Sunday, January 31, 2016

Doing the Right Thing Feels So Good...

Bright and early this morning (okay, around 11:30) I rushed (okay, I was on the way to Walmart for the weekly shopping) to the gas station chicken store to make restitution on the $10 lottery ticket they gave me when I paid for a $5 ticket.

I chose that time because I knew they would be busy slinging chicken after churches let out. I went inside. No other customers. The same clerk was working who provided my windfall yesterday.

"Hi. This is going to sound funny, but I'm here to give you money. Yesterday, I cashed in $45 worth of tickets, bought $45 more in tickets, plus a soda. When I got home, I saw that I had $50 in tickets. One of them was not what I asked for. So I'm here to give you the $5 I owe you. So your lottery money won't be short. I know that's a big deal. I was in here between noon and 12:30."

"Oh. That was me. I remember you."

"Uh huh. That man came back for his red tickets while I was pointing out what I wanted. I didn't notice the wrong ticket until I got home."

"I'm sorry I messed up the ticket."

"That's not a problem. I just wanted your money to come out right."

"Well...we won't know that until Monday."

"I know I got more that what I paid for. So just take this five, and work it out however you need to."

"Can you write down your name and phone number?"


She wrapped my note around that five dollar bill. I virtually skipped out of there. My heavy heart was light again. I had paid my karma debt. It feels so good to do the right thing.

"Pony. I know that took a while. But I feel better now. WAIT! What if she gets fired because now they'll know who made the mistake? Oh, no. She had that look in her eye like, 'WHY did you have to come in and ruin my day?' Now I feel bad. But not. It's the right thing to do."

"Uh huh." I doubt The Pony was even listening to me.

We went on to Walmart for the shopping. On the way home, I said, "Pony? Do you think you can run in and get my 44 oz Diet Coke? I don't want to spook her. She'll think 'What are YOU doing here again?' No need to upset her any more."

"Okay. But I can't buy your lottery tickets."

"For two more weeks and a day! Then you'll be 18! Lottery legal! Heh, heh. Don't worry. I'm going to get my lottery at the old Voice of the Village today."

Of course I was getting more tickets! I won my money back yesterday! So I picked up another $30 ticket, and four $5 tickets. Of course I spent ten dollars more than I cashed in. That's the American way.

Let the record show that I won fifteen dollars on a $5 ticket, and one hundred dollars on the $30 ticket. Which is a sixty-five dollar profit.

Yep. It feels so good to do the right thing.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

You Better Count Your Tickets While They're Layin' On the Counter

It's no secret that Val is a gambler. Not a Kenny Rogers kind of gambler. All that holding and folding and walking away and running sound quite strenuous. Nope. Not for Val. Val is content to sit on a casino stool and exercise one arm. Or, most often, to throw down her money for scratch-off tickets when she picks up a 44 oz Diet Coke at the gas station chicken store.

I don't buy tickets every day. I buy tickets on the weekend. Some of the tickets I buy are sent to Genius. He gets the $6 cash that his grandma always sent him, plus a couple of scratchers from me. Oh, and of course a letter that I'm sure he tosses away like the gum in a pack of Partridge Family trading cards that Li'l Val used to discard.

As I was buying tickets for Genius on Friday evening, the cranky, out-of-sorts clerk who is always nice to me, albeit in a cranky and out-of-sorts way, said, "Have you tried our new thirty-dollar scratcher?" SCREEEEECH! Back that phonograph needle up! A $30 scratch-off ticket? That surely must be a sign of Hick's impending apopadopalyspe! I really have to get that handbasket factory back on track!

"A thirty-dollar ticket? No! I have NOT heard about it!"

Crankster gestured to a special thick-walled plexiglas case on the counter. I'll be dipped in juiceless soup if there wasn't a shiny gold extra-tall ticket peeping through that plexi. The roll of tickets itself was under the counter. Like back-in-the-day prophylactics, or a robber-beatin' baseball bat. Nobody was walkin' out of the gas station chicken store carrying a case of golden tickets. That's the name of this game, actually: $300,000,000 Golden Ticket. You can win a top prize of $10,000,000 instantly.

"Would you like one?"

"Oh, no! I won't spend thirty dollars on a ticket unless I'm cashing in some winners. Have you sold many?"

"Three rolls since the game started on Monday. There's only 20 tickets on a roll, though." She rang up my Friday night chicken, and my 44 oz Diet Coke, and I commenced to picking out tickets for Genius for the next few weeks' letters, and two for myself. Crankster stacked up my scratcher choices. She always counts out loud. Old-school. Like when she hands back change. "Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-three, twenty-five, thirty."

"Oh. Looks like I could have got one anyway, huh? But I try to keep my ticket money separate. I'm sure I'll be back tomorrow to try one." Can't win if you don't play, now can you?

So today I go back with two twenty-dollar winners, and a five-dollar winner. That's forty-five dollars of winnings. I had a different clerk. A newer one. She was busy with a gas man, and then an old geezer who was parked next to me in a white truck that stopped about five feet away from that tire-bumping concrete slab. He was leaning on a 30-pack of Hamm's Special Light. I guess it's less filling. He paid with a credit card, and the clerk took my tickets to scan them while waiting on his approval. Then he finally cleared his Hamms off the counter so I could see the ticket selection.

I had just chosen a $30 ticket and was telling the clerk my other two choices when the Hammster came back. "I forgot my red tickets!" They have a weekly drawing for cash with their red tickets, but you have to come to the store to check. They can't tell you over the phone. Shockingly enough, Val does not participate in the red ticket lottery. Even though it's free. Just one more thing to keep track of.

The clerk gave me her attention again, and tore off the $10 ticket I asked for, and then the $5 ticket. I walked out of there with $45 worth of tickets, and my 44 oz Diet Coke, all for the price of $1.69. I know. That's highway robbery for a soda!

I got home and got to scratchin'. WAIT A MINUTE! That clerk messed up. I had my $30 ticket, my $10 ticket, and ANOTHER $10 TICKET! That's not what I ordered! I was not happy. Sure, I should have been happy to scam five dollars worth of ticket off that highway-robbing chicken-clerk. But I was not! A scratcher wants what a scratcher wants! Scratchers gonna scratch. I did not want a $10 Monopoly ticket, I wanted a $5 ticket named $500 Frenzy.

Of course that Monopoly ticket was a loser. But my $10 ticket won ten dollars. And my $30 ticket won thirty dollars. So I almost broke even. I'm going to be really mad if that store sold a big-winner $500 Frenzy ticket!

Tomorrow I'm going back, and I'm going to explain their error, and give them five dollars. Can't have the lottery money coming up short! They might lose their license!

Oh. And it's kinda the right thing to do.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Nancy Sinatra Will Not Be Singing a Song About The Pony

In keeping with our recent theme of "The Pony in the Distance, Balancing the Architecture of Academia on His Head," I now present you with today's photo:

Uh huh. You thought I was being unduly harsh on Hick's photography skills, didn't you? Now here's another one. I suppose The Pony is lucky Hick didn't keep telling him to back up until he fell in the fountain. And Hick is lucky that he didn't hand his phone-camera to a stranger and ask him to take their picture, thus allowing the stranger to pull a National Lampoon's European Vacation on them and run off with the gadget. Not that there are any inappropriate pictures of Val on Hick's phone that could splash her face assets onto a billboard in a foreign country.

The Pony is a workhorse, balancing half a concrete fountain on his head. It's like he's wearing a stone sombrero. Make that a DOUBLE stone sombrero. He seems to favor the same pose, and is not about to drop that swag bag. He dressed formally in his black slacks, not the khakis. The Pony is shod for walking. Yep. He was a true Oklahoma Walking Horse on this trip. Hick complained about the distance for just the morning being like a walk to our mailbox row, a walk back home, then a walk to the mailbox row again for lunch. Which would translate to approximately 3 miles for the a.m. part of the tour. That must explain the carb-loading meal of spaghetti AND pizza for lunch. The Pony strapped on the feedbag like a champ.

It took The Pony until this morning to mention that he has two blisters on his foot. Such a shock, for one who spends most waking hours at home sideways on a cheap couch in the basement in front of the big screen TV, playing computer games.

His feet ain't made for walkin'.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Let the Shutterbug Bask in the Glow of a Job Poorly Done

Courtesy of Hick, you now know that The Pony is a boy outstanding in his field. Well, outstanding in the field of somebody in Oklahoma.

Same pose as yesterday. You might notice that The Pony has doffed his cap of bow-and-arrowed warrior, only to don one of a big white house.

Yes, The Pony and Hick were in Norman early this week to check out the University. The Pony has a recruiter, you know, who recruits National Merit Scholars. The visit was tailored to his interests, chock full of meetings scheduled with upper echelon educators in three fields of his choosing. He also had a grand tour with a group, plus a luncheon with top dogs. He could have stayed in the dorms with students had he so desired, which he did not. Shocker. Really. That he didn't want to be with HIS PEOPLE. The University, or whatever entity they classified it as to be legal, paid for a night at the Marriott, and discounted the second night. Hick had a grand time in the pool and hot tub, while The Pony preferred to remain in the room and return his spine to its normal horizontal position.

It's probably a good thing The Pony doesn't really care about people, as in WHAT PEOPLE THINK OF HIM. Because Genius might have been mortified to have Hick tagging along asking questions and just generally being Hick. I'm pretty sure that even in Oklahoma, Hick could manage to stand out as a hillbilly.

According to Hick, the professors were quite informative, offering sound advice for education and job prospects. Like which areas to go into, and what kind of jobs might be available with various degree levels. "They was just like regular people, and really seemed interested in talking to us. Except that one guy, that PhD. He was not as friendly, and acted like it was part of his job to talk to The Pony."

Okay. Technically, it WAS part of his job to talk to the prospective students they recruit. Last year, 200 National Merit Scholars enrolled at OU. Perhaps this year, The Pony was #199 that the PhD guy talked to. So maybe Hick should give him a break. I am not as enthusiastic presenting the same lesson by the fourth time I go through it each day. I can't imagine giving the same talk over a hundred times.

I'm not a snob or anything, but it's probably a good thing that no part of the tour offered delectable squares of soft candy for Hick to nosh on like one he found at the Playboy Club during his younger days. You can read about it here if you understand that most names have been disguised to protect the innocent. And Hick.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hick is No Ansel or Dorothea. That's a Fact, Jack!

I think it's safe to say that Genius did not inherit his photography talent from Hick.

Here's a sample of Genius's work. It's from the early years, before he even left the under-thumb area tender loving embrace home of Val and Hick.

Those are trees down by Hick's cabin, photographed by Genius. And this next one, just Genius fiddling around with too much time on his hands, trapped in the house that Hick built.

I don't expect a landscape or a color-tinted stop-action shot of paint drips from Hick. But I DO expect to see my second son on a visit to his prospective college.

Now let's take a look at a sample of HICK'S recent work. As recent as THIS WEEK. You'll notice that the composition of this photo seems a you say...OFF!

Yeah. He's really there. The Pony is the one with that other arrow-shooting dude standing on his head. Perhaps you can see him there. He DOES have two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. He's wearing glasses. Holding his bag of swag from the admissions office.

Uh huh. I really have no qualms posting a picture of my little Pony, all grown up, yet still anonymous thanks to his father's photography skills. I suppose Hick does not know that you can have a person in the foreground, and still get a picture of what's behind him. Sadly, we have the same style of picture from the year The Pony went to the Missouri Scholars Academy. A long shot, with a statue behind, and a barely recognizable face.

If Hick had been around, and if technology lent itself to those long-ago historical days of yesteryear...there might have been a photo of Washington crossing the Delaware. With Hick's touch, though, you would see a thin trickle of water, a twig floating in the middle, and a dandelion standing at the twig-bow.

Yup. No qualms at all about posting this picture of The Pony.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sometimes Solitude Isn't Solitude

You may not have realized it (if Val is the sly fox she imagines herself), but I was home alone for two days. And nights. Hick and The Pony were off on a college recruiting visit in Oklahoma. More on that at another time. Let them get their own blogs if they think they're that important! We're here at Val's place, and it's all about VAL!

The days alone were fine. Sunday I puttered around at my leisure. Didn't pick up after anybody (including myself). Ruminated on a few writing ideas. Got myself mentally prepared to go back to work after spending only 1/2 day at school out of the last nine. Monday and today, I got up, packed only my own lunch, and drove silently to school to work. Then silently back home again. And by silently, I mean without talking except for cursing like a belligerent sailor at the driving ability of others.

Yes, the days were fine. It was the nights that were the problem. Most notably Sunday night. My first night alone. I did not hear the pacing or the bed-flopping or the disco dancing from up in Genius's room. Just some creaking. I told myself it was only my sweet, sweet Juno out on the side porch. Even though that section of porch is covered with part of the metal roof that's going on our new carport. A pile of metal so distasteful to Juno that she goes down the steps, along the brick sidewalk, turns left, walks along more brick sidewalk, and then up the steps onto the front porch when she wants to get to the front of the house.

No, the regular mystical phantom-walking did not happen. But something else did. I went to bed at midnight. That's early for me. I knew I'd need my rest, what with all this slacking during time off. I laid down on my left side and pulled the quilt/fleece over me, for once unhogged by Hick. The minute I laid my head upon my three pillows, I heard it. Not footsteps. But a cracking. Like the floor or doorjambs do when somebody walks by. Uh huh. It started in the laundry room, which is on the other side of the wall from my headboard.

I didn't like hearing that unsettling settling noise in the laundry room. It has a ceramic tile floor, for cryin' out loud! That stuff doesn't pop and crack! I had a little hand towel that I fold up and toss over the side of my head so Hick's breather germs don't settle in my ear overnight. I put that on. Still heard it. The cracking and popping. Then it was in the living room. Like somebody walking in there. Or standing behind the couch. Through the towel, even! With the furnace blowing.

THEN if felt a little poke. Between my shoulder blades. I pretended it was a muscle spasm. Or the blanket settling off my shoulder.

And then the cracking and popping moved to the master bathroom. But that's not all. Laws, NO! M-O-O-N. That spells the really spooky thing happened at 5:50 Monday morning!

On Mondays, I get a letter ready to send Genius. I tuck in the $6 that my mom always sent to him for Chinese food on Fridays. A couple of scratch-off tickets. And a one-page letter in longhand that I pull out of my butt when I sit in the La-Z-Boy foregoing my chair nap.

So there I was, leaned back, under my afghan, block-printing in all caps with a black ballpoint on unlined paper, updating Genius on how Hick and The Pony were in Oklahoma scouting out the university, when it happened.

CRthumpASH! Or crTHUMPash!

Something behind me flung itself to the floor. It was loud, even though we have carpet. I nearly jumped out of my skin, which would not have been at all appropriate for showing up at work to do my parking lot duty. Whew! My hand was shaking. My heart thumping. Adrenaline is a rush, you know.

I took some deep breaths. Tried to reason it out. Wrote it down for Genius to live vicariously through my terror. It had to be something in the closet. Hick had originally put the door on backwards. That's right. It opened IN. What good is a tiny closet when the door opens IN? You can't pile anything in there, because then the door won't close. So after a year or two, I made him change it. And he put in shelves, which he stocked one day while I was working with a bunch of stuff my mom gave him out of her ex-teaching closet. Stuff I didn't want, like dried-out glue, markers that didn't write, and pencils with rock-hard erasers. Anyhoo...the last thing put in that closet was at Thanksgiving, when I had The Pony stash a box of stuff that we'd cleaned out of T-Hoe. Granted, The Pony is not one to pay attention to detail. He could have balanced that box precariously on other items.

But why would a box sit there since Thanksgiving, and choose the moment Val was sitting there peacefully writing to Genius to jump off its perch? I looked in the closet when I got up, and it was indeed that car box, with a couple pairs of gloves, a few CDs, some old mail. A logical explanation.

Last night, my second night alone, there was not one untoward sound. It was like living in a ghost town. WAIT! I don't think that's the terminology I want to use...

Monday, January 25, 2016

Justice, Blindfolded, With Her Hand Out

Got my jury duty check in the mail! WooHoo! Excuse me while I pause to rub my hands together in greed glee. Eat your hearts out, people! IF you can cook your cardiac meal with economical root vegetables for a tasty stew, over an inexpensive heat source.

Val Thevictorian's civic duty was worth a grand total of $29.04.

That's 17.18 days of 44 oz Diet Coke.
Or 14.52 bribes to The Pony to help with the weekly shopping.
Almost 1/5 of Hick's weekly cash allowance.
Or 2.23 terrible haircuts--WITH NO TIP!
Or 116.16 quarters to call 116.16 someones who care.
Or 5.81 of ME, according to my mom!

Let the record show that Val was paid $12 per day, plus $0.07 per mile. Jiminy Cricket! The county must think we drive racing sulkies pulled by mini ponies! Even the feds allow $0.575 per mile for business! Just ask the front of my lovely lady-mullet! And let me assure you, this jury duty was no party. Just in case the back of my lovely lady-mullet gets all mouthy. With the time I spent at the courthouse, this little salary worked out to about $3 per hour, and a loss of $3.55 on gas.

I got that check Friday, but I wanted to make sure I didn't owe it to my employer before I spent it all in one place. After consulting my fourth support staffer in two buildings, I found out that the windfall was mine, free and clear. Except for reporting it on next year's tax return, of course.

At the bank drive-thru, the clerk said, " you want this?"

Yeah. But I wanted to say, "No. I want to use it as a down payment on the Hope Diamond."

Still, I was not docked any work pay or charged sick days, and even though I received five postcards to report for jury duty, with multiple days on each card...I only had to show up twice.

Apparently, justice is blind, and a pauper.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

As a Card-Carrying Quasi-Member of the Scientific Community, Val Says Such a Feat is Theoretically Impossible

We got trouble, folks. Right here in Backroads City. Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with C and they stand for Terrible Cuts!

The Pony and I both had haircuts Friday. Or so we thought. We sat in the pump-up chairs, you know. And had that scrap of cottony stuff wrapped around our neck. And were covered with a drop-cloth that was Velcroed tight to choke us. Scissors were involved. I'm pretty sure. Even though I was told to close my eyes, I heard the snipping.

Yet when we got home, our hair was LONGER than when we left! Those Terrible Cutters are like the anti-griddle on Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen. You know, the griddle that freezes food. Our Terrible Cutters made our hair LONGER!

I had the Terrible Cutter who gives you more bangs for your buck. She takes twice as long, and cuts half as much. But this time, she LENGTHENED my hair. I swear! It's not a hard style to trim. There's not actually any style to it. Just kind of like Moe's of The Three Stooges fame, with a little bit of a mullet down the back. Because Val is a partier, you know. Business up front, party in the back!

No telling how she did it, but even though I could testify in court that I saw her snipping, that doggone (can't say that, still sad that my dog Ann is gone) dadgum Terrible Cutter somehow made my hair longer on the sides. With wings, like Linda Evans sported on Dynasty.

The Pony woke up the next morning with a rooster tail sticking up from the back of his head. Yes, I saw the back of his hair from the front. His party was interfering with business! Where it laid down like seal fur before the cut, his hair now strutted, and splayed out like one of those laser light fiber optic toy thingies that change color.

Next time, instead of handing over payment to our Terrible Cutters, I think we should hand them a bill.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Giving Credit Where Credit Most Certainly Is Not Due

You know how Hick takes a beatin' here most days? Well, today let's take a 180-degree turn and give him credit. What's he getting credit for? For giving VAL credit. All the time.

Just this morning, as I sat in his La-Z-Boy because hey, he got up to take a shower and didn't call it...Hick gave me credit. He plopped down on the short couch to put on his socks and shoes, and let out a trio plus a duo of sneezes.

Let the record show that Hick doesn't sneeze like a mere mortal. He erupts like Vesuvius. At first you're just chillin', thinking everything is normal, that Hick's nose is dormant...then the top blows off. It's not enough for Hick to spout his virusy effluence straight ahead in an ever-expanding stream like spores from a puffball mushroom. Nope. Hick sprays his droplets through his lips. It sounds like he's motorboating a buxom willing participant in an energetic session of communicable debauchery. The dispensation of disease is aided by the plump lips of Hick, who could pass for Lisa Rinna or Donatella Versace on a set of lip flash cards.

"Great. Now I'm going to catch whatever you've got."

"I turned my head!"

"Yeah. But you breathed on me all night. Spraying it through the breather."

"YOU are the one who always brings it home to me from school!"

"Um, HELLO! I am NOT sick right now. YOU are. And I haven't been to school in three days. So how could I have brought it home to YOU? And anyway, you are always sick BEFORE me. So I don't see how I could be the one bringing it home to you."

"There you go."

Okay. So maybe Hick giving me credit really isn't anything to sing his praises for. I tried.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sixth Time's a Charm

The Pony is well on his way to getting halfway through the first step. You know. Admitting that he has a problem.

We went to town today (on our third snow day) for the Walmart shopping. The Pony has an interview tomorrow with a local representative of Harvard. You know. The east coast Ivy League university. And Sunday, he takes off for a personalized visit at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. They even pay for the Marriott one night, and discount another. Of course his academic prowess has disrupted my household shopping schedule.

When we enter Walmart, shouldering our way through the crush of scofflaws exiting through the ENTER door, The Pony trots ahead to grab a cart for me. Today the first one he put his hand on had a used tissue laying in the bottom.

"No. Don't even think about it."

The Pony grabbed a second cart, this one with the back wire panel and child seat part stuck up like another cart was still nested in it.

"No. Stuff will fall out the back."

The third try had those flat tires that happen when the rubber peels off in sections, showing the white hard stuff underneath.

"Nope. Flat tires."

Fourth cart was a two-fer, jammed into another, and wouldn't separate.

"THAT'S why they were sitting out there in front, and nobody took them."

Fifth cart? The Pony reached for it, then pulled back and changed direction.

"What's wrong with that one?"

"It looked like it had blood all over the handle. So I figured you wouldn't want it."

Sixth cart was a charm. The Pony pushed out the child seat and flipped the blue plastic part over the leg-holes.

"This one should do."

Yes. I think our little Pony is starting to understand that all carts are not created equal.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Morning Moment of Fame

When I got up this morning, I thought for an instant that I was Kathleen Turner as Joan Wilder, needing to slap a sticky-note reminder on all the out-of paper products that confronted me.

Lucky for me, there was another roll I had carried into the master bathroom and placed on the side of the triangle bathtub only yesterday. Val is psychic like that.

No sooner had I entered the kitchen and rinsed out a cup than I noticed I was not as psychic as I believe myself to be.

WHO DOES THAT? Wait. It's a rhetorical question. We all know the answer to that one.

My life is not exactly a romance novel. But I COULD think I was Kathleen Turner. She went to my college, you know. Okay, so she only went there two years, and I didn't get there until after she'd already graduated with her degree from some other college. But still, Kathleen Turner went to my college. Sure, it's not like I went to 8th grade with Colin Firth. But I also did my student teaching at the high school where Brad Pitt attended. During the years he was there! He might even have been in my class. But the only celebrity I remember was a kid who was in the Baldknobbers show in Branson, and always getting excused.

Anyhoo...getting back to me being Kathleen Turner as Joan Wilder...I might not take a ride in Pepe the Little Mule, looking for El Tenedor del Diablo. But I could take a ride in Gator the Gator, riding with El Diablo himself.

I do not expect to become a best-selling author of romance novels, take a wild ride down a muddy embankment in Colombia while there to rescue my sister, sniff a bale of burning weed in a crashed plane while swigging from a bottle of tequila, or see a sailboat cruising up the street in front of the homestead.

But for a moment this morning, I was Kathleen Turner as Joan Wilder.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hick Deflects Blame Like a Stanley Cup Goalie Deflects a Puck

Hick and I got into it over a purloined bagel the other day. And by "got into it" I mean I asked a simple question, and Hick ended up stomping downstairs in his mud-dispensing boots, waving his arms dramatically.

Last week, Hick asked The Pony to ask me if he could have a bagel. I had just bought a bag of Lender's at Walmart, along with regular and strawberry cream cheese. Sure, I said, Hick could have a bagel. It's not like I'm hoarding them. They're not even wrapped in foil on the back bottom shelf of Frig II where Hick would never look. But then Hick started taking liberties. He would only eat the strawberry cream cheese. And he ate over half the bag of bagels.

Let the record show that Val does not eat a whole bagel at a time, but only a half. Five days in a work week. Val ate two and a half bagels. She distinctly remembers leaving a half-bagel sitting on top of a whole bagel in the bag on Friday morning. Yet on Saturday evening, when Val went to get her half-bagel to cover with regular cream cheese and accompany a piece of gas station chicken, her Frig II was bare of Lender's bagels. She sat down in the La-Z-Boy to review her meal options. Hick, with an hour to spare before primping for his murder mystery dinner, plopped down on the short couch.

"Did you eat my half-bagel?"


"Well, I said you could have a bagel, and then you kept eating them, and now my half-bagel is gone."

"I don't know where your half-bagel is! It's probably somewhere in the refrigerator!"

Let the record show that Hick emphasized SOMEWHERE in kind of a snotty manner.

"What do you mean by that? That I'm such a terrible housekeeper that I can lose a whole half-bagel? Is that what you're getting at? Because you're welcome to clean out the refrigerator any time you think it needs cleaning."

"I threw away a piece of cheese the other day that was GREEN!"

"Good. It's about time you threw something away, instead of just leaving it there for me."

"You act like I don't do anything around here!" [Technically, that is not true. Hick tracks in truckloads of mud clods. And leaves other messes for me to clean up. But I didn't think this was the time for me to point that out. All I had originally wanted to know was if he ate my half-bagel.] "I do a lot. Every day you start in with something. I am not even going to argue with you about it!" Said Hick. Not arguing. Tromping down the basement steps in his clod-dropping boots, flapping his arms like a broken helicopter.

Let the record show that Hick THINKS he does a lot more than the record shows. For instance, the times he "helps" Val by cleaning up part of his own mess. Hick always has to rush out the door as soon as he comes in, to tend to his animals, admire his sheds, putter around in the BARn, and probably host clandestine poker games in the BARn loft. Val does not complain. Hick works hard, and if he wants to play before eating, so be it. Which does not mean that Val will hold off serving supper until 8:00 p.m. She was raised with supper at 5:00, and by cracky, Val is serving supper at 5:00. So Hick asks to have his food left on the stove until he's ready to warm it. This wreaks havoc with Val's hand-washing of the dishes, but she complies.

The other night, Val used the leftover chili to whip up some chili dogs for Hick. He loves them, you know. They contain hots dogs, one of his major food groups. So Val warmed the chili, cooked the hot dogs, grated some cheese, diced an onion, and laid out the bag of buns. When she came upstairs at 2:00 a.m., she saw that Hick had "washed" the pan for her.

Uh huh. To Hick, that's a clean pan. Never mind the dried-on chili stuck to the side. The white water deposit I'm not worried about. It comes out with a dab of vinegar. But no way would I cook in that pan without scrubbing it. By hand. Hick could have left it in the sink with water in it, and the future washing would have been easier. But to him, he really helped me by washing out that pan.

Then we get to the next night. The chicken wing night. All he had to do was pick up his chicken wings off the foil-covered pan and throw the foil away. But no. Apparently throwing foil away is women's work. Why would anybody LEAVE THAT USED FOIL ON THE PAN? It's not like it can be re-used. Or like we save it for scrap to get cash for it. LOOK AT IT!

That is pure laziness. That is called having a wife to act as your servant because you are a very special man-person who doesn't have to pick up after yourself. I need to call the representative of the Homeless Muffin Stump Rejectors Association, Rebecca DeMornay, to inform Hick that neither the homeless, nor Val Thevictorian, want his used chicken wing foil.

I know Hick ate my half-bagel. Pointing the green cheese finger at my Frig-keeping skills was his way of sidetracking me so he could dodge the issue.

Even Steven will settle this in good time. I have no doubt.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Pony is the New Tuna

The Pony, as you well know, does not really care about helping people. But did you know that he's also a murderer? Uh huh. I didn't think so. We're not talking about killing spiders or wasps or (like his father) murdering the English language. Nope. We're talking about offing real live imaginary people.

Saturday night, Hick and The Pony went to a murder mystery dinner. Hick heard about it on the radio. The Pony was quite excited to attend. And he doesn't kick up his heels over much. I was invited, but declined. I never really liked the game of Clue, either.

Tickets were $43 apiece. Catering was by Zia's on the Hill, which will mean nothing to those of you who are not from the St. Louis area. I believe the entertainment was by Jest Murder Mystery Co. The Pony was chompin' at the bit to go, and Hick was excited in his own way. We don't get out much here in Backroads, and this was virtually in Backroads's own back yard.

While they both enjoyed the food, Hick was astonished that he had to pay for their drinks. I had told him before he left that alcohol would be available, and offered him some cash, and wondered whether The Pony would need to be 21 to get in. None of that made any impression on Hick. Until he got there.

"I had to pay NINE DOLLARS for our drinks!"

"Well...The Pony said you had two beers."

"I did. But they didn't give you nothin'! Usually they'll at least give you water. But they didn't! I had to pay for The Pony's soda, and they didn't even give him the whole soda! Just poured some in a glass!"

Yeah. Thevictorians don't get out much.

Still, The Pony (and I think Hick, too) had a good time. They saw a person from school, though neither knew who she was. They described her as a woman with a round face, not real thin, who works in the elementary. Yeah. That really narrowed it down. I thought I had deduced the identity, until Sunday when I mentioned a student I saw in Walmart, and Hick shouted, "THAT'S who that woman was. At the murder dinner! That kid's mom!" Who is neither a teacher, nor works at our elementary, but was an occasional substitute at my building several years ago, and worked with Hick for many hours over many different days for about 12 months way back when Genius was a senior, pertaining to Project Graduation.

Oh, and The Pony was the murderer at the murder mystery dinner. He won a trophy:

Contrary to photo evidence, his character was not named A. Eagle. He was Charlie "The Tuna" Cornioli. He was the "clean-up guy" for one of the mob families in the murder mystery, "Bullets in the Bathtub."

Don't look for The Pony on Broadway any time soon. Or even at The Muny. "The Tuna" has other fish to fry.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Terror at 900 Feet

Let the record show that the elevation of Thevictorians' section of Outer Backroads is 900 feet above sea level. Give or take a few. That is not relevant to anything except the title, and was unknown to Val until 4:41 this evening when Hick, enamored of his Genius-discounted Garmin which is now working again, informed her that he would be home in 8 minutes, and was currently at 882 feet above sea level.

It was not the first time I talked to Hick today. He normally has a penchant for taking off on days The Pony and I are out of school. However, he is taking off next Monday, so felt like he had to work today. Too bad, so sad.

I was lolling around in the La-Z-Boy, waiting to see the 11:00 news for the snow forecast for Tuesday, when out the front window I saw a bright red Ford Ranger come speeding up our driveway. Genius used to have a bright red Ford Ranger. That's why it caught my eye. That, and the fact that it was speeding up our driveway. Let the record show that this is not a public street. It is for landowners only. There's a sign proclaiming it down by Mailbox Row, with a warning of prosecution of trespassers. Nobody has casual business up in here.

"Pony! There's a truck coming up our driveway! Come look out and see what it's doing. I am not presentable. I have stains on my shirt. And my hair is a mess."

The Pony, you see, was perfectly presentable with his bedhead, and wearing his flannel boxers and junior college science fair t-shirt.

[I quickly sent a text to Hick: Do you know anyone with a bright red truck?]

"Oh, wait. Now it's speeding back down the driveway. Come open the door and look out, in case he looks back!"

The Pony dutifully came upstairs. He opened the door a crack.

"That's not going to scare anybody. Let him see you!"

"He's gone."

"Well...I guess I could have put on my sweatshirt. But it's downstairs. And my hair..."

"Your hair isn't so bad. Just the back." Which is not exactly saying my hair was okay, because he was standing in front of me, looking me in the face, and could still see the back of my hair.

[Hick replied: No don't know who that would be]

"I hear something! Look over to the BARn field! Is he in there?"

"Um. He came through the BARn field and is now driving across the gravel by Dad's sheds, and is parking in the front yard. Do you want me to close the shades?"

"WHAT? Open up that door! Let him see that somebody is home, darn it! Do it NOW!"

"He's not even looking. He's loading up that roof stuff."

[Text to Hick: Now he's in the front yard, picking up metal. He has a beard. Didn't we pay for that metal?]

Let the record show that some leftover roofing metal was in the side yard. Now this Truck Dude was loading it up! I went to the front door and opened it enough that he could see me as he clanged some green tin over the side of his red truck.

"I'm just picking up the metal."

"Oh. I didn't know. I've never seen you before." I closed the door. I couldn't see the license plate number the way he was parked. In our yard. Picking up metal roofing we had paid for. Hick was not replying. So I called him. "This guy is picking up the roof metal. Is he supposed to? Or is it just some guy taking it to sell for scrap?"

"I don't know. I put in a text to the roofer, but I haven't heard anything back. He said they would come clean up the scrap, but he was supposed to tell me when they were coming."

"This is a young guy, in his 20s. Thin. A pointy little beard. Wearing brown coverall overalls and a cap."

"I don't know who that is."

"Well, I guess he's taking the metal."

It took him 30 minutes to load whatever he took. Then he left. Without me knowing if it was legit. Upon arrival home from work, when interrogated, Hick affirmed that the guy WAS supposed to take the metal.

Here's the thing. I didn't know. Normally I would be at work at that time. I didn't know if it was a robber casing the joint (last Thursday a co-worker's house was robbed while she was at school), a dognapper come back for my sweet, sweet Juno (who had been all across the front yard last night, barking, something she hasn't done since Ann disappeared), a murderer here to...well...murder me (I hear there's a septic tank up the road that's good for hiding headless bodies), a distant neighbor needing help (like that time I locked myself out of the house without a phone), or one of the Best family there about Hick's trench (as the speed of the vehicle might have indicated).

Not that the knowledge of my presence inside the house would have deterred any ne'er-do-wells. Val is, after all, the woman whose car windows were soaped by teenagers while she was sitting in it.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Val People Problems

Hey! Remember the week before Christmas, when Val got a brand new Acadia?

We took it to my sister the ex-mayor's wife's house on Christmas day. And as I was getting into the passenger side (I like to let Hick think he's in charge sometimes), I was not pleased to see a smudge on the ceiling over the door. It was tiny fingers. Almost like a child's size hand. No worker in the dealership's auto shop could have such tiny fingers, unless maybe he was Charla from Season 5 of The Amazing Race. But no child could have such greasy fingers unless he worked in an auto dealership shop. Such a conundrum.

Anyhoo...I told Hick he needed to drive that Acadia to work, and stop by the dealership, and have them clean it with their special made-for-Acadia ceiling upholstery foaming cleanser. But Hick took matters into his own hands, which are much bigger than the hands of whoever left that black handprint in my new Acadia.

"I think I got it all out, Val. I used a Wet One." Oh, dear. Not only did Hick scrub away a greasy handprint from my new Acadia with a pilling, fibrous-crumb-leaving baby wipe...he called it a WET ONE! Does anybody even use those anymore? It is SO 1980s!

But that is neither here nor there. That's not the point of this story. It's just a rabbit trail. An excuse to throw in the picture of Val's new Acadia again. And to point out that even a brand new car can have its faults.

So it came as no surprise to Val when, the week after Christmas, she got a part in the mail. It was nothing she had ordered. But it had her name on it. From a fulfillment center. So Val just assumed that something had been left off her new Acadia, and was now being sent to her, courtesy of the dealer. After all, we'd been getting thank you cards and Christmas cards and formal letters from the dealership and General Motors bigwigs every other day.

I laid that part on the kitchen counter, near Hick's cache of bananas, where he would see it every morning, and may one evening decide to put it in my new Acadia.

I figured it was a speaker cover. You know. Like to a little speaker in the door, or down under the dashboard. Please excuse this view, which was taken by Genius after he deleted the picture taken by The Pony with his new hand-me-down phone that used to belong to Genius, upon which he discovered that Genius had not deleted all of his photos. There went the pr0n! That's what he gets for speaking up.

Anyhoo...Genius is not so careful taking pictures for me, showing the veneer ripped off our coffee table the week after we got it, by Genius his own self, who unwrapped my Christmas gift of a mouse pad with a bumpy rest for my wrist, and promptly peeled off the backing, and stuck it to the table. Perhaps one should actually read about the product before explaining how the new gift works. And...that's not an orb, but the reflection of a recessed ceiling SPOTLIGHT that Hick saw fit to install two of right over the side of the living room ceiling between the La-Z-Boy and the TV. Uh huh. Val retreats to her dark basement lair so as not to feel like she's trapped in the interrogation room of a squalid police station.

We're getting there. Don't give up. We're almost to the point of this story.

Genius came home a day before he had announced, to switch out his new phone and the old one he was giving The Pony. Upon sauntering around the homestead, a buddy in tow, navigating the end-of-the-work-week mess of the kitchen, scamming half of The Pony's sweet & sour chicken, all of his fried rice, two fortune cookies, some stale Christmas cookies left from the gift of my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel, and the very last tub of Chex Mix...Genius exclaimed

"OH! I'm glad you got my French Press filter!"

Screech of phonograph needle on an LP. The sound that Tim Allen made on Home Improvement. WTF?

Genius was waving my speaker cover for my new Acadia!

"What do you mean?"

"My French Press that you got me for Christmas. It had a card in it saying you could get a free filter. I guess they sent it to you because they sent the French Press to your address. This will be handy to have."

"I thought that was a part for my new Acadia!"

"Ha ha! You and technology! I can't believe you thought that was a car part!"

"Well...I guess that explains why your father has been ignoring it for weeks, and never put it in my new Acadia."

Val people problems. You can't make this up.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Val's Flaming Globes of Sigmund Moment

The mind is a funny thing. It toys with you, showing off, trying to impress you like Tom Sawyer walking along the fence in front of Becky Thatcher's house.

Let the record show that Val does not write poetry. She has dabbled now and then, without knowing what she was doing. At one point in her career, when she taught middle school double-dose classes, she consulted her BFF Google in order to stay one step ahead of her sixth grade Comm Arts students. Val has been known to copy well-known poems at times. Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, you know.

Last night, Val awoke at 3:30 a.m. from the most detailed poetry dream ever. She was at a spa retreat with her school. Someone had discovered a lost tow-headed toddler, and Val agreed to raise him. Her principal found a modern-day Little Golden Book, two copies, in fact, and suggested that Val read it to the toddler. Val agreed. She opened up that book, about a little train, and story time commenced. Val was wearing her present-day glasses, the bifocals which are the worst set of spectacles Val has ever worn in her life. So when she tried to read, she could not see the words correctly.

You know how when you read aloud, you kind of unconsciously scan ahead to the next line? It wasn't working for Val. She stammered and sputtered, leaving off at the end of a line like a beginning reader when the sentence continues to the next page. Val squinted and frowned. The tow-headed toddler cared not one whit. He was happy with Val's effort. But Mr. Principal started reading his own copy aloud to his wife, after giving Val a couple of quizzical glances.

"You know I don't read like this! It's my glasses! You've been in my room and heard me read."

Mr. Principal acknowledged that he had. And continued reading to his wife. Val went back to tormenting the oblivious toddler with her story. Because in the dream, that story was one that Val had written.

Here's the odd part. It was a real story. Rhyming. In ABAB CDCD EFEF. That's all I saw. I didn't get to turn the page, because I woke up. But I saw every line once I squinted it out. It made sense. Times New Roman on the blue-fading-to-white page, with a picture of a train at the top. Unfortunately, I do not keep a notepad and flashlight on the nightstand to write down my works of genius.

Very odd, such detail.

I don't know what happened to the tow-headed toddler.

Friday, January 15, 2016

"INSTINCTS!" Said Like Jon Lovitz Said "ACTING!"

There is a family that lives on our county road. A family known for their speed. No, they are not world-class sprinters. Nor champion NASCAR drivers. But they ARE drivers. Fast drivers. Tailgating drivers. One minute, I’m in T-Hoe, tooling along at 50 mph, free as a bird, happy as a lark…then I glance in the rearview mirror and see that a strange vehicle has become attached to my bumper like an albatross around my neck. No matter how fast I go, a member of the Best family wants to go faster.

There are as many Best family members as there are Rita’s family members in Flushed Away. The Bests live in a compound of sorts, across their own low water bridge that is impassible for a couple of days when the water comes up. I’d say there are five or six houses in the compound, judging from the number of mailboxes on their mailbox row. So you can’t always tell by the make and model of the car when you have a Best on your tail. Except for the fact that they try to push you out of the way.

On the way home Wednesday evening, I was chatting with The Pony, making eye contact with him in the rearview mirror, when a white truck appeared out of nowhere and attached itself to T-Hoe’s rear bumper. I couldn’t shake him. Let the record show that Hick is always complaining about THE WAY I DRIVE. Yeah. Imagine THAT! He says I go too fast. “Val. I was behind you. You must have been going at least 50.” Let the record further show that once upon a time, the county put up a speed limit sign when you first turn onto the county road. It said 35 mph. Oh, excuse me! I had to hold my ribs in with my hand, lest they shoot out of my thoracic cavity with my guffaws. That is just a RECOMMENDED speed limit, right? Because nobody out here drives that slow unless it’s a 7-year-old on a John Deere pulling his grandpa’s hay trailer loaded with round bales.

“That tailgater! He must be a Best. Not far now. We’ll lose him when he turns into the compound. Whoa! That truck did NOT turn! Maybe it’s a Popper.”

The Poppers live up the road a piece, closer to our mailbox row. They are known for fast driving, too, and having boxer dogs that stand in the road. But the truck did not turn at either of the Popper driveways. I put on my right turn signal and pulled to the side of the road and stopped so that The Pony could jump out and get the mail. That’s how we do in Backroads.

That tailgater swung around me and TURNED ONTO OUR GRAVEL ROAD! It was a white flatbed truck with dual wheels on the back, and a tool box and construction-like equipment on the bed.

“I’ll bet that’s our roofers, Pony! I do NOT appreciate the way they were driving. They must be rushing back out here to see Dad about something. No wonder Ann is gone if they drive like that! I’m going to let Dad know about that maniac he hired! Or else that’s a cut-through, tearing up our roads with their heavy equipment and spinning tires. They sure drive like a Best, though.”

We got the mail and drove the mile over gravel to the homestead. As we topped the hill by the neighbors’ barn, we saw it. The white speeder truck, parked with three tires on our gravel road, and three tires on our BARn field land.

“Huh. It MUST be the roofers. I guess they found Dad.”

A half hour later, I sent Hick a text.

“Who are you talking to?”

“Gordo Best. He’s going to dig me a trench for my freight containers. So I can make a garage.”

Val’s instincts are almost never wrong.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

He'll See the Light Eventually

I am starting to think that men are not good at discerning subtle cues. Like when the bathroom sink is stopped up, and starts retaining water before the brushing of teeth has ended. And when, after the weekly shopping trip, a bottle of Liquid PLUMR magically appears on the counter.

Most women, I think, would say, “Oh. This Liquid PLUMR will dissolve that clog! I think I’ll pour it down the drain and see what happens.” Uh huh. We’re a curious sort. Like Alice eating and drinking items in Wonderland, to see what would happen. Perhaps that’s not a good example. If the Liquid PLUMR had a note on it that said, “POUR ME,” then the man might give it a try. Or probably not. Because we all know that men do not read instructions.

But no. A man is not curious enough to try that Liquid PLUMR. Without a direct order, that man will move the Liquid PLUMR off the counter and set it on the floor by his pile of dirty underwear that he washes himself when the mood strikes him (like when he runs out of clean underwear) because many years ago he refused to put his dirty clothes in the hamper, preferring to show his new wife who was boss by WASHING HIS OWN LAUNDRY FOR 26 YEARS!

Wait! Where was I? Oh, yeah. Men are not good at discerning subtle clues. A man will brush his teeth in the sink, and wash his hands after using the facilities (okay, even I agree that’s a stretch) until that sink overflows. Then he will get his snake and act all manly and rout out the clog. Liquid PLUMR isn’t manly enough for a man to use. Kind of like a dish sponge isn’t good enough for washing dishes. A man would load the dishwasher in a heartbeat if he thought about what goes on inside when he turns that baby on, because a dishwasher is a machine, and thus manly. But if he has to wash some dishes by hand, is he going to use the dish sponge? Not-heaven no! He’s going to use the vegetable brush reserved especially for potatoes, right? And dirty it up on those dishes so that his wife has to call him a jerk for not preserving the pristinity of the potato brush.

Yeah. I think the quickest way to get a bathroom sink unclogged is to block a man’s exit from the bathroom, and pointedly point to the jug of Liquid PLUMR on the floor, and say, “Can you unclog the sink? I got some Liquid PLUMR.” Then it all becomes clear to him. You can almost see a light bulb go on over his head.

A light bulb like the three out of six that are not burnt out on the wooden light fixture above the bathroom sink.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rumors of Val’s STDs Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Two things you should know before reading the following account of Val’s latest illness:

1).The Pony’s phone (a Genius hand-me-down) went kaput on Sunday, which means he cannot connect to his unlimited internet plan right now, and he is only given limited use of Val’s DISH internet. Just for his texting app. Not for gaming or net surfing.

2).The Pony has a history of getting small sores inside his lips, which I attribute to Pringles Multi Grain Chips, because he usually has an outbreak after eating them.

You may begin…

Something is wrong with my mouth. No. Not as in Hick’s opinion. “You got a smart mouth, Val. And I’m tired of it.” Uh uh. Something physical. It feels like I grinned too wide (yeah, like that would ever happen) and split the inside of my top lip. On the way home yesterday, I leaned over to peer at it in the rearview mirror.

“That’s not a sore, is it?”

“I can’t see your lip in the mirror from the back seat.”

“I never get these! I thought I bit my mouth in a feeding frenzy eating Captain D’s Styrofoam last night. But that sure looks like a sore. Without my glasses.”

“Now you know what it feels like!”

“What did I eat? Besides the charred Styrofoam.”

“It’s not from food.”

“I don’t have herpes!”

“Duh. It’s not herpes. It’s a canker sore.”

“I don’t have syphilis!”

“They’re NOT from syphilis. You don’t get them in your MOUTH.” Wait for it…"Well. Unless you’ve been…DOING something!”

“Do you know what syphilis is? Look it up. Not on MY internet, though.”

“Okay. I’ll use the school wifi to look up syphilis.”

“NO! Don’t do that!”

If the tech department flags my account, I’ll say, ‘It’s for Mom.’”

“NO! Don’t you do it!”

“She wanted me to look up the symptoms. She thinks she has syphilis.”

“STOP! You’re going to make me pee my pants!”

“I’m only trying to help you find out if you have syphilis, Mother Dear.”

“STOP! I can’t breathe! I’m trying to drive! STOP!”

“I guess if you write about this, people will see who I get my sense of humor from.”

Yeah. Probably.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

O Captain, D Captain!

My Dear Captain D's Proprietor:

Thank you so much for hiring and retaining employees who cannot perform even the most rudimentary facets of their positions. I am always tickled to see which new way they have found to sabotage my order. As a regular drive-thru customer who patronizes your establishment weekly, I have endured quite a variety of monkey wrenches tossed into my dinner bag.

Two orders of breadsticks? Sometimes you give me one order. Sometimes you give me none.

A Captain’s sandwich? Often the low-dollar regular sandwich is given in its place.

Lemon pepper whitefish? I now know how much lemon pepper it takes to make whitefish black.

Coleslaw? [COLESLAW!] It should not be warm, with an aftertaste.

Breadstick included in a meal? I had no idea that some people like their breadstick encrusted with rice.

Breadsticks? They are usually golden brown. Not fish-belly white.

Do I want any sauces? Why yes I DO! Tartar Sauce, Ketchup, Butter, and a Knife.
Every week I request the same sauces. I have gone, on separate visits, without ketchup, without butter, without a knife, WITH malt vinegar, WITH sour cream, WITH cocktail sauce.

I will not elaborate on the latest food faux pas perpetrated upon my person. I am saving the evidence for a possible future lawsuit. IF I survive for the next 48 hours.

If your restaurant (and I use the term loosely) was a den of fine dining, and a tip was customary, I would indeed leave a tip for my server: AN IOU FOR A SWIFT KICK IN THE PANTS!

In closing, I would simply like to say…see you next Monday.

Val Thevictorian


Yes, I have been having issues with The Pony’s fast food of choice after his Monday night appointments.

But last night, I think, takes the cake in the sweepstakes of customer service tomfoolery.

Lest you think that I licked the Styrofoam platter clean, let the record show that the upper left compartment contained a Styrofoam bowl with plastic lid stuffed full of broccoli florets. The upper right compartment contained SLAW, which I spooned out into (my own) Styrofoam bowl to put in Frig II's Freezer for quick cooling. And the middle compartment contained a filet of lemon pepper whitefish. 

Once again, I bemoaned the fact that my whitefish was burned, and heavily lemon-peppered. The edges were downright crispy. And black. Oh, I ate it. Val is not getting home at 7:00 p.m. after a full day of work, a day containing two duties, and standing in the kitchen to whip up a meal. But that doesn't mean that she was content with her takeout.

Yes. Not only was my lemon pepper whitefish burned. It had burned through the Styrofoam container. A fact of which I was happily ignorant while crunching away on the burnt edges of that black filet of whitefish.


I'm hoping everything comes out okay...