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When Laundry Day, Dishes Day, and Yardwork Day fall on the same day

The name's Ian. Ian M. Dudley. I like my Diet Tab shaken, not stirred.

Pictures don’t lie. Neither does this one. There IS a reasonable explanation.

Apparently my post of a few weeks ago about using games to get your kids to clean the house didn’t go over too well with a few readers.

Maybe more than a few of you. Child Protective Services wouldn’t tell me exactly how many complaints they got, but it was enough to trigger a warning letter and a visitation.

Nothing causes a pang of worry like reading a letter from CPS saying they have concerns about your children while said children are scrubbing the floors with toothbrushes under the impression that this will landsquid-proof your home.

Such correspondence makes you look around and see your home the way a stranger, a judgmental stranger with the power to take your kids away, might see it.

The interior, no big deal. Nothing a wad of cash thrown at a cleaning service can’t fix.

Yes, that wad of cash was earmarked for this month’s psychiatric medication, but I’m sure I can get by just fine without it for a while.

Turns out, actually, the wad of cash required to get the interior ship-shape is the size of all my money in one big pile.

In other words, EXPensive with a capital E, X, and P.

Leaving no wad of cash to throw at a landscaping service for the exterior.

This is a problem.

Now I don’t know about you, but during the winter, I don’t mow my lawn. The wet trimmings clog the inside of the mower and I have to keep reaching into it to clear them out.

Given that I’m allergic to grass and I’m also quite attached to my fingers (and want to stay that way), this can lead to unpleasant issues.

Besides, the lawn is getting constantly watered during the winter period, which encourages growth. If you come along and start mowing it, the grass is liable to get confused.

Does he want me to grow or not? Why water me if he’s gonna hack me up shortly thereafter? Is it possible we’ve been wrong all this time, and Ian’s a sadist?

That last question might be from the Missus – she talks in her sleep at the same time the blades of grass are conversing with each other. It’s very confusing.

So, during the rainy season, I adopt a live-and-let-live attitude towards the lawn, and maintain that attitude until summer.

Which means that right about when the weather is at its absolute, most unbearably hottest, I have to figure out how to cut down a lawn that looks more like an over-planted corn field bent on world domination than a suburban backyard.

If the corn stalks were twice their normal height and shockingly ignorant about personal space etiquette.

Given that it’s not quite summer yet, my backyard looks (or, I should say, looked) a mess.

Not something to make you all warm and tingly inside when you know CPS is coming over, no matter how many ASMR videos you watched before bed.

So this weekend I had to mow the lawn.

Lose my children, incur the wrath of the Missus, mow the lawn.

Unfortunately, I’d been a little lax on the laundry duty as well, and had been for over a week.

Well over a week.

Well over weeks might be more accurate.

Which means I’d already employed every stitch of clean clothing I owned at the office.

Except for my suit.

The one I was married in.

It hangs (or, I should say, hung) in a hermetically sealed case alongside the Missus’ wedding dress.

The case is made of gilded glass with bronze and gold trimming. We made it into a little shrine. With candles and incense and everything.

Well, until a friend said CPS might frown on that. Then we disposed of the candles and incense. But I drew the line at the spotlights. They stayed in place and on.

I’ve learned from past experience what a thirsty business lawn-mowing is. And being genetically disposed towards sunstroke and fainting, I knew I needed to stay hydrated for the colossal endeavor before me.

But the kitchen sink was full of dirty glasses and plates because I’d gotten a smidge behind on that too.

The only clean glass I could find was the last remaining clean brandy snifter.

I’d already used up all the paper cups in the house, as well as the wine glasses and coffee mugs, to support my Diet Tab soda addiction.

Hell, I’d even started drinking out of my cupped hands because the Missus had hidden that last snifter for an emergency.

Well, now we had an emergency.

On the plus side, I find the snifter lets my Diet Tab breathe, enhancing the flavor.

Why not drink it out of the can, you ask?

As if, heathen. But let me ask you this: just how am I supposed to get my frozen Diet Tab ice cubes into the can, eh?

Eh??

That’s what I thought.

Now I’ve already mentioned my grass allergy. Turns out it’s not just my skin that gets all scaly when in contact with grass. It’s my lungs too. Which is why I wear a respirator when I mow.

And I’m a formerly scrawny, still very white guy who burns all too easily, which means I also wear a hat.

At least it isn’t a fedora, dude.

I looked into a space suit to wear during yard work, but those things are bulky, uncomfortable, and heavy. Not ideal at all for taking care of business around the house.

Expensive, too. Fortunately, CostCo has a very generous return policy.

The CPS letter put me in a bit of a panic, so rather than wait for some laundry, I broke out the last clean outfit I had in my possession and got to work.

Yes, I cracked open the Shrine. May the Missus forgive me.

Which explains the photo at the top of this article.

Now many of you are asking, “Ian, I can see the slacks, but why the jacket with no shirt on underneath? Why not just mow the lawn topless?”

The CPS officials certainly asked that when they showed up, unannounced, a week early.

As I was mowing.

The jacket is to protect my arms and back from the sun. I already told you I burn easily.

And I could hardly go to the store to buy sunscreen dressed like that.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My books are available!
 

The Santa Claus Gang:

The Santa Claus Gang: A Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE, and another fine showcase for my artistic abilities!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 

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The end of our civilization could have been avoided if my parents had just bought me a dog as a kid

I have something I need to get off my chest. A horrible crime. A crime against Humanity.

Committed by a child.

Committed by me.

When I was a young grade schooler, my parents wouldn’t buy me a dog. They said it was about personal responsibility, about feeding and otherwise caring for the dog, but I know now that isn’t true.

It was about dog hair. It gets everywhere.

As someone who has since owned dogs, I understand where they were coming from. But at the time, I was bitterly disappointed.

My parents’ choice of substitution for a pet did little to ease this bitterness.

A hermit crab.

Or, more accurately, a string of tragically doomed hermit crabs.

At first, when left alone with my pet hermit crab in its makeshift tank filled with gravel and a little water, I just grumbled under my breath about the unfairness of it all using cuss words my parents didn’t realize I knew.

I also took to poking and prodding my hermit crab.

With my finger.

Now at face value, that seems like a pretty unwise course of action. And in general, I would agree because, as expected, I did get bitten.

Okay, bitten or pinched, or maybe both, I honestly don’t know which actually applies. But whichever it was, it hurt.

But the lesson I took away from that was not ‘don’t poke the hermit crab.’

Alright, the primary lesson I took away was not that. Instead, I admired that hermit crab for the tenacity with which it clung to my throbbing, bleeding finger. I realized that with a little guidance, this will and tenacity could be sculpted into something truly amazing.

Not to mention dangerous.

So I started building new tanks for my hermit crabs. Hermit crabs because they ended up needing to be replaced often. If my parents had ever suspected why, they would’ve put a stop to my work and perhaps saved us all a lot of trouble.

These new tanks were designed to stretch the hermit crabs’ minds, to challenge them and to weed out the weak and the stupid.

It worked.

As my culling of the herd continued, the tanks became more and more diabolical and fiendish in their design.

I can’t find the detailed notes I kept of my experiments (if memory serves, I burned them), but I do remember some details:

  • Mazes dead ending into the base of a blender modified with a pressure sensor set in the floor.
  • Oiled ramps that led down to hot coals.
  • Electrified floor panels placed along the most direct route to food.
  • A series of inter-connected tubes, filled with smoke to drive the hapless hermit crab towards a waiting, ravenous crab spider.
  • And in one brief but disastrous experiment, a shallow pool with a hungry landsquid lying in wait.

That last one caused major problems in its own right once the landsquid figured out how to escape.

Due to my parents’ continuing refusal to purchase a dog, my unholy crustacean experiments continued for years. I went through an untold number of hermit crabs in my quest to create the perfect pet / killing machine.

My parents just thought I had bad luck and whenever the subject of a pet dog came up, would look at each other and nod knowingly, as if to say, “We were right not to get him a dog.”

If only they’d known the truth.

Don't let his soft, cuddly appearance fool you. This hermit crab was (and still is?) a deadly killer.

Is this the face of a killer? In one word, yes.

My experiments would’ve continued to this day had it not been for Toby.

Toby was my last hermit crab.

Toby successfully ran the gauntlet, and to be frank, in the end I was more than a little afraid of him.

I sure as hell didn’t stick my finger in his tank.

The problem with Toby was that my experiments were too successful. He survived everything I threw at him, including radioactive isotopes (don’t ask how I got them) and lawnmowers. Every time I thought I had come up with something that was sure to kill him, such as the tripwire triggered arc welder, he would sense the trap and sidestep it.

Then he escaped.

At first I wasn’t terribly concerned. I just made sure I didn’t wear open toed sandals, checked under my sheets thoroughly before going to bed, and insisted my mom use hospital corners when making my bed. I felt with these reasonable precautions I was safe.

Then my math and physics textbooks went missing. Oh sure, not all at once, but within the span of a couple months.

I had a pretty good idea who was behind the thefts. Confirmation came when my missing copy of A Brief History of Time turned up with corrections scrawled in the margins.

Corrections written in landsquid ink.

Only one creature was crafty enough to tame the mighty landsquid. I knew then that I had unleashed upon Humanity a terrible monster.

Toby was too smart for me to capture, as my previous experiments had already demonstrated. Clearly, I had only one option left to me.

I burned down our house. I made it look like an electrical fault, and no one else was harmed, but I just don’t know if I succeeded in killing Toby.

After all, all he really needed to do was break into a pet shop and sneak into another hermit crab tank (no problem for a creature of his vast intellect). Then all that remained was to start teaching his brethren.

It’s this chilling thought that keeps me awake at night: that Toby laid the groundwork for a vast army of super intelligent, evil hermit crab descendents that will rise up against us.

My parents should have bought me a damn dog.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My books are available!
 

The Santa Claus Gang:

The Santa Claus Gang: A Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 

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