Monday, February 29, 2016

Val and The Pony Are a Synchronized Dream Team

Saturday dawned dark and early at 5:30 a.m. Hick had to work. Which meant he had to make sure Val couldn't sleep, like one who has worked so hard all these years to support him in the manner to which he is accustomed, deserves to sleep in.

Hick's phone alarm went off like the warning sirens at Kerr-McGee when Meryl Streep as Karen Silkwood passed her hands under the radiation detector. He leaves the gently clock radio alarm set to 4:50 for our weekday routine. Still, I thought I could go back to sleep. Which I managed, a few seconds before Hick plopped down on the bed to put on his socks. And just in case the mattress undulating like the California countryside when the big one hits didn't wake me, Hick poked me a couple times on the shoulder while he told me he was going to work.

I got up and took my medicine, tossed in a load of laundry, then went back to bed. Start the day at 6:00 a.m. when I don't have to go to work? That's crazy talk! I was snoozing peacefully soon enough. A whole 45 minutes more!

What a busy 45 minutes it was. I had a dream that I was sitting in a house unknown to me, and my grandma came in and sat down across from me, on a red couch. She was not my old grandma, but a younger version, in her 50s, it seems. Grandma tucked one leg up under her, and settled on the couch. She was cheerful and loving, telling me that I needed to take a couple things from her house. She wanted me to have them. I don't know what they were, but I know it was two things.

When she was living, we used to visit Grandma every Sunday evening at her house, and she tried to give me things. "Take a set of dishes. I have 27. Pick out a couple." And back then, I did. I took a set of red Depression Glass dishes, and another set of china that had a pattern and a forest green wide border. this dream, I didn't want anything. I told Grandma I was only waiting to use her shower. It seems I was just visiting for a few days. However, so were some strangers, and they were currently monopolizing the shower. Grandma said okay, and then she left.

Grandma's place in that dream was taken by my mom. She sat on the red couch, chatting about nothing, like we used to. I was still waiting for the shower, with some 11 or 12 people in business suits ahead of me. Mom said, "Oh, I need to pick up my car. I think I'll call [my favorite gambling aunt, her sister-in-law] to see if she can take me."

My dream voice said, "No, Mom. Don't bother her [her son has been very ill, and had surgery two weeks ago]. I'll take you. Just as soon as I get my shower. I'm going by there anyway, and I can drop you off." Dream Mom agreed. Then I woke up.

So interesting, to have a dream with both Mom and Grandma in it. I went to the kitchen to take the rest of my medicine. As I was standing at the counter, The Pony came in. Let the record show that The Pony rarely rises before 10:00 on a Saturday, and that only after I hound him to get out of bed. To see him at 7:15 was a surprise.

"Did you hear it too?"


"That noise. In the basement. It woke me up."


Let the record further show that my bedroom is at the south end of the homestead, the end by Hick's sheds, and the BARn field, over my office and Hick's basement workshop. The Pony's bedroom is at the northeast corner of the house, over the part of the basement with the pool table, slot machine, air hockey table, and pinball machine.

"I WAS opening the cabinet to get out my medicine. And earlier, I put in a load of laundry."

"No. This was a different noise. Like the slot machine. Not when somebody wins. Just the noise when you put in the tokens. And play."

Let the record even further show that this slot machine is a tabletop model we've had for 15 years, bought for me one Christmas by Hick, from a building-materials store. It lights up and makes a loud "DOINK" noise when the token goes in, and "BOING BOING BOING" sounds as the reels spin. We've tried forever to find a volume control, but there is none. Forget about watching TV or conversing while somebody is playing the slots.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. That's exactly what it sounded like."

"Huh. I was having a dream about my grandma right before I got up."

Let the record finally show that Grandma loved to play the slots, and went to the casino any time her son came to visit, or my gambling aunt took her. She carried around a purse full of cash should an opportunity arise. AND that Hick took my mom's car, now driven by him, to the shop last week and found out that the 4WD needs to be repaired.

Let the record post-scriptedly show that when we were watching TV on Saturday night, The Pony went over to the slot machine to put in a token and remind me of the noise he heard. He found the power cord dangling over the edge of the chest of drawers the slot machine sits on, not even plugged in to the outlet. The chest of drawers Hick bought for toddler Genius at a second-hand store. The chest of drawers we have come to consider haunted...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

It's a Good Thing This Isn't Sutter's Mill in 1849

Val's got her dander up again! I know, right? She's so even-keeled, that's kinda hard to believe. But wait until you get a load of THIS!

Yesterday, I stopped by the Voice of the Village, which has been under new management for a couple of years, and it actually an Orb K now, a totally different franchise. Once they stopped having their bargain 44 oz Diet Cokes, and their fountains no longer flowed with Hi C Pink Lemonade, I forsook them completely for the gas station chicken store. But I was feeling lucky yesterday, and popped in for some scratch-off tickets. Not so lucky as I felt, it turned out, what with only $15 in winnings on a $20 outlay. But that's not the story. That doesn't get my dander up. That's just water under the Throw Your Money Away Bridge.

So...I walked in and saw that only the register on the RIGHT side of the counter was open, the LEFT side having a little sign that said, "Next register, please." Okay. People need to take a pee break or a smoke break or scarf some free food for lunch. No big deal. It was just like Walmart, where you're always seventh in line.

Picture this waiting line at the RIGHT-side register:

Lady doing some complicated lottery or mini-liquor-bottle transaction, tying up the clerk.
Man waiting to pay for gas
Man waiting with junk food
Man waiting with fountain soda
Man waiting with bottled sodas

I was prepared to wait my turn. Nowhere to go in a hurry. I had stocked up with Super Nacho supplies and some Save A Lot beer brats for grilling today, mailed an MSTA teacher questionnaire about professional development, picked up lunch (chicken tenders) for The Pony at Hardees, and cashed in some scratch-off winners and obtained my 44 oz Diet Coke from the gas station chicken store. It was just now 12:30. So I had all day.

A spare clerk appeared at the left side register. "I can help whoever's next."

At that moment, the Complicated Lady completed her business and turned to leave.

The Gas Man had already crossed to the LEFT register.

The Junk Food Man stepped up to the RIGHT register as the Complicated Lady went out.

D*ckhead stayed in the RIGHT line, and turned to Fountain Soda Man behind him. "Go ahead, dude." D*ckhead was 2nd in line now, you see, so he chose to stay and wait on Junk Food Man to finish up in the RIGHT line.

Fountain Soda Man went to the LEFT line, to be 2nd in line there.

Bottled Soda Man was now 3rd in the RIGHT line, so he stayed put, rather than be 3rd on left.

Val stepped left, to be 3rd in line on the LEFT register.

The new clerk made great progress on the LEFT register.
Gas Man paid and went.
Fountain Soda Man got two scratchers and paid for his soda.
Val's turn.

SCREEEEEEECH! That's the ol' needle gouging the not-heaven out of the phonograph record.


Let the record show that the RIGHT register was now tied up with the Junk Food Man. After making his bed, D*ckhead chose not to lie in it, but rather to jump like Goldilocks (but contrary to popular opinion, NOT the entire 7th Fleet) into VAL'S bed!

I call shenanigans! D*ckhead had clearly made his choice to stay in the RIGHT line. The opportunity for line-jumping had passed. There were two distinct lines, ten feet apart. Orb K is NOT some bank lobby with velvet ropes, where the customers hang back until the next teller is open, and the one at the front of the ropes goes there.

Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, because Val is one wordy gal...I was shocked! Shocked at the audacity of D*ckhead, to rush over in front of me before I could take one step to the counter. He virtually elbowed Fountain Soda Man to push him on his way.

And do you know the worst part? None of the two or three customers who had come in since the opening of the second register, nor the relief clerk herself, SAID A WORD!

Yeah. Orb K is not your grandmother's convenience store. It does not cater to the genteel clientele (in halter tops, clamoring that two legs and two breasts are every guy's dream) who frequent the gas station chicken store.

I did not say a word, though the sound of my rolling eyeballs and snort of disbelief might have been heard round the world.

Val is re-examining her soda-and-gambling-needs options.

Not sure if Joe H is in my corner or not. If so, I could have used his crankiness to tell that guy off. He was a pretty big fellow, though.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Woman's Home is Her Lair

Val might just have to dust off THE SCREAM. No, not the Munch painting. What do you think this is, the Museum of Modern Art, circa 2013, and Val the charwoman? No, Val might have to dust off her getting-rid-of-nuisance-phone-callers technique. The technique abhorred by The Pony, mentioned here.

One night last week, the house phone rang at 9:08 p.m.

Sure, the caller ID on my dark basement lair desk phone said RESEARCH CENTER CALL. Normally, I would not bother to answer. No need to let them know this is an active number with a reachable resident. They never leave a message. So I let it ring until the machine picks up. But not at 9:08 p.m. Some of us get up at 4:50 a.m. Sure, I'm still awake at 9:08 p.m. But Hick, who gets up at 5:30 a.m., is not. So I grabbed the phone to stop its ringing, lest Hick jump out of bed and run around to my side to get the phone, thinking it was his alarm service for work.

"Hello. This is Jennifer. I'm calling with a survey for the Pew Research Center. Do you have time to answer a few questions?"


Then I hung up. How I wish for the old Bell System desktop dial phones, with the cradle for the receiver. Slamming the phone down used to be SO satisfying. As it were, I jabbed the OFF button of my Panasonic aggressively.

Yeah. I really wanted to let fly with a blood-curdling scream. It's not like Hick would have heard it from the bedroom above my office, with his breather blowing and his head under the quilt. But he WOULD have heard the phone. He has jumped up to answer it before. Just like he has ignored my pleas for help. Or maybe he was playin' possum when it came to my requests.

There oughta be a law about those survey calls. Same as telemarketers.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday #3

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to entice you to buy my fake book. I don't know what you're looking for in fake books these days. But I can guarantee you that my fake book will surely stand out as one of the fakest of fake books.

This week, the story virtually wrote itself. I was driving to work in T-Hoe, listening to the 70s on Sirius XM, when the urge struck. The minute I got to school, I popped in my flash drive and typed it up. VOILA! Another fake book from Val. Enjoy.

Mild: From Lost to Found in the Hall of the Mountain Kings

Sal Thethicktorian sets out with her landlady, Lillith Findstrom, on a trek through the Pyrenees, in a quest to find themselves. What they find is much, much more than either had bargained for. 

Out strolling on a very hot summer day, they remove their backpacks and wineskins, and lie down to rest in a field of tall grass. That’s when things grow cloudy.

Sal dreams that she’s an overfed long-haired leaping gnome, starring in a Hollywood movie. She and Lillith trek on, sipping wine from the goatskins. Before dusk, they stumble into the Hall of the Mountain Kings. 

What will Sal and Lillith find? Will they spill the wine? Dig up that girl? IS it just a dream?

Read how Sal and Lillith get lost, and what they find. (129 words)


Fake Reviews for My Fake Book:

Eric Burdon..."Val's book literally SINGS with well-crafted prose. If you don't fake-buy it, this means WAR!"

Farz Findstrom..."This book makes me want to move out of our three-story Victorian home in Minneapolis, leave my overbearing wife Lillith, chuck the whole dermatologist career, and devote my life to writing tales one-tenth as good as Mild."

Pony Thevictorian..."Nay! Not my style. I don't care about what happens to Sal or Lillith. In fact, I don't care about people at all. But I heartily recommend this book, because my mom wrote it"

Anonymous..."All I have to say is: 'Fake-buy this book!' If my name is mentioned even one time in it, I'd better get at least half of the fake-proceeds."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat, nor Bad Handwriting...

The Pony has been nominated for a special award. No, it's not a leg lamp, like that special award in A Christmas Story. In fact, there's no tangible reward that comes with it, other than a trip to the White House to meet the President. It's an honor just to be nominated, though. Only two students from Southeast Missouri were on the list. And he realizes that earning the award will be tough. Only about 3 students are chosen per state.

Because it is a government program, there are many hoops through which The Pony needs to jump. Much paperwork to be submitted. Some of it can be done online. But an official transcript had to be mailed. An official transcript, put in a sealed envelope by the school counselor, the envelope then signed across the flap and taped shut.

There was an issue with a code for The Pony's high school. The counselor called the office in Minnesota that receives the paperwork. Numerous times. She was told the error was on her end, when clearly it was not. After a week and a half, that part got straightened out. The Pony's recommendations from several faculty and staff could then be submitted online. Oh. Did I mention that the deadline for all materials was TODAY?

So imagine my consternation when, Friday after school, the counselor came to my room bearing the envelope with the transcript. "This needs to be in Minnesota by Thursday. If I mail it here, it will go out with the district mail Monday afternoon. I think it needs to be FedExed or sent Priority Mail. I can't do that for you. But if you're willing to do it..."

"How am I supposed to know how to FedEx a letter?"

"Maybe the post office will do it for you."

[Um. Aren't they competitors? I'm pretty sure the USPS doesn't do FedEx business.]

"Well, I can send it Priority Mail. We go by the post office all the time to rush stuff to Genius. Sure. I'll take it."

The Pony came in a few minutes later. "Pony. We need to leave in a couple of minutes, to get this to the post office. Your counselor dropped it off and said it won't go out until Monday afternoon if she does it."

"Yeah. No. It has to be there by Thursday. Let me see. WAIT! It's supposed to have her signature across the flap!"

"Go now! You know she leaves early. See if you can catch her!" The Pony ran like the wind. He returned five minutes later.

"Got her. That was close."

I gathered up my stuff and started to panic when I didn't see the envelope. Whoops! The Pony had it on the desk where he was sitting. We rushed out of there to the post office. Not the dead-mouse-smelling post office. The main branch, which was closer, and closes at 4:30 instead of 4:00.

"I'll just have to send it Priority Mail. Will there be someone there who can sign for it?"

"I don't know. The FAQs said that Priority Mail doesn't have a guaranteed delivery date. And they recommend using a courier service."

"That may be, but all we have here available is Priority Mail. I'll do the best I can when I ask them."

I rushed into the post office. There were no other customers inside! I pushed the letter across the counter. "I need this to get there by Wednesday at the latest. Earlier if you can."

"Let me see your options." He was a stocky guy. Not real neat. Kind of like the Columbo of the USPS. "You can get it there Monday for $22.95."

"Okay. That sounds good."

Postal Columbo pushed a form across the counter to me. "You need to fill this out."

"Oh. I didn't bring in my glasses. I'll just take it out to the car and fill it out, then bring it back in." I eyed the letter laying on his scale. I didn't want it out of my sight.

"Tell you what. I'll do you a favor. Since there's nobody in line now, and there might be later, I'll fill this out for you."

I don't know if he was afraid of losing $22.95 in business, or if he thought he was being helpful, or if he was putting the moves on ol' Val Thevictorian, who does not wear her wedding ring. He started writing on that form. Copying the return address, and the going-to address.

SWEET PAPPY JOHNSON WITH AN ERECTION! (to steal a phrase from Ray Romano on an old SNL)

The writing of Postal Columbo was worse than Hick's! Worse than The Pony's! Worse than Joe H's wife's grocery list script! I wanted to jump over the counter and grab that letter and run for T-Hoe and try to make it to the dead-mouse-smelling post office on time! Then the situation escalated. Postal Columbo was making small talk! While copying very important numbers in the address!

"I used to work down in Middle Of Nowhere, MO. You wouldn't believe how many old people I filled out forms for. This one old guy told me he forgot his glasses. So I started filling it out, and he said, 'Wait a minute. You put two Ts in there, and it only has one.' And I thought, 'Oh, you forgot your glasses, did you? You seem to be seeing all right now.' Heh, heh. I filled out a lot of stuff for little old grandmas. One guy didn't even know the address he wanted to send it to. 'It's the last house on the street. I forget the name.' It was crazy there."

My blood pressure was shooting up like that metal thing a would-be strong man hits with a mallet at a carnival. I held my tongue. Didn't want to slow him down. THEN the last straw fell onto my very last nerve. He peeled that label apart, slapped the top part on one of those big cardboard Priority Mail envelopes, put the letter inside, sealed it, handed me the bottom part of the label, plus a receipt, and said

"Bring those back if your package doesn't arrive on Monday, and you can get your money back."


Thank goodness I had not gone the cheaper route and asked for it to arrive on Wednesday. Or THURSDAY!

I was shaking when I got to the car. "Pony. He says it should be there Monday. But then he told me to bring back the receipt for a refund if it doesn't arrive!"

"That's okay, Mom. It should at least make it by Thursday."

Let the record show that the tracking number website informed me that the package arrived Monday at 8:56 a.m.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mrs. Thevictorian Teaches You a Lesson

Remember way back last November, when I shared the tale of our parking lot resurfacing at work? How I had erroneously assumed that our whole parking lot was getting a fresh coat of blacktop, and all we got was crumbly asphalt (and I use that term loosely, because it sure had the color of dirt in some places) poured into cracks and not even tamped down?

You may also recall how we had a snow day last week, on The Pony's birthday. A snow day that left plowed snow piled up along the end of that parking lot. So when we pulled in to park on Tuesday morning, I told The Pony, "Looks like they got almost as much snow here as we had at home. There's proof. They plowed the lot."

"I know," said The Pony. Dryly. "I can see chunks of the patch job in it. And look," he said as he stepped off the running board. "The cracks are empty."

Indeed, they were. And they will soon be deeper, what with nothing inside them, except for melted snow and rainwater to fill them and expand while freezing overnight.

Two days later, all the snow along the end of the parking lot had melted. Those chunks of never-congealed blacktop lay in an irregular row along the edge of the pavement where the snow had been, like till left behind by a glacier.

No charge for the science lesson. Val was feeling especially teachery this evening.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I PROBABLY Would Not Be Convicted By a Jury of My Peers

I met my old brother-in-law the ex-mayor on the street last night. Okay. I actually met him on the school parking lot last week. The reason was purely money. Cash money.

As you may recall (I had to write that SO many times in my shorthand class, for which I won an award, though it seems to be a dead art now), I haggled with a local bank on one of my snow days for the privilege of getting back my own money. Technically, half my money. More technically, the money that was my mom’s, which she left to me and my sister the ex-mayor’s wife.

Sis has been tied up at the hospital. Not literally tied up (how great would THAT be!), but figuratively tied up, what with caring for my niece’s 2-year-old daughter, Babe, who has now been in the hospital for two weeks with a tube in her lung for pneumonia. Babe is out of the woods, and Sis sent me a text asking about when I could give her the money.

“We leave early for the hospital, and get home late. I can meet you before school if that’s convenient. Maybe Thursday or Friday.” 

“Either day is fine with me. I’ve been carrying that money around in my purse like Grandma at the casino.” Let the record show that our dad’s mom was noted for carrying a couple thousand dollars around with her at all times. Just in case. Must be that Great Depression mentality. 

“That’s dangerous! One of those high school kids could have stolen that money out of your purse!” 

“Well, it’s not MY money…” That’s what I wanted to text her. But I didn’t. We have not had a theft at our building for nigh on 15 years. Which speaks to the integrity of the student body. Or, perhaps, the camera surveillance system. What I really told her was that I had the money ready, whenever it was good for her to pick it up. She only lives five minutes from my work. 

“The ex-mayor might be alone to pick it up. I’ve had trouble getting ready on time in the mornings.”

So…The Pony and I pulled into our parking spot, way down at the very end of the building (my choice, since faculty parking spots are not assigned) to wait for the ex-mayor. He was there within a few minutes. 

“You can go on in, Pony. I’ll give him the money.” 

“Okay…but this looks like a drug deal.” 

That Pony! Sometimes, he pretends to be worldly.

Let the record show that I provided the ex-mayor with a copy of the bank form showing how much cash they forked over to me, and that I included the 33 cents in interest in the envelope with the money. 

Carrying a purse containing $1750 around a high school is safer than Sis finding out I kept an extra penny of her inheritance.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Karma Don't Play Favorites

It is no secret that The Pony competes on the scholar bowl team. They are fairly competitive within the conference, and have more successes than not. Last Thursday, they finally had a home match, and I was there to root him on. Well. As much as one can root for a scholar in a team competition in a library.

The Pony's team played a school they had not yet seen this year, what with snow days wiping out two meets so far. The game was neck and neck, with US beating them by two or three questions right up until the fourth quarter. We had fallen behind by one question when the controversy occurred. One of US, not The Pony, gave the answer concerning a mathematician. He pronounced it as "Yooler."

"No," said the official question-reader, who happened to be from our school, as are all officials at all home meets. "That is incorrect. It is "Ooler."

Well. Heads swiveled. The team looked at each other. They turned to look at their coach. I looked at their coach. "Spell it." Said the question-answerer.

"E-u-l-e-r. Ooler. It says right here on the answers." Said the official question-reader.

"That's it. But our teacher always says it 'Yooler.'" Said others of the team of US.

"Count it how you think it should be counted," said the coach of US. Who also happens to be school principal.

"Um. Our teacher says 'Yooler,' too." Said the captain of THEM.

"Well. I'll count that as correct." Said the official question-reader.

That score put the teams at a tie, with only three questions (plus applicable bonuses) remaining in the match. Which was won by THEM, by one question.

Which just goes to show, I told a slightly-depressed Pony, that Karma looks out for those who do the right thing.

Let the record show that after the match, the official question-reader looked it up online, and announced that the pronunciation is actually "Oiler."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Acceptance of a Good Deed Does Not Go Unpunished

Wednesday I had to dash in Save A Lot after school. I was running low on Val's Super Nacho supplies. On the list were shredded lettuce, sliced black olives, queso dip, and salsa. Along with ketchup (one of The Pony’s four main food groups) and spicy brown mustard, and a case of bottled water for school..

I found a great parking spot right next to the handicapped slot. As I entered the automatic door, headed for the cart corral, a checkout lady pushed a cart in front of me. “Here you go.”

“Oh, thank you!”

Yes. I was thankful that she saved me three steps. Even though she was most likely pushing it to the cart corral, and saved herself three steps. Yes. I was thankful. Until I pushed that cart three steps. Thump-a-lump-a-thump! It was one of those flat-tire carts! The kind that have part of the rubber gone from a wheel. Well. What a fine kettle of fish that was. I did not want to appear ungrateful. I thumped along past the bananas, on my way to the shredded lettuce.

AND A GRUNGY BACKWOODS-LOOKING GUY DARTED AHEAD OF ME! He stood looking at the lettuce. For five minutes. Then he grabbed a head and headed out. Back towards the front door. I’m guessing he actually went through a register from the wrong end. He did not look like the lettuce type. Perhaps he was going to use it to sight in his gun.

I picked up my shredded lettuce, and turned down the first aisle. Thump-a-lump-a-thump. A heavy sigh escaped me, just as I was passing by a cart in the middle of the aisle where a stockboy was stocking cheese.

“Oh. I’m sorry. Let me move that for you.”

“No. It’s no problem. I seem to have a flat tire, heh, heh.”

“I can go to the front and get you another cart.”

“Oh, no! You don’t have to do that! The lady up front gave me this one, and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”

“It’s no problem. Let me go get you one.”

“No, no. That’s okay. But thank you!”

Darn. Those Save A Lot people are all about customer service.

I picked up seven cans of sliced black olives. They stack easily in my pantry. The little 2.26 oz cans. No need to take a chance on running out. Then I grabbed a bottle of ketchup, and the spicy brown mustard. On to the bottled water in a display up front. Thump-a-lump-a-thump.

Well. Apparently, a new shipment of water had come in. The plastic-wrapped cases were stacked as high as the corn in Iowa. Or at least as high as Val Thevictorian’s eye. Even though it was kind of like a rectangular pyramid, I could not drag a case out from a lower row. I’m not really good at Jenga. I’m not really good at dragging a heavy case of water encased in plastic, at eye level, across other cases of water encased in plastic, either. There’s a friction issue. I wrestled that water for as long as that lettuce-shooter pondered over his selection. Almost threw out my back. It’s a pity The Pony wasn’t with me to help.

I picked up some name brand queso, but left it on the shelf by the Save A Lot brand that I took instead. It’s the least I can do, right, with those employees being so helpful… I got the mild salsa instead of medium, which made my stomach kind of burny after Val’s Super Nachos.

On to the checkout, where the short, curly-headed, plump, not-so-old old checker who gave me the cart was stationed. I put my soon-to-be purchases on the conveyor, pointed to my case of water in the cart, and moved it around for her to put my imminent purchases in. Chubby Checker started scanning. She got to my sliced black olives.

“Oh, you must like olives.”

Seriously? Like I was going to go home and eat all seven small cans of sliced black olives as a treat? Or maybe grab that can opener that I stash under T-Hoe’s driver’s seat, (or squeeze them open like Popeye), and start eating them on the way home. As if I couldn’t just buy a large can of whole black olives if I like olives so much. I swear. Checkers these days are entirely too friendly. What’s next?

“Oh, I see you have a burning itchy rectum.” Tosses Preparation H into the cart.

“Oh, I see you crap yourself.” Tosses Depends into the cart.

“Oh, I see you have stinky armpits.” Tosses Lady Speed Stick into the cart.

"Oh. I see you are a hairy Sasquatch." Tosses Schick Women's Razor into cart.

"Oh. I see you are married to Hick." Tosses pack of hot dogs into cart. 

Mind your business, woman! We stopped being buddies when you gave me the flat-tire cart.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday #2

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to entice you to buy my fake book. Save your change. Give up those dirty-water cocktails, those trips to the $1 movie theater, those hobby supplies. Drink leftover water, watch broadcast TV, paint with berry juice. You know you can scrape up enough money to fake-buy Val's fake book.

Blue How Are Ya

Sal Thethicktorian's boss, Goo Rant, appreciating Sal's derring-do, while at the same time hating her spunk, gives her a 55-year-old cold case. Missing person. No body. No suspect.

While Goo props up his feet and pours a double shot of desk-whiskey, lamenting that he will not be invited to one of Sal's dinner parties to enjoy three servings of Veal Prince Orloff this week...Sal jets off to Hawaii to track down some leads.

Sal discovers that Diala Moveall was last seen in the company of Pelvis Messily, an army veteran known for bursting into song, who couldn't help falling in love with her. Rumor has it that Pelvis was called for active duty on the day he planned to propose to Diala at the blue cottage at the end of the island.

Is nursing-home-bound Pelvis only pretending to have Alzheimer's? What will Sal find at the cottage? (147 words)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Winners Keepers, Readers Weepers

Val had a bit of good fortune on the lottery last weekend. She scratched a winner more winning than her usual wins. Because Val’s a giver, she [WAIT! YOU DON’T THINK VAL IS SHARING THE MONEY, DO YOU?] wanted to share the news with Genius. The son she sends a couple of tickets to each week, who was thrilled to win $50 on a five-dollar ticket on his birthday.

Lunch time at work rolled around at 10:53, and after it was over, Val took a portion of her plan time to text her boy Genius.

“Read it and weep. It’s from last weekend.” (I even taught myself how to text a photo taken with my phone!)

“$300? Can’t quite see it.”

“Yes. 10X, with a $30 prize.”

“Fancy. Are you ever going back to school?

“Of course, my Golden Ticket cost me $30... I AM in school, sonny. Some people work for a living. Not just M-W-F.”

“I am also working!”

(Let the record show that Genius is doing his co-op this semester. Which means he is getting real life 40-hour-week work experience for pay, but is still counted as a continuously-enrolled student, and keeps his scholarships for future semesters, while being able to work 6-9 months rather than just a 3-month summer internship. He drives 90 minutes to the city three days a week, and works from home two days.)

“At work, or at home?”

“Home. Today was direct deposit day. So I’m no longer a pauper.”

“Now you can buy a Golden Ticket.”

“Or I could not.”

“Unless, of course, you’d rather spend that money on alcohol, and piss it away in THAT manner.”

“How vulgar. I’m cutting back on alcohol. Because it turns out it’s rather expensive.”

“Glad you’re learning the value of a beer. Now I must get back to working, on site, at my full time job, which I will have for 63 62 more working days.”

There was no further response. So either Genius got back to working from home, or ran out to buy a lottery ticket, or poured a stiff drink.

I told The Pony how I sent a picture in a text, and that Genius said he couldn’t see how much I won.

“He couldn’t read the numbers through his own tears. You DID tell him to read it and weep.”

Let the record show that The Pony bought his first lottery ticket later that afternoon, as he paid for my gas. I gave him $10 of birthday money for it. Even though he was negotiating for $30.

Let the record further show that his ticket was a loser. And that The Pony did not weep.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Val, Hick, and The Pony…Starring in "Noon to 2:00"

I’m sure you remember how, in the movie 9 to 5, Lily Tomlin as Violet Newstead says to the human resources guy about Jane Fonda as new employee Judy Bernly, “We’re gonna need a special locker for the hat.” Well, that reminds me of a Hick story this week.

On Monday, Hick asked The Pony to help him move something out of his truck and into the BARn. Not so much asked, as commanded, while The Pony was out in his Ford Ranger driving Hick around to look for special Coke bottles for his collection. Of course that did not sit well with The Pony, who is not the kind to defy his parental units in the manner of Genius. With The Pony, it’s more of a heavy sigh, and an “Okay.” Like all the air has gone out of him. Like he’s a deflated innertube, floating down Sad Sack Creek. Which does not sit well with Hick, who expects all minions in his sphere of influence to joyfully proclaim their excitement at the prospect of helping him.

I saw the aftermath as they walked from the BARn field, where the Ford Ranger now resides, having been evicted from its sweet spot out by the garage, for the new carport to cover Hick’s current auto (my mom’s Chevy TrailBlazer) and his precious 1980 Olds Toronado under a cover, having been removed from the freight container because the plastic dome light started to grow mold. The Pony, walking behind, had a look on his face as if the impending apopadopalyspe Hick speaks of was on his heels. He is a gentle soul, upset by conflict. Hick is the sort, like Genius, who does not withhold his opinions.

Because he is a testy creature (heh, heh, I said testy), Hick stormed off with the comment that he didn’t need The Pony’s help right now. That it would be a while. After an hour, with two unanswered texts, I sent The Pony to see if Hick was ready yet. “Just in case he did it himself, and severed an artery or something.”

Hick DID do it himself. No severed artery. Just a bad case of pout-itis.

When he decided he wasn’t pouting anymore, and came back to the house, I asked Hick what it was he needed help with.

“A window that I bought at the auction.”

“A window so big that you needed help getting it out of the truck?”

“It’s a big window. It’s probably worth a hundred and fifty dollars. And I got it for three dollars!”

“What are you going to do with a window?”

“Nothing special. I build a lot of stuff. I’m sure I can use it in something.”

We’re gonna need a special shed for the window.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hick Transgression Number 21,658

Okay. So here's the deal. The man who eats six-week-old bologna and expired hot dogs out of Frig II, and tells Genius there's nothing wrong with 24-hour pizza left out all night and a bug up his butt about the deer chili.

On Saturday morning, I stewed up a pot of deer chili for Hick, per his request, using a pound of deer burger that his buddy, Buddy, gave him the week before. He put it in the freezer as soon as he brought it home, and I thawed it in the skillet as I browned it for the chili.

Hick was having a three-hour haircut Saturday morning when I made his chili. I put in less beans than meat, because that's how he likes it. Some diced tomatoes. The chili mix. And I added a quarter pound of bacon, because deer is very lean. I chopped an onion and sweated it. Added dashes of Worcestershire, steak sauce, Heinz 57, ketchup, mustard, minced garlic, BBQ sauce, sweet banana pepper juice...just about everything from the door of Frig II. That chili was ready at 11:00 a.m.

Shorn Hick returned. I told him his chili was ready, and he said he was going down to his creekside cabin, and he'd have a bowl a little later, for lunch. He came back as The Pony and I were leaving to do our Walmart shopping ahead of Sunday's snowstorm. I caught him rummaging around in Frig II.

"What are you doing?"

"Looking for room to put that chili when I'm done."

"It will be fine until supper. I leave it on the stove all the time. There's no reason to put that giant pot in the fridge. I plan to put it in those Chinese soup containers. That's what I always do."

We left Hick to his own devices. He didn't even have to warm the chili. It was still hot. I thought everything was fine. Under control. Until I returned from our shopping trip and saw that Hick had not only put away the deer chili, but that he had used a GOOD container. Not that it's Tupperware or anything. But it BURPS! And it has a real lid. And it's part of a set. Do you know how chili stains fake Tupperware?

Thevictorian family's good fake Tupperware:

Chinese soup container like Hick was told to use:

They're not all that easy to confuse. I'm sure even Hick has no memory of bringing home hot & sour soup in a fake Tupperware container. So I asked him,

"What do you think you're doing? I told you to leave out the chili. And that I was going to put it in the Chinese soup containers. WHY DID YOU USE MY GOOD CONTAINER?"

"Val. It doesn't make any difference."

"Yes it does! Chili stains the containers. I've told you that before!"

"Val. All you have to do is set it out in the sun, and it will fade the stain."

"I told YOU that! Do you see any sun NOW?"

"No. It's starting to snow. But you can do it later. When there's sun."

"The cats always knock them off the porch!"

"It'll be fine."

"Why did you even put it away? Everything else you leave out. And you eat six-week-old bologna and expired hot dogs! Why would you put away the chili you're going to have for supper in a few hours?"

"I just thought I should."

"Why didn't you use the soup containers?"

"Well...I couldn't find the lids."

"The lids are where they've always been! For 18 years!"

I swear. That man is headed down the crooked road to using a potato brush to scrub dishes! Wait! Who are we kidding? Hick is not about to scrub a dish.