Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Paddock Can't Hold Him Like It Used To

Last night, The Pony took his "Rouge" for a spin.

He had not planned on going anywhere. No farther than the basement couch, where he alternates playing computer games and writing science fiction, while vehemently denying watching pr0n on my internet. (It never hurts to keep him on his toes. Yesterday, I said, "Are you watching pr0n on my internet again?" And he said, "NO!" To which I replied, "Oh, you're using your OWN internet?" Heh, heh. I like to wind him up.) I am, sitting at New Delly around 6:00, eating the saddest supper ever (more on that another day), when in comes The Pony.

"Oh, Mom. Is it okay if I go out to Biffy's house? She says I can stay as late as I want." (Biffy, because she is the BFF of a gal who graduated last year who is friends with The Pony, the one he spent the day with at the Very Special Award [STILL not a leg lamp] weekend back in April. He met Biffy that weekend in the dorm.)

"I guess so. Do you know where she lives?"

"No. But I have the Garmin. She says her sister and her boyfriend live next door, in case you are worried about us being supervised." (I think it's probably past time to worry about that, since The Pony IS 18 now, and this girl is older, and he will be going off to live his life out from under my thumb in three months, anyway. Besides, how good of supervision can a girl and her live-in boyfriend provide from next door, anyway?)

"Okay. But be careful driving. You'll have to go the long way. The bridge is flooded."

"I know. I will."

So off he went, in his new used "Missing Rouge," to an evening of TV-watching with a college girl home for the summer. He dutifully sent me a text when he arrived, and when he was ready to come home. Let's face it. He has only had his driver's license since Christmas, and driving after dark and in the rain are not something he has a lot of experience with.

I breathed a sigh of relief when he came in the door at 10:25. Little did I know what perils had befallen him. It only took minimal tooth-pulling to get the story.

On the bright side, they watched TV and some parts of movies, and ate pizza, and talked about college, and The Pony showed her some of his short stories and poems on his laptop.

On the dark side, the Garmin had a mind of its own. Let the record show that this place was on the other side of Backroads, even past my old workplace (I'm retired! Have you heard?), and out in the sticks. Which is sayin' something considering where we live.

"I guess the Garmin tried to take me there by the shortest route. It told me to turn on a dirt road."

"Did you?"

"Uh huh."

"Wasn't it muddy from all the rain?"

"Yeah. I went really slow so I didn't get mud all over my car. And somebody must not have wanted people to go down that road, because there was a cable stretched across it. So I had to drive around a tree to get past that."

As you might imagine, the sound of dueling banjos filled my noggin.

"Um. You have to be careful. You never know what people might do. When I used to travel that one road on the way to Genius's college...two cars had the road blocked one night. Parked right across it, their front bumpers touching. And people were standing around, trying to flag me down. I drove off the road in the ditch to get around them. You can't be too careful. I would never stop like that when I'm by myself."

"Everything was okay. I made sure to park behind Biffy's car, so I didn't block anybody else in. But when I left, I didn't go out that way."

"I think that was a good decision."

Yes, our little Pony is growing up. It's probably a good thing I'll never know half of what goes on at college.

Right now, let's just get through the summer without an older woman inviting him up to see her etchings.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pony Discovered With Missing Rouge

The Pony has new wheels!

Make that new used wheels. Here's his off-to-college car.

It's a 2013 Nissan Rogue. The Pony took that picture last evening, in the waning twilight, after he drove it home. If you look closely, you can see his leg reflection, and little long Puppy Jack. Let the record show that they both appear stretched out by that Rogue. It's a handy little hatchback, front-wheel drive, not too big, not to small. Goldilocks herself would approve. But she'd better not eat porridge in there!

We had been looking at this one, and a Ford Escape, which was newer, with fewer miles, red instead of black, and of course a higher cost. We could have swung it, though. The Pony expressed no preference either way. Hick had an amount he was ready to spend, but was swayed by the low miles on the Escape. He and The Pony took a test drive Tuesday night.

Hick called me Wednesday morning and said we'd go work a deal Wednesday night. That did not sit well with Val. I wanted to ruminate on it a bit more. Run the numbers on both cars again. Choose the better value. Hick was not pleased, but agreed to go Thursday night instead. He called the Rogue guy to tell him he would not be bringing the 2002 Ford Ranger trade-in for him to look at until Thursday. I almost changed my mind. I considered texting Hick to say I would be ready and we would go Wednesday night. But at 3:30, Hick sent ME a text saying he was tied up at work with a personnel matter, and would be home late.

Hick left work at 3:00 on Thursday. The Pony and I met him at the antique mall next to the dealer where we were going to talk turkey about the Escape. That's so Hick could take out the can of Freon he had put into the Ranger and stash it in the back of T-Hoe. Also remove The Pony's Garmin and the car-buying printouts Hick had been studying.

We parked up front by the showroom and went inside. Hick asked for the salesman he had talked to before. A Not Particularly Friendly Fellow said it was that guy's day off. So Hick asked to speak to anyone who could write up a deal, and said he was there about the Escape that he drove Tuesday night. Well. The Not Particularly Friendly Fellow said, "We sold that car last night." No skin off our nose. We had a backup plan.

"Okay. I'm going to buy a car today, and since yours is gone, I'll go to my other dealer." Just to rub it in to the Not Particularly Friendly Fellow, who had asked if he could show us something else.

Off we went up the road about a half mile, to the Rogue guy. Hick parked the Ranger in front, and we went inside. He asked for his previous salesman, and another guy said he had asked him to take care of us. But then there came the other guy out of a back room. I guess he had been planning to leave early, because there seemed to be a teenage boy hanging around waiting for him. We were there at 4:00, and they close at 5:00. The Original Salesman took the keys to the Ranger and went off for a test drive. He returned shortly, and he and the teenage boy looked over the outside of the Ranger. We chatted with the Extra Salesman.

The Original Salesman came back in. He told the Extra Salesman he'd be right back, then came out of the back room again with a big smile and the Rogue keys. The Extra Salesman left the desk, and the Original Salesman reached across and shook The Pony's hand, Hick's hand, and my hand. "You got a deal."

Let the record show that when Hick first stopped by to look at that Rogue, he had told OS about the Ranger he wanted to trade in, and that if he could make the deal for X amount of difference, he had a sale. OS said to bring the Ranger by and he'd take a look, but that he could probably make that deal. Hick took The Pony to test-drive the Rogue, and The Pony gave it a thumbs up. Hick kept in touch, letting OS know that he had to change the day he was bringing in the Ranger, and also telling him that we were looking at the Rogue and one other car, and that we'd take the best deal.

So...when OS shook our hands, we at first thought he was kidding. Hick said, "We'll write that check if you can do what I told you."

OS said, "It's a done deal. You can start writing. The amount of the check will be X." Which was the amount Hick had told OS he was willing to trade for. But I jabbed Hick. He was forgetting one important item. The printout I gave him that said to show it to the salesman and get $500 off that Rogue. Hick took it out of his pocket, unfolded it, and gave it to OS.

"Oh. I DID put that on our website. Quite a while back. Okay. So the amount of the check will be X minus 500." See there? Val instantly saved $500 on that transaction.

OS went off to get the paperwork started. I filled out the check. We were thrilled. It's never this easy. But Hick had told OS on a previous visit, "When I say X, I mean X. Total. Don't go saying you have to charge me a couple hundred dollars for paperwork. You have to do the paperwork or you can't  sell me the car. My total offer will be X. Nothing more. Write it however you write it. I don't care what you call the trade-in, and what you call the sale price. I'm paying a difference of X, and not a penny more. I won't sit here haggling. My offer is X. If you can do that, you've got a deal."

Well. We were all celebratory, the check already written out, when OS came back and said, "Oops! I need you to sign this. I forgot about the paperwork fee. This shows I am subtracting the amount for the paperwork. So the amount of the check will be X minus 500 minus the paperwork."

You can bet Val didn't mind one whit to tear up that check and write another. That's a stand-up guy. In 10 minutes time, we had slashed that agree-upon price difference by over $700. Don't go tellin' Val that the salesman must have really made a killing to be able to do that without rancor. Hick and I looked at those car values seven ways to Sunday, on Edmunds and KBB and NADA. We shopped our trade-in and the Rogue. Compared differences in values. And came up with our bottom-line offer.

That savings covered the tax and license fees today when I went to the DMV!

Anyhoo...we were in and out of that dealer in less than 45 minutes, Thevictorians satisfied, the salesman satisfied, and The Pony pleased as punch. The Rogue had been pulled around to the front, all shiny and clean. They took The Pony's picture beside the car, and put it on their Facebook page.

The Pony hopped in his Rogue, with Hick riding shotgun. I had to fend Extra Salesman off T-Hoe. We headed, in our separate vehicles, to have a celebratory car-buying, Mother's Day, valedictorian-graduation dinner at a local catfish house.

I almost felt bad about the Freon.

Let the record show that my mom would have said, about the purchase of the Rogue rather than the Escape..."Honey, everything happens for a reason."

Thursday, May 26, 2016

DAY THREE of the Summer of Val's Discontent


Still no Diet Coke in sight at the gas station chicken store!

I ask THIS any way to run a business? Not only has Val forsaken that establishment her daily $1.69 for a 44 oz Diet Coke...she has taken her scratch-off business elsewhere! They're gonna need to sell a lot of chicken to make up for those losses. Contrary to The Pony's theory, the gas station chicken store did NOT run out of Diet Coke because Val was in there filling up a 44 oz vat of it daily since her retirement. Okay. Since the evening BEFORE her retirement. You'd celebrate too, if all you had was 4 hours of not-work left, FOREVER.

Seriously. How can these people not fix their Diet Coke dispenser? Let the record show that the paper sign taped over the spigot said OUT. Not BROKEN. I can only assume the store has gone without Diet Coke because the owner's wife is out of town. If SHE was in the building, she would have seen that the land flowed with Diet Coke and chicken. She is not one to be trifled with. Everybody is shaking in his shoes when she's on the prowl. The owner himself is a laid-back kind of guy. He reminds me of Ned Flanders. His view would be that there are still 17 other kinds of soda for folks to select. He's probably not a Diet Coke drinker.

It would behoove those folks to remedy the Diet Coke situation forthwith! Because since the initial dalliance with Diet Pepsi, Val has gone on the prowl for another supplier. And found one, just up the road. Uh huh. The former Voice of the Village, now a geometric letter, also has fountain Diet Coke! And do you know what it costs there? Are you ready for this? Only 79 cents! That makes it 83 cents with tax! Yep. Any size fountain drink is 79 cents there. What a draw to bring in customers this summer!

Of course, their Diet Coke is not as good. But it's Diet Coke, not Diet Pepsi. That's sayin' something.

Why no diet coke after THREE DAYS, you chicken people? If that beverage was merely OUT, solving the problem does not take a rocket scientist.

I don't like to brag about my rich tapestry of life experiences, but let the record show that one of Val's work threads was woven through a job as a clerk at a Casey's General Store. Which is not to say that I screened delivery drivers for unmarked pharmacies operating out of storefronts in long-closed plazas. Yep. Val is a convenience store insider. She knows the ice in those soda fountains is not made inside them, like crescent cubes in a Frig II, if you will. Nope. That ice comes from bags taken from inventory and sliced open and dumped in the top by a clerk standing on a chair. You always fill the ice before leaving your shift to the next clerk. That's common courtesy.

Anyhoo...when the soda runs out, all you have to do is hook up the hoses under the counter to connect a canister of CO2, and a box containing a bag of soda syrup. It takes five minutes. Unless there is some newfangled technotronic way of dispensing fountain soda. And judging by the look of the gas station chicken store...I'd say they are not on the cutting edge.

I want my Diet Coke! And so do all the other Diet Cokeheads! Without it, our life has no purpose. We will lay around the landscape like Salvador Dali clocks.

Like a Vidalia onion must come from only 20 counties in Georgia, and Scotch must come from Scotland...the blend of other Diet Coke at other convenience stores is just not the same.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Flotsam, Jetsam, and Roadsam

Yesterday while I was at the doctor's office, there came quite a deluge. Yes, I was cooling my heels in that 4th floor office (don't be shocked, Backroads DOES have skyscrapers) for a considerable amount of life-minutes that I'll never get back. But still. We had a lot of rain in a little weather time.

Actually, my doctor is located over in Bill-Paying Town. I left home at 2:00, under bright sunny skies, to arrive at 2:50 for my appointment scheduled for 3:00. We won't go into that now. Maybe another day.

The weather was still sunny, just a few clouds, when I arrived and scored a parking spot on the end of the third row. That's incredible. One local hospital was recently absorbed by the other, so there are now TWICE as many patients coming and going.

I signed in and sat down and opened up one of the two books I brought along. After about 45 minutes, a lady came to the window to pick up a prescription, and revealed that we were in for some major weather, by the looks of the clouds building up. And then I heard it. Inside, on the 4th floor, with no windows in sight. The downpour of rain.

Once I was called back to the inner sanctum, I was placed in a room with windows. Hick in a tuxedo pumping a handcar! The sky was black, and sheets of rain slammed from cloud to pavement with abandon. I knew I was in for a drenching, once I escaped that slow high-rise to not-China. And I was.

I put my handbag over my head and played chicken with a car in the circle drive. Even VAL would give a walking person the right-of-way in a torrential downpour. Once in T-Hoe, I cranked up the heat, turned up the blower, and tried to dry out my shirt. Hick and The Pony were leaving home to test-drive a Ford Escape. I told them to bring an umbrella. They told me the low-water bridge was passable FOR NOW.

I stopped by the bank for the weekly cash for our allowances. Then I went straight home. The bridge had a good 8 inches left before the water flowed over. I got the mail and sent a text to The Pony telling him I was home, and fudged two inches, saying the bridge was 6 inches from flooding. I figured Hick would take heed, and come the other way. He knew it was rising.

Of course not. The Pony sent me another text ten minutes later that the bridge was overflowed, and they were heading back the other way to go around. That water sure came up fast. Besides, the rain had stopped by the time I got to Backroads. But that water was still in the run-off process.

All that was to set the scene for today's trip to the pharmacy. It sits in a low-lying area covered in pavement. The pharmacy, the next-door Chinese restaurant, and its next-door Convenient Care clinic floods with six inches or so of water every time there's a couple inches of rain in a short time. I knew when I drove onto the lot that it had been flooded the evening before.

The decorative lava rock was all out of its landscaping. This is but a small example, looking out T-Hoe's driver's window towards the Dairy Queen. All down the side street lay more lava rock, all the way to the Country Mart, which I am sure was also inundated, from the smell when I stepped inside. At least the pharmacy seemed to have contracted a flood aftermath team this morning before opening, because they smelled of cleaner, and had fans going all over the place to dry out the mats and freshly shampooed carpet. I wouldn't buy any Chinese food or groceries for a while.

Anyhoo...that's still not the story. The story is that when I stepped out of T-Hoe to go inside for my prescriptions, I found a treasure. Some roadsam, if you will. Washed along by the floodwaters, deposited right there where T-Hoe's unsuspecting tire could have flipped it over and taken the shiv between the tread.

I snatched it up and brought it home for The Pony to take a picture. I might wash it off and give it to Hick. It's a Craftsman, you see. Sears' Best! I mainly wanted it off the parking lot so it didn't flatten my tire. If my sister could get a bone (I'm still mad because she didn't ask her mechanic for it, so I could have a picture and mull over what kind of dead body it came from) in her tire, and I could pick up a giant bolt in T-Hoe's tire...this little driver would have no problem screwing T-How out of a radial.

Always an adventure when you ride with Val.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

It All Started Out So Well...

Are you sitting down? Seriously. I don't want to be responsible for anybody fainting dead away in shock, and knockin' his noggin on the cold hard floor. At least squat down on your heels, so there's less distance for gravity to accelerate your noggin.

No, I don't have fantastic news to share. Quite the opposite. Though I WOULD like to announce, to soften the blow, perhaps, that yesterday I won $150 on two scratch-off tickets, and today I won $160 on four scratch-off tickets. You gotta play to win, you know. Anyhoo...back to the tragedy that befell Val this morning.

Don't you go worrying about Puppy Jack. He made his trip to the vet, and he's just fine. Maybe a story on that later. And don't you go worrying about Val, who made her trip to the doctor, and is just fine. Maybe a story on that later, too. Nope. The tragedy happened between the vet appointment for Jack and the doctor appointment for Val.

Everything was hunky dory. We arrived at 7:55 for Jack's appointment. Were out by 8:20. Stopped by a convenience store not frequented frequently by Val for lottery purposes, just because we were passing by, and she had told The Pony this morning that she was going to cash in some winners and get more there on the way home. Thus the windfall for today's lottery take.

Yes. We were firing on all cylinders. From that convenience store, we headed for Backroads. We took a left at the four-way stop beside The Pony's language teacher's mother's furniture store, just to ride through the industrial park and miss a stoplight and go past the new convenience store site that is still under construction. Then we hit the lake road, because who doesn't want to drive by a lake when the morning is brand-spankin'-new, with sunshine all around, and the sky a particularly pretty shade of blue, and a little puppy chillin' on The Pony's lap, and the days of The Forever Vacation are stretched out ahead like a never-ending paper ribbon of those rainbow candy dots?

After we passed the lake, we pulled up to the drive-thru mailbox (so as not to smell a dead mouse) in order to mail the phone bill. I waited to pull out onto the street so a very large semi tractor trailer truck had room to round the bend by the Montessori school. Wouldn't you know it, that truck was marked with a little triangle showing BLASTING MATERIALS. So Val's courtesy paid off.

From the post office road, we headed to the gas station chicken store for Val's 44 oz Diet Coke. The magical elixir came early today, my friends, due to the 3:00 doctor appointment, which was sure to drag into the evening hours. A Diet-Coked-up Val is a kinder, gentler Val. I waited at the stoplight for traffic to clear, then made my right-on-red (cautioning The Pony that Oklahoma may not have such a law as Missouri) and turned immediately right again into the gas station chicken store parking lot, and pulled into my rightful parking space, first one, closest to the building.

Yes, my friends, the day couldn't get any better! I'm surprised that Brady Bunch song, "It's a Sunshine Day," wasn't playing on my Sirius XM 70s station. I grabbed my correct change, bade a short goodbye to The Pony and the puppy, and headed inside, my heart quickening with the thought of my 44 oz Diet Coke.

Two trucks were unloading their goods. One of the deliverymen waited at the counter with his bill of lading, ready to hand it to the new little red-headed clerk dude who only yesterday had sold me a $50 winner. I stepped past him and pulled my 44 oz foam cup from the dispenser. I pushed it under the ice chute (not too much) and then set it under the Diet Coke lever.


A paper sign taped across the Diet Coke logo said OUT!


Hick in a tuxedo pumping a handcar! What's a Val to do when the Diet Coke is out?

I settled for the lesser cola, and had a Diet Pepsi.

The apopadopalyspe is near.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Talking Turkey to the Turkey with His Head in the Sand

Let the record show that Hick and Val are currently in the market for a car upgrade for The Pony. A used car that will get him to Oklahoma and back, perhaps several times, with more certainty than his 2002 Ford Ranger.

We have been looking at compact SUVs. But not TOO compact. And Hick is not so keen on all-wheel drive as Val, and feels that front-wheel drive is good enough. Anyhoo...the leading contenders are the Nissan Rogue and the Ford Escape.

Problem is, every time I see one of those two kinds of cars, within our mileage and price preferences...Hick comes up with some outrageous new vehicle that he expects me to seriously consider.

"Val! There is a brand-new Chevy Trax that is less than the price of those used cars."

"Huh. I think 4908 miles is almost as good as new. And it IS a 2016. You need to at least look at that Ford Escape, and take it for a test drive. Otherwise, that 2013 Nissan Rogue looks like a good deal. The Pony already drove it, and says he likes it. 49,000 miles is not too bad, considering his truck has 180,000."

"But Val. This is a NEW car. For less money."

"You just told me THIS MORNING that used Acadias like ours are going for $7000 less than what we paid. YOU said, 'That's what you lose when you drive a new car off the lot.' So how is buying a NEW car, even though it's less, going to be a bargain? It's obviously not the equivalent of what we're looking at. It will be smaller. With less options."

"It's a new car, Val. It will get him there and then some."

"I want it to be safe. Why don't we just wrap The Pony in foil, put him on a pair of roller skates, and push him downhill towards Oklahoma? That would be even LESS money."

Can you believe that Hick told me I am ridiculous?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Like Hick, Like Pony

Hick has been up to his old tricks again. Dashing out after supper, saying he's going to Goodwill. I don't know why that man needs so many tchotchkes. They're not even INDOOR tchotchkes! Here's what he showed up with most recently.

As in keeping with his signature style in picture composition...Hick made sure to get LOTS of background, and made the subject of his photo appear in the center, very tiny in comparison. Let's not forget those pictures of The Pony on the campus of the University of Oklahoma.

Hick announced his latest purchase by asking me, "Did you like our new dog?" He did this on purpose, you see, because earlier in the day, he had been talking about a 5-month old Husky that was being given away on Facebook. I distinctly remember, because I told him that would be his chickens' funeral if he brought home such a spirited fleabag. Hick further goaded me to "look out on the porch" to see the new dog. I was growing apprehensive. But then I saw the fake Fido.

Don't mind the chewed-up framing of the front door. Poor dumb (now-disappeared) Ann was the nervous sort, and liked to nibble. We have matching porch posts and porch-step rails.

So...a few days later, while I was still working (!) and The Pony was enjoying his graduated self, he let Puppy Jack out to play. The Pony ran to the porch to sit in the rocking chair, and Jack heaved his long little body up the steps. The Pony is not one to let a photo opportunity go to waste. When I called him to say I was on the way home, and see if he wanted anything from the gas station chicken store, he said

"I have the best picture of Jack! You're not going to believe how cute it it!"

Yes. The Pony inherited his father's photography skills.

No DNA test necessary.

As a bonus, I present, "Pony Selfie With Puppy Jack, Turkey in Background."

I'm sure The Pony only regrets that his arm was not longer.