Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Puppy Jack Has Been Falsely Accused!

I know Puppy Jack isn't perfect. He poops on the porch. He eats Juno's food. He chases the chickens. He torments the goat. He swims with the fishes (literally!). He tears the cedar shake shingles off The Pony's Sword Shack. However...


Hick is downright ridiculous with his accusations. First, it was poor dumb Ann who took the flack, back when Hick's favorite dog, old Grizzly, was alive. Then we got my sweet, sweet Juno, and she became public enemy #1, being blamed for all the egg-eating, even though poor dumb Ann was photographed many a time carrying one around in her mouth, and guarding it between her front paws in the yard.

Now Puppy Jack is at the top of Hick's MOST WANTED list.

As Puppy Jack's public defender, allow me to proceed to the opening argument. I will now present Exhibit A:

Let the record show that Puppy Jack is a small dog with short legs. This fact is also documented by Exhibit B:

Let the record further show that compared to a regular medium-sized dog, Puppy Jack is quite long, with a low center of gravity.

The Plaintiff asserts that Puppy Jack caused damage to Plaintiff's property on 8-25-16, that property being one 1980 Oldsmobile Toronado parked under Plaintiff's carport. Plaintiff alleges that on or about 8-25-16, the Defendant, Puppy Jack, did knowingly climb up on the trunk of Plaintiff's Toronado, the purpose being to defecate and leave a pile feces thereupon. The direct quote from the Plaintiff was, "Your dog took a sh!t on my Toronado!"

The Plaintiff purports that the Defendant jumped up on a bucket of sand placed behind the Toronado by the Plaintiff himself several weeks ago. That he then stepped over onto the bumper of said Toronado, and from there, climbed up on the trunk, where he defecated.

Please review Exhibit C:

While it might be possible for the Defendant to pull himself onto the bucket of sand, some footprints should be evident, even though Plaintiff claims he tampered with the evidence by putting another bucket of sand on top of this one, to prevent a repeat performance.

Please observe Exhibit D:

IF the Defendant indeed climbed onto the sand bucket, it is possible that he might have stepped over onto the bumper. We are not arguing this point. Please disregard the innocent companion of Puppy Jack in this photo, as she has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Please note Exhibit E:

Let the record show that the steepness of the trunk slope on a 1980 Oldsmobile Toronado precludes a small, shortlegged dog with a dachshund body from hoisting himself up onto the trunk. No claw marks were found, which would have been present from such an attempt. In addition, small four-toed footprints were found in dust on the trunk of the Toronado.

Let the record further show that three cats roam freely about the property, leaving dusty footprints on the hood of a 2008 black Chevrolet Tahoe, and also on the hood of a 2016  burgundy GMC Acadia.

I suggest that Puppy Jack had no motive to "Take a sh!t" on the Plaintiff's Toronado. He has a whole wraparound porch upon which to poop, and has happily been doing so for the past four-and-a-half months. Would it not be much easier to simply squat where one got the urge, rather than claw oneself onto the top of a bucket of sand, risk slipping off a shiny chrome bumper, eschew sh!tting on that bumper, in the level area by the license plate, and instead scrabble and claw (without leaving marks, mind you) to get onto the trunk of the Toronado to do one's business?

If you can't prove sh!t, you must acquit!

The defense rests.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

We Now Return You to Our Regularly Scheduled Program on Hick's Hoarding Habits

He's so proud, our Hick, every time he finds treasures at Goodwill. I can only imagine if his auction was still operating. He would be beside himself. And NOT beside ME, at least one other night of the week!

Here's the latest. He was sure to send me a picture and the details as soon as he unloaded them over in the BARn.

I'm sure you can figure out International Man of Espionage Hick's cryptic message:

Duck 50/ash trays 50 each /brush 1.00/hat 1.00/mail box 1.00/mask 2.00

He spent a grand total of $6.50 on that collection. Which $6.50 too much in my opinion. But Hick didn't ASK for my opinion, now did he? Much like that last lawnmower purchase (if only THAT had cost $6.50. Or even $650.00, instead of $1700.00) or his shoe inserts from The Good Feet Store (which would have been another bargain at $6.50. Or even $650.00, instead of $1000.00).

Seriously. That mask is just downright creepy. Is Hick throwing a Mardi Gras party? I'd rather bite into the plastic baby in the King Cake and owe everybody next year's cake and party rather than see somebody (ESPECIALLY HICK) wearing that mask!

I could understand the shoeshine brush, to go with Hick' that the cat uses for a bunk.

But I don't think Hick is gonna be battin' for the Cardinals any time soon.

Unless he's taken up smoking without telling me and without stinking, I see no need for the two ash trays. Perhaps he wants the New Mexico one to go with his tiny Texas collector plate. That Yum Yum Tree ashtray is not good for anything but flinging at Hick in a fit of rage. (note to self)

A man with a yard full of real, live chickens does not need a fake duck.

And that mailbox is WAY too tiny to be useful.

The joke could be on me, with Hick planning a special shack for each of those items, to fill with like treasures from future shopping sprees. I'm not laughing.

Monday, August 29, 2016

I Left My Heart in Oklahoma...

Way back 10 days ago, we were saying goodbye to The Pony. I couldn't bear to share it back then. So you were spared. But guess what? All good things must end. So here ya go, a story about leaving The Pony a LOOOONG state away.

We had to spend all of Wednesday traveling. From 7:00 a.m. to 5:34 p.m. No time to hang around a steak restaurant that evening listening to drunken obnoxious bores like when we took The Pony to his orientation camp. Nope. That Wednesday night, we sent Hick out for Personal Pan pizzas, and The Pony and I watched our last Big Brother together. I still get a little twinge of sadness when I watch that show. It's on three times a week, you know.

That Thursday, Hick helped The Pony move into his dorm. And The Pony sent me a picture of Papa John's out his room's window. Hick and I were on our own to run around, while The Pony had a bunch of welcoming activities and free stuff to attend to. More on that another time.

Friday, we were basically killing time until the National Merit Scholar dinner that evening. I knew it would be the last time I saw The Pony before we drove off the next morning and left him behind. I had said my goodbyes Thursday before he left to move in. Still, it was good to see him standing outside the venue waiting for us. Hick dropped me off and went to park.

We went inside, and imagine my shock at finding out I had to climb 3 flights of stairs. Double-flights! Val is not one for climbing stairs. She will walk farther to take a ramp. Or better yet, scope out the elevator situation. Of which none was seen in this building. The Pony took his time as I gimped my way up those three flights. With about five steps to go, and me feeling like Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reaching the summit of Everest (not from breathlessness, but from exhilaration) I said, "Pony, you might want to text your dad and tell him to come up to the third floor."

"I won't need to. There he is now." Indeed, there was Hick on the landing behind me. The Pony went around a U-shaped table corral and picked up his free Scholar stuff. Then we went inside the event room and found our table. The meal was BBQ, serve yourself. A greeter told us to go through the line in the back room when we were ready. Always studious, The Pony wanted to fill out his survey first. "You can go on ahead." Perhaps it was his own way of starting to separate from us.

You don't have to tell Hick twice to go get some free BBQ. He went through the burger line, while I chose pulled pork. It's too bad Hick didn't notice the habits of the other diners who would later show up at our table. They were piling TWO burgers on their bun! Anyhoo...I just took a dab of pulled pork, no bun (I've been cutting back, you know) and grabbed a bag of Baked Lay's Sour Cream and Onion Chips. Oh, and a chocolate chip cookie. For The Pony! And a big bottle of water with the OU label (hopefully not recycled from fracking).

I still had my old toilet phone back then. I managed a couple of pictures, trying to leave out faces of people who might not appreciate appearing on my blog. Here's a view of the balloons marking the different tables.

We were at Table 1. Actually, ONE of the Table 1s. I think there were 3 or 4 of them. Not sure how the Scholars were divided up, but the older Scholar in charge of our end of the table said she had 10 incoming Scholars to oversee all year. Like a mentor. There was another Missouri girl just down the table. In all, there was a bumper crop of 278 NM Scholars in this freshman class, from 40 different states. I'm pretty sure OU leads the nation in recruiting these braniacs.

The Pony was a bit off his feed. He said he had eaten a lot already that day, AND there was an ice cream social when this dinner concluded. He opted for the pulled pork, but as you can see, his eyes were bigger than his stomach. Didn't keep him from adding one of his basic food groups to his plate: ketchup. He's clutching his bag of information and free stuff.

You KNOW The Pony is full when his second cookie remains uneaten! I tried to sneak a pic of him, seeing as how this was the last supper. And I caught some old guy in the background. Hick would say that's an unflattering photo. No. He wouldn't. We're just lucky he was only drinking water, and not tilting his head back to garner the last chip crumbs from the bag. Which he did in a classy (!) place like Harrah's Casino many years back.

The Pony is looking shaggy because, like many of his kind, he resists grooming. He is wanting to grow out his hair. I shudder to think of the state of his mane right now. We conveniently had a Skype glitch on Sunday, from The Pony's end, so I can imagine for another week that it's still manageable.

After the welcome, and the address by the university president (who gave an entertaining speech, as fitting for a former politician), and a roll call of the different states, and some introductions of the Scholar staff who will assist these newbies for the next four years, my heart started to get that squeezy feeling. It wouldn't be long now. I wanted just one more moment with my boy. I've grown kind of attached to him after all these years. But the leader of that little soiree announced that the Scholars should follow their mentors out of the dining area and down to the ice cream social.

The Pony grinned at the girl from Texas who was seated across from him. She said, "Are you going down there?" Of course he said, "Uh huh!" And off they went. I told him bye as he walked behind me. And as I looked over to Hick, I saw the white plastic bag of his swag, which contained the very T-shirt he must wear at half-time of the Sooners game on Sept. 10 to walk out on the field with the other 277 Scholars and be recognized. It's mandatory.

"The Pony forgot his T-shirt! That's his whole bag with stuff they said was important!" Let the record show that when this info was being emphasized, I had poked The Pony and said, "As soon as you get back, hang that shirt in your closet, and it will be there when you need it." And The Pony turned to me and said, "Mother! I think I can take care of a T-shirt."

Hick grabbed that bag and jumped up. "Oh. He's just right over there. I'll go take it to him."

Yes, The Pony was standing off to the side, talking to that Texas girl's mom! So much for a goodbye to his own. That's my Pony.

Later, back at the Holiday Inn Express, I took a picture of the sunset on my last night in the same city as my baby boy.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Loft of Hick's BARn, Where Junk Goes to Sigh

Not sure what kind of establishment Hick is planning to add to Shackytown next, but he keeps sending me pictures of his latest finds. Preparing me, perhaps. As if mentioning how he already has two big railroad skids, 6 feet x 16 feet, and just needs to get them started, is not enough of a clue. You don't have to hit VAL over the head with a 6 foot x 16 foot railroad skid to make her wake up and smell the coffee.

Hick might be building a diner. Just sayin'...all evidence points towards a diner. Not that he's come out and said it in so many words. But look at what he bought the same day he got his can/Cain pole:

Don't THAT just beat all? Not only can he put in a diner, but the menu and prices are already set for him. I suppose the thinks THIS short-temper cook will be preparing those dishes, but he'd better think again.

I made the mistake of asking how much he paid for that sign, and Hick replied, "They were two for $10 at the church store next to Dr. John's." You don't even want to know. Really. You don't. I'm sure my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel knows of Dr. John's. Not that she shops there, of course! And I never have, either. But scuttlebutt at the old salt mine was that it's a store you say...ADULT toys. So good to know that Hick was not shopping there, but in the church store next door. When questioned on that detail, he replied, "Oh, not a CHURCH store. A thrift shop."

Looks like Val is going to be making a lot of sammiches to sell the tour bus folks at her combined Handbasket Factory/Hick's Shackytown theme park. When she's allowed to take a 15-minute break, nonsmoking Val, rather than stand out back by the dumpster in her hairnet, puffing a coffin nail, will take a load off on the upended wooden soda crate next to the checkerboard-topped pickle barrel, and contemplate who in tarnation could spell braunschweiger correctly, yet not jalapeno. Yes, Val will be a charitable, equal opportunity sammich-server, behind the counter of her backroads diner where Poor Boys and Rich Boys cost the same. Nothing.

Don't you worry about getting your sammich-accompanying beverage in a cup that might spring a leak. Because Hick thoughtfully bought glassware as well. Looks like you'll be able to slake your thirst with Coke or Anheuser Busch products. Oh, wait. One of them sold out. Guess you'll need to drink imported spirits now. Or maybe not! They just bought another company so they can lay off part of their workforce! To make up for it, we will offer you candy from a little jar, and allow you to smoke inside! Not inside the jar. Inside the establishment. Because Hick says that little Texas plate is an ashtray. I don't know what kind of shoeshine box he's been smokin', but that's a collector plate if I ever saw one. Though I could be persuaded to use it as a serving plate, to save money on portions.

Of course I asked what Hick was going to do with two signs like that. And he said, "Put 'em up!" His cover story is that they can go above his PEPSI collection in the BARn loft. Which, last time I was up there, was a COKE collection.

He could at least have had the common decency to buy a COKE sign.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Puppy Jack is Sailing the Rough Seas of Adolescence

Puppy Jack has a dark secret.

Actually, Puppy Jack doesn't even try to keep it a secret. He flaunts his underage interspecies same-sex romance on the front porch, for all to see. The drivers of flat-bed semi trucks soon to be loaded with rocks. FedEx men. UPS women. The two boys who walk barefoot over a mile down our gravel road, then another mile on the hot blacktop to the deeper section of creek by the low water bridge, just because there's nothing to do around here in the summer but walk to a swimmin' hole and then sweat to death with bloody feet on your way home.

It's not so much a romance, I think, as a dalliance. Puppy Jack has himself a hump buddy. It's the black and white tuxedo cat (as if they come in another color) that was also hump buddies with Tank the Beagle. I think that cat is askin' for it. He makes no move to move whence the humpin' commences. And now the tawny striped Simba is approaching Jack, rubbing up against him too. In fact, the only one of the three cats who does not seem infatuated with Jack is Dusty, the female. She hates him with the smoldering heat of a Mississippi summer. She growls at him like a lion, and wedges herself under shelves and in hidey-holes, provoking Jack to yip his fool head off in frustration.

I try to look the other way when Jack gets in the mood. But I was trying to get a recent picture of him a couple days ago, and that darn cat came sashaying across the porch. At least they had the common decency to turn their heads so as not to be identified.

Yeah. No they didn't. They were right back at it almost before the picture snapped.

I think Stockings is wishing for a cigarette right about now, in his post-humpus state. Jack is looking for another willing partner, which would most likely be his Boneless Fur Skunk with a Squeaky Head, which hasn't been seen lately, but is most likely at the back of my sweet, sweet Juno's house, with the other kleptomaniacally-purloined Jack-toys she has stashed just inside her entrance.

Jack has also been in the doghouse with Hick lately, and received a sound spanking Thursday night for his unsupervised shenanigans.

I think it's about time to schedule Puppy Jack's very special operation.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #23 "On the Wingtips of Love"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. So stop pussy-footin' around and just do it!

On the Wingtips of Love

Seamus meets the perfect woman. In a personal ad! He polishes his car and calls for his dog, a heeler. A peach cobbler in the boot, Seamus drives roughshod toward town, mindful of a crash that could leave him hanging over a power line.

Seamus lives outside the box, a straight-laced, well-heeled fellow who speaks with a brogue. Hopefully, this gal will take a shine to him. What’ll she be wearing tonight? Flats, clogs, open-toed heels, mules, Chuck Taylors, or...dare he hope...boogie shoes? And if he toes the line, will she end up in only her slippers?

Across town, the old lady kicks off her Sunday shoes and dons Crocs. She's no longer footloose and fancy free, what with all these kids she doesn't know what to do with.

Will Seamus and his lady make a perfect pair? Or will he get the boot when she socks it to him? (150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

The Good Feet Store…Get this fake book FREE with a real purchase of $1000 or more.” 

Odor Eaters”This fake book stinks to high heaven. And believe us, we KNOW odors!” 

A Summer Stock Troupe Performing "Swan Lake" in a Midwestern Dinner Theater…”This fake book is nowhere near en pointe. Thevictorian doesn't have an arabesque to stand on. We would like to jete' this fake book directly into the wastebasket. No matter how you pirouette it, this fake book is real merde.” 

Top-Siders…”Thevictorian could not get a grip on her subject matter. She is headed for rough seas, skidding down a slippery slope, with no hope for smooth sailing in her faux-literary future.” 

Boots…”We're made for walkin', and that's just what we'll do! Every day us boots are gonna walk into the loo...and flush this fake book. Until there are no more fake copies left."

Birkenstocks…”This author is not at all sensible, and she makes us uncomfortable."

Crocs…”Our attorney will be issuing a cease-and-desist order forthwith. We refuse to have our name dragged through the mud by this broken-down, so-called author. Even though our name would wash clean quite easily with a garden hose.” 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

He's Still Gonna Need a Line and a Babe Before He Makes it Down to the Crawdad Hole

In case you are tired of The Pony Farewell Tour (and smart enough not to voice your opinion here, or let Val get wind of it through scuttlebutt in a blog comments game of telephone) we will now go back to our regularly-scheduled program of Nit-Picking Hick.

Hick has moved that cat bed, which was really a shoeshine box, which he declared was a shelf, over to Shackytown. I'm not sure which shack received the honor of its company. But The Pony's Knife Shack was allowed to act as background for the outdoor photo.

As you might imagine, the item posing on top of the shoeshine box is going into Hick's Fishing Lair. You might recognize it as a cane fishing pole. Though Hick sent me two emails about it, and didn't call it that in either one. In the email with the picture, he merely said, "The can pole." The other email had two other pictures, with the message, "Today's spoils along with a Cain pole in the fishing shack"

We won't go into those other spoils here today, because I need some pertinent facts about them that I can't tell from the picture. But I WILL leave you with some texts from Hick himself that just came in as I was typing up his Cain can pole story.

"Val I am at the Doctor's for my shots and I am going to try to get a shot for my poison ivy got it all over"

"If it's not one thing it's another. Be careful if they give you Benadryl. It puts you to sleep. I had it for my ampicillin reaction. You can buy it over the counter in pill form. Stops the allergic reaction and swelling."

Let the record show that I was concerned that Hick might be driving after a shot of Benadryl. Apparently Hick thought I was being mean and denying him the standard of care, or trying to be cheap with his meds.

"I know. But I am getting my other shots and a shot works quicker than a pill"

"To put you to sleep on the way home, certainly!"

"No you will be surprised what my face looks like"

"Don't make me laugh before I even see it."

"We owe Buddy 240 for the two loads of rock I will pay him tomorrow night when you  give me the money"

"Wait. You said that was coming out of the rock money."

As you might imagine, I never got a response to that last one. What's the point of selling all the rocks off your land if you can't use the spoils to buy more rock to fix the roads? I guess I'll have to sweet-talk Hick while he's groggy from the Benadryl in order to get into the safe for the money I'm going to give him to pay for the rock.

There's more than one way to shoeshine a sleeping cat.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

From The Pony Who Brought You a JINE-a-cologist

The Pony has been having a blast at college.

Monday night he sent several texts about what a great first day he had. Supper was spaghetti and cake. When I asked if he was carb-loading, he said, "NO!" Even though yesterday he had french toast for breakfast, and nothing else until evening, which was chips, because he was waiting to have Papa John's pizza with a girl he met in class.

"Why didn't you have lunch?"

"Because you only got me 2 meals a week, Mother Dear." Let the record show that this is a dirty lie! Oops! He sent another text right away: "12!" Let the record further show that The Pony himself picked out that meal plan, which includes money on his card to be used in the restaurants in his dorm complex such as an all-you-can-eat Chick Fil A. And that 12 is the maximum number of meals per week offered on a meal plan.

Since he IS The Pony, and I AM Val Thevictorian, our text conversation turned to the Oxford comma. Yeah. Like you didn't spend time discussing that with YOUR freshman son the first day of college classes. I sent him a link with the following example:

The Pony, in turn, sent me a picture he had taken that day, with the following explanation: "My friend wondered why I laughed as she was helping two guys carry a box of books." Knowing The Pony, I would assume he was laughing because she was HELPING PEOPLE, and he, himself, was not. But you know what happens when we assume. Here's the picture of the box his friend was helping the guys carry:

"Where did they get that box?"

"I have no clue. lol"

" somebody's parent a JINE-a-cologist? Heh, heh!"


"Did you tell her, or did she read it?"

"Told her."

"I know better than to ask why YOU didn't help them carry it. That would be considered HELPING people. Something for which you have no affinity. You'd be more likely to find oil having intimate relations with water! Do you like my analogies?"

"Very nice."

Yes, I think The Pony might just make it on his own.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hello, Oklahoma Oil-Driller, Let Me Thank You For Your Time. You Work a 40-Hour Week for a Livin', To Move This Convoy on Down the Line

On our way back from Oklahoma, there wasn't much to see. That's because there's really not all that much IN Oklahoma. Though I'm sure people who live there would beg to differ. Funny how I rode with The Pony, chatting with him the whole 9.5 hour drive, not paying much attention to the landscape...and glanced out my window just in time to see that same billboard with the ladybug crawling on a guy's finger. The one I saw when we took The Pony to his orientation camp back in June. Quite the coincidence.

The trip back home was under overcast skies. While sitting at a stoplight (not sure why these are even necessary in Oklahoma) we saw a really, really long train of tanker cars. I managed to catch the tail-end of it.

That oil train was not nearly as creepy as the two convoys we saw farther across the state. If I was a conspiracy theorist (which Genius says I am, although I contend that I only READ ABOUT conspiracy theories) I might think something was afoot.

There was a convoy of more than 20 of these trucks in Oklahoma, before we got to Joplin. And another convoy of more than 20 between Springfield and Rolla. I know that Fort Leonard Wood is near Rolla. But I used to take classes at the fort for my Master's degree, and I'm not sure they have room for that many trucks.

You might think these are different pictures of the same truck. But you'd be wrong. One has a light on it. And different stuff on the back.

I wasn't fast enough to get a picture of the truck convoy in Oklahoma. I thought there was just one truck. Then another. But by the time we'd passed over 20 of them, I kind of wished I'd had my phone ready. These are from the Missouri convoy, though they were both just alike.

I wish I had taken a picture of every single truck. I know how fascinating you must find them! Alas, I only got these four. But they were almost never-ending. Like clowns getting out of a tiny car. Just when you thought you were seeing the last one, there was another! And another!

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I might think these trucks were scarier than clowns. But I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I'm not even afraid of clowns.

In case you're not a country music fan, the title refers to this:

Monday, August 22, 2016

And Singin' Stranger Learned a Lesson 'Bout a-Messin' With the Wife of a Travelin' Man

Saturday morning, Hick had planned to leave Norman bright and early. We had a lot of road to put behind us. He set the alarm for 5:30, so I could get up first and take my thyroid med and shower, and then by the time he showered, an hour would have elapsed, and I could have breakfast. We would eat, and hit the road by 7:00.

I woke up at 5:20, and figured maybe we could even leave a few minutes earlier. You know. Because 10 minutes makes a big difference when you're driving 9.5 hours. Kind of like taking off your shoes before getting on the scale at the doctor's office.

We were downstairs in the lobby by 6:20. AND THERE WAS NO HOT BREAKFAST! Because, in his infinite wisdom, Hick assumed that when Hick is hungry, food will appear. Like people listening when E.F. Hutton talks. Or dead baseball players coming if you build it (baseball field in the corn). But it doesn't. Not on the free Holiday Inn Express breakfast bar on Saturday morning. Not until 7:00 a.m.!

Don't you worry about Val and Hick fortifying themselves before hitting the road. I had a pouch of Great Value Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal in my pocket. So I used one of their bowls, and drained some hot water from their spout, and used the cinnamon shaker sitting nearby. Then Hick grabbed me a boiled egg out of the cooler where the yogurt was kept, and I snagged a bagel from the clear case of muffins and and breadstuffs. A bagel staler than any bagel I had ever bitten into before. Like it was, perhaps, an original item from the 1600s. But it wasn't rock-hard. Just very chewy and dry, like it was made of that desiccant stuff in tiny envelopes in shoeboxes. I only ate half, after lubricating it with some cream cheese. A 50-cent-piece sized tub of plain, and another of strawberry. Unrefrigerated.

Hick went to the pancake maker. That's not a person. It's a machine. One that never works when The Pony is with us. He also had a boiled egg. And a cinnamon roll. And two glasses of orange juice. Not a proper diabetic diet, methinks. But who am I to judge? He called for his lab results today, and his A1C was 5.2. Which is, I think, good, because his doctor wanted it under 6.

Anyhoo...the breakfast staff was just on the other side of a swinging galley door, and we heard them mentioning that people were out there! That was us. The people. Every now and then they came out and fussed with the packaged goods on the counter. I was ever-hopeful that a pan of scrambled eggs was eminent. Until I made Hick go read the hours posted on a plastic plaque on the wall, and found out that breakfast really didn't start until 7:00.

So here it was, 6:40, and I chugged my second cup of water to dislodge that bagel residue from my throat, and I looked at Hick like, "Let's get going." He was finishing his last sip of orange juice. All we had to do was toss the plates, take the elevator upstairs, brush our teeth, and wheel out our already-waiting luggage. I figured we might get gone by 6:50.


Singin' Stranger felt the unavoidable pull of Val's weirdo magnet. We didn't know he was Singin' Stranger. Though in retrospect, he had the bowlegged walk of a backup musician circa Hee Haw's height of popularity. He came strolling across the lobby, making a beeline for our table. We were, after all, the only other people in that room. I could see him with the eyes in the back of my head.

Now if there's one thing Val knows about weirdos, it's DO NOT ENGAGE. Much like when a middle-schooler tries to pitch a fit over some imagined slight, you do not feed the fire. You go about your business and let the embers smolder until they go out. I kept my eyes down on my plate. Put the knife and spoon and bowl on my plate. Stacked my empty plastic cups. But Hick looked up and was caught in the web. Even helped wrap himself in the cocoon for later devouring.

Seems this Singin' Stranger had once lived in Missoui. In Branson. Worked in shows. Performed with his brother. Of course Hick had worked with some woman whose brother inherited a lot of money and moved his own local country music show to Branson for several years until the money ran out. Oh, it's hard out there for a temp country singer. Singin' Stranger went into the hospitality field, but kept singing as he could. He was offered a contract in Nashville. But he said no, if you don't want my brother too, I'm not going. Freed him up for more time to stall couples finished with breakfast and about to hit the road back to Missouri, I guess.

I couldn't believe it! I kept checking my phone. Nodding absentmindedly. But HICK WAS STILL CONVERSING! (Note that Val did NOT say conversating!) At this rate, we'd never get out of there. I got up at 5:20 for nothing! I stood up from the table and threw away my plate. I came back and reached for Hick's plate. Tossed it in the trash. I started wandering past the back of the Singin' Stranger. Hick got the message. He stood up and slowly came after me, still conversing. I swear, Singin' Stranger followed us all the way to the elevator. And when we came down and started past the front desk, he tried to lure Hick in again!

"Did y'all get your bill under the door?"

"Um. No...but my wife took care of it. She paid with a credit card when she reserved it."

Singin' Stranger looked right at me. But I kept walking. Wouldn't meet his gaze. Didn't care what he said. "Yep. That's the best way. You know it's already done. You know your room is held for you--"

I went right on out those double doors. It was already 7:05. No way was I going to delay my journey home to  hear more about Singin' Stranger's glory days. I guess he's used to people being polite.

Heh, heh. He hadn't tangled with this ol' Val!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Once He Rose Above the Noise and Confusion, Sending Me a Glimpse From His Field of Vision

Oh, you're not about to get off this easy without more tales of The Pony Farewell Tour.

Let's skip to the day he moved into the dorm. That was Thursday, the date for all incoming freshmen. Hick rode over there with him to help unpack. The Pony's assigned move-in time was between 1:00 and 2:00. According to Hick, they were in the drop-off line until about 1:50. But still, all they had to do was get a number, let student workers take everything out of the car and put in a bin to take up to The Pony's 12th-floor room, then drive to a parking lot and ride a shuttle back to unpack.

The Pony sent me a text to say he was unpacked, and headed for a welcome activity. I asked for a picture of his room. And, being The Pony, here's what he sent me.

So...I thought maybe he sent this from the window by the elevator that's located at the end of his hall. And I saw that he also sent me this view:

Again, I assumed that was out the window by the elevator. He was excited when we took him down there for orientation camp, because he LOVES Papa John's Pizza, and the one near Backroads went out of business.

I sent back a text asking if that was taken from the hall, and he said no, his room. So I told him that when I asked for a picture of his room, I kind of meant the space he will be living in, so I can picture him there. That a picture of his room doesn't mean a picture take FROM his room. Then he sent me this:

By that, I could tell that The Pony made his bed all by himself. That's his desk there behind it. And what I assume is the door to the hall, and not the door to the bathroom. Since The Pony is a pretty good egg once you hit him over the head telling him exactly what you want...he also included this bonus pic:

I guess if he sits on the end of his bed, he can see Papa John's. All I know for sure is that for a while, every night when he lays his weary head to rest, I will cry some more.

I really miss that not-caring-about-helping-people little guy.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

This Makes It Hard for a Lady to Reveal Nothing

Maybe it's just me, but when I use a public restroom, I prefer a little privacy.

Some places have those six-foot high solid doors that go all the way to the floor. I think it's our local Buffalo Wild Wings. Maybe they're set up for clandestine trysts. And there might be some random casino with them (because people need a lot of privacy to count their winnings), or a country music show in Branson (because nothing says white trash like an over-the-top bathroom stall).


THIS is not a door that makes me feel secure! It was in the restroom just off the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express. We won't go into why I was in the public bathroom when I'm paying a fortune for a room there. Try to focus. This picture was taken from INSIDE the stall. And I can see right out! Sure, I know the slats make it easy to see one way, but not the other. But let me tell you, if an obnoxious child, or a perv came in and got down low to the ground (where obnoxious children and pervs like to hang out), they could see right into that stall!

Here's a view from outside:

Don't know what the purpose is for that kind of door. Saving wood? That's the only benefit I can think of. Nobody really wants to hear and smell what's going on in there, do they? Unless it is, perhaps, obnoxious children and pervs. There were only two stalls in there, and they were exactly the same.

Funny how the rest of the room looked normal.

Yes, those vented doors are better than the swinging saloon half-doors that I saw somewhere. And better than no door at all. But that's the only positive thing I can say about them.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #22 "The Topsy-Turvy World of Hick"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to entice you to fake-buy my fake book. This week, Val offers up a semi-autobiographical work. Which does NOT mean that it's the story of a semi truck. That would be more interesting. Especially the chapter on The Convoy Years. With a foreword by Rubber Ducky.

Such a timely photo to grace the cover of Val's fake book. She penned it while in Oklahoma. Which is, in case you haven't heard, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. Yep. The wavin' wheat sure smelled sweet. Or maybe that was the sunflowers and weeds growing in the vacant lot beside the hotel parking lot. Anyhoo...pony up your fake money and fake-buy Val's fake book that she fake-wrote in Oklahoma, OK?

The Topsy-Turvy World of Hick

When Hick saw the Inverted Mansion, his brain started working overtime. Or perhaps just started working. "THAT'S what I need for Shackytown! A new shed that stands on its head. But how will I do that? I can't work upside down. Even if I could, without my eyeballs popping out and my head popping off, I don't have The Pony here anymore to hold the end of my pulley rope. And if I build it right side up, how will I flip it over?"

"Psst! Hick!" Said a preschooler who was left unattended in a restaurant, having recently escaped from the circus. "All you have to do is turn the PLANS upside down. And then build it the regular way."

Will Hick be able to construct his dream shack? Or will he bandy words with a preschooler? And who do those feet belong to, poking out from the roof peak? (150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Bob Vila…I rue the day that I started the whole building show trend. Who knew that Hick would ever watch PBS? This Old House was in better shape that this new fake book.” 

Norm AbramI am ashamed to have been an ersatz role model for Hick Thevictorian. Don't blame ME for this fake book. Look what Bob hath wrought.” 

Joanna Gaines…”I wouldn't even use this fake book to decorate a shelf on a shiplap wall. In fact, I'd toss it out the French doors to distance my beautiful fixer-upper from such garbage. Even Chip could write something better than this, and he barely knows how to write.” 

Tarek and Christina El Moussa…”I think we all know what kind of fake book this has turned out to's a FLOP!” 

Drew Scott…”Jonathan and I are having a fight to the finish to see who gets stuck with this fake book. Neither one of us want it on our property."

David Visentin…”Hilary Farr loses this one! No question about it! No need to even roll the tape. Just flash the cover of this book on screen, and have 59 minutes of a closeup of my balding head. Because NOBODY is going to say 'LOVE IT' to Thevictorian's fake book."

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Where Time Is Too Lazy to March On

I should be a restaurant reviewer. Really. Or as I see it, a restaurant WARNER. That said, it might behoove you to avoid the Steak n Shake in Joplin, Missouri.

Don't worry. You won't get food poisoning. But you might die of natural causes while waiting to be served. You'd think Hick and The Pony  might have learned this lesson by now. The Steak n Shake is where they always stop for lunch on the way to Oklahoma. I was with them in June, and I picked up on that clue right away. Not Hick and The Pony. I guess it has something to do with the word STEAK.

Last time I was there, we waited a long time. But it WAS around 12:30. The place was packed. So I figured it was not THAT big a deal that we had to wait 20 minutes. After all, some people didn't even have a table, and waited to be seated. I don't know what was wrong with them. It's not something I would do at a fast food restaurant. The Pony says Steak n Shake is not fast food. They have waitresses, which makes them an actual restaurant. Alas, poor Pony. It's our fault that your horizons are so narrow.

THIS time, we got there at noon. I know that, because I looked at my phone as we stood waiting to be seated (!), and it said 12:04. We got our table. Gave our drink orders shortly. And the drinks arrived. Unfortunately, the Diet Coke tasted like somebody added vanilla. But I did not push it away.

Like sands through the hourglass, our soap opera began to unfold. After 15 minutes, I started giving 5-minute updates on our wait time. Can you believe Hick was not interested in hearing it? The man who stormed out of Pizza Hut when his older boys were young, when all we got in 20 minutes was a pitcher of beer, a pitcher of Dr. Pepper. In fact, when the manager at the counter asked what he'd had, when Hick said we were leaving, this was ridiculous, and asked for the bill, Hick responded, "I didn't get SH!T." And that Pizza Hut manager showed his generosity by not charging for the beer and Dr. Pepper.

But we're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about the Steak n Shake in Joplin, Missouri, where we waited 35 minutes for our food. It's not like we're retirees with the rest of our lives ahead of us. We were on an 8-hour drive to Oklahoma. Which took 10.5 hours this time. Don't get me started.

Anyhoo...I had exhausted all of the entertainment value from people-watching. There was a grandpa with 5 kids at the next table. So I got to see a little boy with a unibrow chewing with his mouth open. And a little girl who ordered macaroni and cheese scooping out one noodle at a time. Then a family came in with a tiny not-yet-walking baby girl wearing miniature Nikes. Which I pointed out to The Pony, who said, "Cute, but they're going to waste. Oh, look the people are giving her soda by drops from a straw." To which I said, "Huh. She'll be late for kindergarten by the time she gets out of here!"

Seriously. It was 12:04 when we went in. That is considered lunch time in Missouri. It's not rocket science. Have some burgers made at noon. Lunch time comes every day. It's not like we were a busload of Japanese businessmen who woke up in the drawers (and had to be chopped out of) a Farbman dresser. We waited 35 minutes for burgers! It's not like each burger has to be an individual creation, like a special snowflake. People on Chopped can make delectable treats out of leftover pigs' feet in less time than that! Contestants on Cutthroat Kitchen can do the same, while digging through a faux manure pile for those pigs' feet, while being slapped across the face with a rubber chicken! It's not like we were in a 5-star Michelin restaurant.

I would have walked. But no. Hick told me it was nothing. The man who complained because The Pony set his cruise control ON the speed limit, and not 3 miles above. I gave up and went to the bathroom, and when I returned, the food was on the table. But here's the thing. It looked like they took one serving of fries, and divided it three ways. We had WAY fewer fries than we had last time. AND my pickle slice was cut longways, and the rind on that thing was strong enough to run through carabiners to link climbers crossing an ice field on Mount Everest. Rated for proper safety lest one might fall into a crevasse.

Yeah. Don't go there. But especially don't go there at noon. Unless you are trying to grow a long white beard while you wait.