos to get over every day.   Cats like Annie don’t do just typical cat annoyances like knocking stuff off the counter or playing tag at 3 am or leaving dead animals at the side of your bed so you step on it.  She does all of that but takes it a hundred steps further.

It all began with Annie breaking another microwave.   Over the years she has put quite a few of them out of commission.    Like the time she put her blow dryer into it to warm the handle, or the time she was trying to invent some super strong glue made out of maple syrup and gasoline (she is still working on that one and says she is close to a break through). The time she was trying to use it as an incubator for a dozen eggs she had picked up at the local market and most recently trying to melt silverware figuring if the words stainless steal were melted away she could sell it for actual silver.

I gave up and vowed not to get another one.   We only used it for popcorn anyway and there are other ways to make popcorn.    When the pop corn cravings set in, I grabbed a package of popcorn the kind you can make on the stove.    Annie Jr. begged for the Jiffy Pop kind.   Annie told him that it was THE coolest way to make pop corn and he just had to have it.  I agreed but with the condition that neither of them use the stove to pop it without my supervision; they agreed and I bought it.

Annie Jr. had promised Annie the pop corn would be an event they would share.   Annie Jr. was quite anxious to see how it worked but Annie was having her girls night out with Duh-Wayne, Kiko, Maddie, Allie, Chad, Aunt Paulie and a few other friends.   I was left with an inconsolable Annie Jr. who sobbed and sobbed over the popcorn and kept watching out the window for his beloved Mom-mom to return.

Even with the constant sobbing going on, and repeated phone calls to Annie’s voice mail with Annie Jr. screaming, “Mom-mom get home it’s an emergency!”; I kept drifting off to sleep.    I had to work the next morning.   Finally around mid-night, after calling Annie’s phone myself a few times, and Duh-Wayne’s, and Kiko’s, and Maddie’s and Allie’s and Chad’s and Aunt Paulie’s and several others, I told Annie Jr. he would have to wait until the next day because I was going to sleep.

Now what happened after I went to sleep, is what caused all the problems.    Annie returned shortly after I fell asleep.   She claimed she tried to wake me up, but I wonder how true her story was, it seems I would have awoken at some point.   Annie had ways of disrupting my sleep patterns making me have crazy dreams or putting me so deeply asleep that a train driving over my body would not even cause me to sigh in my sleep.   I suspect the latter is what happened.

Since Annie was unable to wake me and since Annie Jr. was so impatient; Annie decided to disobey me and make the popcorn without me.   She claimed later that they had merely agreed not to make it on the stove top and since I said absolutely nothing about making it in the oven she figured she was not doing anything wrong other than pleasing her son and if I had woken up none of it would have happened.   It was further all my fault because I was too cheap to buy an oven with a light bulb inside, for it if had a light bulb none of it would have happened.   Not only was Annie Jr., unable to see the jiffy pop pop in the dark oven, Annie successfully burned the only package of jiffy pop to a crisp.

Annie Jr. went off into one of his terrible one’s tantrums, throwing himself on the floor, kicking and screaming.   Waking everyone in the neighborhood up, except for me.    Then it happened, Annie got an idea, an awful idea, but one she hoped would soothe her crying child.

What was jiffy pop, she thought, other than popcorn kernels packed  in something that would expand.  She grabbed the package of popcorn and looked around for something that would expand; stomachs expand she guessed correctly.    With that knowledge she inserted a gastro tube she had collected on one of Duh-Wayne’s medical visits, and ran it from my mouth to my stomach and blew each and every piece of popcorn into my stomach, then using a blow dryer set to extra hot she popped it right inside of me making me look like a huge lumpy piece of popcorn.

That wasn’t even the worst part.  I mean I could totally deal with looking like a huge lumpy piece of popcorn but there was so much of it, and it was packed in so tight only surgery could fix it.   Annie claimed I should have been grateful because I got a free day off from work, actually quite a few days, but it didn’t make me feel any better.

Even worse, was having Annie,  Annie Jr. and Duh-Wayne hanging out all day with me at the hospital from 9am to 9 pm.  Since Duh-Wayne became Annie’s personal driver because Annie accidently flushed her glasses down the toilet and couldn’t see, I had to get used to him visiting as well.

Every day was the same thing and each day ran into the next.  There was nothing to look forward to, the nurses came at the same time, the same shows were on at the same time, the food came at the same time and the menu never varied.

Typical of any gastro surgery, you have a diet that starts with zero on the menu and gradually food is added, like water, broth and jello.   Even though you are starving to death it all looks, smells and tastes gross and then when you can get something good like chocolate ice cream, you eat one bite and feel as if you had a 10 course meal with a double dessert.

Even though Duh-Wayne and the Annie’s came daily often bringing a special guest star(s) as a surprise visitor(s), like the homeless duck in our neighborhood, the dog I saw from a car window while on vacation in another state with my family in the early 80’s, the great great great great great grandson of a hamster I once owned from the 70’s, three girls who knew a guy who knew a guy who was related to another guy that who had a cousin who saw Captain Kangaroo live in concert, there still wasn’t much to look forward to.    Duh-Wayne chain smoked next to a bunch of oxygen tanks, Annie Jr. jumped around the room with his pogo stick making sure every other jump was on my bed, until I forbid him to use it and then he tied springs to his feet continuing to jump and sing ‘the wonderful thing about Annie”.   Annie dressed in a white lab coat ran around the hospital, picking up useful information about other patients, staff and visitors and would come back at the end of the evening with large pizza’s or hamburgers or something equally delicious smelling and share it with Duh-Wayne, Annie Jr. and the woman in the bed next to me (not me though because I was not allowed to have it) and regale them with tales about others.

She also got in the habit of bringing back large ice cream sundae’s heavily laden with multiple kinds of syrup, sprinkles, nuts, candy and whipped cream and sharing with that with the woman in the next bed as well.   No one could figure out why her sugar registered so high, it was almost as high as Duh-Wayne’s.    But as Annie always said about her own die-a-beat-us…”I can have a little bit of sugar,” when someone called her out as she reached for a chocolate bar then took and ate nine of them.

When I was finally able to eat, even though the food tasted good, I was only able to consume a little at a time.   Then Annie mixed up her chocolate and her ex-lax.   Not only both Annie’s and Duh-Wayne got diarrhea, but the lady in the next bed did as well.   Since she was unable to get out of bed, she had to use a bed pan and always had to go right during meal times.    I could actually see the smell come over and envelope my food.

Annie took full credit for the few pounds I lost.    Claiming the whole jiffy pop experiment was planned for this reason and this reason only thus relieving herself of any guilt she may have had, but didn’t over the fact I was in pain, my intestines would never be the same, I’d need another job to pay for the medical bills not to mention, I would be incapacitated for awhile.   Annie also took glorified credit to the fact that I now had a nice long summer vacation.

I was finally allowed to leave the hospital and begin that vacation.  Thus ending the saga of the Jiffy Pop experiment but the beginning of Annie Nightingale.




April Foolish Easter

Easter, another holiday where Annie lavished herself and her son with basket, after basket filled with every kind of egg decorated with gold paint and jewels, candy, toys, money. It was the kind of holiday when Annie felt a flock of baby ducks, and a herd of baby lambs, and little chickens snuggled with new born bunnies to keep warm, were at the top of her ‘need to get’ list.

This Easter also happened to fall on a special day for Annie. First, it fell on April 1st which was the day Annie had married her ferret wife Gladys. Normally Annie would spend part of April Fool’s Day, mourning the death of Gladys, even though, Gladys (the ghost ferret) stopped by quite frequently.

“That is what you do,” Annie had remarked one year as she mourned; while Gladys sat nearby. drinking a cup of ghostly tea; she seemed to enjoy Annie’s relentless wails of grief.

The latter part of April Fool’s day was spent pranking everyone. My phone would ring repeatedly, Annie’s custom ring tone would yell, “Slam it’s me Annie.” I would answer the phone knowing Annie would be at the other end asking, “YOU ODOR EGG ROW?” She wasn’t very good at it.

Since the holiday’s fell together this year and since both were a first for Annie Jr., Annie decided it must be special and Annie Jr. seemed to have brought Annie out of her normal April 1st Day funk. Oddly Annie decided to take Annie Jr. on vacation for the Easter holiday.

I was a little sad thinking I would miss Annie Jr.’s first Easter, relieved as I would avoid a basket full of raw rotten Easter eggs, that were still wet with the exterior wall paint Annie used to color them with.

But Annie had that coupon from the failing golf course and she wanted to take advantage of it before it expired, so she packed up her customized golf cart shaped like a pile of poop complete with stink, stink lines and flies. It putted along expelling a fart like noise as it moved forward and an obnoxious smell was emitted even worse than the obnoxious smell that was already present. And she packed up Annie Jr.

Annie Jr. who could not possibly leave his pet wolf home for even one night and Annie Jr.’s basket of Easter Eggs, some good, some raw, some rotten, some ready to hatch, some unknown species and ready to hatch. Then of course, no trip would be complete without a driver.

But Annie for some reason really liked driving the poop golf cart, standing on her hind feet steering it with her front paws , laughing like a crazy lunatic when an obnoxious smell, smelled even more obnoxious than ‘normal’. So Duh-Wayne, rode shot gun, making himself useful. Annie Jr. had several bags of prank eggs he was painting to look like golf balls, Duh-Wayne was helping.

Duh-Wayne’s family, “Duh-Difficult” he was called by them, was not really happy he was going to be gone over the holiday. Curry had a melt down asking who was going to wear the traditional Easter Bunny costume and hop around the back yard planting eggs filled with $20 bills, winning lottery tickets, $100 gift cards, silver and gold in very obvious places for good little girls with names like Abe and Bryan to find. Spam, who had Annie sitting on one knee and Annie Jr. on her other, said in a cold harsh voice, “I think you are spending just a little bit too much time with this ‘Annie’ person.” “Yeah, Duh-Wayne,” Annie echoed.

They all even pointed out that Duh-Wayne didn’t even play golf, however Duh-Wayne just shrugged and said, “It’s free!” As if that was all that mattered, since Annie was paying.

It didn’t really matter anyway, before Abe and Bryan even wiped the sleep out of their eyes, on Easter morn, Duh-Wayne was home; the trip suddenly cut short.

It happened this way, Annie decided since it was April Fool’s day that she should trade golf carts.  They were about half way through the course when Annie spotted a golf cart with what she called a ‘precedental seel’ on it.

“It was just sitting there empty,” Annie explained to me later.

Leaving the poop cart behind, the trio if you didn’t count the wolf, headed onto the next hole.   It was Duh-Wayne’s turn.   Annie Jr. placed the ball on the tee and Duh-Wayne gave it a healthy whack.   Instead of the ball busting on impact and emitting a horrible stench or freeing a baby bird or baby reptile, the ball actually flew through the air.

Duh-Wayne made a hole in one, however it wasn’t the right hole.   It was a rabbit hole, a big rabbit hole, a rabbit hole owned by an important rabbit.

Now every single person knows that the Easter Bunny has a huge candy making factory in a hole under the ground.   All year he and his barn yard or woodland friends or a combination of both depending on who is telling the story,  lay eggs and make candy.  Every single person also knows that although Walmart and dollar stores and grocery stores and drug store sell the exact same candy, the jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, and eggs filled with yolky looking sweetness are 100 times better when made in the factory beneath the earth and delivered to your basket by a rabbit pushing a wheel barrow filled with candy through the night to well behaved children.

It was that rabbit and that hole where Duh-Wayne got his first and only hole in one.   Now having a ball zoom through the air at top speed and land in your hole can cause a great deal of damage.    Thank goodness, the bunny and his friends had left on vacation as soon as the last egg was hidden and no one was hurt.

Had the ball simply landed in the hole the damage would have been substantial, but fixable.   This ball exploded.   It exploded because it was April Fool’s Day and everyone had prank balls.

After that Annie decided she had her 50 cents off worth and turned around the cart with the ‘precedental seel’ on it.   She found her poop cart a short ways behind her, a baby duck, a baby turtle, and a baby lizard sat on the seat.   A short distance away was a man with yellow hair in tan pants, white shirt and red hat  shaking his golf club screaming, “WHY DO MY BALLS STINK?” whenever he teed off.

Duh-Wayne and the Annie’s along with the wolf and poop cart teleported home a short time later.   Annie had business to conduct.   She called the Easter Bunny and offered him a hole on her golf course which wasn’t failing and wasn’t exploded.   It was a win win for Annie.    She got rent money for a hole in the ground and the yard smelled like marshmallow shaped chickens covered with pastel colored sugar.

Duh-Wayne got to dress as a deranged Easter Bunny and hide eggs for Abe and Bryan. I got to enjoy Annie Jr. on his first Easter.   He and Annie both sitting on a mountain of candy gobbling it as fast as their mouths could move.

It was a April Foolish Easter.


Happy Birfday

The planning had been going on for a year, the ‘birfday’ trees had been planted March 23rd of 17.   I had assumed at the time, Annie was merely greedy with the tree that grew for an entire year and sprouted gifts after 365 days give or take and had planted an extra because somehow 15 trees were not enough.      I knew now it was all planned in advance and the second tree was for Annie Jr.

The giant cake was planned and constructed with plans Annie and Duh-Wayne drew with a compass, a protractor and a straight edge.   Spam pinned it shared it and Annie loved it and announced she ‘just had to use this idea for her special little guy’s first birthday.’

Packages had been arriving since Valentine’s Day had ended and it was getting confusing with Easter right on the tail end of a ‘Birfday’.   How Annie kept track of which packages were ‘Birfday’ ones and which were Easter ones, I am not sure; Annie never opened any of them because she wanted to be surprised.

Balloons were bought, goodie bags were fill then loaded onto the back of a flat bed truck and the back end of a red Chevy, fences and  a barn were constructed for a petting zoo complete with a pond for the baby ducks and the new born hippo, who Annie fed a bottle of hay to several times a day.   Duh-Wayne said it was a pooping gold mine.

Clowns were interviewed.     Annie hired an orange faced one named Spanky, he also ran a circus so Annie got more for her money, plus she got 50 cent coupon for an overnight stay in some failing golf course.   She was pleased, she loved driving golf carts.

A merry-go round was erected, tables littered the back yard, each covered with an array of different  themed  table cloths, plates and cups because the Annie’s could never make up their minds and had to have all the themes.   A pile of birthday cards stacked up in a large pile waiting to be opened and raided for money before being tossed in the burn pile unread but appreciated, nevertheless.

Stages filled a field as several bands fought for a place on one of them to sing a special ‘birfday’ song for the Annie’s.    Only the best were granted the pleasure.   I was worried when two guys showed up to play; introducing themselves as 40 year old stepbrothers, and they kept asking if this was Catalina Moose Made mixer.

AnnieTV had been counting down the days for weeks at midnight of March 23rd, sirens began going off and the tv screaming breaking news, that the Annie’s ‘birfday’ party had officially began and fireworks began going off in the back yard.    Would I ever get a full night’s rest.

“It’s my BIRFDAY!” Annie Jr. screamed landing on the bed the second, Annie’s coo-coo clock, came alive and a Wood pecker popped out and laughed long and loud twelve times.

“Annie Jr. it’s birthday,” I sighed stressing the ‘thuuu’ sound.

“It’s your ‘birfday’ too?” Annie Jr. screamed stressing the ‘fuuu’ sound.

“No Annie Jr. her ‘birfday’ is in MuuuMuuuMuuay not MuuuMuuuMuuarch.   And since that is when it is MuuuMuuuMuuuother’s day we skip it.” Annie announced.

I was just getting ready to explain when, Annie Jr. screamed “I’m one Grandfather!”

He jumped directly on his grandfather’s face and stifled a snore.  “Happy ‘Birfday’ grandson!” Grandfather said sitting up fully awake even though seconds before he had been sleeping through ear splitting noise as the Annie’s special day dawned.

I skipped explaining it because Grandfather was already pleading the Annie’s case to open one little thing before breakfast rolling a present laden hay wagon through the door and then another.

I got up and began making breakfast.   It was a work day however Annie’s birthday had somehow become a National Holiday.   It was paid, however your pay was transferred to Annie’s account.     If you happened to have a job where you had to work like a Nurse or a fireman, or a white house lawyer, you got double time and a half, and transferred double time and a half right straight to Annie.   It was her ‘birfday’ and people were glad to do it.

I honestly would have rather worked, but I was forced to cook breakfast, it was part of a legal agreement I was black mailed into signing; while the Annie’s tore open presents in the middle of the kitchen, filling the floor quickly with discarded wrapping paper.    Annie screamed over the new addition to her booger collection.  Annie Jr. covered grandfather with purrs and cuddles over his new live werewolf.

I glared at grandfather, who I had distinctly forbid to buy it.  He looked at me sheepishly shrugged and said, “I had one when I was a boy.”

“You did NOT!” I yelled.

Duh-Wayne and Spam arrived, blowing the siren of the fire truck Duh-Wayne had borrowed from Annie, to deliver the hoard of presents he had gotten. They came early because they had a cake to create.   Annie was already dragging out the mixer to beat a large bowl of something brown and quite ripe smelling to peaked points.

Duh-Wayne and Spam were dragging a large pan up the stairs, they could hardly get the thing through the door.   There was no way they were getting that in the oven, however, once Annie poured the icky mixture into it, in no time, Spam worked some kind of magic, and got it into the oven.    By that time, breakfast was ready.

Special mouse shaped ‘birfday’ pancakes for all were set on the table and everyone began gobbling and talking with their mouths full, food projectiles passing from one mouth to another; everyone but me.   Whatever flavor cake, Annie was baking, it smelled a lot like some kind of animal waste, that and the pleasant table manner’s made dieting very easy.

Just then Duh-Wayne, pushed his chair across the floor, farting and yelling, “Jet POWER!”  Everyone was laughing and clapping except me; suddenly angered at myself for getting kitchen chairs with wheels.   The kitchen floor looked like a race track now because of the jet powered chairs.

Before dishes were even washed, the caterers arrived.   A band of badgers dressed in white jackets and a real hyena sou chef trooped into the back yard.    Annie couldn’t possibly cook on her own birthday and there was no way I was going to make pulled road kill, and stink cabbage rolls.

Spam announced the cake was baked and with multiple pot holders  Annie, Spam and Duh-Wayne squeezed the huge hot cake through the door and out to the back yard to cool and decorate before the guests began to arrive at 7 am.   For a cat that appears to sleep all day, Annie seemed to never get an ounce of it, with her active lifestyle.

I watched from the window as the trio in the back yard removed the pan from the cake.  It was shaped like an enormous pile of poop.   Now I knew what flavor it was.   I backed away from the window reminding myself, it was a perfect time to begin a diet.

By 8 am the party was in full swing.   Annie’s posting of her epic cake fail, signaled the beginning.   She had put the eyes of the poop on the bottom the mouth on the top and the eyes were crossed other wise it simply looked like a gigantic pile of poop with an upside down face.

Food was eaten, presents and cards piled up, kids lined up to ride an Ostrich named Al and a giraffe named Shorty, people danced, ate, mingled and jumped in a bouncy house shaped like poop.

At high noon, the band began to play, and everyone cleared their throats and began to sing, “Happy Birfday” to the Annie’s.   I watched upstairs in the comfort of my living room.  It was broadcast on AnnieTV.     I would have preferred to watch something else, but Annie still had not given up the password for the parental block.

It was sort of weird hearing the singing coming out of the tv and coming from the back yard because the tv seemed to be on a two second delay.   So I actually heard everyone screaming and clapping before I saw the top of the cake open.   Slowly from the center of the cake, something began to rise.   It was Duh-Wayne dressed as a piece of corn coming out of the center of a poop cake, and the most epic fail of all, Duh-Wayne was dressed not only as a piece of corn it was candy corn.

More presents than any cat ever deserved littered the back yard, leftover plates covered with drips of bbq sauce, a half eaten poop cake, left over goodie bags, and popped balloons, became mine to pick up and put away after the party ended.   Annie Jr. was curled in a pile of wrapping paper, his whiskers covered with poop frosting, his werewolf snuggled close.  They both snored.

Annie was preparing for her best gift of all.   She and her Aunt Dinyell, had tickets to a concert.   Rod was coming and it was Annie’s dream to hear her favorite singer sing her favorite songs, live, in front of her, hopefully in a speedo.

With the back yard clean finally and Annie Jr. happily watching tv with his werewolf, (he named him Eddie), I settled down with him, smiling sheepishly at Eddie who growled.   I was baby sitting while Annie went to the concert.   I was happy to do it, the other choice was to go with Annie.

Annie left dressed in an appalling amount of make-up dressed in a short black skirt.  I got a text from her right before bed.   It was a picture of Annie and Din-yell dressed identically with Hay-Seuss dressed the same as Annie and Din-yell but in male attire along with Rod in a speedo.   Annie’s birfday wish had come true.   And so did Annie Jr.’s as he snuggled close to me on one side and Eddie on the other.





Scamming Annie

“Shut the front door!” Annie screamed one morning at the breakfast table, then jumped up. Her sludge sloshing out of her favorite, Garfield coffee cup with a thump on the table. Her toast points she was dipping in rat juice eggs (I am not sure what that even is), flipped plate and all into the air and landed on the table upside down.

Annie upset the chair she was sitting in as well. “Oh MY GAWD!” she screamed, jumping up and down.

She was shrieking like a siren. “Annie for heaven sakes what is wrong?” I cried.

“My debit card was declined for insufficient funds!” she cried. “I don’t even know what that means!”

“Annie it means you don’t have enough money in your account. It happens to you all the time and you just use my card.” I sighed, sort of mad that Annie cause such a stir over nothing.

“But I do have money,” Annie said. “It’s pay week. I have 7 million 9 hundred 82 thousand, 6 hundred 38 dollars and 14 and a half cents. I just checked.”

“14 and a half cents? And isn’t pay week next week?” I asked.

“Yes but I have that card that pays a week early,” Annie replied. She tapped at her lap top and then screamed. “It’s gone! See that with drawl?” she pointed to the screen.

Sure enough there was the deposit and with drawl, and it actually said 14 and a half cents. “Annie you need to call customer service.” I said.

“Oh Slam, you know I can’t deal with customer service reps. They all suck so much. They never try to help you. Here you call,” she handed me her phone.

I glared at her as I took the phone, because I was a customer service rep and I tried to help people. It was Annie, who, when she actually showed up to work, constantly answered the phone screaming, “Dave’s not here man,” and hung up on people. Lately however, Annie had been given off the phone work, she strolled around entertaining people with her banjo while Annie Jr. joined along on a kazoo.

I should have known that helping Annie with anything is a big mistake, however, sometimes, I forget. Sometimes, I get swayed in by something that appears easy. It was the prompts that sounded easy, surprisingly.

The words, “Press or say one to speak to customer service,” came out of the speaker of the phone I was holding. I pressed one. The phone said, “That is not a valid choice.” I pressed one again. The phone let me know I had pressed an invalid choice. So I said, “One.” Again not a valid choice. I repeated it louder and clearer. I screamed it. I spelled it. I tried Uno, I spelled Uno. I hit the one button rapidly. This went one for 15 minutes before annie said, “Customer service.” The phone replied in an annoyed voice. “Finally, thank you, just a moment while I connect your call.”

I should have hung up then but I somehow love to be tortured.   The voice prompt had spoke perfect sarcastic English with a normal American accent.   The customer service agent that answered had an accent, I was unable to define.   “Harrow, my name is Ut-oh, actually, harrow I hep ya?”

“Wait what is your name?” I asked not understand a whole lot of what was said.

“Ut-oh Pah S’gettio?” He sang his name in a question like it was common to be named after a canned spaghetti jingle.

I figured since I got this far I would continue.   I knew it sounded stupid, but I went on.   “My cat’s credit card got hacked.”  I said.

“Your fat birthday card got wacked?” replied the rep in now a distinctly, heavy Bronx accent.  “Yo’ we don’t sell birthday cards here baby girl. Calm down and eat some cake.”

“By the way,” he continued reverting back to the original accent.   “Harrow a good Barfday.”

“No my cat Annie, her credit card has a suspicious charge?”  I said again slowly.

“Your fat fannie, has a fart that is stinkily large?” replied the voice.   “Hold please!”

I heard no hold music instead I head Ut-oh say to his neighbor, “Lawd this girl be tripping she farting and everything.”

“I said nothing about a FART, Ut-Oh!” I screamed.

“Please continue to hold, while I research your account,” said a voice that sounded familiarly like the hold prompt.

“I did not even give you an account number,” I yelled back.

Just then Duh-Wayne came in.   ‘Duh-Wayne,  my credit card got sacked!” Annie screamed.

“Again, dear god Annie,” Duh-Wayne yelled, then took the phone and yelled into it, “Yo’ Ut-Oh it’s Duh-Wayne.”

“Big D…how goes it bro,” Ut-Oh responded.   “Annie’s credit card got sacked?” Then he flipped off the speaker phone and wandered into the other room asking after Ut-oh’s kids, Ragu and Cascade.

Duh-Wayne returned a short time later.   “Ut-Oh is sending out a new card express mail, you should have it in two hours. But they can’t give you your money back because that last time it happened they told you to get a new card.”

“Oh and wait two hours for a new one.   I need my money,” Annie screaming wringing her paws.

Just then Annie Jr. wandered in.   “Did you order my Wigwam, Mom-Mom?”  he asked, he was wearing a cowboy hat and spurs.   Lately Annie Jr. had been into the whole cowboy thing; ever since he found out his hero the Duke was really named Marion.   Annie Jr. thought Marion was as strong a name as Annie and if the Duke was named Marion no reason why there could not be a cowboy named Annie.

“Annie Jr. baby, honey, someone slacked my magic card, and I drained Slam’s card an hour ago getting 45 cases of corn removers.” she cried.

“You have CORNS?” Annie Jr. screamed in surprise.

“No,” Annie said, “I take care of my paws, but you never know.”

“I want my Wigwam.” Annie Jr. screamed.

“Baby honey, I have a new card coming,” Annie said looking at her watch. “you’ll have to wait sweetie.   It will be here any half hour.”

Annie Jr. stamped his foot at having to wait.   He was so like his mother.  “It will be longer than that,” I stated; feeling like being a Debbie Downer.  “You won’t have any money on your magic card.”

“Wait, what? I won’t!” Annie screamed.

“I told you Annie, “Duh-Wayne said.   “You gave that guy over there in Nigeria your credit card number so he could get buy wax to burn cause he has no electricity in his house.   You told him only $2.00 and he took it all, 8 times.  Ut-oh says you have reached your limit for refunds cause you wouldn’t change your number.”

“But I just got a new number, DUH! Duh-Wayne that is why I am waiting.”  Annie screamed hysterically.

“You had to change it last time,” Duh-Wayne said.   I was so relieved to know at least someone was looking out for Annie’s finances.   I mean she had that accountant, the one who looked like Mr. Magoo.   Annie chose him because he was a former sanitation engineer; he drove a garbage truck, into a tree, his first day on the job,  he couldn’t see, because Annie was trying on his glasses.   Annie hired him immediately.   He had no idea how to account for anyone’s money, however he had no idea how to drive a garbage truck either and he did that for 3.5 minutes.

“They aren’t putting it back, Annie,” Duh-Wayne said his lip curling into a frown and a tear forming in his right eye.   “No money til, next pay day.”

“I refuse to wait until tomorrow,” Annie screamed.

“I need my wigwam!” Annie Jr. screamed, shooting his cap gun multiple times into the ceiling.

“Annie Jr.!” I yelled. “I have told you not to shoot that cap gun in the house.”

“It’s not a cap gun, it’s a bb gun,” he yelled back.

“Annie why does he have a bb gun?” I asked concerned.   He was only a year old for heaven’s sakes.

“Cause he is a militia, Slam!  You need to check on your gum rights.   Second Armageddon.”  Annie replied.

“Annie that’s amendment.” I sighed.

“No it isn’t it’s the right to bare your arms…that is why you say ‘arm a getting’!  You need to stop watching the fake news channels, Slam.”

I shook my head.

“Besides,” Annie continued.  “That doesn’t get my money back.   Salami took my money and Salami should give it back, all of it.   We should quack him back, he has definitely over-quacked my account enough.”

“I will handle this,” Annie Jr. said.  He grabbed Annie’s cell phone, clicked the photo of a Salami, hit the send button.   “Hey Salami, it’s me Annie Jr.  Listen, Mom-mom said, you took all her money.” a long pause…”You didn’t? Well that is too bad cause I just got paid and I was going to give you my credit card number too.”   another long pause.  “Well the thing is someone quacked my credit card.   So I had to get a new one but it cost’s five dollars and I can’t get the card, without that five dollars so I was thinking, if you just give me your credit card number, I will take five dollars off and then send you my new card number.”   pause.   “Great, I will call you back in five minutes.”

By this time Annie’s new card had arrived and within minutes, Annie Jr. successfully transferred all the funds from Salami’s card onto Annie’s new card, blocked him from calling her and messaging her.   Since he hadn’t spent any more than the amount he needed to buy wax to light his home, Annie Jr. was able to get all of Annie’s money back from the 8 times he had hacked her account previously, plus all the people he had scammed money from for the past 12 years.

Annie ordered, two wigwams that day and life returned to normal.







St. Poopy’s Day

The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, came off without a hitch and did not need to be put off a week due to snow, even though there was a lot of it. It was just not going to snow on St. Patrick’s Day; just cold very cold.

Because we all endured last year’s St. Patrick’s Day’s adventure, one would think it could never be topped. Who could forget Annie’s poop float and the bagpipe full of die-a-rear exploding in the kitchen at midnight; and how that said set of exploding bag pipes had somehow gotten stuck in Annie’s backside. The adventures she had with Kiko, the zombie dog, her pal, her confident, her brother of sorts with Annie’s own creation of a family tree.

However, that was last year; before Duh-Wayne, who was just a fart, waiting patiently to be let. With his creative mind and opposable thumbs, it was bound to be a St. Patrick’s Day the likes the world has never seen. It all began with the annual tradition of passing the shillelagh.

Duh-Wayne knew a guy who’s cousin’s brother-in-law’s Aunt Bert, was looking for a classic hearse, which Duh-Wayne had. Since Puffy grew stale in the cold wind and then slowly melted in the back yard and was now a big sticky, snowman, with a sailor hat, Duh-Wayne no longer needed the hearse with lights, a ghost in a red circle with a cross through it and a loud muffler. He traded it because Aunt Bert had a niece, who’s husband’s Uncle Sandy knew a guy who was a boss to a man whose Grandfather Patrick O’Callahan was in charge of the passing of the shillelagh. Favors got called in, there were 18 fights on social media, none of them about the shillelagh, and Annie wound up having the thorny walking stick in her possession and it with was with that honor; that Annie changed the theme of the parade to St. Poopy’s day.

She did keep the color green theme, since she had never learned her colors and figured it was her favorite color red, it pleased her beyond compare; especially since she had ordered all the snow along the parade route to be colored green. All the taverns, in tavern town, continue onward with their own planned festivities with the exception of serving green flavored Moose Made which Annie had complained fiercely about the year before. I am not sure what green flavored tasted like but I was not willing to try and find out either.


I knew it would come eventually, despite my list; list of movies, I did not want Annie to watch.   There were just certain movies, I didn’t want Annie watching and bringing to life.   Of course, it took me a while to learn not to introduce Annie to movies, and paid for it.   Like when Annie started filling the house with Beetles and then dumping juice over your head as you screamed beetle  so you would scream juice directly after, or when Annie bought an umbrella and began a nanny service.

Those were the tame years, things got worse as she got older so I just sort of began a list of banned movies.   Of course, not everyone paid attention to my list, because Annie and Annie Jr. decided it would be a good idea to fart in a crowded restaurant and keep doing it until Annie Jr. screamed, “Mom-mom you sharted!”   We had to quit eating out because of it, however it did not stop them, they instead would do it during dinner or breakfast or snack time right at our own kitchen table.   We won’t even go into Annie doing a striptease.

Annie had a plethora of friends and one of them was always suggesting, a movie Annie just needed to watch.   Duh-Wayne was the biggest instigator, literally every movie on my banned list was on his, ‘need to watch with Annie’ list.    I’d tried to work around some of them suggesting Annie was not old enough but since she had given parental permission to Annie Jr. she claimed it was not fair that she was unable to watch or she would just get permission from her own Mom-mom.   Basically my list was useless.

What made it worse is when a movie from the 80’s was on the banned list and then bam 30 years later, they remake it or put out a part two and the one from the 80’s which has lain dormant suddenly is on every single channel.

I had already endured weeks of red balloons and Annie stuttering out, “Bet your fur,” not to mention waking up to the Annie’s starring at me with blood red smiles and rubber noses.   I am so looking forward to part two of the remake of that one.

I should have known though.   It was bound to happen.   I’d seen the Annie’s faces close to Annie’s Ipad ear phones in, giggling over some cartoon, Siri had discovered for Annie.  I should have been concerned.  Then, one day, I over heard Annie exclaim to Duh-Wayne, “A movie?  Hiiiiiighhhhhhhh!” Then, “More than one? Got it made in the shade!”

I felt nag in the pit of my stomach. That little instinct that tells you something isn’t right.    It was the kind of feeling that feels  like it has teeth and is having a snack on your inner abdominal walls.  With Annie, I felt that feeling 2952 times a day, so even though it should have been a huge warning to me, I was so used to it, I missed all the signs.

I missed it when Annie and Duh-Wayne dragged home an old grand piano.   Annie stated she was determined to learn to ‘play the thing’.   The only thing she ever learned was playing two keys repeatedly over and over stating, “This drives, Slam nuts.” It did.

Then Duh-Wayne started driving an old hearse or maybe an old ambulance, it had lights and a faulty muffler and blew smoke, but Duh-Wayne was always dragging home some sort of ‘classic’ vehicle he and Annie needed to restore.   I have no idea where they found the time but I for one was getting tired of washing the Annie’s coveralls that appeared as if they rolled in motor oil which Annie Jr. admitted to doing on several occasions.

Annie said, “I need to teach him boy stuff, cause YOU SLAM, got him all confused.   Putting a dress on him and sending him to school naming him Annie.   Poor guy; but my son Annie Jr. is no girly girl.   He’s a Boyly Boy.”

“Annie YOU told me he was a girl and YOU named him Annie and YOU borrowed that dress from K8.   Besides it’s Manly man not Boyly Boy. ”

“You don’t know your own gender,” She spat and arched her back.

Then one day on my way to the market, Annie handed me her list.   It had one item, 14 cases of the one item, written in large scrawled print, capital letters, “Jumbo Smarshmallows; not little ones;  Jumbo Slam; do you hear me?”   She did not use punctuation on her list though, it was all lumped together, hear was spelled here, and yes she did spell marshmallows as smarshmellows, but I wrote it how I heard her voice in my head say it because she yelled it repeatedly like a siren as I walked to the car.

I did pause to question her reason for marshmallows, I mean who needs that many, without rice krispies or something.   “Snores, Slam, we are making snores.”  I knew what she meant but advised her they were difficult to make without chocolate and graham crackers.    She grabbed the list and quickly added two cases of chocolate bars, two cases of graham crackers, and two cases of regular sized marshmallows.     It seemed legit but I still had that nagging sense of dread.

I started the car,  and this ladies voice rang out of the speakers singing, “Sitting on the toilet, sitting on the toilet.” I ejected Annie’s CD.   That had to have been the dread.  I mean who wants to hear that when they start the car.

The quiet ride to the store calmed me although Annie’s list took up most of the room in the vehicle forcing me to get one tiny bag, which I had to carry on my lap.   I hated how Annie could never get one or two of any item, it had to be three or four cases and lately it had gotten worse.    She had found a book in that box she claimed came from the past about a hoarding rabbit.   Annie loved that book.

When I came home that nagging dread returned.   I felt  it was just because I was home.   I always had that feeling when I pulled in the driveway and all the lights in the house were on, and the music was thumping and Annie’s friends were a steady trail of those coming and those going.   We had to replace the sidewalk at least once a month the foot traffic wore it down so.

When I came upstairs, dragging as many bags as my hands could carry. I understood the dread.   Asa had returned.    His lawn mower was going at full speed, I heard it as I tripped over his wheelchair in the hallway.    He claimed his legs were blown to smithereens back in WWII, however he had a habit of stamping loudly around the house late at night.   Annie claimed it was his peg leg, as she creepily creaked his old wooden chair around in the darkness.

I was glad he moved out and now he was back.   I came into the room and there was another wheel chaired bound haunt Annie later introduced as Stephen she pronounced Stefan.   He was a wizard Annie claimed with a scientific mind.

“Annie!” I screamed.   “Why are these ghosts here?”

Just then from out of no where popped Janey wearing a pair of glasses, asking, if I had indeed saw a ghost.   “Yes,” I screamed waving my arm around as if to ward them off.

Then a bell rang as Janey, screamed, “Guys we got one!”

It was then that I noticed the fire pole which Annie, Duh-Wayne, Annie Jr and Grandfather came sliding down.    “Are you now menstoooooooooooating,?” Annie screamed at me.   As Annie Jr ran some sort of light meter over me.

It then dawned on me.   “Annie please you don’t need any more ghosts!”

“It’s not for ghosts,” Annie retorted.

“Then why is he here?” I asked pointing at the new ghost.

“He is here to help me with my time machine so it works better,” Annie explained.   “He is a wizard.   You get my smarshmallows?”

I nodded.    Then, out the door she and her goof troop ran, taking the cases of marshmallows with them.    I smelled a campfire, I smelled s’mores and finally decided to go out and partake.

I heard Annie yell, “Here Puffy, here is your sailor cap.”

Then it dawned on me.   What was worse than a house full of ghosts; a ninety foot man made of marshmallows, and there he stood in all his glory eating s’mores with Annie and the gang.

Puffy the s’more eating Navy Marshmallow man, now a member of our family until he catches fire or melts.









Back to the Farm

“Read me this book, Slam,” Annie Jr. said climbing into my lap, forcing a book into my hand.

“I had this book when I was little,” I said feeling overwhelmed with nostalgia.

“It is your book,”  Annie Jr. replied.  “look here is your name and here is that piece of gum you got stuck to it back in ’72.”

Sure enough there was my name written in large scrawling hand writing and a piece of gum on the back page dirty and black from the years of dust it had collected back when it was still sticky.

“Where did you get this?” I asked assuming for some reason, it had found it’s way into a box and been long ago forgotten and stored.   I mean I hadn’t seen any of my old books for a really long time.

“Outta this box,” Annie Jr. said pulling a large book laden box towards me.

I had never seen this box of books.    I picked one out, it was one I used to have and so was the next and the next.   “Where did this box come from?”  I asked.

“Mom-mom, gave it to me.  She said they were yours,” Annie Jr. explained. “You really liked stories about cats.”

I watched Annie Jr. separating books and setting the ones about cats in a pile.  “How come you scribbled this kid’s  eyes on every page?”  he asked.

“Because he found a basket of kittens on a treasure hunt and I wanted to find them,” I answered absently and then.  “Wait; what? Let me see that book!”

Annie Jr. handed me the book and I thumbed through it, I vaguely remembered scribbling out that little boy’s eyes because I was so jealous he found kittens.  I looked for a similar basket for days and not being able to find one, I had  scribbled his eyes out in anger.    It couldn’t have been my book, Annie in no way could have gotten them.

She had mind control device in which she could read my thoughts.  I wondered; had she bought these books, scrawled my name in them and colored out eyes with a pen.  It was quite possible, but Annie didn’t chew gum though.

Just then Annie came strolling into the room.    “Hi Mom-mom!” Annie Jr. screamed.  “These books are GREAT!   Thanks Mom-mom!”

“Your welcome, Annie Jr. my special little guy!”  Annie purred.

“Annie?” I yelled.  “Where did you get these books?” I asked.

“From my time machine,” Annie said.

I shook my head, I still didn’t believe that Annie’s time machine actually worked.   It was made out of a vacuum cleaner box, contact paper, some empty tuna cans and a crudely drawn red button that said, ‘fart’.

Annie Jr. still going through the box, was stacking them in categories.   “Slam you musta really loved cats.”  Annie Jr. remarked.

“We had lots of cats when I was little,” I replied, thumbing through a book about a set of twins turning two.

“You have lots of cats now.”  Annie Jr. said. looking up.

“We had lots more than now,” I sighed remembering my childhood.

“And they all lived in your house?” Annie Jr. cried in disbelief.   Annie by this time had crept close and was listening intently.

I gave her a sly look as I made my reply, “Of course not Annie Jr.   Cats had it hard back then.   They lived in the chicken house, and had to earn their keep, keeping it free from rats.”

“You could discriminate back then?” Annie Jr. asked.

“Discriminate?”  I asked.

“Yeah you had housing for cats and chickens and not the rats?   They need housing too. ”

“The rats would eat the chicken food,” I said.

“Then ya shoulda buyed them some rat food.   They can’t starve you know.   Think about Templeton, he had to eat old left over slop,” Annie Jr. screamed waving a book with a pig and a spider on it at me.

I sighed.

“Look at all of these farm books.   Did you live on a farm too?” Annie Jr. asked thumbing through a book I remembered with fondness.

“We had chickens and for a little while ducks and occasionally a rabbit, but it wasn’t  a farm.”  I explained.

“Is that where the old guy lives?” Annie Jr. asked.

“What old guy?” I asked having no idea what Annie Jr. was talking about.

“Remember when Mom-mom and K8 were little and you would say, One day K8, Mom-mom, and Slam were taking a walk and they found a little teeny itty bitty tiny baby goat and you would feed it a bottle.   Every day you found a different itty bitty teeny tiny little animal and take it home.”   Annie Jr. said.

“Yes, I remember.” I said fondly thinking of stories I would create for my K8 when she was little bitty teeny tiny.

“AND YOU FORGOT?” Annie Jr. screamed.

“Forgot what?” I shrugged having no idea what Annie Jr. was talking about.

“You told K8 that all those animals you got were living on a farm with some old guy and he was holding them for you and when you gotted rich you would buy the farm?”  Annie Jr. said excitedly jumping around as he spoke.

“Annie Jr. it was a story, there were no baby animals and there is no farm.  Besides, I don’t know the first thing about farming.” I explained.

“Mom-mom said you know a whole lot about pulling teats, she said it was one of your first good paying jobs.”   Annie Jr. responded.

“It was a long time ago, and we are not buying a farm.   Now go drag that box of books your Mom-mom drained my bank account for into the other room and find just a couple that I can read you before bed time.”

Later that evening, Annie Jr. settled down for sleep after his ‘couple’ (14) books.   “You, K8 and Mom-mom used to play the wonder pets too right?”  He asked drowsily.

“Yes,” I replied.   His purr relaxing me, his drool dripping on my arm.

“Mom-mom and Duh-Wayne play it with me.”  Annie Jr. said.   “Mom-mom always thinks up good stuff.   Like today it was a cow stuck in a garden hose and Duh-Wayne had to suck him out and save him.  Mom-mom calls Duh-Wayne suction lips now.”

Annie Jr.’s purr became loud and strong, my arm lay in a puddle of icky cat drool.   “I wish we had a farm.   I could just see you walking around with a piece of straw in the side of your mouth, a pair of bib overhaul with “Slam” written across the front.”

His eyes snapped shut and I quickly followed.   I had just hit that hard fast sleep and I heard the birds chirping outside and saw the light streaming through the window.    Annie Jr. was just standing up and stretching.   That was a fast sleep, I thought as I stretched.

I didn’t feel refreshed at all, and the bed felt lumpy and weird.   It squeaked when I moved.   Memory foam doesn’t squeak.   The blanket felt weird, then I opened my eyes and looked down.   It was the bed spread I had as a kid, the one with the big strawberry.

I sat up opening my eyes wide, surprised I could see so well without my glasses.   I was in my old room, that tacky pink painted room with the ugly chocolate brown trim.   I could smell the lemon pledge my mother’s house was famous for.   Exactly as I remember it, except for the Annie’s sitting on my bed.   Annie Jr. still rolling around and stretching and Annie looking at me with a huge cat smile; her eager face pleasantly obvious.

“I’m going back to sleep, Annie,” I yelled.   “I have begged you not to use your dream control device on me.”

“I used my time machine, Slam.” Annie said.   “We are back at the farm.”

“Annie I will never believe your time machine works and I never lived on a farm!” I said, laying back down and pulling the sheets over my head, noticing for the first how hard that feather pillow was.

“You worked on a farm!” Annie Jr. screamed jumping on my head.  “And it’s Saturday.   Remember that is the day you said you cleaned the barn?”

“Come on Slam, up and at ’em.   We need to get down to some serious teat pulling,” Annie yelled.

“Slam, breakfast is ready,” I heard my mother call.   Why was she calling me Slam?

“Annie turn that machine off,” I hissed, covering my head further under the covers.

“Slam, come on, you need to get to the barn,” my mother kept calling.

Annie Jr. stood by the side of my bed with a pair of bib overhauls with Slam written across the front.   I knew my mother would keep yelling and Annie would keep the dream going unless I just went along with it.   I jumped up and grabbed the pants and put them on.    “Annie you are going to get it,” I hissed again and shook my fist at her.

My mother had never gotten up at 4 am to fix me breakfast and no one in the family would have been up at that hour but there they all were gathered around the table.   “Hi Slamma Aunt Loose-wheels and Slap ya Uncle Pan,” Annie Jr. screamed.

“Hi Annie and Annie Jr.” my mother said.

“Have a piece of cheese,” my father said dropping an entire brick on the floor.   There were already several bowls of cat food all different kinds on the floor, the entire living room was filled with a huge cat house structure.

“Now  I know you are lying Annie, they didn’t have those cat houses back then.”  I said.

“Why; that sweet little cat would never lie, ” my mother said setting  a huge sausage sandwich in front of Annie who was sitting up at the table in the old high chair.   “She drew the plans and your father made it with wood.”

I looked over at my brother who was pouring orange juice on his bowl of boo-berries while reading a comic book.   “Why are you pouring orange juice on your cereal?” I asked.

He sighed really deeply and replied, “Annie drank all the milk.”

“Oh, Sigh, ” Annie sighed equally deeply,  “I will bring you some more when we get back from the farm.”  She sang the end part like it was part of a reality show.  ‘Back from the farm,” she sang again and everyone but me laughed.

Annie jumped up quickly and said, “I know you’ll want coffee, Slam.”   She grabbed a cup and poured hot water from the tea kettle into it.   “She drinks coffee now.” Annie explained to everyone.

I sat there looking around, sort of feeling dizzy trapped into a dream created and controlled by Annie.   I didn’t even stop to think when I saw her pouring the water from the tea  kettle that the coffee would be instant.   Instant coffee was the worst and I never even noticed that Annie was putting tablespoon after tablespoon of coffee into the cup.

Annie set the cup in front of me and absently I took a long drink, then I choked gagged, and tried not to throw up as I swallowed it just to get the awful taste out of my mouth.  “Annie this is awful.   It’s thick.” I yelled.

“You wanted it, you better be drinking it,” my father said.   “No waste in this house.”

I’d forgotten about that, too.   I glared at Annie as she said, “Drink it up, Slam.   We gotta feed the pig.”

“What pig?” I asked.   “There was never a pig.”

“Top of the morning to you all,” I heard a very British sounding voice say.

“Hi Gracie,” everyone but me shouted as Din-yell’s pig Gracie came into the room.

“There’s a pig now, Slam,” Annie screamed.

“Annie Gracie doesn’t talk and she is not from England she is from Brooklyn.” I said.

“Not anymore,” Annie yelled.

Gracie sat down at the table and began daintily slurping a  cup of English tea and nibbling on a spot of tomato and a sausage link.   I shook my head watching Gracie at the table and my mother letting a stream of chickens through the front door while my Dad tossed fried eggs onto the floor calling, “here chick chick.” I noticed a white duck with a pink hair band around his neck and a diaper among them.

“Come on, Slam, time to pull some teat,” Annie screamed.

“Annie will you stop saying that!” I yelled back.

“Saying what?” Annie looked at me confused.

Annie Jr. was getting several more hugs from my mother and eating one more pound of cheese out of my dad’s hand.   “Bye Slamma Aunt Loose Wheels,” Annie said giving my mother a large noisy smack on the cheek.   “Love ya sweetie, I will bring your angel Annie Jr. back often.”

I was so confused.  My mother hated cats, well she grew to like them over the years but, this was way over the top.   Mom was actually sniffing back a tear.   Well, at least that meant we weren’t staying and eventually I would wake up from this crazy dream.

“Slap ya Uncle Pan,” Annie screamed and kissed my father atop his bald spot.

Dad handed her a brick of cheese.  “Take care of yourself, Annie.”  He opened his wallet and handed her two one hundred dollar bills.   “You’ll need it taking care of that young cat by yourself.”

Annie sniffed back a tear but I could tell her eyes were laughing.   She played them like a fiddle.   Annie sighed deeply, then ran over and rubbed my brother on top of his head messing up his hair.   “Sighhhhhhh,” she screamed.   “I lied.   There is milk in the fridge.  I milked the rats before bed.”  Then she yanked the comic book out of his hand and said, “Give this a whirl,” I saw the title.   “Life with Annie.”  There was a crudely drawn cat on a scooter headed towards a building labeled ‘poop factory’.

“HIIIIGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow Annie, thanks.  Mom, look at this!!!!  And rat milk! Got it made in the shade!” He said jumping up and opening the fridge.

“Don’t you waste that bowl you already have,” Dad yelled.

I walked out the door.   Annie and Annie Jr. followed me down the road to the neighbor’s barn.   “Annie, I am not sure what kinda stuff you are pulling,” I yelled at her once we were out of ear shot of the house, “but after this barn time and getting your fill of ‘pulling teat’ you better be waking me up or whatever you have to do, but I want to be back in my own bed in my own house.  Got it.”

“Sure Slam, sure.”  Annie said, then whispered to Annie Jr. , “She’s nuts.”

The barn was exactly the same as I remember but not the people in it.   Instead of my neighbors, it was Duh-Wayne, accompanied by Abe and Bryan.   “Why are they here?” I screamed.   “They weren’t my neighbors.”

“I don’t know your neighbors,” Annie screamed.

“Well come on let’s get this over with.”   I demanded.

We milked cows by hand, by machine, wore one of those funny things strapped to your rear end to sit on while your milked.   We fed the calves, from a bucket, from a bottle, climbed a silo, fed the cows.   Then the highlight of the day, we cleaned the barn.

Annie started it first tossing a large cow patty at the back of my head.  Annie Jr. went next and Abe and Bryan followed suit, pelting me with cow poop.   Then we mucked out the stalls and scraped down the floors and watched all that poop slowly move around on a track into the back of a poop spreader.

Once the barn was totally ship shape, I begged Annie to please end my crazy dream.   “One last thing slam, we need to spread the poop.  Start the tractor, Duh-Wayne.”

Duh-Wayne jumped in the seat and started the old red international.   “Fords better,” Annie screamed.

“No, I’d take an international any day,” Duh-Wayne screamed back.

Abe and Bryan jumped onto either seat over the tires, an Annie sitting next to each of them.   I was forced to stand behind the seat.   Duh-Wayne lurched the tractor forward and out of the barn.   He kept shifting the gears screaming,”lets see if we can get this up to 180 Annie, got that flux whatchacall it?”

Steam was coming out of the smoke stack as the tractor chugged faster and faster.  Abe and Bryan were screaming, “Faster, faster.”  Poop was flying from the back.   Everyone was laughing with glee and I was screaming.

I awoke with a start.   I sat up and rubbed my eyes, trying to get them to focus.   My bed.  My room and I couldn’t see without my glasses.   What a weird dream, I was thinking.

I got up wondering what in the world smelled so bad.   I realized it was me.  Bib overhauls, Slam written across the front covered in cow poop, my hair in braids.   I turned around knowing I would have to strip my bed and put fresh sheet on it, then I noticed the spread had a large strawberry on it.
I stripped the bed and headed to the shower. Just another day in the life with Annie.  17626287_1522307404466917_5501380554968191631_n












Be Sos’ed

We all know how obsessed Annie is with television and making whatever show she likes come to life. She has done it forever, and mostly it’s annoying; occasionally painful, like getting hit with Annie’s barbed wire covered bat. But it isn’t always Annie acting like someone in the show, sometimes it is creating a certain character.

When K8 was young, Annie became obsessed with one of those preschool shows with adults running around acting like nut balls. Then one day I came home to three grown men running around dressed in coveralls. K8’s other Slam knew a discount place to get those blue coveralls. Her husband preferred them, so she hooked Annie up. He was in the running for a lead part in Annie’s hobby, however he couldn’t play an instrument. Neither could any of the others, maybe it was because he was bald.

After that was Fat Albert and the gang, following me around everywhere I went. My voice grew hoarse screaming, “Get out of the bathroom,” and them looking at each other perplexed asking each other, “What’s a bathroom?” What a mess it when Annie got tired of them and tried to shove them back through the tv.

Over the years, I just sort of accepted this part of Annie. I mean it never lasted, they never stayed very long. They would either move out when Annie got tired of it; or she tried to shove them through a television set. She kept them close, though often allowing them to live in one of her condemned housing projects.

I knew it was coming. She talked about it day and night how if she could just wiggle her nose, instantly she would have a donut, or a cheeseburger or a mouse tail, covered pizza.

She had no real desire to be a witch, she felt that whole part of it was nonsense especially if you had to live with someone like ‘Dustpan’ which ‘she did’; pointing directly at me. As a matter of fact she did call me, ‘Dustpan’ and ‘Dogwood’ every chance she got. She just wanted whatever she wanted whenever she wanted it.

It didn’t even matter that her gofer Duh-Wayne made several trips a day to local eateries with several carts he would tow behind his scooter bringing Annie food. She used to do it herself but Duh-Wayne seemed to take over more and more, some of those tasks she found too challenging.

‘Too cold,” she complained, when Duh-Wayne returned with a cart load of fast food.

Even the teleporter, which delivered food so promptly it steamed, wasn’t good enough for Annie because she still had to pay for it. Annie wanted to wiggle her nose and have it right in her paw, hot tasty and free. With Annie, sometimes, waiting was not an option.

She new she would need to find a witch, but it would not be easy. When Annie was unable to fit properly in a pair of coveralls, it was as easy as finding three random guys to wear them. When she decided her hero, Don should move in, she simply bought a bright yellow hair piece and found a big guy with little hands and bone spurs. He was one of the easier ones, he just sat in the bed eating the cold cheeseburgers from the cart outside, drinking gallons of diet coke and watching tv. The only bad part was having to read him those political newspapers. He liked having them read to him, with a lot of expression and if there were pictures you had to hold it up so he could look at it while you read. He in turn would scream fake news after every other word, with a mouthful of cheese burger. We are still wiping it off the tv.

However, finding a witch, who could wiggle her nose and instantly give Annie her heart’s desire, was like finding a needle in a hay stack. I mean Annie had been trying to wiggle her nose and make something happen for years, she even made Siri make that noise like the tv witch and nothing happened. “A witch has  to be someone really special,” Annie said “Tossing a ferret on your head and eating cheese burgers is easy.”

It took a total of three hours; Annie, with the help of Siri, was able to serf the internet; high and low; going into the dark nether regions. There, she was able to post an ad seeking a witch who could wiggle her nose and give Annie her heart’s desire in exchange for housing; our housing.

That is how Samantha Olive Oil Stevens; Sos for short, came to live with us. She wasn’t a shapely blonde, she actually looked more like Olive Oil, but a shorter version; like if Olive Oil was an elf. She wore extremely large shoes so she could fill the ends of them with rocks. She had to weigh herself down somehow, otherwise she would blow away. She weighed next to nothing.

She didn’t have long scraggly traditional witch hair either. It was short and grey. She didn’t have warts but she did have a big witch nose.   She claimed her brother once accidently mistook her nose for a nail and broke it with a recoilless hammer, but she had a large pointy chin as well.   I didn’t ask about that.

She had a cackling witchy laugh combined with a unique kinda snicker.   She didn’t have a caldron to stir up some kind of magical spell, she couldn’t cook.   She didn’t ride a broom, she drove an old green Chevy Nova; two door with a white racing stripe.   She didn’t have a husband named Darwood or Dogbed, but she did have a duck.

A duck named Matthew; Matthew Jason Peep-peep Christopher Joey to be exact, what else would he be named.     Sos called him Mattie.   Mattie was her familiar. All witches have one of those.

She often took him for walks with a hair band around his neck; a leash attached to it and a plastic diaper with the tail cut out.   Sos loved the ‘new fangled diapers’ as she called them, however she always put the plastic on the inside and fastened them with a roll of black electrical tape.   She never could figure out why they leaked.

Mattie the familiar duck was quite the character, however he was evil.   He absolutely hated everyone except Sos.    I spent more time standing on top of my bed screaming and hoping up and down out of breath because Mattie had put his head down and came chasing after me; his wings flapping.   He wasn’t able to get on top of the bed.  Old Sos would stand near by laughing her cackling laugh tears running down her face. Annie joining in screaming, “Get her Mattie!”

You didn’t want to bend over any where because Mattie would come bite you in the rear end.   However, if you bent over in the back yard to dig him up some worms, he might quack nicely to you.   He laid eggs.

For a while, things with Sos were okay.   She would wiggle her nose and Annie would instantly have her heart’s desire in her hot little hands.   That worked out well for me because Annie wasn’t spending  my money like a drunken sailor.   She didn’t need to as a matter of fact with the wiggle of a nose, her bank account increased; not mine; just hers.

It couldn’t last though.   Annie and Sos were similar; as far as personality goes.   They were both controlling and sadistic.     When it came to this they butted heads; Sos would withhold nose wiggles to get Annie to do her bidding and Annie would pee in the can of frosting, Sos was inclined to eat in the middle of the night with several squirts of Annie’s home made maple syrup.

“You just can’t wiggle your nose and get that!” Sos would exclaim loudly as she gummed it happily in the kitchen, because at that time of night, Sos would have her dentures soaking in a cup of bleach.

Sos, as mentioned couldn’t cook, but for her that was okay, because she didn’t eat either, except for her midnight frosting snacks or occasionally, a plate with one tablespoon of each item of food served and eating only half of it then complaining she was so full she might barf.    Sos liked to clean, though, that was her thing.

She woke promptly at 2 am, fully rested, after filling her belly at midnight.   Cleaning would commence, you would wake fully at 2:08.   By that time, the house was full of the intoxicating smell of several house hold cleaning products mixed in a bucket.   It didn’t matter that there was a warning in huge letters not to mix certain products together, Sos did it anyways.   Sometimes there was a small explosion and a puff of steam coming from the mop pail.

The vacuum cleaner would be going, a feather duster would tickle your face if you didn’t get up quick enough, the washer would be going, the dryer would be going, clothes would be quietly making noises out on the line, beds would be stripped, everything sparkled.   I was in heaven; even though Sos had a habit of tossing things out.

Occasionally, it was annoying; like when you would put your pay check and car keys on the counter, in order to grab your purse from the chair behind you and in that instant, Sos would have removed them and put them away, which normally meant in the garbage.     She hated clutter except for her Moose collection.

This is where the problems began.   Annie loved moose, especially if it was something Moose made, but it was the  collections that caused the rift.    Sos had her lovely Moose collection, but tossed a great many of Annie’s collections out.   Out went Annie’s rotten potato collection, out went the dust collection, and the spider web one Annie had been collecting for years.   The used diaper collection Annie had been collecting since K8 was born went into a garbage bag and into a dumpster, which already had Annie Jr. box collection and his bread tie collection.   It was this, and this alone. which made Sos’s stay with us quite short.

All in all the pair really loved each other.   In the end, Sos went to live with Aunt Paulie.   They got along much better.   Mattie, now chased Aunt Paulie who didn’t run quite as fast as me.   Sos nagged Aunt Paulie all day long, but she kept the place clean.   It worked.

Sos gave Annie, the ability to wiggle her nose three times a day and get her heart’s desire.  Annie tried holding out for more but Sos had the upper hand.   In exchange, Annie agreed to tell Sos if any family member had splinter because Sos enjoyed removing them with her long darning needle and Annie kept Sos stocked up with home made maple syrup.

It was a win win for both of them.   We had been Be Sos’ed.   Life would never be the same.




Poor Man’s Christmas

Valentine’s Day is always one of my favorite times of year.   How could it not be?   All the reds and pinks with some white to set it off.

I remember back in grade school, taking almost an entire afternoon to create some sort of box decorated with library paste and sloppily cut out hearts so in the coming days, we would have some place to put the box of seventy nine cent pre-made valentines in.  Sometimes this project lasted a week or more and to top it off, an afternoon spent opening those cheesy valentines, and getting stuffed full of cup cakes and cookies and candy.    Who couldn’t love missing even one afternoon of math or science?

Selecting my box of Valentine’s was always a good time, then sitting at the table, making sure the right card went to the right kid.   Nope, not that one, (he or she) might think I like them…neutral card.

Going with your dad to the neighborhood drug store to pick just the right box of chocolate for your Mom.   Making sure you select the box that has lots of candies with nuts instead of gaggy lemon cream, because you know that most of those candies will wind up in your own belly.   And, I will say it here and now, Dad was wrong my mom really did want that heart shaped box of chocolate with that lovely doll on top of it, even though she would have given it to me, she really wanted it.

As I grew older enough to appreciate the day of love, I found it wasn’t that monumental, until it started coinciding with tax return season.   I, then began to see the day of love in with new eyes.   For me it was poor people’s Christmas.

“Sorry kid’s I know you wanted that (fill in the blank) for Christmas but tax time is coming so is Valentine’s Day.”

For me it was also the one time of year, Annie wasn’t draining my ‘magic card’ and I had a limited amount of time to drain it before Annie could.    Tax season Annie seemed to have a never ending supply of cash, she had lots of dependents, and write offs, and deductions;  her usual refund was larger than her over all yearly income which was more than six figures.

Since, Valentine’s Day, coincided with Annie’s annual tax refund lottery, she had to follow her traditional, festivities.    Since this was Annie’s Jr’s first Valentine’s Day, she wanted it to be very special.

It doesn’t matter how ‘technically’ rich, Annie is, she somehow feels the struggle of the poor, probably because most of the time she spends her money so fast she rarely has any available liquid cash.    She finds the positive aspects  of poverty, and finds peace there.   So ‘Poor Man’s Christmas’ is a magical event for her, well any event where Annie will get something is magical.

Annie carefully dresses for the beginning of her festivities.   She puts on her wig, complaining her hair is thinning, attaches a dozen hair curlers then wraps it in a scarf.   Next she puts on her face; applying make up without washing the sleep crust and goo out of her eyes is important.    She continues wearing the same plaid pajama pants she has been wearing for the past three days, puts on a hot pink top that says, ‘Kiss my grits!” in sparkly letters.   Then gets Annie Jr. ready.

She messes up his hair, and dresses him in pants that are way too long, and a shirt that is way too tight so it rides over his fat little belly.   No shoes and maybe one sock.  She hands Annie Jr. a bottle of highly caffeinated  carbonated beverage to make sure he is completely wound up.   Then she is ready to go.

Typically, Annie would take the city bus, down to the Walmart, however, after what happened last year, breaking the handicapped lift on the bus because she was hauling 18 shopping carts behind it, she decided a new approach was more appropriate.

She bought herself a car, a station wagon, from the 80’s.   It was a cross between burgundy and brown a dusty sun bleached, kinda color.    The two front doors were different colors one was yellow and one was green, neither of the windows opened.   There was fake paneling on part of the car and real paneling on the other half.   There was a third seat in the back that Annie said was a plus because, not only could Annie Jr. watch the road going by through the big rusted out hole back there, but if the brakes quit he could stick his feet through and stop the car.  It sounded like a machine gun as it roared to life and all four of the bald tires wobbled and looked as if they would fall off any second.   Annie said it was because she was missing a few lug nuts, she had five to be exact.   She purchased it at the local junk yard, she registered it, slapped on a ten day inspection sticker and was good to go.   It had a luggage rack though, Annie justified.   ‘Widder Hen’ was written on the back of it in orange spray paint.   She named her, ‘Carol’ after the Brady’s mom.   The stereo which worked well surprisingly played a continuous loop of the Brady’s greatest hits along with an occasional song like ‘Rocking Robin’.   Annie would pull up along side old guys with crazy hats and long hair, thump her music and make faces at them.

I had planned my own outing that day, keeping the whole thing under wraps, because Annie seemed to always horn in on any plans I had and make them her own.   I was planning a shopping day with my daughters, but, different town, different Walmart, no chance of running into Annie, besides her car wouldn’t make it too far although part of her plans involved getting some parts to fix up her car.

I left  after Annie was well on her way to the local Walmart with Duh-Wayne following behind with his scooter tow truck out fitted with a complete car repair kit.  Annie claimed triple A was too expensive.

Dinyell, Slamma Jr, K8, Phil and I pulled into a Walmart several towns away we even changed our plans twice, we parked and the absolute second we did, we heard the unmistakable sound of Annie’s old rattling death trap pull up beside us and there is Annie in her curlers waving and Annie Jr screaming, “HI SLAM!” from the back.   Old black dusty foam is covering his face because there is no fabric on the roof of the car just the foam and it constantly falls down like a snow storm.   His nose is and has been running and it looks like some weird sort of painting across his upper lip, greens, yellows brown all weaved together and different textures.

“I didn’t know you were coming to THIS Walmart.”  Annie said.

“Yes you did!” K8 said.   “You texted me and asked me.”

“Oh well let’s go shopping,” Annie said, hopping out of the car, shoving Annie Jr. into my arms.   I grab some wet wipes from Phil’s diaper bag and start mopping Annie Jr. face with it.

“Annie for goodness sakes, I have clothes for Annie Jr. that actually fit.   Why do you dress him like a ragamuffin?” I asked, sniffing as she approached.   “And why do you smell like pee?”

“My depend is full,” Annie said pulling a bottle of body spray out of her purse and began spraying it.   “Is that better, Slam?”

“No it smells like pee, what kind is it?  And why are you wearing a depend?” I asked.

“It’s called ‘depend overflow’ from my body smell body spray collection.   That why I am wearing a depend.  I also have ‘dried colostomy bag’ scent as well. ”  Then she lifted her shirt displaying a colostomy bag.

“Annie omg why?” I screamed.

Annie laughed her crazy laugh and said, “You did it.”

“Not by choice!” I screamed.

“Oh Slam,” Annie laughed slapping me on the back.   “I am not pooping in it.  I am just wearing it and drying it out.”

“Annie where did you get that nasty poop filled colostomy bag?   Have you been visiting the hospital dumpster again?”  I screamed stepping away from her.

“No Slam.   Duh, it’s from my colostomy bag collection!”  Annie said.

“You have a collection of crap filled bags in my house, and you probably have no idea whose poop it even is?”  I yelled.

“I have an idea of who it belongs too…I collected all of yours.” Annie laughed.

I shook my head and kept walking.

Annie Jr. couldn’t make up his mind which box of Valentine’s cards he wanted.    He wound up getting 8 different boxes plus 2 boxes Annie felt he needed and since he could not possibly give ‘his’ cards away, he had to get double on everything so he could give some away and keep the rest.   He had to get several new and expensive toys.   Annie tossed several clothing items for him in the cart never bothering to see if they were the right size or even matched anything.    “These are nice!” she would scream and toss in a lilac colored shirt that said, “mommy’s princess.”

Annie’s multiple carts continued to increase, in went a book about the digestive system of the walrus, Annie had on her reading list, it had lots of pictures some of them pop up.   In went the entire ‘it smells to high heaven’ hair care collections and then the matching body wash. Why a cat would need both body wash and shampoo is beyond me; especially since Annie avoided water normally unless she was bugging me for a bowl, (she pours stuff all the time except water) or she is swimming in it cause she loves swimming.

She made sure to visit the automotive department, where she bought a cover for her steering wheel made out of fake porcupine fur (you can’t make this up), an air freshener with a bare chested guy with a beer belly on it, a cup holder and a litter bag; she needed a back hoe to get all the trash out of her car, fast food wrappers, empty cans, old receipts, discarded socks and old shoes (she’d had the car two days).

She was even generous to the pets at home.   She had asked each of them for a list of their hearts desires, promising to move heaven and earth to make it happen for them.   She grabbed a hand full of 2 for a dollar cat toys and one irregular chew toy for the dog and called it good.

We left the store making several trips to the car loading all of Annie’s purchases into the big hay wagon Duh-Wayne had attached to his tow truck tractor.   I am not sure where his tow truck scooter went but obviously it was not capable of pulling a hay wagon full of Annie’s spending spree and he’d exchanged it for something more powerful.

The Annie’s horned in on our dinner out and unfortunately, I was forced to ride home with Annie in the death trap.   There wasn’t room in the car for me, since the hay wagon was not able to carry all of her purchases so I had a choice of standing behind Duh-Wayne on the tractor or being tied to the luggage rack.   “Luggage rack it  is,” Annie screamed before I had a chance to answer.

I was glad the first part of the Poor man’s Christmas was over, however the festivities would continue until Annie’s money ran out.    But I was used to it.   She’d been doing it for years.

When we got home, Annie came and said, “Bought ya a present, Slam.   Happy Valentines Day.”   She pulled out a heart shaped box, on top was a beautiful doll with a stunning lacy dress that covered the entire top of the box.    It was exactly like the one I wanted my dad to buy my mom.   I was so touched, a tear rolled down my cheek.

“Annie, this is wonderful, thank you!” I said.

With that Annie snatched the box from me, ripped the doll off the top tossed it to Annie Jr. and said, “Here son, Slam doesn’t want this.”  Then she began stuffing all the nut filled candies into her mouth as fast as she could working her way down from the top while Annie Jr. ate from the bottom up, smearing chocolate and coconut all over the dolls hair and dress.

Yes, a Poor Man’s Christmas with Annie.




Crazy Little Shack

Despite all of Annie’s protests, Annie Jr. adored ‘fool books’.   He loved having me and, occasionally Janey, reading to him.   In fact he loved stories so much, he began reading on his own even though his attendance at school was spotty at best.

He always was ‘ready’ to go to school on a snow day, then stamping his feet and storming off to his room in a huff when he ‘heard’ that school was closed, putting on a big show.  If there was so party going on he would be occupying his seat next to Phil, making sure he got his fill of treats and prizes, then going home with Phil and driving Slamma Jr crazy until Annie decided to pick him up.   Annie Jr. has been driving trucks, back hoes, motorcycles, scooters, helicopters, golf carts, before we even knew he wasn’t a she, and he needs to wait for Annie to come get him; which could be a few hours to a few days late.

Most day’s Annie Jr was at home and if he wasn’t doing some sort of crazy adventure with Annie and Duh-Wayne which was most of the time, he was either being read to or reading himself.    Annie Jr. was very particular about his taste in books.    His favorite, a prized collection of the Prairie girl series , he had gotten for Christmas.   Annie claimed it was one grinched from me in her time machine.

It was one of the few things Annie kept from her grinching escapes to my ‘past’.   That and the easy bake oven that literally burned everything you attempted to bake.

Annie wanted Annie Jr. to share her love of the Little House show.  Annie Jr. hated the show, although he loved the books.   He was somehow convinced, the girl in the book was not even the same girl on the tv.   The mother and son bonding moment over the show was a goose egg, but the mother and son bonding over the book wasn’t.

The pair of them along with Duh-Wayne (because someone had to feed the live-stock and hack a chunk of frozen bear off with an axe for dinner) spent much of the winter in Waleed’s house on the Prairie.    Waleed had decided to spend the next six weeks in his warm little hole on the golf course, contentedly dreaming of grinding ground.

One of Annie’s favorite parts of the series  was the part about making maple syrup.   For Annie, there was just something alluring about tramping through waist high snow around a sugar bush to tap some maple trees.    The book only gave a limited description of how to make maple syrup.

Annie had employed a flock of wood peckers to drill her trees with holes, since her electric drill would not work on the prairie.    She had a couple reindeer she traded Santa, one of her left over dump trucks for,  hooked to a sleigh.    (I wondered why I got a box of empty jiffy pop pans and a bag of mismatched socks.)

The yoke fit Duh-Wayne perfectly, while Annie Jr. practiced almost a non stop jig getting ready for the dance.    Last but not least, they had built a crazy little shack beyond a track, that they had to add to the back yard.    An entire railroad town in our back yard they called Mankato, just for a crazy shack they needed and called yes, the Sugar Shack.

Beyond that her fully grown sugar bush, right in the ever expanding back yard.   One day it was just there.    Now that Annie had most of her gear she needed some lessons.   So she reached out to Blonda.

Blonda was one of the Grosbeak Clan from up North.    The last name had absolutely nothing to do with their noses, because they all had perfectly normal noses.  Perhaps it had to do with the array of colors, that grosbeaks come in.    The clan  seemed to make the world colorful, with their love of nature.   Blonda would make you see the white and blues and grays on a cold winter morning, just with her words.

If anyone knew all about the makings of maple syrup it was Blonda, so it was she, Annie connected with to get some lessons.   Actually things were quiet while Annie was off learning the art of syrup making, it was when she got back that things got a little crazy.

Annie Jr. had went along and had made a sled while he was gone and he was anxious to try it out.    Annie had been begging me to come along and help her with her syrup business.   I was having no part of it, it seemed difficult and any plan involving Annie was more difficult than I wanted to handle, however, I did give into Annie Jr.’s nagging for one ride on his sled.

I pulled Annie Jr. and his sled, way out to the sugar bush.     I figured it couldn’t be all that big, but after three miles of trudging through deep snow to reach the hill that was just around the corner, I was wishing I had not agreed to this one ride.    We finally made it and I see Duh-Wayne and Annie standing at the top of this huge hill.   They are grinning.   I knew then I had probably made a mistake.

Annie and Duh-Wayne piled on the sled with Annie Jr. getting ready to fly down the hill.   Since there was no room for me, I decided to go back home.   Annie Jr. started crying because he really wanted me to ride down the hill.   I didn’t want to because the hill was huge almost a mile long.

Annie said she had her truck and would give me a ride home and that she had  something I could ride on  down the hill.    She produced a skip jack for me to ride.   A skip jack is  a ski with a seat attached to it, and you have to balance it as you ride, sort of a like a unicycle but with a ski instead of a wheel and you don’t have to pedal it.   On the negative side you don’t have much control over speed and there aren’t any brakes, except your feet.   I’d never master the skip jack so I figured, I would at least fall off so much I would wind up walking down most of the hill anyway.   I agreed because Annie had the truck and she offered to get a pizza.    Pizza actually sounded good, as long as she ordered something I liked.

I lowered myself onto the skip jack and before I could even get my balance, Annie gave me a shove and down the hill I was flying, down this steep mile long hill and Annie’s crazy laugh ringing in my ears.     I looked down the hill, rounded the bend and at the very bottom I see a huge snowman and I am head straight for it.   I tried to turn but hit it head on.   Covered in snow with a carrot sticking out of my ear, I see Duh-Wayne and the Annie’s coming to a stop beside me.

I took my ride, I am ready to go home.   I look around for Annie’s truck.

“Annie where is your truck,” I asked.

“Over yonder a ways,” Annie said.    “We have to get our sap first.”

I knew it, I knew it!  I was going to wind up tramping around Annie’s sugar bush to collect sap.   I always somehow got trapped in Annie’s escapades.   After almost 15 years, I should have known better, but it was Annie Jr. who played me like a fiddle.    He had not quite gotten equal to Annie’s devilment but this put him over the top.

Just a couple of containers, Annie, said.   The containers were troughs, and there were five of them.    It took us several hours to collect them put them onto the sleigh, Annie had dragged out there.    The reindeer she had specifically traded Santa for, were back in Annie’s barn on the prairie.    They’d done their job flying the sleigh out there in the first place they could not be expected to fly a full sleigh through the sky.

Duh-Wayne’s ‘die-a-beat-us’ was acting up he complained as he drank glass after glass of sap slushies he made out of snow and sap, so he was unable to help.   Annie Jr. couldn’t help because his ‘feets’ were cold.   He had lost his boots in some deep snow I had forbid him to enter.   Annie said she was the only one insured to drive the sleigh, although Duh-Wayne flew it to the corner store, several times a day.   So it was me pulling it back, while Annie sat in the seat wielding a whip screaming, “Giddy up Slam.”

It was almost dark when we got back to the bottom of the mile long steep hill.   “How far to the truck, Annie?” I asked.  Figuring there must be some other way out from the bottom of the hill and the truck was parked close by.

“Just around the corner,” Annie said.

“What corner?”  I asked.

Annie pointed to the big bend in the mile long hill.   “That one.  The truck is at the top.”

“Annie I refuse to pull all of you up that hill.   You run up and drive the truck down and get us.”

“Slam I can not drive my truck through all of that snow!”  Annie screamed.

“Where is your teleporter then?” I yelled.

“Home.   There were no teleporters on the prairie.”

“There weren’t trucks either!”  I shouted.

“There weren’t?” Annie asked seriously; doing her blank stare and crazy thing with her eyes.

Of course, I wound up dragging all of them and the sap and the sled up the hill along with Annie and Annie Jr.’s  snow collection which for some odd reason they needed to take home.    The only thing I held out for was a warm truck and a huge piping hot pizza.

We get to the top of the hill, no truck in sight.    We still have three miles to go.   We get thirty feet and Duh-Wayne has to go to the bathroom, a number two and the toilet paper is in the truck and guess who is forced to make the trek to the truck for the toilet paper.   I suggest Annie going along and driving the truck back or letting me drive it back, but of course that would be way too easy.

The truck is a standard which I can’t drive, but my cat can.   Duh-Wayne certainly could not be left alone out in the woods a wolf might get him, Annie claimed and Annie Jr. could not protect him.   It didn’t matter that a wolf might get me.

So I make the trek to the truck bring back toilet paper; only to find all three of them sitting around a campfire waiting for me.    Duh-Wayne only had gas.   I retrace my steps this time pulling the sled, the heat of my anger keeping me warm and going.

Once we got to the truck it was me who was tasked with  loading it, while Annie warmed up the truck.   It was an old model A.   She is in the truck, trying to get it started and I am behind it, loading up the vats of sap.   I hear the truck chug to life, it sounds like a tractor and the next thing I know Annie has backed over me.

“Watch it, Slam!” Annie screams as she pulls forward thus running over me again.  Thankfully the snow was so deep I wasn’t hurt.   The truck is finally loaded but of course there is no room for me inside the truck because no it was would be dangerous for Annie Jr. to sit on my lap and someone had to bring the sled back.

“Annie,” I screamed, “You promised me a ride.”

“I’ll give you a ride later.”   she yelled over the chugging truck.

I really felt like just going home and leaving the sled.   I shouldn’t have to put up with this but Annie had the SPCA on speed dial.   Pulling the sled somehow was the lesser of two evils.

The truck got stuck every 200 feet.   “Thank god I remembered a shovel right Slam?” Annie yelled as she and her comrades sat in the truck watching me eating pop corn and drinking hot chocolate.

Half way home the truck was out of gas.   Annie said not to worry about it.   She would teleport it home the next day, I could just pull the sled home they had sufficiently warmed up anyways.   They were all wearing the Olympic heated parka’s; but of course they only had three.

Pizza dinner kept me going until  we arrived back at Waleed’s Little House and I am expecting Annie to dial her cell phone and order something good and she takes a dried up crust out of her root cellar.   She rummages around and says, ‘Ahh some old tomato peels, and some slimy mushrooms, some cheese and how about tuna?  Any one have a problem with tuna?”

“Annie really?  All that work and a pizza made out of old tomato peels and tuna?”  I watch Annie set the cheese on the table.   “Annie is that mold on the cheese?”

“Just a little, we can cut it off,” she replied.

“Why don’t you just throw it into the sky and call it a moon? C’mon Annie, order a pizza. A good one with stuff I like!”

“You like all of this stuff,” Annie screamed.  “Besides there were no phones on the prairie.”

“There wasn’t pizza either or that tv you have in the corner.”

Annie, shrugged.   “I guess we can make the syrup now, since Slam doesn’t want pizza.”

“No Annie, I am going home.”  I said.

“SPCA lets go to the SPCA they will lock up our Slam for neglecting her cats,” Annie and Annie Jr. sang.   For some reason Duh-Wayne was suddenly wearing a leather coat and caps.

“Alright!” I screamed.   “At least I will be warm.”

Warm I was and best there was nothing for me to do.   Duh-Wayne was fire man and Annie was skimming and cooling it.   Annie Jr was running around making sure everything was flowing.

I tried to help but I was forced to wear a sterile gown, a hair net and a mask to keep any contaminates out of the syrup.   Annie kept screaming about my dust and germs, while eating handful after handful of something crunchy spaying crumbs all over the sap as she spoke with her mouthful.

I finally curled up in a corner and fell asleep.   I woke up after a while only to see Annie, Annie Jr and Duh-Wayne finishing a large meal of subs, soda and chips.   “Where’s mine?” I asked.

“Did you help, Slam?”  Annie asked.  “No you slept in a corner.”

I walked home.   I’d take my chances with the SPCA.