Friday, June 30, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #65 "Two Tools and Their Money Are Soon Partying"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Come on, take a chance on me! I bet Abba would! You're sure to hit the jackpot with this week's release. Ante up! Toss some money in Val's pot. Must be 21. Or 18 in Oklahoma.

Two Tools and Their Money Are Soon Partying

Jessica Rarebitch is a bit of a scammer. She and her partner Hank make a living ripping off rubes in casinos. For a small cut of the action, security will often cue a "power outage" to assist them. Jessica distracts the players with her...assets...while Hank gathers chips off the gaming tables. During the darkness, Hank stashes the ill-gotten gains in Jessica's "special compartment," access made easier by a customized pleat in her dress.

Will Jessica and Hank continue to roll the high rollers? Or will ever-advancing surveillance technology make everything go to CRAPS for the two-armed bandits? (97 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Sweepings, under the rug..."I don't know who Thevictorian thinks she's fooling. She can't hide her lack of talent forever. Or even for a short time. She might think her fake book is gritty, and that her fake-writing style is salt-of-the-earth...but, like me, her work really belongs in a vacuum."

Fusilli Jerry..."Hey, poker chips! Find your own compartment! This one's taken. TAKEN! Which you might also say about Thevictorian's book--it's going to be TAKEN back to the store for a refund when people realize how they've been swindled."

Jessica's Dance Technique..."My thumbs and little kicks are often ridiculed by Jessica's friends, but I look like the moves of Baryshnikov compared to Thevictorian's Dance Dance Revolution style of writing."

A November Chocolate Easter Bunny, missing only his ears, wrapped in foil at the back of the bottom shelf of the refrigerator..."That is a TERRIBLE hiding place! Especially on Jessica Rarebitch. I'm pretty sure a revolving door would be just as secure. And speaking of TERRIBLE, and hiding...Thevictorian's fake book is really terrible, and she needs to go into hiding before people take a gamble and buy it. Nobody wins here."

Al Capone's Vault..."Fake-reading this fake book makes people feel as empty as ME!"

Jimmy Hoffa..."The best place for this fake book is six feet under, encased in concrete, in the west end zone of Giant's stadium. Wait a minute! No, it isn't! The best place for this fake book is on the other side of the earth from here--I mean THERE!"

One-Armed Bandit..."A fool and his money are soon parted. Let's hope the smart ones hold onto their money for a wise investment in ME, and forget about wasting it on this fake book."

Val's OLD Gambling Purse..."For the right price, I will gladly store the fake manuscript for this fake book, along with all as-yet-unsold inventory. I'm all about doing the world a favor."

Joe H's wife, Mrs. Cranky..."Bring me these fake books one at a time, and I will place them under a towel on the kitchen counter. Things there have a miraculous way of disappearing."

Joe H..."Do NOT bring any of those fake books to my house! I will zap them with my electric flyswatter in hopes of setting them ablaze, or put them out for my pet squirrel to shred for bedding in his magnificent palace in my eave. Oh, yeah. Go ahead and bring them."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Who Can Take a Sunrise...

Who can take a sunrise (who can take a sunrise)
Sprinkle it with dew (sprinkle it with dew)
Cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two...

Oh wait. That's the Candy Man! I'm not talking about the Candy Man! I'm talking about the Weirdo Man. Yes. I know that comes as a shock to you.

Perhaps you have gathered that Val does not live in some sugar-filled utopia like the Candy Man delivers from. Her homestead is not near the Big Rock Candy Mountain. Nor is it on top of Spaghetti, All Covered With Cheese. And it's most certainly not like New Jersey, where people ride their bike in a wife-beater smoking a cigarette carrying a rocking cow. No siree, Bob! We're talking about Backroads, by cracky! Things are a little different here in the land where people sit on the back porch with a raccoon frolicking against their ankles.

Monday, I was headed to town mid-morning. I'd gone about three miles, and was just rounding the bend to go from our blacktop county road onto the blacktop lettered highway. There was a blue truck in the middle of the road. That in itself is not unusual. People stop their pickups in the road all the time. They're usually chatting with another pickup facing the other way. Or counting cows in the field. Or waiting for a deer to jump into the woods. Or nowhere to be seen, because they've abandoned the vehicle to go float a kayak down a creek on six inches of water.

This pickup was parked in the middle of the road. At first, I thought maybe he was making a left turn, and was rudely hogging the center line, making it difficult for a car that might be turning in to this road. He was, but not because he was making a left. He was parked. The truck turned off.

Not only was the truck parked, but it also had the passenger door hanging wide open. With nobody in the driver's seat or the passenger seat. That's because Weirdo Man was in the back of the pickup truck. He was wearing overalls over a white t-shirt, and a beard that was not short enough to be hipster, and not long and pointy enough to be a ZZ Top wannabe.

Sometimes people need to get up in the back of their pickup truck. Maybe they're hauling something that slips around. Maybe they need to tighten the come-a-long straps that hold them in. This guy had a load in his pickup bed all right. But it wasn't strapped in.

Two 55-gallon rusty barrels were sitting up against the cab of the pickup truck. People haul them all the time. Nothing unusual about that. It's how rural folks get rid of trash. Not all of them, of course. We have a dumpster. But our side neighbors, the dog Copper's human parents, burn their trash in a barrel. Years ago, their teenage daughter caught the woods on fire doing it. But that's another story. It's not like they're making any worse mark on the environment than those of us who fill up the land with our buried trash, or send it to the middle of the ocean on a barge. Paper and cardboard come from wood, and wood burns, and the atmosphere deals with it. It's all a trade-off on which resources you destroy. Anyhoo...

The unusual thing about this Weirdo Man standing in the bed of his pickup truck loaded with 55-gallon barrels parked in the middle of the road...was that


Yep. This guy was a multi-tasker, I guess, burning his trash as he drove his barrels to their destination.

Who can take a pickup (who can take a pickup)
Fill the bed with trash (fill the bed with trash)
Park it in the road and inflame it in a flash
The Weirdo Man can (the Weirdo Man can)

There's really not a point to this story. It's just Val, serving you up a slice of her life.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

That Sure Beats a Little Boy Playing Slots in an Oklahoma Casino

During the ride home from the Cardinals game and casino on Sunday night, I told HOS and his wife about that time on Casinopalooza 2 when I saw a little boy playing slots in an Oklahoma Casino. They got a chuckle out of that. And then HOS's wife told us a story.

"My sister has a little yellow lab puppy. She keeps him in the house, but the other night she went out on the back porch to have a cigarette, and took him out with her. It was around sunset, and as it started getting dark, she didn't bother to get up and turn on the porch light. She had her cell phone and she was texting and looking at Facebook. The puppy was running around playing, and kept getting under her chair. She said, 'He kept rubbing up on my ankles, and knocking into my legs. THREE times, I told him to STOP! To get away! Finally, I said, THAT'S ENOUGH! I looked down to make sure he knew that I meant business.
It was a raccoon.'"

Yeah. That's kind of how life goes around here.

You tell what you think is a great story, and then your stepdaughter-in-law tells one to top it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Not-Heaven Hath No Mild Displeasure Like Thevictorian Scorned

All that folderol over my OLD gambling purse gave me two days of blog posts, by cracky! But I didn't actually need my OLD gambling purse. That's because on Sunday, I strapped on my new gambling purse and headed to the casino.

Oh, come on! It's not like I hopped in T-Hoe and drove myself up the highway for 50 minutes. I don't like to drive on the highway any more. I actually used to work in the city just past the turnoff to the casino. Which wasn't there back then. Good darn thing! Anyhoo...Hick dropped me off.

Hick had four tickets from work for the Cardinals game. So he took HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) and HOS's wife and their 7-year-old son. Don't go thinking Val got cheated out of a seat at the baseball game. I didn't want to go. I've been to plenty of Cardinals games, back when my knees didn't think to complain. But since I knew Hick would be driving right past that casino turn-off, I asked if he would drop me off. And pick me up afterwards! He agreed. I graciously forked over some cash so the baseball fans could eat, drink, and be merry.

Let me tell you, people, that the casino is not a friendly place on a Sunday night! We usually go on Sunday mornings. But I suppose Sunday nights are filled with people who are utilizing their free hotel night offers, good from Sunday through Thursday. Because that place was packed. At least the games I wanted to play were, anyway.

Normally, I dart into the high limit room for a couple of spins on a $5 machine. I only bet one credit. Last time, I gave my favorite Double Gold machine four spins, and won $225. This time, it gave me nothing. I usually walk around the high limit room, playing the dollar slots that are also in there. A few spins here, a few spins there. Last time, I won $80 on a Pink Diamonds machine. This time, I did not, because a man sat down at it right in front of me. Fair enough. He was faster.

Here's the part that annoys me. People sit at a machine NOT PLAYING, and won't even let you play the one next to it! It's not like I was going to sit next to them on a transatlantic flight, my blubbery rolls hanging over their armrest. I wasn't even going to sit down at all! I was going to slip a bill into that machine, give it 10 spins at most, and move on. It was on the aisle, too. I didn't even have to pull out the chair. I started to put my player's card in the slot, and the old lady sitting idle at the machine next to it said, "Oh, no. That lady over there is playing that." Huh. I didn't see a lady anywhere who looked like she was playing that machine. Everybody was sitting down at other machines. No card was in the slot. No money on the credit counter. I kind of think she was lying to me.

"Oh. Of COURSE she is." Uh huh. That's what I said to her. My eyes may or may not have rolled around in their sockets. I made sure to mutter unintelligibly as I left the high limit room. I swear, every time I headed for a favorite machine, somebody hopped onto the chair just ahead of me. I don't think it was premeditated. I think they just beat me to it.

I sat down at a Quick Hits machine and fed it a $20. I actually bet $1.50 a spin, since I figured at this rate, it would be hard to lose my money fast enough before Hick came back after the baseball game. I was about six spins in when I hit a bonus. I know the lady who had been down at the other end of that row playing when I sat down was not real happy for me. I won $45 and cashed out. Went wandering up that side of the casino, playing a dollar machine here, and a dollar machine there, all fruitlessly, on the way to get my burger for supper.

Here's the part that annoys me. The total for my burger and fries was ten dollars and change. So I handed the lady a twenty and a one. So I'd get back a ten. While I was paying, a cook set a tray there and announced the name of the person who ordered it. My cashier closed up the drawer, looked out into the dining area, then started jawing at the lady who walked up to claim her burgers.

Cashier: "I don't think that's yours, Ma'am."
Order Picker-Upper: "Yes. That's my order. That's my name. Here's my receipt. It's mine."

Cashier: "I don't really think it is."

Order Picker-Upper: "Yes. It's mine." The lady grabbed the tray.

I was still waiting. For my change. I saw no sign that it was forthcoming. "Excuse me. I paid you and I didn't get my change back."

Cashier: "I'm working on it!" She opened up the drawer and gave me a ten and some coins.

Heh, heh. I really think she was planning on keeping my ten dollars as a tip! I think that diversion over the "mistaken" tray was to distract me so that I'd walk off, thinking my transaction was done. It's not that easy to make Val forget about her money.

After ordering, I went to get a free soda from the soda fountain, and then sat just outside Burger Brothers playing a Timber Wolf machine. I'm such a sucker. Of course they put those no-paying machines there for people to waste their money in while waiting for a burger. My little disc thingy started to vibrate, signaling that my burger was ready. So I went back to the counter to pick it up. I must say, it was delicious this time, with no bitter white sauce, and only the pickles and onions that I asked for. And so medium that the juices ran down my wrist!

The Cardinals game was on the big TV over the table where I was eating. I didn't see Hick or HOS. They had seats for the Cardinal Club, so they may have been inside part of the time. Not that I cared. I had more money to lose!

I headed over to the penny slots side of the casino. I've been wanting to play Lightning Link, but they're usually busy. I'd walked by there when I first came in, and every seat was full. As they were now. Except for ONE! I went to it and saw that the chair was leaned against the machine. CRAP! I don't think that's fair. I could say I wanted to play a machine, and tip the chair, and then come back an hour or two later and still have it available. I could even leave my card in the slot. They'll give you another one if you lose it, you know. And even put in a couple dollars, so I could accuse anybody playing that game of stealing. But I don't. This one didn't have a card or money in it. It was just being saved. It probably saved me from losing a lot more money, though. Because I never have much success on Lightning Link. The two times I've been able to play it.

I played another Quick Hits, and won $65 on a bonus. I didn't like it, though, because the sound wouldn't turn up, and all I could hear was those Lightning Links. I went deeper into the casino to play my favorite, 88 Fortunes. Betting $.88. Then moving it up to $1.76 every now and then. I won back a lot of my losses with a couple of good bonuses.

Hick sent me a text that they were on the way to pick me up, so I cashed out and remembered that I had not taken my nightly aspirin and ibuprofen. So after a trip to the bathroom to count up my money, I popped those two pills in and dry-swallowed them, thinking that as I stepped out of that bathroom, I would get a free soda at the adjacent soda fountain.

It was closed. Roped off with a velvet rope. So I had to traipse across the casino floor and halfway back, to get a soda, all the while that medicine dissolving in the middle of my neck. AND there was an old lady with a walker, filling what looked like a Styrofoam soup container with ice and soda. It was wider than a 44 oz cup, but half as tall. With a lid. She finally got out of my way, carrying her walker with one hand and her bowl of soda with the other. So I chugged some Diet Coke, then headed back up front and outside, where Hick showed up in about 2 minutes.

Even Steven saw to it that I lost three dollars and change more than the big scratch-off winner I had cashed in the day before.

That's why they call it gambling. Not winning.

Monday, June 26, 2017

That Val's Gambling Purse Question? Not Rhetorical. Not a Riddle.

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Val's OLD gambling purse.

Val's OLD gambling purse who?

I'm not really here knocking, you fool! I'm LOST!

When we last convened, Val's OLD gambling purse was missing. Val had virtually torn the house apart looking for it. Had stopped short of calling the milk carton people, or stapling flyers to telephone poles. But it looked like this:

Hick was kicked back in the La-Z-Boy. Enjoying some sweet snack that is prohibited, which he usually ferrets out once Val has gone back down to her dark basement lair after walking and dog-snacking.

"Have you seen my OLD gambling purse? Last time I remember, it was right here on the short couch, when I put my stuff in my new gambling purse the day before we went to Casinopalooza 2."

"Last I saw, it was on that chair in the kitchen."

"Yeah. That was before I carried it in here to switch out my stuff. I'm pretty sure I put it back on the couch, because I was busy gathering stuff to pack for Casinopalooza 2."

"It'll turn up."

"You didn't throw it away, did you?"

"No, Val. I didn't throw away a purse."

"Well, that one time, I put it under the kitchen counter on the box of trash bags, by the wastebasket. Because we were going somewhere, and I didn't want anybody to see it through the kitchen window. So maybe you thought it was there because it was trash..."

"No. I didn't throw away a purse. It's probably down in your office."

"I already looked down there. I DID have it in my office not too long ago, because I was looking for one of my old player cards for Hollywood Casino. For the number on it. To see if it was still good when Genius was taking me there. Then I got a new one anyway. But I'm sure I brought it upstairs since then, to pack for Casinopalooza 2."

"It's in the house someplace. It'll turn up."

"I hope so! It had the last cards my mom gave me in there. And some money in them."

"I tell you all the time, Val, that you need to stop stashing money around and put it in the safe."

"Yeah, yeah. But only YOU know how to open the safe."

"I've been thinking about having a guy come out here to drill them and put in the same combinations for both."

"Well, it's been two years since you brought Dad's safe home, and that other one we've had for at least 15 years."

"I know. I'll get to it when I'm retired."

So...I went back downstairs and looked around there, in the main TV area. When the weather is bad, I bring the valuables down in a Walmart sack to ride out the storm. But I always take it back up the next day. Surely Hick didn't think that was a bag of trash, and throw it away. Oh, come one! We're talking about Hick actually throwing something away. So probably not.

Then I got to thinking about him harping at me over the money. I stood at the bottom of the steps and hollered up to him.

"Hey! Did I give you my OLD gambling purse to put in the safe? I think you were harping at me about the money, and I said I wasn't using that purse anyway right now, and asked you to put it in the safe."

"No. I didn't put any purse in the safe."

Huh. I looked some more in my office. Even turned the light on. THERE! Over by the file cabinet! Behind some boxes that Hick made The Pony pile up in my way after I cleaned out my classroom when I retired. I saw it! A brown strap, peeking out from the bottom of a box stacked on top of it. I made my way through that JENGA maze of educational materials, and found an old new purse that I didn't like and had never used. I'd even offered it to my mom. You know how women are about purses. She'd had enough of her own, and hadn't wanted it.

I went to bed that night, hoping to receive an unconscious clue from my subconscious. I usually have dreams about things I am pondering right before I fall asleep. Alas, the next morning, all I had dreamed about was asking Hick if he put my OLD gambling purse in the safe. So when he got home and fed the animals and swam in Poolio and took a shower and ate his supper...I asked him once more if he could look. Just to make sure. Before I started tearing the house apart again.

"I'm tired tonight, Val. I WORKED today. I'll look tomorrow."

Then next night, I reminded him after he got out of Poolio and took a shower, while he was waiting for me to plate his supper.

"This will be done in a few minutes. Can you go look in the safe for my purse?"


Hick was down there the longest time. I started to think that he had forgotten the combinations. One of the locks is tricky, anyway. And it was too quiet. He was probably going through things, reminiscing, reading old documents. Hick gets carried away with things like that. I walked to the top of the stairs.

"HEY! Did you find it?"

Finally I heard the squeak of the door to Hick's workshop close. And the velcro dartboard that the boys never played with that hangs on it slam against the door.

"Yeah. I found it."

Funny how Hick is always saying that I have a selective memory.

Now my OLD gambling purse is right on the short couch where it belongs. I'd have Hick put it back in the safe, but it smelled like old musty smoke. I'm pretty sure he had it in my dad's safe, not the one we've had for years. Not that I know the combination to either.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Where in the Not-Heaven is Val Thevictorian's Gambling Purse?

Not only is Val capable of losing her daily prescription dose, she's also capable of losing her gambling purse. Or IS she?

Button, button, who's got the button? Nobody freakin' cares! It's a gosh darn button, by cracky! Give it up! I wouldn't spend time looking for a button. Not even if it was 14 karat gold, and I needed it to hold up my pants!

The other day, I was fiddling around with my gambling stake (no, I DON'T sit in my counting room, counting out my money). It's in my gambling purse on an end table at the end of the short couch in the living room. Whoops! There I go, giving away the secret hiding place I keep my riches. Anyhoo...I fish into that stash every now and then if I want to buy some scratch-off tickets at a store where they don't cash in big winners, or get some out of the machine at Country Mart. Then I put that money back once my winner is cashed in. It's kind of like robbing Peter to pay Paul, and then Paul returning Peter's money when they get back home with a 44 oz Diet Coke.

Anyhoo...I have a couple of little pouches in my gambling purse that prettier more normal a gal who gives a rat's patootie about her looks some women might use to hold makeup. Except mine hold folded money, and a small tube of hand lotion, and Germ-X, and a hair pick, and Chapstick, and a little square container containing a Walmart-brand Pepcid tablet, an aspirin, an ibuprofen, and an acetaminophen.

I used to have a small flat rectangular leather case with a clear plastic window that holds ID, with a metal money clip on the back. I hadn't seen that in a while. I know I took it on Casinopalooza 2 in case Genius or The Pony wanted to use it. They did not. I don't really need it now, either, because I have a little fold-up vinyl case, black with a floral print, that holds a myriad of ID, insurance cards, and player's cards in various slotted openings. But I wondered what I did with that leather money clip. Did I put it back in my OLD gambling purse? And did I maybe leave some money behind in my OLD gambling purse? Like a $20 and some ones, that I used to keep to buy lunch for me and my favorite gambling aunt?

Since I was headed out the door on the way to town, I didn't look for my OLD gambling purse. I kind of forgot about it, until I was sitting in my dark basement lair a few days later. It just hit me that I hadn't seen my OLD gambling purse in a while. In fact, the last time I remember seeing it was when I switched out all my stuff for Casinopalooza 2. That's because on the original Casinopalooza, I noticed that my sister the ex-mayor's wife had a cushy, kind of quilted, floral print Vera Bradley-looking cross-body purse. Which was much roomier than my own OLD gambling purse, which looked like this:

Mine was nowhere near big enough to be an effective gambling purse. I used to not even carry a purse in the casino. That's asking for trouble, you know. Like, "I'm a tottering old lady with money to burn, so please grab this purse and knock me down and make off with my cash." You could tattoo it on your forehead, but that's kind of permanent, and this long-strapped purse conveys the message just as effectively. Problem was, the older I get, the more I need to carry in my gambling purse. More player's cards. Medicine to take that I've put off until I'm in the vicinity of a bathroom. The lotion for dry hands from the soap in the bathroom that I use too often answering the call of the blood pressure meds. My glasses case, because I can't wear them on top of my head ALL the time. My cell phone. Of course my ID for when I win a jackpot, and my collection of player's cards. All of this too much to stuff in my pockets any more. Because while it all may fit, it tends to pull down my pants when i walk.

I toyed with the idea of getting a fancy purse like Sis. Of course, I'm a simple woman, not an ex-mayor's wife. AND when I complimented Sis on her gambling purse, she said, "Oh, Ex-Mayor got it for me because he wants me to carry his stuff." Huh. I can't imagine a day when HICK would get ME a gambling purse. It would probably be made from--no, it would BE an old burlap grain sack.

Anyhoo...I was typing up my blog, and thinking about my mom, and I remembered that some of the last cards she gave me, with a personal note written in them, and enclosed birthday or Christmas money...were still stuffed down the side of my OLD gambling purse. When I went upstairs to fix Hick some supper, I went to look for it.

Huh. I was sure my OLD gambling purse was still on the short couch. But it wasn't. Nor was it on the end table. Nor in the teal leather tote bag that it had been in before I took that tote on Casinopalooza 2. Neither was my OLD gambling purse on a chair at the kitchen table, under the window. Well. That was a fine kettle of fish. I looked in the laundry room. Sometimes if I'm picking up in a hurry, I'll set things from the kitchen in there. Nope. And it was not in the living room closet. Or in the bedroom under the little desk in the corner by the French doors to the porch.

Now I was getting worried. I don't NEED my OLD gambling purse to carry things in. But I wanted the sentimental cards. Which held money. I was sure of that. For years, I had been saving that cash for when I really wanted something. Mom was generous. And that stash had added up over the years. During my driveway walk, I mentally inventoried the house. All the places my OLD gambling purse had ever been. When I went back in, after snacking the dogs, I looked some more.

Oh, for length's sake! This post is getting too long! I'll continue it tomorrow.

Does Val find her OLD gambling purse?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Would a Diet Coke, By Any Other Name, Still Taste as Fake Sweet?

Last night I came upstairs to make Hick's supper before he left for the auction. He was sitting in his La-Z-Boy drinking a 20 oz bottle of Diet Coke.

This is uncommon, because Hick is a Diet Mountain Dew drinker. And occasionally a Diet A&W Root Beer drinker. NOT a Diet Coke regular, though he orders it when we go out, if the restaurant doesn't have his favorite.

I had glimpsed this 20 oz Diet Coke in FRIG II earlier in the afternoon. Hick had been called in to work on one of his RETIRED days, had only stayed until 1:00, and then went running around after stopping by the homestead before a doctor's appointment. Silly me. For a nanosecond, I imagined that Hick must have gotten that bottle of Diet Coke for ME! Poor, misguided Hick had forgotten that I get a 44 oz fountain Diet Coke every day, AND that I have a six-pack of 20 oz bottles in the basement mini fridge to freshen it throughout the week in the evenings. But it's the thought that counts, right?

Yes, it IS. And Hick was most certainly NOT thinking about ME! There he reclined, swilling that Diet Coke!

"Oh. Are you having a Diet Coke today?"

"Yeah. They had a deal on them. Two for $2.50."

That didn't sound like any kind of deal to me, but then, I pay $1.69 for a fountain 44, so I'm not really one to judge. I went on about the business of making supper while Hick relaxed with a before-supper snack. I guess his lunch was thrown off by the sudden partial cancellation of his 2/5 retirement Friday. I made several passes through the living room while waiting for food to cook. On the last one, Hick held up his now empty except for snack wrapper Diet Coke bottle.

"Huh. Did you see what it says on the bottle?"

"No. What?"

Hick turned it around, and I beheld my name. (Let the record show that I've never made a pretense of Val being an assumed name, and that last year I put my real name in the sidebar somewhere.)

"Oh! Did you pick it out?"

"No. I didn't even know that was on it. I just picked it up. Then just now when I was putting my cookie wrapper in there, I saw it."

"Are you going to save it?"

"I hadn't planned on it, no."

"Don't throw it away! I want to get a picture."

Okay. Let's think about this. Hick normally does not buy Diet Coke, or drink it at home. He happened upon a sale at a convenience store, and took two. He drank one somewhere between work and our house, threw away the bottle, and brought the other one home. After drinking it, he saw that it had my name on it.

Let the record further show that Hick collects all manner of Coca Cola memorabilia. A large part of his collection includes bottles with the soda still inside. Christmas edition six-pack cartons, foreign language versions, sports team logos...all manner of collected bottles. But this ONE that had his loving wife's name on it, he chugs and is ready to discard.

You know that if I'd been out combing the convenience stores for a bottle with my name, I couldn't have found one, right? In fact, I've never seen one with The Pony's name on it, even though it's the most common of Thevictorian names, being shared with the likes of princes and conquerors and bow-and-arrow marksmen who have overtures written about them. Nor have I seen one with the name of Genius on it, though his is shared by a famous outlaw, a civil rights leader, and a professional wrestler turned state governor. And I've certainly not seen a Coke bottle with Hick's name, who would have been right at home as the third brother of Larry, the odd-job man on the newer Bob Newhart Show where he was an innkeeper.

I can't help but wonder what name was on the bottle of Diet Coke that Hick threw away.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #64 "Opal's Oasis: Offbeat Oddities"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. It's time to poop or get off the pot! Val is dropping her fake books all willy-nilly across the landscape, and you need to scoop them up before any more logs are wasted. Val has turned her efforts from making chicken salad into making fake books. She hopes to come out of this venture smelling like a rose. So cut the crap and dig into your honeypot of savings, and fake-buy Val's latest fake book today!

[In case you are wondering why Val's count of fake books went from #64 to #64...there was a week when Sioux did not fake-publish a fake book, so overachieving Val has adjusted her volume number downward.]

Opal's Oasis: Offbeat Oddities

Opal has a knack for creating knickknacks. In the oodles of spare time she has while running her campground, she creates keepsakes to sell in her store.

Opal's newest creation is The Pet Poop. No crazier that a Pet Rock, Opal figures. Besides, she has plenty of extra raw material, provided by campers who don't read her signs. Who don't scoop their (dogs') poop. Opal has a special drying bed where her poop matures. She will sell no poop before its time. She polishes it until it's smooth, with a muted shine. Then wraps each piece in a Ziploc bag and labels it $5.00.

Will Opal get rich selling Pet Poops? Or will she be just as happy to set her wares on a table out front, and watch people pick up their dog poop like they should have in the first place? (143 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Pet Rock..."Hello? Copyright infringement, anyone? As soon as I get a lawyer, both Opal and Thevictorian will be slapped with a lawsuit. And Thevictorian will be slapped some more. Just because."

Mood Ring..."The release of this fake book has put me in a dark humor. The writing is tepid at best, and I grow cold at the thought of this fake work, OR those Pet Poops, sitting on a shelf somewhere as if they belong. I have more talent in my little me rephrase that...I have more talent in the little finger I'm worn upon than this fake author has in her whole (considerably large) body."

Beanie Babies..."You'd better buy one of each of them, because one of these days, they're going to be valuable! Even that Thevictorian woman's fake book. Seal them up in a plastic tub, and in twenty or thirty years, you'll have a fortune on your hands. Not just poop."

Cabbage Patch Kid..."These Pet Poops are too ugly for words. Nobody will want those. They all look alike. I doubt they even come with a pedigree, and folks probably have to give them a name. This Thevictorian woman needs the stuffing beat out of her for pushing this agenda."

That little dog in the arms of Eva Gabor in the opening credits of Green Acres..."I get allergic smelling hay, but my excrement doesn't have an odor. I would like to contribute to this new fad. Is there a post office box where my droppings might be sent? It may take a few days. The mail doesn't go out in a timely manner down at Sam Drucker's store. If the fake author would like to fake-interview me, she can ring that phone at the top of the pole outside our bedroom closet door."

Lassie..."What's that, you say? Timmy fell down a well? IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THEVICTORIAN! A polite woman would never have fake-written a book about a woman who thinks it is okay to handle dog feces."

Candy-Pooping Doggie Deer like pulled the Grinch's sleigh..."Ooh! That's not gonna turn out well. I doubt those Pet Poops are even edible! The thought of this venture makes me cringe with embarrassment for the inventor and the fake author. Whoopsie! I think a little poop came out."

Spuds Mackenzie..."Hey, Bud! I need a drink! Fake-reading this fake book was a bitch! Val Thevictorian is no party animal! She's a...wait for POOPER!"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sometimes, a Secret is Just What the Doctor Ordered

Let the record show that Val is medicated. Not heavily medicated. Not the good stuff. Just her regular prescriptions that she takes each morning. One pill upon arising, for her missing thyroid, and two for blood pressure that she takes at least an hour later. Sometimes more than an hour later, but the deal with the thyroid med is to wait at least 30 minutes to an hour before ingesting anything else.

Most days, I put off the blood pressure med until I'm heading home from town. If you've ever taken such a pharmaceutical, you understand. It works to lower your blood pressure by getting rid of some of your blood volume. That's what I think, anyway. Because you have to pee out that extra fluid when the med decides it has to go. So I wait until I know that I'll be home in 10-15 minutes, where peeing facilities are available.

This timing is no big deal. I sleep late because I stay up late, and my body is used to the schedule, just as it was when I was working and took the thyroid pill at 4:50 a.m. and the others at 6:00. I have a little square container that I put my pills in. I slip that container in my shirt pocket, and once in T-Hoe, I put it in my change cup that sits on the console. Once I get my 44 oz Diet Coke, I take the two pills and start home.

Last Thursday, I had some extra running around to do. It was almost 1:00 when I left town to head home. I had a slight headache, which I attributed to being out in normal air, and not the rarefied atmosphere of my dark basement lair. There's all kinds of allergens in the air these days, and my nose drips like a faucet during my evening walk. As I was on the road home, it dawned on me that maybe my head hurt because I hadn't taken my blood pressure medicine yet! I had forgotten. So I reached into the change cup, but didn't feel my little square container.

Huh. That was odd. I KNOW I put it in the car. I felt my pocket. Not there. WAIT! The last I remembered seeing it, I had set that little square container on the console itself as I left Country Mart, in order to count out correct change for my next stop, the gas station chicken store, for my 44 oz Diet Coke. AND, as I had driven off from Country Mart, I heard something fall. I didn't dwell on it at the time. I though it might have been the coin cup sliding back off my phone onto the console, or that pair of nail clippers that The Pony kept in there for trimming his toenails as I drove. Forgetting that I had destroyed the clippers (accidentally!!!) the week before.

Anyhoo...I spent that drive home thinking about finding those pills so I could take them. The plan was to look in the back seat area when I stopped to pick up the mail. I reached my arm back and felt all around, but there was no little square container within reach. Things like that bother me. I wanted the issue resolved.

When I got to the mailboxes, I pulled over on the gravel road, beside the creek. No need to be parked in the county road while conducting my search. I climbed out of T-Hoe and looked on the floor, under the seats, under some junk in between the back seats. Looked in from EVERY DOOR. Under every seat. Under the floor mats. All over that car! I couldn't find my little square container.

For 15 minutes I searched. I was determined to find that little square container. Sweat was rolling off me in rivulets. In front of my ears from my scalp. Between my shoulder blades. I had a river of underboob and 'tween-boob sweat flowing under my shirt. Nowhere. That little square container was nowhere to be found. But I DID find a Slim Jim wrapper (empty), a wooden token for a free sundae at Dairy Queen, and two pennies and a dime (this was the day after I found my last penny on the Save A Lot parking lot).

For a third time (it's a charm, you know!) I checked the driver's seat between the console and the seat belt hook bolted to the floor. I FELT IT! I felt the little square container! It was in that little recess by the hook. There was some sort of plastic cover over the hook, and the little square container was wedged in there. I sat in the driver's seat and contorted my arm and wrist and fingers, but that little square container only jammed in deeper. I couldn't pry it out of that little hole.

I got out and stood beside the car and leaned over the seat, trying to wedge my arm down in there for better leverage. I have fairly small wrists if you consider a man's arm trying to fit in there. Smaller than a small man's wrists, unless by small man you think of Tom Thumb, who of course being retired all these years from the P.T. Barnum Circus, and taking a break from the grave, would probably not have desired to go poking around the floorboards of T-Hoe just to find two pills for Val.

I moved to the back seat door, where I could reach in sideways and not downways. Something kind of cracked, but I'm not going to tell Hick, because when is he ever going to notice, really, if I broke something in that area? FINALLY I fished out that little square container. I climbed back in T-Hoe, opened it up, and took my two pills.

If Hick borrows T-Hoe, and has to slam on the brakes, and goes sailing through the windshield when his seatbelt gives way...nobody's going to say anything, right?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Val Thevictorian is a Wet-Meat Dad

On Father's Day, Hick had the idea to go to the casino. I don't know what got into him, because the casino is my thing, not his. It would be like me proposing a Goodwill tour on Mother's Day. Anyhoo...he may have been heady with success from his last trip, when he cashed out more money than I gave him to start with. Who am I to complain about a trip to the casino?

As part of our routine, we eat at Burger Brothers. It's inside the casino, and the burgers (what else would we eat, anyway? It's not like we're my favorite Gambling Aunt, who ordered an Italian sausage there) are always delicious. Until this time.

Hick went to order. Even though I always get the exact same thing, he has to ask me what I want. A hamburger with pickles and onions only. And fries that I share with Hick. So I told him. And Hick said, "No cheese?" No. I NEVER get cheese. I repeated that I wanted pickles and onions only. He went to order. Then he went to get a free soda. Why buy the pop when you can have the fountain for free? Then he came back to sit and annoy me until our burgers were ready. It always annoys him when the people behind him in line get their food before him. I agree. That's why I try not to see where Hick is in line.

The little disc thingy buzzed to signal that our order was ready to be picked up. Hick returned to the table and set the tray in front of me. I don't know why I had to serve it up! Sheesh! A woman's work is never done! I set Hick's onion rings in front of him. Then started to hand him his burger. Wait a minute! I couldn't tell which burger was Hick's! It should have been easy. He always gets pepperjack cheese. I could clearly see the white melted cheese dripping along the side of Hick's burger. But wait! It was on both burgers!

Closer inspection showed that Hick's burger did indeed have pepperjack cheese on it. I handed it over. And then began to investigate my own burger. Which clearly had more than pickles and onions only. It wasn't cheese. It was some kind of sauce. White sauce. I didn't want any sauce! I took the top bun off, planning to wipe off the sauce. Hick offered to take it back and complain.

"See? I told them! It's right here on the receipt! 'Pickles and onions ONLY!' She even repeated it to me! I'll take it back."

"No. What are they going to do? Wipe it off? I'm not waiting another 20 minutes for a new one! That's gambling time wasted! I'll try to wipe it off. I can't believe people can't follow simple directions!" Actually, I CAN believe it, but what's the point of venting by hollering the obvious?

It's virtually impossible to wipe white sauce off of thinly-sliced rings of red onion. I blotted off all I could, and then took a bite. You know, I like mayonnaise. And most sauces with a mayonnaise base. I'll even eat Miracle Whip in a pinch. But whatever those Burger Brothers put in that sauce, I did NOT enjoy. It was bitter! How in the Not-Heaven can you make a bitter sauce and slather it on a hamburger? I tried to kill the taste with ketchup. Then mustard. It was not very successful. Of course, I still ate the burger. Are you kidding me? They make really good burgers! Just not good sauce.

We've always had good food there before. You'd think they could at least get the order right. It was FATHER'S DAY, by cracky! For all those Burger Brothers knew, I was a dad who was getting a special treat on my day! And they could not follow simple instructions! They served me, a possible dad, a soggy burger on FATHER'S DAY!

Even if I'd let Hick take it back...would YOU want to eat a meal prepared by the person you complained messed it up the first time? I would have been even more leery of what kind of special sauce might have accidentally been added to the replacement.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Val, the Great Surmiser

Remember a couple weeks ago, when I was finding PENNIES everywhere? For several days. And on one single day, I found FOUR pennies?

Silly me. I had started to think I was going to find pennies every day. Everywhere. But they dried up! No pennies, no dimes, no quarters, no dollars! So I surmised that whatever message the Universe was trying to get across had been delivered. Resigned myself to the fact that I might go a few years again without finding a single penny. It's happened before.

And then...and then...something new was presented to me without my knowledge. I was clueless! Can you believe THAT? Val had no idea what was going on. She went about her merry way, car-singing and scratcher-buying and 44 oz Diet Coke drinking. Kept Hick on a tight rein, but saw that he had his weekly allowance and casino money (which he may or may not have pocketed a portion of) and treats from Walmart twice a week.

Monday, this new trend virtually slapped me in the face. I was in Walmart at the time, the one in Bill-Paying Town. Not the regular one closest to Backroads, where I went on Friday. Some treats are hard to find. I was checking out, getting some cash back. I do this occasionally, when we have some extra expenses not planned on in our weekly cash budget, and I don't want make an extra stop at the bank. We had lunch at the casino twice (you don't think I'm paying for LUNCH out of my previous winnings, do you) and the fee for the Process Server that Hick hadn't been reimbursed for yet (that he paid out of his allowance).

So there I was, getting $40 cash back. The checker handed me eight $5 bills.

"Oh! I'm sorry to take all of your fives!"

"That's okay. The lady ahead of you got the last of my twenties."

See, I thought to apologize for draining her drawer resources. Because it's the polite thing to do. After all...the checker in the other Walmart on Friday fell all over herself apologizing to me when she counted me out eight $5 bills for my $40 cash back there.

"I'm so sorry to do this to you! It's all I have here. I thought she was bringing me more, but this is it for now."

"Oh, that's fine! It spends just the same."

See, I hadn't thought much about getting all those fives back. But when it happened on Monday at the other Walmart, it was like the clouds opened up and a magical ray of sunlight (crepuscular rays, I'm sure one of my blog buddies told us about that, perhaps Joe H) shone through, and a choir sang a wordless chord.


Uh huh. Not just those two times at the Walmarts. When I cashed in winning scratchers over that weekend time period. At Orb K, I was due back ten dollars, and the clerk gave me two $5 bills. At Waterside Mart, I needed back twenty dollars, and the clerk handed me four $5 bills. AND at the gas station chicken store, I was due fifteen dollars, and the little gal gave me three $5 bills. Plus, Hick and I went back to the casino on Father's Day, and when I cashed out my last ticket, the machine gave me four $5 bills instead of one twenty. It never does that!

So there I was, wheeling my cart/walker out of Walmart, putting 5 and 5 and 5 and 5 (well, you get it) together, and realizing


Yeah. My mom used to always give me a $5 bill when we took her some leftovers or the tabloids after I read them. Always said, "Now you take this."

It's most likely a coincidence that those stores ran out of tens and twenties when I showed up. But I surmise that I was meant to get those fives. Except maybe I wasn't supposed to be so dense, and have the need to get SO MANY fives before I saw a connection.

Yeah. Crazy ol' Val. You can't always get what you want. But if you try get what you need.

Back when I was the five-dollar daughter (plus one). And when my value declined. Dropped more. Really, really declined.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hick, the Great Provoker

When we left off in the Property Owners vs. Crazy Dude saga...the court papers had been dropped onto Crazy Dude's land, right in front of his nose, when the Process Server held them out and Crazy Dude refused to take them. Crazy Dude retreated back down his wooded driveway to his out-of-sight house.

Hick said he hoped there came a big rain from those purple storm clouds, so the papers would be destroyed, and Crazy Dude wouldn't have the court date, and the restraining order would become permanent since he refused to show up to the hearing. Hick also said other things.

"If I was Bev, I'd go out and trim my bushes along his property line." (No comment on Hick thinking about trimmed bushes!)

"No! Why would she? I understand if she wants to clean up her property, and it's all overgrown, that she shouldn't let a fear of Crazy Dude keep her from doing whatever landscaping she wants. But to concentrate on that section right next to him is just asking for trouble. It's provoking!"

Uh huh. That would be like a 9-year-old going to sit on the property line of her yard and her next-door-neighbor best friend's yard, to play with pick-up sticks, and make her best friend's beagle puppy on a chain go crazy, and get yelled at from the back door. Not that Li'l Val would know anything about such a tactic.

The night of the envelope-dropping, there DID come some rain, in the wee hours of the morning. Hick said that when he went by Crazy Dude's driveway the next morning, the envelope was gone.

Let the record show that Val has no idea why Hick was anywhere near Crazy Dude's driveway. That road is the road he takes to work on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday. Not the road we take to town. And as far as Val (or the record) knows...Hick does NOT go to work on Saturdays, or have a need to drive by that area.

Hick figures that Crazy Dude came out in the middle of the night, when he thought he wouldn't be seen, and picked up the envelope. When Hick said this, I imagined Crazy Dude in camouflage gear, crawling on his belly like a serpent, knife clutched in his teeth in case he needed to intimidate a witness.

The hearing is in the middle of July. Hick figures that Crazy Dude will be at the hearing, to say that he never was served the papers, so the restraining order is not valid. However... Hick also figures that such a tactic will only prove that Crazy Dude WAS served the papers, because how else would he know when to show up at the hearing. So the point would be moot, he was served! Present a valid reason as to why he should not be banned from contacting Bev, or stay away from her.

Meanwhile, I have been nervous when I hear a four-wheeler coming up the road during my walks. Just in case it's Crazy Dude, scoping out our house for future revenge. I'd rather he not know what I look like, since I don't know him, either. I told Hick, and he said, "That's not him. Listen. He has a 4-stroke engine. That's a 2-stroke. It whines." AS IF that means anything to me. Hick might as well be reading a manual on how to fly a 747 to Puppy Jack. Except that Hick doesn't read manuals. Anyhoo...he eventually got me to understand that a 4-stroke engine has a loud roar, and a 2-stroke engine sounds like a motorcycle ree-ree-ree engine. Not that I have time to run back to the house if the wrong one is coming up the road, anyway.

I heard gunshots back over the creek when I was walking Saturday evening. I figure it was either Bev, whose husband just got a gun, or Crazy Dude, who probably has an arsenal...having target practice. I'm glad there's a forest between us.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Man, a Plan, a Contact Ban

When we last convened, Hick was eagerly awaiting the Process Server so he could trick Crazy Dude, the unbalanced neighbor, into accepting a court order preventing him from contact with our other neighbor, Bev. Yeah. Maybe he shouldn't get involved. But Hick's a people person. And it takes a village to put the kibosh on swastika-touting nut-jobs.

Friday, Hick was expecting the Process Server at noon. Hick would drive the tractor, Process Server would follow in the Gator, they'd blade the gravel on the road that runs past Crazy Dude's house, and he'd be drawn outside, and served with the order. In theory.

I came back from town just after noon, and saw a car parked in the BARn field, and figured Process Server was there, and all systems were go. I carried my groceries in through the kitchen door, and didn't look out front for the tractor. At 1:30, I called Hick to see if everything was okay.

"HOS and I are waiting out here for the Process Server. He hasn't called. I'm about to get fed up with him. It looks like rain, now. I'm not riding the tractor up there in a storm."

Turns out Process Server was running late. He didn't get here until after 4:00. But they carried out the mission anyway, under darkening skies.

Hick drove the tractor past the entrance to Crazy Dude's driveway. He went on up the road, blading, planning to turn around and come back like normal. He's been meaning to blade the road for a couple weeks, but didn't want to deal with Crazy Dude, who always comes out and demands to know what he's doing.

[This road has been there for many years, before any of us bought property out here. It's not like we're driving across his yard. It's a two-mile piece of road that connects two blacktop county roads. Like a creek or waterway, nobody owns the road, even though they may own land on either side of it. We all use it, and many common county residents who don't live here use it as a shortcut. Not that we want them to. We, the property-owners, maintain it.]

HOS rode the 4-wheeler, and Process Server drove the Gator. He got out and started shoving gravel around with the rake. HOS said that Crazy Dude must have come out as soon as Hick went by on the tractor. Crazy Dude was standing at his fence, leaning his elbows on the top, watching.

[Let the record show that Process Server, in the following exchange, used his real name, and Crazy Dude's real name.]

"How are you doing today, Crazy."

"I'm doing okay."

"My name is Process Server." He held out his hand to shake. Crazy Dude shook. Process Server took out the envelope. "Are you Crazy Dude?"

"No. That's not my name. I'm not Crazy Dude." With that, Crazy Dude backed off the fence.

Process Server held out the envelope with the court order. Crazy Dude did not reach out. Process Server dropped them in front of him. Crazy Dude turned and walked back through the woods to his house.

"Crazy Dude, you have been served," said Process Server. He turned to HOS. "You might have to appear in court as a witness if there's an issue." HOS said that was no problem.

HOS and Process Server took off up the road to warn Hick. "Take the tractor back home," said HOS. "He went up to his house. We don't know what he's gonna do. He might be getting a gun. He stared at me the whole time, once Process Server said his name. He didn't take the papers. They're laying by his fence."

Process Server left to fill out his paperwork. That's why Hick wanted to use somebody who does this for a living. The judge had said anybody could serve the papers, but the serving paperwork had to be done correctly, or the order wouldn't be any good.

Hick and HOS came to the house. To my dark basement lair, to be exact, to tell me the story. Oh, and because Hick was going into his basement workshop on the other side of my office wall, to get into the gun safe for a shotgun for HOS. Actually, for HOS's wife. Not that we're gun-toting inbreds or anything. But Crazy Dude was looking in HOS's windows when they first moved in. And HOS doesn't want any trouble from him now that he's madder than usual, and HOS works nights, and his wife and 7-year-old son are there alone.

Of course, once that chore was done, Hick left for the auction. "I'll lock the doors for you."

"You call me if you hear anything," said HOS. "I'll be down here in a jiffy."

You can't be too careful when you live in the middle of nowhere.

That court order was to inform Crazy Dude that he has to stay away from Bev until the next hearing date in July. It's a temporary restraining order, with the hearing date for Crazy Dude to present his side before it becomes permanent. If he initiates contact with Bev, he'll get locked up.

Of course, a restraining order is just a piece of paper. You can be deader than a doornail before the police can get here to enforce it. I suppose it can discourage most people from making contact, and make most people feel safer to have one in effect.

Can't we all just get along? I don't mean roast marshmallows over a bonfire and sing Kumbaya. You're never going to get along with everyone you encounter in life. But you don't have to put sticks in the road to make one lane impassable, either. Or hang a swastika on the edge of your property facing your neighbor's house, after telling her you believe in "Hitler's final resolution."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

This Is Just a Little Peyton Place and We're All Watching Hick Go Move Some Sticks

Do you want to see something sad?

Sure you do! That's not a rhetorical question. You really don't have a choice, though. I'm going to show you something sad.


"What's so sad about THAT?" you might say. "Aside from the bald patches of yard from when you had 36 chickens before the neighbor dogs ate them, and that gravel road right through your yard to the BARn field, and that row of shacks--erm--SHACKYTOWN within sight of the house..."

Let me focus in on that area.

See it now? The tractor? With the Gator parked behind it? All ready for--wait! I'm getting ahead of myself.

Hick had a plan. A plan to help the neighbor behind us, Bev, get her court papers for her restraining order served on Crazy Dude, the neighbor who put up a swastika facing her house. Hick has friends in assorted social strata, and had one who's a process server. Even though Hick hasn't seen or heard from him in 30 years, he still says, "I know a guy..."

Somehow, Hick got the Process Server's phone number. He set up a scenario to get Crazy Dude out in the open, suitable for serving. Hick would drive his tractor up on that gravel road, the one he travels two miles on to get to a bigger road for work. The gravel road that Crazy Dude thinks he owns to the center line, and piles sticks and limbs in the lane next to his property. Hick and other tractored neighbors blade the road a couple times a year, smoothing out the rock, sometimes getting loads of gravel to fill the potholes. Crazy Dude comes out and rants at them about being on his "property" and sometimes the police have to be called. They've told Crazy Dude next time he puts sticks in the road, they're locking him up, they don't have time for his shenanigans.

Anyhoo...Hick knows if Crazy Dude hears the tractor, he'll come out. His plan was for the Process Server to ride up there on the Gator, with a rake, and follow along after the tractor, smoothing gravel. Then when Crazy Dude came out, VOILA! Papers served! It was really a genius sort of plan. Props to Hick for putting on his gently-used thinking cap.

The event was set to kick off Wednesday evening at 5:00. Hick didn't reveal his plan to anybody besides me, the Process Server, and HOS (Hick's Oldest Son, who lives across from Crazy Dude). All Hick told Bev was that he had found a server, and the cost was $40, and he'd let her know when it was done.

Hick went outside at 4:45 Wednesday evening. He was as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. I was down in my dark basement lair, a bit apprehensive. That's because Hick said things like, "I don't think I'll take a gun. I'm sure those process servers carry." Yeah. I don't want Hick hovering around me every spare moment of my retirement, but I don't want to be without him, either! I assured him that it was a good idea NOT to take a gun. Even though during their last encounter, Crazy Dude rested his hand on a large knife strapped to his belt during their entire conversation.

Now here's the sad part about that picture. The tractor and Gator didn't move for three days.

I called Hick at 6:00. To see if everything was okay. I didn't want him to be in the middle of skulking around, and his phone go off. But the suspense was killing me. It only takes five minutes or less to drive the tractor up that road.

"I'm sitting on my tractor, waiting. I had to get off a couple times to pee. That guy isn't here yet. I tried to call him, but he doesn't answer."

Turns out that Process Server also does surveillance. He was tied up (not literally) in a town about an hour away. So plans got changed to Friday at noon. "That will work. HOS is off on Fridays. He'll be there if anything goes wrong."

What could possibly go wrong?

Conclusion tomorrow...

Friday, June 16, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #64 "Full of Hot Air: A Tale of Three Testees"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Don't burst Val's bubble! She works hard to produce these fake books. What a barren literary landscape we would have, if not for her timely tomes. Get your hands on her latest effort today, before Val is sacked from the fake-book industry.

Full of Hot Air: A Tale of Three Testees

The B. Loon Testee family works as quality control technicians, testing balloons. As a perk, they each get 500 free balloons every payday.

B. moonlights as a free-lance balloon-animal act for kids' parties. His wife markets the top half of her balloons on the internet as Flavor Savers, covers for Tupperware bowls that have lost their lids. The bottom half she donates to the local homeless shelter, where proprietor Rebecca DeMornay has them redirected to Top O' the Muffin to You, a bakery about to slip into bankruptcy, due to the cost of hauling away muffin stumps and balloon bottoms.

Even the littlest Testee has a use for her free balloons. Inflated and tossed into the basement, they make one great big ball pit for her to play in, when she's not working a 40-hour week. Join the Testees in their journey to make life more uplifting for others. (149 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

The 80s..."Hello? Hello? Sorry I didn't reach you, Mr. Testee. Um...this is the Eighties...and we'd like our hair back. Thanks! Ahem. Now, for that Thevictorian woman. This fake book is totally bitchin'! PSYCH! Like, get real. Your writing style is grody. To the max! You're a bogus fake author, fer sure."

Davey Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier..."I haven't seen hair like that since I wore my coonskin cap while I helped Ben Franklin fly his kite during an electrical storm. As for Thevictorian...she reminds me of a frontier woodsman. Her words are wooden, and she chops at them like an amateur with her first ax."

Aquanet..."While I can assist this family with their tresses, there is no help for Thevictorian, whose words are limper than the hair of Jerry Seinfeld after a low-flow shower-head shampoo."

The Ozone..."Like this follicularly fantastic family has put a hole in me, Thevictorian's fake writing leaves an aching emptiness in the hearts of all who fake-read it."

Gee Your Hair Looks Terrific..."As you might imagine, this family did not use me. I'm not one for self-promotion, so I'll advise all the unfortunate fake readers of this Thevictorian woman to use No More Tears, in hopes that it may bring them comfort."

Jack, recuperating in his hospital bed, sister Jill at his side..."If I'd had THIS kind of hair, I never would have broke my crown! Let the record show that vinegar and brown paper are poor substitutes for triple antibiotic ointment and gauze...and that Val Thevictorian is a poor substitute for a writer."

Farrah Fawcett..."At the risk of people saying I'm no angel, let me pointedly declare that having my likeness plastered on 14-year-old boy's bedroom wall, and being subjected to countless indignities, is still much more pleasant than fake-reading this fake book."

Former President Ronald Reagan..."Val Thevictorian! TEAR. UP. THIS. BOOK!"

Guns 'N Roses..."Welcome to the jungle! A world where Val Thevictorian throws all writing rules out the window, and cuts a swath through a story like a bulldozer through the rain forest. Don't cry, sweet child o' mine. Have patience. For one day, we shall rid the literary world of Thevictorian, and we'll be in Paradise City."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hick's Presence Is Requested In Court

Hick went to court on Monday. It has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with him. Hick's a conundrum like that.

It all started about a month ago. We got a new neighbor behind us. Not like a neighbor you can chat with over the fence. Our house sits on 10 acres, with another 10 beside it, and this new neighbor has 10 acres down behind us, through the woods and across the creek. Somehow (!) Hick befriended the wife half of this couple. According to him, he was mowing the back yard and her car pulled into the driveway, so he drove up, and she said that Hick's buddy, Buddy, had suggested that she might want to meet him, since our land shares a common border.

Hick says that "Bev" is just like me. Crazy. A conspiracy theorist. "She's NUTS!" Of course, coming from Hick, that doesn't necessarily mean there's anything abnormal about the lady. Anyhoo...Bev said that the Crazy Dude who puts sticks in the middle of the road and threatens Hick with a knife and has had the sheriff called on him more times than you can shake a stick at for causing strife on the upper gravel road...has been threatening her. Allegedly.

Seems that, being a new landowner, Bev walked over to Crazy Dude's house to introduce herself. Their properties are right next to each other. Allegedly, Crazy Dude said, "I know you're a Jew. I hate Jews. I believe in Hitler's final resolution." Bev informed him that she is not Jewish (not that there's anything wrong with that), and she didn't know where he got that idea or why it should matter. Sensing that her introduction was not going well, she went back home. In the following days, Crazy Dude put up a swastika on the edge of his property, facing her property. He blasted "hate music" (couldn't get clarification on Hick as to exactly what kind of music this was, but only that Crazy Dude had done the same thing to the property owner across the road from him who had threatened to shoot Hick once upon a time). Crazy Dude also flew his drone over Bev's property on several occasions.

Bev called the sheriff, to say that she felt unsafe, and that this swastika seemed like a hate crime. The sheriff came to Crazy Dude's gate, and tooted his siren to show that he was there, and Crazy Dude tooted back with a siren. The sheriff walked up on Crazy Dude's property and asked if he was Crazy Dude, to which Crazy Dude said, "Who wants to know?" And the sheriff said, "The county sheriff," and Crazy Dude went in his house and would not answer the door. In the following days, Crazy Dude continued to fly his drone over Bev's property and blare his music.

Bev kept a journal of the encounters, and told the neighbors, to see if they have had problems with Crazy Dude. Several of the neighbors, including Hick, told Bev she needs a restraining order, since she feels harassed by Crazy Dude, and is afraid he might do her harm. She went to the courthouse and got a temporary order, but it's not good until the papers are served on Crazy Dude. The neighbors, including Hick, went to court Monday with Bev in an effort to provide supporting testimony (concerning Crazy Dude's threats during their road-blading encounters) so her restraining order can become permanent. Turns out the papers were NOT served on Crazy Dude (though Bev had been told they were), because Crazy Dude has a mean dog patrolling his property, and nobody wants to walk up and put them in the door.

So...everybody who went to court Monday wasted a day off work (except for the retired ones and Hick), and now they have to find a way to serve the papers on Crazy Dude before July 10. The excuse of the sheriff's department was that they can't force the guy to be home or come to the door when they show up. And Crazy Dude won't come to the door when he sees the police. Bev said she would pay a process server, and Hick said he knows one. (There is really no end to the skill set of Hick.)

More on this story as it develops. But here's a little tidbit (as opposed to an enormous tidbit) that I found particularly tasty.

Hick was sitting in his car on the parking lot of the courthouse annex on Monday, waiting for others to arrive. The judge hearing the hearing on Monday happened to walk by Hick's car. He looked in the car, and Hick said, "Hi [REDACTED]."

"Don't I know you?"

"Yeah. It's Hick."

"You're not going to be in my courtroom, are you?"

They know each other from way back, when Hick worked for the city, but before he ran over the old lady with the city truck. They went through firefighter training together.

Now here's where we disagree. Hick thought that exchange was perfectly acceptable, and was happy that the judge remembered him. I told him that it's really not a compliment. That the judge thought that Hick might have committed a crime, and was going to be tried in his court, in which case he would have to recuse himself.

The paper-serving saga continues...on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

It's Been An Interesting Week and a Half

I know you're growing tired of this theme, but I can't help it when the Universe comes calling. You know how, in the original movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer (that campy non-classic movie that most people hated, not the TV series that most people liked) when Kristy Swanson as Buffy told Donald Sutherland as Merrick that she didn't really WANT to be a slayer? "All I want to do is graduate from high school, go to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die."

Well...all I want to do is stay up late fiddling around on the internet, fall asleep in my OPC (Old People Chair), go to bed at 3:00 and get up at 9:00, go to town for a 44 oz Diet Coke and scratch-off tickets, win at least half my money back, eat a lunch derived from wise choices, take and evening walk with my dogs, and do it all over again the next day. That's not too much to ask, is it?

I don't set out to see subtle signs that my life is on the right track. That dear departed loved ones are letting me know they're around. In fact, if I look for such signs, they're not around. Like yesterday, when I did my errands, head down, seeking another found penny, and none were forthcoming. But let me bop around today, thinking about buying paper plates and bananas, and where to get my scratchers, and the next thing you know, I pull into a parking space at Save A Lot, decide it's too close to the other cars, pull through and take the first space I can fit into with T-Hoe's turning radius, open the door, and almost step on a PENNY as I get out of the car!

It's a little hard to see, but it's right in the middle of the picture. Pics or it didn't happen, Genius always says! Funny how something made me pull through that first space, park here, and even back up (because I'm one of THOSE people) to give myself more room to open my door in case a car parked next to me. Otherwise I wouldn't have seen it, being in the row across from that space, or T-Hoe sitting right on top of it.

Yeah. Today I found another one. To go with the four I found on Monday. And the three I found last week.

What I HAVEN'T told you is what happened on Sunday night. I was sitting on the short couch in the living room, listening to Hick talk about his trip to court (yes, I'm going to tell you about it, maybe tomorrow), but mainly waiting for the sun to go down so I could walk without being fried by that blazing orb. Hick was in the La-Z-Boy, switching channels between Flea Market Flip and Barnwood Builders.

I never watch Barnwood Builders, and the Flea Market Flip shows were reruns on CMT or some channel we don't usually watch. I had Shiba my laptop fired up, typing one of my blog posts. I wasn't really paying attention to Hick OR the TV. I don't like my routine disrupted by this extreme heat. But I can't walk in the evening sun.

So there I sat, Shiba on my lap, glancing up at the TV every now and then while gathering my thoughts. I'll be darned if I didn't look up and see LADYBUGS crawling all over a giant square-hewn log from a dismantled barn!

"Did you see it? Ladybugs!"

"Nah. Oh. There, I see them."

Yeah. Ladybugs and I kind of have a history.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Even Steven's Scales of Justice Might Need a Slight Re-Calibration

Try to keep up, people. This is not really one of those word problems from 7th grade math. Some figures are pertinent to the scenario, yet not used in calculations.

Yesterday, when Hick announced that he was on his way home from court (details another day) and that he was taking me to the casino...I rushed around getting my gambling accoutrements in order. In the bottom of the bag I took on Casinopalooza 2, I found an envelope. Inside was $88! Found money! I guess I had not stashed it with my gambling bankroll because it was not an even hundred. Anyhoo...I had 3 twenties, 3 fives, and 13 ones. I set aside the ones to use for my daily 44 oz Diet Cokes. I stashed the fives, because I'm always needing them to put in Genius's weekly letter as part of the six dollars I send him for Chinese food. And I put the twenties with five more twenties to give Hick for gambling purposes.

Let the record show that our casino money does not come out of Thevictorian household money. It is culled from winnings that Val has accumulated for nigh on 25 years, since her very first casino trip. Yes, Val is a good saver and a good rationer. And an even better lucky dog. Let the record further show that Val sometimes begrudges Hick the money to gamble with, because he always loses everything. Yesterday, I did not begrudge him a bankroll, because it was a surprise trip, and I was flush with cash. After all, I'd just found a bonus $88.

On the walk into the casino, though, Hick had to remind me to fork it over. "Where's my money?"

"Oh. Here. I forgot." I handed him the cash I had stashed in my shirt pocket for that purpose. "Here's $160. I don't know if I should give you that much if you're going to rush me. But there it is."

We went our separate ways, planning to meet for lunch in 45 minutes. When it was almost time, I got a call from Hick. A machine had eaten a twenty and not given him credits. He was waiting on an attendant. That took 20 or 30 minutes. I found him and played a game nearby while they took apart the machine and counted up money and found his twenty jammed in the money-eater with a corner folded back. They gave him back his moolah and apologized for his wait. No big deal to Hick. He doesn't get all bent out of shape at things like that. I'd have to be comatose to hold my tongue.

Anyhoo...we were both only down a few dollars at lunch. Afterwards, I lost a little trying to play Whales of Cash and Lightning Link. I'm not real familiar with those penny games, but I was switching up my quarter and dollar denominations for a change. I did okay on Buffalo Gold, but grew tired of waiting for it to bonus.

I found a machine I'd seen on YouTube slot videos. It's called 88 Fortunes. Here's a 3-minute video of how the game works. Anyhoo...there were five of these games in a carousel. I took one that had the money pot thingy at the top almost full. I sat down and put in my player's card (that I had rescued from being left over by Hick's malfunctioning game before lunch) and shoved in a twenty. I looked at the control panel thingy. Minimum bet was 88 cents, which is what I was going to play. I pushed my bright green old-phone-cord-style keyring stretchy thingy attached to my player's card out of the way, and THAT MACHINE SPUN AT MAX BET OF $8.88!!!

NOOOOO! That control panel was so sensitive that just the act of sliding my keyring stretchy thing off the area activated the MAX BET button! Crap! There went $8.88 down the drain! Almost half my twenty! It's a wonder I've managed to live this long, being so stupid and careless.

Anyhoo...after a few spins at 88 cents, I hit a bonus for $41. That was exciting. I though about leaving, but then I thought maybe it was hot machine. So I played some more. A man came up and started stalking me, sitting down at the machine to my left, acting like he was playing, but making slow spins. I'm pretty sure he was trying to take over my machine. Which made me stubborn, so I stayed. I played down my money, and hit another bonus for $27. Played that down and hit one for $21. Then, with that guy practically sitting on my lap, I cashed out and moved around the carousel to the machine to the right. Of course that guy jumped right over to my former machine and started feeding it.

But my new machine was paying, too! And it was getting those gong things that make a noise, just not enough for the bonus. I knew that guy could hear it. He was getting some kind of payoffs, because I heard his machine, too. Then he got up and came around to look at my new machine, and the one to the right. He huffed and left. But he came back in about five minutes and sat down to play my former machine again.

Meanwhile, I had put a couple of twenties in this new one, because it was giving me some money back, and I felt like it was going to hit a bonus. Then it gave me a line hit of $135 with a bunch of those ship thingies. That was great. I was pretty excited, but not for long, because it gave me four gongs, and a bunch of free spins, during the middle of which the lid on the money pot slammed closed, and I got a picking bonus, which gave me I think the mini bonus, which was a little over $25. Then it went back into the free spin bonus, and I ended up with $202 on that bonus. Let me tell you, I cashed that money out and headed for the ticket-cashing machine. Val is a gambler, but not THAT much of a gambler.

By the time I went to sit on the toilet to count my money, I determined that I had made back the day's losses, and had a little profit. I was $122 ahead. I went to find Hick to see if he was ready to go, but he was playing a new penny game, so I went to my old favorite, RedHot 7s ReSpin. I told him I was only playing ONE TWENTY in it, because I was going to leave with a profit. Something we rarely do at this casino.

When Hick came to find me, I was up to $60 on my twenty. So I cashed it out. Hick said he had one twenty left, and he wanted to play it in the RedHot 7s ReSpin. I magnanimously gave him my machine. Because it was hot. But not so much when Hick started touching it, because it ate his twenty in record time. I felt bad for him, because he said, "Well, that was the last of my money." So I gave him one of my twenties to play in the RedHot 7s machine to the left of that one. He lost that twenty, too.

We started toward the parking lot, and I said, "Oh, I have to cash in my ticket from that RedHot 7s machine." As I stepped toward the ticket-cashing machine, Hick stepped in front of me.

"Oh, you didn't cash it in yet? I've gotta cash my tickets, too."

Hick had two tickets that he put in the casher. And he got back $170 total! That is SO WRONG! I had given him $160 to play on, and I came away with $162 profit. Darn that Even Steven! Because he (and Hick) had led me to believe that Hick was destitute, so I had given him ANOTHER twenty. Yet Hick left with $170 of what had been MY MONEY in his pocket! I had given him a total of $180 for the day, and came away myself with $142 after donating to Hick's unneeded cause.

Hick treated himself to a stop at Goodwill on the way home, and bought himself a cordless drill for $15. I'm not sure it even works. He said he bought it for the charger that pops onto the bottom, because it fits his drill at home.

Yes, I am now (unintentionally) funding Hick's hoarder habit. And no, the fact that I found $88 of money I didn't know I had, and won my day's fortune on 88 Fortunes, was not lost on me.

Even Steven has a unique sense of humor. And he needs to re-calibrate his scales.

Monday, June 12, 2017

From the "You're Not EVEN Gonna Believe This One" Files, June 12, 2017

It is 6:30 and I just returned home from a surprise casino trip. Surprise, because even though Hick did a good deed by taking me, as late as 8:00 p.m. last night, he assured me that he was not going to spring such an opportunity on me. He did that last week, you know, as I was coming out of Walmart, unable to get back home by the time we would have left so he could make a doctor's appointment on the way.

Anyhoo...Hick had business in court this morning. That's a story for later, but he's not being locked up, if that was the first thing to cross your mind. I had planned to get up early (before 9:00, I'm on RPT [Retired People Time], you know) and color my hair (yes, Val is unnatural) and go to Walmart. I slept in (because I could) and Hick's call (he has the worst timing ever) got me out of the shower.

After making me listen to the minutia of the court procedure, Hick said he was on the way home. I asked what he was doing the rest of the day, because I was headed to Walmart, and didn't want any surprises. I specifically said, "You're not going to offer to take me to the casino, are you? Because I need to know now, since I'm heading to Walmart and then getting my big soda." (That's a 44 oz Diet Coke to you.) Hick's answer was: "I wouldn't necessarily rule that out." So I pinned him down to take me, and got my stuff together while he was on the way home. After I dried off and dressed, of course.

Here's where things get all wacky. On the way there, I endured more chatter about court. Then a call to Hick from somebody asking him how much a door costs these days. His cell (PHONE) number is one off from Lowe's. And we chatted about Tommy, and how much money I was going to give Hick for gambling, and how long we were staying, and what we'd have for lunch (big burger and fries, forget the two-for-one buffet coupon).

As we were nearing the casino, I said to Hick, "I wonder if I'll find any pennies today. I've been finding them all over in the last week." Hick declared that he finds them all the time on the parking lot at work. "They're pennies from heaven, you know. Somebody is trying to tell you something." Hick humored me. Because he knows which side his bread is buttered on, and who butters it.

I told Hick that he didn't have to drop me off at the door. "It's so hot today. I'll just use this as my walk. Even if it means I get all sweaty walking in. This will be my workout today." Hick pulled into a parking space at the opposite end of the complex from the casino. He always parks there. But normally he drops me off at the front door, by valet parking.

I opened my door to get out, and guessed it...a PENNY! "Look at that! I can't believe it. I was just talking about finding a penny. I wrote about it two days ago." I picked it up, and put it in my shirt pocket. I don't mix the found pennies with my regular change. Hick kind of snorted. But again, he humored me.

Right now I'm not going into the gambling specifics, but I'll just stay that Hick and I stopped for lunch at Burger Brothers at 12:40. After a delicious meal, we decided that we'd go our separate ways again, Hick going back to the non-smoking area, and me heading to the penny machines. I'm switching things up these days.

No sooner did I walk across the gaming area to the penny section on the right than I noticed my PLAYER'S CARD WAS NOT IN MY POCKET! Nor was it in my purse. My player's card was missing! Gotta have the player's card! I had $20 in free play today! That's nothing to sneeze at. Gotta accumulate free play credits.

The only place I could think of to find my player's card was back at the machine where I met Hick. Of course, the casino will issue you a new player's card, but attached to it was the green stretchy old-style-phone-cord kind of keyring that I had used at school for at least 15 years. In fact, when I RETIRED and turned in my work keys, I walked back into the principal's office and asked him for my keyring. It has sentimental value.

On my way back to the rear of the casino to the non-smoking area, to look for my card and keyring, as I turned the curve in the carpet in front of the cashier's windows, I saw a PENNY on the carpet! You can bet I stopped to pick it up. TWO PENNIES in one day, by cracky! Somebody really loves me!

I found my player's card laid out on the machine, and took it back. Slots slots slots blah blah blah story for later. Hick and I left the casino around 4:00. He decided to take the back roads to avoid sitting in rush hour traffic. As we got closer, I told him that when we got home, I was going to town for my soda. "We can do that on the way," he said. "It's only 9 miles down the highway from our short cut." So he saved me a trip back to town.

"I want to go to Orb K for my soda and some lottery. The gas station chicken store may not be on another roll since my last winner. I wonder if I'll find a penny there today. That would be freaky! I just found one in Orb K the other day. But I already found TWO today!"

Hick parked the car where in my usual spot at Orb K. But I was getting out of the passenger side this time. I opened up my door and could not believe what I saw in the middle of the empty parking spot next to us. "LOOK! Do you SEE that? It's a PENNY!" Hick did not see it, probably because my boobage was in the way of him looking out my door to the ground. But you can bet I picked that penny up and stashed it on the floor mat of A-Cad. Because I had the casino parking lot penny in my shirt pocket, and the cashier's carpet penny in my right pants pocket, and winnings change in my left pants pocket.

I went into Orb K and got my 44 oz Diet Coke. It's like a lesser babka compared to that magical elixir at the gas station chicken store, but it's not bad. I also bought my Golden Ticket scratcher ($60 winner, I found out later). I came back to the car. Because I go down the little ramp from the sidewalk rather than stepping off the curb, I walked around the back of A-Cad to get to the passenger side.

WHAT? Right there by the back left tire of A-Cad was another PENNY! I had not seen it there as I went in. Old Abe looked like he'd been in a fight, and lost. But it was my 4TH PENNY OF THE DAY, by cracky!

Seriously. What are the odds of that?

I know you're all cutting eyes at each other, twirling the crazy finger beside your temple, saying, "Uh huh. Our Val is surely daft." Okay. Maybe you're doing everything but the daft part. But blog buddy Sarah is probably saying that. Not that I know British slang. I didn't even know England is an island until a couple years ago. But still. I think finding FOUR PENNIES in one day, after specifically talking about pennies from heaven, and finding three last something more than mere coincidence.

Even Hick declared, after the fourth penny..."That IS a little unusual."

Today's four pennies, on the porch rail overlooking a yucca plant.

In order, left to right, the casino parking lot, the casino carpet in front of the cashier's area, going into Orb K, and coming out of Orb K.

No dates stand out for me as significant in my life. I can't even see the date on the last one. First is 2012, then 1971, then 1992, the the mutilated one.

Call me crazy. I'm finding a fortune, one cent at a time, but I'm richer in other ways.