Monday, September 25, 2017

Finders Gloaters, Losers...LOSERS!

Gird your loins, antipennyites! Today's tale is two-thirds pennies!

I hit the road this morning with 4 stops on the itinerary. Casey's, the bank, Walmart, and the gas station chicken store. Can you believe I didn't find a penny at any of them? It wasn't for lack of trying, that's for sure!

The gas station chicken store was OUT OF DIET COKE! Does anyone have a defibrillator?  We had one on the wall at school. But that won't help me in the gas station chicken store. I tried to calm my nerves by asking if they had the new scratchers released today. And the Man Owner said they did not! The truck hadn't come in yet today. Again, just to calm myself, mind you, I bought a $5 ticket and told him I was headed to his competitor for my magical elixir. I'm pretty sure he had visions of their counter being deluged by 42 oz of Diet Coke as I left.

Anyhoo...I headed over to Orb K, saw no pennies by my special parking place by the crooked water grate. Just as I was about to reach for the door handle, I saw one!

Right there by the trash can. A 1996 version. Sometimes it's hard to tell them from concrete stains. But I have a practiced eye, you know!

I took a picture of it, as you can see. A Young Millennial passed me, heading inside. Oh, she didn't hold the door for me! She was a Young Millennial, by cracky! Not thinking of others. 95% of people always hold the door for me, and I for them. But Young Millennial kind of shimmied inside. At least she didn't try to slam the door in my face. She WAS giving me the Weirdo Side-Eye. Yes. I used it enough myself that I am sure to recognize it being thrown my way.

Anyhoo...I went on to the soda fountain. The counter was pristine, having just been wiped. It's usually like a hog trough in there. I got my Diet Coke poured into my Polar Pop cup, and went to the counter. One lady was ahead of me, of course using plastic to pay, which takes SO LONG at Orb K, what with the lag time on their processing thingy. While waiting, I looked over the scratchers. No new ones here, but Orb K usually doesn't put them out the first day anyway. Losing interest, I cast my eyes sideways toward the other side of the counter, and saw ANOTHER PENNY! WooHoo! A two-penny day for Val!

I don't know what Orb K has done to their floor, but this section certainly isn't copper-colored right now. Or else I might not have seen that precious new member (2003) of my eventual pennyillionaire fortune.

The checker gave me a fearful look, like I might be an inspector or something. I paid the $.83 fee with four quarters, and she sent the change to me by way of the curvy metal register slide.

Yes, I was driving on air from Orb K to home. Quite pleased with my penny haul today. And then I switched the pictures over to my New Delly, and upon seeing them enlarged, noticed something that gave my stomach that flipsy-dipsy feeling like driving over hilly Missouri Highway 8 between Steelville and St. James.

Go back to that first photo of the garbage can. I can't get an enlarged section to post here. Look right above the penny, in the crease of the white garbage bag.


I could have had three today! I don't mean to sound greedy. I HAVE found 4 in one day. That's my record. But this penny was left here for me to find, and I spurned it! I wouldn't have found any of them if the gas station chicken store wasn't out of Diet Coke.

I feel like such a loser. But not as big a loser as THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE!

Yes, that's a bit of a jarring segway. I was going to put off this part for tomorrow, but I promised the antipennyites that there would be more here than pennies today.

Hick got a notice in the mail Saturday. An orange post card, telling him he had a letter that he needed to pick up at the post office. It had a tracking number. And it was from his old workplace. The one where he just retired two weeks ago. Or three now, I guess. It seems like years to me. But anyhoo...

All weekend, I quizzed Hick about that letter. The last time he got one was the summer before Genius was born, when he switched from his OLD old employer to start the company he just retired from. Four former employees left, with a backer on the east coast calling the shots, and got this company running. The letter that time was informing Hick that he was being sued for divulging company secrets. Don't you worry about Hick. The backer got all four factory-runners a high-powered lawyer, and nothing came of it.

"Why are they sending you a letter that you have to sign for? Are you in some kind of trouble? Did you steal something? Are you revealing company secrets again?"

"No, Val. If they thought I'd stole something, they wouldn't wait three weeks. They'd have sent to police to my door the next Monday, to search the house. It's probably something to do with my 401K money that we just took out. That last part that I left while they were still contributing."

"Oh. Yeah. Did you have a file there? Maybe with your licenses? Or medical information? Maybe they're sending that back. Or maybe something with COBRA."

"Yeah. It could be COBRA. They have to tell me in a certain amount of time. We'll just find out Monday."

Hick left home at 8:15 to get to the dead mouse smelling post office, which opens at 8:30. He called me later, and then told me the whole story after I got home with my pennies.

"They couldn't find my letter. First she shoved the card back at me and said, 'It says HERE that you can't pick it up until 10:00.' So I came back later, after noon, and they STILL couldn't find it. But it was her fault now, so she wasn't so hateful. 'Why don't you come back tomorrow? I haven't gone through the magazines yet. Maybe it's in with the magazines.'"

"Huh. I guess she hadn't READ other people's magazines yet. So you're going back?"

"NO! I told her, 'Why? That will be three trips for me to get my letter.' I saw they had a bunch of them stacked there, but mine wasn't in that pile. So I called work, and [REDACTED] said it was about COBRA. She was mad they couldn't find it. 'I paid SEVEN DOLLARS to send that letter!' she said."

"Well, here's what you got in our mailbox today. Another orange card. That says to pick up your letter tomorrow."

"Another card?"

"I'm pretty sure the weak link here is at the dead mouse smelling post office. The ones who allegedly delivered my debit chip card on Thursday, but I didn't get it until the next Tuesday. And the ones who put The Italian's eye care bill in our box Saturday, so I drove back and put it in his. They're such losers!"

I'm a little bit of a loser today. But still, I'm 2/3 a winner!

These were pennies #36 and #37. Sorry,  #38. I bet you won't still be there tomorrow.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Two Days Ago, I Ripped Off the U.S. Government

Shh...this is just between us. I don't need to spend my golden years in a Crossbars Hilton. Or more likely, a Federal Red Roof Pen.

Friday, I took the boys' weekly letters to the main post office. Not the dead mouse smelling post office branch in downtown Backroads. I go to the main post office every Friday. It's more dependable, and a day faster. Not that Genius and The Pony are sitting on the edge of their comfy couches, waiting eagerly for my letters to arrive.

Genius's letter is often too heavy. You can have up to four sheets of paper in an envelope, you know. That's the maximum weight for a regular stamp to carry. Unless you use onionskin paper, or parchment. I most often have only one piece of paper for Genius. I print his front and back. I also enclose his $6 for Chinese food, and two $5 scratch-off tickets. The Pony gets two or three pieces of paper. I don't worry about front-and-backing his, because he gets a little more money due to no (heavy) lottery, and one bill weighs half what two do.

Every week, I go to the counter and tell the clerk, "This one's ready to go, but I think this one here is a little heavy." Generally, the clerk hefts it with his/her hand, and agrees or says, "It's just right." On those "just right" days, they put it on the scale to make sure. They haven't been wrong yet. On those heavy days, I pay for the extra postage, and the clerk slaps another kind of stamp on the envelope. It's not as much as a regular stamp.

Anyhoo...on Friday, I also wanted to purchase a book of stamps. So I had extra postage, plus one book. The total was $10.01. I handed the clerk a twenty, and he gave me back a ten. Let the record show that I was fully expecting to get back $9.99. I need change for my 44 oz Diet Cokes. And ones, too. But that clerk gave me a ten. He ate the penny.


Can you imagine how much money that is, if only one clerk in each post office in the United States gives someone a penny off the cost of postage every single day?

And another thing...I suspect the main post office of using some kind of signal jammer! No, I'm not really THAT crazy. But I can't explain why my radio quits working there. I understand why it might not work when I pull into the parking area, which is kind of under part of the building. But why won't it work when I'm OUTSIDE of that parking area, driving up the street beside it? What's up with THAT? It's different from the static I get when driving along power lines.

I don't know if my cell phone works there. I haven't tried to make or receive a call. It doesn't send pictures very well at all, but then...I can't do that inside my own house, and I don't have a jammer, only a metal roof.

Anyhoo...I ripped off the U.S. Government to the tune of one cent on Friday. You know I had that penny I found at Waterside Mart in my shirt pocket, right?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

It WAS a Sunshine Day

Yesterday when I headed off to town, I had a good feeling about the day. To start with, I got up AN HOUR EARLY at the crack of 8:30! I wanted to get through Backroads before the local high school lined up for their homecoming parade. Yes, I started down the driveway, feeling like a Brady singing "Sunshine Day."

I stopped by the cemetery briefly. Only briefly, because whenever I stop, it seems like the groundskeeper has an alarm go off on his surveillance camera, because he always comes in my direction, no matter what he's doing or what machinery he's operating. On Friday, that happened to be a big green tractor. He came out of nowhere, up over a hill towards the very back of the property. So with a hasty apology to Mom and Dad, something like, "Oh, crap! Here he comes again! I'll stop by next week sometime. Love ya!" I headed on to town to mail the boys' weekly letters.

The first stop was the Casey's where I usually get gas, to pick up two scratch-off tickets that go in Genius's letter with his $6 Chinese food money. None for me. I was getting mine on up the road. I scoped out the parking lot for pennies, but saw none. As I came back to T-Hoe, parked at the side, not in my rightful spot by the handicap ramp, I felt like someone was watching me. As I finished the few short steps to T-Hoe, I flinched like I was about to step on something, looked down, and saw this

Yeah. A little mouse. He didn't even move as I walked by. Yes, he was breathing. I don't know if seeing a mouse that doesn't run is good luck or bad luck, but for him, the fact that he was breathing and uncrushed by my New Balance was good luck for him.

On to Waterside Mart, where I was cashing in a ticket for two more. I was still thinking about the mouse when I parked at the end space and started in.

Can you see it there? I like playing this little game with you. Could YOU spot the penny that was placed there just for you to find? It's not as easy as my penny collection seems to imply.

Yep! There it is, by that black blob. I almost stepped on it, because I was casting my eye farther and wider. It was a 1980 model.

On to the main branch post office, where a story landed in my lap that I will tell another day, because I'm pretty sure The Truth in Blogging Law has a corollary in fine print that says a post must be shorter than the long white beard you grow while reading it.

Then back to Backroads for my 44 oz Diet Coke. I could have parked in the nearest space, by the door, but decided to steer T-Hoe over to my regular spot by the moat that separates the gas station chicken store from Hick's pharmacy, CeilingReds. I could see the top of a head down in that moat, and it intrigued me, even though I was sure it was the mower man. It was. But he was weedeating that very steep slope. Good thing I didn't confuse T-Hoe's brake for his gas pedal!

I started inside, no winner to cash in, almost-exact change in hand. As I strode in front of the gas pumps, I felt like I might stub my toe. That lot is not exactly flat. There are raised humps around the giant grates over their gas tanks. I looked down, and there was another one!

Sorry there's no frame of reference here. No crazy stripes. No landmarks. The people in the gassing trucks were virtually gunning their engines waiting for me to stop my crazy picture-taking and get out of their way. Let the record show that when I took my phone out of my pocket for the picture, I saw that the time was 11:11. I guess that's what comes of getting up early to beat the parade.

This one was a newer model, 2016. I put it in a different pocket than my Waterside Mart penny, though after checking the dates with my at-home magnifying glass, they both ended up in my penny goblet.

Sorry, antipennyites. You already got a song and a mouse. You'll have to put off further Val-blog gratification until tomorrow.

But I WILL leave you with this silver nugget from Wednesday.

I found a dime Wednesday at the Backroads Casey's. Right where I usually park T-Hoe. Lucky for me there were three empty unmarked spaces left at that end, and I chose the optimum dime-finding slot.

The dime was from 1994. Genius's birth year. Somebody's been celebrating something in his room all week, starting around 1:00 a.m. As much as I try to tell myself that it's the dogs on the porch...the noise is coming from inside the house. Thumps on carpet, not dog toenails on wood.

These were pennies #34 and 35. Dime #7.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #77 "And Wanda Was Her Name, Eh?"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. We all know that Val's a gambler. She likes her scratchers, she likes her casino, and she likes to wage that people will buy her fake books. Odds are that Thevictorian's fake books make more as a tax write-off than they ever fake-make in her bank account. Be an enabler, won't you? Pony up your fake money for this week's fake book. You can't lose if you don't play, you know.

"And Wanda Was Her Name, Eh?"

Wanda Wynn is a seasoned bingo player. She cut her teeth on the shell game, spent her formative years mastering 3-card monte, and now rules the bingo roost at her old folks' home. Recent budget cuts have watered down Wanda's bingo winnings. From the prize table, she has enthusiastically chosen donut seeds, cowboy bubble bath, beats headphones, a hillbilly washer and dryer, and a 3-piece chicken dinner...only to be disappointed in finding Cheerios, pinto beans, two empty beet cans connected by twine, a flat metal ring and clothespin, and a baggie containing 3 kernels of corn.

Wanda is mad as Not-Heaven, and she's not going to take it anymore. Will Wanda bluff her way to riches with her water-shooting 9mm handgun? (121 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Bingo, the farmer's dog..."There was a fake-writer who had a blog, and Thevictorian was her name. OH! S-U-C-K-S...S-U-C-K-S...S-U-C-K-S...describes her newest fake book."

The Wheels on the Bus..."Thevictorian has a lot in common with us. When she writes her fake books, the plot goes round and round. Unlike us, Thevictorian's plot never seems to reach her intended destination."

Itsy Bitsy Spider..."Take it from one who knows: Thevictorian's new fake book is a wash-out. It's enough to make me climb up that waterspout again and again to avoid any mention of it. Avoid it like scheduling a picnic on a day with thunderstorms in the forecast."

Five Little Monkeys..."One fake writer, hawking her fake book. Thevictorian's a hack, don't even take a look. Momma called the publisher and the publisher was shook. Don't buy this one, 'cause Thevictorian's a crook. Oh, yeah. Then we pushed her out of bed and she hit her head and now she's in a coma so you're all off the hook."

London Bridge..."Thevictorian's sales are falling down...falling down...falling down. There is nothing her fake publisher can do to build them up. My best advice for Thevictorian is to relocate. We all know she's going to end up somewhere very hot, like me. But much hotter than Arizona."

Old MacDonald..."Thevictorian wrote a book. Oh my, oh my, NO! And in her book there was no plot. Oh my, oh my, NO! With a fake book here, and a fake book a fake, there a fake, everywhere a fake, fake. Thevictorian wrote a book. Oh my, oh my, NO!"

The Farmer in the Dell..."Thevictorian wrote a book, Thevictorian wrote a book. Oh, no, I'm full of woe, Thevictorian wrote a book. Let's just cut to the chase here: like the cheese, Thevictorian's fake book stands alone, not selling, and stinks to high heaven."

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt..."Nobody EVER calls Thevictorian John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. My name is NOT her name, too. Whenever we go out, which we don't, because I don't associate with her...people always shout: 'There goes Val Thevictorian, the worst fake writer to ever fake-write a fake book!'"

Black Sheep..."Bah! Bah! Thevictorian! No wool for her! No, sir! No, sir! The master, the dame, and the little boy who lives down the lane all agree that her fake writing is flocking atrocious!"

Bonnie, lying around across various and assorted large bodies of water..."Thevictorian writes over the ocean. Thevictorian writes over the sea. Thevictorian writes over the ocean. Don't ever bring that fake writing near me. Last night as I lay on my pillow. Last night as I lay on my bed. Last night as I lay on my pillow. I dreamt Thevictorian was dead. Good riddance to bad writing!"

Thursday, September 21, 2017

This Is Why We Can't Have Run-of-the-Mill, Cheap-Ass Things

And now, for the doozy of a shock I got during RetirementPartyPalooza...

Genius and The Veteran were the two driving forces behind this event. I agreed to have the festivities here at the homestead, and Genius assured me that they would do all the work. I offered to buy the meat and make a few sides. That was my choice.

It's not like I was serving a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner with cloth napkins, fine china, and the family silver. The fact that I had napkins at all is a feat for which I should be commended, even though the package seemed fuller when the guests left than before they arrived. I offered a choice of sturdy oval cardboard plates, or a foam tray with compartments for folks who don't like their food to touch (explain THAT peccadillo to the starving children in [insert country here]). I also provided a nice set of plasticware (is that an oxymoron, or am I just the moron?) with forks, spoons, and knives.

As you can see, these were not the flimsy individually-wrapped forks that I collect from Hardee's when I get a Chicken Bowl. Not the black plastic kind which are likely to leave a broken tine in your teeth if you are a bit aggressive in your feeding habits. These were the thick, clear plastic PREMIUM forks, a Great Value brand, with their own case separating them from the spoons and knives. As you can see, we had plenty of forks left.

When we set out the food for self-serving, I made sure to have a fork or spoon with each item. I used my real metal forks and serving spoons for dishing out the vittles. In fact, we ran out at the dessert table, having a fork for the Rice Krispie treats, and one for the lemon bars, but lacking one for the giant chocolate chip cookie cake. We figured people were smart enough to use the knife, or borrow a fork from the lemon bars beside it.

I was standing at the sink, out of the way of the cutting block and counter, where people were milling around in an orderly fashion, loading their plates. I figured when they were all done, I could get mine last. That's what a good hostess does, right?

Let the record show that our guest list included a gaggle of kids who are of high school and driving age. Not little shavers. Old enough to be considered people. We are not a close family who gets together routinely to revel in our own company. I am not a jolly Mrs. Claus kind of grandma who hosts sleepovers and baking parties and knits you those sweet house slippers that are great for sliding on tile floors. I'm more of a severe spinster aunt kind of relative, who might send you five dollars for your birthday, and expect a written thank you card sent through the U.S. mail. (Let the record show that we give more than that, and I don't expect a thank you.)

Anyhoo...there I was, allowing everyone to fill their plates and find a suitable place to sit outside (the surfaces inside being covered with our food platters) before I partook of the feast. With only a few people left, a young gal (let's call her Sissy) came back inside and around the counter to stand beside me. She was cute as a button, and polite as only a woman who has raised four sons can appreciate.

"Do you have any real forks?"

I was taken aback. REAL forks? What in the Not-Heaven! I had a PREMIUM set of 192 pieces of sturdy plasticware, 64 of which were forks! Why would anybody need a REAL fork? Are you special? Are you allergic to plastic? What are you trying to stab or cut? Why should YOU deserve a real fork, when everybody else, including about-to-be-eating me, is okay with using plastic forks? That's not what I said out loud, of course.

"Um...we're out of real forks. I put them out with the food, to serve with. In fact, we were one short on the cookie cake."

"Oh. Okay."

And with that, Sissy started pawing through the clean silverware in the dish drainer! As you may recall, my guests started arriving 45 minutes early, as I was cleaning up the kitchen. And I don't have a dishwasher. Are you freakin' kidding me? Pawing through my dish drainer! That was CERTAINLY not done back in my day! The fact that there was even silverware IN the dish drainer was a major faux pas on my part, but to my credit, at least they were clean, and would have been put away by the scheduled party time.

Well. That pawing was just not going over well with Val! In haste, I pulled open the silverware drawer, and grabbed a little fork. That's what my kids call them. Little forks. If you're a Rockefeller of a Vanderbilt, perhaps you'd call them salad forks. I only have four of them. There used to be eight. When Genius moved out to go to college, I lost four short forks as if overnight. Genius denies it to this day, just like the missing four inches of Apfelkorn in the bottle that Hick brought back from a trip to Germany and put in FRIG, too.

It's not like Hick took my short forks in his lunch box and left them at work randomly during his career. Hick, in fact, does not like a short fork, and has only brought extra silverware INTO the house, one of them being my favorite spoon which does not match my set. Genius and The Pony preferred the short forks, and I'm pretty sure that even when Hick excavated the junk in The Pony's room after he left for college last fall, no short forks were found. All tines point to Genius as the fork thief.

Anyhoo, I took one of my four remaining short forks out of the drawer, and said, "'s a short one. Here you go, honey." Well. Not the honey part. Val is a woman of few words and fewer endearing nicknames. So I probably just thrust it at her and said, "HERE!"

"Thanks!" Sissy headed back outside to her plate. Of whatever was so tough that it needed a metal fork instead of plastic.

That was fine, right? Surely a lass of teenage years could be trusted with a metal fork. That's what I kept telling myself, anyway. It's not like it was the family silver, handed down from generation to generation, polished especially for this grand affair. In fact, I think it was not even Walmart quality, but came in the mail from Fingerhut. I got it during my very first year of teaching, way back when I had my first household all to myself. 

You know what happened, right?

The party raged on, people finished eating, Genius and The Veteran and Hick continued drinking, a gang started a punting practice in the side yard (one member had been in a contest earlier that morning), and another group set to competing in a cornhole tournament in the front yard. I sat out front to socialize (yes, it nearly killed me), and when the next-to-last car headed up the driveway, I went inside to dish up leftovers for Genius, and wash the limited dishes.

Genius and Friend (his designated driver) sat and talked to me while I was washing up.

"You know, I never got back my little fork! Look! It's not in with all these others. What in the world could Sissy have done with that fork? Did she throw it away? Take it home to make a voodoo doll of me? A metal fork doesn't just disappear. Except for those four the night you moved away to college."

"I didn't take your forks! I've told you that a hundred times!"

"Don't get me started on the Apfelkorn!"

"I didn't take that, either! You need to chill. Have a beer."

"No thanks. I'm fine."

"It's JUST a fork. I don't know what she did with it."

As much as Genius tried to pull me out of my funk by changing the subject to a compliment on my physique from my past year of wise choices...I was still bitter over my missing fork. It may not have been worth much in money terms, but it had great sentimental value. Now I was down to THREE.

The next day, I told Hick that I sure did wonder what Sissy did with my fork. He looked all around the porch and by the grill, and over the side of the deck rail, but didn't find it.

"It HAS to be here. She probably threw it away. I'd look in the wastebasket, but Genius and Friend bagged that up and took it out while I was washing the dishes. I've got a good mind to go to the dumpster and go through that bag. It should be the one on top..."

"Oh. I put a bag in there from the BARn. And we had that one outside for the meat trays."

"Okay. The meat tray bag will be light."

"I know which one I put in from the BARn. It's tied in a knot. Not with a drawstring."

We went out to the side porch. I took my tall laundry basket and put a clean trash bag in it. The plan was to open the other one, and move items one at a time. Yes. Val is that crazy. Val is not proud. Didn't even wear gloves. Which I kind of regretted as I got to the shucked corn.

But you know what? As I got down to the very bottom of that trash bag...

I found my precious! And also that somebody had wasted a perfectly good hamburger that my dogs would have enjoyed for their evening snack. Upon excavation, it appeared that the sole purpose of my short metal fork was to eat (or not) the baked beans.

Yes, that picture was taken on the porch, on the chair right beside me. Don't know why it looks like it was after dark. I knocked off the beans and washed up my short fork and stashed it back in the drawer with its mates. I thought of telling Hick to take one with him on his Goodwill tours, to see if he can find four more. But that would be just like losing a short fork all over again.

I hope Hick doesn't plan on ever retiring again. I don't know if I can take the stress.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Val Waxes Ascetic

It's all over but the gripin'!

RetirementPartyPalooza is one for the record books now. Let the record show that attendance topped out at 17. That includes the guest of honor, your hostess Val, three sons, two spouses, six grandchildren, and four friends (with assorted romantic entanglements and live-in status). Val accepts each and every member of this crew with as much loving affection as her cold, cold heart can muster. The following tale of when people don't ever start being polite, but feel comfortable enough to be not meant to hurt any familial feelings, but only to serve as a release valve for Val's ready-to-blow top.

It is no secret that Val is a bit of a complainer. In fact, her Hick has often commented, "Val, you'd complain if you was hung with a new rope!" That's poppycock! As IF Hick would ever buy me a new rope! I'd get a rope from Goodwill, or the auction. A rope previously used by other complaining wives to hang themselves with, not knowing how good they had it with a NEW rope!

No, Val is not known for running a Shangri-La retreat offering unicorn rides, a fluffy kitten and baby rabbit petting zoo, an evening hug-a-thon, and free breakfast of sugar cubes and marshmallows drenched with treacle. Val has always been a complainer, and will always be a complainer. Just not to your face. It doesn't mean she harbors harsh feelings towards you. Only that she is irritated over not having control of a situation, and lets it out through her fingertips.

Let the record show that Val is NOT the hostess with the mostess. She is more like a surly Cerberus in reverse, who flings open the gates of Not-Heaven to hasten the exodus of souls from RetirementPartyPalooza. Too many people around are stressful to Val.

I'm not telling anybody how to raise their children. I was lucky enough that mine practically raised themselves. But in my parenting day, I'll be darned if I would have let my boys dine on a plate of dill pickle slices and potato chips. They would have at least a meat item, of which they must eat several bites. Also, Hick always decreed that each boy was allowed ONE can of soda, and if it grew hot, or was gulped in one swig, too bad, so sad. They weren't having unlimited beverages. AND they would find a way to entertain themselves before and after the meal. No whining. No clinging. No pouting. No running in and out of the house, whether at our home or as a guest.

Pardon me for quivering a bit as I tried to keep a civil tongue in my head and prevent my eyes from looking askance, when the front door slammed and bounced back open (from that doorknob issue that Hick never fixed) about eleventy-billion times, with youngsters scampering through the house to try and sit in front of the TV while sipping their 4th or 5th soda. Oh, don't worry that those kiddos were bloated with sugary soft drinks. It's not like they actually finished their first four sodas before getting their fifth! Also let the record show that my very own Pony was probably 15 years old before I let him take a soda into the living room!

No, I don't mean to be critical. I'm just a cranky old Val, set in my ways, having a hard time with the direction that society is taking. Val is not a village unto herself. Are we catering too much to the young 'uns? I know that the three sons were never raised this way, so they cannot be falling back on what they know.

It seems as if the standard operating procedure these days is to appear to be stern, while letting the inmates run the asylum children have their way. Not an indictment of Thevictorian offspring, but a comment on what I have observed from the public education trenches over the past decade or two. The family youngsters were polite and personable, not defiant, but didn't seem to feel a need to follow instructions, despite being given explicit hints. They were all school age. Not toddlers. Val is not a master of walking that tightrope between polite suggestion and critical correction of other people's kids. Stripped of her cape of teacher authority, she would just as soon not risk bossing without a net.

I stopped short of shaking my fist when the kids ran across the lawn. Okay. I really should have been shaking my fist to get the kids out of the living room and onto that lawn. But I'm not one to butt in with the raisin' of other folks' young 'uns, family or not. Nothing was destroyed, nothing was stained. I love them all. They are always welcome in our home. But I am allowed to vent.

The day after RetirementPartyPalooza, I pointed out the nearly full can of Pepsi on the porch to Hick, thinking he would at least pick up the empty Dr. Pepper at the other end. But no. It's still waiting for me. The empty Dr. Pepper, which was a bone of contention because, "We're out of Dr. Pepper and there's no soda that I like!" Heh, heh. I guess beggars for a fifth soda can't be choosers!

Oh, and beggars for a fifth soda suffer must suffer from Butterfingers Syndrome. Because when running around the porch clutching a Pepsi, the can got loose, bounced and rolled along the boards to the edge, where it teetered, unrescued, until it fell onto the lava rocks below, and began spraying its sugary goodness all over other lava rocks and the brick sidewalk and the porch lattice. To Hick's credit, he DID pick up the half-full Pepsi and the mostly-full juice pouch from the living room when I pointed them out and made no sign of moving them.'s not like I bought the soda. One of the three sons brought that. It's just the principle of the matter. Whew! This venting has made me feel better. Okay. Not completely better. There's one other little issue that you will hear about tomorrow. And it's a doozy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Swag From RetirementPartyPalooza

Were any of you surprised that Hick was actually surprised with his family retirement party?

Hick is not one to pick up what you're layin' down. You pretty much have to spell things out for him. Without actually spelling, of course. He misses gently-nuanced hints, and blurts out things that most people would keep to themselves. Yeah. Maybe I AM still bitter about that time he told me my skirt reminded him of a circus tent. The colors, he insisted! And that time he told me I was like an elephant. Citing my superior memory, of course!

Uh huh. It really shouldn't surprise anyone that we pulled this off. Let's face it. Hick couldn't find his own butt with two hands, an LED work light that I bought him on Friday, and a souped-up Garmin designed by Genius.

The boys had all forked over chipped in (one of them under duress, I fear) money for Hick's gift. It ended up being just that. Money. Which made me feel bad, because we don't need their money. The party itself was enough (I speak for Hick), no need for a present. Though if it had been an actual present, I would have felt better about it.

Something else that gave me pause was that somehow, it turned into a party for me, too! That's not right! I'm not the one who just retired. I didn't try to guilt them into including me by asking, "Where was MY retirement party last May?" No siree, Bob! I didn't want this to be about me. They even had both our names on the card. That's not right, I tell you! Because if that was the's really not right to ask Val to throw her own surprise party! It was kind of a moderate amount of work.

Anyhoo...aside from a cash gift, Hick received THIS from The Veteran:

It's pretty fancy. As you can see, somebody sampled it during the party. Probably Hick and The Veteran. Maybe Genius. Hick was carrying on about how he was on his THIRD beer! "I don't know WHEN the last time was I had more than two beers! I even saved two from when I had pizza last week, so I would have them while I grilled today."

Also, we got this gift from Friend, with a card saying that now that Hick was retired, and we'd be together every day, these might come in handy:

Heh, heh! And of course Hick said seriously, "Look! We can protect ourselves up to 32 decibels!" That would matter to a working man like Hick. Gotta love the sensibilities of Friend! He's like a son to us.

Because it is better to give than to receive...Genius left with a fancy office chair that Hick gave him. Actually, it belonged to my mom, a rolly chair with a high back and padded arms, leather or leather-like, that we had given her for Christmas one year, to sit at her computer. Genius was bemoaning the fact that the great office chair he'd bought himself at a Goodwill a few years back, that had only one arm, but was otherwise perfect...was failing, and that he was looking for another such chair. Hick said that he had my mom's old one in his Railroad Car Shack, and didn't really need it there. So he gave it to Genius.

That's the old Goodwill chair, before Genius took it with him to college. I didn't get a picture of the new old chair. It all happened so fast!

AND, I caught Genius rummaging around under the kitchen sink, sniffing my collection of Bath and Body Works soaps that I use at the kitchen sink for handwashing...and before I knew it, he had appropriated three for his apartment, and told Friend that he could have one for his house. Even though he lives with his parents right now, working a full time job making more than I did during my final year of teaching! Then Genius made his exit, with four uncooked hamburger patties, two hot dogs, two bratwurst, a pack of buns, a container of potato salad, and the remainder of the beans.

Yes, everyone had a good time, I think. As good a time as 25 pounds of meat, five pounds of potato salad, and a cooler full of two-month-old leftover float trip beer can provide.

Tomorrow...the dark side of RetirementPartyPalooza.