Monday, March 31, 2014

Thevictorian's Believe It or Not

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Rather than looking at this blank slate tonight, I went for a spin around the internets. Wouldn't you know it? Blog buddy Sioux, a manuscript-finisher, gave me a bit of inspiration. Oh, she didn't inspire me to finish a manuscript. M-O-O-N. That spells first I'd have to actually START a manuscript before I could finish one. And that's obviously not happening tonight. No, I took inspiration from her topic of honesty.

When I was in junior college, (yes, even Val, the illustrious valedictorian, went to junior college, thanks to a trustee's scholarship that was too good to pass up, along with free room and board and laundry service courtesy of the parental units), I had a psychology teacher who touched on the subject of honesty. Don't mind the run-on sentence. He was a psychology teacher, for cryin' out loud, not an English teacher.

Let's call him Dr. Bobo. He was quite partial to tossing the Bobo doll (figuratively, of course) into daily discussions. However, this one day, he got onto the subject of child development, and how there are ages and stages that human babies go through. And how parents of course think their child is the most brilliant, most beautiful creature ever born.

"Parents come up to me and tell me how advanced little Johnny is. How little Susie is surely the next Einstein. I know they're proud of their kids. I don't want to call anybody a liar. I don't want to embarrass them, or make them feel bad. One lady was so excited. 'Dr. Bobo! My son spoke his first words the other day. He's only six months old. I walked into his room to pick him up after his nap, and he said, May I have a cookie, please?'"

"Now, I knew a six-month-old baby would not speak like that. What could I say? What would YOU say? I've developed a standard response for these instances, in order to spare people's feelings. It's not exactly a lie. I'm not agreeing with them. I simply say, to their outrageous claims, 'Well, imagine that!' They can take it to mean whatever they want. We are both satisfied with the interaction. They've shared their pride and joy, and I've acknowledged them."

Hey, did I ever tell you about the summer 8-year-old Genius drove his 5-year-old brother around the yard in a standard-shift 1996 Toyota Tercel? Yep. Made him ride in the back seat. "You're not old enough to ride in front, Pony. Now put on your seatbelt." The Pony clutched 'Little Bear' to his shoulder, a stuffed bear he'd scammed from the top of my Valentines heart. Genius made many laps through the front yard, up the driveway, across the front field by the sinkhole, down past the barn, and back through the front yard. Hick and I didn't think anything of it. That was normal behavior for Genius.

Here's the car before Hick fixed it up.

Don't go calling 1-800-BAD-MOM. The statute of limitations has run out. Don't be a Dr. Bobo. Nobody is allowed to say, "Well, imagine that!" in the comments.

Don't make me come over there!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

He Managed to Capture the Mysterious One-Armed Chair...

Because I'm sure normal folks can never get enough of Hick's Goodwill bargains, I am reprising yesterday's post to fill you in on the rest of the story.

Genius liked this painting, so he paid his part of the $7 the haul cost them, and whisked it away to his dorm room for safekeeping. Because we all know an oil painting ain't safe in a house full of Hicks. Much better to let it take its chances in a suite shared by 4 boy-men who will appreciate it properly.

The child safe that has a combination but doesn't lock was returned to the homestead for proper documentation. Hick LOVES for his junk to be featured on my blog. His GOODWILL junk, people. Stop tittering. I'm not talking about that junk housed by his tighty-whities. Though he would probably enjoy that junk being featured as well. Hick has no shame. And no sense of reality.

The child safe is now locked. Only not really. Because any turn will open it. So nice, I showed it twice.

As you can see, our ample butts have not been plopped in those porch chairs all winter. Porch chairs, which, of course, were not bought retail or wholesale, but picked up from my grandma's estate auction.

And now, the star of the show, the mysterious one-armed chair only used twice by a teenage boy in Backroads, USA. It's not like the boy needs that absent limb. He's left-handed, you know. So why would his left arm need to rest like a lazy lay-about right arm? The back of the chair is mesh, and Genius can lean back like a quasi-recliner. I don't know if the chair is meant to do that on purpose, but Genius says it's comfy.

We had to move it away from his built-in desk lovingly crafted by his father, because its position in front of his double window caused a glare on the phone camera. And seriously, that green wall behind his built-in trophy shelves actually DOES go with his monochromatic gray stripe theme on the other two walls. That's because his sheets are that same chartreuse hue. Genius is much more artsy than the rest of us. Just don't choose him for your team in a Pictionary tournament, because his strength lies in photography, not pencil sketches. In fact, his walls are covered with more photos (snapped by him) than the backyard shed walls of Russell Crowe as John Nash in A Beautiful Mind.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go break the news to Hick that there will be no cabbage juice in his future, for his new-found bargain gadget is not a cabbage juicer at all, but a less-exotic potato ricer. Maybe he'll hold interviews and hire one of you enlighteners to be his sidekick on his proposed television program, "One Man's Junk." Lookout, American Pickers.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Son and Husband Went Goodwilling, and All I Got Was This...

Genius has been home for Spring Break all week while we worked ourselves to the bone to send him away to college. There's an O. Henry vibe there.

Hick took Friday off so he could go Goodwill hopping with Genius. They headed for the city, because everybody knows city people have better junk than country people. Hick is always on the lookout for old-timey gadgets, beer and Coca Cola memorabilia, and chickens. Genius is in the market for an office chair to replace the one he got for $20 and took to his dorm room, and for cameras, lenses, and accoutrements that he can resell for a profit to fund his expensive photography hobby. He also has Hick trained to bid on these items at auctions.

The Pony and I had Friday off because it was parent conference week at school, and we stayed late two nights. We went about our day paying bills and visiting with my mom. I left The Pony with her to spend the night, and went back home to await the return of the Goodwillers. Genius had dropped Hick off for a doctor's appointment on the way home, and went to buy a new pair of shoes because his stink. While whiling away time in the waiting room waiting to be picked up, Hick sent me a cryptic text.

"We hot u a prize."

"Oh, really. You hot me a prize?"

"Yeah. Got y prise." He's not the best typer or texter.

"I hope it isn't Auction Meat." In case you have forgotten, Hick bid on a box at the auction one night that was simply marked "meat," but the price went too high. THANK YOU, Even Steven!

"Goodwill Meat."

That was enough for me. I refused any further communication. When the guys got home, I heard a crinkly sack. I thought perhaps Genius had picked up some fast food, since both had said not to prepare supper for them. Then Hick came into the living room with the sack. It was my surprise:


Never mind that I can't eat a whole bag of Gus's pretzels. It's the thought that counts. Oh, and Hick ate one on the way home. But that's not the big news. Hick had to tell me of the bargains he and Genius picked up.

"We got a cabbage juicer..."

"What? Who juices cabbage? Are you sure that's what it is?"

"Well, that's what your grandma told me it was when I used to go visit and saw hers. And we got a kitchen knife..."

"Who buys a kitchen knife at Goodwill? We have knives. Your company MAKES knives!"

"It has a bone handle. And we got a round-ended shovel..."

"For what? To whack those roosters that jump at you and dig their spurs into your belly, like when you sent that little banty checkerboard rooster flying with the blue plastic snow shovel?"

"To use for digging, like when something gets one of the chickens. And we got a painting not on canvas but on a board, that Genius wanted..."

"Maybe there'll be a great master under the painting."

"Maybe. And we got a pair of needlnose pliers..."

"Those always come in handy, even if you already have about 100 pair."

"Yeah. And we got a kid's lock box..."

"Can you get it open? Does it have a combination?"

"It has a combination, but you don't need to know it, because it works with any numbers, you just turn the dial and it opens. And we got two Oreo Coke tins..."

"Oreo COKE tins? What's that?"

"I mean Oreo tins. And Genius found a chair! An office chair for his room. It's a really good chair, too, even if it IS missing an arm..."

"WHAT? Genius bought a chair with one arm?" Just then I heard Genius wheeling his prize through the kitchen. He pushed it across the living room carpet and plopped down, resting his right arm on the chair's lone limb. He sighed and leaned back.

"It's really comfortable, Mom."

I couldn't stand it any more. I was hee-hawing like a madwoman. "I can't believe you guys! Why do we need this stuff? I'm not juicing any cabbage, or shoveling chicken graves, or locking my valuables in an unlocked box, or stabbing people with that shiv of a kitchen knife, or framing a painting, or collecting Oreo memorabilia. And that pressure cooker is just going to put us on the watch list! But I will agree that except for missing an arm, that office chair looks like it's in good shape."

"Wait! The best part is...WE GOT IT ALL FOR SEVEN DOLLARS!"

I was afraid to ask where he got my Gus's pretzels.

Here's a picture of part of the spoils:

Friday, March 28, 2014

When Cleanliness is Next to Stalkiness

Oh, dear. I hate to bring this up. You all know how Val isn't one to complain. How she's a rah-rah, overly-optimistic, glass-is-half-full, silver-lining-finding ray of sunshine who occasionally shoots rainbows from special structures in her wrists like Spiderman shoots web. But I can't hold it in any longer. I try not to talk about work here most of the time. I need the advice of cooler heads. Folks on the outside looking in. I'm curious if my teacher friends will see the situation differently (that's not a good omen--I typed "differntly") than the laymen.

I think The Cleaner is out to get me.

The Cleaner has been with us for a couple of years now. The Cleaner replaced a kindly custodian who was great at visiting during your plan time, driving people home if a snowstorm overtook us, and would give folks the shirt off his back, and kids at the ballgame a dollar for snacks. The Cleaner is a bit more high-strung. A bit more conscientious about the duties entailed by the position. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Surfaces gleam. Dust screams and scrams when it sees The Cleaner coming. You can almost hear the theme song from "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." I'm not sure, but I think, after hours, that The Cleaner may patrol the halls with a holster holding a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on each hip. If The Cleaner was a cleaner...The Cleaner would be Fantastik.

Let the record show that the old custodian always told Val her room was the best one to clean. Yeah. I'm sure you think he said that to all the teachers. But I'm sure he was being honest with me. There were hardly ever any paper scraps on the floor. No candy or gum wrappers. No broken pencil pieces or spitwads. Every now and then we had a mudder. And occasionally there would be a dirty spot on the tile from when somebody got a bit overzealous with the Germ-X, and the floor blob gathered grime from passing soles. Every day seventh hour, I had my students straighten the rows of desks, lining them up on tile lines, and push in their chairs. This is my 26th year of teaching. I run a tight ship.

Three days last week, upon arrival at 7:25 a.m., I noticed that my furniture had been repositioned. This has happened intermittently throughout the year. The problem with this is that I must move 25 desks and 25 chairs back to their original positions. Students creep, you know. By the end of the day, those desks are two tiles off front, and two tiles off back. A tile is twelve inches. So we're talking two feet closer to the board, and two feet closer to the back bookcase. In the back row, students sprawl. They rear back and stretch their legs. Backpacks hang on the seat backs. We are hard-pressed to squeeze through the educational accoutrements piled about the pupils.

I know that The Cleaner knows where my desks and chairs go. They are lined up right more often than they are moved. On those three days in a row, the tastefully shoed feet of my desks were exactly four inches off each designated line. No, I did not measure. My discerning eye can judge 1/3 of a tile. That made the back row of the four rows a whole tile farther back. A foot off. That means the only way around the room is across the front. That is not ideal. One must constantly move, like a shark needing oxygen flowing over its gills to survive, in order to keep one's finger on the pulse of the classroom.

Growing tired of moving 25 desks and 25 chairs each morning, I entertained the thought of putting my furniture four inches forward each evening in order to make a point to The Cleaner that just that little bit of fudging makes a big difference in functionality. I put that thought on the back burner, because really, have you ever tried to teach 25 freshmen to unlearn desk feet positions and relearn new ones? Didn't think so. Then on Thursday, only the back row had been moved. There was a letter on my desk asking if we could discuss setting the desks farther apart, in order to facilitate dry-mopping. Let the record show that this configuration has been in effect at least four years, and a dry-mopping problem has never been mentioned before.

Val may be an overbearing blowhard, but she does not like confrontation. Nor does she like to see anybody's job made harder by her own doing. To place the furniture in the new configuration would be a hardship on Val for seven hours a day, less one plan period, and perhaps make The Cleaner's job a bit easier for 10 minutes per day. It's not like the desks are a toothpick-width apart to start with. There are two feet between chair feet. The short dust mop fits. The old custodian didn't even break stride as he went up and down the rows. Sure, sometimes he had to swish that mop sideways to grab an errant dust bunny, but the configuration was eminently doable. In addition, Val makes sure that on mopping day, which is different every couple of weeks, denoted by a note on my desk, that the kids stack the chairs on the desks, and move them farther apart so the legs don't snag the shoulders of The Cleaner. AND Val and The Pony put those chairs down the morning after mopping, and move all the desks into proper position.

Not wanting to overstep my bounds, I showed my building principal the note, and asked if I needed to adjust my furniture. He shook his head. Said that The Cleaner had brought up the matter with him, and that he told The Cleaner to ask me. Huh. I was tattled on by The Cleaner! For desks that have been in the same position for the whole time The Cleaner has worked here!

What you may not know is that The Cleaner also opens and scrubs my personal microwave, and has been known to put the caps on all my pens that I leave out on my desk overnight. When I told The Cleaner that a new desk design would not work for me, and commented that they are the same as they've been for four eyars, The Cleaner grew defense, and declared that since the beginning of the year, The Cleaner had wanted to bring this up. Oh, dear. Val is the bad guy for wanting her classroom to remain arranged to suit her needs.

It has gotten to the point that Val is somewhat afraid to cross The Cleaner. I don't want The Cleaner cleaning my microwave, and probably also my mini-fridge, but I'm afraid to say anything. Thursday, the students were dismissed at 1:00 for parent conferences. Teachers spent time working in their rooms until parents showed up. The Cleaner had my room swept, microwave wiped, and trash dumped by 2:00. HELLO! Val cannot go four hours without making trash! I have to blow my nose, you know. Especially after the vigorous dust-mopping while I was in the classroom. Then there was that half-bottle of Dr. Pepper left over from Tuesday's conferences. And the can of Beanie Weenies I brought to tide me over because nobody was bringin' pasta at 3:40 like on Tuesday.

Here's how bad it has become. Rather than throw my trash in the wastebasket like a normal person, I sealed up my Beanie Weenie can in a ziploc sandwich bag left over from lunch, and stuffed it in a Walmart sack with my used tissues and Dr. Pepper bottle and sugarless gum wrapper, and CARRIED IT HOME TO THROW AWAY! Yes! I was like an environmentally-friendly hiker packing my crap out of Yellowstone.

Somebody has their priorities wrong, methinks.

It is Val?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Me Called Pretty One Day

"I'll get you, my pretty!"

Yeah. I think I heard the clerk at the convenience store cackle that threat at me last night. I can't be sure. I was working up a good mad, so the blood pounding in my ears might have prevented proper auditory signals from reaching my brain.

I just ran in for a minute. To get The Pony a Sprite in a bottle. We had called in a pizza on the way home, after The Pony's academic team practice going over by a half hour. The Pony prefers to eat his pizza in the car while it's hot. Since he has a chauffeur, nothing really stands in his way. But he does request that Sprite to wash it down. I'm selfless like that. Stopping at a convenience store just to get my Pony a drink.

Since I was stopping anyway, I saw no harm in grabbing a 44 oz. Diet Coke. The fountain is right there, you see, on the way to the register after picking up a 20 oz. bottle of Sprite from the cooler. As luck and schemin' Even Steven would have it, I was without a refill cup. So I strolled in empty-handed. Oh, and I forgot the Sprite.

The clerk was that kind of hateful old lady who says all transactions out loud. She glanced up as I came in the door. I think they're trained to do that, in case maybe I'm an escaped axe murderer bent on mayhem. She had one customer at the counter. He was soon gone as I stepped up to the fountain and pulled a cup. The Wicked Witch of the West looked at me, then busied herself by poking her flying monkeys under the counter with her broom handle. Or something. I stuck my cup against the metal dangly thing for ice. SILENCE. Not a rumble, not a clunk, not a sound. I tried again. No dice, no ice.

"Are we out of ice?"

"I don't know. I haven't checked." Again with busywork, probably pinching Toto in that little basket on the floor at her feet. I filled my 44 oz. cup most of the way with Diet Coke, leaving room for ice from Frig's freezer door dispenser. Dang. Even Steven was busting my hump. I may or may not have emitted an audible sigh.

I walked up front and turned in two winning scratch-off tickets. Then I bought three more. Even Steven. I did, however, pull out a twenty to break for smaller bills. "That's fifteen dollars in, and fifteen dollars out in tickets. Is that a refill?" I guess she was testing me.

"No. This is a new one."

"A dollar fifty-seven..."

"Oh. I forgot the Sprite. I'm getting one out of the cooler." I walked the ten paces to the back and snagged a green bottle." There were still no other customers. I put the Sprite on the counter.

"One twenty-five. Is that all?"

"Yes. That's it."

"Out of twenty...did you try the other machine?"

"No. I didn't. I'm in a hurry."

NOW the WWoftheW had the nerve to ask. She was referring to the Pepsi fountain. Which was right next to the Coca Cola fountain. Of course I would not sully my new cup with ice from a Pepsi machine! That would be barbaric. Who in their right mind would push their new 44 oz. cup under the nozzle for ice from a PEPSI machine? Not this old Val. I have standards.

I didn't even think about getting ice from the Pepsi fountain.

I wonder if the WWoftheW would melt if Diet Coke got accidentally spilled on her?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Transgression Number 782,407

Hick has done it again. I know you must be shocked, SHOCKED to hear that he is in hot water over dry green beans.

Yep. Hick was entrusted to put away the leftovers the other night. He grilled some delicious ribeyes on Gassy G, and I simmered up a pot of green beans, potatoes, bacon, and onions. Mmm...I must say they were fantastic. Genius was planning to have seconds after a while, so I left the pan on the stove. All I asked was that either Hick or Genius put the remains in Frig to enjoy at a later date. A simple request.

First cat out of the bag, Hick chose the wrong container. I KNOW! Surely he could psychically discern what container I had in mind. Or even holler down the steps and ask. But no. Not our Hick. Rather than use one of the 89 tall see-through plastic containers left over from take-out Hot & Sour Soup, he chose one of the 3 flat rectangular white plastic trays with a clear top, which used to be given out with Chinese take-out before they switched to the white foam rectangles which they STAPLE shut. Don't get me started.

The thing with the flat container is that we don't have as many. They are good for holding sausages left from a BBQ, or slices of meat loaf, or slabs of ham, or pieces of birthday cake. Things that don't lend themselves to deep round quart containers. WAIT! Were you thinking, perhaps, that Thevictorian family uses real Tupperware? Hahahahaha! Not quite. We only recently graduated from margarine and Cool Whip tubs.

Second cat out of the bag, Hick has no concept of what makes a good leftover. I went to heat up some green beans tonight, and they were DRY. Drier than a snakeskin entwined in a tumbleweed cartwheeling across the cracked hardpan of Death Valley after a ten-year drought. So I said to Hick, "Hey, where's the juice for these green beans?"

"I didn't save any juice. I drained it. There's no juice." Leave it to Hick, lover of soup towers, hater of liquid, to decree by omission that nobody shall enjoy the tasty pot liquor left from simmering green beans and bacon and potatoes and onions for hours to achieve the delightful flavor desirous of a second helping (of VEGETABLES) from a teenage boy.

Yes, Hick left Val liquorless. Made her a broth teetotaler.

It's very bland up here on the wagon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's 3:32 Somewhere

From the folks who brought you Lunch At 10:53…I proudly announce the unveiling of their latest venture: Supper At 3:32.

Yes, we have apparently become citizens of Del Boca Vista. You know, that illustrious senior community in Florida where the Costanzas considered moving. Home of fold-out couches with back-breaking bars in them. Where the air conditioner is never turned on. Where neighbors voluntarily give you their astronaut pen, then have the nerve to want it back. Like some kind of...person who gives something to you then wants it back. No steak dinners at 4:30 for us. No sirree, Bob! It’s pasta primavera at 3:32, baby! It’s a wonder we weren’t all “refunding” a couple of hours later, with a doomed boat ride on an anti-whaling mission for Greenpeace in our future.

Such is the life of a public school teacher on parent conference night. It’s either feast or famine. This evening was a feast. Instead of ordering out our own meal at our own expense, and having our Chinese or Mexican fare arrive at 5:00, for everybody and his brother to handle and sift through and shove aside while on a quest for his item…the school footed the bill and brought us pasta. Mmm…mmm. Okay, the Truth in Blogging Law says I must disclose that we did not really have pasta primavera. We had mostaccioli, and fettuccine alfredo, with salad and rolls.

The meal was supposed to arrive at 4:00. Still earlier than the Early Bird Special, but planned so we could feast uninterrupted by the after-work rush. Woe were the poor souls who have third lunch from 11:47 to 12:14. No doubt they were still stuffed from their cafeteria tray of "pork" chop, mashed potatoes, peas, and a banana. Too bad, so sad! More for US! The ravenous 10:53 lunch crowd.

We might as well live up to our sullied reputation of scarfing down every morsel in our path, like army ants on the march. Take THAT, grazers. Leave those carbs alone. Salad for you. Forget the roll.

Monday, March 24, 2014

What Goes In Must Come Out

Here, here! Settle down. No good can come of stampeding for the door. Somebody's going to get hurt. Look out for that balding fellow with a whitish discoloration on his lip--the one who looks like Humpty Dumpty with a melon head. He might shove you down if you're an old lady with a walker. Really. There's no need to rush. I promise I'm not going to talk about feces transplants again.

Remember how Hick and I decided to cast the cats out of Outer Garagia? The ungrateful fleabags with their overactive bladders were exiled to relieve themselves elsewhere. Hopefully not in a corner of the parking garage at the mall. Or in the shower at the health club. I hear that is frowned upon. That could get you arrested. Or banned. Or earn you the nickname of The Urinator.

We've been feeding those foul felines outside the garage on a shelf on the breezeway. If one runs in, we shake that food pan and entice it out. Yet Hick found Genius-the-cat curled up on T-Hoe's hood the other day. And I found that fat tuxedo fellow clambering down from the rafters by way of a sideways-hung ladder with all the grace of a pink-tulle-tutued hippo auditioning for the position of understudy for a prima ballerina in Swan Lake.

Today when The Pony and I opened my side of the garage and aligned T-Hoe with the slot, I spied Genius-the-cat curled up on the concrete slab of our approach. "Hey! There's Genius! Let's get that door closed as soon as I get in, or he'll run inside and we'll have to catch him." Genius ran in, but The Pony shooed him out the people door to the awaiting food dish. The crank of that garage door is like a bell to Pavlov's dog to those felines. They come running, even if it means to take a bite of stale dry food that has been out since 6:00 a.m.

"Genius is out, but there's that gray cat that's been in here all day."

"What? I told your dad to keep them out! Why is he letting them come in when he leaves? This is never going to work."

The Pony walked over to Hick's garage door. Bent down. Made a 'CLICK' noise. " would help if we locked the cat door."

"WHAT? I told him the very first day we kicked them out, 'We have to lock the cat door.' What in the world is he thinking? They can come in and out all day! They haven't been kicked out at all!"

"It WAS locked. But Dad unlocked it the other day. He said they needed a way to get out in case they got inside in the morning."

At the rate I'm pulling my hair out, I'm going to need to put the wig master of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the #1 position on my speed dial.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Maybe I Could Find a Non-Murderous Sitter On Craigslist

Genius is home for Spring Break. The problem is...nobody else has Spring Break this week. That means I have to babysit him. Not so much babysit him as in keep him from drinking bleach under the sink. He didn't even do that as a toddler. We didn't childproof for him. The biggest problem was preventing him from climbing up the refrigerator shelves to grab his bottle (yeah, he was a late weaner), and from removing the labels off 250 video tapes before stacking them to build a city. We did not succeed.

Now, as then, he's night owl. Unlike then, he now takes a nap. He got home yesterday, chatted a bit, then lay down on the short couch for a snooze. A three-hour snooze. The only thing that woke him was his phone. Then he took off to soothe a friend in a crisis until 2:00 a.m. He's a good friend like that. A good boarder, not so much.

On Friday, his original plan for this weekend was to go to the city Saturday, spend the night at the home of a college buddy, and then return to our open arms and open Frig. Plans changed. Seems the others making that trip decided to go to Atlanta instead, to run a marathon. Those wacky kids and their spur-of-the-moment travel plans. Genius said he had originally joined the pact for Atlanta last fall, but since he didn't have time to train for a marathon, he couldn't see forking over $500 for a trip to Atlanta to stand on the sidelines (thank you, Even Steven!) and watch.

Maybe I should be careful what I thank Even Steven for. This afternoon, I gave Genius the debit card to buy us some phones. The house phones are in a sorry state, what with my office landline having a cracked antenna, besides being as big as a shoebox like Jerry's cordless in season one of Seinfeld. The one out by my basement recliner has a rattle. The one I use upstairs has static. The wall phone in the master bathroom rings no more. And the kitchen wall phone only gets a dial tone if you jiggle the wire just right. Don't even suggest that we simply carry our cell phones from room to room. We barely get reception in the living room. Forget putting any walls or floors in between that satellite signal. So...we are $100 poorer, but now have four new phones. The wall phones will have to wait until Genius finds the right units.

He's going to a movie tonight. Tomorrow he's on his own. And the rest of the week, too, because we all work, and I have parent conferences two nights this week.

I suppose I'll see him in passing. He keeps vampire hours, you know.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

You Can't Always Get What You Want...But if You Try Sometime...You Just Might Find...a Perfectly Good Used Dip Net Laying in the Creek

Here's the thing about living in the country: people give you things for free.

Oh, sure. The pessimist might say that people cast off their old junk for us to deal with. Garbage bags full of trash, piles of limbs from tree-trimming, old refrigerators, oodles of cute puppies and kittens, and the occasional portable meth lab. Oh. And that headless body in a septic tank.

But Val, the eternal optimist, that Backroads Pollyanna, always seeing the silver lining, prefers to think of such cast-offs as unburied treasure. Okay. It's really Hick who sees other people's trash as his unclaimed treasure. And for that reason, when The Pony and I saw what lay on a flat rock in the shallow creek Thursday, we told Hick. He took off on his Gator to snag it before anybody else could claim it.

I must admit that I felt a little bit guilty. Not about taking a dip net out of the creek. Laws no! M-O-O-N. That spells out here in Backroads it's finders keepers, nobody is going to drive to town with a dip net and turn it in to the police and ask to keep it if nobody claims it in 30 days. No. I felt a little bit guilty because I feared I might have sent Hick to his demise. Or embarrassment. Or a slight head cold after getting his feet wet wading a creek for a dip net.

The more I thought about it, the more I grew concerned. I couldn't call Hick to warn him of my fears. Phones don't work down by the creek. You might as well be swirling down a sinkhole for all the reception you can get. I wondered if the dip net was a cruel trick. If somebody was behind a tree waiting to plug Hick like Elmer Fudd after a wascally wabbit. Or if this was a slightly humorous prank where one might have a hank of fishing line tied to that dip net, and whisk it away from Hick when he bent over to pick it up.

As you can see, it was a simple case of an abandoned dip net. Which now belongs to Hick.

Lesson? The land of Backroads is flowing with abandoned dip nets, free for the taking.

Friday, March 21, 2014

She Put a Bug in My Ear

I had the best day ever! Surprisingly enough, I was not at work!

Today I took off to drive my mom to the doctor. It was just routine, nothing serious. She had a morning lab appointment. I took it upon myself to drop her off at the door of the hospital, and pick her up when she was finished. Sure, she could have driven herself and parked in the lot and ridden the trolley driven by that old volunteer guy...but she's my MOM, by cracky. And those sick days aren't going to use themselves. They will disappear faster than an egg from Hick's chicken coop if I don't take them before the end of the school year. I'm at the max allowed, you know. They're part of my contract. Val is not one to throw away benefits all willy-nilly.

The thing with sick days is that you use them or lose them after 100 are accumulated. Many's the time Val has not taken a single day off throughout the year, sick or personal, and been rewarded with a thoughtful $150 check of appreciation, as put forth in the teacher handbook, from which retirement and taxes were withheld. Considering that a substitute is paid $75 per looks like Val has been doing the district a favor all these years. Oh, she has tried to lessen the absentee burden even more by taking half days for appointments, only to be told, "It's really hard to get a sub to come in for a half day. You need to take the full day off." So be it. So has-been it.

But we're not here to talk about the state of Val's attendance. We're here to talk about my very special day. I dropped off The Pony at school, then headed to Mom's house. Where, I might add, I pulled into the driveway without invitation. We had enough time to run by my sister the ex-mayor's wife's house, where she was babysitting my niece's new baby of three months. Mom told me last night on our 10:30 phone call that I needed to go see the baby. I don't know why these folks have been harping at me. Val is not a baby person. I like the baby. I'm happy my niece has the baby. Her husband adores the baby. It's all a very sweet situation, kind of like the Alan Jackson song "Little Bitty." But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to see the baby. I just saw the baby at my uncle's funeral. I swear. It was getting like that harpy screeching at Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer: "You've GOT to see the BAAABY! I will admit, though, that she was breathtaking.

Because we stopped by to see the baby, Mom was only ten minutes early for her lab appointment. We had planned on it taking about ten minutes if she got there early, and them I'd drop her off and head to a rendezvous with my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel. Mabel is on a permanent vacation. Even though she's busy building a new house, she takes time from staining to catch up with Val. Mom did not get out of her appointment until the time I was supposed to be meeting Mabel. So we picked her up, made her ride in The Pony's seat in the midst of his hoard, to chat while on the way to Mom's house.

Mabel and I had a wonderful visit. Of course we saw the entire population of Backroads pass by while we had breakfast (her), lunch (me), and took up a table for three hours. Then it was nearly time to pick up The Pony from school, so I dropped by Mom's for a half hour instead of going all the way back home.

Mom's house is a good way station to while away time, providing, of course, that the driveway is not off limits due to snow. Mom was watching a Cardinals' game, but stopped to tell me ecstatically that she had received a phone call from Genius, and talked for 20 minutes, until he said, "Uh, Grandma, I have to be across campus in class in 10 minutes."

I grabbed four throw pillows and plopped down on Mom's long couch for a half hour. We talked. Because, you know, we only have two phone conversations a day, plus that time in T-Hoe to and from the hospital. Just before it was time to leave, I felt a tickle in my outer ear. Not that cartilaginous flap on the side of my head. The smooth indentation behind the hole that leads to the tunnel to my brain. I reached up to scratch that tickle, and MY FINGER FELT SOMETHING CRUNCHY! That should not happen, people. Ears are smooth. Warm. Little bowl-shaped depressions that abut the hole. Definitely not crunchy.

Then it dawned on my what was in my ear. A BUG! A CRUNCHY BUG! ACK! RIGHT OVER THE HOLE IN MY HEAD! WITH ACCESS TO MY BRAIN! I dug. I tried not to push it farther in. I scooped at it with a fingernail. I got it! I flipped it out. I flung my arms to and fro. Maniacally. There it was! On the floor! A LADYBUG!

"Mom! I had a bug in my ear! It fell from the ceiling into my ear! A bug! MOM! A bug was in my ear! A ladybug! Yuck! Why didn't you help me? I though you would have run to me in order to assist me in removing it! But you just sat there!"

"Oh, it's just a ladybug. Besides, you were flapping your arms so much I was afraid I would get hurt. Those ladybugs come out when the weather gets warm. They live in the attic. Look at them on the wall over there."

THE HORROR. Mom didn't mean the attic. We were in the downstairs family room of her brick split-level home. She meant the drop ceiling. I looked where she motioned, and there was a line of ladybugs at the junction of her wall and ceiling. "Mom. Maybe you should call an exterminator."

"Well, they've been here since we had that big cloud of them years ago."

Uh huh. That was at least 14 years back. Around the time, give or take a couple years, when we had the 17-year cicada issue. Dang! I remember Mom vacuuming up ladybugs and letting them go outside. "Mom. You need to get rid of them. When I drop in for a visit three times a year, is it too much to expect to lay on the couch without a ladybug burrowing into my brain?"

"Oh, every night there's one that flies at me. It's nothing."

I beg to differ.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

If You Give Val One Link, She'll Yank Your Whole Chain

Hey! Hear that? Blog buddy Sioux is rattling my chain!

Sioux would like me to share a little bit about my writing process. Be careful what you like, Sioux. Once the genie is out of the bottle, there's no cramming it back in. Here's how this forthcoming train wreck came to be. Margo Dill linked Donna Volkenannt, who passed the honor on to Sioux, who hitched her chain to Val, who ousted the cats who won't chase rats, all from the garage that Hick built.

1. What am I working on?
I'm working on 44 oz. Diet Cokes, churning out two blog posts daily, one here and one on my supersecret blog, to which only a few folks are privy. Heh, heh, I said privy. I have a couple of projects on the back burner. They are along the lines of Poop My Cat Says, and The Book of Humdrum. Yeah. Those aren't real titles. I'm using "Sh*t My Dad Says" and "The Book of Awesome" as inspiration. I also have an idea for a longer work of thinly-veiled fiction that might expose the underbelly of public education. I'll have to wait for my retirement to kick in before that one sees the light of day.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
My work differs from others by the sheer staggering unpopularity and unmarketability of my subject matter. Nobody wants to read about hillbillies going about their wacky lives in Backroads U.S.A. In fact, we are the only group that is fair game for daily derision in the media. Because we don't understand we're the butt of the joke, perhaps. Heh, heh. I said butt.

3. Why do I write what I do?
I write to amuse myself. To play with words. To keep from pulling my hair out in frustration for not being the center of the universe and the ruler of the world. I like to make people laugh. Or stare. I like to take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile. Wait...that was Mary Tyler Moore. I would like to be the lesser Seinfeld show: the blog about nothing. Is that frowned upon?

4. What is my writing process like?
My writing process is kind of like living inside a pinball machine. Anybody remember those? Or Pinball Wizard? "She sits like a statue, becomes part of her rolly chair. Feeling out the keyboard, in her dark basement lair. Writes by intuition, her pageview counter falls. That backward uncouth gal, Val...sure types a mean old blog!"

Each morning, I have ideas percolating in my head that might become blog posts, might become submissions, might fit into the bigger picture of my much-neglected lengthier works. I sometimes grab my little spiral notebook and jot them down, but most often that's too much effort, and I swear I'll remember them, but then I head off to school to earn an honest living, and my ideas fade like the yellow butcher paper lining my bulletin board for nigh on 14 years. So I do what I do every day, Sioux...try and take over the world. Wait. That was Pinky and the Brain.

I sit down at my desktop in my dark basement lair every night, read my regular blogs to catch up on happenings, respond to comments, and choose one of the multitude of mundane occurrences from my day to whip into a blog post. Two.

One of these days, I'm going to stop procrastinating, make time to sit down during my optimum creative hours between six and noon, and get something done. Until then, what you see is what you get.

And now, to distress others with this chain, like a fine piece of wood furniture made more appealing by a good whacking...I'm choosing to inject a little testosterone in the mix with two guys who drop in ever day for a round of abuse in my comment section. I don't think they do chains on their blogs, so I am also adding two ladies who might. It's a regular blog-chain royale! As Supertramp says, "Now some they do and some they don't and some you just can't tell. And some they will and some they won't, with some it's just as well."

Joe H. "The Cranky Old Man" blogs about, well, being cranky and unapologetic, issues of the day, issues of yesterday, stupid headlines, and general guyitude. He's written a couple of books, so I figure he writes. Whether he wants to reveal his process remains to be seen. Oh, and he's from exotic New Jersey.

Steven Hayes "The Chubby Chatterbox" blogs from Oregon. He's a real renaissance man. You can get just about any kind of culture you desire from his blog, except for a gourmet brontosaurus ribs recipe. Sometimes I feel like I need to tuck in my shirt and wash my face before I drop in. Stephen shares his vast knowledge of painting, some of his own artwork, stories from childhood, travel tales that take me there better than The Amazing Race, and some classic Mom-talk every now and then. Stephen has a book in the works, and he's published several online articles, if I remember correctly. He may take the stance of those League of Their Own gals, and declare that a gentleman reveals nothing. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Leenie works in watercolors, and I swear I read some really good poetry over at her blog. Perhaps she has a book that she's been holding back. Or perhaps she'd like to tell us more about her creative process with painting and photography. She's also out west, in Idaho. I think I flew over it one time on my way to Seattle on the way to Alaska. Maybe not. I only learned that England is an island last month.

And how about Lynn? What is Lynn up to these days? Is she still writing letters? Naughty Santa stuff? Is there a big project we need to know about? Do tell! I know she NaNoWriMos. What's kickin', chicken? Fill us in. Inquiring minds want to be nosy.

So there you have it. Unchained thoughts from Val's addled noggin. Sorry you asked?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eviction Papers Are Served

The Purge has begun.

Our cats are officially felines non grata. Their salad days of lolling about Thevictorian garage, traversing the trusses like rock show roadies, dangling tails off plywood sections like disembodied bicycle-handlebar-decorations, plopping onto T-Hoe's roof like a lion from a tree limb onto an unsuspecting gazelle, are over.

Perhaps you remember our mystery pooper. The pooper that left huge poops too big for cat anuses, poops in a puddle of pee, poops with segments like a giant Tootsie Roll log. We never caught the mystery pooper. But the cats took notes from that ne'er-poop-well. Good for the goose, good for the gander, it seems. Only this pooper was no goose. The cats began taking liberties with our concrete garage floor. Marking their territory back. Not every day. Days after a mystery poop. Carefully avoiding the previously-used area that was drenched with bleach. Short of mopping the entire garage floor with bleach, and having weirdos in hazmat suits show up on our doorstep, we've decided to rescind garage privileges.

The precipitating incident was this evening. Hick arrived home first. As The Pony and I came up the driveway, he pulling our green trash dumpster the length of the long driveway like a rickshaw, and I holding T-Hoe's horses so as not to run over my little Pony, my garage door opened on its own. Then I saw Hick pushing a broom. The one we got him for Christmas. He wasn't pushing poop. He was sweeping piles of fine driveway dirt that melted off and dried during the twelve snowstorms.

"I've had it with these cats!"

"I told you to lock the cat door. They can sleep outside now. Too bad, so sad. They've fouled the place they live. They don't like us, anyway. You can never pet them except for Genius" (the cat, not the boy).

"I caught Genius right there in the corner peeing!"

"Well. Put their food dish out on the shelf, and lock their door. Enough is enough. Feed them once in the morning, like the dogs. They'll eat, or they'll go hungry, or they'll hunt."

"Yeah. I think we're going to have to."

You'd think those fleabags would know a good thing when they had it. After all, we rescued them from the mailbox road as kittens. Gave them lots of food. A whole garage. Love. And that very special operation to remove their babymakers. They stopped short of biting the hand that feeds them.

Peeing on the floor that shelters them is bad enough.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Eeny Meeny

Val does not like to disappoint. She's a giver, you know, always putting the needs and wants of others ahead of her own. So it is with heavy heart that she breaks the following news, sure to upset her biggest fan and tireless promoter.

There is a book signing May 3rd for Not Your Mother's Book...on Being a Mom. Val will be unable to attend.

Oh, I thought about it. Got all pumped up. Even broached the subject with Hick, my steadfast chauffeur. And then...and then...I realized why that date sounded so familiar. So important. It's the day of our school carnival, a yearly event, a big to-do, with a parade at noon to kick off the shindig. The Pony and his trombone will be marching that day.

This parade will be bittersweet, because it will be The Pony's last. He cannot fit band into his schedule next year. Language III, College Algebra, Advanced Biology, Chem II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Psychology/Sociology will be filling up his school day. In fact, to fit those in, one will have to be a web class. I hate it that the one class The Pony loves will be excluded. There's no way around it. Students in this honors track are unable to take band. It's the only overtly social activity that tickles The Pony's fancy.

Life is full of tough choices.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dog People Problems

The moon was full last night. Perhaps you don't believe that dogs bay at the moon. I can assure you that they do. I can issue you an affidavit of baydogship. I can pass a polygraph...if I can stay awake long enough.

The freak chorus started just before 10:00 p.m. Ann the black german-shepherd-looking lab mix set up shop on the front porch. Hung out her shingle: "You Ain't A-Woofin' Security Company: You don't have to woof because we do it for you!" The company theme song is apparently All Night Long, the Urban Cowboy version by Joe Walsh. Ann was still going strong at 6:30 this morning. You'd think she might get hoarse. Develop laryngitis. Nope. She's got endurance, our baur-baur-baur dog.

That's what Ann's bark sounds like. Baur-baur-baur. Sometimes just baur. Other times baur...baur........baur. It's quite annoying, waiting for the other baur to drop. Juno's bark is more yippy. Tank's was the typical beagle bay. Our old dog Grizzly, the beagle-lab mix who was shaped like a big beagle, and colored like a chocolate lab, also had that bay bark. Not nearly as annoying as the baur-baur-baur, but not nearly so pleasant as the aroo of my grandpa's Samoyed, Snowball.

I know Ann is the nervous sort. She's been that way ever since we found her behind the garage as an abandoned puppy that looked like a little bear cub. I know she thinks she's protecting us and our homestead and the twenty acres and our county and the eastern half of Missouri. I would prefer, however, that she would find another way to notify us of real or imagined danger. She's an outside dog, so she can't come poking around with a cold nose alert. If I had it my way, Ann would operate her security company a little like this:

Tap, tap. (That's the brass door knocker that we hung {heh, heh, I said "knocker" and "hung"} nose-high on the green metal front door for the sole purpose of Ann's warning system.) Tap, tap. "Excuse me, Sir or Madam, but I fear that, perchance, an intruder has breached the perimeter of the compound. Shall I give voice in an attempt to frighten the ne'er-do-well into skedaddling back under the rock from whence he slithered?"

Yes. That would be much more civilized. And I would get much more sleep.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

No Harbingers in Sight

Spring will be upon us in a scant 4 days.

Here is my front yard today at 4:00.

So sad, the spindly lilac bush, beset by goat-bite, and the yucca plants crushed by freezing rain this morning, and that metal mini-bathtub-looking thing Hick uses as a rock garden accessory, and the rock garden covered by snow, and the end of the sidewalk made of bricks rescued from an old side street that used to run behind my $17,000 house in town.

The snow was still falling. Covering the layer of sleet that covered the layer of freezing rain. I have an inkling that even if school is called off for the 22nd day this year, teachers will be required to hitch up their respective dog teams and race to town for a work day.

Those are not ghostly apparitions in the picture snapped by Bad Cell Phone Photographer Pony. Those are snow devils, I suppose, the cold-climate counterparts to dust devils.

Hick ran off to Goodwill this morning, where he said the employees were complaining that they had to be open, despite having very few customers, and no donations. He said the main interstate was "clear" but he saw a car off the highway at each exit. And that he spun his studded snow tires all the way up our mailbox hill.

All I have to say to that is...don't drive a $1000 Caravan on snow over sleet over freezing rain.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hear Ye!

WARNING: Horn-Tooting to follow.

The Pony had his conference tournament today for Academic Team. I am proud to report that our little school took 2nd Place, out of 10 schools, which bodes well for our high school student enrollment of 280, versus the three other final four schools they played bursting at the seams with 1186, 918, and 555 pupils. We ARE good school. We're good enough, we're smart enough, and doggone it, we won 2nd place in the conference tournament! One of our seniors earned a 3rd Place individual medal. HooRah for Backroads!

In other bragging rights information being foisted upon you today, Genius texted me yesterday afternoon to reveal that he had been offered a Resident Assistant position for next fall. He was wavering between the perks and the responsibility. One of the residence halls is shutting down, and the university is buying apartment complexes in which to house the overflow, a condition which has changed since Genius applied and interviewed for the RA position. He wanted me to call, and we discussed the pros and cons. In the end, I told him he's an adult now, and that adults sometimes have to make hard decisions. He had 45 minutes left before his decision was due.

Genius took it. That means free room and board for the next year, which will save us a pretty penny. Several. With his academic scholarships, he's a bargain student.

Hick and I don't really have anything to toot about, except that we only had one fight today. Hick found five eggs. I did the shopping alone. My mom has enough slaw to get her through Sunday's predicted snow storm.

Life rolls on.

Friday, March 14, 2014

In a Jam and On the Lam

I'm sure you are aware by now of Val's tireless efforts to help her fellow man. She's selfless like that. So when blog buddy Stephen needs partners for his (now-restituted) crime, to assuage the guilt over his spontaneous Dine & Dash, Val is there for him, eager to step up to the dinner plate and relate her own tale of a long-ago dinner-tab faux pas.

Let the record show that Val is not inherently a mooch. She pays as she goes. Credit card balance paid in full each month. Money added to the principal on her house payment. A tidy savings socked away for her spawn's college fund. Val is not the type to attempt to obtain something for nothing. That's how she was raised. Val would never offer to pay you Tuesday for a pint of slaw today.

Val has led a sheltered life. She tooled off to overnight-college her junior year, in a yellow four-door Chevy Chevette with tasteful tan pinstripes down the side, and a Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards kind of attitude. She soon fell in with a rowdy crowd in her field of study. A crowd much more worldly than she. As a weekend ritual, Val and her cohorts often visited drinking and dancing establishments where Val may or may not have imbibed demon alcohol. After such an evening, The Cohorts sometimes suggested an after-hours visit to a restaurant which we'll call "Benny's." Nothing soaks up alcohol in the stomach of imbibers like a Benny's Great Bam breakfast platter.

Waitresses at Benny's lost no love on The Cohorts, party of five. Much in the way cocktail waitresses at a Saturday afternoon Happy Hour shun a gaggle of girls and set down their cocktails with a thin-lipped half-smile, the Benny's staff provided cursory service. Efforts to befriend and empathize were shunned, perhaps due in no small part to the attempt of one of The Cohorts to be flirtatious. That waitress was, perhaps, sheltered, and had never been to college.

The Benny's was way out by the interstate, several miles from the college compound. Val was selected as driver. Whether this honor was a function of her four-door, her sobriety, or her mad driving skillz is moot. Val was the driver. The Benny's was not busy. The Cohorts, a couple of couples, and a sleepy family were not enough to keep the staff busy. The waitress came out, waitressed, and disappeared into the back. Every now and then, another worker would step up to the register, survey the action, and re-disappear.

Since The Cohorts were served their Great Bams, and never visited again by the waitress, a bit of animosity began to fester. The ring leader of The Cohorts was insulted. For wont of butter and jelly which were not forthcoming, she grew bitter. "She didn't even bring us the check! I'm ready to go. Val, why don't you go pull the car around. I'll cover your part, and you can pay me back when we find out how much it is."

Being such a selfless people-person, I headed past the sleepy family making their way to the register, and brought the car around for The Cohorts. Nobody wants to walk any farther than necessary after a Great Bam. Just as my trusty Chevette reached the doors, The Cohorts strolled out and piled in. "GO! LET'S GET OUT OF HERE!" Ring Leader was sure in a hurry to get back to her apartment. Maybe she had to poop.

Then Ring Leader's roommate let the cat out of the bag. "I can't believe we did that! We're going to get caught! GO!"

"Great! It's my car. I'm the one they'll be after! What did you do?"

"Um. When that family walked up to pay, we strolled along behind them, stood for a minute, acted like we were with them, and then walked out when you pulled up."

"Don't worry, Val. You don't owe me anything for your Great Bam!"

"Oh, yeah. And here's your silverware."

Yes. Val is a criminal. Though a sheltered, unwitting criminal. A sheltered, unwitting criminal who tried to stifle her cohorts every time they visited a different restaurant in the chain on the other side of town. Tried to stifle their sing-song salutations to each other in Val's car on the way to a Great Bam:

"Welcome to Benny's! Don't pay for your meal."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Proposed Handbasket Factory is Building Up a Head of Steam

Some days I can't help myself. The inappropriateness leaks out of me like boiling pasta water through a colander. Perhaps it is not socially acceptable to compare abandoned books to abandoned babies. To those who follow such tenets, let me just say this: "Why are you such antibibliophiles?" Can you not love books in the way philanthropists love juvenile mankind chillin' in baskets on porches throughout the world?

This book-abandoning behavior is getting out of hand! Just today, a book was left in my classroom after the final bell. My canaries were singing again, though. "Mrs. Thevictorian! Somebody has left their book on that desk!" Let the record show that it was not MY textbook, but that of another course. However...the leaver was one who has already lost MY textbook, and uses that of a trusting friend each day because I will not issue another until the first is paid for. "Do you want me to yell down the hall, Mrs. Thevictorian, and tell that leaver to come get the book?"

"Yes. By all means. I'm headed out to duty." I passed The Leaver in the hall. "Oh, I see you're going back to rescue THAT book! It's too late for mine. Perhaps you're learning responsibility." We shall see.

So all this book-abandoning has me firing up efforts to get my proposed handbasket factory off the ground. I have the most scathingly brilliant idea! A handbasket book about handbaskets! A little pocket book that you can read while you're actually in your handbasket. And it will be all about the history of the handbasket!

I don't know where I cooked up that idea. Sometimes I simply amaze myself with my originality. Say...maybe the book can be shaped like an actual handbasket!

See you later. I've got to clear some space on the counter of my proposed handbasket factory. I'm getting quite a line of products on there.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finders Heapers

Every now and then, a kid leaves a book in my classroom. Sometimes it's an oversight, sometimes I think it's a deliberate attempt to return during another class, and sometimes it's a prank by a nearby seating-charter.

The kids always tell me. "Hey! Whose book? I found a book on my desk? Mrs. Thevictorian! What do you want me to do with this book? It's not MY book! Where should I put it?"

You'd think that book was poisonous. Radioactive. Set to detonate like a just-unpinned grenade, so swift is the outcry and the effort to get rid of that book. Their antics remind me of my old friend, whose husband asked if she was having an affair. "I already have YOU! Why on earth would I want another one?" Uh huh. No student is going to get stuck with TWO books. No sirreee, Bob! It's like a game of hot potato. And not at all like finders-keepers.

I direct the finder to put it on a spare desk along the wall. Then I look up the number, call the classroom of the abandoner, and ask for them to come retrieve their book at that teacher's convenience. Sometimes they get downright huffy about it. How dare I ask that they take responsibility for the book checked out to them on the third day of school! In fact, some of the witnesses to the finding think that book is MY responsibility. "You need to do something with that book, Mrs. Thevictorian. It's your book. Put it up and keep it for them. That's how books disappear." Apparently, I am responsible for 100 books on any given weekday.

But the thing is, THEY ALWAYS TELL ME. Until today. Sure, maybe it's because this one was a library book. I suppose I am not responsible for a library book. What we really need to do in that case is call the librarian. It's HER book. She's got a lot more to worry about than I do. I cried because I had 100 books to keep track of...then I met a woman who had 2000.

A student came in at the end of the day. "Did I leave my book in here? Huh. I don't see it. I guess not. Sorry."

"Nobody turned one in. I'll let you know if I see it."

"Hey! There's a book. A library book? It's right there." All eyes swiveled to a desk in the last row. Right in front of MY desk.

"Where did THAT come from? Nobody told me. Here! I guess this is your book."

"Yeah. That's it. Thanks."

"How did that book get there?"

"Finder found it. It was on her desk."

"So she automatically moved it back here, and didn't tell me? I thought it belonged to one of you this hour. How can you not tell me when you find a book? That's like...that's like...going to visit somebody, and finding a baby in a basket on the front porch, and saying, 'This baby is in my way. I'm moving it to the porch next door.' And then not telling anybody! You don't know how long that baby might sit there in the basket. Anything could happen to that baby."

I would like to think I made my point. Hopefully, nobody has plans to drop off a baby in a basket down here in Backroads anytime soon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Timing is Everything

There's a picture on the wall of the teacher workroom. A photo. Two. Kind of like a "Wanted" poster. What's wanted is a new home for a little doggie. I would love to have this new pet, what with the passing of our baying beagle Tank (BY NATURAL MEANS, PEOPLE!) last weekend.

I know I shouldn't inquire about this little beauty, even though the phone number is right there on the wanted poster. It's too soon. I can't scoop up a replacement pet on the rebound. That's not fair to the new pet. Or the old. Besides, I don't think Hick would okay it at this time. Maybe during the summer, we can keep an eye out for the local pound puppies advertised in the Backroads Hometown Gazette. We've been a three-dog family for many years now. But this is not the time.

Smiling at the camera in that wanted poster is a 5-month-old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix. Uh huh. Kind of a high-energy companion. We have the room for her to run, but we also have chickens that we would like to keep alive. I fear that this doggie would be unsupervised all day, and have a heyday with our fowl. It was hard enough to keep my sweet, sweet Juno from chasing chickens she was raised with from when she was a tiny pup. She still grabs them by the tail feathers when she is feeling especially frisky, and forgets we have a picture window overlooking the front yard. Only last fall we found that pile of turkey feathers and feared the worst.

Doggie on the wall has her shots. I'm not sure, but I think she's had her special operation. She has a mostly black body, with that white stripe down her nose common to those two breeds. And she looks perky! Yep! Who woulda thunk a pup of that mix would be perky? The description goes on to say that she knows some commands, and IS HOUSEBROKEN! Who would keep a dog like that in the house? Not a china shop owner who stores inventory at home, I'm sure! I could imagine her as a playmate for my sweet, sweet Juno, but the timing is not right.

As if seeing this beauty on the wall yesterday was not enough...this morning before school a colleague at the Kyocera saw her, too. "What a cute little dog! But I couldn't keep it. I don't have the room. As it is now, we're trying to find a home for our beagle. We let her out to run, but she needs a big open space to run rabbits. She's had her operation. She's getting up there in years. Someone dumped her at our house. She's very loving. The problem is, she can climb the chain-link fence. Oh, she always comes back. But she's taught our other mutt to do it, too. And he comes back, but he brings things! Yesterday he had one of those solar powered driveway lights that stick in the ground. I'm afraid someone is going to complain."

No. I can't have a beagle, either. It's too soon. I'm sure there will be plenty of puppies needing homes over the summer.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Brain Food

The Pony participated in a Mathlete competition today at the local junior college. Our high school sent six competitors at each grade level. The showing was impressive. Freshman placed 1st and 2nd, Sophomores (The Pony's category) swept 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Juniors raked in 1st and 3rd. And the Seniors hauled in a 3rd. Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, our little school won the small schools division handily. Awards are only given for 1st/2nd/3rd each grade level. So we garnered 8 of the 12 awards. Yay, us! The Pony himself earned a red-ribboned medal for 2nd place.

I figured my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel might be interested to hear that. Some of the winners are her proteges. That information is simply too lengthy for me to text her. Ex-job well done, Mabel.

The rest of you might see it as too much bragging on my little den of learning, but by cracky, we're good enough, we're smart enough, and doggone it, people need to stop belittling us as Backroads hicks. Our school has a history of being the little uncool loser enclave, way back to the days when I was valedictorian at a bigger, cooler, winner school. We are a school of distinction, by cracky! And I'll say by cracky whenever I feel like it. We are Backroads. We are proud.

The team left this morning and stopped for breakfast on the way. The Pony said he had a sausage biscuit, which for him is a substantial meal. Good thing. The team went to KFC for lunch. The chicken buffet. I might have mentioned that you could count the foods The Pony eats on one hand, if it had six fingers. He's not adventurous in the sustenance department.

"What did you have at KFC?" Let the record show that Thevictorians never go there.

"All I had was some biscuits and mashed potatoes."

"That's it? That's all you ate from the buffet? Biscuits with butter, and mashed potatoes with gravy?"

"No. Just biscuits. And mashed potatoes. I HATE chicken!" Said the boy who eats chicken nuggets, planks, strips, tenders, tenderloins, lemon-pepper breasts, Shake 'n' Bake breasts, Sweet & Sour, patties, chunks, and sandwiches. Seriously. Chicken is one of his six food groups. What he meant, I think, was that he does not eat REAL chicken with a bone in it. Maybe he's lazy, like his brother before him, who once brandished a leg and demanded, "WHO PUT THE BONE IN MY CHICKEN?"

Maybe The Pony didn't want to put himself in the midst of a feeding frenzy. I can only imagine 24 high school students at a fried chicken buffet. The image that comes to mind is the scene in Gremlins where Billy looks at the unplugged clock, thinks it's safe to feed his hungry new Gizmo offspring, and hands them a plate of leftover fried chicken from the fridge. You've seen it, right? How the bones fly through the air, strings of saliva fling willy-nilly, and at the end there's a big BURP. I suppose The Pony is lucky to escape with all his limbs intact.

Forget carb-loading for marathons. Forget fish as brain food. Let your future Mathlete eat his fill of biscuits, mashed potatoes, and fried chicken. He might just let you know if you got the correct change.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Every Pony Needs a Salt Lick

Saturday is bowling league day for The Pony. He's been a kegler since he was a little guy. It's part of our routine. The Pony has to be at the bowling alley at noon. That's when the doors are unlocked. His actual league doesn't start until 12:30, but he orders lunch and gets in a few practice rolls.

I thought there would be time to do the weekly shopping yesterday and still have The Pony ready for bowling league on time. We made a stop at Save A Lot, and headed on to Walmart. We made good progress, The Pony fetching outlying items while I combed the main food section. The Pony grabbed my tabloids as I chose a check-out, then left to spend his two-dollar bribe on one of the racing games. It was only 10:30 when we came out and loaded the back of T-Hoe with our provisions. A cold rain had begun to fall, and the temperature had dropped from 41 to 36. As I started to record my purchase on my checkbook register, The Pony, my back-up eyes, said, "I think this car is waiting for our parking spot."

It was a good one, too, the first parking spot after the three handicapped ones on our aisle. I dumped my receipt and debit card into the slight indentation on top of the console, and turned the ignition to back out. "I can see the car now. Let me know if any people get in the way. By the time I hear T-Hoe's warning sounds, they'll be flattened." The Pony assured me that my reverse path was clear of pedestrians. I hoped he was actually turned around looking, unlike that time he let me slow-speed collide with the front bumper of that agitated meth-beard dude at the bank drive-thru.

As we left the chaos of Walmart's parking lot, The Pony said that he would rather pick up some fast food than eat at the bowling alley. I took him through Burger King for a chicken sandwich combo. We were pulling into the gas-station chicken store to pick up my 44 oz. Diet Coke before the knowledge of my epic fail in shopping-day protocol hit me: I HAD FORGOTTEN OUR GERM-X CLEANSE.

"PONY! We forgot the Germ-X! Here! Give me your hand!" I flipped the top of my mini green-apple-scented squeeze bottle. "Here!"

"Ugh! I'm EATING now!"

"But you need Germ-X! What if you lick your fingers?"

"'s too late. I've already licked them so many times that Germ-X now won't matter."

"No! Do you know how many people have touched that steering wheel on you driving game? Who knows what kind of bacteria was on there? What if somebody drove it from a culture that wipes their butt with their bare hand? And you licked you fingers!"

"I'm safe. They use their LEFT hand."

"But they use both hands on the steering wheel, just like you."

"Well, since I only licked my RIGHT hand, it's okay."

The Pony can be downright stubborn sometimes. I think he gets it from his dad.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Please Refrain From Using Val as a Sitting Duck

This morning I fired up my picture-window laptop and connected my molasses-slow internet before I headed off to do the weekly shopping. Hick was lounging about in his La-Z-Boy, and The Pony sat on the long couch ready to assist me in gathering our provisions.

I always check for any overnight comments to publish, and then catch up on breaking internet news. "Oh," I asked Hick, "did you read about those teachers who called the prosecuting attorney because they didn't want to be shot with pellet guns?" Hick is always up on the latest local news. I think he gets bored searching for beer company memorabilia on eBay all day. I had forgotten that Hick was off work Friday. So of course he hadn't received his dose of current happenings.

VAL: "There was an inservice drill, like we had last semester, about active shooter training. Except nobody shot at us with pellet guns. Our trainer asked for a volunteer to be a shooter, and gave him a fake gun, and he gave us clown noses to throw at him. Not real clown noses. Little soft red balls that looked like clown noses. The point was that anything thrown at you when you enter a room will take you by surprise and disrupt your aim, and give several people a chance to whack you with chairs and staplers and spray wasp killer in your face and jam pencils in your eyes and ears while everyone else runs out of the room. A few may die, but it buys time for everyone else. Yeah. It was so uplifting. So anyway, at this other school, they were shooting at teachers with pellet guns to make them terrified so they would move faster. They said it would be more realistic, but there were no students there to save that day."

HICK: "A pellet gun? They don't hurt. Genius has one downstairs. Pony! Go get that pellet gun and we'll shoot Mom."

The Pony rolled his eyes. Then he pursed his muzzle and looked at the ceiling. "Hmm. Nah."

VAL: "I'd like to thank you, Pony, for taking time to mull over that scenario before deciding not to shoot me. That just warms my heart. You really DO love me."

PONY: "Actually, I was rolling my eyes because I can't believe Dad said we were going to shoot you."

HICK: "We'll shoot you, too, Pony. It's not that bad."

VAL: "Then why did they have to put on protective goggles?"

HICK: "Well, you don't want to get hit in the eye. That might hurt you."

VAL: "So you're telling me that you could get away with that at work? You're on the safety committee. You go to those SHARP meetings. You think you could have a safety drill and shoot at your employees with pellet guns?"

HICK: "No! They'd have a fit and sue us. In fact, OSHA wouldn't allow us to do something like that."

PONY: "Yeah. That would not be good. Shooting pellets in a building with machines all over the place."

VAL: "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! It can't be done with factory employees, even though there are more workplace shootings than school shootings. It isn't good for machines, but it's good for TEACHERS? Everything if fine to do to teachers. Anything goes. The comments on that article are all saying that teachers should be shot at with pellet guns, or they won't try to save kids in a real emergency. That they should be fired if they don't want to be shot at with pellet guns. They're missing the point that you can have training without shooting teachers with pellet guns."

Maybe I should look into a career as a machine operator. Or a machine.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Fine Line On This Slippery Slope Has Been Crossed

Val strives to stay off the soapbox. To leave her political hat hanging on the heavy wooden coat rack just inside the door of her mother's brick split-level abode. Why take a stand when sitting on the sidelines is so much more comfortable? But today, Val must say this about that.

I found out at the faculty lunch table that my colleagues see nothing wrong with being shot at work! Really. We were discussing news of recent days, and the subject of a local school district's inservice program came up. Four teachers called the courthouse to complain that they did not want to be hit with plastic projectiles from an air-powered firearm. That they were calling the prosecuting attorney to find out their rights. The school canceled the drill when officials learned of the complaint. A spokesman for the district stated that teachers had several chances to opt out of the training.

Here's my issue. We had an inservice presentation on such a scenario. Nobody shot us with plastic pellets. I think we still got the message. Do we bring in those swamp boats with giant fans to blow fake wind down the hall during our tornado drills? No. But we understand the urgency, and know where to go. Do we set off smoke canisters and crank the thermostat and flash strobe lights like crackling flames during our fire drills? No. But we understand the urgency, and know where to go. Do we blast cracking-crumbling noises and rattle windows and doors and knock ceiling tiles loose and tip over bookcases during our earthquake drills? No. But we understand the urgency, and know where to go.

I think that district crossed the line. If their faculty was given opportunities to opt out, why didn't they opt out? Why did they find it necessary to seek guidance for possibly filing a complaint? What's the point of scheduling this simulation if all members are not expected to participate? I smell something fishy.

The articles says this training was in response to recent legislation:

According to the Missouri Revised Statutes Section 170.315, which established the Active Shooter and Intruder Response Training for Schools Program (ASIRT), "each school district and charter school may, by July 1, 2014, include in its teacher and school employee training a component on how to properly respond to students who provide them with information about a threatening situation and how to address situations in which there is a potentially dangerous or armed intruder in the school. Training may also include information and techniques on how to address situations where an active shooter is present in the school or on school property."

Notice that it says MAY include. Not MUST include. Nowhere does it mention that teachers must be given eye protection and shot with an Airsoft gun's plastic pellets. Yes, by all means, run drills every year with the students and teachers, just like the tornado, fire, earthquake, and intruder drills. Even call it by its name, Active Shooter Drill. Actually shooting the teachers seems to be taking it a bit far. For those who cry that this is to make the situation realistic...let's remember that the students are not there on inservice day. So how realistic could it be? Who are the teachers trying to protect?

At our lunch table, my colleagues did not feel this was inappropriate. They were of the belief that those pellets wouldn't hurt much. No harm done. It was just a drill.

I'm sorry. I refuse to be the frog simmering in the pot while the water boils, not noticing my slow demise. I choose to be the frog dropped into that boiling pot, and jumping out immediately because I know something is wrong.

Something is wrong when drills are held using teachers as targets for real projectiles. Wake up! Let's get hoppin'. Next they'll be making us shoot back.

We are teachers, not targets. Teachers, not hired guns.

Here's something scary. Let's drive all the students down to the police station, and make the law enforcement officials teach them!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Impending Signs

I sense the signs of the apocalypse. Or, as Hick calls it, the apopadopalyspe.

A gambler is suing a casino because he got drunk and lost $500,000. Really, now. I'll bet he wasn't contemplating a lawsuit when he was slugging back free drinks. And, correct me if I'm wrong, which Val hardly ever is, or admits to, anyway...but the last time I checked, a casino was a place people went to gamble. If nobody ever loses money, I don't think that can technically be called gambling. And I seriously doubt that the dude would be suing the casino if he got drunk and won $500,000.

Then there's the 18-year-old little gal who left home in a disagreement over rules, and now has taken her parents to court asking for $645 a week in support, plus her private school tuition, and a college fund. Oh, the lawsuit is costing $12,000, and she's also asking for court costs. Right now she is living with a friend's parents, and they are paying her lawyer. Among the atrocities to which she was subjected (says she) was the unnatural behavior of her father, who was always putting his arm around her shoulders in public, and who kissed her on the cheek.

HANDBASKETS! Lolly, lolly, lolly, get your handbaskets here!

I must renew efforts to break ground on my proposed handbasket factory. Forthwith.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

There is Always More to Learn

Do you know the worst thing about having to go to work on a SNOW DAY, when all the kids get to stay home? That's a rhetorical question. There's not a simple answer. There's a plethora of answers. Here are a few.

There's a surprise meeting of which you were never officially informed.

The meeting is for EVERYONE in the building, meaning that the territorial seating arrangement has been usurped by festival seating.

If you are lucky enough to get your regular seat at the back corner of the room, a new guy working with an old guy sits directly behind you, almost in your hip pocket, on a chair he has pulled from another table, and COUGHS throughout the meeting, coughs so that you can feel his fetid explosive exhalations on your back like a nuclear wind after an atom bomb test.

The first speaker chooses to put his photo display on an easel and stand directly in front of a window so that the snow in the parking lot behind him burns out the retina of any conscientious employee who shows him respect by trying to find his head in that glare and make eye contact.

The person who ends up at your table, sitting directly across from you, is one you are not especially fond of sitting next to at your cafeteria lunch table every day, and sits with legs crossed on a cushy rolly chair, jammed up against the table, shaking a foot, so that any time you try to write, your script looks like the work of a palsied nonagenarian.

After the first meeting, there's a ten-minute break before a second meeting, and then people such as Val who give the important tests in core subjects must stay for yet a THIRD meeting.

I know it's March. But my attitude is still in February. Give me a few weeks, and I'll be loving my job again. But maybe not the meeting part.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I'm the Rodney Dangerfield Daughter

No good deed goes unpunished!

Uh huh. That's a news flash. It can't wait until the next edition of the Backroads Hometown Gazette.

You know how I call my mom at least twice a day, sometimes five or six if I'm on one of my 19 snow days off from school? How I'm the Three-Dollar or Five-Dollar or Seven-Dollar or occasionally the Ten-Dollar Daughter? One held in high esteem by her maternal unit? One who takes Mom for rides, allows her to show off a bit of flesh through that hole in her gray sweatpants, brings her slaw when she's running low, advises her on neighbor relations, and is just an all-around good egg looking out for Mommy?

I do that with no thought of the benefits I may reap at the end of each visit. I could be the No-Dollar Daughter and remain just as pleased for the hours of companionship. I rarely ask for anything, unless, perhaps, it's to pull down in the driveway when dropping off supplies to my familial shut-in, so that my T-Hoe is not rammed by an out-of-control auto barreling over the hill while I'm parked on the wrong side of the road. And I know better than to ask. Mom is quite adamant about her driveway privileges with snow upon the gravel. So I make do.

Last night at 10:30, in the middle of our 5th phone conversation of the day, Mom was almost giddy with news. It was as if she'd left her homestead and interacted with people. Not just The Shoveler. "I walked by that thing on the wall, you know, the box that tells me what the temperature is and what I have it set on...and it said, 'Change.' So I got out my instruction book and looked it up. The book said that meant I needed to change the battery. I guess this cold weather this week has kept it running so much that the battery ran down. I thought, 'I'm not going to deal with this right now. I don't want my furnace to go off. Tomorrow I'll call your nephew, and see if he has time to run by check on it after work.'"

"Mom, you know Hick would come out and do that for you." Of course, my nephew works for Ameren Missouri, and Hick merely wires and repairs and builds machines much more complicated than thermostats all the livelong day, whereas my nephew started out as a custodian dumping wastebaskets.

"Well...this afternoon your sister and her husband the ex-mayor came by to bring me some noodles. Sis called and said she had cooked some, and she'd be glad to bring them. I told her I had food, but that noodles sounded good. So they came out, and the ex-mayor changed the battery in my furnace thing for me!"

I was silent for a moment. "They parked in your driveway, didn't they?"

"Yes. I didn't know they were going to."

"But you always tell ME not to pull into the driveway!"

"Well, I don't want anybody in there. But they did it last time, too."

"I know. But if I get out tomorrow and run by your house, you don't want me in there, right?"

"No! I don't want you to get stuck. I wouldn't be able to push you out."

"Okay. I'm probably not coming out anyway. And that thermostat battery? You really think it's the weather over the last three days that made the battery run down?"


"How long have you had that furnace?"

"Seven years."

"Have you ever changed the battery in the thermostat in those seven years?"

"Oh, no."

"I have batteries in a head massager that go dead in two months. And I don't have THAT many headaches, so I don't use it very often. And you expect this thermostat battery to last forever?"

"Well, not forever. I had an extra 5 years warranty added to my furnace contract, for replacement parts. That takes my up to 2017. But I don't think that battery would have run down without all this cold weather."

I think I need my nephew to explain that a thermostat works all the time, not just when the furnace kicks off and on in cold weather. I'm sure he can just pull down in the driveway when he arrives.

Monday, March 3, 2014

It Pays Nothing, But I Would Never Quit

Alas, my poor mother is once again homebound by the ice and sleet and snow. I hope she has enough slaw on hand. One thing is for certain...IF I could get to her house to take her supplies, I would not be allowed in the driveway. I jokingly made such a comment on the phone, and she said, "Well, you're right." I told her she might as well get a couple of orange cones and some crime scene tape, and mark that entryway off limits every time there's accumulating snow. No crazier than Kramer preserving the scene of a dropped egg on Jerry's floor, using drinking glasses and yellow caution tape.

Mom's neighbor came over this morning and shoveled a path down her driveway, and cleared off her porch steps. He rang the doorbell and asked if she needed anything. She thanked him and replied that she was fine, and told him he didn't have to shovel for her, and furthermore added that she was going to make some "Check Mix" later in the day. I wish she wouldn't call it that. This is the Czech neighbor. I doubt he minds, though. He told her he did not shovel in the hopes of getting any Check Mix, and that she did not have to make it every time he did something for her.

Really, though. It's not like Mom is going anywhere for a few days. She might as well pass the time making Check Mix. Hope he likes Bugles. She insists on including them. I told her to call him and say, "Your Check Mix is ready. Get your shovel and come on over. It's not like I drive a motorcycle or ride a unicycle, you know. I've got two more tires that need a path." She said I was terrible.

Mom also has the gently-used National Enquirer and Globe that I passed on to her Saturday. If she's read them already, she can give those to him as well. According to The Shoveler's wife, The Shoveler really enjoys those magazines. As she told Mom, "He can't wait to read them and find out who's gay this week."

Mom has been communicating with one of her best old lady friends from her high school days by email. The friend was worried about Mom during the ice event. "Do you have your firewood inside? Do you have enough food? Do you have water to flush the toilet?" Funny what people consider necessities. Mom has three toilets. I think she could even go without flushing for a short time if necessary.

Mom assured her friend that she had plenty of food, that her box of firewood was still there since the last storm, and that she had jars of water in the basement. WHAT? That's news to me! What is she all of a sudden, a prepper? I know she has several gallons of drinking water. She uses it in normal times, because she doesn't like the taste of the hard water from the faucet. I had no idea about the jars of water in the basement. What's that all about? I need to get to the bottom of that. I wonder if it's in her old Ball jars from when she used to can pickles and assorted veggies.

At least water in jars is not as dangerous as that bag of clothes she had sitting around in her garage, just waiting for her to back her Blazer in and jam the hot tailpipe into it. I might need to inquire about that as well. Like if it's still there. And if it was really clothes, or perhaps oily rags waiting to spontaneously combust.

Sometimes worrying about Mom is a regular part-time job.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Will the Horrors Never Cease?

Just when I think my life is complete, when I fear life's rich tapestry has room for nary another thread in the woven wall-hanging of Val's existence...I discover THIS on my electric fireplace mantle:

Oh, yes. Lean in closer. You'll not catch fire. I carried my cranberry candle to the burgundy kitchen counter for the phone photo. Yes, by all means, stick your snoot right down in there, get a load of that sight, feast your peepers on my discovery. Uh huh. Me, too. The retching will subside once you look away. Would you like to join me in my exclamation of disgust? One...two...three...


How silly of me to think a Walmart candle was safe on an electric fireplace mantle! Safe to sit, at the ready, in case of a power outage. Ready to bring light. Perhaps a bit of warmth. Pardon the appearance of the candle proper. I am not in the habit of dusting wax. Okay. I am not in the habit of dusting. So sue me. Maybe I would have made this discovery sooner if I was a more fastidious housewife. Good thing we did not lose our power last night, signaling me to rush to that cranberry candle with a long wooden match. "Yuck! I'll never buy another Walmart cranberry candle! Those things smell like FEET!"

There are three residents of this Backroads mansion. Me. The Pony. Hick. I am not in a habit of clipping my toenails in the living room. Not that I'm putting on airs about my grooming etiquette. Truth be told, ol' Val cannot comfortably bend over and trim her hooves while sitting in the La-Z-Boy. She prefers to prop them on the side of the triangle tub in the master bathroom for pruning. The Pony sits on the long couch and hikes his Clydesdale-size clompers on the coffee table. That leaves one suspect.

Upon interrogation, Mr. Hick Thevictorian stated unequivocally that he did not know where Exhibit A originated. Furthermore, Mr. H. Thevictorian inquired, "What IS that? Let me have it. Let me look. Give it to me. Just tip it over so I can see better. Huh. That looks like fingernails. I have no idea where they came from."

No. Not fingernails. Tiny toenails from misshapen feet with itty bitty toes, stub toes, toes that somehow sprout great talons overnight undercover of a Grandma quilt, to jab one's loving life partner until blood flows as from an open-throttle faucet.

When given one last chance to un-perjure himself, Mr. H. Thevictorian stated, "Wait. I remember now. I picked them up off the carpet the other night. I don't know where they came from."

Yeah. Because everybody who discovers toenails on the carpet deposits them in a cranberry Walmart candle on the mantle of their electric fireplace, no questions asked.

I rest my case, and await the book-throwing at this scofflaw.

A cranberry candle ain't safe in a house full of Hick.