Thursday, July 20, 2017

After a Brief Hiccup Yesterday, Val is Back on Track

Yes, make your little crazy curlicues with your finger up by your temple. Cut eyes at each other and snicker. Start staging your intervention.

Val has found her 4th penny in 5 consecutive days!

I suppose I wasn't on track Wednesday. But after skipping that one day, I found another pavement cent today. That makes Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. I'm on a roll!

Today I stopped by the cemetery, then to the farthest-away Casey's for a couple of lottery tickets, then went to my bank. I normally choose the drive-thru, but this time I went into the lobby, because I was trading smaller bills for larger bills to take to the casino tomorrow. Hick and I are meeting my sister the ex-mayor's wife, and of course the ex-mayor, and heading up to our closest casino.

I don't like to put big bills in the slot machines, but when I cash out before leaving, the ticket-changer gives me big bills. Oh, don't think that means I'm always winning! It means that I always come home with a good portion of the money I started with. Unlike Hick, I don't play my credits down to nothing. I cash them out as I go along, getting substantial paybacks.

Anyhoo...there was only one car in the bank lot. I parked way down at the end, because it's near their sidewalk ramp. Have I mentioned that my knees are not fond of steps and curbs? I clicked T-Hoe's door-locker, and started across the driving portion of the lot to the sidewalk.

There it was, right in the middle of the driving lane! A penny! Just for me! In a direct line from T-Hoe to that sidewalk ramp. I didn't stop there to take a picture, because it was the driving lane, by cracky! I took enough risk stopping there to bend over and pick it up.

This penny was easy enough to see, because it had some shine to it. Had some shine, because it was scraped to Not-Heaven and back! Here's a picture I took later, laying on top of my 44 oz Diet Coke at the gas station chicken store. When I got home, I checked his date with a magnifying glass, and it's 2012. No personal significance for me.

Looks like ol' Abe has been run over several times. His backside was barely recognizable as a penny.

I picked up ol' Abe, though, and dropped him in my shirt pocket. That had to be a good sign, right? Finding money on the way to change casino winnings into smaller bills, on the day before going to the casino? And hearing Mary Chapin Carpenter on the radio, singing "I Feel Lucky." Sure. It has to be.

Never mind that I also heard, one directly after the other, while switching stations, Taylor Swift's "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," and Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper." Those were total coincidences, I'm sure...

Yeah, I feel pretty lucky, snagging my 4th penny in 5 consecutive days. Seriously, who leaves home expecting to find money on the bank parking lot?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Charm of the Third Time

I'm thinking of starting my own museum. Pretty sure Hick would build me a shack for it. I'd call it Val's You'd Better Believe It, By Cracky! That's because Ripley already took the other name.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I was only planning a short jaunt to town. Oh, town is the same distance from home. It hasn't moved. But I didn't have a lot of extra running around to do. No shopping, no bill-paying, no letter-mailing, no gas for T-Hoe to guzzle. Just a short trip, for a 44 oz Diet Coke and scratcher tickets. I had that $100 winner, you know, to cash in. Which didn't mean I was spending it all! Some of that was earmarked for my casino bankroll.

I got a late start because I baked a ham. It's not like I'm a gourmet chef, sticking pineapple slices and cherries and cloves and all manner of hammy garnishes all willy-nilly over a giant hogleg. It was a pre-cooked prepared ham, sliced, that I was just warming up so it had the baked flavor, for Hick to eat at will when he wants a sandwich. I figured Tuesday was as good a time as any, while I was up early due to a disturbing awakening by a random noise, and the house not yet heated up by the 100-degree weather.

Once the ham was out of the oven and back in Frig II (seems kind of pointless, right?), I took off for town. The plan was to buy a ticket at Casey's, and then come back next-to next door to the gas station chicken store to cash in that $100 winner, get a couple more tickets, and pocket the change. Unless, of course, there was an alcoholic needing whiskey, or a beggar needing a bus ticket to St. Louis.

You know what happens when Val plans, right? I think I heard Even Steven slapping his knee as he enjoyed a late-morning blueberry muffin with Karma and The Universe. I had smartly chosen to make a left turn and go into Casey's by the back way, cutting across the parking lot of Hick's pharmacy, CeilingReds. But when I came to the cross street, I saw that Casey's was getting their weekly supply shipment. I know Tuesday is truck day for Casey's. I used to work at one. But you never know what time the truck is going to be at which store. There are three of them that I frequent.

Ever the eternal optimist, I pulled onto the lot and squeezed T-Hoe in beside the only other car that fit there, which was blocking the front end of that semi that had pulled parallel to the front of the store. "Oh, well," I thought, "I won't have to wait on other customers in line." That's right. Because there was no line, because neither I (nor anyone else) could get inside. That rolling-bar ramp that they slide boxes down went right from the side of the truck into the left double-door of Casey's. The right door was closed, and I couldn't get to it unless I did the limbo under that rolling-bar ramp. Val's limbo days are over.

Plans foiled, I got back in T-Hoe and went to the gas station chicken store to do my business there. No problems at all. They always cash the big tickets for me, whereas Casey's is usually kind of pissy about it, sometimes with a handmade sign saying nothing over $50, and Orb K's clerks jaw at you to see how much it's worth before they'll commit to cashing it.

Since I missed out on getting a ticket at Casey's, I stopped by Orb K as I headed out of town. What luck! My rightful parking space by the sidewalk slope and sewer grate was open! I patted the won money in my shirt pocket, and hopped out to get a ticket. Of course I took a moment to eye-scour that sewer grate to see if I might find a penny. Nope. I was three for three on being fresh out of penny-luck.


This kind of borders on the unbelievable! No way am I finding a penny for the THIRD DAY IN A ROW, AT THE SAME STORE!

Oh, yes, my blogfriends. I DID!

Almost missed it, so dirty and camouflaged it was, there on the pavement! This one was 1994. At last, a date with significance! That's the year Genius was born. Not that I knew the purpose of that connection.

Until five hours later, when Genius called me at home. He never calls. I'm lucky to get a one-line text every 10-12 days, if he needs money early. But last evening, he called me with some good news. That will have to wait for another time.

Right now I'm happy with the news of my own. Looks like I'm well on my way to becoming a pennyillionaire!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beggars Weepers, Givers Keepers

Yesterday I told you about my adventure on Sunday, when the latest beggar accosted me at the gas station chicken store. Now don't you go feelin' sorry for that beggar. I gave him 30 cents, by cracky, that I didn't HAVE to give him, and he looked really well-kempt and un-drunk for a beggar. For all I know, he had a stock portfolio, and a laundress to keep his clothing so white, and a Lexus parked around behind the building. Still, I gave him the smallest change I had besides a ten-dollar bill. Sucks to be him, I guess, when Red the alcoholic got my dollar a few days previous.

Anyhoo...I told you how I found a penny at my next stop. To me it's kind of an Even Steven thing. I do something good, I get something good in return. Karma. And pennies from heaven! They always make me think of my mom. Like ladybugs.

Anyhoo...yesterday (MONDAY) I didn't go to the gas station chicken store. Not because I'm waiting for them to put up a sign that says NOW WITH FEWER BEGGARS. But because I had other things on my agenda. I was headed down to Bill-Paying Town to Walmart. AND I was stopping by the cemetery, since I missed my visit with Mom on Friday because she was getting a new neighbor one row up and one plot over. I hollered as I drove by, though, that I'd be back when things weren't so busy.

When I stopped at the cemetery, I remembered the fake flowers I bought a while ago that have been waiting in the back of T-Hoe for Hick to snip the end of the stem so they'll fit in the mandatory flower cup thingy that screws onto the marker stones. Hick didn't get around to it yet, but the day was so bright and sunny that I felt like getting out and putting those flowers on, rather than having my standard drive-thru curb-side talk with Mom. I must say, the two sets of flowers that I mixed together looked nice. For plastic flowers, anyway. One set was light yellow and white, kind of like a lily shape, and the other set was more of a daisy kind of design, but orange. They really looked better than my description. I think a strong breeze might blow them out of that mandatory flower cup thingy, but for now, they're festive.

I went on with my errands. Walmart. Casey's. The bank. No pennies from heaven for me, but I was looking. Rather than go back to the gas station chicken store for my 44 oz Diet Coke, I decided to get one at Orb K. I haven't seen a beggar there in nigh over three years.

Of course my rightful parking space by the sewer grate was taken. As were all of the spaces along the front. That's okay, because I don't park out front except for my rightful space. I go on down to the end of the building, where I know that nobody is going to park up against me where I can't get my door open when I come out.

I started the long walk down the sidewalk, casting my eyes along the curb, just in case I might find a penny. I even looked under T-Hoe's running boards when I got out. Nope. Not today. But there were no beggars with their hands outstretched, either. I headed inside for a Polar Pop (just their name for a soda) that only costs 83 cents at this store. And of course I was getting some scratch-off tickets.

The girl who waited on me is their friendliest clerk. I set down my Polar Pop, and she looked surprised, because usually all I buy there are my tickets, unless the Diet Coke at the gas station chicken store is on the fritz.

"Are you ready for a big winner today?"

"Yes! I AM ready for a big winner. I don't have a ticket to cash in today."

She got out my Golden Ticket and a $100 Frenzy. "A number 3 and a number 14!" She doesn't usually give me this info, but she was especially chipper for some unknown reason.

I paid and took my change out of the little dish at the end of a coin slide they have hooked up to their register. Still scanning the penny-colored tile for pennies. Nope. None.

Back outside, I clicked T-Hoe's door unlocked and leaned over to set my soda and tickets inside. Then I straightened up and turned to climb in. I was up against the sidewalk, so I didn't have to climb up on the running board. Just step my foot over and sit down. As I grabbed the door frame to steady myself, I saw something on the side sidewalk.

"Are you kidding me?" I often speak right out loud to Even Steven and the Universe.

Yes. A penny. I don't know how I missed it on the way in. I guess I was looking to the left, where all the cars had been parked. Or the sun wasn't shining just right. Or it didn't get dropped until I went in. Of course I grabbed my camera for "pics or it didn't happen" as Genius once told me.

This one was 2006. No significance for me.

If my rightful parking spot up by the sewer grate and handicap slope had been available, I never would have found this penny. Nor would I have found it if I stopped at the gas station chicken store for my 44 oz Diet Coke instead of here.

Right place. Right time.

For SURE...because my $100 Frenzy ticket had a WIN ALL symbol, and won me $100.

Sorry, Beggarman. Looks like you were a day early, and $100 short.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Keep on Trackin'

Have you heard? Val has a new tattoo on her forehead! Uh huh. It says, "I'm a patsy, ask me for spare change." Yep. I can't see it myself, when I look in the mirror. But to other folks, it must be as obvious as one of those yellow-and-black, circle-triangle, nuclear fallout shelter signs that we had all over my childhood middle school, pointing towards the locker rooms.

SUNDAY. I had three stops to make. Save A Lot for hamburger. Gas station chicken store for 44 oz Diet Coke. Orb K for lottery. Simple enough. I switched up my order of stops, because it's easier to make right turns than left, across the congested traffic area with no stoplights, by Save A Lot and Orb K. I bought my hamburger without incident at Save A Lot, and headed to my next stop.

My rightful parking space was available at the gas station chicken store. But there was a man sitting at one of the round picnic tables blacktopped into the area beside the building. We were separated by a concrete parking thingy, so that man was not in any danger from me and T-Hoe. I felt uncomfortable, though, with him sitting there. I sometimes think that T-Hoe's fashionable daytime running lights (they were all the rage in 2008) are annoying to the clerks when they sit out there having a smoke break.

I didn't waste any time with him sitting there looking at me. I shut off the engine and counted out the 69 cents to go with my dollar for my magical elixir. I forgot all about that quarter and nickel I had put in my pocket to use when I left home. I carry my change in my hand as I run my soda at the fountain. I grabbed my $50 scratch-off winner to cash in, and headed inside.

After buying my soda and some tickets without incident, I headed out to T-Hoe, my head down looking for ground money as usual these days. I had my 44 oz and tickets in my left hand, and T-Hoe's door clicker in my right. Before I could open the driver's door, that picnic table dude was in front of me.

He was an older gentleman, wearing a white cap that may have had a flag on it, a white shirt with a collar and placket and buttons, cream-colored pocket shorts that were not of the cargo variety, white crew socks, and light-colored shoes. Yeah. I know. I dropped the ball on the shoes. I'll never make a good witness with this slipshod attention to details. Oh, and the guy had a black metal cane with a bent handle. I couldn't open the door without hitting him.

"Do you have any spare change?"

"No, I don't." I sure wasn't giving him the ten or twenty in my shirt pocket from my cashed in ticket!

"Any little bit would help. I need to catch a bus to St. Louis."

Huh. The last I knew, there is no Greyhound stop in Backroads. The closest one I remember is down in Bill-Paying town, 20 miles south, not on this guy's way to St. Louis. Then I remembered the coins in my pants pocket.

"Well...I have this nickel and quarter..."

"Okay. Thank you."

I got in T-Hoe, too rattled to write an initial on the back of my tickets so I could remember where they came from, too rattled to take my two pills that I always bring along and take here when I start home. I headed for Orb K to get the lottery tickets I'd planned on from there. Normally, that's my first stop, but Sunday it was my last. And my rightful parking spot by the handicap sidewalk slope was available!

Of course I was still on the lookout for some pennies from heaven. None at Save A Lot, none at the gas station chicken store. None from the Mother Hubbard's cupboard-worthy pavement of Orb K, either.


No, I 'm not trying to hypnotize you with a spiral-patterned sewer grate. Nor show off my fashionable and cool mesh New Balance. I'm trying to show you what I almost missed!

A penny from heaven, people! I found ANOTHER penny! This one was 1996. No significance to me. It was the year two years after Genius was born, and two years before The Pony was born. You can bet I was on that penny like Hick on a Casey's donut!

Anyhoo...who knows if that spot would even have been available, or if that penny would have been dropped (or already picked up) if I hadn't dallied those few minutes with the change beggar at the gas station chicken store. I was there in that parking space at Orb K at the time I was supposed to be, in order to find that penny.

My life in on track, I think.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Hickest Touch

I'm sure you're all familiar with the Midas Touch. And pretty sure you haven't heard of the King Hick Touch, though you could probably guess what it involves. Everything King Hick touches turns

Hick has a habit of secretly bringing in his free-range chicken eggs and cooking them while I am not near the kitchen, and then washing ONLY those pans, plates, and utensils used for his dastardly deed. Nothing else laying on the kitchen counter that he has used in the hours leading up to his clandestine feast, mind you. Only performing enough washing to hide his household crime.

I can always figure it out, though. Because the next time I go to use such kitchenware, I find fork holes in my favorite non-stick skillet, and dried egg ridges on my metal spatula, and a Braille-rough surface on my glass bowl or plate. Last week, Hick committed an especially heinous kitchen crime, using one of only 4 bowls given to me by my mom when I first set up my own household, two of them having cracks that had been glued by some family member, and this one found in the sink being one of the two GOOD old bowls without cracks. Now rough of surface due to microwave-cooked Hick free-range egg.

Of course I gave Hick a stern talking-to. I think he actually listened, because when I yelled over the back porch rail as he was noodle-riding in Poolio that I was heading to Walmart...he said that I COULD pick up something for him. A bowl to cook eggs in the microwave.

Back when microwaves were all the rage, and the size of a washer/dryer combo, we had microwaveware. It was ugly and gray/tan and hard plastic. I'm pretty sure I threw it away 20 years ago when we moved from my $17,000 house in town to the idyllic homestead where we reside today.

Even though "just picking up a bowl" for Hick would entail a hike across Walmart (dodging beeping backing-up fat-carts) to the non-food end, I said I would. But fortune (and I'm pretty sure a smirking Even Steven) smiled on me that day. I found a shelf of plastic picnic sets on an endcap on the mayo/pickle aisle.

They were only five dollars! Believe you me, THIS Five-Dollar Daughter knows the value of a buck. Or five. I could get FOUR bowls, and four round plates, and four trays, and four cups, and four sets of plastic silverware for only FIVE DOLLARS! That's much more bargainful than hiking across the store to find a single bowl that would certainly cost more than the pro-rated 25 cents of one in this set. I nearly chortled with glee as I snatched up my Hick picnicware and headed for the checkout.

When I got home, Hick was still in Poolio, though floating not on noodles, but slightly below the surface on some oval net-raft thingy rated just under his weight. I proudly held the picnicware out for him to see. And noticed


Oh, dear. My bargain was now not so bargainful. I had paid FIVE DOLLARS for that set, and it was damaged, by cracky! At least I still had the receipt. Yesterday, I returned those damaged goods to Walmart. I was second in line, waited less than two minutes, and found another set quickly.

Hick was gone to Kansas to visit Genius for a day, so he has yet to try out his new egg bowl. I'm pretty sure that chicken I saw Copper the neighbor dog clutching in his mouth as he ran across the yard yesterday morning was our last remaining hen.

Even Steven is such a prankster. The neighbor dog, not so much.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Updates On Val's Latest Connections

 So...remember the other day when Val gave a lady alcoholic a dollar, just for asking?

Today I went by the gas station chicken store, intending to get some gas station chicken to have for lunch (and supper, and tomorrow's lunch) with my 44 oz Diet Coke. Sadly, the only things in the chicken warmer were some sad cardboard trays of wedge fries, and two thighs. I took the two thighs. It was only 12:15, by cracky! And Asian Guy Clerk (AGC) said they had already sold 4 trays of chicken. I think that's a lot, from his reaction.

Anyhoo...while I was waiting for the chicken gal to write up my ticket for the two thighs (two thighs are better than none), I asked AGC if that lady the other day ever got her whiskey.

"Did she get her whiskey? That lady I gave a dollar to, from my change?"

"Oh! We found her another bottle! She said, 'I feel so bad!'"

"That's okay. I figured she needed that dollar more than me."

"Yeah. Heh, heh. For alcohol!"

"She made no secret what it was for! I knew for sure it was going for whiskey."

AGC turned to ring up the next customer, who had walked up to the register as we had been chatting while I waited on my chicken. That guy had put a case of Natural Light on the counter. But it was after NOON now, and he didn't look lit, and he didn't ask me for a dollar. I hope he didn't take offense to our chatter.

Because we all know that Val cares about what random people buying cases of beer in convenience stores think of her.


My internet has been working swell since a guy came out and fixed it on Thursday afternoon. Except for last night, when it quit for an hour. That was due to a heavy rain, I think, because it came back and has been working ever since.

The DISH technician said that our original DISH was out of alignment. I asked him ANIMAL might have done something to knock it all cattywompus. But Technician made a face that was probably like Kind Lady at the other end of the phone when I called DISH about the problem. Like I didn't know what I was talking about. When in fact I was talking about a HUMAN animal, like Crazy Dude, who I still think had something to do with my internet outage.

Uh huh. Hick went to court about Crazy Dude on Monday, internet was broken on Wednesday. I told Hick I bet Crazy Dude was up here using night vision and weedy branchy camouflage gear, with deer musk rubbed all over himself so the dogs wouldn't get too wound up. Hick gave me a look like the technician and the kind lady. Hey! It could happen!

Anyhoo...Technician said that we might have had a sketchy signal for a while now, and it just went away. Funny how it's been fine unless there's rain or snow. Never sketchy when the weather is fine. He also said that the satellites shift in the sky. So I guess the earth tilted on its axis Tuesday night when the dogs were barking. Or that the satellite just decided to take a left turn or alternate route.

Technician said he didn't need me for anything else until he was done, and that he'd meet me around front on the porch. I heard a bunch of thumping and bumping that sounded like he was running around the porch. But I knew he had pulled his van around to the side of the house by the DISH, because I TOLD him he could drive through and park in the yard. So maybe the dogs were after him. I did hear a couple of screams, but they were high-pitched. Then I heard some drilling. And some thump-thump-thumping.

Hick came home and got in Poolio, and said that we had a new DISH for the internet. I don't see it, myself. Hick said it is tilted a different way now, that he could tell from comparing its position while floating on two pool noodles. I told him that I had specifically told Kind Lady that I did NOT want a new DISH, nor the upgraded service that I can get with it. But that I HAD heard some drilling.

Well. Here's what I found out from Hick, inter-Backroads spy. HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) had come down to go for a swim with his 7-year-old son and teenage daughter and her friend. He SAW Technician putting on a new DISH. The thumping and screaming had been the kids running around the porch to the only entrance Hick made to the pool deck, and beating each other and the deck with the pool noodles.

I'll leave you with the original picture of the DISH with the electrical smoke haze, and the later one after the alleged installation of a new DISH.

Wednesday morning hazy DISH.

Thursday afternoon sunny DISH. I thought it was the same one, until my untrained eye took another gander at the porch-screwed part and the stem-like part and the knobby part.

Oh, and this morning at 9:30, I saw a DISH van going out the road in front of our house, like he'd made a house call up by Buddy's house. Maybe there IS some truth to that satellite shift theory. But now that I think about it...Buddy's wife was at the courthouse Monday with Hick for the case against Crazy Dude...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #67 "The Celebrated Flying Pig of Backroads County"

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 I give you a tasty offering of science fiction, an anthropomorphic hero, and a public service announcement for sunscreen. I see you licking your lips in anticipation! Get this one before it goes out of fake print. It's just what the doctor and PETA and the Isaac Asimov Society ordered!

The Celebrated Flying Pig of Backroads County

Maxwell knew he shouldn't fly so close to the sun. He knew he shouldn't fly at all. But what's a pig to do, when people get so gosh-darn excited about special events that will only happen when PIGS FLY?

Maxwell likes being the center of attention. Or a national marketing campaign. He's not yelling "WHEEEE" now, though. Nobody has offered him a pinwheel to hold out the window of the spaceship where he's currently being anally probed. Just like nobody offered him sunscreen when he flew too close to the sun, and was picked up by those curious folks who, telepathically, told him, "We think you have good taste. Now for the testing."

Will Maxwell escape their clutches before all that's left of him is his squeal? (127 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Pork Belly Futures..."At least we HAVE a future. Unlike tasty Maxwell, and this Thevictorian woman. We put no stock in her fake work."

Truffle-Hunting Pigs..."Hang in there, Maxwell! We’re rootin’ for you! Can't say the same for this fake author. Her fake book should be buried so that it never sees the light of day. Thevictorian is a real ham, and her fake writing is nothing to truffle with." 

Silk Purse..."No, I am NOT made from Maxwell's ear. Nor any other part of his crispy, cracklin' epidermis. But I can assure you of one thing: I'm a way better bag than Val Thevictorian. Somebody should tote her, over-the-shoulder, to the nearest coat check or baggage-handling station, and then conveniently lose the ticket."

A Football..."I AM made from some of Maxwell's epidermis, and I'm ashamed to admit it. Though not as ashamed as I'd be if I was made by Thevictorian, from words randomly compiled all willy-nilly in her imagination."

Bacon..."Alas, even I cannot give Val Thevictorian good taste. Her writing lacks sizzle."

Jimmy Dean..."Let's get right to the meat of the issue. This fake book is full of filler. There is very little organic material in Thevictorian's writing. Even if she spiced it up, her story would still be tasteless."

That waitress in the movie Porky's, putting down the phone..."Has anybody seen Mike Hunt? I'm pretty sure people would rather see Mike Hunt, given the choice of Mike Hunt or Thevictorian's fake book."

Chicken in a Biscuit..."Remember me? Yeah. THAT is going to be YOUR future, Thevictorian. Except nobody is ever going to have a taste for you, or rue your demise."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Terror in Backroads! Is it Coming From INSIDE the House?

I hope you have a strong constitution. That you are not faint of heart. If you can’t ride a roller coaster due to cardiac issues, then maybe you shouldn’t read any further. Are you sitting down? Do you have a blanket to throw over your head if the fright is too much? Somebody to grab hold of? Brace yourself now…


The horror is almost too much for me to take. Val lives by internet alone, people! INTERNET! With a dash of Diet Coke! You might as well shoot that novocaine numbing drug into my extremities and expect me to escape from one of those wonky off-kilter houses, staffed with an army of paintball-shooting zombies. I cannot function without internet!

It worked just fine the day before. Worked, in fact, until I called it an early night at 11:45 p.m., in order to get to bed earlier in order to get up earlier to walk before my brains under my dark lady-mullet (courtesy of L'Oreal), covered with a blue-and-white trucker cap...fried like an egg on a sidewalk. Yes, my internet worked just fine. When I shut down, the screen said two updates were loading, so not to touch the computer. I didn’t. Val does not mess with the internet.

Wednesday morning, I was out the door and walking by 7:00 a.m., and back inside ready to connect Shiba to the internet by 7:45.


I’m a logical person. Hmm. What was different about my computers?

Scenario Number 1: There was that update thingy when I shut down New Delly. But updates happen every now and then. They don’t block my internet.

Scenario Number 2: The husband of Hick’s new best friend Bev had come over Sunday evening and invited himself to use my internet to load something on his computer that needed a product key. He quizzed me about whether we had it password protected. Um, NO. I don’t understand that witch-doctory information superhighway. I asked BevMan if his “borrowing” would mess up my internet, and he scoffed at me. NO!

The old drawing board in my head highlighted Scenario Number 3: After I went to bed at 1:00 a.m. Tuesday night, I was awakened around 4:00 by my Sweet, Sweet Juno barking her fool head off hysterically, right outside the French doors of our bedroom. That’s the corner of the house where the DISH that receives our internet signal is bolted. When I realized that, I KNEW what had stopped my internet!


Okay. Allegedly. Mayhap he did, and mayhap he didn’t. But what else could have gone wrong between 11:45 p.m. and 7:45 a.m.? Do DISHes just fall off the porch rail? Do they get tired of receiving a signal? I don’t know. You tell me.

Anyhoo…I did the diagnostic thingy with Shiba. Then I went to try out New Delly. Both of my devices were deader than doornails when I tried to pull onto the information superhighway. So I sent Genius a text. He’s working a regular job in Kansas this summer with Garmin, you know. So I had to start with, “I know you’re working a real job, but…” That pacified him, I guess, because he responded right away with suggestions and instructions. Some of which involved me taking pictures of routers and wires and bricks and electrical outlets.

You understand, right, that my cell phone won’t work in my dark basement lair? It will send and receive texts, and that is all. So to send pictures, I had to hike up 13 steps and go out on the porch. It was during one such trip that I smelled hot electric. You know that smell. Like something electronic just got fried. Or like your husband is burning wire that he pulled out of a building so he can sell the copper once the coating is gone.

I went around on the side porch to look at the DISHes. The TV one is bigger, and has been here longer, and is near the front of the house. But on down the rail, on the corner near Poolio, is the internet DISH. It LOOKED all right. But the smell was strong there, and a haze of smoke hung in the humidity between it and the woods. What a curious development. Even though the internet didn’t work at least an hour before I noticed this odor and smoke. It wasn’t there when I was walking. But now I could even see the haze faintly across the front yard, too.

Genius said that it was probably not at all related to my internet problem. And that if it WAS, I had a much more serious problem than lack of an internet connection.

Anyhoo…Genius talked me through unpluggings and re-pluggings and troubleshooters and IP4 addresses and all kinds of stuff I never even knew existed. Then he gave me some kind of number to type into a new window to check on the DISH connection, and determined that the problem was nothing to do with our own network or router inside the house, but a problem with DISH. He spent his whole lunch half-hour doing this for me when he called me at noon.

Genius said to call DISH. That they’d tell me to unplug everything he just had me do earlier, and if so, tell them okay, and put the phone down five minutes, then pick it up and tell them it was done. I can understand why he thought they might not believe me. I did, after all, ask him to remote-access my computer and try to fix it that way. But then he said, “If you don’t have internet, I can’t remote access it.” Go figure! I also flip the lights on when the power is out.

The DISH lady was very polite, and spent another 30 minutes walking me through stuff in Hick’s basement workshop related to the DISH router, which nobody told me was on a shelf above my head, out of sight. Except for that kind DISH lady, of course, who sighed a lot and described assorted wires and asked me to follow them and tell her what was on the end, insisting it would say DISH, but everything I had said HUGHES. Then she asked if I saw four blue lights on that router thingy, and I said no, and she said not even on the front, and I said no, there is nothing on the front but a black section that looks like maybe a piece of electrical tape, but no lights or anything that looks like it could light up, but inside I see blue lights.

After more unplugging and re-plugging, the kind DISH lady told me she still showed that the DISH was the problem, and I needed a repairman for $95. After trying to sell me a monthly protection plan of $10.99 which I declined, she tried to upsell me on faster and more internet, but once I found out it would take a new dish, I said NO SIREE, BOB to that lady named Tonya, because I was SO not having it, another troublesome installation like the first one, where the guy bent our gutter and somehow changed my billing from paper to paperless, resulting in a past-due bill.

Anyhoo…I sent Genius a text to tell him what was going on, per his request, a part of the exchange including this statement:

“The lady was polite, but I could tell she thought I was an idiot. She said it should have blue lights, but some genius has black tape covering that area, so I looked through the vents and saw them. I think an ape installed it. Remember, he broke our gutter?”

“Did you just take off the tape? I’d had to tape them over to keep them from ruining my photos in the darkroom.”

Looks like some GENIUS really DID put black tape on the router!

Gee Whiz, Even Steven! I kind of expected more, what with turning in a found lottery ticket, a $9.80 book of stamps, and 11 cents…AND giving a dollar to an alcoholic.

Anyhoo…if you’re reading this, it means that a DISH technician actually DID show up and get the job done, and you’ll probably hear about it in the coming days.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Will Val Ever Come to Her Senses at the Gas Station Chicken Store?

Yesterday was quite eventful for Val. Unfortunately, headlines here were take up by Hick's court appearance.

I might have mentioned in passing once or twice that I've been finding coins randomly on parking lots over the past few months. Okay. More than once or twice. It happens all the time lately. So I now am on the lookout for such coins. I might as well watch a pot for signs of boiling. When you're expecting a special surprise, it never arrives.

So...I headed off to town yesterday, stopping at Casey's and the bank and Walmart. No matter where I parked, or how wide a radius I cast my glance, I found absolutely ZERO coins. My last stop, at the gas station chicken store for my daily 44 oz Diet Coke, was delayed by 10 minutes due to parking congestion.

People are crazy parkers there. My favorite first space by the building was taken. My acceptable space next to the owner's SUV was blocked by a pickup pulling a trailer holding a Bobcat. That darn Bobcat puller almost blocked my way over to my stand-bye parking by the moat that separates the lot from Hick's pharmacy, CeilingReds. I had to finagle and finesse my way between his bumper and the gas pumps. Just as I cleared both, a dump truck pulling a trailer holding a backhoe parked longways, taking up all of the 10 spaces there, as well as the area by the diesel pumps. I yanked T-Hoe over to the parallel parking on the other side of the building, by the air hose. No sooner had I put the shifter in PARK than a gray pickup came up alongside me, eyeing the air hose.

I'd had enough of that scene, so went out the back exit and made a right up to the other Casey's, and then out onto the street to take a little ride past the dead mouse smelling post office until traffic cleared out.

When I came back, the Bobcat puller was just leaving, and the dump truck had disappeared. So I parked over by the moat and hiked across the lot, my nose still out of joint that I, a regular, had to deal with these rightful-parking-space stealers. I opened the door and stepped inside, and saw


WooHoo! Found money! I bent over to pick them up, my ample buttocks keeping the glass door from closing completely. The little Asian guy was clerking.

"Anybody want some floor money?"

Asian Guy Clerk raised his eyebrows. He shook the dish on the counter where he takes pennies to pay off odd cents for people. DANG IT! I really wanted that floor money! Not because I needed 11 cents, mind you, but because it was PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, by cracky! My rightful money, in that place at that time, meant for me to find it!

However...I didn't want to be that person who appears greedy. Or the type to need 11 cents. AGC is a sweetheart. He tells me what number the tickets are on if I ask him. And sometimes, he'll say, "You probably don't want that ticket today," if he knows somebody just got a big winner. So I took my floor money and put it in the coin dish on the counter.

I proceeded to the chicken counter to order a small mashed potato with gravy for Hick. While I was filling my 44 oz Diet Coke as the girl dished up the potatoes and wrote up my ticket...a new customer came in. She was probably early 40s, reddish hair pulled back sloppily in a ponytail, wearing shorts, face kind of flushed. She stepped straight to the counter and asked AGC,

"Do you sell drinks here?"

"Our liquor is on the shelf." AGC nodded his head to the shelf behind me, across from the chicken counter, where the tall bottles of alcohol were stocked.

"Oh. I mean drinks, not bottles."

"No, Ma'am."

"My friend told me she bought some alcohol at the gas station across from the liquor store. The one that has good chicken. And you're the only gas station I know that sells good chicken."

"Yes, we have good chicken."

"I was over at the liquor store, and they didn't have vodka for the price my friend said they did. How much is your vodka?"

"Uh...I don't know. I can go to the back room and check for you. We don't have any out here."

"Never mind. How much is your whiskey?"

By this time, I had taken my soda and mashed potatoes to the counter, and Red had mosied over to the chicken counter to peer at the pints and half-pints of alcohol that were on the wall behind the chicken warmer.

AGC walked over and picked them up one by one, and read her the prices for McCormick and Kessler. Which I think was $3.59.

"Oh. I'm short." Red waited. For AGC to spot her the money, maybe, or barter with her. She was out of luck. "Go ahead and help her. She probably doesn't want to wait for me to decide."

"I'm not in any hurry." Seriously. Where did I have to go? Home, to Hick, who was on his way back from court. If I delayed long enough, he might just make his own lunch. The mashed potatoes were to go with his supper.

AGC came over to wait on me. I cashed in a $10 scratcher ticket. I was buying a $30 ticket, and two $5 tickets, and the soda and the potatoes. But AGC said they were out of one of those $5 tickets.

Red came over and stood at my left elbow. Not too close. As AGC was scanning my winner and stapling a receipt to it, she looked at me and said, "I don't guess you have a spare dollar..."

"I don't know. Let's see what change I get back." You know. Not committing to anything. Maybe somebody else would come in and distract Red.

As luck would have it, my total came to $38.29. AGC took my two twenties, and handed me back a dollar and a handful of coins. He had kind of a strange look on his face. Huh. I was expecting more. But that's what he gave me. I palmed the coins, and put the one in my left hand and reached it sideways to Red. "Here you go."

"Oh, thanks, bud."

"No problem. I just found 11 cents when I walked in the door!"

Uh huh. I know I'm an enabler. But that dollar was just 2/3 of a 44 oz Diet Coke to me. Anybody who needs a $3.59 bottle of whiskey at 11:00 a.m. needs that dollar more than I do.

I started out the door as Red turned back to look at the half-pints. AGC said, "Oh, here." He held out a $10 bill, the money from my winning scratcher. Clever of him to withhold it while Red was waiting for my change. gas station chicken store experience might show that I am lacking in sense, but at least I found some cents there.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hick's Day in Court

Hick was off to the county courthouse this morning for his hearing. Okay. Not HIS hearing, but the one he was attending in support of our back-creek neighbor Bev, who was seeking a restraining order against Crazy Dude, who owns the land next to her, and pointed a swastika at her property, and told her that Hitler had the right idea. Oh, yeah, and he flies his drone over her house, and filed for a restraining order against HER, because he says she killed two of his cats. Nobody has ever known him to have cats. would have thought Hick was a toddler on Christmas Eve last night. He kept talking about the hearing, and who was going, and what time, and what he planned to say. The hearing was scheduled for 9:00. It takes about 30 minutes to get there and find a parking spot. Hick left home at 7:00. "I want to have time to go have breakfast in town. And then get there early so I know what's going on."

At 9:39, Hick sent me a text. "Still waiting to go into court knew we should have gotten the 8-30 appointment." He acted as if HE had any say in it. It's Bev's deal. Not his. 11:03, Hick called me to report the details.

"We was all sittin' outside the courtroom on the second floor. There by where the stairs come up in the middle. There was me and Bev and her husband and Buddy's wife. Then Crazy Dude come in and sat down across from us. He saw us all there, but he didn't say anything. We waited and waited. Then Crazy Dude got up and went downstairs. I guess to smoke.

We waited some more, and then the bailiff come out and called Bev's name, and she said, 'Here.' And then he called Crazy Dude's name. We said that he was just here, but he left. We thought he went out to have a cigarette. So the bailiff went downstairs and went outside and looked for him. Then he came back in, and called Crazy Dude's name some more. He even checked in the bathrooms. But Crazy Dude wasn't there. I guess he left!

It was time for the hearing, so we told the judge that we didn't know where Crazy Dude went. The judge said he had been notified, and had his chance, and since he wasn't here, he dismissed Crazy Dude's request for a restraining order on Bev. That just blows my mind. He went and paid a lawyer to file it and everything. Even though we all know it was a lie. Maybe he saw all of us there, and figured he couldn't prove it. I could tell him, 'Crazy Dude, I think you killed my dog. She went over there all the time, and then one day she never came home. We never found a body. But I think you shot her.' See? I could say the same stuff like he did, about the cats he never even had. I can SAY he did it, but I don't have any evidence. So no judge is going to believe it. It's just my word against his.

Anyway...Bev got her restraining order. Crazy Dude can't be within 300 feet of her or her property. Bev explained that her chicken house is only about 10 feet off Crazy Dude's property line, so the judge said that he can't keep him away from there, but that if she's in it and he comes out and starts something, then he's in trouble. But if she sees him out there first, to wait before she goes to her chickens. Just be reasonable. And Crazy Dude can't put up his swastika. Or fly his drone over her property.

I asked about the fence posts. I told the judge that all my property descriptions say that I own to the middle of the road, too, but that there's a 60-foot easement. I asked if we can make Crazy Dude move his fence posts back 30 feet. He said that would be a civil matter, but that if we wanted to get an attorney to file it, we could. So I'm gonna talk to the other people who use that road, and see if they want to. That one guy who lives up past Buddy is a lawyer anyway. So maybe we could get him to do it."

That's where I shut down Hick and his grandiose schemes.

"Just be happy that he doesn't put sticks in the road anymore! He's going to be mad over this anyway, so don't go get him stirred up right now. If there's another problem with the road, then you can do it. Just let it die down. I don't want him coming up here or shooting our dogs."

I'm sure Hick is going to talk it up, but I'm hoping nobody wants to start this road thing right now.

Hick is kind of let down, now that the excitement has passed. He's been looking forward to this for weeks. You know how people get after the holidays are over.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Catching Up With Hick

Hick is pretty easy to catch these days. He's getting around better on his bum leg butt leg-butt, but definitely not at full speed yet. His doctor nurse practitioner told him that he probably tore a hamstring muscle. That there's not much she can do about it. If he had torn away part of the bone where the tendon attaches, the type of injury that requires surgery and a 6-12 month recovery period...he would not be able to walk. So she wasn't going to send him for an MRI. She said if he's not better in 3 or 4 weeks, to come back, and she will schedule some tests. She said he should take ibuprofen for the pain and inflammation.

Hick's nurse practitioner said that he should put ice on his injured area for 20 minutes, then heat for 20 minutes, then ice again, etc. Which is EXACTLY what I told him to do, when he was plopping himself on a heating pad for hours in the La-Z-Boy.

"I told her you said that. And she said, 'Go home and tell your wife she was RIGHT!'"

And Hick DID!

I don't remember if I posted a picture or Hick's 1980 Olds Toronado back when he got pulled over for having historic plates without tags. But here it is now. Or again.

We still don't know if Hick needs tags for it, or if the historic plates are enough.

Hick has been taking Neighbor Tommy to the store every weekend. I stop short of that, even though I go to town every day. I just don't feel like it's appropriate for me to do it, though Tommy is always polite to me, and I'm not afraid of him. He's kind of from a different era. My first clue was when he called one morning to ask about getting his mail, and said, "Oh, so you're the little woman." I have picked up his mail for him a couple times (even though it's on the other end of the gravel road, two miles from here, and not in the same mailbox row as EmBee). Again, he's asked for a ride to get his mail, and I told him that Hick was working, but I'd pick it up for him and bring it to his house. He comes out to get it, so I don't have to go inside.

Last Saturday, Tommy called shortly after 8:00 a.m., to ask if Hick could take him to Walmart. I told him that Hick had just left, and was having breakfast in town. Tommy said he'd been waiting for a decent hour to call, and should have called sooner. This morning, Tommy called at 5:51. That's A.M.! We let the machine pick up, then Hick called him back later and took him to town. He pointed out to Tommy that he leaves for work at 6:00 a.m. on workdays, but that on the weekends, he doesn't get up quite that early.

Hick has been painting and furnishing his Railroad Car Shack. I don't think he's sent me pictures of the outside since it was painted, but here it is with the sliding door.

Here are a couple of shots from the inside.

Of course, no Railroad Car Shack would be complete without Thomas the Tank Engine.

Thomas looks pretty lonely there on his shelf, but Hick has more elaborate displays.

It's still a work in progress, I think. He's looking through the boys' toys for display material.

I'm glad Hick has a hobby, even it IS building themed shacks. Because this morning, he mentioned that once he is fully retired, he'd really like to go out and do things, with ME!!!

One thing he's NOT going to do with ME is attend Crazy Dude's hearing Monday morning with three other neighbors, in support of Bev.

I'm pretty sure there's going to be a story when Hick gets home.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Honest, Abe!

A couple days ago, blog buddy River suggested that the reason I keep finding all these parking lot pennies, and getting back five-dollar-bills in change, when a ten or twenty would be more appropriate...might have something to do with Abe Lincoln.

The moment I read that, I knew it might be the right interpretation!

The very morning that I wrote about finding the penny and getting the fives, I had made my first stop at Country Mart to get some scratch-off tickets out of their machines. I send Genius two tickets a week, and they have a good selection. Since I was there anyway, I decided to get myself a couple of tickets. I got Genius's out of the machine on the left, and moved to the machine on the other side of the doors to get one for me. When I bent down to get my ticket, I saw another ticket leaning against the front of the trough.

I picked up that extra ticket. Huh. It must have belonged to the man who'd been there while I was at the other machine. I took the ticket to the service desk and gave it to the worker, explaining that it wasn't mine, and I was turning it in just in case that man came back looking for it. She looked at me like I was crazy, but I described the guy, and left.

Honesty is the best policy, you see. And if anybody knows anything about the virtue of honesty, it's old Honest Abe.

I didn't make that connection when I found my penny and got back my fives later Thursday morning. But when I read River's comment Friday evening, I thought of what had happened to me earlier on Friday.

I'd stopped by the main post office branch to mail the weekly letters to Genius and The Pony. Since I enclose those tickets in Genius's envelope, it's sometimes overweight. I take it to the counter, where the worker hefts it in his/her hand, and either says, "Nope, it's fine" or "You need 21 more cents." That's their high-tech equipment. A postal clerk's hand.

Anyhoo...there was only one man in line when I got inside the post office. Actually, it wasn't a line until I got there. But I went to stand behind him, and noticed something on the floor. Sadly, it was NOT a penny. It was a book of Mexican stamps. Okay. They were United States Postal Service stamps, it was the clerk who later called them Mexican. A whole book of them!

I didn't know what they were, only that I had found a book of stamps! That's a $9.80 value! Of course, they were not MY stamps. As I was picking them up off the floor, the man in front of me turned around. I suppose he wondered why my head was a few inches away from his buttocks.

"Are these yours? I found them on the floor. It's a book of stamps."

The man hesitated. At first I thought he was going to claim them. They were worth $9.80, you know! But he looked a minute, and then said, "No. They're not mine." Maybe he just wanted to take them and turn them in himself, like taking credit for a Big Salad when all he did was hand it to someone.

The clerk motioned that man to the side. He was waiting on a supervisor to come out about receiving mail for somebody who doesn't live at his address any more.

"Can I help you with something?"

"Yes. Uh. I just found this book of stamps on the floor. I guess somebody who was just here dropped them on the way out."

The short bald not-too-friendly clerk hollered over his shoulder to the back room, "HEY! Debbie! Did you just sell a book of Mexican stamps?" Turns out she did. To some lady. So they put them under the counter to see if she came back for them.

I gave the clerk my envelope for Genius. "I think this might weigh too much. Just checking." I already had a regular stamp on it. Mine are the Pet stamps. Genius had an iguana, I think. Or a newt.

"You need 21 more cents," said the clerk. So I handed him a quarter. Shame on him for not giving me four pennies back. He gave me a nickel. Darn do-gooder!

I wanted my Abes.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #66 "You Gotta Get the App!"

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's fake book will have you jumping up and down, screeching with excitement. You'll go bananas for it! You'll go ape! Reserve your fake copy now, before this fake book evolves into a classic!

You Gotta Get the App!

Sal Thethicktorian knows precious little about technology. She'd have a shoe-box-size mobile phone that plugs into her car cigarette lighter, just for emergencies, if left to her own devices. Sal's son, Wizard, encourages her to get the new "Personal Assistant" app for her cell phone, a hand-me-down from Wizard himself. Sal must have touched the wrong icon, because within 12 hours, her "personal assistant" arrives.

Sal's new "app" may not make a shopping list or calculate miles per gallon for her Yukon...but Harry is surprisingly handy, although a bit literal carrying out commands. Sal learned that the hard way. “Can of worms," "chew the fat," and "beat a dead horse" are now stricken from her vocabulary. On the other hand, it's great being able to sleep anywhere she wants.

Will Sal confess her error? Or tell Wizard that this "app" is the best thing that ever happened to her? (154 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Elephant, in the room..."Why does everyone sing the praises of Harry, yet nobody even mentions ME? This fake book has triggered my poor self-esteem. I hope Thevictorian's fame garners her Grand Marshall status at a circus parade some day, which requires her to dress as a peanut. At which time I will see to it that she gets the shucking of her life. Chuckles the Clown, anybody?"

American Tourister Luggage..."We have just the suitcase for Thevictorian to use on her fake-book tour!"

Empire State Building..."I hope Thevictorian does not make a stop at ME during her fake-book tour!"

Koko..."I would love to give this fake book a scathing review, but I just don't have the words."

Clyde the Orangutan..."I have my own special sign language for this fake book. The fake publishing company should have turned Thevictorian's work every which way but loose."

Bubbles the Chimp..."This fake book is no thriller. It's BAD! You definitely won't enjoy yourself if you try to read this poor excuse for literature. It's that black and white. It's as simple as ABC. You'll definitely stop before you get enough. Thevictorian must be some kind of smooth criminal to get this fake book fake-published. My advice to Harry is to run far, far away! Those humans are all wacko."

Cheetah..."I am not wild about this fake book."

Dr. Zaius..."I can't believe Thevictorian fake-wrote this fake book. If she did, I think she should be lobotomized, then sent to The Foribidden Zone. No good can come of people reading something like this. It heralds the downfall of society."