Saturday, August 29, 2015

The End of An Era

Val is now childhood-home-less.

Last Wednesday, we had the closing on Mom's house. My sister the ex-mayor's wife and I sold it to our cousin, the son of my favorite gambling aunt. He had asked us to give him a chance before we listed it. That was no problem, since we didn't really want to list it.

We had a few hiccups in the process. Sis went on vacation for two weeks while Cuz took a week's staycation to get his loan in order. Do you know how hard it is to text a form to Colorado for a signature and get it back when the signer is camping in the shadow of the Rockies? Val ran herself ragged trying to get that document to Cuz before his holiday ran out, the process made so much more difficult by Sis being incommunicado from 5:00 in the evening until noon the next day.

Anyhoo, we agreed to hold the closing between August 1 and September 1, with possession being contingent upon contents being removed. Cuz did not really have a choice. Like it or lump it, take it or leave it. I even made a trip to the house to show him and his prospective wife the interior again. Not because they couldn't decide, but because they couldn't wait to get in there.

I told Cuz that there was some furniture that we didn't want, and we would have to make arrangements to get it out. Possibly calling some auction acquaintances of Hick who buy storage lockers, who might want to buy them. Cuz said that whatever we didn't want, we could leave. I told him that sounded good, but that I couldn't speak for Sis, and I was sure she would want some compensation for the left-behinds. He said he understood.

The weekend before the closing, we had everything out of the house except some furniture. Cuz had told Hick at work the day before closing that he did not want the furniture, because his future MIL was going to get a few things for them, and they each had their own furniture already. No big deal. Cuz was given first choice, and whether he already had furnishings lined up, or whether he didn't want to pay our fee, he declined. So we moved to Plan B, and sold two couches, a recliner, and a girl's bedroom set to Hick's oldest boy, who had asked for them. In fact, I GAVE him the bedroom set, because he's a big help to Hick.

Flash to the closing. It was like old home week. Or a funeral, which is where we have been meeting each other lateley. Hugs all around. Cuz went in first. He came out, and Sis and I, along with Hick and the ex-mayor (because Missouri says they are part owners, being spouses and all) went in to sign. Cuz said he would talk to us when we came out.

Let the record show that while signing 357 documents, some which had our names misspelled by that shifty or Alzheimered co-owner of the only title company in the county...she let it slip that Cuz was waiting out front for the keys.

Cue the scratch of the needle on the phonograph record.

Sis and I cut eyes at each other. WAITING FOR THE KEYS? "We told him we are not relinquishing possession until contents are removed! He knows that." Sis was taking no guff from TitleHag, who had already scammed another death certificate from her, having misplaced the one Sis had to rush across the county before closing two weeks ago, Babe in tow, because the document was needed before paperwork could be drawn up.

"Well," said TitleHag, "one of you might want to go out there and tell him that."

Of all times for Sis to become a shrinking violet! She insisted that I go. Because I was the oldest. I stopped short of telling her, "But everybody THINKS you're the oldest!" For a minute there, I thought we might have to do rock/paper/scissors. Finally we both went out. Sis made me talk first.

VAL: "You know, Cuz, we'd really like to give you the keys tonight. But we still have to get the furniture out. I told you in that note Hick brought to work that it would take extra time if you didn't want the furniture."

CUZ: "I just bought the house. I want the keys. I gave notice on my apartment a week ago. I need to be out by Friday."

Sis found her voice. "Now, Cuz. You knew we weren't giving you the keys until the furniture was out. We didn't even have to have the closing until September 1. It's not our fault you gave notice so soon. We have never led you to believe it would all be done today. We didn't even know closing was scheduled today until Monday."

CUZ: "Okay. I'll take the furniture. I'll give you ($500 less) for the furniture. Then can I have the keys tonight?"

Let the record show that Sis and I had pre- agreed to take $500 less than the asking price on that furniture, should Cuz make a counteroffer. It wasn't so much the money, as the fact that Cuz got such a great deal on the house, and Sis didn't think he should be able to sell the furniture for profit. Because, you know, 45-year-old furniture is in high demand.

VAL: "Well, when you said you didn't want the furniture, we sold some of it to Hick's son. We didn't know you'd want it now."

CUZ: "That's okay. I'll pay for the furniture. Just give me the keys tonight. I'll follow you over there when we leave here. My girl is meeting me there."

SIS: "Now, Cuz. We will be glad to show you the inside of the house again. But we're not ready to turn it over."

CUZ: "I just bought it. I own it."

SIS: "It's filthy! We still have to clean it up. I would be embarrassed to even show it to you right now. Our mom did not live like that. It's been sitting empty since February."

CUZ: "That's okay! My girl said she wants three days of cleaning. She loves to clean! She's ready."

I did not care. Let him have it. Get it done. Sis was wavering. Raising her eyebrows at me. I nodded my head while Cuz was watching Sis. She relented. "I don't have the keys back from my kids yet, but I can give you mine and the ex-mayor's."

VAL: "And we will have to be able to get in there Saturday to get that furniture for Hick's son."

CUZ: "No problem. I just want the house tonight."

I feel for Sis. I really do. She had told me only that weekend, "You know, once we sell it, it's gone. We can't come back and walk through it. That's our childhood right there. We will only be able to drive by."

When we all convened for the key ceremony, I thought Sis was going to amble from room to room, dragging her arms along the walls in a goodbye hug. She dawdled. Talked to Cuz for an extra half-hour in the kitchen after I left. On my way out the door, I heard a little catch in her voice.

"You take good care of this house, Cuz."

Friday, August 28, 2015

Val Thevictorian. Now With TWO Breasts!

Val has connections, my friends. No longer does she list out of the gas station chicken store, lurching toward T-Hoe with an awkward sideways tilt, pulled off-center by her single breast.

Friday! It's FRIDAY. Bill-paying Friday, to be exact. Except Val no longer has bills to pay. More on that another day. First The Pony and I lost my mom from our bill-paying excursions, and now we've lost our bill. However, I had promised The Pony a Rally's mini funnel cake today. After all, I thought I would be driving to bill-paying town, the location of Rally's, to pay the house bill. But we don't have it anymore. Still. The Pony was hankerin' for a funnel cake.

On the way, he decided to have a burger for supper. With a funnel cake appetizer, and a funnel cake dessert. Except he didn't want to founder himself, so later he stashed one in Frig II for tomorrow. Anyhoo...we sent Hick a text to see if he, too, wanted a burger. No funnel cake. We got no answer. Since Rally's was fast approaching, I told The Pony to call Hick. He chastised me because it was the time Hick normally gets in his car that was my mom's, and starts the drive home. I told him to send one more text explaining that it was almost too late to Rally.

Wouldn't you know it! Within one minute, Hick sent a cryptic text. "Rallies is fine in meeting." He called about 20 minutes later.

"I was in a meeting. I couldn't answer. My phone kept going off. So I checked it. It made a mess of the meeting."

"WHAT? Don't you turn your phone off when you're in a meeting?"

"No. Sometimes. If I remember."

"What kind of employee doesn't turn his phone off in a meeting? It's a MEETING! For WORK! We always turn our phones off when we have a meeting. We're professionals."

"Huh. It was okay. No harm done."

"Then why are you making a big deal of it? How was I supposed to know you were in a meeting? In fact, when you didn't answer, I told The Pony you must be in a meeting. 'He'll see it when he's out,' I said. Because I was sure you would have your phone turned off if you were in a meeting."

"No. It was on."

Seriously. That guy will be lucky if he makes it to retirement. This Val will be MORE lucky if he makes it to retirement. Anyhoo...the point it that Hick requested a burger while we were pulling up to the Rally's speaker. That meant I didn't have to warm up any food in the oven or heat it in the microwave. So I decided to have gas station chicken, my old friend, when I picked up a Friday evening celebratory 44 oz Diet Coke.

I bellied up to the chicken counter and asked for my usual. A breast. The jolly chicken gal missing a front tooth was training a new guy. She told him, "Give her two. We're backed up with chicken. I've got another tray going now. We have been slow on chicken for a Friday. We need to get rid of some to make room."

Let the record show it was 4:45, nearing the get-off-work rush. I suppose this being the last weekend of the month, and the Labor Day holiday coming up next weekend, folks are saving their chicken money.

"Okay. So I put in two?"

"Yeah. But not with everybody! I only give them to my regulars. She's a regular."

Heh, heh. That there is proof that Val is not irregular, by cracky!

So...I went in to buy one breast, paid for one breast, and left with TWO BREASTS!

It's who you know, people. It's who you know.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Val Plays Fast and Loose With Mathematical Analysis



As you may recall, Val went on a wild contest-entering spree a month or two ago. She has reaped an honorable mention and two first places so far for her nine entries. Not too shabby. The jury is still out on two of them, but Tuesday, Val was learned the fate of numbers six and seven.

Here’s the deal. Monday, I got an email after school explaining that my entry in a certain contest had not made it to the final round. No big deal. At least the sixth of the nine shoes had dropped. No more waiting for that one.

Monday evening, I realized that I had sent TWO entries to that contest. And that this email had specifically mentioned ONE of those titles. Hm. Perhaps my other entry was still in the running? Or maybe that organization only sent out one rejection per author. Hm. Was I a complete loser? Or just a half loser?

Tuesday afternoon, the mystery was solved. After the final bell, I turned on my phone, and was plugging away doing what I do best, keeping caught up with grading assignments before leaving work for the day. I heard my phone bleep the signal that it had received an email. I knew it. I felt it in my bones. It was that contest. I made myself wait until scores were recorded and entered in the computer. Then I checked.

Oh. Sorry. My piece did not pass through to the final round of the contest. However…they were happy to tell me that my piece had been a semi-finalist. It had clawed its way to the top 20% of all submissions. Good to know. Not quite as uplifting as winning 89th place in the 80th annual Writers Digest contest. But a tally in the plus column for Val.

Top 20%. Val is good with math. She knows that 20% is the same as 1/5. And that left over from that 20% is 80%. Which is the same as 4/5. Val was hoisted above 80% of the other entries. For every group of five entries, Val beat out four of them. She and the other 20-percenters breathed the rarefied air on the top of the heap while the rest choked on the smog below. 

So, applying her twisted version of a mathematical formula to that result…Val proclaims that four out of five writing contest judges surveyed think Val is hilarious. The other one, though, says, “Meh.” That other one? Probably laughs uncontrollably at Benny Hill, The Three Stooges, and those Ernest P. Worrell movies from the '80s. Enjoys a different style of comedy than Val's nuanced highbrow prose. That judge would never pick his seat by Val (heh, heh, I said pick his seat) in a two-person audience at a 5000-seat auditorium after the apopadopalyspe. That's okay. Val is pleased just to have been hoisted.

Writing is such a subjective endeavor.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Juno Thevictorian Is/Was Missing!

Oh, dear! The Pony and I headed off for school this morning without a backward glance. And without a backwards trip, like yesterday, when I forgot my glasses but remembered them before we got to EmBee and the county road.

We were a little bit late, because Hick waxed all chatty until 6:10 about how he is DONE with work, and ready to retire. Aren't we all? Like...in 166 more school days? So that put us 10 minutes behind, and we needed to stop for gas, which we could have done after work, except that The Pony wanted to grab a donut. Make that three. Two for breakfast, and one for lunch.

Juno did not run around the porch to greet us. I didn't think anything of it, because some mornings she's there all human-eyed and loving, wanting a pat before I disappear into the garage, and some mornings she's off gallivanting about the countryside, picking up burrs in her silky egg-fed coat. I heard her barking around 5:40, I think. On the porch. A whimpery yip. Probably at that devil of a poodle across the way.

When we got home after 5:00, I pushed the garage door opener and saw a cat run out. CATS ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE GARAGE RIGHT NOW! As you may recall, my furniture from Mom's house has been stashed there, including the kitchen table of her own mother. With six chairs. No cat-clawing is going to befall them on MY watch!

After parking T-Hoe, I walked around to inspect my table. It looked okay. I heard my sweet, sweet Juno on the side porch. Whimpery-whining, excited to see me, eager for cat kibble. I started talking to her as usual. "Do I hear my sweet, sweet Juno? Does Juno want some kibble? Did Juno miss me today?" Imagine my surprise when I stepped through the door to find Ann. Poor dumb Ann. The black german shepherd/lab mix. I don't know why SHE was so excited. I tolerate her. But she's not a favorite. I patted her anyway, which I do grudgingly most evenings. I even gave her a bigger handful of cat kibble than normal. Because my sweet, sweet Juno wasn't there. Ann is the nervous type. She whiny-whimpered as she partook of her begrudged treat.

I called to my sweet, sweet Juno. Waited for her to run around the porch from her house. From the front. Out of the yard. No Juno. I bent over to look in her house. No Juno. That was very odd indeed. She is never far from Ann, though they get along like me and my sister the ex-mayor's wife. In the house, I asked The Pony if he had seen her.

"No. She'll come running."

"Take this baked potato skin from last night outside. She may want it. She missed her cat kibble."

"Huh." The Pony was perplexed when he came back from the dog pans. "I don't think Dad fed the dogs this morning. Their pans are empty, and usually they have some left. Besides, Ann was eating something dead."

"I hope it wasn't Juno!"

"Nah. It was about the size of a paw."

"I hope she's okay. It's not like Juno to miss me when I come home. I hope Dad didn't lock her in the BARn again. Did he go to the BARn last night?"

"I don't know."

Of course, speak of the Hick, and he appears. He came in the kitchen door.

"Have you seen Juno? She wasn't here this morning. And she's not here now. Not in her house. Not on the porch. She was limping for the past two days. I hope nothing's happened to her."

"Well, CRAP! She was running around over at the BARn last night. I'll go see if she's in there."

Let the record show that this was almost too much for my heart to bear. My sweet, sweet Juno locked up in the BARn all day? Alone? Unable to carouse? No water? No food? No love?"

It was almost worse when Hick returned, and declared that my sweet, sweet Juno HAD been in the BARn all day. Because I could imagine her yipping with delight when she heard the sound of Hick's Gator approaching. Picture her gamboling about Hick's feet when he opened the door. Imagine her joy at seeing him after a day all alone in a metal BARn. Worshiping her imprisoner, when I her true rescuer, was a hundred yards away. Unthanked.

When Hick came back inside, I told him to feed Juno. "She'll be hungry after missing her food this morning, and her dozen eggs through the day cat kibble this evening."

"There's food around there right now. In them pans."

"No. They're empty."

"They have food."

"How would you know? You haven't been around there. The Pony just came in five minutes ago ans said they were empty."

"Okay. I'll go give her some food." He went out the laundry room door. "C'mon you stupid mutt."

This is the third time Hick has locked my sweet, sweet Juno in the BARn. Now he's also letting the cat in the garage. He SAID she must have slipped in there. He doesn't even go in the garage. His car is outside because of my furniture that HE had the bright idea to put in there. So the cat would have had to walk right under his nose while he was getting their kibble this morning. IF he really locked the cat door in the big garage door like he said.

When Hick retires, I'm going to give him a checklist on a clipboard to fill out and turn in to me several times a day. Let's hope my furniture is not still in the garage.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Oops! Hick Did It Again.



I came home yesterday to find two new additions to Thevictorian family sitting on the porch. They were not unattractive. Rather handsome, in their own way. As I was grousing to my sweet, sweet Juno about their origin, (while she was thinking "SHUT UP, WOMAN, AND GIVE ME MY CAT KIBBLE!") a voice hailed me from the front yard. It was Hick, sitting on his Gator. I suppose he had been waiting for me to exit the garage so he could ascertain my reaction.

“Did you see my newest find? I couldn’t pass them up. They were at the same driveway where I got the high chair.”

“Huh. Somebody is cleaning out their junk, and you’re bringing it home.”

“Look at them. They’re good chairs. I had to get them. And over by the bridge? Did you see the tub?”

“What tub? We came the other way. The back road.”

“Somebody had left a #3 washtub by the low water bridge. I got out to look. They had thrown a bunch of deer parts in it, so it didn’t smell very good when I brought it home—“

“Wait a minute! You brought it home? Where is it?”

“Over by the BARn. It’s a good tub. You don’t see those anymore.”

I don’t know what I’m going to do when Hick retires. We’ll have to buy another house, just for the yard to keep the junk he drags home every day.

Sorry. No #3 washtub for you.

Monday, August 24, 2015

No Crazier Than a Proposed Handbasket Factory, I Suppose

It will come as no great surprise to you that, as of 4:00 Sunday afternoon, Hick has a new money-making venture lined up to line his pockets with cold hard cash. Or at least limp paper currency. I would love to drag it out. Make you guess his latest entrepreneurial endeavor. But I fear that 10,000 monkeys guessing for 10,000 days with 10,000 hints could not arrive at the truth.

Hick is selling rocks.

Okay, he's not going door-to-door with a briefcase full of stones, pushing pet rocks, promoting stone soup, or proffering affordable weapons for the apopadopalyspe. In fact, this business opportunity fell into his lap. Well, not so much fell into his lap, as clambered up his shin, shoved his belly out of the way, and sat on his knee. Let's let Hick share his newfound fortune with you. The origin of, not the actual as-yet-to-be paid fortune.

"I was working over by the BARn, and this guy came up in here. He was talking to a bunch of people. He wants to buy the rock off our land. You know, like that guy down in the bottom sold his a couple years ago. The big rocks, that they load on a flatbed and sell to landscapers. This guy asked if I was interested. He wanted to look at the land, but I told him no! That we have plenty of rock down behind the house, but it is not for sale! Then I took him up to the boys' 10 acres on the hill. He said there is between $5000 and $7000 worth of rock there. I said I'd get back to him. I've got his card."

"Are you sure you want to do that? I hate it when they tear up the land. The water will run off and make gullies and pretty much carry our land away. It's on the hill, you know. The people at the bottom will end up with our land. AND his big truck will block the road, and tear it up. It will cost us more to fix the road for several years than the rocks will be worth."

"He said there's a place partway up the hill where he can get his truck off. I told him we own that flat part at the top, and he can pull off there."

"You mean by that guy who threatened to shoot you, and you threatened to shoot him, and he got arrested and had to pay $6000 to stay out of jail?"

"Yeah. I told the Rock Guy that the other guy might come out and start something, but just to tell him that I sent him up there."

"That should smooth it over."

"Yeah! And you might as well get used to the idea, because the guy across from the boys' land already told him he'd sell his rocks."

"Which guy? On our road here? By our house?"

"Uh huh. The one with the cabin."

"The one where those boys shot at you with a shotgun and peppered the roof of your cabin with buckshot?"

"Yeah. They weren't shooting at me. They just shot and didn't know what was through the trees. I went and straightened them out."

"I remember. So...that truck will tear up our road on the hill coming to the house, and we will be blocked going in and out."

"No. The Rock Guy will go in from the other side. It's on that V at the bottom. It has frontage on both roads. The truck will park by the boys' land. The cabin guy already has a place clear where he can park."

"I don't know. I guess I don't care. I just hate to see the land torn up."

"We can use that money to build my garage that I'm planning. With the freight containers. To keep from taking out money for it. I'll go see if he's still here. He was going next door."

First of all, I don't know what this Rock Guy was doing up in here. It's a private road. With NO TRESPASSING signs! Sioux saw them on her grand Gas Station Chicken Tour. It's like with a vampire. Solicitors have to be invited in by someone. Or they can be PROSECUTED! The sign says so. Sioux saw it! Anyhoo...Hick came back a couple of hours later.

"The Rock Guy asked me if the land behind our house had those big rocks like Neighbor has behind his house. I said, 'Ours are bigger than Neighbor's rocks! But they're not for sale! We have talked about it, and that's going to be our nest egg when we retire.' So you don't have to worry about me selling our house rocks right now!"

Let the record show that I have never discussed selling our rocks for retirement, with Hick or anyone else. And I'm not sure how beneficial it is to wait until retirement to establish a nest egg. Also, what happens if Rock Guy takes the rocks and doesn't pay? Can we file a police report and take him to court for stealing rocks off our land?

I hope I don't have to serve on the jury for my own rock theft lawsuit!

Now admit it...would you ever have guessed Hick's latest moneymaking venture?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Thar She Blew!

Last week's overnight storm wreaked havoc with the homestead.


Our mini pony dodged a torpedo. That monster crushed the roof of the goat shed. Thank goodness little Barry, the mini pony, prefers other accommodations. It's a good thing we are goatless at the moment. They would have been huddled inside, quaking with fear that...well...that a tree might fall on them!


Here is the damage from the inside. I suppose Hick subjected himself to peril to snap this photo. Notice that the roof beam, or the rafter, or whatever you call it, was snapped. I think that's a 2" x 12". Or was.

The Pony's Sword Shack suffered minor roof damage from the wind. It was lucky, sitting only 20 feet from the trunk of The Crusher.


One of Hick's freight containers was the victim of a different weapon of destruction.


And...down by the creekside cabin, lightning took a toll. Maybe I SHOULD have gotten up to check on the weather. Not that I could have prevented any of this. But we were very lucky to escape unscathed in the main house. The Crusher landed, perhaps, 100 feet from the end of the house. Hick has always patted himself on the back for building it where the trees were not right on top of it. Now I see why. What's a little shade in the summer, compared to a trunk through your bedroom at 3:30 a.m.?


The insurance adjuster is coming tomorrow. Which means Hick has to take off work to be here and show her around. Such a hardship. That Hick is so selfless! In fact, he's so selfless that he also talked to the insurance agent about hail damage on our parked vehicles from last spring. Which requires the auto adjuster, who can't make it until Tuesday. So another day off!

If I didn't know better, I would think Hick was looking for ways to get out of work.