Thursday, July 20, 2017

After a Brief Hiccup Yesterday, Val is Back on Track

Yes, make your little crazy curlicues with your finger up by your temple. Cut eyes at each other and snicker. Start staging your intervention.

Val has found her 4th penny in 5 consecutive days!

I suppose I wasn't on track Wednesday. But after skipping that one day, I found another pavement cent today. That makes Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. I'm on a roll!

Today I stopped by the cemetery, then to the farthest-away Casey's for a couple of lottery tickets, then went to my bank. I normally choose the drive-thru, but this time I went into the lobby, because I was trading smaller bills for larger bills to take to the casino tomorrow. Hick and I are meeting my sister the ex-mayor's wife, and of course the ex-mayor, and heading up to our closest casino.

I don't like to put big bills in the slot machines, but when I cash out before leaving, the ticket-changer gives me big bills. Oh, don't think that means I'm always winning! It means that I always come home with a good portion of the money I started with. Unlike Hick, I don't play my credits down to nothing. I cash them out as I go along, getting substantial paybacks.

Anyhoo...there was only one car in the bank lot. I parked way down at the end, because it's near their sidewalk ramp. Have I mentioned that my knees are not fond of steps and curbs? I clicked T-Hoe's door-locker, and started across the driving portion of the lot to the sidewalk.

There it was, right in the middle of the driving lane! A penny! Just for me! In a direct line from T-Hoe to that sidewalk ramp. I didn't stop there to take a picture, because it was the driving lane, by cracky! I took enough risk stopping there to bend over and pick it up.

This penny was easy enough to see, because it had some shine to it. Had some shine, because it was scraped to Not-Heaven and back! Here's a picture I took later, laying on top of my 44 oz Diet Coke at the gas station chicken store. When I got home, I checked his date with a magnifying glass, and it's 2012. No personal significance for me.

Looks like ol' Abe has been run over several times. His backside was barely recognizable as a penny.

I picked up ol' Abe, though, and dropped him in my shirt pocket. That had to be a good sign, right? Finding money on the way to change casino winnings into smaller bills, on the day before going to the casino? And hearing Mary Chapin Carpenter on the radio, singing "I Feel Lucky." Sure. It has to be.

Never mind that I also heard, one directly after the other, while switching stations, Taylor Swift's "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," and Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper." Those were total coincidences, I'm sure...

Yeah, I feel pretty lucky, snagging my 4th penny in 5 consecutive days. Seriously, who leaves home expecting to find money on the bank parking lot?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Charm of the Third Time

I'm thinking of starting my own museum. Pretty sure Hick would build me a shack for it. I'd call it Val's You'd Better Believe It, By Cracky! That's because Ripley already took the other name.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I was only planning a short jaunt to town. Oh, town is the same distance from home. It hasn't moved. But I didn't have a lot of extra running around to do. No shopping, no bill-paying, no letter-mailing, no gas for T-Hoe to guzzle. Just a short trip, for a 44 oz Diet Coke and scratcher tickets. I had that $100 winner, you know, to cash in. Which didn't mean I was spending it all! Some of that was earmarked for my casino bankroll.

I got a late start because I baked a ham. It's not like I'm a gourmet chef, sticking pineapple slices and cherries and cloves and all manner of hammy garnishes all willy-nilly over a giant hogleg. It was a pre-cooked prepared ham, sliced, that I was just warming up so it had the baked flavor, for Hick to eat at will when he wants a sandwich. I figured Tuesday was as good a time as any, while I was up early due to a disturbing awakening by a random noise, and the house not yet heated up by the 100-degree weather.

Once the ham was out of the oven and back in Frig II (seems kind of pointless, right?), I took off for town. The plan was to buy a ticket at Casey's, and then come back next-to next door to the gas station chicken store to cash in that $100 winner, get a couple more tickets, and pocket the change. Unless, of course, there was an alcoholic needing whiskey, or a beggar needing a bus ticket to St. Louis.

You know what happens when Val plans, right? I think I heard Even Steven slapping his knee as he enjoyed a late-morning blueberry muffin with Karma and The Universe. I had smartly chosen to make a left turn and go into Casey's by the back way, cutting across the parking lot of Hick's pharmacy, CeilingReds. But when I came to the cross street, I saw that Casey's was getting their weekly supply shipment. I know Tuesday is truck day for Casey's. I used to work at one. But you never know what time the truck is going to be at which store. There are three of them that I frequent.

Ever the eternal optimist, I pulled onto the lot and squeezed T-Hoe in beside the only other car that fit there, which was blocking the front end of that semi that had pulled parallel to the front of the store. "Oh, well," I thought, "I won't have to wait on other customers in line." That's right. Because there was no line, because neither I (nor anyone else) could get inside. That rolling-bar ramp that they slide boxes down went right from the side of the truck into the left double-door of Casey's. The right door was closed, and I couldn't get to it unless I did the limbo under that rolling-bar ramp. Val's limbo days are over.

Plans foiled, I got back in T-Hoe and went to the gas station chicken store to do my business there. No problems at all. They always cash the big tickets for me, whereas Casey's is usually kind of pissy about it, sometimes with a handmade sign saying nothing over $50, and Orb K's clerks jaw at you to see how much it's worth before they'll commit to cashing it.

Since I missed out on getting a ticket at Casey's, I stopped by Orb K as I headed out of town. What luck! My rightful parking space by the sidewalk slope and sewer grate was open! I patted the won money in my shirt pocket, and hopped out to get a ticket. Of course I took a moment to eye-scour that sewer grate to see if I might find a penny. Nope. I was three for three on being fresh out of penny-luck.


This kind of borders on the unbelievable! No way am I finding a penny for the THIRD DAY IN A ROW, AT THE SAME STORE!

Oh, yes, my blogfriends. I DID!

Almost missed it, so dirty and camouflaged it was, there on the pavement! This one was 1994. At last, a date with significance! That's the year Genius was born. Not that I knew the purpose of that connection.

Until five hours later, when Genius called me at home. He never calls. I'm lucky to get a one-line text every 10-12 days, if he needs money early. But last evening, he called me with some good news. That will have to wait for another time.

Right now I'm happy with the news of my own. Looks like I'm well on my way to becoming a pennyillionaire!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beggars Weepers, Givers Keepers

Yesterday I told you about my adventure on Sunday, when the latest beggar accosted me at the gas station chicken store. Now don't you go feelin' sorry for that beggar. I gave him 30 cents, by cracky, that I didn't HAVE to give him, and he looked really well-kempt and un-drunk for a beggar. For all I know, he had a stock portfolio, and a laundress to keep his clothing so white, and a Lexus parked around behind the building. Still, I gave him the smallest change I had besides a ten-dollar bill. Sucks to be him, I guess, when Red the alcoholic got my dollar a few days previous.

Anyhoo...I told you how I found a penny at my next stop. To me it's kind of an Even Steven thing. I do something good, I get something good in return. Karma. And pennies from heaven! They always make me think of my mom. Like ladybugs.

Anyhoo...yesterday (MONDAY) I didn't go to the gas station chicken store. Not because I'm waiting for them to put up a sign that says NOW WITH FEWER BEGGARS. But because I had other things on my agenda. I was headed down to Bill-Paying Town to Walmart. AND I was stopping by the cemetery, since I missed my visit with Mom on Friday because she was getting a new neighbor one row up and one plot over. I hollered as I drove by, though, that I'd be back when things weren't so busy.

When I stopped at the cemetery, I remembered the fake flowers I bought a while ago that have been waiting in the back of T-Hoe for Hick to snip the end of the stem so they'll fit in the mandatory flower cup thingy that screws onto the marker stones. Hick didn't get around to it yet, but the day was so bright and sunny that I felt like getting out and putting those flowers on, rather than having my standard drive-thru curb-side talk with Mom. I must say, the two sets of flowers that I mixed together looked nice. For plastic flowers, anyway. One set was light yellow and white, kind of like a lily shape, and the other set was more of a daisy kind of design, but orange. They really looked better than my description. I think a strong breeze might blow them out of that mandatory flower cup thingy, but for now, they're festive.

I went on with my errands. Walmart. Casey's. The bank. No pennies from heaven for me, but I was looking. Rather than go back to the gas station chicken store for my 44 oz Diet Coke, I decided to get one at Orb K. I haven't seen a beggar there in nigh over three years.

Of course my rightful parking space by the sewer grate was taken. As were all of the spaces along the front. That's okay, because I don't park out front except for my rightful space. I go on down to the end of the building, where I know that nobody is going to park up against me where I can't get my door open when I come out.

I started the long walk down the sidewalk, casting my eyes along the curb, just in case I might find a penny. I even looked under T-Hoe's running boards when I got out. Nope. Not today. But there were no beggars with their hands outstretched, either. I headed inside for a Polar Pop (just their name for a soda) that only costs 83 cents at this store. And of course I was getting some scratch-off tickets.

The girl who waited on me is their friendliest clerk. I set down my Polar Pop, and she looked surprised, because usually all I buy there are my tickets, unless the Diet Coke at the gas station chicken store is on the fritz.

"Are you ready for a big winner today?"

"Yes! I AM ready for a big winner. I don't have a ticket to cash in today."

She got out my Golden Ticket and a $100 Frenzy. "A number 3 and a number 14!" She doesn't usually give me this info, but she was especially chipper for some unknown reason.

I paid and took my change out of the little dish at the end of a coin slide they have hooked up to their register. Still scanning the penny-colored tile for pennies. Nope. None.

Back outside, I clicked T-Hoe's door unlocked and leaned over to set my soda and tickets inside. Then I straightened up and turned to climb in. I was up against the sidewalk, so I didn't have to climb up on the running board. Just step my foot over and sit down. As I grabbed the door frame to steady myself, I saw something on the side sidewalk.

"Are you kidding me?" I often speak right out loud to Even Steven and the Universe.

Yes. A penny. I don't know how I missed it on the way in. I guess I was looking to the left, where all the cars had been parked. Or the sun wasn't shining just right. Or it didn't get dropped until I went in. Of course I grabbed my camera for "pics or it didn't happen" as Genius once told me.

This one was 2006. No significance for me.

If my rightful parking spot up by the sewer grate and handicap slope had been available, I never would have found this penny. Nor would I have found it if I stopped at the gas station chicken store for my 44 oz Diet Coke instead of here.

Right place. Right time.

For SURE...because my $100 Frenzy ticket had a WIN ALL symbol, and won me $100.

Sorry, Beggarman. Looks like you were a day early, and $100 short.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Keep on Trackin'

Have you heard? Val has a new tattoo on her forehead! Uh huh. It says, "I'm a patsy, ask me for spare change." Yep. I can't see it myself, when I look in the mirror. But to other folks, it must be as obvious as one of those yellow-and-black, circle-triangle, nuclear fallout shelter signs that we had all over my childhood middle school, pointing towards the locker rooms.

SUNDAY. I had three stops to make. Save A Lot for hamburger. Gas station chicken store for 44 oz Diet Coke. Orb K for lottery. Simple enough. I switched up my order of stops, because it's easier to make right turns than left, across the congested traffic area with no stoplights, by Save A Lot and Orb K. I bought my hamburger without incident at Save A Lot, and headed to my next stop.

My rightful parking space was available at the gas station chicken store. But there was a man sitting at one of the round picnic tables blacktopped into the area beside the building. We were separated by a concrete parking thingy, so that man was not in any danger from me and T-Hoe. I felt uncomfortable, though, with him sitting there. I sometimes think that T-Hoe's fashionable daytime running lights (they were all the rage in 2008) are annoying to the clerks when they sit out there having a smoke break.

I didn't waste any time with him sitting there looking at me. I shut off the engine and counted out the 69 cents to go with my dollar for my magical elixir. I forgot all about that quarter and nickel I had put in my pocket to use when I left home. I carry my change in my hand as I run my soda at the fountain. I grabbed my $50 scratch-off winner to cash in, and headed inside.

After buying my soda and some tickets without incident, I headed out to T-Hoe, my head down looking for ground money as usual these days. I had my 44 oz and tickets in my left hand, and T-Hoe's door clicker in my right. Before I could open the driver's door, that picnic table dude was in front of me.

He was an older gentleman, wearing a white cap that may have had a flag on it, a white shirt with a collar and placket and buttons, cream-colored pocket shorts that were not of the cargo variety, white crew socks, and light-colored shoes. Yeah. I know. I dropped the ball on the shoes. I'll never make a good witness with this slipshod attention to details. Oh, and the guy had a black metal cane with a bent handle. I couldn't open the door without hitting him.

"Do you have any spare change?"

"No, I don't." I sure wasn't giving him the ten or twenty in my shirt pocket from my cashed in ticket!

"Any little bit would help. I need to catch a bus to St. Louis."

Huh. The last I knew, there is no Greyhound stop in Backroads. The closest one I remember is down in Bill-Paying town, 20 miles south, not on this guy's way to St. Louis. Then I remembered the coins in my pants pocket.

"Well...I have this nickel and quarter..."

"Okay. Thank you."

I got in T-Hoe, too rattled to write an initial on the back of my tickets so I could remember where they came from, too rattled to take my two pills that I always bring along and take here when I start home. I headed for Orb K to get the lottery tickets I'd planned on from there. Normally, that's my first stop, but Sunday it was my last. And my rightful parking spot by the handicap sidewalk slope was available!

Of course I was still on the lookout for some pennies from heaven. None at Save A Lot, none at the gas station chicken store. None from the Mother Hubbard's cupboard-worthy pavement of Orb K, either.


No, I 'm not trying to hypnotize you with a spiral-patterned sewer grate. Nor show off my fashionable and cool mesh New Balance. I'm trying to show you what I almost missed!

A penny from heaven, people! I found ANOTHER penny! This one was 1996. No significance to me. It was the year two years after Genius was born, and two years before The Pony was born. You can bet I was on that penny like Hick on a Casey's donut!

Anyhoo...who knows if that spot would even have been available, or if that penny would have been dropped (or already picked up) if I hadn't dallied those few minutes with the change beggar at the gas station chicken store. I was there in that parking space at Orb K at the time I was supposed to be, in order to find that penny.

My life in on track, I think.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Hickest Touch

I'm sure you're all familiar with the Midas Touch. And pretty sure you haven't heard of the King Hick Touch, though you could probably guess what it involves. Everything King Hick touches turns

Hick has a habit of secretly bringing in his free-range chicken eggs and cooking them while I am not near the kitchen, and then washing ONLY those pans, plates, and utensils used for his dastardly deed. Nothing else laying on the kitchen counter that he has used in the hours leading up to his clandestine feast, mind you. Only performing enough washing to hide his household crime.

I can always figure it out, though. Because the next time I go to use such kitchenware, I find fork holes in my favorite non-stick skillet, and dried egg ridges on my metal spatula, and a Braille-rough surface on my glass bowl or plate. Last week, Hick committed an especially heinous kitchen crime, using one of only 4 bowls given to me by my mom when I first set up my own household, two of them having cracks that had been glued by some family member, and this one found in the sink being one of the two GOOD old bowls without cracks. Now rough of surface due to microwave-cooked Hick free-range egg.

Of course I gave Hick a stern talking-to. I think he actually listened, because when I yelled over the back porch rail as he was noodle-riding in Poolio that I was heading to Walmart...he said that I COULD pick up something for him. A bowl to cook eggs in the microwave.

Back when microwaves were all the rage, and the size of a washer/dryer combo, we had microwaveware. It was ugly and gray/tan and hard plastic. I'm pretty sure I threw it away 20 years ago when we moved from my $17,000 house in town to the idyllic homestead where we reside today.

Even though "just picking up a bowl" for Hick would entail a hike across Walmart (dodging beeping backing-up fat-carts) to the non-food end, I said I would. But fortune (and I'm pretty sure a smirking Even Steven) smiled on me that day. I found a shelf of plastic picnic sets on an endcap on the mayo/pickle aisle.

They were only five dollars! Believe you me, THIS Five-Dollar Daughter knows the value of a buck. Or five. I could get FOUR bowls, and four round plates, and four trays, and four cups, and four sets of plastic silverware for only FIVE DOLLARS! That's much more bargainful than hiking across the store to find a single bowl that would certainly cost more than the pro-rated 25 cents of one in this set. I nearly chortled with glee as I snatched up my Hick picnicware and headed for the checkout.

When I got home, Hick was still in Poolio, though floating not on noodles, but slightly below the surface on some oval net-raft thingy rated just under his weight. I proudly held the picnicware out for him to see. And noticed


Oh, dear. My bargain was now not so bargainful. I had paid FIVE DOLLARS for that set, and it was damaged, by cracky! At least I still had the receipt. Yesterday, I returned those damaged goods to Walmart. I was second in line, waited less than two minutes, and found another set quickly.

Hick was gone to Kansas to visit Genius for a day, so he has yet to try out his new egg bowl. I'm pretty sure that chicken I saw Copper the neighbor dog clutching in his mouth as he ran across the yard yesterday morning was our last remaining hen.

Even Steven is such a prankster. The neighbor dog, not so much.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Updates On Val's Latest Connections

 So...remember the other day when Val gave a lady alcoholic a dollar, just for asking?

Today I went by the gas station chicken store, intending to get some gas station chicken to have for lunch (and supper, and tomorrow's lunch) with my 44 oz Diet Coke. Sadly, the only things in the chicken warmer were some sad cardboard trays of wedge fries, and two thighs. I took the two thighs. It was only 12:15, by cracky! And Asian Guy Clerk (AGC) said they had already sold 4 trays of chicken. I think that's a lot, from his reaction.

Anyhoo...while I was waiting for the chicken gal to write up my ticket for the two thighs (two thighs are better than none), I asked AGC if that lady the other day ever got her whiskey.

"Did she get her whiskey? That lady I gave a dollar to, from my change?"

"Oh! We found her another bottle! She said, 'I feel so bad!'"

"That's okay. I figured she needed that dollar more than me."

"Yeah. Heh, heh. For alcohol!"

"She made no secret what it was for! I knew for sure it was going for whiskey."

AGC turned to ring up the next customer, who had walked up to the register as we had been chatting while I waited on my chicken. That guy had put a case of Natural Light on the counter. But it was after NOON now, and he didn't look lit, and he didn't ask me for a dollar. I hope he didn't take offense to our chatter.

Because we all know that Val cares about what random people buying cases of beer in convenience stores think of her.


My internet has been working swell since a guy came out and fixed it on Thursday afternoon. Except for last night, when it quit for an hour. That was due to a heavy rain, I think, because it came back and has been working ever since.

The DISH technician said that our original DISH was out of alignment. I asked him ANIMAL might have done something to knock it all cattywompus. But Technician made a face that was probably like Kind Lady at the other end of the phone when I called DISH about the problem. Like I didn't know what I was talking about. When in fact I was talking about a HUMAN animal, like Crazy Dude, who I still think had something to do with my internet outage.

Uh huh. Hick went to court about Crazy Dude on Monday, internet was broken on Wednesday. I told Hick I bet Crazy Dude was up here using night vision and weedy branchy camouflage gear, with deer musk rubbed all over himself so the dogs wouldn't get too wound up. Hick gave me a look like the technician and the kind lady. Hey! It could happen!

Anyhoo...Technician said that we might have had a sketchy signal for a while now, and it just went away. Funny how it's been fine unless there's rain or snow. Never sketchy when the weather is fine. He also said that the satellites shift in the sky. So I guess the earth tilted on its axis Tuesday night when the dogs were barking. Or that the satellite just decided to take a left turn or alternate route.

Technician said he didn't need me for anything else until he was done, and that he'd meet me around front on the porch. I heard a bunch of thumping and bumping that sounded like he was running around the porch. But I knew he had pulled his van around to the side of the house by the DISH, because I TOLD him he could drive through and park in the yard. So maybe the dogs were after him. I did hear a couple of screams, but they were high-pitched. Then I heard some drilling. And some thump-thump-thumping.

Hick came home and got in Poolio, and said that we had a new DISH for the internet. I don't see it, myself. Hick said it is tilted a different way now, that he could tell from comparing its position while floating on two pool noodles. I told him that I had specifically told Kind Lady that I did NOT want a new DISH, nor the upgraded service that I can get with it. But that I HAD heard some drilling.

Well. Here's what I found out from Hick, inter-Backroads spy. HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) had come down to go for a swim with his 7-year-old son and teenage daughter and her friend. He SAW Technician putting on a new DISH. The thumping and screaming had been the kids running around the porch to the only entrance Hick made to the pool deck, and beating each other and the deck with the pool noodles.

I'll leave you with the original picture of the DISH with the electrical smoke haze, and the later one after the alleged installation of a new DISH.

Wednesday morning hazy DISH.

Thursday afternoon sunny DISH. I thought it was the same one, until my untrained eye took another gander at the porch-screwed part and the stem-like part and the knobby part.

Oh, and this morning at 9:30, I saw a DISH van going out the road in front of our house, like he'd made a house call up by Buddy's house. Maybe there IS some truth to that satellite shift theory. But now that I think about it...Buddy's wife was at the courthouse Monday with Hick for the case against Crazy Dude...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #67 "The Celebrated Flying Pig of Backroads County"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week I give you a tasty offering of science fiction, an anthropomorphic hero, and a public service announcement for sunscreen. I see you licking your lips in anticipation! Get this one before it goes out of fake print. It's just what the doctor and PETA and the Isaac Asimov Society ordered!

The Celebrated Flying Pig of Backroads County

Maxwell knew he shouldn't fly so close to the sun. He knew he shouldn't fly at all. But what's a pig to do, when people get so gosh-darn excited about special events that will only happen when PIGS FLY?

Maxwell likes being the center of attention. Or a national marketing campaign. He's not yelling "WHEEEE" now, though. Nobody has offered him a pinwheel to hold out the window of the spaceship where he's currently being anally probed. Just like nobody offered him sunscreen when he flew too close to the sun, and was picked up by those curious folks who, telepathically, told him, "We think you have good taste. Now for the testing."

Will Maxwell escape their clutches before all that's left of him is his squeal? (127 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Pork Belly Futures..."At least we HAVE a future. Unlike tasty Maxwell, and this Thevictorian woman. We put no stock in her fake work."

Truffle-Hunting Pigs..."Hang in there, Maxwell! We’re rootin’ for you! Can't say the same for this fake author. Her fake book should be buried so that it never sees the light of day. Thevictorian is a real ham, and her fake writing is nothing to truffle with." 

Silk Purse..."No, I am NOT made from Maxwell's ear. Nor any other part of his crispy, cracklin' epidermis. But I can assure you of one thing: I'm a way better bag than Val Thevictorian. Somebody should tote her, over-the-shoulder, to the nearest coat check or baggage-handling station, and then conveniently lose the ticket."

A Football..."I AM made from some of Maxwell's epidermis, and I'm ashamed to admit it. Though not as ashamed as I'd be if I was made by Thevictorian, from words randomly compiled all willy-nilly in her imagination."

Bacon..."Alas, even I cannot give Val Thevictorian good taste. Her writing lacks sizzle."

Jimmy Dean..."Let's get right to the meat of the issue. This fake book is full of filler. There is very little organic material in Thevictorian's writing. Even if she spiced it up, her story would still be tasteless."

That waitress in the movie Porky's, putting down the phone..."Has anybody seen Mike Hunt? I'm pretty sure people would rather see Mike Hunt, given the choice of Mike Hunt or Thevictorian's fake book."

Chicken in a Biscuit..."Remember me? Yeah. THAT is going to be YOUR future, Thevictorian. Except nobody is ever going to have a taste for you, or rue your demise."