Monday, July 22, 2019

Hick, the Gift That Keeps On Giving...Me Work

A Val's work is never done. She's a mixer, she's a nixer, she's a legal tort fixer, she types her blog posts on the run.

Seriously. Hick springs work on me at the last minute, like it's my JOB or something! Tosses a wrench into my well-oiled machine, after a leisurely day of doing nothing, footloose and fancy free, the only chore looming on the horizon being Hick's supper. I was halfway done with that. I'd promised him spaghetti, so I mixed his sauce in the morning. Don't think it took a lot of effort. I use a canned sauce, and add hamburger, mushrooms, minced garlic, a packet of sugar free sweetener, and grind in some black pepper.

Yes, all I had to do was boil up some noodles, and pop frozen garlic toast into the oven. Then I could put away leftovers and clean up the mess. All told, it only took 45 minutes out of my evening. I sat down on the short couch to rest before making my own supper. I don't like spaghetti.

Well. First cat out of the bag, Hick said that HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) has a buddy in a little pickle, currently cooling his heels in the Crossbars Hilton, wanting his wife to sell some of his guns for cash. Even though I wasn't wearing shoes, I think my heels could have carved out ruts in the blacktop for forty feet, as I screeched on my brakes at that prospect.

"Surely you're not gonna buy those guns! What if they're stolen? What's the guy locked up for, anyway? If it's for theft, I'm pretty sure you don't wanna get involved in this."

"I don't know. I can get a picture of his wife's driver's license on my phone, to prove she sold them to me."

"All that proves is that you took a picture of her driver's license! Why don't they just pawn them, if they're legal?"

"Because I'll pay them more money. He might need the money to get out."

"That's HIS problem. I really don't think you should do this. I sounds shady."

"The guns are at his dad's house now. So the wife will have to get them from him. He's not gonna give them to her if they're not legal."

"Or he WILL, to get rid of evidence! So he doesn't get caught with them!"

"I don't know. First I'll see if she comes up with them."

Yeah. I'm a NIXER. Doing my best to put the kibosh on gun-running. Then Hick springs the latest chore on me.

"I've got the papers from the lawyer. He forgot to put the property description on the form This Guy has to sign. I'm not taking the papers back to him. I said you can write it in. You have good writing. Here's the form. Right there, between those paragraphs. Write in the description from THIS page."

"How in the world am I going to do that? And file it in court? I don't think so."

"Your writing is way better than mine. You don't want ME to write it."

"Can't I just type up the paragraph, print it, cut it out, and lay it in the space and make a new copy?" [Don't even suggest scanning it and inserting the description and then printing it. For me, that would be like recovering the original moon landing technology, and flying back there overnight.]

"Yeah. I guess you can. But it might be easier for you to just type that whole page over and put it in there."

"Well. I guess I can do that. When do you need it?"

"Tomorrow morning."

"It's already 7:30! I have other things to do, you know."

"I'm sure you can find the time. How long can it take?"

That's easy for him to say. I still had to make my own supper, clean up, eat it, type up two blog posts to publish the next day, and find the pack of paper I needed for my printer, since it ran out with the boys' letters Thursday night.

FYI, that little task took 43 minutes. Would have been less, but it took forever to figure out why I couldn't get the same spacing. I had the fonts figured out, and the size, and when to center and when to justify the left margin... but that darn spacing wouldn't decrease. It was on single space, but still too far apart. After much trial and error, I figured out that I was spacing after each paragraph, so each time I'd spaced to start a new line, to make my sentences begin and end with the same words as the original form... I was actually double-spacing between lines. Got it fixed! Now the rest of the night is mine! Such as it is, here in my lair at 11:19 p.m.

A Val's work is never done until Hick-given projects are complete. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

When One Door Closes, It May Never Open Again

Alexander Graham Bell never said that. So don't quote me as quoting him.

Hick took a little trip last week, out to Oklahoma to build a device for The Pony and his professor, in their lab. He did some research, spent money on the part, devoted three days time, and received nothing in return. It's a long and convoluted story, told elsewhere, but the point is... Hick was gone Monday thru Wednesday last week. And I survived!

In fact, I thrived. Did as I pleased, without trying to please anyone else. Oh, come on! Don't act like I never do anything for Hick anyway. He's back now, and our routine has resumed. I have stopped bagging up the trash for myself, and he has returned to ignoring it until not a single plastic drinking straw can be placed atop the jenga-summit.

The heat has been oppressive. I even cautioned Hick to stay inside and NOT mow the yard on Thursday or Friday. It's about six acres, not a little patch of grass. It takes him several hours on the riding mower. I didn't want him getting heat stroke, which could cut into my time, what with applying cold wet towels to his flushed flesh, or driving him to the hospital. He agreed not to mow. He messed with a few of his treasures over in the BARn or Freight Container Garage, getting ready for weekend business at his Storage Unit Store. Then he came inside to do some laundry (you know why he does his own).

Hick was already gone up to the storage lockers on Friday morning when I left to mail the boys' weekly letters. The heat hit me when I stepped out the kitchen door. Took my breath away. Only my Sweet, Sweet Juno greeted me, with a lackluster sweep of her feathery tail. She plodded to the side porch for a few crumbs of cat kibble. None of her usual exuberance. No jumping or yelping or wiggling or doggy-smiling.

When I came home, T-Hoe's mirror thermometer said 98 degrees. Juno was standing at the edge of the BARn field, and took off for the house. Copper Jack was by her, at the edge of the largest sinkhole, by the driveway. That was unusual for them. They generally don't hang out there, unless the crazy deadly (to chickens) neighbor dogs are loose and plotting attack. My little spotted Jack was nowhere to be seen. So he missed a tasty stale hamburger bun that Juno and Copper Jack had for their treat.

When Hick came home from his weekly doctor appointment and two-hour bull-shooting session with his machine shop buddy, I asked if he'd seen Jack.

"No, but I think he was out there this morning."

"Okay. Because I didn't see him when I left OR came home. Juno and the other Jack were there, though."

"I'm sure he'll turn up."

"Yeah. I hate to think of him jumping in the creek for a swim, and getting swept away. You know how high it got."

"He'll be fine."

"Well, he missed his treat this afternoon!"

Hick left for the auction around 6:00. At 6:15, he called me.

"I found your dog Jack! He was in the BARn. He tore up my insulation! Now I have to clean up the mess."

"So you LOCKED HIM IN THE BARn? Like you've done to Juno so many times?"

"Yeah. But Jack usually runs out. I pull the door closed real slow, so he has time. I guess he didn't get out last night."

"WAIT! You mean Jack was locked up in the BARn for over 24 HOURS? You came in the house around 4:00 yesterday. He was in there all that time, with no food or water? In this heat?"

"It's not that hot in there."

"Oh, so houses don't get hot inside in this weather? Why do people even have air conditioners? That is a METAL BARn, with a metal roof! But you're telling me it's not that hot?"

"Not really. It's not like he was out in the sun. That dang dog! You should see the mess he made! I'll send you a picture when I get to the auction. Oh! Here he is now. I'm up by HOS's old place. I guess Jack and Other Jack followed me up here."

"In this heat? After no food or water for 24 hours? I hope he doesn't have heat stroke! Running that far (half mile) can't be good for him right now! I hope they don't try to follow you all the way out to the county road (two miles)."

"Nah. They follow me over to Back Creek Neighbor Bev's all the time. That's where they think I'm going. They'll stop when I go past there."

"I feel so bad for little Jack."

"Why? You should SEE the mess he made! He destroyed my door!"

"I don't know how you can blame HIM! He's just a dog. When that door closes, he has no idea that you'll ever come back. To him, he's shut up in a cage, and he has to escape or die! No wonder Marley was going crazy last night. Probably heard Jack howling. And Juno and big Jack had probably been over by the BARn when I came home, and ran up to the road to meet me. THEY knew you'd locked up Jack! How many times have I told you to make sure they're out? Good thing you went to check!"

"Well... I didn't see him, and I got to thinking maybe he'd got locked in last night..."

Here's the damage:

Jack has strong digging feet!

He's also pretty mouthy, being half dachshund and half heeler. Always nipping and chewing.

Hick's view of the BARn floor, while standing in the little alcove with the steps leading up to the loft. I can't believe he's BLAMING JACK! What else was Jack supposed to do, other than try to escape this barren NOT-HEAVEN, and entertain himself for 26 hours?

A dog is meant to be free, looking up at you lovingly, not shut away in a dark BARn!

Available to greet you! Ready to adore you, even if you might not deserve it!

Hick, how could you leave this little guy locked up for 26 hours???

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Val's Future PENNYillionaire Status Just Blasted Two Months Ahead

Oh, how the worm has turned! The drought is over.

SUNDAY, July 14, I spied with my near-sighted eye TWO pennies on the camouflaging floor of Orb K. Yes. Not only was I excited to climb on the penny train again, I was relieved to have something to show for the week. Double somethings!

I made sure to get a picture, but didn't have time to get individual close-ups.

It was a heads-up 2018, and a face down 1991. Those clerks can be kind of impatient when you're bent over under the counter!

WEDNESDAY, July 17, I hit the mother-lode-in' jackpot at the Backroads Casey's! As I was walking in, I saw a quarter.

There's an exhibition of my photography technique, in silhouette. That's the newly-painted edge of the sidewalk, not a parking line.

It was a heads-up 2005, which I slipped into my shirt pocket. I was almost humming a tuneless tune of joy. I rarely find quarters. I'd barely taken a step when I saw ANOTHER QUARTER, to my left.

I'm being all prim and proper here, with my pinky finger extended. Like Hick eating chicken wings.

This was a 1985, heads up. It went into my left pants pocket. That's so I can remember which was which when I get home and use the magnifying glass to see the date. I don't know it's going to turn out as well as this picture, until I look at it on New Delly.

Imagine my surprise, on the way back to T-Hoe after buying a scratcher, to see a THIRD QUARTER waiting for me!

I'm sure it was there before, and I just missed it.

This was a 1990, also face up! It had to share my right pants pocket with T-Hoe's keys. Good thing it was my last coin of the day. I was running out of pockets!

FRIDAY, July 19, I almost missed a penny under the Walmart conveyor. I rarely find a penny in Walmart. People use plastic. And old ladies use checks. That's how I found this penny. Something was wrong with the part of the register that prints the amount on the check. A supervisor had to be called, and after leaning listlessly on the end of the conveyor, I stood up to stretch, and saw it.

Let the record show that I am NOT the person who ate some M&Ms and left evidence on the floor.

It was a face-up 2014. Looks like Walmart gives Orb K a run for their money in the lackluster floor hygiene sweepstakes.

Yes, this was a good week. I'm up 78 CENTS!

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 76, 77, 78.
Dime    still at 12.
Nickel  still at 8.
Quarter   # 2, 3, 4.

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

2017 TOTALS (Started in March, 2017)
Penny  78
Dime   6
Nickel  0
Quarter  0

Friday, July 19, 2019

Crime Doesn't Pay the Charges-Presser

No, I haven't solved the Great Camper Caper of  '19. The camper from the storage unit lot is still unaccounted for. We don't really have a stake in that investigation, other than a possible buyer for our own camper. There's more on that story another day.

Back when Hick and I lived in town, in my $17,000 house, we were victims of a theft. Hick always parked the riding lawnmower under the kitchen window, and put a piece of metal on top. I guess that was as good as a garage. It's not like it was a fancy lawnmower. We lived in a $17,000 house, by cracky! I did most of the mowing at that house, because I was off in the summer, you know, while Hick was working a lot of overtime in the city. I used the push mower. Took an hour to mow our corner lot.

Anyhoo... one night we were snuggled in the waterbed Hick had contributed to the household, when there came a knock on the door. A pounding. Hick got up to see who it was. I, myself, would have pretended not to be home. It was the police!

"Sir, do you have a riding lawnmower?"

"Uh, yes."

"Do you know where it is right now?"

"Parked around back, under the kitchen window."

"Will you go see if it's there now?"

Well, of course it wasn't there. Why else would the police come a-knockin' at 2:30 a.m.?

People on the street across the river heard something, and looked out to see three young men pushing a riding lawnmower up the road. They called the police, because even in Backroads, we can't just allow lawnmower-pushing at 2:30 a.m., or pretty soon there will be anarchy!

The police pulled over the lawnmower, and asked the guys where they were going to mow a lawn at that hour. Where did they live? Which one did the lawnmower belong to? These hardened criminals cracked under such interrogation, and admitted that they had taken the lawnmower from our house.

Oh, that's not the strange part. To get this riding lawnmower across the river (called Flat River Creek, don't even get me started, is it a river, or is it a creek), they didn't merely push it. They carried it over the swinging bridge! That's right. Three guys picked up a riding lawnmower and carried it across a swinging footbridge rather than push it four blocks to get to the vehicle bridge.

Hick took the truck to rescue the lawnmower. I guess he didn't want to hitch a ride with the police, and ride the mower home at 3:00 a.m. Hick said, "I don't know why they didn't just drive it. The key was in it."

The perpetrators got locked up. Two of them made bail, but one of them, a former student of mine (he didn't even know I lived there) had other charges. He sat in the county jail, awaiting trial. Sat there, in fact, for half a year. The wheels of justice move slowly in Backroads. Of course Hick pressed charges. He missed three days of work, months apart, to appear at the trial. Which kept getting rescheduled because time ran out before our case on Law Day.

Back then, Hick was an hourly worker, not management. Each day he missed cost him $150 in wages. On the third day he missed for court, when it was announced that the case would not be heard that day, Hick went to whoever had such power, and said, "I want to drop the charges." Of course they were shocked. Why now? What changed Hick's mind?

"That kid has sat in jail for six months already. I'm not missing more work for this. That lawnmower wasn't even worth what I've lost in wages. I don't care what you do with him, but I ain't missin' another day of work over this trial. Do what you have to do."

I can't remember if the kid got out, or if he had to wait for his other trials. All I know is that we had our lawnmower back, and Hick was tired of losing wages to do the right thing.

Did we learn our lesson about leaving our stuff out? Nah. A few months later, someone took our push mower. Is there a moral to this story? Not really. It's amazing how much your stuff appeals to people when you live in a $17,000 house.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

He's a Slammer, He's a Rammer, He's a No-Thank-You Wham-Bammer

What, exactly, is wrong with people? Seems like I've asked this question before, resulting in various opinions.

Wednesday, I had just parked T-Hoe at Orb K. I was perfectly within the lines of my parking space. Pretty sure if you got out and measured, the tires wouldn't have varied more than a centimeter difference in their distance from each side line. I had no need to park crookedly. I was in my preferred space, the one where my door opens up into the yellow-striped handicap lane where the sidewalk is ramped.

I like that space, because I don't have to step up on the sidewalk. It's not a designated handicap space. That's the one across the striped walkway. Has a wheelchair painted on the pavement, and one on a sign in front of it on the building. My space is up for grabs, for any degree of abledness.

I was grabbing my phone off T-Hoe's console when I saw the Slammer pull into the space on T-Hoe's right. That kind of surprised me, because the car in the space past that was encroaching on the line, leaving this empty space a bit tight. Yet here was a newer model gray SUV pulling in. Just as I glanced at it, the driver opened his door.


Rammed his gray door up against T-HOE's black side mirror. Thump! As he did so, he looked right into my eyes. I guess he didn't expect me to be sitting inside. His look was like, "Crap." Not an, "Oh, crap! That door got away from me! Oops!" Not an, "Oh, crap! She saw me do that! She's gonna say something!" Just a, "Crap. I got caught."

Slammer climbed out of the car and moseyed inside, all decked out in the local uniform of dark t-shirt, untucked into old jeans. He was joined by another such clad dude, perhaps a brother, as they both had the same not-quite-shaved short haircut without a part. Not that there's anything wrong with that. People can wear their hair any way they want. Slammer looked neither like a fancy-pants entitled snob, nor a tattooed ex-con. Just a regular guy, perhaps mid-to-late twenties.

I don't think any damage was done to T-Hoe's mirror. I didn't walk around to look. There wasn't much room between the cars. There were 8-10 other parking spaces available, but Slammer chose that one. It's not even a big deal, since the glass remained in T-Hoe's mirror, focused as before. He IS a 2008. Not pristine. Has some hail damage. Always dusty or muddy from our gravel road. It's just the IDEA of Slammer ramming his door into the mirror, and not even giving the sorry shrug, or saying anything as I climbed out as he walked by.

To rub salt in my out-of-joint nose, while I was in line inside, Slammer got in line right behind me. Yeah, I know, what was he supposed to do, leave without paying? I don't mean that. I mean that Slammer got in line RIGHT BEHIND ME. Like, looking over my shoulder behind me. I swear his breath moved my lovely lady-mullet. And he was off to the side a bit. So when I looked over at the scratcher display leaning against the front window to my left, I saw how close Slammer was to me, in my peripheral vision.

What, exactly, is wrong with people these days? Can they not judge personal space or distances between cars? And common courtesy is growing more uncommon by the day.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

More of Hick's UNIT-y Goodness

Hick also won the auction lottery at a smaller auction last week. Again, he paid a dollar to enter the raffle. I guess this auction didn't have great items to choose from, because Hick picked a clock. When he told me, I was thinking maybe it was an antique, or a unique shape. You know, because he seemed so proud to tell me about it.

"Can you get me a picture?"

"No. I already sold it."

"What did it look like?"

"Just a clock."

" set on a mantel? To hang on the wall?"

"Just a wall clock. Round."

"Did it have wood trim or something?"

"No. Just gold trim. A clock like you might get at Walmart for $10. I sold it for $5. I made $4 off of it, because it only cost me a dollar to win it!"

Hick gets excited over the most minor things...

He also got a nice frame the other day for my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel. We're long overdue for a visit. You may recall that she likes fancy gold frames with a New Orleans kind of vibe. Hick finds them for her, and when he has several, we meet for lunch, and to display his wares. Mabel buys the ones she likes, and the others Hick brings back to sell at his Storage Unit Store.

"I got a nice frame for Mabel. I sent you a picture."

"I had just opened up when one of the ladies who sells up there came walking over. 'I've got a frame for you. How much will you give me?' I said I'd give her $5, and she said, 'Okay!' I think Mabel will like it."

Not sure what he'll charge Mabel. He doesn't have to make a large profit. Any profit will do.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Hick Pads His UNIT

I'm talking about Hick's Storage Unit Store. Can't have anybody getting the wrong idea from my bait-and-switch title. I don't need a fine for violating the Truth in Blogging Law. I'm enough of a public enemy already, what with driving without a license for almost a month.

Hick is always re-stocking his Storage Unit Store. He sells a good amount of stuff, and buys new old stuff at auctions several nights a week. What he really enjoys, though, is getting something free from Back Creek Neighbor Bev, or one of his cohorts at the storage units. He makes sure to tell me,

"THAT'S where the money is! Selling something I ain't hardly got nothin' in. It's all profit!"

Let the record show that there's a custom at Hick's auctions. All the sellers put something on a table up front. Tickets are sold for a raffle of these items. The winner gets to choose ONE item from the table, and then the others are sold in the regular manner, by bidding. Friday night, Hick won the raffle, and chose a tool chest:

"I paid a dollar, which got me five chances to win. I picked a portable tool chest."

"Okay. Send me a picture of it."

Saturday afternoon, I called Hick on the way home from town, asking about the picture he had forgotten to send.

"Oh! I just sold it! I have to go, so I can get a picture! The guy's leaving with it now."

Heh, heh. So there's the picture, in front of Hick's Storage Unit Store. According to him, the guy said, "What are you doing, taking a picture of my tool box?" I don't know what excuse Hick gave him. What a weirdo, taking a picture of an item he just sold. I'd never do anything like that...

According to Hick, this rolling tool chest is worth $79 new. I didn't find one for that price when looking it up. (It's always a good idea to verify Hick's information.) I don't know if this is the 24 gallon or 50 gallon tool chest. It was hard to find a picture like it, with the yellow wheels and yellow latches. Looks like it comes with a tool tray inside. Hick said the guy who put it on the table at the auction got all the ticket proceeds, which added up to $66.

Anyhoo... Hick says he sold it for $22.50, and the guy was happy to pay that price. He did NOT say that he got it for a dollar. Honesty may be the best policy, but sometimes it's good to keep some things to yourself. Especially when you're padding your UNIT with almost-free items.