Sunday, June 24, 2018

A New Tactic: Kindness Part I

Remember how I'm pretty sure Hick is trying to kill me? Well...I'm still pretty sure. But it seems like he's trying a new tactic, eschewing gaslighting for kindness!

It's time to renew T-Hoe's license plates. Of course, that has always been Hick's job, even though on occasion, he has pawned it off on me. But he DID say on Wednesday night that he would get T-Hoe inspected on Thursday. That's the first step, you know. Gotta have an inspection to renew the license. I secretly think Hick likes taking vehicles to get inspected, or get the oil changed, because it gives him time to sit in the waiting room of the Walmart Automotive Department, and stir up crap on Facebook. Like when he saw that electrical outlet with exposed wires.

Anyhoo...when I got out of the shower around noon, I saw that the Inspection Fairy had been here, and left the paperwork on the kitchen counter, in the one space I claim for myself, to prep meals. At least Hick got it done on time, and didn't wait like the last time he sent ME, to pay the late fee. AND he had remembered to move the seat back to my settings, so I didn't break my back getting in where his stubby legs had been driving. Sure, he'd left an empty water bottle where I put my 44 oz Diet Coke. But I set it out along the garage wall, with four other water bottles of the same origin. In doing so, I noticed that T-Hoe was MOSTLY CLEAN! Only a thin coating of fresh dust. Hick had taken him through a car wash! What a sweet thing for my Sweet Baboo to do, without me asking.

Off I went to Save A Lot, for assorted items I don't get at Walmart, and a deli-style pizza to bake at home for Hick's supper. Because he snapped at that, in a choice of pizza, big salad, bratwursts, or terrible tater. The parking at Save A Lot was a pain, because it was truck day for The Dollar Store next door, and the exit end of the parking lot was blocked by a semi. I maneuvered T-Hoe (without a backup beeper, you know) until I got turned around, and pulled through to a facing-out parking spot on the other side of the row.

To keep from pushing the cart back in, I looped four plastic bags over my arm, and carried the pizza, flat, in its box. I already had the clicker out to unlock T-Hoe, and raise the back hatch. And raise the back hatch. And RAISE THE BACK HATCH!

What in the Not-Heaven? That hatch was not raising. That happens every now and then. I've begged for a new battery in my clicker for a couple of years. I don't know how to pry it open. That's a man job, and Hick has been derelict in that duty. I balanced the pizza on my bag arm, and pressed the release button with my fingers. Nope. Not happenin'. T-Hoe sounded like he wanted to lift his hatch, but he didn't. I know I heard the gears grinding. It worked yesterday. Did I get something closed in the crack? Why wouldn't it open? Maybe I didn't push hard enough. I put that pizza on the back seat. The Pony seat. Kept the bags on my right arm, and went back to push that release button with my left hand. With my right hand. Left again.

Well, crap! Then I tried a last resort. I reached to open the glass part of T-Hoe's hatch. Like the upper half of the hatch. SO THAT'S IT! The glass part of the hatch was open! But being held down by gravity. So it looked like it was closed. But it was unlatched. How did THAT happen? Oh, I don't know...HICK was the last one to drive T-Hoe, only a few hours earlier. By now I was sweating like Hick wearing an OU cap. Rivulets running down my scalp. I felt faint. Discombobulated from the heat. But I still had strength to let Hick know that I knew that he was most likely trying to kill me.

"Anything else you want to tell me that you did to my car?"

"No...just got it inspected. With an oil change."

"That's all. You're sure?"

"Well, yeah..."

"Because I just spent five minutes trying to get the back hatch open, while juggling four bags and your pizza! It wouldn't open for anything! THEN I found out the glass hatch was open. Not latched."

"Huh. Them boys working on it must have hit something wrong."

Or in other words, Hick resolved the issue by declaring it was NOT-HICK.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

I Know the SusPENCE Must Have Been Killing You

You can stop holding your collective breaths. VAL HAS FOUND A PENNY! In fact, she has found TWO this week.

TUESDAY, June 19th, I spied a copper beauty on the sidewalk next to Casey's propane cage. Of course I stopped for a photo.

And of course I stooped to pick it up, not even caring that my ample rumpus was almost in the face of the skinny (and short) guy who had backed into my favorite parking space, and was loading items in his trunk. I didn't pay attention to what he was loading, though that's usually something that doesn't happen at Casey's.

This was a face-down 1995 model penny for my Future Pennyillionaire collection.

THURSDAY, June 21st, I spied a lurking penny as I stepped up to the counter at Orb K. I shoved my $20 scratcher winner at the clerk. "I'm trading this winner in for more." Normally, they scan the winner, announce the amount, and ask if you'd like anything else.

I was surreptitiously sneaking (as opposed to bold-faced sneaking) this photo, when I was jolted from my clandestine picture-taking by that old gal asking, "Which tickets do you want?" BEFORE she had even scanned the winner. That's like putting the cart before the Pony. Or getting the beans above the frank! I swear she was just trying to mess with me. Luckily, I had already memorized the numbers of the tickets in her display, and rattled them off, then got my closeup, and snagged the penny.

This was a 2014, also face down. Which seems to happen more than 50% of the time for me.

I also washed Hick's stinky hat on Thursday, before going to town for my 44 oz Diet Coke, and a chance meeting with that penny. I picked up the OU hat with thumb and forefinger, and dropped it into the kitchen sink, where I had already started a foaming bath of Tide detergent and cold water. I swished it around, and left it to soak for an hour. THEN I went back, and actually rubbed around the elastic part of the hat band. I was wrong about it being a plastic notched adjustable cap. It was a LARGE/XL cap with elastic for the fit.

I know. I, too, gag at the remembrance of touching that stinking part of the cap. I drained that water out of the sink, and ran it full of cold water, leaving the hat again to soak for 30 minutes while I showered and got ready for town. Then I took it outside (after a cautious sniff) and posed it for a picture.

It cleaned up real nice. For drying purposes, I perched that cap on top of a mop handle (seriously, I have no idea where that mop came from, but it was leaning up against the wall of The Pony's room out on the porch) and Juno's dog house.

I left it hanging, out of the wind and possible rain, while I went to town. Hick brought it in later...and put it right back on the arm of the short couch. For now, it remains odorless.


For 2018: Pennies # 49, 50.
For 2018: Dimes still at  # 9.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 2.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 127, 128.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this was still Dime # 15.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this was still Nickel # 2.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #105 "Flavor Is On the Tongue of the Taster"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday again. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week, join Val behind the scenes at the casino, where tight-fisted management pinches pennies until they fling themselves face-down on the carpet for some lucky gambler to find. C'mon, ante up, and give Val the Two-Armed Bandit some of your fake cash for her latest fake book. I wager you'll hit the jackpot with this one. 

Flavor Is On the Tongue of the Taster

Mitzi is a taster. She works behind the scenes of the casino buffet, making sure the casino doesn't lose its shirt. The food at the buffet must look delicious. Lure people back time after time. But not so delicious that the folks eat up the profits. Oh, they'll think they're getting a bargain, and load up a plate, intending to go back for more. Unless maybe that Orange Chicken doesn't contain any chicken. And the pulled pork is a bit too fatty. And the cake is so dry that diners always pay $2.50 for a soda they could drink for free on the casino floor.

Will Mitzi manage to keep the budget under control...or will she go rogue and make that buffet the tastiest smorgasbord in town? (127 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Mouth..."This fake book left a bad taste in me. I was actually WISHING to be washed out with soap."

Tongue..."The title of this fake book is NOT going to be on the tip of ME! Nobody wants to fake-read this thing. I'd sooner be stuck to a flagpole in winter than than fork myself and speak kindly of it."

Sweet..."Not even Def Leppard, pouring some sugar on it, could make this fake book appeal to anyone."

Salt..."This fake book raises blood pressure more than I do. There should be a warning label on it, doctors should advise their patients not to read it, and an antidote should be developed for those who overdose on Thevictorian's fake books. Heh, heh. Like THAT'S going to happen!"

Sour..."This fake author has hit an unfortunate note with her latest fake release. The taste it leaves in my mouth, and the effect it has on my stomach, reminds me of a certain type of grapes. The only thing I can imagine these grapes to be good for is a bottle of cheap whine."

Bitter..."Thevictorian's fake book is a tough tome to swallow. She's such a pill, and the root of all evil in the fake-publishing world. I fear the fruits of her fake labors will be with us until the end. Somebody mix me a vodka tonic."

Apple..."Granny Smith and Jonathan told me at a Gala in Fuji that Thevictorian's fake writing is Spartan at best."

Onion..."If you hold your nose and bite into me, you cannot distinguish me from my friend the Apple. If you hold your nose and read Thevictorian's fake will still spout real tears, and notice the bad taste."

Lays Potato Chip..."Bet you can't read just one. No. Really. I bet you can't read one whole fake book of Thevictorian's. It's like you open up the book, and all the fake writing has settled. You don't get but about one fourth of what you fake paid for."

Taster..."I have a dangerous job when working for royalty, but even I am not prepared to fake-read this fake book."
Taser..."Oh, wait! I'm missing a letter! But since I'm here, allow me to review this fake book. I found it SHOCKING! Shockingly bad, that is. It's like I lost all control of my body when I read it. The only recommendation I can give for this fake book is that law enforcement officers could use it to knock crooks senseless when trying to subdue them."

Soap..."Hey, Mouth! I got your back, buddy! As far as this fake book is concerned...I ain't gonna lye. It's 99 and 44/100 IMPURE! If you fake-read it in the tub, and this fake book fell in? It would FLOAT! And not like me."

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Because It Happens So Rarely

Hick's Father's Day trip to our new favorite casino on Monday has been termed a success. We both left with more money than we walked in with.

That's the ticket I cashed out right before we left. Of course it's not ALL profit. I did have to put in some money to win some money. I cropped out the bar code so nobody can scam me. Not that they could, since I already cashed out the voucher, but Genius always said not to show that bar code.

Anyhoo...Hick and I had stuffed ourselves at the buffet, and went back to play another 45 minutes, agreeing to meet up front at 6:00. I knew it would take me 10 minutes to cash out and make a bathroom stop. So at 5:40, I was feverishly searching for a game to play that might give me a good return. I really wanted to try a new slot that looked like a Quick Hits with a spinny wheel. I even sat down at it, but the max bet was $4, and I wasn't willing to venture that. The front of the slot didn't SAY you had to bet max to get the wheel, but I was betting that you did.

I went to a carousel of assorted Quick Hits. The max bet is $1.50 on those, and I'd played several earlier in the day, doubling my money each time. So I went to one with some black and red 7s. I don't even know what it was called. I picked it, because there was nobody on either side. The one I really wanted had a man sitting next to it.

Anyhoo...I put in my last $20 (all my other money was in voucher form by now, and I don't spend it back). I was down to about $8 when I heard DING DING DING DING DING DING DING! Not very loud, because this carousel won't let you adjust the volume on these slots. Those DINGS meant that I'd hit 7 Quick Hits symbols. That's a progressive, people! Money up top that changes as people play those games. My jackpot was $175. WooHoo! I didn't yell that when it hit, but the guy two seats over visibly sighed. I'm sure he saw that amount drop back down, and was jealous that I won it.

You can bet (heh, heh, get it, BET) that I cashed out that money. I had won it so fast, I still had five minutes to play something else. I had a $5 bill left. I don't take such small currency to the casino, but I had $25 in comp money here, and had been saving it until the last minute. I moved over two Quick Hits to the left, and put that five in a machine I'd never played. It had some red/white/blue bars on it. I figured I'd get 3 spins for my $5 bill, maybe and extra if any of them paid me back.

The FIRST SPIN gave me a picking bonus. And during the free games, I got MORE free games. By the time it was done, I'd won $45. Not bad for my $5 bill.

Anyhoo...I fed all of my cash-out tickets through that slot, so I had one ticket to put in the money-changer. This casino only pays one ticket at a time. So it behooves you to have it all totaled up. Then you're not standing there with people watching you feed in a stack of tickets, and thinking you won a lot. And also, you get big bills back, and not assorted smaller bills.

Yeah. I did okay. It's not like there was any skill involved. All I did was push the right button at the right time. Hick said he came out $125 ahead.

I was shocked that I did NOT have a weirdo encounter. The closest I came was the lady behind the Player's Card counter. They always tell you to stop there first thing and check for your offers. This is kind of like a casino you might find during Flintstones times. Not with animals being the slot machines, but not very advanced in their electronic gewgaws. You can't check on your offers at the slots by putting in a PIN once your card is inserted. You have to look online beforehand, or trust the counter workers.

Anyhoo...Hick and I knew that we could each get a $10 food credit if we played 150 points. Sometimes they have to activate your card for the day, sometimes not. So we talked to the oldest lady at the counter, and she verified that, and said that we could just go play, but we'd have to come back to the counter to get that $10 validated on the card before we could use it at a restaurant.

When I went back to the counter a couple hours later, the Oldest Lady was busy with another player, so I got in line at the Second Oldest Lady's station. When it was my turn, I gave her my player's card and ID, and said I was there to get my food credit.

WELL! You'd have thought I was taking money out of her pocketbook! She gave me a beady-eyed stare with a fake smile, and said, "What makes you think you have a food credit?"

"I know I've played 150 points since I've been here, and--"

The Oldest Lady came over from her post. "Oh, don't question her. Look it up. See? She does. You have to put it in so she can use it." The Oldest Lady slid my card and ID back, with a real smile, and said, "You're good to go. Just let them scan your card at the restaurant."

So I must have had a trainee. Even the disinterested young people who work there are polite and businesslike as they rush you away so they can get back to gossiping. I swear, this Second Oldest Lady acted like I was challenging her, when in reality, I was only stating my business up front, not hemming and hawing for five minutes like the player who had been ahead of me, not understanding how to use her $50 free food credit based on her play.

I didn't let that interaction weaken my appetite, though! The buffet was delicious. And now I have added to my casino coffers for future gambling adventures.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Knowing Nose

Last night I sat down on the short couch to talk to Hick while my supper was warming. He'd been out all day, getting a haircut, checking on chemicals for Poolio, opening up his Freight Container Garage for back-creek neighbor Bev to do some shopping, and taking new items to his Storage Unit Store to get ready for Friday's business. Let the record show that temps hit 96 degrees, with a heat index over 100. In case you've never been to Missouri in the summer's not a dry heat.

I heard Hick in and out while I was in my lair all afternoon. I supposed maybe he did some more lawnmowing, or took a dip in Poolio. His buddy didn't want to go to their regular auction, but Hick didn't know until afternoon. He'd said that morning that he would warm up some of the noodle/chicken/mushroom/pea/cheese/Alfredo experiment for his supper.

When I ascended to the living room around 6:30, I woke up shirtless sleeping beauty in the La-Z-Boy. During a discussion of my lottery wins (not much), Hick declared that he had bought himself a couple of tickets, and left them in the Trailblazer. He walked past me to go out and get them.


What was that STENCH? Something was rank. It smelled like a dirty butt. I figured maybe Hick got sweaty. But I thought he was wearing his SpongeBob boxers, and had been in Poolio earlier. So shouldn't stink. Let the record show that those boxers were a gift from the boys a long time ago, to lounge around the house, as we all know Hick prefers tighty-whities for his foundation garment. However, Hick wears them to swim in (when he wears anything at all), reserving his storebought orange swim trunks for hotel pools and hot tubs.

Anyhoo...I was almost gagging at the odor. When Hick returned, clutching his (losing) scratchers...I said pointedly

"SOMETHING smells terrible! It's enough to make me sick!"

I noticed that Hick was NOT wearing his Spongebob boxers, but white-and-brown plaid shorts. However, the stench did not worsen when he walked by me. Huh. I turned my head toward the La-Z-Boy, and it hit me.


Actually, there were two hats. Trucker caps. One camouflage, that had been there for days, balanced on a Puffs with Lotion box on the table, hanging over onto the short-couch arm. Now there was another cap stacked on top of it. Hick's OU hat. The one I'd gotten him when he and HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) went to watch a football game (I got a hat for HOS too) when The Pony was being honored with the National Merit Scholars before the game, having to walk out onto the field.

This hat is special, I think, because of the reason Hick got it. It's just a cap with white mesh for the back half, and a plastic adjustable snap band, with the front being crimson, OU's team colors. As I leaned a few degrees down to inspect that cap...IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT THE SMELL ORIGINATED THERE!

I swear, you can probably smell it over the innernets!

"Whew! It's your HAT! It stinks SO BAD! Smell it."

Hick leaned over and picked up both caps. He deeply inhaled the camouflage one.

"Nope. That doesn't smell."

Then the OU hat.

"Whew! That's it, all right!"

I told him to wash it, and then thought again. That's a special hat. I could imagine Hick putting it in the washer, on the extra-clean cycle, with hot water.

"No. Wait. It probably needs to be hand-washed."

"Yeah. That's what the label says."

"Just put it on the kitchen table. I'll get to it in a couple of days."

Seriously. It's not like we EAT off the kitchen table. And at least that stinky thing will be farther away from my nose. Because we all know how much time I spend in the kitchen...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Alfredo Experiment

Let the record show that Val is not a big fan of pasta. It is rarely served in her kitchen, and then only upon the request of her house men, with Hick being the sole one of those in residence at this time. It was easy enough to boil up some spaghetti, and mix together a sauce from Ragu and Save A Lot pizza sauce and canned mushrooms and minced garlic and hamburger and fresh-ground black pepper, with two packets of Splenda to cut the acidic properties. That's when all three guys were under the homestead roof. But to make it just for Hick...well...he doesn't get spaghetti very often.


A couple weeks ago, I was trying to think up new foods to make for supper. Hick will never voice his requests. I have to spout out a list, and say I'm making an item, to judge his response. If he's not enthusiastic, I switch to another dish. This one, I didn't run by Hick. It's a pointless exercise, really. He always eats what I prepare.

I got to thinking about when I was working, and it was Teacher Appreciation Week, or maybe Parent Conference Night, when catered food was brought in. Pasta House was pretty common. Even though Val is not a fan of pasta, you can bet she elbowed her way to the trough (actually, the counter of the teacher workroom) to get her fair share. One item I enjoyed was the flat noodle with white sauce and chicken and peas and mushrooms. I'm sure it has a name. But I don't need a name to make it.

Of course Val doesn't make white sauce. She's not a Michelin chef. I don't know what kind of noodles those were, but I got the closest thing I could find at Walmart, which happened to be a flat egg noodle from the bottom shelf of the pasta aisle. I also grabbed two jars of Alfredo Sauce, because it's white, and I didn't know how much I might need. Plus, I got canned white meat chicken, and frozen sweet peas, and canned mushroom pieces and stems. Hick loves his mushrooms. So I got a big can.

I boiled the noodles as noted on the package, adding some butter and minced garlic to the water and a can of chicken broth. Once drained, I stirred in some more butter, the Alfredo, the chicken, the thawed peas, the drained mushrooms, and some shredded parmesan cheese.

That made a lot more than I expected. So we're eating it for several days.

I must say, this is actually a tasty dish, though not the noodle I was looking for. Hick has no complaints, and even declared it "good."

This did not even take a full jar of Alfredo Sauce. So the one that smashed on the garage floor was superfluous.

Pretty sure Hick will be fed this again, after a proper interval has passed from the leftovers.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Val's New Career: Saucebroker

Last Saturday was not a good day for me. We'd just returned from Oklahoma on Friday night, and I had to do some grocery shopping. I got off to a late start. The weather clouded up after I left home. Hick was at his Storage Unit Store, unavailable for grocery carry-in duty. While I was in the middle of Walmart (having forgotten my glasses in T-Hoe), looking for items that were depleted, like my favorite Chicken Bacon Ranch pinwheels for lunches...The Pony started texting me massive blocks a scary dream that he'd been wanting to share with me. He's like Hick. He can see through the phone, and choose the most inopportune time to contact me.

I let him know that I might not be responding right away. "I'm in Walmart without my glasses. Respond later." Still, I could hear those messages chiming into my phone. When I got back to the car, and had loaded the rain-soaked grocery bags into T-Hoe's rear, I sent The Pony another text.

"Can I call when I get out on the road? Or are you busy?"

It would be so much easier just to talk to him, rather than type two-fingered on that tiny phone keyboard. And I could be on my way home at the same time. It was NOT convenient for The Pony.

"I'd rather you not call. Canker sore that makes talking hurt." [DON'T JUDGE!]

What in the Not-Heaven???

"Is it really because you're staggering day-drunk? Heh, heh."


Not that I expected that of The Pony. Genius, yes. But The Pony hasn't developed a taste for alcohol. I went on towards home, making my final stop at The Gas Station Chicken Store for my 44 oz Diet Coke.

"Leaving for home with my soda. Soaked like when we ran in Steak N Shake on our visit out there. It will take forever to get home and get these groceries put away. Later, I'll text you."


"Rain all morning. About half as hard as on the trip to get Dad's TIP. I hope I can get over the creeks."

I did make it over the creeks, the big one just coming up to pavement level, and the little one already gone over and receded. I pulled into the garage. Sighed heavily. And took an armload of grocery bags to the side porch. Of course I had to dole out some cat kibble to the dogs. They're usually good when I set down the groceries, but I never completely trust Copper Jack. He might start foraging in my bags, or just pee on them to show me who's boss. He hasn't. But he might. I always bring the bags to the side porch, then get my purse and soda and mail to carry up the steps to unlock the door. Then I can make several trips out to bring those bags into the kitchen. It saves me some trips up and down the porch steps.

I went back to T-Hoe's rear for more bags. I had four looped over my right arm, and two in my left hand, when it happened.

"This is when I cry." I sent The Pony a text after the fact. And after the cleanup. No, that's not spilt milk.

It's spilt Alfredo Sauce. The checker had put TWO jars of it in one bag, along with a double-can pack of white meat chicken. She did not double-bag. The whole bottom of that bag ripped open while it was on my forearm. I was overwhelmed. After such a taxing morning, soaking wet from the rain, I now had a crisis on my hands.

I needed to get all those groceries inside the house, so the dogs didn't think they were a treat. But every moment I was out of sight of that Alfredo, the dogs might be licking it and ingesting broken glass.

I put the other bags on the porch beside the first set. The dogs had scattered, so I didn't know exactly where they were. Jack goes in the garage to look for the cats who occasionally get in there. He gets under A-Cad and I can't see him. I didn't want to close him in with the Alfredo glass. I got the keys out of my purse, and took a couple of the lighter bags over my arm as I unlocked the kitchen door. I grabbed the broom and dustpan from the laundry room, a Walmart sack and two paper plates for scooping glass, and hurried back out. Jack and Copper Jack were milling around the groceries, looking disinterested.

Did you know that Alfredo Sauce is virtually unsweepable? It's true. I ended up scooping it with the two plates, jar and all, into the Walmart bag. The remaining Alfredo did not go onto the dustpan well at all, making a kind of paste that hindered the sweeping of the glass. So I picked it up by hand, while stepping around T-Hoe to look at those groceries and dogs. I got every piece of glass I could see, under T-Hoe and outside the garage. I tapped the broom bristles in a puddle, to try and clean up the Alfredo so the dogs wouldn't want to lick the concrete. Oh, and in the middle of this whole process...I felt a had to run into the house (grabbing a couple more bags that I could juggle with the broken jar bag) and into the bathroom.

The dogs behaved themselves, and I finally got the mess cleaned up and the groceries inside. Of course I had to be extra careful with the bag containing my big jar of olives and a large can of mushroom pieces and stems and three bags of egg noodles.

Can you imagine the world of hurt I would have been in if my OLIVES fell on the concrete and broke? That would be a lot of bending to pick them up by hand.

It took 40 minutes to get my groceries in and put away. I was dripping with sweat on top of the rain water. I finally got to text The Pony about his dream.

But I DID still have a spare jar of Alfredo Sauce for my planned culinary experiment. It had to wait a week, though. I might share it with you.