Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mine Is Not to Reason Why. Mine Is But to Freeze and Fry.

I called my mom before church this morning. She's always ready, waiting to talk to me, whether it's 8:00 or 9:30. "Oh, I'm ready. All I have to do is put my shoes on."

Today she was breathless as she answered the phone around 8:30.

"Oh. Weren't you expecting my call?"

"Yes. But I was on the way downstairs, carrying my heater. I'm on the kitchen phone."

"I just have a minute. Why are you carrying your heater? Didn't you turn on your heat? It was 39 or 40 degrees last night!"

"Well...when I was ready to go to bed, my thermostat still said it was 70, so I thought I would wait until morning. You know. I thought it might keep me awake."

That's MomLogic. How a heat pump/forced-air furnace is going to keep her awake at night is beyooooond me. She falls asleep with the television on. It's not like that furnace is going to blow heated air through the vents with the force of sound waves from a Maxell cassette tape through a stereo speaker. I suppose she thinks it's too early to turn on her furnace. Like it does not merely involve pushing a lever on her thermostat, but something much more strenuous and permanent, like sawing down all the trees in a ring around her house (with the help of her unliked neighbor and a two-man saw) and setting them ablaze to keep her house warm for the winter.

As far as carrying the electric heater downstairs...that's folly! I suppose Mom had taken it upstairs to her bathroom to take the chill off during her church bath. I hope her bathtub was not still full of that water she warned me about when I went up to use that bathroom. Maybe she had to chop through ice on the creek to carry buckets of water to the tub, since her faucets might have prevented her from hearing the phone ring on my call. You never know.

One thing I DO know is that an octogenarian has no business lugging an electric tower ceramic heater up and down two carpeted flights of stairs in a split-level brick home, with only a rickety wrought-iron railing as a barrier between her and an unfortunate fall. Get another heater already! They're only about $50 at Walmart. I think you can have one on each floor if you desire.

Of course, there's that other alternative of RUNNING THE FURNACE!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Do You, Val's Mom, Take This Container as Your Slawfully Netted Strife?

My mom has had another adventure. I know you're not going to believe this, but SLAW was involved!

I only found out yesterday morning before school. It was duty day, too, so I had no time to tarry. I had to cut off the conversation while I was only five minutes behind schedule. But here's the gist of it.

"Oh, I went to town for some slaw. I was running out! I just went to the Save A Lot out here. I decided to get TWO containers, because it was on sale, and the date said it was good until October."

"Like expiration dates mean anything to you."

"Well, I'm sure it will be gone by then. So while I was getting the slaw, I saw that their potato salad was also $.99, so I picked up a container of that. I never look at the receipt. But this time, when I got out to the car, I did. The potato salad was $.99, but she had charged me $3.98 for the two slaws! I was not going to let them get away with that. So I took my bag and my receipt and went back inside. I told her, 'I'm usually wrong on things like this, but it seems to me that you did not ring up my slaw for $.99 like your sign says. The potato salad was $.99, but I'm pretty sure your ad said that slaw was also $.99. And this receipt looks like you charged me $3.98 for two slaws.' She said she would check on it, and took my receipt and my bag into the managers office."

"Oh, no! You shouldn't have let her take your bag in there! I hope they didn't pee in you slaw or anything."

"Well, she just took it from me. It has a plastic seal around the lid. So I'll know if it's been opened.

"If it has, you take it right back out there and tell them it might have been tampered with, and get one off the shelf yourself. And watch the price when they ring it up!"

Okay. They were in there quite a while. Then she came out and said she was sorry, but their register was not ringing up the slaw for $.99. So she gave me a refund. I was really proud of myself to get my two dollars back. And I got to thinking, that sale has been going on for two days already...

Now let me interrupt our conversation momentarily to inform you that my mom does not have a prejudiced bone in her body. She believes everyone should be treated equally, and sometimes even bends over backwards to emphasize how a certain person from assorted minority groups behaved in an exemplary fashion, or went out of their way to accommodate her. She is an equal opportunity, sometimes inadvertently patronizing, staunch supporter of all ethnicities and ablednesses, and even found something nice to say about one of the KKK who were handing out fliers on a street corner last year: "I think it's a shame that they're allowed to do that. I thought about going around the block so I didn't have to pass them. But there was one guy who had on the nicest blue robe. He must have been the leader, because his robe was different. It was really pretty." So, with this in mind, I reveal the next thing out of Mom's mouth concerning her slaw:

...I bet they gypped so many people."

"Um. Mom. You can't really say that these days. It's an insult to gypsies. You can't say gypped."

"Oh. I didn't know that. I will try to be more careful. But the slaw is regularly only $1.79, so if the register is charging people $1.99 apiece for them, they are overcharging their customers ABOVE the regular price."

"I know what you mean, Mom. I've gotta go or I'll be late for my parking lot duty. Talk to you later. Enjoy your slaw. And your two dollars!"

"Okay. I'm so proud of myself. Have a good day."

I didn't have the heart to mention that they still ripped her off for the tax on her overcharged slaw.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Because Val Never Does Anything Nice and Easy

Hey! You know those sproingy spring things you screw into the baseboard area to stop the door from banging the doorknob through the wall? Door stops, I think they're called. Not the wedge kind that are at a premium in public schools, stolen every day in walk-by hall-liftings if you don't engrave your name into the side. No, I'm talking about the home kind. The gold or silver white-rubber-ended sproingy spring things. Yeah. You know what's funny about them?


It's true. They are not nearly as flexible as an adult baby toe. They're not! Just last evening, I made that discovery. Who knew? Not my baby toe, that's for sure.

I might not have found out, except the temperature was scheduled to drop into autumn digits last night. So I rigged our cheap thermostat for HEAT, and set the temp at 69 degrees. Funny thing, the blower kept blowing, even though the house temperature was 72. I knew it couldn't be the air condition, because COOL was set for 78 while we were at work. It defied the laws of physics, that heat pump! I came out of the closet (perhaps I could find a way to phrase that differently in case a journalism student from NYU is lurking in the next booth eavesdropping on my blog post) with my comfy clothes, I stuck my foot over the bathroom floor vent to see if it was blowing hot air or cold air or stale air.

I never really found out what air was blowing, because my baby toe lost a game of chicken with the gold white-rubber-ended sproingy spring thing. That baby toe was as flexible as a Romanian gymnast. Like it didn't have a bone inside the skin. Or like the bone inside the skin found a new angle to hang at. Like the pinky finger on Denzel Washington's right hand. You can have your fact-checker Google that if you doubt me.

You know that long moment when you commit some calamity with a toe or foot, when you know you're hurt, but there's that time lapse while the dendrites release their neurotransmitters to the axon time for a biology lesson now. Let's just suffice to say that you know the pain is coming, but it takes a while to feel it? Uh huh. That's what happened. I went ahead and hollered, because I knew I would want to. What I didn't want to do was look at my baby toe. Even though it was in a sock, I did not want to see if it stuck out like a hitchhiker's thumb.

I still haven't looked. No use crying over pooled blood and possible dislocation. Whining, yes. Crying, no. I figure if it fits in the shoe, it must be salvageable.

I really didn't seem to have so many physical faux pas until I started taking this blood thinner. I might be half a quart low.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Wouldn't Be Surprised If Hick Passes Out Cigars

Hick is caught in a quandary.

Don't tell HIM that. He might think he's going under for the third time in some icy-cold clear green water in a deep hole where granite has been chipped away in blocks for a variety of uses, including, but not limited to: building facades, gravestones, countertops, flooring, and backsplashes.

No, Hick is having trouble making a decision. Not that such a state is uncommon for him. I almost feel sorry for my sweet baboo.

At first he was all excited, calling people and talking loudly, because we all know that cell phones are just one thin stairstep above tin cans and twine, telling his cronies that he had just been given a house. A HOUSE! Okay. Hick gets excited a bit more than other folks at the though of getting something for nothing. He doesn't realize at first that "nothing" may turn out to be a couple of hundred dollars in miscellaneous costs.

The more he thought about traveling the 55 miles to claim his treasure, measure it, check with a buddy to help him, get the house onto his trailer, drive it home on winding two-lane blacktop, find a place for it, unload it, and come up with gas money for all the trips back and forth to set up this grand plan...the more Hick thought he might not want the free house.

So sad to see his dream go down the drain.

Here's what Hick coulda had:

Yeah. It's two feet too wide for his trailer. He's not sure if it will be too tall to fit under the overpasses once he reaches the highway. His helper often excuses himself because something suddenly comes up. And I told Hick he is not taking more money from The Pony's stash like he did at the beginning of summer, and still hasn't paid back. A house is not like a trailer from work that can be used to bring in more free stuff. I will not be subsidizing this bargain.

I told The Pony, "Your dad could save all the money he would spend on gas to arrange to bring this cabin home, and use it to buy supplies to build another cabin."

"Huh. He already has all the stuff he needs to build another cabin."

Uh huh. I sense the clamor, clamor of little hammers this autumn. Hick is expecting an addition to his outbuilding family.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Snake-Lizards Crawl In, the Snake-Lizards Crawl Out, the Snake-Lizards Play Pinochle Behind the Paper Crates No Doubt

Yesterday, as I was standing in the hall observing the flow of teen traffic, I saw a staff member approaching from the right. That's a feat in itself lately, because it means I can actually turn my head enough to see parts of the hall that are not directly across from my doorway.

Staffer was heading for the closet right next to my classroom. The one with the microfiche machine and three million reams of paper and some file cabinets filled with old records. It's always locked, but I know what's in there because, well, my room is right next door, and I have connections with master key keymasters. In fact, this is the room I used to plan on using for my own personal tornado haven, before our disaster procedures were revamped, sending us all way down deep into the bowels of the earth to the boys' athletic locker room that smells like bowels.

So, as Staffer stuck her key in the lock, I stopped her. "Oh. I think there's something I should tell you before you go in there. Last Tuesday, I saw a copperhead/lizard/newt/salamander laying in my classroom doorway when I returned from Labor Day weekend. I told The Pony to grab it with a tissue and throw it away, but he said it sure did move funny. And when I turned to see what he was talking about, I saw the tail rounding the corner of my entryway. I looked down the hall, but I didn't see it anywhere. I think it went under the door and into this closet."

Staffer listened to me, wide-eyed, like there was going to be a punchline. Like maybe I was telling her about the escaped mental patient with hooks for hands who frequented lovers' lane, waiting to kill happy young couples, and I was going to say, '...and do you know what they saw hanging from the door handle? A HOOK!' while I grabbed her shoulders to startle her. Then she saw that I was serious.

"Oh. Now I'm scared. I wish you hadn't told me that."

"Well, wouldn't you rather know than be surprised? I was just trying to help."

"Um...I don't know. Now I'm nervous."

"But you'll be prepared if it jumps out at you from those stacks of paper cartons."

"I...I guess so. Thanks a lot, Mrs. Thevictorian."

"You're welcome."

Uh huh. Val is a people person. She's a giver like that. It was the least I could do to make Staffer's day a little easier.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Tales From the Crip" OR "My Left Croc" OR "A Not-So-Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Shower"

No, Val has not been invaded by a body-snatcher and turned into a pod person awaiting transformation into a nonagenarian. However, she DOES feel the need to discuss her rheumatism and all that ails her with her most intimate internet friends. Every post cannot be about my mom’s life, Auction Meat, and sweet, sweet Juno, you know.

Last night there was a near-calamity near the kitchen sink. As The Pony filled my bubba cup full of ice from Frig’s door spout, something went horribly awry. The cup slipped sideways, refunding its contents onto the red-and-white vinyl flooring. The Pony set to retrieving the icy quarter-moons and tossed them into the sink.

I stepped into the work zone to grab a bowl for The Pony’s leftover roast vegetables, and trod upon a frozen fragment. My left Croc absorbed most of the shock, but it started to slide. I quickly stomped my right red-Croc-shod foot down so as not to flip backward and give myself an incurable subdural hematoma. Sons of people who live on blood-thinners shouldn’t throw ice. Maybe I’ll make that into a t-shirt to sell in hospital pharmacies and gift shops.

The jamming of the knee that I injured getting out of the shower caused it to bend slightly backwards, and flood with blood inside the joint capsule when I took my medicine a half hour later. Funny how a blood THINNER can make my knee FATTER!

So…after a painful evening and night, I arose slowly and hobbled through my morning routine. It’s hard to bend my sore neck to scope out the forest-green floor tile of the master bathroom. But I was fairly confident that the pea gravel and cedar chips from Hick’s work boots had been swept away.


A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the shower. In the dogleg left from the sink past the corner triangle tub, in the area just in front of the wastebasket that resides between toilet and tub, a razor-sharp sliver of the unknown imbedded itself into my right heel.


Like a mutt’s butt unacquainted with toilet paper, my heel dragged itself across one of the bathroom throw rugs in an effort to scrape off the offending freeloader. After three tries, it dropped off. A large crescent of toenail, the likes not seen in the Thevictorian household since The Unfortunate Braided Rug Toenail Incident of 1994, mocked me from the edge of the rug. I could not bend over to pick it up, what with my swollen knee and recently broken neck.

I woke up Hick to get ready for work, and asked him to pick up his toenail to prevent future incidents which could render his beloved wife’s heel as leaky as the trunk of a Vermont maple in March. And do you know what my sweet baboo did?

He said, “It’s not my toenail.”

Uh huh. Because a clodhopper-shod working man’s toenail looks exactly like the toenail of a dainty petite flower such as Val.

I’ve a good mind to go all CSI on him and test for DNA. Yep. And wave the results in his face, shouting, “The proof is in the toenail pudding!”

I fear that justice would not be served, however, but that Hick would wax all Homer-Simpsonesque, and mumble, “Pudding? I LOVE pudding!”

Then I would slip in his puddle of drool and skewer a vital organ on the toilet paper holder.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Notorious V-A-L

Anybody got bail money for their best blog buddy Val? Or a place to harbor this fugitive until the heat throws in the rice towel? Just in case. I don't need it right this moment. But I almost did a couple hours ago! Here's how it went down. We talk like that, you know. Us almost-arrested innocent bystanders who don't give a hoot about grammar.

I had a faculty meeting after school. Then I waited for The Pony to finish a session of his independent study Personal Finance class on the counselor's computer. We took off like bats out of not-heaven for the bank, to deposit some money into Genius's account. He bought a futon to fit under his dorm bed that he jacked up so he can lounge about watching the TV he bought himself. Which he did NOT ask us to pay for. But since he was looking for a futon at the Goodwill store and insurance salvage stores, and asked Hick to keep his eye peeled for one at the auction, Hick and I decided we would pay for a new one from Walmart. Because who wants their Genius bringing home bedbugs over the Christmas holiday? Not this tender-skinned family, that's for sure.

After leaving the bank, we stopped to gas up T-Hoe. It's not my regular gas station, but I go there a couple times a month when it's convenient, either for gas or for lottery tickets. Let the record show that Val never runs T-Hoe's tank down to EMPTY. Nope. Not gonna do it. I'm not forking over that much cash on gas. I fill it at half a tank. Which is bad enough. But at least I'm not like my mom, who refuses to put in more than $20 at a time. If I did that, I would be getting gas every two days. is our habit, I climbed down to put in the gas, then gave The Pony the cash to go in and pay. I'm not using a card at the pump. People can steal your identity like that, you know! So The Pony trots across the lot, not very far, it's just a Casey's with four pumps, to look for a donut snack and pay for my gas. He does this every week at my regular gas Casey's, with nary a problem.

After putting the pump handle back, I opened my driver's door to grab some change. The gas was $45.30. I handed The Pony three twenties and a quarter and a nickel. "Here. Get something if you want, but if you don't see anything, pay with this change, so I can get a ten and a five back." The Pony jumped out of his back seat behind the driver's seat, and I climbed in. Let the record show that our seats were on the building side of the car. The road was to my right. I was the only car at the pumps, and there was one more car parked by the building, with an old man who had gone inside. That left just The Pony and a geezer inside as customers.

My window was down. I turned to get some Green Apple Germ-X out of my purse. I slathered up my hands and rubbed them together. Waved them around to dry, inhaling the scent. Then I put the Germ-X back in my purse. I put on my seatbelt. I laid my left elbow on the window ledge, waiting for The Pony. T-Hoe was not running. You turn your car off while pumping gas, you know. And who turns it on to burn up the gas you just pumped in while you wait for your son to pay? Not this ol' Val. I turned to look inside to see if The Pony was coming out yet.

"Did you send someone in to pay for your gas?" A youngish chubby dude in a brand-spankin'-new Casey's shirt was halfway across the lot, coming toward me. I'd say he was maybe 15 feet away.

"Yes. I'm not a drive-off. My son is inside paying."

"Oh." Dude stopped and stared at me. Then turned around.

I swear. There must be a traveling ring of late-middle-aged, L'Oreal-medium-brown-coiffed, pleasantly plump schoolmarms marauding about the countryside stealing gas. Because never have I ever, in all my years of driving, been suspected of being a drive-away. It's not like this was a 24-bay gas station truck stop mere feet from the interstate. I guess Dude was planning to grab onto my trailer hitch and let me drag him along while he called the police on his cell phone. And me with my bad neck and creaky knees, itchin' to ditch my T-Hoe and run from the police.

The Pony came out with a donut and a handful of change. He was chuckling.

"I was just accused of being a drive-off!"

"I know. I saw him come out. He said something about he was going out to see if you were paying for your gas."

"And you didn't tell him?"

"No. He didn't ask me. He wanted to go out. The other guy didn't say anything. He was waiting on that man. But this guy acted like he wanted to go out."

"Thanks. I can't believe that after all that time I sat here, the car not even running, waiting for you...he thought I was going to drive off. I'd be a pretty bad criminal, I guess."

I hope my picture is never posted in the dead-mouse-smelling post office.