Thursday, January 23, 2020

It's a Not Very Big World After All

Isn't that a catchy title? Somebody could write a song about that, and maybe market it to theme parks to play during a ride...

That's not as good as Season 5, Episode 4 of The Middle, though. It was their 100th episode, and the fictional town of Orson had a celebration which included Ron Cougar Mellencamp, singing "I Was Born in a Teeny Place."

Anyhoo...Wednesday, Hick drove us to the city to cash in my $1000 scratcher at the lottery office. It's in a really out-of-the-way place. Like an industrial park. As I was getting out of A-Cad, putting on my jacket, and grabbing the folder with my precious and the claim forms, Hick said,

"I know that guy."

"What guy?"

"Behind us. Getting out of that car parked in front. Hey, bud!"

Yes. Of course we drove 90 minutes, to an out-of-the-way place, for Hick to know one of the only two people there! This guy lives in Sis-Town. A couple of blocks from Sis, herself. He had just cashed in HIS $1000 winner (what was my theory about winners not being random at all, but hitting in clusters around the state every month), and was going back inside for their bathroom. They have really clean bathrooms at the lottery office.

Anyhoo...after lotterying, we went casinoing. Not on the same money, of course! More on that adventure another time. Because I must tell you what happened when we went Goodwilling.

We'd driven about halfway home when Hick hit the exit ramp. It was pretty clogged up, for then being just after 3:00. The city rush should not have been this far south yet.

"Wow! Who knew there would be so many people out today, cashing in their $1000 lottery ticket, stopping by the casino, and heading to Goodwill!"

"Yeah. Seems to be a lot of them." Said Hick, for once getting a joke.

He turned into the mini mall with the Goodwill, turned up a parking aisle, passed a couple empty spaces, and parked.

"Huh. Will you look at THAT! What are the odds?"

It was a van from the company Hick USED TO work for, BEFORE he was lured away to start a competitor from scratch, with just an office manager and president. Where he just retired from a couple years ago, having made quite a business out of it, from the ground up, taking an empty facility and wiring it and filling it with machines that also make saw blades for butchers.

"Heh, heh! I wonder if I'll see anybody inside Goodwill that I know."

Turns out, he did not. I saw a dude get into that van. Open up a snack bag of some kind. Take a couple bites, and drive off. Hick was disappointed. But conceded that maybe the driver had been in the grocery store next door, and not the Goodwill.

Yes, it's a not very big world after all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

In Case You Have Some Extra Sympathy Sitting Around

For those of you who may have excess sympathy (I never do), Hick's latest pity party needs a tiny violinist. Oh, Hick would never ask for it himself. He soldiers on, troubles coursing off his cotton-duck, Carhartt-clad back as if they were water. It is I, the main thorn in his side, who can sense his vulnerability.

On Sunday, Hick was planning a play date with our across-the-road neighbor. Not so much a play date, like shooting guns or digging through his storage unit treasures. A play date, to watch the Chiefs in the playoffs. Hick said the human daddy of the Killer Poodle and Crazy Rottweiler had asked him to come over and join him and some other guys to watch the Chiefs. Maybe it was reciprocation for the free hay that Hick gave him for his horses the week before. Or maybe he just saw Hick at the right time for an invitation.

Anyhoo...I was meaning to text Hick on Sunday morning, while he was at his Storage Unit Store, to see if he needed to pick up something to take to the festivities. He'd only told me about it the night before. Not enough time to whip up a 2.5 hour batch of Chex Mix. Or maybe he wanted to get some beer, since his home brew had another week to ferment. Hick could even have taken some bottles of the homemade wine that had been gifted to him. It would be a nice gesture. I mentioned before, Hick came home early from his Storage Unit Store, due to lack of customers and sore joints and the 26-degree temperature. He said that when it was time to go, he planned to get in his truck and drive out of our compound, then return.

"I'll leave in the truck, so the dogs don't follow me. Then when I come back, I'll just go down their driveway. I don't want the dogs to follow me on the Gator. They don't get along with their dogs."

Well. That's certainly an understatement. Though since their dogs massacred all our chickens, one or two at a time, we haven't seen their dogs the killers over here for a while. The presence of intimidating Copper Jack, the side-neighbor's dog, might also put the kibosh on such invasion.

So, Hick had his timeline all planned out, and his strategy. He was looking forward to it, as he's a gregarious guy, and a lukewarm fan of the NFL. It's not NASCAR, by cracky!

Within a half hour, Hick relayed information he'd just received by text.

"I won't be going to watch football. They're headed to the city to pick up a grandkid. Oh, well. I can watch it here."

Which he did, not wanting any special snacks, and snoozing intermittently in the La-Z-Boy. Hick got a text later in the afternoon, saying the neighbors were back, and he was still invited, although they didn't have time for the mister to make his chili. Hick was fine with finishing the game at home. No ill will. Stuff happens.

In retrospect, Hick lost an opportunity to unload that football crock pot as a gift...

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Hick Needs a New Marketing Strategy

Hick has an item he has been trying to sell since last year at this time. It's been in his Storage Unit Store, with no takers. No interest. This week, he changed his marketing plan.

"I've got a crock pot that's a football. I was sure somebody would want it, but nobody's even looked at it. I think I'll move it up front, with the Super Bowl coming up."

"A crock pot?"

"Yeah. In the shape of a football."

"You mean a warmer? Like for dip or something?"

"A crock pot. Like a football. With a lid."

"It sounds like more of a warmer for serving hot food. What's kind of lid does it have?"

"A lid that goes down on it."


"Uh. ALL lids go down on it. That's what a LID does! What's it made of?"

"It's a football."

"IS IT GLASS OR PLASTIC! Just answer the question! I know it's not a leather football."

"Well, it's plastic, to look like a football. But the underneath part is glass."

"I'm just saying, I don't know why anybody would want a crock pot shaped like a football, for cooking regular crock pot stuff. But they might want a warmer to serve snacks during parties they have to watch a game."

"Yeah. But nobody wants it. I think I'll move it up front. By my football stuff."

"Where DID you have it?"

"In the back, with the cooking stuff. Because it's a crock pot."

"Maybe it's because people don't shop at flea markets during Super Bowl post-season. It was 26 degrees this weekend!" 

Anyhoo...Hick was scheduled to sell stuff at an auction on Monday night. He had it all packed up. Decided to take the "football crock pot" with him. Sadly, on the way out of Backroads, he saw a gal come around a curve and spin 3 times on the just-snowed road, and into a ditch. He decided not to go to the auction.

I asked Hick how much he was asking for his "football crock pot."

"Eight dollars."

Monday, January 20, 2020

Hick's Joints Are, Apparently, Relapsable

Hick had been feeling better on Saturday, but Sunday he came home from his Storage Unit Store early. At 11:20 a.m.! He always stays until after the church crowd. But here he was, moaning that his knee and hip really hurt. Looks like he's had a relapse of his malady. He said it felt like that time he had an infection in his knee joint fluid, and the doctor used a LONG needle to drain it out.

His knee is not swollen, nor is it red. He says it sometimes makes a crunchy sound. I propose that he overworked the knee when helping an old friend move, earlier in the week, by carrying furniture up and down stairs. Not a normal activity for him. AND, he knelt on it while fiddling with the motor thingy in the big triangle tub in the master bathroom. Also, I propose that in protecting that knee, Hick changed his stride, and that aggravated his hip. I am not a doctor. Just a proposer. If he's not better in a few days, Hick will go to the doctor.

Anyhoo...I'm sure that Hick's malady was not helped by hanging out in a storage unit Sunday morning, at 26 degrees. He ended up in the La-Z-Boy, covered with an afghan knitted by an old family friend in Alaska over 30 years ago. Fortified by a garlic bologna sandwich with pepper jack cheese, and some off-brand ruffles potato chips, he was strong enough to be a crotchety old man. I made an escape to town, leaving him to switch channels between the KC Chiefs playoff game, and the Barrett Jackson Auto Auction. Of course, first I had to find his auction channel, since he had no idea of the number or the name. VELOCITY, for anyone interested. Channel 246 on DISH.

Anyhoo...I think I caught Hick in a nap when I returned, because he was a little out of it, and congenial. I'm not sure what he's going to think when I show him what I got today in town.

That's a moneybag symbol, which means WIN ALL. Or as Hick calls it, a winnell. I spent some of my as-yet-unhatched chickens (in the form of lottery winnings) on a $10 ticket.

That's another $100 winner! So...over the past four days, I've had two $100 winners, and a $1000 winner.

I'm pretty sure this gravy train is due to end soon. Or clog my arteries.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

I Typed Smugly With Glee When I Found Three Pennies and a $100 Lottery Winner in One Week...and Then I Met a Woman (In the Mirror) Who Found a $1000 Winner

Some of you seem to think I'm lucky. I THINK YOU'RE RIGHT!

Saturday, I bought a $1000 winning ticket! Never mind that I'd already found three pennies for the week, and bought a $100 winner on Thursday! Same kind of ticket, too. Here's a pic of the whole thing. You know, to prove it happened.

Because there's nothing people like to read about more than a winning lottery ticket they didn't find, unless it's the step-by-step details of not-their win, I will elaborate.

I scratch my tickets in order, left to right, top row to bottom row. I don't bother to uncover the prize unless I have a match. I was thrilled to have a winner on the last space. Even more thrilled that it was a 5X symbol. I was excited, because I knew I'd won $25. That's what I expected it to be.

I scratch off the prize from right to left. To see the zeros. I can tell by where they are if they're going to be a $5 prize, or maybe a $10, $15, $20, or $25 on the other side of the little zeros and the decimal. But this one had BIG ZEROS! So I took my picture right then. Prolonging my excitement. At that point, I was thinking I had another $100 winner, TIMES 5!

Imagine my SHOCK to find $200 for the prize! Everybody knows that 5 X $200 is $1000! Except Hick, who looked at it, and and said, "You won TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS?" He's still a little jealous that I had the $100 winner a couple days ago. Then he put aside his peeved-ness, looked closer, and said, "Does that mean five times? That's a THOUSAND! You won a THOUSAND dollars!"

Yes. Yes I did.

Let the record show that my buying schedule was off. I got this big winner at the Sis-Town Casey's. I'm usually there on Fridays, between 11:00 and noon. This week, I didn't go, because of the forecast of freezing rain that never materialized. So I needed to get to the bank, and stop for gas, on Saturday instead. I left home at the stroke of 11:00, to get my bank business done before it closed at noon.

Of course when you're on a schedule, stuff happens. The bridge was flooded again, so I had to go the longer way. A car in front of me stopped dead in the road. I don't know why. I'm don't follow too closely, so I didn't hit it. I just had to wait until it was ready to drive again. No idea what was going on. Lost, maybe, because of the flooding, and taking another route.

On the road in front of the bowling alley, a truck was stopped in the road. Seriously. I never encounter road-stoppers. But within two miles, I had two! That truck made a T-turn after I went by.

Since my plans had already been altered, I decided to pull into the cemetery on the way by. I hadn't made my weekly visit, and a few more minutes wouldn't hurt. On from there, I was in the home stretch for the bank. Less than a mile away. When I saw flashing lights up ahead.

They were the flashers on a little gray sedan. As I got closer, I saw that it was NOT stopped in the road, but was moving at about 10 mph. It was the follow-car for a guy driving a yellow forklift. I DON'T KNOW! It's the first forklift I've encountered in traffic. I don't know what makes them run, but it had something on the back that looked like a keg of beer. Surely not. Must have been fuel. I forgot to ask Hick about it.

Anyhoo...I got to the bank, but all the parking spots were full. By ALL, I mean the 10 spaces in their parking lot. So I went around back to the drive-thru, where each of the two open lanes had two cars already waiting. I made the right choice, which was the right lane. That car drove off in no time, and I put in my deposit for The Pony's account, $15.65 to replace money he'd used to pay his credit card. We make him use it for gas, and pay it off every month, to build credit.

Anyhoo...since I couldn't go inside, I couldn't break a twenty from my weekly allowance that I'd set aside for getting two fives, a roll of dimes, two rolls of nickels, and two rolls of pennies. They won't send out more than two coin rolls in the canister thingy. So...I decided I had enough change for the week, and that I'd use that twenty on scratchers.

I was conflicted on whether I wanted four $5 tickets, or a $10 ticket and two $5s. In fact, I was still debating as I walked inside to pay for T-Hoe's gas. Still deciding as I looked at the ticket case. I went with four of the $5 tickets. This BIG WINNER was my 3rd choice. I figured that since I'd already won $100 on that kind of ticket this week, my odds were low of another winner, even if it was from a different store. If I'd gotten a ten and two fives, I wouldn't have my BIG WINNER.

This ticket is one I've been buying for about six weeks. I looked on the website for the December winners, and saw several $1000 winners on this ticket. I don't believe their winners are totally random, because every month, you'll see a cluster of big wins in different towns, and the same one or two tickets will be the winners. THAT'S why I'd been playing this ticket, not because of the second chance on the back, or just because I like the older tickets. Unfortunately, I'd had about a dozen of those tickets win NOTHING. But I kept buying them, and got my $100 winner to break the losing streak on them.

Not sure if I'll keep buying them now. Maybe until the end of the month, when I see a new winning pattern from January.

Yes. I know there's no way to tell if a ticket is going to be a winner, or where that winner will show up. Of course I DO buy a lot of tickets. But I seem to have more luck than anyone else I know.

Saturday, January 18, 2020


Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune is chugging right along like the Little Engine That Could. Nothing spectacular, but increasing weekly in a workmanlike manner.

MONDAY, January 13, I spied a heads-up 1999 penny at my feet, while standing at the counter of Orb K. I took a picture. I know I did. Not a close-up, because there was a guy so close behind me that we might as well have been recruits in line for a physical and our vaccinations upon reporting for boot camp. I'm pretty sure that bending over and extending my ample rumpus posteriorly was not a good idea. Anyhoo...once I got home, that penny-picture had vanished! Yet I still had the penny itself.

Oh, well. Easy come, easy disappear off my hand-me-down phone. Good thing that I found a second penny as I went out the door of Orb K!

It's in the center of the photo. Kind of hard to see. I made sure to watch for people flinging open the glass door, as I bent down for the close-up and the nab.

It was a face-down 2013. And I avoided a noggin-knockin', because nobody came out while I was documenting its discovery.

THURSDAY, January 16, I dropped a load of laundry in the washer before I left for town. I absentmindedly tossed in a generic Bounce, and adjusted the dryer settings so it would be ready when I got back home. You know how your mind recognizes something different, but you shunt it aside? That's what I did, when my mind noticed a pinkish spot near the dryer's lint trap.

Once home, as I was standing at the washer, tossing wet clothes across the space occupied by a laundry sink I never wanted, and into the gaping maw of the dryer, my mind noticed it again. I silently (okay, maybe out loud) cursed Hick for his carelessness. Just like him to leave something behind, even if 30 years of nagging had finally spurred him to clean out the lint trap. I figured this was a scrap of a receipt that he had washed and dried in his pocket. Or maybe a scrap off a shop towel that had been left behind. Those rags don't last forever.

Oh, I'm sure all of YOU, with your perfect 20-20 vision and keen perceptual skills, would have immediately recognized that as a penny. I, myself, did not. Not until I bent over to make sure Hick had actually cleaned out the lint trap (he had not), and discovered this face-down 2015 PENNY!

Of course I'm claiming it! Do you really think Hick would plant a penny there and leave it for me ON PURPOSE? No. He would not. He is greedy about his own pennies. Puts them in a big plastic Coca Cola bank, next to the bathroom door. It's over half full! We'll need a crane to lift it out.

Anyhoo...that's 3 pennies for Val's collection this week!

2020 Running Total
Penny     # 5, 6, 7.
Dime       still at 1.
Nickle     0
Quarter  0

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, January 17, 2020

Achy Breaky Parts

Our hero Hick has been under the weather. At least for a day, on Thursday. He said his joints ached, and he was tired. He seemed to think it was the snow and rain moving in for Friday morning. I asked if he'd changed any medications, or forgotten to take some. He had not. I suggested that it might be from helping an old friend move on Tuesday. You know how extra physical exertion really hits you two days later, when your muscles get all stiffened up. Hick DID say he had carried a headboard out of the attic of a church. Yes, I'm dying for the details, but I'm not sure I want to know.

Anyhoo...I didn't know of Hick's ailments until I came home from town. I'd been to Save A Lot instead of my regular Walmart shopping spree. So there weren't quite as many groceries to carry in. Still, I had two heavy boxes. I stopped T-Hoe in the driveway to text Hick. Can't call from the garage since Hick had that metal roof put on. And he can't receive calls in the BARn. We'd be better off with two tin cans and some twine, rather than Sprint.

Anyhoo...I knew Hick was in the BARn, because I'd seen SilverRedO parked in front. When he's home, Hick will help carry in groceries. I figured he'd hop in SilverRedO, drive over to the house, and take the Gator back over. Imagine my surprise when Hick came huffing and puffing through the people-door of the garage.

"Whew! I hope I can make it back over there! My legs wanted to give out!"

Hick only had two trips from garage to kitchen. I carried some soda and a lighter box to the side porch, so he didn't have to keep going up and down the steps. On the last trip, I said

"I didn't know you were going to walk! Why don't you take the Gator back over there?"

"Because, Val, then I'll have the Gator AND the truck at the BARn. I can't drive them both back."

"In the morning, you could drive the Gator back over there to get the truck to go to town. By the time you get back home, you might feel like walking back to the BARn after you park the truck under the carport."

"No. The battery is bad. The Gator won't work in the cold. I need a new one."

Of course he does...

"Here. Get in T-Hoe, and I'll drive you back over."

"No. I can walk."

"Why? I know what it's like for your legs to hurt. It'll only take a minute. Get in."

"No. I can do it."

"GET IN! You drop me off at the casino doors. I can drive you to the BARn!"

Finally Hick got in. We had to take the long way, up the driveway, cross by the deep sinkhole, and down the BARn field. The short route, along Shackytown Boulevard, was prohibited, because the front yard was too mushy for T-Hoe's tonnage.

Hick puttered around in the BARn for a couple hours, then came back to the house in SilverRedO, and mixed himself a Jack and Diet Coke in a red solo cup. I'm pretty sure his pain went away. At least temporarily.

The good news is, for my trouble, Even Steven rewarded me with a $100 scratcher win.

That's the back side. Imagine if somebody didn't pay attention, and forgot to scratch the back! I'm pretty sure the lottery people have thought about that, too...

The front of the ticket looked like this. I didn't want you to blow a brain fuse trying to find the winning numbers. There aren't any, since the winner was on the back.

Yes, on Thursday, Hick was under the weather, and I was over the moon. When I showed him my winner, Hick said wistfully,

"I wish I could win a hundred dollars."

Sorry. There are limits to my helpfulness.