Wednesday, December 17, 2014

There Is the Edge of Redneckness, and Then There Is the Abyss



No longer are Thevictorians living on the edge of redneckness. Nor are we hurtling down the two-lane blacktop at breakneck speed, approaching the precipice overlooking the abyss of redneckness. We are there. Imbedded deep in the hardpan at the bottom of The Valley of the Utmost of Redneckness.

But let’s not put the cart before The Pony.

Yesterday we got home from school and visiting my mom at that time when dusk flips the switch to dark. I turned on the Christmas lights strung around the soffits. It was simple, really. No great big industrial lever to pull down. No two extension cords to connect, like Clark Griswold trying to figure out his National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation display. All I had to do was lift the light switch lever on the wall of the garage as I went out. That’s because we leave our Christmas lights up year round. But WAIT! That’s not what makes us upper tier rednecks. Nor the goats and chickens and guineas and turkey roaming the yard. Nor the dented refrigerator in our kitchen.

I went into the house, and noticed The Pony was missing. Unusual. He always unlocks the kitchen door and goes in before I get there. He unloads his burden of backpack, lunchbox, Kindle Fire, mail, and my school bag. Then I usually see him sitting on the couch, plugging in his phone to set on the windowsill so he can tether his unlimited internet. He had not been ordered by Hick to feed the animals. He was simply missing.

A few minutes later, The Pony burst through the kitchen door. “Well, it looks like somebody’s not getting a Christmas present! Look what I found in the front yard. It’s all there was. It just caught my eye.” He held out a scrap of a shipping label, about the size of an orange slice. The fruit, not the candy.

“What? Where is it from? Who left it, FedEx or UPS?”

“I don’t know. This is all there was. It has your name on it. I’m going out to look some more. Maybe I can find what was in it.”

Off he went. Hick came in.

“The Pony found part of a package label in the yard. I guess the dogs got it.”

“Well, they ate my Case Collector knife truck that time. I don’t know why UPS leaves the packages on the porch.”

“I know. I put that note card out there saying to leave stuff in the garage. That one guy’s afraid of dogs. I think he tossed if from his truck. The lady we used to have hopped out with dog biscuits, and left the packages on top of Juno’s doghouse on the back porch, gave two knocks, and left. And that one year, the new guy left five packages for the people up the road. The one who came out of his garage wiping blood off a knife. I felt bad for having Genius get out to hand him the packages.”

The Pony came back in. “This is what I found. Barely. It’s okay. I didn’t look.” He held out a black plastic case, like those DVDs come in, face down. It was a computer game that he had asked for, the one Genius ordered for him and had sent to our house. The top and bottom corner where the case opens were chewed and ragged.

“Oh, Pony! I’m so sorry. I’ll get you another one.”

“It might be okay. We can open it and look. Here. The disc isn’t marred. But it’s wet. I’ll lay it down on the pool table to dry. I think it will work. And I still have the cardboard with the keycode I’ll need to make it work. We’ll have to explain to Genius why it’s open.”

Hick did not even lay the blame on my sweet, sweet Juno. It is possibly possible that my sweet, sweet Juno chewed up a bubble-wrap envelope and used black plastic to remove plaque buildup from her canine teeth. However…Hick knows that we didn’t even have Juno when his Case Collector knife truck was masticated. He’s treading lightly after the refrigerator dent affair.

This morning, Hick said, “I put a basket by the door for the packages. Surely those idiots can figure out that’s to put the stuff in.”

You know me, ever the Pollyannna. I was sure our problem was solved. I could imagine a wicker basket that Hick had picked up at the auction, right near the door, awaiting my future packages. It was dark then, so I did not run to look out on the porch. I did not think to turn and look back as we went up the driveway in the light of dawn.

“So your dad put a basket by the door for packages?”

“Uh huh. If you want to call it a basket. It’s more of a lunch crate.”

“WHAT?”

“It’s a milk crate. Faded red.”

“Is it sitting by the door?”

“No. It’s on the wall. Right by that little black mailbox.”

“He nailed it to the wall!”

“No. He SCREWED it to the wall!”

“I hope that didn’t split the cedar siding.”

“Don’t know. But we have a pink milk crate screwed to the front of our house, by the green door.”

Imbedded. In the hardpan. At the bottom of The Valley of the Utmost of Redneckness.

Don't get me started on the Christmas decorations.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Once Had Bought, But Now I’ll Not / Was Kind, But Now I See



Bright and early Saturday morning, I took off to seek my new refrigerator. We bought The Original Frig at a local business, right in Backroads proper. Hick likes doing business locally, with small businessmen. We found The Original Frig right away, dickered down the price, and had it delivered within four hours. Thevictorians don’t mess around when they set out to make a major purchase.

Our experience was so pleasant that I had no qualms about returning for a new Frig. In fact, I hoped to find one, bargain, pay, and get on the delivery schedule for that afternoon. Easy peasy. But no. The best-laid plans of Val…

The Pony and I got to the furniture store about ten minutes after it opened. We walked in, and I looked to the right, in the direction where we had found our beloved Original Frig six years ago. No Frigs. The Pony spotted them first. Along the back wall, to the left center of the building. Good thing. Because no employees came to help us. They were busy sitting behind the counter in the middle, three of them at least, maybe four.

I don’t know much about the furniture business, other than you don’t have to pay sticker price for the items if you are willing to negotiate. Sometimes you can get pillows thrown in for a couch, or get a second recliner half price if you are a good dickerer. But one thing I would think might be good policy is greeting customers as they come in, and asking if you can help them find something. At best, you’ll make a sale and get a commission. At worst, they’ll tell you to F-off because they’re just looking.

So there I was, ready to buy, and seeking my own Frigs while workers sat and chewed the fat. The Pony and I got over halfway to the back, and I saw the Frigs a little more clearly with my unglassesed eyes. Let the record show that I served out of Frig, I knew Frig, Frig was an appliance of mine…and these, my friends, were no Frigs. They were all white, with top freezers. Not a stainless steel side-by-side in the bunch.

As I turned to leave, telling The Pony, “They don’t have what we’re looking for,” a working woman came to greet us.

“Can I help you?”

“No thanks. I was looking for a stainless steel side-by-side Frigidaire Professional. I don’t see anything similar.”

“We don’t have any of them. We can order one. It will take about 30 days. When did you need it?”

“Today. Sorry. If we can’t find one, I’ll get back to you. Do you have a card?”

Because that’s the polite way of doing business, I think. But you would have thought that I asked that working woman for her left testicle. The contempt on her face was undisguised. Sure, I was wearing comfortable clothes, toting a purse with cracked leather handles, and shod in my run-down New Balance. Criminy! It’s not like I was wearing Crocs!

That alcohol-faced 40-something working woman, in her unseasonal tan and bleached hair the yellow of just-beginning-to-decay corn silk, handed me her business card with a little sneer. I thanked her and put it in my shirt pocket. When we reached T-Hoe, I took it out.

Funny. Her last name was the same as the business name.

I see. Now I have qualms.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fe Fi Fo Fum...I'm About To Let the Blood of Hick, Who Shoulda Kept Mum


Here is our new Frig. Frig II, we’ll call him.


He’s missing a meat tray slide-out thingy compared to the original Frig, and a little shelf on top of the icemaker. But other than that, he’s serviceable. More so without the help of Hick. Once he got it delivered and plugged in and the ice maker hooked up to the water supply…I was done with him.

Here’s the thing. Hick was a big help when The Original Frig went kaput. He unhooked the ice maker and carted the contents of freezer and refrig to the BARn, where our old, battered refrigerator resides. We looked at Frig II, and I told Hick I was not pleased with the shelf locations, and that I wanted to adjust them before putting stuff in. There was a door shelf that was not at all functional for me, being right under the above shelf, leaving contents out of sight, and in an awkward, low-down position.

The Pony and I took off to do the shopping, since we would have a cool place to put them when we returned. As I pulled into the garage, we saw Hick sitting in his Gator in the front yard. After a bit, he came to the garage and opened T-Hoe’s hatch.

“Not everything goes in. I have some stuff for school, and stuff for my mom.” You would think Hick would wait there until I got out and walked around to tell him what to leave. But no. Hick took that as a sign that he was off the hook, and disappeared. So The Pony and I carried the stuff in as usual.

Inside the homestead, I opened Frig II and saw that Hick had left the shelves the same, and had brought back items from Battered Frig. So I couldn’t put my new stuff away until I took out the old stuff, and had The Pony lower two shelves. And while we were at it, we took out six past-dated items that Hick had moved in. I had told him that when I was ready to deal with the BARn stuff, everything was not going back in.

But that’s not my only gripe with Hick. Shocker, I know. When the movers brought in Frig II, Hick came to the bedroom to break a little news to me.

“The new refrigerator has a ding in the door. You can have 10% off the cost, or they can order a new door and bring it out and put it on.”

“Since I paid so much for that refrigerator, I expect it to be a new refrigerator. I want the new door. I’ll be home over Christmas. They can bring one out and put it on.”

“Okay.”

Well. You know how the best-laid plans of Val often go awry. Later in the day, after the movers had left, just before I went to do the shopping, Hick confessed.

“I took the 10% off. It’s just a little dent. Right there. On the edge of the door. You can hardly see it.”

“But I CAN see it. It looks like a snakebite. Two dents. An inch apart.”

“I’ll get the money back.”

“How are you going to do that? Did they give you a check? Something on paper?”

“No. You have to go down to the store, and they’ll give the money back.”

“YOU have to go down to the store. I hope there’s some record of it besides your word against the movers. And I don’t want store credit. I want the money back. Since I bought a damaged refrigerator.”

Seriously. I feel like I sent Hick to sell a cow, and now there’s a beanstalk sprouting in my front yard.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tea and Crumpets With His Royal Hickness

Okay, lets have a few seconds of sad face :-( for the untimely passing of Frig. Let the record show that he has not yet officially crossed over...the gravel road to the BARn, where he will be cooling his coils in exile. He sits on the front porch, waiting for a ride.

Don't you worry about Frig. He has Frosty the snowman and the trash dumpster and an archery target to keep him company. And the garage has his back. He looks kind of menacing, doesn't he? Like that furnace in Home Alone.

We ended up getting our replacement from Lowe's. There's more to that story, but even Val can't run down that many rabbit trails today. The delivery of our new Friggy was scheduled for today. We know that, because Lowe's called at 8:15 a.m. Which might not sound like the crack of dawn to you, but to Val and Hick, who arise at 4:50 a.m. Monday thru Friday, and almost every Saturday, and like to sleep in at least one day a week whether they need to or not...it was the crack of dawn.

Hick was in the shower. My bedside phone has mysteriously stopped working since last week. So I had to run into the living room just in time for that phone to stop ringing. And hear Hick's cell phone on the bathroom sink start ringing. So I ran back and grabbed it and tried to take it to Hick in the shower, but he was already out and striding toward me in all his glistening gloriousness. Sorry. What has been seen cannot be unseen. Hick gave them vague directions and me the stinkeye, even though I was only trying to help by naming specific landmarks, left/right turns, and street names. Whereas Hick tells it like, "Come out Blacktop Road and turn just past the bridge. Go about two miles. You'll come to a road by a low water bridge after the first one. Turn left on that road. Go until you see a road to the left. Go past that. Then turn on the next one. North." Yeah. I'm surprised Frig II did not end up in Northern Michigan.

So anyway, Hick asked what time they would arrive, and was told sometime this afternoon. No hourly window. That delivery dispatcher must be the Hick of appointment times. I don't know about you, but I think of sometime this afternoon as being AFTER. NOON. So I planned to whip up a batch of Chex Mix that takes two hours plus prep time, and put off my grocery trip until later. AFTER. NOON. No need to buy food and not have a refrigerator for stowing it away. Imagine my surprise when the Lowe's truck showed up at 11:20. Which here in Missouri is BEFORE noon. The Pony had to run find Hick, who was mowing the field, or just riding around wasting gas in the lawnmower to look all manly.

I retired to the bedroom, as the coming and going of my appliances raises my blood pressure. Mainly because the entire episode is directed by Hick. Who had already spent ten minutes sweeping the porch to impress the delivery men. He never sweeps the porch for me. A pile of chicken poop could build up knee-high, and he would pretend his chickens never get up on the porch. I wouldn't be surprised if he dusted off that old pew he got at the auction, so he and his new buddies could set a spell after the unloading. He probably scribbled out free haircut coupons for them after he gets his Little Barbershop of Horrors up and running.

So...I could hear the commotion of the move. This and that. Then one of the movers started talking really loud. Like he was right outside the bedroom door. Which is NOT on the way to the kitchen.

"What kind of goats you got? That one's a Nubian, ain't it?"

"Yeah. The other one's a long-hair."

"You mean an angora?"

"Yeah! That's what it's called."

"I got two faintin' goats. You ever seen 'em?"

"No, can't say that I have."

"Clap your hands, honk the horn--they fall down dead. Funniest thing you ever saw. Is your Nubian a female? You wanna sell 'er?"

"No. She was my first goat. I won't sell her. And I won't sell the other one because I promised the guy I wouldn't. She was his wife's pet."

I'm not sure what went on after this exchange. The voices were muffled. I think Hick served his new buddies tea and crumpets. I can picture them now, Hick, and Brutus from Popeye, and Larry the Cable Guy all sipping out of dainty teacups, holding their pinky fingers in the air.

Hick had wanted them to move Frig to the BARn. I'm sure he would have served more refreshments over there. He said that part of their job was hauling away the old refrigerator. Apparently, hauling the old refrigerator two hundred yards to another building is NOT part of their job. Hick has also said he was going to offer them $20 if they declined. I guess even Brutus and Larry can't be bought. And Hick did not toss them a bottle of grape juice for their trouble.

Yes, there's more to this refrigerator-buying experience, but it will have to wait for another day.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Another Vignette From Val's Thrilling Life

The following exchange occurred during The Great Frig Replacement Shopping Expedition.

"It's already 2:24. The Pony must be starving. I promised we would bring him a Rally's burger when we return."

"Okay. Which way do I go?"

"Turn left at the light. Then right at the next one. I'll have a burger, too. That Little Debbie Cosmic Brownie that I had with my medicine at 7:15 did not stick to my ribs like a sausage biscuit."

"Well, I didn't have a sausage biscuit, either."

"You mean to tell me that you left for work, and have not had a thing to eat all day?"

"No. I stopped at Hardee's for a sausage biscuit on the way to work."

"Wait a minute. You just said you didn't have a sausage biscuit, either."

"I meant from our freezer."

"Oh. So you're not hungry."

"I could eat a burger."

"The Pony ate a bunch of Chex Mix before we left, and then in town I picked up a sausage biscuit for him and my mom. But I didn't have one."

"That's your own fault. You should have got one."

"Um. I was driving. AND going in and out of stores looking for the elusive Frigidaire Professional side-by-side."

"Huh."

Yes. Hick has no sympathy for the sausage-biscuitless crowd. Especially now that he's hoarding them in the old refrigerator over in his BARn.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Another One Bites the Dust Bunny

Alas! Poor Frig! I knew him, folks, a fellow with veins as cold as ice. It was ice, in fact, in his veins. He revealed his secrets to me a thousand times. And now, my gorge rises. BECAUSE I MIGHT HAVE EATEN SPOILED FOOD!

It's true. Frig, our Frigidaire side-by-side, took his last gasp while we were away at work today. You how they are. Don't want anybody to make a bother. Simply slip out while nobody is around, like our faithful dog Grizzly, the boys' first pet, who hung on all summer a few years back, only to lay down and die in a patch of dappled sunlight on the gravel road to the BARn on our first day back to school.

Quiet in death. Not so quiet in the end of life. I opened Frig this evening and noticed something was amiss. You know, like when you can't quite put your finger on it, but it's there. Something different. I got a cup of ice from Frig's colder half. What's this? The cubes didn't clunk into my yellow plastic bubba cup. They sounded soft. Yet looked like the same hard crescents of old. I pulled out Frig's frosty bladder. Hmm...looked like it contained slush. I opened Frig's warmer half. Aha! That temperature thingy was different. It caught my eye. 55 and 58. Yeah. Frig had a double fever. Who knew that was fatal?

I feel a bit guilty. I had no idea Frig was in his death throes when we heard him gurgling and grinding last night. Hick examined Frig, and reported that he simply had a problem with a fan, and that nothing untoward would happen if we let him go on like that. No fire. No rod-throwing. The worst thing that could happen would be that Frig would overheat and trip a breaker.

So much for a diagnosis from Dr. Hick. I should have known better. Am I not, after all, Dr. Val, who performs a coldecystectomy on Frig every two weeks. Well. DID. Apparently, Frig had complications. I did not even want to be near the kitchen to see the aftermath when Hick pulled Frig away from the wall for the autopsy.

Now our departed Frig is a hollow shell of himself. Hick purged him of his contents, which now reside in the BARn, inside Frig's predecessor, who was near-fatally injured by an exploding can of biscuits. A good plastic surgeon might have cured what ailed him, but Hick summarily shuffled him off to the BARn to do his bidding.

Any way you look at him...Frig remains dead as a doornail.







 It's going to be a hot and hungry morning in the Thevictorian kitchen.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Would a Juno, By Any Other Texture, Smell As Sweet?

But enough about my mom. We've been neglecting my sweet, sweet Juno!

Poor sweet Juno is discombobulated. We've been in and out, our schedules a bit off, what with tending to Mom's needs. So poor sweet Juno is never quite sure if we'll be right back, or if our outing will be an all-day affair. And more importantly: when is her next handful of cat kibble?

The Pony and I returned home from a trip to Mom's house Sunday morning. We had been liberating some frozen pecan halves and pieces for the upcoming Chex Mix extravaganza from her basement deep-freeze. Don't think of this as theft. Mom TOLD me to get them. My sister the ex-mayor's wife was picking up FRESH pecans at church for Mom that very day. So I suppose that puts Sis at value above a Five-Dollar Daughter.

The Pony and I came out of the garage to a playful Juno hopping and bopping to the Gimme Cat Kibble Rock. Ann stood steadfast, three feet away. There's no competing with Juno's hopping and bopping. As usual, I made my sweet, sweet Juno show me some puppy love before rewarding her kibble tooth. I sometimes hug her, sometimes say threateningly "JUUUUNOOOO!" until she sits down calmly. Then I give her a good petting, and tease her by asking, "What do you want? WHAT do you want? Does Juno want a SNACK?" And she starts hopping and bopping again while I fish out a fistful of cat kibble from the large black-and-white-spotted metal roasting pan that serves as the cats' food dish.

This particular Sunday, I stepping in to hug my sweet, sweet Juno...AND CAUGHT A WHIFF OF SOMETHING FOUL! Yes. My sweet, sweet Juno smelled a little...um...how you say...less than fresh.

"YUCK! You STINK!" I backed off. My sweet, sweet Juno swayed out over the edge of the porch, somewhat like a cobra weaving its head, trying to maintain our loving contact. I pushed her back by the usually-silky-shiny black ruff of her throat and chest.

IT WAS STIFF AND STICKY! Upon closer inspection, I observed a reddish tint.

"JUNO! You've been into something! Something DEAD!"

"I could have told you that. I saw her curled around it in the front yard as we came up the driveway. She was nibbling on it, but I couldn't tell what it was. Her body shielded it. Probably part of a deer."

"WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME?"

"Eh. You didn't ask."

That Pony. He really is not at all interested in helping people.

Juno and I are currently taking a little break from each other. It's not me. It's her. She's a stinky mess. Maybe. I'm not going to check it out for a few days. She can lay in the sun and on her bed of cedar chips, and roll around in the grass for a while to dry-clean.

I'll take my chances with our lesser, cinnamon babka of a pet, the sturdy, course, shiny, not-so-bright Ann. She likes cat kibble too. And doesn't get so excited and foist herself on me.

Juno has been snacking from afar. And she doesn't seem to mind!