Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Hick Gets Richer and the Bore Gets Moreso

In the frenzy of preparations for Oklahoma Casino Minipalooza, some of Hick's storage unit treasures took a back seat, fell by the wayside, blended into the woodwork. Time to mine those treasures and give them a spit-shining, since my tales have grown stale, each more boring than the previous.

Right after I showed you those couple of rings Hick found, and researched, and was informed were junk...Hick also found a couple of other rings. He's still modeling them himself, so beware.

The red one has a very thin band. It reminds me of my mom's high school ring. Not the stone, but the gold band itself. Mom's ring didn't have a stone, just an emblem with a big 'E' for the name of her high school. But the gold itself looked just like this one. Kind of thin and fragile, hollow-looking on the underside of the band. This one is marked 14k gold. The stone is all the same color. That's just a trick of the light that makes it look dark in the center.

As for the other one..."It's a man's ring," Hick told me, quite unnecessarily, what with me having two good-enough eyes to his one, and being somewhat familiar with the type of jewelry ladies wear, although I'm not such a lady myself. This ring is quite heavy, and is marked 18k gold in the band.

Hick has not taken them to that uncooperative jeweler, nor to a pawn shop. Instead, he asked a fellow flea marketer/auction aficionado. The one he was helping carry a table when he stumbled and hurt his butt. That guy said ACCORDING TO HICK that the man's ring could be worth $500-$600 at a place that melts down jewelry for the gold.

We'll see.

Of course, Hick said, "I might just keep that man's ring for myself."

He's welcome to some baubles of his own. He paid us back the remainder of the money for the storage lockers a couple weeks ago. Anything he gets now is pure profit.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Val Does Not Live By Gambling Alone

Our wallets did not grow fatter on Oklahoma Casino Minipalooza, but our waistlines most certainly did.

On Wednesday, the day our quest began, we were not overly concerned with sustenance. I'm not sure what Hick grabbed for breakfast that day, but I had none, seeing as how I have to coordinate my morning thyroid medicine with a period of non-consumption of food. Not a problem, though, because we hit Lee's Chicken before noon, and grabbed something fowl to eat. I had a two-piece oven-roasted meal with cooked apples and SLAW, and Hick had a three-piece fried meal with mashed potatoes and beans. Each came with a biscuit, too.

Supper Wednesday was around 6:30. We originally planned to eat much later, but our itinerary was adjusted, due to an ice storm hitting only an hour into our casino tour. We saw the precipitation starting, and headed back to Downstream, where we were staying, to gamble on site the rest of the night. We ate at their grill on the casino floor, both of us having the grilled chicken/bacon/cheese sandwich, and fries.

Thursday morning began with a change in breakfast plans. We LOVE the buffet at one of the Downstream restaurants. Problem is...we love it TOO MUCH! So we'd decided to grab something quick at the coffee shop. While waiting in line, Hick yearning for a bear claw, and me waiting for a bagel bomb (cream cheese filling with some veggies cooked inside a ball of bagel about the size of a tennis ball), we changed our mind. That's because we were in line behind about six Millennials, who were chatting and coffeetizing with the gal working behind the counter.

Hick and I looked at each other, and with a quick nod agreed to head for the restaurant a few feet away. We did NOT, however, partake of the buffet. We had initially decided on the Old People Breakfast (actually called the Senior Breakfast) of a slice of toast, two eggs, and bacon or sausage. It was $5.59, which would have been nearly the same as our coffee shop treats. Then Hick flipped the menu, and found THE QUAPAW BREAKFAST.

I think it was $7.49, but since I wasn't paying, I don't remember. Anyhoo...that's mine, after a couple of bites, when I decided to share. With you. By picture. There was no actual sharing of food! It was quite filling. Three eggs (I chose scrambled, Hick had over-easy), a ham steak, hash browns, and a biscuit with gravy. I preferred water as my beverage, and Hick had water and orange juice. That's my gambling purse carelessly laid aside. Don't worry. My money was safe. It was all people older than us in that restaurant, and Hick could have chased down any cane-wielder or walker-shuffler who might have grabbed it.

That breakfast stuck to our ribs for a good long time. We didn't have lunch until 3:30, at a deli in a different casino. The girl at the counter talked me into the day's special, a Cuban sandwich with fries. I splurged and also got (at additional charge) a cup of SLAW. This sandwich was HUGE, and I shared a portion with Hick, but not a whole half!

I also shared the fries, and we still didn't finish all of them. Hick had the cheeseburger that he always gets, and their home-made chips. He did not offer me a taste.

From there, we headed to another casino for their free play, and then it was back to one of our favorite new discoveries, the PRIVATE PARTY

at the casino where we've enjoyed their free monkey and free dog promotions in the past. Stuffed, of course. The promotion animals. We had digested our lunch by the time the free food was served at the PRIVATE PARTY. After earning 20 points during slot play, we were given the bracelet for admission to the PRIVATE PARTY, plus $20 in free slot play. We each also had $15 of free play there, and I had another $10 of birthday-month free play. So it was worth our while gamble there. Plus, the free food and drinks!

The PRIVATE PARTY was actually just behind a big curtain. We were in that area at the right time, and were among the first dozen people in line. In hindsight, I would have taken TWO plates (they were pretty small, actually) instead of piling everything onto one. I didn't want to look like a hog, though, with a big line behind me. It's not like they'd run out. They always replenish the table during the two hours that the event runs. And you can go back for more any time. Same with the open bar. Hick had a Coors Light, but that's all. Neither of us got our money's worth of drinks like Genius!

I had a pasta dish that they'd put sliced carrots in this time, instead of cherry tomatoes. Not a big fan of the carrots. They were too crunchy for that pasta. So I only had two servings, when Hick returned to the line and brought me more. I also had some of the big sandwich, a couple of pinwheel thingies, cheese and crackers, and a spinach dip that was delicious! My plate does not look very appetizing here, since I had already been rooting around in my food. I had a Diet Coke to drink.

We will probably plan future trips to take advantage of this Thursday night PRIVATE PARTY (I emphasize that, because that's how my sister the ex-mayor's wife kept saying it, when she went with us for CasinoPalooza 3, and doubted my description of the event that I read off their website). I have only one criticism (besides the carrots), and that is the sweet pickle slices on the big sandwich. That's just wrong. Nobody does that! It should be dill pickles, or no pickles.

Whew! Just looking at those photos makes me feel full again.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Even Steven Is My Co-Pilot

Gambling with Val is not for the faint of heart. Nor the cheap of pocket. Val goes high-rollin', my friends! In her own mind. The real high-rollers would laugh at the thought. Snort, probably, and then hee-haw like pompous asses, belittling our larger-than-life, legendary luck-magnet. Because of the five levels of players' cards, Val is only at the very low end of the second level. And that's at her regular local burger casino. Even Hick is at the second level card. No way we'll ever move up to the third level or higher.

Let the official record show that on Oklahoma Casino Minipalooza, Val gambled for two days, in seven casinos, and left with a deficit of...are you ready for this...get support for your soon-to-be-dropping jaws...a total...below what she took to fritter away...A NET LOSS OF $35.38.

That's right. I had all the money I took with me to lose, except for $35.38 of it, socked away in my gambling purse to return home with me. I STILL HAVE A WHOLE LOT OF MONEY LEFT TO GAMBLE ANOTHER DAY!!! If you add on the amount I spent for scratchers on the way there, and the amount I won back on the scratchers (like that $100 winner), I am only in the hole $0.38 for Oklahoma Casino Minipalooza!

Even Steven is my co-pilot. Or at least my Uber driver.

The room for two nights was free. That was one of my casino offers. Probably a $300 value at Downstream Resort. Plus, I had $191 of free play from the assorted casinos, which included regular offers and my birthday-month bonuses. Sure, Hick and I had to eat. And pay for gas. I haven't got the itemized receipts, but I'm going to wager (heh, heh, see what I did there, WAGER, which is a gambling term) that we pretty much came out even on expenses, too, if you count our comps.

I won't show you my biggest win (lest you judge me even more harshly than normal), but I will show you my new second-favorite game. It's Miss Kitty, on a Wonder 4 Tower slot. The bet is $2.40 because it plays 4 games at once, at $0.60 per spin. I hit a regular bonus, not the tower bonus.

The kitties are wild, and the goldfish is the highest paying symbol. I don't know how those 50 lines pay off, but having those kings and ace in the way didn't seem to hurt me much.

Yes, I could have lost my shirt like last time. Lost my shirt, and pants, and foundation garments, and had to exit that casino in just my New Balance and black socks. But thanks to Even Steven, I had a hunch to play my favorite game, Buffalo Gold, one last time before going to bed on our final night. Yes, it was after 1:00 a.m. when I got myself a free Diet Coke refill, and plopped down to go high-rollin' in one final attempt to recoup my at-the-time losses.

Let's just say that Even Steven was sittin' on my shoulder, not at all annoyed by the sound of me crunching the ice from my soda. He came through in a big way, and I took that money and ran. Okay. Hobbled slowly. To the cash-out machine, pretty sure that I was close to having that money won back.

I must admit, this Oklahoma Casino Minipalooza was one of the best birthday gifts that Hick has given me. It didn't cost HIM anything, and it only cost me $35.38.*


* Excluding the cost of Hick's gambling stake, which came half from our joint checking account, and half from my big scratcher ticket that we cashed in two weeks ago.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

It Probably Would Have Been About 10 Feet of Snow

Val is having jet lag from her recent Oklahoma Casino Minipalooza adventure. More like A-Cad lag. I can't seem to get into the routine again. Yes. I know you're all clamoring for lengthy and confusing tales without point or punchline. Sorry. You'll have to wait another day. Maybe two. I'm getting older, an it takes longer to recover.

In the meantime, let's go to the weather.

The creek down by EmBee (the mailbox) is roaring. This is from yesterday afternoon. Our gravel road runs alongside this creek.

A little farther up, it's a virtual Niagara Falls!

The itty-bitty dry creek that feeds into it has come out of its banks and over the itty-bitty concrete bridge we must cross at the last fork up to the homestead. Thankfully, this was yesterday, about two hours after I'd arrived home safely. Hick took the picture. He said he drove his Gator through it!

Out of frame to the right is another small concrete bridge under water like this. Only it takes a much bigger dip. Deeper. Hick said he wouldn't even try to drive his tractor through that one. Huh. To me, if you can't drive a giant heavy tractor with five-foot-high tires through an itty-bitty creek flowing over an itty-bitty's pretty much the sign of a water apocalypse. Or a water apopadopalyspe, as Hick might say.

This is the flow down by Hick's creekside cabin. Which looks like it might become Hick's in-creek cabin.

There's not much that keeps Hick away from an auction. But last evening, around 5:00, he decided that he was not getting out for the auction. "I might get stuck out, and not able to get back in because of the water. I'll just stay home." As much as I enjoy having a Hick-free evening, I enjoy having a worry-free evening even more.

We had flash flood warnings all night. This afternoon, the main low water bridge was still roped off with caution tape, and had county workers scraping mud off both sides of the road approaching it. They couldn't get on the bridge itself yet, because the water was still pretty deep. Sometimes, big tree trunks end up there. Another reason not to try and drive across, because you might just ram into a log.

I wouldn't have known that bridge's status, but I forgot to take the alternate route home from the store around 2:00. Sometimes the creeks don't go down as fast as one might expect.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

My Chance of Being Struck By Lightning Is Probably Higher

A few days ago, I mentioned that during our 5-minute visit at the Missouri Lottery office to cash in my $1000 winner, Hick and I encountered another winner. A guy who said he was shaking, and didn't know what to do next. Try as we might, we could not get our noses deep enough into his business. We are dying to know how much he won.

Hick said he could remember the guy's face. So I've been checking the News Releases on the Missouri Lottery website. Sometimes they put the winner's picture in the release. When I see a story that might be that guy, I ask Hick to look at the picture. So far, he's said, "That's not the guy." This morning, I showed Hick the latest winner story that I looked at last night. And Hick said, "That's him."

Hick can't remember to wipe his muddy feet upon entering the homestead, but he can remember the face of a stranger that he saw for a couple of minutes ten days ago. When quizzed on this feat, Hick said, "I remember faces. From when I used to work in the station." Let the record show that Hick began his working life at the age of 13, and the first few jobs during his school years were at gas stations. I don't know why he remembered his customers. Drive-offs weren't a thing back then, because Hick is the one who pumped the gas.'s the story. That guy won $100,000! The top prize on a $5 ticket. It's a ticket Hick and I buy. Purchases about 40 miles from here. Hick knows that convenience store. He said he's stopped there a handful of times for gas.

The winner from the Gas Station Chicken Store was on the website, too. I guess that gal decided to say that she bought the ticket, lest there be any claims against her win, even though the clerk who sold it said her boyfriend is the one who came in, and said he was buying a ticket for his girlfriend. No picture or much of a story on her, but here's the news release.

I don't NEED a hundred thousand dollars. But of course I'd like to win it. I don't buy the scratchers thinking of the top prize, because I consider that unattainable. I don't really think about what that top prize is when I'm choosing my tickets. I hope for a winner that's in the hundreds, or maybe a thousand. Because that keeps me playing. Hick is always dreaming of the top prize. He only buys tickets occasionally.

What are the odds that I would be leaning my elbows on a counter, a few inches and a few hours away from a $100,000 winner, and within the same week, be standingwithin arm's reach of a $100,000 winner that a guy was cashing in? I'd say pretty long, those odds.

I'm still going to scratch. You never know. If I'm meant to win big, I will. If not, I'm perfectly happy being luckier than average with my smaller wins.

Oh yeah...on my way to Oklahoma Casinos Minipalooza, I bought a few scratchers:

This $5 ticket won $100. It's the same kind that won the jackpot for the lottery office guy.

Friday, February 23, 2018

No, It Was Not MY Choice

We deliberately stopped by our kind-of-local casino for lunch last Thursday, on the way back from cashing in my winning $1000 scratcher. We had to go to the city, because the establishments who sell scratchers can only pay out a winner up to $600. Not a dollar more. They don't HAVE to pay over a $25 winner, but they have the option to, from $25.01 to $600. Most of them will go up to $500 with no problem.

It is no secret that Hick and Val like a fat juicy burger from Burger Brothers. It's also no secret that the order-takers have found a variety of ways to antagonize Val when she orders.

I get promotional offers from this casino. They come in the mail every month, sometimes various offers throughout the month. The main mailer shows my food credit available. I always have it twice a month, for any of their restaurants. At the end of last year, it was a $25 offer from the 1st to the 15th, and another $25 offer from the 16th to the 31st. Or however Sunday through Saturday fell. The casino counts a WEEK as SUNDAY through SATURDAY. Just sayin'...

Anyhoo, after the first of the year, those rewards reset back to the basic level. So now I've been getting $10 food credit offers, until my level of play shows them that I deserve more. Not a big deal. That's how they do business. They used to require that I present the actual food coupon, cut out of glossy paper from the mailer. I was fine with that. THEN they switched over to swiping it from my player's card. I'm pretty sure I elaborated a couple of times how they took my accumulated MyCash and used it for the amount over the food coupon.

Yeah. All those times, I thought they were being NICE to me, doing me a favor, not charging me the couple of dollars over the food coupon! THEN one time I caught on that my amount had gone down. It's not like they refunded the amount left over on the food coupon into my MyCash, either. No siree, Bob! Those transactions only seem to work one way. THEIR way!

The last time we went, I knew I had used up my two food coupons, and I told Hick that we would pay with the debit card, since I didn't have cash on hand for our weekly allowances yet. Seeing as how this was a SUNDAY, the BEGINNING of the week, you know.

Well! Apparently, if you pay with a debit card (or possibly a credit card), you are automatically paying a GRATUITY of several dollars. For people who stand at a counter, punch in your order, and holler your name to come get it when it's ready. I'm pretty sure they are paid a regular salary to do that. I don't make it a point to tip people who take my order at the counter. Since they wouldn't have my business if nobody did that.

It's just like Hick refusing to pay the paperwork fees when he buys a new car. He tells them right up front, just as soon as he's looking over the contract prior to his signature for the purchase. "I ain't payin' no paperwork fees. You have people in the office you pay to do that. You can't sell me a car without the paperwork. So I guess you'll either sell it to me without those fees, or I won't buy it." They don't like that much.

Anyhoo...Hick didn't tell the guy to void the transaction. He went ahead with the gratuity. It's not like he was paying with his weekly allowance money. But he said, "That's crazy. I'm not tipping them for taking an order at the counter. Next time, we'll pay cash."

So...this time, we had cash. I handed them my players card first, though, because online, my MyChoice perks still show that food credit. Even though I'm sure I used all that was available. I handed over my card, and said, "I don't know if I have a food credit."

The girl handed my card back. She shook her head. "No food credit." Okay. I believed that. Then she said the amount for our purchase. Which is usually around $21 or $22 and change. But she said our bill was "$7.52." NO WAY! We always get the exact same thing. Hick has a cheeseburger and onion rings. I have a hamburger and fries. We carry in our drinks from the free soda fountain inside the casino. NO WAY was our bill that low. I questioned her.

"I need your card."

"No. I don't want to use the cash on my card."

"I already did. I need your card."

Meaning, that without asking, she had used the credits I'd built up for MyCash. I knew I had around $7 on there, because I was planning to use it on the slots after lunch. You can only use it in $5 increments. can use your MyCash in the restaurants for DOUBLE the amount you can use in the slots. So she'd take over $14 off my card! Without consulting me. Meaning I wouldn't have my MyCash available for slots until I built it back up past $5 again.

Sorry. I'm not willingly using my hard-earned MyCash on Hick's appetite. All he ever gets are the buffet offers, BOGO or half-price for one. It would cost us about the same as buying two burgers and fries out of pocket. And we really just like the burgers and fries.

I'm pretty sure these workers don't come up with these ideas on their own. I'm pretty sure they are following the Burger Brothers' policy.

I'd boycott them, but I REALLY like their burgers.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Money Out, Money In, Money Out

Last Thursday, Hick sweaved drove me to the city to the Missouri Lottery office, to cash in my $1000 scratcher winner. It's an unassuming building in an industrial park. Kind of confusing to get to, but we have a GARMIN! Actually, the last time we went, last March, with my previous $1000 winner, Hick got lost on the way out, and had to pull over and set our destination as home, since he kept driving around in square circles.

Anyhoo...inside the building, there's a counter with two clerks behind what I assume is bulletproof glass. They have little slots that you shove your ticket through. Let's just say that these workers are always cheerful. I would imagine it's a pretty rewarding job to hand out money to happy people all day long. AND the workers are seated, not standing, behind the counter.

The guy who waited on me said, "Oh, I see that you've been here before." Not because he's one of those 6 people in the world like Marilu Henner, who can remember every detail of every second of their lives since birth. No. He's not even the one who waited on me last time. He's not psychic, either, that I know of, or he wouldn't be WORKING with lottery tickets, he'd be home scratching off a fortune every day. No, he knew I'd been there before, because I was prepared.

I'd been to the Missouri Lottery website, and looked up what I needed to cash in a winning ticket. I'd filled out my forms, and printed them. I'd already made a copy of the front and back of my ticket, which I'd signed. Once I shoved all that, along with my ticket and picture ID, through the slot, I was given a check for $960 (Missouri holds out 4% tax) and a W2G (that's for GAMBLING, you know) to use for next year's federal tax return. The whole visit took less than five minutes.

While I was waiting for my check to be printed, a man walked up to the other slot at the counter. He pushed a ticket through, and said, "I've been playing for 10 years, and it's about time! What do I do now? Besides shake?"

Darn it! I couldn't see his ticket. And I couldn't hear what the gal was telling him. My clerk called me back over to get my check, which I handed to Hick (maybe not such a good idea), so I could use the very clean bathroom facilities before we left. I could see that Hick was trying to listen in. Well. Apparently, Hick doesn't eavesdrop any better than he listens to me. Because all he revealed was that the lady told Winner Guy that she had to take out 20% for taxes. I'd just read the night before on the official website of the Missouri Lottery that they must withhold 25% for federal taxes on any ticket winning over $5000. I'm guessing that Winner Guy's ticket was for a little more. Because I don't think I'd be shaking for $5000.

On the way back home, we stopped by the casino for lunch. Uh huh. You know. Purely for lunch. People gotta eat! Even people who win $1000 on a scratcher. Now don't you go worrying about Val's fortune. It was in check form, and made it safely home, and to the bank the very next morning. I had $15 free play at the casino, plus $20 rewards play on a Thursday. Hick had $10 free play. Who can drive right by and let those benefits lapse? Not this ol' Val! And her sweaver driver Hick. I gave him a little bit more money, but not much, because I was saving my stash for Oklahoma Casino Minipalooza (where I am living it up this very moment).

We only intended to eat lunch, and play for an hour. Seriously. That was the plan. But we were both having so much success that we ended up staying for two hours. And THEN, with only a couple of minutes left before our rendezvous, Hick sent me a text asking if I wanted to stay an additional half hour. Who am I to deny his wishes? We stayed. Probably to my detriment, because my streak was over. But it helped Hick win back some after-lunch losses.

In the end, Hick came out with $240 more than he took in, and I left $100 ahead. That's a rare occasion at this casino.

What's NOT a rare occasion? I had an issue with my order-taker at Burger Brothers! I know, right? It's like they're conspiring against me! More on that story tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

He's Really Good at Diagnosing Mechanical Issues

Hick has spent a lifetime working with machines. Big ones, little ones, factory, name it, Hick can probably tell you how it works, and how to fix it. He can listen to a car drive by, and tell you what work needs to be done. Smell the exhaust of a truck in front of us, and determine that "It's running too rich." Whatever that means. Maybe all guys can do that. To quote Hannibal Lecter (but over a different topic), "I, myself, cannot."

Yes, Hick is good at diagnosing what ails machines. But not what ails himself. As if it wasn't bad enough that he hurt his arm wiping his butt...Hick came down with a bout of vomiting and diarrhea on Saturday.

I had no inkling anything was wrong with him. He'd spent the morning at the auction. Sold a lady a child bed out at the local junior college. Come home and puttered around in his new Freight Container Garage, trying to sort and unpack numerous storage unit treasures. He was planning to go to his regular auction at 6:00.

At 4:00, Hick appeared in the doorway of my dark basement lair. I had the overhead fluorescent lights on (except for the two of the four that are burned out). Hick said he was going to the auction early, because they were supposed to have live bluegrass music.

I said that Hick looked like death warmed over.

"What do you mean?"

"You just look bad. You face is bloated. Your eyes are popping out. You look bad."

"I really don't feel very good. But I want to hear the music."

"How do you not feel good?"

"I'm kind of nauseous. I'll be okay."

"Were you snacking?"

"I had some of that candy I gave you for your birthday, that you gave me. And some of my own candy. And some of my cookies..."

"You can't eat like that! My candy was pure sugar! You're not supposed to have it! Your blood sugar probably spiked, and now it's crashing, and you feel bad. You HAVE to have some protein along with that stuff. That you're not even supposed to have. And if you ate too much sugar free stuff...that gives people diarrhea."

"I know that. I'll eat some cheese or a Slim Jim on my way. I don't think it's that."

By 6:08, I heard Hick stumping around upstairs. By 6:15, I heard him vomiting in the master bathroom over my head. I went up to see what was wrong with him. Found him in the La-Z-Boy with an afghan pulled up over his face.

"Are you coming down with something?"

"I don't think so. I don't feel like I have a cold. I think I got food poisoning."

"From what? What did you eat?"

"Well, I ate a fish sandwich at Hardee's for lunch. It might have been the tarter sauce. But I think that's too recent."

"Yeah. If you have food poisoning, or more likely some intestinal 24-hour thing, you probably caught it one or two days ago. Two days ago was Thursday. We were at the lottery office, and then stopped by the casino. We both ate the same thing for lunch. The burger. Medium. But I'm not sick. What did we have for supper Thursday? Oh. You had hot dogs. And I had salad. Then Friday..."

"I know what it was! It was them hot dogs. Not on Thursday. I had them on Friday night, too, before I went to the Friday night auction. It was that cheese! It tasted different. Yeah. I didn't put the cheese on my hot dogs Thursday, but I did on Friday."

"I seriously doubt it was the cheese. That cheese was still good until April. It was just the end of the bag. I put it on my own salad, and I'm not sick. It's not the cheese."

"Yeah. Maybe not. Maybe it just tasted different because it was cheddar, and I've been having pepper jack. I don't know what else it could be! See? You accused me of eating candy, but I hardly had any of it. That's not what made me sick."

"I think you caught something. Something at the casino. People were hacking and snorting and wheezing all over the place. I hope you didn't get the flu. I KNOW you don't wash your hands. You came right to lunch, and I know you didn't wash your hands before eating. That's why I never let you carry my soda! You grab it around the rim of the cup! I don't want to be licking other people's germs!"

"Well. I didn't wash my hands before I ate..."

"OR, you might have picked up something in the doctor's office when you got your shot Friday afternoon. SICK people go to the doctor's office!"

"It was only me and the nurse. But last week, she DID tell me that we couldn't go into one of the exam rooms, because they'd just had a sick kid in there."

"See? I'm sure you picked something up at the casino or the doctor's office. One was 48 hours before you got sick, and the other was 24 hours before you got sick. That's it."

"Maybe. I don't feel like I'm dying, like that time I ate that linguini with clam sauce TV dinner."

"You're not green like you were then, either."

 "I'm just ready to get over it."

Yeah. I'm ready for him to get over it, too. He was sleeping without his breather, and up every hour. And underfoot until he needed to meet back-creek neighbor Bev over at his Freight Container Garage to sell her a coat tree.

I don't know what Hick has, but I'm pretty sure a man who last month ate six-week-old bologna that was saved for the dogs...didn't get sick from eating non-expired shredded cheddar that I ate at the same time, with no unusual results.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

He's Poparm the Junker Man

Hick has not been himself lately. Last week, he injured his arm. I'd like to say that hard-working Hick hurt himself while lifting couches and dressers and file cabinets that he acquired in The Great Storage Unit Folly of Early '18. But that's not quite the truth.

Hick hurt his arm while sitting on the toilet wiping his butt.

You know the body doesn't work as well when it gets older. It's a little more fragile. Takes longer to heal. But still. How in the NOT-HEAVEN can a butt-wiping man injure his arm so badly that it looks like this:

Yeah. There's nothing stuffed in there. It's not perspective. Hick is not a bodybuilder. I told him he looks like a skewed Popeye. Well. I didn't use the work skewed. Because I was talking to Hick. But I made it clear that he's like some kind of freaky Popeye with a big bicep instead of big forearms.

I guess that's all swelling. Hick says he heard a POP when it happened. The arm hurt. It didn't swell up until after he put a heating pad and a hot patch thingy on it. That made if feel better, he said. But look worse. He went to the funeral home (not because he thought he was dying, but to pay respects to a deceased person) and was talking to HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) and his wife. HOSwife said that her Dad had injured his arm (though actually through physical labor, and not wiping his butt on the toilet), and that once it swelled up, it felt better. He didn't go to the doctor for it because it felt better. But he still has a knot in the muscle.

I told Hick that he should go to the doctor. He said he was going on Friday anyway, for his B12 shot, and he would ask then. Of course, he didn't mention that he only sees the nurse for that shot. But he did share that the nurse told him HE NEEDS TO SEE THE DOCTOR. He said he might make an appointment, but that he's sure she'll just send him for an MRI, and that he's going to tell her, "I ain't goin' down to the hospital, because now I have to pay out of pocket until my deductible is met." That's the problem with being spoiled by having two insurances all your working career. Anyhoo... Hick says he'll call around and go to just an MRI place, not necessarily the hospital, because people at work told him it's way cheaper.

NOW I've asked Hick what he's going to do, depending on the diagnosis. All the armchair / barber chair / Hardee's daily breakfast / auction buyers / flea market seller experts think Hick has most likely torn the muscle away from the bone. Which would actually be a tendon, because tendon is what attaches muscle to bone. So...I've asked him, what if the recommendation is surgery? Because I'm sure that would entail a MINIMUM of six weeks of no lifting. For a man who is feverishly trying to clean out two remaining storage sheds so as not to pay rent on them.

Hick says he can move the arm most ways except for shoulder height, out away from his body. He can lift things that aren't too heavy. He wants to get it checked out, and fixed if it's never going to get better without surgery.

Right now, though, we have Oklahoma Casino Minipalooza on the horizon. So he's definitely not going under the knife this week. Even though I am willing to cancel reservations and postpone the trip and devote my time to playing scratchers and looking for parking lot pennies.


We will be gone 3 days, but I'll be checking in every late night or early morning, and fresh posts have been scheduled for you. So if you don't see your comment right away, it's because I'm out whooping it up on the casino floor, and haven't gotten to it yet. But I will!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Oh, the Weather Outside was Delightful

Saturday morning, I woke up to find the front yard converting itself to a winter wonderland. Okay. I really woke up to a telemarketer call at 8:50 a.m. I'm pretty sure that's frowned upon by the FTC. I didn't answer. I wanted to be up by 9:00 anyway. That's early for me, now that I'm RETIRED. Lest you think I'm some kind of well-rested Sleeping Beauty, let the record show that I most often go to bed between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m., and that Val has never, ever, been referred to as any kind of beauty.

Anyhoo...the flakes were large and falling fast.

I was a little surprised, because on Thursday, the temperature revealed by A-Cad's control center as we were driving home from the city was 87. It's Missouri, though. If you don't like the weather...wait a couple of hours, and it will change. I knew there was a chance of some freezing mist overnight Friday. Hick was selling storage unit swag at an auction at 10:00 a.m., so I'd checked my weather website, and I'd cautioned him to be careful on the roads.

The snowfall even made Shackytown Boulevard look picturesque, though I wouldn't go so far as to put the picture on our Christmas cards.

I don't think neighbor dog Copper Jack felt very picturesque.

You know how it goes. On the ONE DAY that you have something going...inclement weather appears. With Hick and I both RETIRED, all the days run together. We don't have set plans. Except Hick had known about this auction for at least three weeks. And I was awaiting the arrival of Genius's Friend, who was driving down to get the giant box of wine that was delivered here by mistake.

Genius's Friend shares an apartment with him in Kansas City, but was on this side of the state all week for work. Not so much IN TOWN as at his parents' house, while he commuted to his job in St. Louis for the week. He graduated before Genius, and has a job that lets him work remotely. So he lives in K.C., and comes to this side of the state as work requires. Good thing for wine-loving Genius. That wine isn't going to drink itself, you know.

Anyhoo...Genius's Friend made the 45-minute drive to Backroads without incident. We visited for about an hour, and by then, most of the snow had melted. Good thing. We didn't want Genius crying over spilled wine. That would have been a waste of good cheap too-sweet wine (according to Friend).

I'll tell you what else was a waste. THIS SNOW! If I was not RETIRED, I would have been kind of cranky. Not only because it melted so quickly, but because it came on a Saturday. Every teacher knows that a fast and steady snowfall in the early morning hours is pretty much a day off work.

Out here in Backroads, anyway.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

THIS Was, Perhaps, the Evening of Steven

It is no secret that Val buys scratcher tickets every day. And that no matter where else she may have stopped, she always gets a scratcher from the Gas Station Chicken Store when she gets her 44 oz Diet Coke. Every. Single. Day.

You may recall that Val had some fantastic luck a couple weeks ago, getting a $100 winner on February 7th, a $500 winner on the 8th, and a $1000 winner on the 12th. Since then, the luck has dried up. Not that I'm complaining!

With my good fortune in evidence, as I flaunted it under Hick's nose shared each major win with Hick...he started buying an odd ticket here and there. He's really not a scratcher player. He's a junker. He's more of a casino gambler than a ticket-buyer. So he'd pick up a ticket, and of course lose. He doesn't have the scratcher luck gene. Hick grew despondent when he couldn't win. "Here's five dollars. Get me a ticket when you get yours. Pick it before you go in. Don't just sort through yours and give me one you don't want. No. Give me that back. Here's a twenty. Get me four."

I made a list. I showed Hick. I faithfully bought the tickets I'd written down for him. Not wanting to make two transactions, I bought mine along with his. But Hick got the one I intended to get him at each of the four places I went.

He lost on all four.

I felt bad for Hick. The next time I got tickets, I gave him two. Bought with MY money, out of a batch of tickets bought for myself. He lost on both. So bad was Hick's losing streak that he had scratched 9 losers in a row. The odds are 1 in 4.

Funny thing how my winning streak has stopped. Seemingly at the same time I started buying tickets for Hick. Not that I'm blaming him, of course...I told Hick that I was not going to buy him tickets for a while. He was okay with that. Because he was tired of losing money that could be spent on junk at Goodwill.

Of course I know that Hick's tickets had nothing to do with my luck. Even though I'm a little superstitious, I was expecting a losing streak. Even Steven keeps you honest. The long-term odds always come back around. You don't just keep winning $1600 every week. I've been scratching a long time, and I know my luck runs in cycles. No matter what experts on probability (looking at YOU, my best ol' ex-math-teaching buddy Mabel) might tell you about your chances on each ticket being independent of all other chances that have come before.

Anyhoo...Steven has really been EVENING me. The tickets I send Genius each week were not winning, either. I was about 5 winners behind the odds printed on the tickets. Last night, after having ZERO winners for the day, I was trying to decide whether to stop buying them for a couple days, or switch away from the $5 tickets. I decided to change to the $10 denomination, and if no better success, to stop until after my birthday minipalooza to Oklahoma casinos later this week.

Well. Today I was standing in the Gas Station Chicken Store around my regular time, between 1:00 and 2:00, waiting for some chicken. The stern old lady clerk was chatting with a customer as he paid for gas. I'd never seen her in such a good mood. I swear, she almost had the hint of a smile playing around the corners of her mouth. She was practically giddy! Then I heard what she was telling that customer.

I almost fainted.

YESTERDAY, a man had come in to pay for gas. He never buys lottery tickets, but he wanted to get one for his girlfriend, who was in the car. He asked Stern Old Lady Clerk what might be a good one. She pointed to one in the glass case. It was a blue-and-orange 20X ticket that costs $5. I buy one every day. Hear that? Every day. Around 1:00 or 2:00. Stern Old Lady Clerk said this transaction happened yesterday evening. Not afternoon. Not night. Evening. I'm guessing I was about three or four hours off schedule to buy that very ticket. In the right place at a too-soon time.

Anyhoo...the man bought the ticket, and took it outside for his girlfriend to scratch. Then he came back inside to see if he could cash it in. Of course it was a winner. The Man Owner was there, too, working around behind the counter. He said, "Oh, sure. I can cash a hundred." And the customer said,

"It's a hundred THOUSAND."

That's right. The top prize on that $5 ticket. The most you can possibly win on it. $100,000. Sold right there in the Gas Station Chicken Store. Out from under my very nose. A ticket like this, only a winner.

This is a picture of my loser I bought there that day, number 039. Tickets are in packs of 60, numbered from 000 to 059. I don't know the number on the big winner. But I'd like to.

Of course I'm happy for the guy. He was obviously meant to win it. More likely, his girlfriend was meant to win it. I wonder if he'll claim it, or let her, or if they'll split it.

I'd be happier for them if they'd won it on a ticket bought anywhere else than where I buy that ticket every day.

Don't you worry about Val, though. She's still plugging along. Mojo returning, perhaps, since she stopped buying tickets for that albatross Hick.

Got this one today, but not at the Gas Station Chicken Store. Two doors over, at the Casey's. It's a $100 winner, thanks to the next-to next-to last symbol, the WIN ALL.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Shallow Thoughts, By Val Thevictorian

I have nothing to complain about really. Winning here and there all willy-nilly on scratchers and at the casino. I don't have to get up and go to work every day. I have a 44 oz Diet Coke when the mood strikes. A loving husband who tolerates me. No debt. Comfortable income. Two healthy boys with a college education. Yet I feel like something is missing.

Oh, yeah. That's because IT IS!

Here I sit in my dark and lonely basement lair seven days after my birthday...still waiting for a card from each boy. That's not right, people! I used to wipe their butt! I send them a letter every week, regular as clockwork, one with money, one with scratchers enclosed. Yet they cannot take time out of their busy carefree lives to send a freakin' CARD to their mother on her birthday? Not even an eCard! And The Pony had the gall, on the day BEFORE my birthday, to say that my card would be a little late. Since he'd been busy with classes. Okay. That was 8 days ago. WHERE'S MY FREAKIN' CARD??? Sure, Genius called me at the stroke of 9:30 a.m. on my birthday. Excuse me. Did Hallmark declare bankruptcy? I think not. It seems that cards are still in fashion. For sons who LOVE their mother!

Yep! What I'm having here is ONE GREAT BIG MOM-PITY PARTY!

I had to be careful with that designation, you know. Don't want people thinking I'm a GREAT BIG MOM having a pity party. I mean that the pity party itself is great big. Not with a sheet cake and buttercream icing, and balloons, pointy hats, and that clothespin game with a mason jar. Or pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Not-Heaven, no! That's like an actual party, even though Val might be sulking and stubbing her toe at the tile, refusing to have a good time, after others have gone out of their way to make her birthday special.

Nope. That's not it at all. Because absolutely neither boy has gone out of his way to make my birthday special. Or even wedged five minutes into their own day. Except maybe Genius, who did allot five minutes to a phone call. C'mon, guys. It's not like I'm going to be having many more of these, you know. At least not with all my faculties.

I am seriously considering a paragraph on this topic for their weekly letter.

Silly me. As if they actually read the words on the paper that wraps their money or scratchers.


At 12:53 today, I discovered MY BIRTHDAY CARD in the bowels of EmBee. That's MB. The mailbox.

It's from The Pony. And of course it's not an actual birthday card. It's a FABULOUS card. Close enough. It still puts him ahead of Genius on Val's Who deserves a treat? list. The Pony even wrote a message inside. And some of it was even readable!

The Mom-Pity Party is winding down now. Everybody drive safely.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb #97 "The Climes, They Are A-Changin'"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week, Val is all about enlightening the masses. Do you know your conspiracy theories? If not, I've got just the fake book for you! And if you DO know your conspiracy theories, I can probably convince you to buy my current faux release without much effort. C'mon! You're already on a government watch list, just from clicking on my page. Might as well get the latest fake book while you're here!

The Climes, They Are A-Changin'

Santa takes a tropical vacation after the holidays. Now, in 2099, the tropical vacation has come to Santa.

As a closet conspiracy theorist, Santa is still in global warming denial. He sits in his BPA plastic chair, contemplating chemtrails, digesting GMO food, waiting for the moon to rise so he can explain to the elves how the Apollo landings were faked.

Santa is still married to Mrs. Clause for the tax break. Her female life partner has moved in, (not that there's anything wrong with that), and neither one of them are baking Santa's cookies. Just as well. Santa has been cutting back, ditching the cookies and milk for a high-protein diet of tuna, despite it being loaded with Fukushima radiation.

What toys is Santa designing this year? Will Elvis and Michael Jackson and Tupac give him any ideas when they drop by to serenade Santa on the summer solstice? (150 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Yellow Plastic Chair..."Get a load of this guy, telling people he's only eating tuna! That's like Thevictorian telling people that she's a fake writer! I refuse to support her. No matter how many times she tells people the secret to her success is 'butt in chair.'" 

Blue Shorts..."You think YOU are mortified, after being exposed to one of Thevictorian's fake books? What about US? We wrote the book on mortification! And much better than any fake effort ever made by Thevictorian."

Melanin..."We're in short supply here at the North Pole. A few more months of ultraviolet radiation, and Santa won't be needing that red suit! He can deliver presents au naturel, in his BIRTHDAY red suit! And speaking of red...that's what color Thevictorian's face should be, after fake-writing this fake book!"

Water, The Matter Formerly Known As Snow..."We have changed state, from solid to liquid, and I know I speak for all of us molecules in wishing that Val Thevictorian would do the same. Change from a state of consciousness to a state of unconsciousness! That should put an end to these fake books! Thevictorian is like an atom. She can't be trusted, because she makes up everything!"

Randy Quaid..."I could play Santa. If I ever work again. We all know that the government and the Illuminati are out to get me. If only Thevictorian was a good enough writer that the Star Whackers would want to off her! I swear, that fake author is nuttier than a...than a...nuttier than ME!"

Tide Pod..."It's time for me to come clean. After fake-reading Thevictorian's latest fake book, I wish that I could bite into myself. Devour myself like an ouroboros. Put an end to the fake suffering that is living in a world with Thevictorian's work."

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Hoard of the Rings

Hick has been sending me pictures of his storage unit finds intermittently. Once you get past the horror of seeing his pinky finger, you might notice these shiny baubles.

UGH! Yeah. Sorry to spring that one you. It gives me flashbacks to the time Li'l Val was in 7th grade, and looked down at her 5th-grade sister Li'l Future Ex-Mayor's Wife's bare feet crammed into gold strappy sandals about two sizes too small.!

Anyhoo...Hick's been trying to figure out how to tell if the jewelry is worth anything. First he said he would take it to the pawn shop. I said that he won't really know what it's worth there, because a pawn shop won't give him what they think it costs. And I also told him that a jewelry store probably won't want to appraise it, because they would be doing work for free. What's in it for them if people walk in off the street (or storage unit lot) clamoring to know if they're going to get rich with their newly-mined gems?

While mulling this problem over, Hick found another ring.

He sent this one with the caption: "My newest find big diamond I hope." I told him that the picture was blurry (who would have imagined, him taking a picture with one hand while standing over by the woodpile), so he said he'd resend it the next day.

That's probably an even worse focus, there at the bathroom counter. The point is, Hick found these rings, and he wants to sell them at the auction or his Storage Unit Store, but he doesn't want to give away a crown jewel unknowingly.

At the doctor's office, he showed a lady in the waiting room. I'm thinking that HICK was in the waiting room, and she's one of the staff. He had the one with the single pinky/purple stone, I think, and she offered him $30 for it. He almost took it, but he told her he'd have to think about it.

Yesterday, Hick went to the pawn shop, where the guy told him he doesn't deal in silver, and said he sends everybody to a diamond store over in Bill-Paying Town. Hick took his rings there, and the lady behind the counter ("She wasn't nowhere near as nice as the pawn shop guy!") told him that the gold was just plated, and that the silver ring was junk. I asked about the stones, and Hick said, "She didn't even mention the stones, so I figured they weren't nothing either."

He also said that he has a contact at the auction who deals with jewelry, and he's going to ask on Friday night. But that if the lady is in the doctor's office Friday afternoon, and still wants that one for $30, he'll sell it to her.

Hick just wants to unload his merchandise. He sold a love seat and chair the other day for $50, and has a lady coming to look at a couple of tables on Friday. He's been listing stuff (with pictures) on the county Buy/Sell/Trade website.

Last night, he sold me $25 worth of change. Yeah. He counted it out himself, but I guess I'll trust him. He found a big jar of it, and says that $25 is not even half. I always need change for my 44 oz Diet Cokes. So I might even buy more change from him.

That's Hick. Getting his money back a few cents at a time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I Can't Beat Them, So I'm Joining Them

My trip to Walmart yesterday made it ever the more obvious that people these days only care about themselves!

Granted, I raised one of them myself. The Pony, you know, really doesn't care about helping people. But still, he's not to the point of selfishly making his own path through life easier, by refusing to yield in a game of chicken with society. He may not care about helping people, but he doesn't go out of his way to hinder them, either.

You can't be nice to people any more. You get no acknowledgement. Sometimes you even get a box of donuts slammed down on the counter when you are careful to not step in line ahead of some chewing-the-fat-with-good-old-boy dude who's all the way across the convenience store. There is no reciprocation for your niceness. Hold the door open for someone, and they barge on through the next portal of the double-doors, letting it swing back at you.

I don't know about your Walmart, but our Supercenter has two sets of sliding doors. Clearly marked above each one is ENTRANCE and EXIT. As you're coming out of the store, one even has DO NOT EXIT on it, a laminated white sign with black letters hung across the glass at chest level. This signage is not even taken as a suggestion. It's like the whole population of Backroads consists of a race of CONTRARIANS. They always do the opposite. If they were characters in Bel Kaufman's "Up the Down Staircase," she would have had no title.

Going into the store, I had to stop dead in my tracks just as those doors on the ENTRANCE side slid open for me. Because coming OUT that side (ignoring or nose-thumbing the DO NOT EXIT notice) was a lady pushing a cart. Just like I know when I'll win a collision in T-Hoe vs Hyundai, I knew that I'd lose a collision of Val vs loaded cart. That gal even had the nerve to sigh heavily at me because she had to steer to one side. Too bad, so sad. I'm NOT backing up from the entrance to let a cart out.

Once inside, I seemed to be shopping with a busload of visitors from the U.K. Everyone I met with an oncoming cart was rolling down the LEFT SIDE of the aisle! People! In the U.S., we KEEP RIGHT! It's the civilized thing to do. I can't believe we had a sudden influx of Brits in Backroads. I'm betting it was just CONTRARIANS. Several times, I had to pull over and let them by, because they were not giving an inch.

On the way out, I had to rein in my cart at the EXIT door, because a lady and man were COMING IN. Seriously. They were half my age. With working knees. Unencumbered by a cart. And they couldn't walk five more feet to the ENTRANCE door? At least, after passing me, allowing me to start on my way out again, he said to his companion, "You came in the wrong door." Kudos to him. He probably wasn't gettin' any later that night.

I swear! I can't beat them, so I'm joining them.

I had snagged a prime parking space. Sure, it was three rows over from the doors, almost to the embankment with an apartment complex up top. And it had taken me three trips around the parking lot to get it. But it was ON THE END! I love a parking space on the end! You can cheat over into that yellow-striped triangle area (as long as no CONTRARIAN has decided to park in it) and allow plenty of room for your large Tahoe door to open all the way.

So there I was, unloading the cart into T-Hoe's rear. I heard a car idling. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw a red truck sitting in front of the store. In the white-striped walkway area. Just sitting. As if parked. But with a blinker on to turn my way.

Huh. Maybe he's sitting there waiting for this space.

Normally, I would have hurried my unloading/loading, hopped inside, and backed out. Because I'm a nice Val. I could have done my checkbook business at my next stop, the Gas Station Chicken Store, before getting out of T-Hoe. But then I thought

NO! I ALWAYS write down my receipt amount in the checkbook when I come out. Uh huh. After first GermXing my hands, and putting the debit card back into its slot in the checkbook. Then I subtract to show the running balance. Why should I put myself out, just to let that guy have my space? Maybe he should be driving up and down three rows to find a good space of his own. EFF HIMMMM!

Okay. Maybe I got a little carried away. That red truck guy hadn't done anything to me. He was just waiting, blocking traffic, not bothering me. I went on about my business at my normal pace. Got in and did my checkbooking.

If I'm going to be so outnumbered by CONTRARIANS, I might as well join their ranks. Temporarily, anyway, as the situation merits.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Righter Place, Righter Time

Funny how yesterday, I had a little story worked up about being in the right place at the right time. How I seem to find my (rightfully meant for me) pennies, and see ladybugs (that remind me of my mom) when I'm least expecting it.

Well. Yesterday. I was definitely in the right place at the right time.

I was on the way to the bank to cash in (actually, they deposit it straight into your account, so there's a record of it for taxes) six EE savings bonds. At this rate, we're going to end up like last fall, when we took the initial batch of A THOUSAND MILLION BONDS (okay, over a hundred) to the main bank, in search of somebody with a MEDALLION. Yeah. I'm pretty sure you remember that quest, since I dwelt on it for A THOUSAND MILLION DAYS (okay, a couple of posts). Anyhoo...all we (I) have to do is take one to the bank every month as it matures, and they cash it (actually, deposit it straight into your account, so there's a record of it for taxes), but we (I) forget.

With nothing to do all day every day except make a trip to town, I grow bored with the route I take to the bank. So I decided to go on through Backroads, past the dead mouse smelling post office to mail our yearly personal property assessment thingy that Hick finally wrote a trailer on, and marked out an old one, and marked out Genius's car after I reminded him. Poor Genius. He transferred the title on December 29, heh, heh, garnering him an entire year of tax on that vehicle. He'll learn the tax ropes soon enough. point is, I changed my route at the last minute, in the 1/8 mile section of county road between the prison and the turn-off by the bowling alley. The lake road brought me out at the Casey's where I usually get gas for T-Hoe. The one that's closing on February 25th. For good. I hadn't planned on stopping there yesterday. My plan was to get a couple of scratchers at the Casey's where the Crazy Donut Man flipped out when I asked if he was in line. I've only been back there twice since then, I think, when I used to go every week. Anyhoo...I figured I like this gas Casey's better, and it's going to close, so I pulled in there for my tickets.

I went on to the bank and did my bond business, which was surprisingly easy. All I had to do was sign the back (of all six) and put my personal information on them. I'm sure the people behind me in line weren't happy, but too bad, so sad. I'm older, and I have more inherited savings bonds. It took about 20 minutes, and I even stepped out of the first line and went to a table to fill out my bonds, because I didn't want to make people wait. Then I got back in line to finish up.

From the bank, I went to Walmart, a visit which will probably have a story entirely its own soon. Then I went by the Gas Station Chicken Store and actually got some chicken for supper, because by now, it was already 3:30, and I still had all the purchases to unload, and hadn't even had any lunch OR a single sip of my magical elixir, and I didn't want to rush upstairs to cook something a scant two hours after I'd settled into my dark basement lair. was going on 5:00 when I got around to scratching my tickets.

Looks like switching my route and my lottery store was a good decision. I'm pretty much a believer in following a hunch. I did that one dark rainy night, and avoided rear-ending a broken-down car parked on the shoulder of the highway. This time, though, I just won $1000. On a $5 ticket.

I'm almost afraid for the eventual EVENing of Steven.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Right Place, Right Time

Friday I asked Hick if he needed anything from town when I made my daily trip to the Gas Station Chicken Store for my 44 oz Diet Coke. I also planned to run in Country Mart for a few items that didn't require a trip all the way to Walmart. Hick said he needed some Q-Tips. That altered my plans a bit.

I always go in the OUT door of Country Mart. They're not marked, like Walmart. The IN door is down at one end of the building, and the OUT door at the other, by the checkout. It's not a big deal. A lot of people go in the OUT door there, depending on what they're buying. Several registers are always closed, and you can cut through them. There are carts down at the OUT entrance, too.

This time, since Hick needed Q-Tips, I parked at the pharmacy end of Country Mart, and entered through the IN doors. I got my cart, and steered it slightly right, for the Q-Tip aisle. Normally, I would have gone in the OUT entrance, straight ahead to the bananas, then down the left side of the store for the cereal and Bugles and ice cream.

I left the Q-Tip aisle (got him store brand, of course, for half the price) and got on the next aisle, a main one, to head to the back of the store and go left towards the produce for Hick's bananas. That happens to be the aisle with the greeting cards. As I neared the display, I thought, I might as well get Hick's Valentine card while I'm here. It will save me from the crowd at the Walmart Valentine cards next time I go.

Well. You might remember what happened last time I looked at cards at Country Mart. I swear, that wasn't even on my mind as I pulled my cart alongside the racks, and started looking in the Valentine section for relatives, namely HUSBAND.

It jumped out at me, though.

I wasn't looking for a SON card. My boys are old enough now that they would find that creepy. They gladly accept a heart full of chocolates, though, and some scratchers. I wasn't looking for a GRANDDAUGHTER card, either. But there, one row over, and one row up, from the HUSBAND cards, was this ladybug card. With the ladybugs conveniently showing just above the card below it that could have blocked out the images. And a MOM card beside it.

I guess I'm reaching. Stretching this coincidence. But I didn't see any DAUGHTER cards in the immediate vicinity. And daughter IS at the end of granddaughter.

I'm still counting it as a ladybug sighting!

If Hick hadn't asked for Q-Tips, I wouldn't have been in that end of the store to see it, and the Valentines would be gone by the next Friday. I guess Hick's dirty ears put me in the right place at the right time.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Wait

Well. You're never going to believe what happened yesterday, after the day's blog post had already gone to print, as it were, painstakingly pictured and captioned and organized and referencing the dearth of pennies from heaven last week (from SUNDAY to SATURDAY, people!).

Uh. I found a penny. It was at 1:13, according to the time stamp on the picture. I briefly toyed with the idea of pulling that set-to-publish post for Saturday, and writing up a new one. Then I thought, Why would I want to take all that time, pushing back my lunch and lottery scratching, to make things accurate for the three or four (I'm an eternal optimist, by cracky!) people who might actually read it? Why, indeed? So now the Truth in Blogging Law decrees that I must notify you that facts yesterday were incorrect. I DID find a penny that week (from SUNDAY to SATURDAY!), but was too lazy to update my blog. So sue me. Not really! I detest frivolous litigation!

Here it is:

Found at Orb K, at the last minute, less than four hours before my already-written tale was scheduled to post automatically, while I was standing in line waiting for the lone clerk (on a Saturday at lunch time!) to scan my scratcher winners and hopefully provide me more future winners.

This was a 1998 penny, the year famous for The Pony's birth. I toyed with the idea of leaving that single cent. Because I'd already written that day's blog post, and set it to publish. But that wouldn't have been right. I'm glad I didn't leave The Pony hanging like that! Or laying. On a cold tile floor. In front of a rack of Chili Cheese Fritos. I'm sure the ten people in line behind me wouldn't have minded one bit. Too bad, so sad. They should have timed their convenience store visit better.

Anyhoo...I didn't really make them wait extra. My picture-taking and penny-nabbing was done while the lone clerk was scanning the winners and tearing off my new tickets. I don't care one whit that those unfortunate BEHIND-MEs got a glimpse of my ample buttocks as I bent over to pick up my treasure, or that they thought me weird. Maybe one of them needed an idea for a blog post that day. So I was actually providing a valuable service.

Even Steven has a sense of humor, I guess. Because on the way into the store, I'd seen a coin shining out by the welcome mat. It looked like silver, though. But I fully intended to pick it up on the way out. If nobody else snatched it from under my nose. That's what was on my mind as I walked past the long line of BEHIND-MEs waiting to pay. Good, I thought. They'll be tied up there a while, and won't be coming out the door while I'm standing there taking a picture and picking up my second coin. Out I went, holding the door open for a borderline Millennial who actually thanked me.

Got my picture.

Leaned over to pick up my coin, which I still couldn't quite decide whether was of the dime or nickel persuasion.


That was not a coin at all, but a bedazzle bead that must have fallen off somebody's purse. It was like a domed clear gem on one side, and a flat black sticky-panel side on the other. Not gonna lie. I was pretty embarrassed to be bamboozled like that. But I didn't want to let on to my BEHIND-ME audience that might have been watching from inside. So I pocketed that gem, and walked it all the way around back to T-Hoe. Where I tossed it to the cold hard faded blacktop of the parking lot.

I didn't regret until I was at home, in my dark basement lair typing on New Delly, that I had not gotten a closeup of that coin-impersonator. Maybe you can zoom in and see it, maybe not. C'mon! Admit it! YOU would have been tricked, too! It looks just like a silver coin. Especially if a person (cough, cough, VAL) is not wearing prescribed vision-enhancers.

Maybe somebody out there is collecting bedazzle beads found in parking lots.
It's meant for them.

For 2018: Penny #12.
For 2018: Dimes still at #4, 5

For 2018: Nickel still at #1

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 90.
Since 2017 (the beginning), still at Dimes #10, 11.
Since 2017 (the beginning), still at Nickel #1.

 Oh, yeah...that title? Just a slight bit of plagiarism. It's sincere flattery, you know.

The Wait

I pulled into Orb K, was sad about lack of cents

Lucky I’ve got a blog that allows me a space for vents

Even Steven can you tell me, where a gal can find a coin 
“That’s a super secret club, that you have yet to join.”

Here’s a penny for you, pick it up it’s free

Here’s a penny for you, Heaven-sent by way of me

I picked up that cent, after snapping a quick photo

Even though 10 people were lined up, waiting for me to go

Too bad, so sad, though…I pocketed that cent

Maybe someone above...was sending me a hint

Here’s a penny for you, pick it up it’s free

Here’s a penny for you, Heaven-sent by way of me

On out the door then, I spied another shine

I bent down to pick it up, so I could make it mine

Even Steven my friend, what are you doin’ now

"Don’t even worry Val, about the why or how."

Here’s a penny for you, pick it up it’s free

Here’s a penny for you, Heaven-sent by way of me

Steven, you have evened me, I see this one’s a fake

"Val, you should know by now, it’s about the give and take."

Ol’ Steve, my friend, I’m learnin’ kinda slow

He said, “That’s okay Val, get back in your T-Hoe."

Here’s a penny for you, pick it up, it’s free

Here’s a penny for you, Heaven-sent to you through me

Driving T-Hoe home, and contemplating fate 
Do we have a time to go, an expiration date
If I could look mine up, I don't believe I'd dare
I'll let fate steer me as I'm meant to be then and there

Here's a penny for you, pick it up, it's free
Here's a penny for you, Heaven-sent to you through me

Thank you. Thank you very much. I'll be here all week. Every week. As long as I can type. Put those lighters away. No encores. T-shirts and CDs are available for purchase on the way out.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

What's Mine is Ours, and What's Ours is Hick's

Sorry to disappoint the pennyphiles, and much to the glee of the antipennyites...Val must announce that this week (yes, it starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday), she did not find one single penny! No other coinage, either. But she DID find something even better!

Even Steven giveth to Val this week, because he taketh away at the casino the last couple of times. In fact, Even Steven felt so recalcitrant that he started giving back on January 23. For two weeks, Val has reaped the benefits of Even Steven's shame. Pics or it didn't happen, you say? What are you, a bunch of Geniuses?

Let the record show that Val buys scratchers every day. She may get a couple of $5 tickets from different venues, or she may get her favorite, the Golden Ticket, which costs a hefty $30. It's the most expensive scratcher Missouri has to offer. We're no Texas! I hear they have a FIFTY DOLLAR ticket! Good thing I don't live there. Anyhoo...since I've built up a lose-it fund, or as I prefer to call it, a gambling bankroll, part of the big wins can be put away and saved for another purpose, and part can be re-invested in scratchers the next day. That's how I have success (other than my natural luckiness), whereas Hick rarely latches onto a winner, buying intermittent single tickets.

I know you're all disappointed about not having pictures of Val's pennies from heaven. So here are some pictures of her scratcher winners. Complete with Amount Won / Date / Ticket Name and Cost/ Place Purchased.

$100 winner / January 22 / Black and Gold $5 / Waterside Mart

$100 Winner / January 24 / Golden Ticket $30 / Country Mart, machine on right

$100 Winner / January 30 / Double Diamond $5 / Gas Station Chicken Store

$100 Winner / January 30 / $1000 In A Flash $10 / Gas Station Chicken Store

$100 Winner / February 2 / $1000 In A Flash $10 / Waterside Mart

$100 Winner / February 7 / $5,000,000 Bankroll $20 / Gas Station Chicken Store

$500 Winner / February 8 / $5,000,000 Bankroll $20 / Waterside Mart

Yes, I keep a log of wins and losses for tax purposes. Yes, I sometimes win smaller amounts, and sometimes I don't win at all. I mix and match the kinds of tickets, but I don't play below the $5 level. My budget is my weekly cash allowance (Hick has his own, which he SQUANDERS on auctions and Goodwill purchases), plus whatever I want to put back in from winners. This has been a pleasant winning streak, but it WILL end. They always do. Then I'll have a losing streak. It balances out, really. Even Steven.

Here's the deal...when I showed Hick my $500 winner, the first thing he said was:

"Oh, now you can afford to take me gambling!"

Seriously? Since when did MY money become HIS money? I don't recall ever saying, when Hick bragged of making $150 at the auction, 'Oh, now you can afford to give me lottery money!'" No siree, Bob! That's HIS hobby, and gambling is MY hobby. I would no sooner think of going to an auction with Hick, and having him fork over money for me to bid with, than...well... first of all, I would never think of going to an auction with Hick. But you know what I'm getting at!

I USED TO give my easily-won scratcher money to Hick and to Genius and even Genius's Friend, when he turned 21, and we all went to the casino. Not anymore! Tough love, baby! Because I got to thinking...the first time I won a big ($1000) ticket, I bought Genius a laptop. The second time, I bought ME a laptop. The third time, I saved it, and I still have it. For a rainy day. Or a dry spell.

I'm just not that selfless anymore.

There. Now you all have somebody to feel superior to. That's my public service for today.