Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The PowerBall Crackpot

Remember that PowerBall drawing Saturday night? The one for a rumored $750 million, which was downgraded to a mere $687 million? The drawing that was won by two people, from Iowa and New York? Yeah. That one.

You know I don't live in Iowa or New York. Nor have I visited Iowa (recently) or New York (ever). So it's pretty clear that such a fortune did not find its way into Val's casino bankroll.

Way back when I was still working, my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel and I both played the PowerBall. We each bought one ticket for each drawing. That's back when there were fewer numbers in the pot, and tickets only cost $1 each. Even a teacher can afford to spend $8 a month on PowerBall. Mabel and I had an agreement. We would split the jackpot if we won. No matter whose ticket was a winner.

Yes, I'm pretty sure that such a verbal agreement would not hold up in court. But Mabel and I both adhere to our promises. I would not have made such a deal with any other faculty member. Oh, we were free to buy an extra ticket if we had the urge, which was not part of the deal. Just so long as we designated which was which before the numbers were drawn. That's what I did, anyway, when the jackpot was large. I don't know if Mabel ever bought any extra tickets.

Anyhoo...every now and then, one of us would have some numbers come up. Of course we'd go to work and announce, "Well, I won the PowerBall last night!" Meaning, literally, that we'd won THE POWER BALL. One number, designated as the PowerBall. Yeah. We were all feisty like that. Remember, we were teachers. We had precious few outlets to kick up our heels. Back then, the PowerBall paid $2. Now, it pays $4.

Well...I'm here to announce to you that last Saturday, I won the PowerBall!

I was lucky enough to also have a few of the regular numbers. Three, in fact. Which paid me $100. My odds of winning that amount that way were 1 in 14,494.11, same as it is every drawing. That doesn't mean I'm going to start playing PowerBall again. I might buy a single ticket when the jackpot goes over $250 million.

I sent a picture of the ticket to my sister the ex-mayor's wife. I know how much she enjoys hearing about my winnings! I also told her the current drawing is only the standard $40 million, and I don't mess with such a low jackpot. To which she dryly replied, "I understand. Who would want to win only $40 million?" That Sis! Sometimes, she thinks she's funny.

Shh...I don't think we need to tell Mabel. I'm pretty sure we were done with that deal when the price went up to $2 a ticket. Or when Mabel retired before I did. Or when I won more than $2.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

How Many Devil's Handmaidens and Manservants Does It Take to Exchange a Pinwheel?


As you may recall, I was overcharged at Walmart on Sunday. On Monday, I packed up my troubles in an old kit bag overpriced pinwheels (and an empty pinwheel container showing the correct price) in a Walmart sack, and headed to The Devil's Playground to cause a stir.

I'm mad as Not-Heaven, and I'm not going to take it anymore! I've bitten the bullet eaten the onion that was the only good one in a bag of four, and tossed the three rotten ones off the back porch. Several times. Then quit buying onions from The Devil. I've also taken a loss on their rotten potatoes, and refused to buy bagged lettuce that was already showing brown spots with 4 days still to go before expiration. I told Hick I was NOT going to eat this $6 that I was overcharged on pinwheels! He fired me up like the crowd in The Legend of Billie Jean. Fair is fair!

Guarding the gates of The Devil's Playground was one of his Handmaidens. She was a bit long-in-the-tooth to be termed a "maiden," but at least she was a single-headed, two-legged, tailless version of Cerberus. She was actually quite polite, and also helpful. "You'll need to ask for a manager or a supervisor. The girls at the Customer Service desk won't be able to help you alone."

Lucky for me, only one other customer needed servicing, and he got his happy ending as I walked up. He nearly mowed me down in his haste to leave, but he DID apologize, in spite of his Millennialness. I think it helps when the Millennial has a little cowboy in him. Or is at least wearing one's boots.

The Devil's Handmaiden working the desk got all flustered. I told her as soon as she asked if she could help me, "Probably not. The lady at the door said I'd need a supervisor or a manager." The Devil's Manservant working beside her stepped over to help. And thus commenced the most ill-fated attempt to accomplish a mission since the Keystone Cops.

I tried to be helpful, pointing out the apparent wrong label, for SUBS, not PINWHEELS. And the package weight of 20 oz, not 5 oz. I'm pretty sure they finally understood that. At least the Manservant, who I noticed later had a badge proclaiming him to be a manager of some sort. They were quite polite, and seemed as if they truly wanted to solve my problem. Which was quickly becoming THEIR problem, since the register did not compute what they wanted to do, which was void the two $5.98 transactions, and replace them with two $2.98 transactions. Manservant knew what he was doing, but technology wouldn't let him do it.

While they were fiddling about and manhandling my pinwheels, a new Handmaiden showed up. Manservant asked her opinion, her being higher up The Devil's chain of command than he, and she agreed that he was handling matters correctly. She touched my shoulder (Val is not a touchy-feely person!!!) and said, "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I'm on my way over there now, and I'll check the shelves and make sure they know."

Manservant was pecking away at that cash register like Nick Burns, Your Company's Computer Guy, but without the attitude. THEN he pulled a CYA, and told his companion Handmaiden, "This works for me!" At which point he MADE IT RAIN!

By my calculations, I was due back six dollars plus tax. That's for the difference in two pinwheels at $5.98 each rather than the proper $2.98 each. I'm a virtual calculator, you know. My middle name might as well be CASIO, because I'm that SHARP, and I ain't no TEXAS instrument. Heh, heh, get it?

I think I was due a refund of $6.35. I have no idea how the Devil's Handmaidens and Manservant arrived at my refund of $9.70. But I'm TAKIN' IT!

I'm quite relieved that they didn't hand me $6.66 for my trouble.

Not only did I make a profit on the error of The Devil's ways, but my faith in his henchmen was strengthened. It was a good example of CUSTOMER SERVICE by that Manservant, who passed out the cash to placate me, even though the transaction didn't fit within the narrow confines of The Devil's policies.

Monday, October 29, 2018

How Conveeeeeenient!

Val's alter ego has been know to refer to Walmart as The Devil's Playground. It's a moniker that could be referring to their business practices, their customer service, their merchandise, the behavior of their customers, or the once-or-twice behavior of Val's then-young children, who were shown the error of their ways forthwith.

Yes, since Sam Walton kicked the bucket, I'm of the opinion that the person running Walmart is the devil in disguise. Not even in disguise! Just the plain old devil. My Sunday shopping experience did nothing to change my mind.

Let the record show that Val loves her Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheels from the Walmart Deli. She has them for lunch every day. A typical trip to Walmart garners her up to four lunches. Yeah. I don't care if they go a couple days past date. I just peel off the wilty lettuce. I've been buying these pinwheels for a long time. I am well aware of their price. $2.98. For that, you get four pinwheels, which are chicken and cheddar cheese, with (hopefully) a little strip of bacon, and a piece of romaine lettuce, wrapped in a flour tortilla spread with ranch dressing.

Sunday, I only picked up two pinwheels, because I had two still at home in FRIG II to eat first. When I wrote down the amount of my receipt in T-Hoe on the parking lot, I thought the total was a little high. So I looked over my receipt, trying to tell myself it was just the pack of AA batteries, and the 9-roll back of toilet paper, and the 3-pack of Puffs With Lotion that jacked up the total. THEN I noticed that my pinwheels were not on the receipt, but something listed as SUBS was. Nuh uh. I didn't buy SUBS. And the price was $5.98 EACH!

I was pretty mad, but not mad enough to load all my stuff back out of T-Hoe and into the cart and go back inside and stand in line at the service center. It was time for the after-church rush, and I wasn't in a mood for waiting in line to argue.

Well! I should have at least gotten out and looked in my bags in the back of T-Hoe. Because when I got home, I saw that indeed, my OLD pinwheels were marked with the right price, but the NEW ones were marked $5.98. In a very fishy manner.

Here's the old ones, the regular label:

Apparently, pinwheels cost the outrageous unit price of $9.54 per pound, which is not such a big deal when you're only buying five oz of them. You can see here that I have already sliced open my label for lunch, before I took the picture. Still, you can see the dates, the price, and the weight.

Compare that to Sunday's pinwheels:

Still unopened, their label says they cost $4.78 per pound. So you'd think they'd be cheaper, right? WRONG! Not when you're being charged for 20 oz !!! Seriously? In what world could those very same pinwheels in that very same package weigh 20 oz ?

I'm so mad! I'm stomping my foot right this very minute, and I swear, no kids better try to walk across my lawn and/or pull up campaign signs!

The checker had no way of knowing. She just scanned it as packaged. I've had this problem before, and noticed the $5.98 price before putting it in my cart. I asked a worker in the deli about it, why the shelf sticker said $2.98, and the product said $5.98. The only (unsatisfactory) answer I got was, "I guess they went up." At that point, I put it back on the shelf, and didn't buy that day. The next several shopping trips revealed the price to be back at $2.98, so I forgot about it.

Yes, the devil has ripped me off for $6 on those two packages of pinwheels. I'm going to eat my pinwheels, and not drag them across the county to visit the devil. But I AM going to take back my receipt and the washed-out empty packages, and demand to know why I was overcharged. Looks like somebody put the wrong label on the packages. How conveeeeeenient!

The devil shall rue the day he played fast and loose with Val's pinwheels.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Maybe I'll Make My Own Late-Night Infomercial

Once I settled down from the excitement of discovering my newly-found penny was STUCK TO A DIME, I set about finding a method to separate them. I couldn't read the dates. The penny's date side was stuck to the dime, and the dime was so dirty that I couldn't tell which side I was looking at.

I'd just put a Tupperware container in the sink to soak, filling it with water and a drop of hand soap that is currently Winter: Gentle Foaming Hand Soap. According to the side label, its fragrances include Fresh Pine, Snowy Citrus, and White Woods. (Maybe those are other versions of their soap, because I'm not sure what White Woods smell like.)

It's one of last year's Christmas presents from Sis, from Bath and Body Works. It comes out of the spout as foam. So little of it was in that Tupperware container the you couldn't even tell. I did it mainly to have the film of the food soak away from the sides of the container. I think that the food must have contained a mystery ingredient!

After 5 minutes, I went back to fish out my 11-cent combo, to see if I could discern the dates. WELL! I most certainly COULD! The coins were SHINING! They had separated. The gunk had come off!

Take a gander at those magnificent specimens! Like I mentioned yesterday, the penny was a 1991, and the dime was a 1999. Yet they look brand-new! Sorry about the blurry quality. My hand-me-down Genius phone has issues with the flash. But at least it has a lens over its camera, unlike my last Genius hand-me-down phone, which just had a hole there.

Anyhoo...I was thrilled with how they came out! If I only knew what the secret ingredient was, I could market this on late-night infomercial. You know, for all the hordes of people picking up pennies for their own Future Pennyillionaire collections. The quest, however, might be like that of the Amazon Rain Forest cure for cancer in that Sean Connery film Medicine Man. Hopefully, I wouldn't end up with an indelible blue mark on my forehead like Lorraine Bracco.

I considered all the ingredients from the meal that had been in the Tupperware container. It was noodles, mushrooms, peas, canned chicken breast, minced garlic, and shredded parmesan cheese, with some margarine and Alfredo Sauce. I'm betting it was the garlic...

I had a dark-looking nickel in my spending coins that I buy from Hick's collections found in storage units. I put it in the solution. Shockingly, it did NOT get any cleaner.

I guess my infomercial will have to wait.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Val Really Should Have Been More InCENTSed

Didn't find my first penny this week until WEDNESDAY, October 24th. That happens to be the birthday of my sister the ex-mayor's wife, but I don't give her any credit for my penny. Which I found at the counter of The Gas Station Chicken Store while waiting for an elderly man in sensible shoes to pay for his gas. He had stepped over to the side counter to use the card scanner.

This gave me the perfect opportunity to take my picture and snatch the penny. The Man Owner was standing near the second register, counting out his money. I suppose his wife was hogging the counting house and also the bread-and-honey. Anyhoo...I got the picture and put the penny in my shirt pocket.

It was a 1997. Face down, of course!

While I was standing there, perusing the latest taste-tempting treats they'd set upon the counter, having already mentally made my scratcher choices...a girl in hot pants walked in. Yeah, back in the 70s, we called them hot pants. I suppose in the 80s they became Daisy Dukes. Now they're just really short shorts. I only noticed because of her way of walking, kind of a flouncing gate, like she thought she was ALL THAT.

Imagine my surprise when the Sensibly-Shod Eldergentleman left, and Flouncy stepped right up to the counter, flinging her five one-dollar bills at Stern Old Clerk! Actually, Stern Old Clerk might have been even more surprised than I.

"Here's five dollars for my gas!" said Flouncy, forcing her limp currency at Old Lady Clerk.

"Oh. Uh. Did you already pump?"

"No. Not yet."

Well, you see, The Gas Station Chicken Store is old-school. You pump BEFORE you come in to pay. I guess Stern Old Clerk didn't feel like educating Flouncy, because she looked at her pump reader thingy, and said, "Okay, it's ready." Knowing full well that Flouncy would have been able to pump, whether she had paid yet or not. Flouncy flounced out, and Stern Old Clerk turned to me.

"I'm sorry about that."

"Oh, that's okay. Not your fault. It's these young whippersnappers these days!"

"Actually...well...I won't go into it."

Seems like all manner of whippersnappers give Stern Old Clerk reason to hold her tongue these days.

On FRIDAY, October 26th, I barely spotted a meant-for-me penny under the counter of the Casey's out by my bank. I almost didn't take it, but seeing as how this Casey's is high-drama, and two clerks were in the middle of a personal-business discussion...

I snapped a pic, then a closeup, while the gal was ringing up my gas and two scratchers.

I almost regretted this face-down 1991 Lincoln when my fingers came in contact. It was covered with grime, and felt heavier and thicker than normal. But I dropped it in my shirt pocket and made my getaway.

Once home, trying to see the dirtied date, I discovered the reason for this Abe's different-abled-ness.

He was piggybacking a dime!!! More details on their separation tomorrow.

For 2018: Penny  # 112, 113.
For 2018: Dime   # 15.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.
For 2018: Quarter still at #1.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 190, 191.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Dime # 21.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Quarter #1.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Benille Vanilli

Some days, I'm not really sure what Hick is telling me. That's how he talks, you know. And sometimes even emphasizes, "I'm just telling you!" Hick is one of those people who butt in, and continue to talk over somebody, not necessarily respecting organic pauses, or the give-and-take concept of a conversation. Most often when his conversation partner is Val.

I'd stopped by the BARn on Wednesday afternoon, because I saw Hick driving across the field, and I had a pair of tubey things for him. They're not as good as my original tubey thing, but I found them on Amazon and got them within two days. I'd show a picture, but Hick spirited them away forthwith to his Storage Unit Store.

Anyhoo...the minute I pulled T-Hoe into the field, Hick drove his TrailBlazer over in front of the BARn, and ran inside. Huh. That's a fine how-do-you-do! I hollered to see what he was up to. You never know. He might have been running to hide from me!

"Hey! What are you doing?"

"Going to get some oil."

Well. A couple days ago, I mentioned to Hick how T-Hoe is falling apart. His driver's side mirror doesn't fold in and out automatically anymore. I close up the mirrors to get in and out of the garage. Oh, I could make it with them out. But if Hick is ever going to spirit T-Hoe away while I'm still snoozing, I don't want the mirrors out.

Hick broke off the right one backing out a few years ago, after a short stop by the homestead for medicine when I was being rushed to the city hospital from the Backraods hospital in the back of an ambulance with multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. And when I was released three days later, he tried to tell me that a vehicle on the hospital parking lot hit it. Then confessed to his intended insurance scam. Which is neither here nor there, merely a rabbit trail to reveal why Hick was running for the oil. For T-Hoe's wonky side mirror.

Hick informed me that he was on his way to the Storage Unit Store. He showed me a picture of his wares (that I shared yesterday).

"Oh. You haven't sold your Grandfather Clock."

"No. I've had a lot of people look at it."

"I'm sure they're not planning on buying a big item when they stop by. Maybe with Christmas coming up, somebody might want it."

"Yeah. I put it on Buy/Sell/Trade. With my Vanilli I've been trying to sell."

"Has anybody looked at it?"

"Yeah. Two people wanted to know more. One guy said his brother-in-law has been looking for one. Since duck season is about to start."

"Wait. What? Why would he need a Grandfather Clock for duck season?"

"Not the clock! The Vanilli."

"Oh. Well. We were talking about the clock."

"YOU were talking about the clock. I was talking about the Vanilli."

"WHAT is a Vanilli?

"A shotgun! B-e-n-i-l-l-e. It's a 12-gauge. Shoots a 3-and-a-half inch shell, when most of them shoot a 2-and-a-half to 3-inch shell. Costs around $600. I want to sell mine for $400."

Let the record show that when I looked it up, the true spelling of Vanilli/Benille is Benelli. You're welcome. Oh, and the oil that Hick was getting for T-Hoe's mirror? Was a can of WD40 with that straw sprayer thingy.

I'm pretty sure this conversation tells you no more about us than you already knew...

Thursday, October 25, 2018

But He WON'T Take American Express

Get your cash ready! Hick will be open for business Friday/Saturday/Sunday. He'll take your lint-covered coins and your limp dollar bills and he's been known to break a hundred...but he WON'T take American Express.

In case you were wondering why Hick would rather reach into my tubey thing rather than pull plastic bags out of another plastic bag...maybe this view of his Storage Unit Store will provide the answer. I don't know why he took the picture. He mentioned on Wednesday that he was going up there to straighten some things up.

It looks like straightening is in order, until you consider that he moves all this forefront stuff outside when he's open. He made the fishing pole rack himself, and has had other vendors ask him to make them one. I'm pretty sure he barters for goods, rather than contracting in cash.

Anyhoo...I have no idea why he would leave his Walmart sack full of Walmart sacks on the floor in the back, when he could find a place to hang it up front. Though maybe that would be taking up valuable merchandising space.

Zoom in if you feel the urge to browse. You never know what you'll find inside.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Sentimental Old Fool

Hick is a sentimental old fool. I'm pretty sure you already know about the "old" and "fool" part. I've done my best to keep you informed. But you may not truly understand how sentimental Hick can be. Take my latest auction gift. I'm not even going to pull a Henny Youngman and finish that with "PLEASE!"

That's right. Hick bought me a milk bottle. Without any milk. He paid $4 for it. Couldn't even wait to get it home, but sent me a text with the picture, from the auction:

"Milk bottle from mountain grove"

What he meant, of course, was a milk bottle from Mountain Grove. The town of my first teaching job. Oh, I didn't know Hick back then. And I've only mentioned it in passing. But that Hick has a mind like a steel trap, by cracky! So he just HAD to have this commemorative milk bottle.

I didn't know anyone from this dairy specifically. We had a lot of kids who lived on farms. That's about all there is in Mountain Grove. Except the town square. And a Walmart. We used to get out of school early on rainy days, so the buses could get kids home before the creeks came up. The town is midway across the state, in southern Missouri, on Highway 60. Right at an hour east of Springfield, if you drive the speed limit.

Yes, Hick bought me a sentimental milk bottle. He left it on the kitchen counter for a week. I asked if I was supposed to wash it, and he said, "No. I got it for you." I replied that it was a nice thought, but I don't really collect milk bottles. A couple days later, my commemorative milk bottle was gone from the counter, and perched high above my head on the top of the kitchen cabinets, where I can't drink in its full beauty, nor get a better picture for you. At least it's a companion for the dust bunnies.

That Hick. He's just a sentimental old fool.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Hick Desires My Tubey Thing

It's getting so discouraging. I can't have one thing to myself around here! Hick wants to get his grubby hands on anything that catches his eye. It doesn't matter if it belongs to someone else. HE DEMANDS IT!

This afternoon, he stopped by the house to stow away his prescriptions, on the way back to town to sell a lady his collection of DVD movies found in storage units. As he passed through the kitchen, me having already carried in groceries and made supper for later and at that very moment elbow-deep in dishwater...Hick saw the plastic Walmart bags that I'd set aside for his Storage Unit Store. I was planning to walk around the counter and put them in a bag that I fill for him, once I was done with the dishes.

"You know that thing you have hanging in the laundry room? The tube that holds the Walmart sacks? I need one of those for my Storage Unit Store. It would be easier than getting a bag out of that sack of bags."

Yeah. Because such a task is SO VERY TIRING, I suppose, reaching into a bag to grab another bag. Bags that have been carried into the house, emptied of their contents, and stowed away in another such bag for Hick to pick up at his leisure and drive to his Storage Unit Store.

"Well...I don't know where you'll find one of those. Maybe at a flea market? Or a church bazaar? Or Goodwill?"

"Where did you get yours?"

"I'm pretty sure my mom gave it to me. I don't know if she made it, or got it at one of her church sales. I've had it a long time."

"Well, if you can't find me one, I'll just take that one."

"NO. You won't."

"Why? You don't use it anymore."

"I don't know why you'd say THAT. Why wouldn't I use it anymore? Have Walmart and Save A Lot and Country Mart stopped putting merchandise in plastic bags? Have I stopped shopping?"

"No. But you give those bags to me."

"Until you have a pile of them, and then I put them in my tubey thing. Besides, when I NEED a plastic bag, I go get it out of my tubey thing. My chores haven't stopped, just because you have a Storage Unit Store."

"Oh. Well. Okay. But I need one."

"You're not getting mine. My mom gave it to me. I'm still using it."

SHEESH! Hick's like the locust or army ant of Storage Unit Store proprietors. Nothing is safe when he passes through.

Monday, October 22, 2018


Halloween is just around the corner, so I felt like sharing my personal horror story with you. As you might imagine, it involves Hick.

Let the record show that we're trying to coordinate holiday visits with Genius and The Pony. Not Halloween, of course. That's not a big holiday for us. The boys are both getting care packages for that, even though I had contemplated not sending one to now-adult Genius. But then he said he wouldn't mind one, just smaller.

Back to our holiday plans. The Pony requires our assistance in traveling 9 hours by car. Okay. Maybe he doesn't REQUIRE it, like Genius implies, when he says, "What are you going to do, drive him around until he's 40?" No. We don't drive him around. We meet him halfway, and I ride 5 hours with him to keep him awake. As you may recall, it was only TWO YEARS ago that The Pony totaled his car on the way home for Thanksgiving. Last year, we went to spend Thanksgiving with HIM, because Genius had plans to arrive later in the weekend for our at-home feast.

Anyhoo...Genius had also intimated that he wouldn't be coming home for Thanksgiving OR Christmas (as we know it) this year. Now that he's a workin' man, he doesn't have the college month off between semesters. In fact, he has 17 days per year of vacation time, and uses half of that each summer to work in the IT department at Missouri Boys State. Dang those Millennials and their giving back mindset! He apparently has social plans with some other young professionals over Christmas, which precludes the family gathering. So he suggested CasinoPalooza 3 a couple weeks before Christmas, with a caveat that he MIGHT make it home one night over the holidays.

Hick and I were ruminating on these developments, along with Hick interjecting thoughts about his Storage Unit Store.

"We still have you mom's bedroom set over in the BARn. It's been there since I moved Genius to Kansas City. I'm pretty sure he won't want it anymore, now that he has his own furniture."

"Yeah. I don't think it will fit in his room here. You know. For the couple nights a year that he might visit. I told him we'd been planning on getting a bigger bed to put in that bedroom instead of the twin."

"All we need is a headboard. And a mattress. I've got a frame over in the BARn. Even your mom's frame would work. They're adjustable. Heh, heh. Maybe we'll just use one of those air mattress beds! I've got a couple of them, still new in the box, from my storage units. I could put together a wooden frame, and put that on it."

"I am NOT going to make Genius sleep on an air mattress when he comes home! Not even a fancy one, on a wooden frame! Even though the only time he'll probably sleep here is to settle our estate after we're dead."

"I know a guy at one of my stores I go to who has a bunch of headboards. Cheap."

"Yeah. That part won't matter. Oh, and next time I go to Walmart, I'm going to get a couple of new towels. Just to have them while The Pony and maybe Genius are home."

"I don't think you need new towels. Our towels are fine."


Our towels are the same towels I bought when I got my first teaching job. Let that sink in for a moment. Val. Retired. Using towels from her first year of teaching.

Let the record show that the year was 1981. Our towels are 37 YEARS OLD! Lest you think that we blot our glistening post-shower bodies (hope you weren't eating while you're reading this) with threadbare, see-though scraps of vintage cotton...those towels have held up pretty well. They were originally SEARS BEST, a set of 8 thirsty bath towels, in assorted colors, with accompanying washcloths. Rollin'-in-first-year-teacher's-salary dough, Val splurged on the good stuff.

Maybe you remember back when Sears had good stuff. My dad would only buy SEARS KENMORE appliances. Some of which lasted as long as my towels. So don't be all snooty, looking down your collective proboscises at Val and her hillbilly linens. point is the HORROR of Hick thinking it's okay for Genius to sleep on an air mattress in a homemade frame (perhaps getting a splinter in his pampered skin)...and perfectly reasonable to deny me two new Walmart towels, since 37-year-old towels are just fine.

I'm pretty sure your hair is standing on end by now, at the HORROR Val endures on a daily basis. I'm even more sure that none of you will be dropping by for an overnight visit.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A 20-Minute Sure Thing (Part 2)

When we last convened, Hick was going under the knife for eyelid thingies at his ophthalmologist's office. His appointment was for 8:05, and I had just returned at 10:00, from a sortie to the credit union for financial business.

Well. I'd read all my reading material in the first 40 minutes of waiting, once they called Hick back for that 20-minute procedure. I should have brought more. Like my hardcover unabridged tome of The Stand, by Stephen King. Without it, I had to be satisfied with people-watching. There was no shortage of material for that! I had two good eyes, and more old folks than a casino on Senior Buffet day! I swear, that office was like a clown car. I swear those people they called back were walking around the building and coming back in the door. Of course I couldn't help overhearing conversations. Old people talk kind of loud. I had tuned them out, until I heard, "I died."

Yeah. That kind of makes you prick up your ears like a Doberman patrolling a lumberyard overnight. Here's the guy's tale.

"I had heart surgery a few years back. I died on the table. My doctor went out to the waiting room to tell my son and wife. That's the sad part. He was out there telling them when the nurse ran out and said, 'We got him back!' I have the most beautiful memory of being dead. I was standing by a big body of water, like a lake or ocean. Water as far as you could see. There was a hand on my shoulder, and I smelled roses. I heard a voice in my ear, and saw a hand wave toward the water. 'Do you know what that is?' It pointed to a black hole across the water. I said no. 'That's heaven.' It was the most peaceful thing I ever saw. I said, 'Let's go!' And he said, 'No. It's not time.' I was kind of upset right at the moment, because I really wanted to go. But I came back. 

For the past four years, I've been really involved in the church. Oh, I'd had religious studies before that. But this really spurred me to get involved more. Sometimes now, if I'm around roses, I get a whiff of that same smell. It's beautiful, and I'm ready to go. I tell people about it, and they think I'm crazy. But I know what I saw. I've heard that when a person is in a coma, they have some strong dreams, and I guess this was one. But I'll never forget it."

Well. What do you say to that? Good thing he wasn't talking to me.

Anyhoo...I waited some more for Hick. It was 10:30. I started to worry that something might have gone wrong. Or maybe he went out the back and forgot to come back in the front! The office gals were talking about it being almost lunch time. One was only having peanut butter and crackers, because the night before, she ate something too spicy, and it still felt like it was in the back of her throat. Huh. She might want to see an otolaryngologist.

At 11:00, Hick came walking out. No bandage. Said his ophthalmologist cut three little growths off his eyelid. With a knife. Hick had originally thought he was going to use a laser. I had asked how he'd keep the laser from injuring Hick's eye if he moved wrong. Because Hick only has ONE, you know. Hick said that it hurt at one point, and he knows that the ophthalmologist knew it hurt, because the ophthalmologist asked if he was okay. He's supposed to put ointment on it four times a day

I told Hick that I thought the 3-hour cataracts were out of that office ahead of HIM! A 20-minute procedure my A$$. Those ophthalmologist probably bill by the hour.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Rapid DesCENT of Val's Future Pennyillionaire Profits

Seems like only last week, I was raking in 5 pennies without even trying. Now I have fallen on hard times. One single solitary cent placed itself in my path this week, thus preventing the shut-out. And not until FRIDAY, October 19th, in Casey's.

Face down, of course. A 2015. I didn't know that until I got it home under my magnifying glass. Huh. That's the year my mom died. And I heard that song on the radio on the way home. "Holes in the Floor of Heaven." The one that always makes me think of her.

A man held the door open for me to enter. Unlike that OTHER Casey's where the kid pulled the door closed behind him, like it would keep me out. He must have been talking to the Irate Donut Man, who also accosted me at that same store.

Anyhoo...I thanked the door-holder, an elderly man perhaps younger than myself. I stepped aside politely, so he could do his business ahead of me, while I browsed the scratcher case. HELLO, PENNY! That's when I found it. As I was taking my picture before the harvest, another man with a cup of coffee got in line. So I mosied back behind him, understanding the concept of A LINE.

A new checker came on, and said she could help someone, but nobody moved! I gestured to my door-holder, and the coffee man, and said they were ahead of me. Coffee Man said, "What? I don't have my hearing aids in." So I pointed him to the new checker.

The world of the elderly is so much more polite. Except that Irate Donut Man.

NOOO! One Stop-the Presses comrade has been left behind!

About an hour ago, in the very same Casey's, I saw a penny on the floor, just under the gum rack at the register closest to the door. I got in line, smug with self-satisfaction, knowing that penny was soon to be resting in my shirt pocket, on the way to join his brethren in the Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune goblet on my kitchen counter.

Dang the customer service at this convenience store! One of the newer girls opened the second register, and said she would help me. I didn't want her help! I wanted to wait behind that one old man and get my penny! But I'm a conformer. I stepped over and handed her my three winning scratchers that I was trading in.

New Gal was SO SLOW. After scanning each ticket, she announced my winnings. NOBODY does that! Not in any of the convenience stores I frequent. First of all, the amount comes up on the lottery monitor screen thingy, showing the amount of winnings. Secondly, they know some people don't want their winnings announced to people in line behind them. But no. New Gal acted like she was announcing a grand MegaMillions win. She said, "That's five dollars. This one won five dollars. That's a five-dollar winner."

I was tapping my foot in frustration. I figured if she'd just get on with it, I could get my picture and my penny, once that old man finished up. I told her my new selections. She repeated them. Then asked, "Just one of each?" YES!!! Hurry it up, girly! Who buys more that one ticket off a roll at the same time? Well. Many people, actually. But not VAL! That's just settling for a loser right there, while trying to buy enough that you come upon a winner.

SHEESH! New Gal laid them down one at a time by the register, going back to the case after the next one. A manager slowed her even further, to remind her that she hadn't cleaned the bathroom or dumped the trash yet. Just as she was ringing it up, so she could tell me NO CHARGE, because I bought the amount I cashed in...a new customer stepped up to the vacated first register, with his pointy-toed cowboy boot on my rightful penny!

I gave up. There's approaching the edge of looking like a weirdo, and then there's jumping over it and plummeting into the abyss while screaming IMAWEIRDOOOOO!

Even Steven must have set aside that penny for someone who needs it more than me.

For 2018: Penny  # 111.
For 2018: Dimes still at  # 14.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.
For 2018: Quarter still at #1.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 189.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 20.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Quarter #1.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A 20-Minute Sure Thing (Part 1)

Hick had an appointment with his ophthalmologist on Thursday. He's known about it since his last appointment with his ophthalmologist. I just can't get enough of that word, can you? Ophthalmologist! Since I need to look up the spelling every time I use it, I'm going to make the most of my efforts.

Let the record show that Hick has no vision in his left eye, save gray shadows, due to a 14-year-old's error in judgment while setting off fireworks. He has regular appointments with his local ophthalmologist, because he has glaucoma in that eye, and when you only have one eye left, you don't want some run-of-the-mill optometrist who is not an ophthalmologist poking around in your peeper(s).

Anyhoo...Hick was scheduled to have a growth removed from the eyelid on his good eye. It's been affecting his vision for a couple of months. According to Hick, the ophthalmologist has done many such removals, right there in his office, where THREE ophthalmologists share the practice, and do a booming business in cataract surgery as well. Which takes 3 hours, according to Hick, who had taken my grandma there years ago for it.

"I've got an appointment on October 18th to get this thing took off my eye. He'll do it right there in the office, and said it takes about 20 minutes. I took the 8:05 appointment, since I figure he can't be backed up and behind when he first starts."

"Okay. Get me up early, and I'll drive you. You know. You drive over there, and I'll drive us back."

"I don't think you need to." Said Hick the man who drives himself home after having his eyes dilated.

"That's okay. I'm not doing anything. You might not feel like driving. I hope they don't put a patch on it!"

"Ya. That would be bad. Since I only have the one."

Hick's appointment was for 8:05. We got there at 7:50. By the time Hick checked in and sat down, I counted 13 people in that office. Another 8-10 trickled in while we waited. Sure, most of them were pairs like us. Husband/wife, mother/daughter, father/son. Still. That was a lot of people. Good thing the waiting room had over 40 chairs. The office gals started calling people back around 8:10, once the rush was over.

"Whoopsie! That's three people. For three doctors. Looks like everyone else must have an 8:00 appointment, and you took 8:05!"

"Looks like it."

"Probably, they're taking back the cataract people to get them ready, and he'll work on you between time."


Hick was called back at 8:25. I'd brought some junk mail to read. You never know when you might want to order a butt-crack bank for your kids for Christmas. I perused the three catalogs, while people in the chairs across from me watched. I guess they could see me. Apparently they couldn't see well enough to pick up a magazine off the table to pass the time reading.

At 9:10, I finished my Christmas shopping, and stuffed the catalogs back in my purse. I was optimistic that Hick would be out any minute. At 9:20, I got a text.

"I'm waiting again. You can go on to the credit union if you want." [I was planning to deposit some money in two accounts while we were over there in bill-paying town.]

"How long? I don't want to walk all the way out, and back in." [The office is on a fairly steep hill, and Hick had parked around back. I avoided the steps and walked up the parking lot.]

"They haven't even gave me the anticeptic yet so don't know." [And also doesn't know the difference between anesthesia and antiseptic, and Autocorrect had forsaken him.]

"They haven't done ANYTHING? And the procedure takes 20 minutes?"

"They checked my pressure and looked at it and he told her what to do to get me ready but haven't started yet."

"I'll go to the credit union. You can sit out here and wait if you get done and I'm not back."

So I drove across town to use Sonic's bathroom. Then I went to the credit union, where a January molasses teller took my deposits. I was getting worried that Hick would be waiting out front for me. A mail JEEP made the light ahead of me, and was making stops. I passed him in the center turn lane, and upon looking in my mirror to get back over, I got a great view of a fluffy cloud and blue, blue sky...but no mail JEEP. Darn that Hick for changing T-Hoe's settings!

When I got back to the office, Hick was NOT out front. But my parking place in the next-to-last row was still available! I went in and had to pick my seat again (heh, heh) because somebody had taken my place. Just like that face-washing lovemaker in the "Cecilia" song by Simon and Garfunkel.

It was now 10:00 a.m. I was sure that Hick would be right out...

TO BE CONTINUED on Sunday...
(with possible pennies on the horizon for Saturday CENTSus)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Hick Takes a Stab at Selling Knives

Hick has been honing his resale skills by buying knives at the auction, and selling them at his Storage Unit Store. He can get small pocket knives for a song, and reap a profit. You know Hick. Doesn't have to be a large profit. Any profit is good, and moves the merchandise. Which makes room for more new stuff, which draws back repeat customers.

Here's a nice little selection that cost Hick $10.00. He plans to sell the small knives for $2-$4, and thinks he can get $10 for the circle knife. Whatever THAT is! I've never heard of a circle knife, but there it is, plain as junk on Hick's free workbench. I think there are 28 knives there. Every time I counted, I got a different number. You are welcome to prove me wrong! If he gets even $2 apiece, that's $56, plus $10 for the circle knife. Not a bad return on his original $10 investment.

This controversial assortment cost Hick $5 total for the three knives, and $2 for the hatchet. I'm thinking that the rebel flag was added later? Since the knives themselves appear to have the heads of Mount Rushmore Presidents on them. These items will likely sell around here, since one of the major high schools has the Rebel as a mascot. If there's no interest, Hick can always take the rebel flag out. When I zoomed in, it looked like a paper cutout. The blade on the left looks like an evil weapon, but it has a nice case.

Hick bought 9 of these hunting knives at $6.50 each. He says he can sell them for $12 apiece, though he might ask $15 and let people talk him down. He thinks they will sell well with deer season on the horizon in November.

All these finds came from one auction. Looks like Hick is a pretty sharp cookie.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

One Would Imagine Futuristic Shoes to be More Durable

Tuesday I rounded the end of the canned fruit aisle in Walmart, and ran into my sister the ex-mayor's wife. Almost literally. I blame her, of course, for not keeping right as she piloted her cart. I don't see her very often, so I backed up my cart/walker to stand/lean by the mini plastic cups of diced fruit.

Sis said that she and the ex-mayor had been camping last weekend, even though the weather was cold and rainy. It's a campground they go to every year, which has a Halloween parade and costume contest.

"Oh! Did you dress up?"

"WELL! Let me tell you about it."

Seems there were various categories for the costume contest, and Niecey, daughter of Sis, decreed that they were going as The Jetsons. I don't know the assigned characters, but I'm assuming that Ex-Mayor was George, because Sis was Jane His Wife. Which leaves Niecy as Daughter Judy. Not sure if her hubby got His Boy Elroy, the maid Rosie, or the dog Astro. Nor which part Babe, now 4 years old, got to play. Anyhoo...Sis went on to fill me in on more pertinent details, about HER. She IS my sister, you know. It's all about US.

"I found a purple shirt, extra big, so I could put a hula hoop in the bottom. I found some purple tights. But I didn't have any purple shoes. Ex-Mayor got to digging through my closet, and pulled out a pair of Bass shoes. They're not cheap, you know. But he said I never wear them, and he was going to spray-paint them purple. He went off to the garage, where for some reason, we had a can of purple spray paint just sitting around. I have no idea why.

We got to the campground, and put up our Halloween lights, and then started getting into costume. We were supposed to walk around the campground in our group, for the parade. I was standing outside, helping others with last-minute stuff, and it started sprinkling. Like I said, I was getting other people ready, and not really paying attention, but it seemed like my shoes were getting looser. When I took a step, I looked down, and the main part of the shoe was peeling away from the sole! Ex-Mayor said I was making a big deal about it, but he got some white tape and wrapped it around the uppers and the sole. I didn't like my purple shoes looking like they had white stripes, but Ex-Mayor said it looked like something from The Jetsons' time.

The parade started, and we walked around the campground, waving. The rain was still coming down. Then I took a step, and my heel fell off! They were clunky heels, and the soles were not flat, but kind of wavy. Lucky for me, I guess, that my OTHER heel came off right after that. I had to keep walking around that campground with the rest of the Jetsons, because of the contest. I told Ex-Mayor that it felt like I was walking on a bed of nails, from where the heels came off. Of course he said I was making a big deal, and that I was fine. THEN I noticed that with each step I took, I was leaving a little bit of my sole behind! The whole thing was disintegrating! I finished with only the toe area, where it was taped the best.

In the group section of the costume contest, we made Final Three. Our competition was the Spice Girls, which was a group of husbands wearing red aprons, each with a different spice on it. And the Bud Lights, a group of wives, wearing Bud Light t-shirts and visors for flip tops, each walking in a little compartment like they were in a beer carton.

THE JUDGES WERE TWO TEENAGE BOYS! I figured we were out of luck. I said, 'You guys probably don't even know who The Jetsons ARE!' And the one kid said, 'I know who The Jetsons are! I'm EIGHTEEN!' But the other judge only looked about 12, and he didn't say anything. They didn't announce who got 2nd and 3rd place, but the SPICE GIRLS won! They were the worst! Even people standing around watching told us, 'You got screwed.' 

The two judges were laughing, and they said, 'Well, we know which group MADE THEIR OWN COSTUMES!' And then we found out that the two judges were kids of people in the Spice Girls and the Bud Lights."

Okay. Sis had me laughing out loud at her re-tell. It loses a little something by being filtered through my fingertips. We were making a spectacle of ourselves in Walmart. At least other shoppers gave us a wide berth, rather than deciding that they immediately needed something on a shelf we were standing by, which is usually what happens if I stop to talk to somebody.

It was a pleasant reunion. My favorite part being the line: "With each step I took, I was leaving a little bit of my sole behind."

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hick Caters to the Eclectic Market

Sometimes, Hick brings home things that I think he has no chance of selling. Not a snowball's chance in Not-Heaven. Stuff that is pure junk. Meant for the dumpster. A menace to public health. Hick, however, thinks otherwise.

He found three pairs of shoes in the bounty of his original 18 storage units. Oh, he found WAY more shoes than that. Ladies' shoes, new, still in boxes. Some without boxes. Work boots. Most of these he sold to a lady he knows from the auction, for merchandise in her resale store about halfway to the city.

These three pairs I'm subjecting you to sharing with you today are sneakers. Around here, we call them tennis shoes, though tennis is a sport rarely played, in these shoes, or others. Specifically, two pairs are Converse, and one pair is Polo.

Hick took the picture, so the details I wanted to emphasize are barely visible. Hick washed them three times in my washer. We won't get into that at this time! He used bleach, and then put them in my dryer. So whatever fungi or bacteria or odors that had a happy home there were banished.

The most striking pair is the CALF HIGH CONVERSE. Don't worry about being late from lacing them up every morning. They have a zipper in the back! You can barely see it at the top. The main problem is that the former owner decorated the canvas with artwork. And it looks like maybe she got a signature, though if that's a famous person, I don't know. I didn't look up the name. Maybe it's the name of the former owner. You can't have somebody stealing your CALF HIGH CONVERSE all willy-nilly when you slip out of them for gym class. Because of course these shoes make a fashion statement, and would not be used for athletic purposes.

The GREEN CONVERSE have markings on the toe caps. I don't know if that marker will come off with a solvent, or if it would risk eating away the rubber.

The low white pair is POLO. It has the little polo player symbol on the side. I've never seen anybody wear POLO shoes around here. Didn't even know there was such a thing.

Here's the deal. I think Hick will be able to sell those CALF HIGH CONVERSE. Kids like to be unique, and it's something nobody else has. Hick looked online, and found a resale price of $59 for used, black, CALF HIGH CONVERSE. Of course, they probably weren't written on, either. Hick plans to ask $20 for his pair. I really think he might sell them. That's like birthday money for a middle school kid. $20. And it burns a hole in their pocket while they're thinking of what to buy.

I'm not sure about the GREEN CONVERSE or the POLO. The only school with green as their colors is about 30 miles away, on the banks of the Mississippi. So I doubt their people do much shopping in this area, preferring to head towards the city on the interstate.

Still, if Hick gets anything, it will be money for nothing, because he's already paid off his storage unit purchase. My Tide and Bounce and the household electricity...not so much.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Hick Has Brass Bells

If you stop to browse at the flea market where Hick has his Storage Unit Store, you might overhear past or future customers say that Hick has brass bells. That is at least partially correct. Hick has ONE brass bell. He thinks.

As Even Steven would have it, Hick didn't even KNOW he had a brass bell. It was piled amongst his hoard from the original 18 storage units he bought, and Hick just found it several weeks ago. He sent me a picture:

It's not the best picture, even for Hick. And the description doesn't set the world on fire, either.

"bell with dragon found in first lockers I bought"

I didn't ask him if that toothbrush was something he found from the storage lockers. Probably. Because who carries a toothbrush around over at the BARn and the Freight Container Garage? Hick is not so devoted to oral health that he brushes his teeth all willy-nilly as the mood strikes. I'm pretty sure he was using it to clean the gunk off the shiny parts of his dragon bell.

That's another thing. What is the actual NAME of this object? I've tried to look it up online, but haven't found an exact match. Walmart has a version for around $18. I think I saw another one that sold at an auction for $50. Whatever the value, Hick has no money in it, since he's made all his investment back from his 18 storage units. He says he has it sitting at his Storage Unit Store. Asking $12.00 for it, but I'm sure he'd jump at $10.00 in a heartbeat.

It's really hard to search comparative pricing, because nobody calls it the same thing.

Vintage Brass Asian Chinese Dragon Bell Gong

Vintage Solid Brass Tabletop Dragon Bell

Feng Shui Dragon Gong Bell

Some of them are quite similar, but the mouth of Hick's dragon (heh, heh, something strikes me funny about that phrase, like it could be a euphemism for something naughty) is different than the others I've seen. And Hick's hole-in-the-head where the bell/chime hooks in is also shaped different from the rest. The four large spines on the dragon are another anomaly.

I don't know whether the fact that it's not an exact match for those I've looked up is good or bad. Maybe that means it's not a mass-produced replica. Or maybe that means it's a cheaper knock-off of a cheap knock-off.

The only thing for certain is that, whatever Hick gets for his BELL DRAGON, it's going to make him a profit.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Re-Jugger

Time to showcase more of Hick's junk. I mean classic items found at auction or in abandoned storage units. Today, we have a 1940s or 1950s American Beauty picnic jug, made by the Faris Company, the best I can tell. Hick is sometimes sketchy with his details, and I'm not spending all day looking up information.

According to Hick, it's just "an old thermos jug I bought at the auction." Looks like they sell, used, for about $29. This one, while perhaps perfectly good on the inside, and still having its lid, appears to be quite rusty on the outside. You can still read part of its label, though, if you zoom in.

Hick paid $2 for it at the auction, so he's likely to recoup that much, and maybe a little profit. He's all about moving the merchandise, you know. At least with antique water jugs. No so much with Thomas Jefferson sitting on a boot taking a crap. A treasure like that, he keeps for himself.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Growing ComplaCENT

These days, I just take it for granted that I'm going to find a penny during the week. I wasn't even worried when I hadn't captured a single cent by Tuesday. That's how it works, you know. The more you worry about finding one, the less likely your are to have one dropped in your path. That's why I always seem to find pennies on a Saturday, right before my already-completed Saturday CENTSus hits the blogwaves.

TUESDAY, October 9th, I pulled into Orb K, my go-to place for pennies lately, not even thinking about pennies. My favorite parking spot by the giant water grate was taken, and some group must have clandestinely parked around at the end for a day trip to the city. Because all six of those spaces were full. That never happens. At least I snagged the space right next to my favorite space.

How convenient.

I threw open T-Hoe's door, and looked down to make sure of my footing before disembarking. No more gum on the shoe soles for this ol' Val! When I looked out, I spied TWO pennies beside the car in my favorite parking spot. If I'd parked there, I never would have found them, because I'm not in a habit of walking a circle around T-Hoe. I have many idiosyncrasies, but that is not one.

Both were face down, but I'm not complaining! A 1999 on the left, and a 1974 (I think) on the right. The 1974 had been run over a few times (waiting for me to show up and claim it, I'm sure), and had part of the date skinned off. By a process of elimination, I determined the last number to be a 4.

When I returned to T-Hoe, I fiddled for a moment, writing "K" on the back of my scratchers. That's how I tell where they came from, lest I get a good winner, and prefer not to buy another off the same roll of tickets. As I was wallowing in THAT idiosyncrasy, the car in my spot backed out. I glanced that way, having strapped in and put T-Hoe in reverse, and saw...

A THIRD PENNY! Right on that horizontal crack in the blacktop. The area that had been under the car. I most definitely wouldn't have found this penny if I'd parked there.

Alas, it was also face-down. But I stopped T-Hoe, unbuckled my seatbelt, hopped out, and snatched up that 1981 penny anyway! That was the year of my college graduation, by cracky! It was a very good year.

FRIDAY, October 12th, stopping to get scratchers to tuck into Genius's weekly letter...

I found another penny, in Waterside Mart. This Old Abe was a little long-in-the-tooth! A 1966!

He was face-up, and well-preserved enough that you can read his date if you zoom in.

So it's been a pretty good week for the Future Pennyillionaire Fortune, even if I DON'T have to stop the presses on Saturday!


Once again, Val has spoken-typed too soon! Here it is, SATURDAY, October 13th, and I've been gifted with a penny while waiting in line at The Gas Station Chicken Store. There was a momentary delay as I drained the Diet Coke fountain down to clear liquid. So the Stern Old Clerk hooked up a new batch of my magical elixir.

While waiting, I saw a man at the counter drop a penny. He turned to leave, and the next guy stepped up, STANDING on that penny.

That's why I'm SURE it was meant for ME. He didn't want it, nor did that lady who sqeezed in behind him, waving a $5 bill for gas, saying she left her baby in the car! Much to the horror of Man Owner, Stern Old Clerk, me, and the waiting chicken people!

Of course it was face-down. A 2013 for Val on Saturday the 13th!

Don't get me wrong about that gas/baby lady. It WAS her rightful turn to pay, so I don't begrudge her jumping to the counter ahead of me. It just seemed like she thought she was getting away with something. Maybe there wasn't even a baby. Maybe she just does this to jump line. But the joke was on her, because it really was her turn.

Not even to cut line at The Gas Station Chicken Store.

For 2018: Penny  # 106, 107, 108, 109, 110.
For 2018: Dimes still at  # 14.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.
For 2018: Quarter still at #1.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 184, 185, 186, 187, 188.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 20.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Quarter #1.

Friday, October 12, 2018

If You Commit A Crime In Front Of Val, You Can Probably Make A Safe Getaway

Let the record show that I do not wear my glasses when I drive. I can see well enough. No need to bother with the bifocals impeding my radio-station-reading. I know where I'm going. No need to read street signs.

Today I headed to Walmart for a few necessities. Almost there, only a couple blocks to go, a truck pulled out in front of me. Not so close that I felt a need to shake my fist and curse. It's a 30 mph speed limit, and I was in no danger of colliding. But he could have waited and not forced himself in until I passed.

Anyhoo...I noticed a sign in the back of that truck. To me, it looked like it said MOBAIT. Well. Around Backroads, many things are labeled as "MO-". Standing for the state abbreviation. We have MODoT, you know. Missouri Department of Transportation. And the lottery website is molotterydotcom. So of course I ASSUMED this sign was warning people that this is a state vehicle, used by law enforcement.

I know that the MO Department of Conservation has fake deer that they set up, and hide nearby to catch people shooting the dummy out-of-season. I think in the past, some police departments (not necessarily the MO Highway Patrol) have set up cars to be stolen, to catch the perpetrators. So I was pretty sure this truck had something to do with catching drivers in the act of committing crimes, thinking they were safe, because it was just a pickup truck, not a marked law enforcement vehicle. And that the MOBAIT was on there to prove that they were not secretly setting people up to commit crimes.

Well. Sometimes, Val's suspicions are unwarranted, and sometimes, her eyesight fails her.

When I pulled up behind that MOBAIT truck at a stoplight, just before my right turn into Walmart...

I saw that it was not a law enforcement vehicle at all. MO was not baiting me! It was merely a dude in a regular pickup with a KOBALT container in the back. Hick says that KOBALT is a tool company, and those metal tool boxes can be carried to and from a job site, unlike the kind that mount across the bed of a truck.

Seriously. If I hadn't blown up that picture, or if you squint your eyes...those letters look like MOBAIT!

Never mind.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Proprietor is IN

Here is what the well-dressed Storage Unit Store proprietor is wearing these days. You know, for the upcoming Halloween holiday.

Hick found it in his storage locker hoard, and what a coincidence...IT FIT! He was upset that he forgot it on the back of the couch last Saturday. I guess he had to wait for customers to come to him, rather than enticing them in like a carnival barker.

He also found another gold mirror for possible Mabel-taking, but decided the price was probably prohibitive. According to his text: "This frame was a antique store $150.00about 4 ft long"

Yes. It's a grand mirror, but I don't think my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel wants to pay $150 for a mirror. If she did, she could shop in a regular mirror store for that. They have mirror stores, right? Like on SNL, when they had that Scotch Tape store, devoted entirely to...well...Scotch Tape!

Hick says the mirror has been there a while, and will probably stay there a while longer, just in case Mabel might show interest.

Yes, those are Hick's legs making their appearance in the reflection. As you can see, he got all dolled-up to go Goodwill shopping. Not.

I don't know what those other items are, since I don't have enough interest to zoom in and inspect them. Some of you, however, might be otherwise inclined.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Possible Ticket Price Reduction for Hick's Shackytown Amusement Park and Roadside Attraction

If it's not one thing, it's another. Monday afternoon, Hick sent me a picture. Rarely any description in the emails from him. This one said, "Look what I found going into the out house."

First of all, we don't have an outhouse for the house! No siree, Bob! So I knew that Hick was down at his creekside cabin, where he had added an outhouse and a little barn, and I think perhaps a schoolhouse is in the works. Anyhoo...I remember when he built that outhouse, because he made me come try it out, and I said it was too small, no elbow room. He might have made it bigger before securing the wooden walls made of materials he salvaged from shipping crates when he was employed.

Anyhoo...I sent him back a text.

"Heh, heh! If it was a snake, it coulda bit ya! Oh, wait..."

"It WAS a snake."

"I know. That was a joke. I forgot you were born without a funny bone."

"I know good I only use out house for rakes and shovel s" [Hick's own wording and punctuation in that line, make of it what you will]

"You could have run up here, screaming like a little girl, with a snake hanging off your butt. I could have DRIVEN THE GATOR up here, screaming like a little girl, with a snake hanging off your butt."

"Ha Ha"

When he came in for lunch (which he said was SUPPER) at 2:45, I asked what he did with the snake.

"I let it go in the outhouse."

"You let it go IN the outhouse?"

"Yeah. It's a black snake. It's not poisonous."

"I know that. But it still has a mouth and teeth. Probably pretty big, from the size of the snake."

"It won't hurt nothin'."

"Well...if anybody ever wants to use that outhouse, I think it's only fair that you tell them about the snake. He might have a nest in there, and a whole family."


Let the record show that if any attendees of Hick's Shackytown Amusement Park and Roadside Attraction is ever bitten on the butt by a snake in an outhouse...they will receive a refund of $5 off their ticket price. With proof of paid admission, of course. We're not running a charity here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Camera is Worth Not Quite a Thousand Words (Part 3)

Hick may have been onto something, putting up a fake camera after his political candidate signs were tampered with. Let the record show that Hick installed his fake camera, and a sign borrowed from our neighbor, on Thursday.

Thursday night at 10:09, while Hick was loose upstairs, and I was sitting in my dark basement lair...I got a text. From Hick. (No, he doesn't type this much, and this grammatically correct. I stood at the bottom of the stairs and asked for more details.)

"PartyMom just called me, and said she wanted to apologize for her daughter's friend taking down my signs. She sent me a text at 9:45, asking if I was still up, and could she call me. I had to go out on the porch to get reception. She said her daughter and her friend took the signs down, and said the girl was in tears." [Her alias of PartyMom is because she hosted the kid's party, no reflection on her own activities]

"Well, it was just a prank, and a simple apology would fix the whole thing."

"That's what PartyMom did. Apologize for her daughter's friend."

"No big deal. She's a kid. Probably just showing off for each other, and neither would have done it otherwise. The kid shouldn't dwell on it, as long as she owned up to it. I feel bad that she's crying."

"PartyMom said that when she saw it on Facebook Sunday, she asked the boys what they'd done. She knew they'd all gone for a walk. They said they hadn't done anything. She didn't suspect the girls. But then tonight she asked her and the girl said, 'Well, you didn't ask ME, so I didn't tell.'"

"Wow. That's cold-blooded, standing right there while the boys are being accused, and then not saying anything. Maybe she SHOULD dwell on it! So she doesn't turn into a psychopath before it's too late!"

"PartyMom said she took her phone away for a week. She'll remember THAT!"

"That sounds fair. For the deception, not the act. She didn't even do it herself, supposedly. An apology would have been enough for the act."

"That's what PartyMom told her. She should have owned up to it, so she could have told the other girl it was wrong."

"I wonder if being a lawyer's daughter might have something to do with not volunteering info if you're not asked..."

Anyhoo...we know who it was. No big deal. (It's not like she asked for a metal fork at a barbecue and threw it in the trash!) I feel sorry for the kid having her phone taken away for a week. These kids are tweens. Having worked with that age group, I can understand. They are trying to break away from their dependency on parents, to grow up. They don't want to be treated like babies, but they don't understand that they're NOT little kids any more. That they will be held accountable for their actions. They get in trouble without meaning to, just pushing the envelope to see where the boundaries are.

Hick and I are wondering about the timing of the confession. Did it have something to do with the sign? In Val's world, that kid saw the camera, thought, "OH, CRAP!" and didn't want to be reminded of her clandestine activities every morning and afternoon on the way to and from the bus stop.

At least PartyMom has a handle on the situation. It takes an enclave to raise a tween.