Saturday, November 16, 2019

Methinks It Must Be a COINspiracy!

Where are all my rightful pennies? I am searching for them as hard as ever, yet the parking lots and convenience store floors are bare! I can only surmise that The Universe is conspiring against me.

Only two scenarios can explain my drought. Either the populace of Backroads has become raving penny-pickers...or the cashiers who'd been tossing out pennies in the hopes of seeing Val's ample rumpus have decided that the view is not worth a red cent.

Only one penny revealed itself to me this week. On SUNDAY, November 10, I accidentally found a penny on my way out of Orb K. I'd scored my favorite parking space next to the yellow-striped handicap walkway with the gentle ramp up the sidewalk. As I shuffled along, careful not to dislocate a kneecap on the slight slope, my eyes were glued to the ground, lest any irregularities send me sprawling.

I almost missed it! Lucky for my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune, my eyes were drawn to the discarded cigarette butts. Would YOU have spotted this week's lone penny?

There's no shame if you missed this face-down 2016. Val IS a professional penny-finder, you know. That's why The Universe pays her the big bucks cents.

THE END IS NEAR! The end of the Penny Year. I'm concerned that I won't reach last year's total. At least I'm already killing it with dimes, nickels, and quarters!

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 113.
Dime      still at 19.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 4.

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

2017 TOTALS (Started in March, 2017)
Penny  78
Dime   6
Nickel  0
Quarter  0

Friday, November 15, 2019

Hick Is Not the Only Freak in Backroads

Lest you think Hick is an anomaly in these parts, I assure you that he is not. His cronies are all cut from the same cloth. Hickcloth! It's not so much a tangible thing, like a flannel houndstooth or silky paisley or a sturdy canvas duck. It's more of an attitude.

Last night, Hick sat in the La-Z-Boy, laughing at his phone. He's a simple fellow, yet so complex.

"What's so funny now? Are you watching YouTube videos again?"

"No. It's This Guy." [You might remember This Guy, and This Guy's Wife, who sold us the $5000 house. Hick has been friends with them since high school.] This Guy's Wife put a picture on Facebook. Heh, heh! There's This Guy, holding a possum by the tail!"

"Wait! Let me get my glasses! That's a BIG possum!"

"Yeah. It comes up on their back porch, and eats the cat food. Every time it does that, This Guy grabs it by the tail, and throws it in the front yard."

"Doesn't it just come back?"

"Yeah. And he does it again!"

"That doesn't seem very efficient. But at least a bite can't give him leprosy, like an armadillo."

"I told him I have a trap. We should catch it, and bring it out here."

"NO! Why would you do THAT? We have our own possums. Like the one you threw down the sinkhole, and the one you threw over the fence in Copper Jack's field next door."

"I didn't mean HERE, Val! I meant we'll let it out down by the low water bridge. By the guy who has all the poop trucks dumping on his land."

"Well. I'm pretty sure one of you is going to get bit."

I think there's good money to be made if somebody wants to open up a daycare for retired men. Kind of like a doggie daycare. They could meet up with their friends every day. Have some activities so they don't get bored. Snacks. A recliner to take a nap. Then their wives pick them up at the end of the day, when they're all tuckered out and can't get into trouble.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Third Cut Is the Deepest

Hick has been driving me crazy (so uncharacteristic of him, I know, but try to suspend your disbelief momentarily). Every time I say something or have an opinion, it's WRONG!

Tuesday, we took T-Hoe to the doctor. Not Mick the Mechanic, Car Doctor (DON'T GET ME STARTED), but my people-doctor. The roads had a glaze of ice, and I was actually glad that Hick would be sweaving me. Ice skids must counteract his sweaving, because I don't notice it in inclement weather.

Anyhoo...I wanted to take T-Hoe, for the actual 4WD, rather than A-Cad, with the AWD. You know, so all four wheels could be pulling consistently on our hilly terrain, rather than grabbing hold in a spin. I've never had a problem with T-Hoe in ice and snow.

We pulled out of the gravel road down by the mailboxes, and started up that big hill where Hick is so proud of the SCHOOL BUS STOP AHEAD sign he asked the county to erect. (Heh, heh, you know what I said!) The road was a solid sheet of ice. T-Hoe worked like a champ. It was slow going, but we didn't spin.

"Whew! I'm so glad we have the four-wheel-drive!"

"It's not in four-wheel-drive."

"WHAT? I TOLD you to put it in four-wheel-drive as we were going out of the driveway!"

"It's fine, Val."

"Do you at least have it in AUTO, so it will switch to four-wheel-drive in a skid?"

"No. It's just in two-wheel."

"WHY do we have a four-wheel-drive vehicle if we don't even use it when we need it? It's one of the last things that works on T-Hoe!"

"I don't know why you get so worked up. It was fine."

"Yeah. Until it isn't."


Leaving home on Wednesday morning, heading to the casino, we passed the neighbor's house at the top of Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill.

"Oh, look. Jim got a new Gator-thing. That red one. I saw it fly by the house the other day."

"What makes you think it's his?"

"Um. It's parked under his carport?"

"That doesn't mean it's his."

"Why would somebody else park a new Gator-thing under Jim's carport?"

"Do you see his truck?"

"No. He probably drove it to work."

"He has the work van for that."

"You are so hard-headed! If you see someone riding a new Gator-thing, and it's parked under his carport, I'm pretty sure it's his."

"I don't know. Maybe somebody else drove it down here and left it. Maybe he borrowed Jim's truck."

"Maybe Jim didn't drive the van home in the ice storm, because it's not good on ice. Maybe he watched the forecast, and took his truck to work yesterday and today, to pick up the van in town. But let's think up all the far-fetched ideas that would prove my logical assumption wrong."

On the interstate highway, headed down south to the casino, we saw several sections of the safety cables mowed down, and several cars off the side of the road.

"Huh. I guess it must have been pretty slick along here, even though there's not much accumulation in the fields."

"Yeah. Hey! I wish you'd get away from this truck. He'll need over here. He's gonna ride right up on that car in front of him."

"That's HIS problem."

"No, YOU are the problem. You and that stupid cruise control. I don't know what kind of game you play. It can't be that hard to break it and start it again. YOU are the reason people have road rage. Quit driving beside him in the fast lane. Back off and get behind, or go around him already."

"Val. You have NO IDEA how I drive!"

"Uh. I'm pretty sure that I do."

A few miles post-truck, I could see the side of the road again. Hick commented on a white subcompact car sitting at an angle on the grassy swath past the shoulder.

"Looks like that one spun out on the ice."

"Well. I don't think so. I think a guy just decided to park his crappy dented car there when it ran out of gas."

Two can play Hick's game, you know.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

I See a Whole 'Nother Barn in Hick's Future

Hick is approaching the point where he can't go out alone. I need to hire someone to be his personal shopper. Not do the shopping FOR him, but to accompany him on his shopping trips, and say, "NO!" Someone who will mean it. Who will put their foot down. Who will answer only to me. Oh, who am I kidding? Hick would soon have such an accompanyist turned into an accomplice.

Look what Hick bought on Tuesday, in the 45 minutes he was unattended when he dropped me off for my doctor appointment.

Let the record show that we do not have a horse.

According to Hick: "Bought saddle stand and blanket for $50 should all be worth $125"

Hick sent the picture to two of his auction buddies before he bought it. They agreed that it was a good price, and he should get at least $125 for the saddle/stand/blanket combo.

Funny thing is, while waiting to leave for the doctor, I put the TV on one of the cowboy channels, about a guy taking people on a trail ride. Hick commented that he hadn't ridden a horse in 30 years, and that one of the women on the show needed a bigger saddle. Who knew Hick knew anything about saddles?

I guess I'm at fault, for that channel, and because I asked Hick to drive me to my appointment. He never does that, but we had an ice storm the night before. Roads were treacherous. The temp was 11 degrees when we left home, and 14 when we got to the doctor 45 minutes later.

I told Hick that he should come in and wait. He could sit down in the main lobby. The gift shop opened at 10:00, so he could have snuck himself a snack, or had a soda while talking to the volunteer old lady who runs it. Hick said he would just wait in the car. I said he could go over to Walmart and get the butter that I forgot on my shopping trip the day before. For some reason, Hick did not seem interested.

"I think I might just run over to Goodwill. I'll be back in time."

He was. With a saddle loaded in T-Hoe's rear.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Does She Have An Account Here?

Last Friday, I took four savings bonds to the bank to redeem them. Oh, I have more than four that I need to unload, but I have to ration them to make sure the bank doesn't turn me away. It seems to be a major production at my facility. In fact, I got a 3-part episode out of it a couple years ago, on the quest for the elusive MEDALLION needed to verify the transaction:

Medallion, Medallion, Who's Got the Medallion?

What the Puck Does This Have to Do With a MEDALLION?

And Now, For the BONDage Faux Pas

I haven't really had a problem with taking a few bonds at a time. Sure, I should have taken these in January, February, March, and April. But now is better than later. I still have time to get the rest of 2019's in before the end of the year. Gosh! Bonds mature so fast! Seems like only yesterday they were earning interest.

These are Series EE U.S. Savings Bonds. They're like a triceratops, or a coelacanth in the animal/fish world. You can't even get them in paper form any more. They've been electronic since 2012. Val kicks it old-style, though. They were given to me in paper, and I had no desire to convert 169 of them to electronic. Technology is not Val's friend.

Anyhoo...I waltzed into my bank branch (refraining from pirouetting so as not to show off) with my four matured EEs and my death certificate. Well, not MY actual death certificate, but my mom's, which belongs to me. A customer had just left, and I was the only one in the lobby! Even rarer, TWO tellers were at the counter.

I could have gone to either one, but they were both playing the Public Employee Standoff Game. Head down, ignoring me. Oh, I don't think so! Val is well-versed in the Public Employee Standoff Game, after five years working for the state unemployment division. Neither teller was fiddling with any paperwork or computer screen. So I strode purposefully to the right. The time for waltzing had ended.

I chose to go right, because I thought the teller on the left was the one who'd intimated that I'd brought her a counterfeit cashier's check from my credit union after SHE had called the wrong institution to verify it. Back when Hick and I were buying the $5000 house.

Anyhoo...Blondie, the early-20s teller I dared to expect to help me, looked up when I set my folder on the counter. She was nice to me. Fake nice. She really needs to up her Fake-Nice game. I'm also well-versed in Fake-Nice, having made it through 28 years of teaching with one of the lowest parent-complaint rates among my colleagues. I attribute that to having a super-secret blog on which to vent.

Anyhoo...I told Blondie

"I have three things to do. I'd like to buy a roll of nickels, make a withdrawal from my account, and redeem four savings bonds."

I'd have worked from the simplest to the most complex, but Blondie pushed aside my two dollars for the nickels, my counter withdrawal slip, and went straight for the bonds.

"Do you have your driver's license?"

"I do." 

I pushed it across the counter, along with Mom's death certificate with the official seal, since the bonds were in her name, with mine as TOD. And THAT'S when it got interesting.

"Does she have an account here?"

"Um. No. She's deceased."

"I know that."

"Since 2015."

Blondie called over the other teller, who thankfully was NOT the counterfeit-crier.

"SHE [gestured to the bonds] doesn't have an account here. Can we cash these?"

SERI-OUS-LY!!! They're 30-year bonds! I'm so sure people take them back to the exact place they got them! And why would having an account there be a condition for redeeming them? I think they're a little bit different than a personal check drawn on another bank.

Anyhoo...the other teller gave the go-ahead.

"Should I keep this?" Blondie held up the death certificate.

"No. But it wouldn't hurt to keep a copy, just in case, for your transaction."

Good thing! Because those certificates cost $13 to get with an official seal! I'm not doing that two more times to cash in my other 8 bonds for 2019! I think SHOWING verification is plenty. They don't have to KEEP it!

Anyhoo...Blondie hacked away at her keyboard. I said I wanted the money deposited in my account, not cash. She seemed a bit slow, like maybe she needed to ask more questions. I pulled out a form from my folder.

"I usually get one of these forms. For taxes."

"It's going to take a minute!"

Well. I was only trying to help. She went and copied the death certificate, and came back with such a printout for my tax records. She counted out the cash for my withdrawal. She forked over a roll of nickels for my two dollars.

Blondie got nicer the closer she got to getting rid of me. I don't know why she cared. As a former Public Employee Standoff insider, I know that whether she served ME the rest of the day, or a hundred other customers...she was getting paid the same.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Something Weirdish, This Way, Mums

Val Thevictorian is no stranger to strange dreams. Thursday night I had a doozy, wherein I was touring a special museum, run by my ex-colleague, the Home Ec (heh, heh, she hated that) teacher down at the end of my hall. Homie's museum was in a large VICTORIAN (how fitting, my dream brain has a sense of humor) three-story house.

I can't really describe the collection her museum was devoted to. You know how dreams are. Things may make sense there, but no word exists for it in the waking world. Homie's treasures were some kind of dollies. Not play babies, thought that might also be a dream joke, since Homie gave out the battery-operated crying babies to her parenting classes. But in my dream, the dollies were of the hand truck variety. Used for carting things around.

The most special dolly of all was on the top floor. It was the only one. Made in sections, like a pull-out step-stool thingy. Three sections. It was designed to move PEOPLE like Hannibal Lecter!

I was on the second floor, on my way back down, having completed my tour. I encountered my MOM on the way up.

"Oh, Mom. You've gotta see the one on the top floor. It's the best."

"Okay. I'm on my way."

Homie was running around, directing people and being a font of information for her dolly museum. Mom turned to look over her shoulder as she was headed for the steps. She told Homie,

"I hear you have a really special one on the top floor."

And Homie IGNORED MOM! Didn't answer! Acted like she wasn't even there!

That didn't bother Mom. She went on up anyway. She was never one to take offense.

ANYHOO... that was a weird dream, though not unpleasant. I hadn't dreamed about Mom in a while. Nor thought about Homie, who retired a couple years before I did.

I went on about my Friday. Stopped by the cemetery for about five minutes on my way to the bank to redeem some matured savings bonds Mom left me. The year gets away from me. I mean to do them each month, but I've got a backlog of 11 right now. I've got to take a few at a time, lest the bank tellers get all discombobulated about too many. I also got gas and mailed the boys' letters. Picked up my 44 oz Diet Coke and scratchers.

By Saturday, I'd kinda forgotten about the dream. When I came home from town, the dogs came running, including our new (since July) adoptee Marley, who we've let out of the pen for two weeks. I thought he was adapting well, staying in the yard, near the other dogs, though not interacting so much. Yet this time, a vicious fight ensued between Jack and Marley. I won't go into it here, but it wasn't just a run-of-the-mill test of dominance. It was like a Michael Vick kind of event.

There were two stages to the fight, and I could not get those dogs apart. Again, I'm not delving into it, but by the time it simmered down, and I got up on the porch, headed for the kitchen door, I had blood on my arm. Not mine.

This really shook me up, such violence between my fleabags, and me powerless to control them. Shook me up. As in shaking, as I tried to fit the key in the lock.

Do you see what I see? I'm not talking about the rough, weathered hardware of my kitchen door lock. I mean


I haven't seen a ladybug in a LOOOOONG time. And now that we're having temperatures at night in the 20s, I sure didn't expect to see this one. Yes, I know that it's technically a beetle, not a bright red ladybug. These orange ones are what we have around here, and we've always called them ladybugs.

I agree that the extreme closeup does this one no favors. Close enough to see its undercarriage in the reflection is, perhaps, too close. Anyhoo, I was so happy to see that ladybug that I calmed right down from my dogfight fright. I set my stuff inside, and took a picture to document my ladybug visit.

Regular readers know that I consider a ladybug a sign from MOM, due to our joke about a horde of them in her house that she refused to exterminate, merely vacuuming them up with her Dustbuster, and letting them go outside. And the fact that I saw one every week, in assorted venues (including crawling on a baby's ear during an Open House visit at school one evening), after Mom died in February 2015.

I'm not a big believer in coincidences.

OMG! I just clicked to set this for automatic posting, and noticed it will publish on 11/11. Kind of like the 11:11 I've been seeing on the clock over the past few days. I'm not all New-Age-y, or particularly spiritual, or a numerologist...but 11:11 makes me think of Mom, too.
Lots of theories on that 11:11.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

I'm Pretty Sure Hick Is Trying to Kill Me, Now With Auction Cookies

First there was Auction Meat.

Let the record show that Hick did not actually buy the Auction Meat. He came home blathering excitedly about it. "I should have bid on it, but I wasn't sure you'd want it." Yeah. I would not. Especially since further details revealed that Hick didn't even know what kind of meat it was, the box only marked MEAT on the side.

Friday night, at 7:58, I got an email from Hick. A picture.
With Hick saying "I bought you some cookies"


"You have to bake them I didn't know that but they look good"


"But there is a reward at the end"

"Maybe The Pony will want them."

"Maybe they have marshmallows in them you might like them. Im home"

"Okay. I was pretty sure I heard you walking. But sometimes it's not."

So here's the deal. I got to looking at the picture, and I saw that this package of  "cookies" is supposed to be refrigerated. Yet I see it laying there on a chair at the auction. Hmm...I wonder how long this package of "cookies" has gone UNrefrigerated.

Hick said that it was in the refrigerator at the auction. "She does that. Keeps cold foods in the refrigerator or freezer."

"Sure. And where is the  cherry pie under the cookies in that picture?"

"Cherry pie? There ain't no cherry pie."

"Uh huh. The picture doesn't lie."

"Oh. Uh. It was on the shelf. When I took the cookie picture."

"No. It's sitting on the CHAIR where you took the cookie picture."

"Oh. Uh. That belonged to a lady. Not a lady. My buddy's wife. She bought some stuff. So I laid my cookies on her stuff and took the picture."

"Sure. You've come up with TWO different stories in less than a minute."

"Okay Val. Sure. I bought a box of cherry pies and ate them all today."

"Who said anything about a box...?"

I'm not so sure if Hick is trying to kill me with food-poisoned cookies, or with curiosity.