Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Brief Intermission From Casinopalooza 2

Yes, there are still tales left from Casinopalooza 2. But today, we take a brief respite due to unforeseen events yesterday.

I had a little visitor when I went outside for my walk. That's right where I always greet the dogs, and stand to stretch my legs at the steps by the side porch. The dogs were not around yesterday, because they were off to the creek with Hick on the Gator. Good thing. One of their fat, frolicking paws would have smashed that little ladybug.

Since we got back from Casinopalooza 2, I had not been to the cemetery for my weekly visit with Mom. We got home Tuesday evening. Wednesday I went to Walmart and planned on stopping, but there was a funeral tent set up in the vicinity. Thursday, I went by again, but the workers were mowing. On Friday, I finally stopped to visit. Only briefly, apologizing for not getting there sooner. I told Mom that we arrived home safely, what the boys are currently up to, how we had a great time, and that I felt bad about not stopping until now, and how I hadn't sensed her around lately.

Then a woman came walking across the plots, so my visit wasn't really private any more, and I said I had to get going. I knew Mom would understand.

Huh. Now I can kind of sense her presence again. I had a couple of 11:11 clock sightings. And then the ladybug surprise.

I know that it's almost summer, and bugs are flying, and one might expect to see ladybugs around. But to me, a ladybug is not just a ladybug. It could have appeared anywhere, you know. At any time. Just an insect flitting here and there. But this one appeared on my porch, at the very place I stand for five minutes every evening, the day after I mentioned that I felt disconnected from Mom.

It seems like my life in on the right track once again.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Casinopalooza 2: The Brutal Gourmet

Let the record show that ever since the original Casinopalooza, Hick has complained about our dinner the first night. Way back then (in March of this year), we drove to Oklahoma in a convoy of two with my sister the ex-mayor's wife and the ex-mayor. We checked into our hotel in Joplin at that time, and then hit the road to visit four casinos. We started at the one farthest away, and worked our way back to town.

Because we didn't arrive until 3:00 in the afternoon that time, and we WERE there to gamble...three of us were content to grab a quick bite and get back to throwing away our money. Of course the hold-out was Hick. He puts on a good front. He said he'd go along with what everybody else wanted to do. Traveling from one casino to the next, at around 8:00 p.m., we decided to stop by a McDonald's. Hick had even agreed to this before we got in the car.

Ex-Mayor had mentioned a couple of places we could eat. A steak house, which three of us didn't really want that late, or to give up so much time. And a restaurant that was local, not a chain. "Your sister and I ate there one time. It was okay. I can't even remember what kind of food they have." Sis said she hadn't really liked it. So I didn't especially want to go there. Hick said McDonald's was fine. So we ate there. It was quick. And nobody got sick.

EVER SINCE, Hick has thrown that back in my face. "We're going to get a good meal this time. I'm NOT going to McDonald's. We need time to visit with Genius and The Pony, too. We're not just there to gamble." Au contraire. Everybody else thought the purpose of the trip was gambling. Not a family vacation. After all, it was not called FamilyVacationpalooza.

Anyhoo...Hick tried playing that "agreeable old coot" routine again. Like he didn't really care where we ate. But I told Sis and Ex-Mayor, "That's how he acts in front of YOU. But all I've heard about for two months is how I made him eat at McDonald's last time. So you talk to HIM. HE's the one who's picking where we eat."

Hick chose the restaurant that Ex-Mayor had mentioned on the previous trip.

This turned out to be a decision as ill-fated as the 3-hour tour of the S.S. Minnow. Except that we eventually escaped the restaurant. Hick (The Skipper) sat at one end of the table with The Pony (Gilligan). Genius (The Professor) was in the middle, across from Sis (Lovey). And I (Mary Ann) sat at the other end, across from Ex-Mayor (Thurston Howell III). Ginger skipped supper that night, watching her figure.

The waiter led us to the back wall of the restaurant, which was covered with windows facing out on the road. I think. The sun blazing through at 7:00 p.m. was so blinding that I could have probably held my eyelids open, turned my head just right, and performed my own LASIK surgery. The waiter proffered some menus to us, and I guess it was our blind grasping that led him to say, "Oh. I can close those blinds for you if you'd like." We did. He did. But only two of the three. Once he left, Ex-Mayor wrestled with the cord and finally dimmed our dining area to a bright glare.

Then ensued a long debate between Sis and the waiter over what was good on the menu. She specifically asked for a clarification between the cod and the catfish. Waiter said that HE would have the catfish, since it was hand-breaded and fried, whilst the cod came already coated and frozen. Ex-Mayor asked if the fajita was any good, and Waiter said that he himself ate more fajitas there than anything else. But that the skillet was also good. So Ex-Mayor got the blazing hot skillet, which was basically a fajita without the tortilla.

Our drinks came out, and then some small plates and a basket of four rolls. Let the record show that there were six of us. The roll-bearer said, "I'll get you some more. We've been swamped. That's all we have." Of course you know who went without a roll. Val. And Sis. The Pony dipped his in the plastic container of butter, took a bite, and dipped it again. THE PONY WAS A DOUBLE DIPPER! Hick chastised him, but The Pony replied, "How am I SUPPOSED to put butter on it? None of us have any silverware."

Then the blazing hot skillet arrived. No other entrees. Ex-Mayor noticed that he had no silverware. As didn't the rest of us, either. "What am I supposed to do, bury my face in the blazing hot skillet to eat?" He let it sizzle. The roll-bearer came back with four more rolls. Hick told him we needed some silverware. "We don't have any. We've been swamped." And he was gone!

Next, the fish began arriving. Sis wanted barbecue sauce for dipping her fries. I told her to stand in line behind silverware and Hick's salad. Because everybody else got theirs (who ordered one) but not Hick. Not that they could eat them, with no silverware.

Then my grilled chicken with mango and pineapple salsa (though mostly diced tomatoes and something really sour, no sign of pineapple, probably due to the place being swamped) came out, with my sides of rice pilaf and steamed broccoli. Funny how I though rice pilaf had something else in it besides white rice and something that made it mushy.

Ex-Mayor demanded silverware, and Waiter came right back with a round of knife/forks/spoon wrapped in a napkin, enough for the entire table. I spent most of the meal coveting Ex-Mayor's blazing hot skillet, although my steamed broccoli was pretty decent. The chicken was one of those frozen breasts, cooked to the consistency of an old boot sole. I didn't dare ask Sis to share her barbecue sauce so I could moisten it for help in swallowing.

Hick finally got his salad as the rest of us were ready to leave. Genius said his fish was okay. It had taken 30 minutes before the rolls even came out. Lucky I was busy counting up my money with my hand inside my purse, so I only complained about 137 times. I'm pretty sure we're not going to eat there again.

I can't wait to bring it up to Hick every time we talk about Casinopalooza 2 or any future Casinopaloozas. Though I HAVE mentioned that my Quarter Pounder was better than my chicken.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #61 "A Matter of Hairanoia, or Just Raising Mane?"

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 brings you the story of a free spirit. A real fun guy. You'll laugh. You'll cry (from laughing). Get your fake copy today! It's like a breath of fresh air in a fart factory!

A Matter of Hairanoia, or Just Raising Mane?

Ben Me Self marches to his own drummer. Toots his own trumpet. Flouts his own flute. He's one-of-a-kind, and kind enough to give you the shirt off his back...when he wears one. Of course he dons a shirt for school pictures. But his buddies suggest a new hairstyle, minutes before Ben's turn.

It's not the first time Peon N. Theshower and Double-Dip Chip have steered Ben wrong. And it won't be the last. Revenge, however, is sweet. Stowing away with the guys in the wheel well of a Boeing 747, just to visit a nude beach in France, is one of Ben's fondest memories. But his buddies wearing rented Speedos because Ben "forgot" to tell them to bring their own swimwear, is the best. Follow the wacky hijinks of these three amigos, and find out who's really the ringleader. (139 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

We 3 Kings..."We traverse afar, and this is STILL the poorest excuse for a fake book we have ever encountered! Thevictorian certainly does not bear the gift of writing."

3 Ring Circus..."Such a conundrum, this Thevictorian woman! Her fake book is nothing but a sideshow in small-town carnival. Yet the fake author's erratic style of fake-writing makes US look like a blue calm sea."

3 French Hens..."What the cluck was this imbecile thinking? Thevictorian's fake book is a real piece of merde. Only yesterday, the 4 Calling Birds called to warn us about it."

3 Sheets to the Wind..."We had to put our beer goggles on to fake-read this one, and even so, we did not bring it home with us at closing time. Thevictorian's fake writing is enough to make us jump back ON the wagon. To make a hasty escape from her vicinity. The off-chance that she might have another fake book fake-published is a sobering thought."

3-Piece Suit..."We are not vested in this fake author's success. We've heard that she has a checkered past, and assume that she has something up her sleeve. Thevictorian needs to zip it, and stop this hemming and hawing about a sequel. She writes as if she's in an altered state, and needs to be soundly cuffed around the head and shoulders."

Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria..."We would sail to the ends of the earth to escape the works of this fake author!"

3 Blind Mice..."We weren't always blind, you know. Not until we fake-read Thevictorian's fake book. We'd rather have our tails cut off with a carving knife (THRICE!) than fake-read one more fake word from this fake author." 

Triple Sec..."I don't find this fake book at all a-peeling! There's nothing sweet about it. It's as if it came from a bitter old woman, trying to make herself mix in by being sweet. Orange you glad I warned you about Thevictorian?"

3 Coins in the Fountain..."Like us, this fake author is ALL WET! Unlike us, she gives the reader no hope. It's no accident that we ended up in this fountain. We threw ourselves in here, in an effort to end it all after fake-reading this fake book."

3 Dog Night..."Mama Told Me Not to Come here and review this fake book. But I will shout it from the Halls of Shambala: Do Not Fake-Buy This Fake Book! I am NOT going to Try a Little Tenderness, because where Thevictorian is concerned, it's so Easy to Be Hard. Anyone who says he wants to Celebrate this author, or sing Joy to the World after fake-reading her fake book, is simply a Liar."  

3 Legged Race..."The writing in this fake book is as awkward as US romping along at a 4th of July picnic at the turn of the century!"

3 Men in a Tub..."Rub-a-dub-dub, no matter how hard we scrub, we can't cleanse ourselves of the stench of this horrid piece of writing!"

"Do not buy this book.
You'll regret it forever.
It sucks really bad."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Casinopalooza 2: And a Little Child Shall Spin Them

Let the record show that Casinopalooza was a monetary success for Val. She returned home with all of her gambling stake intact, and an excess of $213. That's a little less than half as much as last time, but we had a tough session on Monday morning. The ex-mayor my sister's husband says that's because those two casinos are building new hotels, and they tighten their machines. That's highly possible, since the Oklahoma casinos are not regulated like the ones in Vegas, or like ours in Missouri. The Pony broke even, Genius lost about what I won, and Hick lost just a tad more than Genius. But who cares about THEM, anyway? Val's finances are all that matter!

On Monday night, The Pony feasted at Steak N Shake, on a garlic cheeseburger, a delicacy of which he cannot partake in Norman, Oklahoma. Hick drove him a few miles into Joplin for that dinner, while Genius and I stayed at Downstream Casino, eating separately at the snack bar restaurant when the mood struck. Genius persuaded me to join him on the Money Wheel games. There were three side by side by side. Penny machines. We were betting 60 cents a spin, hoping to hit three wheels and get the bonus.

Unfortunately for Genius, he hit it quite often, and his bonus was a spin of the wheel, and it kept giving him the Mini Jackpot. Which was $3.00. Heh, heh! There was a lady on the machine between us, and she was hitting bonuses like crazy. Her machine was a little different version, and she was betting $2.40, I think. Anyhoo...she got the money-picking bonus where you touch the screen and pick flying bills. She won $277.00 on her last bonus. And sensibly gave up her machine. Finally. So I moved over next to Genius, and started playing that one, but at 60 cents, and promptly got that bonus. I only won $14, but it was better than $3.00!

So...those machines are popular. The one I vacated was not empty long. An old man and a kid walked by behind me. I assumed they were heading for the buffet. Kids can stay at the hotel, of course. And use the indoor and outdoor pool. And they can walk through the casino to get to the restaurants. That's what I figured was happening. But then the old man and little boy stopped and looked at that money wheel.

"Play this one, Grandpa!" said Little Boy.

"I don't does it work?" said Gramps.

"Sit down. Here. Put your money in there. Then hit this to bet," said Little Boy.

"You do it," said Gramps.

"Can I sit on your lap?" said Little Boy.

"No," said Gramps.

You know kids these days. So savvy with electronics. Little Boy was only trying to help Gramps. But the situation rankled my nerves. This was not right! Kids are not allowed to gamble! I made sure my posture showed my disapproval, although I did not turn to look at them. I am, after all, not a confrontational person. I prefer to stew quietly in my own juices.

I did, however, lean to my right to whisper in Genius's ear. Not to be all sneaky or anything. But because those machines were SO VERY LOUD that he would not have heard me while one of his $3.00 bonuses was playing out. Even though I could hear Little Boy and Gramps, because they had not yet started playing.

"This is SO wrong! A kid shouldn't be here!"

"What? Where? What kid?"

"Don't look now. But on the other side of me. That old man and the little boy. He TOLD that man what to play, and now he's pushing the buttons and explaining the game! A kid is GAMBLING on that slot machine!"

"Uh. That's a little Asian woman."

WHAT? I tried to use my peripheral vision. I couldn't see very well. But it was, indeed, a little woman. Not a little woman in the sense of a dwarf or little person. Just a small woman. Really small. Like actress Linda Hunt in The Year of Living Dangerously. Only a woman, not playing a man. Gambling with a man she referred to as 'Grandpa.'


Oh, and then I doubled my bet to $1.20 a spin, and hit the money-grabbing bonus for a $47 win. And cashed out, leaving Genius there playing with Gramps and Little Boy Woman.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Casinopalooza 2: Arrival and Departure

When we last convened, Val had managed to confuse 33.3 % of her commenters.

When I booked our "free" room, the lady on the phone said that the dates of our stay did not warrant TWO free nights, only one. But that if another member of our party had a free room comp, we could apply that to our second night, and get it free also.

Of course you know what happened.

We met my sister the ex-mayor's wife and the ex-mayor at valet parking on Sunday afternoon. From there we went to the hotel check-in desk. The lady said that my second night would be $98.00, and I explained that "Marilyn" had told me on the phone that I could use another member of my party's free room comp. Sis presented her mailer with the free room.

Well! That mousy little lady was flabbergasted! "You can't do that. I can't let you use this lady's comp if she's not staying in your room."

Sis told her, "Look. I AM her sister! I'm not some random woman she found in the lobby and asked for her comp. I am staying on my husband's comp, and not using mine. My sister here was told that she could use my comp for her second night."

While Sis and I were haggling with Mousy, Hick and Ex-Mayor and Genius and The Pony hung back like proper menfolk, doing whatever menfolk do, lettin' us gals do the work. They ain't so good with words, those menfolk. I didn't use the teacher-eyes in the back of my head, but I imagined Hick slicing off a plug of tobacco for Ex-Mayor, proffering it to him on the blade of his pocket knife. Genius and The Pony, clad in overalls, no shirts, and no shoes, being seen and not heard. Genius, perhaps, sitting on an overturned washtub, whittling a slingshot, and The Pony stretched out on the floor like a boneless hound dog. Both of them soaking in the words of wisdom of their elders. 

It probably didn't help that Sis was wearing movie star sunglasses because her regular reading glasses were up in her room. Mousy was at an impasse, so we asked for a supervisor. Who was an absolute doll, all take-charge and personable, walking Mousy through what to do in order to get my second night free. Sis and I both signed a paper concerning the transaction. Supervisor acted like it was no big deal. THAT is customer service.

Sooo...I got my free room, we took our stuff upstairs, and then hit the road to visit 4 casinos that evening, before coming back to play at Downstream into the night.

Let's fast-forward here over the other stories so that we can get to checkout time. Sis and Ex-Mayor left on Monday morning after breakfast, but Thevictorians stayed until Tuesday. Hick and Genius were mocking me for wanting to take the room cards to the desk.

"Mom. There's a card drop down by the elevators."

"He's right, Val. I always just leave the cards in the room. They'll know we're gone."

"But if I go to the desk, they'll know right then. They can start cleaning so other people can check in early. WE got to check in at 2:45, and it wasn't supposed to be until 4:00. That saved us time to GAMBLE!"

"Do what you want. You're going to anyway."

"I don't see why it matters if I'm standing at the desk, or standing out front waiting for the valet. Besides, I want to make sure the free room is taken care of."


Good thing I was selfless like that, wanting future free-stayers to get to gambling quicker. I approached the desk and saw the only person working was a short little bald man who looked like character actor John Fiedler. (He was lawyer J. Noble Daggett in True Grit! And Mr. Peterson on The Bob Newhart Show. And the voice of Piglet in Winnie the Pooh.)

Anyhoo...this guy was not nearly so personable as John Fiedler. He was just a walking poster boy for Little Man Syndrome.

"That will be $112 for your second night. Did you want to leave that charge on your credit card?"

"No. That room was comped. We talked to a supervisor when we checked in. My sister used her comp. We both signed a paper for that transaction." I gave all pertinent details concerning names, room numbers, and dates.

Not-John-Fiedler was getting pissier by the moment. He strutted around behind a partition. Came back to the computer. Huffed a couple of times. And dragged a long milk crate kind of bin out from under the counter. He thumbed through about 100 papers, and found the two signed by Sis and me.

"Oh. So your sister SIGNED for the room, even though she didn't STAY in it?"

I should have just told him she did stay in it, that we separated the gals from the menfolk. But I didn't think of it. What's their problem, anyway? They had six of us in two rooms, spending money hand over fist in their casino, and paying for food in three of their restaurants. That's why they GIVE free rooms, right? To bring you in to spend your money?

"We were told by a supervisor that the room would be comped." I have learned not to engage with a person having a snit fit. Just stick to the facts. And repeat them. Often.

"You know, I have no way of knowing this. There is nothing in the computer about it."

"The supervisor told the girl how to put it in the computer. You have the paperwork we signed right there."

"I'll take care of it." Not-John-Fielder threw up his tiny arms in exasperation. As I walked away, I heard him muttering.

I told Sis that we'll probably BOTH be charged, and Not-John-Fiedler will destroy that paperwork. Maybe I should have asked for a copy.

But other than THAT...the facility was beautiful, and we had great time, and I can't wait for my next free offer to go back.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Casinopalooza 2: The Beginning

My sister the ex-mayor's wife and I started planning Casinopalooza 2 immediately after we returned from the original Casinopalooza. Actually...the planning started at breakfast on the last day of Casinopalooza. We both came back with excess cash. It was just a matter of working around everybody's schedule. Even though Hick was the only one of us four actually working.

With Genius heading off to a summer job again at Garmin two weeks after finals, he only had two weekends available, and chose the first one. A fly in the ointment was the fact that he is second university photographer, and would be taking pictures of the graduation ceremony on Saturday. We arranged to pick him up on Sunday, and meet up that afternoon with Sis and the ex-mayor, who were going to Oklahoma (no banjos on their knees) on Saturday. The Pony would drive in from the other side of Oklahoma to meet us there.

Two weeks before our trip, casino offers were rolling in every day. Sis said her mailman probably imagined them to be high rollers. She said the ex-mayor had a free hotel offer at a certain casino. We did not, but she said it wasn't good for Saturdays, so they could only use one night of it, but since we'd be there on Monday night, too, that we could use hers for Sunday night and Monday night.

THEN...a couple days later, we both got offers from a bigger casino. TWO free nights! For both of us. The ex-mayor, Sis, and I all got an offer. Hick did not. That's because he somehow lost his player's card, probably left it in the first machine he played. Because I KNOW he got a card. He got the free play, and the $10 in free food voucher.

Anyhoo...the ex-mayor called and reserved their room for Saturday night and Sunday night. Sis wanted me to call and get our room and let her know which of the two towers we were in. She said that the lady Ex-M talked to was very polite. "She told him he had the Buffalo Promotion. He also got a free spa treatment, and $30 in free play, and a free buffet. He says it's because he was so good at that Buffalo game. Remember? With his $7 free play? He kept winning and winning."

Yes. I remembered. I did not do as well. But I won $500 on a single play as Hick and I were getting ready to leave that night. I called about our reservations for Sunday night and Monday night. Well! I obviously did not get the same customer service rep as Ex-M.

"Hello. I got a card in the mail offering a free stay, and I'd like to reserve a room."

"How do you know you have a free stay?"

"It's on a postcard from your casino that I got in the mail."

"Have you ever even PLAYED in our casino."

"Yes. That's how I got the card."

"Do you have a player's card?"

"Yes. That's how they knew to send me the postcard with the offers."

"Do you play here a lot?"

"No. I live in Missouri. I've only been there once. But I wanted to come back, and use this free stay."

"OH! All right. What is the code on your card?"


"What nights do you want?"

"Sunday the 14th and Monday the 15th."

"Oh. I will have to charge you for the second night."

"Why? My card says it's good for THREE nights per week!"

"Yes. Did you read the fine print? You have three offers per week. One is good Sunday-Thursday. One is for Friday. And one is for Saturday."

"I see something at the bottom, but I'll need a magnifying glass. I'll take your word for it."

"Are you traveling with anybody else? Do they have a player's card? You can use their comp for the second night."

"Just my husband. He has a player's card, but I don't have the number."

"What's his name? Did he GET a player's card? I don't see anything on him."

"He got a player's card, and the free play, and the food voucher."

"Well, I don't see his name anywhere here. There's no record of him playing. Anybody else?"


"Do you have a military discount? Or AAA?"

"Yes. We have AAA."

"I can give you a discount. If you decide you don't want the second night, notify the desk before noon on that day. Or if you find somebody else in your party with a comp, we can apply that." of now (writing this the night before we left for Casinopalooza 2) the plan is to use Sis's room comp for our second night. Since they are using Ex-M's for their Saturday session and Sunday-Thursday session. She IS a member of my party, you know. Worst they can do is tell us no, and things stay the same.

Oh, yeah. And Sis had a code of ELK2 on her comp mailer. Pretty sure I'm the low critter in that hierarchy. DEER --> ELK --> BUFFALO. But one thing I know for sure. Ex-M did not get his offers for being really good at that Buffalo game. He got them due to the money he put through those machines. They desperately want him back, because you can't win all the time, you know.

Even though I like to imagine that I can.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Where, Oh Where, Did My Little Dog Almost Go?

The day after my conniption fit over Jack having access to the pool, Hick put the new gate on the steps going down to Poolio, and the handrail, too. It looked pretty good.

"Your dog doesn't like the gate."

"Of course not! You're keeping him from a swim."

"He don't like it at all. He stood there and watched me while I was working on the rail."

"Good. Now he can't get down there."

"I still need to put a latch on it, but I have to go buy one later. I'll put it on tomorrow. It's fine. You can close it."

So all was right with my Jack-populated world. Until I went upstairs at 3:00 a.m., and tossed in a load of laundry, and looked out the laundry room door.


My heart started racing. I turned on the back porch light and scanned the pool for a tiny bedraggled long body. The mood of the townspeople shooting the cannon to raise the bodies of Tom and Huck couldn't have held a McDougal's Cave stubby candle to the sadness in Val's heart at that thought. Thankfully, Poolio was clear of Val's best friend! I pushed that gate closed and planned on giving Hick a piece of my mind the next morning.

Here is a picture I recreated in daylight. You can even see the latch (still in package) laying on the rail beside the gate.

Hick didn't know how the gate got open. It doesn't just swing out. It's pretty stiff. I guess Jack or Juno could have nudged it open.

Here's the gate later that day, complete with latch, and Jack looking for a way down.

 Do you think that Hick tempting the dogs with his supper has anything to do with it?

Now I just have to convince Hick that we also need steps and a gate from the yard onto the deck, like the old-style deck. I don't think he'll want to walk all the way up and through the house and back around the yard or down the basement steps to get to the filter. Besides, what if there's an emergency with someone in the pool? And what if he invites HOS and family over to swim? Going up on the porch to get down to the pool is kind of awkward.

At least the boys and I kept him from his original plan of putting a slide down at the end of the porch, where the dogs are in that last picture, as the only way down to the pool from the porch. The boys used to climb over the rail and onto the back of a plastic bench that held the skimmer and other doodads. Hick did not.

Now that I know Jack is safe...I would pronounce the new deck a success. I think we'll call him Deckster.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

DANGER! Jack Thevictorian!

When we last convened, Hick had pretty much finished the new pool deck. The sun was setting, and he'd gone off, unbeknownst to me, to HOS's place up on the hill. I was minding my own business, walking in the driveway per my evening routine, when Hick and HOS roared into the BARn field on Gator and 4-wheeler. HOS's missus was with them, and his boy young 'un, who is seven.

I finished walking and sat on the porch pew to be sociable. HOS had been assisting Hick with the deck as needed. They were off fiddle-fartin' around in the BARn. HOSMS didn't know what they were doing. I asked her if she'd seen the deck and the steps, just finished that day. She walked around to have a look, and agreed that it looked like a professional job. For around here, anyway.

"I guess they're getting the gate ready, now. It's going to be dark before long."

"They didn't mention a gate. But I guess they could be."

"He can't leave it OPEN like that! Jack'll get down there. As much as he likes water, I'm afraid he'll jump in the pool. He'd drown! The ladder is out, and the water's too low for him to get his paws up on the side."

"Yeah. He wouldn't be able to get out."

"That dog jumps in EVERYTHING! The fish pond, the creek, the goat's water bucket..."

"He always gets in our creek when he comes up to our house. He's always wet."

"I better say something about that gate. He can't leave it open."

I had to get supper, and HOSMS had to get back home for Sonny's bath time. It was a school night. When Hick came in the house for supper, I asked him about the gate.

"I didn't have time to do the gate. I'll work on it tomorrow."

"You can't leave it open! Jack will get in the pool and drown!"

"No! He's not that stupid. Now...if he could reach his head down and drink some of the water...then I think he might jump in. But the water's too far down. He won't do that."

"You'd better be right! Because if I get up in the morning, and my little dog is floating dead in that pool after struggling all night to get out...YOU'LL be the one scooping out his little limp body, and you'll never hear the end of it from me!"

The next morning, I saw that Hick had put the old gate up as a makeshift blockade to keep Jack from the pool.

Good enough for me. I didn't think he'd try to take a high dive through that gap in the rail.

The new gate is up now. But a gate is only as good as the gateKEEPER.
Which is tomorrow's story.

Let the record show that the comments will be hung up until I am back on the innernets Tuesday night. You can still leave them, and I will post them and answer them then.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Deck That Hick Built

Hick does not live by shacks alone. Hick's Shackytown is smoldering on the back burner now. He's almost done with the railroad car shack, except for painting. But that's not a gleam in his eye anymore. He's graduated to more expensive projects now that he's decided he's going to fully retire. I'm pretty sure that's his goal. Minimum money in, and maximum money out.

Because we (and by WE, I mean Hick, and last year a couple of times, The Pony) use Poolio for refreshing recreation so often during the two months that he's got warm enough and clean enough water...Hick decided that we HAD TO HAVE a new pool deck. Okay. So the old one WAS rotting through on a couple of boards. But since I never get on the deck, I don't see the urgency. thing I'll admit about Hick: he's a pretty good amateur carpenter.

First, he had to tear out the old deck and start laying boards for the new one. Which he made bigger. And added steps down from the porch, instead of up from the yard.

That's a view taken from the back porch, off the laundry room and kitchen area.

As you can see, dark of night did not stop Hick's progress.

Hick's deck wasn't built in a day...but all of this part was. The rail and boards.

Then the floods came, and about the only thing that was accomplished for a week was getting enough rain pumped off of Poolio to remove his cover. Look away! He's hideous!

Hick finished this part in one day, too. The rest of the deck boards, and the steps.

In this photo, the sun was setting, and the rail was yet to come. Which is tomorrow's story!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #60 "A Weapon By Any Other Name"

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 brings you the story of a young skateboarder-turned-entrepreneur with a secret weapon to market. Don't turn up your nose at this fake book! They're disappearing off the shelf. In fact, the shelf itself is disappearing! Get one before the inventory liquidates!

A Weapon By Any Other Name

Malodorous Funk set out to make a name for himself in the skateboarding world. His natural balance made him a shoe-in for a shoe endorsement. Until the manufacturers got wind of Malodorous's OTHER natural attribute: stinky feet. Using special polymers, they were able to design a shoe that did not hold the odor. Unfortunately, the trade-off was a miasma that surrounded Malodorous like Pigpen's dust cloud, everywhere but his shoes.. And dissolved everything in its path. The first to go was his skateboard.

Will Malodorous be charged with property destruction and indecent exposure? Or will the CIA approach him with an offer he can't refuse? (105 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Pig-Pen..."Wow! I got another 15 minutes of fame! Thanks, Thevictorian!"

Piggy from Lord of the Flies..."I've never had a good history with athletes. They usually behave like savages. However, I think I'd like to invest in this young man's product. I can imagine several uses for it...not the least one being revenge. Thank you, Thevictorian, for fake-writing this fake book. You are a credit to society."

Wilbur..."Some fake book. I'm not real good with words. But if my friend Charlotte was here, I think she'd write a that the word? For something very critical? A scath--scathing review of Thevictorian's fake book. I will NOT treasure the sweet memory of it forever."

Pigs, flying..."Yippee! We've been trying to get off the ground for years, and the day this fake book was fake published, we made it! Thanks, Thevictorian, for allowing us to fly."

Pig-in-a-Blanket..."This fake book chilled me to the bone! Fake-reading it was no treat, let me tell you! The fake author is so wrapped up in herself that she has no idea how to fake-write about others.

Piglet..."Oh, dear. The fake writing in this fake book is so terrible that it frightens me. I wish I had never found the courage to fake-read it. I shall do my best to have it banned from the Hundred Acre Wood, to save my friends from suffering like I did."

Kevin Bacon..."I really hope there are more than six degrees separating Thevictorian from me! The though of being related to this fake author does not make me dance with joy."

First 2 of The 3 Little Pigs..."Woe is we, that we didn't build our homes from the pages of Thevictorian's fake book! It would be quite safe from the huffing and puffing of a big bad wolf. Heck, this fake book is such an ironclad failure that it could withstand an F5 tornado!"

Pickled Pigs Feet..."This fake book, like ourselves, is sure to leave a bad taste in the mouth of the reader! And also, like us on a refrigerator shelf, people will get one look at it on the bookshelf, and turn away, repulsed."

The Little Piggy That Stayed Home..."My brother who went to market, and the one who had roast beef, and the one who's watching his diet...all think our last little brother went 'WEE WEE WEE' all the way home. When in reality, I was here, and saw the whole thing. He was already home, and was screaming in horror after reading the first page of this fake book."  

Piggy bank..."Alas, my stomach rumbles. Shall I ever feel full again? How I wish I belonged to a REAL Stephen King! And not this Thevictorian fake-writing woman. I might be the first piggy bank to succumb to malnourishment."

Pig in crap..."Hee hee! I'm SO happy that I have absolutely nothing to do with this project! Don't know the fake author, haven't fake-read the fake book! All I do every day is wallow in crap! And I'm HAPPY! As happy! In CRAP!"

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Good Thing I'm Not a Fuller Brush Salesman

I know it's been almost a week since I told you about my weirdo encounters. I've been holding out on you!

Several days ago, I made my usual run to town for errands and a 44 oz Diet Coke. As with most days lately, my timing was not optimal. I passed some establishments because I'd planned out my route already, only to find that the good parking places were taken when I returned, or that the place was really busy now.

After several such missteps, I arrived at the gas station chicken store. Of course my favorite parking spot was taken. So I parked next to the moat that separates the lot from Hick's pharmacy, Ceilingreds. As I climbed out of T-Hoe, I saw that over by the free air hose, a car had pulled into the handicap space next to my old second-favorite parking spot.

I DID notice that the car had no handicap plates and no handicap placard hanging from the mirror. But since the gas station chicken store attracts the worst parkers in the greater Backroads area, that fact did not really surprise me.

A man got out of the driver's seat. He looked like that teenage kid on The Family Guy, only with black hair, and kind of gone-to-seed, with a 10 o'clock shadow. He was wearing dirty jeans with the bottom rolled up in 4-inch cuffs, and a black t-shirt with a rip in the back. How do you get a rip in the back of a t-shirt? Unless maybe you're trying to crawl under a barbed wire fence in the middle of the night after (alleged) criminal activity? Just sayin'...

Anyhoo...he was at the corner of the building, and I was walking across the lot. I didn't notice him limping or anything. He got to the door ahead of me. Usually, when you sense someone behind you, you push the door out as you enter. Give it a little extra oomph so it swings wide, or even hold your hand on the inside bar for a minute, as a courtesy to the person behind you.

NotFamily Guy pulled on the door handle and slipped through that crack like a ninja! I swear. It was like he was deliberately shutting me out, short of grabbing the inside handle and pulling the door closed behind him. What's up with that?

I reached for the door handle, a bit miffed, and saw inside the cranky tall clerk ready to come out, a cig already between her lips. Well. I did the right thing. I pulled open the door and stood back. "Go ahead, I've got it." Li'l Val's hero was not Gallant in Highlights magazine for nothing, you know. The clerk thanked me and came out the door, happy to be one second closer to her nicotine fix.

Seriously. Would it have hurt that guy to open the door like normal? Not even shove it open wide for my elephantine girth to plod through. Just a normal open and walk-in. No need to slither like a contestant in a sideways limbo contest. It's like he was afraid he might accidentally do me a favor.

What, exactly, is wrong with people these days?

Oh, yeah. And NotFamily Guy bought 14 one-dollar scratch-off tickets. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It just seems kind of random. As I left, I saw him sitting in his sedan in the handicap parking space, scratching his tickets.

Still not sure what his handicap was...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What Jack Needs is a Good Lawyer

Hick has been working around Poolio for a couple of weeks, building a new deck. I can't go into all the details now, because that's going to be a special addition that I'm planning for you while I'm livin' the wild life during Casinopalooza 2.

I don't plan on taking my laptop this trip, because during the original Casinopalooza, I barely had a chance to open it up, what with so many casinos, so little time. You'll have a fresh post every day, but I won't catch up with comments until Tuesday night. My last communication will probably be Sunday morning. with any project Hick has going on, there are always a few loose ends. Sometimes they never get tightened. He had to move everything off the old deck in order to rebuild it. So he put stuff down by the basement door, under the porch.

Last night I went out to talk to him over the porch rail. He had drained some water from the top of Poolio after the first big flood-producing rain, and finally got the cover off. Now the water level is a foot or two below the edge. I saw movement in Poolio, and told Hick,

"You have a frog in there."

"Yeah. I've had several."

"Well, you need to get him out. He'll drown. He's not made to live in the water for his whole life."

"I don't have my dip net."

"You don't need it. He's over by the filter. You can reach him with your hand. Where's your dip net?"

"Jack tore it up."

"How did JACK get a dip net?"

"It was on the bench seat that I put by the basement door. He got up on there and got it, I guess. I found it in the front yard, all chewed up."

"It's pretty long."

"So's Jack."

Huh. Jack DOES get into things. And I guess he COULD have carried a dip net around the house. I saw him in the front yard one day with a limb about 8 feet long. He had no trouble romping around with that.

But this morning, I found THIS in the driveway.

I guess it's something Hick trimmed off when he was moving Poolio's filter closer to the new deck. I sent Hick a picture asking if it belonged to him, and he said,

"Looks like your dog got into things again."

Au contraire. I don't think Jack's mouth is big enough to grab that hose. He's got a tiny mouth. I even have to cut up the food for his evening snack. was the neighbor dog, Copper, who was discovered laying closest to the contraband. Yes, Copper DOES have a head. But in the way of the guilty dogs when they know you want a picture, he made sure we couldn't see his face.

Jack was not near it. Not near Copper, either. Just minding his own business over by the porch.

I guess we'll never know who took that hose. I threw it up on top of Hick's Olds Toronado. You know. The one he accused Jack of jumping up on and taking a crap on the trunk.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

This Pea Wants to Escape From the Pod

Just in case you were wondering...Hick is driving me crazy.


And by HERE, I mean wherever I am. At the moment I am.

You'd think I'd be safe for 21 minutes every night, walking up and down the driveway. Nobody needs to use the driveway in the evening. I'm here. Hick's here. And by HERE, I don't just mean at home.

Let the record show that the prime time for weedeating the area around the flat rock monument and the eyesore picket fence is...EXACTLY WHEN VAL GOES OUT TO WALK! Yes. It's true. That chore cannot be done any other time. How long does it take to weedeat the area at the end of the eyesore picket fence, near the flat rock monument and the trash dumpster? You guessed it...EXACTLY 21 MINUTES!

Yes, indeed. Val's life IS rife with coincidences like that. Doesn't matter that there are 6 acres here to mow which include the front yard and the BARn field on the other side of the sinkholey trees, and another 6 acres of cleared land past THAT, that could be accomplished while Val is taking a relaxing evening walk, hoping to fill her lungs with fresh air, not the stirred up particles and pollens of grasses to which her dripping nasal cavities and uncleared throat seem to think she is allergic to.

You'd think that with all that acreage to mow, it would not be imperative that the yard directly in front of the porch pew, the dog-snacking area every evening, would need immediate mowing at the very time Val is resting after her walk, enjoying the company of her canines. BUT IT DOES! Forget about relaxing and enjoying the peace and quiet of country living.

How boring would THAT be? When instead, you can admire the mowing skills of Hick.

Weeds can't be eaten every evening, you know, nor pew-frontage mowed. But do you know what else is imperative to accomplish during those same 21 minutes? HICK MUST MOVE GOODWILL SWAG FROM HIS TRAILBLAZER TO THE BARn! Right then! RIGHT WALKING THEN! You know how he moves it, right? He can't just carry it in his arms. No. He must go get the Gator. Drive the Gator over to the driveway. Park the Gator in the driveway area where Val makes her turnaround on the concrete carport. Load the Gator. AND BACK IT UP AT THE VERY INSTANT VAL IS MAKING ONE OF HER 6 TURNAROUNDS!

Uh huh. The Gator can't be backed up and turned around while Val is at the FAR end of the driveway. Only when she's walking right there.

It's a long driveway, people. And a large yard. Why do I feel so claustrophobic?

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Taming of the Two

Yesterday I gave you a slice of life from the crusty pie that was Val's childhood. Today, you get a take-out bag of assorted leftovers. And if I've told parts of this story before...well...leftovers last for more than one day, you know.

After our ladder-beatings and subsequent pedal-fire-engine rides down the broken-sidewalk hill, Sis and I could usually get along well enough to share the wagon. We had a Radio Flyer, I'm pretty sure, but it was secondhand, and had been painted country blue by either the previous owners, or our dad. It didn't steer as well as the fire engine. But there was no danger of getting your bare toes caught up in the pedal mechanism if you forgot to hold them off the pedals during the ride.

Also, the wagon didn't steer as well as the fire engine, so rather than try to ride it all the way across the culvert to Fanny Hugg's house, we turned it at the last minute into our neighbor Sally's yard. Of course it turned over. But we went flying out on grass, not over the side of a six-foot drop onto the flat rocks of a creek that may or may not have contained sewer runoff.

We also had a giant red tricycle and a smaller blue tricycle that joined the neighborhood convoy racing down the sidewalk. Sis and I shared the three neighbor boys equally as friends, but she had a closer gal pal in the next block, and I had Sally next door as my confidant. We all took turns on the various vehicles. No bikes were used on the sidewalk. Bikes were for riding in the STREETS, by cracky!

Anyhoo...Sis and I were not constantly beating each other down with miniature wooden ladders. But neither were we holding joint tea parties and discussing our innermost feelings. I'm pretty sure Sis has forgiven me now for that time I accidentally hit her elbow when she was digging in her ear with a bobby pin. Oh, come on! Nobody ever bled to death out of their ear, for cryin' out loud! In fact, I don't even think Sis cried. She was too busy screaming at the top of her lungs to tattle on me. Sheesh! So dramatic, some people.

Did I scream to tattle on Sis that time I was laid up after knee surgery, and she did not fulfill her sisterly duties? No. I did not. Because, like a tree falling in a deserted forest, there was nobody there to hear me make a sound.

Here's the deal. It was over Christmas semester break. We were both home from college. Old enough, you'd think, to put away our sibling rivalry. Dad was at work, and Mom had to go to the store. I was on crutches, with a six-inch incision down the side of my knee, back in the days before arthroscopic surgery was a thing. Yep. Five days in the hospital. Then a four-hour ride home.

In the two days I'd been back, I'd already managed to fall down the stairs once. A split-level home is not designed for convalescents of orthopedic surgery. The carpet broke my fall, and the flimsy wrought-iron railing kept me from toppling down onto the second set of stairs. I'm pretty sure Mom was able to clean my skin off the rough white surface of the wall. Anyhoo...she decreed that while she was gone, I was to STAY PUT in Dad's recliner. She propped a pillow under my knee, got me the TV remote, and said that Sis would get me whatever I needed. RIGHT, Sis? And Sis agreed.

That should have been my clue right there. For Sis to agree to be my servant. Willingly. I did not take advantage of her. Not at all. She stayed upstairs in her room. Probably all smug in the knowledge that I could not get to her up there. I swear. Mom was gone for the longest time. It was like she drove to Florida to harvest her own oranges to make the orange juice. I didn't bother Sis once. Until...I needed drink. I'm pretty sure I was still taking painkillers, even though my thoughtful mother had only filled half the prescription. Those things make you have cotton-mouth, you know. I really needed some water. Thinking about Mom down in Florida squeezing out orange juice did not make my thirst go away. So I called for Sis.

She came down the stairs right away. Bounding. Full of energy. Almost like she was flaunting the fact that she was able-bodied and spry, not on crutches. I told her that I hated to bother her, but that I needed a glass of water. Sure, Sis said, and bounded up that lower set of stairs into the kitchen. I heard her take a glass out of the cabinet. I heard her run the faucet. And here she came! With my water! Sweet, sweet water. Wet! Quenching! Water!

I thanked Sis and took the glass (a green--my favorite color--plastic Tupperware glass) from her hand. Sis ran back to the steps, and I swear she took them two-at-a-time, both flights, back up to her room. Ahh...water. Sweet, wet, quenching water! I lifted the glass and took a big gulp.


Sis had gone to the trouble to run me a glass of hot water. I'm pretty sure she was thumbing her nose at me through the ceiling-floor.

But you know what? During The Original Casinopalooza in March this year...Sis brought me a drink! Yeah. So...sodas are free in the casino. You just have to walk to one of the drink stations and push the spigot. But Sis ASKED me if I wanted a soda, and then she WALKED ACROSS THE CASINO and brought me one. I admit that I took a tiny sip at first. But it was okay! She had made it just like I asked: Diet Pepsi [Oklahoma casinos really need to switch to COKE] with a splash of lemonade.

Wasn't that sweet?

To repay Sis during Casinopalooza 2...I'm going to let her pretend that Hick is her husband while they're sitting side-by-side playing the penny machines.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hear That Siren? It's a Five-Alarm Gift!

Mark your calendar!

You have one, right? Surely you got a calendar for Christmas. With lighthouses or beaches or things you don't particularly have an affinity for (not you, Blog Buddy Linda, beach-lover extraordinaire) that was, perhaps, given to you by your sister the ex-mayor's wife's husband?

Mark it, I tell you, on the date of May 5, 2017! Because Hick bought a present for Val. Here! Let me waft these smelling salts under your nose. There. You seem to be coming around. If you don't get a knot on your head, you'd better go to the ER for a cat-scan, just in case you have bleeding inside your head. Here. Sit up. Do you have your wits about you again? Listen to this...

Hick bought me a present at Goodwill for $4.00. When he first sent me the text, he said it cost 400. So, remembering The Good Feet Store faux pas, I made sure to clarify the price. Take a gander at THIS:

It's a FIRE TRUCK, by cracky! Okay. It's a REPLICA. Of a TOY fire truck. But it's like the one I had as a kid. Almost.

As a kid, my sister (the little future ex-mayor's wife) and I had a pedal fire truck. I think ours was a bit more squared-off than this one, and I don't remember our windshield being like that. But it had two ladders on the back just like this one has one ladder (should have two, but the other is missing, and Hick says he's going to make one).

We used to ride our fire engine down the sidewalk in front of our house. Which was a 50-foot mobile home, parked on the lot beside our grandpa's house. Let the record show that we grew up in the 1960s, in a small town that still had ditches between the road and sidewalk that may or may not have been used for sewer purposes. Kids were hardier back in those days, I'm sure you all will attest.

Anyhoo...the hill started up past Grandpa's house, and ran down in front of ours, and our neighbor's house, and then crossed over a culvert that was about 6 feet deep where a creek ran under the road. The sidewalk had fallen into disrepair as it flattened out by the neighbors' yard. You know how concrete sidewalks do. The squares get kind of cattywompus to each other. Unlevel. They develop shallow craters that fill with gravel particles. The sidewalkular decay was even worse on the part that crossed over the creek. With NO rails or curb on the side.

Yes. Val's childhood street. A humid summer evening, Grandpa in blue Dickies, lug-soled black work shoes, and a white t-shirt, crouched with the green garden hose to water a tiny tulip tree sectioned off from the yard with a round metal mini-fence. Change in his pocket ready for for the first sounds of the bells of the Tastee Freeze truck. 

Picture Li'l Val and her sister (the little future ex-mayor's wife), bludgeoning the bejeebers out of each other with those wooden ladders to see who got to drive, then hanging them back on the fire engine, and barreling down that broken sidewalk, with Val's (in the driver's seat, of course) pixie-cut brunette hair blowing off her forehead, Li'l Sis standing on the back holding the ladder rails, her orangey-red, fine, shoulder-length tresses whipping themselves into a matted mess that would need the silver rat-tailed comb...flying across the culvert onto the better-maintained sidewalk section in front of the last house on the block, that belonging to the spinster Fanny Hugg.

Thanks, Hick, my Sweet Baboo, for buying me a memory.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Catching Up With Thevictorian Young 'uns

Both Thevictorian boys are preparing themselves for finals week.

Genius sent me a text a few minutes ago.

"Just submitted my last assignment and taking the evening off before suffering starts tomorrow."

"I typed STUDYING but got autocorrected to SUFFERING. Seemed apt."

Heh, heh. That demon Autocorrect will get you every time.

Also, Genius's solar car fundraiser is now at $12,775. Their original goal was $3000, and they were able to set a new goal several times. So far, they have received 60 donations. There are 3 or 4 days left.

The Pony has been incommunicado much of the week, but DID send me a picture:

I hope that's not an omen!

For finals, OR for Casinopalooza 2, which starts the weekend after.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #59 "Pulling Myself Up by My Own Crocs Straps: The Story of Nick Thethicktorian"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Is is time for a biography? Let me answer for you. "YES!" Val's latest fake book reveals the life of Nick Thethicktorian, a small-town kid with big-time plans. If you like a rags to riches story, you'll half-way enjoy Val's latest fake book. Get your copy now, before they're packed off to flea markets, consignment shops, and Goodwill!

Pulling Myself Up by My Own Crocs Straps: 
The Story of Nick Thethicktorian

Nick Thethicktorian can give you the business like nobody's business! He's a man with a plan. And an entrepreneur full of manure. Nick's main moneymaker is his theme park, Nick's Sheddytown and Used Gewgaw Emporium. Besides giving tours, swapping antiques/junk, and concessioning his wife Sal's tasty creations (try the Broccocaulipeppot* if you dare)...Nick also sells unattended children to the circus, shirts and shoes** to those without who wish to be served, and takes bribes from those he refuses service to.

Read about Nick's humble upbringing and even humbler career in "Pulling Myself Up by My Own Crocs Straps: The Story of Nick Thethicktorian."

*A tasty Styrofoam bowl of broccoli, cauliflower, sweet banana pepper rings, baked potato, and Velveeta cheese, microwaved just enough to melt it. The cheese. Not the Styrofoam bowl. Hopefully.

**Get your own pair of camouflage Crocs and strap in your heels, baby! (145 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Burma Shave Sign...
"They oughta burn
This fake book.
And throw in jail
Thevictorian. CROOK!" 

Tahoe Side Mirror..."Fake books written by Thevictorian are worser than they appear."

Stop Sign..."I'm pretty sure I speak for myself, no wordy review needed. If you feel the urge to fake-buy Thevictorian's fake book...take my heed."

Slippery When Wet Sign..."Right now the publisher is planning a new print run with ME on the cover, in order to avoid lawsuits. Except I say 'Gibberish You Get.'"

Railroad Crossing Sign..."I wish I could be on the cover of Thevictorian's fake book. You think these two Rs stand for railroad? Nope. In Thevictorian's case, they represent Rotten Reading."

Right Shoulder Closed Sign..."The Road Sign Store called. They're all out of ME. People are buying me because their shoulders need time to dry out, since their friends who fake-read Thevictorian's fake book bawled and slobbered all over them after throwing away their fake money."

Blue and White Lodging Sign..."People used to think I represented a highway exit where you could find a room to sleep overnight. Now they associate me with the comatose state that people fall into when trying to finish Thevictorian's fake book."

The Hollywood Sign..."It's all I can do to keep from jumping, after hearing that Thevictorian's fake book has been fake-optioned for a fake movie."

Las Vegas Welcome Sign ..."Right now, my bottom (heh, heh, I said bottom) is being painted with the additional phrase 'EXCEPT FOR YOU, THEVICTORIAN!'"  
Myrtle Beach Welcome Sign..."I hear ya, Bro!"

U.S. Route 66 Sign..."If anyone ever needed to get kicks, it's Val Thevictorian for fake-writing this fake book. And I don't mean the kind of kicks that express entertainment."

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Val Pushes Her Envelope

Every now and then, I have to vary my routine. How else am I going to find things to blog about? Last Thursday, I headed over to Bill-Paying Town to shop at their Walmart. I'd been planning the trip all week. To get some delicious Black Market (okay, I know that's not the name of it, but it's close) BBQ Chicken Wraps that I like to have for lunch. And some Pinwheel thingies. All the regular Walmart nearer to Backroads has is Chicken Bacon Ranch. And they always seem to forget the bacon. Of course, I was also going to pick up some of the new lottery tickets at different locations, and get my 44 oz Diet Coke on the way home.

As I put T-Hoe into gear to back out of the garage, I saw that the warning light said to check tire pressure. Well. There are always three or four warning lights going off, since Hick doesn't seem to get T-Hoe completely fixed, even when we pay over $500 to have him supposedly fixed. The tire sensors haven't worked right for at least 3 years. And the back-up and side beepers don't work. And the service suspension thingy is always on. So I don't pay a lot of attention to those warnings.

Still, since I hadn't noticed the flat tire symbol before, I figured I'd check the sensor thingy. Huh. As I was going down Neighbor Barn Hill, I saw that my left front tire had 38 pounds of pressure, and the right front tire had 9 pounds of pressure. Still better than the rear tires, which had, respectively, --- pounds, and --- pounds of pressure. I told you the sensor doesn't work!

Just to be safe, I pulled off at the first gravel offshoot, where many years ago I came home to find the road blocked by the county sheriff's posse, due to the discovery of an abandoned portable meth lab. Yeah. It was several years before they found the headless body in a septic tank a little farther up our road. I got out and walked around. I figured it the tire was flat, I'd go back home and get A-Cad for my shopping trip.

The tire looked good. As good as the driver's side tire. So I figured it was just the bad sensors, and continued to town. Or at least to the mailboxes. The mail has been getting here earlier now. It was 10:30. So I stopped to check. When I stepped out of T-Hoe down by the mailboxes, I almost stepped on THIS:

It's a dime. Dime, dime, dime. No pennies from heaven. Dime.

That's right. A dime, all dusty in the gravel. What in tarnation a dime was doing there, I don't know. It's not like the three pennies I found earlier in the week in Orb K, by the register. I don't think anybody's whipping out money down on the gravel road. Anyhoo...because I have been thinking about my dad lately, the dime made me remember how we found dimes all over our house for month or two after he died.

So...I picked up this dime, and thought about my tire troubles, and how my dad was the one who taught me to check things on my car (the yellow Chevy Vega hatchback and the yellow Chevy Chevette hatchback) like the tire pressure and the oil and the washer fluid and the radiator and how to change an air filter and fuses and a flat tire. So after looking for the not-yet-delivered mail, I went back to look at the tire again. And it was just fine. Same as the driver's side tire. So I went to town.

I stopped at Orb K to cash in a $50 lottery winner, and get a new $5 ticket. When I came out, I thought about checking my tire again, but I was parked up against the sidewalk curb, and it wasn't convenient, so I didn't. I went over to Country Mart, to get a new ticket out of their machine. Somebody was parked in my rightful space down at the end by the building's exit door, where I ENTER, so I had to park out in the middle part of the lot. When I came back out, I decided to look at the tire again. Finding that dime made me leery. I couldn't get that whole 9 POUNDS OF AIR thing out of my head, even though T-Hoe drove just fine to town, and didn't pull sideways in the least.

I walked behind the back of the car, because there was a light pole in a big yellow concrete barrier at the front. As I rounded T-Hoe's rear to look at the front passenger tire, I saw that T-Hoe's REAR passenger tire INDEED HAD 9 POUNDS OF AIR in it! That tire was FLAT! But only on the bottom, heh, heh!

Then I remembered that those sensors were messed up, and Hick didn't want to pay to fix them. Huh. Like HE's the one earning the money around here! Yep. Those sensors have been messed up since he bought two new tires and had the back ones moved to the front. When it says the back tires each have --- pounds of air in them, it's actually meaning the FRONT tires! And when it says the front tires, it actually means the REAR tires.

I hopped in T-Hoe and rushed two blocks over to the gas station chicken store to use their free air. Here's a picture of the rear tire, taken from beside the back bumper.

It was way flatter than this picture looks. I had a bad angle on it. It was FLAT, by cracky!

Here's the front one that was okay.

Of course the valve stem was near the bottom when I parked, and if that air hose was a snake, it would have bit me, because I couldn't find the end of it until I grabbed a loop and pulled hand over hand until I got to the metal air-shooter part. I stood almost on my head and pumped in A LOT of air. And then some more air. And started to put the hose back, but pumped in a little more air. Just to be safe. When I got back in T-Hoe, I saw that I now had exactly 38 pounds of air in THAT tire, too! Thanks, Even Steven.

I decided to scrap my trip to Bill-Paying Town. I could go to the closer Walmart. But I didn't WANT TO! I went to Casey's for one of the new $5 lottery tickets. Then to mail four bills. Then to the next town over. Where I noticed that I had lost a pound of air from that right rear tire in 15 minutes. I calculated my ETA at Bill-Paying Town Walmart, and then the time it would take to get home, and decided that I could make it there and back. There was another free air hose on the way in case I needed it on the way back.

Yep! Val threw caution to the wind! She pushed the envelope! And made it just fine.

Let the record show that two days later, Hick took T-Hoe to get the tire fixed. It only cost $10. AND he said that the tire-fixer told him all he needed to do was hold in the button thing on the dash to switch the tire sensors so they read the right tires. And that he did it for me.

Let the record further show that Hick said the tire-fixer only put 31 pounds in that tire to start with, so I might (yeah, that I might) want to put a little in. So when I was out in town the next day, I again stopped at the gas station chicken store and put in some air for the right rear tire.

Only to find out that when I checked T-Hoe's sensors, the sensors had NOT changed, and I now had 40 pounds of air in the right rear and 31 in the right front.

I really wish T-Hoe's tires would completely air themselves to the exact proper air pressure, like Hick tried to argue with me about A-Cad's tires!