Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Y'all Have Created a Monster!

Hmm...remember how recently, I have been receiving no respect while waiting in lines? How people cut in front and take my turn, or motion for three other people to come join them right in front of me, or act like they shouldn't have to wait, and then insert themselves directly behind me, ahead of five or six people who've been waiting for a while? And remember how several of you have advised this ol' Val to stand up for herself? To be more assertive?

Y'all have created a monster!

Yesterday, I had TWO such encounters at the same convenience store! TWO!! It was at the Casey's over by my bank. I parked over at the side because the milk truck was making a delivery. I walked all the way across the lot, up the concrete ramp (delivery man be darned, he can wait his turn!) and down the sidewalk towards the door.

I was two or three steps away when a young man came out that door. He was a Millennial, perhaps early 20s, wearing a dark blue navy pea coat and a sock cap the the kids these days call beanies instead of sock caps. He was well-dressed for the Backroads area. Better than the camo guy in a pickup truck that I got behind, with a mini deer head with tiny antlers cover on his trailer hitch, and balls of steel swinging to and fro below the bumper. This Millennial was certainly more urban than country. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Millennial pushed that glass door open by the metal bar, with his left hand. He took a step out and glanced to his right and saw me. Two or three steps away. Val does not expect people to hold the door open for her. She is neither infirm nor decrepit. She doesn't think the world owes her anything (except her rightful parking space and parking lot pennies), or that she's a privileged class because of her womanhood. No. She just wants traffic to flow smoothly in and out of the convenience store doors. Shove it open as you go out so I can catch it as I'm going in. It's all about the pace. 'Bout the pace. No trouble.

Anyhoo...the Millennial saw me striding toward the door. He took a step towards the truck parked nearby, turned, and PUSHED THE DOOR CLOSED! Not only did he push the door closed, he held it for a moment, like he was waiting for it to click a latch. PUSHED THE DOOR CLOSED, when it is made to close on its own, at a normal door-closing pace, yet he took it upon himself to hasten its closure. Right as I was heading in, desiring it to be openable.

I am used to the Millennials not taking the trouble to hold a door open for me. That would require caring about someone not themselves. I don't expect it. I have questioned why one would open the door and slip in like a thief evading an electric eye (like happened at the gas station chicken store a while back), rather than flinging the door open so I can grab it as I come along behind them. But THIS was a first. Somebody deliberately pushing a door closed, faster than it would close itself, as I walked up to enter.


Am I now Public Enemy #1? Must convenience stores be protected from me by Millennials holding doors shut? I don't know what was going on there. But Millennial finally let it go and walked off, after my stride was broken. I grabbed the metal handle and pulled it open, a bemused look on my face. Still can't figure that one out.

Inside was one person at the counter, paying. Or trying to, from the discussion of some problem with his card. Only the first register was open, with the real polite lady working, the one who sells me my scratchers, and who helped me find a funnel and oil when Hick was galavanting around Europe and T-Hoe developed a terrible oil thirst. I had a scratcher clutched in hand to redeem.

Over by the donut case was a man in a yellow and gray windbreaker. He looked kind of like Kenny Rogers, halfway between his old face and his new face. He had longish silver hair and a part walrus, part Fu Manchu mustache. He was standing in the second aisle, holding an open box of donuts. I didn't count them to see if there was a full dozen, but there were a lot, yet the box lid was flapped open. He wasn't bent over using tongs to grab donuts. Just standing in the aisle beside the case, facing toward the front wall. Another guy, in work boots and jeans, was leaning against the beverage cooler doors on the wall at Donut Man's left, texting.

You know Val. Always the proper lady. I didn't want to butt in line if they were waiting. I stood at the entrance of the first aisle (CANDY) because there isn't much room in that store. I looked at Donut Man.

"Are you in line?" Just a question. Common sense. So you don't unknowingly take someone's spot in line. Val abhors line-cutters. Polite, I thought, to see if he was shooting the breeze with that texting man (as Backroads men are wont to do) in which case I would get in line...or if he was ready to pay and I should wait and go after him. He was at least 12 feet away from the counter.

"Yes. I'm in line."

"Okay. I couldn't tell, with you over there." Simple, right? Just making conversation. VALidating the fact that I now knew he was ahead of me for the line. You know Val. Always polite. I stayed in the first aisle, waiting my turn. I didn't see any point of walking to the other side of the store beside Beverage Cooler Dude, who hadn't even looked up when I asked about the line.

WELL! Donut Man stomped over to the counter, crowded up on the guy paying, threw down his still-open box of donuts with a thump, turned to look right at me, and said, "How's THAT? Is THAT good enough?"

I was taken aback by the chip on his shoulder. Any other day, I might have ignored him. But I'd just had a door deliberately held closed as I was about to enter. And this line crap has been happening more and more frequently, and you guys have been encouraging me to stand up for myself, and the way I saw it, I was quite possibly the politest customer in that store at this moment, what with the paying guy arguing, and Beverage Cooler Guy standing with the sole of one work boot up against the glass of the beverage cooler doors. No way was I going to politely ask Donut Man what he was getting at.

What did he want from me, anyway? To say that yes, that was good enough? What kind of response did he have for that? Or maybe I should have told him that no, it wasn't good enough, and that he needed to close his friggin' donut box so people would know he was done donuting.

I should have just reiterated that I hadn't known if he was in line, and didn't want to cut. But who knows, he might have seen that as a sign of weakness, and clobbered me with a donut. This guy was going out of his way to be a rumpus-hole. So I can be one too.

"Well, I guess I COULD have gotten in front of you."  Mess with the Val, you get the tongue. Don't get all smart-rumpus with me for no reason. There I'd been, making sure I didn't take his turn, and he goes all aggressive on me. For no reason!

Donut Man grabbed his still-open box of donuts. Stepped back, gave a grand gesture with his arm towards the counter, and said, "Since you're in such a big hurry."

Hold the phone, Beverage Cooler Dude! Val is never in a big hurry. What else does she have to do? I never said I was in a hurry. I was not tapping my toe or heavy-sighing. I thought I did the right thing by asking if he was in line. Now I was out-of-line for being polite? EFF YOU, poor man's Kenny Rogers! Kenny would never have treated Dolly like that! She would have shoved him right off the island, into the stream.

"This isn't worth it." I left. Let that passive-aggressive rumpus-hole showcase his rumpus-hole for somebody else. I felt like Kathy Bates, ramming that car on the parking lot of the Winn Dixie. TOWANDA! Empowerment is a beautiful thing.

I cashed in my scratcher at the next Casey's down the road, and won $30 on the ticket I got.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Happy Halloween From HOS's Boy

Saturday night, we had a hot dog roast and hayride.

Hick hitched up his trailer, threw several bales of Barry the mini pony's and Billy the goat's hay on it, and hit the gravel road for about 45 minutes. The hot dog roast was first. Of course the kids weren't hungry. They wandered around looking for something to do, while the older (dating) kids sent them to supposedly cook them another hot dog. The adult consensus was that they were being given busy work to disappear!

We also had giant square marshmallows. They were meant for S'mores, I'm pretty sure. But none of that fancy stuff at Val's hayride. Those behemoths were perfect! You can roast the outside, then peel of the charred skin to eat, and put the other part back in the fire to cook some more. I think I got 7 layers of deliciousness off those big marshmallows!

HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) brought his boy, but his wife had to work this time. I think the kid is ready for Halloween.

He had a good time wedging himself in between some firewood stacks by the gate to the goat pen, and jumping out at his little girl cousins when The Veteran (Hick's second son) told them to go climb on the gate and see if the goat was in there. Yeah. That's kind of a dirty trick. But pretty funny. Kids like to be scared, you know!

The fire was perfect for roasting both fat hot dogs and square marshmallows, and kept us warm in the windy low-40s temperature. The flash of my camera does not do it justice. The orange glow was beautiful.

HOS rode down from his house on the 4-wheeler, and spend some time warming his knees. He says he's wearing next year's shorts.

A good time was had by all, and after the hayride, the kids were famished! They clamored for hot dogs, after Hick had put all the food away. He got the hot dogs out of the BARn refrigerator, but the buns were in the house. I offered to go get them, but the kids said they didn't like buns. They also apparently like raw hot dogs, because after one pass through the flames, declared their hot dogs roasted. I doubt they were even warm yet. But WE were. Thanks to the fire.

Happy Halloween! Don't get tricked!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Flea Marketers Gonna Market

Hick has a new project. He has entered the flea market business for himself! However...as one of his cohorts told another one of his cohorts on Hick's first day being open for business, "I've never known Hick to sell anything, but he sure likes to buy stuff!"

Here's the deal. There's a storage shed business that opened up within this past year. It's on the edge of town, has a big gravel parking lot, fencing around the storage units, a little office building, and has storage units arranged in a big U shape. Hick was waiting for a spot to open up beside his buddy. He waited all month. When the owner called and told him a unit was available, Hick jumped at the chance, even thought it's across the U from his buddy.

Hick's storage unit is a double one. It goes from the inside of the U to the outside. He has two doors. He says that will be beneficial in hot weather, because he can get a breeze. Right now he's keeping the back door closed. "The wind really blows up there on the hill!" The high Saturday was 45 degrees.

The cost to rent the storage unit is $85 a month. Saturday, Hick took in $50. He was quite excited about that, since he only has a little bit of stuff put out, and there was a small crowd of buyers. It IS the end of the month, and the weather was not great, and it's the last Saturday before Halloween. He said one of his buddies told him that he usually makes $150 a weekend.

Here are the wares Hick had on display. It took me a long time to figure out that the picture beside that cross-stitch thingy was actually a mirror, showing Hick taking the picture!

This is stuff from my mom's house. Crafty things. Hick is doing this as a good deed, since the money is not really his, but split between me and my sister the ex-mayor's wife. Shh...she doesn't know Hick is open for business yet. He's keeping a ledger of what he sells, taking a 20% fee like resale shops do, and dividing the rest 50/50 between me and Sis. I don't begrudge him that 20% at all. He's doing all the work. I'm not even charging him rent on those white plastic tables that I bought for my classroom.

You can see Hick's back door (heh, heh, I said Hick's back door!) in the rear (heh, heh, I said rear!) in the background. I think there used to be a partition where that pole (heh, heh, I said pole!) is, but Hick asked that it come down so he could have the double unit. You can see more stuff that he hasn't dealt with yet, just waiting to be displayed.

Hick is excited about his new pastime. He virtually glows when he talks about it. But that could just be from sitting in the cold all morning. He bartered three tubs of buttons to another seller for some shelves so he can display more stuff. He's also making a cabinet with glass doors for things he doesn't want the people touching.

With Christmas on the horizon, he's going to offer some outgrown toys that are currently chilling under our pool table. He has talked about making some stick horses or those wheely stick push toys that have flapping feet made out of rubber. Not for this year, probably, but for the future. Old people like to buy retro toys for their grandkids, he says. He also has his eye on stuff at the auction, telling me that he thinks about what he could resell it for.

I hope he doesn't see a lady on Antiques Roadshow with a valuable button discovered at a Backroads flea market.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Trashy Things

Thursday afternoon, I came up the gravel road and saw a problem.

I had taken the NEW trash dumpster to the end of the driveway Wednesday evening. It gets dumped on Thursday mornings, before 7:00 a.m. When I left home, I could tell that the trash truck had been there, because the dumpster was turned with the handle facing the house. I usually park it there, full, with the handle facing toward the neighbor's driveway. That way, the trash men can flip it back kind of sideways. They don't have to turn it around or anything to get it open. I always think they're helping me out by putting it back with the handle facing the house, for me to grab onto and start pulling. Maybe they're just repeatedly telling me they wish I'd park it this way when I bring it up. Anyhoo...I could tell they'd been there. I don't pull it back until my evening walk on Thursday.

Without the weight of the trash inside...

Dumpy Dumpster took a great fall. The winds were quite strong on Thursday, and caught him just right to topple him over.

That's how lids get broken, you know. And we just got this new dumpster after 20 years. I don't think it would have blown over if it was parked like I leave it, with the wheels at a right angle to the road and wind direction.

This is how dumpsters get broken, you know. I'm not sure I have another 20 years in me if this one gets cracked.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #82 "Bringing Sexy Backs"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Are you interested in tattoos? Do you sport a few yourself, perhaps? Have you ever bemoaned the fact that there are so many tattoos, so little skin? If so, or if you're just a connoisseur of body art, then this week's fake book is for you. Get this tale of an artist who reinvents himself with the personal motto of "Go big or go homeless."

Bringing Sexy Backs

Dustin Forestpond soon found that life as a Justin Timberlake impersonator did not pay all his bills. He put his artistic talents to use, designing tattoos for the 600-pound market. To promote his new business, Dustin booked himself at the Bigger Than Life convention at the Motel 6 out on the interstate. His advertiser's fee was comped by convention organizers in lieu of Dustin agreeing to perform a mini concert during the buffet lunch. Not that anybody noticed.

Will Dustin's prospective customers embrace their wild side, or tell Dustin, "Bye, bye, bye!" And encourage him to hit the road on his absurdly tiny feet? (104 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Tiger..."Thevictorian doesn't have me by the tail, that's plain to see. This fake book has no redeeming value. I would, however, like to give the fake author an all-expenses-paid vacation to a small village in India, near where my relatives live."

Shere Khan..."Yes, please. Come for a visit, Thevictorian. I will welcome you with open...ah...arms. Yes, that's right. I am not much of a reader, but I can devour a...um...fake book like nobody's business. Bring me one of your fake books, won't you? I'll make sure you get a lot of publicity."

Tony the Tiger..."It GRATES! This fake book gets on your nerves and makes you miserable. The fake author is obviously a flake, and not the good kind."

Eye of the Tiger..."There's no thrill in reading this fake book. I do not see Thevictorian as a survivor in the cut-throat publishing world. She seeks glory, yet has no passion."

Cat's Eye Glasses..."I will dash myself into a million little pieces before I let anybody who is visually challenged read a book by this fake author."

Woodsy Owl..."Give a hoot, give Val the boot! Kick this fake author out of you neck of the woods. No more trees should die to perpetuate Thevictorian's rotting career."

Every Owl Who Ever Hooted..."I would spin my head around backwards, faster than a young Linda Blair in The Exorcist, to avoid reading a single word of this fake book. It makes me want to loose my pellet!"

Great Horned Owl..."I am watching Thevictorian like a hawk, with my eagle eyes, to make sure her career is over before it gets started. It is clear that she is not talonted in the least. If I was Thevictorian, I would seek the cover of darkness and stay there.

Night Owl..."You've gotta get up pretty early in the morning to fool people into reading this fake book. I'm just not up for it." 

Barn Owl..."Thevictorian has lofty expectations, but she's about as powerful as a mouse fart when it comes to selling this fake book. It doesn't take a weathervane to see which way the wind blows. Her career is stalled, and she is unstable."

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Late October Now in '17, What a Penny, What a Day

That title is a challenge for my fellow Golden Oldies listeners. It's a twist on a lyric from a fairly well-known song. At least to my generation and the one preceding it. NO PRIZE! Just another chance to guess the name of the song, or the artist, or both. No fair googling! I'm pretty sure most of you will recognize it.

Anyhoo...as you might surmise (and all you antipennyites shake your fist and scream, "WHY???")...this is a report on Val's pennyillionaire status.

On Wednesday, I was losing hope. No found pennies since October 7th. That's 18 DAYS that Val was penny-less! Hick had found several pennies in that time. And he's not even looking for them! Plus, he found two quarters! Okay. I don't begrudge Hick his cents. He has done good deeds for Neighbor Tommy over that time period, so he's cent-worthy. Still, I couldn't help but feel left out.

I took off for town Wednesday, ever the sunny eternal optimist that you've come to know me as...and stopped by Country Mart to get scratchers to put in Genius's letter this week. Yeah. I did happen to get two for myself while I was there. Anyhoo...I almost had to park somewhere besides my favorite space in front of the store, but I figured if I crowded the line a little bit, I could fit. It's on the end, mostly, with the spot on the left of it indented up to a corner of the building. So people would know not to park there if they didn't think they could back out without sideswiping me.

I got out, eyes peeled for pennies. Nada. Not a single cent. I went inside and did my business. Came back out, still scanning the sidewalk and pavement for coins and, perhaps, nail files. Nope. I clicked open T-Hoe's locks, stepped back as I pulled open the door, and saw it!

Right there under T-Hoe! And it looks like I'm not such a bad parker after all! I'm not really crowding the line all that much. Even though T-Hoe's door swings all the way to the middle of where another car would be parked if that was an actual space next to me. He has really wide-open doors.

Whew! Back on track with my pennies! This one was a 1998, The Pony's birth year. Let the record show that I had been worrying about The Pony and his airport travel standbyness all day Monday! And that Monday night, when I finally knew he was home and in bed, I clicked on a scratcher channel on YouTube, and saw a guy uncover a ladybug symbol. AND that on this day, on the way home, I got to radio station switching, and landed on "Holes in the Floor of Heaven," by Steve Wariner. A special song to me that is associated with The Pony and my mom.

Oh, but that's not all! Today, Thursday, I briefly stopped by the cemetery, then went on about my errands, my very next stop being a Casey's store, where I found A PENNY!

As with the previous day's penny, I didn't see it until I came out. I'm sure it was there. I was looking all around, but didn't see it when I got out of T-Hoe. Even though it was clearly positioned for my finding. Nobody parked next to me while I was inside. I guess it was just the sun's glare, though it was worse as I came out.

This penny was a 1963. I don't know of anything important in my life that year.

I finished up today's errands, got my 44 oz Diet Coke, and stopped by Orb K for a couple of scratchers. I debated on that. I had cashed in some winners at Casey's, but still had a winner left. I parked way around on the end, because it was busy. Well, well, well...lookie here!

Lookie close! Because this is the hardest one to see. It's a wonder ol' Val and her glassesless eyes even spot these copper jewels sometimes.

Found me another penny! A 1983. Again, no special date to me. Looks like people who shop at Orb K drive cars that have transmission problems. It's kind of hard to spot pennies on their parking lot.

Now...for all you antipennyites...here's a tale of how little respect Val gets. It seems like only yesterday Hick and I were taking toddler Pony and young Genius trick-or-treating on a side street over by their daycare lady's house. Hick said he would take them to the door, while I remained seated in the passenger seat. In the short time he was gone, a couple of young hooligans came up and soaped the windows with me sitting in the car!

And today, as I strode along the sidewalk to enter Casey's, walking beside a car that was parked parallel to that sidewalk, the driver talking out his passenger window to another guy carrying a big jug of coolant...the driver flicked his cigarette butt out his window and hit Val's pants leg with it! Good thing I didn't go up in flames!

Yeah. I don't get no respect. I didn't say anything about it, nor turn to give him the stinkeye. He even hollered out, "SORRY!" That's just the way it goes. You find some pennies, and Even Steven puts you back in your place.

Let the record show that these were pennies #51, 52, and 53. I'm sure some of you found some pennies during my 18-day dry spell. Darn you!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Windshield May Not Be the Only Thing That's Cracked

So...what was the deal with the broken windshield in yesterday's post?

Hick was driving that car to get a new windshield, so it could pass inspection and get licensed, and go live with its new owner, Tommy!

It's a 2003 Chevy Impala with 239,000 miles on it. Hick found it in a driveway for $1000, and talked the previous one-owner down to $900 due to the cracked windshield. Hick says it would have cost 2 or 3 times that at a dealer. As you may recall, Hick and I decided to help out Neighbor Tommy by getting him a car, and letting him pay us back whatever he can when he got a job. No, it's not a limousine. Tommy had no say in the model or color. Hick set out to purchase the best condition car he could find for $1000 or less. This was it.

There was a minor snag this morning when Hick waited on The Veteran to come pick him up and drive him to his Work Town to pick up the car with its new windshield. The Veteran had a previous engagement, leaving Hick without a way to get Tommy's car. I freak out over highway driving, so Hick didn't ask me. He tried to contact a guy out here who drives to the city, but he'd already left for work. So Hick figured he might as well...


He made Tommy drive our Trailblazer, just making sure he could drive. Tommy says he has a license that expires in 2019. Halfway there, he mentioned that he hadn't driven since 2010. Hick told him he was doing fine. He said Tommy drove 45-50 mph on the 55 mph highway. And Tommy said, "It's so FAR!" Hick told him it was 28 miles.

As Hick was paying the lady behind the desk for the windshield job, Tommy said, "This is my good neighbor. He's fixing me up with a car." Hick hurriedly took care of business and told Tommy they had to go. Otherwise, he would have spent an hour or so telling that lady his life story. Hick drove the new 2003 Impala home, while Tommy drove our 2002 Trailblazer. They both have insurance (six months paid on the Impala, with Tommy to take over after that) on them, but the Impala couldn't be licensed until it was inspected, and Hick didn't want Tommy to get stopped in it.

Anyhoo...they came home, parked the Trailblazer, Hick drove Tommy home, then went for the inspection and the license. The car passed inspection just fine. Hick even found out it has had new ball joints put in. I guess that's important. The only things that don't work are the driver's side window, which Hick may eventually take a look at, and the gas gauge. The previous one-owner said he just reset the trip odometer, and always filled it up at 300 miles.

Don't tell anyone, but Hick signed Tommy's name on the title. Then at the license office he found out it needed a second signature. The lady asked if he was Tommy, and Hick said, "I can be if it lets me sign it." Of course that lady was not on the take, and told Hick that Tommy would have to sign for himself. Hick said, "He just lives out the road here. I'll go have him sign it. I'll be back." Then he went to the park and signed Tommy's name again.

"Well, at least the signatures matched! But you're going to be in so much trouble if something happens."

"Ain't nothin' gonna happen. The only way it could be a problem is if the car had a loan on it. And it's paid for!"

I guess Tommy is happy with his new car. The only thing he said to Hick was, "Does this radio play cassette tapes?" Hick told him the owner's manual was in the glove box.

We'll see how this works out. I'm not expecting to be paid back. Monetarily, from Tommy. Life's not all about material things.

Let the record show that the rainbow picture yesterday was taken along Highway 67, and the car is a 2003 Chevy Impala. Joe H was one year off with a guess of a 2004 Honda Accord, and Route 66 for the road (unless his 13-year-old self was just joshing me in regards to the Phillips 66 gas station). Sioux had the make right, since it IS a Chevy, but not a Trailblazer.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

He Might Have Snapped the Picture Just a Little Too Late

Monday, Hick rallied The Veteran (Hick's second son), and they took a road trip. Later that afternoon, Hick sent me a picture. I couldn't see it very well at the time, and was trying to figure out what it was, and why he sent it. I opened the email, fully expecting to see a treasure from Goodwill. Don't for one second think that Hick and The Veteran would go on a road trip without canvassing every Goodwill, flea market, and antique store in the vicinity.

The problem is, if Hick sends my a picture by text, my updated phone won't let me send them like it did before I updated. And if he sends a picture by email, my phone only shows a portion of the picture on the screen. So I'm at a loss until I can open such photos on Shiba or New Delly, and have the benefit of the full monitor.

When I looked at this one, all I saw was a section of blue sky and white cloud. I wondered if Hick had caught some lightning, or maybe there was a black storm cloud moving in, because the horizon in his direction when he left looked menacing. Once I got the whole picture, I could see THE RAINBOW!

Not satisfied with bringing this little bit of sunshine refraction into my life, Hick sent another photo. Again, I only saw the sky, and my original assumption was back in mind.

"Oh. Hick caught the storm clouds over that gas station." Upon further inspection full screen, I again saw THE RAINBOWs! Too bad Hick didn't keep chasing it and bring me back a pot of gold. Or at least some Skittles. I guess he snapped the picture just a little too late to get the farting unicorn in frame.

Now...here's a little contest for you. You might assume that Hick was on a mission to get that windshield replaced. It's not like he could do it around here. No siree Bob! Hick has connections in his Work Town area. So he was driving there to leave that vehicle a couple days for a new windshield. Here's the contest part. NO PRIZES! Just braggin' rights and a feeling of superiority. I will tell you which vehicle that is NOT:

2008 Chevy Tahoe
2016 GMC Acadia
2002 Chevy Trailblazer
1999 Ford F250
1980 Olds Toronado
2006 Mercury Mariner
2013 Nissan Rogue
1967 Chevy C10 Pickup

Any ideas? Let the record show that this vehicle has nothing to do with The Veteran. He was merely following in his own auto to act as Hick's ride back home. You can guess the origin or owner of this bad-windshield beauty, or if you're feeling especially gearheadish, the make and model and year. That would win you the very best NON PRIZE of all! As a consolation NON PRIZE, you can even guess the highwayular location of the rainbow in case you don't know anything about cars or Val's vehicular life.

Good luck! Maybe we have some haystack-needle champions out there who can crack (heh, heh, get it?) this case.

Monday, October 23, 2017

O What a Tangled Web Was Wove When Into Academia The Pony Dove

The Pony left early Friday morning from Oklahoma City to attend an undergraduate conference in engineering on the west coast. Not a toot-toot train engineering conference. The Pony is studying chemical engineering. At this conference, there were employers recruiting future employees. Much like the one at Genius's college, where he met the Garmin recruiter that resulted in two summer internships with them, and now a job waiting for him at graduation.

With their flight leaving OKC Friday morning at 8:00, The Pony rode with four other conference attendees, leaving OU at 5:30 a.m. They were not actual friends of his, but he did have classes with one of them. The Pony and Conference Girl were on the same flight, direct to San Francisco, but the others had different flights. Once they landed, the conference sent a shuttle to take them directly to the college, and from there they transported them to their hotel after the activities.

The Pony is not one to communicate much, but every now and then, on a break, he would send a text about who he talked to, and a couple of companies he met with. Events wrapped up Sunday after a banquet at 12:30. The Pony's flight home was not until midnight, and the other OU students had one at 11:00 p.m., so they were all going to hang out, and knew they could still get to the airport on time. As luck would have it, Conference Girl was on the same flight as The Pony again, and they had to go through Houston, and make a connecting flight 58 minutes after arriving.

RED FLAG! RED FLAG! I watch The Amazing Race! I know that an hour is not much time to make a connecting flight these days. So does Hick, the world traveler. He prepared The Pony before he even left Norman on Friday morning. "Wear comfortable shoes. You may have to walk a mile to another gate. Ask on the plane if you are landing in the same terminal as your connecting flight. If they won't tell you, ask at the first desk you see when you get off. DON'T check your bag. Carry it on. Go straight to the connecting flight. Don't waste any time."

Of course you know what happened. Not through any fault of The Pony. I got a text at 2:29 a.m. Backroads time. Meaning it was 12:29 in San Francisco.

"I'm on the flight back to Houston now. They ran out of overhead space, and since I was in a later boarding group, my bag had to be checked, and I'm upset about it because it's their fault."

"I hope you can make your connection. Can you ask a stewardess if there's anything you can do? Is there anything really important in it? In case you need to make the flight, and have them send the luggage later?"

"Well, it's not gonna happen. Right before we took off, the plane had to go back to the gate. And this delay was from their own screw-up with the bags. It's 20 minutes after planned takeoff now, and they said there would be a 20 minute delay to fix it."

"Dad says, when you land, talk to them about getting on the next flight to OKC. If they took your luggage while you were getting on, he says it should be waiting for you on the walkway when you get off. Ask the stewardess. Will your friend miss the flight too?"

"She's on this same flight, so probably."

"As you get off, talk to the people at the desk right there. If nobody is there, go to any gate for your airline and tell them you missed your flight and they need to get you on the next one to OKC."

"Yeah. That's what we're planning to do. Looking at the flight thing, they say the total delay will be about an hour, and it's at best going to get there after the other one already left. I'm not very happy with the airport people that handled the luggage loading that caused the delay. They said something about it being checked all the way through the connecting trip but they rushed me by before I could ask."

"Can you talk to Conference Girl? Are you both going to ask about the next plane? Dad says if your luggage is checked all the way through, then it's going to OKC without you, and you'll get it there."

"I don't know how! It's on this same plane with me! I can't talk to Conference Girl. She's like a dozen rows ahead, and doesn't have her phone on. Probably trying to sleep."

"Dad says if you get there and can't find your luggage, the airline will have to deliver it to your apartment. They sent his here for him one time when they lost it. You can find Conference Girl when you get off, and both try to find a plane."

"Okay. I have all my information on the tag. Going back to airplane mode now."

Soo...all day, we've been dealing with The Pony's issues. Not that we can help. He's not very worldly, you know. Hick could only communicate with him by text, because The Pony wouldn't call. Here's a summary, even though it seems really long.

5:00 a.m. Houston time--The Pony's flight from San Francisco was supposed to arrive in Houston. It did not.

6:00 a.m.--The Pony's connecting flight to OKC was supposed to leave. It did. Without him.

8:00 a.m.--The Pony's flight, carrying him and his luggage from San Francisco, arrived in Houston. He was told there were no flights to OKC available the rest of the day. Conference Girl had somehow booked a flight while on the plane, which would leave The Pony all by himself amongst a crowd of people, in the Houston airport, a strange boy in a strange land.

8:30 a.m.--The Pony's original connecting flight landed in OKC as scheduled. Without him.

11:30 a.m.--Conference Gal's plane left. The Pony was on standby. Couldn't get a seat. Said a few people (not people he knew) from his late flight were stuck without another flight. The airline said they were getting them a food voucher. Said he was pretty hungry. Hick told him to go eat! He had money. He didn't have to wait. By now he'd been up almost 30 hours, no sleep, no breakfast. Hick told him to go make a scene. That otherwise he was not going to get a plane. That he was a PAYING CUSTOMER stranded because of the airline, not somebody just looking for a ticket. The Pony did not want to do that. He was stressing. Hick told him to demand the next flight! His medicine was in his luggage, and he didn't need to be hanging around the airport without it.

12:48 p.m.--The Pony, still without a food voucher, used his credit card for lunch at Wendy's. Said he was #3 standby on five more flights, all direct to OKC.

2:39 p.m.--The Pony did not make the standby flight at 2:30. Said two people offered to give up their seats, but the airline would give them NO COMPENSATION for doing so, and they decided to keep their seats. BUT a guy NOT stranded with The Pony's flightmates paid for PRIORITY, and got on.

"They gave me a crappy $10.00 meal voucher and a confirmed seat for the 5:50 flight, and standby again on the 3:40 flight that's all the way across the airport."

"I guess you might as well go across the airport. It's not like you have anything else to do. Remember...you're not going to live in that airport the rest of your life. There's very little in this world that time and money can't fix. You WILL make it home. I know you're exhausted and stressed. I would fall apart in a situation like this. But you'll be okay."

"I kinda of fell apart already."

"You're inside, out of the elements. They have food and bathrooms. You have money. You're not in physical danger. It will work out. Even if it takes until the 5:50 flight."

"I know there are lots worse things."

"If you need to find a ride home from the OKC airport, you have money for Uber or a cab. Don't stress over that. Your luggage will turn up. Don't stress."

"I'll be okay. I'm at the terminal for the 3:40. My friend GalPal is picking me up whenever I get to OKC."

Let me take just a minute here to sing the praises of GalPal. She and The Pony met when they attended Camp Crimson, a summer orientation week. They are just platonic friends, but she has had his back ever since we left them on move-in night, after the National Merit Scholar parent's dinner. She's also a National Merit Scholar, and now living in her sorority house, but she still finds time to hang out with The Pony. Hick said to buy her dinner, but The Pony doesn't think she'll accept it. They help each other out all the time. She won't think it's anything special she's doing, driving 20 miles/30 minutes to pick up The Pony.

3:17 p.m.--"I'm getting on the flight that's about to start boarding."

Whew! I'm exhausted, and I even managed 3 hours of sleep last night! Hick came out on the porch while I was walking to tell me that The Pony had arrived safely back at his apartment. When I got back to my phone, I saw that he had sent me a text.

"I'm home now. Bout to sleep."

Man! I really wish I'd had my helicopter in working order! It's really hard to parent from half a continent away. Hick had the bright idea that The Pony and Conference Girl could just rent a car this morning when they arrived in Houston, and drive back to OKC. Only problem being that The Pony is 19, so is she, and you have to be 21 to rent a car. At least according to Genius, who was in charge of procuring the support fleet for his university's solar car team.

On the other hand, The Pony had a nice visit at The Museum of Modern Art on Sunday afternoon, before he entered that tangled web of travel.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

No, Val Did NOT Order the Crap Sandwich

Hick took me to the casino today, and as usual after such a trip, I am outraged by the behavior of the patrons! You'd think I'd quit going, wouldn't you, what with my blood pressure skyrocketing from my perceived slights every few weeks? Nuh uh. Ain't gonna happen. There are SLOT MACHINES there, by cracky! A few bad apples aren't going to ward off Val. She's much stronger than some weak vampire shying away from a garlic necklace.

We'll jump to the good part first. Because I'm sure you're all interested in how much money Val carted home. Yes, I risk losing you after the reveal. I'm like a for-sale cow giving the milk away for free. Who's gonna read to the end once they know the outcome? Oh, well. Here's the scoop. I brought home NO WINNINGS! There! Happy now? The suspense is over. I lost almost 1/3 of my casino bankroll today. Don't you worry about Val, though. She's still got that other 2/3 for next time. And any future scratcher profits that might be added.


Oh, you don't know how it pains me to tell you that! Let the record show that at the allotted departure time, Val cashed out her tickets and looked all over the place for Hick. I called him, and he said that he'd just hit a bonus with 40 free games. Huh. So there I was, all cashed out with no place to go! Hick said we could stay another 15 minutes while he played his bonus, so I put some of my money back in an lost it. Anyhoo...

HICK WON $133.70 on his bonus spins! He left with all the money he started with, plus $110, he said, thanks to this last-minute bonus. Okay. Good for him. But we're not here to talk about Hick. Are you crazy? Hick can get his own blog if he wants people to read positive things about him! Nope. We're here today to talk about those casino ne'er-do-wells that are the bane of Val's existence.

I was supposed to meet Hick at the burger place at 11:30. That's when they open. I got there at 11:27, and Hick was not around. So I made a quick trip to the bathroom, and when I came back, he was sitting outside the burger area. Like on an indoor patio.

This picture doesn't show much, since Hick THE BIG WINNER didn't want to be shown. So you only get his shoulder. Anyhoo...this is just to illustrate how Hick had been on the other side of those windows, where there are tables sectioned off with a little wrought iron kind of fence. Sorry to the people I caught in the picture. They are not ne'er-do-wells that I know of. The point is that I was inside, Hick was outside, and in the time it took him to walk around to join me, two people walked to the ordering line ahead of us.

They looked kind of like they might live down the road from us. A Man and Gal, similar in age, dressed in the same manner. Out for a little Sunday gambling, player's card and food coupon clutched in the woman's hand.

Had Hick walked a little faster, we still might have beaten them. As it was, the couple showed a bit of hesitation. They took the route through the red velvet-look ropes that make the winding line orderly when it's busy. For one fleeting moment, I thought, "I could just step through here, right to the counter, while they're winding their way in." But I didn't. Because I'm a polite member of society, abiding by the unwritten social mores of our culture.


No sooner had they stepped up to the counter, with Hick and I in line behind them, than they turned to holler, "COME ON! HURRY! COME ON!" The Man motioned grandly with his arm, palm up, like swimming through the air. They were yelling and gesticulating to a man and two women just entering the outer door of the burger place. That trio ran over and BUTTED IN LINE!

I can't even say they butted in line, really, because they stopped at the counter on the other side of this Man and Gal. And they proceeded to order! Of course they couldn't get it straight. Kept changing what they told the little foreign guy behind the register. Might have helped if these folks had gotten IN LINE BEHIND US and looked at the menu on the wall. But they finally spit out their order, the trio man getting an "EYE-talian sandwich" instead of a burger.

As you can imagine, I was steaming mad. Hick told me to calm down. But the longer we waited, the more he started to mumble how rude that was, and how people think they can get away with anything these days. I was mad enough when I assumed they were running up there to cut in front of us because one person was paying. NO SIREE, BOB! The cutting couple paid, and then Man and Gal ordered, Gal paid, and then the third woman from the cutters ordered and paid. THAT'S BULLCRAP!

I was still grousing about it when their food came out, and they started complaining about not having enough fries. I clearly heard them ask for three orders of fries. Not five. Three. Our number was called, Hick went up, and returned without my fries! He said he was going back, and took the receipt. Lucky for all involved, Hick came right back with my fries. For a short moment, I had imagined those cutters going back and complaining and getting my fries!

I really hope those cutters and their enablers lost a lot of money. I don't think society would hold that wish against me.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Back to the Dog House For Hick

Move over, Sweet, Sweet Juno! You're getting a roommate tonight!

You notice I didn't bother to warn Jack. He's kind of homeless. Or at least houseless. Jack doesn't sleep in a house. Never has. I guess he's the independent sort. Probably his heeler half. He prefers to lay under the Trailblazer in a little hole scooped out in the driveway gravel. Or sometimes he heads over to the chicken pen area, and possibly sleeps in the chicken house (even when we still had uneaten chickens, they mostly roosted in the tree limbs hanging over the chicken house), or under the Little Barbershop of Horrors.

Hick has sneakily sealed his own fate. A few days ago, I made a treat for HOS (Hick's Oldest Son). It's a seasonal kind of treat, composed of dry-roasted peanuts and candy corn. Before you turn up your nose at such fare, consider the fact that this combination tastes exactly like a Payday candy bar. If you're no fan of the Payday, you probably wouldn't like it.

I was first introduced to the Payday mix by my sister the ex-mayor's wife. I think the ex-mayor actually discovered it and told her to make it. Not that I'm such a connoisseur of Payday candy bars. I wouldn't buy one for myself at the Walmart checkout, no matter how long I was waiting in line. Even though I adore those Stuckey's Pecan Logs, and a Payday is kind of like a poor Val's version of that delicacy. No, I wouldn't go out of my way to eat a Payday, but when somebody offers you a bowl of dry-roasted peanuts and candy corn, and says, "Try this! It tastes just like a Payday!" I'm pretty sure you would try it, too.

Anyhoo...I had a big jug of dry-roasted peanuts, and a large economy size bag of candy corn, with the intention of making some of this mix for a project that has not yet been revealed. While I was in Save A Lot a few days ago, I saw a regular size bag of candy corn, and a bag right next to it labeled "Holiday Mix." That bag had mostly candy corn, but with some kernels having a brown chocolate tip instead of white. Also, it contained a few bright orange pumpkin-shaped pieces. So I got a bag. It was only $.99. That's less than a 44 oz Diet Coke from the gas station chicken store.

Wednesday night, I made up five bags (snack-size Ziplock baggies) of the Payday mix for Hick to take to Genius when he went to visit him on Thursday morning. I also used that pumpkin-laced Holiday Mix to make five bags of the Payday mix for HOS. Knowing Hick like I do, I warned him not to drive off and forget Genius's treats, and also the quart container of roasted vegetables that I'd set aside for him. I even put the treats on a kitchen chair pulled out to block the door, so Hick would see it on the way out, and be reminded to get the vegetables out of FRIG II to take along.

Knowing Hick quite well, I instructed him NOT to eat Genius's treats on the 2-hour drive to College Town. "It's not good for you. You shouldn't have sugar. Your doctor has already told you to bring down your A1C by next visit. That candy corn is pure sugar! But if you MUST have some, take one of HOS's. I can always get more to him easier than Genius."

Of course when I got up Thursday morning (way after Hick left at 6:30), I saw that HOS's treats were down to four baggies. As expected. They were sitting on the cutting block where I had put all five. Hick said he was going to see HOS later on Thursday.

Friday, I noticed that Hick had moved HOS's Payday Mix over to the kitchen counter, by his bananas. I figured he was going to grab them as he went out the door, since he'd forgotten them on Thursday when he saw HOS.

Today Hick went to check out his newest project, and attend a peewee football game for HOS's son. When I left for town, I saw that HOS's treats were now sitting on the kitchen table, behind Hick's Diet Mountain Dew six-pack. Upon further inspection, I noticed that there were now only three baggies of Payday Mix.

I was all ready to send Hick a text: "Would now be a good time to confess to HOS that you have eaten 40% of the treats I made for him?" However...it was 12:57, and the game started at 1:00. So I didn't. Because I'm such a nice Val, you know.

Hick called me later and I asked him then. He declared that he only ate ONE baggie of HOS's treats. Swore on it. Promised me. Until I reminded him that I made five, and I saw that he'd hidden them away on the table rather than giving them to HOS. I was able to jog his memory about Thursday morning, and Hick finally admitted that he'd eaten two of the five.

I don't begrudge Hick food. I try to get him healthier snacks. Candy corn is not one of them. I'm pretty sure that sleeping out in the dog house will stimulate Hick's metabolism overnight.

I'll be helping him, really.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #81 "Norman Veranda"

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, Val serves up a bio on a new rising star. Whether it's pure entertainment you seek, a hearty meal fill your belly, or a rags-to-riches story of a new entrepreneur...Val's latest fake book will leave you sated. To broaden your horizons and tempt your palate and update your fashion sense...order your fake copy today!

Norman Veranda

Norman Veranda is not content to sit on the porch and sip sweet tea. Norman seeks the spotlight, whether performing weekends as the headliner at a local drag show, or slinging hash in his daytime job as a short-order cook. Now Norman is starting his own line of unique headwear, called Campy Chapeaus.

Unfortunately, Norman's arch nemesis, Babs Marley, is being a real pain, complaining copyright violation about Norman's latest creation, a knit hat with several stripes, adorned with jerk chicken, rice, fried plantains, coconuts, and limes. Will one bad apple send Norman's dreams up in smoke, and put an end to his bread and butter? (106 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Rag on the Fifer's Head in The Spirit of 76 Painting..."Far from being a revolutionary work of literature, this fake story is a trite reminder that nobody wins in war OR in the fake-reading of one of Thevictorian's fake books!"

Baker's Chef Hat..."This fake book will not rise, despite being overly inflated. Thevictorian herself is a crusty tart who is not on a roll, her 81st effort falling flat. She is toast."

Plastic Baseball Helmet Sundae Dish..."Thevictorian strikes out with this fake book. Like my contents, it starts out sweet, but you soon grow tired of it, and within a few moments, you realize that it's a muddled mess just waiting for the garbage can."

Diver's Helmet..."I might be made of brass, but even I am not strong enough to endure Thevictorian's latest fake work. I would rather be 20,000 leagues under the sea than fake-read the fake writing of this drip!"

Beekeeper's Mask..."I am very good at my job, but even I cannot protect you from the sting of this atrocious fake book. Let's hope nobody develops an allergy to Thevictorian's fake writing, because I don't believe there's enough benadryl in the world to save the few fake-readers. The buzz I hear is that this author is a killer...of the English language."

Fencing Mask..."Let me pointedly advise you to be on guard when Thevictorian hawks her fake books. Most of you won't be able to handle them, and it's my attempt to foil her efforts to thrust them upon you."

Book on the Head of a Future Debutante at Finishing School..."Don't let this fake book catch you off-balance. Society frowns upon low-class hacks like Thevictorian. Her fake work is not even fit to adorn the lice-riddled heads of common backwoods hillbillies as they practice walking with regal bearing to try to infiltrate the upper classes."

Magician's Hat..."My owner may pull rabbits out of me, but he can't make this fake book readable. He's a magician. Not a miracle worker." 

Egg..."I'm all over Thevictorian's face. She must have been fried when she fake-wrote this fake book. She's a rotten fake-writer, her brains are scrambled, and she makes me boiling mad! It would all be over, easy, if she would just stop writing."

Link Sausages..."Too many words, stuffed into too little space! Thevictorian's fake writing is like War and Peace wedged between the covers of a Little Golden Book."

Bacon..."What a ham! Thevictorian thinks she smokes the competition, but she really needs to be cured of that attitude, and stop writing and invest what money she has left into pork belly futures."

Beans..."I am sometimes called The Magical Fruit. The more you eat of me, the more you toot. But even that flatulence could not possibly stink as much as Thevictorian's fake book!"

Tomato..."Unlike the misnamed beans above...I am an actual fruit. There's no truth to the misconception that early settlers thought me poisonous. There is, however, every truth to the belief that Thevictorian is no writer!"

Mushrooms..."You must think we've been kept in the dark and fed crap if you believe that we'll fall for this fake book! Oh, wait..."

Thursday, October 19, 2017

If You Sell a Hick a Parking Meter

Remember Hick's yard sale parking meter? He has it in one of his sheds over in Shackytown. A few days ago I called him, just to find out where he was. Oh, I didn't need him for anything. I didn't want him to come home. No siree, Bob! I was only curious as to his whereabouts, kind of playing a little came I call: How long can I go without seeing Hick? In this case, not very long, because he was not involved with a project, but merely a couple hundred feet away, admiring his treasures.

Of course my little scheme backfired, because Hick decided to come over to the house and tell me something he'd discovered.

"I put a nickel in my parking meter, and IT WORKED!"

"Oh. Good for you."

"You can get an HOUR for a nickel!"

"That's nice."

I guess maybe he'd been sitting there for an hour, watching it work. I didn't want to ask. He might have brought it in the house so I could admire it, and watch to see if it was accurate.

Seriously. What does it matter if that thing works? Is anybody going to watch it? Will he barricade people in his shed, and only let them out when time is up?

Besides, that parking meter is only a head. To get a pole to hold it up would probably cost me several years worth of savings bonds. I think a piece of pipe like he got to make his blacktop roller would be a little too big. So Hick most likely would not go the recycle or free or friends in parking-meter-pole places route, and I'd be out some funds. He might possibly even want to pour some concrete, buy a new concrete drill, and hold that parking meter down with screws that went through the laundry in his pockets and caused the purchase of a new dryer!

He can't set it up, even if he had an expensive pole or concrete monument to mount it on, and charge people to park out here. That would require quite a bit of fencing to funnel them into that ONE parking space. So much field, so little chance of someone making you pay to park in it.

Also, the door on that parking meter doesn't lock. So even if Hick could strong-arm several people into parking there for an hour, some ne'er-do-well would most likely rob that parking meter of its nickels.

Hick was all excited about his discovery, though.

You'd think he plans on becoming a nickelillionaire or something.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Like a Pea-Sensing Princess, Val Cannot Be Fooled

Monday evening, I ascended from my dark basement lair and heard a cacophony from the kitchen/laundry room area. Hick was kicked back in the La-Z-Boy, watching either The Andy Griffith Show or MASH.

"What are you doing?"

"Just a load of laundry."

"What have you got in there, a load of gravel?"

"No. Just my overalls."

"Did you leave the laundry room door open?"

"No. It's just the metal from the parts that hook the straps."

"I've heard your overalls in the dryer before. They don't sound like THAT!"

"Well, that's all it is."

"Sounds like you're destroying the dryer."


I went on about my business of driveway-walking and preparing supper. The overalls were done clanking by the time my walk was done. I didn't give it any other thought. Later that night/early morning, I put a load of laundry in the washer as I went to bed. I opened the dryer to toss in a Bounce and set the dials so it would be ready when I stumbled in around 5:30 to transfer my clothes to the dryer. Since Hick is a repeat offender of leaving the lint trap full of his clothing fuzz and cedar chips and strands of straw, despite numerous warnings...I reached down to empty it.

This is what I found in the grooves where the lint trap fits into its pocket.

I laid them on the kitchen counter for evidence. When Hick came in for lunch, I told him that apparently I was NOT as crazy as he tries to pretend, and pointed out my dryer discovery.

"THIS is what I heard in the dryer! They were laying in the cracks of the lint trap when I emptied it. Which YOU are supposed to do when you use it."

"Oh, they're just screws. I saw them on the counter this morning and wondered where they came from."


"They must have been in my pockets. I'll take them now."

I KNEW that wasn't the sound of overalls drying. And that this proves HICK is the one who has a screw loose, not Val.

Let the record show that Hick does his own laundry, because he took offense during the first year of our marriage (28 years ago) when I told him that I was not going to pick his dirty clothes up off the bedroom floor, and that he should put them in the laundry hamper. He showed ME!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sadly, It Was NOT a Penny!

Looks like my pennyillionairehood is going to take a little longer than expected. I have not found a penny for 10 days! Not for lack of looking, though! I am very observant. I keep my eyes on the pavement like a bloodhound keeps his nose to the ground after a prison break. Which means that sometimes, I find things other than pennies. No. Not escaped convicts. Things like this:

You don't know what it is, do you? That's because you don't have the eagle bloodhound eyes of Val Thevictorian. It's not the annoying toddler-car cart parked there, that blocked my way when I was inside shopping. Oh, I could have forged past it, if I had no qualms about decapitating a little blond girl who was lolling her head out the side as her inconsiderate mother blocked both me and a stockboy while parked for no apparent reason in the middle of the main aisle. Lucky for that little girl, Val has qualms.

Look closer there. Up against the wall, in the center of the picture. Not at the stains and weathered gum impersonating pennies. Had the autumn 11:30 a.m. sun penetrated the shadows, you might have caught a glint of the business end. Here:

It's a NAIL FILE! What in the Not-Heaven placed this item here in front of Country Mart for Val to see on her way out? A ne'er-do-well from an aborted robbery attempt? A butter-fingered family member of an inmate at the local prison, who unknowingly delivered a plain old cake to her loved one? A distracted, fashion-conscious housewife who wanted her nails to look presentable as she did her shopping? A delivery boy from the nearby Domino's who lost his concealed weapon for self-protection?

Unlike my rightful pennies, I did not pick up this nail file. It could be forensic evidence for a crime, if future charges are filed. Heh, heh! I crack myself up sometimes! Get it? If charges are FILED!

I'm hoping that those spots on the concrete are just rust stains.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Hot Friday Night in The Pony's Apartment

I received a text from The Pony on Saturday night. Let the record show that he is now living in an apartment off campus, though still part of the university housing system.

"My fridge apparently has a portal to Not-Heaven in it."

"Not sure I want to know! Like in Ghostbusters?"

"I was getting ice last night. One vent in the back of the freezer was hot to the touch and glowing red. I mean, I know refrigeration DOES heat. But not enough to make things glow!"

"Okay. Should you have that fridge checked out?"

"Nah. I doubt it."

"Did you tell Dad? He might know. About freezer vents. Not portals to Not-Heaven."

"Nah. It was just something funny. It's probably normal. You only see it when there's no other light."

"Not in FRIG II you don't!"

I consulted Hick when he got home from the auction. He looked at the picture. Looked horrified. A couple minutes later, Hick said that's probably so the ice maker can loosen the ice cubes so they fall out. It's probably normal.

Sunday afternoon, when I thought The Pony was most likely out of bed, or at least contemplating it...I sent him another text.

"Look at today's Bing photo. It reminded me of a castle, but it's a reservoir in England. Cool. NOT cool? When I typed that, it said BONG. Thank goodness my estranged BFF Autocorrect was looking out for me! Oh...and Dad said your freezer is supposed to do that, for the ice maker to release its cubes. Don't tell me you don't have an ice maker!"

"Haha! And I do have one!"

"Hopefully you mean an ice maker and not a bong!"

"An ice maker, Mother."

Well. You can't be too sure. What with that portal and all...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hick's Freight Container Garage Progress

The road to the freight container garage has been a long one. In fact, there's not even a real road to it. This newest Hick project is located on the 10 acres next to our house and BARn 10 acres. We added it later, when the owners were finally willing to sell. Hick bought the freight containers a few years ago, with this garage in mind. It was such a good deal he couldn't pass it up. So they've been sitting over there, hidden by trees, slowly filling with junk.

The first thing you need to build a freight container garage (after the freight containers, of course) is a foundation. Concrete work is surprisingly expensive! It will be half the cost of the whole project. The next thing you need is a crane.

A crane is not nearly as expensive as you might think. At least to me. I thought this one was a steal at $300. He charged by the job, not the hour. I think he was here 3-4 hours or less. He DID have to wait for Hick and HOS to unload the freight containers of junk so his crane could lift them.

This was accomplished by running straps under the freight containers, with Hick and HOS guiding the containers into place on their concrete foundation. This is Hick. I can tell by the overalls.

It seems like dangerous work to me, but HOS was up to the task. I guess the crane guy knew what he was doing, but the makeshift platform and tires in the air look a bit perilous for my tastes.

Hick and HOS made sure the placement was exactly right before giving the OK to the crane man. It's not like they could push it over a skosh later, once he had gone.

Satisfied, they unstrapped the freight container. It's not going anywhere any more. Jack and Juno are exhausted from all the hard work. In the background, you can see a couple of lights that Hick will eventually hang. He has plenty, after hauling home 25 or 50 (you don't think I listen to him, do you) from work right before he left, that were being thrown away.

With the freight containers in place, they were just waiting for the concrete guys to find a day in their busy schedule to come back and pour the garage floor. This is from the back side. If you look under the left freight container, you can see a sliver of the gravel road.

The floor made it look more like it may one day become an actual garage. The plan is to put trusses over the top, close it in, and have a garage for working on cars, where Hick plans to rebuild his old '67 Chevy pickup truck. The freight containers themselves will be used for storage.

Hick bought a used lift from some guy HOS knows. It cost slightly more than the trusses, but only about 1/5 of the concrete fee. He borrowed a concrete drill from our across-the-road neighbor to anchor it to the floor. Of course Hick has a concrete drill, but he said his isn't long enough. I'm just glad he didn't decide he had to buy one!

Looks like Hick and HOS had to sit a spell and admire their handiwork. The dogs decided they needed a break, too.

Jack hit the bottle pretty hard. Juno was not about to refuse a beverage. She looks like an old lush.

Once the trusses are built and delivered and put on...I'm pretty sure there will be more pictures.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Just a Tease

I know you've all been waiting for it...

Okay. Maybe not. You almost didn't get THIS much, by cracky!

Hick's freight container garage has been an ongoing project since March or April. It was supposed to get going back then. But we had a really rainy spring here in Backroads. So the first step, the pouring of the concrete footings, couldn't be done because the ground was too mushy for the concrete truck to drive through the field.

Hick went round and round with people, trying to get this concrete poured. Something always came up. Finally, he got things lined out for September. It happened in fits and starts, with Hick chomping at the bit, ready get these freight containers over the finish line.

Anyhoo...I'll give you a pictorial soon. HOS's wife took some pictures for Hick, who said he "forgot" that I wanted some. Of course, Hick can take 20 different angles of a beer mug he got at Goodwill for a dollar, but not a single picture of a large-scale project like the construction of a garage.

I have the pictures in my email account. All I had to do was download them and put them here. You know what? I only tried ONE picture tonight, and it disappeared! Ever since Genius built me a new computer and upgraded my stuff, dealing with pictures is like trying to eat gas station chicken with both hands tied behind my back. I looked everywhere for that picture. Under today's date. Under the date she sent them to me. Under the date I thought the event took place. NOWHERE could I find that picture! I decided maybe I'd only copied, not pasted it to my pictures file. So I tried to paste again, and got a duplicate notice thingy. I scrolled all the way back through September. Nothing.

Being a bit of a backwoods, backwards, less qualified, non-calabash-pipe-smoking Sherlock Holmes...I decided to go into the properties of that picture. Well. Looks like it was taken on March 5 of 2015 at 2:40 a.m.! Seems that somebody forgot to update the clock on their camera when they got it. After that discovery, my dear Watson, the picture turned up under that date in my pictures file. I didn't even rename it yet. Now that I know where to find it, they'll all go there anyway.

Tomorrow, I'll share a little more of the visual progress.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #80 "Toucan Pam"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Are you intrigued by models? Runway models, underwear models, Sears catalog models? Too bad! This week, Val's fake book is about HAND models. One of them anyway. And it's not George Costanza wearing oven mitts. Fake order your fake copy today, and immerse yourself in the glamorous world of hand modeling. As a special promotion, Val will give a virtual high-five to the first fifty customers!

Toucan Pam

Pam Martin is no spring chicken. She'll date any old coot on a lark. If he proves cuckoo, it doesn't ruffle Pam's tail feathers. Loons know better than to mess with Pam, especially after her latest stint in the nuthatch. She’s swift to rail at them like a screech owl, and turns into a nutcracker if a creeper snipes back at her.

Pam's profitable career as a hand model has pigeon-holed her as Toucan Pam, her most famous ad campaign. Pam tries not to grouse about her fall in the pecking order. As agent after agent migrates away from her, Pam must swallow her pride, and feather her nest with income from commercial residuals, to build a house and raise a brood. Pam is watching a local crane driver, Jay, like a hawk. Will Jay try robbin' Pam with his fees? Or will he just put it on her bill? (150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Buzzard..."On behalf of carrion consumers everywhere, I must declare this fake book rancid. Even I was unable to finish it. The fake author is dead to me!"

Alfred Hitchcock..."I was NOT thrilled to read this fake book. It is a horror, but not the profitable kind. I've a good mind to toss it out the rear window. I have a suspicion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the fake author is some kind of notorious psycho. Our only hope to avoid such un-spellbound fake reading in the future is if the lady vanishes. I think it can be arranged."

Ostrich..."I'm putting my head in the sand and pretending this fake book never happened. I'd sooner be made into wallets and cowboy boots than ever fake-read one of Thevictorian's fake books again."

Parakeet..."Cover my cage! Cover my cage! I just saw this fake book laying open on the table, and I must not be exposed to it for one more second! I will gladly sleep the sleep of Rip Van Winkle if I can just be spared one more glance at this fake book!"

Seven Swans a-Swimming..."Even if we turned into nuclear-powered submarines, we could not get away from this fake book fast enough! Thevictorian's fake book is the very definition of an ugly duckling. It can never aspire to become a beautiful best-seller."

Six Geese a-Laying..."Thevictorian has laid an egg with this fake book. And it's ROTTEN!"

Four Calling Birds..."We just called to say that this fake book is something that we could drop from a tree limb or electric wire onto the windshield of your car. It STINKS! And unfortunately, Thevictorian seems to be full of it."

Three French Hens..."Oui, oui! Les amis the calling birds are correct! This fake book is merde!" 

Two Turtle Doves..."This fake book is the only thing that could separate us from one another. We both hate it with the heat of 10,000 suns, and almost roasted ourselves before donating it to Rebecca DeMornay down at the homeless center."

Partridge in a Pear Tree..."O pear tree, o pear tree...how could your relatives be a party to the paper-production for the making of this fake book? I feel so betrayed! These pages are not fit to line cages!"