Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Snorage Wars

Let the record show that Val has been a bit under-the-weather with a virus wafted over her face by Hick's breather. I'm sure that was how I contracted it. I am not around people, save a handful each day in assorted convenience stores. I know not to touch my face after I've been out, until my hands are washed. I veer away from coughing people, or hold my breath until their germs have settled.

I even avoided the Hickovirus when he was at his most contagious, starting on Friday, November 2nd. I made sure I wasn't in the path of his exhalations. Was careful of sanitizing my hands after touching the remote beside the La-Z-Boy, and sink faucets, and the handle of FRIG II. I'm virtually a one-woman staff of my own Center for Disease Control. I stop short of manufacturing my own vaccines, though.

So, with Hick not admitting to feeling much better, but sounding like he was knock-knock-knockin' on death's door, then turning the corner...I felt like I was home free. Surely a man can't be contagious for 8 days. Well. Hick is no regular man.

I started feeling not-so-great on Friday. Chills. A little pain in my right lung and right ear. The side exposed to His Royal Hickness in the marriage bed. I can only surmise that Hick's potent virus got into his breather, which he hasn't been cleaning since he didn't feel good, and set up shop inside. To waft out at night, upon Hick's expelled breath, to invade my orifices and mucous membranes.

Anyhoo...I've had much worse sicknesses. But I dared to mention to Hick, "I don't feel very good today." And that just-escaped-the-Grim-Reaper's-clutches Hick had the nerve to say, "Huh. You just have a cold."

It's hard to sleep with congestion. It's harder to sleep with a big bulky man-arm shoved up under your pillows. Leave it to Hick to choose this trying time to burrow under my nearly-nodding noggin. Sometimes, he's tricky about it. I returned from the bathroom, having consumed extra fluids all day and evening to combat my sickness, and settled in for two more hours sleep before I had to arise and prepare for a routine 6-month office visit to keep my prescription train running.

Ahh...under the warm quilt with added blanket on top. My pillows just right. I was drifting, drifting...


WHAT in the infernal Not-Heaven WAS that?

Oh. Just Hick, scratching at the underside of my pillow. As much as I'd like to give him credit for being an evil mastermind, I cannot. He's always done this crap. Some people tap their fingers, jiggle their leg, crack their knuckles. Hick scratches whatever is handy. Like the bottom of the table beside the La-Z-Boy. I don't know why. He denies that he does it.

When Hick pulls this stunt when I'm sleeping, I've been known to reach my hand back over my shoulder, grab his wrist, and get downright indignant about it. This time, I didn't have the strength. I was almost in dreamland when I snapped awake in a nightmare.

"Get your hand out from under my pillow!"

I didn't shout. But it was my stern teacher-voice. The scratching stopped momentarily. Started again. Then stopped. I can only guess that Hick fell into a deeper sleep and accidentally stopped tormenting me.

When the alarm went off for me to wake up, Hick said, "You were talking in your sleep."

"No. I knew exactly what I was saying. I told you to get your hand out from under my pillows."

"I didn't have my hand under your pillows."

Hick needs a framed needlepoint that reads: "Lying Doesn't Make It So."

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Four Faces of Dr. O

See this?

No, it is NOT a giant persimmon from Australia! I normally think of this fruit as a tangerine, due to the size and ease of peeling the skin. The sign over it at Country Mart proclaimed this citrus delight to be a Clementine. I remember back when we had a librarian who harped and harped about it being "Clementine Season," and I wondered what in the Not-Heaven she was talking about.

Then I saw those commercials with the evil kids wanting revenge on their parents for taking their "Cuties." Which appeared to be...well...tangerines!

The label on the bag makes no mention of Clementines, tangerines, or Cuties.

Hmm...looks like this fruit is a Mandarin Orange!

Whatever you want to call it, I find it delicious. Had two of them for lunch. Uh huh. Nothing dainty or upper-crust about Val. She will jam miniature oranges into her face as she sees fit. And she also eats meat, watches TV (REALITY TV), and doesn't think she's better than those who don't. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I don't normally buy these treats. I was looking for vitamin C. The price on the 3 lb bag of oranges was prohibitive. The price on the 2 lb bag of tangerine/Clementine/Cutie/Mandarins was less. Not that Val is a pauper, mind you. But a lot of a regular orange is that thick skin with the bitter white stuff on the inside, so I might have paid for 3 lb of oranges, yet only gotten 2 lb of the edible portion.

Anyhoo...since Hick has by intention or happy accident infected me with his death-La-Z-Boy cold...I was looking for a natural remedy that might speed up my recovery. Lots of water, and some vitamin C. That's my self-prescription.

On Monday, I'll see a regular doctor. Oops! I mean nurse practitioner. It's a routine 6-month appointment to get another 6 months of my thyroid and blood pressure meds. How convenient that my sickness fell within that time frame! It's hard to get in to see a doctor nurse practitioner when you're actually sick.

I hope I don't catch anything while I'm there!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Terror at 1.5 Feet!

Saturday, I held my 44 oz cup against the lever for the Diet Coke spigot at the Gas Station Chicken Store, and heard "Pfft! Pfft-pftt! PFFT!" Well. This ol' Val wasn't born yesterday! I know that the soda fountain makes that noise as it runs out of soda. Happened to me two weeks ago, when I got about 1/3 cup of Diet Coke, and then white foamy liquid. The Stern Old Lady clerk went to fix it, though, and tested it with a smaller cup, until it was right.

This time, a line of 5 people awaited the nice but new-and-slow clerk to ring up their gas purchases. I knew that I was not going to get special treatment from him. My heart pounding, instinct took over. I pulled my cup away, took one step to the right, and finished my last 30 oz at the Diet Pepsi spigot on the lesser soda fountain. I don't normally enjoy Diet Pepsi, but it was palatable, and better than going without, or making an extra stop.

Even better, the Man Owner came out of nowhere (nowhere most likely being the back room), and opened the second register, right when I was next in line. Because he's always so congenial, I shared the information that I had sucked his spigot dry. Or at least relieved it of all Diet Coke. And Man Owner said, "I'm not going to charge you for the soda."


I thanked him, but insisted on paying. "I already have my correct change ready! It's no big deal. You don't have to do that."

"Well...I'll catch you next time."

He's a class act, that Man Owner. As I type this, I am enjoying my 44 oz Diet Coke-Pepsi mixed with sugar free cherry limeade powder. It couldn't be any sweeter if it was free. It's the thought that counts.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Scream a Song of OnePence

Whew! I narrowly avoided another shut-out this week in my Future Pennyillionaire quest.

On MONDAY, November 5th, I was leaving Orb K feeling dejected. Rejected. Summarily dismissed without a penny! But right by the door, a fine specimen stood up and screamed to be found.

Seriously! How could I doubt that this penny was meant just for me? Not merely lolling on the questionably-maintained tile, nearly camouflaged...but shining brightly, all propped up to be noticed, between me and the exit door!

Yes, there it was, leaning against the donut case. It couldn't have been more obvious unless I was a daily donut-buyer!

Of course this cheeky little penny was showing me his TAIL side, but I'm not picky! I photographed this 2015 beauty, and pocketed him like he had proper manners! One more drop towards filling my goblet.

For 2018: This was Penny # 114.
For 2018: Dimes still at   # 15.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.
For 2018: Quarter still at #1.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 192.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 21.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Quarter #1.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Hick Swove a Few Miles For a Camel

Hick spent $2 at the auction Wednesday night. I'm not sure why. Here are his purchases.

He bought a family of unknown people, which he thinks are over 100 years old. He said there are 12 pictures, probably from the 1800s. I can't vouch for Hick-dating. I'm pretty sure it's not as accurate as carbon-dating.

I don't know why Hick would want these pictures. He can't sell them, unless a lightning-strike PowerBall-jackpot of a coincidence brings the relatives to shop at Hick's Storage Unit Store. I guess he just likes old things.

The other purchase included in his $2 was a card/dice game.

Obviously, it's associated with the Camel cigarette brand, because that's Joe Camel's picture on the cards. I tried to find out more, but didn't see this blue version. It's not expensive, according to Google. The year that kept popping up was 1992. But I never did see this color of the packaging. Let the record show that it was NOT an extensive search. I lost interest after a couple of minutes. Versions that looked older than this one were going for $17 or $24 at the highest, and some were $5. This one almost looks like a foreign knockoff, because it's not immediately recognized as the camel on the cigarette pack.

I'm really hoping Hick already has a themed shed that this will fit in, and that it does not require new construction. I'm going to recommend his Little Barbershop of Horrors.

Hick says the blue is the BACK OF THE BOX, and the front does, indeed, look like a white pack of Camel cigarettes. He plans to put it with his "smoke" stuff in...I was right...The Little Barbershop of Horrors. Of course Hick sent me a picture of the back of the box of cards. I guess I was supposed to know that, from his attitude of, "Yeah. White. The FRONT of the box is white."

Hick says people buy old pictures like crazy. CRAZY! That they'll pay $2-$3 apiece for the pictures, of which he has 12 or 13. So he plans to sell them.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Val is Probably on the Naughty List

Hey, remember the whole "Pam called Santa" debacle? I know I do! Even Steven is poking the bear Val. Tuesday evening, as soon as I sat down on the short couch to talk to Hick about the day's activities, his phone rang. Hick's phone. Not Even Steven's. I don't think Even Steven even has a phone. But wouldn't it be handy to have him on speed dial? Oh. Wait. Maybe there's no such thing as speed dial any more.

Anyhoo...Hick of course ignored me in mid-sentence, and turned his attention to his phone. He answered, even though he said he didn't recognize the number, with an area code from the city.

"Huh. That was the gal at the costume store. Calling to say they have looked for a one-piece Santa beard, and couldn't find any. I know I gave her my number, but I'm surprised she bothered to call and tell me they can't get what I'm looking for."

AHA! I was RIGHT in questioning Hick about his mysterious phone call at the casino as we were leaving! (Because that call MIGHT have been the costume store, calling about the wig/beard, necessitating a trip back to the store.) But I didn't bring up that unfortunate event. No need for me to poke the bear Hick. I'm not as obvious as Even Steven. Revenge doesn't have to be served cold to be the best dish. However, it's pretty tasty lukewarm after a few days.

Actually, my revenge dish was handed to me on a platter. Let the record show that Hick loves hot dogs. I can hardly keep them in the house. I might have a pack lolling around in FRIG II, to prepare Hick's chili dogs, or put in homemade Beanie Weenies, or wrap in biscuits, or submerge in sauerkraut, or slice down the middle and fry for a sandwich...but that pack dwindles when I least expect it. Hick either scams them for his lunch if he's home, or treats them as a late-night snack after the auction. Because he never tells me of his hot dog plans, I don't know when to buy them.

Let the record also show that Hick NEVER throws anything out. Even foods that he alone consumes, like pepper jack cheese, and bananas, and chicken tenders from the Walmart deli. They will sit until they mold, turn black, or dry up to dust.

Tuesday evening, I was preparing Hick's requested supper of smoked sausage sliced lengthwise, fried, with onions and pickles (and sometimes mustard) on a steak roll. I've had the steak rolls for about a week, keeping them in FRIG II, for freshness, because we don't use them all at once. Earlier that day, I'd been shopping, and cleaned out the bread pantry as I put a new pack of hot dog buns in there. Throwing away the old buns, and some Hawaiian Rolls that had been in the freezer until last week, from Hick's class reunion leftovers.

The Hawaiian Rolls looked fine, but they were dated October 4, and even though frozen before then, had been thawed out for at least a week. The dogs loved them. The hot dog buns went straight in the trash. There was a layer of mold on top. Let the record gleefully sadly show that Hick ate hot dogs for lunch on Monday.

"Hey! I'm putting your sausage on a steak roll. I got new hot dog buns, though. The others were moldy so I threw them out."

I swear, I heard the GULP in Hick's throat all the way across the living room and kitchen.

"They were moldy?"

"Uh huh. All across the top. There were only two left. I didn't even give them to the dogs. Just threw them away. I don't think mold is good for dogs."

"Huh. I just ate two of them yesterday...and...they weren't moldy."

"Maybe not. But they sure were today!"

Hick has a mold phobia. Especially about moldy bread. He's always searching through a loaf, to make sure it's okay. I don't know if he ate mold as a child, or what his deal is. But he fears that bready mold as much as he fears hairless baby mice in the pockets of his coveralls.

Hick didn't really have any reason to know that the buns in the pack he ate from the day before were covered with mold the very next day. But I made sure he did.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

T-Hoe, in Backroads, With a Shower of Shrapnel

Seems that I've been taking my life in my hands since 2016! Every time I hopped into T-Hoe for a ride to town for those delicious Diet Cokes. And I didn't even know it until last Thursday.

The beginning of the month is when we get updates on our vehicles, through OnStar. Yes, we still have that service, even though it's virtually obsolete these days, what with everyone having a cell phone for emergencies and tracking purposes. Because that's all it is, I'm sure. Just another method of tracking people, and pulling the kill switch when that vehicle needs to be stopped. We won't go down my conspiracy rabbit trail today, though.

Anyhoo...I got home from town on Thursday, and fired up New Delly (another tracking device!), and saw T-Hoe's OnStar Diagnostic Report. Huh. The air in three tires was lower than recommended. "Surprise, surprise," said no one EVER, who is familiar with Hick's theory of tire inflation. Those little warnings show up as a yellow triangle, notifying you that attention is needed. The oil life was 71%. The mileage was 116,565. Not too bad for a 2008 Tahoe. But there was a NEW notification. A RED STOP SIGN!

Of course I clicked on it for more information.

GM Recall # 2049152

Date Issued: May 27, 2016

Recall Title: Passenger Airbag Inflators

Recall Description:

Takata Corporation (“Takata”) has decided that a defect which relates to motor vehicle safety exists in certain 2007-2008 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado 1500, Suburban, Tahoe, GMC Sierra 1500, Yukon, and Yukon XL vehicles. This is based upon Takata’s decision that front passenger airbag inflators it supplied to GM are defective. GM has submitted to NHTSA a Petition for Inconsequentiality and NHTSA has granted GM until August 2017 to complete its investigation and to submit all data supporting the petition. If the petition is denied, GM will conduct a recall of the airbag inflators covered by Takata’s defect information report. For more information visit www.regulations.gov and search for Docket No. NHTSA-2016-0124.

Safety Risk Description:

The propellant in some types of Takata airbag inflators can degrade over time, especially after long term exposure in hot and humid regions. If the propellant degrades to a certain level, the inflators may rupture during deployment, causing serious or fatal injuries.

Repair Description:

The necessity of a remedy is dependent upon NHTSA’s decision on GM’s Petition for Inconsequentiality. Additional information will be available following that decision. In the meantime, you can also check the status of this recall at my.gm.com/recalls. GM considers your vehicle safe to drive.


Seriously! T-Hoe has a recall notice, that came out in 2016, and this is the first I'm hearing about it? That's messed up! We usually get recall notices by mail, and Hick either schedules the repairs, or says it won't matter. So...I clicked for more information, thanks to directions included after the RECALL STATUS.

My vehicle has a recall, and the status reads: “INCOMPLETE. REMEDY NOT YET AVAILABLE”

What do I do next?

GM is working quickly to finalize the necessary repair procedures and/or obtain parts. You will be notified via written communication when the repair procedure or parts are available. You can also check back at this website or with your preferred Certified Service Dealer.

At General Motors, we’re committed to your safety. As part of that commitment, this website can help you understand the Takata airbag recall and what you should do if your vehicle is affected.

There have been a number of recalls initiated by GM and other manufacturers relating to Takata airbag inflators. Takata has advised the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the vehicle manufacturers that without a chemical drying agent, prolonged exposure to heat and humidity can degrade the chemical propellant used in the airbag inflators. In time, if the propellant degrades to a certain level, the inflator may rupture when the airbag deploys during a crash event. If this happens, sharp metal fragments could pass through the airbag, striking you or your loved ones, causing serious or fatal injuries.

GM has announced various Safety Recalls involving Takata airbag inflators in a number of GM vehicles. Reference the charts below to see if your vehicle is involved in the Takata airbag recall. You can also call us at 1-866-467-9700 if you have any questions. We’re here to help!

Well! It told me right there in the OnStar Diagnostic Report that my vehicle IS involved in the recall. This notice showing up for the first time in November 2018. Not seen before, any time, any method, since the original recall in May 2016. I'm pretty sure those phone-answerers (CYA specialists) at that phone number are not going to be in a big giant hurry to FIX MY T-HOE. Since right now, "GM considers your vehicle safe to drive."

I don't know why they'd send out these notices so suddenly (after two years) if the vehicle is safe to drive. Either it is, or it isn't. A legal settlement with the air bag maker isn't really what determines when it becomes dangerous...

I haven't even told Hick yet. So if I'm suddenly absent from the innernets, you'll know that T-Hoe's air bag has fatally fragged me with sharp metal.

Alternate Title: T-Hoe: A Menace To Survive-ity

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Voting, Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Val sprang out of bed early today, at the crack of 8:45, to get ready to vote. Actually, her alarm didn't go off. Her alarm, which was Hick. Supposed to wake her at 8:00, to get ready and leave at 9:00. Val plans, Hick laughs.

Anyhoo...Hick swove T-Hoe along the back roads to the church. Seriously. The main county road takes you right there. But Hick has to meander along backer back roads than a blacktop county highway. We even drove swove through an overflowing creek on a low-water bridge. I'm pretty sure that Hick's route didn't save us any time. Not that we're on a schedule.

The parking lot was full, except for two spaces at the back. We made our way into the church. It's our designated polling place. Whatever happened to separation of church and state, huh? We don't know anybody who attends this church, and it's about four miles farther out of town than we live. But hey! It's our designated polling place, so we don't really have any recourse. No early voting in Missouri, either. Here's a picture from dreary 2016.

Today was bright and sunny, though, after pouring rain yesterday. I eschewed the old-lady-mover and hobbled my way down the six steps to reach the basement voting area. I assume the old-lady-mover works, but we DID pass a man with a cane walking up after voting. Or maybe he, too, eschewed the old-lady-mover, but for different reasons. My own reason being that I don't want to end up like Mrs. Deagle in Gremlins. Here's picture of those stairs.

That's camera-hog Hick creeping into the frame. We were about 3rd and 4th in line. No giant paper voters' books this time. Technology has come to Backroads! We had to fork over our driver's license, which was laid on a little shelf on a notebook-looking-thingy on a platform. It popped up our name and address, which we verified, then signed with a rubber-tipped yellow miniature-pen-looking thingy.

One poor guy got denied. He had to step out of line so they could investigate why he wasn't in the system. He said he was registered to vote, and they thought he might be designated to a different county. Anyhoo...I never heard what happened to his voting rights, because I was too busy pussy-footing around full tables of legal voters to care. It was a full house in that church basement.

Hick passed me at a good clip, and I thought I'd follow him around the corner where he disappeared, because maybe he knew about a secret room with more space. We've never gone together to vote before. However, I soon discovered that Hick had disappeared into the RESTROOM, so I laid my ballot on the top chair of a stack of five, and commenced to voting. There were three of those stand-up voting platforms, but they were in use. No curtains on the back of them, either. It's not like you get any privacy at this polling place. We are herded like cattle into the open room, to sit elbow-to-elbow at tables, ruminating on our choices.

There were two seats all the way across the room, back by where we came in, but I didn't think I could squeeze between all the chairs and round tables between me and them. Besides, the couple who came in after us, with their FIVE KIDS, passed me and headed in that direction. Hick himself came out of the bathroom and squoze into a tight spot at the long table by where I was chair-stack voting.

We finished about the same time, but I was first to shove my ballot (FACE UP) into the scanner. Nobody was manning the scanner, which is unusual for this place. It was self-serve today. Maybe one of the old ladies didn't show up for her unpaid job. Maybe her hair was too blue, and she might have been banned for electioneering.

When we returned our voting ballpoint pens, we were rewarded with a sticker. I slapped mine on, not because I'm some weirdo who wants to wear it all day, but because that little old lady was handing them out with the backing already peeled off! Who does that? Rather than carry a sticky sticker, I slapped it on. I don't know what Hick did with his. Refusing the sticker would have seemed unAmerican!

On the way home, we passed a long driveway, where a man was unloading stuff from a big Gator-like vehicle, and stacking it by his trash. That means the stuff is available for the taking, you know! Of course Hick had his eye on it. I watched as the guy carried a heavy sink and set it down.

"I don't know what I'd do with the sink. But that's a really nice door. When we get home, I'm going to get the truck, and come back for that door!"

That's our Hick.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Live and Learn With the Sot-ical Son

Now that Genius is gainfully employed, living the dream in KC and commuting to Kansas every day...we barely hear from him. Once or twice, he's called me on his drive home, just to chat. Like Friday evening. According to Genius, he calls me every Friday on his way home. I suggested that he check his phone records.

"Uh. Try once or twice. I'm not mad or anything. You have your own life. But it's NOT every Friday! Check your call record. You'll see. How did you like your Halloween package."

"I liked it."

"Did you win anything on your scratchers?"

"I think. Friend and I cashed in about $50 worth last week, but I think only $30 of it got won on the tickets you sent for Halloween."

"It all went straight to alcohol, didn't it?"

"Actually...it DID! We were getting kind of low in our bar."

"I was going to ask you about that. Because the last time you called me, and were in a hurry to get me off the phone so you could 'go buy liquor,' I thought, 'NO WAY! That kid always has liquor in his apartment! He has a freakin' BAR!'"

"Oh. I think Friend and I were having people over for dinner that night, and I needed to get something for drinks."

"At the time, you told me that Friend was halfway across the country for work, and you were mad because you left your Chinese leftovers lunch at work, having gone out to eat, and now wanting those leftovers for your supper!"

"Huh. Yeah. That's right..."

"I remember thinking at the time, surely you had some kind of alcohol in the apartment. Even if it was just a garbage bag of prison hooch marinating under the sink. You could jab a straw in it and drink some!"

"Heh, heh! Talking about bags...you know how people get the bag wine for parties, in the box? Well, the way my friends do it is to throw away the box, and just walk around with the bag on a stick. And then people walk up and drink the wine right out of the bag."

"Like on a hobo stick, slung over your shoulder?"

"No. More like on a staff. Nobody wants to carry around a bag of wine at a party."

"I guess not."

And thus concluded Genius's words of wisdom for serving party alcohol. He should know. He's still counting on his college liver. Not that I would term him a sot. But he does enjoy his alcohol.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Val's Smokin' Hot Casino Adventure (Part 2)

After sharing my tasteless casino burger with you (I'm a giver like that), and revealing how I got smoked by a little old lady at QuickHits, in Part 1 of this adventure...it's time to get to the HOT portion.

Before you get all excited, let the record show that the meaning of HOT we're dealing with in Part 2 is the HOT under the collar type. It could refer to Hick, a well-known (as revealed here!) hot-head, or Val herself, who, contrary to the opinion of her best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel's mom, is NOT actually a regular Mother Teresa. Today, it refers to both.

You may recall that this casino visit happened as a dual mission with finding Hick a Santa beard and wig. He already has them, but wants a different version, because the kids pull the others away from his face.

"Well! I'd slap their hands, tell them to stop it, and say, 'Ho Ho! Now you're on the naughty list!'"

"Val. Some of them are babies."

"Never to young to learn manners!"

Anyhoo...Hick had forgotten the name of the store he'd seen a one-piece wig/beard combo in a few years back. And he also forgot what that style of wig/beard was called. He couldn't find it online. So I spent 90 minutes trying to look up "one piece Santa wig beard." As you might imagine, I had limited success. I printed out three versions, and found the address of a party supply store in the city where he said he found one earlier.

Let the record further show that Hick, in a last-minute conversation about auctions, on a call from a buddy a few minutes before we left, blurted out the name of that store he'd been trying to remember for several days. "We're headed to the city to look for a beard at Carnival Supply." So my hard work was negated, as he did not even stop at the store I'd found an address for.

It was not a big deal to me at the time, because Hick was dropping me off at the casino before he continued on his Santa-wig-beard mission. When he returned to the casino, over a lunch of sawdust burger (me) and palatable human food (him), Hick revealed that he had not found a wig/beard in either of the two stores he looked. We discussed the leaving time, which had originally been 2:30, to avoid rush hour traffic. Hick's wig/beard shopping had taken longer than expected, so he said 3:00 would be fine.

"It's not like I'm going to take the highway. I got stuck in three accidents on my way back here from the costume shop."

"Well. It IS raining. You know what that does to traffic." Indeed. Hick spent a lifetime of worktime traveling those highways, and I did a three-year stint of it as well.

Flash forward to casino-leaving time. We always meet up front by the door, and walk to the car together. It's not a short walk. About 1/3 mile, proclaims my Garmin You're-Not-Fit Bit.

I timed my bathrooming and ticket-cashing to put me at the door exactly at 3:00. Hick was there, sitting on a stool that had been removed from a slot, and parked at the end of a slot row, facing the main aisle and some vacant gaming tables. I have no idea if Hick did this himself, or became a squatter on a stool already there. He was looking at his phone. Barely looked up at me when I told him I was ready. Meaning that I had already cashed out, and prepared my bladder for his two-hour drive home on back roads, stopping at Goodwills.

"Okay. I'm ready."

"Ya. Just a minute." Hick continued tapping at his phone.

"Who's that?"

"Pam called Santa."

Huh. That certainly cleared things up. NOT. Hick continued tapping.

"What's that mean?"

No answer. Val is not a good stander. In fact, she can't stand standing! She'd rather walk 1/3 mile alone out of casino rather than stand for 60 seconds. Standing is not knee-friendly. With Hick ensconced on his purloined stool, I didn't know how long this mystery texting might take. So I crossed the main aisle, a space of about 10 feet, and leaned on a stool-back from a gaming table. They were high stools, so I couldn't sit down. Hick was on a low stool from the slots.

I was just leaning there, not really in any kind of mood, just wishing he would hurry so we could get walking. Then Hick came to my stool. His demeanor went south faster than us in A-Cad. "Let's go."

"Okay. What was all that about?"

"I told you. Pam called Santa."

"What does that even mean?" Had Hick talked to a clerk named Pam about ordering a Santa wig beard? Had she found one in the store? Were we going back to get it? I was clueless.

"PAM CALLED SANTA! I don't know what you want me to tell you!"

"Maybe a little more than just yelling the same words louder. I have no idea what you're talking about."

That put Hick in a huff. He can't stand it when somebody can't read his mind, no matter how many times he repeats the same words over and over. He yelled at me for walking off while he was texting, even though I was in plain sight, 10 feet away, waiting. He refused to talk for the entire walk to A-Cad. And the drive off the casino lot. And through several stoplights. I don't know a lot about directions in the city, but I was pretty sure Hick missed his turn onto the road he usually takes to the first Goodwill.

Even though I was by now in a huff myself, I didn't want Hick to miss his Goodwills.

"Aren't you going to Goodwill?"


"That was the plan. Goodwills. You were going to take the back roads, to Goodwills."

"I'm taking the highway."

"But you didn't want to take the highway. Because of rush hour. And the rain. And accidents."

"It's 3:00. Rush hour will be at 3:30."

"Well, I don't want you to take the highway. It's a mess. Because of the rain."

Silence. A passive-aggressive silence. I'm sure you know what I mean. Hick was punishing me by denying himself several Goodwills.

"Okay. Go ahead and pout. But when you kill me in a wreck, you're going to feel pretty bad."


"Or not..."

As luck would have it, we came upon a wreck, just as we turned off the double-numbered highway onto our odd-numbered highway. We had to sit and wait until we could merge into the single lane, with a highway patrolman directing traffic around a car-hauling truck that had crashed off the right side of the road, and was sitting all tilted, front-end mangled, with its double-decker load of new cars still on the trailer.

I guess my joy at being validated by a wreck was dashed by the fact that we were not actually involved. So I couldn't pound that nail into Hick's pouty coffin.

After that incident, Hick loosened up a little bit, and after more grilling, revealed that Pam was the lady in charge of his annual breakfast with Santa for pre-schoolers, and had called to confirm the date. Like I would know that. Since her name used to be Caroline, until she retired.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Val is PENCEd Off!

A blow was struck by Even Steven, on Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune this week, when she found absolutely NO coins in her broad travels to convenience stores, supermarkets, post offices, and a casino.

Okay. The Truth in Blogging Law requires me to modify that statement. Like an airport rental car company TAKING a reservation, but not HOLDING a reservation...Val FOUND a coin, but was unable to PROCURE that coin for her collection.

See it there? Up under the Bubblicious? I saw it, too, when I came in the door. I knew it was a quarter, and I was dead-set on snatching it for my collection. The ravages of time, however, in concert with Val's dedication to never feeling a hunger pang...prevented me from picking it up.

Not for a lack of effort, though. That's probably the most strenuous workout I've had in decades. I bent over numerous times. Tried to stick my toe under there like I was doing the Hokey Pokey. Squatted almost as deep as a Sumo wrestler. Extended my arms like an overworked Stretch Armstrong. Tried everything short of KNEEling. All to no avail.

If only I'd carried in my wooden backscratcher, jammed in the passenger seat-back pocket of T-Hoe, slung over my shoulder by two tied-together rawhide shoestrings...this quarter would have been MINE! I was nearly beside myself with regret, after getting the photo while that same nice ALTHOUGH QUITE SLOW AND VIRTUALLY INCOMPETENT young lady scanned my two winning scratchers, announcing each amount individually. I could see George Washington laying there face-up, but I couldn't reach him.


For 2018: Pennies still at  # 113.
For 2018: Dimes still at   # 15.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.
For 2018: Quarter still at #1.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Penny # 191.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 21.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Quarter #1.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Val's Smokin' Hot Casino Adventure (Part 1)

Thursday, I went along with Hick to the city, to look for a Santa wig and beard. Because, you know, the 90 minutes I spent on the internet searching for him was not sufficient.

Oh, I didn't actually go inside any stores to look. Hick dropped me off at our old favorite casino, where he has been going alone on Thursdays, after his Goodwill tour, to get a weekly comp of a $15 Walmart gift card. Yeah. I understand that he gambles more than $15 while picking up the card. Anyhoo...I have the same comp, so I figured I'd ride along this time, purely to give Hick my gift card. I'm selfless like that.

First cat out of the bag, let me reveal that I did NOT leave a winner. In fact, it was worse than my last outing last week at our NEW favorite casino. This time, I lost $20 more than half the money I took to lose. Still...I didn't leave empty-handed. I guess a slow hemorrhage is better than a severed casino bankroll bleeding out.

Hick's costume shop was farther away than he thought, and he barely made it back to meet me for our designated lunch time of 1:15 at Burger Brothers. Which might have been just as well, because once again, they ruined my burger.

That is a well done burger, my friends. And I don't mean that as a compliment to the chef. I mean that my burger was cooked into a tasteless dry blob which no amount of ketchup or mustard could save. I had ordered it to be cooked "medium," as did Hick. His had juice dripping out, and the pinkish tint that signifies "medium."

"Can't they ever get my burger right? It's always THAT GUY! The same one, every time, who messes up my order!" DAHNA. That's his name! There on the receipt!"

"He doesn't cook it himself, Val. He just takes the order."

"Which gets messed up every time! Look. He also used my MYCASH for payment. After I specifically told him we were just using my $10 food comp, and then paying the rest."

"That's all right."

"Well, it wasn't YOURCASH that he used! Of course it was all right with you. That's $6.88 that I didn't want him taking! I could have used it as free play."

Yes, I was a little steamed about the burger. But that's not the smokin' hot part of Val's casino adventure.

I spent some time after lunch playing QuickHits. Specifically, QuickHits Riches, With Rising Multipliers. There are four machines in the row. An old man was playing the middle left, and an old woman was playing the middle right. They appeared to be together. The two slots on the ends were available. I took the one closest to me, on the right end, which put me sitting next to the old lady. I swear, within 30 seconds of me plopping my ample rumpus onto that stool, that little old lady fired up a cigarette!

Are you freakin' kidding me? Hasn't she heard of emphysema? The smoke wafted across my face, right under my nostrils. Seriously. You could see the trail of it as clearly as a Pepe Le Pew stink plume. She couldn't have calculated its placement better with a slide rule, a level, and a Lowe's wall stud finder Val nose finder. I coughed involuntarily. Waved the miasma away. But it came back each time Old Smokey puffed. I swear. You'd think she was doing it intentionally to drive me away...

But wait! I had hope. The Old Man stood up, and asked her what they should do, and she said, "Probably get more money." So her husband or clandestine lover or sugar daddy left for the cash machine. But Old Smokey didn't! I really wanted her machine. It's the one I like to play, and it had been busy earlier. I'd gotten a turn on the one the Old Man was using, but the people sitting on each side of it then had looked at me like I was a seasoned criminal leading a migrant caravan across their border. So I didn't stay long.

Anyhoo...Old Man returned and doled out some cash, and Old Smokey renewed her puffing like she was depending on that smoke to cure my flesh for later consumption in the dead of winter. I'm a stubborn ol' Val, though, and I refused to leave. I guess I showed HER! Though my lungs might beg to differ. I hit a couple bonuses on my last $20, and had to cash out (to cash in with my other tickets from earlier) rather than lose it back. Because it was time to meet Hick.

At least I didn't see a child gambling on her grandpa's knee this time...

PART 2 on Sunday. (Don't get excited. It's not all that great. It involves Hick.)

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Devil You Know

Technically, I suppose I'm talking to the collective "you" about the devil "I" know.

Let the record show that Hick has many good qualities, but he's no angel. He can be downright devilish at times, without even trying. I suppose it's just his innate devilishness.

This morning (and by that I mean around noon), I made a big pot of vegetable beef soup. It would be a waste of time to make a small pot, you know. After an hour of toil and trouble, the soup was complete. I sent off a text to Hick, whose last known whereabouts was Goodwill at 10:13 a.m., with a dental appointment coming up at 2:00 p.m.

"Do you want me to leave the soup out until after the dentist?"

"That's fine then I can have it before I go to auction"

"What time would you be eating it?"

"Around 3:00"

"Okay. I'll leave it out, and you can put it in FRIG II when you're done."

Soup has to cool down, of course, before you put it in FRIG II. Generally, I'll give it a 20-30 minute rest period. Not two hours. But I left it on the stove for Hick's convenience. It was enough inconvenience for him to dip his own bowl, and spoon it into his mouth.

I happened to have returned from town a few minutes before Hick ate his soup. I sat down on the short couch to fill him in on pertinent household details, such as his ophthalmologist bill ($14), the inability of Sis and Ex-Mayor to join us on a casino trip on Thursday (ear appointment and previous engagement), and a side dish for the soup (I cut the cheese).

Hick came from the kitchen to his La-Z-Boy, carrying his bowl of soup and a serving spoon. That's how he eats it, although he could use a fork, considering that he doesn't like the juice in soup, and dips it with a slotted spoon. This time, Hick had not piled his tower of soup over the top of the bowl. I guess he wasn't ravenous, because he also eschewed the cheese.

"Did you put the soup up?"

"No. It's on the stove."

"Oh. Are you going to have another bowl?"

"No. This is plenty."

"Well. I guess I'll go put it away. Since it's already been sitting out for two hours. And fifteen minutes."

See what he did there? Hick was obviously DONE with the soup, yet rather than put it away as commanded I instructed him earlier, he'd left it out. KNOWING that I would put it up for him.

Hick can be a real devil sometimes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The PowerBall Crackpot

Remember that PowerBall drawing Saturday night? The one for a rumored $750 million, which was downgraded to a mere $687 million? The drawing that was won by two people, from Iowa and New York? Yeah. That one.

You know I don't live in Iowa or New York. Nor have I visited Iowa (recently) or New York (ever). So it's pretty clear that such a fortune did not find its way into Val's casino bankroll.

Way back when I was still working, my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel and I both played the PowerBall. We each bought one ticket for each drawing. That's back when there were fewer numbers in the pot, and tickets only cost $1 each. Even a teacher can afford to spend $8 a month on PowerBall. Mabel and I had an agreement. We would split the jackpot if we won. No matter whose ticket was a winner.

Yes, I'm pretty sure that such a verbal agreement would not hold up in court. But Mabel and I both adhere to our promises. I would not have made such a deal with any other faculty member. Oh, we were free to buy an extra ticket if we had the urge, which was not part of the deal. Just so long as we designated which was which before the numbers were drawn. That's what I did, anyway, when the jackpot was large. I don't know if Mabel ever bought any extra tickets.

Anyhoo...every now and then, one of us would have some numbers come up. Of course we'd go to work and announce, "Well, I won the PowerBall last night!" Meaning, literally, that we'd won THE POWER BALL. One number, designated as the PowerBall. Yeah. We were all feisty like that. Remember, we were teachers. We had precious few outlets to kick up our heels. Back then, the PowerBall paid $2. Now, it pays $4.

Well...I'm here to announce to you that last Saturday, I won the PowerBall!

I was lucky enough to also have a few of the regular numbers. Three, in fact. Which paid me $100. My odds of winning that amount that way were 1 in 14,494.11, same as it is every drawing. That doesn't mean I'm going to start playing PowerBall again. I might buy a single ticket when the jackpot goes over $250 million.

I sent a picture of the ticket to my sister the ex-mayor's wife. I know how much she enjoys hearing about my winnings! I also told her the current drawing is only the standard $40 million, and I don't mess with such a low jackpot. To which she dryly replied, "I understand. Who would want to win only $40 million?" That Sis! Sometimes, she thinks she's funny.

Shh...I don't think we need to tell Mabel. I'm pretty sure we were done with that deal when the price went up to $2 a ticket. Or when Mabel retired before I did. Or when I won more than $2.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

How Many Devil's Handmaidens and Manservants Does It Take to Exchange a Pinwheel?


As you may recall, I was overcharged at Walmart on Sunday. On Monday, I packed up my troubles in an old kit bag overpriced pinwheels (and an empty pinwheel container showing the correct price) in a Walmart sack, and headed to The Devil's Playground to cause a stir.

I'm mad as Not-Heaven, and I'm not going to take it anymore! I've bitten the bullet eaten the onion that was the only good one in a bag of four, and tossed the three rotten ones off the back porch. Several times. Then quit buying onions from The Devil. I've also taken a loss on their rotten potatoes, and refused to buy bagged lettuce that was already showing brown spots with 4 days still to go before expiration. I told Hick I was NOT going to eat this $6 that I was overcharged on pinwheels! He fired me up like the crowd in The Legend of Billie Jean. Fair is fair!

Guarding the gates of The Devil's Playground was one of his Handmaidens. She was a bit long-in-the-tooth to be termed a "maiden," but at least she was a single-headed, two-legged, tailless version of Cerberus. She was actually quite polite, and also helpful. "You'll need to ask for a manager or a supervisor. The girls at the Customer Service desk won't be able to help you alone."

Lucky for me, only one other customer needed servicing, and he got his happy ending as I walked up. He nearly mowed me down in his haste to leave, but he DID apologize, in spite of his Millennialness. I think it helps when the Millennial has a little cowboy in him. Or is at least wearing one's boots.

The Devil's Handmaiden working the desk got all flustered. I told her as soon as she asked if she could help me, "Probably not. The lady at the door said I'd need a supervisor or a manager." The Devil's Manservant working beside her stepped over to help. And thus commenced the most ill-fated attempt to accomplish a mission since the Keystone Cops.

I tried to be helpful, pointing out the apparent wrong label, for SUBS, not PINWHEELS. And the package weight of 20 oz, not 5 oz. I'm pretty sure they finally understood that. At least the Manservant, who I noticed later had a badge proclaiming him to be a manager of some sort. They were quite polite, and seemed as if they truly wanted to solve my problem. Which was quickly becoming THEIR problem, since the register did not compute what they wanted to do, which was void the two $5.98 transactions, and replace them with two $2.98 transactions. Manservant knew what he was doing, but technology wouldn't let him do it.

While they were fiddling about and manhandling my pinwheels, a new Handmaiden showed up. Manservant asked her opinion, her being higher up The Devil's chain of command than he, and she agreed that he was handling matters correctly. She touched my shoulder (Val is not a touchy-feely person!!!) and said, "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I'm on my way over there now, and I'll check the shelves and make sure they know."

Manservant was pecking away at that cash register like Nick Burns, Your Company's Computer Guy, but without the attitude. THEN he pulled a CYA, and told his companion Handmaiden, "This works for me!" At which point he MADE IT RAIN!

By my calculations, I was due back six dollars plus tax. That's for the difference in two pinwheels at $5.98 each rather than the proper $2.98 each. I'm a virtual calculator, you know. My middle name might as well be CASIO, because I'm that SHARP, and I ain't no TEXAS instrument. Heh, heh, get it?

I think I was due a refund of $6.35. I have no idea how the Devil's Handmaidens and Manservant arrived at my refund of $9.70. But I'm TAKIN' IT!

I'm quite relieved that they didn't hand me $6.66 for my trouble.

Not only did I make a profit on the error of The Devil's ways, but my faith in his henchmen was strengthened. It was a good example of CUSTOMER SERVICE by that Manservant, who passed out the cash to placate me, even though the transaction didn't fit within the narrow confines of The Devil's policies.

Monday, October 29, 2018

How Conveeeeeenient!

Val's alter ego has been know to refer to Walmart as The Devil's Playground. It's a moniker that could be referring to their business practices, their customer service, their merchandise, the behavior of their customers, or the once-or-twice behavior of Val's then-young children, who were shown the error of their ways forthwith.

Yes, since Sam Walton kicked the bucket, I'm of the opinion that the person running Walmart is the devil in disguise. Not even in disguise! Just the plain old devil. My Sunday shopping experience did nothing to change my mind.

Let the record show that Val loves her Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheels from the Walmart Deli. She has them for lunch every day. A typical trip to Walmart garners her up to four lunches. Yeah. I don't care if they go a couple days past date. I just peel off the wilty lettuce. I've been buying these pinwheels for a long time. I am well aware of their price. $2.98. For that, you get four pinwheels, which are chicken and cheddar cheese, with (hopefully) a little strip of bacon, and a piece of romaine lettuce, wrapped in a flour tortilla spread with ranch dressing.

Sunday, I only picked up two pinwheels, because I had two still at home in FRIG II to eat first. When I wrote down the amount of my receipt in T-Hoe on the parking lot, I thought the total was a little high. So I looked over my receipt, trying to tell myself it was just the pack of AA batteries, and the 9-roll back of toilet paper, and the 3-pack of Puffs With Lotion that jacked up the total. THEN I noticed that my pinwheels were not on the receipt, but something listed as SUBS was. Nuh uh. I didn't buy SUBS. And the price was $5.98 EACH!

I was pretty mad, but not mad enough to load all my stuff back out of T-Hoe and into the cart and go back inside and stand in line at the service center. It was time for the after-church rush, and I wasn't in a mood for waiting in line to argue.

Well! I should have at least gotten out and looked in my bags in the back of T-Hoe. Because when I got home, I saw that indeed, my OLD pinwheels were marked with the right price, but the NEW ones were marked $5.98. In a very fishy manner.

Here's the old ones, the regular label:

Apparently, pinwheels cost the outrageous unit price of $9.54 per pound, which is not such a big deal when you're only buying five oz of them. You can see here that I have already sliced open my label for lunch, before I took the picture. Still, you can see the dates, the price, and the weight.

Compare that to Sunday's pinwheels:

Still unopened, their label says they cost $4.78 per pound. So you'd think they'd be cheaper, right? WRONG! Not when you're being charged for 20 oz !!! Seriously? In what world could those very same pinwheels in that very same package weigh 20 oz ?

I'm so mad! I'm stomping my foot right this very minute, and I swear, no kids better try to walk across my lawn and/or pull up campaign signs!

The checker had no way of knowing. She just scanned it as packaged. I've had this problem before, and noticed the $5.98 price before putting it in my cart. I asked a worker in the deli about it, why the shelf sticker said $2.98, and the product said $5.98. The only (unsatisfactory) answer I got was, "I guess they went up." At that point, I put it back on the shelf, and didn't buy that day. The next several shopping trips revealed the price to be back at $2.98, so I forgot about it.

Yes, the devil has ripped me off for $6 on those two packages of pinwheels. I'm going to eat my pinwheels, and not drag them across the county to visit the devil. But I AM going to take back my receipt and the washed-out empty packages, and demand to know why I was overcharged. Looks like somebody put the wrong label on the packages. How conveeeeeenient!

The devil shall rue the day he played fast and loose with Val's pinwheels.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Maybe I'll Make My Own Late-Night Infomercial

Once I settled down from the excitement of discovering my newly-found penny was STUCK TO A DIME, I set about finding a method to separate them. I couldn't read the dates. The penny's date side was stuck to the dime, and the dime was so dirty that I couldn't tell which side I was looking at.

I'd just put a Tupperware container in the sink to soak, filling it with water and a drop of hand soap that is currently Winter: Gentle Foaming Hand Soap. According to the side label, its fragrances include Fresh Pine, Snowy Citrus, and White Woods. (Maybe those are other versions of their soap, because I'm not sure what White Woods smell like.)

It's one of last year's Christmas presents from Sis, from Bath and Body Works. It comes out of the spout as foam. So little of it was in that Tupperware container the you couldn't even tell. I did it mainly to have the film of the food soak away from the sides of the container. I think that the food must have contained a mystery ingredient!

After 5 minutes, I went back to fish out my 11-cent combo, to see if I could discern the dates. WELL! I most certainly COULD! The coins were SHINING! They had separated. The gunk had come off!

Take a gander at those magnificent specimens! Like I mentioned yesterday, the penny was a 1991, and the dime was a 1999. Yet they look brand-new! Sorry about the blurry quality. My hand-me-down Genius phone has issues with the flash. But at least it has a lens over its camera, unlike my last Genius hand-me-down phone, which just had a hole there.

Anyhoo...I was thrilled with how they came out! If I only knew what the secret ingredient was, I could market this on late-night infomercial. You know, for all the hordes of people picking up pennies for their own Future Pennyillionaire collections. The quest, however, might be like that of the Amazon Rain Forest cure for cancer in that Sean Connery film Medicine Man. Hopefully, I wouldn't end up with an indelible blue mark on my forehead like Lorraine Bracco.

I considered all the ingredients from the meal that had been in the Tupperware container. It was noodles, mushrooms, peas, canned chicken breast, minced garlic, and shredded parmesan cheese, with some margarine and Alfredo Sauce. I'm betting it was the garlic...

I had a dark-looking nickel in my spending coins that I buy from Hick's collections found in storage units. I put it in the solution. Shockingly, it did NOT get any cleaner.

I guess my infomercial will have to wait.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Val Really Should Have Been More InCENTSed

Didn't find my first penny this week until WEDNESDAY, October 24th. That happens to be the birthday of my sister the ex-mayor's wife, but I don't give her any credit for my penny. Which I found at the counter of The Gas Station Chicken Store while waiting for an elderly man in sensible shoes to pay for his gas. He had stepped over to the side counter to use the card scanner.

This gave me the perfect opportunity to take my picture and snatch the penny. The Man Owner was standing near the second register, counting out his money. I suppose his wife was hogging the counting house and also the bread-and-honey. Anyhoo...I got the picture and put the penny in my shirt pocket.

It was a 1997. Face down, of course!

While I was standing there, perusing the latest taste-tempting treats they'd set upon the counter, having already mentally made my scratcher choices...a girl in hot pants walked in. Yeah, back in the 70s, we called them hot pants. I suppose in the 80s they became Daisy Dukes. Now they're just really short shorts. I only noticed because of her way of walking, kind of a flouncing gate, like she thought she was ALL THAT.

Imagine my surprise when the Sensibly-Shod Eldergentleman left, and Flouncy stepped right up to the counter, flinging her five one-dollar bills at Stern Old Clerk! Actually, Stern Old Clerk might have been even more surprised than I.

"Here's five dollars for my gas!" said Flouncy, forcing her limp currency at Old Lady Clerk.

"Oh. Uh. Did you already pump?"

"No. Not yet."

Well, you see, The Gas Station Chicken Store is old-school. You pump BEFORE you come in to pay. I guess Stern Old Clerk didn't feel like educating Flouncy, because she looked at her pump reader thingy, and said, "Okay, it's ready." Knowing full well that Flouncy would have been able to pump, whether she had paid yet or not. Flouncy flounced out, and Stern Old Clerk turned to me.

"I'm sorry about that."

"Oh, that's okay. Not your fault. It's these young whippersnappers these days!"

"Actually...well...I won't go into it."

Seems like all manner of whippersnappers give Stern Old Clerk reason to hold her tongue these days.

On FRIDAY, October 26th, I barely spotted a meant-for-me penny under the counter of the Casey's out by my bank. I almost didn't take it, but seeing as how this Casey's is high-drama, and two clerks were in the middle of a personal-business discussion...

I snapped a pic, then a closeup, while the gal was ringing up my gas and two scratchers.

I almost regretted this face-down 1991 Lincoln when my fingers came in contact. It was covered with grime, and felt heavier and thicker than normal. But I dropped it in my shirt pocket and made my getaway.

Once home, trying to see the dirtied date, I discovered the reason for this Abe's different-abled-ness.

He was piggybacking a dime!!! More details on their separation tomorrow.

For 2018: Penny  # 112, 113.
For 2018: Dime   # 15.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.
For 2018: Quarter still at #1.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 190, 191.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Dime # 21.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Quarter #1.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Benille Vanilli

Some days, I'm not really sure what Hick is telling me. That's how he talks, you know. And sometimes even emphasizes, "I'm just telling you!" Hick is one of those people who butt in, and continue to talk over somebody, not necessarily respecting organic pauses, or the give-and-take concept of a conversation. Most often when his conversation partner is Val.

I'd stopped by the BARn on Wednesday afternoon, because I saw Hick driving across the field, and I had a pair of tubey things for him. They're not as good as my original tubey thing, but I found them on Amazon and got them within two days. I'd show a picture, but Hick spirited them away forthwith to his Storage Unit Store.

Anyhoo...the minute I pulled T-Hoe into the field, Hick drove his TrailBlazer over in front of the BARn, and ran inside. Huh. That's a fine how-do-you-do! I hollered to see what he was up to. You never know. He might have been running to hide from me!

"Hey! What are you doing?"

"Going to get some oil."

Well. A couple days ago, I mentioned to Hick how T-Hoe is falling apart. His driver's side mirror doesn't fold in and out automatically anymore. I close up the mirrors to get in and out of the garage. Oh, I could make it with them out. But if Hick is ever going to spirit T-Hoe away while I'm still snoozing, I don't want the mirrors out.

Hick broke off the right one backing out a few years ago, after a short stop by the homestead for medicine when I was being rushed to the city hospital from the Backraods hospital in the back of an ambulance with multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. And when I was released three days later, he tried to tell me that a vehicle on the hospital parking lot hit it. Then confessed to his intended insurance scam. Which is neither here nor there, merely a rabbit trail to reveal why Hick was running for the oil. For T-Hoe's wonky side mirror.

Hick informed me that he was on his way to the Storage Unit Store. He showed me a picture of his wares (that I shared yesterday).

"Oh. You haven't sold your Grandfather Clock."

"No. I've had a lot of people look at it."

"I'm sure they're not planning on buying a big item when they stop by. Maybe with Christmas coming up, somebody might want it."

"Yeah. I put it on Buy/Sell/Trade. With my Vanilli I've been trying to sell."

"Has anybody looked at it?"

"Yeah. Two people wanted to know more. One guy said his brother-in-law has been looking for one. Since duck season is about to start."

"Wait. What? Why would he need a Grandfather Clock for duck season?"

"Not the clock! The Vanilli."

"Oh. Well. We were talking about the clock."

"YOU were talking about the clock. I was talking about the Vanilli."

"WHAT is a Vanilli?

"A shotgun! B-e-n-i-l-l-e. It's a 12-gauge. Shoots a 3-and-a-half inch shell, when most of them shoot a 2-and-a-half to 3-inch shell. Costs around $600. I want to sell mine for $400."

Let the record show that when I looked it up, the true spelling of Vanilli/Benille is Benelli. You're welcome. Oh, and the oil that Hick was getting for T-Hoe's mirror? Was a can of WD40 with that straw sprayer thingy.

I'm pretty sure this conversation tells you no more about us than you already knew...

Thursday, October 25, 2018

But He WON'T Take American Express

Get your cash ready! Hick will be open for business Friday/Saturday/Sunday. He'll take your lint-covered coins and your limp dollar bills and he's been known to break a hundred...but he WON'T take American Express.

In case you were wondering why Hick would rather reach into my tubey thing rather than pull plastic bags out of another plastic bag...maybe this view of his Storage Unit Store will provide the answer. I don't know why he took the picture. He mentioned on Wednesday that he was going up there to straighten some things up.

It looks like straightening is in order, until you consider that he moves all this forefront stuff outside when he's open. He made the fishing pole rack himself, and has had other vendors ask him to make them one. I'm pretty sure he barters for goods, rather than contracting in cash.

Anyhoo...I have no idea why he would leave his Walmart sack full of Walmart sacks on the floor in the back, when he could find a place to hang it up front. Though maybe that would be taking up valuable merchandising space.

Zoom in if you feel the urge to browse. You never know what you'll find inside.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Sentimental Old Fool

Hick is a sentimental old fool. I'm pretty sure you already know about the "old" and "fool" part. I've done my best to keep you informed. But you may not truly understand how sentimental Hick can be. Take my latest auction gift. I'm not even going to pull a Henny Youngman and finish that with "PLEASE!"

That's right. Hick bought me a milk bottle. Without any milk. He paid $4 for it. Couldn't even wait to get it home, but sent me a text with the picture, from the auction:

"Milk bottle from mountain grove"

What he meant, of course, was a milk bottle from Mountain Grove. The town of my first teaching job. Oh, I didn't know Hick back then. And I've only mentioned it in passing. But that Hick has a mind like a steel trap, by cracky! So he just HAD to have this commemorative milk bottle.

I didn't know anyone from this dairy specifically. We had a lot of kids who lived on farms. That's about all there is in Mountain Grove. Except the town square. And a Walmart. We used to get out of school early on rainy days, so the buses could get kids home before the creeks came up. The town is midway across the state, in southern Missouri, on Highway 60. Right at an hour east of Springfield, if you drive the speed limit.

Yes, Hick bought me a sentimental milk bottle. He left it on the kitchen counter for a week. I asked if I was supposed to wash it, and he said, "No. I got it for you." I replied that it was a nice thought, but I don't really collect milk bottles. A couple days later, my commemorative milk bottle was gone from the counter, and perched high above my head on the top of the kitchen cabinets, where I can't drink in its full beauty, nor get a better picture for you. At least it's a companion for the dust bunnies.

That Hick. He's just a sentimental old fool.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Hick Desires My Tubey Thing

It's getting so discouraging. I can't have one thing to myself around here! Hick wants to get his grubby hands on anything that catches his eye. It doesn't matter if it belongs to someone else. HE DEMANDS IT!

This afternoon, he stopped by the house to stow away his prescriptions, on the way back to town to sell a lady his collection of DVD movies found in storage units. As he passed through the kitchen, me having already carried in groceries and made supper for later and at that very moment elbow-deep in dishwater...Hick saw the plastic Walmart bags that I'd set aside for his Storage Unit Store. I was planning to walk around the counter and put them in a bag that I fill for him, once I was done with the dishes.

"You know that thing you have hanging in the laundry room? The tube that holds the Walmart sacks? I need one of those for my Storage Unit Store. It would be easier than getting a bag out of that sack of bags."

Yeah. Because such a task is SO VERY TIRING, I suppose, reaching into a bag to grab another bag. Bags that have been carried into the house, emptied of their contents, and stowed away in another such bag for Hick to pick up at his leisure and drive to his Storage Unit Store.

"Well...I don't know where you'll find one of those. Maybe at a flea market? Or a church bazaar? Or Goodwill?"

"Where did you get yours?"

"I'm pretty sure my mom gave it to me. I don't know if she made it, or got it at one of her church sales. I've had it a long time."

"Well, if you can't find me one, I'll just take that one."

"NO. You won't."

"Why? You don't use it anymore."

"I don't know why you'd say THAT. Why wouldn't I use it anymore? Have Walmart and Save A Lot and Country Mart stopped putting merchandise in plastic bags? Have I stopped shopping?"

"No. But you give those bags to me."

"Until you have a pile of them, and then I put them in my tubey thing. Besides, when I NEED a plastic bag, I go get it out of my tubey thing. My chores haven't stopped, just because you have a Storage Unit Store."

"Oh. Well. Okay. But I need one."

"You're not getting mine. My mom gave it to me. I'm still using it."

SHEESH! Hick's like the locust or army ant of Storage Unit Store proprietors. Nothing is safe when he passes through.

Monday, October 22, 2018


Halloween is just around the corner, so I felt like sharing my personal horror story with you. As you might imagine, it involves Hick.

Let the record show that we're trying to coordinate holiday visits with Genius and The Pony. Not Halloween, of course. That's not a big holiday for us. The boys are both getting care packages for that, even though I had contemplated not sending one to now-adult Genius. But then he said he wouldn't mind one, just smaller.

Back to our holiday plans. The Pony requires our assistance in traveling 9 hours by car. Okay. Maybe he doesn't REQUIRE it, like Genius implies, when he says, "What are you going to do, drive him around until he's 40?" No. We don't drive him around. We meet him halfway, and I ride 5 hours with him to keep him awake. As you may recall, it was only TWO YEARS ago that The Pony totaled his car on the way home for Thanksgiving. Last year, we went to spend Thanksgiving with HIM, because Genius had plans to arrive later in the weekend for our at-home feast.

Anyhoo...Genius had also intimated that he wouldn't be coming home for Thanksgiving OR Christmas (as we know it) this year. Now that he's a workin' man, he doesn't have the college month off between semesters. In fact, he has 17 days per year of vacation time, and uses half of that each summer to work in the IT department at Missouri Boys State. Dang those Millennials and their giving back mindset! He apparently has social plans with some other young professionals over Christmas, which precludes the family gathering. So he suggested CasinoPalooza 3 a couple weeks before Christmas, with a caveat that he MIGHT make it home one night over the holidays.

Hick and I were ruminating on these developments, along with Hick interjecting thoughts about his Storage Unit Store.

"We still have you mom's bedroom set over in the BARn. It's been there since I moved Genius to Kansas City. I'm pretty sure he won't want it anymore, now that he has his own furniture."

"Yeah. I don't think it will fit in his room here. You know. For the couple nights a year that he might visit. I told him we'd been planning on getting a bigger bed to put in that bedroom instead of the twin."

"All we need is a headboard. And a mattress. I've got a frame over in the BARn. Even your mom's frame would work. They're adjustable. Heh, heh. Maybe we'll just use one of those air mattress beds! I've got a couple of them, still new in the box, from my storage units. I could put together a wooden frame, and put that on it."

"I am NOT going to make Genius sleep on an air mattress when he comes home! Not even a fancy one, on a wooden frame! Even though the only time he'll probably sleep here is to settle our estate after we're dead."

"I know a guy at one of my stores I go to who has a bunch of headboards. Cheap."

"Yeah. That part won't matter. Oh, and next time I go to Walmart, I'm going to get a couple of new towels. Just to have them while The Pony and maybe Genius are home."

"I don't think you need new towels. Our towels are fine."


Our towels are the same towels I bought when I got my first teaching job. Let that sink in for a moment. Val. Retired. Using towels from her first year of teaching.

Let the record show that the year was 1981. Our towels are 37 YEARS OLD! Lest you think that we blot our glistening post-shower bodies (hope you weren't eating while you're reading this) with threadbare, see-though scraps of vintage cotton...those towels have held up pretty well. They were originally SEARS BEST, a set of 8 thirsty bath towels, in assorted colors, with accompanying washcloths. Rollin'-in-first-year-teacher's-salary dough, Val splurged on the good stuff.

Maybe you remember back when Sears had good stuff. My dad would only buy SEARS KENMORE appliances. Some of which lasted as long as my towels. So don't be all snooty, looking down your collective proboscises at Val and her hillbilly linens.

Anyhoo...my point is the HORROR of Hick thinking it's okay for Genius to sleep on an air mattress in a homemade frame (perhaps getting a splinter in his pampered skin)...and perfectly reasonable to deny me two new Walmart towels, since 37-year-old towels are just fine.

I'm pretty sure your hair is standing on end by now, at the HORROR Val endures on a daily basis. I'm even more sure that none of you will be dropping by for an overnight visit.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A 20-Minute Sure Thing (Part 2)

When we last convened, Hick was going under the knife for eyelid thingies at his ophthalmologist's office. His appointment was for 8:05, and I had just returned at 10:00, from a sortie to the credit union for financial business.

Well. I'd read all my reading material in the first 40 minutes of waiting, once they called Hick back for that 20-minute procedure. I should have brought more. Like my hardcover unabridged tome of The Stand, by Stephen King. Without it, I had to be satisfied with people-watching. There was no shortage of material for that! I had two good eyes, and more old folks than a casino on Senior Buffet day! I swear, that office was like a clown car. I swear those people they called back were walking around the building and coming back in the door. Of course I couldn't help overhearing conversations. Old people talk kind of loud. I had tuned them out, until I heard, "I died."

Yeah. That kind of makes you prick up your ears like a Doberman patrolling a lumberyard overnight. Here's the guy's tale.

"I had heart surgery a few years back. I died on the table. My doctor went out to the waiting room to tell my son and wife. That's the sad part. He was out there telling them when the nurse ran out and said, 'We got him back!' I have the most beautiful memory of being dead. I was standing by a big body of water, like a lake or ocean. Water as far as you could see. There was a hand on my shoulder, and I smelled roses. I heard a voice in my ear, and saw a hand wave toward the water. 'Do you know what that is?' It pointed to a black hole across the water. I said no. 'That's heaven.' It was the most peaceful thing I ever saw. I said, 'Let's go!' And he said, 'No. It's not time.' I was kind of upset right at the moment, because I really wanted to go. But I came back. 

For the past four years, I've been really involved in the church. Oh, I'd had religious studies before that. But this really spurred me to get involved more. Sometimes now, if I'm around roses, I get a whiff of that same smell. It's beautiful, and I'm ready to go. I tell people about it, and they think I'm crazy. But I know what I saw. I've heard that when a person is in a coma, they have some strong dreams, and I guess this was one. But I'll never forget it."

Well. What do you say to that? Good thing he wasn't talking to me.

Anyhoo...I waited some more for Hick. It was 10:30. I started to worry that something might have gone wrong. Or maybe he went out the back and forgot to come back in the front! The office gals were talking about it being almost lunch time. One was only having peanut butter and crackers, because the night before, she ate something too spicy, and it still felt like it was in the back of her throat. Huh. She might want to see an otolaryngologist.

At 11:00, Hick came walking out. No bandage. Said his ophthalmologist cut three little growths off his eyelid. With a knife. Hick had originally thought he was going to use a laser. I had asked how he'd keep the laser from injuring Hick's eye if he moved wrong. Because Hick only has ONE, you know. Hick said that it hurt at one point, and he knows that the ophthalmologist knew it hurt, because the ophthalmologist asked if he was okay. He's supposed to put ointment on it four times a day

I told Hick that I thought the 3-hour cataracts were out of that office ahead of HIM! A 20-minute procedure my A$$. Those ophthalmologist probably bill by the hour.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Rapid DesCENT of Val's Future Pennyillionaire Profits

Seems like only last week, I was raking in 5 pennies without even trying. Now I have fallen on hard times. One single solitary cent placed itself in my path this week, thus preventing the shut-out. And not until FRIDAY, October 19th, in Casey's.

Face down, of course. A 2015. I didn't know that until I got it home under my magnifying glass. Huh. That's the year my mom died. And I heard that song on the radio on the way home. "Holes in the Floor of Heaven." The one that always makes me think of her.

A man held the door open for me to enter. Unlike that OTHER Casey's where the kid pulled the door closed behind him, like it would keep me out. He must have been talking to the Irate Donut Man, who also accosted me at that same store.

Anyhoo...I thanked the door-holder, an elderly man perhaps younger than myself. I stepped aside politely, so he could do his business ahead of me, while I browsed the scratcher case. HELLO, PENNY! That's when I found it. As I was taking my picture before the harvest, another man with a cup of coffee got in line. So I mosied back behind him, understanding the concept of A LINE.

A new checker came on, and said she could help someone, but nobody moved! I gestured to my door-holder, and the coffee man, and said they were ahead of me. Coffee Man said, "What? I don't have my hearing aids in." So I pointed him to the new checker.

The world of the elderly is so much more polite. Except that Irate Donut Man.

NOOO! One Stop-the Presses comrade has been left behind!

About an hour ago, in the very same Casey's, I saw a penny on the floor, just under the gum rack at the register closest to the door. I got in line, smug with self-satisfaction, knowing that penny was soon to be resting in my shirt pocket, on the way to join his brethren in the Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune goblet on my kitchen counter.

Dang the customer service at this convenience store! One of the newer girls opened the second register, and said she would help me. I didn't want her help! I wanted to wait behind that one old man and get my penny! But I'm a conformer. I stepped over and handed her my three winning scratchers that I was trading in.

New Gal was SO SLOW. After scanning each ticket, she announced my winnings. NOBODY does that! Not in any of the convenience stores I frequent. First of all, the amount comes up on the lottery monitor screen thingy, showing the amount of winnings. Secondly, they know some people don't want their winnings announced to people in line behind them. But no. New Gal acted like she was announcing a grand MegaMillions win. She said, "That's five dollars. This one won five dollars. That's a five-dollar winner."

I was tapping my foot in frustration. I figured if she'd just get on with it, I could get my picture and my penny, once that old man finished up. I told her my new selections. She repeated them. Then asked, "Just one of each?" YES!!! Hurry it up, girly! Who buys more that one ticket off a roll at the same time? Well. Many people, actually. But not VAL! That's just settling for a loser right there, while trying to buy enough that you come upon a winner.

SHEESH! New Gal laid them down one at a time by the register, going back to the case after the next one. A manager slowed her even further, to remind her that she hadn't cleaned the bathroom or dumped the trash yet. Just as she was ringing it up, so she could tell me NO CHARGE, because I bought the amount I cashed in...a new customer stepped up to the vacated first register, with his pointy-toed cowboy boot on my rightful penny!

I gave up. There's approaching the edge of looking like a weirdo, and then there's jumping over it and plummeting into the abyss while screaming IMAWEIRDOOOOO!

Even Steven must have set aside that penny for someone who needs it more than me.

For 2018: Penny  # 111.
For 2018: Dimes still at  # 14.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.
For 2018: Quarter still at #1.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 189.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 20.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Quarter #1.