Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Infernal Flame

Yes, the supernatural energy that always seems to swirl around Val, just below the surface, was ready to show itself again. The precursors were there. But Val went on her merry way, oblivious to what was in store for her. So oblivious, in fact, that she fell asleep to the warmth and humming of her OPC (Old People Chair).

I know I was watching TV at 2:55 a.m. The next thing I knew, I was cold, my chair no longer vibrated (it goes off after 15 minutes), and the clock hands showed 3:45. I utilized my chair lift (gotta love the OPC!) and gathered my water cups and empty 44 oz cup, and headed upstairs to the kitchen. I plugged in my cell phone to charge over mid-morning. Put some ice in my water cup for overnight. Went to the master bathroom to change into pajamas. And came out of the bathroom shuffling along like a blind mole.

When I come out of the bathroom, with its row of six lights over the sink, like a showgirl might use to put on her makeup backstage...it takes my eyes a minute to adjust. I can't make out the landmarks of the bedroom from the dim glow that comes in through the louvered blinds on the french doors that face out to Poolio in the back yard. Hick has a light mounted under the porch that shines out there. Sometimes.

I make my way across the foot of the bed, careful not to catch a toe on the trunk that resides there, or an errant shoe tossed asunder by Hick. I grab the bed post with my left hand to get my bearings as I turn to approach my nightstand, to set my bubba cup of ice water on it. On the righthand wall is the electric fireplace that Hick installed after The Great Icepocalypse of  '06.

That's when I noticed it. A glow out of the corner of my right eye. I turned to look, and saw an orange flicker. Huh. That was something new! Was it a reflection of something from the living room? From Hick's clock radio on his nightstand? What in the Not-Heaven could THAT be? I turned to look right at it, even though I KNOW that night vision is better if you look off to the side a little bit.


Not a real candle, with a flame licking up the wick, giving off heat and smoke. Nope. It was an intermittent flicker of a battery-operated candle that has sat on a shelf above that fake fireplace mantel for as long as I can remember the mantel being there. Since '06. Because at the time Hick covered that mantel and shelf with all his knick-knacks, I complained. I told him I was NOT dusting all those gewgaws.

The shelf was found by Hick in the attic space over my grandma's garage. She allowed Hick to clean it out for her (she had a bit of ol' Tom Sawyer in her, my grandma!) and keep anything he wanted. All I remember him taking is this mirror and a mummified cat. (Hick has a little bit of ol' Tom Sawyer in HIM, too!) Hick says the mirror hung in Grandma's hall, and he put it into that wooden part, and mounted the little shelf on it. The battery candles he got at an antique store or flea market.

But getting back to this mysterious glow...it was freaky. I had never seen that candle lit up before. I didn't even know it had a battery in it. And in the dark, I didn't really know exactly what that candle looked like. All I knew was that the orange light flickered. All the rest of the morning/night that I was trying to sleep. Every time I opened my eye to peek at it, the orange glow flickered.

When Hick got up during daylight hours, I woke up from his trampoline routine of putting on his socks and shoes by flopping his foot up on the bed.

"Why was that candle over there glowing when I came to bed? It might still be glowing NOW, if you look at it. I can't tell in the light."


"That one. There on the end of the shelf. Did you turn that on last night when you went to bed?"

"Val. I didn't touch those candles!" Hick tromped around the end of the bed and picked it up. "Huh. It's still on." He twisted the top or the bottom or something. "There. Now it's off."

"Why would it be on when I came to bed? Were you messing with it?"

"No! I haven't touched it since the last time I cleaned."

"When was that?"

"I don't know. A couple weeks ago? It's got a battery in it. Maybe that got shook up."

If you look at that picture, you can see the layer of dust around the bottom, from where Hick picked up the candle to turn it off, and put it back. I don't think it was disturbed until he picked it up right then.

I have no idea what made that thing come on, and stay on for hours. It's never been lit up before. I hope it's not lit up again any time soon.

Monday, February 27, 2017

One of These Days, Val Is Going to See the Light

I should have seen the signs. Should have known that the buildup of other-worldly energy was due for a release. The more these weird things happen to me, the more I sense a pattern: ceiling walking/found coin/cemetery visit/something odd.

The sound of walking above my head late at night has become so common (even happened during my growing-up years, in my mom's house) that it doesn't really bother me any more. I notice it. I look at the clock. I mentally review the date, to see if there's any connection, perhaps, to a special occasion or milestone. It's disconcerting. But it doesn't scare me.

Last Thursday night, I heard walking again in Genius's bedroom. Just regular walking. Not the disco stomping I hear sometimes. Nor the bed creaking as if someone has just rolled over. Walking. Funny that I'd been in Genius's room that very morning. We keep the door closed, because when Genius is home, his life is such a whirlwind that he tosses items here and there, sorts through some mail, and leaves things he has no used for at his college house at the moment.

I had taken a photography magazine and a bank statement to Genius's room, and laid them on his bed around 10:30 or 11:00 Thursday morning. The room was cold, but that's to be expected. We keep the door closed, and it's on the front side of the house, the west side, and the sun hadn't reached there yet to shine in through his large front window. I also noticed the floor creak while I was standing beside the bed. Which made me think how easy it must be for the floor to creak when nobody is in there. Randomly. Between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m.

On Thursday afternoon, on the way home from lunch with my favorite gambling aunt, I had stopped for some lottery tickets so I would have a couple to mail in Genius's letter the next morning. And some for myself, too, of course! I opened the door to step out of T-Hoe, and there was a penny looking up at me. Not as good as the dime I found last time before my weird coincidence. But still, ground money!

Friday I went to town to mail the weekly letters to Genius and The Pony. I have to get there before the mail goes out, so I was missing my morning shows on POP TV. I watch Dawson's Creek. Two shows per day. I never watched that series when it was on, but I've gotten caught up in these old reruns. Even though Katie Holmes has been married, babied, and divorced over the years, the show is still fresh for me. Since I knew I'd be in town, I set the DVR to record it on my basement big screen TV. Don't go thinking that rich ol' Val has The Hopper. Nope. I can only record two different shows at a time, and I can only do that on my basement TV. Not the one in the living room where I usually watch Dawson.

After the post office Friday morning, I did the Walmart shopping. Then I stopped by the cemetery and made sure I was talking to the right grave this time. Just a short happy chat. Nothing odd happened. No special songs played. I just filled Mom in on the boys' activities, and our upcoming gambling trip with Sis and the ex-mayor.

The evening was uneventful. A driveway walk, dog snacks, a quick supper for Hick so he could go to the auction. I slapped together my Book Blurb and posted it. Readied my supersecret blog tale of lunch with Auntie. Read blogs and left comments. Watched a YouTube video of a guy scratching a whole book of lottery tickets. Thought about working on my tax return. Looked at some conspiracy sites. Read some outlandish "news" on the UK Daily Mail.

After shutting down my New Delly, I went out to my OPC (Old People Chair) and turned on the heater and the vibrator. Cranked it back. I watched some Teen Mom 2 shows I'd recorded. Then remembered Dawson's Creek, the two episodes I'd recorded from that morning. I pushed the button to see what the first one was about. Huh. The Leerys try to come to terms with Mitch's car accident. WHAT? Mitch had a car accident? Huh. I'd missed the shows on Thursday, due to leaving early to go by the bank and the courthouse before lunch with Auntie. Last I saw, the gang had gone off to their respective colleges, and Pacey was stalking Joey from a boat in Boston Harbor.

I pushed the button to watch that episode, and right away it was obvious that MITCH WAS DEAD! Dawson was picking out a casket. Mom Leery had taken to her bed and couldn't function. Baby-Girl Leery would never know her dad...


There was walking in The Pony's room! Right by the door and the hall area. The Pony, as a little tyke, used to tell me that Grandpa came to his room at night. He never knew his grandpa (just like Baby-Girl Leery) because he was only 6 weeks old when my dad died of cancer. But there's a picture of him in Genius's room, and hanging on the wall in the hall, over the piano. So The Pony always knew what his grandpa looked like.

Dad had held The Pony, though. Balanced him on his knees in his recliner. Talked to him every day until the last two weeks when he was kind of out-of-it. I wasn't working then, and every morning I'd dropped 3-year-old Genius off at daycare (sorry, Genius) and took The Pony out to spend the morning with Dad, and keep my mom company, because she wouldn't leave the house.

Anyhoo...now I was watching a show about the dad dying, with everybody having flashback memories about what a great guy he was...and this floor-walking had started over my head. I swear. That same stuff started the night I watched that recording of The Middle, when Sue Heck held a seance and saw the Santa Maria shadow sail across her wall! This is why I never watch those ghost hunter shows at night! Or that kid medium, or the Long Island chick, either. I can only watch those shows in the daylight, upstairs, preferably with somebody else at home. Bwawk! Bwawk! I'm a big ol' chicken.

Oh, but this is just the lead-up, people! You don't know what awaited me upstairs!

You'll find out tomorrow, though...


Sorry. Val is the poster girl for why authors should not include a prologue, or take too long setting the scene.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Val Really Knows How to Assess a Situation. Or DOES She?

Last Thursday I made a trip to the county courthouse to turn in our personal property assessment form. You know, the one I filled out on Tuesday night, and Hick "forgot" to sign on Wednesday morning, just before being stopped by the police without his insurance card, and being strong-armed by the city of Workplaceville to dispose of 150 dead snow geese.

I didn't actually have to enter the courthouse proper. A few years ago, the courthouse added an annex across the street. I've only been in it once, dealing with Mom's property records when Sis and I were in the process of selling her house to our cousin, the son of my favorite gambling aunt. I think the office I was in that time was the Recorder of Deeds. On the ground floor. The assessor's office is on the second floor, according to the return mailing address on the form, and Hick's hazy memory from when he was there a scant month ago.

Since I was meeting Auntie for lunch in that town anyway, at 12:30 at the FelineFish Skillet, I decided to leave early and get that assessment form dropped off first. You never know how long a lunch with Auntie and I might last. We like to talk. And we like to eat. I was taking no chances of that office closing while I was still eating all I could at the FelineFish Skillet.

The courthouse annex has a good-sized parking lot, and there were plenty of spaces open. Most likely because folks were just leaving for, or returning from, their lunch. (I don't know how things operate on the coasts, but we start early here in the midwest. I spent the majority of my working life dining at 10:53 a.m., first lunch shift.) I spied a spot up near the back of the building (that's where parking is, unless you can snag a parking space on the one-way street the building faces), off to the left side. It was next to a handicap spot, and I could cheat T-Hoe's passenger-side tires over a bit on the line by the wide yellow-striped handicap walkway. That way I could open my driver's door all the way, even if a different car parked close to me while I was in the building.

I climbed out and let my knees redistribute their synovial fluid. I shook the key ring to straighten out the keys for my pocket, and clicked the lock. In my left hand, I held the folded-up assessment form. I saw no need to stuff it in the envelope. I was taking it directly to the office. Then I was sufficiently un-lamed to start walking to the door. Some scofflaw had parked along the sidewalk/entryway concrete curb (probably just to run in an assessment form), but didn't really interfere with my beeline for the six glass double doors.

When I had started stepping away from T-Hoe, I saw a lady walking toward the building from another aisle of the parking lot. I felt like she was staring at me. I may or may not have mumbled under my breath, lips barely moving, "What are YOU lookin' at, #@%$#?" Because, you know, Val is a woman, not an animal, and most certainly not a weirdo, and does not take kindly to people goonin' at her.

Now that lady was pulling open the glass door on the left to enter the building. She turned back toward me, her hand holding the door. I was WAY too far back for her to be holding the door open for me. I wondered if she hadn't gotten enough of a look on the parking lot, or if maybe she thought she knew me.

"Are you just taking that up to the assessor's office?"


"I can take that for you. Save you a few steps. That's where I'm going. I work in that office."

"Oh. Okay. Thank you!" By this time I was within arm's reach of her. I handed her my form. "I think I've got it all filled out. And signed."

The lady looked at it. Unfolded it. Turned it over. "This is the only one you've turned in, right?"

"Yes. I waited a little late this year, and didn't want it to get lost in the mail before the deadline next Wednesday."

"Okay. Some people sent in the blank ones. We've had such trouble with our printing company. They sent out a batch with no property showing."

"I know! My husband brought ours over here to ask about it, and they said new ones were coming out. I tried to go online, and that access code number that's supposed to be ours was missing two numbers. But I figured it out by accident. Then I saw that some of the vehicles didn't have PIN numbers listed, and not all of our property was on it..."

"Yes. We are SO backed up. Any time we get a spare minute, we go in and try to add some VIN numbers to the accounts."

"I'm sure that's a big headache, entering all that information. Thank you for taking that up for me. I wasn't really sure where I was going."

"No problem."

She went on inside, and I turned to go back to the car. About halfway to T-Hoe, after stepping down off the curb, it hit me.


Seriously. She was not in a uniform, of course. Because they don't wear uniforms. And she wasn't wearing a name tag. But maybe she took it off to go to lunch. She seemed to know a lot about how the office operates. But really, I knew all about the blank forms, and the re-sent forms, and since this is the first year for the online choice of filing the form, I could have guessed that the workers have been busy entering data.

Crap! Maybe she was just some random lady who was at that very moment stealing my identity! The county jail is just across the street, too. Maybe she was an escapee, laying low in a government office until the heat blew over. She wasn't in an orange jumpsuit. Just regular clothes. Business casual, I guess. I don't especially enjoy being cynical and suspicious. But when I worked in the city, for the unemployment office, my hardened, grizzled, city-dwelling co-workers told me I was way too trusting.

How could that lady have known what that folded-up form was? From across the parking lot! Who was she, Jaime Sommers, with a bionic eyeball? Maybe she was just guessing, and I played right into her hands by putting my assessment form into her hands.

I guess my form has been received and recorded. It's only a monetary penalty that grows by the month. It's not like if you miss paying your property tax, and your homestead is sold on the courthouse steps.

Everything's going to be okay...right?


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Your Dangling Days Are Done!

I admit I've been stringing you along since Wednesday. Left you hangin' on Thursday. Tossed in a fake-book commercial on Friday. But today, I promise, you'll find out about Hick's shenanigans. Perhaps it is a tale best related from his own mouth:

"I was sitting in my office and saw an email from the city. I opened it up, and it was from some new guy. A building inspector, maybe. I know most of the guys at the city, but this was a new one. He said I had some dead birds on the property, and needed to dispose of them. So I told him I wasn't disposin' of NOTHIN'! That if the city had a problem with it, they could clean it up theirself. He said they wouldn't, because it was on private property, not city property. So I said then it wasn't a problem. It was on PRIVATE property! But he said I was going to clean it up. And I said I wasn't. And he said I WAS. He said they'd turn it over to the police as a nuisance if I didn't get it cleaned up.

So...I took the boss up to that end of the property with me to see what was going on. We have about 7 acres, and this was on the part where I got them drainage pipes that the contractor had left there when he died. We got up there, and I was expecting a few birds. The city guy said they were snow geese. We didn't find a few birds. We found a PILE of birds!

Looked like there was about a hundred and fifty of 'em. Just piled there. Like somebody threw 'em out of the back of a truck! And they'd split 'em open and cut out the breast meat. They wasn't stinkin' yet. So I went back to the plant and got on the phone with another guy I know at the city. He's in the sewer department. I asked him if they could clean up that mess for me. He said they couldn't, because it was on private property. None of their equipment is allowed to be used on private property.

I called my buddy from the contractors down home, to see if they had a backhoe in the area that I could use. But they didn't. I told my boss all I knew to do was for me to haul one of my tractors up here on a trailer, and use the bucket to try and dig a hole. But I don't think I could dig a hole deep enough to get rid of all them birds.

So me and the boss walked up to see the gun guy. He has a business up there by that section of the property. He came out and looked with us. He said that snow geese are legal to kill right now. There's no limit. He says people call them the roaches of the sky. He figures somebody dumped them on Monday night. Said his dogs were going crazy. He said if we left those birds there, that the coyotes would probably have 'em eaten within a couple of days. But other than that, he didn't have any idea how we could get rid of them. And that we might want to set up a surveillance camera, because people have started dumping stuff up there.

It just burns me up that somebody had cut the breasts out of them birds, and throwed the rest there to rot! A lot of people could have used that meat. Hell, if a deer gets run over, the Highway Patrol at least donates the meat. It doesn't go to waste. This is just wasteful."

"So what are you going to do?"

"Nothing right now. He didn't give me a deadline. He said he'd call the police if I didn't remove the nuisance. We'll see what happens. I don't have any way to get rid of them, unless I hire a contractor with a dozer."

Let the record show that as of Friday, Hick said he hadn't been back to see if the coyotes had done their job. Let the record further show that this morning, Saturday, at exactly 9:00, our house phone rang. Hick had just gone out the door, headed to town, probably to score some illicit sugary donuts and hit some flea markets. I could not answer the call because I was on the toilet in the bathroom indisposed unable to go to the phone.

We have a phone on the bathroom wall, but it doesn't ring. So it was only a stroke of luck that the furnace wasn't running and I could hear the ring from the one in the living room. It was the City of Workplaceville. That's what our computer-voiced answerer said. "Call from...City of Workplaceville."

When I was able to grab a functioning phone, I called Hick. "The City of Workplaceville just called. I couldn't answer the phone in time. I wonder what they could want?"

"I don't know. I don't care. They can call someone else." Let the record show that Hick already worked 3-and-a-half days of his 3-day work week.

"Do you think it's about those birds?"

"Who knows? Somebody will deal with it. It's probably just the police, because them guys are working today, and they never get the alarm turned off right." Let the record further show that this happens a lot, but that it is generally preceded by a call from the alarm company prior to the police.

Hick might still make it to jail. I guess Monday Tuesday will tell.

***UPDATE*** Sunday, 4:20 p.m.

Last night around 8:00, Hick dared to descend to my dark basement lair to tell me that he had just checked his phone, and that the office manager at his workplace had sent him a text shortly after 9:00 a.m. (Don't rely on Hick to save you in an emergency, especially if you notify him by text!)

The Workplaceville police had called the office manager, and told her to relay information to Hick. They said Hick should NOT clean up the snow geese, because they had caught the person who dumped them. They are going to make the perpetrator clean up the snow geese!

Hick said that on Friday, his immediate superior had put the picture on social media, and asked for anybody who knew anything about the situation to contact the police. Looks like a concerned citizen did just that. Hick is going to ask the police for more information when he returns to work.

So...looks like Hick escaped the pokey on this one.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #49 "Baby Knows Best"

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 had her tongue lodged so firmly in her cheek that she had to make a trip to Not Very Urgent Care to have it pried loose! You can't miss out on this week's fake book. Add it to your Library of the Absurd now! Before it is fake-banned for its political incorrectness. Send no money now. But until I get it, you don't get your fake book. I'll take cash, check, charge card, debit card, foreign currency, PayMePal, bitcoins, IOUs, lottery tickets, magic beans, and shiny beads. But I don't take American Express.

Baby Knows Best

Muffy looks at her precious six-month old daughter in awe. She' so...mature. Six weeks ago, Babe made her decision. Not yet verbal, she communicated through eye blinks, pounding the keyboard of her MacBook, and sign language relayed by her pet gorilla, Carob, utilizing inter-species telepathy.

Babe knows she was born a septuagenarian in an infant's body. Thanks to Muffy's efforts, she is wheeled into surgery the very next day, to make the outside match the inside. Sure, it's a little bit awkward to haul her around in that infant sling. And to change her diaper in a public restroom. Muffy will change all that. Get special accommodations put into law for those who choose to follow in Babe's not-yet-taken footsteps.

Don't miss the sequel, to see what wacky hijinks ensue when Babe hosts an alcohol-fueled preschool-graduation party, gets her driver's license, and signs a contract on her first playhouse! (149 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Disneyland's Magic Kingdom's 'It's a Small World' ride..."Looks like we're going to need to change our name. Just like Thevictorian, when word of this literary atrocity make the rounds."

Benjamin Button..."What a curious case! I think Babe has it all backwards. And that Val Thevictorian is a backwards backwoods fake-writer who should never publish again."

Taco Bell..."We would like to give Babe a 10% discount on her order the next time she uses our drive-thru speaker. We would like to give Thevictorian the bum's rush to keep her off our property." 

Carnie taking tickets for the Scrambler..."I'll let you on this ride, Babe, 'cause you're tall enough. But those false teeth have to sit right here on my greasy gear box until you're done. You might get an extra long ride, too, 'cause I gotta take a dump. Gimme that fake book Thevictorian wrote. It'll make real good terlet paper." 

Mini Babybel Cheese..."Everyone's rate of maturation is different. I'm lookin' at YOU, Cheez Its wheel! I don't know how you can sit there without a red face. Mine is red just thinking about your embarrassing antics, and Val Thevictorian should positively look like she has rosacea after fake-penning this fake tome."

Alan Jackson..."Oh, come on, Babe. It's all right to be little bitty! Isn't that so, Val? I don't mean your size, dear. I mean your fake book sales."

Tom Hanks in BIG..."You're lucky, Babe! I didn't have any choice when I turned big. You don't have to run away to the city and work a nine-to-five job testing toys! I wish Thevictorian would run away to the city, and disappear from a seedy hotel, without even getting to eat baby ears of corn-on-the-cob at a company shindig."

Tom Hanks in SPLASH..."This has got to be the most outlandish fake book I have ever read! I wish I could find Val Thevictorian in a bathtub, and see if she has any big secrets. And see if she floats...with my foot holding her head underwater."

Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own..."There's no crying in literature! Sure, you WANT to cry after reading this atrocity of a fake book. But you can't. There's no crying in literature! Thevictorian needs to start using her head. You know what that is, don't you? It's that lump about three feet above...oh, who am I kidding here. It's just her ass. Thevictorian writes out her ass! You might as well cry."

Tom Hanks in Castaway...
"This picture of Babe on the cover reminds me of someone I once spent a lot of time with. Her skin is surprisingly similar to my old friend Wilson. This fake author [turns fake book over to view the cover] Thevictorian must have a brain similar to Wilson."
Caitlyn Jenner..."Who in the Not-Heaven is Tom Hanks, and why is he obsessed with Thevictorian's fake book? I, myself, don't understand the premise."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I Know You're Still Dangling...

When we last convened, Hick had left home without his AAA membership card, and proof of insurance cards for the Trailblazer (which he was driving that day), his truck, and his Olds Toronado.

You know that some people drive for their whole life, right, and never have an accident, never get pulled over, and never need to show proof of insurance. Hick is not one of those people.

He has been working in the old building, the one that used to be a Red Cross storage facility, just off the highway. The one he pretty much single-handedly re-fitted and re-wired and made into a bustling factory that made saw blades and butcher supply products, way back when Genius was just born. As business boomed, Hick's factory expanded, and moved across town to a bigger building. Now that they have expanded again, they need to utilize the old building more.

Hick left the old building to go back to the new building. He saw a police car pull out behind him. So he kept watching it. No mention of whether or not he was sweaving at the time. But one thing's for sure: he did not have his seat leaned back, taking a snooze.

"I seen him pull out and follow me. So I kept an eye on him."

"Did he turn on his siren?"

"NO! Just the lights..."

"Uh. I think that's bad enough."

"He pulled me over. So I was wondering what I did. I wasn't speeding. Just going through town. So I asked him what I did, and he said I didn't have any taillights! So I told him I didn't know that, and thanked him for telling me, and said I'd check them when I got home, and get them fixed. When I got back to the plant, I looked at the wiring and--" (here Hick lost me, because I kind of tune out his mechanic-speak to preserve my sanity after all these years). "I don't know what it is. I might drive the truck tomorrow, or maybe I'll take the Trailblazer and get it worked on up there."

"Huh. It's probably something your new best friend mechanic buddy unhooked, to keep you coming back for return business, since he's on the fifth car right now, and you still have to go pick up the Toronado."

"Yeah. Sure, Val."

"Did he ask for your insurance card?"


"You're lucky, because the one you have expired a month ago, and you left the new one on the kitchen counter this morning."

"I did? I didn't see it."

"That doesn't surprise me."

Anyhoo...Hick didn't get arrested, and wasn't caught without proof of insurance. But that traffic stop was the least of his worries on Wednesday.

Oh, wait. This is too long. Looks like you'll have to wait for the rest of the story. On SATURDAY. Because tomorrow is Book Blurb Friday, you know!

Okay, I'm sorry that was anticlimactic. But I have to draw the line somewhere. The REAL story, about dead bodies (with a picture) is the most interesting part, but it's too long to add here. SATURDAY. I promise. If you don't read on weekends, you can catch up to it MONDAY!!! It'll still be here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Val's Gonna Leave Ya Hangin', Bro!

This one's a two-parter, folks!

Let's begin with Hick and his penchant for being profiled by the police. Like that time he was minding his own business, and nobody else's, with his car seat laid back at the park, taking a nap after lunch, innocently trying to catch five winks or so before returning to the plant to put his nose back to the grindstone. Apparently, the work-town police have not forgotten about our Hick. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last night I was updating our personal property assessment thingy. I usually update it and mail it right back when we get it in January. Actually, we usually get ours BEFORE January, and have to wait until the 1st to fill it out. This year, it came later, with a website on the form, so we could update online. But they had a bunch of stuff wrong on our online list, and on paper, they showed that we owned absolutely NO personal property! Yep. Our list was barer than Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard.

I was waiting to fill it out, because I sure didn't want to write all that stuff in, and look up VINs for 8 vehicles, and interrogate Hick on the specifics of various farm equipment. Hick said he was going to take it down to the courthouse to ask about it. Which he did, and was told that they messed up. Indeed, a week or two later, we got a CORRECTED assessment list in the mail.

I vacillated on doing the online form, or using the paper one, crossing off The Pony's old Ford Ranger and adding his Rogue, plus the Trailblazer that we bought my sister the ex-mayor's wife's half of. I had the Trailblazer VIN on the insurance card which had just come (along with the bill), and the Rogue VIN texted to me by The Pony, from the insurance card I'd just sent him in the mail. It's not that the process was difficult. I just put it off (Aquarians are known for that trait) because I couldn't decide if I wanted a record on paper, or if I trusted the new website to work.

Hick knew I was getting the form ready. I had to ask him if the Trailblazer was an LS, an LT, or a LTZ. And if the Rogue was an S, and SV, or an SV with SL. Can't have the county missing out on a few of our pennies. I planned to take the form to the courthouse assessor's office and turn it in, since I'll be going over to that town to meet my favorite gambling aunt for lunch on Thursday. No need fretting over our questionable mail delivery. The form has to be returned by March 1st or there's a penalty, you know.

When I went to bed in the early a.m. hours, I left that form on the kitchen counter, with a pen pointing to the line, and a note on a paper plate right beside it with the message: "Sign here." Also propped next to that paper plate were Hick's AAA membership card (I had used the number to get a cheaper rate on our upcoming gambling trip hotel rooms) and the updated insurance cards for the Trailblazer, Hick's Ford F250 4WD Club Cab Long Bed, and his 1980 Olds Toronado...all of which took effect on January 9th. My bad.

Of course Hick merrily walked right past that display, warming his Nutri Grain Blueberry Waffles in the toaster, and grabbing his banana off the counter at 6:00 a.m. He left the AAA membership card and the three insurance cards untouched.

How was Hick to know that the police...

Oops! More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I DO Keep Getting Those Funeral Plan Advertisements in the Mail...

Last week, on the way home from errand-running, I stopped by Taco Bell to pick up some lunch. I don't go there often. It's out-of-the-way unless I'm leaving the immediate Backroads area. I was more likely to patronize this establishment when I was working, since it was on my way home. I rarely did, though, because The Pony did not like the food. Except for the cinnamon twist thingies every now and then.

Well. The Pony isn't here now. And nothing was stopping me. Once I got in line, however, I remembered why we went there so infrequently, even though Hick luurrrves a Beef Burrito Supreme.

I spent 20 minutes in line waiting to pay. That's right. 20 minutes. That is NOT fast food. There were only two cars ahead of me. I swear. It was almost as if the employees made a run for the border, built a wall, climbed it, grew the ingredients, harvested them, climbed back over the wall, tore it down, and stole an aging burro escaped from Grand Canyon tours to ride back to the restaurant, and then prepare my three soft chicken tacos.

[NO POLITICAL COMMENTS! I mean it! I shan't publish them, no matter which side of the wall you're on!]

Anyhoo...I'm being facetious about those employees making a trip to Mexico for the ingredients. That's silly! I could SEE those employees the whole time! Standing around the corner of the building, in plain sight of all nine cars in the drive-thru line, having a smoke and a gossip while we waited.

I was seriously considering driving off. But once you've invested five minutes in your wait already, you think it will just be a few seconds until that line moves. Wrong! I had plenty of time to remember why we didn't go there much. And why I don't leave the window down while waiting, even thought the temps were in the high 60s. I used to complain to The Pony about the smell of sewer gas. His response being, "Um. Look what kind of food you're buying. It's probably from the people who just ate it."

Yes, I certainly re-thought my lunch choice after getting that meal home, and straining my eyes looking for the chicken in my soft chicken tacos. I've never had them from Taco Bell before. But I just didn't feel like eating worm protein that day in my usual choice of soft beef tacos.

But those aren't the most tragic details of my ill-fated fast food meal. Oh, no. It's much, much worse.


Let the record show that I did NOT ask for the senior discount. That I am not in the habit of receiving a senior discount. That I was at the freakin' DRIVE THRU speaker, by cracky!

WTFNH? (What The Freakin' Not-Heaven?) Does my voice have a shawl draped across its shoulders while it totters past the drive-thru speaker pushing a walker with tennis balls on the feet, its vocal cords done up in a bun like Tweety's grandma's white hair?

I did a little research online. Apparently Taco Bell gives a 5% discount to patrons over 65. VAL IS NOT OVER 65!

AND...my discount equaled 10%! So I must be extra, extra old to get DOUBLE the senior discount. It was printed right on my receipt. SENIOR DISCOUNT. And subtracted, before tax.

It will be a warm day in February before Val gives Taco Bell her return business!

Monday, February 20, 2017

I Can't Believe Nobody is Thrilled About Rubbing Elbows With This Ray of Sunshine All the Livelong Day (and Night)

I am about to make you privy (heh, heh, I said privy!) to some classified information. Keep this under your hat, with the cat safely ensconced in its bag, right there under the rug, with the key thrown away after turning the lock.

Val and Hick are planning a gambling getaway.

It wasn't even MY idea! My sister the ex-mayor's wife suggested it. Not that she's providing my bankroll, of course. This is a trip that Sis and the ex-mayor have taken before. And since we pass right through that area on the way to visit The Pony, we discussed making a weekend of it. A weekend of casino hopping, down Oklahoma way.

Sis says they stay in Joplin, and hit a couple of casinos the evening they arrive. Then the next day, they make a big loop to 8 or 10 more. Of course such a plan appeals to Val!

Hick figures we can head on out to see The Pony on the third day, when Sis and the ex-mayor head back home. We haven't broken the news yet to The Pony. He may not want visitors. Hick isn't as altruistic as you might think. He wants to shop at flea markets. He usually doesn't have time, or they're not open on the days we go through.

Sis said that on the casino-hopping day, we could all ride together, or take both cars. Hick decided that I should ride with Sis and the ex-mayor, while HE takes our car and travels around to shop at flea markets. I mentioned that plan to Sis, who asked if Hick would eventually meet up with us at a casino. Not that she minded, you see, but they don't go back to the hotel until that night, when they're all done casinoing.

Huh. There's nothing Val likes better than hanging out in a casino. And she has been known to stay up until...oh...I don't know...just about 3:00 freakin' A.M., on every freakin' night.

Looks like Hick isn't the only one trying to get rid of Val.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The World Moves Too Fast For Val

My Sweet Baboo took me to the movies today. Okay, actually, I had been waiting for this movie to come out, and I'd told him that when it did, we were going. So when I told him Friday that we were going to the 11:00 showing Sunday, Hick agreed. He likes going to the movies (mostly for the snacks, I suspect) but rarely got to accompany the boys and me because we went during the day, in the summers, when he was working.

Let the record show that Val has not been to the movies in quite some time. The last movie I vividly remember seeing in a theater was The Heat, when I took my mom. And maybe I went after that with Genius, to one of the Hunger Games movies. The second one, I think.

Things have changed at the theater!

We have a 4-plex nearby, over in bill-paying town. I like to go to the first showing on a Sunday morning, a result of shrugging off the mantle of my small-town celebrity all these years, and consciously avoiding students during my off-time. Of course no outing involving Val is without a glitch or two. But I'll take glitches. I am still celebrating the fact that I did NOT have a weirdo encounter.

Did you know that NOW, the staff at AMC Theatres does not fill your soda for you? It's true! They have a giant soda machine in the lobby, where you take your plastic cup and pour your own beverage. You would think, with all her 44 oz Diet Coke experience, Val would be right at home. Not so. This machine is HUGE! Thank goodness that if we have an earthquake HERE, the ground will swallow us whole, rather than that behemoth toppling over and slowly crushing the life out of me.

Hick, such a wizard with machines, stepped right up and pushed that lever and got his ice and then...and then...FROZE. He tried to touch the screen to select his soda (from a menu of 100+ choices!) and was about to fill his cup with CAFFEINE FREE Diet Coke. Well! I stopped him forthwith, and he figured out how to go back, and I showed him the plain old Diet Coke button! Then he had to tell me how to get ice (I don't know how I forgot that one) and I went right into that Diet Coke menu and selected...are you ready for this...Diet Coke with LIME! I set my plastic cup on the machine, right under the spigot, and


Okay. Some of it went into my cup. But, being old and cantankerous now, and caring even less than a honey badger...Val did was quick to voice her displeasure.


Of course there was attendant there watching people. Kind of like those self-checkout monitors at Walmart. I know he was watching me, because he took one step from where he was loitering, leaning on the machine, and said, "I'm sorry, Ma'am. That was Diet Coke with Lime, right?" He fiddled and faddled with that machine, and then said, "The spigot was twisted. I fixed it now."

Yes. Well. He didn't have a blow-dryer to unsoak my shirt. Perhaps I should have taken my finger off of the Diet Coke with Lime button when the spraying started. But I wanted to fill my cup, by cracky!

Anyhoo...we proceeded to take our giant popcorn and vats of Diet Coke, and watch Fist Fight. You can't go wrong with a movie about teachers fighting. With the two biggest stars being Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan. I found this movie hilarious, but then I have simple tastes, and like really stupid movies, according to Genius.

There was one couple in the theater ahead of us, sitting about midway down on the other side. It could have been a mother and son, or a cougar and her prey. We took the next-to-last row on the left side of the theater. Only 4 seats in that row. So nobody would climb over us. With that Sunday morning crowd, you know.

Right as the movie proper started, three dudes came in. I think it was a dad and two sons, or a son and a friend. Of course they chose to sit in the row RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. At least that was a row with 8 seats, so they didn't block my view.

Being the smart sort, I had packed in my movie purse a baggie with 1/3 box of Sno-Caps, and a small gift bag left over from Christmas so that I didn't have to share a popcorn bag with Hick. He lets me hold it, but that job takes two hands, the way he digs into it. So I had him pour part of the popcorn from the AMC bag into my gift bag. Then I could sprinkle some butter flavoring on it, too.

You don't really want to be in a theater when Hick is eating popcorn. He digs his hand down into the bag, rustling the sides, crunching up the kernels, until he had the maximum kernelage in his mitt, and proceeds to cram that popcorn into his gaping maw by covering his mouth with that scoop, crumbling it against his lips until it all fits between his teeth. I kept SHUSHING him during the quiet parts, but his eating was so loud that he did not hear. Never mind the fact that he went for the refill before the movie had even started.

After the show was over, I had packed my glasses back into their case, and the case back into my movie purse. I put my extremely large soda cup on the floor beside my chair, because I knew that I would have to lean on the armrest to unfold my knees and stand for a moment before they were loose enough to walk. I had every intention of throwing my soda cup away. I had toyed with the idea of refilling it on the way out, but with a 20-minute ride home, and no foam cup, I figured I'd rather stop for my regular 44 oz Diet Coke. The movie one I'd filled with ice so that it would stay cold for 90 minutes. So I was only hydrating myself, really, and not overdoing it on Diet Coke.

As the outtakes were showing just before the credits rolled, a female usher stepped in and propped open the doors. While she was standing there, to make sure all seven of us exited in an orderly manner, is when I set my soda on the floor. While she was there, I even picked it up and took a sip, and put it back on the floor.

Well! The moment the credits started, I stood up. I told Hick, "I've got to stand here a minute, to loosen my knees." I know that usher gal heard me. The other five people left. I was turning to pick up my soda when Usher Gal close-talked me.

"Ma'am? Are you done with this soda?"

"Um...well...I guess so..."

SHE ALREADY HAD HER HAND ON IT! On the top, like you grasp it like a claw, over the lid.

"I'll just throw it away for you."

"I was going to do that." You know, I might have wanted another sip! I MIGHT have wanted to refill it on the way out, just to spite her!

As I was gimping along on the right knee that doesn't like to straighten out all the way, I turned and said pointedly to Hick, "You'd think I could have 30 seconds to stand up and grab my soda!"

Can you believe Hick took HER side? "Val. She was only being nice. She saw that you were having trouble, and picked it up for you to throw away."

Bull. I think Usher Gal was too aggressive. It's not like they give a Nobel Prize for Ushering.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Val's Undoing

It's no secret that Val has been making wise choices. And if not exactly WISE choices, at least wiser choices. The lesser of two fatteners. Picking her meals and snacks so that they do the least damage to the undiet that she started last February.

Normally, I don't deny myself something I want. I take less of it. And I balance out the meals around it. Still, I abstain from buffets. No good can come of that. And I buy snack foods that, although not falling into the healthy category, have a means to control portions, and calculate calories.

One thing I DO deny myself right now is PEEPS. I LOVE PEEPS! Especially the best PEEPS, the purple bunny PEEPS. It's too long until Easter. If I indulge in PEEPS now, it might be the beginning of the end. They leer at me from every shelf. Walmart, Save A Lot, Country Mart. I'm surprised the gas station chicken store has not stocked up on them to tempt me. There will come a day, closer to the vanishing point of PEEPS, that I take some of those bunnies home with me. But lately, I've been able to resist.

I've also driven right by the frozen custard store that I waited a year-and-a-half to reach completion. Yes, I would dearly love a Kiddie Cone of chocolate custard on these unseasonably-warm 70-degree February days. But I resist. Yes, a Kiddie Cone is a better choice than a medium concrete with chocolate custard, chocolate chips, and caramel. But I can do it. I can delay that treat for a while.

With such a will of steel, it might come as a surprise to you that Val fell off the wagon two nights ago. It surprised Val, too. After all, she builds into her undiet room for a snack every evening. Most often, it's two Hershey Kisses or two mini Reese's, along with an individual bag of pretzels, Sun Chips, or Cheez Its. Sometimes with a side of Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce for dipping!

Val's fall from grace was obviously Hick's fault, right? Because she was talking to him upstairs, before bringing her snacks downstairs. And thus forgot her chips on that fateful evening. Val is not one to climb steps all willy-nilly. There are 13 of them from the living room to her dark basement lair. When I discovered the missing chips, I decided that a bag of Cheez Its was not worth a hike back up from my subterranean hideaway.

I was sure I had something stashed away in my dark basement lair. Not so much stashed, as in hidden...as stashed, as in set aside in all the clutter and forgotten about. Under a wooden chair from Hick's old kitchen table, stacked with books I'm meaning to read, was a Walmart bag. I use them to transport things from one level to another. So anything could have been in that bag. Important envelopes that I was sure I'd need for taxes ten months later. Books to add to the chair stack. Magazines that I might want to reference. A video that I'd taken to school for a holiday or reward showing. A box of Puffs with Lotion. ANYTHING!

I pulled that bag out and looked inside. JACKPOT! I found some chips! Yummy! I hadn't had these chips in a long time. They're like Pringles, but tortilla chips instead of potato chips. AND I had two packets of Red Burrito Hot Sauce left over from previous Hardee's Chicken Bowls on my desk. My nightly chip bags run anywhere from 110 calories for pretzels, to 150 calories for Cheddar Jack Cheez Its. So I counted out a serving of 15 chips for 150 calories. NOM-NOM!

The problem was, you see...I had some hot sauce left over in the packet. I never should have opened the second hot sauce packet. Should have just stretched that first one until it ran out. But just a couple more chips wouldn't hurt, right? Right? I ATE TWO MORE SERVINGS OF CHIPS!!! That's half a can of chips, people!

But that's not the whole shocking story. I wondered why I haven't thought about these chips lately. I used to buy them all the time. They're great with Frank's Original. And great with Red Burrito Hot Sauce. I don't remember seeing them at my local Walmart lately. Maybe this could explain why:

Now that I think about it...those chips DID taste a little like cardboard. Not that such a fact stopped me from foundering myself on them, eating THREE SERVINGS!

That's right. Val did not eschew her wise choices for a delectable, special occasion or celebratory meal. Nope. She ate two-year-old, stale, pressed-particle, processed, tortilla-like chips.

I feel so cheap.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #48 "At Weirdos Only Dot Com"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Woodn't you like to get in on the ground floor with the release of this week's fake book? Don't be a knot-head! Don't go against the grain! Beat the logjam and fork over your sawbucks! Support Val Thevictorian, a blossoming fake author, as she puts down roots in the literary world. C'mon! What in blazes are you waiting for? Val is stoked!

At Weirdos Only Dot Com

Magnolia didn't know she was looking for love in all the wrong places. Or looking for love at all. Until her in-box blew up with unsuitable suitors. She politely rejected. Not interested in elderly gent Hubba-Hubba. College kid Pokingman18. Nor the earthy gal, SensibleShoes. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Magnolia plans a getaway from technology. She unplugs her laptop, stuffs it under a quilt in the closet, and heads for her childhood vacation home. For safety reasons, she calls How Much Wood Could a Woodchipper Chip, to arrange for a delivery before she arrives. Can't be too careful.

Just a-swingin', Magnolia is shocked when a stately gentleman yanks her chain. "I've been trying to find you. I'm Smart Ash. I saw your profile." As he leans over to whisper sweet somethings into her hearing aid, Magnolia feels a little prick on her shoulder. She looks down to see... (150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

The Sidler..."Good thing Smart Ash wasn't carrying TicTacs, or this fake story would have been over before it started! This fake book sneaks up on you. You don't really like it, but it's hard to get rid of. Just like the author."

Tom Cruise..."I am so excited about this fake book that I could jump on a couch to proclaim my love for it! Which doesn't mean I'm all that into it. I give it about six years. Then it'll be time for me to find another fake book."

Dennis Rodman..."I like this fake book so much that I wish it had been fake-written back in 1996, so I could have given it to myself as a wedding present. It would surely have had more staying power than my self-marriage. I never should have married myself on the rebound." 

Vincent Van Gogh..."I put the EAR in wEIRdo, and I heartily recommend this fake book! The fake author paints with a wide brush, as perhaps a street urchin might have done in whitewashing Aunt Polly's fence after being hoodwinked by a young ne'er-do-well."

J. Edgar Hoover..."This fake book really blows my skirt up! If the fake author's background check comes back clean, I heartily recommend this inauthentic tome."

Howard Hughes..."I have holed up in my coffin to read this fake book over and over. I think I'm on reading number 150 at the moment. It would be 151, but my excessively long fingernails prevent me from turning the fake pages in a timely manner."

Penelope, SNL Character of Kristen Wiig..."Val Thevictorian fake wrote this fake book? Well...I fake wrote a faker book: At Humongous Weirdos Dot Net. So you should all fake-buy MY fake book. It's better. And I'm a faker author. Though not bigger."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

This Week's Punishment for Val's Good Deed

On Sunday, I set out to make spaghetti for Hick's supper. He had requested it a few days earlier. I figured I could get the sauce put together and let it kind of diffuse its flavors through the day. It's not like I coddle precious tomato plants in the house, then move them outside, raise them like spoiled children, pick the prettiest and ripest, peel and puree them, and simmer a sauce all day. No. Please try to conceal your surprise.

I hand-crank open a can of Hunts Tomato Sauce (With Meat). Let the record show that I've never seen any evidence of meat in that sauce. I screw the lid off a Save A Lot jar of pizza sauce and add it to the pan. I drain a little can of mushrooms and toss them in. Stir in about a pound of cooked ground beef. Squeeze in some minced garlic from one of those plastic bottles that you store upside down. Sprinkle in two packets of Splenda to cut the acidity. And then add a little fresh-ground black pepper from the grinder that my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel gave me as a gift one year.

Simple, right? Even Rachel Ray could do it.

But not Val. Not on this day. I was on the final step. I wanted to get it ready before I left for town. I actually stopped on my way out the door to accomplish this task, because I knew I wouldn't want to dally when I returned with my 44 oz Diet Coke. The ground beef had already been cooked the day before, when I made pizza. Now it was only a matter of stirring everything together to stick in FRIG II until supper time.

Val plans. The Universe conspires. Even Steven guffaws.

I picked up the pepper grinder with my right hand. Took off the bottom cap with my left hand. Held the pepper grinder over the pan of sauce, and pushed the top button with my right thumb.

You know what happened, right?


That's right. The clear plastic portion that holds the peppercorns plopped right into that red sauce. I had to dump out those peppercorns and rinse out that section. I took it outside for a picture (because I don't like my indoor photos looking like I live where the sun don't shine) to show you the carnage.

There's the salt grinder, all smug and together, and the dismembered body of the pepper grinder. I usually rely on the mechanical aptitude of my college boys to fill those things up for me, or put in batteries. Now I was on my own. I had to clean them up from being on the cat-bed bird-toilet porch rail. Then I had to set them to dry over the heater vent, so all moisture would evaporate.

Hick has no idea what I went through to make his spaghetti. I don't even like the stuff, myself.

No good deed goes unpunished. I'm pretty sure if I think outside the box, in a convoluted manner, I can find a way that it was Hick's fault. In fact, I'm pretty sure HE'S the last person to use the pepper, on the chicken and dumplings I made him last week...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

There Are Probably No Calendars or Clocks in the Afterlife

The Truth in Blogging Law says that I must inform you that this post is pre-blogged. I am typing it at 10:30 on Monday night, February 13th.

I already have several ideas in my queue, with outlines in my head, that I've been planning to write this week. And I will be blurbing my latest fake book on Friday, so I'm not sure when I'll let this one out. But I'm writing it up while it's going down, by cracky!

You might remember that on Thursday, February 9th, I wrote about some odd coincidences happening in my life during the early days of February. How on Sunday night, February 5th, I had a dream in which my mom was sitting off to herself at a party, and when I asked what was wrong, she said, "Well, I'm a little sad. My friend [REDACTED] just passed away." As I wrote, this dream seemed very real, and I shed a couple of tears over it the next morning.

What I didn't mention was that I spent several days perusing the internet, looking to see if there was an obituary for [REDACTED]. Just...you know...to see if she had died years ago, or maybe if she really HAD passed away on February 5th when I had that dream. I tried the local online newspaper, and a couple of local funeral homes. Nothing. I tried a couple of Mom's other friends' names, in the cities where I last knew them to live, and even one in Florida. Nothing. Nada. I decided that it was just a weird dream, and that IF one of those friends had died, it was so far back that her name wasn't coming up in my searches. No big deal. I was just curious.

About 15 minutes ago, I was skimming local news. There's a murder investigation going on, and the paper has been updating a couple times throughout the day. A relative of the victim attended the school I just retired from, thus the interest. Seeing no updates at this time, I scrolled down the main page to the obituaries. I don't normally go there. Last week Hick had me looking for an old classmate of his. But I haven't looked for that for five or six days. I just scrolled down on a whim.

[REDACTED] was the first name on the obituary list.

Huh. I'm kind of surprised. The date of death was Sunday, February 12th, one week past Sunday, February 5th, the date my mom appeared in my dream saying she was sad because [REDACTED] had passed away.

It's a crazy coincidental world out there. I wonder if Mom knows anything about PowerBall...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ya Got Struggle Right Here In River City

Are you tired of hearing about my casino trip yet? If the answer is, "Affirmative, Val," then first you need to shut that crap up and talk like a regular person, and next, get over yourself, because you'll read what I put in front of you, by cracky, or you can just go find the daily blog of some other woman who complains about her husband.

This post is not really a complaint about Hick, though. Mark your calendar. And if that calendar was a gift from an ex-mayor, and your sister the ex-mayor's wife called to say you left it at her house on Christmas Eve, I hope to Not-Heaven you have stopped by to pick it up already.

So...Hick dropped me off at the front door of the casino, and I headed straight for the bathroom. What mature lady taking blood pressure medicine every morning does not, after an hour ride to the casino? But I'm getting ahead of myself here. We will revisit that bathroom later. More than once.

With my money arranged in my pants pocket for easy access, and my player's card in my shirt pocket for quick withdrawal, and my cell phone in my other pants pocket pulling down the most recent pair of slacks that I THOUGHT were the right size when I bought them...I made a beeline for the FREE Diet Coke. Oh, yeah. There are other flavors. But who bothers even looking at them, when there's FREE Diet Coke!

My tiny not-44-oz cup in hand, I headed for my little area of the six machines that I like to play. WAIT A MINUTE! My machines were gone! What's the deal? I can't enjoy myself playing random slots all willy-nilly! I want MY machines. The ones I fell asleep with visions of dancing in my head. Huh. I walked all around. Even back to the non-smoking area, which we all know is crap, nobody likes to play those games, they just want to give their lungs a respite. I had to pass through the high-roller area to get there and back. Not for Val. No siree, Bob! I headed over to the other side, too, where my favorite gambling aunt likes to play. Nope. Nothing of interest to me. Crap! Now what was I going to do?

By now I was back at the entrance, and crossed over again to where I started. To see if that ONE other slot I kind of like was available now. It was. I was soon up several tens of dollars, but itching to figure out where the dastardly conspirators in charge of that casino had put my favorite machines. I ambled over that way again, squinting at every single slot I passed.


My six favorite machines. In the exact same place they'd always been, me having gone one aisle too far after the soda machine, missing them by not turning my head to the right. Oh, well. It's not like I'd been pouring out my heart to the wrong grave or anything...

The rest of the gambling part is pretty uneventful. I lost. Hick lost less. We ate a great burger. I had another hour to lose as much as I could before time to go. And then I cashed out the tickets I had in my pocket.

"I'm going to the bathroom, then I'm ready."

"Oh. You're not going to the one on the way out?"

"No. I told you. They only have one handicap stall, and there's always an old lady in it. I'll go in this one."

"Okay. I might as well go in this one too. While you are."

So Hick walked over to the restrooms with me. I told him I'd meet him right there in the hallway, and we'd walk out together. That would keep him from going back by the main entrance to sit on a slot machine stool turned the wrong way, watching people cash out their tickets. I find that kind of creepy. I don't even want Hick watching ME! You don't want to make people nervous in a casino.

Let the record show that I prefer to use the handicap stalls. The toilets are higher, and the walls have handles to hoist myself off the throne. I have no desire to squat over a hole in the ground like I'm an exotic world traveler. I like my toilets high, like Hick likes his bowls of vegetable beef soup.

The restrooms at this casino are pretty nice, as restrooms go. Not Shoji Tabuchi Theater in Branson nice, but still better than most public facilities. The stalls go almost all the way to the floor, the doors have latches that show a red bar when occupied, they have regular door handles, not those little turny disk kind of things where the bar never quite fits in the slot. Pretty nice. No billiards table in the men's room like at Shoji's theater (that I know of), but still nice. I planned to make a brief pit stop, count up my money to see how much I lost, and rejoin Hick in the hall to head home.

There are many stalls in the ladies' room here. Probably 20 or more. The last two on each side are the handicap stalls. Which seems kind of cruel, making the differently-abled hike all that distance to use the facilities. But still, there are four.

I breezed in, ready to commandeer a comfortable seat. And was shocked to see a corridor of old ladies waiting for stalls to become unoccupied! I have NEVER seen so many ladies in that room in my whole casino life! It's like there was a nursing home convention. At least they were mobile, or it would have reminded me of that Gone With the Wind scene of soldiers stretched out on the ground as far as the eye could see!

There was a logjam in the crapper, by cracky!

The old ladies with walkers ambled along as if they were pacing that narrow passageway. One old lady in a wheelchair, being pushed by another old lady who was probably using her as a walker, was jiggling door handles!

"No. It's full, too."

I saw the writing on the wall. Figuratively. I knew I wasn't getting into a handicap stall anytime soon. But Hick was outside waiting. I ducked into the first stall on the right. A regular stall. The toilet appeared to be a height that could be utilized by a pre-schooler. I wasn't lowering plopping my ample butt onto that tiny thing. I could hold it. But I could also use this privacy to count up my leftover gambling stake. When I came out, those hobbling non-wounded were out of sight. I went all the way to the end. I knew better than to try the last handicap stall on the left.

I'd tried that very stall upon arrival. THE HORROR! I got so far as to enter and close the door behind me and turn the lock. EEK! Goldilocks, or more likely Thinning Platinum Locks, had been there. And let's just say that Thomas Jefferson, allowed into that ladies' room by way of his powdered wig, sitting on that toilet instead of his boot to take a crap, would have needed a laundress to scrub the coattails of his waistcoat, had he sat down before looking at the toilet seat. I tore out of there like a cat tossed into a running shower.

So now, I chose the last stall on the right. It has a problem self-flushing sometimes. But it's workable. Myself relieved, I washed up and found Hick, standing forlornly, nobody's business to mind but his own.

Seriously. You'd think a casino would make even MORE handicap stalls, what with the slot aisles clogged with various ambulatory-aided septuagenarians all the livelong day.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Riddle: Which Is a Bigger Pain in the Butt? Hick, a Seatbelt Buckle, or Four Puffs With Lotion?

So...Hick took me to the casino on Sunday. And you'll never guess what happened. Okay. You probably will. Hick was up to his shenanigans again!

I had planned to walk in with him this time. He usually drops me off at the front door, and goes to park the car in the free outdoor parking lot. Valet parking is free, too, but Hick never uses it, even though my favorite gambling aunt does. Anyhoo...the weather was clear, the temps in the upper 40s, and my casino-legs bolstered by daily walks on the washboarded/gravel-duned/pockmarked driveway. Since I was going to take a day off from the driveway, I figured I could substitute casino walking.

Well. Hick declared, before we were even on casino property, that he was going to visit a nearby flea market that we saw from the road he spotted with his eagle eye like a sniper's weapon's red laser dot honing in on a target for the kill. So he dropped me off at the door again. No need for me to climb out of T-Hoe in the parking lot and walk in alone. Because, make a note-to-self, people:

"If I'm ever going to mug someone at a casino, do it on their way IN to the building, when they are most likely to have money on them."

You know, unless they're one of those freaky modern folks who use the casino credit system thingy. What's the world coming to? I just got used to the extinction of slot tokens! Jabbing in bills and getting back tickets is not nearly as fun, though hands do remain a bit cleaner.

Anyhoo...Hick came back after squandering some of his gambling stake [!] (given to him by ME) on flea market finds. After hitting the slots for a couple of hours, Hick declared that the Goodwills were open now, and he left again to go find more bargains. Never mind that on the way home, we'd have to stop by two more Goodwills for his shopping pleasure.

When Hick returned, we ate lunch, then he allowed me another hour. Because it was my birthday celebration, by cracky! We had an enjoyable 2/3 of a day, and then headed out to the parking lot. I usually walk out with Hick anyway. You never know when he might forget me if I let him pick me up out front.

Of course there was a ne'er-do-well parked right up against us, on the passenger side. Tires right on the line. Val needs to open T-Hoe's door completely, people! It only has two notches when it opens. Not far enough, and all the way. Even though there's a running board for Val to stand on and get situated before plopping into the seat, she has trouble bending her knees more than 90 degrees. It takes some finagling to get both feet inside the vehicle.

"I'll pull up for you," said Hick, knowing the drill, even sometimes parking a little more toward his line to leave room for my door. Which is a good deed kind of negated by a close-parker on the other side. To make matters worse, the person was IN the car! And to make matters worser, the person pulled forward slowly as Hick pulled forward!

Let the record show that I don't think it was a case of asshole-y-ness so much as a case of paying attention to a cell phone and not understanding what was going on outside the car. Like maybe that person was getting ready to pull out of the parking lot, and was creeping up trying to see if anything was coming around the front end of T-Hoe. Or...she was just an asshole.

Anyhoo...with that driver right next to me, encroaching on my door-space, I sprang to the running board and plopped onto the black leather seat and dragged my legs in as fast as I could, then closed the door. Hick started out of the lot so as not to block traffic.

"Uh...where's my seatbelt?"

Let the record show that Val uses a seatbelt extender. It is not required for buckling after all these wise choices, and was not actually required before, but is more comfortable, what with the path the shoulder belt takes across Val's breastesses on her ample chestal area. I leave it buckled into the regular clicky thing, and it has another buckle at the end of a 2-3 inch segment of seatbelt webbing. Hick inherited with his brother's stuff ten years or so ago, and I took to using it, because it fits our GM vehicles.

"I don't know where your seatbelt is! Why do you think I did something with it? It's YOUR seatbelt! Why would I mess with it?"

"I don't know. Why WOULD you?"

"I didn't! Maybe you're sitting on it."

"Maybe. IF somebody flopped it over onto the seat instead of leaving it like I left it."

Indeed. I WAS sitting on that buckle, which I found out by feeling where it went from the regular seatbelt connection. Val is certainly not Pea Princess royalty, what with being unable to feel a metal buckle under her rumpus!

But that's not all! A few miles down the road, I wanted to blow my nose. To get all that casino cigarette soot out of my nasal cavity. But the four-or-five Puffs With Lotion that I keep laying on the console, down by T-Hoe's cup holders, were nowhere to be found.

"What did you do with my Kleenexes?" Yeah. That's what we call our Puffs out loud. Branding is a magical thing.

"I didn't do nothin' with your Kleenexes! I didn't touch them!"

"Well...I notice that my change cup is gone from the console. I guess you don't know anything about THAT, either."

"Oh. I put the change cup INSIDE the console. So nobody would break in for the money."

"Did you think they would break in for my Kleenexes? Is that where you put THEM, too?"

I opened up the console, and found my change cup, but no Puffs.

"Val. I told you I didn't take your Kleenexes. Where were they?"

"Right HERE! And now there's nothing. Just the bare fake wood."

"Did you throw your seatbelt buckle on them? Maybe it dragged them off."

"Why would it DRAG them off? How did my seatbelt buckle get in my seat? Were you going THAT fast, that when you rounded a curve, it slung a seatbelt buckle over there? Or did you put it there on purpose, so I'd sit on it?"

"Val. I don't know why you keep accusing me!"

"Um...maybe because YOU WERE THE ONLY ONE IN THE CAR? TWICE? Without me in here. And when I got out, everything was where I left it, and when I got back in, stuff was missing! I don't know who else you're going to blame it on."

"Just look around."

"Well, they're not back here behind the console on the floor. But here are the nail clippers that The Pony left on the console by the change cup about six months ago!"

"Oh. They must have fell off when I opened up the console."

Let the record show that Hick and I searched our respective sides of the car cabin, and down in between the console and our seats. Those Puffs were gone, baby, gone!

"Maybe you're sitting on them. Like the seatbelt."

That was crazy logical, coming from Hick. So I hoisted myself up and fumbled around. But unlike Hick, unable to find his own butt with two hands, I found my Puffs with ONE hand!

"Huh. Here they are. I don't know why you had to put them on the seat for me to sit on."

"Val. I did NOT put them on your seat!"

Yeah. He can sing that song till the cows come home. I know that I didn't LEAVE my Puffs and seatbelt on the seat. Whether they got there by inertia from Hick's reckless driving, or his unthinking hand...Hick was the deliveryman of their distribution.

Now you should be able to answer the riddle:

"Which Is a Bigger Pain in the Butt? Hick, a Seatbelt Buckle, or Four Puffs With Lotion?"

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sundays In the T-Hoe With Hick

Fasten your seatbelt, it's going to be a Hick-sweaving, Val-shotgunning ride!

Yes, I was a captive audience for my Sweet Baboo once again. That's the bad part. The good part is that he took me to the casino to celebrate my birthday, which was not today. I had a great time, and a delicious burger, but did not exit the premises as a winner. Hick even lost less that I did! The nerve of that guy! Didn't he know it was MY not-birthday?

Anyhoo...Hick was on his best behavior today. For Hick. I kept him preoccupied on the way there with a discussion of that Alone show on the History Channel. Ten people were chosen from 5000 applicants to compete to be the last person surviving in Patagonia. I just now started watching the DVRs, even though the finale was last week. Funny how I told Hick back then that is was the finale, and he said, "I know. I think there's only three shows left." Apparently, his concept of a finale is different from mine.

On the way home, my sister the ex-mayor's wife sent me a text.

"Are you rich yet?"

"On the contrary. I lost $###. That dirty dog Hick sat down beside me and won $28, then $14.50, then another $28. After he went to another machine, he lost some of it back, though."

"Maybe he just keeps the money you give him, and is not really gambling at all :)"

"No. He only kept what he didn't lose, he SAYS. Except for the $20 he spent at Goodwill when he left me for a while."

Here's where the Hickiness ensued. Just because I vent my frustrations out loud does not mean that I expect his input. He seems to think everything is about HIM!

I had mis-typed SAYS on my phone. "Dang this phone! I HATE Autocorrect! It wants to change SAYS to ANUS! That's the stupidest thing ever! Just because I typed in SSYS, probably because of your sweaving, it thinks ANUS is more common that SAYS!"

"Then you need to do something about your phone! You've got it set somehow, or it wouldn't do that. That's stupid."

"I can't believe you! So...you're saying my phone tries to change SAYS to ANUS because of something I'VE done? Like I spend all day typing ANUS in my texts? It gives a list of words, and ANUS was at the top. And it changed to it if I hit space."

"It's something you've done to it, Val. You're always complaining about your phone. MINE never does anything like that. Unless I'm talking into it."

"Oh, so when you're TALKING into it, and it changes words like that, it's the PHONE, and not YOU? Even though YOU'RE the one talking. But I have done something to MY phone to make it say ANUS? I can't believe you sometimes!"

Actually, I don't believe Hick MOST times. So now it's all my fault that Autocorrect is inappropriate. AS IF I am smart enough to know HOW to make it do that to begin with, and also smart enough to fix it so it doesn't. Hick seems to be forgetting, since every phone he has gotten is NEW, that I always have Genius's hand-me-downs when Genius takes the new one in an upgrade.

I guess I need to call Genius and chastise him for giving me a potty-mouth phone.
That little anus!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

She Gets Around

My mom used to say she was never so busy as after she retired. Of course, teaching full time, and making sure Genius and The Pony and Hick all remembered to breathe in/breathe out, I pooh-poohed that statement. I'm starting to see what Mom meant. But then, she seems to have upped the game after death.

The universe did a little more messin' with Thevictorians yesterday. I got a text from The Pony at 12:30. Just as I sat down to lunch, of course. That's the only time people want anything to do with me. When I'm making food or getting ready to eat food. STOP IT! That is NOT all the time!

Let the record show that we are in the midst of an 11-day period that includes the anniversary of my mom's death, my birthday, Valentine's Day (Mom always gave us each a heart full of chocolates), and The Pony's birthday.

"A ladybug landed on my arm today."

"Yeah. That doesn't surprise me. A few things have happened around here over the past few of days. Tell me more about the ladybug circumstances."

"I didn't know when it landed on me, but it was on my arm when I came into the Union."

"What were you doing? Coming from where, and doing what in the Union? I might get a blog story, with details."

"Coming from physics to get food."

"Gosh. You really fleshed that out with details. I might get a whole book out of it. Brick Heck." [Brick Heck is the youngest son on The Middle, a show on ABC Tuesday nights at 7:00 central time, that The Pony and I used to watch together. He, too, is an eccentric nerd of few words.]

"I don't have anything else to tell! Seriously!"

"What are you having for lunch?"

"I'm having fish gilet baskets." [Actual spelling. I'm guessing he was having a fish filet basket. I kind of expected more, from both his college education, AND Autocorrect.]

"Brain food."

Whatever else might be going on out there in Norman, Oklahoma...I guess Mom is keeping an eye on The Pony.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #47 "Cash, Cash, Who's Got the Stash?"

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 a treasure hunter? If so, this week's fake book is for you! In fact, just finding a fake bookstore that stocks it will be a quest of epic proportions. Lucky for you Val has a cache that she can fake-sell you over the innernets. Reserve your copy today, before someone else buries them so they never see the light of day fake-buys the last one!

Cash, Cash, Who's Got the Stash?

Rumor has it that a guy out past the city limits came into a fortune. The source of Nick Thethicktorian's windfall is up for debate. Some say his common-law wife, heir to a thriving black-market handbasket business, was bought out by a secret society preparing for the apocalypse. Others purport that Nick is an international spy/assassin/handler contracted by the job, his fee paid by the government in unmarked bills. A few feel that Nick is dealing hillbilly pharmaceuticals, hidden in Goodwill gewgaws, in a themed shack construction business.

Nick's wife Sal is itching to get her hands on that cash. She's got a scratch-off addiction that would make your skin crawl. With recent winnings, Sal hired Moe Istumbo, the town's only private investigator, to find that money. The deeper they dig, the more secrets they uncover. But will they find a lock box filled with Benjamins? (146 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates in National Treasure..."How Thevictorian got this fake book fake published is quite a mystery. She must have connections with a secret society to pull this off. I'm on her trail, though, just as soon as I steal the Declaration of Independence to look for clues. I sure wish she'd written this tale in lemon juice, and nobody had a hair dryer to decode it."

Indiana Jones..."I would rather be in my classroom droning dryly about ancient history than read this fake book. Why did it have to be Thevictorian? She should be flung into a pit of snakes for subjecting us to this torture!"

Mice..."This fake book isn't even good enough to shred for nesting material! Oh, how we wish this fake author's best-laid plans, like ours to read a good book, had gone awry."

Men..."Us, too. The plan part. We sure as not-heaven don't make nests."

God..."HA HA HA HA HA! That's all I have to say about plans. And this fake so-called book."

X..."As a well-known spot-marker, let me assure you...Thevictorian's fake book will NEVER be found under ME!"

End of the Rainbow..."Here, neither."

Thomas Jefferson sitting on a boot taking a crap..."While this fake book may be suited for the business at hand, I would not be caught dead with a copy of it. Also, let the record, the townspeople, and Nicolas Cage know that my hiney is NOT covering a secret."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Coincidence, Schmoincidence

After having a heart-to-heart talk with the WRONG GRAVE, I left the cemetery, still driving A-Cad, still a bit discombobulated by my alternate ride. When I drive T-Hoe, I don't listen to that SiriusXM country station a lot. I have others tuned in to skim through in search of the best songs. I hear enough of Prime Country when sweaving along with Hick.

I pulled out onto the road with that country station still playing. I don't remember the song, since it had no special meaning to me, nor was it to my disliking, signaling me to seek something else. No sooner had I gotten A-Cad's wheels off the cemetery road and onto the outer road than a new song came on.

Patty Loveless. "How Can I Help You Say Goodbye."

"Oh, Val." you say. "What a coincidence! You stop to talk to your mom (or so you think) at the graveyard, and this song about letting go comes on."

Let me tell you a little about coincidence. The last time I heard this song was November 15. Yes. I'm sure of the date. I'm not some freaky Marilu Henner with that condition where you remember everything in your life. Nope. I might be freaky, but not in that way. I know the date, because I wrote about it on my supersecret blog. You know. Because I feared my plethora of readers here was getting tired of hearing about my ladybug sightings and things that go bump in the night over my head in my dark basement lair.

I should have seen this coming, though. Over the past several days, I should have been picking up what the cosmos was laying down. I did, once. But it was too little too late, I guess. I just needed this reminder to let go slapping me in the eardrums. Here's the foreshadowing to which I was oblivious.

Sunday night, Feb. 5--I had a dream about my mom. The Pony and I, in this dream, were at some wild college party, and I was entertaining people with stories, and Mom was sitting off to the side, looking pensive. I tried to include her in the festivities. Something like, "Isn't that right, Mom? What's wrong? You look like something's wrong." And Dream Mom said, "Well, I'm a little sad. My friend [REDACTED] just passed away." Dream Val said something to console her, and Dream Mom sighed and leaned her head over, closing her eyes to have a nap.

Let the record show this was one of those dreams that stick with you into the next morning. It was so vivid that on Monday morning, Feb. 6, I shed a little tear, thinking how sad Dream Mom had been while talking about her friend. But I reasoned through it. After all, they could be together now, eating slaw and wearing jeans with holes in the knee. Unless Mom had been keeping some dark secret, and was...um...in another place than her friend!

Monday morning, Feb. 6--I opened my email and saw a note from Blog Buddy Linda about an article she has in Sasee magazine. I went to the link to read it, and it was about her mom. Sweet and funny and touching. It made me think about my own mom some more.

Monday evening, Feb. 6--I was reading my regular blogs and saw that Blog Buddy Stephen had also written a post about his mom (and dad).

Monday night, Feb. 6--I was fiddling around in my dark basement lair, checking on my New Delly for The Pony's tuition bill, and playing the computer game he got me for Christmas. I glanced at the phone on my desk to check the time, and it was 11:11.

Tuesday early a.m., Feb 7--I went out to my recliner to watch some DVR shows. I chose The Middle, because I like to laugh, and The Pony and I have watched all the reruns through at least once. It's on the Hallmark channel around 8:00-10:00 p.m. This time I picked the episode "Halloween IV: The Ghost Story." Sue has a slumber party and holds a seance asking for Christopher Columbus to give her and the Wrestlerettes a sign, and then thinks she sees a silhouette of the Santa Maria.

I've seen that episode before. But on this night/early morning, I felt creeped out. Something weird in the air. Even though it's a sitcom that I've seen before, I thought to myself, "WHY am I watching THIS by myself at 2:45 a.m.?"

Tuesday early a.m., Feb 7--At 3:00 a.m I heard a big THUMP upstairs in the area of the kitchen/The Pony's room. Nobody was up there. Just a big THUMP. No footsteps. Not the furnace kicking on or off. Not the ductwork expanding or contracting. Just a big THUMP.

Tuesday morning, Feb 7--My first errand was to drop off Hick's 401K check at the financial advisor's office. My mom had her investments there, with a guy who goes to her church, so Hick said that was good enough for us. We opened an account with this guy with part of the inheritance, and we had a meeting with him last week about Hick's 40% retirement. It's not like we have a big choice around here. Anyhoo...the office is located just two doors down from the credit union where I was taking out some of The Pony's college money.

As I stepped out of A-Cad, looking down to make sure I didn't put a foot wrong, my legs all cattywompus because there's no running board like T-Hoe...the first thing I saw was a dime on the ground, right beside the car. I picked it up and put it in my pocket. A dime's a dime.

Tuesday midmorning, Feb. 7--The last errand on my schedule (before picking up lunch and a 44 oz Diet Coke, of course) was depositing The Pony's tuition money in the bank so I could write an eCheck. We got off easy with this kid, paying only 7% of his total fees out of his college savings. Not a full ride, but a 93% ride is good enough for Thevictorians!

As I pulled away from the bank, I glanced at A-Cad's clock (which was hard to find, I might add, not being clearly by the radio station display, where T-Hoe's clock is, but at the top of that screen for the backup camera). The time was 11:11.

Tuesday near noon, Feb. 7--I had a heart-to-heart talk to my mom's plot-neighbor, laughed at my mistake, pulled out of the cemetery, and heard that Patty Loveless song about letting go.

Oh, yeah. And I had forgotten (SHAME ON ME) until I was talking to my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel at lunch on Wednesday...that February 4th was the anniversary of my mom's death.

I really should have remembered that.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

As Mom Would Have Said, "I Really Got a Kick Out of That!"

Yesterday I had to run my errands behind the wheel of A-Cad. T-Hoe was in the shop for brakes, shocks, tires, and an oil change.

You know how it is when you drive a different car. It's like you're 15-and-half again (or maybe 8 in Arkansas) and just learning to drive. You have to concentrate on things that are automatic in your regular vehicle. Right? It's not just me, is it?

I've gotten used to A-Cad's tiny brake pedal, suited to the dainty foot of a hummingbird. I've figured out the temperature controls, and the seat heaters, and the front windshield wiper. I still find myself reaching for the column to put A-Cad in park, though his shifter is between the seats. No matter how many times I adjust the side mirrors (same exact controls as T-Hoe!!!), all I can see is the side of the car. I don't have my change cup. The cup holders for my 44 oz Diet Coke never want to let it go. I only have five radio stations tuned in on SiriusXM. The gas cap twists on all funky with a weird strap. AND that darn Garmin is suctioned to the windshield, and blocks my view. We don't even want to discuss the nerve damage in my arm from contorting to reach the bank drive-thru canister, and the ATM cash slot.

So...I was concentrating on my driving all morning. So much so that I forgot to drop by the cemetery to visit Mom's grave. I haven't been there since early last week, and I usually go a couple times on my way to town. Since I forgot, I stopped on the way home. It was like when Elaine met new friends named Kevin, Gene, and Feldman. Everything was just a little bit off.

I turned left instead of right. I parked on the correct side of the blacktop lane next to Mom's plot. I put down the passenger window to talk to her (it's always pretty much a one-sided conversation). But as always, I put the radio on Prime Country, hits of the 80s and 90s. You know, because that's what always got Mom to slapping her hand on the thigh of her jeans with the hole in the knee when I picked her up for our last Friday of the month bill-paying outings.

We (I) had a nice talk, though brief. I always mention what's going on with the boys, and what I'm up to, and any trips we have planned. I told her that I had a 44 oz Diet Coke from the new convenience store, and that she probably would have really liked it, even though she was a fan of McDonald's Diet Coke, which to me tastes like it has been sitting in a cardboard cup melting ice for about five hours. I chatted like no one was listening (not such a stretch, really), looking out that passenger window at the flat granite grave marker with the brass nameplate. It's always polite to maintain eye contact. Then I explained I was on the way home, and I'd be back next week.

As I started A-Cad, checking the right side mirror for any traffic behind me (but seeing the side of A-Cad), I realized as I pulled forward that I had been TALKING TO THE WRONG GRAVE! Mom was next to it, and the side mirror had blocked her marker. I hope the people in that plot enjoyed my chat!

Mom would have laughed and slapped her knee at that story. She's probably still laughing.

But there's more! Tomorrow.