Monday, July 31, 2017

Have a Nice Trip, See You Next Fall

Last night I was sitting in my dark basement lair, minding my own business, tickling the keyboard and my own funny bone with some future ideas for fake book reviews...and up in my living room there arose such a clatter that I ran to the bottom of the 13 stairs to see what was the matter.

It was a terrible noise! A bumpity thump thump!


I could see part of Hick's noggin through the stair rails. Not where his noggin should have been.

"Yeahhh. I'm okay."

"What happened?"

"I tripped over your suitcase."

"You're SURE you're okay? Did you hurt your butt again?"

"No. I'm okay. I lost some of my banana."

I guess Hick was crawling around picking up slices of banana that had catapulted out of his bowl of strawberries and bananas that I make for him almost nightly.

Here's the culprit:

Here's the thing. Hick was totally at fault!

That is a cheap suitcase (it does have wheels and a collapsible handle) that I got free with a catalog order. I had planned to take it on Casinopalooza 2, but Hick had a sturdier one that he wasn't going to use, so I left this one behind. When we returned from Casinopalooza 2, I unpacked that very evening, and set my used suitcase beside this new suitcase for Hick to take back downstairs. That's a man's job, by cracky, and not Val's.

Somewhere along the line, the next day, perhaps, Hick took his own suitcase down, and the one that I had used, and left this one on the couch. We don't use the long couch much, as it makes one watch TV at an angle. Hick sometimes sits on it to use the coffee table and eat a quick lunch, if I am in the La-Z-Boy.

When Hick hurt his butt hamstring a few weeks ago, he was in so much pain that he didn't even play around in Shackytown, but came inside and laid down on the long couch. He put the suitcase on the floor, standing up on its wheels, against an end table that is to the right in that picture. There was still almost the full walkway from the kitchen into the living room.

That suitcase has been sitting in that area AT LEAST three weeks. Maybe four. Depends on when Hick hurt his butt hamstring. So...I don't know how Hick lost his senses last night, and rounded that turn without noticing the suitcase sitting there. Maybe he would have tripped over the end table if the suitcase wasn't there. Maybe Hick is a regular Dick Van Dyke coming home to Laura Petrie, falling over an ottoman. Maybe he would have tripped over that wayward thread on the arm of the couch. Who's to know?

Anyhoo...I was kind of worried about Hick. Hick was kind of worried about the bananas. Let the record show that he picked them up off the floor and put them back in his bowl.

The suitcase is still on the couch.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Backroads Hickster Mow That Yard...Doodah, Doodah

I usually don't post pictures of family members. Not their faces, anyway. But this is something you've gotta see!

Friday morning I walked through the living room and caught a glimpse of Hick out front, mowing the yard. The sight was breathtaking! You be the judge:

That's Hick's $1700 mower. The one he drove off and bought one afternoon without telling me, until he drove it by the front porch later that evening as I was snacking the dogs, and I asked where it came from.

He might try to justify it now, though. Because his mowing ensemble came cheap.

Hick swears that he didn't specifically put on that shirt because it matches his mower. I call poppycock!

Hat- $4.00 from Tractor Supply

Overalls- FREE, given to Hick by HOS, who had them given to him for free also

Hemming of the overalls- $5 from a freelance seamstress

T-shirt- FREE, from a tool show in Florida, says DeWalt on the front (maker of hand tools like saws and drills)

Yes, Hick was a meticulous little mower! Even though, as you can see, the summer heat and lack of rain has made that job somewhat unnecessary.

Back and forth he went, vroom-vroom, combing that undergrown yard. Not even giving me a quizzical look for standing on the porch pointing my phone at him until his third trip.

I figured I had enough blog ammunition, and went to the kitchen to wash some dishes. After the water was run, I noticed that I no longer heard the mower. Huh. I went out front to take a gander, and saw THIS:

It was a Hickless mower! Meh. Stranger things that this have happened around this place! I got in T-Hoe and started to town. At the end of the driveway, I encountered Hick rounding the bend from the BARn field on his Gator. He'd run out of gas, and had just enough in a red gas can to finish off the yard.

Hick's not much of a planner, but he can put together a mowing ensemble like nobody's business!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Hick and Val Get Along Like Salt and Vinegar

Every now and then, I feel a tiny twinge of remorse for the way I treat Hick. Not often! And it's the tiniest of twinges. I probably wouldn't feel it at all except that I'm a distant descendant of that pea-under-the-mattress princess. However...yesterday, I felt that tiny twinge of remorse.

We don't hide treats under a towel on the kitchen counter around here. Treats are treats, earmarked for the person who requested them, lines drawn, territory established, orders right out in the open. Hick has his treats, and I have mine, and there are those we share. Nobody eats Hick's treats. Mainly because they are mainly sugar-free, and I don't have a fake-sweet tooth. And Genius is out of the house, and not here to scam the sugar-free oatmeal raisin cookies.

For my lunches, I have a little individual bag of chips. I buy the big 20-pack collection of assorted flavors. I used to buy the brand name, but neither Hick nor I like Doritos, so those bags went to the dogs. The dogs didn't mind, but when I'm spending my once-hard-earned money on chips, I'd prefer that a human eat them, not canines. I eat the BBQ chips first. Then the Sour Cream and Onion. Then the plain. Whatever is left is fair game for Hick. He knows this.

I switched to the Great Value pack of assorted chips, because they don't have Doritos. After my three flavors, there are four bags chips left. They're light blue bags. I told Hick, who has his own large bag of chips, Bacon and Cheddar Loaded Potato, so don't go feeling sorry for him like he's chipless..."You can eat these light-blue bags of chips. They're ruffled. But don't take the BBQ or Sour Cream and Onion, or the plain. I like those." Hick agreed.

Then I noticed that the light blue bags were not disappearing. I especially noticed when I was sitting on the short couch conversing with Hick as he got some chips to go with his lunch.

"Where did you say those chips were?"

I'll be ding-dang-donged if Hick wasn't over at the kitchen table, snooping! I have a big pack there to take The Pony next week, but they're all Cheeto varieties. If I don't separate the ones Hick is allowed, he has a homing beacon that seeks out the freshest chips. He only eats six-week-expired hot dogs.

"In the pantry. In that pack. The light blue ones. Have you been getting them off the table? Because I just opened that pack, and there are still three bags in the pantry, and you said you ate some chips last night."

"I did."

"Have you been eating the yellow bags? The ones that look like fake Lay's?"

"No. I haven't been eating your chips."

Hick came to the La-Z-Boy with a mini bag of Cheetos. Crunchy.

"WHY do you have Cheetos? Where did you get those?"

"Cheetos are fine. I got them out of the pantry."

"The PANTRY! I can't remember the last time I bought those! Probably back when The Pony was here. And that was over Christmas."

"They're fine. I had some last night."

"Do I have to do EVERYTHING myself? I'll get your chips! It's pretty simple, really. They're right in the pantry in that pack."

"You don't have to get them, Val. I couldn't find them. Cheetos are fine. The blue bags? They're Salt and Vinegar."

"No they're not! If they were Salt and Vinegar, I'd be eating them with my lunches! I LIKE Salt and Vinegar."

I went to the pantry and saw the three bags of chips still in the pack. Salt and Vinegar. Huh. I went to the table and looked in the new pack. Blue bags. Salt and Vinegar. What in the Not-Heaven?

"Well...these blue bags ARE Salt and Vinegar. I swear, the last time, they were ruffled plain chips!"

"Yeah. I remember eating them."

"Huh. Maybe that was in a brand name pack."

"Well, get me some of those when you go to the store."

So easy for him to say. Since the store won't sell chips to HIM, I suppose. But I put them on my list. I couldn't find ANY brand of chip packs that included mini ruffled chips.

Guess I'll be eating more chips now. And Hick will be taxing himself by taking the clip off a big bag and putting some on his plate.

I almost feel bad for berating him over not eating his allotted chips. Almost. The tiny twinge is a manageable kind of pain.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #69 "I Am Ray Don, Hear Me Roar"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week's fake book gives you a peep peek into the life of a self-made, self-important man. He's the universe's gift to womankind. Don't take a chance on Val selling out before you can lay hands on your own tome. Pour a stiff drink and settle down for some alone time with this exercise in self-admiration.

I Am Ray Don, Hear Me Roar

Ray Don never lets a pretty lady sit alone. Whether in a restaurant, airplane, casino, or free clinic, he's right there beside the little gal, keeping her company. Protecting her. Entertaining her with tales of his greatness. Ray Don is too much man for one woman. He prefers to spread himself around.

Back in 1991, Ray Don followed a couple of gals to the Grand Canyon. Actually, he got there first. Good thing! Those pretty ladies must have had a brake malfunction on their convertible, because just as Ray Don spotted them, and they him...that T-Bird shot right over the edge! Ray Don didn't even bother to cover himself after his nude tanning session.

"C'mon back, honeys! Ray Don's here for you!" He could see them lodged in foliage that jutted out from the cliff.

Will Thelma and Louise accept the lifeline Ray Don lowers them to pull themselves up?
(150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Eagle, flying over the Grand Canyon as Ray Don attempts a rescue..."My EYES! This is animal cruelty! If the fake book is half as disturbing as this sight, it should be burned by PETA! Oh, of all the times to have EAGLE EYES, this is definitely not one of them."

Buck Naked, noted pr0n star..."I would drape myself in velvet, even if it wasn't socially acceptable. I would change my name to George. But I WON'T recommend this fake book!"

Peter Johnson..."Are you yankin' my crank? You call THIS a fake book? That's half right. There's no way I'm up to reading one more page of this trash! It should be banned!"

Birthday Suits everywhere..."We are embarrassed. Not since The Emperor's new clothes has such a scam been perpetrated upon the public. The pages of this book are as bare of plot as Thevictorian's soul is of common decency."

Sunburn, and his BFF Exposure..."Were our faces red when we heard about this fake book! There are plot holes bigger than water blisters after an unprotected day in the desert. Let the record show that we were NOT consulted by Thevictorian, or her fact checker."

The 1970s..."We're calling, and we want our popular fad back. Suuuure Ray Don was sunbathing. Call it what it really was, Thevictorian! That's your era! There was even a song about it!"

Limestone, Sandstone, and Shale..."Our faith in humankind, just like our very foundation, is eroding after reading this fake book. Only much, much faster. Thevictorian and her fake books are wearing thin on everybody."

Colorado River..."Please pardon my cutting remarks, but Thevictorian will never be able to carve out a niche for her fake books. She cannot sink any lower. Her chances to go mainstream are rapidly running out. And I can't say that I give a dam."

Eons..."No amount of time can shape Thevictorian into a writer."

Roadrunner..."I am a creatuer of few words. You can quote me on this. My review of this fake book is 'BLEEP BLEEP!'"

Wile E. Coyote..."What Thevictorian needs is a shipment of ACME Book Distribution Materials. I hear that package is dynamite!"

Thursday, July 27, 2017

From the Five-Dollar Daughter to the Fifty-Cent Wife

I've come a long way, baby. The times, they are a-changin'. Used to be I was my mom's special daughter, worthy of a five-dollar bill every time I packed up a Walmart bag of treats like leftover fried rice, a couple of Little Caesar's cheese pizza slices, week-old tabloids, and, if she was lucky, an unopened box of Crunch N Munch that I bought at Save A Lot just for her. In return, after a 30-minute conversation, each of us sitting behind the wheel of our car on the bowling alley parking lot, Mom would give me five dollars. Yes. It gave me a sense of worth. Even though she might say, "For the boys. In case they want McDonalds."

Now I am searching for my identity. And I'm afraid I've found it. The Fifty-Cent Wife.

Yesterday I came upstairs to get supper ready, and talk to Hick over the back porch rail as he floated just below the surface of Poolio on a raft not quite rated for his weight.

"Did you see your present?"

"No. What present?"

"Well, you say I never bring you anything. It's on the table."

"I don't look on the table. That's your junk. And the stuff for Chex Mix that I'm making for you to take The Pony."

"Not on the table. On the counter. In that area you say I always pile everything. Where you get stuff ready."

"Oh. I didn't put your supper on yet. I didn't look."

"I got you a present. At Goodwill."

"Huh. I can't wait."

"Well...see? I brought you something. I think you'll get a kick out of it."

Yeah. Somebody should get a kick out of it, all right. It's not that I'm ungrateful. It's the though that counts. And Hick was definitely thinking of me when he spent that 50 cents. Assuming it wasn't a half-price sale again. He was thinking of me right after I pointedly told him that he never thinks of me, that I bring him treats all the time without him asking, and I couldn't think of the last time he brought ME anything. The little red horse and the lottery ticket from Sweden or Switzerland (I get them confused, they're pretty much the same place, aren't they) or Germany excluded, because they were from his work trip.

Let the record show that I have never consumed a cup of coffee in my life, yet Hick saw fit to bring me a double-sized coffee mug! Uh huh. Even though I don't drink coffee! But the previous owner of this gently-used treasure must have:

I don't know what I'm going to do with it. I'm certainly not going to take up coffee-drinking! I think it's more of a commemorative treasure. Perhaps Hick will volunteer to build a shack around it for me.

You know the best thing about this special loving present that my Sweet Baboo brought me? It almost made me believe that he has begun growing a rudimentary sense of humor!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Equal Time for the Diminutive Equine

Since I shared the recent happenings in Genius's world last week, I feel obligated to give equal time to The Pony. I'm not going to count the words or lines and make sure each is the same. It's not like dividing the last piece of cake. In fact, neither boy reads my blog, so they'll never know. Even if they did, Genius would shrug and say, "Meh," and go on with his busy life. And The Pony wouldn't notice that he was left out. He's funny like that.

The Pony has been taking summer classes at OU in Norman, Oklahoma. It's not so much that he wanted to take the classes, but that he didn't want to come home for the summer, and living in the dorm is kind of frowned upon if you're not enrolled. I hear from The Pony more often than from Genius. Usually a text every few days, usually a few minutes before 1:00, usually with the message, "Buying a book for class on my Kindle. Class is starting now." Uh huh. I see what he's doing. He's making sure there's no back-and-forth with Mother Dearest.

He DID send me a couple pictures on Sunday. "I think a storm is coming. Clear blue sky one direction."

"This the other one:"

Classes end next week, and again, The Pony wishes to remain in Norman. Perhaps his near-death experience on his first (and last) trip home alone had something to do with it.

Anyhoo...The Pony will be moving from his dorm into university-owned apartments next week. He originally said he could do it himself, by borrowing a dolly from his RA, and help from his buddy across the hall, who had driven him to Urgent Care when he had his ear infection when he returned from Christmas break. I wrote him a letter explaining that his father was quite disappointed, since he always helped Genius move. And that Hick promised not to bother him. He just wanted to help with the big stuff, and check out the apartment to see if everything looked okay.

A couple days ago, The Pony said that he could use Hick's help. That the RA was moving earlier because of RA stuff, and her dolly wouldn't be available. And that his buddy was also going to be moving back home for the interim two weeks, because his spot in his frat house wasn't going to be available until then. Hick didn't care. He's taking A WHOLE WEEK off work to go help! Four days, three nights. Of course two of the days will be spent with at least 9 hours on the road. Of course Val is already weeping for the loss of Hick's company! HA HA HA HA! Almost got you there, didn't I?

I am not making the trip this time, because, let's face it, Val is not going to be a help, but rather a hindrance, in moving The Pony's possessions from a 9th floor dorm room to a 3rd floor apartment. I'm pretty sure The Pony is okay with my impending absence.

Maybe I can get one of those two to take some pictures and send me. All I got last time was two pictures of The Pony's dorm room. I think one was the bed, and one was a view out the window of Papa John's.

I'm making a list, and checking it about a dozen times. The Pony is going to need kitchen supplies, some food, and full size sheets instead of extra-long twin. I also asked where he's going to watch TV if he has a friend over. The furnished TV is like in the dorms, an old-style box type, whereas The Pony's TV has a flat screen. Rules say the furnishings can't be moved. He can hook up his own TV, but that boxy one has to stay in the living room, which has one couch, one chair, and a small table.

"You might, you know...need a little chair, or beanbag, or something in case you have someone over to watch TV in your room. Or I guess...if you make the could...uh...sit on that. Not that you're going to be doing that a lot, of course."

"What do you mean, Mother Dear? What makes you so sure that I won't be entertaining in my bedroom?"

"Because I'M YOUR MOTHER! And...YOU'RE NOT going to!" Which was not said as a threat, but as a heartstring tug on my growing-up little Pony.

I'm sure he'll use good judgment. As long as driving isn't involved.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pretty Sure My Karma Tally Is Still Positive

As you may have gleaned from previous exposure to Val's tales...she has the opinion that Even Steven and Karma keep her life in check. That what she puts out to The Universe is what she gets back. Even the ruthless murder of yesterday's wood bee has been balanced by the capture and release of other critters Val found, or Hick gave her.

Like the time she found a four-inch millipede on her grandma's toenail rug in her dark basement lair, and had Genius trap it under a bowl until Hick got home from work and could throw it outside. And that time her old dog Grizzly alerted her to a 3-foot-long black snake about to eat a nest of baby bunnies, and she had Hick scoop it up on a stick and toss it down in the woods. And that time Hick and Genius teamed up to bring a big spider, found down by the creek, to her dark basement lair, and wave it in her face, and she told Genius to let it go back down at the creek, and Hick put it on a tree trunk in the goat pen.

Let the record show that I TOLD Hick to put that spider back where he got it, and HE is the one who did not follow instructions. I think it might have been a dolomedes fishing spider, and a tree trunk in the goat pen was not its preferred habitat. Karma, take note! I had the right intentions.

You may also recall that Val is pretty lucky where scratch-off tickets are concerned. And that she is not shy about spreading the wealth.

Last weekend, Hick went to Kansas to visit Genius. While he was gone, HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) came to feed and water the animals so I didn't have to. When we take off for Oklahoma to visit The Pony on a three or four day trip, HOS always helps out. I used to pay him cash for that, because he lived over in Bill-Paying Town then, and stopped by on his way to work. Now that he lives on our other piece of land, within a four-wheeler ride away, Hick says I don't need to give HOS anything. But I do. I give him scratch-off tickets. One time he had a $100 winner on a $10 ticket. Last time, he only won $2. That's why it's called gambling, not winning.

I had five tickets for Hick to give HOS this time. Hick never does anything quite the way I plan. He kept coming up with reasons why he hadn't give HOS the tickets yet. And it wasn't until Saturday, a week later, that he handed them over from their resting place on our kitchen table.

Saturday afternoon, HOS sent me a text of thanks. With a picture of his winners, though I can't see the detail enough to decipher it. HOS said that he won $73 on his tickets, for which I'd paid $25.

I'm pretty sure HOS isn't flipping me off in that picture. It's not like we have a beef. We've always gotten along, ever since he was a little shaver, going into second grade when I first met him. And he thanked me TWICE in his texts. So I'm going to assume that he's just holding the tickets on his lap so they don't blow away while he takes the picture. Because it's not like I'm the yearbook editor, and he's trying to sneak in a pic of himself flying the bird.

Looks like my luck is transferable.

And I'm keeping my balance in the black in Even Steven's ledger.

Monday, July 24, 2017

In the Dark Basement Lair, No One Can Hear You Scream

Yesterday I ran to town for my 44 oz Diet Coke (and by ran, I mean I sat my ample rumpus comfortably on T-Hoe's leather seat and drove the five miles there and back) and then retired to my dark basement lair for an afternoon of internet and soda-sipping. Hick was around somewhere, busy not-repairing one of his tractors that he'd needed for unloading a shipment of lights he had lucked into when his workplace was throwing them away.

It was getting towards 4:00 when I noticed a tickle on my scalp. Kind of an itch. I scratched the area midway between my left ear and the back of my head. Then I felt it again, so I scratched again. But my scalp was not satisfied. I rubbed my fingers on it up under the hair. I didn't feel a bite or scab or tangle. But sometimes, you know, if you have longish hair (or if you HAVE hair) a few strands might get entwined crosswise. They would be caught up in brush bristles if you use a brush, but Val uses a pick that has wide teeth, to give her limp hair some lift.

I spread out my middle three fingers and pulled them away from my head, stretching out my dark tresses. Aha! That was it. I could feel a few strands draped across the backs of my fingers. Out of the corner of my eye, as I pulled my hand away from my head, I saw a dark area on my fingers. Huh. I must have had a matted piece of hair there, like My Sister the Li'l Future Ex-Mayor's Wife had, when she was a kid. Only her hair was orangy-red, and all ratted up in knots, not my dark brown hair that is now courtesy of L'Oreal, and pulls right away from the other strands.

The hairwad must have had static. Gravity did not cause it to fall when I tilted my hand. The hairwad came off as I scraped my hand along the edge of the metal tray sitting at my left elbow at my v-shaped countertop corner desk. I use the tray to carry down my lunch or lottery tickets or mail that I need to make a phone call about. I was in the middle of a YouTube slot machine video on my New Delly, and glanced briefly to see how big a hairwad I had been harboring all morning.

It was not a hairwad.


HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! Uh huh. That's what I yelled. Pretty much.

It was not a happy wood bee. It turned from its back to its feet, and started lumbering toward my arm. CRAP CRAP CRAP! HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! What am I gonna do NOW?

I grabbed a folded paper towel and squished it around the wood bee. Really squeezed. Heard a crunch. WHEW! THAT WAS A CLOSE ONE! I moved it to the right side of my desk, considering what I was going to do with it. Put it in the wastebasket? Take it upstairs and throw it outside? Flush it?

Of course I peeked inside.

THE WOOD BEE WAS NOT DEAD! It was the UNDEAD! Crawling as if I had not just crunched it inside that paper towel. It hadn't even slowed down. HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! That thing wouldn't die! And then...and then...I thought to myself

HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! This could be a blog post!

Uh huh. I always hear Genius in my head, "Pics or it didn't happen." I don't know why that boy is so distrustful of people.

In the meantime, the wood bee was getting loose. That crunch had not even slowed it down. I grabbed my phone and tried to get a picture before that behemoth climbed onto me again.

I know, right? That thing is honkin' GINORMOUS!

What to do, what to do? HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! I grabbed that wood bee with the paper towel again. Squeezed some more. Heard more crunch. I hurried out to the bottom of the stairs and hollered for Hick. "Are you there? Are you up there? Hello? I need help!" He wasn't even in the house! How's THAT for guy who only works three days a week? He's never there when I need him! (I found out later he was bobbing around in Poolio without a care in the world, while I was threatened by this deadly beast.) NOW what?

Flush it! Flush it! Yes! That's it. Flush it down the toilet in the NASCAR bathroom right next to my office. Wait a minute. I couldn't flush that paper towel. It was a Bounty! The quicker picker-upper! I leaned over the toilet and yanked open the paper towel for the wood bee to fall to its watery grave.

HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! Nothing there! Nothing there! No wood bee in the toilet! Where WAS the wood bee? Where? Where? Hanging from the bottom of the paper towel with its freakish hairy legs holding on with a death grip!

I tried shaking the paper towel. Nope. Those leg hairs are surprisingly efficient. That wood bee would NOT come loose. HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! How was I gonna get rid of this monster? I tried dragging the paper towel along the edge of the toilet seat. HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! What if that wood bee got up under the toilet seat, and I didn't see it, and I flushed that paper towel, and thought it was gone? Yeah. No way was I flushing that paper towel.

I slung the paper towel area holding the wood bee hard against the side of the seat, and scraped. YES! Into the drink he went! I flushed. HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! That wood bee would NOT go down without a fight! He was crawling up the slope at the front of the bowl! With water cascading down the slope and sluicing around him! Did he have suction cup feet, too? How was that even possible? If only we had more water pressure in the basement toilet. Like pressure from a fire hydrant. That might work!

I flushed again. HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! This thing might just make it to the top and crawl out! No way was I reaching down in the toilet to grab it again. Wait a minute! Come on...come on...YES! There he went, down into the swirling vortex, where he appeared to swim laps! Round and round and FINALLY! Out he went with the last of the water!

That was a close one. Even today, I'm kind of afraid when I sit down on that toilet.

HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP! This pterodactyl-size critter WAS IN MY HAIR. Maybe for a couple of hours. Dog-shiver! I'm pretty sure I'm gonna have PTSD over this.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire, and Where There're Burgers, There's Ire

Lest you think Val has a permanent case of paranoia, believing that everyone is out to get her, from the Crazy Dude she suspects of messing with her internet, her dusk-to-dawn light, and now Hick's tractor (which suspiciously wouldn't start this morning), to the cashier at Burger Brothers at the casino...let her provide further evidence. 

Somewhere in the middle of THIS long post, I told you how the cashier at Burger Brothers almost scammed $10 from me by not handing back my change. How she got distracted by another customer, and closed her drawer, ignoring me, and then got snippy when I told her I didn't get my change.

Friday, Hick and I went to the casino with my sister the ex-mayor's wife, and the ex-mayor. We went to Burger Brothers for lunch. They might be alleged scammers, but they have delicious burgers. And chili. Because of course that's what Sis wanted. Maybe it runs in the family, because my favorite gambling aunt asks for Italian sausage when she goes there. Nevermind the word BURGER in their name.

Anyhoo...Hick had a coupon for $10 off at any restaurant in the casino. When he came back to the table, he stuck two receipts in my face. "You wanna watch this. The girl messed up. First she didn't give me the $10 off, and when I complained, she said she'd take it off the debit card. Then she ran it again. So we want to make sure she didn't charge us for both." By WE, I guess Hick meant himself and the mouse in his pocket, although it was ME he kept shoving those receipts at.

"What do you want me to do with those?"

"Put 'em in your purse, I guess."

"Because they're too heavy for you to carry around for another couple of hours, until you get home and throw them on the kitchen counter with all the other receipts?"

"Whatever. I just figured you could put them in your purse."

Uh huh. I COULD. I certainly could. Could put them in my GAMBLING PURSE, which has nothing to do with my regular purse, not having anything in it except my player's cards for about a dozen casinos (not that I have a problem, by cracky) and my glasses and some Purell (because they were out of mini GermX) and a hair pick and my money and ID and insurance cards. Much easier, I guess, than Hick simply putting it in his wallet when he put the debit card back in, to lay on the kitchen counter at home.

Anyhoo...that cashier first charged him $22.70. Then supposedly credited that amount back. Then charged him $21.70. Don't know where the dollar went. Then supposedly took off the $10 coupon. Then supposedly charged the debit card $11.70.

This morning I called my automated bank number. I do that on the weekend, to balance my account. I figured the Burger Brothers wouldn't be on there yet. They usually take a couple days to show up. Funny how there was a pending charge of $22.70 from a restaurant. But nothing else.

Wouldn't you think if one transaction was on there, the other would be as well?

But you know Val. She's a paranoid old gal.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

He Might Just Make It After All

Genius, as you recall, is working in Kansas this summer at Garmin. It's his second summer there, and he's got one semester before he graduates with his degree in computer engineering.

Tuesday evening, he called me on his way home from work. I'm pretty sure that was a premeditated phone call, to ensure that it would have a definite time limit. He doesn't live far from work. Garmin provides free housing for its summer employees.

Anyhoo...Genius said he was in a hurry, but he wanted to share that he'd given a presentation earlier in the day. One required of all 150 of the summer employees, like he'd done last time he was there, when he said it made him feel like he was at a science fair again. This time, he said he'd been pretty busy at work, and had done a "good enough" job preparing for his presentation. That had been his goal, to make it good enough, without taking time away from his projects at work.

"Mom, it took two hours of my time for the presentation, and I still have work to catch up on, and right now I'm headed home to change clothes and go to a movie with my friend. But I just wanted to tell you that I'm in the top 12 of the presenters, and now I have to do it again tomorrow! That's two hours out of my job again, and if I move on from that round, I'll miss another two hours in the afternoon!"

"Well, that's a terrible problem to have, isn't it?"

"Yeah. I'm not complaining. I just hadn't planned on them liking it so much."

So...he was home by then, and had to get ready. He's got a friend going to college near there, one he's known since high school days, even though she went to a different high school. They were going to see the new Spiderman movie.

Genius also said he's expecting an offer for full-time, after-graduation work from Garmin in a week or two. He's already got another employer waiting to hear back from him because he wants to make a counter offer. It's a firm in St. Louis where Genius did his co-op semester. He's got an idea of the figures each are going to offer, and is waiting to compare benefits. Again, such a terrible problem to have!

I'm thrilled for Genius. This time of life is so exciting, getting out on your own and starting your career. Especially when your starting pay will be twice what your mother earned per year after 28 years of teaching!

Anyhoo...I was driving to the gas station chicken store Wednesday morning for my 44 oz Diet Coke, and Genius sent me a text that he made it to the final round. He was in the top 3 out of 150 presenters. As he put it, "I presented to my boss's boss's boss this morning. Now I'll present to that guy's boss this afternoon. He gave their titles, but I don't want to get him in hot water by revealing too much. Let's just say that the title Vice President was ahead of both individuals who would hear his final presentation, and that they are one level down from CEO.

That evening, while I was leaning over the back porch rail chatting with Hick as he floated just below the surface in Poolio, on a net raft not quite rated for his weight, I got another text from Genius. He took 2nd in the finals. I asked him if there was a prize, or just braggin' rights and leverage for a future salary. Genius replied that it's a $300 bonus.

Yes. I'm bragging. That's what moms and blogs are for.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #68 "You May Now Eat the Bride"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week we celebrate the sanctity of marriage, the union of man and woman, the melding of flavors in a wedding cake you won't dare stick in the freezer for ten years. Or will you? Imagine the surprise of a new future mate, opening up your freezer, and seeing this top layer! Wait! You don't have to imagine! Val has fake-written a fake book about it! Fake-order your fake copy now, before others beat you to the money tree.

You May Now Eat the Bride

Cynthia has looked forward to this day for as long as she can remember. But now Marcus might be just a little too zealous with that knife. Her cake is one of a kind. Not only is it a tasty combination of french vanilla and devil's food cake, covered with rich buttercream also has filling!

The bridal cake contains many delicacies, just waiting to be revealed. Tootsie rolls, a variety of corns, fish tacos, pie, pork butt, buns, a breadbasket, ribs, liver, melons, tongue, and brains. No sausage, though! And Marcus has promised a knuckle sandwich to anybody who gets too fresh. With his bride, OR her cake. Now Cynthia is tipsy on champagne, and has announced to the crowd, "EAT ME!"

Will Marcus be able to control his over-possessive nature, or will this turn out to be a marriage made in Not-Heaven? (144 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Bride of Frankenstein..."This fake book must be fake-written in some kind of dead language. The plot has trouble coming to life. It's almost as if the fake story was cobbled together from individual parts that have no relation to each other."

Frankenstein..."My little woman no like this fake book. Fake book bad. Fire good. For burning fake book."

Bachelor Party..."We have taken a pole, and everyone agrees that Thevictorian should be stripped of her writing credentials."

Bachelorette Party..."When we heard the sirens and saw the taut, muscular physiques of the cops, we were sure they were the Chippendales we ordered. Unfortunately, they were real policemen, in top shape, looking for Val Thevictorian, to arrest her for grand theft biblio."

Say Yes to the Dress..."Say NO to this book!"

Brides on the show Four Weddings..."Thank all that is holy that Thevictorian did not write a fake book about EACH or our weddings!"

Train..."I had a difficult time following this plot."

Veil..."The way this fake author was concealed from the public, and then revealed for the hack that she really is...has got to be one of the greatest cover-ups in literary history."

Flower Girl..."I scatter these petals to conceal the stench of this fake author's fake writing. Yes, though I am quite precocious, I choose to eschew political correctness, and nip the funereal bouquet of this fake book in the bud."

Ring Bearer..."The pillow upon which this wedding ring sits is what I would need to sit on, after the whipping my father would have given me, had I engaged in stringing together such a band of fake words."

Something Old..."Thevictorian is getting a little long in the tooth to be writing about weddings, isn't she?"

Something New..."Uh...I think I'm in the wrong place! Nothing NEW has ever been associated with this fake author."

Something Borrowed..."I'm the dollar that Val Thevictorian handed that red-headed alcoholic in line at the gas station chicken store this week. So glad my alcoholic put me to good use on the half-pint of whiskey, rather than squandering me on this fake book."

Something Blue..."I'm only blue because I'm so depressed that I spent my fake money and took the fake time to fake-read this fake book. Does anybody have a spare Abilify so I can get rid of this dark cloud that has started following me around?"

Thursday, July 20, 2017

After a Brief Hiccup Yesterday, Val is Back on Track

Yes, make your little crazy curlicues with your finger up by your temple. Cut eyes at each other and snicker. Start staging your intervention.

Val has found her 4th penny in 5 consecutive days!

I suppose I wasn't on track Wednesday. But after skipping that one day, I found another pavement cent today. That makes Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. I'm on a roll!

Today I stopped by the cemetery, then to the farthest-away Casey's for a couple of lottery tickets, then went to my bank. I normally choose the drive-thru, but this time I went into the lobby, because I was trading smaller bills for larger bills to take to the casino tomorrow. Hick and I are meeting my sister the ex-mayor's wife, and of course the ex-mayor, and heading up to our closest casino.

I don't like to put big bills in the slot machines, but when I cash out before leaving, the ticket-changer gives me big bills. Oh, don't think that means I'm always winning! It means that I always come home with a good portion of the money I started with. Unlike Hick, I don't play my credits down to nothing. I cash them out as I go along, getting substantial paybacks.

Anyhoo...there was only one car in the bank lot. I parked way down at the end, because it's near their sidewalk ramp. Have I mentioned that my knees are not fond of steps and curbs? I clicked T-Hoe's door-locker, and started across the driving portion of the lot to the sidewalk.

There it was, right in the middle of the driving lane! A penny! Just for me! In a direct line from T-Hoe to that sidewalk ramp. I didn't stop there to take a picture, because it was the driving lane, by cracky! I took enough risk stopping there to bend over and pick it up.

This penny was easy enough to see, because it had some shine to it. Had some shine, because it was scraped to Not-Heaven and back! Here's a picture I took later, laying on top of my 44 oz Diet Coke at the gas station chicken store. When I got home, I checked his date with a magnifying glass, and it's 2012. No personal significance for me.

Looks like ol' Abe has been run over several times. His backside was barely recognizable as a penny.

I picked up ol' Abe, though, and dropped him in my shirt pocket. That had to be a good sign, right? Finding money on the way to change casino winnings into smaller bills, on the day before going to the casino? And hearing Mary Chapin Carpenter on the radio, singing "I Feel Lucky." Sure. It has to be.

Never mind that I also heard, one directly after the other, while switching stations, Taylor Swift's "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," and Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper." Those were total coincidences, I'm sure...

Yeah, I feel pretty lucky, snagging my 4th penny in 5 consecutive days. Seriously, who leaves home expecting to find money on the bank parking lot?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Charm of the Third Time

I'm thinking of starting my own museum. Pretty sure Hick would build me a shack for it. I'd call it Val's You'd Better Believe It, By Cracky! That's because Ripley already took the other name.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I was only planning a short jaunt to town. Oh, town is the same distance from home. It hasn't moved. But I didn't have a lot of extra running around to do. No shopping, no bill-paying, no letter-mailing, no gas for T-Hoe to guzzle. Just a short trip, for a 44 oz Diet Coke and scratcher tickets. I had that $100 winner, you know, to cash in. Which didn't mean I was spending it all! Some of that was earmarked for my casino bankroll.

I got a late start because I baked a ham. It's not like I'm a gourmet chef, sticking pineapple slices and cherries and cloves and all manner of hammy garnishes all willy-nilly over a giant hogleg. It was a pre-cooked prepared ham, sliced, that I was just warming up so it had the baked flavor, for Hick to eat at will when he wants a sandwich. I figured Tuesday was as good a time as any, while I was up early due to a disturbing awakening by a random noise, and the house not yet heated up by the 100-degree weather.

Once the ham was out of the oven and back in Frig II (seems kind of pointless, right?), I took off for town. The plan was to buy a ticket at Casey's, and then come back next-to next door to the gas station chicken store to cash in that $100 winner, get a couple more tickets, and pocket the change. Unless, of course, there was an alcoholic needing whiskey, or a beggar needing a bus ticket to St. Louis.

You know what happens when Val plans, right? I think I heard Even Steven slapping his knee as he enjoyed a late-morning blueberry muffin with Karma and The Universe. I had smartly chosen to make a left turn and go into Casey's by the back way, cutting across the parking lot of Hick's pharmacy, CeilingReds. But when I came to the cross street, I saw that Casey's was getting their weekly supply shipment. I know Tuesday is truck day for Casey's. I used to work at one. But you never know what time the truck is going to be at which store. There are three of them that I frequent.

Ever the eternal optimist, I pulled onto the lot and squeezed T-Hoe in beside the only other car that fit there, which was blocking the front end of that semi that had pulled parallel to the front of the store. "Oh, well," I thought, "I won't have to wait on other customers in line." That's right. Because there was no line, because neither I (nor anyone else) could get inside. That rolling-bar ramp that they slide boxes down went right from the side of the truck into the left double-door of Casey's. The right door was closed, and I couldn't get to it unless I did the limbo under that rolling-bar ramp. Val's limbo days are over.

Plans foiled, I got back in T-Hoe and went to the gas station chicken store to do my business there. No problems at all. They always cash the big tickets for me, whereas Casey's is usually kind of pissy about it, sometimes with a handmade sign saying nothing over $50, and Orb K's clerks jaw at you to see how much it's worth before they'll commit to cashing it.

Since I missed out on getting a ticket at Casey's, I stopped by Orb K as I headed out of town. What luck! My rightful parking space by the sidewalk slope and sewer grate was open! I patted the won money in my shirt pocket, and hopped out to get a ticket. Of course I took a moment to eye-scour that sewer grate to see if I might find a penny. Nope. I was three for three on being fresh out of penny-luck.


This kind of borders on the unbelievable! No way am I finding a penny for the THIRD DAY IN A ROW, AT THE SAME STORE!

Oh, yes, my blogfriends. I DID!

Almost missed it, so dirty and camouflaged it was, there on the pavement! This one was 1994. At last, a date with significance! That's the year Genius was born. Not that I knew the purpose of that connection.

Until five hours later, when Genius called me at home. He never calls. I'm lucky to get a one-line text every 10-12 days, if he needs money early. But last evening, he called me with some good news. That will have to wait for another time.

Right now I'm happy with the news of my own. Looks like I'm well on my way to becoming a pennyillionaire!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beggars Weepers, Givers Keepers

Yesterday I told you about my adventure on Sunday, when the latest beggar accosted me at the gas station chicken store. Now don't you go feelin' sorry for that beggar. I gave him 30 cents, by cracky, that I didn't HAVE to give him, and he looked really well-kempt and un-drunk for a beggar. For all I know, he had a stock portfolio, and a laundress to keep his clothing so white, and a Lexus parked around behind the building. Still, I gave him the smallest change I had besides a ten-dollar bill. Sucks to be him, I guess, when Red the alcoholic got my dollar a few days previous.

Anyhoo...I told you how I found a penny at my next stop. To me it's kind of an Even Steven thing. I do something good, I get something good in return. Karma. And pennies from heaven! They always make me think of my mom. Like ladybugs.

Anyhoo...yesterday (MONDAY) I didn't go to the gas station chicken store. Not because I'm waiting for them to put up a sign that says NOW WITH FEWER BEGGARS. But because I had other things on my agenda. I was headed down to Bill-Paying Town to Walmart. AND I was stopping by the cemetery, since I missed my visit with Mom on Friday because she was getting a new neighbor one row up and one plot over. I hollered as I drove by, though, that I'd be back when things weren't so busy.

When I stopped at the cemetery, I remembered the fake flowers I bought a while ago that have been waiting in the back of T-Hoe for Hick to snip the end of the stem so they'll fit in the mandatory flower cup thingy that screws onto the marker stones. Hick didn't get around to it yet, but the day was so bright and sunny that I felt like getting out and putting those flowers on, rather than having my standard drive-thru curb-side talk with Mom. I must say, the two sets of flowers that I mixed together looked nice. For plastic flowers, anyway. One set was light yellow and white, kind of like a lily shape, and the other set was more of a daisy kind of design, but orange. They really looked better than my description. I think a strong breeze might blow them out of that mandatory flower cup thingy, but for now, they're festive.

I went on with my errands. Walmart. Casey's. The bank. No pennies from heaven for me, but I was looking. Rather than go back to the gas station chicken store for my 44 oz Diet Coke, I decided to get one at Orb K. I haven't seen a beggar there in nigh over three years.

Of course my rightful parking space by the sewer grate was taken. As were all of the spaces along the front. That's okay, because I don't park out front except for my rightful space. I go on down to the end of the building, where I know that nobody is going to park up against me where I can't get my door open when I come out.

I started the long walk down the sidewalk, casting my eyes along the curb, just in case I might find a penny. I even looked under T-Hoe's running boards when I got out. Nope. Not today. But there were no beggars with their hands outstretched, either. I headed inside for a Polar Pop (just their name for a soda) that only costs 83 cents at this store. And of course I was getting some scratch-off tickets.

The girl who waited on me is their friendliest clerk. I set down my Polar Pop, and she looked surprised, because usually all I buy there are my tickets, unless the Diet Coke at the gas station chicken store is on the fritz.

"Are you ready for a big winner today?"

"Yes! I AM ready for a big winner. I don't have a ticket to cash in today."

She got out my Golden Ticket and a $100 Frenzy. "A number 3 and a number 14!" She doesn't usually give me this info, but she was especially chipper for some unknown reason.

I paid and took my change out of the little dish at the end of a coin slide they have hooked up to their register. Still scanning the penny-colored tile for pennies. Nope. None.

Back outside, I clicked T-Hoe's door unlocked and leaned over to set my soda and tickets inside. Then I straightened up and turned to climb in. I was up against the sidewalk, so I didn't have to climb up on the running board. Just step my foot over and sit down. As I grabbed the door frame to steady myself, I saw something on the side sidewalk.

"Are you kidding me?" I often speak right out loud to Even Steven and the Universe.

Yes. A penny. I don't know how I missed it on the way in. I guess I was looking to the left, where all the cars had been parked. Or the sun wasn't shining just right. Or it didn't get dropped until I went in. Of course I grabbed my camera for "pics or it didn't happen" as Genius once told me.

This one was 2006. No significance for me.

If my rightful parking spot up by the sewer grate and handicap slope had been available, I never would have found this penny. Nor would I have found it if I stopped at the gas station chicken store for my 44 oz Diet Coke instead of here.

Right place. Right time.

For SURE...because my $100 Frenzy ticket had a WIN ALL symbol, and won me $100.

Sorry, Beggarman. Looks like you were a day early, and $100 short.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Keep on Trackin'

Have you heard? Val has a new tattoo on her forehead! Uh huh. It says, "I'm a patsy, ask me for spare change." Yep. I can't see it myself, when I look in the mirror. But to other folks, it must be as obvious as one of those yellow-and-black, circle-triangle, nuclear fallout shelter signs that we had all over my childhood middle school, pointing towards the locker rooms.

SUNDAY. I had three stops to make. Save A Lot for hamburger. Gas station chicken store for 44 oz Diet Coke. Orb K for lottery. Simple enough. I switched up my order of stops, because it's easier to make right turns than left, across the congested traffic area with no stoplights, by Save A Lot and Orb K. I bought my hamburger without incident at Save A Lot, and headed to my next stop.

My rightful parking space was available at the gas station chicken store. But there was a man sitting at one of the round picnic tables blacktopped into the area beside the building. We were separated by a concrete parking thingy, so that man was not in any danger from me and T-Hoe. I felt uncomfortable, though, with him sitting there. I sometimes think that T-Hoe's fashionable daytime running lights (they were all the rage in 2008) are annoying to the clerks when they sit out there having a smoke break.

I didn't waste any time with him sitting there looking at me. I shut off the engine and counted out the 69 cents to go with my dollar for my magical elixir. I forgot all about that quarter and nickel I had put in my pocket to use when I left home. I carry my change in my hand as I run my soda at the fountain. I grabbed my $50 scratch-off winner to cash in, and headed inside.

After buying my soda and some tickets without incident, I headed out to T-Hoe, my head down looking for ground money as usual these days. I had my 44 oz and tickets in my left hand, and T-Hoe's door clicker in my right. Before I could open the driver's door, that picnic table dude was in front of me.

He was an older gentleman, wearing a white cap that may have had a flag on it, a white shirt with a collar and placket and buttons, cream-colored pocket shorts that were not of the cargo variety, white crew socks, and light-colored shoes. Yeah. I know. I dropped the ball on the shoes. I'll never make a good witness with this slipshod attention to details. Oh, and the guy had a black metal cane with a bent handle. I couldn't open the door without hitting him.

"Do you have any spare change?"

"No, I don't." I sure wasn't giving him the ten or twenty in my shirt pocket from my cashed in ticket!

"Any little bit would help. I need to catch a bus to St. Louis."

Huh. The last I knew, there is no Greyhound stop in Backroads. The closest one I remember is down in Bill-Paying town, 20 miles south, not on this guy's way to St. Louis. Then I remembered the coins in my pants pocket.

"Well...I have this nickel and quarter..."

"Okay. Thank you."

I got in T-Hoe, too rattled to write an initial on the back of my tickets so I could remember where they came from, too rattled to take my two pills that I always bring along and take here when I start home. I headed for Orb K to get the lottery tickets I'd planned on from there. Normally, that's my first stop, but Sunday it was my last. And my rightful parking spot by the handicap sidewalk slope was available!

Of course I was still on the lookout for some pennies from heaven. None at Save A Lot, none at the gas station chicken store. None from the Mother Hubbard's cupboard-worthy pavement of Orb K, either.


No, I 'm not trying to hypnotize you with a spiral-patterned sewer grate. Nor show off my fashionable and cool mesh New Balance. I'm trying to show you what I almost missed!

A penny from heaven, people! I found ANOTHER penny! This one was 1996. No significance to me. It was the year two years after Genius was born, and two years before The Pony was born. You can bet I was on that penny like Hick on a Casey's donut!

Anyhoo...who knows if that spot would even have been available, or if that penny would have been dropped (or already picked up) if I hadn't dallied those few minutes with the change beggar at the gas station chicken store. I was there in that parking space at Orb K at the time I was supposed to be, in order to find that penny.

My life in on track, I think.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Hickest Touch

I'm sure you're all familiar with the Midas Touch. And pretty sure you haven't heard of the King Hick Touch, though you could probably guess what it involves. Everything King Hick touches turns

Hick has a habit of secretly bringing in his free-range chicken eggs and cooking them while I am not near the kitchen, and then washing ONLY those pans, plates, and utensils used for his dastardly deed. Nothing else laying on the kitchen counter that he has used in the hours leading up to his clandestine feast, mind you. Only performing enough washing to hide his household crime.

I can always figure it out, though. Because the next time I go to use such kitchenware, I find fork holes in my favorite non-stick skillet, and dried egg ridges on my metal spatula, and a Braille-rough surface on my glass bowl or plate. Last week, Hick committed an especially heinous kitchen crime, using one of only 4 bowls given to me by my mom when I first set up my own household, two of them having cracks that had been glued by some family member, and this one found in the sink being one of the two GOOD old bowls without cracks. Now rough of surface due to microwave-cooked Hick free-range egg.

Of course I gave Hick a stern talking-to. I think he actually listened, because when I yelled over the back porch rail as he was noodle-riding in Poolio that I was heading to Walmart...he said that I COULD pick up something for him. A bowl to cook eggs in the microwave.

Back when microwaves were all the rage, and the size of a washer/dryer combo, we had microwaveware. It was ugly and gray/tan and hard plastic. I'm pretty sure I threw it away 20 years ago when we moved from my $17,000 house in town to the idyllic homestead where we reside today.

Even though "just picking up a bowl" for Hick would entail a hike across Walmart (dodging beeping backing-up fat-carts) to the non-food end, I said I would. But fortune (and I'm pretty sure a smirking Even Steven) smiled on me that day. I found a shelf of plastic picnic sets on an endcap on the mayo/pickle aisle.

They were only five dollars! Believe you me, THIS Five-Dollar Daughter knows the value of a buck. Or five. I could get FOUR bowls, and four round plates, and four trays, and four cups, and four sets of plastic silverware for only FIVE DOLLARS! That's much more bargainful than hiking across the store to find a single bowl that would certainly cost more than the pro-rated 25 cents of one in this set. I nearly chortled with glee as I snatched up my Hick picnicware and headed for the checkout.

When I got home, Hick was still in Poolio, though floating not on noodles, but slightly below the surface on some oval net-raft thingy rated just under his weight. I proudly held the picnicware out for him to see. And noticed


Oh, dear. My bargain was now not so bargainful. I had paid FIVE DOLLARS for that set, and it was damaged, by cracky! At least I still had the receipt. Yesterday, I returned those damaged goods to Walmart. I was second in line, waited less than two minutes, and found another set quickly.

Hick was gone to Kansas to visit Genius for a day, so he has yet to try out his new egg bowl. I'm pretty sure that chicken I saw Copper the neighbor dog clutching in his mouth as he ran across the yard yesterday morning was our last remaining hen.

Even Steven is such a prankster. The neighbor dog, not so much.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Updates On Val's Latest Connections

 So...remember the other day when Val gave a lady alcoholic a dollar, just for asking?

Today I went by the gas station chicken store, intending to get some gas station chicken to have for lunch (and supper, and tomorrow's lunch) with my 44 oz Diet Coke. Sadly, the only things in the chicken warmer were some sad cardboard trays of wedge fries, and two thighs. I took the two thighs. It was only 12:15, by cracky! And Asian Guy Clerk (AGC) said they had already sold 4 trays of chicken. I think that's a lot, from his reaction.

Anyhoo...while I was waiting for the chicken gal to write up my ticket for the two thighs (two thighs are better than none), I asked AGC if that lady the other day ever got her whiskey.

"Did she get her whiskey? That lady I gave a dollar to, from my change?"

"Oh! We found her another bottle! She said, 'I feel so bad!'"

"That's okay. I figured she needed that dollar more than me."

"Yeah. Heh, heh. For alcohol!"

"She made no secret what it was for! I knew for sure it was going for whiskey."

AGC turned to ring up the next customer, who had walked up to the register as we had been chatting while I waited on my chicken. That guy had put a case of Natural Light on the counter. But it was after NOON now, and he didn't look lit, and he didn't ask me for a dollar. I hope he didn't take offense to our chatter.

Because we all know that Val cares about what random people buying cases of beer in convenience stores think of her.


My internet has been working swell since a guy came out and fixed it on Thursday afternoon. Except for last night, when it quit for an hour. That was due to a heavy rain, I think, because it came back and has been working ever since.

The DISH technician said that our original DISH was out of alignment. I asked him ANIMAL might have done something to knock it all cattywompus. But Technician made a face that was probably like Kind Lady at the other end of the phone when I called DISH about the problem. Like I didn't know what I was talking about. When in fact I was talking about a HUMAN animal, like Crazy Dude, who I still think had something to do with my internet outage.

Uh huh. Hick went to court about Crazy Dude on Monday, internet was broken on Wednesday. I told Hick I bet Crazy Dude was up here using night vision and weedy branchy camouflage gear, with deer musk rubbed all over himself so the dogs wouldn't get too wound up. Hick gave me a look like the technician and the kind lady. Hey! It could happen!

Anyhoo...Technician said that we might have had a sketchy signal for a while now, and it just went away. Funny how it's been fine unless there's rain or snow. Never sketchy when the weather is fine. He also said that the satellites shift in the sky. So I guess the earth tilted on its axis Tuesday night when the dogs were barking. Or that the satellite just decided to take a left turn or alternate route.

Technician said he didn't need me for anything else until he was done, and that he'd meet me around front on the porch. I heard a bunch of thumping and bumping that sounded like he was running around the porch. But I knew he had pulled his van around to the side of the house by the DISH, because I TOLD him he could drive through and park in the yard. So maybe the dogs were after him. I did hear a couple of screams, but they were high-pitched. Then I heard some drilling. And some thump-thump-thumping.

Hick came home and got in Poolio, and said that we had a new DISH for the internet. I don't see it, myself. Hick said it is tilted a different way now, that he could tell from comparing its position while floating on two pool noodles. I told him that I had specifically told Kind Lady that I did NOT want a new DISH, nor the upgraded service that I can get with it. But that I HAD heard some drilling.

Well. Here's what I found out from Hick, inter-Backroads spy. HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) had come down to go for a swim with his 7-year-old son and teenage daughter and her friend. He SAW Technician putting on a new DISH. The thumping and screaming had been the kids running around the porch to the only entrance Hick made to the pool deck, and beating each other and the deck with the pool noodles.

I'll leave you with the original picture of the DISH with the electrical smoke haze, and the later one after the alleged installation of a new DISH.

Wednesday morning hazy DISH.

Thursday afternoon sunny DISH. I thought it was the same one, until my untrained eye took another gander at the porch-screwed part and the stem-like part and the knobby part.

Oh, and this morning at 9:30, I saw a DISH van going out the road in front of our house, like he'd made a house call up by Buddy's house. Maybe there IS some truth to that satellite shift theory. But now that I think about it...Buddy's wife was at the courthouse Monday with Hick for the case against Crazy Dude...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #67 "The Celebrated Flying Pig of Backroads County"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week I give you a tasty offering of science fiction, an anthropomorphic hero, and a public service announcement for sunscreen. I see you licking your lips in anticipation! Get this one before it goes out of fake print. It's just what the doctor and PETA and the Isaac Asimov Society ordered!

The Celebrated Flying Pig of Backroads County

Maxwell knew he shouldn't fly so close to the sun. He knew he shouldn't fly at all. But what's a pig to do, when people get so gosh-darn excited about special events that will only happen when PIGS FLY?

Maxwell likes being the center of attention. Or a national marketing campaign. He's not yelling "WHEEEE" now, though. Nobody has offered him a pinwheel to hold out the window of the spaceship where he's currently being anally probed. Just like nobody offered him sunscreen when he flew too close to the sun, and was picked up by those curious folks who, telepathically, told him, "We think you have good taste. Now for the testing."

Will Maxwell escape their clutches before all that's left of him is his squeal? (127 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Pork Belly Futures..."At least we HAVE a future. Unlike tasty Maxwell, and this Thevictorian woman. We put no stock in her fake work."

Truffle-Hunting Pigs..."Hang in there, Maxwell! We’re rootin’ for you! Can't say the same for this fake author. Her fake book should be buried so that it never sees the light of day. Thevictorian is a real ham, and her fake writing is nothing to truffle with." 

Silk Purse..."No, I am NOT made from Maxwell's ear. Nor any other part of his crispy, cracklin' epidermis. But I can assure you of one thing: I'm a way better bag than Val Thevictorian. Somebody should tote her, over-the-shoulder, to the nearest coat check or baggage-handling station, and then conveniently lose the ticket."

A Football..."I AM made from some of Maxwell's epidermis, and I'm ashamed to admit it. Though not as ashamed as I'd be if I was made by Thevictorian, from words randomly compiled all willy-nilly in her imagination."

Bacon..."Alas, even I cannot give Val Thevictorian good taste. Her writing lacks sizzle."

Jimmy Dean..."Let's get right to the meat of the issue. This fake book is full of filler. There is very little organic material in Thevictorian's writing. Even if she spiced it up, her story would still be tasteless."

That waitress in the movie Porky's, putting down the phone..."Has anybody seen Mike Hunt? I'm pretty sure people would rather see Mike Hunt, given the choice of Mike Hunt or Thevictorian's fake book."

Chicken in a Biscuit..."Remember me? Yeah. THAT is going to be YOUR future, Thevictorian. Except nobody is ever going to have a taste for you, or rue your demise."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Terror in Backroads! Is it Coming From INSIDE the House?

I hope you have a strong constitution. That you are not faint of heart. If you can’t ride a roller coaster due to cardiac issues, then maybe you shouldn’t read any further. Are you sitting down? Do you have a blanket to throw over your head if the fright is too much? Somebody to grab hold of? Brace yourself now…


The horror is almost too much for me to take. Val lives by internet alone, people! INTERNET! With a dash of Diet Coke! You might as well shoot that novocaine numbing drug into my extremities and expect me to escape from one of those wonky off-kilter houses, staffed with an army of paintball-shooting zombies. I cannot function without internet!

It worked just fine the day before. Worked, in fact, until I called it an early night at 11:45 p.m., in order to get to bed earlier in order to get up earlier to walk before my brains under my dark lady-mullet (courtesy of L'Oreal), covered with a blue-and-white trucker cap...fried like an egg on a sidewalk. Yes, my internet worked just fine. When I shut down, the screen said two updates were loading, so not to touch the computer. I didn’t. Val does not mess with the internet.

Wednesday morning, I was out the door and walking by 7:00 a.m., and back inside ready to connect Shiba to the internet by 7:45.


I’m a logical person. Hmm. What was different about my computers?

Scenario Number 1: There was that update thingy when I shut down New Delly. But updates happen every now and then. They don’t block my internet.

Scenario Number 2: The husband of Hick’s new best friend Bev had come over Sunday evening and invited himself to use my internet to load something on his computer that needed a product key. He quizzed me about whether we had it password protected. Um, NO. I don’t understand that witch-doctory information superhighway. I asked BevMan if his “borrowing” would mess up my internet, and he scoffed at me. NO!

The old drawing board in my head highlighted Scenario Number 3: After I went to bed at 1:00 a.m. Tuesday night, I was awakened around 4:00 by my Sweet, Sweet Juno barking her fool head off hysterically, right outside the French doors of our bedroom. That’s the corner of the house where the DISH that receives our internet signal is bolted. When I realized that, I KNEW what had stopped my internet!


Okay. Allegedly. Mayhap he did, and mayhap he didn’t. But what else could have gone wrong between 11:45 p.m. and 7:45 a.m.? Do DISHes just fall off the porch rail? Do they get tired of receiving a signal? I don’t know. You tell me.

Anyhoo…I did the diagnostic thingy with Shiba. Then I went to try out New Delly. Both of my devices were deader than doornails when I tried to pull onto the information superhighway. So I sent Genius a text. He’s working a regular job in Kansas this summer with Garmin, you know. So I had to start with, “I know you’re working a real job, but…” That pacified him, I guess, because he responded right away with suggestions and instructions. Some of which involved me taking pictures of routers and wires and bricks and electrical outlets.

You understand, right, that my cell phone won’t work in my dark basement lair? It will send and receive texts, and that is all. So to send pictures, I had to hike up 13 steps and go out on the porch. It was during one such trip that I smelled hot electric. You know that smell. Like something electronic just got fried. Or like your husband is burning wire that he pulled out of a building so he can sell the copper once the coating is gone.

I went around on the side porch to look at the DISHes. The TV one is bigger, and has been here longer, and is near the front of the house. But on down the rail, on the corner near Poolio, is the internet DISH. It LOOKED all right. But the smell was strong there, and a haze of smoke hung in the humidity between it and the woods. What a curious development. Even though the internet didn’t work at least an hour before I noticed this odor and smoke. It wasn’t there when I was walking. But now I could even see the haze faintly across the front yard, too.

Genius said that it was probably not at all related to my internet problem. And that if it WAS, I had a much more serious problem than lack of an internet connection.

Anyhoo…Genius talked me through unpluggings and re-pluggings and troubleshooters and IP4 addresses and all kinds of stuff I never even knew existed. Then he gave me some kind of number to type into a new window to check on the DISH connection, and determined that the problem was nothing to do with our own network or router inside the house, but a problem with DISH. He spent his whole lunch half-hour doing this for me when he called me at noon.

Genius said to call DISH. That they’d tell me to unplug everything he just had me do earlier, and if so, tell them okay, and put the phone down five minutes, then pick it up and tell them it was done. I can understand why he thought they might not believe me. I did, after all, ask him to remote-access my computer and try to fix it that way. But then he said, “If you don’t have internet, I can’t remote access it.” Go figure! I also flip the lights on when the power is out.

The DISH lady was very polite, and spent another 30 minutes walking me through stuff in Hick’s basement workshop related to the DISH router, which nobody told me was on a shelf above my head, out of sight. Except for that kind DISH lady, of course, who sighed a lot and described assorted wires and asked me to follow them and tell her what was on the end, insisting it would say DISH, but everything I had said HUGHES. Then she asked if I saw four blue lights on that router thingy, and I said no, and she said not even on the front, and I said no, there is nothing on the front but a black section that looks like maybe a piece of electrical tape, but no lights or anything that looks like it could light up, but inside I see blue lights.

After more unplugging and re-plugging, the kind DISH lady told me she still showed that the DISH was the problem, and I needed a repairman for $95. After trying to sell me a monthly protection plan of $10.99 which I declined, she tried to upsell me on faster and more internet, but once I found out it would take a new dish, I said NO SIREE, BOB to that lady named Tonya, because I was SO not having it, another troublesome installation like the first one, where the guy bent our gutter and somehow changed my billing from paper to paperless, resulting in a past-due bill.

Anyhoo…I sent Genius a text to tell him what was going on, per his request, a part of the exchange including this statement:

“The lady was polite, but I could tell she thought I was an idiot. She said it should have blue lights, but some genius has black tape covering that area, so I looked through the vents and saw them. I think an ape installed it. Remember, he broke our gutter?”

“Did you just take off the tape? I’d had to tape them over to keep them from ruining my photos in the darkroom.”

Looks like some GENIUS really DID put black tape on the router!

Gee Whiz, Even Steven! I kind of expected more, what with turning in a found lottery ticket, a $9.80 book of stamps, and 11 cents…AND giving a dollar to an alcoholic.

Anyhoo…if you’re reading this, it means that a DISH technician actually DID show up and get the job done, and you’ll probably hear about it in the coming days.