Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Apparently, Val Is Not a Treat to Ride With

Preparations are underway for a trip to visit The Pony next week. You know what that means. Val trapped in a sweaving A-Cad with licensed chauffeur Hick for a 9-hour drive to Norman, Oklahoma. And back.

"I'll need to get a couple of books to read on the drive."

"You DO NOT travel well! If you'd just get in and shut up and ride..."

"Then YOU keep it between the center-line wake-up bumps and the shoulder-line wake-up bumps, so I won't know you're sweaving!"

I swear, Hick and I argue like an old married couple. Oh, wait...

As we were planning which days to go, I got a timely offer in the mail. TWO FREE NIGHTS at the Riverwind Casino hotel that is five minutes from The Pony's turnoff. I've never had a hotel offer from there before, since we are not in that casino on a regular basis. Hick is the one who suggested we stay there. "It'll save us several hundred dollars." Don't say it!!! The irony was not lost on me.

Anyhoo, I looked up that hotel online, and was disappointed to see that they had SOLD over all the dates in August except for two. Crap! I figured it wouldn't hurt to call and be officially denied. I waited five minutes while representatives were busy with other customers, hoping that it was a toll-free number on my offer card.

The gal who finally picked up was extremely congenial, and gave me my two-night room on my requested dates. She said they have very few rooms available for the general public, because they save them for the people with offers. Meaning their gamblers who will make them a profit in return for a place to sleep.

Anyhoo...I'll be heating up the kitchen, making The Pony's requested Chex Mix and Oreo Cake. I don't begrudge him his treats. According to Hick, the treats travel better than I do.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Inspector Your-Locked-Homes Is on the Case

By now you know that Val is a bit paranoid. Nothing wrong with that when you live in the middle of nowhere, with emergency services just a phone call (if it will go through) and 15 minutes away.

Hick was just telling me a couple days ago that his Facebook group of Out-Here residents was clamoring about a strange pickup truck driving around. They didn't recognize the people or the blue and gray truck, which had Illinois license plates. It had been spotted on several of our gravel roads that branch off and dead-end. I, myself, have not seen it. Nor has Hick.

Here's the thing. Nobody should be driving around in here. It smacks of casing out the homes for return visits in the dead of night or broad daylight, to help themselves to items good for resale. We've had lawnmowers taken, and our downhill neighbors have had 4-wheelers stolen out of their barn. Not recently, but it has happened.

When I left for town Sunday, shortly after noon, I spied a white sedan parked down by the creek. I'd not seen it out here before. Our gravel road is private, not public. People park on it to wade in the creek, or dump trash, or perhaps steal mail, or abandon animals, or let their dogs poop. Some use it as a short cut to shave five miles off a drive to the northern part of the county.

Two people were sitting in the car. A woman behind the wheel, and a shaved-head dude riding (well, SITTING) shotgun, his bare foot propped in the window of his open door. They were not wading, not trapping minnows, not fishing. Phone service down there is nonexistent. No mail on Sundays. I could imagine no good reason for them to be there. Especially when I returned from town, some 45 minutes later, and they were STILL THERE. If they were taking a short cut, it was surely costing them a lot of time.

I called my knight in dented armor, he having parked his white horse up at his Storage Unit Store for the day. I basically wanted to know if he was on the way home, so he could take a look at those folks. Maybe get a picture of their license plate, which was black-and-white, not Missouri colors, but most likely Illinois. I didn't stop to get one myself. I suppose I could have pulled in behind them to snap a pic. Who are THEY to get out and ask ME what I'm doing there, anyway? Not that they would have. I just don't feel comfortable possibly agitating possible drug addicts all by myself in an isolated area without phone service.

It's possible, you know, that these folks were shooting heroin. Our county is rife with it, deaths almost every month, the drug and its paraphernalia picked up often in traffic stops.

Alas, Hick was still selling, and planning to head for Lowe's when he closed, for paint to beautify his new freight container garage glorified hoarder shed.

By the time he got home around 3:30, that white car was gone. I guess it wasn't somebody's day to die of a heroin overdose in Outer Backroads.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Val Is Tired of Being a Cash Cow

I'm mad as Not-Heaven, and I'm not going to take it anymore! I'm incensed. Steamed. Hot under the collar. About to blow my top. Somebody has yanked my chain, and rained on my parade. I have an ax to grind, a bug up my butt, my (granny) panties in a wad, my nose out of joint. I am up in arms, beside myself, going off the deep end, spitting nails, seeing red, flying off the handle, and about to have a cow.

Oh, wait. I AM the cow.

Here's the deal. About a month ago, Hick said we should switch our trash service to a new company over in Bill-Paying Town. He said five or six of our neighbors had switched, and were saving a lot of money. I told him I'd check into it when our bill came due. We pay three months at a time, and they don't give refunds for partial billing.

Since we moved out here a few months before The Pony was born, we've had the exact same trash service. Always had the same size pull-dumpster, always paid on time. That trash company doesn't know how lucky they are that none of their quarterly bills ever got lost by the post office! Anyhoo...over the years, the price of trash pickup has been increasing. At least a couple times a year. Sometimes every three months. The increase was always listed as "increased transportation charges."

I know that we live in the middle of nowhere. And that gas for garbage trucks costs money. But we never got a decrease in our bill during the rare times when gas prices were down for several months. Also, we sometimes didn't have trash pickup if there was snow or rain on our pickup day. Even though we could get in and out with our automobiles, even Hick in the Trailblazer whose 4WD never worked. So you'd think a big trash truck was heavy enough to make it up a snowy hill, or ford a small torrent of water. As you might imagine, we never got a credit on our bill for those weeks that we didn't get trash pickup.

When we first started this trash service, it was under $100 for the whole three months. At this time, we are paying $197 for three months of weekly trash pickup. That comes to $15.15 per week, if you figure that three months contains 13 weeks. Looking at it monthly, our trash bill is $65.67.

Unfortunately, we are like the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water. We have been slowly simmering for 20 years, absorbing the bill increases steadily. Had our bill jumped to $197 after we first signed up, we'd have jumped out of that pot.

Anyhoo...our next three months of trash service starts August 1. So I looked into the new service with headquarters in Bill-Paying Town, and called Friday morning to join their route. It costs $22 per month. That's $66 for three months. The dumpster is exactly the size we have now, and the only difference is pickup on Wednesdays instead of Fridays.

Once I was certain our trash had been picked up Friday, I called the old trash service to cancel. You know how that goes. They put you on hold while they look up your account. For about 10 minutes. Oh, and before they look it up, they ask why you want to cancel. I don't care if they know. I said, "Because I have a new trash service that costs less money." Straightforward.

Once that gal came back on the line, she said, "Thank you for waiting, Mrs. Thevictorian. I see that you are a long-time customer. It looks like you have been paying too much for your service. What would it take?"

"I'm sorry. I'm not sure what you're asking."

"I can get your service for $25.67 per month."

"No. I'm done. My new service is cheaper. Close out my account."


We have been paying $66.67 per month for years, and NOW all at once, we are paying too much for our trash service, and they can SLASH OUR BILL by $41 per month???


I called Hick and told him I was livid. He kind of chuckled, and said, "You should have said, 'So you'll be sending me a refund for all the years we overpaid?'" Heh, heh. That Hick is a real card sometimes. I wish he'd been the one to call, because I didn't think of that!

"I didn't think of that. But I wish I'd said, 'It's none of your &@*% business why I want to close my account, and you can take your &*#%#*& discount and shove it up your @$$!"

I didn't, though. Because the lady herself was perfectly polite. She was just reading from her script, following company policy. I imagine that if I'd said I would keep their service for $50 per month, that would have been our new trash bill. Because they'd still be scamming me out of $25 a month, if they could actually give me a deal for $25.67.

Yes. I am seething. Say goodbye to this fellow for good!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

A CENTSational Week for Val

Are you ready for this week's edition of the Saturday CENTSus? I don't think so. Unless you're kicked back on one of those sectional sofas with built-in recliners and armrest coolers. Make sure you have beverages to stay hydrated, and snacks to fortify yourself, because you'll be here a while. Let's get to it.

MONDAY, July 23rd, was a really good day.

I spied TWO pennies in Waterside Mart.

The one closest to me was a 1982, face up.

The farther one was a 2013, face down. I got my pictures and picked up my treasures, while the two cashiers gave each other the side-eye. Not that I cared. I think they were even younger than Millennials. Don't know the value of a penny!

Next stop, Country Mart, where I parked in a space not often frequented by me, and got a penny in the middle of an unoccupied handicap spot.

Can you see it there? Just below the center of the picture, to the right of that yellow mark.

It was a 1973, face down.

On to Orb K, where I saw my fourth penny of the day!

I don't know how people can be so careless with their change!

 This was a 1996, face up.

TUESDAY, June 24th, also proved fruitful for coin-harvesting. A stop at Casey's provided me with a bashful penny peeping out from under a white sedan.

I had to work quickly for my photo, before some always-do-well blew the whistle on me for tampering with other people's autos. See it there, at the pointy part of T-Hoe's door shadow?

Even my phone got into the act, with its shadow trying to obscure this 1986 face-down cent.

My luck just didn't want to end. I went on to Orb K, since The Gas Station Chicken Store was out of Diet Coke. A motorcycle in front of me turned onto their lot, and proceeded to park in the space right next to my favorite one by the handicap walkway. Or so I thought. Because he made a little U-turn, and placed his hog right in the middle of my intended space, facing out. Well! I headed around back, to the space farthest away from the door.

When I came back with my magical elixir in the form of a Polar Pop, I saw that I was meant to park there that day. Because THIS was waiting for me.

If you think it's hard for YOU to see, imagine me there, squinting into the sunny blacktop at a smudge that I thought might be a penny.

Luck for me, it WAS! A corroded 1963, face down. Not all babies can be beautiful, you know.

THURDAY, June 26th, brought my penny-luck back, after a CENTSless Wednesday when I cashed in my $1000 scratcher and lost money at the casino.

I made a revisit to Walmart for some Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheels and Hawaiian Rolls, and was rewarded for not even attempting to steal any soda this day.

I had just stowed my two hand-carried bags in T-Hoe's rear, and turned to head for the driver's seat. And there it was!

If I'd parked straight, T-Hoe's tire would have been on it!

A shiny, face-up, 1997, obviously meant for me. Helen Keller could have seen this one. Good thing I did, because if not, and it was a snake draped across the forearms of a gal in cut-off jeans and a tank top strolling down main street...it woulda bit me!

But the good fortune was not over!

In Waterside Mart, a dime was clamoring for my attention. As you can see, the employees of Waterside Mart, though snide side-eyers, are conscientious shelf-stockers!

This 2000 face-down dime couldn't quite camouflage itself from my coin-seeking peepers.

You might think that was enough good luck for Val that day, but it was not!

In Orb K, ANOTHER dime lay in wait.

This one, a face-up 2001 version.

FRIDAY, July 27th, my penny-CENTSes were tingling again. At The Gas Station Chicken Store, Diet Coke had been restored, and a bonus penny awaited.

The new young clerk didn't bat an eye when I held up her entrance back behind the counter so I could snap a picture. "Oh, it must be your lucky day," she said. She got THAT right! Because DIET COKE was flowing again!

I snatched up my newest gem, a face-down 2002, before that place got crowded.

Are you still with me? Don't make me get the defibrillator! Has anybody slipped into a coma? Should I break open a bag of glucose? I warned you! I'm not takin' the rap for any Rip Van Winkles.

I'm pretty sure I set a new record this week, for number of pennies in a week, and number of coins in a week. The monetary record still stands, though, because I remember finding a quarter, nickel, and penny all in one day.

8 PENNIES and 2 DIMES in one week! Future Pennyillionaire Val is back on track!

For 2018: Pennies  # 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71.
For 2018: Dimes   # 11, 12.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is  Dime # 17, 18.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Who Let the Dogs In?

Wednesday, we took my big winner to a lottery office in the city. Any winners over $600 have to be claimed in person, or mailed to a lottery office. On the way home, we stopped by our old favorite casino to try our luck. Which was not good. Don't you worry about Val's scratcher winnings, though. Those bucks made it home intact. The lottery office pays in check form.

Anyhoo...upon arrival, I headed for the restroom facilities. The very first aisle I walked down provided a most unusual sight.


I'm not talkin' about a random dog inside the building. Like when a stray runs into a school, or a kid lets him in. No. This dog apparently belonged. Because I'm pretty sure casinos have a surveillance camera or two, along with the official greeter, there to screen out drunks, and either one would alert somebody in charge to the presence of an unwanted pooch.

It was a little dog. Not yappy. Black and brown. Not long, but normal proportions, just small. He was in a harness with a leash, and was milling around, very alert, yet well-behaved. I'm thinking it was, perhaps, a Miniature Pinscher.

I can only assume that such a dog was a service animal. Probably not a seeing eye dog, because one would get a dowager's hump, what with leaning over to hold onto a tiny-handled tiny harness. So...perhaps it was an emotional support dog? I don't know of any other reason a casino would let somebody bring a dog inside. Even if they smuggled it in a purse, then set it down, the camera-watchers would get right on that.

Which leads me to declare: If you need an emotional support dog to go to a casino, perhaps you shouldn't go to a casino! Seriously. It's not like a casino visit is necessary for survival. Why would you chose a recreational activity that makes you need your emotional support dog with you?

I wonder if he was a lucky dog.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Momday, Momday

Wah-wa, wah-wa-wa-wa

Momday, Momday, so good to me
Momday mornin´, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Momday mornin´, Momday mornin´ couldn´t guarantee
That Momday evenin´ you would still be here with me

No, I didn't misspell that partial song I just stole plagiarized borrowed from The Mamas and The Papas. It just seemed to fit with my experiences on Monday.

Let the record show that I haven't seen a ladybug in a coon's age. Whereas they once were so plentiful that I couldn't turn around without seeing one in my house, in my car, on the porch, on the windshield, on TV, sitting beside me on the TV table, or in the card section of the grocery store. No matter what season or what weather conditions, I couldn't seem to get away from them. Not that I wanted to, since they remind me of my mom and her drop-ceilinged family room full of them.

Now I find pennies all the time, and hear two certain songs that remind me of Mom.

Anyhoo...Monday morning, I set off to town for a Walmart shopping spree. I stopped by the cemetery for a drive-thru visit with Mom. It's on the way, and she's conveniently located at the edge, so I park and talk a few minutes. Just stuff I'd tell her when she used to call me every morning. A little update on who's doing what. You can do the crazy finger twirl all you want, but that's what I do a couple times a week, since I'm passing by there anyway. This time, I mentioned a relative who's going through some tough times, and how I wish there was something we could do.

I completed my shopping and got in line. In the middle of checking out, an older lady came over to hug my old lady checker. "Oh, excuse me. That was my mom. She always stops to hug me when she's in here."

"That's okay. I wish my mom was still around to drop by my work." (Not that I wish I was working, though!)

"Yes, I'm very lucky that I've still got both my parents."

It was this exchange that distracted my checker from not ringing up the soda on my cart. But I realized it and told her about it so she could scan it, and I paid again with my debit. Leaving with that soda would have been wrong. My mom taught me that.

My next stop was Waterside Mart for some scratchers. While there, I found TWO pennies on the floor by the counter.

From there I proceeded back to Backroads to Country Mart for a few items. I was going to wait a day, but figured since I'd be passing by anyway, I might as well go in. I parked in my third-favorite spot, just to be different, even though the entire row up by the front of the store was open. I had my eye out for pennies, but didn't see any in the usual places. However...since I was walking across the lot, cutting through an empty handicap space, I saw ANOTHER penny!

All that was left of my errands was to pick up a 44 oz Diet Coke. The Gas Station Chicken Store has been out out, and didn't expect any until Tuesday. So I dropped in Orb K for my magical elixir. It's almost as good, and cheaper.

The soda fountain was kind of messy that day. Another customer asked me if a couple of lids laying there were mine, and I said, "No, but people sure are messy!" She picked up those lids and threw them away, and I used the towel they leave there to wipe up spilled soda. Because even though I didn't make the mess, it's nice to clean up. My mom taught me that.

Two clerks were working the Orb K counter. People had formed a general line, stepping over to the next available clerk as someone got done. I got the right-side clerk. When I turned to leave, I found ANOTHER penny over by the left-side register.

Only 10 minutes and five miles to get home. I'd been writing down the good songs I heard on a note card. There were two during the drive, and once I turned onto my gravel road, I pulled over by the creek to jot them down, so I wouldn't forget. I had a pretty good playlist to listen to in my dark basement lair with my lunch.

As I nosed T-Hoe back into the middle of the gravel road (that's how we drive out here) to finish the mile towards home, I was thinking of that relative that I wish we could help. The next song that started playing was "How Can I Help You Say Goodbye," by Patty Loveless. Yes. I've linked that a million times. It's one of my Mom-songs.

Monday night, as I got ready to write the next day's blog post, I looked down at my Shaming Bracelet to see if I was near my mileage goal for the day. I was close. But the main thing I noticed was the time.


No, I didn't see any ladybugs Monday. But I had a (one-sided) chat with Mom at the cemetery, talked to a Walmart checker about moms, found 4 pennies, heard a Mom song, and looked at the time at 11:11.

That's good enough for me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Picker Hick's Picker Pics

FINALLY, Hick gave me some pictures from his mini-vacation to the Picker's Store.

This is the original store, before they were famous on TV, I suppose.

This is their current main store, which is situated in front of that original building. Hick said he couldn't believe this was it, and looked all around for something bigger.

This old car sits out front. Hick thinks it's a Mercury.

I thought this was an old bicycle that somebody souped-up with a motor, but Hick says it's the Indian motorcycle that he saw the Pickers dickering for on the show. Not to be confused with another Indian motorcycle that they dug up somewhere on the east coast.

Hick said the Pickers weren't in the store, that it was being run by a couple of college-looking girls. And that they didn't really have anything he wanted to buy. That the T-shirts and caps were too expensive for his tastes. C'mon. I can't believe he went all that way, and didn't even get a CAP! He has a bazillion caps, and this could have been a good memento. I forget the price, but it seems like it was $10-$12. Hardly a fortune for a Storage Unit Baron.

You might notice that Hick is doesn't really care about getting random people in his photographs. And at least they are better than his usual photography of a tiny subject dead center, surrounded by a lot of scenery.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

When It Pours, It Rains

As you may recall, I had a terrific stroke of luck on Friday, when I won a large amount on a lottery ticket. Yes, the monetary skies opened, and deluged Val with winnings. Here it is, three days later, and that luck is still trying to trickle my way.

Let the record show that on Monday, I found FOUR pennies! Oh, don't lament. You'll see them in my P-Nut Gallery (Penny Nut) on Saturday. But that's not the extent of my windfall on Monday. Well...it IS. But I could have had so much more.

I had paid for my items in Walmart, and was turning my cart towards the exit, when a sudden revelation hit me. If I was a bug, I would have just been windshielded.


As many other seasoned shoppers do, I had draped my beverage packs along the sides of the cart. It gives you more room in the basket, you don't wrench your back lifting them in and out and in, and all the checker has to do is point her scan gun in their direction to ring them up. My checker had been distracted, though. A story which you'll hear later this week.

Of course I reminded her before I walked away. She had already scanned two items of the customer behind me, but she took them off and got out her gun for my beverages. She thanked me, and apologized to the other customer, who was giving me the stinkeye, not at all impressed when I said,

"I can't leave without paying for them. That wouldn't be right."

Seriously, people! Is that what society has come to? You get death-stare resting-B-face from a Millennial when you refuse to steal from Walmart?

Once outside, so as not to poke the bear, I took a picture of the evidence. Two six-packs of Diet Mountain Dew and two four-packs of Strawberry Water for Hick, and a six-pack of Diet Coke for me. As you can see, I didn't have many other items. So not paying for these beverages would have been very naughty.

See there? Even Steven gave me the opportunity to abscond with $12.59 worth of merchandise, but I didn't take the bait. No good can come of that. I've marked out the store address so you can't stalk me. No good could come of THAT, either.

Yes, everything's coming up dollar signs around Val right now. But you know how that goes. An EVENing is in order. I just don't know how soon it's coming down the pike.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Flap On, Flap Off. THE FLAPPER!

I was in the living room Sunday after 1:00 when I heard Hick coming through the kitchen. You know how it is when you're around someone for eternity a long time. You get to know the cadence of their walk. I sensed right away that something was off. I started to the kitchen, and saw Hick walking with an odd gait.

"What's wrong? You're walking funny. Are you okay?"

He was kind of lifting his left leg up higher, and swinging it out in an exaggerated manner.

"Oh, I'm fine. It's my shoe. The bottom keeps coming off."

Let the record show that Hick has been wearing either a pair of shoes left behind by The Pony, who is a 10.5, or a pair that I found uncomfortable, in men's 8.5. Hick himself is either an 8.0 or 8.5. After he sat down, and crossed that ankle over his knee, I saw the problem. It wasn't the entire sole, but only a dark colored patch of rubber, about 5 of which were decoratively surrounding the white rubber of the main part of the sole.

"That's just a little piece. You can probably superglue that back on, or just rip it off. But it might be time for a new pair of shoes."

"Well, I'm sure there's a pair around here somewhere."

Good old Hick. It's not like we MAKE him wear used shoes. Like some found in a...ahem... storage locker. No, the cast-offs he takes on from me or The Pony are just like new. Because we have other shoes we like better, and don't wear those. Sometimes, in my case, they are consciously offered to Hick for his own. And in The Pony's case, they sit around a few months, until Hick commandeers them, because they're perfectly good shoes (although 2 sizes too large for him) just sitting around.

Let the record further show that when Hick grew up, he was not wealthy. Was downright poor, with a blind dad and mostly absent mom, and went to work at 14 so he could have stuff. He said he was embarrassed when he started high school, because that building had stairs, and he was afraid someone behind him might see the holes in the soles of his shoes, where he'd stuffed cardboard inside. He even took extra cardboard on rainy days, to switch it out once he got inside the building.

I really hope Hick goes to buy a new pair of shoes for himself. Or in the very least snips off that tripping hazard.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

I'm a Lucky Val

Let the record show that Val usually follows her hunches. Even if it makes her appear selfish. Oh, I'm selfish all right, but I normally don't advertise that fact. How do you think The Pony was born without a care for helping people? It is surely in his DNA.

Every Friday, I mail letters to The Pony and Genius. The Pony gets some money, and Genius gets two lottery tickets. Sometimes I buy Genius's tickets on Thursday, when I get some for myself. Occasionally, I decide to scratch his two as well, and stop on the way to the post office the next morning for two tickets to tuck into Genius's envelope. I never know when I'll get a hankerin' to scratch his tickets, but I'll say it's been less than half a dozen times. Once I won $5. And Thursday, I won $50. I'd feel bad for him, but he's making more money than I am, and I don't have to send him any tickets at all. Besides, he always has a chance to win something better on the new tickets.

So...Friday morning, I left early enough to stop at two different places to get Genius's tickets. I tucked them into his letter, and mailed it. From there, I continued on my not-daily route, out to the bank to get the usual weekly allowance for Hick and me. On the way back home, I stopped at the CRAZY MAN DONUT INCIDENT Casey's, to get gas for T-Hoe. I don't really like going there anymore, and only do it when I get gas, since my favorite Casey's went out of business.

My plan was to spend the rest of that $50 I had won on that [originally Genius's] ticket. I'd spent $10 on Genius's new tickets, and was contemplating $10 for my own tickets, and $30 on gas. That's about 1/3 of a tank for T-Hoe. I top him off every week, never letting him get too low. Because who wants to spend $100 to fill him up??? Not this ol' Val, that's for sure.

Once inside, I saw that this store had five of the $5 tickets to choose from. I picked out two, using the logic that the older tickets are going to start paying, because new ones come out on the last Monday of the month. One of the tickets I selected was this kind:

After all, what ticket is more appropriate for Val than one called CASINO CASH? It has two different areas to win. You can find a money bag symbol in a little box, and win 5/10/15/30. I always scratch that part first. I did not get a money bag. I glanced down at the bottom to read the instructions, because I forget which symbols are good on which tickets. I had no sooner checked those two symbols (a pair of dice, or a roulette wheel) than I scratched off the top number (or so I thought) and FOUND A ROULETTE WHEEL! That means it's a WIN ALL. I win all the prizes.

You can imagine how excited I was! As much as when I won that $50 the day before. I counted how many chances I had to win. Huh. It was 12. I had immediately assumed that each of those winning amounts would be the minimum. I expected to get 10 of the $5 amount, and win $50. But 12 chances didn't work out like that. I didn't know any ticket that paid $60. So I got my hopes up that maybe it was a combination of $5 and $10, and I'd won $100. Even better!

Well. I was flabbergasted when I scratched off the first prize amount, and saw $100! That's definitely a good start! But it got even better...

In case you don't want to add that up, it's $1000, people! I won $1000 on a $5 ticket.

Of course I sent a picture of it to Genius, AKA Mr. Pics Or It Didn't Happen. I also wished him well on his two tickets that are in the mail, but cautioned that I might just have used my luck on myself after dropping his in the mail slot.

As of yet, I have not received a congratulatory text from Genius.

Seriously. It's not like I can tell which ticket is going to win. Or help it if my luck is non-transferrable. I also left out the part about me scratching his original tickets and winning $50. What Genius doesn't know can't hurt him.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Val's 5 Centses

The week started off right on SUNDAY, July 15th.

Lookie there, past the toes of my mesh New Balance, at a 2005 in Orb K. You might be tricked, being mere amateurs, and not hard-core candidates for Future Pennyillionaire, into thinking you see a penny right there in front of the red-bottled energy supplements. Au contraire, non-dwellers of the lair. The real penny...

...is face-up between the racks! Don't be fooled by random stains, people. Always know your surroundings. In Orb K, it's more likely to be a stain than a penny. I'm telling you this to save you future embarrassment.

I'll be darned if I didn't walk back to my almost-never parking space, and find THIS waiting for me:

See it there? Between T-Hoe's bumper and the curb, completely unnoticed on the way in? Not the cigarette butt. I wouldn't marvel over that. I could afford my own smokes if I was so inclined.

No, it was a 1999, face up, with a beautiful meniscus of rainwater built up on top, giving off such a bright glare that I had to adjust the phone several times to get a picture that showed ol' Abe.

THURSDAY, July 19th, I was at Orb K again. Not as a pennyhound, but to get a scratcher. No sooner had I stepped inside the door that there was a penny winking at me. Of course I couldn't stop right there to take a picture, because I'd be slammed into by people rushing inside for their Polar Pop beverages.

So I stepped inside and turned back around for my photo.

It was a pretty little 2012, face down. You can bet I snatched it up forthwith, lest any new enterers dive upon it before I harvested the newest link in my Future Pennyillionaire chain.

FRIDAY, July 20th, I stopped by Waterside Mart to get tickets for Genius's weekly letter.

No, I was not interested in this dude's crack, or his (one) shapely leg(s). It was the two PENNIES in front of his toe that I was trying to capture with my phone. One of these days, somebody is going to turn around and deck me in a horrible misunderstanding.

WooHoo! Both of these beauties were FACE UP. A 2012, and a 1981. Representing, I suppose, the start of Genius's senior year of high school, and my college graduation. Genius called me several nights ago, after not hearing from him in over a month. I am not re-enrolling in college. So I doubt the dates were significant, even though I had a dream that I was back in college a few nights ago.

I have no idea what that tasty morsel is beside the upper penny. It went unsampled.


For 2018: Pennies  # 59, 60, 61, 62, 63
For 2018: Dimes  still at # 10.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 137, 138, 139, 140, 141.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 16.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #108 "Spots and Soft Leather Got Together"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week's fake book is a beautiful love story. A tale of a romance such as the world has never seen. And hopes never to see again. Tired of coughing up cash to take your honey to see a chick flick? Cough up a little less, and buy her this fake chick-book.

Spots and Soft Leather Got Together

Ol' Blue and L'il White-Tail have stopped hunting for love. They've found each other against all odds. Their families aren't exactly thrilled. More like appalled. Li'l White-Tail's family thinks Ol' Blue is just stringing her along until she fattens up, and his ulterior motive involves his hound-dog appetite. Ol' Blue's family...well, they don't have an opinion, because he's so old that he's outlived them all.

Ol' Blue wants Li'l White-Tail by his side, away from all other predators. When his Man builds a campfire, Ol' Blue noses Li'l White-Tail closer and closer. To keep her warm, of course. And he is constantly grooming her with his long tongue. She's much-loved...and tastes so good...

Will Ol' Blue and Li'l White-Tail grow old(er) together? Or will an unfortunate "accident" rip (one of) them apart? (132 words)

Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Doe, a Deer, a female deer..."My friend Ray shed some light on this fake book. He says Thevictorian sucks the golden drop of sun out of everything she fake-writes. Me, I say you'd have to run pretty far to find a worse fake-book than this. So, unlike a needle pulling thread, take note that this fake book will not keep you in stitches. Sorry for spilling the tea before you had a chance to fake-buy it, but you can find a better fake-read to go with your jam and bread."

Old Yeller..."HEAR ME, HEAR ME! The great tragedy of this fake book is that you're still alive at the end. To suffer, realizing what you just fake-read."

Bambi..."Let's hope that a raging forest fire destroys the trees destined to print Thevictorian's next fake book before it's too late. Thevictorian's fake career is skating on thin ice."

Lassie..."I fake-bought as many of these fake books as was caninely possible. I am stockpiling them for the next time Timmy falls down a well. By tossing them in, I figure they will absorb all the water, this fake book being such a dry read...and allow Timmy to climb up the stack and out the top."

The Yearling..."Well, shoot! Somebody needs to put Thevictorian out of our misery. Her corny fake-writing will make you cry out of pity for yourself, for having fake-read it."

Spuds MacKenzie..."Hey, Bud! I'm wiser than you if you're planning to fake-read this fake book. Trust me, having fake-read another of Thevictorian's fake works, all I can say is, 'I need a drink!'"

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer..."I once helped give someone Thevictorian's fake book as a gift, and boy is my nose red! I never would have done that, had I know the true spirit of her fake writing. Thevictorian's fake works should bear a sticker on the cover that says, 'For Those on the Naughty List Only!'"

Toto..."I'd rather be sitting in a basket on the back of Miss Gulch's bicycle, swirling around in a Kansas tornado, than read another fake book by Thevictorian. Fake-reading this one was like laying down in a giant field of poppies to sleep for eternity."

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Hick's Mouth is Writing Checks His Butt Can't Collect Cash For

Poor Hick has a thankless, unpaid job. No, we're not talking about being married to Val.

Hick has always helped take care of the roads out here in our enclave. Now, he's about the only one doing anything to them. The recent evening downpours have taken their toll, creating ruts, and washing out rock from along the edges. In the past, Hick and a couple other guys with tractors have given their time and gas money to redistribute washed-away rock. A small contingent of residents have also chipped in money for loads of rock.

A couple times a year, it's evident that more rock is needed. Usually after the spring thaw, and after a rainy summer. Now that Hick is on a Facebook group with other enclave-dwellers, he sees them posting about how the roads are a mess/somebody needs to do something about them. You might recall how the last time Hick and Buddy did something about them, Speedy McSpeederson was harping to her pals about what a bad job they did. Which was kind of true, what with that blacktop fiasco. But still, even though unsightly and bumpy, the hill doesn't wash out any more.

Anyhoo...Hick posted on Facebook that he was going to work on the roads, and that gravel now costs $200 a load. We used to get it for $165 when Buddy was hauling, but now he's using his truck for a regular job. In the past two days, 3 residents have paid Hick, and 2 more have verbally committed to doing so. Let the record show that when the power goes off in our community, 46 homes are without power. So this is but a small portion of people who could contribute.

Anyhoo...Hick ordered $1100 in gravel on Wednesday. That's because one resident said he could only afford $100. And including our contribution, if those who committed pay, Hick will not be out anything other than his time, and gas for his tractor. Which uses diesel, and he drove up and helped himself to some from Buddy's tank. They're cool like that.

Hick was pretty agitated on Tuesday, when he saw a comment that "What you need to do is take that money and fix the hill. That's the worst blacktop job I've ever seen." We all agree that it's a bad job. The problem Hick had is that the comment was from a guy who doesn't even live out here. The son of the human mommy of the killer poodle and crazy rottweiler. Of course she got on there and told her kid to back off. But not before Hick made the general statement that "If you don't live here, and haven't volunteered to help or donate, then you shouldn't BITCH about it!" Another gal stuck up for Hick as well. I'm pretty sure it was Buddy's wife. The complainer replied back, "I'm entitled to my opinion! I guess the truth hurts."

The Complainer pretty much missed the point. That being the fact that no matter what he thinks, he doesn't even live here, so he doesn't really have a say. His mom sent private messages to Hick, and Buddy's wife, apologizing for her son's comments. Even though she didn't have to, because they know it's not her opinion.

Anyhoo...Hick spent four hours Tuesday, and six hours Wednesday, working on those roads. Alone. I passed him on the way to town, and got behind him on the way back.

That's a big hole he filled in. It was about six inches deep, and full of water over the past couple days. People coming around that curve would swing out to avoid it. Now it's smooth.

Hick is using 1-inch minus, because it's easier to pack down. The jagged, bigger gravel (like 2-inch minus that we get for the driveway, and seen also on this road), has a tendency to get bounced off the road as people drive on it, and it ends up along the side, and has to be graded back out after a while.

As you can see, Hick is using the roller he made out of a pipe and concrete mix. It seems to be doing the job.

Don't let Hick's hard-headedness fool you. There is nothing he'd rather be doing than riding around on his tractor like he has a mission. Unless maybe it's buying junk.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lipstick On Pigs, and No More Free Kittens, These Aren't a Few of My Favorite Things

I was shocked to pick up the paper click on the local newspaper website this morning, and see what special version of NOT-HEAVEN that Even Steven has in store for me. A local community is planning to revamp a major thoroughfare. It's not so NOT-HEAVENISH as it could have been, since I am currently RETIRED, and don't have to drive that way to work every morning. But still, it's my direct route to the main post office and credit union. I suppose I can adapt. I know several alternate routes. Which I will have to use for A YEAR to avoid construction on approximately 1.5 miles of roadway.

Anyhoo...a first-year city administrator (wonder if it will be his last) has a vision. To show people who travel that roadway what kind of place this town is, and what kind of people live there. Never mind that 90% of those people traveling it are local residents, and already know that stuff. The plan includes decorative lighting, street-side parking (which is already available), and curbed sidewalks (the uncurbed kind are already in place). He wants the roadway "to represent the city as a great place to live and raise a family." C'mon now! It either is, or it isn't. A road can't lie, or promote such a concept. It's just a road.

Anyhoo...since "There’s really no sense to have the decorative lighting and try to get the image that we’re doing with that project when you have dozens and dozens of utility poles right in the way," all the utilities are being moved. The electric, phone, water, and sewer are being relocated to the alleyways. Apparently, 30 residents are on board for this, having agreed to give up portions of their property for right-of-way. Oh, and having their electricity off between a couple hours and a whole day, with some of them needing their weatherheads "just turned around," or their entire electric panels updated. No mention of who's paying.

Here's the thing. They can put all the lipstick they want on that pig, but the same houses are still going to be there. Just today, I saw two men picking up shingles in the front yard from a porch roof that had collapsed. These are older homes, many of them rentals, very close to the street to begin with. Some might lose their entire front yard for right-of-way. Of course Val is anti-progress, so her opinion might be biased

But that's not even what I set out to tell you about! Sorry you got cheated into reading that part. Kind of like these homeowners are getting cheated into upgrading their electricity and utilities. No, what I started to tell you about was a sight I beheld when I was looking at the two men loading up that partially-collapsed porch.

Strolling down the sidewalk, insouciant as you please, was a lady in cut-off shorts and a tank top. Not old, not young. Okay. Young to you and me. Maybe early thirties. She came from the direction of the old mom-and-pop grocery store that's been converted into a tax office with an apartment upstairs. Next to the house that had a FREE KITTENS sign on the chain-link fence for a couple of years straight.

I admit that I did a double-take. Not because of The Walker's great beauty, or physical assets. But because of her arms. The were both held out in front, bent at the elbow. As if carrying a platter of hors d'oeuvres.

GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY! That was no platter of hors d'oeuvres!

Draped across The Walker's forearms were TWO LIVE SNAKES! They were about as thick as a good rope. Thicker than a jump rope and Jethro Bodine's belt, but thinner than a climbing rope attached to the ceiling of a gymnasium. The snakes were patterned, in dark orange and brown colors. Not bright orange like a coral snake. More subdued. And not striped. More of a mottled or diamond pattern, I think. I'm not sure. I only got two looks at them, and they were writhing at the time, each one hanging about a foot or more over each forearm.

I'm not sure what was going on here. Was The Walker merely taking her snakes for a walk in the noonday sun? Or was she taking them to show the porch-roof picker-uppers? Maybe she had FOUND them, and was walking to the police station to turn them in.

You never know what you're going to see in cities adjacent to Backroads. I wonder if there will be a new ordinance against walking your snakes, once that major thoroughfare is revamped...

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

There's More to That Carving Artist Story

Hick didn't bother to tell me, until a couple days later, that his pal the wood-carving artist gave him a parting gift.

"He had a bunch of Jack-O-Lanterns. Said he sells them for $250. He thought he'd given me one before, but he hadn't. So he gave me one to bring home. It's out in the car now."

According to Hick, his pal never sets up a stand to sell. When he goes to festivals and stuff to carve, he takes some along. But he's not there as a vendor. If people ask, he'll sell them.

Looks to me like you can put a candle inside, since it's hollow, and the lid lifts off. Here's a view from the side.

I'm guessing it will sit there, on the side porch, until Halloween. And beyond. On those shelves Hick just had to have, but never brought inside to put in the closet.

That's a good thing, though. Because for two days, that Jack-O-Lantern was sitting on the side porch in front of Gassy G. On the porch boards. I shamed asked Hick how many animals he though had peed on it in those two days. He said he was sure the dogs wouldn't bother it.

I suppose my raised eyebrow spurred Hick into action. That, and my declaration that having a $250 handmade gift from one of his oldest friends...seems like he might want to take better care of it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

One Golden Leopard Away From A Roadside Freak Show

You might have gauged from previous Hick-bashings that I fear his hoarder tendencies are spiraling out of control. At least he used to confine his collecting to the BARn, then his themed sheds, and now his Freight Container Garage. However, this past month, he's gone off the rails.

I am not living in a Seinfeld episode. There were no cigar stores involved. I seriously wish Hick would be one of those people who gives someone something, and then takes it back. The something, in this case, being those two figures flanking our front door.

Of course Hick was all excited. "Did you see what I got at the auction? Look on the porch!"

I did not share his excitement at the time, nor do I share it now. Please, allow me to give you a better view.

Left side.

Right side.

Oh, and let's not forget that accessory for the figure on the left:

I'm calling it a golden leopard, but for all I know, it could be a jaguar, or an ocelot. In any case, that little big cat isn't even in the same style as the guardians of my portal. There's only one. And it's way too small compared to the size of his companions, whereas the fake hound dog we've had for a while is way too big. Goldilocks need not drop by to give a review.

My Sweet, Sweet Juno is not a fan, either. When she's at the door for a treat, or a petting, and turns to leave...she whacks her head on the left-side sentinel.

Oh, how I yearn for the simpler days of that big red milk crate nailed to the front wall for packages.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Hick Lacks Attention to Detail

Hick spent part of last week visiting an old friend. Pal happens to be a retired teacher, who is also a wood carver. It's not like he's churning out Pinocchios every other day. He can carve on a large scale. Here's one of his works that Hick took a picture of on his travels.

Unfortunately, Hick lacks attention to detail. He said he was "in a museum near Moline, Illinois." Didn't say if he WAS in Illinois. Or the name of the museum. He says there's a name for this piece somewhere, but he doesn't remember it.

The most information I have from Hick is that this structure is 19 feet tall. He doesn't know what kind of wood. Parts of the carving are different colors, depending on whether they were carved outside, in the sun, or indoors. Hick also has pictures of the other side, but he has not bothered to send them to me.

If you can, zoom into this photo and look at the assorted figures. I missed the horse, for cryin' out loud, the first several times I looked at it.

Hick says they went inside the museum, and Pal asked the lady in charge something. She looked at him quizzically, and started to mention something about the hours they were open. Then Pal asked if he could step into the exhibit to do something to it. "I'm the artist who carved it." And the lady said, "OH! I knew you looked familiar, but I couldn't place you."

As some of you have ascertained...Hick has connections in many different fields.

I think this might be him. Looks like it's a ginkgo tree, according to this article about moving it to the Hampton Heritage Center. Which is, I suppose, the "museum" that Hick mentioned. And I'm pretty sure this is the staircase carving that Hick told me about. That staircase site made me answer a survey question to see the content. Just sayin'.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Good Deed Went Unpunished, the Bad Deed Went Unpunished, and I Was Centsationally Rewarded

On WEDNESDAY, July 11th, I stopped by Country Mart for a couple items, and scratchers out of their machine. I pushed in a cart from the end of the parking lot, finished my mission, and parked it in the vestibule. I could carry my bags on my arm. After shoving that cart inside another, I turned for the door, and saw my REWARD!

Would you lookie there! A penny!

A 1992, and it's face down.

FRIDAY THE 13TH was good luck for me. I stopped at Casey's to get scratchers for Genius's letter, since I had taken his the previous evening, and needed to replace them. He doesn't need to know that I won $25 on those tickets I had set aside for him! Anyhoo...I rounded T-Hoe's bumper, and saw this little gem.

It was a shiny 2006, face down.

If I hadn't stolen Genius's intended tickets, I never would have found this penny! Shame on me. However...Genius might get a better winner with the replacements. You never know.

At my last stop, The Gas Station Chicken Store, for my 44 oz Diet Coke, I spied a penny as I walked in. I couldn't stop, though, because a gal was walking up to pay. You can imagine how much I was telepath-izing to her, "DON'T PICK UP MY PENNY!" as I bellied up to the soda fountain.

Lucky for me, she DIDN'T! I can't believe how people ignore pennies like that. Just proves it was put there for ME!

It was also face down, a 1981. That was a very good year...when I graduated from college. I'm pretty sure that non-pennypincher gal wasn't even born then.

For 2018: Pennies  # 56, 57, 58.
For 2018: Dimes  still at # 10.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 134, 135, 136.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 16.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.