Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Vignette Starring the Future Victorian

I'm feeling a bit nostalgic tonight, my friends. Won't you come along for the ride on Val's trip to yesteryear?

C'mon! It'll be fun. We might stop for ice cream. Those of you who don't call "SHOTGUN!" soon enough can take turns picking the radio station. If anybody gets too tired from standing on the hump in the back-seat floor, he can stretch out up there on that flat area under the back windshield. No bobbing dog-heads in Val's car. The front-seat passengers will be protected by Val flinging out her arm upon sudden stops. But you back-seaters are on your own. And no touching each other or staring or sticking out tongues or clicking the little silver ashtray lids on the armrests.

Whew! Here we go. Tonight we're dropping in on third-grade Val, an earnest little gal, a teacher-pleaser. Val is sitting in the back desk of the row by the windows. Her desk it the one-piece metal flip-top kind, with a wooden lid, and the wooden chair attached that swivels wonderfully when one is bored. It has a built-in metal pencil tray if you lift the lid just slightly. That pencil tray will come in handy when the class moves to the new building mid-year. The new building Val can see out the window, where she doesn't know there will be a fantastic big communal sink like a half-circle shower, activated by tiny feet on a circle of hose-looking stuff, with soap dispensers that put out powdery pink soap, which can be held under the sprinkling water and packed into soap balls that will rest just right on that in-desk metal pencil tray, laying in wait for somebody, perhaps a teacher, to inspect the desk, think, "Oh! Candy!" and pop one into her mouth. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. This scenario is not yet even a blip on Val's radar.

There sits our Val. At the back of the row because she can be trusted. Not a rabble-rouser. She can be used as a divider in the great separation effort against talkers and ne'er-do-wells. She pays attention. She's always prepared. Even today. Even though she has just returned to school after an unfortunate event. Her left arm bears the knuckle-to-armpit cast of a victim of a greenstick fracture of the ulna, suffered in a roller-skating accident on her next-door grandpa's sidewalk. Val has her cast plopped on the desk. No pretty pink cast like modern kids. No envelope-shaped canvas sling with adjustable straps. Val has what might be compared to a white tea towel, folded each morning by her mom, into a big triangle with the pointy ends tied behind her neck, as her sling. Yet she is not concerned with her arm. The social studies lesson is in session!

Social studies is not Val's favorite subject. But she is, after all, a teacher-pleaser. So she's ready to jump in with an answer. Her right arm can still raise, by cracky! But this is a question Val does not know. "Who was the 13th President of the United States?" A crease forms between Val's eyebrows, causing her silvery-pink-framed cat's eye glasses to slip a tiny bit down her nose. The teacher looks sadly around the room. No hands are waving. She tries another tactic. "I'll give you his first name: Millard."

Val wracks her brain. Digs deep. She knows she knows this. She knows she's heard that name. At home. At her grandpa's house, or at his cabin on the St. Francis River. What was it? Millard...Millard...Val's good right arm shoots into the air. She wiggles her hand, just in case the teacher hasn't noticed.

"Yes, Val? Do you know? Our thirteenth President was Millard...Millard..."

Val tucks her foot up under her butt to sit a bit higher in her chair, and announces proudly,


I see that many of you have fallen asleep on the ride home. My daddy will carry you from the car to your bed. Nighty night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Another Emily Litella Moment For Val Thevictorian

Oh, dear. Val had another one of those moments yesterday.

I was perusing the headlines, trying to keep my head afloat in the world of current events. Perhaps find something to bring up in my classes, share with my teenage masses, topics that go along with our subject matter. Like the Philae probe landing on comet 67P, or the Mt. Kilauea eruption that recently ignited homes, or those fifty Nicaraguans trying to push a beached whale back into the ocean. Maybe I could even find a wacky headline for Joe H.'s weekly contest.

There it was! Something for my pupils AND for Joe H.

"Dunking Your Head in Olive Oil Could Cut Heart Attack Risk in Six Weeks"

Well! You can't beat that with a stick! Two uses for one news story. So I meant to click on it and read it, but my eyes were torn away by some intriguing tale on down the page. But it was in the back of my mind. Dunking your head in olive oil, you say! I imagined a bald man dipping his head in oil, like when George Costanza was up to some hanky-panky with The Old Man's Jamaican housekeeper. What about the hair? How was that supposed to work if you weren't bald? Did you massage the oil into your scalp? Wouldn't shampoo negate the positive benefits? Because I would never go to bed with my hair slathered in olive oil. And I surely wouldn't go off to work with oily hair, in case I did the dipping in the morning. This was becoming a problem. I want to lower my heart attack risk in six weeks just as much as a bald man! I couldn't really concentrate on my other stories, so I scrolled back up the page to my provocative headline.

Oops! My headline wasn't quite the same as I remembered it. Never mind.

"Dunking Your Bread in Olive Oil Could Cut Heart Attack Risk in Six Weeks."

These glasses are really much worse than I thought.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Post From Val That You Can Read In 8 Seconds if You Don't Count the Title

The Pony is kicking up his heels with joy.

Last night, he learned that his story, Areo-Atlantis, was accepted for inclusion in the upcoming anthology Building Red: The Colonization of Mars. The expected publication date is Spring 2015.

The Pony would like to thank Val's blog buddy Donna for listing the opportunity, and also blog buddy Sioux for reminding Val of this prospect tailor-made for his writing style.

It takes a blogosphere to nourish a budding 16-year-old writer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Whosiwhatsits on First

Some work days run smoothly. I barely arrive and log on to the fifty-eleven sites I need to use for filling the thirsty vessels entrusted to me with knowledge, and the day is done. Fini. Time flies when you're busy with your filling station.

Occasionally, it's a matter of one step forward and five steps back. Nothing goes according to plan.

Textbooks are abandoned and must be reunited with the abandoner
Students forget they were potty-trained thirteen years ago, and must go RIGHT NOW
One needs the nurse
Two need in-school suspension work for tomorrow
Three forgot their make-up work
Four remembered to bring it
Five need a pencil
Six announcements blare over the intercom
Seven calls (heh, heh, who am I kidding, only seven, that'll be the day) come in from the office
A stack of homebound work from September arrives via an office worker
A new kid shows up and sits down without so much as flashing a copy of her schedule
An old kid moves away, and the office needs the grade on the checkout sheet
A tech school kid insists on wearing half a pair of safety glasses until I insist he doesn't
A hoodie is put on the floor, and the kid in front of it scoots his chair and rips off the cuff
A fart rings out like the shot heard round the world
And, well, some days, you really earn your salary, as our superintendent once told me, kind of like my principal at a different school told me not to stress, because you just can't make chicken salad out just can't make chicken salad without the main ingredient.

So it should come as no surprise that on a day such as this, TODAY, Mrs. Thevictorian had a bit of an Abbott and Costello moment with a fellow faculty member.




Hi. Did Miss Whosiwhatsits get her IBM t-shirt? would I know?

Can you ask her?

That's going to be kind of difficult. She's on the other side of this concrete-block wall.

Nuh uh.

Yuh huh.

Isn't she in your room?

Why would she be in MY room? She had her OWN room. On the other side of that concrete-block wall.

But...Miss Sec told me she was in your room this hour.

Nope. I'm looking. But she definitely is not in HERE. Do you need the number for her room?

Oh! I don't mean the TEACHER Miss Whosiwhatsits. I mean the STUDENT Miss Whosiwhatsits.

OHHHHH. She's right here. Hey! Firstname Whosiwhatsits! Did you get your IBC t-shirt?

Um. Yeahhh. I got it.


Well, whatever that t-shirt was, she says she got it.

Okay. That's all I needed.

I guess we're even. You mixed me up with her name, and I mixed up your club.

Yep. We're even. Bye now.

Hey! Firstname Whosiwhatsits! Does Mrs. Phone-y call you MISS in her class?

I don't even have her class.

Oh. Because I was confusing Miss Whosiwhatsits, the before-marriage name of Mrs. Whatchamacallit, with you. And I wondered if she calls you MISS WHOSIWHATSITS in class.

Yeah. I don't even have Mrs. Phone-y's class. I'm just in her club.

Duly noted.

Some days, I really earn my chicken not-salad.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Pacifying Val Thevictorian

Saturday morning, before the incoming snow, as I wasted time before making my grocery shopping list to get out early and avoid the crowd...I sat down at my laptop, Shiba, overlooking the front yard by way of the living room picture window. I was leisurely browsing the internet like I didn't have a care in the world, instead of preparing to do battle with hard-core storm-shoppers over bread and milk

When out on the porch
There arose such a clamor
I peeped through the mini-blinds
To see who dared to yammer.

It was Ann, our not-terribly-bright black german shepherd. She stormed down off that porch like a regular guard dog, and tore across the front acreage like she meant business. I was a bit discombobulated. She never gets all aggressive like that. Usually just stands right under the window and barks her fool head off. But this time, she was a bitch on a mission.

I didn't see anything that might trigger her usual hair-trigger all-for-naught woofing. No marauding dogs, coyotes, foxes, rabbits, escaped horses, alleged meter-readers, or shadows. I kept my eyes on Ann. She barreled across the driveway to that section of yard that runs along the gravel road.


Ann charged right up to them, never breaking stride, and they flagged their cottony tails at her and bounded up the gravel road. Darn that dog. What a pretty picture those deer would have made. They were big by Val standards. Their flipped-up tails were about ten inches tall. Not that women are good judges of that sort of thing, of course. Not an antler in the bunch, all were does. I suppose they were having their morning coffee klatch in our yard, since the hunters were thirsting for blood in the woods.

That's just like Ann, to defend our homestead against the quartet of deer, who of course are much more dangerous than chicken-eating neighbor-dogs or strangers who make themselves at home on our range while we're away at work. She's also an ace at defending us from imaginary intruders between 2:00 and 6:00 a.m., from her loyal post just under our bedroom window.

I don't know why Ann can't be more like my sweet, sweet Juno. Who would have herded those whitetails into a pretty parade formation for my viewing pleasure, having fortified herself with free-range chicken eggs and a heaping handful of cat kibble the previous evening.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I Guess You Could Say, "Now She Has a Leg To Kiss On."

Mom is doing well after her surgery. Hick reported that she was a bit nervous before the big event, but had calmed down by the time they wheeled her into the operating room at 7:32. After three-and-a-half hours, she was being stitched up. Hick and my sister the ex-mayor's wife got to go see her for five minutes in the recovery room. Five minutes every hour. Mom finally got a room of her own around 3:00.

MSTEMW sent me two pictures of Mom to show that she was okay. Mom was smiling, but I think that was the anesthesia talking. She had a little bit of a black eye on her surgery cheek, and a patch. The surgeon took some skin from her leg to close up the incision where he took out a hunk from her face. Hope Mom doesn't get the jimmy-leg while she's sleeping, like a dog when you scratch its belly. That could lead to some interesting YouTube videos. Not that I would do anything like that, of course.

I sent MSTEMW a text about the picture. "Is that a patch?" Because it was an oval, like an Anjou pear, only the orange color of a new pebbly basketball. And it looked like the edges were stitched into Mom's skin.

"Yes. What did you THINK it was, another ear? Did you think the doctor gave her an extra ear?" I really don't know where MSTEMW gets her sense of humor.

"No. I thought it might have been leg skin."

"Oh, the leg skin is there, but we didn't get to see it. It's under the patch."

So...Mom called me this evening to report that's she's doing fine. Her throat is a little sore from the anesthesia tube. She has a roommate. "But I can' might be a story there when I get out." Heh, heh. I've even got my post-surgery mom gathering material for me!

Mom also reported that she got the surgery prep team tickled. "I told them, 'This is my daughter, and this is my son-in-law.' And they got funny looks on their faces. Then your sister started in. 'I'M her daughter. But we're not together.' She pointed at Hick. Then she said, 'I don't want you to think we're divorced. Because we're not. We're not even together.' That went on for a while, until I said, 'Oh, that's my OTHER daughter's husband.' But that might have made it worse, because then they really looked confused."

Mom said she's not in any pain right now. And that while she was out of it, that surgeon even took off an EXTRA skin lesion from her neck. She had told him before surgery that her doctor said it was nothing to worry about, and the surgeon agreed, but said he might as well take it off as long as he was cutting anyway, then she'd never have to worry about it. So Mom agreed. That surgeon! I guess he's a taker, not a giver.

Mom should get to come home tomorrow if nothing goes wrong overnight. She said the staff was surprised she was eighty. They talked about her, apparently, like she was a precocious toddler. "And she lives by herself, and cleans her own house!

They're probably just glad she didn't ask for wine with her meal, or some heroin. Can't wait to hear Mom's roommate story.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Please Send Some Positive Thoughts For the Slaw Lady

I have a request today.

You know Val doesn't ask for much. A little song, a little dance...a little seltzer down her pants. WAIT! That was Chuckles the Clown from WJM. No, Val doesn't ask for much. An occasional comment about her Pulitzer-Prize-worthy journalism, educating the masses on new developments in the field of feces transplant research. An Emmy for her reports during sweeps month concerning the #1 Backroads crime of road-walking. A humanitarian award for her selfless devotion to the cast-offs of society, specifically three mailbox road cats and one tiny scrap of a canine that was being starved by Val's mom.

Which brings us to the issue: Val's mom.

Mom is having surgery at 7:30 a.m. Monday. If you could take a moment to send some positive thoughts her way, it would be greatly appreciated. She's a tough ol' gal, but the thought of facing a ride to the hospital at 4:00 a.m., and a five-hour surgery, and a night in the hospital are causing her to have a case of the nerves.

Mom will be spending the night with us so she can get an early start. Genius's bed is available, but Mom is a chair sleeper. So she gets the La-Z-Boy. It won't bother Hick. He goes to bed at 9:00. He will be the official chauffeur, because I don't drive in the city. Funny (peculiar, not ha-ha) how I did it for years when I worked by the Bevo Mill, but now my highway confidence has plummeted. My sister the ex-mayor's wife will meet them in Backroads Monday morning, and accompany Mom to the hospital. The ex-mayor is taking the day off work to care for their 9-month-old grandbaby, usually the task of my sister the ex-mayor's wife. I will be going to school as usual, since someone has to haul The Pony around morning and afternoon. Mom said she didn't want me to go, that it was bad enough that Hick and MSTEMW would be sitting around waiting all day. In fact, she had first wanted my sister not to go, and for Hick to leave as soon as they took her into surgery. I told her that was not happening. Listen to me. Such a great daughter, and not even going to be at the hospital with my mom. I daresay I might not be a Five-Dollar Daughter for a while.

Remember that growth on Mom's face that her doctor decided to lop off in the office, after forgetting to tell her to stop her blood-thinner, and then rescheduled? Well. He didn't get all of that growth. Which nobody knew until Mom told me way too after the fact that there was a place on her cheek that was bothering her after Doc did that office surgery. She always had her hair poofed down over that area, and I had not seen it since visiting her daily and cleaning the area until the stitches came out. Seriously. That European Space Agency's Rosetta satellite would have been able to see it FROM SPACE, had Rosetta not been so concerned with landing that probe Philae on comet 67P.

So I made mom get another appointment, which took a while, and then Doc referred her to a specialist at Barnes, but the office gals took so long getting that appointment that Mom called and asked for Doc himself, who got her an appointment within a week instead of six weeks, and then the specialist needed more tests, and those tests required further tests, and, well, this has gone on simply too long. In fact, Mom was supposed to have surgery LAST Monday, but no, a further test was ordered, and a different specialist visit, and now Mom is at her wit's end. I don't blame her. The forecast of up to five inches of snow for our area tonight is not making it any easier.

Anyhoo...I'm sure Mom will be fine. This surgeon says he does 35 of these operations a year. Mom is in good health for an recent octogenarian. She doesn't smoke or drink, has most of her faculties, and will NOT be requesting wine with her evening meal, or heroin. I can't vouch for slaw, though.

Yes. I'm sure she will be fine. It's not like she'll be wearing a peanut suit and a rogue elephant will be waiting in the operating room to shell her.