Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Hick Finds Work For Val's Idle Hands

Yes, Hick wants to make sure no grass grows under Val's feet. He also wants to make sure that no grass grows on our once-pastoral side-yard between homestead and BARn, so he refuses to part with his lone remaining goat. That might just become Val's life work: getting Hick's goat. She's off to a good start...

Anyhoo, Hick decreed that Val pick up his boots Saturday morning. Normally, this proclamation would be met with a raised left eyebrow and stone cold silence by Val. But it was not his regular boots of which he was speaking. Friday evening, while The Pony and I were visiting Mom after paying the bills without her, Hick sent a text to The Pony (obviously fearing Val's wrath) that he was on the way to buy a pair of work boots.

It's not the purchase of the work boots that's ireful. Hick needs a pair of steel-toed work boots twice a year. He's rough on boots. How he can wear out steel toes is beeeyooooond me, but he does. It's a fact of Thevictorian life. No, it wasn't the purchase to which Val objected. It was the idea that he was less than a half mile away from where Val and The Pony were sitting, having driven 20 miles past home to get to the boot store, and was not even planning on dropping in to say HEY to Mom. Granted, he visits every Sunday, and he drives her to city appointments. But he WAS in the neighborhood. A ten-minute visit would not have incapacitated him.

Anyhoo...Hick did his boot thing and headed home, beating us by a good hour. It was not until this morning, at the stroke of 6:10, while I was attempting a few more ZZZZs on my day off, that he sprung the news on me.

"I need you to go pick up my boots."

"What? I thought you got them last night."

"No. Their phones had been down since 11:00 that morning, and the debit machine didn't work."

"Didn't you have cash?"

"Yes. But that's MY money."

"You know I would have given it back. With the receipt, of course."

"I didn't want to spend my money. I told him you'd be coming over there to visit your mom, and you would pick them up. He put them behind the counter. All you have to do is ask for them."

"Should I take cash, in case the debit machine doesn't work?"

"It should work today. But you can write a check if it doesn't. You don't let me carry the checks, so I couldn't."

"All right. Will they know what I'm talking about?"

"They should. Don't worry if the boots are size 9. They're comfortable on me. I took a long time picking them out."

"I'll try to remember."

When The Pony and I arrived, nobody was in the parking lot. The door sign said "OPEN." I went inside, and a girl behind the counter said, "Mmpfpfmm." Then she said, "Sorry. I just took a bite." Of what, she did not elaborate. I told her my husband had left a pair of boots behind the counter because the debit machine was not working. She looked at me like I was some kind of magnificent fiction writer. "Boots?"

It was, after all, a boot store.

"Yes. He said the boots would be behind the counter. The debit machine didn't work last night."

"I was at our other store. It didn't work there, either. Huh." She looked around. I gave the name. Thevictorian. She looked some more. "Oh. This is them." It was the only pair of boots on the counter in a bag. A tag was on them that read: Thevictorian. She gave me the total and I gave her the debit card. "Huh. This says I have to finish a transaction from yesterday..."

"Would it be easier if I wrote a check?"

"No. It will work. As soon as I finish the transaction from yesterday. Here." She pushed a cardboard display of pocket knives at me. "He gets a free knife with purchase. Pick one."

"Let's see...I don't have my glasses."

"There are several different kinds. Deer. A wolf..."

"Oh. A bear."

"Yeah. And there's a turkey..."

"TURKEY! Here it is! I'll get him the turkey. He has a pet turkey that follows him like a dog."

"Oh. Did he catch one and tame it?"

"Noooo...he bought it at a livestock auction. It's tame."

I finished my transaction and dropped the turkey knife into the left boot. When I got back in T-Hoe, I told The Pony, "Reach down in that boot and see what I got Dad."

"That's okay. I already put the bag on the floor."

"C'mon. I got him a pocket knife with a turkey on it."

"You PAID for it, I hope."

"No. I just grabbed it and put it in the boot. Of course I paid for it. Don't tell Dad when we get to the bowling alley. I want to surprise him. He'll probably say, 'Oh, you got my free knife.'"

When Hick saw his boots, he reached into the wrong left boot. "There's nothing in here."

"Your OTHER left boot."

"Hey! A pocket knife."

"Did you see it?"

"Yeah, it's a knife."

"It was free with your purchase. I got the one with the turkey."

"Oh, there's a turkey on it?"

The Pony couldn't hold it. "Yeeeesssss. To shame you for the three that you killed."

Hick doesn't get away with much. He might start finding more work for Val AND Pony hands.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hick’s To the Left of Me, Pony’s To the Right, Here I Am Stuck In NoMaLa With You

Val has a bone to pick with her cohabitants. It’s not a tidy, cute little bone like a wishbone that you and your sister, the future ex-mayor’s wife, can snap without sullying your fingers. No sirree, Bob! This is a raggedy, ungainly, flesh-flapping bone, like the deer legs that show up on our front porch. Backroads, we have a problem. Hick and The Pony are stealing ZZZZs and winks and fence-jumping sheep from Val every morning.

It’s true. My chair-nap time has shrunk from 30 minutes to a paltry seven. Ten if I’m lucky.

It is my habit to arise at 4:50 a.m., pack lunches, take a shower, wake The Pony, and hit the La-Z-Boy for a nap. That plan worked for years. But now it has become all but obsolete.

The Pony gets the ball rolling at 5:30. That’s when I’m out of the shower. I remind Hick to get up, then I walk to the other end of the house and shout through The Pony’s door that it’s 5:30. He answers back that he knows. He has his phone set to wake him.

All his life, The Pony has been a good go-to-bedder and a good getter-upper. But now he tarries. Sometimes it takes ten minutes for him to come out of his room. That means I can’t start my chair nap. The Pony takes his phone to the front window to turn on his internet. Then he logs on my laptop. From there he heads to the kitchen to fill his own feedbag with breakfast before passing through the living room again on his way to the basement. That’s kind of distracting to one attempting a snooze in the recliner.

Still, I should have a good 20 minutes of sleep ahead of me. But no. Hick must stump around on the tile bathroom floor on the other side of the wall with his footless ankles, rattling the shower door, succumbing to countless cases of The Dropsy from the sound of his plastic toothbrush glass bouncing in the sink, his phone, the comb, shampoo bottle, soap, and assorted morning toilette accouterments hitting hard surfaces. AND he has been leaving the bathroom by 5:50 to chat with me on his way out the door, cutting sharply into my power nap.

How do you solve a problem like Maria? I don’t know. Even all those nuns couldn’t figure it out. But it has to be easier than figuring out how to get my nap back.

So here I am every morning, stuck in The No Man’s Land of Not-Nodding.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Val Ventures Out to Dip a Toe Into the Irony Pool

You know how these days schools practically roll the students in cotton batting, surround them with bubble wrap, sit them upon foam cushions, and feed them a diet of whole-wheat nonfat no-sugar no-salt no-peanut nutrients? And how the insurance man declared Val's classroom a danger zone because there was a TV on a cart that was not strapped down? (Which to Val kind of says that now instead of getting hit with a falling TV, kid, you're going to be whacked with the metal cart as well).

Yep. Doors locked, buzzer needed, nobody gains entrance to our fortress without approval. No smoking on the premises. Nobody rides a bus home with a friend without parent permission. No short shorts, no tank tops. Nobody left unsupervised anywhere, anytime.

Guess what The Pony and I see on the way home several times a week. Go on. Guess. I'll give you twenty questions. Here's a hint. And another. It's in three different school districts we pass through. Concerns athletic team practice. Have you got it?


Yep. Cross country or track practice.

For the kids we don't care about, I suppose. It's like shipping an egg to Spain, all cushioned and buffered in the crate, and then unwrapping it and laying it on the cobblestone streets of Pamplona during the second week of July.

I'm not real sure, but I think this might just qualify as IRONY.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

As Ex-Mayor of Valedictorian City…

"As ex-mayor of Valedictorian City, in the county of this Backroads land
I welcome you most regally
But we’ve already verified it legally, you see
You see?
That you are
Morally, ethically,
Spiritually, physically,
Positively, absolutely,
Undeniably and reliably DIRTY!"

Yeah. What a fine how-do-you-do that was. The Pony was sprawled across my mom’s bed at her rehab center, she in her recliner, I in the visitor chair…when the ex-mayor himself strolled in. Or, perhaps, ROLLED in would be more accurate.

My sister the ex-mayor’s wife and he dropped by to visit Mom while we were there yesterday. Sis whirled into the room in her usual way, taking charge, interrogating Mom on what she had been up to that day. The ex-mayor stepped in, grabbed the wheelchair just inside the door, sat down, and rolled over to the end of the bed.

Sis announced, “We pulled into the parking lot, and the Ex-Mayor said, ‘Your sister’s car sure is dirty!’ I told him, ‘No, that’s not hers. She only comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays.’ But it WAS your car.”

“Yes. I know it’s dirty. We live a mile up a gravel road. The car is black. It’s impossible to keep clean this time of year. The road is frozen when we leave in the morning, and mush when we go home. That mud flings all over the place. I usually have it on my pants legs from climbing down from the running board. Even if we washed it, by the time we got home it would look just like that again.”

“Well, you could run it through an automatic car wash.” Thus spoke The Ex-Mayor, Esquire.

Huh. To not embarrass him if someone sees him on the same nursing home parking lot as my pigpen T-Hoe, I presume.

What’s the point of washing a car when it will be dirty again by the time you park it in the garage?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Evidence Speaks For Itself. And Apparently For Val.

Once again, Val has an impersonator.

This morning The Pony was in the midst of his morning toilette, brushing his teeth, washing his face, but most certainly NOT trimming his SIDEBURN…when he burst out of the bathroom, demanding, “WHAT?”

That is not like The Pony. He’s a placid fellow. Plodding along like a plow horse in a straw hat with holes cut out for his ears. But this morning he seemed exasperated.

“What do you mean, WHAT!”

“What did you want?”

“Nothing. Why?”

“You called me.”

“No I did not. I was in the kitchen, putting on lotion. I don’t need anything. I coughed. Cleared my throat.”

“No. I didn’t even hear that. You called me.”

“No. I didn’t.”

“Hm.” The Pony went back to putting on his face.

On the way to school I asked him, in our way, me looking in the rearview mirror to make eye contact, talking over my shoulder, him tap tap tapping at his laptop, “So…when you hear your name called in the house, is it a whisper, or just said?”

“It’s a yell. Like you always holler to me to get something.”

“Huh. Dad said the same thing. Something is throwing my voice!”

“Uh huh. I tried to tell you. It sounds just like you. I've gotten to where I usually don't answer unless you call me twice. Then I KNOW it's you.”

“That explains why you've seemed inattentive. The time I heard my name, it sounded like Grandma. And it was kind of harsh. Like she was chastising me, or needed to get my attention. ‘VAL!’ Like that.”

“Yeah. Now maybe you’ll believe me.”

Maybe I will. I do not think I care for this sincerest form of flattery.

Now don’t you worry about Val.
Here. Have a listen to this old Randy Travis song, “Whisper My Name.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

Perhaps This Part Should Have Been Split Up as Well...

When we last adjourned, I had provided a detailed account of how I received excellent service at the supermarket from a girl we'll call GALLANT.

And now, for the rest of the story...

I'm sure you will be shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that I encountered GOOFUS at the local post office hub. Not the dead-mouse-smelling post office. The main one. I had a package to mail for Genius, the absentminded professor. He took back his fancy-schmancy camera, but forgot the battery charger.

On the way to visit Mom, we stopped by the dead-mouse-smelling post office, which was not yet open, so The Pony could run in and get me a flat rate box. I made quick work of folding that thing up and stuffing three plastic Walmart bags around the charger for padding. It was just a fit.

After our sojourn with Mom, we had ten minutes to spare before The Pony's bowling league drop-off. He suggested that I swing by the main post office and save myself a dead-mouse trip later. Good thinking by The Pony, probably trying to atone for his inability to fold that box together earlier.

This post office closed at noon, so time was of the essence. I was not happy to see a parking lot full of autos. Nor was I happy to see three people ahead of me at the counter. Three might not seem like much, but it's like dog years...each one of them was sure to take up the time of seven people.

I was REALLY not happy with the way the last woman in line stared at me. You'd think she'd never seen a valedictorian before. Her head even swiveled as I walked by. I wanted to shout, "I'm a woman, not an animal!" and "Take a picture, it'll last longer." Perhaps with some spittle flying out of my mouth to land on her chin. But I refrained. I'm Gallant, you know. Goofus was not going to get my goat. Except that gawking gal was not even the real Goofus. She was working behind the counter.

The guy at the head of the line, holding a small girlchild on his hip, was waiting. And then we saw what for. A giant tub o' mail. He put it on his other hip and sashayed out the PUSH door.  The next lady held a rolled up woman's knit top in her left hand. With her right, she gestured at the flat rate box shelf. "Are all the things on that shelf free? And the others you pay for?" Next to them were cutesy colored items, and bubble wrap, and various shipping accouterments.

"Yes," said Goofus. "The flat rate boxes and envelopes are free. I don't think your item is going to fit in that one" (Shirtsley had picked up a small box), "but that padded envelope should work." She gave the price, and Shirtsley repeated a different amount, and Goofus corrected her, and Shirtsley commented that she prints her shipping labels from eBay, so she gets a 40-cent discount. That's how it goes when you're in line at the post office right before closing.

Goofus turned her attention to Gawkerette, who was only waiting in line for an envelope to be weighed. "I thought it might be too heavy, and I want to make sure it gets delivered, so I thought I'd just bring it in and have it weighed." Goofus put it on the scale. "It's just right. Just at the limit. It's good with one stamp." Gawkerette wasn't having it. "You're sure it will go? No problem? It won't get kicked out for not enough postage?" Goofus took it off the scale. "No. It's fine. One stamp."

Now it was my turn. I pushed the already-sealed flat rate box across the counter. "I'd like to send this package to this address." I laid down a 3x5 index card with Genius's college address on it. At the dead-mouse-smelling post office, they type up an address sticker. I found that out after I had written Genius's address directly on a flat rate box, in the space they allow for the address. Slap! Covered my fine penmanship with a sticky label. Claude Daigle would have sloshed over in his grave.

Goofus snatched up that index card and had it pinned down with three strips of clear tape before a lamb could give three good tail shakes. Good thing I copied it down at home before I took my trusty index card to town. Then Goofus asked if I wanted to put on a return address. There was no space for that. The upper left corner of the box was taken up by printing about flat rate boxes. "I don't know. I never have before." Goofus looked astounded. "Well, if it gets lost, it will end up in the dead letter facility." Real confident in her company, I guess. Remembering my lost two boxes of books, which have never resurfaced, I agreed to provide a return address. Goofus shoved that box back to me, with a pen. So apparently writing directly on the box is good enough for a return address that you put on top of that box, above the regular address that Goofus had just taped on.

Goofus turned to a customer who had walked in behind me, one whom I had resisted the urge to stare at. She asked the lady for an address for her package. "Wait. Don't you print them out?" Goofus denied that such an event had ever occurred in any post office, anywhere. "You mean it doesn't print a label when you type in the address so I can get my receipt with the tracking number?" Nope. Goofus gave that lady a pen and a piece of paper. And that lady said, magnanimously, like she was queen of the post office, "Oh, you can help her while I'm writing."

HELLO! I was there FIRST, and I had graciously stepped aside to write on my return address! Now I was getting charity from the customer behind me. She might as well have paid it forward like I was some pauper unable to buy my own flat rate.

I gave my package back to Goofus, who had the nerve to ask, in all her Goofusness, "WHICH ADDRESS IS CORRECT?"

No, she wasn't talking about my awkward return address. She meant the street address and the dorm name. I swear. Don't ANY employees of the U.S. Postal Service understand how mail is routed? Seriously. Bottom up. State. Street. Apt or Box or Dorm. Person. Not rocket science. General to specific. Just like taxonomy in science.

But that's not what made her Goofus. I handed her a ten dollar bill for my $5.95 charges. She gave me my receipt showing the tracking number and an arrival date of Wednesday. THEN SHE TURNED AND WALKED INTO THE BACK ROOM!

I just stood there. Looked at my benefactor who had so unselfishly given me time in the middle of her service to complete my transaction. Goofus returned to the counter and looked at me. "Um. Can I have my change, please?"

"Oh. The drawer was open."

AND...? Did that mean I should have hopped the counter and helped myself? Was she testing me to see if I was honest? Was I on closed-circuit camera, with a tactical team waiting to bust me if I approached the drawer? I'm not quite sure what she was getting at. But at least I got my change.

Which, I suppose, does not make her a true Goofus. But she's certainly not Gallant.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

One, One, One Post In Two

Hey! Anybody here grow up reading Highlights?

You know, Highlights. The kids' magazine. I couldn't wait for them to come in the mail. I think my favorite section was the hidden pictures. I just tried one online. Oh, SIT, as The Pony might say. I only found 12 out of 16. And even after the hints, it took me another ten or fifteen minutes to find the remaining four. I don't think they gave us enough practice on those things in Valedictorian School. second favorite part of that magazine was Goofus and Gallant. Am I the only one who wanted to smack Gallant and mess up his hair? Goody-two-shoes, running with his scissors pointed down! Oh. Wait. I'm sure Gallant WALKED with his scissors, while Goofus sped through the house, scissors pointed up, just daring fate to put an eye out. I know we were supposed to get a different message, but sometimes ya just gotta go with the bad boys. Most of the time, however, I viewed them all smug in my smugness that I was Gallant, and my sister the future ex-mayor's wife was Goofus. After all, she was the one who ran in circles, tethered by her upper arm in Mom's vice grip, to escape the wrath of Mr. Wire Flyswatter Handle.

Today, Val pays homage to Goofus and Gallant with two vignettes from her interactions around Backroads this weekend.

Today I went to a local grocery store looking for minced garlic. I forgot it at Walmart, and Thevictorian kitchen is about to be as fresh out of minced garlic as the Jerk Store is out of their best seller, George Costanza. I wheeled my too-big cart up and down the aisles. I bought french bread, grape tomatoes, a variety pack of chips for my school lunch, sugar-free Jello, and BBQ sauce.

At the check-out, the girl asked how I was doing. I told her I couldn't find minced garlic anywhere. I looked on the produce aisle around the onions. I looked on the condiments aisle around the peppers and horseradish. I looked on the Italian aisle along the sauces. I looked on the spice aisle along the garlic salt. No minced garlic.


Left me right there conversing with the checker behind me who was counting out her money. She thought it was on the condiment aisle, but my runner found it in the produce, at the end of the bin containing bananas. Go figure.

So she got to ringing up more of my order, and found a hole in the bottom of the bag containing my french bread. Did I want to get another one? Yes. Yes I did.


Kudos to the GALLANT checker! There just might be a letter to the manager about her above-and-beyondness.


You'll have to tune in tomorrow for the rest. This ol' cow can't be givin' away so much milk for free.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Pony Takes Exception To Val's Parenting Skills

Pity the poor Pony. Today he tried to tell me that there was no difference in the pronunciation of shave and save.

Not sure how this came about. We were driving T-Hoe to visit my mom, and perhaps The Pony mentioned that he wasn't going to save his goatee. Which didn't make sense to me, what with him letting it go all Amish during no-shave November, and then keeping it until we went back to school, at which point he SHaved it. There is no month in the future that calls for the Saving or SHaving of the beard. So I started an interrogation.

"That doesn't make sense."

"Yes it does."

"Why would you not want to save it?"

"SAVE it. That's what I said."

"I know. Save it."

"Um. Cut it off? I'm not going to SAVE it. With the saver."

"Wait. You mean SHAVE. You're not going to SHAVE it."

"Yeah. That's what I said. I'm not going to SAVE it."

"Those are two different words."

"I know. But they are pronounced exactly alike: SAVE."

"No. It's a different sound. SHave! There's a lot of difference. You Sift the flour, but you SHift the car. You don't Sift the car."


"I guess you come by that naturally. When you were a baby, you had that ear infection that wouldn't go away when you were one. That's when kids are learning language. It took forever to get that ear infection cleared up. Especially after you landed in the ER with the allergy to amoxycillin."

"I know. You told me."

"They tried five different antibiotics. Nothing worked. Finally we took you to an ENT, and he had the bright idea to treat you with an antihistamine. VOILA! It dried up your ear and that infection went away. But you had some hearing loss."


"You had some hearing loss. So you didn't hear how words were pronounced right."

"You never told me I have hearing loss!"

"Yes I did. I told you that whole story of how Dad was gone to Wales, and Grandma spent the night, and I thought you had chicken pox because of the spots when I picked you up from daycare, and how I checked on you in the night, and you were all swollen from the reaction to that amoxycillin you were taking for the ear infection."

"Yeah. I remember that story. But you didn't tell me I have hearing loss. THAT explains it!"

"I know I told you. We went to that hospital where Grandma had her rehab, to a room where they tested hearing. You were just a baby. I had to sit in a little dark playhouse thing, while they played sounds of different decibels and pitches all around the room to see if you would look that way. Sometimes you did, sometimes you didn't. The doctor said you had hearing loss."


"I'm sure I told you. I guess you just didn't HEAR me! Get it? HEAR me, heh, heh."

"I get it. I can't believe you never told me. This explains so much."

"Why? Do you not have good hearing in one ear?"

"Yeah. The left. All this time, I thought it was normal. That all people are like that. That it's like dominant hand. If you write with your right hand, you have less hearing in your left ear."

"No. It doesn't work that way."

"I KNOW THAT NOW! But until a few minutes ago, I just figured everybody heard less out of their non-dominant ear. I wish you had told me I have hearing loss."

"You do."

"WHAT? I didn't hear that."

"Heh, heh. I did that on purpose. Said it really low."

"I can't believe you!"

"Hey. Tomorrow Dad is grilling. I'll get you a steak if you want."

"I'll just sit in the basement with my hearing loss, oblivious to all going on around me."

Wow. Who knew The Pony would be so bitter?"

Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't Look a Grocery List in the Mouth

This morning I picked up the note card on the table beside Hick's La-Z-Boy that I had used to start my shopping list two days ago. Okay. So my mind wandered. It only had two items on it so far. But they were crucial items that I did not want to forget.

The list was on a 3x5 index card. I put on my glasses to make sure I would later be able to understand what I had written. No indecipherable grocery lists for Val!

Wait. What WAS that? The upper right corner of the note card had a smudge on it. Kind of brownish. Not big. But it was not the pristine corner that was on my list-maker when I opened the brand new package of index cards two days ago.

ACK! The realization hit me like an unsanitary ton of bricks.


I don't have concrete proof. No hidden camera footage. But all circumstantial evidence points to my grocery list being Hick's dental floss.

Yeah. He's done this forever. Not with my grocery list, or even an index card. But with anything he can get his hands on to shove between his teeth. Except a toothpick, of course. Or flavored waxed dental floss. A matchbook cover here. A fortune cookie strip there.

I fear that Hick does not have even a rudimentary grasp of socially acceptable dental care protocol.

He's a picker. He's a grinner. He's a Val chagrinner. He picks his plaque on the run...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Who Knows, He Might Turn Out To Be a Cop

The Pony kicks off his Scholar Bowl season this evening, with three matches against local schools. He has anticipated this day since August. Possible even since last April, at the end of the previous season.

Let the record show that The Pony will not be unprepared. The bus leaves at 3:15, with the first match starting at 4:00. No time to stop for sustenance. In past years, the coach has let the team members partake of the snacks for the after-school programs before boarding the bus. One snack. One drink. However…The Pony does not like milk, so the drink is out. The snack depends. He’ll only eat a few of the offerings. Instead, he opted to bring a slice of last night’s Domino’s cheese pizza, and a donut from Casey’s that he picked up this morning.

Yesterday morning, I had to stop by Casey’s for a scratch-off ticket. No, I’m not that addicted. But I wanted to put it in a card for Genius. His grandma used to send him a card every week, with six dollars enclosed. His freshman year it was five dollars, but apparently the old gal gave him a COLA. With her out of commission of late, I know she would want me to send Genius a card and money.

Last year I send Genius a card every now and then, with lottery tickets. He complained that he never won, and that at least Grandma’s money was a sure thing. “She gives you cash, I give you hope.” He agreed, after hitting it big with a $20 winner. That’s like a month’s salary to a college kid.

Anyhoo…The Pony went in with me yesterday for a donut. Two. He wanted one to put in his lunch. Yes, that’s allowed at his school. The lunch police are lax during third lunch shift. He ate one for breakfast. Not a lunch policeman, a donut. In fact, he said, “You know I had that first donut eaten before we even got out of the parking lot.” So this morning he got four. Two for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for the pre-Scholar snack. I might consider this unhealthy, but he’s a sixteen-year-old boy going without supper until after 7:00 p.m. That’s an eternity for a kid.

Here’s to wishing Genius a little winner, and The Pony a big win. Val lives vicariously through her spawn.