Saturday, December 31, 2016

Take Another Little Piece of My Heart Now, Pony

By this time on Saturday (yeah, I know, that's TODAY now) I will be in Oklahoma. It's not that Hick and I wanted to spend New Year's Eve celebrating with the winds rushing down the plains. The wind did that at home on Thursday! Not the celebrating part, though.

The Pony wanted to get back to his comfort zone. He has some friends who will be coming back early, before the semester starts. Maybe not THIS early, though! And he wants to meet with the professor whose lab he will be doing research in for his FYRE (First Year Research Experience) class for Spring semester. He gets 3 hours of honors chemistry credit for it.

We had planned for The Pony to stay at least through the upcoming week. But Genius's plans, and Hick's work schedule, put the kibosh on that. We want to spend a night in Oklahoma, maybe (heh, heh, like you believe MAYBE) go to an Indian casino. Hick wants to check out the Goodwill and thrift shops. We can go out for a meal with The Pony before our final separation. Help him move his Christmas haul into his dorm room.

However...Genius is off to San Francisco and Portland for a week. Hick and he are getting up at 3:00 a.m. to leave for the airport by 4:00. The Pony and I will leave here at 6:00 a.m., and meet up with Hick halfway across Missouri. From there we will convoy to Norman. The problem with seeing The Pony off to OU next weekend is that Genius will be needing a ride home from the airport on Sunday. Hick works (his new retirement schedule) until 5:00 Thursday. We could have left and spent Friday and Saturday there, but with the weather clear for sure now, we caved to The Pony's wishes. No way do we want to risk another icy trip, and Missouri winters are unpredictable.

You know how it goes. Once they leave home for college, nothing is ever the same again. We're just a way station for re-fueling the belly and the pocketbook.

I miss both boys already. Not sure they would say the same about me!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #41 "The Crappie Creek Cloggers Caper"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Just wait until you get a whiff of this week's fake plot! This fake book is not for those with a delicate constitution. Are you the type who rips the Band-Aid right off? Do you jump into the freezing lake? Grab the bull by the horns, pull your own teeth, spit into the wind? If so, this is definitely the fake book for you! Go sell some plasma and use the proceeds to fake-purchase this week's fake book!

The Crappie Creek Cloggers Caper

The town of Crappie Creek has a problem. Somebody has taken a dump in the display toilet at Patsy's Furniture Store! Clues point toward the Crappie Creek Cloggers, a gentleman's organization known for its members' distinctive hosiery.

"Something's fishy here!" declares Constable Craap, a transplanted Dutchman. "The perpetrator used a newspaper to obscure his face while doing the deed, but witnesses saw the socks! A police lineup commences at zero nine hundred hours to finger the culprit!"

Indeed, Crappie Creek Cloggers are noted for their striped socks and sluggish digestive tracts. It's common knowledge that outhouses at their fishing camp must be moved weekly, due to fillage and overspillage. Some local businesses have signs prohibiting restroom use by troupe members.

Will Constable Craap solve the case before it all hits the fan? Will the Crappie Creek Cloggers generate a word-of-mouth ad campaign for their fishing camp and traveling dance troupe?
(150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Paul Bunyan..."I haven't seen a logjam of this magnitude since I spent that winter in Wisconsin. This author's words don't flow like they oughta."

Sir Thomas Crapper..."A device has not yet been invented to handle the pile of words this author let fly. I daresay it's as if she had diarrhea of the fingers!"

Al Bundy..."Even a Ferguson, the King of Bowls, is no match for this woman's business! I'd sooner romance my neighbor Marcy than pick up this fake book. It's not even good enough to run over with my Dodge."

The Scottish..."We had nothing to do with this. We swear! We'd rather eat haggis without holding our nose than read this fake book."

Archie Bunker from his chair..."Hey, Edith! You's better get some air freshener. This fake books stinks like Meathead's been on the terlet again."

Cast of Riverdance..."MAKE IT STOP!!! The cover art alone is enough to upset our delicate constitutions. This author obviously did no research on the art of the dance."

Cast of Stomp..."We've got the perfect place to put this fake book! It was under our feet all along."

A Random School of Crappie..."What about US? We are being used as a plot device! Something fishy is going on here! This fake author is promoting large-scale fraud by baiting the American public with what SHE calls a BOOK. Don't let her reel you in! Save your fake money for more worthwhile fake purchases."

Pigs on a Farm in a Secluded Holler in Kentucky..."We come out smellin' like a rose compared to this fake author and her fake book. She's enough to make the school marm lose one of the three Rs."

Frightened Skunk..."I am perfume itself when my scent is wafted alongside a stack of these fake books."

Socks..."Feet have never smelled so sweet! Thevictorain's fake writing stinks to high heaven. Even Odor Eaters cannot quell the stench of this garbage."

New York City Sidewalks During a Sanitation Strike..."Whew! Did something die between the covers? This fake tome is not even fit for recycling. And the author is a stinker, too!"

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Very Special Episode

A while back, blog buddy Bruce mentioned how he had planned to accompany his wife to his daughter's house (THREE TIMES IN ONE WEEK!), being chivalrous, you know, making sure she didn't slip and fall on the walkway...and out of the blue, she told him SHE DIDN'T REALLY NEED HIM THERE!

That's my take on it, anyway. Here's his exact quote, so as not to put words on his fingertips:

My wife was cat-sitting for the BRD and was going to make three trips over to her house in a week's time. On the first visit I insisted on going with her because of the irregular sidewalk and steps outside the BRD's home. I was CONCERNED for her. Sometime during the visit she SNARLED at me..."See, that's why I didn't want you to come along. This is my only chance to get away from you for awhile!" Women. I just don't understand them.

Yes, it's just like Hick always telling me that he's HELPING me, when the only help I really want is for him to leave me alone.

Here's the thing, blog buddy Bruce...

You guys adore us SO MUCH that you want to spend every spare moment with us. To constantly bask in our presence. Whether it's so you know where we are at all times and who we're with, whether it's because you might need to hand us something like used gum or a turnpike ticket or change from the drive-thru window, or whether it's because you need someone to admire everything you do, or whether you are genuinely trying to protect us...we are over it!

We’ve spent a lifetime hunting you down, flattering you enough to convince you to marry us, feeding and dressing and grooming you, raising your kids, telling you when to breathe in/breathe out…and now we just want some ME time. To not answer to anyone, not be anyone’s gofer, not be anyone's cheering section.

Oh, we still love you. We just don't see the need to drench you with our love 24/7 when we are both retired and around the house all day.

Maybe the best thing we could do to make you understand our predicament is to point you towards the Julia Sugarbaker speech to Ray Don. Granted, Julia was geared more toward the single man, but concepts still apply. The main point being..."sometimes we like talking just to each other, and sometimes we like just being alone."

It's not you, it's us.

I sure hope Hick remembers watching Designing Women.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave, When Our Post-Feast Tummy Seeks a Reprieve

Val has been a bit under the weather since Christmas Day. Nothing worth going to Inconvenient Care about. Just a malaise and nausea that keep her from enjoying herself fully. Perhaps it's due to the selfless task she took upon herself this holiday season to FEED THE CLUELESS.

Let the record show that Hick reported the same type of pseudo-illness after hearing about Val's health, and that The Pony simply commented that he'd been gassy. Lest you think it had something to do with the vittles that Val dished up, Genius nor his friend who also partook showed any ill effects. AND the wife of The Veteran, who was nowhere near Val's bountiful feast, was also said to be under the weather on the day after Christmas.

Wouldn't you know it? The ONE DAY that Val has big plans, her digestive system revolts. Only half of it, though! Only nausea. I swear. I NEVER get sick like that. I daresay I have a record to rival that of a certain fellow with a horse face, big teeth, and a pointed nose, who was felled by a black-and-white cookie. At least I never reached the point of refunding, like the date of a Humpty-Dumpty with a melon head.

I forced myself to follow through with our plans to hit the casino. Hick stayed home to work on hooking up an electrical service entrance for HOS in the road-blocking trailer he moved onto our upper 10 acres. So Genius drove A-Cad to take me and his buddy to the casino. Not the one by the river on the south side, where we usually go, because it's closer. But the one by the bridge, with a second level, where security thinks they're FBI. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm past the point of being carded. But the boys spent about 15 minutes in line waiting to be allowed entrance. There's a bit younger crowd here, compared to our usual destination.

Let the record show that nobody lost a shirt, Genius and Friend left with a pretty penny, and Val won $81. Lunch was a burger, a chicken club, and a quesadilla, eaten at a booth, which Val usually eschews in favor of a table. When told that a table would be a lengthy wait, we agreed to a booth, even though Val had reservations about getting up from it. As you may notice, I did get up from it, or you would not be reading this story.

I try not to embarrass my boys too much in public. I thought I did pretty well, even though Genius did not drop me off at the door because he thought he would have to get valet parking, so instead herded me from parking garage to fountained entrance to cobbled indoor street to casino. College boys walk so FAST, you know, even in their tight jeans and pointy-toed shoes. I think I did admirably well in keeping up. And I didn't fall on the escalator, though an unsurefooted mount on the way back down gave me an adrenaline-fueled episode of heart-racing. I didn't even comment when Genius looked over the diner where we were booth-seated, and said, "Huh. All those tables are empty except one. I don't know why there would have been a wait."

Then came the OH MOTHER moment. I took my glasses out of my pocket to read the menu. Not either of my two newest pairs, but my 3rd best pair. And when I did, THE LENS FELL OUT and bounced off the table and onto the floor.

"Oh, no! Do you see my lens anywhere? I think it went under the table."

"Well, I can't get it. You've got this table jammed so close to me."

"I can crawl under and get it." (Friend is always nicer to me than Genius).

"No, no. I can reach it, if I lay down on this side of the booth."

I managed to snag my errant lens, and found the screw laying on top of the table. But, you know, I couldn't see to put it back in. And Genius's fingers were too big to handle that tiny screw. And we didn't even want to impose such a task on Friend, also a possessor of man-hands. That meant that I held my lens in the glasses by pinching the frame. Held the glasses to my eyes like a double monocle to read the menu. We all ordered water to drink. I told the boys they could have soda, but they said, "It's FREE in the casino!" Such little savers they are, not wanting to cost Val an extra four dollars for the meal!

A good time was had by all, even though I fought the nausea the entire time, hoping not to refund my medicine I had taken that morning. We returned home at dusk, declaring that after seeing the sights, and partaking of a larger gambling environment, we still think we prefer the smaller river facility, where we have our favorite games.

I don't know when we'll be able to go again, what with Genius back at college, and going to Kansas for his internship this summer at Garmin. I'm glad I braved the bug and went anyway. Here is a picture of my sad, sad Tuesday, the day after, when I was still not feeling my best.

Thanks, Pony, for asking before you took the picture. Even though it was hard to understand the request, what with you laughing uncontrollably.

Yes, that's me, around 4:00 on Tuesday, sitting in the La-Z-Boy, not even feeling like reclining, freezing to death at 70 degrees, backwards-wearing my quilted blue plaid CPO jacket that used to be Hick's, the fake fireplace mantle in the background holding the box from Puppy Jack's shock collar that I had told The Pony repeatedly to throw away.

Life ain't pretty sometimes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Like the Honey Badger, FedEX Don't Care

After Puppy Jack snacked on 1/3 of Genius's gift wallet made of Bison leather, monogrammed, with RFID blocker, from Sharper Image...I spent 30 minutes on the phone with FedEx. The rep, who spoke mostly English, was polite, and well-versed in corporate CYA-ness.

"I'm sorry, Ma'am. I have a puppy myself. They are rascals. Since the package WAS delivered, I am not sure what we can do for you. I will take your information and get a claim going right away."

Yes. The package WAS delivered. But you can be sure (and I can only hope that the recording for quality assurance purposes was activated) that I let them know my opinion of leaving a package consisting of a small paper envelope ON THE PORCH, ON THE GROUND. A stiff wind could have blown that thing away. The same wind that can blow metal chairs off the porch. Chairs. Which are ON the porch, available for package-laying. On EACH SIDE of the front door, less than 10 feet away.

Once I informed the minimum wage FedEx employee of the relative IQ of my deliveryman, I fired up my internet and ordered a replacement gift wallet made of Bison leather, monogrammed, with RFID blocker, from Sharper Image. That package arrived a few days later, while I was in town again. Thankfully, Val's little helper, The Pony, was at home.

"I heard a knock, so I opened the door." [Not a guarantee with The Pony] "It was the FedEx man, and he handed me the package. It was the same envelope like the one Jack ate. Jack was on the porch, looking sad. Like he'd missed out on his snack of supple buffalo jerky."

Thing is, had The Pony not been there, I fear this FedEx man would have laid that envelope at the door again. Because I had put up a sign on the carport post, by which deliverymen have to walk in order to reach the porch, with instructions for the leaving of packages.

STILL the guy came straight to the front door. So it is very possible that Jack may have gotten another snack, had The Pony decided not to open the door.

Just two days before, I had heard the dogs barking, and went upstairs to see what was going on. A FedEx boy had just left a box on the porch. He was almost back to the carport.

"Hello. Didn't you see the sign?"

"What sign?"

"The one right in front of where you parked. Saying to leave the packages on the back porch, on top of the doghouse. This little dog ate half a leather wallet. It won't matter with this big box, but smaller ones should be up off the ground."

"Oh. I didn't see that. How about on the barbecue grill? I wondered about that. If I could leave them on the barbecue grill."

"Yes. That's fine. As long as they're off the ground. Like I said, this little dog ate a bison wallet in 20 minutes, before I got home."

"Oh, just call FedEx. They'll replace it. That's what they always do."

Huh. No wonder their drivers don't really care where they leave the packages. Have you seen the internet horror videos of them driving by and THROWING THEM ONTO THE PORCH without even getting out of the truck?

FYI...I got a letter from FedEx today:

FedEx Values your business. We have received and processed your claim request on the shipment referenced above. Unfortunately, upon completing our investigation, we must respectfully decline your claim.

Under the terms and conditions governing this shipment, FedEx will not accept liability for any special, incidental or consequential damages, including, without limitation, loss of profits or income, whether or not FedEx had knowledge that such damages might be incurred.

(the capital "V" in values was their doing, not mine)

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Eclectic Tastes of Puppy Jack

Another hectic Christmas season has been unwrapped, its paper discarded, the bow saved for next year, and memories made.

Val makes the majority of her gift purchases online these days. The most strenuous part of her shopping is wondering the method of transport that will bring the Christmas joy to her homestead. Could be UPS (Unqualified People Shipping), could be FedEx (Feeding us Excrement), could be the USPS (Unhelpful Service People Snots). Just simply receiving the package is like a scavenger hunt. Will I find it in the garage? On the front porch? On top of the Olds Toronado? After dark? The next morning? In the lock boxes with a key in EmBee's gullet? At the dead mouse smelling post office after turning in an orange card? One a day? Three or four a day? The possibilities are astounding.

Two weeks ago I was happy to see that one of Genius's very special items had shipped. He only asked for two things, since he's getting a trip to the west coast that starts with a flight out on New Year's Eve. AND he said he didn't expect to get both items, because the trip was enough. To surprise him. Of course Val couldn't let her boy go through Christmas with only one gift under the tree. I did some virtual shopping, and found a present suited for the future young professional.

I had some errands to run that day, and returned home at 12:15 with my missions accomplished and a 44 oz Diet Coke and a Hardee's Chicken Bowl for sustenance. As I came up the driveway, I saw my Sweet, Sweet Juno, Puppy Jack, and Copper the Neighbor Dog laying in the front yard. Immediately upon seeing me, Juno and Jack chased Copper across the driveway and under the barbed wire fence that separates our properties. Heh, heh. They're regular Eddie Haskells, those fleabags of mine. Frolicking with Copper while I'm away, and then pretending to protect the homestead from him when I come back.

I pulled over sideways in the front yard to take a picture of Hick's balls. The giant Christmas ornaments he hung from the carport. The dogs did not like this much. It's not part of the routine where I fold in T-Hoe's mirrors, open the garage door, pull inside, then emerge through the people door to give them each a handful of cat kibble. Juno sat down and looked at me. Jack ran around to the other side and grabbed a toy or animal part or piece of neighbor's trash to play with.

Picture taken and sent to myself, I turned to see where Jack was before steering T-Hoe in a half circle back to the driveway. There he was. Romping and shaking his head and worrying something floppy in his jaws. Prancing around. Parading his spoils like a furry Tom Sawyer whitewashing Aunt Polly's fence, showing the world how very much fun he was having.

Wait a minute. What WAS that in Jack's mouth? It almost looked like--

"JACK! Come here! JACK!"

Jack trotted in front of T-Hoe and around to my door, where he stood wagging his ropelike tail expectantly. No sign of anything in his jaws.

I had T-Hoe's tires back on the driveway, the mirrors in, and was pushing the garage door opener when I let the HORROR flood through my mind.

That thing Jack had been playing with looked a lot like...a wallet! Maybe he had found an old one in somebody's yard. Or maybe someone had lost a wallet down in the woods. The more I tried to justify what Jack had in his mouth now again, romping closer and closer to the garage, the more I felt like this was the worst case scenario. Jack had found a wallet all right. Genius's gift wallet made of Bison leather, monogrammed, with RFID blocker, from Sharper Image, due for delivery that very day!

I parked and came out the big garage door onto the concrete. Walked across the gravel by the carport. Hollered for Jack. He had come running down to see the garage door open. He likes to dart in there and torment the cat that growls at him and spurns his humping advances. Jack came around the side of the garage. Mouth empty.

"Where is it, Jacky Boy? What did you have? Huh? Where is it?"

I went about five strides into the yard and found it. Huh. No way. Just an old wallet. Soggy from Jack's saliva. I turned it over in my hands. Went on up where I first saw Jack with that object. There were some white paper scraps.


I turned the wallet over again. Where I could just make out the monogram.

I bent over and tapped a wriggling, joyous Jack on the nose with the spoils. "NO! JACK, NO! BAD DOG!" It didn't seem to faze him. I hurried inside. Just sick. Not only for the cost (though I had enough in scratcher winnings to cover it), but for the thought that I would never get another one in time for Christmas. I called Hick at work and sobbed on his long-distance shoulder.

"That dog. He's into everything."

"I'm going to look at the tracking and see where they left it. How could Jack get it? It wasn't even in a BOX! Just a paper envelope!"

"All you can do is see where they left it, and call FedEx."

"I'm sure that will go over well, after you complained when the driver tore up the yard and left those ruts a foot deep."

"They ought to be happy. They were going to pay for a landscaper. I got a roller and fixed it myself."

"I'm sure they won't do anything. They left it, and OUR dog ate it. But it's just a phone call."

I spent 30 minutes on the phone with a guy who spoke mostly English. He wanted to fax me a claim form. Yeah, right. Like Val understands the faxing routine. So he said he'd mail it. Don't know why they couldn't sent it in an email. He wanted an item number and description. Said I'd get those papers in 5-7 business day. I haven't seen them yet.

With my luck, the claim forms are probably in that USPS time warp where The Pony's letter with his October monthly expense check is currently cooling its heels.

Meanwhile, I got online and ordered another wallet made of Bison leather, monogrammed, with RFID blocker, from Sharper Image. That's a whole 'nother continuation of the same story.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Hickness Balls, Hickness Balls, Hickness All the Way!

Merry Christmas!

Here's a bloggy Christmas card from Thevictorian family to yours:

Yes, for those of you wondering where Hick's balls are...they're swingin' in the breeze!

Too bad I couldn't get Puppy Jack and Sweet, Sweet Juno to pose for the picture. I was sitting in the front yard in T-Hoe, and they were looking up hopefully at me from near the running board. They don't like a break in routine, and were probably wondering how I could dish out a handful of cat kibble from behind the wheel.

I even called in a dusting of snow for the picture. Yes, what more could you ask for than a view of the too-narrow carport, the Ford F-250 4WD Club Cab, and the 1980 Olds Toronado? Oh! I know! A decrepit fence found in a shed on the other property.


And have a Merry Christmas. Or whatever you celebrate. If it's Festivus, may you always come out on top in the Feats of Strength, and may your name never be mentioned in the Airing of Grievances.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

It's Almost All Over But the Bleedin'

Christmas Eve. All my presents are wrapped (for the first time!) and the only hurdle remaining is the timing of the dinner. My oven doesn't have enough shelves for all my dishes.

It's been a strenuous two weeks. Some people might plan ahead, and have their preparations ready before then. But not Val. Let the record show that I wore out a pair of scissors. I wondered why my right thumb kept having gunk all over it. Gunk that reminded me of graphite. I just thought I was a dirty bird, and wiped it off every time I noticed. Then I picked up the scissors and felt a pinch.

Wore 'em plumb out, I did. When I laid them down for a picture, a piece of plastic fell off from the crack in the handle. It's not like I was using the delicate scissors designated for gossamer wing trimming. These are regular scissors that one would expect to cut through wrapping paper. Without breaking. Without pinching. I don't mean for blog buddy Joe H to have a flashback of remorse. I was using the living room scissors, the ones designated for the job. However...after their destruction at my own hand, I had to bring the kitchen shears in to finish the job.

Lest you think that wrapping gifts for the men of the homestead is a simple's a photo of the injury I suffered on Thursday.

That is from the tape. A brand name, even! Scotch tape. The tear-off teeth are all wonky. You can't rip off a piece of tape like you're supposed to. You have to bring that ribbon of tape sideways, so the edge of the ribbon is over the middle of the tear-off teeth. It was not just that one roll. The one after it did the same. Let the record show that I bought 3 packs, which is 9 rolls, of this tape. Caveat emptor, people! Caveat emptor!

For the first time, I have piled the presents all under the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree that The Pony didn't put up until Wednesday, and didn't finish decorating until Thursday. Don't worry! I'll leave it up until Easter. Or the 4th of July. I like the glow of my Christmas tree lights at night.

The boys usually go to bed Christmas Eve with only a couple of lesser presents showing under the tree. Then they get up Christmas morning, and see the pile. I guess it's no secret anymore that I'm the one putting them there. Oh, the years of coming home from dinner and game-playing at my sister the ex-mayor's wife's house, only to spend most of the night finishing the wrapping, and setting out the gifts and filling the stockings. All while Hick snoozed the sleep of the simple, leaving these duties to me.

The stockings are sorted into separate Walmart bags with care, and rather than carefully apportion each one's contents in the early morning hours (HEY! HE GOT ONE MORE RED HERSHEY KISS THAN I DID!), all I need to do is put them inside the stocking. Yes, that part of Christmas is much easier now.

It's getting all parts of the dinner ready at the same time that weighs on my mind.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #40 "His Tuberosity Got the Best of Me"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week, you'll be all eyes when you read the tale of Tater Hill, a sleepy burg with all the starch taken out of its population by an unplanned propagation. Reserve your copy now to find out if there's going to be a fryin' pan wedding. Don't delay! Eager readers are hungry for Val's newest fake book, and they're going to eat this one up! Get it while it's hot, and don't rely on playing ketchup! Heh, heh. I crack myself up sometimes.

His Tuberosity Got the Best of Me

Poutine had chosen Old Vienna over Cape Cod for her date with Spud. He Ruffled her the right way, and made her feel all a-Pringle. She knew it wasn't Wise for Spud to invite her to a steak dinner, and the way he buttered her up and helped her off with her jacket should have set off an alarm. Poutine didn't want Spud to think she was just another Lays. Herr's mother raised her better. But now Poutine and Spud are in a fine kettle of chips.

Poutine wakes up with a peeling forehead, no memory of anything since her date, and six newborn small fries. The townspeople of Tater Hill are all eyes. Will salty Spud waffle, and spiral out of control? Or will he and Poutine hash it out and raise their tots in Tater Hill?
(138 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Hot Potato..."It's absolutely not true that I'm the father, even though most of the fairer sex find me irresistible."

Grandma OreIda..."I hear the father is French. Such a scandal for our little town! This fake author should make like a mime in print."

Twice-Baked..."Whoa, man! How'd all them small fry come outta that new potato? I must be hallucinatin'. Whadda ya mean this is a book? A BOOK? That author is messed up."

Sweet Potato..."Aww, look at those babies! Aren't they just the cutest things? I am so glad Thevictorian shared their story with us. Everything happens for a reason."

Klondike Rose..."It'll be a cold day in the Yukon when I buy another fake book by Thevictorian! I love it! I can hardly wait for this author to compost another story!"

Loaded Baked Potato..."I'm not just seein' double, I'm seein' triple double! This fake author oughta have a warning label."

Potato Skins..."This fake book made us feel all hollow inside. Like we needed something to stuff the empty space left by reading such a thin plot. This fake author is not very a-peeling."

Tater Tots..."Yay! New playmates! The adult theme of this fake book is way over our heads, so Thevictorian might also be able invade the youth market with her salty tale."

Russet..."I am boiling mad that this fake author had the nerve to serve up this rotten story. It was a real eye-opener. Thevictorian should be whipped."

Mr. Potato Head..."If only someone would pluck out my eyes so I don't have to read another word! This author is faker than ME!"

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Little Snot, a Little Spritz...Val's Scratcher Sense Ain't on the Fritz

On Monday, the rich tapestry that is Val's life snagged a few threads.

Genius drove in to partake of lunch with me and The Pony and my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel. I was planning to drive the Acadia, because Genius shamed me into it the other night upon hearing that I'd driven it about 100 miles on the way home from Oklahoma, on slippery roads, in the dark. Of course as we walked out the door, Genius volunteered to drive it.

The Acadia is virtually new, you know, with only 7000 miles on it, since I have kept it in the garage mostly since we bought it last December. I'm pretty sure that's why Genius wanted to drive. I'm sure it had nothing to do with Val's driving technique. He backed A-Cad out of the garage that was built too small for two cars, because you can't open the passenger doors against the wall. I walked through and met him by the driveway, after a brief stop at the side-porch to pet my Sweet, Sweet Juno and Puppy Jack.

Juno was all fired up, feelin' her cat kibble. The temps were still in the 20s on Monday. The dogs frolic extra-hard on crisp days like that. As I leaned over to hug Jack, who stands with his feet on my shoulders like he's a big dog, Juno rushed in and planted her nose on my cheek. Just what I needed for a trip to lunch. A big wet splash of dog snot on my face. Juno must be extra-healthy lately. Her long black coat shines, even with no egg-layers left, them having been eaten by various neighbor dogs. Her rubbery black nose that I once inadvertently tasted was exceptionally moist on this day.

I was finagling my left leg into A-Cad, holding tight to the open passenger door, when Genius decided it was a good time to wash the windshield. "Your car is filthy!" My dog snot problem was remedied forthwith as windshield washer fluid sprayed me full in the face. As I sputtered, Genius showed little to no remorse. "I wondered if that might happen," said he.

Lunch and a home visit with Mabel was the high point of the day. Genius was rarin' to get back to the homestead, because he had plans to go shopping with his cousin, daughter of my sister the ex-mayor's wife. He was driving A-Cad faster than made me comfortable, even though that boy has been driving (a go-cart) since he was 3, and a standard-shift Toyota Tercel from the age of 10.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm a race car driver! I'm just gassing it to see if it has a V8."

"This is not the road for that. HEY! Don't do that! You'll put it out of gear!"

"I just want to see what this 1 and 2 mean on the shifter."

As you might imagine, we made it home with time to spare before the shopping date. Genius busied himself with distracting me from my intended purpose of gathering up my lottery winners and heading to town for more tickets and a 44 oz Diet Coke. As he was shocking himself with Jack's collar at the kitchen counter, I told him, "I've got to get going, or I won't be back before you leave. I was going to give you gas money." Well. That cooled his jets.

It's only 10 minutes to town. And 10 minutes back. And 5 minutes inside Orb K, the closest purveyor of 44 oz Diet Coke. Genius must have been the flap of a butterfly's wing where my ticket purchase was concerned. I returned home to discover that I had purchased a $100 winner. Genius had already left by the time I found out.

I restrained myself from telling him until he was back home in college town that night, having texted me to report that he got his letter with two tickets in it, and that he'd won $15.

Somehow he didn't seem so happy about it after I told him my news.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Twelve Twitchy Twice-Liars

Tonight concludes our 12 Days of Hickness festival. Sorry I didn't devote a post to each day. I can hear you all grousing about being cheated out of detailed stories of Val's issues with Hick. I understand. It's so seldom you get to read about that subject. I'll try to do better!

A couple weeks ago I had lunch with my favorite gambling aunt, over at The FelineFish Skillet. I brought home quite a spread of our leftovers for Hick to sup on. I figured I could get at least two nights off from cooking. After all, I had a stack of containers containing:

[I packed up two rectangular foam containers with 2 pieces of catfish, about a dozen shrimp, 1 chicken strip (for ME to have tomorrow), a pile of wedge fries (because they were cold when we got them), mashed potatoes, three hush puppies, and two tubs of tartar sauce. I had three round foam containers that I filled with slaw, baked beans, and the pickles/onions. They have some crunchy bacon-striped pork rinds that they put out when you are waiting, and I put them in a plastic sack. Auntie wanted me to take the tubs of butter as well, but I didn't want to be a hog.]

Long story short, Hick ate all of it the first night.

When I went to the kitchen to plug in my phone for charging at 3:00 a.m., my sock feet stuck to the burgundy-patterned linoleum. "That's weird," I said right out loud. Because I can talk to myself all I want at 3:00 a.m. in the privacy of my own kitchen. "My feet didn't stick to the floor when I got the dogs' evening snacks ready. I was in my socks then, too, because I took off my walking shoes to let my feet air out a minute before putting on my Crocs to go out on the porch." Sometimes, my self-conversations contain too much information.

I went to bed, making a mental note to ask Hick about the floor. I knew he would wake me at 5:50 a.m. as he was getting ready to leave for work. No reason. He just does. This time it gave me the window I needed for his interrogation.

"Did you spill something on the kitchen floor last night?"

"Did I spill anything on the kitchen floor last night?" (Repeating the question. Never a good sign for the defense.)

"Yeah. Did you spill something on the kitchen floor last night?"

"No. I don't think I did."

"Oh, so you don't THINK you did. But you might have."

"I guess I could have, and didn't know it."

"Over by the sink area? My socks stuck to the floor. Something sticky was all over it."

"Oh. Well. My plate flipped over when I was taking it to the trash. But it was in front of the stove."

"So you DID spill something on the floor last night."

"No. My plate was empty. All I had on it was some slaw juice. And I wiped that up."

"With WHAT?"

"A paper towel and water from the sink."

"Oh. That must be it. You smeared the slaw juice all around. I'll use some soap later."

"But I cleaned it up! With water."

"Yeah, yeah. Go to work."

When I got up and went to the kitchen, IN MY BARE FEET, in the hours before Croc foot stepped on something squishy right in front of the stove.

Yeah. That's a floor onion. A limp floor onion that's been laying there all night. Looks like Hick had a little more on his flipped-over plate that he didn't spill anything from before he wiped the floor with a paper towel and water.

Hick has a penchant for telling me what he wants me to hear. It's not the first time. Nor is it the 12th. There's not a song long enough to devote to all the Days of Hickness.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

'Leven Levitating Paper Towel Rolls

Imagine my surprise when I entered the kitchen a couple weeks ago, and saw that Hick had replaced the paper towel roll. He uses a paper towel every morning to hold his two whole grain blueberry waffles that he eats on the drive to work. Every other time he takes the last paper towel, he leaves the cardboard roll. So if I forget to replace it, I turn from the sink with wet hands, and have to try opening a new package from the pantry. Most often, though, I just wipe them on my sweatpants with the hole in the left hip.

This time, I knew immediately that the paper towels had run out, and the roll had been replaced. It caught my eye.

A levitating paper towel roll will do that, you know...catch your eye. We have a metal paper towel holder with a flat metal apple on top. It unscrews so you can slide the roll of paper towels down, and put the apple back on. The Pony likes to take a shortcut and squeeze the paper towel roll a bit, and slip it over the apple with just a few gouges into the cardboard roll from the green metal leaves. That works, too.

What doesn't work is that specific holder with a giant roll of paper towels. I prefer Bounty Select-A-Size. They usually come in a two-pack, usually with a design. Sometimes, Walmart is fresh out of them. Sometimes, Walmart only has the giant rolls in Select-A-Size. I'd rather have a giant roll of small paper towels that a small roll of giant paper towels. The Pony and I know that with the giant rolls, you have to set them BESIDE the holder until enough of them have been used that the roll is normal size, and will fit within the radius of the bottom flat apple of the holder. That flat apple down there will not let the roll turn if it's too fat.

Hick, apparently, cannot figure this out. He jammed the giant roll onto the flat apple up top. Which means he most likely tried to put it on the roll correctly, saw that it was too thick, then took it off and jammed it right on top of the flat apple. Let the record show that this roll will not turn. And the whole holder will not turn on its base without falling over, unless you used two hands.

I took the roll off and put it on the cutting block beside the holder to await slimming. Let the record show that Hick did not prepare a pot roast and leave it for me. Nor did he bring in the cat kibble feeding pan from the porch. That is a batch of Chex Mix. Okay. Not so much a batch as the almost-empty pan, with some straggly Cheerios and broken pretzels awaiting Hick's snack time later in the evening.

Also, while I often feel like my kitchen is THAT DARK due to Hick's use of 20-watt light bulbs...this is just the way my phone camera works under roof.

'Leven Levitationg Paper Towel Rolls? Sure. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic. No doubt Hick will return to his old ways soon enough. I do, however, prefer this method to grabbing at few shreds of paper towel on a cardboard tube.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ten Towering Trash Bags

Let's get back to the 12 Days of Hickness, shall we?

Hick has a penchant for foisting his version of "manspread" on the homestead kitchen wastebasket. For some reason, he sees fit to take up as much room as possible in the trash bag.

Even before I inherited the trash duty from The Pony who got it when Genius left for college, I tried to condense our refuse as much as possible. I'd like to say it's because I'm a friend of the environment, but the main reason is that I grew tired of playing Wastebasket Jenga. Hinting and cajoling and pointedly demanding that the trash be taken out to the dumpster fell on selectively deaf ears. I had to balance items precariously on top of other items until the underside of the counter where the wastebasket resides was reached.

Now I take the trash bag out when it's full. Which doesn't mean that it should be full in less than 24 hours. Here's evidence of how Hick disposes of his used items. They're already above the rim. This happened to be after ONE meal, when I had brought him leftovers uneaten by me or my favorite gambling aunt from the all-you-can-eat platter at The FelineFish Skillet. Yes, we use a lot of paper plates and foam bowls. Sorry, Environment. It's not you, it's us.

I'm not proud to say I dig through the trash. But I do. I have to rearrange. To put plates with plates along the edge, and nest bowls in bowls, and pack that wastebasket like I'm preparing a space capsule for a moon mission. Items must be compact. Take up as little room as possible. After my renovations, the bag looked like this.

Ten towering trash bags? That's a lowball estimate. More like ten thousand. At least Hick has been putting items IN the trash bag. Rather than leaving a banana peel stuffed in the cushions of the La-Z-Boy.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sorry to Keep Bugging You With My Coincidences

Let the record show that I most often do my Walmart shopping on a Monday, and on the way, I stop by the cemetery to have a chat with my mom. She usually doesn't have much to say. In words, anyway. But it's for me, really, more than it is for her.

Last week, I made an extra trip to Walmart, and I stopped by again. Mom's on the way, you know, and conveniently located at the edge, where I don't even have to get out of T-Hoe. I talked about how we were making the long drive to meet The Pony and get him safely home for the holidays. How I was on my way to pick up Christmas supplies. How I miss her this time of year. Just a short visit. The radio was playing Christmas music, and I was in the holiday spirit.

I went over to Bill-Paying Town to get some stocking stuffers at the 24-hour Walgreens. Mom liked to go there with me, but she was most often hosting the boys at her house while I did that chore when they were young. In later years, we'd just drop in there for fun, to see what they might have on sale.

I hadn't been to this Walgreens since last Christmas, so I grabbed one of their tiny carts and started to the candy aisles. I made a wrong turn at the first one, because it was just regular candy, not holiday candy. I was going on down to the end, to loop around to the next aisle, when something on the right caught my eye.

I might have gasped. It was the perfect stocking stuffer for The Pony! Except I picked up the box, and saw that it was a Crumby mini vacuum. Um. No. Not something The Pony would use. But it was a ladybug! I vacillated, but ended up leaving it on the shelf. When I stepped into The Pony's car the next day in Oklahoma, I wished I had gotten it. He doesn't have floor mats [YET], and this little mini vac would have cleaned up his floor.

Anyhoo...I found just the candies I needed, including a couple of foil-wrapped chocolate pennies the size of a dessert plate. I don't care how old my kids are. They still like to receive stocking loot. With my shopping trip a success, I put my bags in the car and recorded my debit card purchase in the checkbook (you're WELCOME, any cranky people behind me in line). I buckled up and turned the key and it was 11:11 on the digital clock. Huh. One of you might find that interesting.

Later that evening, I was warming up a pot of chili in the kitchen, talking to Hick, who was in the living room. He had picked up the mail, and said there was a letter for The Pony from OU. I looked at it on the counter, and it was to the PARENTS OF The Pony. So I opened it. It was about the new Residential College that was just completed this year. The Pony had spoken highly of it since he enrolled, as it was a chance to live on campus his second year, and not fight for a parking space tooth-and-nail like prospective brides over frocks in Filene's basement.

Over Thanksgiving, The Pony said he might just get an apartment off campus, since the cost of the RC was almost double that of other housing. He knows how much money is in his college fund. Even his National Merit scholarship doesn't cover housing past the first year. We tabled the issue for further discussion before deadlines loom.

"Oh, this is about the Residential College. I've been thinking about that. The Pony REALLY was set on living there, until he compared the costs."

Hick came into the kitchen to look at the letter.

"Yeah. I'd feel better knowing that he was on campus, and not a mile away."

"Those apartments have that shuttle that runs every 20 minutes. But he said he was going to get a bicycle. I can't see him riding a bike to class every day. And what would he eat? I can't imagine him shopping for groceries. And Papa John's is over by campus!"

"I know. To me, he would be better off in the Residential College."

"I don't want to think that The Pony changed his mind to the apartment because of trying to save money and not make us feel bad. We can swing it. Ever since my mom left us that money, I knew we wouldn't have to worry about the boys' college."

The light over the sink blinked off, then on. The same light that went off for five minutes when I was standing in that exact same place, talking to Hick about Genius's college account at the credit union, which was down to the money my mom put in for him when he was a toddler.

I looked at the light and reached up my arms. "I know! The Pony can live there if he wants to. Got it, Mom."

On the other hand...maybe we just need an electrician.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Drove Hard and Put Away Froze

This morning Hick and I left the homestead at 6:15 to head toward Oklahoma to bring back The Pony. Since his unfortunate sleep-driving accident, we don't want him succumbing to another case of white-line fever. The plan was to meet him after he drove 3.5 hours, and we drove 5.5 hours, upon which I would get in with The Pony to keep him company the rest of the way.

Only one problem...THE WEATHER!

Perhaps you are a denizen of Missouri, and experienced the surprise ice event Friday evening. If not, let the record show that people were caught unawares by freezing mist, and spent 4X the normal commute time to get home. Hick made it ahead of the polar vortex by the skin of his teeth. The same type of weather was in the forecast for late evening today. IF you can believe those dad-blasted meteorologists. Which I, myself, cannot. Uh uh. Hook them up to a polygraph, and I STILL won't believe them. They are delusional.

I questioned the trip, but Hick said we'd be fine. 5.5 hours going, 5.5 hours coming back with The Pony, and VOILA! Home by 5:00 p.m., with the dropping temps and bad stuff starting at 6:00. That was the local forecast for Backroads. I even checked the St. Louis news station website weather. Put in the futurecast. Looked up Oklahoma weather. All systems looked go-for-it. We would be ahead of the freezing temps and precipitation. 58 degrees for the high. Maybe a little of below-freezing action on the way home, around Genius's college town, in the early afternoon...but still back home ahead of the bad stuff.

Val plans. Meteorologists laugh.

We left the homestead at 6:15. Temps in the garage were 35 degrees. By the time we were filling A-Cad up with gas, it was 43. We were good to go.


The temperature dropped the whole way! And we were in fog. Mist all over the windshield. As we rolled past Springfield, we hit 31 degees!

"This is a really bad idea! We are in for trouble. Now it's going to freeze like last night. And what about The Pony? He's never driven on this stuff."

"We'll be fine, Val. The mirrors aren't even iced up."

"Um. Mine has ice ALL OVER IT!"

"Well, what can we do now? The Pony is already on his way. He's not going to look at his phone while he's driving."

So...we kept going, and the temperature kept dropping, and The Pony reached the meeting place before us, him having driven in 35 degree weather with no precip. We told him to come closer, and met up sooner, saving us 15 minutes going and 15 minutes coming back.

The weather was terrible. Down to 23 degrees. Windshield wipers freezing solid. Hick beating them against the glass, tearing The Pony's driver's wiper right off the swiping rod. THREE TIMES! The Pony turned them on the first time, as we were backing out of a parking lot at a rest area, and it shot loose! Hick had taken off in a fit of pique because we weren't making the time he thought we should be, what with The Pony only driving 65 on that soon-to-be-frozen highway. We called him and he stopped, reluctantly, to re-attach it.

We stopped several times to clean off the wipers. A wreck by Genius's college town put a warning on one of those electric highway signs that 14-16 minute waits were occurring up ahead. I pleaded for staying overnight and not risking it. A suggestion pooh-pooh-ed by Hick. He was supposed to lead us to a shortcut on the outer road, but said no, he could see where we were getting off. When it was really the wreck detour he was seeing. THEN he called several times to tell The Pony to close the gap! Close the gap! Meaning to run right up on his bumper in those conditions, at 50 mph. Genius sent us a text that roads were icing in his town.

Of course we got stuck in the wreck traffic. Hick turned on his emergency flashers, even though WE were behind him. The Pony was not pleased.

"I don't know why he did that. It hurts my eyes. I've never had a seizure before, but those flashing lights make me feel like I might."

Once we finally made our turn off the interstate, it was full dark, and snowing, and 23 degrees. I told The Pony I would drive A-Cad over the two-lane blacktop, because I drove it for years when I used to teach in that area. With two hours still to go, ol' Val strapped herself behind the wheel. AFTER an argument with Hick that she couldn't stand up on that parking lot, due to ice. Which he denied. Then finally rubbed his foot over it and agreed, and helped Val into the driver's seat. He took command of the Rogue, The Pony hopped in with me, and off we went, through the dark, snow blowing.

I have never been so glad to get home in my life. At 7:30 p.m. A 13.5-hour tour.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #39 "Rapunzel Lets Her Hair Down"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Who's up for a modern-day fairy tale? Get off your pea-lumped mattress, princess! Pull on your new clothes made for you by the emperor's tailor. Grab a basket of goodies and head through the woods to Grandmother's house. And on the way, trade some magic beans for Val's new fake book. C'mon! Don't make me shove you in the oven! Fake-buy your fake copy today!

Rapunzel Lets Her Hair Down

Rapunzel thought she was in love with the dude who walked under her window one day. When he said he would show her the world, Rapunzel had higher expectations than the back seat of his car. Now she's in a pickle. And pretty sure she's not in love.

Lucky for Rapunzel, a beautiful woman on a horse comes to her rescue when Dude stops for gas. "You don't take a back seat to nobody, gal! Now shuck off them gladrags and hop on up here with me! I'll let you ride in front. We'll show that Dude who's in charge here."

Fueled by the PBR fire in her belly, Rapunzel mounts the steed. Will Rapunzel and the lady become poster gals for women's rights? Jump that steed across the Grand Canyon? Star in a movie? Concoct a recipe for delicious chocolate? Get your copy today to find out. (148 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Cousin Itt (translated by Morticia)..."I found this fake book to be quite hair-raising! Not the subject matter, but the slipshod method of fake writing. Thevictorian's work should in no way should be considered art." 

Marge Simpson..."Turning this piece of trash into a marketable fake book would be a tall order. I think my sister Selma's iguana, Jub-Jub, has more writing talent than this fake author."

Fabio…"I can't believe it's not selling! Yes I can. This fake book is so bad that I would not allow my picture on the cover for ANY amount of money."

Andy Rooney's Eyebrows…"We are turning over in our grave! This fake author is out of control!”

Emmylou Harris..."I've had gray hair since I was a toddler, but reading this fake book turned my tresses white overnight. Hey. That rhymes. Somebody could write a song about it."

Steve Carrell's Chest Hair…"We would rather be ripped out by the roots than sit here on Steve's chest while he reads this fake book. Better plug up your virgin ears if you don't want to hear high-decibel expletives.”

Every Arena Band from the 80s…"We love this fake book SO much that we couldn't put it down to take another hit of [insert abusive substance of choice here]. Hahaha! Said not a single one of us! EVER! ”

John Travolta in Character for Saturday Night Fever..."Don't touch the fake book!"

Fonzie..."Ayyy. That's what I'd say if I had written this fake book, because it would be perfectimundo. Unfortunately for Thevictorian, even punching this thing with my fist won't make it readable."

Willie Nelson, the Redheaded Stranger…"Nothing could be any stranger than this fake book. I don't mean that in a good way. I don't know what Thevictorian was smokin' when she fake-wrote this thing, but I sure needed a whole busload of something stronger in order to forget the experience of reading it."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Nine Noggins Nuking

On the Ninth Day of Hickness, my Sweet Baboo gave to me...Nine Noggins Nuking. That does not mean that Val is a veritable Hydra, a monster with nine heads. Though she finds it quite desirable to be able to grow two heads in place of one, should an unfortunate fate befall it.

I have been taking a walk up the uneven driveway every day. Four walks, really, because I risk ligaments and menisci to trek that treacherous trail four times. The weather has taken a sharp wintery turn. Yesterday it was 25 degrees, but felt like 20. To the weather site I check. To ME it felt warmer than the day before. That's because Hick gave me a hat to wear.

Before you go all goo-goo eyed with emotion over Hick making a special trip to an award-winning hatmaker to fork over his Goodwill money stash for a custom hat to encase Val's precious brain...let the record show that Hick grabbed a hat from The Pony's room that he had come across while cleaning it out searching it for treasures to display in his themed sheds.

"It's just so cold out there lately. I can't even feel my face when I come in. My hands won't stay warm, even up in my sleeves. I have on a shirt, a sweatshirt, and that flannel jacket, but when I come in and try to warm my hands by putting them on the skin of my belly, even my fat layer is like ice! I need a sock cap. That will hold in my heat."

"Oh. I'll get you one to wear tomorrow."

Hick disappeared into The Pony's room. I went to the kitchen to check on his supper. Less than a minute later, Hick was rushing through the kitchen, hunched over something he held in both hands. He dashed out the kitchen door, slamming it behind him. And as fast as he was gone, he was back.

"There. There's you a hat."

He laid this on the kitchen table.

"What's wrong with it?"

"Nothing's wrong with it. I found it in The Pony's room when I was cleaning it."

"What was in it? I saw you run outside to dump something out of it! It wasn't baby mice, was it? Like in your coverall pockets over in the BARn?"

"No. It was just dust. I took it to shake the dust out of it."

A likely story. He was moving might fast for dust.

Let the record show that it's not our kitchen table in that picture. I took the picture today, out on the corner of the back porch deck. Let the record further show that I wore that hat yesterday, and it kept my noggin (and the rest of my appendages) toasty warm. Warmer. Like rubbing my hands together in front of a nuclear blast.

Just a couple of problems here. I was not hunting in the deep woods at the height of deer season. I was quite a spectacle for people driving up the gravel road while I was walking. This hat was youth size. It had to be pulled way down to almost cover my ears, even unrolling part of that flap Hick had kindly folded for me. AND it was inside out. Which I just discovered when taking the picture.

I'm pretty sure he meant well, but I will not be recommending Hick as a stylist for your cold-weather wardrobe.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Eight UPS Deliverypersons Upended

Ah...we're up to the 8th Day of Hickness already! Doesn't hurt that Val rolled the first six out piecemeal, without branding them in the collection. Yesterday's Day could have been called "Seven Vals Bedeviled," (because Val was beside herself six times, with fear of Hick's activities during his upcoming retirement). However, yesterday's post was so chock full of title possibilities that it was richer than Richie Rich at Fort Knox eating blog buddy Sioux's fudge! Yesterday has passed, though, so let's get on with today.

Hick has been spiffing up the ol' homestead for the holidays. Actually, all that requires is setting out a string of light-up mini-Santas along the front fence. The fence I do not like. The fence that is an embarrassment to fencedom. The fence that is neither pretty nor rustic. The fence that forces Val to travel around her elbow to get to her thumb if she wants to venture into the front yard to see what her fleabags are currently dismembering/chewing on/destroying. Yes, just a string of mini-Santas taken down from the garage rafters and stretched along the fence and plugged in.

The lights that outline the homestead's roof line are left in place all year, you know, clipped onto the soffits. That's how we do out here where civilization can't hear you scream, "I'm a hillbilly!" All they need for lighting is to flip a light switch by the garage door. Oh, and there are six giant plastic Christmas tree ornaments that Hick used to hang on the cedar tree by the garage. The cedar tree he had cut down without Val's permission or even knowledge in order to build his too-narrow carport. So now he hangs those giant ornaments on the edge of the carport roof. I suppose there's a certain symmetry in that.

You'd think that with so little production needed to decorate the ol' homestead for Christmas that Hick would at least pay attention to detail with the one task that needed doing. He's the man, after all, who screwed a red plastic milk crate onto the cedar siding next to the green front door so the UPS deliverypersons would have a receptacle to hold left packages. I wish I knew what I said to him that discouraged the installation of such a drop box this year, but alas, I cannot.

Nor can I make Hick understand that the power source for his row of light-up mini-Santas is not up to code. It's a good thing he has not yet held the grand opening of Hick's Shackytown Theme Park. OSHA would hand Hick his own butt on a platter.

Yes, this is the handiwork of the man in charge of setting up a saw blade manufacturing plant in an old Red Cross warehouse. The man the company sends overseas to inspect machines and train people at their foreign factories.

Last Thursday, I was expecting a package of high-dollar electronic equipment that is a present for The Pony. I had to be away from the ol' homestead for a few hours to lunch with my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel. I could imagine the arrival of this package while I was gone, and the tripping of the UPS deliveryperson, and the resultant juggling of the high-dollar electronic equipment, and the disappointment on Christmas morning when the shattered shards were unwrapped. Oh, yeah. And the hospital bills of the upended UPS deliveryperson for treatment of 3rd-degree skin-chapping from the licks of Puppy Jack and my Sweet, Sweet Juno as that deliveryperson lay there unconscious from the head-knock received by her noggin on Hick's torn up and put back exactly the same way brick sidewalk.

I unplugged the light-up mini-Santas that day. I coiled the green wire around the fence post. I did not, however, move that industrial-style electrical outlet that is plugged in on the side porch with its own black cord thick as a man's pinky finger stretched across the boards for anyone walking around the porch to stumble over.

Good thing I did, too, because right after I returned home, the UPS deliveryperson put that package on the front porch, leaning right up against the wall by the door, where that red milk crate used to hang. She knocked twice, and by the time I got the door open, she had already scampered past the site where she might have met an untimely interlude.

Hick. Never disappoints when it comes to sparking a blog post.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The 12 Days of Hickness...Or Thereabouts

Yes, you are in for a treat. With the holiday season winding up and winding down, I've decided to treat you to THE 12 DAYS OF HICKNESS!

What's that? Some of you don't think you're up to it? Some are cutting eyes at each other, like "Here we go again..." Some are thinking, "Val can't possibly come up with 12 things Hick has done over the next 12 days." Okay. So nobody actually doubts that 12 Hickcidents are possible. But if you don't think your constitution is strong enough to read about Hick's antics for 12 days...consider VAL for once! She's LIVING IT!!!

I've done you a favor already. I've fed you 6 incidents without you noticing. Kind of like putting your crushed-up pill in a spoonful of pudding. Sure, a couple of you caught on. Birds of a Hickness flock in thickness, and the gentlemen have tried to stick up for ol' Hick. Nice try, boys.

So far, the 6 days of Hickness you have ingested are:

And I In My Jammies and Hick in A-Cad, Had Just Risen From Bed for the Trip to be Had
(in which Hick sat in a running Acadia while I scraped ice off The Pony's windshield)

Is the 27th Anniversary Gift Beverages?
(in which Hick bought Val nothing on their 27th anniversary, but bought himself an ice crusher and an orange juicer at Goodwill)

Impatient Zero
(in which Hick, with a sickness that sidelined him from work, touched every item in the homestead with his germy hands, including Val's phone)

Hick in the Money Depository With an Attitude
(in which Hick put the fear of HICK into the hourly employees at the bank, concerning a cashier's check to cover the personal check he wrote to buy a car the same day)

Serenity How
(in which Val sees the rest of her life pass before her eyes while tending to a sick Hick home from work)

I Complained Because My Window was Held Up by Two Doorstops, and Then I Met a Woman Whose Window was Held Up by Blue Duct Tape
(in which...well...Hick fixed T-Hoe's window)

See? It wasn't THAT traumatic, was it? I force-fed that Hick tonic to you, and I didn't even have to hold your nostrils closed and stroke your throat.

We'll kick off this 7th Day of Hickness with a little song. Just a snippet. One of you might recognize it. Ahem, Madam, I'm looking at YOU.

My Honey's About to Retire

Drove in from St. Louie Sunday with my dear
Couldn't get to sleep that night
On the way that hot-air bag was in my ear
Giving me a horrid fright
My honey's about to retire
I'll be at the mercy of Hick, guys
My honey's about to retire

Been away so long I fairly rule the place
Gee, he's gonna be back home
Bossing me around and I can't plead my case
Now I'll never be alone
My honey's about to retire
I'll be at the mercy of Hick, guys
My honey's about to
My honey's about to
My honey's about to retire

Well the Sweden trip really knocked me out
When Hick left Val behind
He went to France, made me sing and shout
And Germany is always on my my my my my my my my my mind
Oh, come on
Hu hey hu, hey, ah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
My honey's about to retire
I'll be at the mercy of Hick, guys
My honey's about to retire

So, in the car on the way to the casino on Sunday, Hick pointed out that he was only a couple weeks from retirement. I resisted the urge to put my hands over my ears and rock to and fro (Hick's sweaving did that for me anyway) and hum so as not to hear what he had to say.

Oh, how I wish I had!

"I'm going to start working in the basement. Do some things I always meant to do, but never got around to. Like close in the area by the steps. Put some shelves there. You know. Shelves. To put stuff on. Stuff we have that's in boxes and I want to see out. And you can help me. If I need a screw, you can run to town for me--"


Monday, December 12, 2016

The Pup. The Card. The Legend.

Is it just me, or does Genius's birthday card bear a striking resemblance to Puppy Jack?

The card.

The critter.

All he needs is a pair of lederhosen. And a pair of beers.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Some Weirdos Are Repelled By the Magnet

Today my Sweet Baboo took me to the casino. On his terms.

Let the record show that a casino trip had been planned for Monday with my favorite gambling aunt. It was her idea. When we had lunch last week, she pulled out her calendar and proclaimed Monday to be the best day. I had just informed Hick of that excursion last night when Auntie sent me a text that the trip was off. Now don't you worry about Val pining away in her dark basement lair, after getting her hopes up for four days. She's used to disappointment.

I went to the bottom of the steps and hollered up to Hick that the trip had been canceled. "I guess YOU can take me tomorrow!" That was said in a needling way to get under Hick's thick skin jest. I know Hick does not like to spend his day off in the casino.

"I could haul you up there if it's going to rain."

It WAS supposed to rain in the early week forecast, but I knew that system had petered out (heh, heh, you know what I said). I DID tell Hick. But he said he'd take me. He just didn't want to stay all day. Yeah. He doesn't seem to mind when he's there, losing my hard-won scratch-off money that bankrolls him. Anyhoo...we decided that we'd leave early, around 6:30, and come back right after lunch at 11:30. The only problem is that Burger Brothers doesn't open until 11:30. I mentioned that to Hick, but he said it was okay to have lunch and start home.

You know nothing ever works out for Val as planned. This morning, about 10 miles into our trip, Hick said,

"Picker sent me a text that there's a big auction today at 1:00."

" we need to leave by when?"

"We can still have lunch. We can eat at 11:00 and then leave."

"No. They're not open. We'll need to leave by 11:30, so you have an hour to get home, and then drive to the auction. We can't order a burger until 11:30. But that's okay. I can find something else to eat at home, or when I go to town for my soda."

"I don't have to be there right at 1:00."

"But that's when it starts."

"That's when they sell the big stuff. I won't want any of that."

See, if he'd only told me last night about the auction, I would have said we could go another time. But he didn't. AND, he lost his money before 10:30, and wandered around talking to me when I was counting in my head. He went to ask if he could order burgers at 11:15, to eat at 11:30, and he was told no. I committed a Hick trigger by turning to say, "What are you doing?" while he was standing behind me. It was an innocent question. I didn't know if he was expecting to leave right then, or what was going on. He usually sits down at the machine beside me when he's out of money. People hate that, you know.

Well! Hick threw up his arms and stomped off as he does when he has his tantrums. I didn't know where he went, but it sure was quieter. And the fact that other people were around kept him from hollering at me.

At 11:29, I went to cash in my tickets. There was a creepy weirdo man sitting on a stool, his back to the slots, facing the cash machines. He was focused on them, about six feet away. I kind of had my back up, like our cat Dusty when she sees Jack. Not because I was afraid of a surprise humping, but because I was kind of annoyed that a creepy weirdo man could just sit there and stare at the cash machine. I made sure to keep my body between him and my screen, so he couldn't see how much money that thing was pumping out. Then I quickly stuffed it in my shirt pocket and headed for the bathroom. For counting purposes, of course.

That creepy weirdo man was Hick.

Yeah. He hadn't said a word, just sat there staring glaring at me while I cashed out. I had told him I would leave the slots at 11:30, and we could start home. I was being nice like that, since he brought me to the casino. Of course, that was before he had his hissy fit over being asked what he was doing. So I was really doing him an extra-big favor because I left my slot a whole minute early to go cash out. He knows I always go count my money right after that.

From the bathroom, I sent Hick a text. "Where are you?" Because for all I knew, he had started out to the car. Sometimes he brings it around front, but last time I walked out with him, and I had said I would this time, too. But knowing Hick, he would stomp on out there and leave me hanging, and then say he was just being nice to me. In a really passive-aggressive way, with an attitude like Quincy when Mattie Ross of near Dardanelle in Yell County didn't like the way he was cutting up that turkey at Lucky Ned Pepper's hideout in True Grit.

Hick sent a text back that he was sitting by the cash machine. When I went out, he had a conniption because I hadn't spoken to him when I cashed out my money. Heavens to Betsy! What if I had asked him what he was doing, sitting there weirdo-creepin' at the cash machines? He didn't see anything wrong with the fact that HE hadn't spoken to ME, either!

I swear. You try to do something nice for someone, and that's the way you get treated! I was giving up my Brothers' burger, you know! That's a part of the casino experience! All because I wanted Hick to have time to get home and go to the auction. That's pretty selfless if you ask me!

This upcoming 40% retirement of Hick is going to be a rocky road strewn with broken glass. Like that from big water jugs with pennies in the bottom (and three dead mice). You don't even want to know what plans he has then. That's a whole 'nother story.

Gee, I wonder what Hick is saying about ME over on HIS blog. Oh. That's right.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

If the Earthquakes Don't Get 'Em, the Fire Might!

Perhaps you have come to the conclusion that Val is very protective of her boy young 'uns. If she could be in two helicopters at once, she WOULD. It's been hair-raising enough that both sons fell asleep and crashed their cars. Genius bounced off the wheels of a semi on I-44, and The Pony fell asleep on the same interstate, though coming from the opposite direction, and going airborne onto the right-of-way. Thankfully, both boys were uninjured, and did not hurt anyone else.

Twice since the semester started, earthquakes have hit Oklahoma, where The Pony resides on the 12th floor of a residence hall. At first I was worried about tornadoes. Not earthquakes. The Pony assured me that his floor, and those from 7-12, enjoy preferential treatment during tornado warnings. "We go down to the basement, Mom. There's not enough room for everybody. The people in floors 1-6 stay in their hallways. All the floors above 6 are designed to break off and blow away during a tornado!" Somehow, that did not ease my worries.

Genius made a fund-raising trip to California last year to seek funds for the solar car team. I was worried about earthquakes on the west coast. Now that The Pony has lived through two of them in Oklahoma...I'm not all that concerned about Genius's mini-vacation to San Francisco and Portland over Christmas break. WAIT A MINUTE! Isn't there a volcano near Portland?

Anyhoo...Thursday afternoon, I went to have lunch with my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel. That involves 35 minutes of travel on curvy two-lane blacktop. On the way home, my phone buzzed with a text. I always worry that it will be one of my boys needing something. But I knew I couldn't look at it until I was safely in town, on the parking lot of a 44 oz Diet Coke purveyor. My infinite love for my son is evidenced by the fact that I looked at the phone and answered his text BEFORE I went inside for my magical elixir.

That text was from Genius. 18 long minutes before I read it.

"Didn't die in the burning building."

"Thrilled for you."

"Did you see the headlines?"

"Have been driving on curvy roads from lunch with Mabel. Guess I'm out of the loop."

"Air conditioner on the roof of EE building caught fire. Very dramatic. I was taking a test across campus and my phone kept going crazy in my pocket. I though someone was dead." [Well, now he knows how I feel every time I hear a text!]

"Are you providing me blog fodder? If so, you'll have to wait in the queue until after Book Blurb Friday. Dang! Why am I never sitting home when the good stuff happens?"

Let the record show that Genius did not respond. But I found a link.

Let the record show that it was the electrical engineering building that was burning. Genius's major is electrical engineering.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #38 "The Art of Manfred Hickcock"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. It's time to cleanse our palate with a biography. A man who's a legend in his own mind. One who will be talked about for years to come, as long as his wife is around for years to talk. Grab yourself a Little Debbie and some pork rinds, and a cold brew or hot toddy, and settle into your La-Z-Boy to learn about this self-made woods man.

But WAIT! You have to fake-buy the fake book first! Check under the couch cushions, the floorboards of your car, and the pavement of convenience store parking lots. Sorry, that little metal coin flap of pay telephones is probably no longer an option. You can always set up a Go Fund Me account, though. So let's get crackin' so you can get to fake-buyin'!

The Art of Manfred Hickcock

Manny's name is synonymous with suspense. His talent for building themed sheds is lauded worldwide. Sweden, France, Germany, Wales, Brazil, North Carolina, New Jersey...Manny has left his mark. What shack will Manny build next? World citizens are on the edge of their seats.

Manny's most famous work, "The Chickens," resembles a chicken house, with chickens rigged on wires to swoop at your head during entry and exit. Next in line is "Sicko." This shed displays knives, and is located right beside an outdoor shower. A "REE-REE-REE" sound plays if you pass a sensor. Manny's current project is "Rear Pane." This hobby house has a window that won't stay closed, and a low-tech surveillance system. No matter where you are in (or near) Rear Pane, there are eyes on you.

Each fake book comes with two tickets for the South by Southeast Tour, Manny's traveling shack show. You won't be disappointed. (150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

A Little Birdie..."I am famous for spreading the word, and let me tell YOU, this fake book is nothing you want to read. Fake or otherwise." 

Polly..."I don't want THIS cracker...writing any more fake books!"

The Raven…"Nevermore."

The Condor…"I spent THREE DAYS trying to read this fake book. It's a killer. And I don't mean that in a good way.”

Turducken..."This fake book is stuffed with superfluous giblets. Thevictorian needs to learn how to trim the fat."

Tweety…"I taut I taw a litewawy mattepeed. I DID'T! I DIDN'T!”

Love Birds…"We HATE this fake book!”

Steinbeck's Buzzard Pecking the Eyes Out of the Pony Gabilan..."Sorry, Gabilan. I only wish I could do this to Thevictorian, to save us from any more of her fake books."

Woodstock...<yawn>"/ \ \ / \ / \ \ ."

Four and Twenty Blackbirds…"This fake book is definitely not fit to set before a king! Thevictorian needs her nose snipped off. A round of bread and honey for anyone who can do it. Better stay out of the garden, Thevictorian!"

Kookaburra..."I sit in the old gum tree so I don't have to see this fake book OR this fake author."

Sheldon, Garfield's Friend…"I'm never coming out of this shell as long as Thevictorian is fake-writing fake books."

A Mockingbird…"Somebody kill me now! I just finished reading this fake book.”

Mockingjay..."Doo Dee Doo Dumb! I will always warn you when Thevictorian is coming out with another fake book."

Woodsy Owl…"Give a hoot, don't let Thevictorian convolute! There oughta be a law preventing this fake author from wasting our precious resources to distribute her garbage!”