Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Journey of 659.7 Miles Ends With an Extra Step

Hick was out of town for a few days, for a reason which will be revealed when I'm good and ready. You'd think that after being away from Val for so long, Hick would rush right home, putting SilverRedO's pedal to the metal. Au contraire, virtual visitors to my lair! Hick had no qualms about stopping over, 30 miles from home, to do some Goodwilling.

I must say, he was in the right place at the right time to get this gem:


It's a RADIO! Hick parked it here on the kitchen stool. I just glanced at it as I walked by. That happens when new junk appears on a thrice-weekly basis.

"How much did you pay for your clock?"

"Clock?"

"Yeah. The Coke clock on the stool."

"That's a RADIO! I paid $12 for it."

"How much is it worth?"

"I don't know. Maybe $20. But I'm not selling it. I'm keeping it. I've never seen one like it."

"Does it run on batteries?"

"No. It's electric. I have to take a look at the plug. It doesn't work."

Well. A broken radio is worth $12 to Collector Hick. He's pretty handy with electrical stuff, so he might get it working. It's a unique item that I haven't seen, either. Huh. They're probably for sale in mail-order catalogs, as new gadgets made to look vintage. Hick won't care.

I think his goal is to eventually have one of everything Coca Cola.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A CENTSational Twelvepeat for Val

As you recall (I had a college professor who started many lectures with that wishful proclamation), last week Val accumulated 12 unearned cents towards her Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. Well, this week was DEJA VU.

THURSDAY, October 17, I had to make a trip over to my former place of employment to sign an insurance document. That put me on a different route from my usual routine. That's just what Dr. Even Steven prescribed.

On the way inside the School-Turn Casey's, I saw a crack penny.


It was a face-down 1978, sharing the convenience store trench with an abandoned butt.


It stand out here, but I almost walked right over it with my natural eyesight.

When I came out and headed for T-Hoe, I could not believe my good fortune. There was ANOTHER crack penny right in my path!


Gotta say, this is one of my favorite penny pics of all time, what with the lighting and the artsy-fartsy angles of the shadows and the parking stripes and the round poles. I'm sure Genius the master photographer would disagree. When I took it, the sun prevented me from seeing the screen of my phone, and I wasn't even sure I had the penny in the frame.


This was a dirty, dirty face-down 2011, which I assumed to be much older until I took a peep under the magnifying glass at home.

Four stops later, at the Sis-Town Casey's, my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune shot up like the hand of Judy Hensler in Miss Canfield's classroom when The Beaver did something tattle-worthy.


I spied a dime lolling insolently under the store-for-sale Chex Mix!


It was a face-up fellow from 1977, who went for a ride in my shirt pocket to his next home in Penny Goblet #2.

I'm not a cheater, so I'm not including the DIME that I found Friday morning behind the La-Z-Boy and short couch. It's the walkway to the master bedroom. I'd been across there at least five times already that morning. But on the sixth time, I found that dime. It's on the kitchen counter right now. I don't think I can rightfully claim it as part of my collection, but you can bet I'm going to spend it. I suppose it was dropped by Hick, although he was out of the house the whole time since I got up, selling for $1 profits at his Storage Unit Store.

Anyhoo...it was another 12-cent week for Val!
__________________________________________________________________

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 106, 107.
Dime      # 19.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 4.

2018 TOTALS
Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

2017 TOTALS (Started in March, 2017)
Penny  78
Dime   6
Nickel  0
Quarter  0
__________________________________________________________________

Friday, October 18, 2019

A Refresher To Emphasize Val's Hardships

Lest you forget the gravity of Val's daily put-upon-ness, I bring you a reminder of the true nature of Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill.


Sure, it may LOOK like a good-enoughly blacktopped hill from this view, going down. And even gooder-enoughly blacktopped when it was finished on both sides.


Just because the bare gravel was covered does not mean the road was improved.


Closer inspection may reveal a few lumpy bumps. But it is the coming-up view that reveals the poor planning of Hick and Buddy with a free load of hot blacktop, that hardened before Hick made his heavy roller.

It's like one long row of speed bumps. No way to flatten that out. It's been two years since Hick and Buddy's project was inflicted upon us. I think I am now two inches shorter, my vertebrae being shaken down each day like chips settling in the bag due to shipping.

I imagine that Hick and Buddy are soundly cursed each day. Twice. By people other than Val.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

In Case Anyone Doubts That Val Lives In Outer Hooterville

Once again, Val had the nerve to assert her customership, and interrupt a lengthy conversation between a cashier and the customer ahead of her. This time, it was in the Backroads Country Mart. I leaned on my cart, and refrained from tapping my toe. I DID eavesdrop. It's not like they were keeping it hush-hush.

This is the oldest cashier, who works the short line. Sometimes she's the only one working. Hick has befriended her. He says she's 81 years old. How he knows that is a mystery. Surely he didn't ASK her age! Or cut her open to count the rings. She has a really gruff voice due to some kind of surgery many years ago. She does not look 81.

CASHIER: "I'm waiting for animal control to come back. They took seven raccoons and two possums."

CUSTOMER: "Did she have babies?"

CASHIER: "Uh huh."

CUSTOMER: "Coons are crazy about protecting their babies!"

CASHIER: "I just want to sit on my front porch and relax, without raccoons running up and biting me."

Once the customer grudgingly wheeled her cart out of the way, I tried to be friendly to the cashier.

VAL: SEVEN raccoons! That's a lot."

CASHIER: "I got bit. Had to have the rabies shot. After the second raccoon bit me, the county health center said the shot is good for three months."

Alrighty then! I, myself, might have quit sitting on the porch after being bitten the first time. But what do I know? I was bitten by a chipmunk, and the county health center didn't know if they carry rabies, so just gave me a tetanus booster.

I would swear that CASHIER told CUSTOMER that animal control  "...let them go over the state line."

Surely that's a mistake. That would be quite a drive north, south, or west to a state line. East runs into the Missisippi River about 30 miles over, as the crow flies, and I wouldn't call it a state line. Or think a raccoon-capturer would toss raccoons into Old Man River.

Maybe I need to work on my eavesdropping skills.

As I typed up this tale, I thought of another one that had slipped my mind.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

One More Reason I'm Pretty Sure Hick Is Trying to Kill Me

You might recall T-Hoe's recent overnight stay at Mick the Mechanic's shop. You'll never guess what Mick discovered as the reason for the red brake light warning and Stabilitrak Off yellow skid light. T-Hoe was low on brake fluid!!! Yeah. You'd think someone as knowledgeable of cars as Hick would have been able to check that one thing himself.

We have not gotten Mick's bill yet, because he had to order a new passenger side mirror, and Hick will schedule a new appointment for T-Hoe when he's good and ready. When questioned about why Hick himself couldn't diagnose T-Hoe's brake problem, Hick admitted that if he'd bothered to check the brake fluid, he would have known to add some.

Mick also reset a bunch of stuff, which he said made the seat heater work again. I don't know, since I haven't tried it yet.

I guess I can forgive Hick for letting me drive two weeks on bad brakes, due to his lackadaisical attitude. Although to me, brakes are the one thing I wouldn't trifle with, had I the knowledge and wherewithal to diagnose and fix the problem.

Here's the latest reason I'm pretty sure Hick is trying to kill me...

The DAY AFTER T-Hoe came back from Mick the Mechanic's fixin', the ENGINE LIGHT came on! Yeah. It's a yellow light, in the shape of a motor. It's been on before, came and went. At one point, I discovered that it came on after getting gas, and went off after a couple times of removing, then tightening the gas cap. Pure coincidence, perhaps, but I think I read about that fix online. It did not work this time.

I'm sure I've mentioned that a couple years ago, I got Hick a little gadget that can plug into T-Hoe, and read his computer mind about the warning systems. It gives a code to diagnose the problem. That little gadget is laying on the mantel of the electric fireplace, right by Hick's La-Z-Boy. Hick was shocked that T-Hoe had a problem right after leaving Mick's shop.

"He said he reset all those systems, so maybe one of them messed with the engine light."

"Don't you have a gadget to check the warnings?"

"Yeah. I'll take a look at it."

Sunday, when I got in T-Hoe for my 44 oz Diet Coke trip, the ENGINE LIGHT was OFF! That evening, I asked Hick if he'd been messing with T-Hoe.

"I took my thing out there and plugged it in. It gave me a code, then I reset the engine light."

"Okay. What's wrong with it?"

"I didn't have the book out to look up the code. I'll do it later tonight, or tomorrow."

Tomorrow came. Hick and I were sweaving along in A-Can, on the way home from supper, so I again asked what was wrong with T-Hoe.

"I don't know."

"You said you were going to look it up."

"I forgot the code."

"So you found out what might be wrong, but you don't know what it was, yet you reset the warning light, so everything looks fine?"

"Yeah."

I'm pretty sure Hick is trying to kill me. Perhaps with Mick as an accomplice.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Peek Inside Val's Seedy World of No-Armed Bandits

Last week's casino trip on the quest to procure a FREE camouflage metal water bottle, eat up $25 of FREE food, and collect $80 of FREE cash was entertaining, if not profitable.

As with any casino trip, I tucked my casino bankroll into my gambling purse, cut out our comp coupons, and hit the road to sweave with Hick. We stayed for four hours, with my fortune ebbing and flowing. I risked chastisement from security to provide pictures for those who would never dip a dainty tootsie inside a casino, preferring to remain home carving scrimshaw on non-endangered ivory to sell for raising funds for butt plugs to stop methane emissions of beef and dairy cows, while not-watching television, and eating only raw foods harvested from highway right-of-ways, washed down with water in plastic bottles, transported all the way from Fiji.


The third slot I played was Fu Dao Le, the game where giggling babies fill the screen and portend an upcoming fortune. It gave me a second-spin bonus of $89. Which I went on to wager on a bad investment of Wonder 4 Boost.

Lucky for me, I tried a weird ram-headed slot, because it looked like something The Pony might play. He has a knack for picking obscure slots that pay him.


A few spins after bumping my bet up to $1.50, I hit a bonus that paid me the MINOR progressive, which was $114. Of course I wandered around playing more mainstream games, which ate my money like it was a pulled-pork lunch special!


I took this picture not because I was so proud of my "unbelievable win" of $35.15 on a $.60 bet, but because this machine never lets me win, and I thought the almost-full screen was pretty. Too bad it's not a video, so you can see that leprechaun nodding his head and winking! I'm not about to risk getting banned from a casino for filming! Even for dainty-toed scrimshaw carvers saving the world from flatulent cows while drinking bottled foreign water.

By the time I cashed out, I got back all but $49.01 of my original casino bankroll. But don't you worry about Val going to the pauper-house! Folded in my pants pocket, saved from wagering, was my FREE cash from my two $25 comp coupons.


I didn't want to take a picture of cash in a casino, but when I was back home, tidying up my gambling purse and putting my driver's license back in my other purse, I snapped a picture of it on the kitchen counter.

Even Steven allowed me a $.99 profit after my day at the casino. Hick did not volunteer his results, though he did say he spent his two $15 FREE cash comps. Good thing I hung onto mine. I don't usually leave with a profit.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Now Val Can Drink In Secret

I got it! The camouflage metal water bottle from the casino comps.


It's REAL (RealTree, the copyrighted camo pattern), and it's SPECTACULAR! I haven't tried it yet. But now I can drink (water of course) without being seen by wildlife. Because you know the glint of sunlight off that metal cap won't spook them.

Hick and I also had a delicious lunch for free, using our meal comps. Actually, we combined his $10 and my $15, and splurged for sodas right there in the grill (rather than walking across the casino floor to bring in free smaller sodas), and dessert, so it ended up costing us a dollar-something. The cashier asked if we wanted to use our points for that, and Hick said yes. She promptly deducted it from his 4026 points (that's worth $4 of free play), rather than my 9289 points ($9 in free play). Heh, heh! I could tell he was not pleased about that. Even though you can't cash out anything less than $5, and it has to be in $5 increments.

The special was pulled pork, on top of fries or tater tots, with cheese. I chose the tots:


It was DELICIOUS! I suppose they made too much pulled pork a day or two before, and had to unload it somehow. I had lemon meringue pie for dessert, with no real crust, just crumbly graham crumbles on the bottom.

Hick chose the fries option, and cheesecake. In fact, he told the gal the exact piece of cheesecake he wanted, and she had to slide containers around like one of those number game puzzles my mom used to carry in her purse to distract us from misbehavior.


Neither of us could finish it all. Of course we quit in time to have room for the full dessert! Too bad it wasn't the day for the camouflage backpack cooler, or we could have packed up our leftovers for supper, in the little pie containers.

The gaming report will be tomorrow. Don't waste the anticipation. I'm still driving a 2008 Tahoe.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Hick Wants Blacktop Road Cred

Hick is not some mysterious philanthropist who supports a cause behind the scenes. Oh, Hick is a benevolent benefactor. He just wants credit for his contributions. Perhaps accolades is a more accurate term for what Hick expects.

Last week, Hick decided that the mailbox bus stop area needs a sign to warn drivers coming over the hill.

"If they can put up signs by the other bridge that say "Rough Road," and not bother to fix the rough road, then they can put up a sign to keep these speeders from running over kids when they're getting on the bus. I'm calling the county road administrator to ask for a sign."

With a couple days, there was a metal post at the top of Mailbox Hill. No sign. But a metal post with an orange flag tied to it.

"Did you see my pole?" asked Hick. Un-self-consciously.

"Nooo..."

"At the top of the hill! It didn't take long. I bet they put the sign on it pretty soon."

I must say, I did not notice the day the sign went up. I am not in a habit of looking for signs. Actual physical road signs, anyway. I concentrate more on keeping T-Hoe on his side of the road, ready to dodge an oncoming driver who isn't. Anyhoo, Hick was sure to tell me when his sign went up.

"Did you see it? The bus sign is up!" Hick called me while I was in town.

"No. I didn't notice it coming in. But I'll look for it going home."


Yes, once just a shiny pole, there was now a sign to warn drivers about a bus stop.


Most people probably think it's warning about high water impassability of the road.


By the time they can read it, they'll see the bus anyway. Still, it will serve as a reminder when they see the bright color from farther back. I hope. Kudos to Hick for setting the wheels of the bus stop sign in motion.

Let the record show that Hick is also happy to take credit for his and Buddy's Poorly Blacktopped Hill, which, in comparison, makes this road seem like a brand new turnpike.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Ch Ch CHANGE's Here For Me

I want to be a richer Val...

SATURDAY, October 5, less than an hour after my Saturday CENTsus hit the innernets bemoaning a lack of coins for my Future Pennyillionaire fortune...I found a penny.


I remember it like it was last Saturday. Oh. It WAS. Right there on the floor of The Gas Station Chicken Store. Me wearing a pair of The Pony's old shoes, because I could.


It was a 2019, all shiny and face-down, reflecting artsy-fartsy-ly off the trim of the counter. Looks like the owners have put their two new clerks to work, spiffing up the place.
____________________________________________________________________

TUESDAY, October 8, I discovered a DIME at Orb K. Sorry, no picture of it in its natural habitat. I had to hold my place in line, fervently hoping that somebody didn't walk over to look at the scratchers display and take my rightful dime! By the time I had my scratchers, I didn't have a hand free for photography. I didn't want to hold those scratchers in my mouth. And I didn't want to stuff them in an armpit. So I just snatched my dime and shuffled on out of there. Besides, does anybody really regret not seeing the unclean floor of Orb K this week? I think not.


There it is at home, though. Posing on the kitchen counter. A 2006, which I'd noted was face-down when I picked it up. Not a bad showing this week, scooping up 11 cents.
__________________________________________________________________

Stopping the presses to add a late addition:


This 1975 penny was found face-down at the Backroads Casey's, at 1:53 p.m. on SATURDAY, October 12. I was unable to get a picture in the wild, as it was deep under the gum rack, and I had a close-waiter blocking me from backing up to get a shot. The close-waiter is probably scheduling a therapy appointment, after her exposure to my ample rumpus, as I scooted this penny out with the floppy toe of The Pony's old shoe, and picked it up. Here he is, chilling in the autumn sun on T-Hoe's console.

That makes it a 12-cent week for Val's Future Pennyillionaire fortune.
__________________________________________________________________

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 104, 105.
Dime      # 18. (surpasses last year's dime total)
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 4.

2018 TOTALS
Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

2017 TOTALS (Started in March, 2017)
Penny  78
Dime   6
Nickel  0
Quarter  0
__________________________________________________________________

Friday, October 11, 2019

Hick's Storage Unit Store Has a Rat

Poor Hick. He's been betrayed. I feel sympathy for him. Mark your calendar.

Hick called me on Thursday afternoon, from his Storage Unit Store. He commenced a tale so sad that my cold, cold heart thawed a couple of degrees. Fahrenheit.

"I was putting away two guns I bought at the auction Monday night, in my gun safe here at the store. It has those pouches on the door, like our safe at home. I had put some guitar strings in there that my buddy gave me, when his son put new strings on his guitar. They were coiled up, a set of strings. I probably could have got ten dollars for them. But now they're GONE! Them, and two rolls of dollar coins! There's an old man who always pays me with dollar coins. They're short rolls. I think maybe $10 rolls. Somebody stole my coins and guitar strings!"

"You leave your gun safe open???"

"I have to. So people can see what I got. I just have it unlocked, with the door pushed to. If they ask me, they can pull it open and look at the guns. They can't steal them. I can see if they walk out with one. I only have two handguns, and I keep them on a table where I sit."

"I'm pretty sure it was a gun LOOKER who took your strings and coins. Not a gun BUYER."

"Yeah."

Well. I am simply SHOCKED! Aren't you? Shocked that customers at a flea market are not the fine upstanding members of society who would never take something that didn't belong to them. All I can say is, "Sh*tbums gonna sh*tbum." They come in looking for something for nothing, and make sure they get it.

Here's my suggestion to Hick. Find a classy box or envelope. Or get a padded little manila envelope. Inside, put a mousetrap, and a note card that says, "Not TODAY, rat!" Tape it up so it's difficult to open.

Heh, heh. I can imagine a thief picking up that little envelope, feeling it, thinking something good is inside, stuffing it in his shirt, and opening it later in the car. I'm kinda warped like that. I know the mousetrap can't be set to snap on them. It's just the idea. To let them know that Hick is aware of their shenanigans.

I'm not sure Hick is picking up what I'm laying down. He sat in the La-Z-Boy later, saying that there are still 26 coins left in the pocket of the safe! Loose. Not in rolls. Just dropped down in there. He guesses the thief didn't notice them. The two rolls were on top of the guitar strings, and might have come up when the guitar strings were pulled on.

SHEESH! You can't leave your valuables in an OPEN SAFE! Of course sh*tbums are gonna be rifling through it. It's a SAFE! For keeping valuables!

Hick did say that he thinks he'll take his 26 dollar coins out of the pocket Friday when he opens. I said he needs to keep an eye on the people who ask about guns, but don't buy one. He has a great memory for faces. I'm sure they'll keep coming back. He can check to see if his special package is gone when they leave. Then the next time, he can take a picture, heh, heh, so they'll know something's up. And maybe quit going in Hick's store.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

What Hick Needs Is the Spirit of Patrick Swayze Advocating for Him

Wednesday evening, Hick dropped me off to pick up T-Hoe, and declared that he would go on into town after chatting with Mick the Mechanic, to get Domino's pizza for supper. We haven't had Domino's since the last time The Pony was home. Which was last December. We don't really like it, except for the thin crust variety.

I took T-Hoe (now without a warning bell, hopefully with brakes) to Orb K for a 44 oz Diet Coke and scratchers. Cashed in a $15 winner, and won $50, in case you're interested. Anyhoo... the Diet Coke from the newly-installed soda fountain was fine. Not as fine as the Diet Coke at The Gas Station Chicken Store, but fine enough. Besides, it saved me another stop. I wanted to get home, you know, because Hick was bringing pizza.

I stopped for the mail, fed the dogs some bread dipped in the juices of the previous day's roasted chicken, put my driver's license back in my regular purse (we'd been to the casino), added cherry limeade and squeezed a real lime into my magical elixir, filled my two bubba cups with ice, changed clothes, and sat down to sip some water (gambling can be dehydrating) while waiting for Hick.

Seventy minutes after leaving me at Mick's, Hick sent me a text that he was starting home with the pizza. Well. Good to know. I was beginning to think he'd gone to Italy for it. Town is only 10 minutes from home! Every time I'd call to order pizza on the way home from school with The Pony, the Domino's dude would tell me, "It should be ready in 10-15 minutes." And it was.

When Hick got home 10 minutes later, he said,

"I talked to Mick for a minute, then went to get the pizza. The guy told me it would take 15 minutes. So I sat down at a table to wait. After 15 minutes, I went to the counter to ask about it. And the guy said, 'Oh, I forgot to call your name.' He went and got it off the shelf. It's still hot. It only sat there about five minutes. Good thing I got up to ask."

Yes, Hick needs the spirit of Patrick Swayze (the Dirty Dancing spirit, not the Ghost spirit) to warn those Domino's dudes: "Nobody puts Hick at a table!"

I hope this generation of doctors and lawyers are more capable of doing their job well than this generation of pizza-makers and mailmen...

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

T-Hoe Is Going Under the Wrench!

As you read this, T-Hoe is in the capable hands of Mick the Mechanic. I'm pretty sure T-Hoe's brain will be turned off at some point. Then he'll be revived before I pick him up. To keep my mind off the multiple procedures, Hick is taking me to a casino. Actually, it has more to do with the camouflage water bottle and the FREE CASH and LUNCH CREDIT we'll be getting. But I can pretend.

I met Hick at Mick's after procuring my magical elixir, so he could give me a ride home. The journey of what seems like a thousand miles riding with Hick begins with an awkward step up on SilverRedO's pipe-like running board. Then it progresses to a skootch across a cloth seat while avoiding a doorknob on the rubber floor mat.

SilverRedO is not a vehicle I frequent. My last trip in him was probably from the main post office over to Hick House to see the progress, since I didn't want a repeat of getting T-Hoe stuck in PARK on that hill. SilverRedO has a decent ride for a 4WD pickup truck. In spite of the sweaver behind the wheel. There was one issue, though...

"Whew! SilverRedO smells like a dirty old truck!"

"Well. It is. It's a truck. I use it like a truck, Val."

"It didn't used to smell this way, when you first got it. Not even last time I was in it, back in May or June."

"I don't smell anything."

"It's like a musty, closed up, dirty house kind of smell."

"Huh. I got a box of them clothes back there. Out of my old storage unit stuff, that I'm going to wash and sell."

Indeed. A turn of my head revealed a Rubbermaid tub of assorted clothing, a fleece sweatshirt on top. That'll do it! That was EXACTLY what SilverRedO smelled like.

Hick needs to get some of those cardboard deodorant trees at the car wash, to hang from SilverRedO's mirror.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Trouble On the Rocks

Friday afternoon, I was surprised to see a young man sitting on a big rock down by the creek. I'd stopped at the mailbox around 1:00. In town, I'd discovered that the local high school let out early for a parade. I assumed this dude might have gotten off the bus, and was waiting for a ride. It was an illogical assumption, but I had no other.

First of all, the bus takes at least an hour to get out here after school dismisses. Secondly, the car that underage kid drives down there to park and catch the bus was still parked. So if the bus had let off, the car would have been gone. This dude looked too old to be that kid. He had long stringy brown hair, swept back and trapped under a backwards trucker cap. He was dressed in shorts and a shirt, like any student might wear.

Dude sat on the rock, facing the road, looking at his phone. You'd think somebody who took a walk down there and was just chillin' would be dangling his gangly legs off the other side of the rock, facing the creek. Not a blacktop road. Anyhoo... Dude didn't even look up as I got out for the mail. I figured it had something to do with the early dismissal, and forgot about it, not even mentioning it to Hick.

Monday, around 1:00, I came back from Walmart to find TWO dudes at the rock. The Original Dude was again sitting in the same place, with his phone. Standing in the road, facing him was Big Dude. Still looked young enough to be a student. They both could have been between 16-20. Big Dude had a crew cut, sandy hair, and was dressed like a jock, no cap, wearing flip-flops.

As you might imagine, I was suspicious. WHY were these dudes sitting at the end of my gravel road? I usually get out of T-Hoe, leave him running, and don't latch the door. This time, I turned off the ignition, and took the keys with me.

Big Dude turned to look at me, and said, "Good afternoon." I said hello and went about my mail-gathering business. I would have taken a picture of them, once I climbed back in T-Hoe, but Big Dude kept looking at me. Of course I couldn't risk taking a picture of suspicious possible criminals, in case they might be residents who thought I was a mail-stealer.

Seriously, what business could these dudes have had down there? Maybe THEY had been going through the mailboxes. Maybe they had something to do with the recent broken windows in the bus-waiting shack. Maybeeeee they were connected to DUN DUN DUNNNN: the used condom! Why would two dudes be hanging out on a rock beside the road? Waiting to buy or sell drugs? Acting as lookouts for accomplices who were up in there stealing?

I don't know. Just seems kind of mysterious. Hick did not see them, and did not know of any residents who fit their description.

Monday, October 7, 2019

City Comps, Country Comps

Remember when I rode to the casino on two Fridays, with my sister the ex-mayor's wife, so she and he could pick up their casino comps? Sis had been excited all month, waiting for the final comp, a set of non-stick pans. I must say, it came in a big box, and pictures showed about four different-colored-and-sized nonstick pans. Perhaps with lids and utensils. Sis and Ex-Mayor each got one. I was happy for them. The previous comp was a water filtering pitcher of some kind.

Hick and I are no strangers to casino comps. We went faithfully every week one month right after he retired, to get a set of luggage. I use mine now on trips to visit The Pony, and I think Hick gave his whole set to Genius when he was going to Taiwan for work. Ex-Mayor got a different luggage set at their second casino. Sis might regret not using her player's card enough for that one.

Anyhoo... sometimes you can get good stuff. Of course it's not worth what you spend getting there and gambling with. The lure is to get you in the door. But we'd be going anyway, although not as often. That's not really my topic today. It's the difference in the comps offered in city casinos, compared to the more rural ones. I'm not saying it's like this everywhere. Just in the ones we frequent.

Heh, heh. I actually chuckled out loud when I saw the latest comp offers from the biggest casino we go to in Oklahoma.


Are you freakin' kidding me? Is a toilet paper roll holder going to get me in the door? Not-Heaven, NO! Sorry, I know it's free stuff, but that kind of seems insulting. All that's missing is the furry seat cover!

I'm not running down Oklahoma. Our new favorite casino in southern Missouri is giving away a camouflage metal water bottle! Oh, we're going, baby! Hick and I are making special plans to get that sucker this week! If it wasn't such a drive, I'd be tempted to go back in two weeks for that camouflage backpack cooler, too!

Let the record show that Hick and I have coupons to get this, with no mention of earning points. We also have coupons for CASH. No free play here! I have $50 on that day, and Hick has $30. Plus, I have $15 food credit, and Hick has $10. Sounds like a cheap date to me. AND we'll be able to stay hydrated later, with our new water bottles.


Just sayin'. It seems to be cheaper to pull in country folk to squander their money.

One thing I won't be squandering my casino bankroll on is this chair:


I guess the 7th anniversary is the PLASTIC anniversary for a casino. My grocery store had these chairs in a big box, selling for $5, a couple years ago. Again, it's something for nothing. Maybe Hick could make a dollar off of it at his Storage Unit Store. But it doesn't seem like something I'd be touting as an anniversary gift giveaway.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

One Hundred Percent of an IceBug Is Below the Surface

Just when you thought Val couldn't stoop any lower to repulse readers...

Let the record show that every day, I carry my 44 oz Diet Coke down to my lair around 2:00 or 3:00. I also take my purple bubba cup full of ice cube crescents from FRIG II, and my yellow bubba cup of ice cube crescents, to which I add NASCAR bathroom water. It's too heavy to carry down water when I already have my magical elixir and two bubba cups of ice.

I add the water, and sip from yellow bubba cup until I go upstairs to make supper. At that point, I pour that water into the purple bubba cup of ice, which has barely melted at all. I take the yellow bubba cup upstairs, dump out the remaining contents, and fill it with ice cubes again to take back down for the evening. I add some to my magical elixir. Then when it's time to shut down New Delly and go to watch TV in my OPC (Old People Chair), I pour the water and ice left in the purple bubba cup into the remaining ice cubes in the yellow bubba cup. This way, I enjoy cold beverages all day and most of the night.

Friday night, as I was making the final water/ice transfer, I noticed something before I put the lid back on. There was a dark spot on one of the top ice cubes. What in the Not-Heaven? Was it a shadow, from a little melted bubble area? I poked at the ice cube in question. It was NOT a shadow!

IT WAS A GNAT!

You know, I have a sciency background. I've always considered myself open to eating bugs. Like, if somebody offered me a chocolate-covered ant, I'd try it. The scorpions in the suckers at the old 7-Eleven store didn't bother me. And when Scott Glenn as that mean old convict rodeo rider Wes Hightower in Urban Cowboy tilted up the bottle of tequila to get the worm and bite it, I was not fazed in the least.

IT'S DIFFERENT WHEN YOU ALMOST SWALLOW A BUG IN YOUR ICE WATER!

No extra protein for me, thank you! I don't need protein in my water. I picked up that ice cube and put it in the bowl I'd used for potato chips.


"Oh, Val," you say. "It's just a little gnat." Well, let me be the one saying that to YOU when YOU'VE almost swallowed it! Take a gander at this thing!


That's one big honkin' Drosophila melanogaster, baby! I studied them in my college genetics class. I've seen them extremely up-close, and have no desire to swallow one! Sure, it's not a possibly-turd-crawling Musca domestica, and likely resulted from one of Hick's bananas that he lets lie once he decides it's too ripe. Still. It's not going over my lips and past my gums if I can help it.

Now I wonder if it got in the first batch of ice, and was possibly poured back and forth, with me sipping from it throughout the day and evening. Or if it just crawled in the straw opening of the bubba cup at the last moment. Due to the location from whence it poured, I'd say it was in the original ice of the purple bubba cup, and had been marinating since around 5:30 in my ice water.

Oh, well. I guess drinking bug water is better than swallowing the whole bug.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Skunked CENTSless

There. You don't even have to read it. The title says it all. Not a single penny was found by Val this week. That's a travesty!

Even Steven must have been ashamed of himself, though, because on Friday, he gave me something better than a penny.


Funny thing about this $100 winner. I had a dream Thursday night that I was in a casino, playing poker. I never play poker. I even remember part of the hand I had showing: Ace, Ace, Queen. When I woke up, I tried to think which of my scratcher tickets would fit in with such a dream. This Casino Royale was it. Not many places have these tickets any more. The Gas Station Chicken Store has it.

When I made my weekly stop for gas on Friday at the Sis-Town Casey's, I saw it in the scratcher case. While I was waiting for my turn, the lady ahead of me bought FOUR of this very ticket! That threw a monkey wrench into my plan. I don't like to buy the same ticket right after somebody else buys one. I figure they got the best one, the one meant for me when I walked in. I knew I could get this ticket at The Gas Station Chicken Store. But still, I asked for it at the Sis-Town Casey's.

It was the first ticket I scratched when I got home. BAM! $100 winner! There's my matching number, right on the aces. I'm sure it was purely coincidence...

Let the record show that the Casino Royale ticket I bought at The Gas Station Chicken Store was a loser. Oh, well. Good thing I defied my instincts, and got this one first. Sorry, random lady who bought the four tickets ahead of it. You were just Even Steven's accomplice.
__________________________________________________________________

2019 Running Total
Penny     still at 103.
Dime      still at 17.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 4.

2018 TOTALS
Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

2017 TOTALS (Started in March, 2017)
Penny  78
Dime   6
Nickel  0
Quarter  0
__________________________________________________________________

Friday, October 4, 2019

Oh, Crap! The Ersatz Thomas Jefferson Has Tumbled Off His Boot!

Hick is finishing up the staining of the porch, a project he started about four weeks ago. He took a nine-day vacation to Nevada, so it's not like he's been slacking around the house.

Wednesday, he started around noon, to finish the last unfinished wood on the front porch. I could see him out the front window, Hick and his stool, heh, heh! After a shower, as I was stepping into my shoes for my daily trip to town, I heard a THUMP! There was no sign of Hick in front of the window.

I strolled to the front door, just in case. There was Hick, to the right of the door, on his hands and knees, with his tiny brush, painting stain onto the boards.

"Did you fall? I heard a thump."

"Yeah. My stool dumped me."

"Are you sure you're okay? Before I leave for town?"

"I'm okay."

"Is that why you're on your hands and knees? Are you hurt?"

"Just my pride. It flipped me over backwards. Like when I was working down at the other end of the porch before my trip."

"Oh. I see the dirt stuck to your back now. You're lucky you didn't go over the side, into the rocks." [Let the record show that bordering the porch, we have lava rocks surrounding large decorative rocks and tree stumps that Hick hauled from the creek.]

"Yeah, I know."

I felt a little bit sorry for Hick. Although he should have KNOWN that his stool would throw him. Since it happened before. I really hope he power-washed the next section before staining. Unless he was confident that his sweaty bare back had lifted all the dust from the boards.

Hick was still alive and kickin' when I came home from town. The only part left to stain is the back of the railings. Which are 15 feet above the ground, on the back porch. I hope there will be no stool involved in that adventure.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Continuing Story of Hick Helping the Helpless

Yesterday, I shared how Hick had repaired the bus-waiting shack that HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) had built last year for some kids who get dropped off early at the bus stop as their parents go to work. Then I found out more details.

I asked Hick if he's the one who left part of a broken broom down there, after telling the teenage girl that the kids could sweep out the broken glass themselves, since he had replaced a window, boarded up a window, and added a door.

"No. Them kids left the broom there."

"I noticed it was gone today."

"It's inside the shack now."

"Oh, so the kids DID sweep it out?"

"No. I swept it."

"But you told them that was their job."

"I seen they'd brought that broom down there. It was laying outside because I'd put a screw in the door to hold it shut. I guess they was trying to get in. They broke my screw!"

"They didn't know! Who expects a door to be screwed shut? They probably thought it was stuck, and kept pulling on it, and it broke."

"Yeah. I guess. Anyway, I went down there to put the latch on the door. I saw the broom. Since I was there anyway, I swept it out."

"That was nice of you."

"Yeah. When that girl was asking me about sweeping up the glass, she said, 'We were going to paint it a different color, but we didn't have money for the paint.'"

"I guess she was hinting for you to paint it, too!"

"I ain't paintin' that shack! It's fine the way it is. I might go down and paint the part where I patched it, though. To protect it from the weather. Them kids oughta be glad they have that shack! Especially when it's raining. There's no place else for them to stay dry. And in the winter, it oughta be warm enough, with them all in there, out of the wind."

"You can't really blame the kids for expecting you to do stuff for them. They come by it naturally, since their dad expected you to use your tractor and gas to blade his gravel for free."

"I forgot to tell you, as I was working on that shack the other day, their dad stopped. He didn't offer to help me or even get out of the car. He said, 'Oh, I see you're fixing up the shed.' Not even a thank you."

"Well. I guess that's YOUR job, to help out his kids."

Not that Hick minds.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Some People Just Can't Help Themselves

Last year HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) built a bus-waiting shack for some kids who live up in our enclave. We're about a mile from the bus stop, and they're at least a half mile past us. They're the family that Hick bladed gravel for, since the dad asked, with no offer of payment or future return favors.

Anyhoo, as with most good deeds that can't go unpunished, the bus-waiting shack has succumbed to ne'er-do-wells. I must admit, that bus-waiting shack lasted longer than I expected. Sometime during September, the windows were broken out. That left jagged glass in the window frames, and scattered around the ground.

Monday, I suggested to Hick that he take some sturdy gloves and a bucket down to the bus-waiting shack, and clean up the danger. He agreed. After all, now that HOS has moved to town to the $5000 house, we are the nearest thing to bus-waiting shed caretakers. Hick didn't bother to mention his plans, but I discovered him and our three dogs down there when I stopped for the mail around 2:30 on the way to town. The dogs weren't helping much. They were wading in the creek, what with temps at 92 degrees.

I didn't take a picture of the vandalized bus-waiting shed, because it made me sad. But here's one of Hick's repairs that I took on Tuesday.


Hick boarded up the end window, and put a plexiglass replacement in the front window. He also added a door.


Hick said he considered a padlock, giving those kids the key, but was afraid somebody would get locked inside. Same with a latch on the outside to hold the door closed. He decided on magnets. I figure they might last a month until somebody pries them loose.


Let the record show that I am NOT this bad a picture-taker! I had returned from getting the mail out of EmBee, and remembered that I wanted a picture of the repaired bus-waiting shack. I reached into still-running T-Hoe, pumping that AC at 72 degrees, and pulled my phone out into the 94-degree heat. Apparently, the lens did not appreciate the sudden change. I tried another one after wiping the lens with my finger:


Still not having it! Doo doo doo doo! Maybe something spooky! Nah. When I got back inside T-Hoe and backed up for the other shot, the picture turned out fine from the coolness of the interior.

Anyhoo... back on Monday, while Hick was putting on the door, the bus dropped off the kids after school. One of the girls came over to talk to Hick about the shack.

"We haven't been going inside, because we're afraid to get cut on the glass."

Hick declared to me that surely they could have picked it up. The girl was about 13.

"I don't think so. Kids don't do things like that for themselves. They're coddled. I'm not so sure a door is a good idea. Now the trespassers will be having sex in it."

"I think they already did. There was a condom in there. That girl said, 'Did you pick up the condom?' I told her I did. THEN she said, 'Did you sweep out the glass?' And I told her, 'You guys can bring a broom down here and sweep it out yourself! I fixed the windows and put on a door!'"

Which is kind of my theme today. HOS went out of his way to build a bus-waiting shack that his own kid didn't have a need for. But of course the ne'er-do-wells couldn't keep from destroying the windows, just for fun. They had no rights to be on the property or in the shack, but couldn't control their pure meanness to ruin it for the kids who need it.

The kids HOS built the shack for seem to feel entitled to it, expecting others to keep it clean and in usable shape. They're not babies. Four of the five of them are 10 or older. You'd think they could keep their bus-waiting shack in usable shape, even if they can't repair windows. It's still got a sturdy roof over their heads to keep them dry, and four walls to keep out the impending winter winds.

Two different kinds of people, neither able to help themselves.
___________________________________________________________________

You might have spied the broken-off broom laying beside the door. I don't know if the kids brought that, or Hick. I'm guessing the kids, because Hick would not leave such a valuable tool behind!
___________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Small Town Service At the Gas Station Chicken Store

Last week, there was a backup of traffic on The Gas Station Chicken Store parking lot. In fact, I drove by twice before eventually returning to do my business. Sometimes, a lot of people get there at the same time. Sometimes, the card-reader takes a while.

As I was parking, a small black pickup truck darted out from the pumps. I slammed on T-Hoe's brakes (don't tell Hick) as that black pickup sped over to the end of the building, coming to a stop with the front left tire up on the concrete bumper thingy. Kind of unusual. At The Gas Station Chicken Store, you can't use your card at the pumps. They're old. Not Mayberry old, but not equipped with a card-reader. You don't even have to pay in advance. Just pull up and pump, then pay inside. Most of the gasser-uppers are local. They know the drill.

I had about 22 oz of my 44 oz Diet Coke in the cup when an exasperated 20-something gal came in and butted in front of the people waiting. Apparently, she'd been inside already. A bag of fried chicken, and a 32 oz soda, were sitting on the side counter.

"Can I give you my license and go home to get the money and then bring it back?"

I suppose her card didn't work. Or she thought she had money with her but didn't. I guess she went out to move her truck away from the pumps, and look inside for money.

Smiley was the clerk that day. She's one of my two favorites. She pushed Butter's license back across the glass countertop.

"I'll pay for your gas. You take your license and drive home and get the money, and bring it back to me."

As Butter thanked her, and reached for her chicken and soda, Smiley pulled it across the counter and set it aside, out of reach.

"I'll keep this for you until you come back."

I set my 44 oz Diet Coke down to wait. Once Butter was out the door, I said, "Now THAT'S what I call customer service!"

The man whose turn it was laughed. "That's harsh! You could have at least let her have her soda! It's hot out."

Smiley shook her head. "I'll pay for her gas, but she's NOT getting her soda and chicken! That's probably what'll get her back in here. She wants that chicken!"

Smiley has worked there on and off since my kids were young. She's a good problem-solver. No need to have a drive-off and call the police. Or put up a WANTED poster with that gal's picture. She obviously couldn't tie her up and keep her from leaving. She used common sense. Do that gal a little favor to get her out of a bind, and the issue could be resolved. If Butter didn't come back, they'd still have her picture and license plate number on their surveillance camera.

Probably not the way a convenience store clerk in the city would handle it.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Hick, In the Living Room, With a Fish Hook

I'm pretty sure Hick is still trying to kill me. He's been gone for a week on a mini vacation to visit his brother in Nevada. He got home at 1:00 a.m. Saturday night, having driven from Denver that morning, and was pretty tired. So he went right to bed.

Sunday morning, Hick got up later than usual, and went to his Storage Unit Store, where he sat out front and didn't carry out all his merchandise. He still made $20, so I guess it was a good couple of hours for him.

Hick came home while I was in town. So the first time I actually laid eyes on him after his trip, he was kicked back in the La-Z-Boy around 2:00 in the afternoon, watching a NASCAR race with his eyes closed. Of course my plan was to sit down on the short couch and have a chat about his trip. There was one problem.

HICK HAD BOOBY-TRAPPED MY SEAT!

He knows that's where I always sit when he's in the La-Z-Boy! On the end of the short couch closest to him. Right where my head would be leaning back, Hick had set up a harpoon to skewer my skull!


Look at that! He might as well have gone full camouflage in his effort to pierce my brain.

Seriously. Hick had the entire length of the short-couch back to set down his hooky hat. But no. He had to place it right where my noggin would be leaning. I wouldn't be surprised if he'd taken careful measurements and used trigonometry to calculate the most lethal position of his weapon.

I'm pretty sure Hick is trying to kill me.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Val Is the Old-Style, Backroads Siri

I'm used to bad drivers. I encounter several each day on my 10-mile round trip to town. Saturday afternoon, I might have happened upon a queen. Let's hope she wasn't like an insect queen, leading a horde of other bad drivers.

I got behind a mid-size blue SUV at the stoplight in town. There was a white car in between us. I didn't know the severity of my position until we'd traveled through two stoplights, past the prison, and turned onto my blacktop county road.

Even though most of us drive 50 mph, the official speed limit on this road is 35. I know that, because I saw the sign that was put up three or four times, before somebody knocked it down. The ne'er-do-wells run rampant in Backroads. They're either really bad drivers, or really resent being told how fast to drive.

Anyhoo, this blue car was driving 15 mph. I don't mind a driver going slow if they're not comfortable with the road. This driver was also not comfortable staying on one side, or continuing in a uniform forward motion. I noticed that after the buffer car, the white one, turned into its own driveway.

Blue Car swove from side to side. Almost came to a stop. We were down to 7 mph. Do you know how hard it is to make T-Hoe go 7 mph? I stayed back about five car lengths. Since I can't SLAM ON MY BRAKES, due to my traction control being off. Although the light didn't come on at all this day.

Blue Car got up to 15 mph again. Went up over Mailbox Hill on the wrong side, but darted back into its lane when an oncoming white Ford F250 appeared as it crested the hill. I wanted to take one hand off the steering wheel and twirl my crazy temple finger for that Ford F250 driver, but I certainly didn't want to be that reckless, and take a chance on losing control of T-Hoe by driving one-handed at 15 mph.

Of course Blue Car turned left onto my gravel road. But the shocking part is that it sped up to 25 mph on that bone-jarring gravel surface! Of course you've probably guessed that Blue Car turned onto my branch of that gravel road.

I'm so psychic. I KNEW that was going to happen. And that Blue Car was going to STOP right there, preventing me from going around, with no other route available to get home.

All I could do was sit there in T-Hoe, off the main gravel thoroughfare by about five feet, waiting for Blue Car to make a move.

A lady got out, leaving her door wide open. She looked 50-something. She teetered along the gravel towards T-Hoe. Huh. I couldn't figure if she was drunk, having an anxiety episode, on Ambien or another pharmaceutical, or just had bad knees. But she was very shaky. Held onto the side of her car, like she was walking on ice. Then hobbled closer to my window.

"Hello."

You'd think maybe she would have been more forthcoming in a greeting. What was I supposed to say to that? Certainly not what I wanted to, which was: "WHAT IN THE NOT-HEAVEN ARE YOU DOING?" So I replied,

"Hello."

"I seem to be lost."

"Well, I don't know where you're trying to go."

"I'm looking for Rusty Blvd."

"Oh. That's the road you were on. It turns into Rusty Blvd right here, if you'd kept going straight."

"There's suppose to be a big fiddle get-together."

"I don't know anything about that. But it's possible. There are a couple of houses with cleared fields up there."

"So I should have stayed straight."

"Yes. If you go up this one, you'll have to turn around to get back out. If you close your door, I think I can get by. And that truck waiting behind me now. Then you can back up, and continue up that hill. It goes about a mile, then you'll hit another blacktop road. Don't turn off anywhere unless it's your fiddle house. Because the other roads are not Rusty Blvd!"

That lady minced her way to the back of her Blue Car, steadied herself with a hand on it, then got inside and blessedly closed the door that she'd left gaping open. SHEESH! People think anything goes out here in Hooterville with us hillbillies.

I drove past her, and the truck behind me followed. I couldn't see her in the mirror, from the angle on Hick and Buddy's Poorly Blacktopped Hill.

Just goes to show that Val is the old-style, backroads Siri. Two clueless mailpeople and one shaky lady can't be wrong. I'm their go-to gal for directions.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Cleanliness Was Next To PENNY-less!

On MONDAY, September 23, Val dodged a bullet. By bullet, she means a mop. A gray-white, stringy, MOP mop, like from the olden days. Not some modern-day Swiffer Wet Jet with a disposable mopping pad. Nor a mop with a spongy end that can be squeezed of water with a slidy handle thingy.

There I was, in the Sis-Town Casey's, standing at the counter, when I spied a penny. I had to act fast! Bearing down on it, with ever-encroaching swabs, was an employee mopping the floor! I took a quick picture, then leaned over to snatch my rightful penny.


No time for a closeup! It was a 2017 penny, face down. I almost got a very clean hand for my trouble. You can't tell here, but in person, the darkened wet sections of floor were easy to see. In fact, there's a tiny puddle of mopwater in the row of tiles above the penny, and a bigger puddle in the row above that one. It was the stuff of nightmares, I tell you! I was sure my penny was going to be swept away by the stringy mop. SHEESH! That horror would never have happened in Orb K!

I was taking deep breaths to calm down as I left the store. But I gasped forthwith as I strode down the sidewalk towards T-Hoe.


That's just a shadow. No one was mopping outside. But somebody was dropping outside! I saw that penny right away. I took a step closer, and saw a DIME lurking in the sidewalk crack!


It was a heads-up 1995 penny, and a leaning, face-down, 2004 dime. Only one coin encounter this week, but it garnered me 12 CENTS for my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune!
__________________________________________________________________

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 102, 103.
Dime      # 17.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 4.

2018 TOTALS
Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

2017 TOTALS (Started in March, 2017)
Penny  78
Dime   6
Nickel  0
Quarter  0
__________________________________________________________________

Friday, September 27, 2019

Val Can't Catch a Brake

You'd think an 11-year-old Tahoe would be more reliable.

Val doesn't ask for much. Just a daily trip to town for her 44 oz Diet Coke and scratcher tickets. With Hick gone momentarily in A-Cad, Val depends on T-Hoe for her ride. Okay. Val depends on T-Hoe, even when A-Cad is parked beside him in the garage. T-Hoe has his minor malfunctions, but is generally dependable.

Thursday, I parked at the end of the gravel road while I got the mail and looked it over. I do this every day that there's mail delivery, as I head to town. Thursday, I turned off T-Hoe to open two bills, checking the due dates to see if I should write them out there to mail in town, or if they could wait until I got back home, to be mailed the next day. They were waitable.

I started up T-Hoe, and tooled along the county blacktop road for two miles. Then I got on the county lettered highway for the remaining two miles to town. I was almost to the prison when

DING! DING! DING! DING! DING! DING!

assaulted my ears. What in the NOT-HEAVEN???

I felt a surge of adrenaline as I rapidly assessed T-Hoe's condition. He was still rolling along at 55 mph, air conditioner running, radio playing, power steering operational, gauges in normal range. Oh! There on the dashboard! A red BRAKE, alternating with the phrase TRACTION CONTROL OFF. As I was looking at that, it went off, and on the left side of the panel, a yellow triangle with a skidding car appeared.

There was nowhere to pull over (not turning into the prison complex, thank you). I made sure to coast down to a low speed before trying the brakes for my left turn at the next road. They worked just fine. Once in town, I called Hick. Who was having breakfast (at 1:00 my time) with his brother in Nevada.

According to Hick, when the traction control is off, I still have brakes on at least two wheels. I just don't have the traction control to switch my braking to another wheel if one of the four is on a slippery surface. So I might go into a skid. Hick's advice?

"Just don't slam on your brakes."

Don't get me started! AS IF every time I slam on the brakes, I have planned that in advance! Or like I do it as my main method of stopping! Seriously! The only reason I'd slam on the brakes is if something unpredictable happened to necessitate it. Like another car coming into my path. Or a living creature.

Hick also suggested that I could drive T-Hoe to Mick the Mechanic, say who I was (heh, heh, 'Don't you know who I AM?'), and have him take a look. Again, no thank you. That's just so awkward, to ask for Mick in person, take him away from what he's doing to look at T-Hoe, then more awkwardness of asking what to pay him, or making a decision on what work might need to be done, and then waiting for it to be performed, or making an appointment for it, at which time I would have to hang around for hours, or ride back home with a stranger dropping me off.

No. Thank. You.

Good thing I didn't take T-Hoe to Mick the Mechanic. I stopped for gas, and when I started T-Hoe up again afterwards, the light was off! No red light, no yellow triangle!

I'm not upset with T-Hoe. He has served me well. Hick, on the other hand... has been told over and over again about things not working properly on T-Hoe. At which time he suggests things it might be, but does not take T-Hoe apart, nor take him for repairs.

Don't suggest that I TAKE T-HOE FOR REPAIRS! I don't understand stuff like that. They'll see me coming a mile away, and probably offer to change the air in my tires, or replace my blinker fluid, and give me a special deal of only $1000 if I do both. SHEESH! That would be like expecting Hick to be able to put a pizza from the Walmart deli in FRIG II when he carries it in from the car.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

You're Not EVEN Believin' This!

Don't get too excited. I didn't win a million dollars, and I didn't see the head of the previously seen headless man in my basement. It's ordinary everyday stuff, but so far outside Val's comfort zone that the earth might have stopped spinning for a nanosecond.

Wednesday, I stopped by Country Mart for scratchers out of their machines. Can't just buy from one machine, because it might be the wrong one! Anyhoo, I parked in a row perpendicular to the store. Third space. Nothing was parked in the row across from T-Hoe. I walked over two empty parking spaces to get to the door.

An old man was buying scratchers at the machine on my left as I entered the door. So I went right. Bought my tickets. The old man had left the store during my transaction. Not that it took long. I know what I want when I go in there. I went to the other machine, tapped my selections, and left.

As I walked towards T-Hoe, over those two empty parking spaces, I saw

SCRATCHERS ON THE PAVEMENT!

What in the Not-Heaven? Who would leave scratchers there? Here's the mind-boggling part:

I WALKED RIGHT PAST THEM!

Can you believe it? Those scratchers were face-down. I could tell by their size that they were the $5 tickets. I'm sure they were just losers discarded by a ne'er-do-well litterer. But they were not bent or scratched-looking. Still stiff as new. In a stack, kind of spread out. Also, they were smack-dab in the middle of a parking space. If somebody had parked there while I was inside for those few minutes, they would have needed to toss their losers under the car, to get them in that location, with the tickets landing in that neat array.

I never saw a car parked there. I was inside less than five minutes. The old man was already inside when I got there. Had he walked across that area, and the tickets fell out of his pocket? Did someone drive in and park there, just to throw out losing tickets? I have no idea where they came from, or if they were unscratched.

Here's the deal. Those scratchers were not meant for me. I'd bought my own scratchers inside, as planned. If I'd dropped mine while getting in T-Hoe, the first thing I'd do when I noticed would be to return to the parking lot, and look for them. Sure, I could have taken them inside if they were unscratched, and left them at the customer service desk just inside the door. But who's to say they would have kept them and not scratched them?

In retrospect, I wish I had at least picked them up to see if they were scratched. Skies were cloudy, and they might have been ruined if it rained. But I wouldn't have kept them. Whoever eventually discovered them more likely needed them worse than I did.

Those scratchers weren't meant for me. SHEESH! It's not like they were PENNIES!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Val's Very Good Casino Day, Until...

Last Friday, my sister the ex-mayor's wife asked if I wanted to ride to the city with her and the ex-mayor her husband, to two casinos that I don't regularly frequent. Of course I went! Hick left on his own trip, and I had nobody to answer to. Sis gave up her shotgun seat so I could get in and out of her Expedition comfortably. And the Ex-Mayor doesn't sweave!

The purpose of their trip was not so much gambling as gathering their casino comp gifts. The first one was just a water filter thingy, but the second was a backpack part of a luggage set. As Sis said, "They're free. We can use them as prizes at the Christmas party. You'll get to see them today, and you will know which size package to choose or pass up!"

The first stop was downtown, a casino with a ritzy name, where I have never been. My favorite gambling aunt went there with her daughter when it first opened, and was not impressed. I gotta say, I was plenty impressed! But only because the slots were kind to me.

We only had an hour there, so Sis and Ex-Mayor could get to the other casino before all the comp gifts were gone. We arrived a little after 11:00, with plans to meet up front at 12:15. I spent 10 minutes waiting in line to get a player's card. As a new member, I got to scratch a card, and won $5. Whoop-ti-do! It's better than nothing, but not very rewarding for a 10-minute wait. From there, I went immediately to the bathroom. On the way, I saw one of my favorite machines. So that's where I sat down first. After the bathroom, of course!

It was Wonder 4 Tower! I put in a twenty, and played all Buffalo, at the minimum bet of 40 cents per game. That means my bet was $1.60 a spin, since this machine plays four games at once. I was pleasantly surprised when I hit a bonus after just a few spins. True, it was not the tower bonus, but any bonus on Buffalo usually takes a lot of spins.


I was THRILLED to win a $74.20 bonus, since it was based on only one of my games, with its single game wager of 40 cents a spin. With extra money so early, and a limited time left to play, I increased my bet to the next level.


Whoop-ti-freakin-doo! I hit the TOWER bonus, with no weirdo there to distract me with small chat. I got this picture as it was counting up my money, giving me the coin show for my big win on the next-to-last bonus spin. You might notice the amount up top, $108.00 for that screen!

When it all counted out, I was up to $212.10, after putting in a twenty, and my $5 of free play. I think this is my best first-game ever in a casino! I don't even mind that I didn't reach the top of the tower!


I played a few more spins, then cashed out, and stuffed that voucher in my gambling purse. Of course I was in a hurry to play more slots before time to go. I headed for a Fortune Coin slot, which kept paying me little amounts, and then gave me a bonus of $105! I took a picture of the screen, but somehow it was missing from my phone when Sis walked up and I tried to show her. I shoved this voucher in to add to that, and played it down to as close to an even number as I could get.

From there, Sis and I went over to a Wonder 4 Boost. I really like this game, but it was having none of me! How cruel! I was sure I could keep winning. I could not. Anyhoo... it was time to go, and I cashed out $302. Don't think I brought it home with me! We still had another casino to go to.

That was the problem. Just like some people never watch TV, don't even have one in their house... I'm sure some people would take that money and sit for an hour, not playing, in another casino. Heh, heh! If they'd do that, they wouldn't have won the money in the first place! I go gambling to GAMBLE, by cracky! Not to WIN! If I happen to hit my bonuses at go-home time, yeah, I'd cash them out and leave. But I'm not sitting on free money, watching others play, when I've come in prepared to gamble.

I spent a portion of my casino bankroll at the next casino, out on the flood plain, with the amphitheater, and a couple new buildings built since I was there last. No pictures, because no slots there paid me even my money back. I'll know next time not to keep feeding the same machine there. Either bonus early, or walk away and find a different slot.

All told, I had a grand old time with Sis and the Ex-Mayor. I came home with $17 less than I'd taken. So I consider the trip a success. Sure, I could have come home several hundred ahead. But I could also have come home without a penny of my casino bankroll left.

Heh, heh. Some people like to gamble, some people like to golf, some people like to knit, some people like to work on cars, some people like to watch TV, some people like to cook fancy vittles, some people like to hoard junk, some people like to garden, some people like to write, some people like to play music, some people like to make crafty things, and some people like to gallop around on their high-horse. What a boring world it would be if we all enjoyed the same pastimes.

I still have my casino bankroll to play again this Friday, when I've been invited back! Sis is all hopped up about the cookware set that she's getting. I want to try that Wonder 4 Tower slot again.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Proud Non-Owners

Hick and Val are now the proud non-owners of a 32-foot camper!

I took the cashier's check to the bank (after doing Hick the favor of signing his name while he's several states away) for deposit. There were five people ahead of me, but since I waited until 1:00, the tellers were all back from lunch. That meant two were serving customers, and a third was opening up her window.

One lady had a time-consuming transaction that I barely caught the tail-end of. Apparently she was cashing a check, or withdrawing from her account. She said, "Wait a minute, before you do anything with those fives. I need to buy some fives from you. I need $330 in fives." Her daily 44 oz Diet Cokes must be REALLY expensive!

A dude finished up his transaction and left. So only three more guys ahead of me. Then one said he was wanting to talk to a loan officer, and that got rid of HIM. The other two men were together (not like that), which brought me right to the opening-up teller.

This is the Teller who knows me. I don't know her, but she's the one who tried to help with my ATM-shorted $20. I don't hold it against her. She's also told me that her aunt won a huge amount on a scratcher. Can't remember if it was $25,000 or $100,000.

Anyhoo... she took the cashier's check and my deposit slip, and typed in my account number, and looked briefly at the back of the cashier's check for the endorsements. I must say, I let out a sigh of relief when she flipped it back over. The typed in some more stuff on her computer. Then she excused herself to the back room. I thought she might be calling to verify that cashier's check, but she came right back with a printout for my receipt. She explained that $200 would be available immediately, and $5000 the next business day, and the remaining amount on October 2. That's an interesting method of holding it now.

You might recall that about six months ago, when I brought a check from my very own credit union, just a couple miles up the street, that one teller (who was working directly to my left, heh, heh) had picked up the phone right there at the counter, and then told me that my check had not been issued by my credit union! Which I'm pretty sure would make IT fake, and ME a criminal! Anyhoo... I talked my way out of that one (by telling the truth and pointing out her error in calling the wrong facility), so I'm almost over the PTSD from that experience.

I can't believe how easy this transaction was! Now I can start worrying for the next 10 business days, in case something goes wrong...

Bottom line, we sold the camper, and the check is in the bank. I imagine Hick is already online seeking new flip houses...

Monday, September 23, 2019

Ode to a Forest River Salem 32 Foot Travel Trailer

Bubbles leave the watched pot
The horse has left the barn
Our camper left the gravel lot
Early Sunday morn

Keys and title given up
For handshake and a check
The Veteran riding with his pup
Was at Val's call and beck

Ol' Val is such a doubter
Of the deal that Hick did make
The check is on the counter
Why does she fear it's fake

Sunday morning, I met The Veteran on the parking lot where Hick has his Storage Unit Store. The Veteran brought along his new pup, a yellow lab that he won in a raffle, now 15 weeks old. I'm not so sure he did it for the companionship, as much as to keep that doggie out of trouble. Seems he ate a square of the kitchen flooring during his first week in his new home. Perhaps that's how he became a raffle prize.

Anyhoo... we'd only been there about 5 minutes, The Veteran sitting in T-Hoe to chat while his large pup sat in the air-conditioned cab of his running truck, when Blue Truck Man arrived. The title and keys were exchanged for the check forthwith, and The Veteran got back Hick's FOR SALE signs. He said that Hick had instructed him to bring home the bricks supporting the camper, if Blue Truck Man didn't want them. He was relieved that Blue Truck Man said he'd take the bricks.

The Veteran helped Blue Truck Man with the hitch, then we chatted a while. Blue Truck Man decided to flip the hitch, or change the bolts around. Something mechanical of which my head has no need to fill itself with details. He came over to see if The Veteran had a Phillips screwdriver. Alas, he had everything but. No big deal. I was sure he could find one at the flea market, but he said he was going to the nearby Family Center store for an extension cord anyway, and would get one there.

Blue Truck Man said he had originally come to town to the feed store that's across the street from the storage units. As he came up the hill, he saw our camper on the parking lot. Of course he had to come look at it, and gave Hick a call. Location, location, location!

Anyhoo... I got the check home, and the more I looked at it, the more I fear it is fake!


Yes, it's a cashier's check, from a bank within 30 miles of Backroads. One end of it has a tiny-lettered sentence about security. But the date stumped me. As I looked at that date, it was 09/22/19, 9:15 AM! What in the NOT-HEAVEN? Was Blue Truck Man a time-traveler? How could he give me a check from the future?

Also, the front of the check declared that the back of the check held a reflective watermark that would be noticed by tilting the check under a light. I tilted that check seven ways to Sunday, and did not find a watermark! Sure, there was the bank's website scattered diagonally across the back, in orange ink. A couple of them had one end of the lettering that looked yellow. I don't know if that's what you call reflective.

AND, the top of the check, where you would tear along a perforation from the full page of the cashier's check specifics... did not look at all perforated! More like when you fold a piece of paper back and forth, then tear along the weakened crease.

I got on the phone to Hick, who said he was sure the check was fine.

"Val. I'm sure it's good. I have no reason to think that guy would give us a bad check. He probably got it on Saturday, and the bank printed the next business day as the date of the check. I have several calls to and from him on my cell phone. There's a camera on the front of the storage units that will show his license plates, and him taking the camper. You're worried for nothing."

I hope this is one time that Hick is right! I agree that I'm overly suspicious. It didn't help that only the day before, while waiting in line at The Gas Station Chicken Store, I saw that they'd posted a picture of a man at the counter with one word under it: FAKE! Seems like he passed a bad $10 bill. The Gas Station Chicken Store don't play!

Anyhoo... it's not the same guy. The Blue Truck Man seemed perfectly honest when he came over to T-Hoe and spoke to me. Not nervous or shifty or in a hurry for us to leave, or for him to haul that camper out of there.

One thing's for sure. My bank is going to give me a hard time when I deposit that check. I smell a 10-day hold in my future.