Friday, August 31, 2018

A Common Cur is Shown More Courtesy

Wednesday, Hick and I took my favorite gambling aunt to our new favorite casino. We all lost, but that was kind of expected. We DID enjoy a splendid lupper (lunch/supper, eaten at 4:00 p.m.) at the casino buffet. And Hick and Auntie made a shopping stop at Goodwill.

Hick was looking for anything that looked resalable for a profit at his Storage Unit Store, and Auntie was looking for bowls. Not for eating out of. For her cats to eat or drink from. She didn't find any. Hick got a whiskey decanter, and two Avon bottles, one that was a Stanley Steamer car, and the other a horn that looked like it was for a black powder rifle. I'm guessing they once held cologne, not perfume. Not the whiskey decanter, of course. Hick paid under $3 for all of it, and thinks he can get $10. It's all about having variety to keep people coming back. They'll eventually buy something.

But that's not the point of this story, because it's NOT ABOUT ME!

I didn't wish to accompany them while they meandered the aisles of Goodwill. So, as I always do when it's just me and Hick, I chose to sit in the car. Usually, I have a book with me, but since Auntie was our guest, I figured that would be rude, so I didn't take one. I figured I could just listen to the radio. Val figures, Hick laughs.

Let the record show that Auntie is probably not quite 5 feet tall on her tiptoes. And A-Cad, unlike T-Hoe, does not have running boards. Auntie was pretty sure she could get into A-Cad, saying she only has trouble (two knee and two hip replacements) getting in and out of low cars. Still, I'd asked Hick if he had a step to take along. Of course he did! A wonderful little step, with an oval handhole in the middle, and non-skid surface. He'd found it in one of his storage units. It reminded me of what a train attendant might use to assist people getting on and off a train.

Anyhoo...once Hick parked at Goodwill, he went around to get the stepstool out of the back. Auntie said she was fine getting out, and she'd just slide down. Hick said, "Okay, we'll use it when we get back." And he LEFT THE STEP beside A-Cad while they walked toward the store.

At that instant, I realized that he was LEAVING, and that he had not left the key in the ignition as usual, with the car running. I hollered at him. LOUDLY. But he kept walking, chatting with Auntie. So I was left in a car with all windows rolled up, no radio, and a nifty little stepstool beside the driver's side passenger door.

You know the kind of people who shop at Goodwill, right? People looking for bargains. And what better bargain than a nifty stepstool for FREE? I was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. More jumpy than a kid all hopped up on Mountain Dew trying to play Whack-A-Mole. I was constantly turning my head, watching people enter and leave the store, cars driving by, people getting out of vehicles, making sure they were not coming by to snag that nifty stepstool.

Oh, yeah. It was pretty hot, because we stopped there on the way to the casino, and it was around 2:00, and pretty hot. Did I mention it was pretty hot? Especially inside a car with the windows rolled up. I'm sure, had I been a baby in a carseat, or a dog hopping from window to window, people would have called the police to rescue me. But since I was just an old lady sitting in the shotgun seat, now and then laying my head back with my eyes closed...nobody gave a hoot.

When the culprits returned, Auntie DID agree with me that a stepstool is a terrible thing to leave unattended, and said she had also raised that question with Hick. But she agreed with HIM that they figured I was smart enough to open up a door if I got too hot. Because, you know, of all the cool air that would flow into a single door on an Acadia, off the blacktop parking lot.

They're welcome for me guarding the stepstool. Even though they didn't thank me.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

I Love the View of Shackytown in the Morning

While perusing my backlog of pictures for anything remotely interesting...I happened upon a couple of Shackytown photos from when Hick was on his Iowa tour. I snapped them one morning when I was out tending the goat and mini-pony. By morning, I mean shortly after noon, as I was getting ready to leave for town.

Hick seems to have cast his themed sheds aside like so many old shoes. I can't believe Shackytown Boulevard has WEEDS growing through the gravel. The Old Hick would have soaked those suckers in so much poison hand-mixed and squirted from a tank that they'd have been dead and withered within minutes.

Here we have The Pony's Sword Shack, followed by the Fishing Lair, and then the Railroad Car Shack. I thought Hick was going to paint it that rusty red railroad car color, but maybe he hasn't gotten around to it, and that's just his primer layer.

The original Little Barbershop of Horrors is first on Shackytown Boulevard. The lady is the one he brought home for The Pony from Germany. I don't know what she's doing on a barbershop porch. Perhaps enticing customers. As for the wire birdcage thingies with what looks like duck decoys inside...Hick only knows. I suppose there wasn't room enough for them on the narrow porch of the Fishing Lair.

Perhaps, as the weather cools, Hick will clear up those pallets laying around. I'm hoping. Hoping that they are not left in place for the start of new themed sheds.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

You Never Know WHAT Hick Will Find at an Auction

Here's an update on a couple of auction finds that Hick procured for my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel. As you might recall, Mabel is interested in gold picture frames, and items in a New Orleans style. My apologies for being remiss in sharing these two treasures from May.

Who doesn't need a wooden fleur de lis, and a ceramic tray for serving chips, dips, or condiments? This photo does not do that tray justice. It is beautiful! It is also from a casino, so we assumed it was a giveaway item that somebody got rid of at auction. It's still wrapped in plastic, brand new! Mabel would never get one of these on her own, since she's not a casino-goer. We're not sure where this one is, but it looks like they must have some pretty good swag.

Looks like Hick also obtained some of his (in)famous fishing poles at this auction. At least he didn't find another Thomas Jefferson Sitting on a Boot Taking a Crap.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Another One in the Series of Continuing Misfortunes of The Pony

The Pony just started his junior year at the University of Oklahoma last week. He's done remarkably well at living on his own (we won't count that ill-fated drive home his first Thanksgiving), considering how he'd barely been out of his own stall and paddock for 18 years. Sure, he had that Portal to Not-Heaven in his freezer, and he survived another freezer mishap when he was sure it was safe to keep glass bottles of root beer in there indefinitely. But overall, he's weathered the living-on-your-own storm.

A couple weeks ago, he scared the dickens out of me when he sent me a text:

"A bird just attempted a murder suicide on me. I was on the highway going about 70, and it just dived down out of nowhere and slammed into my passenger side mirror, and knocked it into the folded in position. I was just about to get into my exit lane, so I'm fine, but the sudden THUD and missing my most important mirror was very scary. The mirror looks fine. The bird is likely not."

"The mirror has some bird-shaped dust on it, but folded back out into place fine. I might have to adjust it when I leave. As I got off at my exit, I could see the bird in the other mirror, just laying on the highway with its legs sticking straight up. Luckily I got to my exit and it required just left turns to get into Steak-n-Shake. The car that got off right ahead of me swerved a little when it started driving, and I was most worried that it had hit my windshield or something from the sound of it."

"I got food and a shake and no longer have that heart pounding feeling. Also, you'll appreciate that the old couple next to me is talking about their bingo money."

"Just leaving now. The bird somehow knocked the inner mirror off kilter too, so I had to adjust it before I went."

That's the most he's ever texted me at one time. I know he was just occupying his time while waiting for his food, but he also seems to have been a bit shaken up, I think.

Good thing ol' Val is always available to commiserate.

Monday, August 27, 2018

There's an Outside Chance that Hick Might Be on the News, or Cooling His Heels at the Crossbars Hilton

Let the record show that Hick has always aspired to be a land baron. He grew up with nothing, and has done pretty well for himself. It didn't happen overnight. Hick began his quest by buying tax sale property.

I remember it well, crossing the blacktop parking lot between my townhouse building and Hick's apartment building, to chat with him while he sat on top of the apartment complex picnic table, perusing the tax sale list in the local paper. It didn't hurt that he was grilling hot dogs on a Weber, playing a country radio station on his blue Chevy Citation (with one red fender) radio with its windows down.

Hick's concentration was often broken by a car driving by to the newest apartment building across the little creek. "Huh. I know that guy. He must have got out. Robbed a bank." Or by something in the paper itself. "I can't believe that old lady died. I ran over her one time with the city truck."

One of the first pieces of property, in fact THE first property Hick purchased was a strip of land along a blacktop business route near my old high school (where I was VALEDICTORIAN, let's not forget). We (other apartment dwellers and I) used to tease Hick that he could plant spaghetti on his "farm." It wasn't even a full lot, and cost him about $50 thirty years ago.

Since that time, we have faithfully paid the taxes on it every year (less than $2), because, you know, Hick wouldn't want someone buying it right out from under him on the courthouse steps if it went three years delinquent. About 20 years ago, a guy built a car repair business on the curve that Hick's property borders. Hick wasn't all that thrilled, but wasn't upset, either. His strip of land was still there, and somebody, either the Repair Baron or the highway department, trimmed the weeds every summer.

NOW Hick has branched out into the political arena, campaigning for a local county clerk candidate, and has the idea of putting a campaign sign on "his" property. He went by, and noticed that Repair Baron had blacktopped over his strip of property.

Hick went to city hall to make sure they had a record that he owned this strip of land. They did, and gave him a copy. They said Hick could put any sign he wanted on there, but no billboards. So Hick set off on the journey of five blocks from city hall to the Repair Baron's business, to inform him of the impending signage.

The Repair Baron wasn't there, but his wife was in the shop. Hick explained how he owns that strip, and sees how it's now been blacktopped, and has the corner of a garage sitting on it. He relayed his intention of putting up some signs, and Repair Wife said that they were planning to put a sign for that very candidate there anyway. Everything seemed agreeable when Hick left.

NOW Hick says he plans to ask Repair Baron to buy that property from Hick for $500. "He's already using it like it's his. But if I wanted to cause problems, I could! He's blacktopped and built on land that's not his. If you really look at it, I think he's also on the highway department right-of-way. They might be interested to find that out..."

"There you go, causing trouble. It's not hurting anything. You can't do anything with that land. You're not using it. I don't think he's going to pay your $500."

"I might ask for $750, because I imagine he'll want to talk me down!"

"I guess you could always build a fence on it, which would block the sight of his business. And put whatever signs on it you wanted. Maybe ads for a competitor."

"He's been using it all these years for nothing. I think he'll pay just to have it done with. Or I might tell him that if he'll fix the two rust spots on my 1980 Toronado for free, I'll call it even, and sign the property over to him."

Always a scheme percolating in Hick's noggin.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Hick the Storekeeper

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Hick goes off to his Storage Unit Store. He's open for business from around 8:00 to 2:00. If there's rain, or the crowd is sparse, sometimes he'll come home at noon. He also puts pictures of some merchandise on a local Buy/Sell/Trade site. When folks call about an item, Hick volunteers to meet them at his Storage Unit Store if they want to buy.

Let the record show that large items kept in the Freight Container Garage require buyers to come out here. The ones who are willing to brave the wilderness and throw caution to safety's winds generally end up buying those larger things. All Hick has to do is putter around over there until they show up, which he would be doing anyway.

Last week, Hick had a guy contact him about his large lot of fishing poles that are kept at the Storage Unit Store in a rack that Hick made himself. He's probably got 45-50 fishing poles up there, and he's asking $8 apiece, I think. It used to be $10. Maybe less apiece if they buy in bulk. Anyhoo...this guy wanted Hick to drive them 30 miles to show him. Yeah. THAT didn't happen!

Another guy wanted to look at them, and said he'd be at the Storage Unit Store between 4:30 and 5:00 on Friday evening. Hick had already closed up shop, had lunch, gone to town for his weekly shot, sat around shooting the bull with some of his old cohorts, and came back specifically to open up and show the guy those fishing poles. Let's not forget that Hick goes to an auction on Friday nights, necessitating that he eat supper at 5:30, and leave home at 6:00.

At 5:20, Hick called and said to make supper a little later. He was turning onto our gravel road when that Fishing Pole Dude called and said he was at the Storage Unit Store, looking for Hick.

"I was there from 4:30 to 5:00. I'm almost home, but I'll come back. Give me 10 minutes." As Hick told me, he'd actually stayed until about 5:10.

"I got here about 4:58, and you were gone!" said Fishing Pole Dude.

Well, Hick knew that was not true, because he hadn't left until 5:10. But it's only a 10-minute trip to town, so he went back. He didn't get home until 5:45, and was 15 minutes late leaving for the auction.

"After all that, Fishing Pole Dude only bought ONE fishing pole."

"I don't know why you cater to those people! They can darn well come during the hours that you're open. Somebody else will buy the stuff if they won't. They're taking advantage of you. A regular store wouldn't open up after hours just for them."

I think Hick just might take my advice.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Universe Had CENTS Enough to Send Val a Larger Penny Receptacle

Val has had a fruitful penny harvest this week! Starting with SUNDAY, Aug. 19th, at her favorite haunt, The Gas Station Chicken Store.

Yes, the old GSCS was looking pretty spiffy that day. The Woman Owner was on duty at the register. Let the record show that she lets no grass grow under HER feet, nor dirt pile up on her floor.

It was a bright, shiny 2011, face down.

On the same day, just a hop, skip, and a few turns of T-Hoe's tires away, I found a second penny. I also saw Hick in his Trailblazer turning onto the lot. No way was I going to miss out on scratchers and the chance for a penny just to avoid running into him. Figuratively.

Danged if a little moppet didn't hold the door open for me! So even though I saw this jewel waiting patiently, I couldn't stop for my penny. You can bet that I virtually ignored Hick (who was buying his own ambrosia, hot dogs) in order to dash outside after purchase, and get this picture of my penny.

A face-down 1979. It's kind of hard to see in the big picture, but it's almost dead center, and can be found if you zoom in.

THURSDAY, August 23rd, I was ever-vigilant for a penny, and still almost missed this precious gift. It was well hidden

under the rack of energy drinks in Orb K. Looks like somebody better get to stockin'! And to sweepin'!

It was a 2018,  face down. As was Val, trying to harvest it for her Future Pennyillionaire collection. A shoe toe under the front of the rack did not reach. Nor did itchy fingers. A hand wouldn't fit through the rack. So finally, Val had to make like a chimp using a stick to procure termites from a mound, and find a tool to assist her in her quest. SCRATCHERS! I stuck them under and scraped my rightful penny out. I'm pretty sure I made the monthly surveillance camera highlights.

When I came out, the magnitude of my riches was riveted home. Parked next to T-Hoe was THIS:

Today a yard-sale goblet...tomorrow a Brinks truck.

FRIDAY, August 24th, I found a penny waiting for me at Waterside Mart. My apologies to the rumpus of the woman ahead of me in line. I was rushing to capture my penny before it was my turn.

I really hope the folks behind me didn't think I was a creeper. And that the clerks don't feel that they're entitled to floor money.

Ol' Abe was a 1984, face down, most likely due to the embarrassment of having a butt-photographer pick him up. Yeah. I hope there's no symbolism in that, finding 4 pennies, ALL face down this week. I hope that's not a goocher.


For 2018: Pennies  # 84, 85, 86, 87.
For 2018: Dimes  still at # 13.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 162, 163, 164, 165.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 19.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Hick Is on the Horns of a Dilemma

Hick is not one to shy away from hard work. Unless that hard work is inside the house, and includes picking up after himself. But generally, he's willing to expend effort to help somebody out, even though there may be no benefit in it for himself.

A couple days ago, he was tooling around on his tractor, and stopped to talk to HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) down at the creek by Mailbox Row. HOS was lamenting the recent rains, and how kids waiting for the school bus got soaked.

Back in the day, even though my own kids rode with me in T-Hoe to attend my school, rather than the district we live in...folks were always parked there on both sides of the gravel road, their kids waiting in the car with them until the bus arrived. In fact, it was kind of hard to get out some mornings, due to road blockage. I can't imagine sitting inside my car, while a child stood there getting drenched. I suppose times have changed. Kids must be cautioned not to get in a car with non-family members. Maybe some folks have to get to work on time, and leave the kids waiting for the bus. We are one of the closest houses, and that's almost a mile from the mailboxes.

Anyhoo...HOS said he'd been thinking about making a little bus-waiting shed for the kids. His own son is in 3rd grade this year, and must ride the bus to the next town over, rather than get dropped off at the nearby school beside the bowling alley. Hick has the resources and the skill to build such a shack. If you've ever driven through a rural area, you've no doubt seen these structures at the end of long farm roads. Just four walls and a roof, to keep out rain and wind and snow while the young 'uns wait.

Here's the thing. The Bus Shack would have to be built along the gravel road, on the creek side. The other (wooded) side is private property. This would take up a space where people pull off and park. Which wouldn't upset me in the least, because people who live here do not loiter there, but only use the space for waiting for the morning or afternoon bus. However...those ne'er-do-wells who park there for their up-to-no-good activities, possibly shooting heroin, and for sure drinking and leaving trash, might not take kindly to finding a Bus Shack in their illegal parking spot.

The ne'er-do-wells could be shooting heroin in a warm dry shack during the winter. OR they might vandalize it, draw inappropriate graffiti like the road penis I can't find a link to, or burn it down. It might actually attract more riff-raff.

Hick is not yet sure if a Bus Shack is on his agenda. He's still kind of busy with his road upgrade project. And we know how he's been thanked for that. I think his most recent interaction with a distant neighbor was, "So YOU'RE the infamous Hick Thevictorian doing the roads." Not sure if he's ready to be punished for another good deed.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

They Know How To HOLD the Mail, They Just Don't Know How To KEEP the Mail

Remember how Val and Hick went to Oklahoma a couple weeks ago, to visit The Pony? I know you might have forgotten, since I barely mentioned anything about the trip...

Anyhoo, since I knew we would be gone for three days, I once again filled out a USPS form that I printed off the innernets, to have our mail held. You can't be too careful around here, what with ne'er-do-wells ransacking or pounding the bejeebers out of rural mailboxes. I wouldn't want any bills to turn up missing, because everybody knows that if Val doesn't GET a bill, she doesn't PAY that bill.

A couple trips ago, when we were having HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) pick up our mail, our electric bill turned up missing. I'm not blaming HOS. He has a life, and I'm sure he didn't rush down to EmBee to gather our mail at noon as soon as it arrived. That bill might not have been delivered at all, it might have been put in somebody else's box and they threw it away, or someone might have been snooping through the boxes looking for account numbers. You never know. I figured the easiest way to prevent such a catastrophe was to let the post office hold onto our mail.

Last time we were gone, this service worked like a charm. I took my form to the main post office, my mail stopped, and when I returned to pick it up, the clerk used a radio to call upstairs and have my mail sent down. It was all wrapped up like a taco, letters inside a multilayered magazine shell. Nom-nom, bills to pay.

I followed the exact same procedure. Had that form there a few days ahead of time, as required. The post office was holding the mail on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. There's a minimum of three days for this service. I had the dates clearly marked. I checked the box that said I would pick it up on return, and that I understood no mail would be delivered until I came to pick up the held mail. I planned to go get it on Friday, like the last time.

We arrived home after 9:00 p.m. on Thursday night. I told Hick to stop by the mailbox and check, just in case a stray piece had slipped through.

Looks like there was more than one stray piece! That entire bundle was crammed down EmBee's throat, and was filling her gullet. Among the envelopes inside that magazine taco was a REFUND CHECK FROM OUR INSURANCE COMPANY. As you might imagine, I was a little bit upset livid.

"Go up there tomorrow and complain," said Hick.

"Oh, you can bet THAT'S on my schedule! They might have other mail that they actually held. It said on the form they wouldn't deliver again until I came in. I can't believe how people get away with NOT DOING THEIR JOB RIGHT these days!"

Off I went, having taken out the important mail, and left the rest intact in that ill-fated post office taco, to rub the collective post office nose in it, and to take a later picture for evidence. No time for that yet! I had ample-rumpuses to chew!

I waited patiently in line for a couple old ladies to mail packages. The clerk was the regular dude I usually deal with, though he was NOT the one who took my HOLD MAIL form the week before.

"How can I help you today?"

"Well...I'm here to complain, but you're not the one I have an issue with. So I don't know if I should talk to you, or someone else."

"That depends. How mad ARE you?"

"I'm pretty mad, but not irate. I can be civil. But I'm not happy. My mail was supposed to be held, and I got home last night and found all THIS shoved in our mailbox."

Regular Dude took my taco and rifled through it.

"Let me get someone for you."

Regular Dude called upstairs on his radio, for "Gail" to come downstairs as soon as she had time, because someone was waiting to talk to her. And to check the box for Thevictorian, with our address. I'm calling her Gail, because she looked like character actress Gail Strickland. Only not attractive, and in a desiccated kind of way. Like she'd been left out in the desert under a cactus for about 20 years.

I waited at least 15 minutes. That's how they get you, you know, in a government office. They try to out-wait you, thinking you'll give up and go away. They don't care if you go away mad, just so long as you go away. They have nothing to lose by making you madder. It's a government job. Not like they're going to get fired. Regular Dude stepped aside to work on some other stuff, and kept apologizing to me because it was taking so long. Pretty good strategy for a worker there on the front lines, with only a waist-high counter between him and mayhem.

FINALLY, Gail arrived. Did she greet me pleasantly, and ask how she could help me? Oh, NOT-HEAVEN NO!

"You Thevictorian?"

"I am."

"There's nothing in your box." Gail was being quite dismissive. Like she was a common clerk, there to bring down my mail. When I was sure she was management, what with her attitude and the way Regular Dude deferred to her.

"Well, there should have been, because I filled out a form to hold my mail until I picked it up. But we got home last night, and found ALL THIS in our mailbox. Including an insurance check. Which is one of the reasons I wanted the mail HELD until I got back from my trip."

"There's nothing else here."

"So why wasn't my mail held?"

"You probably had a substitute carrier who didn't know your mail was held, and picked up the mail to deliver it."

"Well, we've been having trouble on this route for a while now. I don't know the carrier, I don't even know if it's always been the same one. I've let it go all the other times. We've had mail stolen, packages laid on top of the mailbox, packages supposedly delivered that we never got, received other people's mail, and just this week, our neighbor put on Facebook that she'd gotten another neighbor's mail again. So I'm not the only one it happens to."

"You might continue to have those problems. I'm working on it."

Gail was being a real b*tch-on-wheels, her face never once cracking a smile, or varying from her grimace. I guess it's hard when your skin looks like beef jerky. I wanted to snap off one of her withery arms and beat her about the head and shoulders with it. She acted like the whole situation was MY fault! When I'M the one who followed the instructions on THEIR form.

"All right. I guess. So I don't have any mail waiting here, and it will be delivered as normal?"

"Nothing else up there."

I took my mail taco and hit the road, madder than before I went in. It's not like I can deal with the dead mouse smelling post office. All holds have to go through the main post office.

I'd like to tell Gail where she can hold my mail NEXT time...

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Get Your Crazy Finger Ready

Did you ever lose something important that you'd put away in a specific place for safekeeping? And then forgot where that specific safe space was?

Tuesday morning, I spent about 90 minutes tearing the homestead apart, looking for my old checkbook register. I need it, you know, for tax purposes. To sort out our deductible expenses. I only have 8 months left to find it!!!

I hate it when I fill up a checkbook register. I don't do online banking. A paper checkbook register is not affected by power outages or computer deaths. My bank account stopped sending the cancelled checks to me many years ago. I can still get a copy from them if needed, for a price. But I don't really miss the cancelled checks. With Hick being retired now, and on the loose, we have a lot more transactions every month than just checks. I have a record of them, you know, all in one place, the checkbook register. Which is now someplace I can't remember.

Yes, I hate the exchange of old checkbook register for new. I always put the old one with the tax materials, which are on my desk in my dark basement lair. While that old checkbook register is in limbo, waiting for me to check the outstanding transactions with the automated bank phone, I put Ol' Reggie in a box that contains the unused checks. Or else on the kitchen counter, in the bill and letter holder, with the most recent utility statements, in case I need account numbers.

Uh huh. There are only three places Ol' Reggie could be: upstairs in a box of checks, on the kitchen counter in the bill and letter holder, or downstairs in the lair. I tore those places apart! In fact, I searched every one of those places, and areas adjacent, THREE TIMES! With no success. I even went so far as to clean off some superfluous papers and mail that were laying around.

I was whipping myself into a frenzy. I HATE unresolved issues like that! I knew I hadn't thrown Ol' Reggie away. I barely throw anything away, without letting it sit a little while, ruminating on whether I might need it again. I have a stable of Ol' Reggies, filed by year with the tax forms. No way was Ol' Reggie marinating in the dumpster. I'd only switched him out right before our Pony trip. I've barely thrown away anything since we returned.

Since Walmart, bank, and post office awaited my arrival, I had to give up my search and head to town. I couldn't get Ol' Reggie out of my mind. That's not good. Nobody wants a distracted Mrs. Hillbilly Mom behind the wheel of T-Hoe. By the time I reached the cemetery for my Mom visit, my brain was about to overheat. WHERE did I put Ol' Reggie???

I had a short chat with Mom, per usual, me sitting in T-Hoe, parked on the wrong side of the cemetery lane, about 6 feet (thankfully not UNDER) from the plot, window down, filling her in on the recent happenings. It only takes 4-5 minutes before I'm on my way. Because nothing much happens around here. As an afterthought, I mentioned that I was GOING CRAZY looking for Ol' Reggie.

Let's get real. It's not like I expected Mom to answer. Some people are pray-ers, but I, myself, am not, unless somebody asks for them. Some folks believe that St. Joseph (a statue, of course), buried head down in your yard, can help you sell the house. Some folks ask St. Francis to look out for their pets. Let the record show that I did not expect Mom or any other departeds to find Ol' Reggie for me.

What I DO believe is that sometimes, you overthink yourself. You can get so focused on one issue that you block yourself from succeeding. You go round and round, not resolving the issue. So...I merely mentioned, as I was getting ready to leave, that I sure would like to find Ol' Reggie, if Mom might have any insider tips. You know. Maybe I'd have a dream that night, and my subconscious would be unlocked, and I could tell myself in dream pictures where I might have stashed Ol' Reggie. Nothing miraculous or supernatural. Just a subliminal suggestion. "Yeah, Mom, I'm going to let it go. I'm not thinking about it the rest of this trip. I'm done. If it's meant to be, it'll be." (also one of my current favorite songs).

After my errands were done, and the groceries carried in and put away, and the dogs given their cat kibble treat...I stood at the kitchen counter, before getting my Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheels (and 44 oz Diet Coke, of course), ready to carry down to my lair. I was taking a package of frozen fajita chicken and separating it into four baggies, for more individual portions. As I set two paper plates on the counter to dump out the chicken, moving back the Styrofoam bowl stack that holds my excess quarters/dimes/nickels/pennies for daily soda, a thought hit me.


All I could see on top was a coupon for Terrible Cuts that I was saving for my next terrible cut, and a coupon for Imo's Pizza, which we've never had here locally, and haven't had from anywhere in at least two years. I lifted the coupons up, and there underneath was OL' REGGIE! I'd found my missing checkbook register!

Thanks, Mom!

NOW is when you all lift your hand to twirl your crazy finger next to your temple.

COINCIDENTALLY, since Blog Buddy Joe H might ask, if I haven't confused him again so soon...I glanced at my cell phone that morning, while writing out some bills before starting The Search For Ol' Reggie, and the time was 11:11.

Also, that night, around 9:50, I was scrolling through random videos in the ALL function of BitChute, and noticed one called "The Citystead release the ladybugs." It had only been up for 30 minutes, or would have been way down past where I would scroll. This dude and his kids release 1500 ladybugs into their garden.

Around 2:30 into that video, a little red-haired girl says, "Some of them are orange, some of them are red, some of them have spots, and some of them are bare."

My mom had red hair. I'm pretty sure that at one time, she was a little girl.

This might call for a DOUBLE crazy-finger twirl.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Retiree Auctionee

Hick went to the city Monday, to take some items he plans to auction Tuesday night. He normally doesn't sell in the city, but he says the prices are higher there. Good if you're selling stuff, I guess. Although he says they charge a 25% commission instead of the 20% out here in the country. One thing's for sure: Hick wouldn't be selling if he didn't think he could make money.

While he and his auction buddy were there, they perused other items that will be sold. Hick found one that he thinks is perfect for my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel. She likes gold frames, you know. In a New Orleans bordello kind of style. She refinishes the ones that need a little TLC.

Hick says this frame is solid wood, 24 x 24. I'm the go-between, who sends Mabel the picture, to see if she's interested, and what she wants to pay. She asks what Hick thinks it's worth, and a few texts later, Hick has a bidding strategy.

What say you? If you were a gold frame kind of person, what would this be worth to you?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Quite Possibly the Best Potential Case of Irony EVER, Except Val Would Not Have Been Around to Tell the Tale

Saturday, on the way home from town, Hick sent me a text:

"Are you alive haven't heard from you"

Of course I called to chew him out. That's no way for a Sweet Baboo to greet his lady. I told him I was driving home, that I'd been too busy calling the insurance company to ask about his current sales. 

At 1:15, I passed a dark colored SUV coming out our gravel road as I was headed in. I rarely look at people behind the wheel. While I did not recognize this particular car, there are several dark SUVs out here. This one was driving slowly, but not creepy-slow, so I figured it was not some weirdo using our self-paid-for, Hick-maintained road as a short cut. I gave that car a two-fingered greeting as I drove by. Just being neighborly.

I parked T-Hoe in the garage, and was setting my 44 oz Diet Coke on the console for easy retrieval after I unloaded three grocery bags from the back. The wild baying of Thevictorian hounds caught my attention. What in the Not-Heaven? I supposed Juno was extra-irritated with Copper Jack. He waits for me at the back of the garage until I close the door, then comes around for a squatter's share of cat kibble. They were yapping crazier than normal.

I glanced in T-Hoe's rearview mirror, expecting to see Copper Jack sidling away, deferring to Juno. What I saw instead was the grill and two front tires of a charcoal gray SUV blocking my escape! Uh huh. Parked right behind my garage bay. I was trapped! Trapped like a rat in a cage!

Stupid me got out and walked back, one eyebrow raised, in the manner I used to silently question the intentions of non-compliant students. My protectors, the watchdogs, raising the alarm while I had sat unawares in the garage, were busy peeing on the passenger-side front tire of that charcoal gray SUV. And a man was walking towards me!

Let the record show that there was a time, in Val's semi-misspent youth, when she would have no qualms about confronting such an intruder. In her prime, fit from her daily 5-mile run, spry on youthful knees, ready to stomp an instep, gouge out eyes, shove a nasal bone into a brain with the heel of her hand...or take flight. That time has passed. I was wary, standing still inside the edge of the garage.

The visitor acted like he belonged. He was late 40s/early 50s, with curly gray hair sticking out from under a black cap, wearing jeans shorts with white crew socks and work boots. "Is Hick around?"

Stupid me said, "No."

"I saw you as I was leaving, and came to see if Hick was with you."

"No...he's at his Storage Unit Store for about another hour. At the flea market."

"Flea market?"

"Yeah. On the hill. As you're going into town. By the feed store."

"I guess he's retired now."


"Well, that gives him something to do."

"Uh huh. And keeps him out of my hair. He makes pretty good money. He sells guns there pretty often."

"Yeah. It's legal. They sell them down at the auction I go to. I've seen him there a couple times. Hick used to have some parts that I'm looking for. So I stopped to see if he still had them."

"I don't know. He's up at his store." Since Visitor didn't seem to have a clue where I was talking about, I gave him the basic directions. To drive to town, and turn right at the top of the hill. "Hick's store is on the right side, pretty close to the entrance. Maybe 10 or 15 down the row."

The minute he got in his truck, I went back in the garage and called Hick.

"There was a guy here when I got out of the car. Had me blocked in the garage. He acted like he knows you. I gave him directions to your store. He's wearing a black cap, jeans shorts, white crew socks, and work boots." Hick said he'd be looking for him.

As I unloaded T-Hoe, I started regretting that I'd given that dude directions right to Hick's unit. (Heh, heh, the thought of sending a man to Hick's unit makes my 13-year-old self snicker.) I sat down in the La-Z-Boy, still a little shaky. I guess Visitor wasn't a process server (they can be tricky tricksters, you know), unless Hick's been up to something criminal. The only crime I can think of is a crime of fashion. I hope Visitor wasn't an assassin! Hick has been messing in back-creek neighbor Bev's feud with Crazy Stick Road Dude again.

I sent The Pony a text:

"Is it irony if Dad sends me a text, 'Are you alive, haven't heard from you,' and THEN comes home to find me murdered in the garage?"


"Okay. I pulled in the garage and heard the dogs going crazIER, and in my mirror saw the front end of a gray SUV blocking my exit. Like an idiot, I got out, and the dang dogs were peeing on the tires while the guy walked toward me."

"That does not sound good?"

"He asked if Dad was home, and like a fool I said NO."

"What was it about?"

"He chatted a while, not revealing his identity, then I told him where to find Dad at his store."


"Then I worried if I was sending a hit man to kill Dad! Anyhoo...I called Dad to warn him with a description. He just sent me a text. It was...



"That's exactly how I replied to Dad. It's been 15 years. I'm not sure I knew what that guy looked like when he lived here!"

Anyhoo...according to Hick, he was on the lookout for the guy I described, and saw him walking up. Hick mentioned that I'd called to say he'd had been at the house, and was coming by, and Visitor said, 'I wasn't over there!' So Hick said, "Yeah, I woulda thought she'd know YOU." Only to have the REAL Visitor show up a few minutes later.

Hick had mistaken our current SIDE NEIGHBOR, Copper Jack's human daddy, for Visitor. Because they were dressed the same way!

That perhaps tells you more than you need to know about customs around here.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Tommy Has a Forking Job!

Things seemed to have been going okay for our neighbor Tommy for a while. Hick had put quite a bit of time into trying to help him find a job last year. We were able to provide him with a car. Tommy found work at the local rat poison factory, but it only lasted a couple weeks. On his own, he managed to snag a job at the Space Museum, filing things and giving tours. However...a couple months ago, Hick heard from his friend/our neighbor Buddy that Tommy had lost his job.

"He said he only has $270 left, and he doesn't know what he'll do when that runs out."

As you might imagine, we've been worried about Tommy. But, as Hick said, "It's on him now. He's got to find a way to survive. He done pretty good on his own for a while."

Last week, Hick was working over at his Freight Container Garage when Tommy stopped by. "He came to ask if I had a pair of work gloves, like I gave him when he was cutting down trees on his land. So I gave him three pairs. He said he got a job at the produce place. Remember, how I said they're always hiring, and Tommy didn't think he could do labor like that? Tommy said he's sorry for not giving us any more payments on the car, but I told him, 'That's okay. We said you can pay us back when you're able.' He said he's been working for six weeks, driving a forklift!"

Tommy told Hick, "I work with ex-cons and Mexicans. There are a lot of people that come and go there. They just fired an ex-con last week. A lot of women come and go. Maybe I can find myself a girlfriend! One gal likes me, but then I found out the ex-con that got fired was her boyfriend! She still likes, me, though. And another one kind of likes me, too."

I told Hick that compared to their other employee choices, the women who work there probably think Tommy is quite a catch. No ex-wives. No kids. He owns his own home, plus acreage. He has a car that runs.

Hick added, "And he isn't an ex-con or a Mexican." Not that Hick was being snobby or racist. Only meaning that Tommy won't get hauled back to jail, and that he can communicate with them in English.

"Tommy said he worked 69 hours the first week. He gets $8.00 an hour, time-and-a-half over 40 hours. It blows my mind that he's driving a forklift. I asked if he had training, and he said they took them in a room for a video. So I asked him how to get on a forklift. He knew about the 3-point stance, which is what OSHA wants. So I guess he paid attention to the training."

"That doesn't surprise me. I think Tommy is kind of like The Pony. He has no trouble remembering FACTS, it's just the common sense that seems hard."

I see Tommy whizzing by in his car every day, like he has someplace to be at a certain time. So I guess everything is still okay on the job front. One less person for me to worry about.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Hick Finding Coins? That's NonCENTS!

SUNDAY, August 12th, I decided to get my magical elixir at Orb K instead of The Gas Station Chicken Store. I wanted my scratchers from Orb K, so I cut out a stop. You know, because I have such a busy schedule. Big mistake on the soda front. Too much foam, and tasted flat. But I found a penny!

I was vacillating on the parking space. Around at the end of the store, the farthest space was taken. The nearest space was taken. Leaving four between them. At the last minute, I veered into the third of the six spaces. Good thing I'm a bad parker, hogging to the right to leave room for T-Hoe's driver door to open all the way, lest somebody dare to park beside me. Had I parked like a civilized driver, I might not have seen this gem hiding in the shadows.

I was meant to park there, I suppose, to harvest this 1993 face up penny.

TUESDAY, August 14, I returned to Orb K to cash in a $25 winner and get more tickets. You can bet I was scoping out the grounds for pennies. None to be found. The kid ahead of me, looking like he'd just come from football practice, all sweaty, buying a Polar Pop...even fumbled his change out of that slide-pool from the register, but he caught every cent.

Lucky for me, I was paying attention on the way out, and found

a donation from Even Steven next to the donut case by the door. I got my pictures before anyone dared disturb me by ingress or egress.

It was a face-up 1999 Abe Lincoln, lying among the door detritus.


THURSDAY, August 16th, I observed a penny while waiting in line at the Backroads Casey's.

You can't imagine how many backflips my heart did, worrying that this gal and her companion would see it and pick it up as they left. OR step on it and kick it so that I had to scurry to make it mine!

This was a 2000, face down. I grabbed it after that pair left, and while the clerk was scanning my winners.

Oh, yeah. On MONDAY, August 13th, Hick found THIS over in front of the BARn.

I don't dare claim it, because it was meant for Hick. So it won't be counted in my running total below. As Hick said, "It was probably mine, anyway, out of my pocket."

For 2018: Pennies  # 81, 82, 83
For 2018: Dimes  still at # 13.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 159, 160, 161.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 19.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Val's Information Is Secure. Especially From Herself.

Wednesday morning, I checked my cell phone, and saw that Hick had left me a text AND a voicemail. That's unusual, because if he tries to call and can't reach me, he just dials the house phone. Anyhoo...the text was unremarkable.

"I'm at Barber Shop"

That meant Hick would be out of my hair for a couple hours, minimum. More, if there was good gossip, or if two Baby Boomers got in a fistfight on the parking lot again.

I tried to listen to the voicemail, but it wanted a passcode. This happens EVERY TIME I try to hear a voicemail. I tried numbers that I use for stuff like that. Nope. No option to reset, or retrieve my passcode. I must have tried 10 times to get into that voicemail throughout the day. I asked Hick what it was, but he said,

"I didn't send you no voicemail."

"Oh. I guess you butt-dialed me while at the barbershop. Maybe it's a bunch of old men gossiping while they get their bald heads shined."

Normally, I would simply let it go. Forget about that voicemail. Except I couldn't, because it wouldn't get off my phone screen. Oh, once I tried to get in, and was denied, it was gone up to a little icon at the top. But every time I checked my phone again, it was a banner across the face. Making me think I had an email or a text, when it was the same dang voicemail that Hick didn't send. I was NOT prepared to go through life with that undeletable voicemail haunting me.

I sent The Pony a text, but he ridiculed me, saying that he never heard of any voicemail that needs a secret code to get into. "You just tap it, and it takes you to play the voicemail." Huh. Not on Genius's hand-me-down phone, it doesn't. Hick said to enter "7". "That deletes it. Just punch in "7" when the instructions start." Well. On my phone, "7" is an invalid passcode. Not an option to delete.

Hick had decreed a surprise trip to our new favorite casino that afternoon, and I was a captive passenger in A-Cad's shotgun seat. We were on the way home, stopped at a Goodwill, when I started fiddling with that voicemail again. I tried a selection of numbers I might ever have used as a passcode, and ONE OF THEM LET ME IN!!! Here's the voicemail, best I can remember.

"Hello. This is [woman's name] a bus driver from the school. I will be picking up William and Kirsten tomorrow morning at 6:33 on the sidewalk between the McDonald's and the motel. I hope I have the right person. See you then!"

Well. I guess SOMEBODY was late for school on Thursday. Because I have no idea who that was, or even if that school was in Missouri. It was not our area code, and I didn't recognize the number or the voice or the bus driver's name. Of course my phone would not show me the number that call originated from, only all the times I had made an outgoing call to the voice mail.

"I don't know if I should do anything. It's not like I can find out who, and call them back, and tell them it was the wrong number. It said "Dad" on the voicemail. That's why I asked if you sent it."

"Now why would it say "Dad" on your phone? It wasn't from ME. It wouldn't say "Dad", it would have my name."

"It most certainly WOULD say "Dad", because that's how you're listed on my phone."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes! Surely you don't think I set up this cell phone by myself! GENIUS did it, like he's done ALL my phones that used to be his. And every time, he lists you as "Dad" because that's what you are to HIM." I had to show Hick the screen, with his name as "Dad', while he was sweaving at 70 mph.

I don't know what's going on with this dang phone. I doubt that bus driver was a scammer, phishing with another number to leave a message about student pickup. And another thing, about this passcode...

When I was still working, our new technology guy recommended a password saver to the entire faculty. He said it was one he used for all his passwords! Pardon me, but my mind heard that REEEE of a needle on a phonograph record. Uh huh. A clash of two technologies.

We are cautioned NOT to write down our passwords! Not to leave them near the keyboard. On the off chance that a burglar might break into our house and hack our computer? Yet this supposed AUTHORITY on technology was telling us to save all our passwords in the same place ON THE INTERNET!!! That would be akin to having SATAN watch over a SOUL! Asking an ALLIGATOR to babysit an INFANT! Having HICK hold onto your HOT DOGS for safekeeping!

Don't even get me started on that cell phone number keypad that disappears when the screen goes black as you're trying to navigate through an automated phone system.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Hick Is Stealing Even Steven Away From Me

I fear that Hick has been alienating Even Steven's affection for me! Judge for yourself.

On the way home from Oklahoma, we stopped at a rest area between Springfield and Rolla. When I came out of area...I saw Hick standing in front of a vending machine. He was getting a bottle of Diet Coke. I saw him put in his money and push the button. I heard the bottle thump as it fell. Yet when Hick reached into the trough for his soda, nothing was there!

"Huh!" said Hick.

"I guess it got stuck up inside. Or landed on one that was already stuck up inside."

Hick raised his arms and put his palms on the machine and started rocking it. Then some people came in, and I told him to stop. Witnesses! Besides, if Hick turned it over on himself, I didn't want to drive home from there.

"Well, crap! I want my soda! I paid two dollars for it!"

"You might as well get something out of the Pepsi machine. Because if you put more money in the Coke machine, the next bottle will probably be blocked by the one that's stuck."

"Yeah. Or else the next person will get TWO!"

Hick moved to the other machine and got a Diet Pepsi without incident. Then he went to the snack machine, put in his money, and pushed the numbers for a Milky Way. The spiral thingy turned until the Milky Way was poised on the edge...THEN STOPPED!

Hick was about to have a conniption. He started rocking THAT machine.

"Don't! Rocking it won't make the spiral turn--"

Just then, the spiral started turning again. And kept turning. Hick's Milky Way fell out, and the one behind it, too!"

"I guess that makes up for your soda."

Yes, either Even Steven is now sweet on Hick, or Even Steven is killing him softly (and deliciously) with an overdose of sugar, and a dearth of sugar-free beverages.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Lightning Strikes Val TWICE!

We left Norman about an hour later than usual. No free breakfast at THIS free hotel. Hick said we'd stop up the road a bit, and have a Sausage Egg McMuffin. Let the record show that it's our standard breakfast on the way TO Oklahoma, about 90 minutes into our trip. So I was fine with such a meal to start the drive home, to be eaten in the car to save time.

Hick has tried forever to get the special McMuffin deal, as seen advertised on billboards along the way. However, until this very trip, he kept coming up with the regular charges, paying around $7 for two McMuffins. Uh huh. The TRICK, he discovered, is to say, "I'd like the McMuffin deal, the two-for-whatever." As he says, it's funny how you can get a McMuffin with SAUSAGE, egg, and cheese for half the price of a McMuffin with Canadian Bacon, egg, and cheese. I told him that McDonald's is probably getting a kickback for using sausage that farmers are paid by the government not to raise.

Anyhoo...I was feeling a bit under-the-weather, a pounding headache going on its 7th hour, with nausea, probably due to the headache. We tooled along Hick's new path for 30 minutes until we hit the main highway, passing McDonald's after McDonald's on this business route. By the time we got to Hick's designated McDonald's, it was 10:20 a.m.

"I guess they'll still be serving breakfast?"

"Yeah. I think  McDonald's serves breakfast all day now."

We parked and scurried inside at the truck stop we use as our last bathroom break on the way out to visit The Pony, and the first one on the way home. Hick got in line at the McDonald's inside. I started out, but a close-parker had rendered my door to A-Cad virtually useless. So I went back in to wait for Hick. Of course there was a problem, and our on-the-go breakfast took 25 minutes to procure.

"They gave me a free soda!" said Hick. Not that he offered me a drink. And also said the wait was for eggs. Seriously? Were they waiting for the chicks to hatch, grow up, and then LAY the eggs? Because I'm pretty sure a truck stop McDonald's should be sure to have eggs ready during the regular breakfast hours.

Anyhoo...we got back on the highway, seven-and-a-half hours still to go, and I unwrapped Hick's long-awaited Sausage Egg McMuffin. While he was chowing down, I unwrapped my own. Huh. It was burnt to a crisp! I do mean crisp. I don't know how you can make an English muffin both charred and crunchy, yet too tough to bite. It defied basic physics.

Biting into that Sausage Egg McMuffin was like trying to bite through a double layer of a butcher's leather apron. You'd think you had a bite, but then the egg and sausage would skitter out the back side, and you'd be left with your teeth unable to penetrate the muffin. It would have been easier for a toothless old cowboy to tear off a hunk of a saddlebag flap. AND, I could have started up a barbecue grill with my crusty black muffin, it having more charcoal in it than a bag of Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes.

By now we were 20 miles up the road, and Hick had finished his own breakfast. He DID say he was sorry, even though he didn't cook it. Going back to hold them accountable was out of the question. And I could either eat it or go hungry. "Oh. Sorry. Mine was burnt, too." I took it apart and showed him. "But nowhere near THAT burnt!" I guess they had left the muffins on the grill top while waiting for the eggs to be laid, hatched, matured, and laid again.

At least I was going to have one of my favorite Grilled Chicken sandwiches for lunch, at Downstream Casino, near Joplin. And Hick had a $10 food credit! By the time we rolled in, it was around 3:00. We ordered and sat down to wait (for what seemed like an extra 10-15 minutes over the usual time) for our little beeper thingy to go off. Hick went to get the food, and you'll never guess what I found.

Sadly, it was not a penny. It was the bun of my chicken sandwich, charred as black at my Sausage Egg McMuffin!!! What are the odds of THAT? Even a camouflage of mayonnaise couldn't obscure the fact that my buns were black! Of course Hick was already halfway done with his. He offered to go get me another one, but I didn't want to waste valuable gambling time. Besides, would YOU want to eat another sandwich, made by the person you'd just complained to and asked for another sandwich? Not this ol' Val.

Hick said he'd just take the bun back, and ask for a new bun, to be handed to him, not to be toasted. Nope. I chowed down on my charred chicken. So disappointing to go all that way and get this. Funny how there was NO SURVEY handed out like the last time we were there.

Also funny how only VAL'S food was burned, and not Hick's, at both restaurants. He couldn't even shenaniganize the serving of the sandwiches, since I was the one who handed out the McMuffins, and Hick didn't have fries with his own chicken sandwich.

It's like lightning struck Val twice. Or at least her food.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Telegraph, Telephone, Tell a Hick

On the way home from visiting The Pony, Hick likes to stop at a little hole-in-the-wall casino in Checotah, Oklahmoa. The casino doesn't have holes in the walls, but it's nothing fancy. Checotah itself doesn't have much claim to fame, except being the hometown of singer Carrie Underwood. Not that she has anything to do with the casino. Or has holes in her walls.

Hick wanted to break up the drive, and I guess he saw a sign along the road, and decided to stop. I think we've been there 3 or 4 times. They never send us any comps in the mail. The last time, we had to get a new player's card. Not that it gives us any benefits. In fact, mine was warped from baking in the console secret compartment in A-Cad, so I didn't even take it in this time. Hick wanted me to get another one, but I didn't see the point, since we don't get comps. the past, we've done okay here. Hick was a big winner once, on a wheel (not of fortune) game. I was a big winner once, on Dancing Drums. The other times, we've lost a minimal amount. So I don't mind going there, though it's not a favorite.

Hick had originally said we'd bypass this little casino this time, because we were a couple hours behind our usual schedule. But then he made the turnoff anyway. Who was I to argue?

Val the high roller entered that little casino (Creek Nation) with $100 in her pocket. I don't know how much Hick had in his. Hick couldn't find his favorite Chili Chili Fire machine, the casino having had the nerve to update their slots. Believe me, if it was just a matter of changing the floor plan, Hick would have found it. The place isn't that big.

Anyhoo...Hick sat down at one of my Dancing Drums, and I at the other. Right off, I won $60, and cashed it out. I went looking for something else to play, but since there were about 3 secruity guards for every player, I did not feel comfortably browsing around the games that interested me in the red-screen area. No need to run a gauntlet of gossiping casino officers to get to the no-armed bandits. I went back to the Dancing Drums, which promptly ate my windfall back to my beginning bankroll.

I lost track of Hick, and went into the front room, where I saw nothing appealing. There was a machine I'd never seen, with columns of money in various denominations. It was a penny machine, minimum bet 33 cents. That's what I played. It was fun enough, giving me bonuses that I'd never seen. In fact, I played the rest of my time on that machine. With only two minutes left until meeting Hick, I upped my bet to $1 (!) and hit a bonus. It played out, and you're not gonna believe this, but I cashed out, and the total I left that hole-in-the-wall casino with was $99. That's right. I had played for 40 minutes, and lost $1. That's close enough to a win for Val!'s the point of the story, now that you've slogged through all those superfluous details.

As we went out the door, Hick held it open for a lady behind us. She was perhaps late 30s/early40s. Younger than me, that's all I notice any more. Hick was being his jovial self.

"There she goes, the winner!"

I didn't hear the lady say anything. I don't know if she smiled or acknowledged Hick, because she was behind me as he held the door open.

"She won SEVENTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS! I was playing right next to her."

It was a cringeworthy moment. The lady went on around us (I was movin' mighty slow) and strode toward her car, which was parked right next to A-Cad. She had her head tucked down, walking briskly.

Now let me just say, as a woman alone at a hole-in-the-wall casino, even at 1:00 on a Thursday afternoon in broad daylight...I would NOT want somebody broadcasting at the top of his lungs that I'd won seventeen hundred dollars. You might as well be waving those hundred dollar bills over your head, hootin' and hollerin' to attract attention to yourself.

Shame on Hick. What happens in the casino stays in the casino.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Sweet, Sweet Lodging

When Hick and I visit The Pony in Norman, Oklahoma, we usually stay at the Holiday Inn Express. The last time I tried to make reservations, it was booked up. We couldn't figure out the demand that week, but LAST week was move-in day for sororities and fraternities at OU. I didn't even try for a room at the Holiday Inn Express, because I knew they'd be full of freshman parents.

Lucky for me, I had an offer for two free nights at Riverwind Casino. It's less than 10 minutes from The Pony's apartment! Even more convenient than the HIE. And cheaper, too, what with it being FREE!

Hick took an alternate route into Norman this time, rather than going to I-35. We swung by to pick up The Pony before heading to check in. After a brief spate of gambling, the three of us went to dinner. I got to pick (pending Pony approval), and chose Golden Corral. Let me just say that it was terrible this time! The only thing good was the rolls and the catfish. No mushrooms on the salad bar. No fried chicken, but about 20 kinds of chicken wings. Hick said it was okay, but without my favorite items, I was disappointed.

Don't you worry about Val! On the five-minute drive back to Riverwind, on the 2-mile section of I-35, we saw a RAINBOW!

Okay, so it's not so much a rainBOW as a rainTWISTER. The shape is atypical for a rainbow. But we could tell what it was. The Pony and I both enjoyed wins at the casino, he at $290, and me at $200. Hick had a moderate loss in the $50 range. The Pony kept all his wins, plus more, the next day, while I ended up $20 down over two days. Easy come, easy go! At least I had all of my original casino bankroll except that $20.

Now here's a tale of Hick's shenanigans. Hick and I each had a key card for the room. I mainly let him use his, or if he wasn't with us, I let The Pony use mine to get us in, so he could set up my new laptop. Wednesday night, we came back from supper, intending to watch Big Brother in the room, then go to the casino. Hick was ahead of us, and he jabbed his card in the lock. The door wouldn't let him in. So we used my card.

Checking out on Thursday morning, Hick said he was taking out the bags. So he kept his card to get back in the room before I went to the desk. I heard him yanking the door handle, then pounding on the door. It's not like I can teleport. It takes my knees a minute to warm up.

"I was on the way! You didn't have to pound on it!"

"Well, my card didn't work again!"

"Doesn't matter now. Give it to me so I can go check us out." Hick tossed his card on the table by mine. Right away, I saw the problem. "Um. I think I know why your card didn't work in the door."

"Why's that?"

"This is your CASINO PLAYERS CARD! Not the hotel door card."

"Oh. Well. I thought it was the right one."

Heh, heh! That Hick is a real card sometimes!

One of the perks of staying at the Riverwind Casino Hotel was the complimentary cookie(s) on the check-in desk. On the way over to the casino Tuesday night, The Pony declined a cookie. I don't know what his problem was. Maybe he was thinking about that entire Oreo Cake awaiting him back in his apartment. Anyhoo...I had a sugar cookie, as did Hick. I was planning to try the chocolate chip, but time got away from me the next day. I didn't want one on the way to breakfast, nor on the way back. And by the time we came in the back door, after dining at a steakhouse with The Pony's best friend (who went AWOL from her sorority rush for a couple hours)...I did not feel like a cookie.

On Thursday morning, when Hick drove A-Cad around to meet me out front, I was offered another sweet treat by the check-out girl.

A Riverwind Casino chocolate bar! It was full size, maybe a little bigger. Like those fundraiser candy bars. Only FREE, not outrageously priced. Here it is on the dash of A-Cad. I'd have taken a picture of Hick's, too, but he was devouring it at the time.

Free cookies, free chocolate, free lodging. You can't beat that with a stick!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

From the "Maybe This Is Irony?" Files of Val Thevictorian

It's no secret that Val is a goody-goody. Not so much in the area of interpersonal skills, but in the OBEYS THE RULES department. Val is the kid the teacher would choose to write names on the board if she stepped out of the room. Yes. I know you hate our kind. may recall that I've had ample opportunity to abscond with free soda and stick it to Walmart. I figure it would be just desserts for that corporation, what with all the rotten onions and potatoes I've found in my purchases after getting them home. And the damage done by their ham-fisted checkers flinging my Gourmet Lollipops in first, clanging them on the metal plate at the base of the bag carousel, and making sure to set heavy boxed items with sharp corners (such as a Chef Boyardee pizza kit) on top of my carefully selected bananas. Not to mention the loss of one jar of Alfredo Sauce due to faulty bagging techniques and substandard plastic in their bags.

Yes, I could have reaped my reparations in free soda. But I did not. I always remind the checker if she forgets to scan my soda. Which I drape on the sides of the cart like all seasoned Walmart shoppers. Friday's checker came around the end of her lair first thing. Scanned those beverages first. She's the one who always comments about the carbs and calories in my items. Not very endearing, but at least she is thorough, and bags appropriately.

Imagine my surprise, upon approaching the exit, to have a greeter accost me!

"Ma'am. May I see your receipt for the soda?"


Of all the people she could have chosen to make an example of, she chose VAL the honest THEVICTORIAN!!!


I know I'm not legally obligated to show that receipt. Or so I've heard conspiracy-minded people tell on YouTube. That they just keep walking, knowing they've paid, and don't think they have to answer to a greeter. Perhaps just wanting to cause a scene and prove their righteousness. Or wait to be touched, and sue Walmart. Not this ol' Val. I watch LIVE PD. They don't have to call the cops on this bad girl.

The greeter seemed a bit disappointed that I'd paid for my soda. Maybe she was new. She was only about half the age of the regular greeters. I guess she views herself as some kind of Rambo vigilante super-greeter, fitter than the arthritic, cane-leaning greeters working to supplement their Social Security.

Really, though. I go out of my way to remind the checkers to scan my soda, and I'm the one stopped for possible soda theft. That sound you hear isn't thunder. It's The Universe, chuckling.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Val Is CENTSing a Jab From the Universe This Week

There are coincidences, and then there are coincidences.

As you know, I was planning a visit with The Pony earlier this week. That means the making of Chex Mix and an Oreo Cake. I budgeted my time carefully, for maximum efficiency and freshness. I put off baking that cake until Monday, which left the Chex Mix preparation on Sunday. I had purchased my ingredients a week in advance. All systems were GO.

Of course I also planned my efforts around my daily 44 oz Diet Coke. Nobody wants to park their magical elixir in FRIG II for 2.5 hours while stirring Chex Mix every 15 minutes. A 44 oz Diet Coke is sipped leisurely in the dark basement lair, not gulped for rehydration with your head in the oven.

I even told Hick to make sure I was up by 9:00 on Sunday, the plan being to have that Chex Mix done, shower, and leave for town (and my magical elixir) by noon. I set out my pans, layered all the ingredients, and was ready to pour on the Worcestershire Sauce, oil, garlic powder, and garlic salt at 9:25. Yep, I was cooking with gas, people, my electric oven already pre-heated to 250 degrees.

I went to the cabinets for my final four ingredients. WAIT A MINUTE! That can't be right! I had a new bottle of vegetable oil, new shakers of garlic powder and garlic salt, but ONLY 1/3 OF A BOTTLE OF WORCESTERSHIRE! Of course I checked the pantry. Where I found a plethora of BBQ sauce, salad dressing, Heinz 57, steak sauce, mustard, and ketchup...none of which are ingredients of Chex Mix. Not an extra bottle of Worcestershire Sauce anywhere!

Well. That threw a monkey wrench into my best-laid plans. There was nothing I could do but turn off the oven, jump in the shower, and drive to town for Worcestershire Sauce. You can't make Chex Mix without it!

At Save A Lot, the whole front row of parking was taken. So I had to drive around to the row facing those spaces. I hate it when that happens. I parked T-Hoe and dashed inside, snagging three bottles Worcestershire Sauce, paying with my debit card. Which was kind of embarrassing, since it only cost three dollars and change. Still, it was better than breaking a twenty.

I came out swinging my bag of Worcestershire, heading for T-Hoe's rear, and I SAW IT!

A penny waiting just for me, in the empty space beside T-Hoe. So hard was that penny to see from the other direction, I almost lost it. I had to go back to T-Hoe's front bumper and look again, waiting for the glare.

Face down it was, as most of my pennies are wont to be. But you're not gonna believe this! When I got that penny home, and checked with my magnificent magnifying glass...I discovered it was a 1998. That's the year The Pony was born. So let's backtrack. I was making Chex Mix for The Pony, discovered I was out of Worcestershire, and had to make an unscheduled emergency trip to town before I could continue. Putting me in town a couple hours before I was planning to go, at a store I didn't plan to visit, in a parking space I never park in. I'm pretty sure The Universe was snickering.

MONDAY, August 6th, I had to go shopping for a new laptop. Hick, who's cutting into my scratcher action, had won $15 on a ticket he bought himself, and asked me to cash it in and get him three more of that kind. From three different stores. Which put me at the Original Waterside Mart.

I glanced down and spied a dime! This was a 2002, face up.

Poor Hick. He won nothing on any of his three tickets. But I won $15 on a different one I bought myself there. PLUS I found a free dime!

Whoa, Nelly! Hold those presses again! Of course I found MORE pennies on my SATURDAY, Aug. 11, trip to town. Thus negating all the hard work that went into getting this tale ready to publish automatically. Uh huh. Set for 3:37, and I found more pennies at 1:27 and 1:28. I know, right? Future Pennyillionaire problems!

Both were in the Backroads Casey's.

This one I spotted on the mat as I walked in, but since no customers were waiting at the counter, I went ahead and handed a trainee my scratcher winners to cash in. Then I got my pic to prove it happened.

Hard to tell from this view, but it was FACE UP, a 2012. Would you believe I maneuvered my phone 7 ways to Sunday to get THIS photo? The sunlit day wreaked havoc with my penny-picture.

While I was waiting for the trainee to learn how to scan the winners, I noticed something out of my straight-down peripheral vision.

Please excuse the intruding toe and shirt-tail of Val.

It was a face-down 1982.

Whew! I hate cutting my publishing time so close. Oh, wait! There's no Law of Blogging that says I have to put something out by a specific time. It's just that giving myself a deadline gives me a sense of having an ersatz schedule during my retirement years. If this had published itself before I added the last two, it's not like I'd been struck by lightning. Those are the kind of odds that happen on a trip to Oklahoma to visit The Pony.

For 2018: Pennies  # 79, 80.
For 2018: Dimes  # 13.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 157, 158.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Dime # 19.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.