Friday, October 20, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #81 "Norman Veranda"

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, Val serves up a bio on a new rising star. Whether it's pure entertainment you seek, a hearty meal fill your belly, or a rags-to-riches story of a new entrepreneur...Val's latest fake book will leave you sated. To broaden your horizons and tempt your palate and update your fashion sense...order your fake copy today!

Norman Veranda

Norman Veranda is not content to sit on the porch and sip sweet tea. Norman seeks the spotlight, whether performing weekends as the headliner at a local drag show, or slinging hash in his daytime job as a short-order cook. Now Norman is starting his own line of unique headwear, called Campy Chapeaus.

Unfortunately, Norman's arch nemesis, Babs Marley, is being a real pain, complaining copyright violation about Norman's latest creation, a knit hat with several stripes, adorned with jerk chicken, rice, fried plantains, coconuts, and limes. Will one bad apple send Norman's dreams up in smoke, and put an end to his bread and butter? (106 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Rag on the Fifer's Head in The Spirit of 76 Painting..."Far from being a revolutionary work of literature, this fake story is a trite reminder that nobody wins in war OR in the fake-reading of one of Thevictorian's fake books!"

Baker's Chef Hat..."This fake book will not rise, despite being overly inflated. Thevictorian herself is a crusty tart who is not on a roll, her 81st effort falling flat. She is toast."

Plastic Baseball Helmet Sundae Dish..."Thevictorian strikes out with this fake book. Like my contents, it starts out sweet, but you soon grow tired of it, and within a few moments, you realize that it's a muddled mess just waiting for the garbage can."

Diver's Helmet..."I might be made of brass, but even I am not strong enough to endure Thevictorian's latest fake work. I would rather be 20,000 leagues under the sea than fake-read the fake writing of this drip!"

Beekeeper's Mask..."I am very good at my job, but even I cannot protect you from the sting of this atrocious fake book. Let's hope nobody develops an allergy to Thevictorian's fake writing, because I don't believe there's enough benadryl in the world to save the few fake-readers. The buzz I hear is that this author is a killer...of the English language."

Fencing Mask..."Let me pointedly advise you to be on guard when Thevictorian hawks her fake books. Most of you won't be able to handle them, and it's my attempt to foil her efforts to thrust them upon you."

Book on the Head of a Future Debutante at Finishing School..."Don't let this fake book catch you off-balance. Society frowns upon low-class hacks like Thevictorian. Her fake work is not even fit to adorn the lice-riddled heads of common backwoods hillbillies as they practice walking with regal bearing to try to infiltrate the upper classes."

Magician's Hat..."My owner may pull rabbits out of me, but he can't make this fake book readable. He's a magician. Not a miracle worker." 

Egg..."I'm all over Thevictorian's face. She must have been fried when she fake-wrote this fake book. She's a rotten fake-writer, her brains are scrambled, and she makes me boiling mad! It would all be over, easy, if she would just stop writing."

Link Sausages..."Too many words, stuffed into too little space! Thevictorian's fake writing is like War and Peace wedged between the covers of a Little Golden Book."

Bacon..."What a ham! Thevictorian thinks she smokes the competition, but she really needs to be cured of that attitude, and stop writing and invest what money she has left into pork belly futures."

Beans..."I am sometimes called The Magical Fruit. The more you eat of me, the more you toot. But even that flatulence could not possibly stink as much as Thevictorian's fake book!"

Tomato..."Unlike the misnamed beans above...I am an actual fruit. There's no truth to the misconception that early settlers thought me poisonous. There is, however, every truth to the belief that Thevictorian is no writer!"

Mushrooms..."You must think we've been kept in the dark and fed crap if you believe that we'll fall for this fake book! Oh, wait..."

Thursday, October 19, 2017

If You Sell a Hick a Parking Meter

Remember Hick's yard sale parking meter? He has it in one of his sheds over in Shackytown. A few days ago I called him, just to find out where he was. Oh, I didn't need him for anything. I didn't want him to come home. No siree, Bob! I was only curious as to his whereabouts, kind of playing a little came I call: How long can I go without seeing Hick? In this case, not very long, because he was not involved with a project, but merely a couple hundred feet away, admiring his treasures.

Of course my little scheme backfired, because Hick decided to come over to the house and tell me something he'd discovered.

"I put a nickel in my parking meter, and IT WORKED!"

"Oh. Good for you."

"You can get an HOUR for a nickel!"

"That's nice."

I guess maybe he'd been sitting there for an hour, watching it work. I didn't want to ask. He might have brought it in the house so I could admire it, and watch to see if it was accurate.

Seriously. What does it matter if that thing works? Is anybody going to watch it? Will he barricade people in his shed, and only let them out when time is up?

Besides, that parking meter is only a head. To get a pole to hold it up would probably cost me several years worth of savings bonds. I think a piece of pipe like he got to make his blacktop roller would be a little too big. So Hick most likely would not go the recycle or free or friends in parking-meter-pole places route, and I'd be out some funds. He might possibly even want to pour some concrete, buy a new concrete drill, and hold that parking meter down with screws that went through the laundry in his pockets and caused the purchase of a new dryer!

He can't set it up, even if he had an expensive pole or concrete monument to mount it on, and charge people to park out here. That would require quite a bit of fencing to funnel them into that ONE parking space. So much field, so little chance of someone making you pay to park in it.

Also, the door on that parking meter doesn't lock. So even if Hick could strong-arm several people into parking there for an hour, some ne'er-do-well would most likely rob that parking meter of its nickels.

Hick was all excited about his discovery, though.

You'd think he plans on becoming a nickelillionaire or something.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Like a Pea-Sensing Princess, Val Cannot Be Fooled

Monday evening, I ascended from my dark basement lair and heard a cacophony from the kitchen/laundry room area. Hick was kicked back in the La-Z-Boy, watching either The Andy Griffith Show or MASH.

"What are you doing?"

"Just a load of laundry."

"What have you got in there, a load of gravel?"

"No. Just my overalls."

"Did you leave the laundry room door open?"

"No. It's just the metal from the parts that hook the straps."

"I've heard your overalls in the dryer before. They don't sound like THAT!"

"Well, that's all it is."

"Sounds like you're destroying the dryer."


I went on about my business of driveway-walking and preparing supper. The overalls were done clanking by the time my walk was done. I didn't give it any other thought. Later that night/early morning, I put a load of laundry in the washer as I went to bed. I opened the dryer to toss in a Bounce and set the dials so it would be ready when I stumbled in around 5:30 to transfer my clothes to the dryer. Since Hick is a repeat offender of leaving the lint trap full of his clothing fuzz and cedar chips and strands of straw, despite numerous warnings...I reached down to empty it.

This is what I found in the grooves where the lint trap fits into its pocket.

I laid them on the kitchen counter for evidence. When Hick came in for lunch, I told him that apparently I was NOT as crazy as he tries to pretend, and pointed out my dryer discovery.

"THIS is what I heard in the dryer! They were laying in the cracks of the lint trap when I emptied it. Which YOU are supposed to do when you use it."

"Oh, they're just screws. I saw them on the counter this morning and wondered where they came from."


"They must have been in my pockets. I'll take them now."

I KNEW that wasn't the sound of overalls drying. And that this proves HICK is the one who has a screw loose, not Val.

Let the record show that Hick does his own laundry, because he took offense during the first year of our marriage (28 years ago) when I told him that I was not going to pick his dirty clothes up off the bedroom floor, and that he should put them in the laundry hamper. He showed ME!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sadly, It Was NOT a Penny!

Looks like my pennyillionairehood is going to take a little longer than expected. I have not found a penny for 10 days! Not for lack of looking, though! I am very observant. I keep my eyes on the pavement like a bloodhound keeps his nose to the ground after a prison break. Which means that sometimes, I find things other than pennies. No. Not escaped convicts. Things like this:

You don't know what it is, do you? That's because you don't have the eagle bloodhound eyes of Val Thevictorian. It's not the annoying toddler-car cart parked there, that blocked my way when I was inside shopping. Oh, I could have forged past it, if I had no qualms about decapitating a little blond girl who was lolling her head out the side as her inconsiderate mother blocked both me and a stockboy while parked for no apparent reason in the middle of the main aisle. Lucky for that little girl, Val has qualms.

Look closer there. Up against the wall, in the center of the picture. Not at the stains and weathered gum impersonating pennies. Had the autumn 11:30 a.m. sun penetrated the shadows, you might have caught a glint of the business end. Here:

It's a NAIL FILE! What in the Not-Heaven placed this item here in front of Country Mart for Val to see on her way out? A ne'er-do-well from an aborted robbery attempt? A butter-fingered family member of an inmate at the local prison, who unknowingly delivered a plain old cake to her loved one? A distracted, fashion-conscious housewife who wanted her nails to look presentable as she did her shopping? A delivery boy from the nearby Domino's who lost his concealed weapon for self-protection?

Unlike my rightful pennies, I did not pick up this nail file. It could be forensic evidence for a crime, if future charges are filed. Heh, heh! I crack myself up sometimes! Get it? If charges are FILED!

I'm hoping that those spots on the concrete are just rust stains.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Hot Friday Night in The Pony's Apartment

I received a text from The Pony on Saturday night. Let the record show that he is now living in an apartment off campus, though still part of the university housing system.

"My fridge apparently has a portal to Not-Heaven in it."

"Not sure I want to know! Like in Ghostbusters?"

"I was getting ice last night. One vent in the back of the freezer was hot to the touch and glowing red. I mean, I know refrigeration DOES heat. But not enough to make things glow!"

"Okay. Should you have that fridge checked out?"

"Nah. I doubt it."

"Did you tell Dad? He might know. About freezer vents. Not portals to Not-Heaven."

"Nah. It was just something funny. It's probably normal. You only see it when there's no other light."

"Not in FRIG II you don't!"

I consulted Hick when he got home from the auction. He looked at the picture. Looked horrified. A couple minutes later, Hick said that's probably so the ice maker can loosen the ice cubes so they fall out. It's probably normal.

Sunday afternoon, when I thought The Pony was most likely out of bed, or at least contemplating it...I sent him another text.

"Look at today's Bing photo. It reminded me of a castle, but it's a reservoir in England. Cool. NOT cool? When I typed that, it said BONG. Thank goodness my estranged BFF Autocorrect was looking out for me! Oh...and Dad said your freezer is supposed to do that, for the ice maker to release its cubes. Don't tell me you don't have an ice maker!"

"Haha! And I do have one!"

"Hopefully you mean an ice maker and not a bong!"

"An ice maker, Mother."

Well. You can't be too sure. What with that portal and all...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hick's Freight Container Garage Progress

The road to the freight container garage has been a long one. In fact, there's not even a real road to it. This newest Hick project is located on the 10 acres next to our house and BARn 10 acres. We added it later, when the owners were finally willing to sell. Hick bought the freight containers a few years ago, with this garage in mind. It was such a good deal he couldn't pass it up. So they've been sitting over there, hidden by trees, slowly filling with junk.

The first thing you need to build a freight container garage (after the freight containers, of course) is a foundation. Concrete work is surprisingly expensive! It will be half the cost of the whole project. The next thing you need is a crane.

A crane is not nearly as expensive as you might think. At least to me. I thought this one was a steal at $300. He charged by the job, not the hour. I think he was here 3-4 hours or less. He DID have to wait for Hick and HOS to unload the freight containers of junk so his crane could lift them.

This was accomplished by running straps under the freight containers, with Hick and HOS guiding the containers into place on their concrete foundation. This is Hick. I can tell by the overalls.

It seems like dangerous work to me, but HOS was up to the task. I guess the crane guy knew what he was doing, but the makeshift platform and tires in the air look a bit perilous for my tastes.

Hick and HOS made sure the placement was exactly right before giving the OK to the crane man. It's not like they could push it over a skosh later, once he had gone.

Satisfied, they unstrapped the freight container. It's not going anywhere any more. Jack and Juno are exhausted from all the hard work. In the background, you can see a couple of lights that Hick will eventually hang. He has plenty, after hauling home 25 or 50 (you don't think I listen to him, do you) from work right before he left, that were being thrown away.

With the freight containers in place, they were just waiting for the concrete guys to find a day in their busy schedule to come back and pour the garage floor. This is from the back side. If you look under the left freight container, you can see a sliver of the gravel road.

The floor made it look more like it may one day become an actual garage. The plan is to put trusses over the top, close it in, and have a garage for working on cars, where Hick plans to rebuild his old '67 Chevy pickup truck. The freight containers themselves will be used for storage.

Hick bought a used lift from some guy HOS knows. It cost slightly more than the trusses, but only about 1/5 of the concrete fee. He borrowed a concrete drill from our across-the-road neighbor to anchor it to the floor. Of course Hick has a concrete drill, but he said his isn't long enough. I'm just glad he didn't decide he had to buy one!

Looks like Hick and HOS had to sit a spell and admire their handiwork. The dogs decided they needed a break, too.

Jack hit the bottle pretty hard. Juno was not about to refuse a beverage. She looks like an old lush.

Once the trusses are built and delivered and put on...I'm pretty sure there will be more pictures.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Just a Tease

I know you've all been waiting for it...

Okay. Maybe not. You almost didn't get THIS much, by cracky!

Hick's freight container garage has been an ongoing project since March or April. It was supposed to get going back then. But we had a really rainy spring here in Backroads. So the first step, the pouring of the concrete footings, couldn't be done because the ground was too mushy for the concrete truck to drive through the field.

Hick went round and round with people, trying to get this concrete poured. Something always came up. Finally, he got things lined out for September. It happened in fits and starts, with Hick chomping at the bit, ready get these freight containers over the finish line.

Anyhoo...I'll give you a pictorial soon. HOS's wife took some pictures for Hick, who said he "forgot" that I wanted some. Of course, Hick can take 20 different angles of a beer mug he got at Goodwill for a dollar, but not a single picture of a large-scale project like the construction of a garage.

I have the pictures in my email account. All I had to do was download them and put them here. You know what? I only tried ONE picture tonight, and it disappeared! Ever since Genius built me a new computer and upgraded my stuff, dealing with pictures is like trying to eat gas station chicken with both hands tied behind my back. I looked everywhere for that picture. Under today's date. Under the date she sent them to me. Under the date I thought the event took place. NOWHERE could I find that picture! I decided maybe I'd only copied, not pasted it to my pictures file. So I tried to paste again, and got a duplicate notice thingy. I scrolled all the way back through September. Nothing.

Being a bit of a backwoods, backwards, less qualified, non-calabash-pipe-smoking Sherlock Holmes...I decided to go into the properties of that picture. Well. Looks like it was taken on March 5 of 2015 at 2:40 a.m.! Seems that somebody forgot to update the clock on their camera when they got it. After that discovery, my dear Watson, the picture turned up under that date in my pictures file. I didn't even rename it yet. Now that I know where to find it, they'll all go there anyway.

Tomorrow, I'll share a little more of the visual progress.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #80 "Toucan Pam"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Are you intrigued by models? Runway models, underwear models, Sears catalog models? Too bad! This week, Val's fake book is about HAND models. One of them anyway. And it's not George Costanza wearing oven mitts. Fake order your fake copy today, and immerse yourself in the glamorous world of hand modeling. As a special promotion, Val will give a virtual high-five to the first fifty customers!

Toucan Pam

Pam Martin is no spring chicken. She'll date any old coot on a lark. If he proves cuckoo, it doesn't ruffle Pam's tail feathers. Loons know better than to mess with Pam, especially after her latest stint in the nuthatch. She’s swift to rail at them like a screech owl, and turns into a nutcracker if a creeper snipes back at her.

Pam's profitable career as a hand model has pigeon-holed her as Toucan Pam, her most famous ad campaign. Pam tries not to grouse about her fall in the pecking order. As agent after agent migrates away from her, Pam must swallow her pride, and feather her nest with income from commercial residuals, to build a house and raise a brood. Pam is watching a local crane driver, Jay, like a hawk. Will Jay try robbin' Pam with his fees? Or will he just put it on her bill? (150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Buzzard..."On behalf of carrion consumers everywhere, I must declare this fake book rancid. Even I was unable to finish it. The fake author is dead to me!"

Alfred Hitchcock..."I was NOT thrilled to read this fake book. It is a horror, but not the profitable kind. I've a good mind to toss it out the rear window. I have a suspicion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the fake author is some kind of notorious psycho. Our only hope to avoid such un-spellbound fake reading in the future is if the lady vanishes. I think it can be arranged."

Ostrich..."I'm putting my head in the sand and pretending this fake book never happened. I'd sooner be made into wallets and cowboy boots than ever fake-read one of Thevictorian's fake books again."

Parakeet..."Cover my cage! Cover my cage! I just saw this fake book laying open on the table, and I must not be exposed to it for one more second! I will gladly sleep the sleep of Rip Van Winkle if I can just be spared one more glance at this fake book!"

Seven Swans a-Swimming..."Even if we turned into nuclear-powered submarines, we could not get away from this fake book fast enough! Thevictorian's fake book is the very definition of an ugly duckling. It can never aspire to become a beautiful best-seller."

Six Geese a-Laying..."Thevictorian has laid an egg with this fake book. And it's ROTTEN!"

Four Calling Birds..."We just called to say that this fake book is something that we could drop from a tree limb or electric wire onto the windshield of your car. It STINKS! And unfortunately, Thevictorian seems to be full of it."

Three French Hens..."Oui, oui! Les amis the calling birds are correct! This fake book is merde!" 

Two Turtle Doves..."This fake book is the only thing that could separate us from one another. We both hate it with the heat of 10,000 suns, and almost roasted ourselves before donating it to Rebecca DeMornay down at the homeless center."

Partridge in a Pear Tree..."O pear tree, o pear could your relatives be a party to the paper-production for the making of this fake book? I feel so betrayed! These pages are not fit to line cages!"

Thursday, October 12, 2017

He's Father Teresa, Actually

Even though I malign Hick here on a regular basis, I'm confidant that you've figured out he's a pretty nice guy. Not pretty in the beautiful sense, but pretty as in mostly.

This morning Hick left the house after telling me that he was going to spend the day painting the concrete floor of his soon-to-be Freight Container Garage. He's painting it gray, so don't have great expectations. I guess the gray of the concrete is not appealing enough for Hick to stump his footless ankles on. As he left the boudoir, he said something over his shoulder about his Trailblazer needing gas, and that he might go to town for that.

A few hours later, when I left to transfer some money between accounts to cover Hick's trusses...I felt like something was off. Couldn't quite determine what. Until I got halfway to the mailboxes, and remembered that the Gator had been parked behind the Toronado as I backed T-Hoe out of the garage. That only happens when Hick is in the house. Or gone. He would have driven the Gator to the Freight Container Garage area. I hadn't noticed if the Trailblazer was gone. I just knew that Hick wasn't inside, and I'd assumed he was over past the BARn. I had left the kitchen door unlocked.

I called Hick and asked where he was. He sounded a little odd. Kind of quiet for him. He's not one to use or even understand an inside voice. It seemed like he was all hushed.

"I'm in Goodwill now."

"Oh. I thought you were painting your floor. I left the house unlocked. I'll go back and lock it."

"I'm getting ready to leave now. It'll be fine until I get there."

That's all he said. Kind of short-winded for Hick. Normally, he tells me all about what bargains he's seen or just missed. When I came out of our financial institution, I called Hick to see which bill denominations he wanted for paying Buddy for two loads of gravel, and for buying a car for neighbor Tommy next week. The other denominations I planned to deposit into checking for the trusses.

Huh. There I sat, on the parking lot of a savings and loan, a couple thousand dollars in my lap, and now Hick wanted to chat. I clicked the door locks and checked T-Hoe's mirrors.

"This morning I went to Casey's for gas. I was standing there pumping, watching a worker try to explain how a card works at the pumps for a little old lady, and I saw this woman come walking up over the hill by the mushroom factory. She was talking on a cell phone, and waving her arm. You could tell she was upset. She got down in front of the Nub's Pub, across from Casey's, and stood there on the phone. Anybody could have seen that she was crying. Then she came over and asked me, 'Do you think you could take me to Bill-Paying Town?' [12 miles down the highway] I told her sorry, that I was just getting gas and going right back home. It was out of my way. She said she understood. She was trying to get to the treatment center. Her hands were shaking she was so upset. Then I felt bad, and said I'd take her. When I came back out from paying, she was standing beside the car, trying to call the treatment center. I could hear the phone ringing. They didn't pick up until we were all the way to Next Town."

"Well...I guess you're lucky she didn't kill you. Or accuse you of something..."

"I thought of that. If she'd been young, I wouldn't have done it. But she was middle-aged. Late 30s or early 40s. She was saying something to the counselor about how they didn't send anybody to pick her up. And that she knew they said they wouldn't pick her up anymore, but that she was on her way now. I dropped her off at the treatment center, and she went in. She didn't really say anything on the way over. Just 'Thank you' when I let her off."

"Huh. I hope she's okay. Maybe she didn't make her appointments or something. Or violated their rules. Maybe they were trying Tough Love on her, and you helped her instead. I guess she's where she needs to be."

"Yeah. I feel like I did the right thing. I've done my good deed for the day."

Dang it, Hick! Don't you know she could have stabbed you or screamed RAPE? I swear, I don't know how to knock some sense into Hick sometimes. Why can't he just let people fend for themselves? It's one thing to give money to an 11:00 a.m. alcoholic, or to buy a car for a neighbor without any money or job...but he's going to get hurt one of these days. He's totally the kind of guy who would stop to help somebody change a tire, and then get run over by a tractor trailer truck.

This gal might have been scamming him, but she didn't ask for any money, and he DID drop her off at the treatment center, and she went inside.

I'm surprised Hick has not been arrested for indecent exposure, and that he even has a wardrobe left, after giving so many people the shirts off his back.

Hick is a regular Father Teresa.

I'm pretty sure that's what my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel's mom would have said about him.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hick Pipes Up

You may recall that Hick has been paving the gravel road. Hick and his buddy, Buddy. Buddy supplies the materials, left over from his free-lance dump truck hauling. Hick provides the labor. He's pretty much on call to smooth out the blacktop when Buddy gets a load. Let the record show that blacktop waits for no Hick. It must be spread before it cools. Or Buddy will have a truck full of hardened blacktop. HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) had been called in recently to assist, since Hick has a spare tractor just sitting around, and HOS is currently not working on the railroad.

When we last critiqued the roads that Hick (and Buddy) built, they left a little to be desired. They had paved one side of the gravel road hill, and since I reported them told you of their progress, they have done both sides of the hill.

Yes, it's still not smooth. Very bumpy. Hick says the first time, they had to get that load out before it hardened, and Buddy drove his dump truck over it, thinking that would smooth it out, but it resulted in ruts. Permanent ruts. You can't put the genie back in the lamp, or spread blacktop once it has hardened. Hick says that on the second effort, the left side of the road here, looking at it from the downhill angle, they used a roller he's had for a while, bought from a local guy, that Hick used for flattening the ground. Like after the FedEx guy left ruts. But that this roller wasn't heavy enough. Being Hick, he decided that they need a better roller. Of course that's something he can design and construct.

The plan was to get a piece of pipe, fill it with leftover concrete from the floor of the new Freight Container Garage, make a frame for it, and VOILA! A road roller to pull behind Hick's tractor. His newest one, from that MoDOT auction, the blue New Holland. I figured that out, because he made sure to spray paint the frame and roller to match the tractor. And it ain't green like the John Deere.

For those of you interested in Hick's fiddlings, I'll document his roller construction.

That's Hick's pipe. He got if from a general contractor who had done work for him for years at his factory. It's a steel pipe, 72 inches long, 20 inch diameter, and 1/4 inch thick. Hick got it for free, due to his connections, but it would have cost somebody else $300-$400.

There's the frame, laid out in the BARn. The tongue came from his old roller, and the metal was scrap that he had laying around. He welded it together with the help of HOS.

There it is, welded, with more of Hick's treasures on display behind it.

Of course Hick couldn't be seen tooling around our enclave pulling a junky roller, so he used some paint he'd kept from when he worked at his OLD employer. The one back when we first got married. Before Genius was even on the horizon. Hick is not one to throw anything away.

Hick stood the pipe on end, and when the concrete workers were done pouring the Freight Container Garage floor, they poured the excess in the pipe.

Here's the finished product. Hick spent $40 on bearings. Not that I know what they are. Hick says that's what makes the roller roll. So that's all the money he has in this little project. Too bad it was too late to use on the hill I travel down every day. But they used it yesterday on HOS's hill when Buddy got another load of blacktop.

Here's the master craftsman, posing with his completed project. It was a happy accident that I caught Hick and HOS giving the roller a test run, across the front yard/field, as I was headed to town. HOS was riding on the frame of the roller, and stepped off to take some pictures for himself.

Hick says it worked great, but that if he had it to do over...he might have used a shorter pipe, with a greater diameter. For more weight, and less surface area. Look for a new roller, coming (hopefully not too) soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dumpster Totin'

A couple weeks ago, I was stirring up some supper for Hick (stop envisioning a witch over her cauldron) at the time I normally go out for a walk. It was really hot that day, and I told Hick I was taking the evening off. I had barely enough time to get the dumpster out to the end of the driveway before dark. I rounded the corner of the back porch just in time to see Hick walking through the front yard/field pulling the dumpster.

You know, that's just like Hick. Not the being sweet part, doing my handed-down job for me. The short cut part. Though I'm pretty sure taking a few extra steps up the curved driveway would be less work than pulling a loaded dumpster across a bumpy yard/field. Also, I'm pretty sure Hick took the dumpster himself to speed up the arrival of his supper.

The next week, I went out as normal to tote that dumpster to the end of the driveway. Hick was gone somewhere, but I wasn't expecting him to do it for me again. Lightning doesn't strike twice in Val Thevictorian's yard/field.

The dogs get all excited on dumpster day, yipping and jumping and biting the bejeebers out of each other's lip flaps. They didn't do that when Hick took the dumpster, because there wasn't that satisfying rumble and crunch of the dumpster wheels on the gravel. There must be some special audio frequency that gets them all hyped up, because I only see them act that way when Hick drives the Gator or I pull the dumpster.

Anyhoo...I tipped it over and grabbed the side of the handle with one hand. That's how I pull the dumpster. The Pony preferred the chariot/rickshaw method, where he reached back with two hands to pull it along behind his heels. Not me. I'm no contortionist.


The dumpster was SO HEAVY! I know that one week we filled it to the top, where the lid would hardly flap shut, because we had the remains (minus my short fork) from Hick's Retirementpartypalooza. And even THAT week, the dumpster was not this heavy. Huh. Maybe I was weaker now. A couple weeks older, losing strength exponentially as I age. Maybe I was just tired. Maybe Hick mowed the gravel in the driveway again.

I swear, it felt like I was dragging that dumpster sideways! Like the wheels weren't even turning. I looked back, but they were. SO HEAVY! Like there was a body inside. I did not inspect the contents. Don't think I'm being overly dramatic. There WAS that headless body found in a septic tank not even a half mile up the gravel road.

This was like trying to move a football blocking sled, only by pulling it instead of pushing it. By the time I got to the end of the driveway, my hand was stiffened in a claw shape.

That's the final dumpster destination. I took this picture the next morning, on the way to town. I pulled off in the yard/field to take it out T-Hoe's window. You can see a sliver of his mirror there at the bottom. This is about 3/4 of the way up the driveway. I figured it's not a very good view of the dumpster, so I drove up closer and took another picture.

Apparently my behavior was suspicious. Jack and Juno and Copper Jack all came frolicking out the driveway to look up at me through the window. The neighbor's horse came around the cedar trees, and a SQUIRREL dashed across the feet of that horse. You can see it there, that dark streak. No wonder that horse doesn't get excited when bad, bad Jack goes under the fence and yips at it.

Anyhoo...the reason I took these dumpster pictures is because of a little information Hick revealed that morning.

"That dumpster was SO hard to pull! I don't know if something's wrong with the axle, or what. I thought I'd never get to the end of the driveway. My hand just now straightened out. Did you put rocks or something in there? Or junk from the BARn?"

"No. I didn't put nothin' in it this week."

"Well, if it's this hard next time, you're going to have to oil the wheels."

"Them wheels don't need oiled. It's a new dumpster."

Huh. I was not informed! But our old one DID have a cracked lid that pinched in the handle area. When Hick called his people and complained about it, they put on a new lid! Then a couple weeks later, I noticed when I brought it back down the driveway that there was a crack in the front of the main dumpster part. I don't know what those guys do to it. They don't hook it to a winch. They just lift the lid and reach down in and grab the bags.

No wonder it's so much heavier. The plastic is stronger. The wheels aren't broken in. I'll get used to my new load soon enough, I guess. I hope this one lasts 20 years like the last one.

Monday, October 9, 2017

One For Me and Two For He

After much pointed requesting, and finally flat-out commanding...Hick found a letter opener for me at a flea market Sunday morning. Now I don't have to use a kitchen paring knife to open my mail.

It's a beauty! Looks to me like a little knife! It's sharp, too, but Hick swears that it's a letter opener. Looks like he took the picture of it on the hood of his Gator. I don't know if you can see all the detail, but it has a wooden handled, which is wrapped with wire to attach the blade. Hick found it at the big flea market by the casino, and it cost him $1, which I am NOT reimbursing him!

Don't worry that Hick is spending his junking money on me. He still has plenty to lavish on himself. Like THIS treat he picked up on Saturday.

It's a parking meter that he got at a yard sale over by the dead mouse smelling post office. It cost him $1. Who could turn down a parking meter for $1? I didn't ask him if it's full of quarters. Looks like he posed this one in the back of his TrailBlazer.

Hick's also proud of his new wardrobe addition, a pair of $5 overalls from the auction Friday.

The main selling point was the fact that they are ALREADY HEMMED to an inseam of 28". And the second bonus is that they're lined. So I guess they can be his winter overalls. Of course Hick calls them his "bibs". Looks like the bibs got posed on the trunk of the Toronado.

I don't covet Hick's treasures. But there IS one thing he found yesterday that makes me green with envy.

That's TWO QUARTERS! When we got home from the casino mid-afternoon, Hick went over to the BARn to putter around. He sent me this text:

"Two quarters laying in gravel by train shed"

Yep! On Shackytown Boulevard, on the main roadway in front of the Railroad Car shed and the Fishing Lair shed...he found these two quarters. That equals the amount I've found in pennies, and Hick found it all at once! PLUS, he has that penny he found in the freight container last week. How fair is THAT? Hick is one cent ahead of me in found money!

Oh, wait! I'm not counting my dimes and the two one-dollar bills that I found earlier this year. Whew! That's a relief. I'm still in the lead.

Plus...I got a letter opener for free.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunset, Son Rise

Last Thursday, I enjoyed a spectacular sunset during my evening driveway walk.

Good thing I had taken my phone outside, as this magnificent display was not in the forecast. I had put my phone on the corner of the Gator, which Hick has taken to parking behind his 1980 Olds Toronado, almost under the carport roof. Hick was gone to a volleyball game, and I figured if I fell and broke a hip, I could probably drag myself back to the Gator and reach that phone, easier than I could drag myself up the steps, around the porch, and into the house.

On the first lap, I could see that the sun was preparing to set. When I made my second turnaround down by the Gator, the picture was ready for taking.

This was the best one. I figured it was pretty good for an old lady who can't see without her glasses, has no knowledge of how to compose a photo, and is using a hand-me-down Nexus of questionable age that replaced my former cell phone due to a dip in the toilet. So proud was I, in fact, that I sent the picture to Genius the next night, while I was snacking the dogs on the front porch after my walk.

"Sunset last night."

Of course, being Genius, he dutifully sent a response.

"This is what I saw in College Town."

Well. What do you say to THAT? I said all I could say:

"OK. You win."

Genius is pretty good at winning, as long as it's not sports we're talking about. Friday evening, he sent me a text.

"Just got off the phone with my recruiter. Asked for more salary compared to what I'm worth, and I got bumped from $ -- k to $ -- k [an increase of $3000], plus doubled my signing bonus to $ -- k. Gonna sign my offer tonight."

Yes. Our little Genius has a job waiting for him when he graduates in December.

Hick and I, in the sunset of our lives, are excited for the dawn of Genius's career.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Val Harvested a Bumper Crop This Week

My pennyillionaire fortune continues to grow!

On Wednesday, I gave you a mid-week update, whether you wanted it or not. I had found 4 pennies so far this week!

Thursday turned out to be a bountiful day for Val the Pennyfinder.

I had to take one of my less-preferred parking spots at Country Mart, due to other people not me having the nerve to park in my other spaces when they should have known I might decide to stop by. I would have parked on the end space, but I couldn't make a turn that sharp. Besides, there was another car pulling into the space directly across from it, and I thought they might pull on through. I hopped out and crossed the lot to go in the store. You can bet I had my eyes peeled for pennies, but none were evident.

When I came back out and started across the driving part of the parking lot, I saw a penny right in my path! I swear, it was NOT there when I went in! I was looking for one, you know, and I'd walked right over that area.

I had to stand in the driving lane to take this picture to include T-Hoe. Yes, there was a person in a car watching me, as well as the man in the big refrigerated milk truck that was getting ready to plow me over. It was a 2015. The penny. Not the milk truck.

At the gas station chicken store, I DID manage to snare my preferred parking spot by the building. On the way in, I was shocked to see ANOTHER penny waiting for me just before I got to the door.

Here's a little closer view, in case you can't make it out from the wide shot. And yes, there was a car parked to the right, just out of frame, with a person in the passenger seat watching me. I have no shame.

This penny was a 1990 version. Imagine my surprise when I met up with Hick to give him the lunch sandwiches I'd picked up for him in town, and he informed me that HOS had found a penny laying on the trailer that's been hooked up to Hick's truck for a couple of weeks, loaded down with a giant metal thing that's a car lifter thingy used in auto repair garages, until they unloaded it with the tractor this day.

Hick fished it out of his pocket. A 1992. No, it could not have been confused with a common Hick-pocket penny, because Hick dumps his pennies into his giant plastic red Coke bottle bank every night. And he had not yet made any purchases that day.

Nothing fell my way on Friday, but today, SATURDAY, fortune smiled on my proposed fortune again. I had to park around the corner at Orb K because all the front parking spaces were full. I scoped out the exterior and interior for pennies, but saw none.

On my way back to T-Hoe, I perused the lot where a couple of cars had left. What's THAT?

It was a penny, by cracky! A penny I almost missed! I stepped down off the sidewalk for a better look, and held my scratchers between my teeth so as to have both hands free for taking a picture. Yes, I was making a spectacle of myself once again. On the other side of that red car was a peninsula of sidewalk, with an idling pickup truck parked on the other side of it. The lady behind the wheel was giving me the eye. I don't think it was the stinkeye, but she had tinted windows, so I can't be sure. I'm hoping she just wrote about me on her blog tonight as a common run-of-the-mill weirdo.

See it there, by the line? What you might NOT see is the SECOND penny I almost missed, at the bottom left of that long gray spot in the middle of the parking space.

The one that caught my eye, a 1992.

And the one I saw by accident, while looking to see if anybody else was watching me, and didn't zoom in on enough, after picking up the first penny. But it's at the lower left of that big gray spot. A 2016.

So...this week, from Monday to Saturday, Val has found 8 pennies! Three on Monday, one on Wednesday, two on Thursday, and two on Saturday.

Thursday gave me pennies #47 and 48. Today (Saturday) gave me #49 and 50.

I'm not counting the freight container penny found by Hick on Monday, nor the trailer penny found by HOS on Thursday, as part of my pennyillionaire total.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #79 "Stinker Sailor Folgers Spy"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Do you enjoy a tale of intrigue? A story of a screw-up who becomes a hero? A good double-cross? If so, this week's fake book might be just what you're looking for. IF you think two out three ain't bad. It's no secret that Val churns out these fake books at an alarming rate. If she were the type of author who titles her books alphabetically...she would be on her third alphabet by now. Don't miss a single fake book! Pre-order Val's latest lackadaisical effort today!

Stinker Sailor Folgers Spy

Jason Jack Flint, code name "The Albatross," joined the CIA reluctantly. His father's stellar career made him a legacy. First trying his hand as a deodorant tester, then a merchant marine, then a coffee taster, JJ could not find a career that fit. Now, as an intelligence agent, JJ realizes he's in over his head.

For months JJ has posed as a homeless man in an unnamed foreign city. He sneaks into an abandoned warehouse each week, the perfect surveillance location for watching high-level operatives come and go in the building across the street. Unfortunately, the counterspies are onto JJ. Too late, he realizes they have coated the window pane with superglue. Nobody knows his identity. Nobody knows where he is. Unable to reach his predetermined data drop point three days ago, JJ waits. Will anyone miss JJ? Or will he become one of the agents who simply disappear forever? (150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

La Brea Tar Pits..."Every now and then, buried under the muck, you find a shining treasure like a dragonfly encased in amber. Thevictorian's fake book is NOT one of these treasures, and should remain buried for eternity."

Catchmaster Glue Trap..."Don't be lured in by Thevictorian's book blurb! You'll regret it! Stick to your guns and avoid this fake author like the rat she it. This fake book will make you want to gnaw off your hand for shelling out the purchase price."

The Rolling Stones..."This fake book is not as sweet as brown sugar. Or any sugar at all. Thevictorian's manner of stringing together words is as shockingly inappropriate as our Sticky Fingers album cover."

Warrant..."Like everybody knows we are not actually singing about sweet cherry pie...what Thevictorian does is not actually writing. Write it in the kitchen, write it in the hall, write it in your basement lair if you have the gall. Write it like a pro, write it like a champ, you ain't foolin' no one, you no-talent scamp!"

Sugar Ray Leonard..."Thevictorian is going to take a beatin' on this one. I'll pull no punches. She writes like she has suffered one too many concussions."

Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins..."Not even a spoonful of sugar could help you stomach this fake book! In fact, I think it should have a Mr. YUK sticker on the cover as a warning."

Honey..."Thevictorian's writing just did not crystallize for me. You could leave one of her fake books in a mummy's tomb, and it would be safe to take out hundreds of years later...because STILL nobody would read it.'"

Childhood Saying..."I'm rubber, Val's a burr. Your bad reviews bounce off me and stick to her! You'd think she had no more room for anything to stick to her by now, on this, her 79th fake book." 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Sometimes, You Lose With a Pair of Jacks

Let the record show that HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) found out at the bus stop that our neighbor's dog, Copper, is actually named Jack. Because I have my own Jack, I will probably continue to refer to him as Copper. Or perhaps Copper Jack. You remember this big fellow, right?

Monday night, on my next-to next-to last lap of my driveway walk, I saw Copper Jack come back under the two strands of overgrown barbed wire that divide our property from his. He laid down between that fence and the driveway, facing me, chewing on something he grasped with his front paws.

When I walk, Copper Jack and my Jack run under that fence and chase rabbits through the field. When it's about time for me to stop, they reappear for the evening snack on the front porch. Sometimes I'm late, or they misjudge the waning daylight, and they show up early. I glanced at Copper Jack as I made my turn round the concrete carport to start another lap.

"Huh. Copper's got something. What IS that? A squirrel? It's stiff. Did those dogs finally get a squirrel? It looks like that belly fur color of a red squirrel. Or is that DEER? A scrap of deer hide? From HOS's deer he shot Saturday morning with his bow? What in the world...?" Of course all that shot through my head in an instant.

As I stepped off the concrete onto the gravel, I was right in front of Copper. I stopped. Leaned over slowly, just getting a look. "What you got there, Buddy?" I normally don't call him Copper to his face. He's very skittish with me, and always jumps back, tail wedged between his muscular rumps. As I leaned down, I saw what it was.

A leather work glove!!! And not a cheap one, either. I didn't know at the time who it belonged to. I though it might be Copper Jack's human daddy. Anyhoo...nobody wants to lose one leather glove. So I said, "Here. Let me see that." All in slow motion, for skittish Copper Jack's benefit.

THAT DARN MUTT LUNGED AT ME AND SNAPPED before I even reached out a hand, and simultaneously LET OUT A SERIES OF THREE YIPS like I had whacked him with a snow shovel! Copper Jack's human family was out in the yard. I couldn't see them through the underbrush, but I'd been hearing them playing ball the whole time I'd been walking. They got silent.

Because of my good deed at rescuing not-cheap personal property, I was probably being considered a dog-beater. As IF my little old lady wasted muscles could harm that giant brute of a dog. Anyhoo...Copper Jack ran back under the fence. The ball-playing resumed. We have a good-neighbor relationship with these folks. I figured Hick could ask the gal (he sees her on the gravel road a lot and stops to talk like we country people do) if her husband was missing a glove. And then HOS could give it back to her at the bus stop.

That night I asked Hick if he lost a glove, and he said, "Where did you FIND it?" Seems that Hick and HOS laid gloves down while working over by the freight container garage, on their pipe roller. (Don't ask, the story will be coming down the PIKE soon. Heh, heh. You thought I was going to say PIPE, didn't you? Nope. It's PIKE. Genius and I used to fight over that all the time). It's HOS's glove (you can see a railroad logo brand thingy on it) and he was wearing it while welding. He definitely wants it back, even though it was kind of dog-slobbery when I rescued it.

NOW...for the other Jack.

Hick called me yesterday while I was in town, and began the conversation by saying, "I'm going to shoot your dog!" Of course he wouldn't. Hick's too old to fend for himself. Who would buy his hot dogs if he didn't have me? He'd have to learn to eat something else. Which it appears he HAS.

"I made myself a bacon sandwich and set it on the seat of my Gator while I carried the trash bag to the dumpster. I came back, and my sandwich was gone! And Jack was sitting on the floorboards of the Gator, LICKING HIS LIPS! That dog ate my sandwich!"

"Well, he's a dog. And he definitely likes to eat. Why would you lay down a sandwich with him around?"

"I thought it would be safe up on the seat!"

Come to think of it, Jack and Juno and even Copper Jack don't bother my groceries when I leave them sitting in the bags on the side porch while carrying others in. Of course, they ARE mostly wrapped in the packaging. And the dogs don't like those rustling Walmart bags. Still...I would never set down my gas station chicken. Or a sandwich on a paper plate.

I imagine Jack might have looked something like this when Hick arrived at the Gator he'd left parked in the front yard:

Good thing Hick's not a poker player. I don't know how long it would take him to learn that sometimes, you lose with a pair of Jacks.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Reading

You don't know how close you were to having the MEDALLION saga pre-empted by today's tale!

I know, right? You're all probably trying to decide if that would be a bad thing. Like Kim Darby as Mattie Ross of near Dardanelle in Yell County said to Glen Campbell as LaBeouf the Texas Ranger in the original True Grit, after he said he'd changed his mind from stealing a kiss from her to giving her five or six good licks with his belt..."One would be as unpleasant as the other."

Of course, there's only one thing Val would think important enough to pre-empt a long boring tale of a savings bonds faux pas. A PENNY FROM HEAVEN!

On Monday morning, I took my little flat rate box of bonds (with its UPDATED list) to the main post office. I filled out my own shipping label, because the guy working was the one with terrible writing. I found that out previously, when I had neatly written in block letters the address, directly on the box in the area where it was printed with TO: and FROM: That guy had whipped out a red-and-white stick-on label, and scrawled what kind of looked like the address. I swear, I wanted to snatch my mail back out of his hands, and come back another time.

This time I was ready to insist on filling out my own label. Hick, with his one eye, and his big toe that won't bend due to a pin surgically installed after he dropped a 5th-wheel trailer hitch on it, and his don't-care attitude...could do better writing with his foot than this scrawly post office guy. I got my label done, paid (with no extra penny given to me this time), and stopped by the credit union on my way to the bank.

In between CU and bank, I stopped at Waterside Mart South for a scratcher. A little gal who works there used to be my student. Her grandpa was my custodian. She came right over from the deli where she mainly works to wait on me at the counter.

"Hi! I'd like a Golden Ticket, please."

"Oh. We're out."

Let the record show that I don't go to this store very often. But when I do, I speak to this little gal, and we cut up and carry on, knowing each other from our past lives.

"Okay. I'll take a Black and Gold, and the new $5 Big Money."

"We're out of those, too." She's kind of a jokester, always smiley.

"No way!"

"Yeah. We are!"

"You're just messin' with me!"

"No. Really. We're out. Our lottery man hasn't been here yet."

"Okaaayyyy. Give me a Diamond Dollars and a Multiplier."

With my two $5 tickets in my hot greedy hand, I headed back to the car. I clicked open T-Hoe's door locks, and saw THIS by his back tire:

In case you can't see it, that's a penny. Look in the curve of that first ribbon of stain on the right. It's in the elbow-bend area. I took a close-up, but inconveniently focused too close to the tire and left out the penny. That's what happens in the bright sun. It was a 2012.

I finished my picture-taking and walked back and bent over to pick it up, and saw ANOTHER one by the other back tire!

I got a close-up of this one, though. A 1992.

So you can judge where it is in the big picture, related to the end of that stripe, and the gum spot. It was a DOUBLE PENNY DAY! I was as happy as a clam! IF a clam in Missouri behind the wheel of a 2008 Tahoe can be considered happy. I wasn't quite so happy as I left the bank. I don't know why it takes 8 minutes to take cash with a deposit slip correctly filled out, and type that amount into an account.

From there it was on to Casey's General Store for another scratcher. Before I turned in, I saw the lady who usually waits on me. She's always nice, especially since that time Hick was in Sweden and T-Hoe ate up all his oil, and my warning lights were blinking, and I had to buy a funnel and two cans of oil. Now, here was Clerky, out in the parking lot, standing beside a 1980s model Cadillac. It drove off, and Clerky bent over and started picking stuff up.

"By cracky, she's picking up my rightful pennies! Where does she get off, doing such an uncalled-for thing!" 

Mind you, I didn't actually SEE any pennies. But what could she have been picking up? Broken glass? Crack rocks? A shredded murder-for-hire note? NO. She was more likely picking up pennies. A whole roll of them, by the looks of it. As I parked T-Hoe over at the side, I couldn't tell what Clerky had picked up. Didn't see anything in her hand. Her pockets were not stuffed.

I was still fuming a bit over the unfairness of that penny-pincher as I used the strong cell phone signal to do The Pony's mobile banking. Then I grabbed my winners for cashing in, and headed inside. I got in line behind a dude whose card said it was invalid. While he and the clerk were deciding what to do, I finished checking out the numbers on the tickets I wanted to get from their case. I glanced down, and saw THIS:

I guess it was a consolation penny for me! A 2015. I took a picture while Clerky came up to the other register to help me. I think that makes clerks nervous. Like they think I'm a secret shopper or an inspector, spending decoy money on scratchers several times a week.

My clam-happiness knew no bounds! It was turning out to be a THREE-PENNY DAY! I started home, only one stop left, Orb K, for my 44 oz Diet Coke Polar Pop. No pennies there! I went on home to put my three newest pennies in my penny goblet.

After supper, I told Hick about my THREE-PENNY DAY.

"Well...good for you. I was going to tell you this, Val, but I forgot. The crane guy that finally came today to move my freight containers told me my freight container was too heavy." [Insert a bunch of Charlie Brown's teacher's WAA WAA WAA in here concerning tons and crane lifting power and Hick's estimations]. "So we had to unload it. HOS and I carried out almost everything. Boxes and boxes of stuff. Mostly from your mom's house. Kitchen stuff, and her crafts from your old bedroom, the glass jars and stuff. When we were putting the boxes back, I climbed up inside the back door of the freight car and put my hand on the floor. It landed on a penny. This was a WHEAT penny! So I found a penny today, too!" His was a 1945.

Hick is not contributing to my pennyillionaire stash. That's okay. That penny was meant for HIM.


Oh, you might think (and fervently HOPE) that this was the end. But you know what happens when you wish in one hand and click on Val's blog with the other...the blog is always overflowing!

TODAY, Wednesday, I stopped by Waterside Mart South again, for that ticket they were out of. I was startled to see the parking lot almost full, with three sheriff's cars there, two of them parked in the area I normally park, where I found my two pennies on Monday.

I had to park way over to the side. As I started inside, I almost stepping on a PENNY! I backed up for a picture, but that penny was all in my head. The shadow of my head. So I got a different angle, too. It was a 2014.

Three days. Five pennies (four of them mine). Not a bad haul for my pennyillionaire harvest this week. So far...

That makes pennies # 43, 44, 45, and 46 for my collection.