Monday, May 2, 2016

You Can Put Lipstick on a Pig, But That Does Not Mean It Came From France

It's not every day that a kid around here has a dad who goes to France for a week.

So...I thought that perhaps Hick could bring something back for The Pony. Some souvenir. Even if it was an embroidered beret with The Pony's name on it so girls could make fun of him like Rusty Griswold in National Lampoon's European Vacation. Or maybe some coins. A black-and-white-striped mime shirt.

My own father used to travel for work. To various training sessions with Bell Telephone. Maybe you've heard of them. They were only the biggest phone company monopoly ever. So they had to be split up like a clique of trouble-making junior high pupils. matter where my father traveled, which was usually still in-state, he brought back something for me and my sister the future ex-mayor's wife. I remember one such trip he made to Mexico (MISSOURI!), when he brought us each a plastic doll dressed with a crocheted sweater and hat that could sprinkle baby powder out of holes in the top of its head! Uh huh. Li'l Val was lovin' her some plastic baby doll powder dispenser! Mine was a little boy doll, dressed in purple-and-white, with a crocheted baseball cap to cover his powder holes. Sis's was a little girl doll, dressed in green-and-white, a southern belle with a floppy hat to cover her powder holes. But that's neither here nor there. Just pointing out that other daddies bring stuff to their kids when they return from business trips.

Perhaps I should have sent Hick a text elaborating on what form a proper souvenir might take. Here is what he brought The Pony from France.

Yes. That's two giant Toblerones. Forgive me, because I am ignorant in geography, and most definitely not a world traveler. But I do not think that Toblerone is a product of France. Just sayin'. I'm thinking that Hick most likely picked them up at the airport. Maybe in the duty-free shop! Or...more likely...Hick stopped at Walmart on the way home from the airport Saturday night for some Toblerones, because he forgot to bring anything for The Pony.

I don't know why I'm so concerned about The Pony getting what might or might not be chocolate bars that flew across the ocean.

I got absolutely nothing.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Something May Be Rotten in the State of Denmark, But Something is Definitely Fishy in the Country of France

You may remember how our spy Hick rushed off to France last Sunday just as soon as The Pony was finished getting his special award (nowhere near a leg lamp) and Val had given up on eating petrified carrots and zucchini from her catered lunch plate.

The original plan was for Hick to return on Wednesday, after 10 days of dismantling and packing a machine bound for his workplace. Hick was concerned about his time there. That's unusual for Hick. He never met a stranger, and he never heard of a place he didn't want to go. You may recall that Hick has traveled to such exotic locales as Wales, Germany, Brazil, and New Jersey. Oh, and he also spent six months or so working in Saudi Arabia back before I met him, as a mechanic, not for his present employer. So his level of discomfort surprised me.

Hick seemed to be clinging to the hope that Heinz, his German associate from Switzerland, would get him through. In fact, once he got his phone going, he mentioned in every communication something about Heinz. How he loaned him his phone. Went to dinner with him. Would be driving him the hour to the airport for his return trip.

Then Hick's Heinz obsession grew dark. Heinz was planning on going back to Switzerland on Saturday. No. Heinz was going back to Switzerland Friday night. Hick supposed he could find something to do all weekend. I told him that he was in a hotel in a tourist town. Not in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison. I was sure he could find someone at the hotel to direct him to food and entertainment. Then he was worried about getting to the airport. "There's a train that goes there. I guess I'll have to take that."

All at once, Hick sends a text Friday that he's leaving France! "I got a flight for Saturday morning be Home around 8:00 pm Heinz is driving me nuts really miss home and you." He'll go back to Germany between the time The Pony graduates and we take him to the University of Oklahoma for an incoming freshmen camp in June.

WHAT? As you might imagine, I sent Hick a text back. "Okay. Five days off my not-you vacation."

Hick went on to explain at 10:31 a.m. my time that he was at a hotel right next to the airport, and was going to Pizza Hut and to take pictures of the airport. What all tourists do in France, I suppose.

Anyhoo...once he landed in Charlotte, he called and said that Heinz was uncomfortable speaking French, and was bent out of shape about the move (he's a salesman, really, and not a factory guy like Hick) and said he could ship that machine back much easier from Germany than from France. So they had most of it trucked to their plant in Germany, to await Hick's return.

Spies fly by the seat of their pants, it seems.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

All Good Things Must End, Puppy Jack

Friday evening we had Puppy Jack out on the porch. The Pony wanted a new picture of him to text to various girls. So he squatted down on his heels and tried to get Jack into the frame. Puppy Jack had other ideas. He's an inquisitive sort. As The Pony held the phone ready, Jack rushed up and sniffed it. His little puppy nose hit the camera button, and he TOOK A SELFIE! Much to his own surprise.

Not a flattering angle for you, Jack. And no fair including Val in the background, behind the prison bars of Baby Genius's rocking chair, now relegated to the front porch and the elements by Hick. Yep. Them's Val's red Crocs. And the chicken house in the distance, where no chicken deigns to sleep.

Perhaps Puppy Jack's expression is due to the disturbing news he overheard from Val.

Yeah. Hick is no longer across the pond, allowing Val and The Pony carte blanche with Puppy Jack's nighttime whereabouts. So it's off to the hutch for our dear puppy. He can handle it, though. He's much more self-assured than when he arrived. He doesn't even want to be held! He wants to gallop with his little bowed back legs along the porch boards, sounding like a herd of...well...bow-legged puppies on stampede.

One more week, and we hope to let Puppy Jack roam. Depends on his step-ascending, and more importantly descending abilities. He'll still have to be put up for a couple more weeks while we're at school. Can't have him running after Juno, and then getting pupnapped by a neighbor.

More on Hick's early return tomorrow.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #12

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to entice you to buy my fake book. Who's up for a little post-apocalyptic fiction?

The Pot Head Cometh

Whack A. Doodle has a date. Women are hard to find since the apocalypse. Now there's a new gal passing through Earth's End. Love at first sight. The way the nuclear glow reflects off her silver colander. The gleam in her eye behind the tinted science lab goggles. Her skin, fish-belly white. Whack is taking her to Eve of Destruction, the new diner out on Route 9. He plans to order a possum, roasted right at their table, on a spit over an open fire.

Whack adjusts his chain-mail snood and grabs the handle of his Radio Flyer. He'll pick up his would-be paramour in style, from the rusty 55-gallon drum where she has taken up temporary residence. Whack uses a little elbow grease to shine the smudges off his stainless steel stockpot hat.

Has the apocalypse provided the new beginning Whack has been waiting for? (146 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Stephen King…”This fake book was real bad. It made me want to take a stand!”

Mother Abigail…”Val has infiltrated the fake publishing world like a weasel in a henhouse. She is up to no good book, that’s for sure. No mayhaps about it.”

Tom Cullen…”I can’t read, but I know that Val’s fake book is poison. M-O-O-N. That spells poison.”

Randall Flagg…”I LOVED Val’s fake book. I see a future for her with my organization. She has a dark energy all her own.”

Larry Underwood…”Baby, can you dig Val’s book? The answer is unequivocally NO!”

Frannie Goldsmith…”I would rather have a make-out session with Harold Lauder on a broken-down Vespa than ever see one word of Val’s fake book again.”

Nick Andros…”Although I can’t speak out loud, I am screaming this message from the top of my hands: Val Thevictorian needs to be locked up, and the key thrown away, to keep her from inflicting this type of fake book on us in the future.”

Captain Trips..."You'll never fake-write another fake book, Thevictorian! One of these nights you'll forget to toss a hand towel over your head, and Hick's breather will spew me across your eager nostrils. It's all I can do to save the world from a fate worse than me."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Val Does Not Wish to be Catered To

Val is off on a rant. "How uncharacteristic of her," you say. "Our Val is so even-keeled that she could walk across the undulating land-waves of a Richter 8.5 earthquake and never spill a drop of Diet Coke from her 44 oz cup, nor lose the encyclopedia on top of her head."

So much for how well you know me, and how good a liar(s) you are.

I've held this in until I'm near to boiling. Kept it on the back burner. Let it simmer for for five days. But now it must be rehashed. Served up with a grain of salt. Before I am stewing in my own juices.


There. I said it. There's no other explanation. The plate I received at the luncheon for The Pony's special award (a leg lamp--NO IT WASN'T! Gotcha!) was not fit for Val nor beast. Nor Val THE Beast.

My salad was fine. Some romaine with croutons, and two gravy boats of ranch dressing to pass around the table and pour. Not a big deal. Except those Greedy Gus members of my dining party started passing the dressing boats as soon as we sat down. When in Rome, you know, pass the dressing boat with the other Romans. So I tentatively started forking my salad. The Pony dug in with gusto, and was done almost as soon as Hick and his fellow scholar. I looked around, and noticed that WE WERE THE ONLY TABLE EATING! Though our fellow wistful diners did look jealous. So I laid my fork down.

What if the speaker was going to ask us to say grace? I was pretty sure that wouldn't happen, what with so many diverse families in attendance, and the separation of church and school and all. But what if he DID, and I had chipmunk cheeks full of romaine? Just as I was contemplating that scenario, I heard the mother of the other scholar chomping on her croutons like a horse chomping a world record carrot. I'm glad my fork was laying in my salad plate, so I was not mistaken for the eager eater.


It took a while for the entrees to reach the table. The Pony and the other scholar both picked up their dessert plates. The Pony had a layered slice of vanilla and chocolate cake, and the other scholar had a piece of coconut cake like the one in front of my service. The other scholar's mother chided her on having dessert first. Seriously. She had no room to chide ANYBODY on table manners. I told the other scholar that this might go on her permanent record. That did not deter her. Nor The Pony.

After almost every other table in the room (over 50) had been served their entree, ours arrived. Well, seven out of eight arrived. Hick did not get his until a few minutes later. By that time, I had seen the sabotage.

The Pony and the five other dining companions had a blob of lasagna the size of Paul Bunyan's hand on their plate. I had a blob the size of a preemie's palm. Then Hick's arrived, and he, too, had a Paul Bunyan hand. Very unfair, but Val IS trying to cut back. In fact, she had promised her dessert to The Pony with the caveat that she would get two bites. So having a bit less lasagna was not enough to stew Val's goose.

It was the vegetables. The vegetables, I tell you! We had on our plate the pile of lasagna, and a smattering of chunky vegetables. Looked like broccoli, carrot, zucchini, and yellow squash. For the life of me, I could not tell how they had been cooked. I saw no sauce. Eating the bit of yellow squash revealed no seasoning. I tried the one floret of broccoli. It was hard as all get-out to cut with that funky butter knife in our place setting. But even Val does not put a whole broccoli floret in her gaping maw in public. The broccoli was acceptable. Then I tried a bite of zucchini. I managed to slice it down the middle, like bisecting a tiny green barrel. I ate a piece of carrot. The smallest one. It looked like the newborn borne by one of the other two carrot segments.

But I could not cut or saw in half the other two carrots. My butter knife sent one shooting like a wayward tiddlywink toward the center of the white-tableclothed table. Thankfully, the rim of the plate caught my carrot like Yadier Molina snagging a Carlos Martinez 100.9 mph fastball.

That's right. Val was served a portion of lasagna the size of a newborn's palm, and vegetable chunks that had not been cooked other than perhaps being swished under a trickling stream of warm tap water.

How's a Val supposed to eat, anyway?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Literal Meaning of "Cute as a Speckled Pup"

In case you missed the major announcement yesterday...OUR PUPPY IS HERE!

Sure, he's a free pup from an "accident" between a blue heeler and a dachshund. But he's a PUPPY, by cracky! And he's OURS. He's still a little young to leave the nest, but his mother had issues feeding the seven hungry mouths, and they had to be put on canned puppy food. You know what? WE can buy canned puppy food! So now Jack is home. That's his name, you see. Jack. Just Jack.

Hick's oldest son, HOS, brought him to us Monday evening. He was going to bring him Sunday, but we had just gotten back from our weekend trip to Columbia, and HOS had driven Hick's car to the city so he could park at the airport for his France trip, and HOS's wife called on the ride back, and you know Val! I didn't want to cause any problems, so I said it was fine to bring the pup later in the week.

WELL! Come to find out, Hick had told HOS that I really wanted that pup NOW. I guess to replace Hick while he's gone to France. When in reality, it would have been easier to get the pup when Hick was back. Because we spent 90 minutes trying to get his little pup hotel all set up. Can't leave him running around the porch. He might fall off, and it's a long way down.

Hick had said to put him in the rabbit hutch where we kept puppy Juno, and to fill the chicken-watering can so he couldn't tip it over. WELL! Come to find out, both of Hick's chicken-watering cans had holes rusted through them. AND Hick had left old hay in the house part of the hutch, which was full of ants. SO...The Pony and HOS got it cleaned out, put a fresh bed of cedar chips in the house, sprayed the legs with Black Flag so no more ants would crawl up, and put a round flat casserole pan of water inside on the chicken-wire floor. VOILA! Instant pup hotel.

Here's a little secret. Just between you and me and The Pony and HOS. I brought puppy Jack inside the homestead for the night. He will have to spend his days outside in the hutch. He can't roam free just yet. But at night, he comes inside with us. We couldn't find either of the pet taxis, so he's in a tall storage tub with a cedar chip floor and a soft towel to sleep on. He'll be better off outside during the day, where he can watch the chickens and the mini pony and Juno.

Speaking of my sweet, sweet Juno...SHE LOVES HIM! Sure, I had a pocket full of a baggie with a sliced hot dog so she could have treats while we petted Jack. But she was more interested in Jack! When we fed him his evening meal of canned puppy food, Juno took some bites of hot dog. Just because Jack was busy standing on the front porch pew eating from a paper plate. When he whimpered, she ran to him and stared, wagging her tail.

Here they are, getting acquainted.

And a closeup of our new family member.

The Pony has been caring for him like an infant, setting that storage tub on his lap, then beside the couch, then taking it into the master bathroom to talk to Jack during his bath. "I just hate it when he cries!" I tried to tell him that's what pups do. He wants his caretaker, and misses all his brothers and sisters. The Pony went so far as to suggest that we take Jack to school, in his tub, and let him sit in my room. Not happening. Juno was fine in the hutch. Puppy Jack will be as well.

But at night, he can come inside. At least for 9 more days.

Shh...what Hick doesn't know won't hurt him.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Welcome Jack, Welcome Jack, Welcome Jack!

Welcome Jack
Your dreams are about to work out

Welcome Jack
To a place where you’ll never have to do without.

Well, you’ll learn all our names once you hang around.
And you’ll have 20 whole acres to leap and bound.

You can bet we’ll feed ya (You can bet we’ll feed ya)
Right here where we need ya (Right here where we need ya)

Yeah we’ll love you a lot ‘cause you got them purty spots, welcome Jack,
Welcome Jack, Welcome Jack, Welcome Jack.