Sunday, January 25, 2015

One, One, One Post In Two

Hey! Anybody here grow up reading Highlights?

You know, Highlights. The kids' magazine. I couldn't wait for them to come in the mail. I think my favorite section was the hidden pictures. I just tried one online. Oh, SIT, as The Pony might say. I only found 12 out of 16. And even after the hints, it took me another ten or fifteen minutes to find the remaining four. I don't think they gave us enough practice on those things in Valedictorian School. second favorite part of that magazine was Goofus and Gallant. Am I the only one who wanted to smack Gallant and mess up his hair? Goody-two-shoes, running with his scissors pointed down! Oh. Wait. I'm sure Gallant WALKED with his scissors, while Goofus sped through the house, scissors pointed up, just daring fate to put an eye out. I know we were supposed to get a different message, but sometimes ya just gotta go with the bad boys. Most of the time, however, I viewed them all smug in my smugness that I was Gallant, and my sister the future ex-mayor's wife was Goofus. After all, she was the one who ran in circles, tethered by her upper arm in Mom's vice grip, to escape the wrath of Mr. Wire Flyswatter Handle.

Today, Val pays homage to Goofus and Gallant with two vignettes from her interactions around Backroads this weekend.

Today I went to a local grocery store looking for minced garlic. I forgot it at Walmart, and Thevictorian kitchen is about to be as fresh out of minced garlic as the Jerk Store is out of their best seller, George Costanza. I wheeled my too-big cart up and down the aisles. I bought french bread, grape tomatoes, a variety pack of chips for my school lunch, sugar-free Jello, and BBQ sauce.

At the check-out, the girl asked how I was doing. I told her I couldn't find minced garlic anywhere. I looked on the produce aisle around the onions. I looked on the condiments aisle around the peppers and horseradish. I looked on the Italian aisle along the sauces. I looked on the spice aisle along the garlic salt. No minced garlic.


Left me right there conversing with the checker behind me who was counting out her money. She thought it was on the condiment aisle, but my runner found it in the produce, at the end of the bin containing bananas. Go figure.

So she got to ringing up more of my order, and found a hole in the bottom of the bag containing my french bread. Did I want to get another one? Yes. Yes I did.


Kudos to the GALLANT checker! There just might be a letter to the manager about her above-and-beyondness.


You'll have to tune in tomorrow for the rest. This ol' cow can't be givin' away so much milk for free.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Pony Takes Exception To Val's Parenting Skills

Pity the poor Pony. Today he tried to tell me that there was no difference in the pronunciation of shave and save.

Not sure how this came about. We were driving T-Hoe to visit my mom, and perhaps The Pony mentioned that he wasn't going to save his goatee. Which didn't make sense to me, what with him letting it go all Amish during no-shave November, and then keeping it until we went back to school, at which point he SHaved it. There is no month in the future that calls for the Saving or SHaving of the beard. So I started an interrogation.

"That doesn't make sense."

"Yes it does."

"Why would you not want to save it?"

"SAVE it. That's what I said."

"I know. Save it."

"Um. Cut it off? I'm not going to SAVE it. With the saver."

"Wait. You mean SHAVE. You're not going to SHAVE it."

"Yeah. That's what I said. I'm not going to SAVE it."

"Those are two different words."

"I know. But they are pronounced exactly alike: SAVE."

"No. It's a different sound. SHave! There's a lot of difference. You Sift the flour, but you SHift the car. You don't Sift the car."


"I guess you come by that naturally. When you were a baby, you had that ear infection that wouldn't go away when you were one. That's when kids are learning language. It took forever to get that ear infection cleared up. Especially after you landed in the ER with the allergy to amoxycillin."

"I know. You told me."

"They tried five different antibiotics. Nothing worked. Finally we took you to an ENT, and he had the bright idea to treat you with an antihistamine. VOILA! It dried up your ear and that infection went away. But you had some hearing loss."


"You had some hearing loss. So you didn't hear how words were pronounced right."

"You never told me I have hearing loss!"

"Yes I did. I told you that whole story of how Dad was gone to Wales, and Grandma spent the night, and I thought you had chicken pox because of the spots when I picked you up from daycare, and how I checked on you in the night, and you were all swollen from the reaction to that amoxycillin you were taking for the ear infection."

"Yeah. I remember that story. But you didn't tell me I have hearing loss. THAT explains it!"

"I know I told you. We went to that hospital where Grandma had her rehab, to a room where they tested hearing. You were just a baby. I had to sit in a little dark playhouse thing, while they played sounds of different decibels and pitches all around the room to see if you would look that way. Sometimes you did, sometimes you didn't. The doctor said you had hearing loss."


"I'm sure I told you. I guess you just didn't HEAR me! Get it? HEAR me, heh, heh."

"I get it. I can't believe you never told me. This explains so much."

"Why? Do you not have good hearing in one ear?"

"Yeah. The left. All this time, I thought it was normal. That all people are like that. That it's like dominant hand. If you write with your right hand, you have less hearing in your left ear."

"No. It doesn't work that way."

"I KNOW THAT NOW! But until a few minutes ago, I just figured everybody heard less out of their non-dominant ear. I wish you had told me I have hearing loss."

"You do."

"WHAT? I didn't hear that."

"Heh, heh. I did that on purpose. Said it really low."

"I can't believe you!"

"Hey. Tomorrow Dad is grilling. I'll get you a steak if you want."

"I'll just sit in the basement with my hearing loss, oblivious to all going on around me."

Wow. Who knew The Pony would be so bitter?"

Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't Look a Grocery List in the Mouth

This morning I picked up the note card on the table beside Hick's La-Z-Boy that I had used to start my shopping list two days ago. Okay. So my mind wandered. It only had two items on it so far. But they were crucial items that I did not want to forget.

The list was on a 3x5 index card. I put on my glasses to make sure I would later be able to understand what I had written. No indecipherable grocery lists for Val!

Wait. What WAS that? The upper right corner of the note card had a smudge on it. Kind of brownish. Not big. But it was not the pristine corner that was on my list-maker when I opened the brand new package of index cards two days ago.

ACK! The realization hit me like an unsanitary ton of bricks.


I don't have concrete proof. No hidden camera footage. But all circumstantial evidence points to my grocery list being Hick's dental floss.

Yeah. He's done this forever. Not with my grocery list, or even an index card. But with anything he can get his hands on to shove between his teeth. Except a toothpick, of course. Or flavored waxed dental floss. A matchbook cover here. A fortune cookie strip there.

I fear that Hick does not have even a rudimentary grasp of socially acceptable dental care protocol.

He's a picker. He's a grinner. He's a Val chagrinner. He picks his plaque on the run...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Who Knows, He Might Turn Out To Be a Cop

The Pony kicks off his Scholar Bowl season this evening, with three matches against local schools. He has anticipated this day since August. Possible even since last April, at the end of the previous season.

Let the record show that The Pony will not be unprepared. The bus leaves at 3:15, with the first match starting at 4:00. No time to stop for sustenance. In past years, the coach has let the team members partake of the snacks for the after-school programs before boarding the bus. One snack. One drink. However…The Pony does not like milk, so the drink is out. The snack depends. He’ll only eat a few of the offerings. Instead, he opted to bring a slice of last night’s Domino’s cheese pizza, and a donut from Casey’s that he picked up this morning.

Yesterday morning, I had to stop by Casey’s for a scratch-off ticket. No, I’m not that addicted. But I wanted to put it in a card for Genius. His grandma used to send him a card every week, with six dollars enclosed. His freshman year it was five dollars, but apparently the old gal gave him a COLA. With her out of commission of late, I know she would want me to send Genius a card and money.

Last year I send Genius a card every now and then, with lottery tickets. He complained that he never won, and that at least Grandma’s money was a sure thing. “She gives you cash, I give you hope.” He agreed, after hitting it big with a $20 winner. That’s like a month’s salary to a college kid.

Anyhoo…The Pony went in with me yesterday for a donut. Two. He wanted one to put in his lunch. Yes, that’s allowed at his school. The lunch police are lax during third lunch shift. He ate one for breakfast. Not a lunch policeman, a donut. In fact, he said, “You know I had that first donut eaten before we even got out of the parking lot.” So this morning he got four. Two for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for the pre-Scholar snack. I might consider this unhealthy, but he’s a sixteen-year-old boy going without supper until after 7:00 p.m. That’s an eternity for a kid.

Here’s to wishing Genius a little winner, and The Pony a big win. Val lives vicariously through her spawn.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

He's a Skipper, He's a Snipper, He's a 2:00 A.M. Flipper...

Perhaps you are familiar with my significant other. I might have mentioned him once or twice. However, you might not be aware of his many talents. Sure he can duct tape a front passenger window into a $1000 Caravan. And lose a banana peel deep inside a La-Z-Boy. And find a way to play hooky from work on the very days I have off from school. He can even give boys their summer haircuts without feeling guilty when a little shaver runs to get a towel for draping around his shoulders, and announces solemnly, "This is to catch the blood."

Last night early this morning Hick revealed a new hidden talent. He's a flipper. Uh huh. It's true. At 2:00 a.m., Val was awakened from a deep sleep. Some of the best sleep she's had in the past six months. AWAKENED! Startled out of her slumber by a hand. Hick's hand. He could write his memoir and call it "My Left Hand," so noteworthy was its performance.

You may not want to know the point on Val's person where The Hand made contact. Quick! Cover your eyes, and yell, "Too much information!" It was on the left buttock. Okay. It's safe to read again. The Hand was like a pinball flipper being played by a world-champion hyperactive pinball player all hopped up on Monster.

While I nodded, more than napping, suddenly there came a tapping
As someone un-gently slapping, slapping at my left buttock.
"'Tis that Hick again," I muttered, "slapping at my left buttock-
I shall tell him, 'That's a crock.'"

Yes, The Hand was in fine form, flapping away to flip my left buttock like some adolescent youth snapping a towel in the junior high boys' locker room. Flipping as fast as a woodpecker would if a woodpecker could flip wood. On and on, like a jackhammer breaking up pavement.

I rolled out of bed to escape this torture. Made a detour to the bathroom to sooth my ire. When I came back, Hick denied it all.

"I did not! I was not slapping your butt. No. I don't know what else it could be. But I wasn't!"

Sure he wasn't.

After the alarm went off at 4:50, I made the lunches and took my shower while Hick slumbered. Unencumbered by the flip-hand. When I came out of the bathroom at 5:30 and woke Hick, he was already awake. So sad. That sleep time wasted.

"Did you call me?"

"No. What do you mean did I call you?"

"Did you holler my name?"


"Well, at 5:15 I heard you call me."

"I didn't."

"Well, then who was it?"

"I don't know. I guess you're hearing things."

Funny I should mention this name-calling thing to The Pony on the way to school.

"SEE? Now will you believe me?"

"What do you mean?"

"All those times I run up the stairs and ask why you called me."

"Oh. I just thought you heard me complaining about stuff, and thought I was talking to you."

"No. I hear that. But those times I run up there, it's because something said my name. And I thought it was you."


Come to think of it, The Pony has been doing this frequently since we were off for Christmas break. And I didn't think anything of it at the time, but one night last week or on the weekend, I woke up because somebody called my name. I figured I had been dreaming. The first thing I thought of was, "Does Mom need me?" That was my only plausible explanation. I was having a psychic bond with Mom when she needed something.

Or maybe not. There might be a flipping name-caller on the loose.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tunafish, Because It Stinks Way More Than a Piano

Lately I have been enjoying a delicious tuna salad whipped up by me, myself, and Val. I know that it does not require warming in the oven or heating in the microwave, but I must say it has recently been a staple on my go-to menu.

Hick won’t eat it. M-O-O-N! That spells Hick doesn’t like tuna because he used to work with an old man down at his place of employment at Tower Grove and Chouteau who ate a can of tuna every day for lunch. No frills. No ingredients. Tuna. From the can. Perhaps he had crackers with it some days. Anyhoo…Hick had to work up close and personal with this guy, moving office furniture from the basement to the floor, cleaning out drains, repairing machines that make saw blades out of rolls of steel. He did not appreciate breathing in tuna fumes. If he had it his way, he would have worn a yellow HazMat suit or one like those evil government doctors who tormented Stu Redman in The Stand. I even have to put my used tuna can in a Ziploc bag before I dispose of it in the wastebasket.

Yes, lately I have been liking my tuna salad. So much so that I am willing to forgo my usual school lunch of half a cold hot dog on bun and a snack bag of assorted chips. However...tuna salad at the teacher lunch table is a recipe for disaster.

All year (and last year, too) we have been subjected to the ichthyological menu stylings of Jewel. I suspect she scales it and poaches it between the lunch bell and the tardy bell. People sniff and turn up their noses, but nobody really says anything to her. Few folks want to raise a stink. Except for Jewel. So we grimace and bear it. Turn up our snooty snouts and mouth-breathe until the bell.

On the other hand, a congenial member I’ll call Sweet Alabama Beige LOVES fish. She said she looked forward to Friday suppers when she was a kid, because they always had FISH. Last week she brought her lunch and had not even made it to the cafeteria yet when she was accosted by Tomato-Squirter, my sometimes friend, sometimes nemesis, and always relative who doused me with seeds one day upon taking a bite of her salad. “WHAT are you cooking? That stinks! I don’t think I can stand it! It smells like you buried it and dug it up.”

Poor Sweet Alabama Beige! She said, “I thought it smelled good.” She turned off the microwave in the teacher workroom and carried her plate to the table, where the abuse continued. I believe her dish was salmon patties, or salmon cakes as we called them around Val’s childhood kitchen. We had them often. Tasty. Made from salmon given to us fresh from the cannery by my uncle who lived in Ketchikan. I never noticed the smell.

No, it wouldn’t do to take my tuna salad to the teacher lunch table. Val is no Jewel.

Monday, January 19, 2015

He Walks in Duty, Likes the Night

Hey! Something is afoot here at the homestead!

Just when you think your supernatural activities are on the wane, all not-heaven breaks loose again.

Genius was home for the holidays. He was sickly most of the break. Which meant he stayed home all but two days, and was in bed at a reasonable hour. I just assumed those noises I heard in his room were him. Like the turning in the bed, and the footsteps to and fro. Perhaps he had gotten up for the bathroom, or to get his medicine and a drink from the kitchen. That's what a reasonable person would assume in a house with a noisy bedroom that was occupied.

On a day that Genius was feeling up to snuff, when he made an all-day trip to visit a college pal, I thought I saw something. Darkness had not yet fallen. It was late afternoon, a cloudy day. Genius has a bedroom with a wall of windows facing the west, the front of the house. He leaves his shades open, and the door to his room open while he's gone. I was on my way from living room to kitchen when I spied it out of the corner of my eye.

It looked like a person in Genius's room. Not with clear features, like that headless man I saw in the basement years ago. But the size and shape of a person, with a body and head, kind of a gray color. I turned my head to look into the door of Genius's room. That gray person stepped over against the inner wall to avoid me. Uh huh. It didn't fade away like that headless man. It hurried out of my sight.

I did NOT go to look inside the room.

I didn't tell anybody. Maybe it was a trick of the light. Maybe I had a floater in my eye. I'm sure there was a reasonable explanation. Genius returned home after 10:30 that night. The usual home-Genius noises occurred above my head as I sat downstairs in my blue recliner watching the big screen TV.

So Genius packed up and left us on Thursday. I was kind of busy visiting my mom, and tired in the evening, so much so that I fell asleep in the chair, oblivious to any real or imagined noises.

Saturday night and Sunday night, around 8:30, with The Pony on his basement couch, and me in my recliner, we heard footsteps thumping around upstairs. Hick was gone to the auction from 6:00 to 10:30. The footsteps were not as heavy as his footless ankle-stumping.

"Did you hear that?"


"It's waiting for you to go upstairs."


"It sounds like it's in your room."

"I know. It's been doing that all afternoon."

"Doesn't that bother you?"

"I try to ignore it. I heard it before, but I pretended it was Genius. Then that one night, when I went up to take my shower, I was on my way to the kitchen to get some ice water, and I saw something in the hall, between my bedroom and Genius's. It was white or grayish. I don't really remember the shape, because I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and I just thought, 'HUH?' And I backed up to get a better look, and it was gone."

"I'm going to pretend any future noises are you getting up in the night."

Just this evening, around 6:05, with me in the living room ensconced in Hick's La-Z-Boy, and Hick out test-driving T-Hoe for a new rattle, and The Pony in the basement...we heard a loud THUMP in the kitchen. Kind of a cross between a THUMP and a BANG. Like a can of biscuits exploding in Frig II. Or a two-liter soda bottle falling off the kitchen counter.

"I have no idea what that was."

"I don't WANT to know."

"I heard it yesterday afternoon, too. In the same place. Nothing there."

"Well, now you heard it again."

The Pony is not much help during Val's investigations. I've half a mind to revoke his Mystery Inc. membership card.