Thursday, August 17, 2017

There Goes the Sun, doo-doo-doo-doo

Maybe a few of you have heard of a little thing called a TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN that is happening on Monday, August 21. If you haven't, it might be time to come out from under your rock where you've been shacking up with a GEICO caveman. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Backroads is right smack dab in the middle of the totality path. That means 100% coverage, baby! The sun goes bye-bye for a couple of minutes. Poor Pony, out in Norman, Oklahoma, will only get a partial eclipse. About 84%, I think, though I didn't take notes during my internet research. Genius, in College Town, says he'll get 99-point-something percent, and that ten miles away from him is totality. I sent both boys a pair of eclipse viewing glasses in their letter this week. For 99 cents, you can save your vision! What will they think of next?

Walmart is getting in on the action! Today I saw a bunch of displays down a main center aisle. In fact, I picked up three caps for Hick. He has quite a cap collection, you know.

I figure a guy like Hick can use three caps. I daresay he's misplaced or worn out his caps from the last total eclipse of the sun here in Backroads. Which was in 1442!!! Here's a link to a nearby community's eclipse resources.

The schools around here have canceled classes for Monday. They say that with the influx of visitors, they're not sure that they'll be able to transport students home safely. Estimates are that anywhere from 389,000 to a million people are within driving distance of our area, and may come to view the eclipse within a 30-mile radius of Backroads. I know that I am NOT going to town for my 44 oz Diet Coke that day! And I'll go without a scratch-off ticket, too! OH, NOOOO! What if a visitor buys a big winner rightfully meant for Val???? I'm starting to feel a bit light-headed.

The Man Owner at the gas station chicken store told me he's not sure if his business will be affected. However...his wife the Lady Owner must think so. There's a new sign on the door that advertises an ECLIPSE SPECIAL for a 20-piece box of chicken for $19.95. I don't know the regular price, but an 8-piece box is usually $8.95. Anyhoo...the Man Owner said that he heard the MO State Highway Patrol is putting up signs that say NO PARKING along the highway. And that they'll have a trooper stationed every 20 miles.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a flash of...well...I'm not sure what to call it...but BRILLIANCE seems like the wrong fit, what with the sun going dark on this momentous occasion. But anyhoo, as I started up the hill out of town, driving past the vacant shopping center where Genius and the solar car team charged their vehicle, and where there's a storefront without a name that Hick at one time said was an unmarked pharmacy that he was going to apply to deliver for when he retires...I had that flash! See, there's still a problem, with the word sight, since we'll be risking losing our sight if we look directly at the dark sun...

Anyhoo...I couldn't wait to get home and tell Hick my idea. I found him floating just below the surface of Poolio, on a raft not quite rated for his weight.

"Hey! You know that eclipse that's coming up? I just thought of something! If I was the owner of that parking lot where Genius had the solar car, I'd rope it off and charge people by the head, or by the car, for spaces to park and watch the eclipse!"

"Yeah. That's the perfect place. There's no trees in the way. It's open. There's a lot of parking."

"I know! And  people will be parking there anyway. He'll have to rope it off, or they'll park there for free, on his property! I'm not even going to town that day. It will be a mess. The paper says all the motel rooms have been reserved for a couple of years. I wouldn't be surprised if people are parked all along the blacktop highway. You know, come down the interstate and think they can get off and pull over. There's no shoulder! I'm definitely not getting out that day. I'll make my own Diet Coke."

"You know...I could rent out space in the field! We're on top of a hill. The trees are cleared. People could camp. I have the bathroom in the BARn. And an outhouse. I made that shower for the solar car team when they camped here..."

"Well, you'd have to go sit in town with a cardboard sign advertising your space and your price. Because nobody's going to find it out here. You'd have to gather up your customers and come out in a convoy. Then they'd probably complain because when you said a field, you really meant a field. Then if it rains that day, they'll complain that they didn't get to see the eclipse. I don't think it's worth it."

"Yeah. Maybe not. But that guy in town should do something!"

He should. I'll never know, though. I'm not going to town that day!

Here's a link about the eclipse from one of our local newspapers a couple weeks ago.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sitting In a Tahoe Down By the Moat

Today I vowed to be on my best behavior at the gas station chicken store. After allowing 44 oz of Diet Coke to flow across their premises, and cutting line in front of two kids...I figured I'd better not push my luck on the third day in a row.

I watch LIVE PD every Friday and Saturday night. I know that nuisances can be removed from the premises. All it takes is a call to the dispatcher, and a strong recommendation from a gun-toting law enforcement officer. I'm really not a scofflaw. I don't want to be rousted by the cops, or have a trespassing order put into effect. All I needed was to be careful with my ninja thumbs so as not to puncture the foam cup, and pay attention to the order that people came into the store and got in line. Even though there are often three lines to keep track of.

The lunch rush wasn't there yet, and my parking spot by the moat was available. I grabbed my $60 winner to cash in, put my phone in my pocket (in case I found a penny on the way, for documentation purposes) and clicked the door-locker. I was only halfway across the lot when my phone rang. Of course I answered. I have two boys away at college.


Let the record show that nobody ever calls or texts me when I'm doing nothing in my dark basement lair with 44 oz of Diet Coke at my elbow. Nope. I'm as lonely as a Maytag repairman then. But let me be out and about, actually doing something, and they must contact me.

Genius was calling from College Town. He just got back on Saturday, from Overland Park, Kansas, where he'd worked the summer for Garmin.

"Are you able to talk right now?"

"Yeesss...what's wrong? I'm getting my soda, but I'll go back and sit in the car to talk."

"Oh, nothing's wrong. But I can call back."

"I'm already here now. Already have to door open."

Genius was alerting me to an impending purchase of textbooks, for his last semester before graduation in December. He wanted to know which Amazon account to use, mine or his. Which of course meant which credit card the purchase would be on. Then I take the money out of his college savings, and put it in one checking account or the other to pay off the credit card.

"I don't care. Let's see. You can put it on yours, but I'll need a copy for tax time. You might not want me to see what else is on your credit card. But you could print me a hard copy, and black it out. OR, you can just put it on mine. Then I'll have a record of it when my bill comes. But it's easier for my records when the exact amount goes to your bank account. I need to show that that we are the ones who paid, though,  just in case we can still claim you as a dependent..."

"Oh...then I can't get my cash back for the purchase!"

"I though you might not want it on your credit card right now."

"I don't care. Just checking with you."

"Okay, put it on yours."

It's always something. We had further discussion of when his bill comes, and if he wanted to wait until then for the money transfer, which he did not, because he has something set up with "virtual envelopes" that he planned to deposit the money in until payment was due.

So...even though neither one of us cared which card paid for the books, it took about 15 minutes to make a decision and sort out the timeline of money transfer. Also, Genius filled me in on his recent job interviews, and his current plans, and his weekend trip. I was sitting sideways in T-Hoe with the door open for about 20 minutes.

Once our call concluded, I hopped down and locked up the door again and started across the lot. Halfway there, I heard a siren. I turned to see TWO police cars with flashing lights coming through the stoplight.

Yes. For a split second, I felt guilty! Had a smidgen of concern as to whether I was going to be rousted for loitering. Then I saw both vehicles turn and head in the direction of the prison and my homestead.

Usually, that would concern me. Today, it did not.

Let the record show that inside the gas station chicken store, I was a model citizen and well-behaved soda-buyer. And that I won absolutely nothing on today's scratch-off tickets.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Will Val Be Banned From the Gas Station Chicken Store?

I fear that I may soon become persona non grata at the gas station chicken store.

They will not be giving me a thumbs up after yesterday's full-cup faux pas. When they see me enter, they will now see the cup as half empty rather than half full. Or probably completely empty.

Today I had good intentions. I was climbing right back on the horse that threw me. Dancing with the one what brung me. I should have sensed the bad moon a-risin' as I sat at the stoplight and watched a jacked-up pickup pull directly into my favorite parking spot near the door. AND glanced over at my moat parking space, and saw it occupied with a silver sedan.

I parked by the moat anyway, right under the big sign. Tempting fate, perhaps, but it didn't fall on T-Hoe. I hiked across the parking lot and into the store, my first obstacle being the plumber's crack of the giant man who was putting his weekly gas drawing red tickets into the cardboard box, and dropped them. He almost sent me flying as his buttocks lurched at me when he bent over. I may not be O.J. Simpson running through an airport, but my knees aren't shot yet. I juked around the noontime thankfully-not-full moon, and headed down the candy aisle to come around the end and get to the soda fountain.

Hullo! What's this, then? People in the way of my draught!

The gas station chicken store has two soda fountains, side by side. Coke. And Pepsi. Blocking both of them was a mother and two daughters. I assume a family connection, because they resembled each other, and the mom was bossing the kids. Not unduly. Kids need bossing. They were a round family. A say that not to be condescending or snarky, but merely for descriptive purposes. Val herself has never been svelte, and she does not stoop to not-svelte-shaming others. People come in all shapes and sizes. This family was the shape of basketballs with legs. It was like two daughter moons orbiting their mother planet.

It was, perhaps, their last hurrah of summer. Schools around here start on Thursday. All three gals were wearing some kind of tights that stop just below the knee. I'm not into fashion myself. There's probably a name for those togs. They were black, and each gal also wore a brightly colored striped or patterned knit shirt. Not matching each other. Fashionable enough for these parts. Each had her straight hair pulled back into a neck-nape ponytail. They were not slobs. And they were well-behaved. Not like the screeching toddler banshee I encountered in Walmart yesterday.

Anyhoo...they were taking up prime real estate that Val was in the market for. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I, myself, have done so in the past, when taking my two boys with me into a convenience store. Just the facts. Three people take up space. It's awkward in tight quarters.

The older girl, maybe 13, and the mom, had 44 oz sodas. They were putting on their lids and getting straws, and throwing away their wrappers in the wastebasket down by where I was waiting. The younger girl, maybe 9, was dissatisfied with her drink. I didn't hear the exact conversation, because Val is not an eavesdropper. The gist of it was that she wanted something different. I DID notice that while the older two were preoccupied, she was sipping heartily from her 32 oz cup.

As a solution, the mom told her to just pour it out, which she did, in the Pepsi fountain. The older girl pointed to the Coke machine, where there were two spigots for tea. I don't know the difference. I don't drink tea. The younger girl commenced to filling her cup with tea. That might sound petty, for Val to mention how that girl POURED OUT 32 oz of soda, when Val herself poured out 44 oz of soda yesterday, ON THE COUNTER AND FLOOR. But sometimes, Val IS petty.

Anyhoo...another customer strode in during the refilling. She might have been on lunch break from the nearby can-opener factory. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and tennis shoes, with her frizzy fried hair pulled back in a loose ponytail. Again, Val is not pointing a digit from within her glass home, she's merely describing. Her own brunette lovely lady-mullet is generally in some faded-out state or another, so no shade thrown on Can Opener's color job.

Can Opener crept closer to the soda fountains. She saw me there. Acknowledged me. It's not like there was anywhere else for her to stand. As the stellar family orbited away from the drink machines, Can Opener magnanimously motioned for me to proceed. Okay. I'm glad she had manners. But we both knew I was there first, even though my long white beard was just starting to come in. She didn't have to be so grandiose about it.

As I was about 30 oz into drawing my magical elixir, Can Opener could wait no longer. She grabbed her own cup, and stepped up to the Pepsi machine. Different strokes for different folks. It made me no nevermind. She barely had room, with the Orbits standing there in no-woman's land, not quite bellied up to the register, but with their backs to the chicken-ordering counter.

I took my full 44 oz of Diet Coke, and my $30 winning ticket, and started to check out. Mama Orbit had left her little satellites, and headed for the back of the store. The oldest one was standing at the front, but with her back to the register. I didn't know if they were ready to check out, so I stepped up and laid down my ticket and set down my 44 oz cup back away from the edge, with my hands off.


Mama Orbit returned just as I set down my stuff. Too bad, so sad. She didn't say anything to me. She was busy telling The Littlest Orbit that no, she was not getting a donut. I am sorry if I took their turn. But they needed to crap or get off the pot. Other people need to use the pot for their own crapping. So you don't just run across the store and leave your two young 'uns holding down the pot.

I was in no hurry, though. I'd waited a good long time for them to complete their soda fountain performance. I even asked what number the next ticket was, and took it anyway, even though it was number 018 on a roll that goes to 019. (I won $60 on it, too!) My transaction was completed without incident. And by incident, I mean a deluge of Diet Coke cascading down the counter and onto the floor.

The Man Owner didn't seem at all put out by the fact that I might just possibly have cut in line. I don't think he'll tape a sign to the register prohibiting sales to me just yet.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Val Suffers Rigorous Mortification

The earth was nearly knocked off its axis this afternoon, my friends, by a faux pas so cataclysmic that Val may never be able to show her face in the gas station chicken store again!

I stopped by to pick up my daily 44 oz Diet Coke. The time was around 1:00, it being the last of my errands that began at 10:30 when I left home. Ahh...the sweet, sweet unsweetened nectar that I live for. My magical elixir. My heart skipped a beat when I saw a small cardboard Pepsi cup sitting under the Diet Coke spigot.

Was there a malfunction? No handwritten sign was taped up. So I moved that Pepsi cup over, pulled a 44 oz foam cup, and began filling my vat with Diet Coke. It looked fine. I took a sip before putting on the lid. Not to scam some extra before paying, but to make sure it wasn't too full, to prevent seepage through the lid as T-Hoe bounced over hill and dale on my dusty trail home. Tasted just right! I didn't see anything wrong on the soda fountain, so I threw away the Pepsi cup. Some ne'er-do-well slob must have quenched his thirst for free. My lid didn't fit right, the rim of the cup being flattened on one side from the the cup holder. So I threw away the lid that cracked, and put on another one.

My timing was just right. The other customer had been taken care of, and the Stern Old Gal Clerk, who was just going off duty, had bought herself a couple of items. She was chatting with the Lady Owner out front of the counter, while the Man Owner manned the register. They were talking about a washing machine malfunction, and subsequent carpet flooding.

I paid, and bought two lottery tickets (won $30), and told the Man Owner my own washing machine malfunction story. Then Stern Old Gal Clerk left, and Lady Owner came over to talk. It was an unusual lull without customers streaming in, or weirdos asking me for booze money. As we were having our gabfest, I'd moved my tickets and cup over, in front of the register, in case somebody came in and wanted to check out, or see the lottery tickets under glass on the counter. As I was chatting, my cup felt unstable. You know how they are so slim at the bottom. I raised my hand up a little for a better grip, to push it back a bit, and


Oh, the Diet-Coke-manity! Such a catastrophe. The Lady Owner looked down, and it was like slow motion. We both knew what was going on, but we couldn't react. Then she hollered to her husband, "GET THE WASTEBASKET!"

Problem was, that hole was so far down the cup that most of my magical elixir had already escaped. A small pond on the counter, and a larger lake on the floor. Man Owner flipped up the part of the counter that's like a drawbridge, and rushed out with the wastebasket and a roll of paper towels. I picked up some boxes of little cigars and caffeine pills that were being inundated. We wiped them off. I helped swab up the pool on the floor. Then Lady Owner told Man Owner to get the mop. "Funny how the mop fits his hand WAY BETTER here than at home," she said.

We got the spill contained without any other customers encroaching the disaster area. I apologized profusely. "I'm SO embarrassed. I probably won't even be able to show my face in here least a DAY!"

"Oh, this is nothing. We're used to it," said Man Owner as his wife was pulling back the register and directing him to wipe the counter of its Diet-Coke-and-dust slime.

"You didn't see ANY of this, right?" said Woman Owner. Who runs a tight ship, and usually has that place smelling like bleach on days she is there. I fear that heads may roll at this exposure. But at least it's not mine.

"Go get yourself another soda," said Man Owner. Of course I demurred. But when he said it again, I caved. THAT is customer service.

Let the record show that Val is absolutely mortified by her uncouth behavior. If she was a dude, and an actor, and really good-looking, and stalked lusted after adored favored by blog buddy Sioux...her name might be Riggo Mortifson.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Mode of Many Colors

Hick has always been the resourceful guy, as pointed out in a comment yesterday by blog buddy Jimmy. Hick knows the value of a buck, and I was raised pinching pennies myself.

I went away to college, and spent my first several working years in southwest Missouri. A job back in my hometown area led me to renting a townhouse just down the road from my new workplace. There were four apartment buildings, two of them being two-bedroom townhouses, and the other two being one-bedroom units.

My mother must have been somewhat nervous about where I would live when I came back. Not that she wouldn't have welcomed me back to my childhood bedroom, which she'd filled with craft materials. I think it was more of a case of her worrying that I'd live in a hovel. After all, in Mountain Grove, I'd taken a room over a garage on the end of a home of people who ran a trailer park. And at my next job in Sheldon, I rented a room in an old railroad hotel, second floor, about 10 feet from the railroad tracks. Still in use, I might add. The third place was a little house in Cuba that had a gas furnace that went WHOOSH every time it kicked on, and had squirrels in the attic.

"Oh, I've found just the place for you, honey! They're NEW! It's a townhouse, just built. They're really nice. Come and at least look at them. If it's too much money for you, I'll pay part of your rent. Just give them a chance." So I did. There was absolutely no other apartment housing in the area at the time, save for an old motel with one-room units, and a ramshackle building by the railroad tracks. I didn't need my mom's money for rent. I'd had five years of supporting only myself. Without much outlay for rent!

Mom was thrilled when I moved in. So was I. It was just far enough away from her, but just close enough. There was a pool, where I spent most of the summer. The owner advertised this as a singles complex, and there was only one couple with a little girl, and another with a teenage boy. So the pool was a calm place to be. That's where I met Hick. I was swimming in the deep end, in over my head, and he was sitting on the side, talking to another guy who lived in his one-bedroom building. I had a friend a few doors down who taught at a different school, and we all hung out together.

On the 1st and 3rd weekends, Hick had his boys for a visit. The apartment denizens and I might be floating around in the pool on a Friday evening, and see Hick turn into the drive with his boys. "Here comes Sanford and sons," one of them would say. They said it to Hick's face, too, and he didn't mind. He had a $400 truck, a 1965 Chevy pickup, that was all colors of the rainbow. Only not pastel. I don't know what color that truck was originally, but it had been patched and painted more than a handful of times. It was Hick's sole mode of transportation.

Once Hick and I became a thing, he said he was going to paint his truck. He was an hourly worker then, with an hour drive to and from the city each day, and didn't have a lot of money. He used to say, "I'm gonna get an Earl Scheib paint job on my truck!" But only when he got enough money. It cost $99.99. I think Hick was kind of proud that he'd snagged him a teacher. That still meant something back then. To him, anyway, coming from a home with a sick mom, a blind dad, and no indoor plumbing. Heck, Hick was proud to have a job and a $400 truck!

Anyhoo...Hick asked me what color he should paint his truck. That's when I knew he was serious. I told him that white for the upper part of the cab, and a medium blue for the rest, would look nice. The next time I saw Hick drive in, he'd painted his truck. With cans of spray paint. Oh, and he'd only painted one door, because that's all the paint he could afford at that time. But you know what?

It was the passenger door he painted.

That's my Sweet Baboo.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Where It All Began (Almost)

I'm thinking of roping off a special section of Hick's Shackytown Theme Park to display his very first shack. Almost. The actual very first shack was a tool shed, built on our land out here when we lived in town. But that's more of a work shack, and not for pleasure. So we'll put it on the back burner until I can get a picture of it. For today, we're only showcasing The A-Frame.

Before there was a homestead, before there was a BARn, before there was even a Genius or a Pony, there was The A-Frame. Hick and I bought our original 10 acres before there was even a marriage. Oh, it was in the works. But we wanted to snag the land while it was available, with the intention of building our house, which didn't happen until the summer Genius was three, and The Pony was waiting to make his grand entrance.

We got the land, and Hick liked nothing better (well, few things better) than to drive out and putter around. The first thing he built was an outhouse. Then he started thinking about a barn, probably always having the plan to finish out the upstairs to make it his BARn.

That summer, Hick was living in his one-bedroom apartment in the complex where we met at the pool, and I had moved from my townhouse into my $17,000 house a couple miles over. Hick has always been the busy sort, and did a lot of work fixing up my house. Of course he knew it would one day be his as well. No man can resist a woman with a $17,000 house!

Hick's boys, HOS and The Veteran, were just little shavers back then. Probably 7-8 years old. When they came for weekend visits, Hick would take them out to the land, and have them pick up sticks or stack wood, something to show that he was the boss over them, and laziness and whining would not be tolerated. I'd pack them a lunch or supper. Sometimes they took hot dogs (of course, Hick's favorite food) and built a fire, and stayed the night, sleeping under a tarp stretched across the bed of the pickup truck.

Hick kept the front part of the property mowed, but the woods he left alone. He decided that he wanted a cabin down by the creek, and set to collecting scrap materials for construction. Such as the wood from shipping crates that work gave him for free, so as not to pay to have them hauled away as trash. Let the record show that Hick never builds from a plan. He imagines it in his head, and then slaps it together. If pressed, he can sketch out the idea for skeptics. But he doesn't draw out his blueprint before building.

The A-Frame has a window up top that doesn't open, but lets in plenty of light. It's made from a piece of plexiglass that Hick salvaged somewhere. Same with the door. He didn't buy his materials back then. We weren't the Rockefellers that we are now. Inside, on the left, there's a platform built about knee-high, which opens on hinges for storage. The top is flat for sleeping. Beside it is enough space to put a couple of lawn chairs for seating. There's a board ladder to get up to the loft, which is the right size for two boy young 'uns to sleep in sleeping bags.

That A-Frame has provided many happy memories for both sets of our boys. But I think nobody has enjoyed it more than Hick.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #71 "The Grapes of Mirth"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Do you know people who succeed at everything they touch? Have enough money to burn a wet mule? Fall rumpus-backwards into money every time they turn around? This week's fake book is the story of one such person. A multifaceted individual who laughs in the face of adversity, and is taking the jewelry world by storm. Fake-order your fake copy today! Even if you don't have any plans to read it yourself, you can pass it on to loved ones. Every re-gift begins with Val!

The Grapes of Mirth

Doc Jollyday is a triple threat. By night, he works as a standup comic. During the day, he practices medicine. And on the weekends, he designs jewelry. His newest shiny bauble is a necklace shaped like a bunch of grapes, showcasing the smiles of patients he has cured of assorted maladies. Laughter IS the best medicine, you know.

The other physicians are NOT happy with Doc Jollyday. Nor are his comedy store cohorts. Now the AMA is investigating him for allegedly using lips from shrunken heads, and comedians slotted ahead of Doc are playing Sarah McLachlan songs to subliminally sadden the audience before his set.

Will Doc Jollyday have the last laugh, or will his enemies turn his smiles upside down?
(121 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

The Good Feet Store..."We are willing to order a truckload of these fake books to sell on our counter, as long as Thevictorian can give us a good price. We're willing to let her get her foot in the door, and partner with us* as we offer her fake book for free with every $1000 $1100 pair of shoe inserts sold." *This deal does not in any way constitute an endorsement of Val Thevictorian's writing.

The Good Teeth Store..."Do not buy this fake book! We are currently involved in litigation with Doc Jollyday and Val Thevictorian concerning misuse of 'after' photos from our clients. Avoid this purchase, and help us take a bite out of alleged crime."

The Good Meat Store..."This fake book is to literature as Auction Meat is to filet mignon. A mystery as to what's inside, and likely to make one's gorge rise after sampling it."

The Good TWEET Store..."Thevictorian's fake book has 140 characters. None of them with any redeeming qualities." #StopThevictorianNow

The Good Weep Store..."Our time has come! Our shops are the perfect place to commiserate over the time you wasted fake-reading this fake book. And if you actually fake-paid for a copy, you need our services even more. Come in, order a cup of our wasabi tea and a ghost chili muffin, sit down on our splintery chairs, and have a good cry with one of our Ripped-Off By a Bad Fake Author support groups."

The Good Neat Store..."We have a place for everything, and everything in its place. That said, you won't find this fake book anywhere on our shelves. We're in the business of clearing OUT the trash, not bringing it in! Thevictorian's fake book is garbage. We imagine her biggest fans will turn out to be rats and silverfish."

The Good BLEEP Store..."Who the BLEEP told this BLEEP she was a BLEEPing author? This piece of BLEEP is the worst fake book we've seen in a long BLEEPing time! Make that ever. The most BLEEPed-up fake book we've ever BLEEPing seen. It's a steaming pile of BLEEP! Thevictorian can go BLEEP herself! She must be BLEEPed in the head to fake-write such bullBLEEP!"

Thursday, August 10, 2017

An Open Letter to the Lady Owner of the Gas Station Chicken Store

Hey, Lady!

Last Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised when your Asian Guy Clerk refused to take the money I offered him as payment for my 44 oz Diet Coke.

"Oh, no! It's only 81 cents now!"

"WHAT? That's a steal! It's 83 cents over at your competitor, Orb K! But they're not as good."

"I know, right? For 81 cents, I need to be drinking a lot of lemonade!"

"This is great! But it's messed up my correct change! I'll know now."

Yes, I was quite happy to get my daily 44 oz Diet Coke for less than half the price I've been paying. I missed it on Wednesday, because I went to the casino, and afterwards was compelled to get an Orb K soda and find two pennies. But I was back on Thursday, regular as clockwork.

Here's the thing. Friday, I waltzed up to the counter, virtually dancing on air, my 44 oz Diet Coke in hand, my scratch-off winners in other hand, and got my correct change ready while the Stern Old Gal clerk rang me up. After she meticulously (you should really commend her, she always says each step of the transaction out loud so there is no confusion) rang up my purchases and discounted the winnings, she said, "That's a dollar sixty-nine."

"Oh. I thought sodas were 81 cents now."

"Not any more. She changed them back."

Well. That threw a monkey wrench into Correct Change Land. I had to get a five-dollar bill out of my pocket to pay. That does not sit well with The Five Dollar Daughter.

Who in their right mind changes the price of their soda on a Friday, when it's been 81 cents all week?

I am fit to be tied, and regretting the fact that I dared to ASSUME the sodas would remain the same price for a while. Perhaps until the end of the summer.

I certainly hope you're not jacking up the price of Jack Daniels and that rot-gut whiskey that the 11:00 a.m. alcoholics favor. This smacks of those days a few months back that you randomly adjusted the price of an 8-piece chicken box. No rhyme nor reason, except that on days I was buying it, the price was $8.95, and on days I wasn't, the price mysteriously dropped to $7.95, and even $6.95.

Don't get my hopes up again. There is very little in this life that can be counted on, and the price of my 44 oz Diet Coke was one of them. Now you have allowed me to graze from a greener pasture, only to prod me right back to the barren paddock.

It's a good thing your clerks are polite and know their business, and that your Diet Coke is ambrosia. Because otherwise, I would take my business under the overpass, and buy my magical elixir at Orb K, where I find way more pennies than I find here.

Good day to you!

Val Thevictorian

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The More Val Finds Change, the More She Stays the Same

Not so fast! You antipennyites aren't getting off the hook just yet! Even though I will announce right up front that I did NOT find a penny today. My tally for finding a penny on consecutive days stalls at four.


I didn't really have a lot of faith in finding a penny today. Oh, I had HOPE! But I didn't feel like there was a high percentage chance of that actually happening. My hopes even lowered when I got to my first stop, Orb K, and saw that my favorite parking space in front next to the handicap walkway was taken. There was a space on the other side of the car that was in it, and that space was even big enough. But there was a creeper standing in front of it, up against the metal mesh box that holds the propane tanks.

Val is not one to seek out creepers or weirdos. I did not want to park there, a few feet from that guy. I don't know what he was doing, but there was a shopping cart next to him full of white plastic bags. I went on down the main row, having also noticed that around the corner, where I found a penny one day on the sidewalk, there was a gray SUV parked in my way. Still, I could have squeezed into that first space next to the sidewalk. But the guy was sitting in his SUV, so I didn't. I went past him, skipped a space, and pulled in.

I don't mind a little longer walk. It gives my knees time to loosen up. And I had the front end of T-Hoe up against the curb, to hold onto when I stepped down coming back. Going down a step is harder than going up! I grabbed a $50 winner (yes, I've been lucky lately) and opened up T-Hoe's door. You can bet I'd been scanning the parking lot for pennies as I drove around to that end. And the sidewalk, too, as I parked. Nothing.

What's that sparkle? A dime was waiting for me! Wasn't that curious? I'm a little disappointed that blog buddy Linda, who commented a couple days ago, when I found my third penny in a row, number 24, "I am thinking when you find your 25th penny, your luck will change and you will start finding quarters. Now that's a way to get rich quicker." Alas, Linda! You are only 2/5 the psychic that I imagined you to be! I found my 25th penny yesterday, and today I found A DIME!

Of course I said under my breath, "You've got to be kidding me!" And reached back into T-Hoe for my phone to take a picture. Then I snatched up that dime, a 2003 edition, because a different weirdo was headed my way! It wasn't the one standing in front of the propane tanks, but another one, in a red shirt, pushing that cart along the grass at the end of the building.

As I clicked T-Hoe's locks and started in, that weirdo made a beeline for my car. I looked over my shoulder, just to be sure he wasn't up to no good. I'd left my purse on the seat, as I usually do in Backroads, but never at Walmart. To be fair, there WAS a bunch of trash scattered around. I'd narrowly missed a 32 oz cup blowing around. Normally, I'd pick it up and take it to drop in the trash on the way in. But I was excited by the dime, and nervous about the creeper and the weirdo.


Anyhoo...that's really all there is to that story. Th weirdo picked up the trashy cup, the creeper blocked the sidewalk trying to make a guy sign a petition, and I lost on my tickets. But I found a DIME, by cracky! I don't seem to be getting rich in a hurry, but if I've switched to dimes, at least I can make pennyillionaire in 1/10 the time.

Now, for the antipennyites and dimescoffers...

My luck at finding pennies and winning scratch-off tickets? It's just a matter of being at the right place and the right dime. Heh, heh! See what I did there? I crack myself up sometimes!

I'm a little put-out by the antics of Waterside Mart. Last month, they sold a $4000 winner, on a Golden Ticket, and NOT to ME! I buy the Golden Ticket regularly. I buy it at Waterside Mart. But no, they had to go and sell it to somebody NOT ME!

It's not like that ticket was halfway across the state, where I don't travel, where I'd never have a chance of buying it. Nope. I was right in my front side yard about seven miles away! At Waterside Mart, where I stop once a week when mailing the boys' letters on Friday mornings. And sometimes twice, if I've got business at the bank or credit union. It's like Even Steven stole Diet Coke right out of my mouth! Allowed that winning ticket to go to someone NOT ME.

AND, today at the gas station chicken store, as I was cashing in a $40 winner (only won $10 back for my trouble), the Man Owner shared a story with me. Seems a man had been there earlier this morning, and bought three tickets. A variety. A Golden Ticket, a Cash Spectacular, and a Taxes Paid, all tickets that I buy, AT the gas station chicken store, right in a line across the front row of their ticket case...and won $100, $50, and $100.

If he found a penny or a dime on his way in, I don't want to know.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Val For the Four-Peat

No, I'm not good with foreshadowing and slow build-ups toward a reveal. So let's get this right out in the open, in case the title didn't hit you over the head like a ton of bricks.


Let the record show that I've had a post written and scheduled to publish for the past two days. Yet each day, I've found myself bumping it ahead. So if you're tired of all this penny business, there's that. The hope that it will remain on tomorrow's calendar.

I was off to Bill-Paying Town this morning. Not to pay bills. We don't have many of them any more. I was on my way to my lesser Walmart. As I passed the Casey's on that route (which would be my lesserest leastest least Casey's of the three I frequent), I debated on whether to stop for a ticket, or wait until I passed it on the trip back home. Oh, there was no debate at all about whether to buy a ticket. That was happening!

The worker in her dark blue smock with the red trim was standing out front, having a smoke. That's not uncommon. There were no cars at the gas pumps, and only two parked over on the side. That's where the employees park, and where I also like to park here, for access to their sidewalk ramp. I always leave room for the employee cars. Just in case somebody went to lunch, and will be returning.

I hated to spoil that gal's smoke break, but a car pulled in from the side street as I passed the first entrance, so I turned in at the second one. Of course I was on the lookout for pennies. This is the store where I found one on the yellow paint of their sidewalk ramp. Yep. I looked all around. When I got out of T-Hoe, over in the parking spot I'd left for the employees. Across the lot. On the ramp. On the sidewalk. On the rug inside the door. Nope. Not my day. No need to be greedy. After all, this was only my first stop.

After purchasing my Golden Ticket, I went back outside to T-Hoe. Hit the clicker. Caught a glint. You've gotta be kidding me!

Up there by that butt. A 2017 shiny penny. Left there just for me, I'm sure. You can bet I snatched it up. Nothing wrong with Val's back! Nothing dainty about her mannerisms, either. I bent right over, not caring about the view of my ample buttocks that I gave the folks in the car parked over by the door.

That's Penny #25, people! I don't have a count on the cigarette butts. But right now, I'm on track to be a pennyillionaire sooner than a cigarette buttillionaire. My previous record of finding pennies three days in a row was shattered by this find. FOUR DAYS IN A ROW! The record for number of pennies found in a single day is also FOUR. Records are made to be broken, you know.

And now, for the antipennyites...

What is it with you guys not being able to take a hint? I know that we women like to lead you around by the nose, and give you long lists of rules (written and unwritten) that you must obey or face the doghouse. How we make sure you never go hungry, that your clothes are clean, and match, before you leave the house, and load up our purses until we are bearing more of a load than a Sherpa on Everest, so you don't have to put anything in your pocket.


Here's an example.

MONDAY. "Oh, I got you some more strawberry water and root beer. It's out in the car. With a 9-pack of toilet paper, and a 3-pack of Puffs with Lotion. I didn't feel like carrying them in today, with all the other stuff."

WEDNESDAY. "Yeah. I'm taking the trash up. There's still that soda and water in the car. Maybe I'll get that after I walk."

FRIDAY. "I know you ran out of strawberry water. There's more in the back of the car. And that root beer."

SUNDAY. "I picked up the sour cream and some extra salsa for the tacos tonight. I just brought it in. I didn't feel like messing with that water and root beer."

MONDAY. "I brought in one pack of that water and put some in the fridge for you. The rest is still out there. With the root beer. I see you're running out of Diet Mountain Dew, too."

TUESDAY. "No. I'm fine. Just out of breath. I had to run to the phone. I was busy carrying in two packs of Diet Coke, a pack of Diet Mountain Dew, two packs of strawberry water, and a 12-pack of root beer."

Seriously? Could you not notice that maybe you should carry in that heavy stuff I bought for you after the first two or three hints? Is it not enough that I think up the menu, make the shopping list, go to town and get the food, bring it in and put it away, cook it, and clean up the dishes?

What are you waiting for, a bullhorn command and a Garmin to find your way?

Monday, August 7, 2017

"That DOES Seem Like a Lot of Coincidences," Says Hick

Did you know that Hick has been off work for 12 DAYS?

I can hardly believe that he's going back tomorrow. Hick took off a whole week to help The Pony move from dorm to apartment. And now it's time for his return. To work. He's already returned from Oklahoma. I celebrated by escaping to town for my 44 oz Diet Coke. Actually, I go to town every day. But the trip seems so much sweeter when I leave Hick behind.

Generally, I have an itinerary in my head. Depending on deadlines like when the mail goes out, or what I'm buying that might not benefit from sitting in a hot T-Hoe for an hour, or which convenience stores will cash a big scratch-off winner. Sometimes, I make a split-second decision that alters my course. Like today...

Stop to talk to Hick. At the bottom of the first gravel hill, there was my Sweet Baboo, crosswise on his blue tractor. I stopped, because he was blocking me from making my turn to get on the section of road that takes me to the mailboxes and the county blacktop road. Hick finally noticed me, and backed up. I rolled down the passenger window. Hick said, "What?" and I said, "What?" And then I drove on to town.

Stopped by the cemetery. Just for a short chat. It was on the way.

Bypassed Casey's instead of getting gas. Didn't want to be too late mailing Genius his casino player's card that he wants for next week.

Bypassed Waterside Mart because it was busy. Didn't want to be too late mailing that casino card.

Went into post office to have the clerk handle the envelope. I could have mailed it through the slot in the lobby, but didn't want to take a chance on it being too heavy for one stamp.

Bypassed Waterside Mart because I changed my mind on getting tickets there. Spur of the moment. And in a fit of pique because they sold a big winner there last month, and didn't sell it to ME.

Stopped at Casey's for gas and tickets. Had my choice of any of the four pumps, and picked the downhill one by the handicap concrete ramp, so I could head out onto the side street, and better get through traffic to make my turn when I left.


I opened the door, and first thing I saw was another rung of the ladder leading up to my future as the world's first pennyillionaire!

Yup! 2016. It was a very good year. The year I retired!

I know I'm crazy, but every time I find a penny, it lifts my spirits. I was practically skipping as I rounded the pump and headed up toward the concrete handicap ramp by the dumpster, my rightful parking space at this establishment actually vacant, now that I had no need for it today. I cashed in a ticket, got some more, paid for my gas, and exited.

There was a man coming in, and since my momma raised me right, I held the door open for him as I left. That put me in an awkward spot, my toes over the sidewalk curb, so I just stepped down to walk across the middle of the lot, rather than going back down the sidewalk to my ramp. That was a good decision, I guess. What I was supposed to do. Because midway from building to pumps, I found ANOTHER penny!

I didn't have my phone with me for that short trip inside to pay for gas. But you can bet I picked up that penny before someone else nabbed it! Or ran over it again. The back was really scratched up, and the front was marred over the date. It looked like 1971. Hick concurred, after we both used a magnifying glass. Here it is, posed next to the tickets.

So...I could have skipped getting gas today. Or bought my tickets at Waterside Mart. Which would have made me miss these two pennies.

Hick had not been informed of the recent drops in the bucket of my pennyillionaire collection. I told him as he was finishing the last two slices of Casey's pizza that were left from Saturday night supper. Hick, who previously had informed me on the topic of my impending riches, "I find pennies all the time," conceded that my penny luck is starting to pick up steam. Or, in his exact words: "That DOES seem like a lot of coincidences."

I don't really believe in coincidences.

And now...for the antipennyites, or anyone who's tired of trying to think up a comment in response to this, my 24th penny...

Yesterday, after Hick followed me to town on his way to the auction, I returned home to see his truck parked in front of the BARn. Huh. Was he scamming me? Just pretending to go to an auction? Up to no good over in his junky lair? Having a tryst with a floozy that he picked up in town? I sent him a text.

"Did you not go to the auction?"

"I guess it was rained out no one there"

"It's OUTSIDE? I imagined it would be in a building. What are you doing now, playing with your hoarded junk?"

"It's inside and outside there was stuff pilled but no one there and yes sorting my treasures"

See what he did there? SORTING his TREASURES.

Yeah. Hick was playing with his hoarded junk.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


My best-laid plans went awry today. Which is not always a bad thing.

The power went off a couple of times last night. Don't you worry about Val. She was NOT held captive by her OPC (Old People Chair). I set it upright and switched to the local weather, keeping an eye on the storms.

This morning, with showers still in the area, my body clock didn't wake me at 9:30 as usual. It was going on 10:00 when I heard Hick thumping around. He seemed pretty refreshed after 13 hours of sleep. He also informed me that one of the ingredients he prefers for tacos is sour cream. So I had to make a stop at Save A Lot, even though I was just in there yesterday.

I got a late start to town. Most days, I'm in the gas station chicken store by 11:00 to get my soda. Today it was already after noon when I left home. Hick was behind me, too, having driven through the BARn field in his 1999 Ford F250 Long Bed Club Cab, and through the ditch to get right onto the gravel road. Maybe he was keeping tabs on me.

Hick said he was going to the auction. Huh. I never heard of any Sunday afternoon auction. But he said there was one out the road a bit. I could see his truck in my rearview mirror as I cruised up the county blacktop road. Hick has the nerve to say that I go a bit fast. Well. Then how does he keep up with me, huh, with all that sweaving making him travel a longer distance? At least I stay on my own side of the road.

I had planned to head to Orb K to cash in some winners and get more tickets. However, with Hick behind me, I went straight to Save A Lot. Same difference. They're across the road from each other. No need to hear Hick harping about, "I though you were going to Save A Lot for sour cream." After getting that item, and some extra salsa, I did indeed cross over to Orb K. From there it was to Country Mart for some chicken lunch meat to make my own pinwheels. I was counting on them having it, but they were no better than Save A Lot, so I got oven-roasted turkey instead. Same difference.

From there it was to the gas station chicken store. My rightful parking space closest to the door was empty, but there was a long van parked in the one next to it. The van wasn't too close, but it hadn't pulled all the way to the parking bumper concrete thingy. And it was one of those long white vans like the local prison uses to transport prisoners. So I just went on over to the side, to my spot by the moat that separates the gas station chicken store parking lot from Hick's pharmacy CeilingReds parking lot.

I don't think I've ever shared a view of the moat with you. For two days, the moat has been having a cleanout. There's the back road that I take across the moat to cut through CeilingReds back parking lot by their drive up window, over to the Casey's, which you can see the back of by that yellow curb. There's a flea market over there, but Hick says he's never been to it.

Running kind of behind, but at least missing the after-church chicken-buying crowd, I swiveled to step out of T-Hoe.

Wouldn't you know it! Abe Lincoln was waiting for me! He's kind of camouflaged in that blacktop with the chert rocks, but it's Abe all right. Every time I think I've found him in the picture above, I change my mind! Let the record show that the moat picture was taken when I came out, and was sitting in T-Hoe. But the wide shot and the penny were taken before I picked it up. Good luck, if you're the type to try and figure it out! You might end up like Mr. Pitt trying to see the spaceship in the 3D painting.

He was almost glowing in the gloom, or I never would have seen him. Not many people park over here. It's not like somebody just got back a handful of change and dropped it. One single cent. Waiting for me. A 1993 version. Not a special date to me.

That's one penny closer to making me a pennyillionaire! Found a penny. Two days in a row.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Normally, I Wouldn't Be Caught Dead There On Such a Day

Yeah. Well. It was bound to happen. I found another penny today!

The signs were there. I woke up and turned to look at my nightstand clock, which read 11:11. NO! I did NOT sleep that late. It was actually about 9:30. My clock is always off, every time the power goes off it changes. Also, as I started out the door to head for town, I got a text from The Pony, and in looking at it, saw the actual time was 11:11.

I parked at Walmart. Not a good decision. It's back-to-school weekend around here. Tax-free weekend on school supplies. Along with being the first Saturday of the month. I normally would avoid this location at this time like the plague. But Walmart was out of my tasty lunch pinwheels yesterday. So I came back today. Just to run in and look for the pinwheels.

The parking lot was teeming with shoppers. I didn't get any of my regular parking spots, or even a spot on my regular row! I was way up the next aisle, talking to The Pony by now, since I was tired of trying to read texts. I love my boy, but I finally told him I needed to go inside before it got any busier, and that I would be available after 2:30 if he wanted to chat.

Decisions, decisions. That's what life is all about, right? I could have walked down that parking row, then crossed over to get to the door. Or I could have cut through cars to the main row where I usually park, and walked down to the end and then crossed over to the door. But since it was so busy, I cut through, walked partway down the row, then got into the little marked off walkway by the handicap spaces.


Right there at my feet. Because I chose that route. Yay, me! Back on track to becoming a pennyillionaire! I didn't have my phone with me, because it was on the fritz. The ringer wasn't working, which I discovered when The Pony tried to call while I was driving. So I didn't get a picture of this penny in its natural habitat, the yellow-striped handicap walkway of the Walmart parking lot. Food end of the building.

This penny was 2008. I won't go into that year, but my mom and I had a private joke about something that happened back then. I even sent her a card about it, which she put on her mantel, and turned face down when she was expecting refined company or repairmen. It made me smile when I got home and saw 2008 on my latest penny.

Sorry if you're getting tired of my pennies. You'll just have to deal with them. Maybe it means YOU are on track! Perhaps you're meant to read about Val's pennies. The time it takes could be putting YOU in the right place at the right time. Or altering your schedule just enough to avoid a catastrophe.

You never know.

However...for those of you who are antipennyites, I'll give you a little filler for this story.

When I came out, having not found any pinwheels, but three chicken wraps instead...I was on the lookout for more pennies. I didn't find any. But I DID find a dude standing at the back of T-Hoe.

Technically, he was in the area between T-Hoe's rear, and the rear of another black SUV parked in the space just before T-Hoe. I figured the dude was waiting on his family to get out of the car, and they'd all start in together. It's back-to-school tax-free weekend, you know!

Dude was maybe late teens. Possibly early 20s, but he would have been carded in a liquor store. I didn't look at him all that closely. He was probably 5' 10", short black hair, fairly good-looking as folks go around here. I heard a baby crying inside a car, and a woman talking to it. I assumed Dude was waiting on them.

I was still a little wary. It doesn't pay to be an unaware old lady these days. Dude WAS right next to my car. I clicked the unlocker, and pushed the button to open T-Hoe's hatch. Dude just kept lingering. As I passed him, I realized that I'd passed the baby and lady a few cars down. Dude was NOT standing by their car. I kept a side-eye on him as I put my chicken wraps in my soft-sided cooler. And all at once,


What in the Not-Heaven? Was he scoping out my car? The lookout for somebody scoping out another car? I don't recall Walmart advertising themselves as a skate park. I've never seen anyone skateboarding there before.

As I backed out, I saw a green-shirted Walmart employee, a manager perhaps, or a supervisor, walking down the parking aisle talking into a radio. Maybe they were onto that skateboarding ring!

You don't think it was a rogue group of always-do-wells, sprinkling the land with pennies...
do you?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #70 "The Scamhandler"

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 tugs at your heartstrings as well as your purse strings. It's the story of a self-made man. He has the fanciest cardboard box mansion you've ever seen. Doesn't really live there, though. It's just for show, to help out his career. No, he's not a country singer. He's a...a...businessman. His own boss. You might learn a thing or two about making money, once you read his story. Available only from Val Thevictorian! Now get busy looking under the seats for spare coins in your van down by the river, and go buy a money order so you can get Val's fake book!

The Scamhandler

Leavon A. Boxman is an entrepreneur. He's never worked a day in his life, yet he has amassed a $4 million fortune. Four dollars at a time. Leavon stakes out a corner where cars wait in traffic. He's had many sad-sack scenarios to garner sympathy, and the current one involves his family. His imaginary family. The only tactic that has worked better so far was the sign declaring that he needed $4 for weed. Leavon retired that sign when he left Colorado.

Will the police roust Leavon from his corner, promising to find those ninjas and get his family back? Or will an angry donator demand to see Leavon's karate skills next month?
(113 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Karate Kid..."Asking for money for this fake book is tantamount to bullying! I can't afford to waste money on this fake book. I need that money to pay for my own karate lessons! It's not easy, moving here from the east coast to live with my uncle and his 8 kids. Sheesh! Somebody shoulda told that guy, 'Eight is enough.' And somebody shoulda told Thevictorian, 'No fake book deal.'"

Mr. Miyagi..."I've heard that some karate masters have their hands registered as lethal weapons. The only lethal weapon hands around here belong to Thevictorian, and she used them to fake-write this fake book."

Val Thevictorian's intestines..."Talk about deadly! Thevictorian is full of hot air, and for the safety of the fake-book-buying public, it should never be released!"

Black Belt..."If anybody ever deserved a belt, it's this fake author!"

The Five Dollar Daughter..."This Four Dollar Beggar does not deserve a fake book about his fake life! What the world really needs is more books about ladybugs, pennies from heaven, and crazy old hoarders."

Sergeant Know I. All, of the Spelling Police..."I don't know who proofread the fake cover, but to me, it looks like Leavon A. Boxman needs a good 'speling' lesson before he needs karate lessons to find his 'kidnaped' family."

Kidnaped Family of Leavon A. Boxman..."We can be rescued, all right. When Leavon least expects it! Right now we are shopping our own book deal. About how an innocent family can be victims of a scamhandler, and win $4 million in a fraud lawsuit. Any takers? Thevictorian?"

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Be Careful What You Whine For

Seems like only Tuesday, August 1, that I was bemoaning the fact that I haven't found a penny since July 20. So you know what happened Wednesday, right?

On Wednesday, my favorite gambling aunt picked me up on the Save A Lot parking lot to drive me to the casino. She's been out of action with a knee replacement, and missed Casinopalooza 2. Now that she's on the mend, and Hick is out of my hair, we figured there's nothing we'd like better than a casino trip.

I loaded up my recent scratch-off winnings (managed to fit them in her small SUV, no need for a U-Haul, thanks) and we hit the highway. We made really good time. Only 45 minutes from Save A Lot. I didn't even have to close my eyes. Sometimes, I get a little nervous about Auntie's driving. You'd think a long-time passenger of Hick's would not be so faint of heart.

We both had a losing session at the casino. But lunch was great. I sprung for Auntie's chili and onion rings. Being more of a conventional gal, I had an actual burger at Burger Brothers. We were bumfuddled by the fact that instead of handing us one of those round, vibrating, light-flashing disc thingies...the cashier said she would call my name. Not a big deal when it's MY name. But Auntie and I about split a gasket listening to that cashier bellow other people's names. Our fellow diners also felt a jab in their funny bone. We were snickering openly. Not even a pretense about the silent shaking mirth like happens in the midst of a faculty meeting when your best friend looks at the matronly librarian who has just stood up to speak, unfortunately having a crack attack (and I don't mean drugs), and whispers matter-of-factly, "Her butt's having lunch."

Maybe I'll share more casino weirdo interactions later. Maybe not.

Anyhoo...we stayed a good long time, Auntie deciding to sit out front in a cushy chair and read a book on her phone while I continued to lose more money. We left at 6:00, avoiding rush hour traffic. I know that Auntie did not partake of demon rum while we were there. It's not like Vegas, where you get free drinks. She did, however, have a cookie. I don't know what was in it, but the ride back raised a bit more hair. Not necessarily Auntie's fault. When you are in the right lane, and signal to take the ramp from one highway to another, you don't expect a pickup truck to rush up and try to pass you on the right.

Auntie had me back at Save A Lot, unscathed, by 6:50. I told her I was debating on where to get my 44 oz Diet Coke. Free casino Diet Coke doesn't count.

"I think I'll just go over to Orb K. I was in the gas station chicken store this morning, right before you picked me up, cashing in some winning tickets for more casino bankroll."

"You can go in a store more than once a day, you know."

"Yeah. But Orb K is just across the road, and I don't have to go back through the lights. But the gas station chicken store has better Diet Coke. Ehh...I already bought two tickets there this morning. I can get some at Orb K. I don't want them asking about my winnings I cashed in this morning when I cash in my other tickets. I'd feel like I had to tell them I lost it at the casino."

"You don't have to tell those people anything."

"I know. But I'm a regular. They chat. It's probably a different cashier by this time...and the owner won't be there this late., I think I'll go to Orb K."

"Let's do this again."

"Yeah, I had a really good time. Even though I lost."

"Yes, it was good to get out."

Auntie headed for home, to dig into the Chex Mix that I gave her as a token of appreciation. I headed over to Orb K for a 44 oz Diet Coke and two new scratchers that came out on Monday. I had to wait for two other customers at the soda trough. I'm sure that wouldn't have happened at the gas station chicken store. AND my Polar Pop was hot. I should have had a clue when the taped-up handwritten sign said to use the Pepsi ice dispenser, because the other one was broken. I didn't think it mattered, because I don't put in much ice anyway. But apparently that ice is what makes the soda come out of the fountain at such a chilly temperature.

I got in line behind the two soda swillers, and set down my Polar Pop. Handed the guy my $30 and $10 winners I was cashing in. I stepped over by the lottery ticket display that sits on the floor, leaning against the counter by the left-side register. I told the older clerk guy my ticket selection. I've never seen him working there before. He was being all cheery, saying, "Here she is, the luckiest person to come in here today."

I thought he was referring to my winners. That nobody else had cashed any in. Then I decided that he was saying I was going to buy a winner. You know. Hedging his bets in case it was a big jackpot, so I'd remember to give him a cut in appreciation. I resisted the urge to tell him that I had just lost a bundle at the casino, so obviously I wasn't THAT LUCKY!

Back over to the right register, to pay for my soda and get my change back. I always pay separately for my magical elixir. No lottery money involved. Orb K has a little slide thing hooked onto their cash register, for the coins to come down and land in a round cup part at the end. Their 44 oz sodas are 83 cents. I picked up my coins, thanked the guy, and he said

"Now you have a couple of pennies to scratch your tickets."

At that moment, as I turned to leave, I looked down and saw TWO PENNIES!

"Yeah. And I just found two more! I consider them good luck. So I'm keeping them."

Uh huh. Val isn't donating her pennies from heaven to the TAKE ONE coin cup any more!

There they are, posed in all their shiny glory on the console of dirty, dirty T-Hoe. One is 1989, and the other is 2012. No meaning for me in those years.

Funny how just the day before, I was whining about not finding any pennies...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Might Hick Be Planning a New Shack?

Hick might be planning a new structure for Shackytown! He hasn't said as much, but he's been outside working an awful lot lately. AND he sent me a picture of his latest Goodwill purchase.

Yeah! Hick sent me a PICTURE of two pictures! If Kramer hadn't beat him to it, I'm pretty sure he could have come up with the idea of a coffee table book about coffee tables. Or maybe a coffee cup that looks like a coffee table. Or a coffee table that looks like a coffee cup. Hey! He might still have a shot at it!

I am seriously hoping that Hick did NOT try to bargain his way down on the price of this art with those selfless folks who run Goodwill. You KNOW who I'm talkin' about! I wouldn't want the CEO of Goodwill to find it necessary to switch from Beluga Caviar to L'Osage Caviar.

I don't know anything about caviar. Or art. Hick says these are oil paintings. I'll take his word for it, since he spirited them away somewhere, and they are not sitting in the driveway propped up against the tire of the 2002 Chevy Trailblazer that used to belong to my mom. Though I think this picture was actually taken on the parking lot of Goodwill.

For all I know, these could be paint-by-number. Or done with the step-by-step instructions of the "happy clouds" guy Bob Ross. My sister the ex-mayor's wife did a little painting like that. Or at an art class out at the local junior college. And it's surprisingly painting-like. Breathtaking, some might term it. Hers is a shed and fence in the snow. And believe you me, if there's anyone who's definitely not an artist, it's Sis. And Hick. Trust me, if you're playing Pictionary, you'd be better off picking Mr. Peepers from SNL.

Anyhoo...Hick might be planning a Shackytown Louver. Yeah. That's what he might call it. And put in louvered doors and louvered windows. So his paintings don't get too oily, maybe, if he provides a cross breeze.

This is not an official announcement. So don't go ordering your tickets just yet. I'm sure Hick will be adding more to his collection before the possible project is complete.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Val and The Pony Get Goosed by The Universe

I haven't found a penny since July 20.

Does that mean my life is not on track? Why can I find four pennies in one day back in June, on three different parking lots, and more recently, find a penny on four out of five consecutive days...yet for ten days now, I can't BUY a penny? What's up with that? Am I headed in the wrong direction? Missing important signs along the highway of life? Do I need to make a U-turn? Take the first off ramp?

Yeah. I was starting to doubt myself. No pennies. No lottery luck. No signs from The Universe that jibed with life as I was living it. Then several days ago, I won $140 on scratch-off tickets. Put part of that back in, and won $105. Put part of that back in, won $120. And today, when I put part of that back in, I won $140 again. Don't go thinking that Val is getting rich. She still puts a lot of her winnings back into tickets. But she's a little ahead this week, after a semi dry spell for winnings.

Yesterday and today, I got back two fives instead a ten in my change at two different stores. That's always a good sign for The Five Dollar Daughter. So I've been looking all over the place for pennies. But none are revealing themselves to me.

Being on track in life is not just about monetary gains. Or pennies from heaven. It's about connections.

You know how Serendipity likes to cut up every now and then? Throw a curve ball that has Val whiffing, then serve up a big fat beach ball right over the plate?

I was sitting here at New Delly in my dark basement lair, wondering about a topic to bore you with. Since I couldn't come up with anything, I signed out and went to my super-secret blog. I read a couple of comments. Had a good reply percolating for one of them. Opened up the COMMENTS box...and my phone buzzed with a text.

It was The Pony. Hick is in Oklahoma helping him move, and had texted me earlier that they were going out for supper. Here's the picture The Pony texted me, right as I was getting ready to answer my comment.

The Pony said, "Geese just stopped traffic!"

You know what that blog comment on the tip of my brain reply was going to be?

"Good thing you're not a GOOSE!"

Yeah. For anyone Genius who says, "Pics or it didn't happen," you've seen the pics. So here's a link to that post and my comments.

I might just be on track after all. Silly coincidences.