Friday, September 30, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #28 "The Talus Man"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week, we trip the thick fantastic with a shipboard romance! A new genre for Val's fake writing, if you don't count that SPAM attempt a couple weeks ago. I still got your fake money, though! And I laughed all the way to the fake bank. Which we all know is a moldy tube sock buried beside the septic tank in Val's back yard.

For your reading pleasure, let the record show that the TALUS is a bone in the ankle, between the leg bones (tibia and fibula) and the heel bone (calcaneous). Just sayin'. 'Cause I have all that sciency anatomical knowledge. And you really don't want to consult your conceited friend Google for an image that might include a splayed-open human foot...

The Talus Man

When it comes to women, Fritz definitely has a type: women with cankles. Not for him, those dainty ankles in stiletto heels. He'll take a thick-legged woman in sensible shoes any day. And he has. His job as Ship's Podiatrist on The Lust Boat provides easy hunting for such quarry.

Women love a man in uniform. Especially women who are best friends of good-looking women with dainty ankles in stiletto heels. It doesn't matter to them whether the potential suitor's eyes rise above bosom level. Or the level of the talus.

Jo falls into Fritz's lap when she turns a cankle playing shuffleboard on the promenade deck. Fritz eagerly volunteers to escort her to her cabin. Jo has no curves in all the right places. Namely, between ankle and calf. Will Jo be walking funny the next morning? Will Fritz notice the hint of a mustache on her upper lip? (150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Hillary Clinton…"At last, a fake book I can endorse! Free the cankle! Years ago, I would have killed to find a fake book like this on the shelves! If this thing takes off, I fear that my tailors will go out of business. They can get jobs bearing Val Thevictorian on a litter, down the street ahead of me on January 20th."

Donald TrumpI have nothing bad to say about a cankle-filled romance. As long as Thevictorian's fake book isn't about a foreign slob with a fat ugly face eating like a pig, I'll endorse it. I'll buy a couple of fake freight-cars full and fake-give them away to my adoring crowd on January 20th.” 

Kathy Bates, having flashbacks to her role in Misery…”A whole fake book based on the premise of cankle-love? Does Thevictorian have cankles? I can fix that for her...”

Kerri Strug, reminiscing about the 1996 Olympics U.S. Gold Medal in gymnastics…”Now that I am not training 23 hours a day, I have time to catch up on my fake reading. This fake book took me back. If only I'd had sturdy cankles, my vault landing would not have been so spectacular, and the Russians might have edged us out for the gold, and Chris Kattan would have had one less character on SNL. Thevictorian makes me think of a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil.” 

Oprah…”I am leery of adding new authors to my old-school book club, after that Franzen debacle, but I'll put Thevictorian on it. This fake book had better not be an embarrassment for my brand, though. Or I'll pull a million little pieces of Val Thevictorian around the stage in a shiny red wagon. Even if I have to get a new show to have the exposure."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Another Spill Not-Quite Avoided

I certainly hope my recent spate of miscues has ended by Saturday, when Genius and a friend are coming to go to the casino. I had promised him and a buddy a trip there over the summer, but as Missouri gal Sheryl Crow sang in "Diamond Road," life is what happens while you're making plans.

You know how when you have just put on a clean shirt fresh from the laundry room, and go outside to PULL YOUR TRASH DUMPSTER TO THE END OF THE LONG DRIVEWAY, and your half-heeler, half-dachshund, half-grown puppy jumps up and puts his feet on the bottom of it, his feet fresh from a dip in his swimming plastic-cat-litter-box tub and a trip across the front yard what he's dug down to the bedrock trying to catch a mole? Don't you hate it when that happens?

Or when you drive to town for your 44 oz Diet Coke and the parking lot of your gas station chicken store is so crowded that you backtrack to get your magical elixir at Orb K, only the spigot there gives off clear fluid, so you go back to your gas station chicken store and get your soda, but get your T-Hoe blocked in by a two trucks pulling two trailers? Don't you hate it when that happens?

And how about when go to your basement mini fridge to take out your packet of knee ice that you just made fresh yesterday, even double-bagging it to guard against leaks, and it catches on an older packet of leaky knee ice and slips out of your hand and crashes onto the tile floor, and you sit down with your lunch at 2:30 with your 44 oz Diet Coke, with your knee ice on your sore joints, and then feel a trickle down the shin of your right leg? Don't you hate it when that happens?

Lucky for me, I had a spare sandwich bag on hand for just such a calamity. Though I DID have to take the ice out and re-bag it, since the other two were leaking like a sieve in a downpour. In fact, the corners were pouring water with only gravity's pull. I tried to catch as much as I could in the new bag, but water goes where water (and gravity) want it to go. Good thing I still had a paper towel laying around after the Great 44 oz Diet Coke Spill of '16.

I'm sure my luck will turn. It's EVEN Steven. Not Murphy Steven.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

In the Fall, a Young Man's Fancy Urgently Turns to Thoughts of Future Employment

BEEP! BEEP! Make way for the Braggin' Wagon!

It's that time of year when Genius attends the college career fair to check out summer internships. So far, he worked his first summer for a St. Louis design firm at $20/hour, where he rented his first ever apartment in the basement of a young couple's house, sacrificing the last slice of his Totino's pizza to their beautiful, though hungry, Husky.

The second summer saw him at Garmin, making a dollar more an hour, which earned him out-of-state wages from Kansas, mattering more to his tax accountant Val than to him, where he was given free housing in a fairly classy (for Kansas) apartment complex.

The third summer, he was working for the St. Louis design firm again, since he had taken off the spring semester for his co-op with them, which is basically paid work experience. Many of the engineering students do that, which means they still have a semester of classes left to take. Still, Genius was earning (and saving, so he says) money from January through June, and then hit the road with his solar car team.

This will be his fourth summer coming up. He will have a semester left, and be able to graduate next December, even though he thinks he would rather wait until May and take some more classes. Wouldn't YOU, if you had that opportunity? Anyhoo...Genius is shopping around to see where he wants to work this summer.

He talked to the recruiters on Tuesday at the career fair. Genius says he would like to try something different, both to see how he likes it, and for the look of his resume. In the running are his old St. Louis employer, who gives him real work on real projects; Garmin, who invited him back after his first stint there; Union Pacific, his prime interest, because they do computer engineering stuff that he loves; and a major car manufacturing company which won't be named, though it is one of the big two.

The CarMan group invited him and 199 others to a dinner and presentation Tuesday night, and another presentation tonight. Genius was a bit disappointed that most of his fellow attendees were mechanical, structural, and metallurgical engineers, and project managers. He's not sure that the CarMan group has available what he wants to do, and he was a bit turned off by parts of the presentation. He would never complain publicly about such thing, but voiced his concerns to me. And you KNOW that Val is no stranger to complaining. He still has an interview scheduled with them tomorrow, but they have fallen out of his top choices at this point.

Genius also talked to Garmin at the career fair. In fact, he told the rep that CarMan group was taking him out to dinner, so they scheduled an interview the same night. It was a formal interview, suit and tie, with 30 minutes for the Human Resources department, and 30 minutes for the technical people. About halfway through the tech part, the recruiter said, "Oh! YOU'RE the Genius I've been hearing about for three weeks! Your old manager knew I was coming here for recruiting season, and wants to know if you're available to come back." (Let the record show that Genius did not talk to Garmin last year, because he already has his co-op offer in place.) The recruiter basically said he would have a chance to choose whatever department he wanted. He's thinking he might go back to the same manager in the marine division (radar/fish trackers/media), or possibly something in the automotive division. They will send out formal offers around the middle of October.

Genius is also very interested in Union Pacific, which would require him to go to Omaha, Nebraska. He likes their facilities, and the kind of work he would be involved in. Their schedule is a little different timetable, and they may not have a job available for what he wants to do, BUT a sign of encouragement is that their recruiter, who is not doing interviews until the middle of October, gave him her card on Tuesday, and said, "If you're pushed on another offer, CALL ME and we'll set something up." She saw on his resume that he'd worked for Garmin before, and said, "Garmin steals a lot of our good engineers."

Genius is now still interviewing, waiting for concrete offers, and looking ahead to a permanent job after graduation. Placement rates run at 70-80% full-time hires after internships with Garmin, Union Pacific, and the CarMan group.

Oh, to be young and in demand.

Oh, to have a child accept gainful employment and go off one's health insurance!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Gee, Your Soup Tastes Terrific

If I was a working woman (which I'm not), wearing away my nose on the grindstone of public education...I'd be checking the forecast for snow about five times a day. I only looked once. That's because last night, the temperature dipped to 49 degrees here at the homestead. I knew cooler days were on the way, because every few days I sneak a peek at the long-range forecast. Long for me. Ten days ahead.

Because of the impending cool snap, I bought some vegetable beef soup mix last week. You don't think Val would make soup totally from scratch, do you? Hick is lucky he doesn't have me cutting open a can of Campbell's Chunky. At least I wouldn't have to use a pocket knife like a hobo. While it's true that I don't have an electric can opener, I DO have one of those lever/wedge/wheel-and-axle manual kinds (always the ex-science teacher, promoting the simple machines--sorry about that, screw/pulley/inclined plane, your time will come) that works just as well, providing you don't have an undiagnosed case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

I browned some Save A Lot hamburger while waiting for the eight cups of water to come to a rolling boil, more for the flavor than to avoid watching the pot. I opened up some cans of small whole potatoes for dicing (since we don't have real ones because without The Pony desiring them baked, they go rotten too fast), sliced carrots, green beans, diced tomatoes (the last real ones I had, on the stem, kept really well, but when sliced open the seeds were about an inch long and creepy so I threw them out). I drained the fluid from all but the diced tomatoes. By that time, the water roiled, and I whisked in my soup mix. Then I added the hamburger (after sopping up the grease with 3 slices of stale Nutty Oat bread as it cooked, for the dogs' nightly treat), and chopped a white onion (without losing any partial-thumbs) and sweated it to add later. In went the canned veggies, along with three packets of Splenda, and varying sized dashes of Heinz 57 Sauce, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, ketchup, and minced garlic. A few grinds of black pepper from the grinder that my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel gave me a while back (not the original pepper), and my sweaty onions were ready to join the pot.

Whoopsie! I just remembered! I forgot the yellow mustard dash this time. But that's okay! Because this soup was perfect the first time I tasted it! That doesn't always happen. The soup was done by noon, but I resisted except for tasting the juice. At 4:15 I put it on the stove to warm up, and went out to take a short walk while the dogs fought for my attention. I love this time of year! Even though the wish for snow seems pointless now, I can wish it for my cronies who still toil in the trenches of academia.

I was planning to make Hick some garlic cheese bread to go with the soup, even though he had some the past two nights with his spaghetti and the leftovers. Hick said he was fine without it, but he would take some canned biscuits that were only two weeks past the expiration date, having languished in Frig II since The Pony left before we had time to cook them. Gotta watch out for those canned biscuits. They were instrumental in the downfall of the original Frig.

I called Hick to the kitchen so he could heap his pile of soup himself. He doesn't cotton to the juice, you know. Which I found out when he put a whole beef roast in his bowl, piled twice as high as the rim. He only gets hamburger in it now, which is harder to build with because of its rounded edges. Can you believe that Hick didn't believe me about the biscuits having the butter already baked in? I suppose I should have left out the label. Or showed him the dough before I slid the pan in the oven. He actually tore one apart and said, "So you say there's butter in here?"

That soup was great, if I do say so myself. I guess it's kind of like patting myself on the back for a boxed-mix cake, but it DID take me an hour to assemble.

Sure wish I could have had one of those biscuits.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Tale of Two Subways

It was the best of sandwiches, it was the worst of sandwiches, it was the age of retirement, it was the age of first-jobbiness, it was the epoch of baby boomers, it was the epoch of millennials, it was the season of great expectations, it was the season of work-on-a-Monday, it was the lunch of hope, it was the lunch of get-out-of-here-I-was-gossiping-in-the-back, it was the beginning of autumn, it was the first day of the rest of your life; I had a sandwich.

Oh, dear. Kids these days just don't have the same work ethic as the oldsters. Sorry to break that news to you. I'm sure you hadn't noticed. Today's lunch just reminded me of this phenomenon.

I  ran to town (not for my 44 oz Diet Coke, that was just a happy side trip) to deposit the OU refund check for The Pony's first semester into his college savings credit union account. He's actually making money his first semester at an out-of-state university. Can't beat that with a stick! We don't expect it in future years, because housing is only paid for freshman year. But it's nice while you can get it. Anyhoo...I went in Walmart for a couple of crucial items I didn't get Friday when I did the shopping. Namely, Sno*Caps, which they were out of then, and my new favorite fast food: Great Value Salisbury Steak Frozen Dinner.

I am sure you all shudder at Val's dietary habits. But her choices over the past six months have led to significant shrinkage. And NOT the cold water frightened turtle kind. So I stopped by the in-store Subway after my shopping. It's not like I ordered the foot-long tuna salad, one of my favorites. I haven't enjoyed that repast in quite some time. Wise choices, people. (With the exception of picking up lunch from Subway.) I had the roasted chicken on wheat, with spicy mustard, tomato, pickles, and onion.

Is it just me, or does roasted mean something different to us than it does to Subway? Because I imagine a fowl fresh from the oven, perhaps with crackly skin, meat that is moist and tasty. Subway seems to think roasting involves soaking in a metal vat of water! Go figure! I order it not so much for the taste as for the good source of protein. They can't soak the protein out of my chicken, by cracky!

Anyhoo, I remembered why I don't frequent the on-premises Subway at Walmart today. Only two reasons, actually. The food, and the service. Which are kinda in the top two of why you would go to a certain food establishment. We have three Subways around here. The one I go to by Save A Lot and the one inside Walmart are owned by the same person. You could never tell that if you didn't have insider knowledge. The one in Walmart is the lesser Subway.

Oh, what's that? You want me to get on with it? Here's the scoop. I paid for my groceries and went into Subway. It was still early. Around 11:00. Only one guy was in there, already with his sammich, sitting at a table, eating. I saw two girls in uniform in the back, talking. This Subway is backwards. You go in, go all the way to the opposite end, then build your sandwich working your way back to the Walmart. I know they saw me come in. I stood a few minutes, looking at the reverse set-up that was different from the last time I was there, circa 2010. Nobody came to wait on me. So I dinged the bell like the one they have at the dead-mouse-smelling post office.

A gal in her late teens/early 20s came out. She was polite enough. Got right to the order. Asked all the right questions. BUT she mutilated my bread. At the OTHER Subway, I saw a lady throw away TWO LOAVES of bread. For my sandwich. She cut it in half, and it didn't lay like she expected, and she tossed it. I remember thinking at the time, "She could have used that bread. She must be causing them a lot of losses if she does this every time." Still, I got a good sandwich from her. Notice that she was a LADY, not a GAL.

This Gal sliced the wheat loaf in half just fine. But in opening it up, she tore the end. TORE IT! Like, two inches of the curvy end ripped across. It was a flap at the end of the sandwich. I was sure she was going to get me different bread. But she didn't. She went on building that sandwich. Here's the thing about the lesser Subway. They think they're hiding the fact that their roasted chicken sits in a metal vat of water. They're not. I saw Gal reach behind the counter and grab it with tongs. It still dripped. Just because it's not out front for me to see her lift the lid and go fishing for it does not change the facts.

One thing the lesser Subway has that the greater Subway doesn't is PRETZELS. Giant, doughy, bigger-than-a-human-head twisty pretzels! Plain. With salt. With cinnamon sugar. Oh, how I would have dearly loved a giant pretzel! But I made the wise choice not to partake. I paid a dollar extra for my lesser sandwich (I can't believe it costs more here) and headed for my soda and home. Once there, I sliced more dill pickle and a whole red onion and added them to my sandwich. Nom nom.

It was like some great stuffed overflowing taco that Jamie Oliver might pretend the public schools are funded to feed to their students. Cram-packed with chicken, tomatoes, dill pickles, red onion, and spicy mustard. Several times I looked down to see a sliver of onion resting upon my shirt. The inner paper that I had swaddled my sandwich in grew porous with juices. And spicy mustard. It quickly became as sodden as an overnight diaper. But that didn't stop me from enjoying it! Once I ate the plain crusty bread that broke off the end. You don't think I would throw it away, do you? Have you smelled Subway's bread? point, back when I started, was that the younger generation does not seem to place importance on a job well done. A job done well-enough is fine with them. We aging baby boomers beg to differ.

So let me tell you, Little Miss Subway, just trying to get by: It was a far, far better sandwich that I made, than you will ever do; it is a far, far better work ethic that I have, than you will ever know.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Wench Tried to Run Me Over!

Let the record show that Val has no bone to pick with Save A Lot. Most of the time. Sure,there's that recent unpleasant business of their Grade A Large Eggs lately, what with them turning up not-so-fresh a mere week after being boiled, a mere week after their expiration date, when in the past, they have remained tasty for months after that date.

Today I stopped in just for a minute. Hick mentioned yesterday that he would like some spaghetti with meat and mushrooms in the sauce. "I hated that stuff The Pony liked." Meaning pasta from Walmart's deli area, such as Chicken Tortellini, or Four Cheese, or Italian Sausage. Never mind that Val does not cotton to long spaghetti noodles. She can whip up another dish for herself.

So...I stopped for some shredded lettuce (never know when you'll get the urge for Super Nachos), canned mushrooms (even though I have the real ones in Frig II), hamburger (Save A Lot has their own butcher, and really good meat not injected with water like Walmart's), Sno*Caps (they don't carry them), and a TV dinner (because sometimes Val doesn't feel like spending 30 minutes making herself Super Nachos).

At the counter, I noticed that one bag of my two shredded lettuces was already turning brown. That's no good! The date was October 2nd. I sure didn't want to buy something that was rotten. I don't know how much that shredded lettuce cost, because I am so wealthy I don't look at prices I already threw away the receipt. But I'm sure it would have been enough money saved to buy a 44 oz Diet Coke, from Orb K if not from the gas station chicken store.

Let the record show that this was one of the young checkers, not the seasoned Methuselah's granddaughter with coal-black hair. She looked at me like I had two heads (maybe it was just my coal-black hair, fresh from a box of L'Oreal only this morning, though it said Dark Brown). You'd think I had squeezed that shredded lettuce trying to turn it into coal, the way she looked at me.

"I don't know what you want to do with it, but I really don't want to buy it, since it's already turning brown."

She stuffed it under the counter, probably to put back on the shelf, even though I have not noticed this practice at Save A Lot, but have seen it just down the road a piece at Country Mart. She rang up my items and gave me change from my twenty. While waiting for it, I noticed a penny on the floor. Last week I also found a penny on the floor, right there at that same check-out in Save A Lot. It's the one I always go to, on the end. Also last week, I found a penny on the parking lot of the gas station chicken store, right on the blacktop parking lot by T-Hoe's driver's door as I was getting back in.

I don't stoop to pick up pennies because I need them, being so wealthy that they are insignificant to my fortune but because you know that saying, "Find a penny, pick it up, all the day you'll have good luck." I'm a pretty lucky person anyway, but may it's because of these pennies! Besides, I can always use the pennies to hand over correct change, as I like to do, for my 44 oz Diet Coke.

Today must have been my lucky day, because as soon as I bent over (not something Val enjoys doing, but it IS becoming easier, what with her cutting back lately) that there was another penny on the floor at the end of the conveyor. I had already moved the cart with my groceries the checker put in it, and had put my shopping cart over in its place for her next customer's groceries. She handed me my bills and coins, and I stuffed them in my pocket.

"I'm just going to pick up this penny here..."

As I bent over to grasp it between my left thumb and forefinger,


She grabbed that cart I had parked exactly like the other one before it, and yanked it toward her, then shoved it back. WTFNH? (What The Freakin' Not-Heaven?)

"Oops! You almost got me!"

"Oh. Sorry."

Guess that'll learn me to buy the spoiled lettuce next time.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Law and Order: SSVU (Sweet, Sweet Victims Unit)

The other night I went out to sit on the front porch pew while Hick was on the way home. I usually give the dogs an evening snack. It's usually a bit later, after Hick has already fed the chickens, and after our supper is done. So...I was a bit early going out the front door, and I caught the dogs in the act:

If you look closely among the chicken feathers (Jack plays a little game with the chickens called, "I won't kill or eat you, but I will make sure you get plenty of exercise"), that's an egg laying in front of Jack's feet. Don't be so hasty to blame my Jacky Boy. Juno has one of her own, in her mouth. Uh huh. Jack saw me and pretended he wasn't doing anything wrong. But brazen Sweet, Sweet Juno actually picked her egg up and tried to abscond with it hidden in her jowls. Except there was nowhere to go.

She laid down in the side yard with it for a few moments. But one of the roosters was onto her shenanigans. You can't see it in the grass, but she left it there. Probably went back later for it. I tried to get a picture with her laying there, facing toward the left, with the egg between her paws, when she saw that rooster...but she was too quick for my new used phone camera.

Both dogs ran to the porch for their treat. I can't remember what it was that night. Probably the last three of the frozen mozzarella sticks left from the Super Bowl (two for Juno, one for Jack--cut up). Hick came up the driveway, and Jack ran to bark at him. He's aggressive like that. Hick got past my guard dog and came to sit in the rocking chair that he got me when Genius was an infant, which he insisted on putting on the front porch when we brought home my mom's piano, when Genius was 20, away at college, and liked rocking in that chair about as much as he did when an infant: not at all.

"Don't look now, but I caught your dogs with an egg. Each. I was hoping that was the golf ball you used to put in the chicken house, hoping to make them sit on the eggs, but it's still right down there under the yucca plant."

"Them dogs! I knew they was eatin' my eggs! I hardly get any anymore."

" DO let them roam around the yard. So you never know where to look for them."

"Yeah. That's how I find 15 or 20 all together, and don't know how old they are. Then they're no good."

Hick went to feed his chickens."

"Right there! In the side yard? That's where Juno left her egg."

"I see it. You dumb dog! It's an egg all right. I'm trying to tell if it's green."

"I DID throw some old eggs off the back porch on the weekend. They were from the store. About six of them. Maybe they found them around back."

"That's a white egg. Not mine. We haven't had chickens that lay white eggs for years now."

"So they DIDN'T get your eggs."

"No. Not this time. But they will!"

So quick to accuse. My precious pets were only doing their part for the environment and disposing of garbage that I had flung on the ground. They really need to get a better attorney than Val.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #27 "Everybody Nods OR Go the EFF to School"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. The latest volume in Val's very, very valuable fake-book collection is an educational tome. What better market to fake-sell fake books to than public schools?

This week's fake book has legs. Figuratively. Not literally, like a coffee table book about coffee tables. Schools worldwide might want to purchase a classroom set for use when the real teacher is "sick" and the sub who rearranges the furniture and eats the reward candy from the bottom drawer and takes the kids for a walk around the building and tells dirty jokes has to be called in. To teach a lesson on always ending sentences with a preposition. Or in this case, perhaps, a proposition.

Everybody Nods -OR- Go the EFF to School

Finally, a textbook that teaches teachers how to get control of a class! Pass out this fake book to  your students, and get ready to run down the hall for a cup of coffee, a corner slice of Teacher Appreciation Week sheet cake with buttercream icing, and a gossip session with your cronies. Don't worry about leaving students unattended. They'll be ASLEEP!

No need to slip them a mickey. No need to walk around the room bopping them with the wooden mallet that you accidentally picked up from the strong man bell-ringer booth at the Labor Day Picnic. No need to lecture on the phospholipid bilayer.

Put "Everybody Nods -OR- Go the EFF to School" on your requisitions next spring. It’s economical. Only a classroom set is needed. You don't want to check one out to every student to carry home. Then they would be sleeping there!

Order now! (149 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Rip Van Winkle…"Imagine my surprise when I awoke from a lengthy slumber to find this fake book clutched in my gnarled hand. I recommend it to husbands whose wife has a sharp tongue and meddling nature."

Grandpa JoeThank goodness I was not reading this fake book to Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George, and Grandma Georgina while we were bedridden for the last 20 years! I fear that I would have slept right through Charlie's tour of the chocolate factory. I do highly recommend it, though, to that little Veruca Salt.” 

Sleeping Beauty…”I was given this fake book as a gift. Unfortunately, as I thumbed through the pages, my finger was nicked with a paper cut. I immediately fell into a deep sleep. Lucky for me, a handsome prince was stalking me. His kiss revived me. I cannot recommend this fake book, because of the shoddy workmanship with the razor-sharp pages.”

Jean Paul, in New York to run the marathon…”Don't be bringin' me this fake book! I had planned on a little light reading to relax the night before my big race, and this fake book caused me to oversleep! Kids should get out and exercise, not be subdued into unconsciousness by a textbook.” 

Snow White…”I heartily suggest that all school districts everywhere buy a classroom set of this fake book to use when a substitute is called in. It's as effective as a special apple in getting students to behave, and it's legal."

Those poppies in the Wizard of Oz field…”We are suing Thevictorian for a patent violation. There's no way her fake book could bring about such a deep level of sleep as our special ingredient."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Nightmares 'R' Us

Time for more Hick treasures. I feel it's only fitting to share my latest Goodwill with you. Because Val's a giver like that. Hope nobody's reading this with their glass of warm milk, getting ready to toddle off to bed.

I don't know what's up with Hick's fascination with masks. This is the third or fourth one I've seen, and just this evening, when I said, "Why the mask?" he replied, "Oh, you haven't seen all of them I've got over in the BARn."

That's also two ducks (H: "Because I like ducks") and a beer glass shaped like a football. I argued on the beer glass.

"How do you KNOW it's a beer glass? I thought it was a vase. I don't see the football."

"Because it says BEER on the glass, and it's shaped like a football."

Hick is recycling the world's trash four pieces at a time, it seems. Bringing it home to display in his sheds in Shackytown, some already existing, and some just a glimmer in Hick's near-future-retired eye.

Small duck, $1.00. Large duck, $1.00. Beer glass, $1.00. Mask, $1.00.

Nightmare potential? Priceless.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

EVERYBODY'S Working Except Val

On the way to town there's this field full of sheep. Sometimes they're shorn, sometimes they're fluffy, and sometimes they're gone. I don't know if the owner buys and sells them, or if he keeps them put up for a week or two for shearing. But mostly, they're out in the field. Lately, I've noticed an addition: a guard dog.

I am fascinated by working animals. How they are born and/or socialized to know their job, with some human training help for certain duties. I got a picture of this canine today on the way home.

Usually, he's inside the fence, but today he was out. He wasn't far from his flock, though.

They were just on the other side of that driveway. You may think this fella has it easy, watching after a couple of sheep. But there are more that those few along the fence!

At first I thought this was a Great Pyrenees, even though I know they're much fluffier and heavier. I also thought this dog would round up the sheep and herd them to different pastures. If what my estranged BFF Google told me is correct, he just guards them from predators. Not a member of the herding class, but the guardian class. Who knew? Learn something every day!

The best I can tell, this is an Akbash dog. I could be way off, but by looking at pictures and descriptions, that's the best I came up with. Heh, heh. He's probably just a stray mutt that I've romanticized into a working dog. If my hunch is correct, though, he cost a pretty penny. Here's a link to a farm that sells such beasts.

I found it interesting that a person can't train these dogs to guard livestock. They learn it from other dogs. AND the kind of livestock they'll guard depends on the kind they were raised with! In the description, it said some dogs will EAT the chickens, but other dogs will GUARD the chickens. That's what we need right there. A guard dog to keep the neighbor mutts from eating our chickens.

Not for $1400, though! You can buy a lot of replacement chickens for $1400.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Some Days, the Lines Between Weirdo and Magnet Are Blurred by Dappled Sunlight

Remember two days ago, when Val's faith in humanity was restored? When a stranger stopped to offer her assistance by the low water bridge, in case T-Hoe was out of commission? Scratch the phonograph record with the replacement needle found in Val's mother's safe. That lasted less than 48 hours. Val spat out the milk of human kindness like a mistaken sip of Diet Pepsi.

Two days later, mind you, after that Good Samaritan stopped to ask, "Y'alright?" and went on his merry way...Val found THIS at her own low water bridge:

That's not an artsy photo showing the autumn slant of the late-morning sun down by Val's creek. That's a bunch of trash left behind by ne'er-do-wells Sunday night! Looks like they had their makin' whoopie blanket, and a tasty treat of little donuts, and some...uh...toilet paper for a purpose we don't want to think about, and a bottle of water to rehydrate. Not sure if I got the water bottle in frame. The dappled sunlight threw me off. Plus I was sitting in T-Hoe taking a picture out the window. And you KNOW what happened the last time I did that!

What if my would-be savior had been trolling the back roads for a partner in lust? Had this stuff stashed behind the seat of his pickup, to entice a willing companion? He DID take off headed in the direction of Val's creek. Just sayin'...maybe he was out scouting locations for his private party.

There are a lot of weirdos out there, you know.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hick Likes to Think of Himself as a Comedian

The paranormal stuff here at the homestead has settled down over the last week or two. It seemed to be building to a fever pitch the week before that Oklahoma earthquake. I've been holding out on you, though, concerning that shaky morning of September 3rd. You might recall that The Pony sent me a text before I was out of bed, alerting me to the quake, lest I hear it on the news and become alarmed. Or, more likely, since he's not the kind to care much about other people, he was a bit shaken. Heh, heh. SHAKEN! By the earthquake! I crack myself up sometimes.

No, I was not awakened by the earthquake on the morning of September 3rd. But I WAS shaken. There I go again. The earthquake happened around 7:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time, about 80 minutes after I was shaken and stirred by a freaky spooky ne'er-do-well entity. Or Hick.

There I was, snoozing peacefully as I often do at 5:40 a.m. on a Saturday morning, stretched out on my left side, snug as a bug in a rug under the quilt my grandma gave us when we got married. Hick insists we use that quilt, even in the summer. So when I go to bed around 2:00 a.m., I crank the air conditioning down to 72 degrees. Doesn't matter to me if Hick is sweating under that quilt at 74 before I get in bed. It's his own fault for insisting on a quilt in the summer.

All of a sudden, I was jolted awake by a kick to my tailbone area! Not down on the pointy end where my tail would be if humans still had them, on my coccyx. (Heh, heh. I said coccyx!) Up a little higher. On that flat, triangle-shaped bone, the sacrum. Yeah. It hurt. It was a KICK. It almost knocked me out of bed! And even though Val has been shrinking recently, she is still a substantial hunk of woman. It takes a lot to kick Val out of bed.

I grabbed at my nightstand with my right arm to steady myself. Then I got up and walked around the end of the bed toward the bathroom, and turned on the light, and commenced to cursing Hick. He squinted at me above his breather mask, kind of like a mole dug out of the ground by Jack and Juno (if they would actually grab the mole, and not just dig up the yard) might look, all bewildered and scared and squinty.

"I can't believe you did that! It HURT! Why did you kick me?"

"I didn't kick you!" I'm pretty sure that's what he said, though it was muffled, because he hadn't taken off his breather yet.

"It almost knocked me out of bed!"

"Val. I didn't kick you."

"You were asleep. How do you know?"

"YOU were asleep. How do you know you weren't dreaming?"

"Because I got KICKED! So hard that it almost knocked me out of bed!"

"Well, it wasn't me."

"It HAD to be you. You're the only one here."

"Val. I can't even get my leg up that high to kick you."

He had a point. I still think he did it, because...well...if he didn't, that's something I don't want to think about.

Yesterday, Hick went to a birthday party at 12:30. He actually left around 9:00, telling me that since the party was at 12:30, he didn't see any reason to come home first. Which only makes sense to International Man of Intrigue Hick the Spy, since it takes 10 minutes from home to town. And from town to home. Anyhoo...time away from Hick is not necessarily a bad thing. I went to Save A Lot for some eggs and paper plates, then to get my 44 oz Diet Coke. Once home, I retired (heh, heh, ain't THAT the truth) to my dark basement lair.

Around 2:29, according to my phone, I heard walking upstairs in the bedroom/bathroom area, and sent Hick a text:

"Are you home? Because I just heard walking upstairs."

"No I'm not"


"Just kidding."

I swear, Hick is trying to drive me crazy. I certainly hope that's what he was doing by not owning up to the kick in the butt.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Some Days You're the Weirdo, Some Days You're the Magnet

Yesterday, on the way home from town (you KNOW why I went there), I stopped to take a picture. We had a blast of rain the previous evening. The waters had receded, but not without bending a warning marker on the oft-flooded low water bridge.

If you look closely, you can see the rooty tree trunk that took out the marker. And to the left of it, there's a tire mired in the newly-deposited sand. Those county road workers better come back soon, because that's going to give ne'er-do-wells a place to park, right in front of those NO PARKING/NO DUMPING signs.

Being a law-abiding, most-o'-the-time-do-well, Val did not pull over in that forbidden zone, but instead waited until she was going the opposite direction, and stopped right in the road. Oh, come on! I pulled over to the edge. I had my blinker on. There was plenty of room for cars to get by me. Besides, there was a truck coming from the other direction anyway, and I did the friendly thing by allowing him to cross. Two cars can pass on that bridge, but I don't recommend it. Nobody who lives out here tries to double-cross.

While I was sitting there, phone in hand, emailing a picture to myself, because down here in the bottom, I had FOUR BARS, while at my homestead on the top of the hill, I have ZERO. I looked in my mirror, and saw a silver pickup truck approaching. I didn't worry, because I was off to the side, with my signal on, clearly stopped, with room for him to go around. Wouldn't you know it? That silver truck pulled up alongside me.

The passenger window went down. Inside was a late-twenty-something dude in a gray T-shirt with the sleeves cut off, wearing mirrored sunglasses. "Y'alright?"

"Oh, yes. I was just taking a picture. Thank you, though!"

"No problem." Off he went across the bridge.

That's the thing about living in Outer Backroadsia. Folks can be as annoying as all get-out, appropriating other people's property for impromptu parties, taking a whiz, dumping their old furniture (or portable meth labs), letting their dogs crap, or just generally being suspicious. But if there's a chance you might need help, they're always willing to lend a hand.

Some days you're the weirdo, some days you're the magnet.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Jug, the Nuts, and the Bottle

For those of you clamoring, "What has Hick been buying lately at the Goodwill?"

According to Hick, that's a "Chicago gug 1.00 Santa nut cracker 2.00 milk bottle .50"

I must admit that I really like the Santa nutcracker. The jug, meh. It's probably not even old. Probably from somewhere like Cracker Barrel. The milk bottle? I'm neutral. Much like the pH of milk.

I should have known he was up to something Friday evening when he called to tell me he was running late.

"I'm sitting here at the stoplight, and some cars have water up to their wheel wells."

Huh. There is nowhere that would happen between his workplace and the homestead, unless he was in the middle of a town on the way home, rather than taking the highway ramp onto the other highway. Of course I called him on it.

"Where ARE you?"

"At the stoplight in <REDACTED>. I may never get through here. The creek by Dairy Queen is already way up in the road. It's pouring. We've had several tornado warnings all day."

"Oh. So you must have stopped by Goodwill."

Leave it to Hick to make a detour and go by Goodwill when there is a tornado on the way. Of course, who am I to talk, not even knowing about the weather, having been ensconced in my dark basement lair since noon. Not that it mattered. The TV would have gone off due to DISH interruption from the rain. I didn't even think about the weather until my internet went down. Anyhoo...

Here's one he forgot to send me, but he showed me in person, even turning the crank.

It's a grinder. I took a look at it. Turned the crank. Looked inside to see how it worked. And asked, "Will this really grind things?"

"Be careful! You'll cut your finger if you stick it in there!" Said Hick to Val, who only last week sliced her finger while chopping an onion with a common kitchen knife, while he was nowhere around to apply a tourniquet.

Yes, every week I have a plethora of new purchases to show from Hick. I don't begrudge him his treats. They're cheaper than that $76.37 pool cover he bought without mentioning it to me or the checkbook register. I swear, he was only in that pool a double handful of times this year. But he likes a pool. So I'm not begrudging him that, either. I know we're going to spend a fortune on a pool we hardly use, and Hick is going to buy a ton of junk and build sheds for each classification.

It's not like when Jennifer Connelly was surprised at the cluttered shed she found in A Beautiful Mind. I'm not surprised at all. I've seen the evidence all along. Piecemeal. A movie of Hick's life would be titled "A Beautiful Find." Or "A Lootiful Mind."

I'm still waiting on something as memorable as Thomas Jefferson on a Boot Taking a Crap.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #26 "Wham, Bam, Thank You SPAM"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book.You've gotta get up pretty early in the morning to escape Val's fake-sales pitch. Better get something under your belt before you count out your fake dough.

Wham, Bam, Thank You SPAM!

Mike Mozart knows a thing or two about the ladies. He can play one like a fiddle. He's not looking for the way to her heart by going through her stomach. Yep. Since ladies detest those everyday humdrum chores like cooking breakfast for their sleepover dates, Mike's going to make one lucky lady's life a little easier.

"Just pop open my can of Bacon SPAM, and I'll poke it with a fork, and we can each gnaw on one end. Then it can go back in the can for tomorrow. That will give us more time to...uh...listen to my new compositions! Did I mention that Mozart was my great-great-great-grandpappy? I got the music in me, baby! Listen to my harmonica."

Will more than the SPAM get poked, or will Mike Mozart hear the sounds of the world's smallest fiddle? (139 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

CEO of SPAM…"We want no part of Thevictorian's fake book! Stop the presses! Our image should be removed from the cover forthwith. I'd like to think we have better taste than to be associated with such a piece of garbage."

Miss Prissy the lovelorn henThevictorian must be a dried up old crone. She has it all wrong! I would gladly give a suitor EGGS for breakfast. Not just cold SPAM.” 

George Costanza…”Thevictorian has obviously not done her research. Any Humpty Dumpty with a melon head KNOWS that you can put that can of SPAM on the nightstand, and nosh on it while in of passion. I wouldn't take this book into a bathroom with me!”

Rebecca DeMornay down at the homeless center…”Don't be bringin' me this fake book! The homeless don't want it! They'd sooner have chicken skins and lobster shells! Even a toilet book beats Thevictorian's fake book.” 

Jerry Seinfeld…”I can't believe Val Thevictorian has the nerve to call herself an author! No woman is going to put out for a guy with a can of Bacon SPAM. He needs to use the counterclockwise swirl! Or at least taker her on a date in the balcony at a showing of Schindler's List."

Cosmo Kramer…”The way to a woman's...uh...heart is by wearing a jacket left by your mother's old boyfriend. Thevictorian has obviously never interviewed a real man to get factual information for her fake book. Which is obviously faker than the quality control department in the condoms division of Vandelay Industries. They're in latex, you know."

Elaine Benes..."It's clear that Val Thevictorian doesn't know how guys walk around with those things. Cans of Bacon SPAM, I mean. No guy is going to try that. He's going to look for signals. Like, did the woman send him a Christmas card with her nipple exposed? And a woman? She'll fake it if she likes him, and she won't if she doesn't. Yada yada yada...That's how people make connections."

Kim Kardashian..."What is this thing? A fake book? What's a book? I only picked it up because of the picture on the front. A can of Bacon SPAM? I'll show you a CAN! I got your CAN right here!"

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Viceroy and the Val-Hog

Yesterday I mentioned how I was too lazy to walk up to the end of the driveway I worried that if I tried to bring back the trash dumpster from the long driveway, and fell, that I might lie there until Hick came home and ran over me.

Blog buddy Sioux knows Hick pretty well. I think she even met him once. She pooh-poohed (heh, heh, you know what I said) the idea of Hick NOTICING that he ran over me. I think she's right on this one.

Hick is like some real-life reverse version of The Princess and the Pea. More like The Viceroy and the Val-Hog. The former can sense a tiny pea under 124,743 mattresses, and the latter can't feel his wife's body dragging under his car like a brush hog. Don't call it a bush hog. That's just crazy talk. Around here it's a brush hog. For mowing down brush. Only Hick wouldn't use me for that. He'd probably use me more like a blade. To spread gravel evenly over the roads. All the while thinking, "I'm glad we paid Val's sister the ex-mayor's wife way too much money for her half of Val's mom's 2002 Chevy Trailblazer, because this thing is a wizard at blading gravel." Okay. No he wouldn't. I've never heard him utter the word wizard.

After all, Hick is the person who can never notice the humming or grinding noises in T-Hoe's wheels. Doesn't notice them dragging to the right, or making a clickclickclick when a giant freakin' bolt is embedded in the right front tire. It takes an ex-mayor to find a bolt, when he's not even inspecting Val's T-Hoe, but walking her to her car in an effort to hasten her departure from his home.

Hick is the one who can find the only hole in a road, obvious to any front-seat passenger, and also to astute back-seat ones, with plenty of room to straddle it or pass around it on the right, but instead plows right through it at a speed last clocked at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and when chided by Val after the end of her bitten-off tongue regenerates, says, "Val. I did not hit that hole."

Hick is the one who throws caution to the wind, and drives like the wind of Hurricane Katrina is at his back on the way down the gravel road towards EmBee, flinging passenger Val side-to-side like a metronome on Red Bull, her head clacking from Hick's shoulder to T-Hoe's side window more times than a two-year-old's mom says, "NO!" in a candy store.

Hick is the one who says Val almost took out a mailbox with T-Hoe's mirror while staying on her side of the no-center-line road on a blind curve, rather than driving in the middle and counting on nothing coming the opposite way, the nuances of law-abiding roadsmanship lost on the master sweaver with one eye.

Yes. I imagine that Val would remain under the Trailblazer unnoticed until Hick needed his weekly cash allowance to go Goodwill shopping.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Kicking Hick To the Curb Requires a Superhuman Effort

See that? No, not the sweet little speckled pup in the foreground.

The green trash dumpster in the background. Out at the end of the driveway. Here. I'll zoom in for you. I was simply making a point that our curb is farther away than most.

Yep. That's as far as my phone will zoom. Perhaps it gives you an indication of the lengths we go to in order to have our trash carted away by a big noisy truck at 6:00 a.m. on Thursdays.

The trash dumpster used to be The Pony's responsibility, as it was Genius's before him. The filling and the transport of said dumpster is not too much to ask of a teenage boy. Not in Val's opinion. They're young and spry and only need to be reminded 10 or 12 times through the week to take a bag from the kitchen to the dumpster, and the dumpster to the curb, if we had one, by Thursday morning at 6:00.

Apparently, it's too much to ask of an adult man. Hick has been sorely derelict in his dumpster duties now that the boys are both gone. I don't mind taking out the kitchen trash whenever it's full. That's better than piling items like an unsanitary JENGA game while waiting for him to take it out. I do mind, though, taking a bag of trash to the end of the driveway. Hick took the dumpster up on the evening of August 24th, the week we returned from getting The Pony settled at college. AND LEFT IT. Left it there through Labor Day weekend, when pickup was a day later. Left it there, in fact, until Monday evening, September 12th. Uh huh. That was just this week!

I was sitting on the front porch pew, petting the dogs, having given them their evening snack while supper was cooking, when we heard Hick's car coming up the road. Yes. The dogs know which one is his. We were all surprised when it stopped momentarily upon entering the driveway. Then started again. Hick was holding the dumpster handle and pulling it alongside the car.

I call shenanigans!

If that's all he had to do, why did he wait three weeks to bring the dumpster back to the garage? He drives up the driveway every freakin' day! Let the record show that when the boys were small, Val took that dumpster up there herself, and brought it back after dumping. That was when her knees were young and spry, despite the two surgeries inflicted upon the left one in her younger and sprier days. She even used to walk this driveway for fun and exercise. Walked all around the front grounds, making a big loop across the barn field. But now her knees are gone. Val is not taunting Even Steven when she's home alone, walking up that uneven graveled drive with a yipping long doggie intertwining her feet and jumping on her heels like a middle-schooler trying to give his buddy a flat tire. In case you're not old enough, or haven't spent enough years hanging around a middle school, that's when you step on a kid's shoe heel and make him walk out of it. Jack does it quite a lot, when he's not in front of me jumping at my knees. I am leery of falling and having no one to rescue me.

Yes, Hick works a full time job while Val only hangs out at home, doing the same household chores as in days of yore. Forgive her for not wanting to dislocate a knee and lay in the driveway all day until Hick comes home (and possibly runs over her before noticing). I DID take out several bags of trash over the past couple weeks. I drove them to the end of the driveway and put them in the dumpster on my trips to town. Since Hick brought Dumpy back, I have taken out three bags. Not that Hick has noticed.

We really miss The Pony. I'm not quite ready to get rid of the only other human homestead occupant at this time. Check with me after December.