Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Long Purple Dog of Contention

A little puppy needs toys, right? Something to occupy his time. Something to stimulate his growing brain. Something to cut his teeth on. Far be it from Thevictorians to deprive a little puppy the necessities of puppydom.

Puppy Jack has been presented with two clear-looking, hard, chew-bones that can be eaten (chicken flavor--hope that's not an ironic mistake), a boneless fur squirrel with a squeaky head, a boneless fur skunk with a squeaky head, and this:

That's a long purple dog. Rubber. It squeaks. It looks angry there, like Uncle Leo with his Magic Marker eyebrows courtesy of Elaine. Here's another view:

See? It's actually smiling. Or showing its teeth in a menacing manner. But on its belly, it says, "LOVED." The perfect toy for Puppy Jack, right? It's a long little dog like him! In our school colors! And it tells him he's loved.

Juno has other ideas.

My sweet, sweet Juno has been quite tolerant of Puppy Jack. After the initial curiosity and butt-sniffing, she has remained rather aloof. There was only that one snarling incident, and it was Jack's fault for jumping on her. Now Juno will stand her ground, wagging her feathery tail, looking at me like, "How could you do this? How much must I endure? Is this going to be permanent? Let's feed the little thing so I can get my Hot Pocket."

Let the record show that Puppy Jack's boneless fur squirrel with a squeaky head disappeared. Let the record further show that any time The Pony had it out in the yard, throwing it for Jack, Juno ran to it first. Oh, her royal highness did not deign to bring it back to the thrower. No sirree, Bob! For a smart dog, Juno is quite ignorant in the sport of fetching. She would simply pick it up, lay down with it, and get up to slink away when Jack came charging at her.

Boneless Fur Squirrel With a Squeaky Head was sometimes left in the yard when Jack got put up. It was draped over Hick's new old fence when it got wet. And then it disappeared. Funny, how Jack was in his pen, and Juno was roaming free, and Hick didn't care one iota where Boneless Fur Squirrel With a Squeaky Head was as long as it wasn't under his mower.

Also missing from Puppy Jack's toy stable: one clear-looking, hard, chew-bone that can be eaten, last seen in the mouth of Juno Thevictorian as she rounded the corner of the porch headed for her house. AND, most recently...Long Purple Rubber Squeaky Dog With Uncle Leo Eyebrows.

Let the long, long record show that Puppy Jack initially showed little interest in Long Purple Rubber Squeaky Dog With Uncle Leo Eyebrows. He preferred Boneless Fur Skunk With a Squeaky Head, his soft toy replacement for the purloined Boneless Fur Squirrel With a Squeaky Head. The Pony would sit beside me on the front porch pew, Puppy Jack between us, squeaking that long purple dog. Jack ignored it. Juno, however, showed an interest.

When we were not paying much attention to her, Juno sidled up and stretched out her muzzle toward the long purple dog on the edge of the pew, like Melman the giraffe in Madagascar stretching out his neck and tongue to grasp the discarded "mint" he found in the men's room. She had that long purple dog in her mouth when I noticed and said, "Juno! NO!"

The Pony took matters into his own hands. He grabbed that long purple dog out of Juno's mouth, clobbered her over the head with it, on the skull, right between her eyes, with a SQUEAK of protest from the long purple dog. I chastised him for it, of course, while Juno slunk away in shame.

"What? It's not hers! She has to learn." Not so violently, I pointed out.

We now store Puppy Jack's toys in a Rubbermaid tub on the front porch, right beside the pew. Shh...it may or may not be the Rubbermaid tub that Puppy Jack slept in INSIDE the homestead the first week we got him, when Hick was safely ensconced in France. Juno can smell the toys in there. She can lean over and see the toys in there. But she can't reach her mouth down in there because her neck would tip that tub over on top of her. Juno is skittish about clunky stuff.

So...a couple mornings ago, Jack decided he liked Long Purple Rubber Squeaky Dog With Uncle Leo Eyebrows. He bit it and squeaked it and shook it and took it under the rocking chair that used to rock Baby Genius (much to Baby Genius's dismay). While The Pony and I were playing tug-o-Boneless Fur Skunk With a Squeaky Head with Jack, the long purple dog disappeared. We were both sure Juno took it.

I sent The Pony on a search of the porch. Juno had not gone into the yard. I instructed him to look in her house, and in the other two doghouses over on the end of the porch by the mini pony/new goat pen. He returned empty-handed.

Let the familiar-with-Pony record show that asking The Pony to find a long purple dog inside a wooden doghouse is akin to asking Helen Keller to inform you of the whereabouts of Waldo.

When I left for town around noon, Juno was slow in coming to see me off at the side porch. And she had sprinkles of cedar shavings or dirt on top of her muzzle. I feared we might have a far-ranging search on our hands for the long purple dog. But no.

Hick found Long Purple Rubber Squeaky Dog With Uncle Leo Eyebrows inside Juno's house right outside the kitchen door the very next morning. While dumping her food into the pan by the laundry room, he heard Juno thumping out of her house to run get her breakfast, and he heard a SQUEAK! There it was. Right inside her house. Caught red-pawed! We put the long purple dog back inside the Rubbermaid tub for safekeeping.

That afternoon, I was getting some corn-on-the-cob ready for our grill. I took it out to the back porch off the kitchen, peeling back the husks, breaking them off at the end. I also had a giant butcher knife, courtesy of Hick's workplace, with which to cut that stalk stub off the bottom of the ears.

I was tossing all this over the porch rail for the wildlife, when Puppy Jack accosted my legs, hopping and stabbing my shins with his nose in an effort to entice me to pick him up. That tactic did not work this time, because I had already washed my hands eleventy-seven times that day. But I DID toss him a cornstalk nubbin.

Never had a pup enjoyed a plant stem more! It was like pupnip to him! He wrassled that stalk-end, and bit it, and pranced around carrying it proudly. I figured it couldn't hurt him much. It was organic, right? I went back inside, leaving Puppy Jack playing with that cornstalk nubbin like a kid Christmas morning playing with a cardboard box.

A few minutes later, I heard The Pony coming around the end of the porch to the kitchen door.

"Oh, Jack!"

I hollered through the door, "I GAVE it to him!" so The Pony wouldn't take it away.

Juno is another story. The corn cob stem was mysteriously absent from the porch this morning.

Puppy Jack and his pick-me-up routine from the front porch today. Yes. I did.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Val's ALL-YOU-CAN Feast

Thevictorian family went to feast at a local all-you-can-eat catfish restaurant Thursday evening!

Yes, we don't get out much. The end of the school year was busy, and Val has been on this cutting-back, wise-choice dietary regime, and Hick has been off to France...so our special-occasion dinners were all backed up.

After signing the papers and driving The Pony's new used car off the lot, we headed, in separate vehicles, to the FelineFish Skillet. Not its actual name. Val has to change names to protect the guilty. This was to be a celebratory feast for Mother's Day, Graduation, Retirement, and Car-Buying.

Let the record show that Val did not make wise choices. Nor did she cut back. You only retire once in life. So you might as well eat all the catfish you can. I had good intentions. I had been dreaming about going to this place for four months. About the time I started the cutting-back, wise-choice dietary regime. I figured I could have one piece of fish. Two pieces of chicken. A spoonful of slaw. One fat fry. Yeah. I could do it. Hadn't I gone for four freakin' months without being unwise? Including the weekend for The Pony's Special Award ? (STILL not a leg lamp).

Let the record show that not only was Val bereft of wise choices...she was a dietary simpleton! Seriously! Who can sit in an all-you-can-eat catfish house and resist the catfish, tartar sauce, chicken breast strips, sweet-and-sour chicken sauce, shrimp, fat fries, ketchup, slaw, hush puppies, honey butter, garlic mashed potatoes, and baked beans? Not this ol' ravenous Val!

That was just the food we ASKED for. The menu is much more extensive. More on that in a minute.

I figured that one meal out of 17 weeks of meals was not going to bankrupt my caloric savings. I admit that I lost count on what crossed my lips. I DO know that the baked beans were crappy, so only one taste reached my gullet. And that Hick ordered the garlic mashed potatoes, usually a favorite of The Pony, in a tiny bowl for himself. So I only had two spoons. Shrimp is never my guilty pleasure, so I only had two of them. Hush puppies are the domain of The Pony, and nary a one crossed my plate or lips. As for the fish...it was more than a lonely castle-homed bowl-dweller, and less than a school. The chicken is where I lost my head. It's my favorite, though not as good as it used to be, what with half-breasts being served up in the past, and mere chicken finger-sized portions under the new management. Fries, I had a few. And of course SLAW! But I DID drink water! Not soda.

Of course I justified my feast. Had I not returned from the doctor only two days previous, with a glowing report of losing 39 POUNDS more than I originally thought? Still...I took the next three days to severely cut back, to balance out my presumed caloric calculations of the feast ingestion.

But here's what outraged me about our feasting experience. You knew there would be something, RIGHT? Because Val does not type up these manifestos just to hear her own fingers clicking on the keyboard.

All you can eat means ALL YOU CAN EAT!

Did I make myself clear? You would think the owners of the FelineFish Skillet would know the meaning of those words. What they entail. The connotation of unlimited portions. But it seems that once they put out that language bait, and set the hook, and reel in their customers...they forget all about that implied promise!

I dare not link their menu. But I will type up what's on it:


Family Style
Endless Side Dishes/Endless Hush Puppies
Loosen Your Belt

Adult (12 YRS & Up) 12.99 / Child (5-11 YRS) 5.99 / Child (4YRS & Under) FREE

Creamy Cole Slaw
Baked Beans
Fresh Cucumber Salad
Fried Okra
Cottage Cheese
Crispy Potato Wedges
Steamed Vegetables
Steamed Rice
Fried Corn on the Cob

AND at the very bottom of the menu, where it lists HOMESTYLE SIDE DISHES, the above are listed again, as well as

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Caesar Salad

So, you see, they plainly advertise on their menu, that they hand you when they seat you at the table, that this restaurant serves ALL YOU CAN EAT. They declare that the side dishes are endless. They even tell you to loosen your belt!

We did not have an issue with the ALL YOU CAN EAT. Even though the waitress was so slow in bringing more fish that we requested that I imagined her driving to a pond, digging for worms, sitting on the bank, waiting for a bite, reeling in her catch, driving back to the restaurant, fileting that fish on a wooden counter out back, tossing its guts to neighborhood cats, rolling it in cornmeal, frying it up, and finally bringing it to our table. You would think that an ALL YOU CAN EAT fish restaurant would have some fish already fried during the dinner hour.

No, we had an issue with the family of five who came in when we were waiting for our fish, and ordered the ALL YOU CAN EAT. Our waitress (no wonder it took so long for our fish--she couldn't even get in her car to drive to the pond yet) asked them which sides they wanted. The matriarch of the family said, "All of them."

WELL! You would have thought they asked for a 51 % share of the business!

"Um. We don't really bring all of the sides."


"Yes. But...um...we usually don't do that. Do you know which ones you want?"

"We want to try them all."

"Okay...um...how many of you want Cole Slaw?" And she proceeded to ask how many wanted each of those side dishes! When she got to the Fried Corn on the Cob, the matriarch said that everybody wanted one. And the waitress said, "EVERYBODY?" Hick in a tuxedo pumping a handcar! It's a 3-inch tiny cob, the size you might get at KFC, not a full-size roastin' ear! We tried it right after the place underwent new ownership, because the waitress pushed it. It is not that good.

After taking the order, the waitress left to go catch our fish. And the matriarch cut eyes at the other three adults at the table, and said, "I'll be darned if I'm paying $12.99 and not getting all the sides."

Heh, heh.

Somebody's gotta keep 'em honest!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Val is a Little Light in the Sneakers. Allegedly.

Last week Val was in the shop for diagnostics. Let the record show that she was firing on all cylinders, no fluids needed replacing, and she still has considerable miles left on her chassis.

Yes, last Tuesday I had my regular 6-month checkup. I hate those things. The wait is annoying, the once-over minimal, but the only way to get more drugs is to go. Legal drugs, of course. Not the fun kind. Just enough to keep my blood pressure in the normal range, so the top of my head doesn't shoot off like the cap of an empty water bottle squeezed by a freshman boy if you are silly enough to let pupils carry beverages into your classroom. And a daily dose of thyroid med since I only have a scrap of my organ left. Joke's on you, though, because when the nuclear bomb drops, I will die slowest! No radiation is going to build up in MY scrappy thyroid!

So I went. I waited an hour to be called back. And that's when the most incredible thing happened! That jabbermouth nurse called me. My mom used to take her individually wrapped peppermints in a zip-lock bag. She said she was being nice, but I think it was in an effort to shut her up. Oh, she's friendly as not-heaven...but you'd think at some point the nurse taking your vitals should just clam up her yap and do her business.

Usually, Yappy says, "Let's get your weight," and leads me through the 4th floor inner-sanctum labyrinth to the tall scale with the beam and push weights like on a triple beam balance that you might find in a science lab. Usually, I take my mom's old tactic, and say, "Is that really necessary?" Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. I don't blame her for the weigh-in on these checkups. But for a flu shot appointment? I think that is overkill.

Anyhoo...Yappy just took off before I could loosen up my crackling knees, and it was off to the races. She didn't say where we were going, so I tried not to lose sight of her. I'm really not very good with directions. And all at once we came to the section of the hallway that houses the scale. You know. Where the world passes you by, all ears, listening in on your confidential medical statistics. It's like a corral of milling patients and the nurses wrangling them.

Well...Yappy told me to step up on the scale, and I did. Because, you see, Val has been cutting back, making wise choices in her feeding habits. I knew I had lost more than 10 pounds since my last visit. More than 20. More than 30. I daresay more than 40. I stepped up on that scale, letting Yappy's jabberwocky go in one ear and out the other. She grabbed those weights and shoved them to and fro. The scale began to balance. With barely an aside from some self-tale Yappy was yapping, she blurted out the amount of Val's weight.


Hick in a tuxedo pumping a handcar! 

Yappy had read the lower of the two beams wrong. I was sure. I know the top one, showing single pounds, was right, because I looked at it. But I think she forgot which notch she put the bottom one in. No way have I lost 39 MORE pounds than I have subtracted weekly from start to now on my home scale. That's preposterous!

I called her on it. When she got me to the exam room and started updating info on her laptop.

"That weight can't be right."

"Well, when you were here last time, you weighed X."

"Yes. And there's no way I have lost that much. Some, yes. But not THAT much!"

"What do YOU think you weigh?"

So I told her. If only it was that easy every time.

Let the record show that Yappy refused to take the blame. "I have tried to tell Doctor that the scale is off. You wouldn't believe how many people tell me they weigh more than what it says."

Um. Yes. I WOULD.

I appreciate Yappy's inability to judge my girth. But she's gotta put that fat mouth of hers on a diet.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Paddock Can't Hold Him Like It Used To

Last night, The Pony took his "Rouge" for a spin.

He had not planned on going anywhere. No farther than the basement couch, where he alternates playing computer games and writing science fiction, while vehemently denying watching pr0n on my internet. (It never hurts to keep him on his toes. Yesterday, I said, "Are you watching pr0n on my internet again?" And he said, "NO!" To which I replied, "Oh, you're using your OWN internet?" Heh, heh. I like to wind him up.)

Anyhoo...here I am, sitting at New Delly around 6:00, eating the saddest supper ever (more on that another day), when in comes The Pony.

"Oh, Mom. Is it okay if I go out to Biffy's house? She says I can stay as late as I want." (Biffy, because she is the BFF of a gal who graduated last year who is friends with The Pony, the one he spent the day with at the Very Special Award [STILL not a leg lamp] weekend back in April. He met Biffy that weekend in the dorm.)

"I guess so. Do you know where she lives?"

"No. But I have the Garmin. She says her sister and her boyfriend live next door, in case you are worried about us being supervised." (I think it's probably past time to worry about that, since The Pony IS 18 now, and this girl is older, and he will be going off to live his life out from under my thumb in three months, anyway. Besides, how good of supervision can a girl and her live-in boyfriend provide from next door, anyway?)

"Okay. But be careful driving. You'll have to go the long way. The bridge is flooded."

"I know. I will."

So off he went, in his new used "Missing Rouge," to an evening of TV-watching with a college girl home for the summer. He dutifully sent me a text when he arrived, and when he was ready to come home. Let's face it. He has only had his driver's license since Christmas, and driving after dark and in the rain are not something he has a lot of experience with.

I breathed a sigh of relief when he came in the door at 10:25. Little did I know what perils had befallen him. It only took minimal tooth-pulling to get the story.

On the bright side, they watched TV and some parts of movies, and ate pizza, and talked about college, and The Pony showed her some of his short stories and poems on his laptop.

On the dark side, the Garmin had a mind of its own. Let the record show that this place was on the other side of Backroads, even past my old workplace (I'm retired! Have you heard?), and out in the sticks. Which is sayin' something considering where we live.

"I guess the Garmin tried to take me there by the shortest route. It told me to turn on a dirt road."

"Did you?"

"Uh huh."

"Wasn't it muddy from all the rain?"

"Yeah. I went really slow so I didn't get mud all over my car. And somebody must not have wanted people to go down that road, because there was a cable stretched across it. So I had to drive around a tree to get past that."

As you might imagine, the sound of dueling banjos filled my noggin.

"Um. You have to be careful. You never know what people might do. When I used to travel that one road on the way to Genius's college...two cars had the road blocked one night. Parked right across it, their front bumpers touching. And people were standing around, trying to flag me down. I drove off the road in the ditch to get around them. You can't be too careful. I would never stop like that when I'm by myself."

"Everything was okay. I made sure to park behind Biffy's car, so I didn't block anybody else in. But when I left, I didn't go out that way."

"I think that was a good decision."

Yes, our little Pony is growing up. It's probably a good thing I'll never know half of what goes on at college.

Right now, let's just get through the summer without an older woman inviting him up to see her etchings.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pony Discovered With Missing Rouge

The Pony has new wheels!

Make that new used wheels. Here's his off-to-college car.

It's a 2013 Nissan Rogue. The Pony took that picture last evening, in the waning twilight, after he drove it home. If you look closely, you can see his leg reflection, and little long Puppy Jack. Let the record show that they both appear stretched out by that Rogue. It's a handy little hatchback, front-wheel drive, not too big, not to small. Goldilocks herself would approve. But she'd better not eat porridge in there!

We had been looking at this one, and a Ford Escape, which was newer, with fewer miles, red instead of black, and of course a higher cost. We could have swung it, though. The Pony expressed no preference either way. Hick had an amount he was ready to spend, but was swayed by the low miles on the Escape. He and The Pony took a test drive Tuesday night.

Hick called me Wednesday morning and said we'd go work a deal Wednesday night. That did not sit well with Val. I wanted to ruminate on it a bit more. Run the numbers on both cars again. Choose the better value. Hick was not pleased, but agreed to go Thursday night instead. He called the Rogue guy to tell him he would not be bringing the 2002 Ford Ranger trade-in for him to look at until Thursday. I almost changed my mind. I considered texting Hick to say I would be ready and we would go Wednesday night. But at 3:30, Hick sent ME a text saying he was tied up at work with a personnel matter, and would be home late.

Hick left work at 3:00 on Thursday. The Pony and I met him at the antique mall next to the dealer where we were going to talk turkey about the Escape. That's so Hick could take out the can of Freon he had put into the Ranger and stash it in the back of T-Hoe. Also remove The Pony's Garmin and the car-buying printouts Hick had been studying.

We parked up front by the showroom and went inside. Hick asked for the salesman he had talked to before. A Not Particularly Friendly Fellow said it was that guy's day off. So Hick asked to speak to anyone who could write up a deal, and said he was there about the Escape that he drove Tuesday night. Well. The Not Particularly Friendly Fellow said, "We sold that car last night." No skin off our nose. We had a backup plan.

"Okay. I'm going to buy a car today, and since yours is gone, I'll go to my other dealer." Just to rub it in to the Not Particularly Friendly Fellow, who had asked if he could show us something else.

Off we went up the road about a half mile, to the Rogue guy. Hick parked the Ranger in front, and we went inside. He asked for his previous salesman, and another guy said he had asked him to take care of us. But then there came the other guy out of a back room. I guess he had been planning to leave early, because there seemed to be a teenage boy hanging around waiting for him. We were there at 4:00, and they close at 5:00. The Original Salesman took the keys to the Ranger and went off for a test drive. He returned shortly, and he and the teenage boy looked over the outside of the Ranger. We chatted with the Extra Salesman.

The Original Salesman came back in. He told the Extra Salesman he'd be right back, then came out of the back room again with a big smile and the Rogue keys. The Extra Salesman left the desk, and the Original Salesman reached across and shook The Pony's hand, Hick's hand, and my hand. "You got a deal."

Let the record show that when Hick first stopped by to look at that Rogue, he had told OS about the Ranger he wanted to trade in, and that if he could make the deal for X amount of difference, he had a sale. OS said to bring the Ranger by and he'd take a look, but that he could probably make that deal. Hick took The Pony to test-drive the Rogue, and The Pony gave it a thumbs up. Hick kept in touch, letting OS know that he had to change the day he was bringing in the Ranger, and also telling him that we were looking at the Rogue and one other car, and that we'd take the best deal.

So...when OS shook our hands, we at first thought he was kidding. Hick said, "We'll write that check if you can do what I told you."

OS said, "It's a done deal. You can start writing. The amount of the check will be X." Which was the amount Hick had told OS he was willing to trade for. But I jabbed Hick. He was forgetting one important item. The printout I gave him that said to show it to the salesman and get $500 off that Rogue. Hick took it out of his pocket, unfolded it, and gave it to OS.

"Oh. I DID put that on our website. Quite a while back. Okay. So the amount of the check will be X minus 500." See there? Val instantly saved $500 on that transaction.

OS went off to get the paperwork started. I filled out the check. We were thrilled. It's never this easy. But Hick had told OS on a previous visit, "When I say X, I mean X. Total. Don't go saying you have to charge me a couple hundred dollars for paperwork. You have to do the paperwork or you can't  sell me the car. My total offer will be X. Nothing more. Write it however you write it. I don't care what you call the trade-in, and what you call the sale price. I'm paying a difference of X, and not a penny more. I won't sit here haggling. My offer is X. If you can do that, you've got a deal."

Well. We were all celebratory, the check already written out, when OS came back and said, "Oops! I need you to sign this. I forgot about the paperwork fee. This shows I am subtracting the amount for the paperwork. So the amount of the check will be X minus 500 minus the paperwork."

You can bet Val didn't mind one whit to tear up that check and write another. That's a stand-up guy. In 10 minutes time, we had slashed that agree-upon price difference by over $700. Don't go tellin' Val that the salesman must have really made a killing to be able to do that without rancor. Hick and I looked at those car values seven ways to Sunday, on Edmunds and KBB and NADA. We shopped our trade-in and the Rogue. Compared differences in values. And came up with our bottom-line offer.

That savings covered the tax and license fees today when I went to the DMV!

Anyhoo...we were in and out of that dealer in less than 45 minutes, Thevictorians satisfied, the salesman satisfied, and The Pony pleased as punch. The Rogue had been pulled around to the front, all shiny and clean. They took The Pony's picture beside the car, and put it on their Facebook page.

The Pony hopped in his Rogue, with Hick riding shotgun. I had to fend Extra Salesman off T-Hoe. We headed, in our separate vehicles, to have a celebratory car-buying, Mother's Day, valedictorian-graduation dinner at a local catfish house.

I almost felt bad about the Freon.

Let the record show that my mom would have said, about the purchase of the Rogue rather than the Escape..."Honey, everything happens for a reason."

Thursday, May 26, 2016

DAY THREE of the Summer of Val's Discontent


Still no Diet Coke in sight at the gas station chicken store!

I ask you...is THIS any way to run a business? Not only has Val forsaken that establishment her daily $1.69 for a 44 oz Diet Coke...she has taken her scratch-off business elsewhere! They're gonna need to sell a lot of chicken to make up for those losses. Contrary to The Pony's theory, the gas station chicken store did NOT run out of Diet Coke because Val was in there filling up a 44 oz vat of it daily since her retirement. Okay. Since the evening BEFORE her retirement. You'd celebrate too, if all you had was 4 hours of not-work left, FOREVER.

Seriously. How can these people not fix their Diet Coke dispenser? Let the record show that the paper sign taped over the spigot said OUT. Not BROKEN. I can only assume the store has gone without Diet Coke because the owner's wife is out of town. If SHE was in the building, she would have seen that the land flowed with Diet Coke and chicken. She is not one to be trifled with. Everybody is shaking in his shoes when she's on the prowl. The owner himself is a laid-back kind of guy. He reminds me of Ned Flanders. His view would be that there are still 17 other kinds of soda for folks to select. He's probably not a Diet Coke drinker.

It would behoove those folks to remedy the Diet Coke situation forthwith! Because since the initial dalliance with Diet Pepsi, Val has gone on the prowl for another supplier. And found one, just up the road. Uh huh. The former Voice of the Village, now a geometric letter, also has fountain Diet Coke! And do you know what it costs there? Are you ready for this? Only 79 cents! That makes it 83 cents with tax! Yep. Any size fountain drink is 79 cents there. What a draw to bring in customers this summer!

Of course, their Diet Coke is not as good. But it's Diet Coke, not Diet Pepsi. That's sayin' something.

Why no diet coke after THREE DAYS, you chicken people? If that beverage was merely OUT, solving the problem does not take a rocket scientist.

I don't like to brag about my rich tapestry of life experiences, but let the record show that one of Val's work threads was woven through a job as a clerk at a Casey's General Store. Which is not to say that I screened delivery drivers for unmarked pharmacies operating out of storefronts in long-closed plazas. Yep. Val is a convenience store insider. She knows the ice in those soda fountains is not made inside them, like crescent cubes in a Frig II, if you will. Nope. That ice comes from bags taken from inventory and sliced open and dumped in the top by a clerk standing on a chair. You always fill the ice before leaving your shift to the next clerk. That's common courtesy.

Anyhoo...when the soda runs out, all you have to do is hook up the hoses under the counter to connect a canister of CO2, and a box containing a bag of soda syrup. It takes five minutes. Unless there is some newfangled technotronic way of dispensing fountain soda. And judging by the look of the gas station chicken store...I'd say they are not on the cutting edge.

I want my Diet Coke! And so do all the other Diet Cokeheads! Without it, our life has no purpose. We will lay around the landscape like Salvador Dali clocks.

Like a Vidalia onion must come from only 20 counties in Georgia, and Scotch must come from Scotland...the blend of other Diet Coke at other convenience stores is just not the same.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Flotsam, Jetsam, and Roadsam

Yesterday while I was at the doctor's office, there came quite a deluge. Yes, I was cooling my heels in that 4th floor office (don't be shocked, Backroads DOES have skyscrapers) for a considerable amount of life-minutes that I'll never get back. But still. We had a lot of rain in a little weather time.

Actually, my doctor is located over in Bill-Paying Town. I left home at 2:00, under bright sunny skies, to arrive at 2:50 for my appointment scheduled for 3:00. We won't go into that now. Maybe another day.

The weather was still sunny, just a few clouds, when I arrived and scored a parking spot on the end of the third row. That's incredible. One local hospital was recently absorbed by the other, so there are now TWICE as many patients coming and going.

I signed in and sat down and opened up one of the two books I brought along. After about 45 minutes, a lady came to the window to pick up a prescription, and revealed that we were in for some major weather, by the looks of the clouds building up. And then I heard it. Inside, on the 4th floor, with no windows in sight. The downpour of rain.

Once I was called back to the inner sanctum, I was placed in a room with windows. Hick in a tuxedo pumping a handcar! The sky was black, and sheets of rain slammed from cloud to pavement with abandon. I knew I was in for a drenching, once I escaped that slow high-rise to not-China. And I was.

I put my handbag over my head and played chicken with a car in the circle drive. Even VAL would give a walking person the right-of-way in a torrential downpour. Once in T-Hoe, I cranked up the heat, turned up the blower, and tried to dry out my shirt. Hick and The Pony were leaving home to test-drive a Ford Escape. I told them to bring an umbrella. They told me the low-water bridge was passable FOR NOW.

I stopped by the bank for the weekly cash for our allowances. Then I went straight home. The bridge had a good 8 inches left before the water flowed over. I got the mail and sent a text to The Pony telling him I was home, and fudged two inches, saying the bridge was 6 inches from flooding. I figured Hick would take heed, and come the other way. He knew it was rising.

Of course not. The Pony sent me another text ten minutes later that the bridge was overflowed, and they were heading back the other way to go around. That water sure came up fast. Besides, the rain had stopped by the time I got to Backroads. But that water was still in the run-off process.

All that was to set the scene for today's trip to the pharmacy. It sits in a low-lying area covered in pavement. The pharmacy, the next-door Chinese restaurant, and its next-door Convenient Care clinic floods with six inches or so of water every time there's a couple inches of rain in a short time. I knew when I drove onto the lot that it had been flooded the evening before.

The decorative lava rock was all out of its landscaping. This is but a small example, looking out T-Hoe's driver's window towards the Dairy Queen. All down the side street lay more lava rock, all the way to the Country Mart, which I am sure was also inundated, from the smell when I stepped inside. At least the pharmacy seemed to have contracted a flood aftermath team this morning before opening, because they smelled of cleaner, and had fans going all over the place to dry out the mats and freshly shampooed carpet. I wouldn't buy any Chinese food or groceries for a while.

Anyhoo...that's still not the story. The story is that when I stepped out of T-Hoe to go inside for my prescriptions, I found a treasure. Some roadsam, if you will. Washed along by the floodwaters, deposited right there where T-Hoe's unsuspecting tire could have flipped it over and taken the shiv between the tread.

I snatched it up and brought it home for The Pony to take a picture. I might wash it off and give it to Hick. It's a Craftsman, you see. Sears' Best! I mainly wanted it off the parking lot so it didn't flatten my tire. If my sister could get a bone (I'm still mad because she didn't ask her mechanic for it, so I could have a picture and mull over what kind of dead body it came from) in her tire, and I could pick up a giant bolt in T-Hoe's tire...this little driver would have no problem screwing T-Hoe out of a radial.

Always an adventure when you ride with Val.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

It All Started Out So Well...

Are you sitting down? Seriously. I don't want to be responsible for anybody fainting dead away in shock, and knockin' his noggin on the cold hard floor. At least squat down on your heels, so there's less distance for gravity to accelerate your noggin.

No, I don't have fantastic news to share. Quite the opposite. Though I WOULD like to announce, to soften the blow, perhaps, that yesterday I won $150 on two scratch-off tickets, and today I won $160 on four scratch-off tickets. You gotta play to win, you know. Anyhoo...back to the tragedy that befell Val this morning.

Don't you go worrying about Puppy Jack. He made his trip to the vet, and he's just fine. Maybe a story on that later. And don't you go worrying about Val, who made her trip to the doctor, and is just fine. Maybe a story on that later, too. Nope. The tragedy happened between the vet appointment for Jack and the doctor appointment for Val.

Everything was hunky dory. We arrived at 7:55 for Jack's appointment. Were out by 8:20. Stopped by a convenience store not frequented frequently by Val for lottery purposes, just because we were passing by, and she had told The Pony this morning that she was going to cash in some winners and get more there on the way home. Thus the windfall for today's lottery take.

Yes. We were firing on all cylinders. From that convenience store, we headed for Backroads. We took a left at the four-way stop beside The Pony's language teacher's mother's furniture store, just to ride through the industrial park and miss a stoplight and go past the new convenience store site that is still under construction. Then we hit the lake road, because who doesn't want to drive by a lake when the morning is brand-spankin'-new, with sunshine all around, and the sky a particularly pretty shade of blue, and a little puppy chillin' on The Pony's lap, and the days of The Forever Vacation are stretched out ahead like a never-ending paper ribbon of those rainbow candy dots?

After we passed the lake, we pulled up to the drive-thru mailbox (so as not to smell a dead mouse) in order to mail the phone bill. I waited to pull out onto the street so a very large semi tractor trailer truck had room to round the bend by the Montessori school. Wouldn't you know it, that truck was marked with a little triangle showing BLASTING MATERIALS. So Val's courtesy paid off.

From the post office road, we headed to the gas station chicken store for Val's 44 oz Diet Coke. The magical elixir came early today, my friends, due to the 3:00 doctor appointment, which was sure to drag into the evening hours. A Diet-Coked-up Val is a kinder, gentler Val. I waited at the stoplight for traffic to clear, then made my right-on-red (cautioning The Pony that Oklahoma may not have such a law as Missouri) and turned immediately right again into the gas station chicken store parking lot, and pulled into my rightful parking space, first one, closest to the building.

Yes, my friends, the day couldn't get any better! I'm surprised that Brady Bunch song, "It's a Sunshine Day," wasn't playing on my Sirius XM 70s station. I grabbed my correct change, bade a short goodbye to The Pony and the puppy, and headed inside, my heart quickening with the thought of my 44 oz Diet Coke.

Two trucks were unloading their goods. One of the deliverymen waited at the counter with his bill of lading, ready to hand it to the new little red-headed clerk dude who only yesterday had sold me a $50 winner. I stepped past him and pulled my 44 oz foam cup from the dispenser. I pushed it under the ice chute (not too much) and then set it under the Diet Coke lever.


A paper sign taped across the Diet Coke logo said OUT!


Hick in a tuxedo pumping a handcar! What's a Val to do when the Diet Coke is out?

I settled for the lesser cola, and had a Diet Pepsi.

The apopadopalyspe is near.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Talking Turkey to the Turkey with His Head in the Sand

Let the record show that Hick and Val are currently in the market for a car upgrade for The Pony. A used car that will get him to Oklahoma and back, perhaps several times, with more certainty than his 2002 Ford Ranger.

We have been looking at compact SUVs. But not TOO compact. And Hick is not so keen on all-wheel drive as Val, and feels that front-wheel drive is good enough. Anyhoo...the leading contenders are the Nissan Rogue and the Ford Escape.

Problem is, every time I see one of those two kinds of cars, within our mileage and price preferences...Hick comes up with some outrageous new vehicle that he expects me to seriously consider.

"Val! There is a brand-new Chevy Trax that is less than the price of those used cars."

"Huh. I think 4908 miles is almost as good as new. And it IS a 2016. You need to at least look at that Ford Escape, and take it for a test drive. Otherwise, that 2013 Nissan Rogue looks like a good deal. The Pony already drove it, and says he likes it. 49,000 miles is not too bad, considering his truck has 180,000."

"But Val. This is a NEW car. For less money."

"You just told me THIS MORNING that used Acadias like ours are going for $7000 less than what we paid. YOU said, 'That's what you lose when you drive a new car off the lot.' So how is buying a NEW car, even though it's less, going to be a bargain? It's obviously not the equivalent of what we're looking at. It will be smaller. With less options."

"It's a new car, Val. It will get him there and then some."

"I want it to be safe. Why don't we just wrap The Pony in foil, put him on a pair of roller skates, and push him downhill towards Oklahoma? That would be even LESS money."

Can you believe that Hick told me I am ridiculous?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Like Hick, Like Pony

Hick has been up to his old tricks again. Dashing out after supper, saying he's going to Goodwill. I don't know why that man needs so many tchotchkes. They're not even INDOOR tchotchkes! Here's what he showed up with most recently.

As in keeping with his signature style in picture composition...Hick made sure to get LOTS of background, and made the subject of his photo appear in the center, very tiny in comparison. Let's not forget those pictures of The Pony on the campus of the University of Oklahoma.

Hick announced his latest purchase by asking me, "Did you like our new dog?" He did this on purpose, you see, because earlier in the day, he had been talking about a 5-month old Husky that was being given away on Facebook. I distinctly remember, because I told him that would be his chickens' funeral if he brought home such a spirited fleabag. Hick further goaded me to "look out on the porch" to see the new dog. I was growing apprehensive. But then I saw the fake Fido.

Don't mind the chewed-up framing of the front door. Poor dumb (now-disappeared) Ann was the nervous sort, and liked to nibble. We have matching porch posts and porch-step rails.

So...a few days later, while I was still working (!) and The Pony was enjoying his graduated self, he let Puppy Jack out to play. The Pony ran to the porch to sit in the rocking chair, and Jack heaved his long little body up the steps. The Pony is not one to let a photo opportunity go to waste. When I called him to say I was on the way home, and see if he wanted anything from the gas station chicken store, he said

"I have the best picture of Jack! You're not going to believe how cute it it!"

Yes. The Pony inherited his father's photography skills.

No DNA test necessary.

As a bonus, I present, "Pony Selfie With Puppy Jack, Turkey in Background."

I'm sure The Pony only regrets that his arm was not longer.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sour, Sour Juno: Victim, or Evil Mastermind?

This evening I went out on the porch to spend some time with Puppy Jack. Of course that also meant time with my sweet, sweet Juno. No favorites here!

When The Pony goes inside to put Jack's evening meal on a paper plate, he is also instructed to bring something for Juno. She usually gets leftovers. Just a snack. Just so she knows that when Jack is being fed, she will get a treat. Yes, I know people food is bad for dogs. So are chicken bones, but dogs have been eating chickens since the first egg/chicken debate, and most certainly do not discard the bones. Not that Juno has been getting any bones. The gas station chicken store may go out of business, what with Val's four-month moratorium on their bread-and-butter.

Anyhoo...some evenings, Juno gets a Philly Cheese Steak Hot Pocket. They've been in Frig II's freezer for over a year. One minute in the microwave, and one is chewable enough for Juno. I started out tearing them apart, so she could sniff the filling, but Juno is not so delicate, not so discerning in telling food from fingers. Now I hand her the whole thing, and she trots down the porch steps, drool dripping, and eats it on the big flat rock beside Hick's brick sidewalk.

One night Juno had sweet & sour chicken left from The Pony's meal. Not the sauce. That's crazy! Juno is a DOG, by cracky! She doesn't need sweet & sour sauce! She got the chicken chunks. A pizza slice here, a cold boneless skinless lemon pepper chicken breast there, some Stovetop Stuffing...Juno is none too picky when accepting a treat.

While Jack eats his blobs of canned puppy chicken, Juno gives him the side-eye. But she stays away. Always the lady. I pet her and she lovingly gazes up into my eyes, she sitting on my red-Croc-ed feet, me sitting on Hick's porch pew. Yes, I stroke her silky fur, telling her I understand how she was mistaken for an egg-eater, what with that egg found in her mouth by The Pony yesterday morning, and that egg laying on the porch when Hick came home from work yesterday evening.

Tonight, I did not stroke my sweet, sweet Juno. In fact, I told her, "NO! Get out of here!"

Juno was not sweet, sweet. Juno was not even sweet.


Seriously! How does this even happen? Nothing on her face. Nothing on her back. Nothing on her feet. But not-even-dried brown poop stinking up the ends of her silky black fur, all over her left shoulder, her right shoulder, the ruff of fur across her shoulder blades. It was as if she had stood under the tail of a horse/mule/jackass/cow while they released a torrent of liquid diarrhea.

Poor, poor Juno. She is not used to falling out of favor. But she knew. Oh, yes. She KNEW. Did she not stay down in the yard at first, looking up on the porch at me apologetically? Did she not walk slowly up the steps, and hesitantly down the porch, until she got in front of me, not leaning, not putting her head on my belly? Did she not stand there, still, not touching, while I leaned over and took a whiff? And turn, tuck her tail, duck her head, and slink back to the yard after I said, "NO! Get out of here?" Yes. Yes, she did. Poor, poor Juno.

I sent Hick a text. "Why is there poop all over Juno's neck?" He did not respond. I was sure he had something to do with it. It was almost as if a bucket of poop was poured on her. Hick returned on his tractor from where he had been visiting up the road. He denied any knowledge of poop on Juno's neck.

"I don't know, Val. She went with us up to the other property, and she got in the creek. I don't know where she got poop on her."

Let the record show that Hick must have been talking about a mouse in his pocket. The Pony did not go with him to the other property up on the hill. And HOS was here this morning, not this afternoon. Juno was fine when I last saw her then. Let the record further show that there is no livestock up on that other property. That on the way there, one passes a field with a horse and a pony, and the field with the neighbor's three horses right across from us. Juno has never been covered in poop before. In fact, she does not even roll on dead things.

All I can think of to solve this mystery is the fact that two days ago, Hick put flea & tick medicine on Juno. From a squeeze tube of liquid, on the skin right between her shoulder blades.

Hmm...perhaps my formerly sweet, sweet Juno is an evil mastermind, and devised a method of ridding herself of that flea & tick medicine.

If the poop didn't do it, the bath she's going to get tomorrow will.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #15

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to entice you to buy my fake book.Val's dark streak continues to stand out like a reverse skunk stripe this week. She provides a tale of intrigue. A tale of revenge. A tale, perhaps, of woulda, coulda, shouldn't-a. Won't you fake-buy Val's fake book? Don't cost nothin'...except fake money.

The Truck That Jack Built

It started with an ad on craigslist. "How could a teacher murder one?" Jack responded right away. No need for a teacher to sully her hands with the gritty details. Jack is a...well...a Jack of all trades. Murder included. The secret, though, is to make death look like not-murder. Like an accident. Jack is good at accidents.

“Doorstop-Stealer Dies in Rear-End Collision.” No witnesses to the Dodge Ram brake-check. And no ID of a hooded figure cutting the surveillance camera wire that rainy night late-working credit-stealer Mr. Gumpas was flung 32 feet by a hit-and-run driver on the parking lot.

Business is good. Jack puts personalized plates on his Dodge Ram. Work experience in crime scene investigations and auto repair serves him well.

Will Jack continue to profit from the rancor of purveyors of the 3 Rs? (137 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

TRUCKer Cap of Ashton Kutcher…”I doff myself to Jack, but the author, Val Thevictorian, is mad as a hatter!” 

The Griswold Family TRUCKster…While driving the tribe cross country, I often felt the urge to murder. Kudos to Thevictorian for putting schemes to paper. It's almost as if she lived these scenarios.” 

That 1970s Keep On TRUCKin' Logo…”From the bottom of my hobnail boots to the far-ranging width of my bell-bottom jeans, I despise this poorly-conceived vehicle.” 

Cher, in MoonsTRUCK…”Snap out of it! You do NOT love this book. The author, Val Thevictorian, needs to be slapped with a wooden hand.” 

ThundersTRUCK Book Reviewer for the New York Times…”Not since that red-and-white 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine has there been a more deadly automobile! While I appreciate the premise, I regret to inform that the writing style of this vehicle is pedestrian. Thevictorian's novel is a wreck.”

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Retired Gal Walking

This was it. The last day Val will ever work. For a salary, that is. The free work of running a household will continue.

As I made my way up the sidewalk, from my parking space that is next-to-next-to-last in the row closest to the school building, I saw Mr. Principal come out the door and inspect the trash dumpster. It is half the size of our old one, and the last week of school is tough on dumpsters.

"Look at her! Here she comes on her last day of work!"

"Uh huh. I was just thinking...'Retired Gal Walking.' If you need me today, I'll be sitting in my room...doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!"

Heh, heh. You laugh or you cry. Sometimes both at the same time. Here's a chronicle of Val's last day.

6:55--Backed out of the garage and started to school.

7:10--Stopped for gas at Casey's General Store. Pumped it myself, not having my constant school-traveling companion of the past 13 years.

7:25--Popped in my Teacher of the Year CD by Judy Domeny Bowen, to listen to "Thirty Years." Wiped away a few tears. Let "Teachers on Vacation" play right after it. Because Val is now on The Forever Vacation, as proclaimed by her best old ex-teaching buddy, Mabel.

7:40--Pulled onto the parking lot for the last time as a wage-earner.

7:45--Took down emergency procedure posters and the 15-year accumulation of clutter on the bulletin board.

8:02--Logged on to PowerSchool for the last time.

8:15--Chatted with a colleague who stopped to say goodbye, one leaving himself to take over an assistant principalship in a neighboring district. "It must be hard leaving, after putting in all those years."

"STILL reminding me how old I am, and how young you are?"

"No...that's not what--"

Mr. Principal stepped in from the hall. "I heard you! Just like when you sit at the lunch table and tell me, 'You're only two years younger than my dad."

"Yeah! As if we thought he would change!"

8:30--The colleague taking over my classroom dropped in to ask if I minded her moving some of her stuff into my cabinets.

"No. Go right ahead. I'll just be sitting here deleting documents."

8:45--Chatted with mover about stuff that was staying, stuff that was going to the relocated science room for my replacement.

8:50--Mr. Principal returned and looked in. "Uh...you're already moving stuff in?"

"I know, right? My body isn't even cold yet, and here she is, taking over!"

9:00--Carried four giant 3-inch ring binders full of documents from my S L O / U O I to the office, since I surely would never need them again, and Mr. Principal had said he would use them for examples. Which I think means that Val was exemplary in discharging her job duties.

9:05--Had check-out form partially completed by Mr. Principal. Turned in keys. Went to counselor's office for signatures. Was told to print out final grades and sign them. "That's PREPOSTEROUS! Nobody said we had to print them! That announcement said to make sure they were complete. They're ON-LINE, for cryin' out loud!"

9:10--Printed out final grades and signed them. Returned to counselor's office for sign-off.

9:15--Chatted with Mover and Helper about why phones were being switched out as well, rather than staying in room of origin, coordinated with room numbers. Mover: "LOOK at THIS! It's like CHRISTMAS! Febreeze! And Germ-X!"

9:20--Chatted with End Hall Golf Dude, not a close pal, but a stand-up guy.

"I know. You wish you were me!"

"Not really. No use wishing my life away."

"Great! Just tell me my life is pretty much over now!"

"I didn't mean it that way..."

9:45--Heard Science Crony in the hall, announcing to an unseen collaborator that now there would be an extra desk. (?)

10:00--Showed Mover and Helper the stash of pencils, tape, pens, and dry erase markers I was leaving in my desk drawer for Mover. Found out Aide is taking my desk, even though Science Crony wants it.

10:20--Chatted with Science Crony about textbooks. Tactfully avoided mention of hearing the "extra desk" claim.

10:30--Bathroom break. NO LINE!

10:40--Finished deletion of files from Documents, having already removed any belonging to me from the public drive, the teacher drive, and the unshared teacher drive.

10:55--Received and responded to texts from Hick about cars for The Pony, and a text then phone call from Genius about graduation pictures.

11:10--Packed up my laptop and accouterments.

11:15--Went to the office to check out. Had to wait for counselor having a chat in Mr. Principal's office. Line built up behind me. Technically in front, since I stood behind the counter facing the incoming seated by the door.

11:20--Said I would be thinking of them next year. Was told by my little foreign neighbor not to start it, with a palm showing she meant business.

11:25--Saw "Sweet Alabama Beige" enter the office, for the sole purpose of telling me goodbye. Started to tear up. Big time. As did she, and everyone else waiting, including the secretary.

Val: "I will miss you all."

Foreign Friend: "Stop that!"

Mrs. Whipley: "I'm still working here, just at the boys' ranch, and even I'M sad!"

Secretary: "You guys. Don't make me cry. I'm SO sad right now. She was my TEACHER her first year here. She's always had my back. I have to come get a hug."

Foreign Friend: "I can't believe you're both leaving me!"

Secretary: "YOU'LL still be here! YOU'RE the one who should be crying the most!"

Val: "I handed in my little green stretchy thing. I'm going to ask for my little green stretchy thing back." Entering office to check out. "Can I have my little green stretchy thing back? That my keys are on? I just want it. I was fine until Sweet Alabama Beige came in. But now it's so final...

Mr. Principal: "Little green stretchy thing...OH. Sure. Let me get the keys off. Huh. I can't seem to get it loose. There. You can have it. It's okay."

Val: "Thank you. For everything. I knew you when you were just a counselor, running around with that ne'er-do-well Mr. Turkey Leg!"

Mr. Principal: "I know. And a bunch of us went over to your apartment to hang out."

Val: "Yeah. And look at us now! A few years ago, at one of the trivia matches, my other principal told Genius and his table of students, 'See this? This is all you have to look forward to when you get old.' Isn't THAT the truth!"

And with that, Val made her exit, past the weeping line of checker-outers, who would reconvene in her room before the beginning of the end.

11:50--My little foreign friend lamented that she would have both of us gone from the classrooms on either side of her. "Too bad you just can't keep a neighbor!" She left and Mrs. Whipley sat down to chat. Both of us leaving. Both of us came to work here a year apart.

11:55--Librarian crashed the party. Chatted.

12:00--Leaving time. I took one last picture of my room, with all my stuff gone. Went down the hall to talk to both science cronies, my little foreign friend, and Mrs. Whipley by their doors. Waiting for the all-call announcement that we could officially leave.

12:05--"I guess he's not announcing? Should we go?"

"I dare you to tell on ME!"

"Yeah. What are they going to do, fire you?"

"No! They would HIRE HER BACK!"

We all started walking out. And, with a certain symmetry, I saw that they were all going up the hall, to the exit door by my room, and I was going down the other way, out the end of the building. I turned to call over my shoulder, "If any of you have ever been nice to me a time or two in all these years...maybe I won't put you in my book."

Science Crony looked around. At them. At me. "Oh. You guys. Val is never coming back."

And so ends Val's illustrious career in the field of education.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

You Would Have Thought He Spoiled His Appetite

Puppy Jack has a big fat belly.

That does not bode well for his extra-long spine. Nor does it assist him in climbing the porch steps. This evening, he took a stumble when his front feet slipped off that next step, slamming him jaw first onto the pine. He's resilient though. Played it off as though it never happened. Then made a beeline for the discarded crust from a pizza slice that The Pony had tossed down by the door for Juno. Which is, perhaps, the problem.

That pizza crust was bigger than Jack's leg. I know that if I ate a piece of pizza crust bigger than my leg, I would have a big fat belly, too. He sure had a good time wrasslin' it, though. Juno came running from the BARn field, where she was watching Hick scoop up gravel with his newest tractor. He had been taking it to dump on his cabin road, which washed out during our latest bout of rain. Pizza crust is Juno's treat. Not Puppy Jack's. She was a lady, though. Only gave him the side-eye, with no growling or stealing.

I think The Pony overfed Puppy Jack today. That's because I chastised him last night when Puppy Jack's suppertime rolled around.

"I'm giving him the last of the food in that can. We're out. I can go get more tomorrow."

"So...Jack will not have anything for breakfast? He eats twice a day. And now he will go hungry because you knew all along you were on the last can, and didn't tell anybody."

"No. I'll give him some of Juno's food."

"That's not for puppies. Even though Jack runs around and eats it, that doesn't mean it's good for him."

"I'll give him some cat food."

"No. That is not made for puppies, either. That's why it's called CAT food."

"I'll give him some as soon as I get back from the store."

"He's used to eating at 6:00 a.m. Now it's been later every day since you were out of school."

"He'll be okay."

"I hope so. He's a puppy. All he knows is that his belly is hungry."

Not so much anymore. Apparently, The Pony gave Jack some dry dog food that Juno eats. Then he went to town at 8:30. Then he let Jack out when he got back, to play a while, and let him run around the porch and eat out of Juno's pan. Which is asking for trouble between those furry step-siblings. Then the pizza crust. Then the regular canned puppy food.

Let the record show that Jack took a good poop, then had boundless energy and a hankerin'  for some chicken turds.

I have not seen a dog eat endlessly like that since Tank the beagle, and our old neighbors' bassett hound, Albert.

I suppose Jack's dachshund half IS a hound, after all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It Was Probably Nothing, Really, Except a Series of Coincidences…

Val has a sixth sense where creeps are concerned. Probably due to so many weirdos being attracted to her magnet. Val’s pull is powerful, like the giant car-crushing junk dealer’s electromagnet, where weirdos are concerned. And so, too, her creepdar. Her creepdar which was set off Monday at Country Mart.

I normally don’t shop at Country Mart. They are notorious for selling expired merchandise. It’s the kind of place my mom would have frequented. Only Saturday I was in there and passed on the four brownish limp bags of shredded lettuce, and browsed the entire aisle, six levels high, of assorted salad dressings that mostly read: Sell By April 4, 2016.

I was in Country Mart because I needed Bugles, and some containers. That’s because Val is making a batch of going-away Chex Mix for select colleagues. When I first entered the store, there was a dude slowly pushing a cart down the middle of the front aisle. I got around him, and started Bugle shopping. He turned around and came back. He started to turn in my aisle, but aborted at the last minute when he saw me. As I waited to cross over to the foil/trash bag/container aisle, Dude came cruising down the main aisle again. And turned in right where I was going. I guess he wanted to make it look like I was following HIM!

To make matters worse, he stopped right in front of the containers, with a pretense of looking at stuff on the opposite shelves. He must have been some kind of creepy psychic to know what area of the aisle interested me. He finally moved his cart over so I could grab some suitable Chex-holders. I went back up the aisle to head for the check out.

Dude brought up my rear. But he took the express lane to my right, while I was stuck behind an old man preoccupied with talking to a long-lost friend who had already checked out. As had Old Man’s wife, in a different way.

Old Man 1: “Yeah. It’s been a long time. How’s your wife?”

Old Man 2: “She passed away about 10 years ago.”

Old Man 1: “You’re kidding me!”

Old Man 2: “No.”

Cashier: “It’s waiting for you. Debit or credit?”

Old Man 1: “Every time I’m here, it wants to know more and more.”

Cashier: “Is the amount okay?”

Old Man 1: “There.” He rejoined in rejoinder with his checked out buddy.

Cashier: “Do you want cash back?”

Old Man 1: “There. When it starts asking me what kind of toilet paper I use, that’s when I stop using it.”

I was SO ready for him to get out of there. But now I had to wonder if he meant he would stop using the card-scanner or the toilet paper. At least he was just a weirdo. Meanwhile, Dude the creeper was already checked out, and standing in front of one of the two scratch-off lottery ticket machines on either side of the front door. I made a mental note to go to the other machine.

I took my grocery bags and put them in the cart, then pushed it over to the left machine. I sensed Dude watching me. Was it HIS business how much I spent on scratchers? I put in a bill and made my selections. Dude pushed his cart slowly behind me. That made me nervous. I leave my tickets in the dispensing bin until I’m done. What if Dude decided to run up and grab them? I made sure my body and my cart blocked his way. I put in my second bill. Dude had moved past, and was watching from the other side. Enough was enough!

I gathered up my tickets and put them in my grocery bag. Dude moved in on the machine. I went to look at the other machine, to see if it had some tickets that the first one was out of. Huh! The sign was still on it from Saturday. OUT OF ORDER. Taped on the front. That’s funny. Why was Dude standing there like he was buying tickets earlier?

I pushed the cart all the way across the parking lot from the exit door to T-Hoe. I sensed somebody following. Not so much sensed as heard the rattle of a cart. I went around the back of T-Hoe to load my groceries on The Pony’s empty seat behind me. I’ll be ding-dang-donged if that creepy Dude did not round the corner of T-Hoe and push up to the small SUV beside me. The hair on the back of my neck was standing up now. Even though that car had been parked there when I arrived, and Dude had clicked open his back hatch to stow away his purchases.

My creepdar was screaming louder than that beanstalk giant’s magical harp when Jack tried to abscond with it. I did not want to be parked right next to Dude. I climbed in T-Hoe and clicked the locks. There. No creep was getting any closer to Val!

Sometimes, it can't hurt to be cautious.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Missing Rouge 13

Wondering about that title? Me, too!

In keeping with Hick’s cryptic spy communication system, this message popped up in my email last night. Hmm…Missing Rouge 13? What could that be about?

Let the record show that Val is not a girly-girl. Nor is she an old-lady-gal. No makeup for Val. She walks around au naturel. Face only. Don’t be pervy. So Val knew immediately that none of her rouge was missing. Because she has no rouge.

Is Hick going all Caitlyn Jenner on us? Was HICK’S rouge missing? Perhaps he has a new spy identity to throw those French Toblerone smugglers off his trail. Why would he tell ME about his missing rouge? I certainly wouldn’t take it. Did he have a whole passel of rouges? And 13 were missing?

Or was this, perhaps, a spy case he was working on, and he sent me the email by mistake? No good can come of that! Classified information falling into Val’s hands can only be the beginning of the end. It signals a hastening of the apopadopalyspe.

So…cautiously…I opened that email.

Apparently, Hick is a worse speller than I imagined, or else that devil AutoCorrect is really, really not Hick’s friend. He had sent me a couple of pictures of a car.

A Nissan Rogue.

The 13 was still ambiguous. Was that car a 2013? Or was the asking price $13,000? Were there only 13 miles on the car? The rest of Hick’s message did nothing to clarify the 13.

Missing Rouge 13 low miles a lot of these out there

So…I knew it had nothing to do with makeup, and everything to do with the car that we are seeking to transport The Pony to the University of Oklahoma, rather than spend money fixing the air conditioning and putting tires on his Ford Ranger. Genius got a car upgrade when he went off to college, and his is only two hours away, not eight.

The Pony is easy to please. We'll see what we see.

Perhaps his father will be wearing rouge into the showroom. Perhaps not.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Puppy Jack's Deep Dark Secret(s)

There's something you don't know about Puppy Jack. Something we didn't know, either, until last weekend. Something about his heritage. We had been led to believe that Puppy Jack is half blue heeler, half dachshund. Every day, he shows more speckling on his white coat. But the speckles are red! Like a red English setter.

Last weekend, HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) revealed that Puppy Jack's father is a RED heeler.
Not blue.

That's okay. We still love our Puppy Jack. Who wouldn't love this little guy?

Now it's obvious, isn't it? Those red freckles on his shoulders. And filling in on his white face stripe. Our baby is red, not blue.

That's not Puppy Jack's only deep dark secret.


There. I said it. When we let Puppy Jack out of his pen to run around the yard, he takes off like a shot, bounding through the grass like a rabbit. Then he settles down. He likes to run with his nose to the ground. At first I thought he was a good little tracker, following The Pony's scent, like when The Pony quit playing with Jack and went to his pen to give him fresh water. The Pony thought Jack was looking for a good place to poop. Like selecting an appropriate book for settling down on the toilet. But we were both wrong.


That's right! After scarfing down his moist canned puppy chicken until his sides were near to bursting, and then running around the porch to nosh on Juno's dry dog kibble until The Pony grabbed him and removed him from the pan...Jack saw need to treat himself to a chicken turd dessert. Yeah. Good thing Val is not one to let a puppy lick her face.

And here's another thing Puppy Jack does that seems a bit odd. When The Pony puts him down on the porch, right after Val comes out to play, Puppy Jack runs at her legs, and launches himself like a torpedo! He jumps up like he's going to dance on his short hind legs, and forward like he's a woodpecker. This is most unusual to Val.

Perhaps Puppy Jack is trying to herd Val in the direction of his choosing. If he was not so tiny, that nose-stabbing would be painful. Jack persists until Val picks him up. But once picked up, he gives a quick snuffling of her earlobes, tries to climb over her shoulder and lay like a short-haired, speckled stole across the back of her neck, then wiggles like an out-of-control vibrator to get back down on the porch.

Yeah. Everybody has secrets. But Puppy Jack's have been revealed.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

What Did You Say? Mutton, Honey.

Here's one of the perks you get, living in the country.


I glanced out the window this morning around 6:30, kind of drowsy in the La-Z-Boy, and saw the neighbor's horses at the edge of the fence. Or did I? The more I watched, those horses walked along the fence and right through it. Or did they? And when did the neighbor's white horse shrink?

Juno was barking her fool head off way up at the side of the driveway, by the road. The more I watched, it dawned on me that those two Incredible Journey animals were walking right up the gravel road. They were not inside the fence at all. But the neighbor's horses were! They came to the fence to watch the trek. I called Hick out of the bedroom.

"Hey! Some horses are walking up the road. I don't know whose they are."

"Huh. Let's see." Hick went out on the porch, and came quickly back. "It's COLD out there! That wind is COLD! That's Milhouse's horses. I guess they got out."

"Look. They came back. There goes Juno again!"

"I'm not sure that one's a horse."

"Yeah. It looks like a sheep. Or one of those big dogs that herds sheep."

"I'll go out and look so I can see better."

"Take me a picture!"

"I have to put on some pants first. It's COLD out there!" Let the record show that Hick was not covering up his tighty-whities for the love of common decency. But because he was cold.

I went in the bathroom and when I came out, Hick was back in the house. "They came right up to the porch! Neither one is a horse! That's a mule and a sheep! I have no idea where they came from. The only people out here who have sheep are up behind us."

"Well, they have one less sheep now. I don't guess they'll hurt anything. They'll just walk around. No cars will hit them in here. They'll just eat grass."

"They might eat your flowers."

"I don't think horses walk around eating roses."

"It's a mule, not a horse. And a sheep will eat anything."

"You're thinking of a GOAT." I told the man whose goats ate two lilac bushes and most of a rosebush.

"Juno will run them off."

And she did. Last Hick saw, they had gone down the neighbor's driveway, and were laying down in his front yard.

No. We're not keeping them. Good thing we have that new old fence to prevent them from getting on Hick's unfinished brick sidewalk.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #14

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to entice you to buy my fake book. Come over to the fake dark side, and read a fake tale of intrigue, about a lady who would like to get rid of her husband. Let the record show that Val's fake books are PURE FICTION. So pure, in fact, that I could start an ad campaign and use that Pure Michigan announcer. Yes. Fiction. No need to bookmark this fake book blurb, or take notes on the back of a napkin with a dull, stubby golf pencil in case the police decide to interrogate you in the near or far future. Cough up that money now. Let's get Val's fake book on the fake NYT Best Seller List.

Thar She Blows!

Marge Blunderson can’t take it much longer. She married for better or for worse, ‘til death did her husband part. Marge is ready for the parting. Her betrothed never mentioned his fishing addiction. The evening of the wedding, rather than carry Marge over the honeymoon threshold, Cappy A. Hab grabbed a fishing pole and headed for the lake.

Marge saw how it was going to be. She was amazed that Cappy found time to put a bun in her oven. His prosthetic leg doesn’t slow his fishing obsession in the least.

Marge has reverted to her maiden name. Her career in law enforcement taught her that a woodchipper is not an option. Cappy says catfish will eat almost anything. Cappy is not long for this union.

Will Marge start fishing as a hobby? Will she ever have a shortage of bait? Will she remember to buy a fishing license? (149 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

David Berkowitz…”My neighbor Sam's dog, Harvey, told me this fake book was horrendous, and that I needed to do something about it!” 

Theodore Bundy…”I was just telling these cute college girls the other day, 'This has got to be the worst fake book I ever read.' Then I invited one over to help me burn it, because it's hard to strike that match with my arm in a cast. 

The Zodiac Killer…”I sent a letter to the newspaper last week. Among other things, it said, 'Oiwoeihgl Val Thevictorian nvlxiuej jwi swooouyi fake book kuoli wejhcuy kuoieumc piece of crap.” 

Jeffrey Dahmer…”Thevictorian's fake book left a bad taste in my mouth. And for me...that's sayin' something.” 

Jack the Ripper…”I am quite willing to offer my services to Val Thevictorian. It seems that her fake book's manuscript could have benefited from some major cutting.” 

John Wayne Gacy…”I'm not clowning around. Val Thevictorian's fake book reeks of no talent. The fake plot stinks. It needs to be buried where it can never be found.”