Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pony At the Trap

This is the weekend when kids declare the unofficial start of summer, teachers breathe a sigh of relief, and swimming pools open their attractive-nuisance-fenced doors to admit the public. So it was only fitting that I should step out on the back porch and see Hick and The Pony attempting to open Poolio.

Oh, Poolio! How you have aged from your heyday, when The Pony could not even stand on the bottom and keep his flared nostrils above water. It seems like only yesterday, and not nine years gone by.

Genius evaded the preparation of Poolio by approximately two hours. Hick said he had been getting ready all week, draining water off the top of the cover. He said. However...I heard The Pony trot into the house, saying he just came in for his swimsuit. "Dad says I have to get down in the pool, or we can't get the cover off."

"WAIT! That water is freezing! It was down to 39 degrees two nights this week!"

"I know. Dad says it will just be for a minute. I'm taking a towel to wrap up in when I get out."

I heard The Pony changing in the laundry room. Then the door slammed. I headed out back to see what was going on. Hick and The Pony had pulled the pool cover over to the side, but there was still some residual water remaining inside. Residual water that contained leaves and algae that had been marinating on top since last September.

The Pony had just climbed down over the porch rail to Poolio's deck. Hick was already delegating duty. "Jump in and get your arms under the cover. I'll pull from this side, and you can lift it up. We'll dump it over the side."

The Pony was hesitant. "It's going to be really cold."

"You won't be in there but a minute. Jump in and get it over with. Or you can sit on the side and dip your feet in to get used to it."

"I think that would be a big mistake." But The Pony did just that.

"COLD! I'm not worried so much about getting in as I am getting out without the ladder."

"You can put your hands on the deck and jump up, then climb out."

"That will be hard to do while I'm shaking."

"I'll come get you out if you can't make it." Said Hick, with all the speed of a Galapagos tortoise as collateral for the check his mouth was writing.

The Pony jumped in and immediately slipped, just narrowly avoiding a mouthful of untreated nine-month-old buttwater soup. "There's algae on the bottom!"

"Don't worry about that yet. Come over here and grab the cover."

Let the record show that I normally don't reveal my family's faces on my blogs. I try to cut off their heads at every opportunity. However, I don't find them particularly recognizable in these photos. And since The Pony appears uncharacteristically bloated, and Hick appears uncharacteristically svelte, I don't think I have let an identifiable cat out of the bag. Further let the record show that the greenish discoloration on the pool cover is an optical illusion, most likely a reflection from the algae on the bottom, because in real life the cover was all black.

Of course The Pony could not lift that pouch of water. He's not known for his strength. So Hick developed another plan. "We'll let some of that water out, if your mom will go in and get a knife. There's a hole in this cover anyway, so we're going to need a new one."

"He's freezing! And you want him to stand there while I get a knife?"

"No. He can climb out and come get the knife when you hand it over the rail."

I accomplished my mission. As you can see by The Pony stabbing Poolio's cover with an orange-handled knife such as those made in Hick's factory. The problem was, once The Pony stabbed a hole and water started spouting out, helpful Hick pulled on the edge of the pool cover, thus raising that hole above the water line inside, rendering it useless. "Stab another hole, Pony." And the process was repeated.

"That water will never drain if you keep pulling on the cover. Let some of it come out. Or let him stab it farther down."

"That would be stupid. Water from the pool would come in. It would fill up more."

"Dad. Why don't your cinch those hooks like you planned."

"Yeah." And Hick set to securing the pool cover to his orange come-a-long ratchety rope thingy, which was hooked onto the front of his Gator, which...


As you might imagine, my advice was ignored.

Thank goodness Hick stopped at holding Poolio's cover, and didn't try to drag it over the side. Because I don't know how to take video, and that would have been a wasted redneck faux pas. No YouTube video = didn't happen. After several dozen more stabbing attempts, Hick revealed Plan C. Which I may have suggested, but which Hick thinks he thought of.

"Go get the big blue hose, Pony. We'll hook it up to the trap and pump it out." He cut a slash in the cover, and jammed his end of the blue hose into it.

The Pony stuffed his end in the bug trap part. Of course this didn't work, because the regular pool water has to be above a certain level so water is over a thingy on the side. So Hick declared a moratorium on pool cover removal for the day, and left the skinny red hose in there filling Poolio from the well. Anybody who has well water can appreciate what The Pony was sacrificing by squishing around in there for fifteen minutes.

The Pony reports that the cover has now been safely removed by pumping the water out. He is hoping to get in a swim sometime this week.

I think he already has.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

He's Outta Here, With Three Strikes

Genius left for his summer internship with Garmin this morning.

He hit the long road to Olathe about an hour after his planned departure. Yesterday he loaded up his Mariner for the voyage. There was a slight hitch when his drafting desk wouldn't fit. Hick had the bright idea of strapping it to the top of the car, like deceased Aunt Edna in National Lampoon's Vacation. I was not on board with that plan, because all we needed was a gust of wind to lift that tempting flat piece of glass like an airplane wing, sending it through the windshield of the automobile following behind like a sideways guillotine. That possible crisis was avoided when, at the last minute, Genius decided to take it apart, and they finally got the top stowed away in the hold of the Mariner.

Genius had scheduled his exit for 7:00 a.m. We got up to see him off, only to see him instead emerge from his bedroom and set sail for the shower. Still, after only 30 minutes, he was out and chucking all the leftover bits of computer guts from the living room floor into his about-to-be-vacated bedroom. As with any lengthy excursion, Genius attempted to tie up loose ends. I forked over some travel cash, even though he said he had enough in his account. Genius met me in the kitchen while I was fetching his bankroll.

"Is this the right insurance card?" he asked while laying it on the cutting block for my inspection. Like he has a Rolodex full of insurance cards. What other insurance card could he possibly have? As far as I know, nobody else is carrying him as a dependent, though the folks at the IRS begged to differ last year at tax time.

"Did you want to take any food with you? I doubt you will want to go shopping after driving five hours and unloading your car. There's that sandwich stuff you wanted. It would travel okay."

"No. I don't think so." He went on loading his last-minute clothes on hangers. Packed his laptop. On a trip back into the house, he said, "I DID want to take that pizza." Let the record show that when Genius did the shopping for me on graduation Sunday, he grabbed a two-pack of DiGiorno Supreme pizzas. I suppose that's like a gourmet treat, after fighting with that Husky last summer over the last slice of his 88-cent Totinos.

"I can pack that soft-sided zip cooler that your dad got for free." Which I set about doing, wrapping the DiGiornos in a towel, sliding them into the cooler, and flattening out half a bag of ice that I found in the back of the freezer. Just a fit.

Genius loaded it into the car. He came back for hugs, then his dad walked him out. I sat down in the La-Z-Boy to watch him go up the driveway towing a little piece of my heart. Then it hit me. "WAIT! Pony! Do you think Genius meant the DiGiorno, or did he want that leftover Chef Boyardee from last night?"

"I don't know." How could I have forgotten that The Pony does not really care about helping people?

"Have they left yet? I hope I can get out there in time." I launched myself out of the La-Z-Boy and hurried to the front porch. Genius stood in the open door of his Mariner, telling Hick to send him the specs on the 3D printer at work, because he was curious. "Genius! Did you mean the DiGiorno, or last night's pizza?"

"Last night's."

"Wait, I'll get it. I packed the DiGiorno."

Genius brought the cooler in, and I grabbed his foil packet from the bottom shelf of Frig II. We unzipped the lid and found just the right amount of space for that treat.

"Now you have two DiGiornos and a fourth of a Chef Boyardee deep dish. That should last you until tomorrow."

"Yeah. I'll be fine." Off he went. I puttered around, watching Smart and Dumber try to take the cover off Poolio. More on that debacle another day. I threw up my hands in resignation when one of them wouldn't take my advice, and went back into the house through the laundry room, and into the kitchen.


Oh, no! My almost-adult child was driving all the way across the state, and into another, hauling a sheet of glass that could decapitate him with a sudden stop, and he had NO HEALTH INSURANCE CARD! By now, an hour and a half had passed. I called Genius. He has a fancy schmancy sound system that he had installed in his Mariner, so he can talk to me through his radio. At least that's how I think it works. To me, that's cutting edge, but then I still live in the days of the tin-can-and-string phone system.

"Genius! I just found your insurance card laying on the cutting block! You don't have your insurance card! And the mail won't go out until Tuesday morning. You haven't even given me your address! What are we going to do? Can The Pony text you a picture of it?"

"Have him email it to me. I'll try not to have a major accident until I get my insurance card."

"Okay. But we don't even know for sure if you'll get your mail. Maybe I should send you a copy of both sides, then if you get that envelope, I'll mail you the real thing."

"Whatever. I can't hardly hear you. My GPS is talking. I need to make a turn."

"Okay. I'll have The Pony take a picture of your insurance card."

"All right. Oh, and on the way to town, I ran over a bunch of glass in the road on one of those blind hills by the cow lady's house. I came up over and didn't see it in time to go around. It was some kind of blue bottle. I stopped for gas as soon as I got to town, so I could look at my tires. I couldn't see anything. So if you go to town, look out for that glass."

"Okay. Be careful. If you need to get your tires fixed, I'll put some money in your account."

"I can't hear you. My GPS is talking again. I'll let you know when I get there."

Yeah. Just what we need, next to the sideways guillotine, is to replace any of the four tires we spent over $500 on last week when Genius got home.

At least he finally docked on the shores of Stonepost Lakeside, where Garmin is paying his rent for the summer. Surely nothing else can go wrong before he starts earning his keep on Tuesday...

Friday, May 22, 2015

Val Is a One-Eyed Purple PEEP Eater

Remember back when everybody was bragging about their Mother's Day swag, and I told you how Hick and The Pony brought me some PEEPS from Goodwill in Jefferson City? Yeah. It's coming back to you, isn't it? That flash of jealousy you first had, thinking, "Nobody ever buys ME Goodwill PEEPS five weeks after Easter!"

So...they brought me the PEEPS on May 10. I set them aside. No need to devour them all at once, what with me thinking I'd never see another PEEP until the day after Halloween. They were chick PEEPS, purple. I thought about having some the next night, but wanted to let them linger for a while in my dark basement lair. Not to age them. Just so I could think how I had some PEEPS stashed away. And most people don't.

A week went by. I thought about having a couple as I watched TV. But that was not a special enough occasion to waste my PEEPS. Finally, on Wednesday, during the Survivor finale of two hours, followed by the reunion special, I deemed the night PEEPworthy. After all, there are only two Survivor finales per year. I'd been watching Survivor since we were still in 3rd Quarter at school. And now this was the last week of school. Very special. A couple of milestones. No need to break out the champagne. I had PEEPS.

I sent The Pony from his couch into my office to grab one of my two boxes of PEEPS. He put them on the TV tray that acts as a table beside my blue recliner, the one with my Bubba cup of ice water, and the TV remote, and a box of Puffs With Lotion, and assorted junk that is primarily in the way. Just in time for the final tribal council, to get from four contestants to the final three, I cracked open the cellophane on my box of PEEPS. Like a marble rye, like a Cuban cigar, like a Mackinaw peach, like a chocolate babka...PEEPS were on hand as the gold standard of treats. I was psyched to delve into my delicacy.

AHH...I took the first bite...ARGH!


There was an off taste. Being the adventurous sort, and not quite believing there's such a thing as a bad PEEP, I took another bite. And another. In fact, I consumed two purple chick PEEPS. And I couldn't eat another bite. Don't think Val is a lightweight. This would be like Kobayashi eating half a Nathan's hot dog. But I had to stop. The flavor was not good. And then it hit me. Why my PEEPS were not the sugary sweet treat of which I had dreamed.


That's right. And it wasn't the mystery flavor, either. I suspect that my sweet, sweet PEEPS had been in a house fire. Who gives perfectly good PEEPS to Goodwill, right? I asked The Pony to try one. He refused. He acted like the date of a guy with a horse face, big teeth, and flared nostrils shaking her head at a bite of pie.

"I wanted to know if it's the PEEPS, or just me. Something is wrong with them. They taste like smoke."

"Aww...I'm sorry. We thought you'd like them."

"They were the best gift ever. I LOVE PEEPS! But these must have been in a fire. Or in a house with a wood stove for heating. They taste like they're hickory-smoked. It's not a good flavor on a PEEP. I still like my gift. But I can't eat them."

I set the little container with the remaining three chick PEEPS aside. The next night, as Genius, The Pony and I watched "The Starving Games" on the big screen TV, I must have nodded off.

"MOM! You wanted us to watch this with you. Now you're SLEEPING! We heard you snore! Wake up! Eat a PEEP!"

"I was just resting my eyes for a minute. I know what happened. There's no need to eat a PEEP. I'll stay awake."

"MOM! You were asleep again! Eat a PEEP!"

"I'll give it one more try. But the flavor is not good. Here, Genius. Try one. Why? You act just like The Pony. Smell it. Why? Here. I'll try one more. Hey! That smoky flavor is gone. Maybe they aired out."

Not really. If you take them completely out of the package and let them sit overnight, they mostly lose that smoky flavor. I'm sure this is really tempting those of you who profess not to love PEEPS. I'd better shut up before you all go out looking for the PEEPS meant for me.

Here is a picture of the Goodwill PEEPS that were marked 59 cents, but which Hick proudly declared he got for 50 cents.

Yeah. Kind of creepy, eh? Looks like I was a one-eyed purple PEEP eater. And come to think of it, I've never seen PEEPS in quite this arrangement before. Maybe they're knock-off PEEPS.

One thing's for sure. After 24 hours out in the open, they taste almost okay.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Maybe I Should Ask If He Needs a Currycomb

The Pony is getting ready for his adventure at Missouri Boys State in early June. Except The Pony doesn’t really get ready for anything. He told me he needed a physical on the night before our school was having free physicals for next year’s athletes. With the papers being due by 3:00 on the afternoon before he told me that night at 9:30. Granted, he had just returned from his orientation meeting. But that info was on the website.

Lucky for The Pony that Val has pull with the powers who schedule school physicals. I got him and our other delegate worked into the schedule, with the official form they will need for MBS.

He also needs a suit. The Pony has never had a suit. Even Genius had his grandpa’s old suit for his sartorial needs when HE went to Missouri Boys State. I consulted Genius for fashion input. Genius just got his own new suit last summer, you know, to look sharp at interviews. The first thing Genius did was call The Pony upstairs.

“No. That’s not going to work. Go back.” Thus The Pony was dismissed back to the basement. “He’s too short. Grandpa’s suit won’t fit him. Do you think he’s done growing yet?”

“No. I don’t think so.”

“So you just want to get him a cheap suit.”

“Well. An inexpensive one. Because I don’t think it will fit him for more than a couple of years.”

“Okay. I’ll fix him up. The shirt, the tie, the works.”

“Good. Because I don’t know what a suit should look like. And we definitely don’t want your father picking one out. But remember, The Pony is not cutting edge like you. He just needs a classic, basic suit.”

“I can do that.”

“I was thinking we’ll just go to J.C .Penney for The Pony’s suit. I was looking online. How about Sharkskin or Charcoal Gray? Or basic black?”

“I’d say you can’t go wrong with gray. Don’t get black. That just screams ‘FIRST SUIT!’ Everybody goes for black with the first suit.”

Now The Pony needs to read his handbook about government branches and their duties, and make sure he has eight sets of clothing, because there will be no laundry facilities there. I’ll have to make sure he has enough shorts that have cargo pockets. The Pony isn’t one for stretchy athletic shorts. And I have a feeling slacks are not the unofficial uniform of Missouri Boys State. These delegates are not exactly HIS PEOPLE. But they are, perhaps, fourth cousins of HIS PEOPLE twice removed.

I’m not sure how much The Pony will enjoy this eight-day event.

There are no girls at Boys State.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dawn In the Jargon Of Good and Evil

Just WHAT was Genius doing with all those dismembered computer parts strewn around my living room at 5:43 a.m. yesterday? According to the horse's mouth (and I don't mean The Pony), Genius was using those computer parts to make a computer. I guess that kind of makes him like Dr. Frankenstein.

That silver case laying on its side on the coffee table where my butt itched to plop was actually this:

In reality, it's square. The Pony, official phone photographer of Val Thevictorian, had an unusual perspective.

According to Genius in his bed this morning, that's a case he bought at a university surplus sale. A case that held an Apple somethingorother server, a 2005 version, perhaps. Genius really liked the case, so he bought it, and proceeded to make it into his computer. He ripped the guts out of his ebony tower and transplanted them inside the ol' Apple case.

He used the 3D printer that he made to create several custom shelves to attach within the case, upon which to rest various components of his computer. So it's basically like a fancy tower stuffed with fancy-schmancy computer guts. Because Genius, like Tina Turner, never does anything nice and easy.

Depending on what he uses his computer for, it could be good, or it could be evil. That's the duality of his nature, I suppose. He's like Forrest Gump's momma's box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.

That boy has too much time on his hands, and on my living room floor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Cried Because I Had No Seat…and Then I Met A Boy Who Was a Total Butt

The road to Val's laptop is paved with no intentions.

This is what I discovered this morning when I sat down in Hick's La-Z-Boy to have my chair nap.

My living room floor was like an elephant graveyard, only for computers, and not at all secret. You could break a leg in there. Or be snatched up toward the ceiling in a trap by inadvertently stepping into an ankle noose. But if you fell and became incapacitated, at least you would not dehydrate, because you'd have a bottle of water, and a red Solo cup from which to sip.

The scope of this carnage was too wide to be captured in one photo from The Pony's phone. Many tools are not even visible here, in the main path from the La-Z-Boy to my laptop in front of the window. Forget about resting my ample rumpus on the end of the coffee table. There wasn't even room for a coffee table book about coffee tables on that thing.

All this, after only last night Genius apologizing for filling the long couch and the short couch with his college detritus. And by apologizing, I mean that Genius huffed in the manner of older adolescents and young adults when called out for their various and sundry atrocities, and rolled his eyes, but stopped short of backtalking.

Note the time of 5:43 a.m. A time when Val should have been lightly snoring for five more minutes before being wrenched from her recliner slumber by Hick stumping across the carpet on his footless ankles from bedroom to kitchen to yank open Frig II's freezer, crinkle the wrap on a sausage/egg/cheese English muffin, fling it into the microwave, and slam that door with two drawer handles.

So severely was the floor mined with computer accouterments that Val was required to sit tight in the La-Z-Boy while the loyal Pony trotted upstairs (located just behind the long couch) from the basement to detach her laptop and deposit it in her lap. Where a laptop certainly does not belong during Val's 15-minute interlude each morning while drugging and breakfasting.

I suppose Genius did not see the error of his ways from Sunday when receiving that lecture for taking up five of the six available living room seats with his stuff.

There is none so blind as a sophomore home from college.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Val Is a Deadbeat Dud

I was cleaning off the kitchen counter Saturday morning when I discovered an insurance envelope. Let the record show that this was an oversize envelope, the kind the insurance company sends us with the little proof-of-insurance cards inside attached at the bottom of the policy info. It was NOT a regular business size envelope that the insurance company uses to send us our bills.

If it had been the bill envelope, I would have stuffed it in my purse until the next day, when I would write out the check and put it in the mail the following day on the way to school. We don't let bills hang around here for long. Bite the bullet now, don't let the injury fester.

So there was this oversize envelope laying there with a couple of other pieces of mail that had gotten wet inside EmBee during the torrential rain that we had back I had set them aside until they dried out and could be opened without damage. Let the record show that if this had been a business size envelope from the insurance company, containing a bill, I would have laid it on the vent overnight to dry it out faster. We're all about using the modern conveniences to our advantage.

As you might surmise, I opened up that oversize envelope on Saturday, around noon, because I laid it down on the table beside me while I watched The Pioneer Woman (twice) and Trisha's Southern Kitchen, then got up from the La-Z-Boy to take a shower, and found inside along with the policy and proof-of-insurance cards...a bill. Three bills, in fact. Oh, they were the regular size bills, and enclosed was the business size return envelope. It was the yearly insurance for Hick's Gator, Hick's Scout, and Hick's two 4-wheelers. All together, a little more than $500 worth of bills, which is highway robbery if you ask me, to insure those vehicles that are simply playthings for Hick.

So...I got to looking for the due date, and saw that it had been Monday. Don't that just beat all? You let a piece of mail lay around six weeks or so to dry out, and then discover it was a BILL that was due six days before you opened it! I got online to check the hours of my insurance agent, thinking I could run by with the checks that afternoon. Well. Don't THAT beat all! Insurance agents don't work on Saturdays. So I wrote up my checks and stuffed them in the return envelope, but shoved them in my purse so I could run by today after school and pay the agent at the office.

You'll never guess what was in EmBee when I got home. Yep. A notice that my insurance bill was past due on Hick's Scout. And do you know what? IT WAS IN A BUSINESS SIZE ENVELOPE! Just like a bill should be, as all the other bills we've gotten in the past.

I think somebody in the mail-out department thought he would be saving the insurance company money on postage, and started including the bill in with the proof-of-insurance cards. Which has most likely resulted in many people not noticing that bill, and being delinquent in their payments.

That's what I'd like to think.

Surely Val is not the only deadbeat dud that missed the deadline on her yearly off-road-vehicle premium.