Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Val Is a Virtual Ray of Sunshine

You already know that, right? My sunny disposition, my effervescence, my eternal optimism, my Pollyanna-ishness comes across on the page, I'm sure.

I have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Sioux, my sometimes nemesis long-time blog buddy. Thankfully, the requirements for this prestigious award are much less strenuous than finding a MEDALLION in order to cash in 200 Series EE savings bonds. All I have to do is answer some questions, and bestow the Sunshine Blogger award on three other deserving folks. Easy peasy! Because I'm selfless like that, and there's nothing I'd like better (except maybe 44 oz of Diet Coke and some crispy gas station chicken), than to share the sunshine!

Even though they may not want such an arduous task a prestigious award, I am showering the following blog buddies with this gift:

joeh, the Cranky Old Man

River, drifting through life

Jimmy, with his opinions

They are welcome. No need for effusive thanks. I know you're all three clearing space on the mantel for it now. However...if you have a more pressing agenda, like

Playing some golf or shaking your fist at a Beemer driver or kicking back with a dirty water cocktail...

Or going for a walk or taking some thought-provoking pictures or writing a story that draws people into the setting and characters...

Or building a skunk trap or taking your dog for a ride on the golf cart or swimming around your MiniPOOLIO underwater...

Don't worry! This isn't a chain letter. Nothing bad will happen to me if you choose not to participate. Right, Sioux? Right??? I'll put the official rules and my questions for my nominee/award winners below, after my self-absorbed exercise.

Here is more than you'll ever want to know about Val Thevictorian.

1. What was your first singer/movie star crush? That would be the gorgeous David Cassidy, of Partridge Family fame. My sister the little future ex-mayor's wife got the fan magazines like Tiger Beat (I preferred MAD Magazine, probably no surprise to you), and I snuck them out of her room to gaze at my precious. She never knew, as long as I didn't mess up the Donny Osmond posters that she would hang on her wall.

2. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be, and why? Probably England, because they speak English there, and they have some castles. But I'm not too keen on that whole ISLAND thing, so I'd make sure I had a boat, or learned to swim for a really long distance.

3. What was the riskiest thing you ever did? Fell off a ledge above a roaring stream in the Alaskan wilderness while exploring away from our vacation cabin with my sister the future ex-mayor's wife. It was NOT intentional, I was merely getting a better look at two poachers who were on the other side, snagging salmon with giant hooks, and I slipped on the mossy footing. My sister (TFE-MW) grabbed the back of my CPO jacket and saved me. Pretty sure it was only because she was afraid she'd be blamed for my demise if she returned alone.

4. What great TV show or movie have you seen recently? Nothing really recent, though I DO enjoy the show Shameless on Showtime. There's an instant every episode where I'm totally shocked, and say, "Oh, crap!" Even though I know they're...uh...shameless.

5. If you had a theme song (like Ally McBeal did), what would it be? It would be an original creation, sung by Curtis Armstrong (best known to me as BOOGER in Revenge of the Nerds, and MILES in Risky Business, and it would involve the lyric, "Sometimes, you just gotta say WTF."

6. If you could have dinner with five famous people--either living or dead--who would be sitting at the six-top with you? Dolly Parton, Goran Visnjic, Billie Jean King, Robert Duvall, and my mom. Yeah. I'm not a world-saver, or politically motivated. Oh, and sorry, David Cassidy...the table only seats six.

7. What would make up your favorite meal? In other words, what dishes/foods would be on the table for your favorite breakfast/lunch or dinner? It would be a feast, and not necessarily definitely not a healthy balanced meal. I'd have PEEPS, Gas Station Chicken, BBQ Pork Steak, 7-Layer Salad, my mom's crescent rolls, Springfield (MO) Cashew Chicken, green beans wrapped in bacon, and chocolate ice cream with caramel and chocolate chunks. With bottomless Diet Coke to wash it all down. I hope my dinner guests enjoy the spread!

8. What book have you read recently that you would recommend? It's been a good long time since I read anything new. So I'll go with a timeless favorite of mine: The Stand.

9. If you had to "travel" to another era to live, which one would you not choose, and why? Back in the Gangster Era, during Prohibition. Because the movies about that time bore me, and if I lived during then, I'd probably need a drink.

10. Describe a "brush with greatness" you had. When I was in high school, our doorbell rang, and there stood JIM HART, quarterback of the St. Louis football CARDINALS! Yeah. I'm pretty old. Jim was looking for an upholstery business across the road from our house. I don't know why he thought a brick split-level home was an upholstery business, when the other place looked all businessy, and had a parking lot. Maybe Conrad Dobler and Dan Dierdorf let Jim's noggin get thumped a few too many times.

11. What do you most enjoy about writing/blogging? I enjoy telling a story, perhaps with a few embellishments, and I rarely go a day without cracking myself up. I'm a pretty easy audience.

Now, for my little rays of sunshine, here are the official rules I followed, and you must, also.

1. Thank the writer who nominated me. Thanks, Sioux.

2. Answer the questions. (You don't have to use complete sentences, and you can make up words. Like gubba.)

3. Nominate other bloggers for the award. (Good luck with that.)

4. Write the same number of questions for the blogger who nominated me. (I think I can manage that. I kind of made a career of making up questions.)

5. Notify the bloggers I nominated. (You are hereby nominated!)

Here are your 11 questions:

1. What would be your dream job?

2. Have you ever narrowly avoided a catastrophe? Explain.

3. How many laws have you broken? List them. (I won't tell. Promise.)

4. Describe your favorite school lunch meal.

5. Tell us about a time you made someone genuinely happy, with a thoughtful act or gift.

6. Did you ever have one of those giggle-fits where you can't stop laughing, at a time you're supposed to be quiet? Where, what about, and who were you with?

7. If Hick could build you a themed shed, what would be your theme, and what special features would you like to see inside and outside?

8. Would you rather pick up pennies off the parking lot/convenience store floor...or have ladybugs randomly land on you inside your house?

9. Assuming you were in your prime employment years, and not currently retired, how do you think you would fare as a teacher of 13-to-18-year-old students? What subject would you teach them?

10. Would you rather walk alone through a dark graveyard after midnight, or walk alone through a dark church after midnight?

11. Do you think you're a leader or a follower? Do other people see you the same way?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Poparm, the Safety Crusader

It's no secret that Hick recently retired. That he now is boss of no one, save Val. His days of overseeing the safety of a saw-blade manufacturing factory are over. Hick is having withdrawal symptoms.

On Monday, he was at Walmart. The automotive department. You didn't actually think he would help out with the shopping, did you? Hick can't buy his own food. Not even if he could decide what he wanted. No, he was there to have his 2002 Chevy Trailblazer inspected, so he could renew the license.

While he was waiting, Hick spied a safety violation. In fact, he had spied it a month previous, when he went to get an oil change for T-Hoe. Let's forget momentarily that Hick wanted to build his Freight Container Garage, with that car lift thingy, now clogged with the contents of 18 storage units...so he could do his own automotive work.

Hick saw this:

An open electrical receptacle, in the waiting area of Walmart's automotive department. The one he had talked to a the manager of the automotive department about, one month ago. Had pointed out the dangers to young children, and gained the assurance of the automotive manager that the receptacle would be fixed. Which involves the installation of a cover. Not rocket science. Val herself could probably do it. Two screws and a plastic plate.

So...the Trailblazer didn't pass inspection Monday. While Hick waited, he took this picture of the open electrical receptacle. And put it on his Facebook page. Let the record show that Hick DID mention that it was Walmart who seemed to be uncaring in the matter of safety, brought to their attention by him one month ago, with an assurance that the issue would be remedied. He did NOT specify which store. The photo was fairly generic, not giving away the location.

When Hick took the Trailblazer back on Wednesday, after repairs, so it could pass inspection...he saw that the receptacle had indeed been covered.

"You idiot! I'm pretty sure your picture is why your car didn't pass inspection the first time!"

"No, Val. It was broke. I didn't even post that picture until AFTER it had been inspected, and didn't pass."

"Well, good luck NOW, driving your Trailblazer! Who knows WHAT they did to it! Sabotage! Because they have your name, and they know YOU are the one who made them look bad on Facebook!"

"It's fine. They wouldn't do that. I didn't say WHICH Walmart. Nobody could identify that one store."

"Yeah. You go on believing that."

Right now, Poparm is on his way to therapy for his Poparm, in a town 30 miles away. I hope his Trailblazer drives okay.

WAIT! I had to go out to the garage for a forgotten grocery bag, and discovered that Hick had taken A-Cad on his therapy trip! NOT the Trailblazer! I guess maybe he's pickin' up what I'm layin' down...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Inside the World of Hick

I showed you the outside of Hick's Storage Unit Store. Here's what it looks like when he cranks up the door.

Hick has a little bit of everything. If you can't find what you're looking for, come back next week, and it might be there. Hick says he sells at lower prices than some folks, just so he can move the merchandise and make room for new (old) items. As long as he's making a dollar or two off his sales, he'll bargain with you.

He gets new merchandise almost weekly, by going to at least two auctions. Here's a picture he sent me with the caption "auction trip."

He has since sold one of his guitars for $8. He got four of them for $18. An old guy was trying to bargain with Hick on Saturday. He wanted to give $5 for the guitar, but Hick told him he wanted $10, but would settle for $8. The guy said he wanted it for his grandson, but he didn't want to pay $8. Hick said, "That's okay. Somebody else will want it." He sold it for $8 later that day.

The NEXT day, that man came back and said he wanted to buy the red guitar for $8. Hick told him it was in the back. He had two of the red guitars. The old man came to Hick and said, "No, I want the one with the WHITE guitar pick, not the black guitar pick." Hick said, "Oh, I sold that to a guy for $8 yesterday." This old man left without buying a guitar. If he hadn't been so hard-headed about besting Hick in the bargaining process, he could have had the one he wanted the first time.

Hick cleaned out his last remaining storage unit this week. Here's some of what was left inside.

He says there's a lot of stuff for crafts and scrapbooks. I told him that ought to sell pretty fast. I don't think he's put it out yet.

Hick also had some cookware, new, in the box

that he sold to back-creek neighbor Bev for $70. I saw it online at assorted stores for $90-$140.

And he found two plates and two bowls (like large flat soup bowls) with a marking on the bottom. I looked them up, and I think Walmart or some other chain sells them, but I don't know if it's the ones with this dotted mark.

I believe I saw them on eBay for about $17 a plate. Hick says he's going to sell all four pieces for $10 total. Because dishes don't sell very well at the auction, or at his store.

Hick has already told one of his buddies to let him know the next time he hears about a storage unit auction. A busy Hick means a happy Val.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Hick Doesn't Make Cents

Hick called me Thursday afternoon to report that his 2002 Trailblazer did NOT pass inspection. The license is due this month. Which he can't get without a completed inspection. He also sent me a picture, which I'll share with you, in an attempt to placate any antipennyites who are also gearheads. Any antipennyites who are NOT gearheads will have to be happy with a pictorial on my OPC (Old People Chair). But I'm getting ahead of myself.

You may leave a diagnosis in the comments if you know what this is, and why the Trailblazer didn't pass inspection. And guess how much it cost to repair. No prize! Not even a penny! Just the satisfaction of a diagnosis well-guessed.

I had no clue what this was. I sent back a text to Hick telling him that Genius might as well send me a picture of the inside of a computer. It would be just as meaningful to me. I don't know why Hick assumes I will understand what he's showing me.

Here, by popular request, is my OPC

I hope I don't break my arm patting myself on the back, but I think I've captured the ambience of the dark basement pretty well here. Of course it has overhead lights, but I prefer the warm glow of the table lamp, and the ray of illumination from that adjustable floor lamp. You can almost hear the footsteps overhead, can't you?

Oh, and Thursday night, right after I turned on that floor lamp and cranked back in my OPC...the ladybug appeared, made two orbits around the lamp, and landed on my left shoulder, where it sat still for a couple of minutes, then took off for parts unknown.

Here's a view from the back of my OPC, with it cranked open:

That's a reflection on the leg part, I guess, since my OPC does not yet have any blemishes or worn spots. There's the throw blanket I won one year at the Christmas Eve party of my sister the ex-mayor's wife. And way down there, piled on the end of the coffee table Hick brought into our marriage...are the Jolly Rancher Candy Canes that came off the Christmas tree. Don't judge.

Okay, pennyphiles, here's what you've been waiting for...

SUNDAY, March 11, I was off to a good penny-finding start this week. I was in line at The Gas Station Chicken Store, waiting for a man to finish scanning his credit card to pay for gas. I saw a penny at his feet, but I didn't want to invade his space and bend over with my head near his nether regions. There was a lady waiting behind him, though she had come in after me. I didn't think she was a penny-nabber. But just in case, I set my 44 oz Diet Coke on the counter, and took out my phone to get a picture. Effectively calling dibs on that penny.

The Waiting Lady gave me a look that said, "Weirdo," but I made lemonade out that sourpuss by saying, "I collect pennies that I find. I've found about a hundred over the past year." Waiting Lady kind of grunted, humoring me, I guess. But she didn't act alarmed.

The minute that paying dude stepped off, I grabbed my rightful penny and put it in my shirt pocket. It was a 1999, face-up for a change.

I had two near-misses through the week. Technically, they were ACTUAL misses. At Orb K on Tuesday, there was a single penny laying on the counter by the little coin swimming pool thingy at the end of the little coin slide thingy that came out of the cash register. In the past, I've claimed such a penny, but I didn't want to seem greedy to the guy waiting behind me in line. I left it. Regrettably.

In Waterside Mart on Wednesday, I could see a penny peeking out at me from under a black display case of Old Camp little liquor bottles. I think that's the name of it. Looks like some kind of whiskey, and it's twice the size of those little airline bottles that they keep in a glass case. I could have slipped that penny out and pocketed it, but I didn't want the barely-21 clerk to assume I was messing with the alcohol. Because, you know, the opinion of a convenience store clerk matters to me. So I left that one, too. Again, regrettably. But that's okay, because

FRIDAY, March 16, I was on the way to mail letters to Genius and The Pony, and stopped by Riverside Mart again, and when I opened the door, I saw these two beauties:

Yep. Waiting for me. If I'd parked like a normal person, and not cheated over to the right in that space (last one on the end, so not infringing on anyone else's door space), I would have been parked on top of them. I don't have good closeups, though I DID take them, despite a lady in a car three spaces over giving me the stinkeye. The penny on the left was a 2016, face down, and the one on the right was a 1963, face UP. They are on the kitchen counter right now, awaiting transport to the penny goblet in the bedroom.

For 2018: Penny #19, 20, 21.
For 2018: Dimes still at # 6.
For 2018: Nickels still at #2.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny #97, 98, 99. ALMOST TO A CENTURY!
Since 2017 (the beginning), this was still Dime #12.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this was still Nickel #2.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Don't Worry About Hick, He's Used to Doubling Up

The title is brought to you by Mrs. Floyd, owner of the Monarch Boarding House, in the original True Grit, when Mattie Ross of near Dardanelle in Yell County is trying to rent a room. The Monarch is full to the brim, because everyone has come to town to see the hanging. Which has nothing to do with Mattie, who has come to claim her father's body, and hire Rooster Cogburn to catch his killer, Tom Chaney. I won't give away any more of the plot, because, you know...some of you might not have caught the original True Grit back in 1968, and I don't want to ruin it for you...

Anyhoo...Mrs. Floyd reveals that Mattie is expected to share a room and bed with Grandma Turner, a little old lady shown snoozing away under the covers. "Don't you worry about Grandma Turner, she's used to doubling up."

Well, the title doesn't mean that Hick is used to sleeping with strangers in a boarding house. It means that Hick has recently DOUBLED THE MONEY he spent on those 18 storage units. Indeed, he paid back the original $1100 investment within two weeks, and as of this week, has taken in another $1200. AND he still has a lot of stuff to get rid of.

It helps that he had a major Tupperware buyer in Bev, our backcreek neighbor. And that Hick has connections at a couple of auctions. He knows a lady who buys furniture and sundry items there, to resell at her shop halfway to the city. Hick is an astute businessman, or maybe just an incredibly nosy busybody. He knew how much that lady usually bid on stuff, and what she bought. So he told her after the auction last weekend,

"I have some stuff you might like. I bought 18 storage units, and I've got my new garage (the Freight Container Garage) full of furniture and Tupperware. I'd sell it to you for what you pay here at the auction, and you'd know how much, without maybe losing it to a higher bidder. It would save me the trouble of bringing it up here to sell, and also the 20% commission from the auctioneer. You can come look at it, and if you can't haul it in your SUV, I'll deliver it with my trailer."

You probably won't be shocked, nor was I, though Hick was somewhat taken aback...that Auction Lady brought her brother with her. I told Hick that she would have been a fool not to. She doesn't know him! He could be some crazy creeper, luring her to her demise. Even with his Poparm, I'm pretty sure Hick is stronger than most women he meets at the auction. Besides, I doubt that Auction Lady had any intentions of carrying furniture by herself.

Anyhoo...Hick agreed to meet Auction Lady at 1:00 in the afternoon, on Monday, to give her a private showing of his storage unit inventory. She liked what she saw, and bought $300 worth of end tables and lamps and Tupperware and dishes. She said it was exactly the stuff that sells well in her shop. She is planning to come back another time to see about the dresses Hick has with tags still on them, brand new. And more Tupperware.

Hick is also keeping some items for himself. Like this scoreboard, that actually works.

Hick is planning to put it in his sports-themed shack. The Mayor of Shackytown has been neglecting his burg lately.

Thursday, Hick spent the majority of the day re-organizing his Storage Unit Store for the upcoming weekend of selling, and sorting out his fishing pole inventory. He said he has 45 rods and reels in good condition, with another five of them that need some work. He says he'll get $5 apiece out of them. The guy a couple units down sells them for $12, and tells Hick that he's giving them away. However...Hick has pointed out that his are gone, and he's got money in his pocket, while that guy's fishing poles are still hanging there.

Hick is having a blast with this storage unit stuff.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I'm Pretty Sure Marilyn Is Not a Fan of ME, Either

New lottery tickets (heh, heh, when I first typed that it showed up as LOOTERY tickets) come out the last Monday of every month. I generally buy the newest ones for a week or two, because even though winners are supposedly random, there are lots of winners in the early days, and then they level off to the regular odds.

Last month, one of the new tickets was Marilyn Monroe. I'm not a fan of Marilyn. I guess maybe she was before my generation. She was just too cutesy for me, what with singing happy birthday to the President like that. It was a man's world back then, and she played right along with it. Heck, she was probably an asset for the CIA. There are several conspiracies concerning Marilyn, you know. But conspiracytheoryologist Val doesn't even care enough to look into them.

I'm definitely not a fan of Marilyn after buying her tickets. First of all, they were hard to scratch! A quarter would barely do it, and you had to have a really solid surface under Marilyn. The rim of a nickel worked a little better, but I still almost threw out my elbow every time I had to scratch Marilyn.

I buy tickets every day, and of all the Marilyns I purchased, I might have won $5 overall. Not even Marilyn's special box could make me like her. The special box was like a second chance. Or a first chance. If you revealed a letter 'M' you could win the prize underneath. Which might have been something good, or just $5. I even sent two Marilyns to Genius, and he didn't mention winning a fortune. I'm pretty sure he would, if he won one.

The Gas Station Chicken Store had a big Marilyn promotion going on. They even had Marilyn standing in their aisle for two weeks.

Apparently, I was not the only one miffed at Marilyn. One day I dared complain at the counter that I was done with Marilyn, because she made me feel like a loser. And the Lady Owner said, "On Friday, we're all going to rough her up a little bit."

Monday of this week, a representative of the Missouri Lottery was there in-store, for the Marilyn promotion. Let the record show that I DID NOT win anything on the second-chance drawing you could enter my putting your losing Marilyns in a cardboard box with a slot on top, having filled in your name and phone number on the back. I guess one of the other losers was the winner.

Anyhoo...this Rep had a table set up off to the left side. There's really not much off-to-the-side available in The Gas Station Chicken Store. She was blocking the aisle with the Bud Light and the Santa head. You had to come up that aisle there where Marilyn is standing, to get in line for the promotion. I overheard the Lady Owner telling others that if you bought at least two Marilyn tickets, you could spin the wheel.

Well. I buy scratchers every day. But I didn't want to waste my picks on Loser Marilyn. I did, however, want to spin the wheel. I didn't know the prizes on the wheel, but hey, who doesn't want to spin the wheel? When the Owner Lady rang up my 44 oz Diet Coke, and asked if there would be anything else (knowing darn good and well that I buy a ticket every day), I said, "Okay. I guess I'll take two Marilyns. But I feel strong-armed!"

I took my two Marilyns and got in line behind a scrawny guy. His lady friend had been ahead of me, also buying two Marilyns. Dude had said, "You buy the tickets, and I'll pick the prize. I'd buy them myself if I knew I'd win a T-shirt." He seemed to have a Hick-like attitude of what's yours is mine, and what's mine is mine.

Anyhoo...as luck (or that dastardly Even Steven) would have it, that lady won a T-shirt, and Dude picked it out. I think they were all the same, black, with Marilyn on the front. But I guess he needed to make sure it would fit his scrawny frame. Nobody wants a blowsy Marilyn.

I spun the wheel, and it landed on SUNGLASSES. That was fine with me. In fact, that's what I would have picked for my prize if I had a choice. I don't know what the other prizes were, besides a T-shirt, but I saw the sunglasses laying there on the table. Only orange and pink were left. My choice would have been green, but what ya gonna do? I at least had free sunglasses.

As I was picking up my shades, the Rep said I could also have some of the other stuff on the table. So I got THIS:

The two tickets weren't free. They're the ones I paid $10 for to win the 99-cent sunglasses. That's my losing Marilyn on the right, and the (probably) losing Marilyn on the left that's being sealed up in an envelope tonight, and going to Genius tomorrow.

I also raked in a GREEN chip clip, really strong. And a mini notebook with its own pen, and the official MOLottery logo on the front.

It's not as good as an American Tourister suitcase from the casino, but it cost me a lot less to get it for free.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Creature Needs

Last night, I had retired (heh, heh, and I am also retired, get it) to my OPC (Old People Chair) to watch TV. I hadn't been there long. I was watching a DVR of My Big Fat Fabulous Life, halfway wondering why Buddy was being such a ignoramus to his ex-girlfriend while he was away in rehab...and mainly waiting to see if the sudden death that was foreshadowed at every commercial break was Mr. Pigglesworth. Not really paying attention. The other half of my mind was on the next morning, when I was taking some of Hick's storage unit loot over to the house of my sister the ex-mayor's wife.

Sis's daughter Niecy is a kindergarten teacher. We all know that teachers often dip into their own pockets to provide thing for their students and their classrooms. If we don't know that, then we've never been teachers, or had one in the family. Hick had found two boxes of crayons. BOXES. Also in those boxes were scissors and markers and pencils. Some of it brand new. Hick said he'd give the whole thing to Niecy, and she could sort out what she could use, and throw the rest away, or pass it on to her teacher friends if her kindergarteners couldn't use it.

As I sat there, considering what time I'd go, because I didn't want to interfere with the nap time of Babe, Sis's granddaughter who is 4 now...something caught my eye.

EEK! Something was ON me! YIKES! I'd just killed a big spider on the floor the night before! Oh! Please...don't let that be a spider on me!

It's hard to get out of my OPC (Old People Chair) in a hurry. I didn't even reach for the remote control. I just sat up straighter, and yanked out the front of my old ratty baby blue sweatshirt (Ol' Blue is still hangin' on) to see what it was, and flip it off me.

Whew! Not a spider! It was a ladybug. Friend, not foe! You wouldn't believe how hard it was to get a picture. That bug ran back and forth, from side to side, then kept trying to scale Mt. Val. I tried to redirect it with one hand, while taking a picture with the other. Sometimes I got it in frame. Barely.

This bug was as hyper as it was nearly comatose a few days ago, on Saturday night. I could barely keep it from ascending to my neck and probably face.

I finally put the phone down and used both hands, trying to get it on one finger or the other, to get it off my old ratty baby blue sweatshirt. I spent another five minutes or so trying to get that bug off my hand, where it would rather run around and find my wrist and head up my arm toward my face again.

Finally, I got it off my hand and onto the TV tray table, where it ran a couple laps around my yellow bubba cup full of ice water...and then settled down at the edge of that TV tray table next to me.

For the next 90 minutes, that bug didn't move. I swear it was watching TV with me. Then I looked again, and it was gone.

I guess all creatures need companionship every now and then.