Saturday, February 28, 2015

Val Hangs Her Head In Shame After Robbing the Cradle of Its Rightful Windfall

Let the record show that Val is a thoughtful mom. Does she not send her non-resident child a card once per week? A card with six dollars enclosed, and a handful of scratch-off lottery tickets? That's not a rhetorical question, but I didn't hear any of you respond. Let me answer for you: "Yes. Yes, Val does."

It does not matter that the card is not exactly a Hallmark. So what if he gets a card every other week with a rainbow-colored, glittery Cat-i-corn on the front? That it comes from The Dollar Tree, or Dollar Store? You'd think one of those chains would have sued the other for the rights to the name by now, but I guess they're all about passing the savings on to the customers. No, the fact that the card is sometimes oversized, and not all that heartrending doesn't matter one whit to Genius. In fact, he even said I didn't have to send those big cards to him every week. He doesn't need to know that those big cards are 2/$1.00. I'm shocked that somebody hasn't opened a Half-Dollar Store around these parts. So for now, Genius can think that I spare no expense in keeping in touch with my firstborn.

I send him six dollars because that's what my mom sent him when she was her old self. Let it be her legacy. The scratchers are just a whim. He doesn't buy them for himself. You never know when somebody's going to win. Might as well be Genius. I send him a couple of one-dollar or two-dollar tickets. The fives that I play don't fit in his cards. As far as he knows.

Last week Genius was all excited because he won FIFTY DOLLARS! Yeah. He even called me right after calling me back to hang up on me because he was being a spoiled father's-son. But the minute he got my card and scratched his tickets, the attitude flew the coop like a space ship being flown by a college sophomore in his underwear. Secretly, I think he just wanted to rub it in that he had a big winner.

So today I picked up some low-cost tickets for his card, but found upon returning home that I had already stuffed some tickets in his card on the kitchen counter that was awaiting a personal note and a stamp. Well. No dilemma there. I set aside some for next week's mailing, and took two of the two-dollar tickets off the top to scratch for myself. I never play the two-dollar tickets. So much work for so little reward. Like those Survivor contestants catching snails and little bitty crabs for sustenance.

Ahem. I won twenty dollars. I am ashamed. That would have been a big win for Genius.

It could, after all, have purchased a St. Patrick's Day sweatshirt from the college bookstore.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Let It Never Be Said That Val Came Between a Boy and His Joystick

Last night I called Genius to give him a heads-up on his tax return.

Can you believe he doesn't know how to file by himself? Makes you feel all safe and secure thinking that he's going to be programming computers and engineering electrical systems in a few years, doesn't it? He might just be responsible for a new off-the-grid movement!

He answered on the second ring. Making me think that he really didn't have anything important going on. "Call me back on the house phone. This call is costing me money." That's because our cell phones have a prefix that is long distance from our house phone. Dang utilities will get you comin' and goin'.

"Hey. You called?"

"Yeah. I sent you two envelopes with your tax info. One of them is strictly for your records. It has a handwritten note in it that says, 'Save these for your records.' The other has two envelopes, one for federal, one for state. The forms are in there. All you have to do is sign and date, replace one of the W-2 copies with your original, put them back in the already addressed and stamped envelope, and mail. There is a list of step by step instructions."

"Okay. But you know I'm going to call you as soon as I get them. I am so incompetent."

"Well, next year I guess you'll have to hire someone to do your taxes. You'll have out-of-state income, you know." Let the record show that Genius has an internship with Garmin that is not in our state.


"I know. I told you. You should have stayed with the same employer." Let the record show that Val wanted to use the phrase, 'You should have danced with the one what brung ya,' but she knew Genius would say that she wasn't making sense, because he hadn't been dancing last summer, but working for $20 an hour with an electrical engineering firm.

"Maybe it's not too late! I don't even want to think about it being more complicated! I can't do it! I'll have to hire someone!"

"If that's the only issue, I might be able to do it. I'm not sure, though. You don't get all of your withholding back this year. It cost you about $59 because we could claim you as a dependent. But it saved us a couple of thousand. Not that we get a refund. We have to pay. But it's less."

"I shall expect ten percent of that savings."

"Yeah, right. You'll get ONE PERCENT, and you already got it, because I looked at your university billing statement today, and you owe $20. I was shocked. I know that sometimes we get a refund check. But most often, the amount you spend on tuition and housing and books miraculously comes out to be the same as your scholarships and RA stipend. Now we owe $20!"

"Huh. It's funny how that works out."

"Uh huh. Enjoy your medium St. Patrick's Day sweatshirt. That's your cut of the tax savings."

"WAIT! You mean that statement actually shows you what I bought?"

"Uh huh. It says, 'St. Patrick's Day Merchandise.' And in the explanation column, it says, 'SS medium.' I figured that meant a medium sweatshirt."

"Oh. Maybe I'm spending my money on a beer stein."

"Yeah, right. That would have been a large."

"An extra-large, actually."

"So I knew it was a sweatshirt. "

"Yes. And I have a sweatshirt for every year."

"Are you going to be one of those people who frame them and hang them on the walls of their ultra-modern apartment brick walls, to show off at alumni parties? I hope I don't open the online statement next month, and see that you've bought a snake-whacking stick." Let the record show that Genius attends a university that is famous for its St. Patrick's Day celebrations, devoting an entire week to the festivities.

"Yes. I will frame them. And I just might need me a snake-whacking stick. But I had no idea that statement actually shows you what I bought."

"I guess you'll be more careful now."

"Well, they won't take anything but cash or account. I don't carry cash. I use my debit for everything. So that bookstore stuff gets put on the account. there anything else?"

"Not really. I just wanted you to know that your tax info is on the way. It will take about four weeks to get your refund, since you have to do it by mail since your identity was stolen."

"Okay. I'm done talking now. I've been flying a space ship ever since you called, but I can't beat my time while I'm talking to you." Let the record show that Genius called and asked me to sent him his old joystick last week. The one he used on his airplane-flying games when he thought he wanted to get his pilot's license.

"Oh. Exuuuuse me! I didn't know I was keeping you from fighting aliens."

"You're crazy. I'm not fighting aliens. Who said anything about aliens? I'm flying a space ship!"

"How egotistical of you , to think you're the only species in the universe flying a space ship! I hope you're nice and comfortable, wearing your new $20-sweatshirt while you fly."

"Actually, I have on my underwear and a T-shirt. I've been dressed up all day."

"All right then. I just wanted to let you know that I finished your taxes." Let the record show that Val would never come between a boy and his joystick.

So there you have it. What the college money is going for, and how Genius spends his evenings. I have a good mind to bill him for the ten dollars I spent on mailing his joystick. We provide over half of his support, you know.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Does a Hick Pee In the Woods?

Today we wrap up Val’s continuing series on “Beer and Bro-Things in Backroadsia.” Wrap it up in shiny tastefully-patterned paisley gift paper, and tie it with a festive floppy silky red bow. Or, here in Backroads, dump it in a Walmart bag and tie the loops in a knot. You there! Stop cheering. You can never get enough info about Val. TMI does not exist in her vocabulary. Nor does IRONIC.

Let it never be said that Hick doesn’t have a pot to piss in. Hick has a plethora of pots to piss in. Though how he keeps from making a mess with those pots hanging from the roof of his Creekside cabin is BEEYOOOOND me. You can clearly see that the snow behind them is not yellow. So Hick must have a double-secret method that he’s keeping under his hat. That background is pure as…as…the roof-slumped snow.

Also in this shot is the mini barn. Hick built it even before the mini pony was a gleam in his eye. I suppose he fancied bartering for some mini chickens and mini goats. WAIT! He already had banty chickens and those knee-high goats. So I suppose he knew what he was doing. Even if none of the animals ever stepped talons or hooves into the mini barn.

You might think that little building in the background is the outhouse. Nope. It's out of range. Remember, a lady reveals nothing. It wouldn't be polite to brag about one's outhouse. Nope. That li'l ol' structure is a…is a…STRUCTURE! According to The Pony, "It's that building Dad made so he could put old license plates around the walls." Uh huh. Hick built a building solely for the outside walls. Go ahead. Try to feign surprise.

Again, we have the woodshed. I daresay Hick must have accrued many hours in the woodshed as a boy. Or not. Because as a lad, he was sometimes less than truthful. His mom was in the hospital a lot, and his dad was blind. So it wasn’t too hard to put one over on them. Unlike Val’s parents, who every night cleaned their calabash pipe and polished its meerschaum bowl, and brushed their deerstalker hat free of lint.

Hick saw no reason that his dad should know he was suspended from school for lighting a fire on the vocational school bus. “The heater didn’t work!” he declared, righteously. “We was just trying to get warm. So we took the trash can at the back of the bus, and set the stuff on fire. And I’ll be darned if the bus driver didn’t see us!” Since his family had no phone, Hick waited for the discipline notice to come in the mail. He didn’t mention it to his dad, but took it so his brothers wouldn’t read it. Then he got up every morning, at the regular time, and went and sat in the woods until school was out.

Hick has always been at home in the woods.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hold Onto Your Board Shorts, Surf's Up!

Part 3 of our 4-part series, Beer and Bro-Things in Backroadsia, brings us this view of Hick's creekside cabin facing the creek. Well, the creek WOULD be there, if it wasn't frozen over.

Here we have the other side of that giant frozen shoot-the-pipe wave that crept off the roof of the cabin. It must be the stuff surfers dream about, except not frozen, and with a whole ocean of water under it, and not in the woods with all those trees to crash into, and with some bikini girls egging them on.

The blue things are insulators off power line poles. I imagine Hick bought up a box of them at the auction, but he may have collected a few here and there from some of his electrical friends. One thing is for sure. Hick did not climb power poles to get them. He is not as agile as a mailman who spent the better part of his childhood growing up in the Pacific Northwest, able to shinny up a sapling and grab a man-fur from the branches after it was unceremoniously tossed out an apartment window.

The rest of the stuff I’m not sure about. Hick’s cabin porch is as busy as a Richard Scarry drawing. No banana car in sight, though. But he DOES have a rearing unicorn.

The hexagonal picnic table in the background has more miles on it that The Pony’s truck. Pony miles. It’s a used truck, you know. That table was bought by Hick and me right after we built the house. It used to sit over in the side yard, where the chicken pen (unused by the chickens) is now.

Yes, we had some good picnics on it when the boys were small. It was right near that picnic table where our old dog Grizzly, the boys’ first pet, found that nest of rabbits being eaten by a giant black snake. Then ate them himself once Hick rescued them from the snake. Little boys cry loud tears.

It was on that table that Hick and The Veteran attempted to deep-fry a fresh road-kill turkey on a Coleman camp stove. Epic fail. It should not take four hours to deep-fry a fresh road-kill turkey. And the term “deep-fry” would inherently lead a person to believe that the meat was, indeed, cooked.

That picnic table made many a trip up the gravel road to Hick’s buddy’s house for cookouts. Don’t think it can walk. Buddy came to get it on his tractor, with a boom pole. That means he strapped that table up with chains, suspended it from a long pole off the back of his blue tractor, and drove it up the road. Then back, to return it, after several weeks of reminding.

I wouldn't be surprised if Hick built a special building just to house the picnic table.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Beer and Bro-Things in Backroadsia

Let us now pull back the curtain to reveal the second installment in Val's continuing series on "Beer and Bro-Things in Baskroadsia."

This is the front of Hick's fine creekside cabin establishment. The main part is on the right. The original cabin. That wasn't enough for Hick. Once a project is finished, it's time to look for a new project. So he decided that he needed to add a bedroom to his sitting room with loft.

Let's direct our attention first to the cabin proper. Notice the twin ceramic rooster-heads on each side of the door? Uh huh. Class act, our Hick. And above the door, probably too tiny for you to read, are three little words: Wild Wild West. Of course he has that metal thermometer to the left of the door, to tell him if it's cold enough to snow. And who wouldn't want to grab a Coke and a smile before sittin' a spell to chew the fat with Hick? That lovely filigree of icicles on the roof line was just a happy accident.

The bedroom addition may look like it has a shiny glassed aluminum screen door, but that's actually a window. I'm sure you could use it for ingress and egress if you so desired. The actual door, according to The Pony, is on the left. The part that looks like the bars in Otis's cell. I can't explain the reason for the milk cans. Nor the washtub.

Don't even ask why the wood stands alone nowhere near the woodshed.

I'm thinking I might just open a bed-and-breakfast for those folks who come from far away to purchase their handbaskets. I even have a wonderful rib-stickin' goody to put on my menu. We had it tonight with some fish. Not that my B&B guests will get fish. They might expect some highfalutin dish like Bourbon-Glazed Salmon or Creole Red Snapper or Mahi Mahi with Onion, Capers, and Lemon...rather than the minced breaded frozen love minnow resulting from the clandestine union of Mrs. Paul and that bearded yellow-slicker-wearing Gorton man.

No, my secret recipe is not for fish. It's for the side dish. I call it Cheesed Broccocaulipeppot. Doesn't that sound tasty? Doesn't it? Here's how you make it. Toss a small potato in the microwave for baking. Take a glass bowl suitable for microwaving, and put in cut-up broccoli and cauliflower. Cover it with plastic wrap and nuke it for several minutes until tender. In the meantime, cut up some pasteurized processed cheese spread. Like Velveeta, or the better Save A Lot brand, Marvella. By now your potato and broccoli/cauliflower will be done. Take out the bowl and lift the plastic wrap and put the cheese on top. Slice the potato in half, and lay it unpeeled sides down on top of your cheesy veggie bowl. Cube that potato while it's laying on top. Add some sweet banana pepper rings. Stir it all together...and VOILA! Cheesed Broccocaulipeppot!

I know your mouth is watering and you have no time left to read.

Bon appetite!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Val Snows the Roof Off the Seamy Side of Hick's Clandestine Activities

You never know what you're going to get around Val's house on any given weekend. It's kind of like Forrest Gump's momma's box of chocolates.

Just Sunday evening, The Pony trotted into my dark basement lair and said, "Oh, Mom. Look what happens to Dad's cabin when the sun comes out after a snow." He poked Hick's phone in my face. Why is it that kids always think old people need stuff jammed up under their noses, rather than held at arm's length or across the room? I need to make some kind of symbol to teach the young 'uns that. Like Mr. Yuck, only with an old geezer shaking his fist at some young whippersnapper getting up in his grill. I'm probably not allowed to say that. My kids try to keep me in check. But they're not here now, are they? So I'll let my outdated-teen-lingo flag fly.

Here's what The Pony showed me. It must have made an impression, because he's not one to share things just for the feel-good rush.

Oh, yeah. Roll that beautiful creekside cabin roof footage. So cool. The metal roof heated up in the sunlight, and the snow that was packed there all week slid down over the edge. Kind of like a glacier, answering gravity's call. And also like a glacier, packed with particles, though in this case they had settled from above, and were not gouged out below.

Nature can be so cool.

And Hick can be such a hoarder. There's his woodshed in the bacground. And his Gator, with that red milk crate that only a couple short weeks ago was still screwed to the front wall of our house for PACKAGES. Gather it all in. It's impossible to see all of Hick's treasures at first glance.

I think I'll make this a continuing series. There are three pictures left to go.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Caught In the Act

Guess what I caught Hick doing Saturday evening.

No, I did not catch him out behind the dumpster with another guy...SMOKING!

Nor did I catch him:

~treating his body like an amusement park

~switching out the cassette in my answering machine

~withdrawing his blood from the blood bank and storing it in Tupperware in Frig II's freezer

~hijacking a city bus to drive a severed pinky toe on ice in a Cracker Jack box to the hospital, making all the stops

~putting my toothbrush in the rack after fishing it out of the toilet

~urinating in the corner of a parking garage

~eating a Chinese takeout Supreme Flounder in a janitor's closet

~sending out Christmas cards showing his exposed nipple

Nope. None of those. Thanks for guessing, but I suppose I kind of need to narrow it down for you. It has to do with Hick's feeding peccadilloes. He goes to the auction on Saturday evening. So we have a quick meal that he can wolf down and still get there in time to pick his seat. Heh, heh. See what I did there?

I made a cheeseburger for The Pony and for Hick. The Pony barely wants any meat on his burger, which he takes with a plastic-wrapped American single and numerous squirts of ketchup. Which reminds me, I forgot to give him a dill pickle on the side. Oh, well. There are plenty of dill pickles in that boy's future.

Hick likes a burger with Pepper Jack. Of which we were fresh out, him never bothering to tell me what he wants when I go to the store. He's lucky I had buns that were not spotted. In place of his missing Pepper Jack, I sliced off two thin slabs (yeah, it can be done, by a master cheese-cutter such as Val) of extra-sharp cheddar.

I also prepared to set beside the king a dainty dish of onion slices, dill pickle slices, and tomato slices. I offered a variety of accompaniments. Hick could have munched on celery/broccoli/cauliflower/baby carrots/ridged Ruffles all with Hidden Valley Ranch. Not from a bottle, either, or that French Onion kind of dip. Uh uh. The kind made with a tub of sour cream and a packet of powder! I know, it kind of violates my oven-heating/microwave-warming rules to provide a burger from the stove top, AND whisked dip...but I WAS getting rid of him all evening, so I pulled out all the stops.

OR, Hick could have opted for Scoops, restaurant style tortilla chips, tasty Save A Lot Senora Verde mild salsa, chunk pineapple in 100% juice, or the old standby: slaw. I swear, it's like that man tries to provoke me. No, he didn't want any of that.

I went into the bathroom to grab some laundry. Hick must have thought I would be descending to my dark basement lair, because he plopped himself into his La-Z-Boy and cranked up the volume to a level both coasts could hear, and put on one of his greasy mechanic shows. As I walked behind him with that laundry, I saw that Hick had indeed added a side dish to his main course.


The significance of that being that individual bags of chips are for school lunches. Not for home consumption. Never mind that in our big bag of little bags, we have Lays Potato Chips, Cheetos, Sun Chips Original, Fritos, Nacho Doritos, and Cool Ranch Doritos. Let the record show that Val prefers the Lays and the Fritos. The Pony claims the Sun Chips and the Cheetos. Which always leaves us with excess Doritos, to be consumed when nothing else is available and a trip to the store is not imminent.

I called him out. "Why are you eating my Fritos for school? You could have had any other kind of chip. But those are for my lunches."

"I really wanted Cheetos, but I couldn't find any."

"That's because The Pony takes them in his lunch every day. We used those, and he has a six-pack of just Cheetos in the pantry, not on the table where you found those." Oops! I think I said too much. "Besides, I guess YOU are the one who took all the chips out of the other big bag, and left that big bag on the cooler on the stool under your cuckoo clock that you wind twice a day."

"Not me! I didn't take any chips."

Yeah. Like I'm going to believe that. I didn't take them and leave the empty bag behind, because I have to throw it away anyhow. No need to make it a two-step process. And The Pony only takes chips in his lunch, which I pack for him, and has to take out the trash, so he knows to fill it as he goes along.

Caught in the act. And not even the least bit remorseful. I swear. You guys seem to think that any food in the house is available for your consumption.

As soon as I get my proposed handbasket factory up and running, I am going to design a special handbasket for the ladies, with a hidden compartment to hold snacks for the trip. Maybe even an insulated area for ice cubes. I hear that ice water is all the rage at that destination.