Friday, November 30, 2018

Val Survives a Near-Death Experience

No need for you to send flowers or casseroles or a box of candy. Val is still kickin'. Nothing to see here. Her near-death wasn't a gory sight. In fact, if one had a hidden camera on Val at the time, one might suspect she had merely nodded off before falling comatose and then nearly expiring. Val had a premonition, you know, that it was possibly her time. In fact, she brought it up with Hick the night before. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I had to get up at the crack of 7:30 on Wednesday, because Hick and I had an appointment with our financial advisor to review our portfolio. I guess that's what it's called. Look over the progress of our investments, and see if we wanted to change anything. We were summoned, actually. It's not something that we dwell on. Hick is of the opinion that stocks will rise and fall, and you don't really lose anything unless you sell. "I still have the same amount of shares I had before. I didn't lose nothin'!" We are investment simpletons, with Hick being the Einstein of this pairing. He's a low-to-medium risk kind of guy, and trusts the professionals to do the investing per his parameters.

Our appointment was at 9:30. We left home at 9:08. Make that 9:10. I forgot my phone, and before T-Hoe was even squarely facing out the driveway, Hick went back inside to get it. He's sprier than Val. Along the journey, I might have chastised Hick once or twice. "The speed limit is 30, not 45. They'll pull you over, and then be on the lookout for T-Hoe every day. I don't need that!" And "Is there one trip where we can actually drive on OUR SIDE OF THE ROAD, and not down the middle, or sweaving from side to side?" THEN I had the audacity to ask Hick if he would steer T-Hoe 50 feet off the main thoroughfare to mail the credit card payment. He refused!

"What time did you say our appointment was? 9:30? Well, it's 9:26 right now."

"Oh. Okay. The mailbox can wait. It's not even due for a couple weeks. We just got it yesterday. I don't know why you're rushing to that appointment. Last time, we got there early, and had to wait in the front room."

"Yeah. We're almost there."

In fact, we pulled up in front of the office, I hobbled in, and we were directed to have a seat. The time when I checked my Shaming Bracelet was 9:32. We made small talk with the office gal about how today's generation is crazy. "My husband has a young fellow who works for him who won't put his phone down long enough to do any work! AND he doesn't even have any heat at home. In the house his grandma GAVE him! He doesn't seem to care. When he gets home, all he does is play video games!"

Our advisor was finishing up a call, explained Office Gal. In fact, we could hear him. We were ushered back to his doorless meeting room at 9:38.

The conference table was laid with a single page, and stapled packet of four printouts. Hick's was the single, and mine the long version. My investment is in two accounts, one designated as a POD account from my mom, which I think was an IRA. We had line and bar graphs (in color!) showing our electronic money's progress through the year. I don't flip out at fluctuations. We had more than we started 2018 with, so I considered that a win!

Looking over the data took about five minutes, including my signature to take out some money from Mom's account, or get a tax penalty. Then commenced my long, drawn-out, near-death FROM BOREDOM! Hick and That Investment Guy (TIG) always shoot the bull. Endlessly. I wanted to pull out my lovely lady mullet strand by strand, jab icepicks into my peepers, pull a plastic bag over my head and inhale deeply, whack my temple against the corner of the conference table, and jab two paperclips into the skin over my carotid arteries, looping behind them, and twisting the paperclips to shut off blood flow to my brain.

On and on swirled the mind-numbing conversation of Hick and TIG. Of course TIG started with me. Because he's a gentleman like that. Just being friendly. "So, did you do any Black Friday shopping?"

"NO! I did five hours of Cyber Monday shopping. I'm not getting out on Black Friday!"

"My wife did. She went to the city. I got her a little .380 to carry in her purse. It's a Ruger. You can't be too careful these days. It's a little gun. Light enough for a lady. And it has a safety on it. I really like that for her. I told her, 'Take your gun!' Better safe than sorry."

"I know. The world has gone crazy!"

"Yeah. I'm pretty sure one of these nights, I'm going to be woken up by some guy kicking in my door." [Let the record show that TIG's house is a few doors down from my sister the ex-mayor's wife, in a really nice neighborhood, on an side road at the edge of town, where a ne'er-do-well might look for riches, and know he could hit the state highway for a quick getaway.] "It happened to a lady a few doors down. She had no idea who he was."

"Yeah. Watch that LIVE PD show, and see how hopped up on drugs some of these crooks are."

"Isn't that the truth! I know guys on the police department, and the stories they tell are scary. Like the one over in your town, where the guy was on flakka. Their strength is superhuman! A couple months ago, I looked out my front window and saw a van in my yard. The police had chased it there, and had the occupants out on my grass, cuffing them! I was hoping it wasn't a rolling meth lab, because I didn't want an explosion."

"I actually sell quite a few guns up at my Storage Unit Store." [Thus ensued a lengthy discussion of Hick's business practices.]

"That's one thing I don't know much about. I have old stuff, but I don't know its worth. I have a metal Coke cooler. I'm sure you know the kind. Like our parents used to have."

"It might be worth about $100. I have a Pepsi one."

"Take this thermometer over here in the corner. I have no idea what that's worth, but I'm pretty sure it's from the 1930s."

"I don't know about that brand. I'd have to look it up."

"They don't make things like they used to! And the cars these days! I don't mind that! I can start mine from inside the office, and have the seat and steering wheel warmer turned on, and be nice and toasty when I get in it! I don't drive my vehicles hardly any miles. Just here and home. I knew a guy who had a really nice SUV he was trading, and his was low miles, too. I really wished I needed one! It was such a good deal!"

"Yeah, that last one we bought three years ago has 30,000-something miles on it. Real low. I thought I had me a low-mileage truck, but now the guy seems like he don't wanna sell."

"My buddy has a fancy truck! He didn't really need everything it has on it, but it was such a good deal he couldn't pass it up. It cost $65,000 new! He got it new, but a year after it came out."

"That's more than I paid for my first house! It was only $17,000!"

"That's more than we paid for our REAL house! The one I built!"

"And I bet you thought it was a fortune back then!"

"Yeah, until I saw what other people were paying for theirs."

"I have some minnow traps, still in the box. The glass ones, with wire holders. Do you know what they're worth?"

"Not offhand, no. It would have to go to a collector, because you can't use them nowadays."

"You can't use a minnow trap? My grandpa always used that kind."

"Now you can't because you can't put glass in a stream. A fish might swim by and skin itself on broken glass!"

On and on it went. I might have lost consciousness there for a while. But my ears perked up when TIG said, "Well, if there's anything else I can help you with, just give me a call, and we'll set up a meeting."


Funny how the time on my Shaming Bracelet as we walked out was 10:38. I know we pay TIG by the hour for his services, but does he HAVE to take the whole hour??? I would gladly pay for 60 minutes and only take 5 minutes of his time.

I had told Hick the previous evening, "I am dreading this meeting. When you two start chewing the fat, I feel like I'm going to die of boredom. It's the same thing every time."

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer!

That title is a quote from my second-best ol' ex teaching buddy, Karen, when she and our other buddy Jim used to whoop me at poker every Friday night in Cuba, Missouri. How prophetic she was!

Let the record show that even after consuming mass quantities of buffet food on Wednesday at a FREE casino brunch...Val was not too stuffed to slot. The Pony and I finished filling out his FAFSA, (a form required by universities the government to determine eligibility for grants and scholarships), and headed back to try our luck while Hick was still out junking.

We parted ways for a while. I was roaming around, still all aglow from my previous day's wins, wondering what to risk my money on. I spied a new game that I haven't seen around home. Wonder 4 Boost.

I was attracted to a row of three Wonder 4 Boost slots because I saw a guy getting a bonus with 8 games playing at once! I wondered how that happened, because usually the bonus on the Wonder 4 games I play is the Super Free Games, where you get 4 games playing at once, for 8 spins. And an extra 3 spins if you hit three of those gold coins in one game.

I sat down and put in a $20, selecting Buffalo as the game on all four screens. A very strange thing happened when I got a gold coin. It shot up top and disappeared, making a little zingy noise. I had no idea what that was all about, but I played on. About five spins in, I got three gold coins to hit a bonus. I was happy as a clam to see that I had 8 free spins of my 4 games. Even in the bonus, those gold coins zinged up top when I hit one. No counter or anything telling me what they were good for.

THEN THE MOST AMAZING THING HAPPENED! My screen filled with EIGHT games! And I kept getting the three gold coins for extra games. As you can see in my picture, at the bottom in tiny white print...I had 51 free spins!

I was on spin #48 here. I took the picture for the coin show, and that one screen where I have a 2X 3X 3X. That means it multiplies that times my eagle, king, and the two tens from the first column. Not as good as buffalo, but still pretty good! I don't know the total I cashed out, but it was in the $200s, above that amount showing, because I didn't play any back after the jackpot.

All that winning ramped up my appetite for our second buffet of the day! Then we returned to play some more. Again, I wandered around, digesting my feast, looking for anything that caught my eye. It was a new game, Sugar Hit. The minimum bet was 60 cents, so that's what I played.

Well. I was only $10 into my twenty when I heard a winny kind of noise. I wasn't really paying attention to the screen, because I was trying to figure out what this game was all about, reading the stuff that popped up, or was on the top screen. Huh!

Looks like those four columns of jackpot thingies gave me the MAJOR, which was $305.85. I felt sorry for the lady at the other end of the row, who had been playing when I sat down. Don't you just hate it when somebody sits down and gets a bonus immediately?

I let my money count out, which is sometimes considered obnoxious, since you can touch a button and get it done with, without the flashing lights and fanfare. That lady congratulated me, and I probably made things worse by saying, "I don't even know how this works. I've never played it before!" Then I proceeded to make things even worser.

By giving it a backup spin before cashing out, and that backup spin hitting three chocolate coins, which put me in an 8-spin bonus, which made me even more money. I cut the count-up short, and cashed out as soon as the bonus was over. No need to torment that poor lady any further.

But WAIT! On the drive home Thursday, Hick missed his turnoff for the little hole-in-the-wall casino we like in Chekotah, Oklahoma. He didn't want to turn around after finally finding a route back, so he decided we'd try out a different one. Which happened to be the Creek Nation Casino in Muskogee. I gave Hick a loan, since he had burned through his bankroll. We planned to spend 30 minutes there.

I'm terrible with directions, and I made Hick walk me around inside, noting landmarks, so I could find my way back to the side entrance to meet him at leave time. All the way up front, Hick said, "Here's something you like. Here's some Buffalo. Now just stay along that wall, and it will take you back to the door." With that, he left me. I walked all the way around the four Buffalo 4 Tall Fortunes machines, and settled on the first one we'd walked up on.

Of course I hit a bonus! I didn't think to get a picture there, but it was just a tad over $300. I walked around some more. Played an older style Buffalo game for 15 minutes and cashed out a dollar over the money I'd put in. Then I found two Dancing Drums near the point where I was to meet Hick. I hit a bonus on the first one, but it wasn't a lot, and I played it back. Then I switched to the second one. It wasn't paying as good. I gave Hick a $5 bill from my pocket, since he was out again. He played my first Dancing Drum for about 10 minutes on that amount, before finally losing. I was ready to leave as soon as I played out my $20. It hit a $60-something bonus on my last spin. I gave my tickets to Hick to cash out while I went to the bathroom. You know. So he didn't feel like such a loser.

When you're lucky, you're lucky, and when you're not, you're not. It's like all or nothing. Poor Hick was not the winner this trip, but he has been in the past. He'd better get to sellin' some junk so he'll have his coffers full to lose in a couple weeks.

Val has a bloated bankroll for her next gambling trip, which will be CasinoPalooza 3 in mid-December. It's the main Christmas present for the boys, suggested by Genius. They generally stash away part of their allotted gambling bankroll at the beginning, to squander on their desired Christmas gifts. Then they try their luck, which is usually break-evenish. At least for the past two trips, which is all we've had since we started the CasinoPalooza tradition. The Pony generally does a bit better than Genius. Who doesn't really care, if there are drink bargains!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

With a Little Help From My Mens

After yesterday's tale of Val fattening herself up like a prize pig just before the county may surprise you that Val is peeved about missing out on even more calories! It's true. I regret that I was charmed and tricked out of treats that should have rightfully been mine!

Last time we stayed free at Riverwind Casino, I showed you a picture of our parting gift.

That's some delicious chocolate! In the form of a fund-raiser candy bar, only free. Well. I couldn't believe my luck when the man behind the counter gave me two Riverwind candy bars AT CHECK-IN this time! I put them in my purse while waiting for Hick and The Pony to pull up with the luggage. There was a line this time. I guess other folks got wind of this FREE CHOCOLATE policy at Riverwind Casino Hotel.

Anyhoo...Hick went out to move A-Cad around to the back parking lot while The Pony helped stow away our bags. I was setting my stuff out, and put the two candy bars on the counter over the mini-fridge. Of course The Pony noticed them. It's not like he's a stranger to Riverwind chocolate. Back when I got my player's card there (which The Pony said he didn't want, even though it meant $5 in free play), I was given one of these candy bars. And The Pony, standing right beside me, had said, "Ooh! CHOCOLATE!" So I gave it to him. Never having tasted the sweet solidified nectar. I'm surprised he didn't go back later for his own player's card, just to get a candy bar.

Now here we were in the room, and he noticed the treats. Well. What ya gonna do? Deny your youngest child a candy bar, when you have TWO? Not this ol' Val. "You can have one. It's okay. I don't need it anyway."

"You could put it away. So Dad doesn't see it. Then you can have it later."

I didn't hide it, but left it on the counter amongst my purse and glasses case and Puffs box and gambling purse. The Pony went to set up my laptop (we had to file his FAFSA while we were there), happily devouring his candy bar.

Let the record show that Riverwind chocolate is very sweet. Almost as sweet as Val herself! The Pony got halfway down the bar, and set it on the dresser holding the flat-screen TV. "That's really sweet. I don't think I can finish it."

Of course it's the first thing Hick saw when he returned to the room. "Oh. Did we get candy bars?"

"You can have it, Dad. I can't finish it."

Hick showed remarkable restraint, not eating the other half of the candy bar until later that night, before I got back to the room. I suppose he tried to trick me, because he left the wrapper right there. Even though it was empty of any chocolate, and a wastebasket was at the end of the dresser. I didn't mention the remaining candy bar. What Hick doesn't know won't hurt him. Besides, he's DIABETIC! He shouldn't even be eating chocolate!

Wednesday afternoon, while Hick went A-Cadding around Norman to look at junk stores, The Pony and I hung out in the room, filling out his FAFSA. That's a dang government form that all colleges use to determine scholarships and student aid. Of course neither of my boys ever qualified, not only because they had other scholarships, but because Hick and I made too dang much money! It's not a big deal. I just hate filling it out every year (for TWO students until now) when I know we don't qualify. It's just another system the feds use to track your income and taxes, I think.

It was always a pain for us, because we can't use the button that automatically imports your IRS info to the FAFSA, because during his freshman year, Genius had his identity stolen. SO...we always had a special number mailed to us each year to file our taxes, and had to type in all info by hand on the FAFSA. I was prepared, though! I'd brought along last year's 1040 for our reference.

Anyhoo...we had it done in less than 45 minutes, since The Pony did it under his own identity, and I didn't have to fight with the password system for my parental identity for an hour, and then pretend to be him, and text him for pertinent info.

"Pony. What's this on the floor? This gold wrapper."

"Oh, that's from the candy that was there when we checked in. By where you put your purse. There were two. Caramel, I think."

"Did you have one?"

"No. I looked at it. I guess Dad did. Isn't there another one?"

"NO. And now THIS wrapper is on the floor! I get so sick of picking up after him. And I didn't even get any of the candy! That was clearly meant for us each to have one!"

Thursday, Hick drove the car around while I went to the front desk to make sure we didn't have any charges on our FREE room. We did not. But the best part is...the gal behind the desk gave me TWO CHOCOLATE BARS! I put them in my purse, on top of the other one from check-in. That The Pony had let slip was in my possession when Hick tricked him into divulging that info.

We were about an hour up the road, having just consumed our McDonald's Sausage Egg McMuffin (this time done to perfection, and mine not charred), when Hick said, "If you had that other candy bar, now would be a good time for me to have dessert."

"Huh! That was MY candy bar. It's in my purse. But I'll give you half."

When I broke it, the sections were about 30/70. Darn me for not wanting to make my hands melty by gripping tighter!

"Okay. I'll even give you the bigger half."

I still kept mum on the TWO CHOCOLATE BARS that I'd been given upon check-out. Until we were about 3 hours from home, at 4:00 p.m. It was looking like our Casey's pizza slice for lunch was going to be it until we got home.

"You know what? They gave me TWO MORE candy bars when I checked out!"

"Really? I'd probably have one..."

"Okay. We'll have a Slim Jim, a candy bar, and some Chex Mix for our supper. But you can only have it before you get to Genius's college town, where the road gets all trucky and has the concrete barriers."

"Okay! Whenever it's time, you can get it ready for me."

Yes, I may have excessively enjoyed TWO buffets on Wednesday. But on Tuesday and Thursday, The Pony and Hick had kept me from overindulging on chocolate and caramel. Even though I don't think either of them did it to help ME.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

GORGEous Val

Let the record show that Val has reached that stage in life where she is not about to deny herself simple pleasures. While I make wise choices in the food department during everyday meals, I see no reason to limit my pleasure on a mini-vacation over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Yes, I think I made a wise choice on my Classic Chopped Steak and steamed broccoli at Saltgrass Steakhouse on Tuesday night. I eschewed a baked potato smothered in sour cream, or crispy french fries, for the broccoli. I went with the chopped steak rather than delicious fried chicken fingers. So that was a win/win for Val.

Wednesday, however, was a dietary disaster for wise-choice Val. Hick and I had a free old-people brunch courtesy of our casino play. Who turns down a free brunch that costs $17.00? Not this ol' Val and skinflint Hick! I know what it cost, because we had to pay for The Pony. But still, it was our breakfast/lunch, and we saved 2/3 the cost.

Val never met a buffet she didn't like. Of course I had to have breakfast food, so some scrambled eggs, a couple slices of see-through bacon, and a sausage patty hit my plate first, accompanied by a biscuit with gravy. Of course there were a couple of cinnamon sugar donut holes that needed tasting. And a blueberry muffin. But wait! Lunch foods were also on the buffet! So a fried chicken thigh was necessary. I had to eat the whole thing to determine that it was not nearly as good as the chicken thighs from The Gas Station Chicken Store. But wait! Lunch eaten with breakfast is never complete without a dessert. But in case the dessert is too sweet, you need something savory nearby to end your feast.

Of course, who takes ONE kind of cake when you have a the option of two? The pretty one is called Riverwind Cake. I suppose because the ribbons of color mimic the wavy design of their logo and ceiling lights in the casino. I wish I could report how ambrosious that cake tasted. But I cannot. In fact, that's all I ate of it. I was hoping for perhaps a coconut flavor, or at least vanilla. Sadly, this cake was devoid of all flavor. If I hadn't seen it on my fork with my own eyes, I could easily have been eating pressed sawdust. The whipped cream icing and sprinkles were also bereft of taste. The chocolate version was the same, except maybe with a hint of cocoa. I ate the same amount of it.

Behind the cake is a plate holding another donut hole, leaning against a chicken-fried steak patty. That was also strangely tasteless, which I could tell after one bite. I ate the donut hole, though!

Whew! I was stuffed. That's a week's worth of food for me. I know some of you exist on a couple grains of rice, crystal clear water from ice melting in the Alps, and perhaps some tofu and kale if you are feeling particularly decadent. But Val comes from heartier stock.

Oh, yeah. After having the brunch at 11:30 a.m., we took The Pony grocery shopping, Hick to some antique/thrift stores, and did a little gambling. Then we were ready to HIT THE GOLDEN CORRAL BUFFET for supper! It was The Pony's wishes. Who was I to deny him?

I had no trouble finding room for a salad, a roll, a chicken thigh, two pieces of fish, and some pot roast. I passed up dessert, though.

I'm watching my figure...

I'm pretty sure I watched my butt grow four sizes that day. It must have been the complimentary sugar cookie I took from the jar on the casino hotel's reception desk.

Monday, November 26, 2018

It Was Like Val Carried a Rabbit's Foot Tattooed With a Four-Leaf Clover!

Tuesday evening, we picked up The Pony at his apartment, and headed to Riverwind Casino to check in. No sense in booking a regular hotel when you have two nights free at a casino just ten minutes across town from The Pony!

After stowing away our stuff in the room, we all headed to the casino for 30 minutes, to stretch our 9-hour-drive legs, and wait for rush hour traffic to abate before heading to our Thanksgiving steak dinner. Neither The Pony nor I had much luck in our efforts, nor did Hick. We let him go off on his own, while we always check in with each other, or play in the same general area. At least I won some of my money back, and made sure to cash out the tickets before leaving the casino for supper. You never want to leave the casino with a ticket. Just in case. I stashed that cash in a SAVE pocket, to make sure not to spend it back. That way, I never leave totally empty-handed.

Since our free room was at the end of the hall, like last time, we parked A-Cad in the less-crowded lot upon return, and used the door at that end for entrance and exit. A brief pit-stop in the room, to fuel up with cough drops and tissues, and we were ready for our after-supper casino excursion. I've asked The Pony if he'd rather do other things while we're in town, and he says there's really nothing else to do. Or maybe he just doesn't want to be seen with us!

I told The Pony that the first stop had to be one of the FREE DRINKS alcoves. There's no free alcohol in Oklahoma casinos, just like that's also banned in Missouri casinos. But there's a soda fountain and coffee, tea, or water. Still suffering from the Hickovirus, I definitely needed a cup of water by my side.

Just outside the soda room was a bank of four Fu Dao Le slots. If you're a casino-goer, it's the game with a minimum bet of 38 cents, and a bonus that is usually heralded by a screen full of laughing babies. "I know these weren't kind to us last trip, but I feel like I need to play this one right here." I chose the third machine. Just a hunch. "I know you don't like to play it, but sit down with me a few minutes. I'm putting in a twenty, and then we'll go to your quarter Lucky Ducky slots."

The Pony was agreeable. He sat down at machine number four, to watch, and every now and then push a button. I don't mind. He's pretty lucky, that Pony. Sometimes I kick a few dollars his way if he gets me a win, and he's running low. I've told him, though, about casino rules of paying whoever hits the button, and not the person whose money or card is in the game. I usually sit with my finger poised over the betting amount button, and tap that for my turns. The Pony rests his hand over the SPIN button. I don't generally like to play with the SPIN button, because it's cushy, and depresses a few centimeters before it spins. I prefer the instant tap on the amount button.

Anyhoo...I put my bill in the Fu Dao Le slot, and started playing. I like to bet 88 cents on this game. I was only three spins in when those laughing babies materialized! "OOH! We've got the bonus! This is great!" The Pony agreed. He's never seen the bonus. I had 8 free spins coming. With about half of them gone, I got THIS:

The Pony and I knew it was something good. But not nearly as good as it was! The Pony saw it first, down there in the small print at the lower right. "You just won $243.00 on that spin!"

Yes. Yes I did. Fantastic! But my bonus was still playing, giving me some extra spins. I had already mentally put that $243 ticket in my pocket to save until the end of the night. But my slot machine had other ideas.

This one wasn't a full screen of those lantern/balloon thingies, so it didn't pay as much, but I'm definitely not complaining! I caught the picture in the middle of the coin show, but you can still see in the bottom right that it paid me $184.68. The Pony was downright giddy. He didn't ask for a cut, even though I'd let him hit the SPIN button to start the bonus.

By the time that bonus was done, I'd raked in $443.32. I gave that machine a couple of backup spins, just in case it was in crazy winning mode, and to get my total to an even number. I cashed out $460.48.

In fact, I had a really good night. I snapped a picture of my tickets right before The Pony left for the night, for Hick to drive him back to his apartment.

As The Pony was leaving, I walked him to the back entrance, and cashed out the $88.05 ticket to give him $8, since I won it on a QuickHits machine where he picked the bonus for me. Oh, and I'd already given him $65 from some before-supper tickets I'd cashed before we left, since he was running low on his gambling stake.

Yes, I had a very good night. A good trip, as well. Didn't even have to dip back into my own gambling stake that I'd taken along, after a night like this! Uncle Sam is already stretching his hand out for HIS cut.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The 3 Thanksgivings of Val Thevictorian

A last-minute change of plans released Val from her kitchen servitude this Thanksgiving, and allowed her to spend two nights in a casino hotel while visiting The Pony. He had originally made the decision to drive home, but texted me Sunday saying he'd been having nightmares about failed brakes. I guess I can't really blame The Pony for shying away from a 9-hour drive. Especially after that drive was almost his last, two years ago when he started home for Thanksgiving.

Anyhoo...we picked up The Pony at his apartment on Tuesday evening, and continued 10 minutes across town to check into our casino hotel with a free comp room. The Pony chose a steakhouse for his Thanksgiving Dinner. I must say, it was delicious, even though I'm not a big steak eater.

Val's 1st Thanksgiving Dinner was a Classic Chopped Steak from Saltgrass Steakhouse.

Yes, I know that's just a glorified hamburger. But oh, how glorious it was! I didn't think to take a picture until I was partway through it. Let the record show that I'd already given Hick half my steamed broccoli, and some sauteed mushrooms and grilled onions with cognac pepper sauce. Hick LOVES mushrooms. I actually felt kind of sorry for him, having the filet mignon. His big ol' plate just had that little filet sitting there, with a side of garlic mashed potatoes. Nothing to dress up the plate. No color. So much empty space. So I shared. I ordered my chopped steak medium, and I'd say that's what I got. It was fantastic! Not at all like a Burger Brothers meal!

The Pony had the Gulf Coast Steak and Shrimp, which was a sirloin, and BBQ shrimp. Apparently this shrimp is one of their signature dishes, and was pushed by the waitress, although The Pony had already decided to try them. They were stuffed with cream cheese and diced peppers, covered with BBQ sauce, and wrapped in bacon. The Pony was not a fan, and ate only one. Hick ate the other three, after me having to ASK for a single bite, even though I'd given to him generously off my plate without him even asking! The Pony DID enjoy his sirloin, which he ordered medium rare, and his baked potato, butter only. He and Hick also ate two of the little bread loaves without my help.

Val's 2nd Thanksgiving Dinner was at the Casey's General Store in Adair, Oklahoma.

That's a slice of sausage pizza and a 32 oz Diet Coke. We always stop at this store for gas. It's about 5.5 hours from home for us. On the way out, we have the pizza special for lunch. And this time, on Thanksgiving Day, we also had it for our lunch on the way home. It's usually better than this slice, which had been sitting in the warmer since noon, I'm thinking, when we got there at 1:17. I sent the picture to Genius.

"Just sitting down to Thanksgiving Dinner in Adair, Oklahoma."

"How classy."

I guess Genius was impressed that I had a napkin...

Val's 3rd Thanksgiving Dinner was at an Applebee's near St. Louis, on Friday.

I had the Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp. This is off their website. I KNOW I took a picture of my actual plate/skillet, because I remember fiddling with the flash setting on my phone. Hick also recalls me taking a picture. I guess Even Steven feels that I am not worthy of THREE Thanksgiving Dinners, so he gave my photo the old heave-ho.

This meal was delicious, even though mine had fewer mushrooms/more caramelized onions, which were underneath the chicken breast, still sizzling. The shrimp had some sort of garlic butter seasoning. The red potatoes were crispy. Mmm. I wish I had some right now!

Hick had the same as me, and Genius and Friend both had a steak with steamed broccoli and sauteed green beans. They're trying the keto diet, even though they are average-to-below the right weight in my unsolicited opinion. The potato is their enemy, but wine is their friend! At least according to their tales of what they ate at the previous day's two Thanksgiving dinners.

The original plan had been to eat this meal at Texas Roadhouse, but Genius got to Googling and saw that they didn't open until 3:00 that day. He needed to be on the road by 2:00 so he could be back in Kansas City for some previous engagement. So he gave us a choice of Applebee's or Cracker Barrel. Hick doesn't like Cracker Barrel food. I've only had it once or twice, but I knew that place would be packed with shoppers who'd been up since 5:00 a.m. for Black Friday shopping. So I put the kibosh on that venue.

Anyhoo...Hick finished off his Applebee's meal with a giant Apple Dumpling. I'm surprised we didn't have to call for a mop to make the floor safe for passersby after the other three of us got a whiff of that Apple Dumpling, which stimulated our salivary glands.

Three Thanksgiving Dinners, no cooking. You can't beat that with a stick!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A Coin DesCENTded From Above

This week was off to a good start on SUNDAY, November 18th. Even though I was still not recovered from my Hickovirus, and in fact seeming WORSE, due to a spate of conjunctivitis...I could still see clearly enough to spot a PENNY on the floor of The Gas Station Chicken Store!

I was able to capture this FACE-UP Lincoln while the clerk busied himself with another customer's credit card payment. It was a 1985, a year which doesn't ring any significant bells with me. important coincidence sailed right over my head until Monday, when I realized that this penny appeared on the date of my dad's birthday! How could I be so blind?

I suppose Even Steven figured I was not worthy of another penny this week, after that failure to note the special gift on its special day! Because I did not find another.

I DID find a coin, though. On WEDNESDAY, November 21st, in Norman, Oklahoma. How nice of a fellow patron of the Riverwind Casino to bestow me with this nickel that was rightfully meant for me! Even Steven even works his magic across state lines!

It was a 2011 nickel, FACE UP, found in the free beverage room at Riverwind Casino. This picture was taken at my kitchen counter, after I brought this nickel meant for me home in a special compartment of my gambling purse, so as not to mix it up with other nickels from my cash-out tickets. I wish I could have captured the picture in its natural habitat, but I already had a cup of water in my hand, and I can't take a one-handed picture.

Poor ol' Thomas Jefferson! This is the nickel which does him no favors. He looks like he strained a bit too hard while sitting on a boot taking a crap! His eyes are all bugged out. I did, however, do him a favor, by taking the above picture. The second effort. Because originally, he looked like THIS:

That came out a little too dark and demonic for Val! What a difference a flash makes, huh? The dark picture is with my phone flash ON! Still laying in the same place on the kitchen counter was ol' Thom.

For 2018: This was Penny # 116.
For 2018: Dimes still at   # 15.
For 2018: This was Nickel  # 5.
For 2018: Quarter still at #1.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 194.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 21.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Nickel # 5.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Quarter #1.

Friday, November 23, 2018

At Least A-Cad Got a Charge Out of It

You've gotta get up pretty early in the morning to fool Hick about the particulars of an automobile. He knows make and model and years manufactured just by looking at fins or grills. He can take an engine apart and put it back together, without any extra parts left over! He even sawed off part of a semi truck and converted it to a dump truck for his buddy.

A-Cad almost stumped Hick.

I mentioned yesterday that Hick went against my orders and left in A-Cad before I got up. Even Steven, it seems, gave Hick his comeuppance for his trouble. Here's the story, according to Hick.

"I knew something was wrong when I opened the door to get in, and no lights came on. I figured maybe the battery was dead, so I raised the hood. I couldn't find the battery! I looked all over! It had a place to JUMP the battery, some connectors...but it didn't have a battery! I connected my cables and jumped it from T-Hoe, to get it running. Then I took it to Mick the Mechanic to have him take a look at it. I left it running while I talked to him, maybe 20 minutes, and when we came out and hooked up the battery tester, it showed the battery was low, so I didn't want to take a chance on our trip, and had him put in a new one."

"So Mick knew where the battery was?"

"NO! He said he'd never worked on an Acadia like that. I finally got my phone connection to work, and looked it up. The battery is under the floor panel in the back passenger seat!"

"You mean you lift the mat, and there it is?"

"Well, it's in a little compartment. There's a kind of trap door. But if you get an acid leak, that's not good!"

Let the record show that A-Cad is a 2016, which means we got him in the fall of 2015. No reason for a battery to go dead yet! Not in my opinion. Like Hick said, T-Hoe hasn't had one in five years. Then again, Hick is the one who bought T-Hoe's battery back then and put it in, and he got a good battery. I guess we're lucky Hick didn't open up that trapdoor and find dead hamsters draped over their wheel like subjects in a Salvador Dali painting.

I guess if we had bothered to crack open A-Cad's manual over the past three years, we might have known where to find the battery...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Adult and Battery

By the time this hits the Blogosphere, Hick and I will be halfway back home from visiting The Pony in Oklahoma. It's not like The Pony's change of plans was a hardship for us. It got me out of cooking a holiday meal, gave Hick an opportunity to sweave while holding me captive, and allowed us to stay in free rooms while using a casino as home base. The only issue was, perhaps, the timing of this decision.

Planning for a Thanksgiving dinner at home, and a trip to meet The Pony halfway, is quite different from not cooking at home, and spending three days away from home. At least I hadn't bought the groceries yet. But still, we had to pack, throw together some Pony treats, book a room, and gas up A-Cad.

Therein lies a bone of contention. Hick likes to think of himself as a master trip-planner. He will state a departure time, load the car the night before, roll out of bed and into his clothes, and sit behind the wheel, working himself into a fit of pique, while others gather their last-minute items and wheel luggage out the door for loading, sliding into the seat at the departure time. On the dot.

The boys and I have learned this over the years. It does no good to ask what time we're REALLY supposed to leave. No matter what the stated time, Hick rushes out fifteen minutes early, and acts like anyone coming after him is a fly in the ointment. To get ready 15 minutes early and join him muddles up the itinerary, and we arrive places before lunch is served, before check-in time, before a shop is open.

For all his pre-preparations, Hick never seems to have a full tank of gas in A-Cad. I've mentioned this many times (yes, I understand that's hard for you to believe that meek and soft-spoken Val would dare to question Hick's methods). We always have to stop in town, a mere 10 minutes away from home, to gas up A-Cad at Casey's. It doesn't take more than 10-15 minutes, what with Hick puttering around inside to buy donuts and a candy bar and DIET soda. He's not supposed to have donuts and a candy bar. I guess the thinks that on a trip, diabetes also takes a holiday.

Anyhoo...this always happens, and it sets my teeth on edge. If we're going, we're going. Not stopping five miles down the road for provisions. Even when Hick has taken A-Cad to an auction without me knowing it (heh, heh, that's what HE thinks), he still brings A-Cad home, driving right past Casey's, when he could have already gassed up.

Thinking I would outsmart him on this last-minute excursion, I calculated a deception.

"Hey. Since I'm still not feeling well, do you think you could go to Walmart with me Monday morning, to get some things for The Pony?"

"Sure. I always volunteer to go shopping with you, but for some reason you don't want me to. I'll drive you."

"Why don't we take A-Cad? That way, the stuff will already be in the car, and we can fill up with gas on our way home, so it will be ready Tuesday morning."

"Okay. If that's what you want."

Wow. That was easier than I imagined! Hick said we'd go around 11:00, because he was getting dog food and mini-pony and goat food, then picking up medicine. Fine with me. I had my time schedule planned out to be ready at 11:00. I sent Hick a text that I was up and would be set to go at 11:00.

"Good thing I took the car this morning battery was dead. I took it to Mick the Mechanic [it's like Hick has to keep a mechanic on retainer] and got a new one. Getting medicine now."

"Which car?"

"The Acadia."

"That doesn't seem right. I guess you left the Garmin plugged in too much. How many hundreds will that cost?"

"Glad you wanted me to get it gassed up. $205.85 on the debit card. Better today than when we were getting ready to leave tomorrow."

Yeah. Well. There's that. I guess I'll let Hick off the hook for being so childish as to DISOBEY MY COMMAND to drive A-Cad to Walmart and get gas then. The main goal was accomplished, but Hick had to make it into HIS plan, not mine.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hick Got Rid of His Gramps

Some of you might recall, way back in May, Hick showed us his clock. CLOCK! It was a grandfather clock, found in one of his many storage units. I described it back then:

It's a Daniel Dakota brand, the least valuable of the three big grandfather clock companies. They're sold at Walmart and other chains. Hick says this one is solid wood, not veneer. I think that design on the face is called a Blue Moon pattern. I haven't found any grandfathers just like this one as I've perused internet clocks. That little burst pattern up top, and the design at the bottom, add appeal. Hick has listed this noble chronometer for $160.

Well, Sunday was almost good news/bad news for Hick. Even Steven has to keep him in line somehow, I suppose, with worry if nothing stronger. Hick had earned about $35 at his Storage Unit Store, which is not great, but not too bad for a Sunday in November with the temperature at 37 degrees. He went to my old work town to an auction around noon. While there, he saw a gun he really wanted to buy, but the auction was going slow. Then a lady messaged him about his GRANDFATHER CLOCK that he has on Buy/Sell/Trade.

Long story not much shorter...Hick said he'd meet her at his Storage Unit Store, where the Grandfather resides, which is also a public venue with security cameras, so people feel safe making transactions there. Hick was afraid the gun wouldn't come up for auction until after he left. So he asked the guy how much he'd take for it, and the guy said, "$100." Hick said he'd take it, but the guy said it had to go through the auction, since it was already listed. Things sped up a little then, and after much stressing, Hick bid and bought the gun for $110. Then he rushed over to the Storage Unit Store.

Within 5 minutes, the lady wanting the clock arrived. SHE LOVED IT! She asked Hick if he would take any less than the $150 he had listed it for on Buy/Sell/Trade. According to Hick:

"I knew nobody had even looked at it for six months. So I told her I'd take $125. That made her happy. She asked if her husband could lift it, since he has a bad back. I told her it was pretty light, and one person can handle it. So they took it. An hour later, she sent me a message saying how much she loved that clock, and how it looks perfect in the space she had for it. That was kind of nice, to know how much she loves that clock."

Hick is an old softy. Or else he just doesn't like parting with his stuff unless he knows it goes to a good home.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Oh, I'm Goin' to Oklahoma With a Suitcase on My Knee

I'm goin' to Oklahoma
With a suitcase on my knee
We'll stay at a casino
Because they've waived the fee

Hey! The Pony!
Don't you cry for me
I'll come to Oklahoma
With a suitcase on my knee

I won't regret, the day I leave
The cooking left behind
O what a wicked web we weave
Switchin' plans for where we dine

Hey! The Pony!
Don't you cry for me
Genius won't get turkey now
The cryin' is all for he

After planning our Thanksgiving itinerary for two months, coordinating travel and menu and serving times, a task slightly less difficult than juggling three Rubik's Cubes and solving them all at the same time...The Pony threw us a curve ball. He decided that he doesn't actually want to drive home for Thanksgiving, even though Hick and I were meeting him halfway, so I could ride the final five hours home with him.

Uh huh. Just learned that info on Sunday afternoon. Good thing I wasn't doing my holiday grocery shopping until Monday morning! So...the plan has changed, and Hick and I are going to Oklahoma for two days. Genius has been iffy on his Thanksgiving dinner attendance, first saying that he couldn't make it, then that he could be here on Friday, for a couple hours, so I could make the meal then. Problem being that we would have been leaving Saturday to take The Pony halfway back, leaving our leftovers to not be savored.

I don't know yet what Genius will do, and whether I should prepare. We'll be back late Thursday. I'm pretty sure I won't have time to shop and crank out a full Thanksgiving spread for a couple hours on Friday. We've planned Christmas around Genius's schedule. So he'll have to be satisfied with whatever crumbs we can give him for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Tubba Tubba!

Hick was quick to show off his latest treasure from Friday night's auction.

He says it ONLY cost him $45. I don't know if that's a good bargain for a double washtub. I don't use a double washtub myself, nor a single washtub. In fact, I don't use a washtub at all. Nor beat my clothes with a rock down by the creek. I have a washer and dryer, and am most definitely not in the market for a washtub.

Hick said they are going for $100, so I guess he DID get himself a bargain. Never mind that we have another double washtub sitting on the porch, which has been there for months. I don't think anybody is breaking their neck in a rush to buy double washtubs.

Maybe they could be used by crafty people using them as planters. Or perhaps the Amish, for washing their modest, unrevealing clothing. Too bad the Amish won't be looking for a Buy/Sell/Trade bargain like this on their iPhone any time soon. There goes my chance at bartering for a good pie.

The Storage Unit Store usually closes for the winter. So I'm not sure how Hick plans to flip this double washtub. One thing for sure, he's not going to sell it while it sits under the carport in front of his Gator.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Where There's Smoke, There's a Woodshed

I hope Hick doesn't have definite plans on his calendar for the coming weeks. Because Val has booked him for a trip to the woodshed! Oh, this may come as no surprise to you, but it will definitely be a surprise for Hick. Who has no idea that "doing me a favor" can lead to such a journey.

A couple weeks ago, I bought batteries. I don't remember what I'd needed them for, perhaps my downstairs TV remote. It takes AAA or AA. I don't remember until I have the cover off the battery compartment. I also use little batteries in my vibrator. MY HEAD VIBRATOR, people! Sheesh! It's a little contraption from Walmart that may possibly be used for other purposes by other folks needing other relief...but I use mine when I get a cold, or a sinus headache, to vibrate the gunk out of my sinuses.

Anyhoo...I distinctly remember going to the battery drawer, and finding battery packages, with only a single battery inside. Or perhaps two. So I put batteries on my shopping list. Last week, I was looking for batteries again, and they weren't in the drawer. I was SURE that I'd bought batteries. Maybe the checker hadn't given me the bag! Or maybe it was sitting around, me not wanting to put everything away that day after carrying in groceries. I found a bag that had a calculator in it. Surely the one I would have put batteries in, if I'd been the checker. But no batteries. So I bought more, on the next trip to town.

I even remember telling Hick, "I got batteries. They're not the best, but they're at least Eveready, and not the foreign brand from the Dollar Store that my mom used to get. I didn't see the Duracell on the aisle I was walking on. I swear, they have a big display up front, but I didn't go down that far. That's where I bought them last time. I thought."

Anyhoo...I came home from town on one of our snowy days this week, and Hick was roaming the house. I hate it when he's loose like that. No good ever comes of it. One time a few years back, I returned home to find that he'd painted one of the living room walls a contrasting color.

Anyhoo...I heard the exhaust fan running down in the NASCAR bathroom next to my dark basement lair. Yet when I hollered to ask Hick what he was doing, he answered me from over by the pool table.

"Why is the bathroom fan running?"

"I was putting a battery in the clock."

"Well, I guess you need to go turn off the light. Because the fan is still running."

"In a minute. I'm putting batteries in all the clocks."

"Did they stop?"


"Then why are you putting batteries in them NOW?"

"So they won't stop."

"The clock in my office ran for two years on one battery! WHY are you changing them all?"

"That's what I do with the smoke detectors."

"You're SUPPOSED to do that with SMOKE DETECTORS! You don't want them to go dead. But this one in the basement has been chirping so long that it quit chirping! After I TOLD you two weeks ago that it needed a battery."

"Well. I was sick. They take 9-volt batteries, I think. Better get several. The one in our bedroom's been dead for a while."

"I didn't hear it chirping."

"Oh, it's been laying on the dresser. I took it apart to stop the chirping."

"Are you using those new batteries I just bought for the clocks?" Let the record show that we have 10 clocks. At least.


"WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? Now I'll have to get more batteries, so we'll have some in the house when we DO need them! Wait a minute...did you use those other batteries from the drawer on your junk store stuff?"


Good thing Hick's pants didn't burst into flame during one of his less-than-truthful episodes of gaslighting Val.

Batteries are not cheap, people! And according to Hick, he is raking in a couple hundred or more per weekend at his Storage Unit Store. I do NOT think that our household budget should be subsidizing Hick's business! Besides, he bought me a soda at Orb K the other day, with a dollar that I gave him, and he WASN'T GOING TO GIVE BACK MY 6 CENTS IN CHANGE until I asked for it!

I guess I'm going to have to stash those batteries somewhere that the Hick won't look.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The 1 (Week) Per CENT Her

Not a good week here in penny-hunting town. So not-good, in fact, that only one penny was found. That's only 1 CENT PER WEEK! In fact the week was SO not-good that my first attempt to write the first sentence was: nota  good week ino peenyhoungit town. Yeah. Let's be glad I adhere to a modicum of proofreading, and also not read anything Freudian into that slip.

I've been fighting the HICKovirus, and have not felt much like finding pennies. In fact, there were TWO DAYS this week that I did not even drive to town for my 44 oz Diet Coke. Sick, I tell you! Knock knock knocking on NOT-Not-Heaven's door, to hear me tell it. "She just has a little cold," to hear Hick tell it. As if he's even around, what with all his gallivanting and ignoring my plight, and even having the nerve Friday morning around noon to say, "The cold I GAVE YOU? I think YOU'RE THE ONE WHO GAVE IT TO ME!"

"Seriously? When you'd had it for 8 DAYS when I caught it through your uncleaned breather spray overnight?"

"Yeah. You got it on your hands when we went to the casino, and you gave it to me." Said the man who never even washes his hands before lunch at the burger place. Not even congratulating me on what an exemplary Typhoid Mary HICKovirus Val that I must be, to carry home a disease, give it to him, remain healthy for 8 days, THEN succumb.

He's exhausting, that Hick. Or maybe I'm just tired from not sleeping more than 45-minutes at a stretch, due to the cough waking me up for the past four nights. My eyes think they deserve to be compensated, and try to close themselves during the day. The cough is not giving in so easily. It's an equal-circadian energy-sapper. Night or day, rest or play, even while eating and drinking, or on the way to the toilet 20 times after staying extra-hydrated. Don't you just hate it when you're typing away at your New Delly, and a soggy fragment of a stick pretzel shoots explosively through your lips and onto the keyboard?

Anyhoo...on SUNDAY, Nov. 11, a day that I DID make it to town, even though light-headed and heavy-lunged...I found a penny waiting for me on the floor mat just inside Casey's.

Sheesh! You'd think they lead the nation in slip-and-fall lawsuits, what with that supply of warning signs. Don't try to tell me it's just because they mop the floor so often.

Unlike many who've come before him, this 1989 little Lincoln was FACE UP! It was kind of him to wait for me there on the mat, don't you think? Rather than wedge himself up under the Bubblicious rack like a cheeky quarter!

YIKES! I just had a coughing fit, and something popped in my lower right back area. I feel like an exploding pinata, but with guts ready to spill out instead of candy. I guess we know who's the pooper for THIS party! Dang it. Now I have to take my right hand off the keyboard every time I cough, to hold pressure on my lower right back area. It lessens the sharp pain.

I hope this HICKovirus injury heals quickly. I don't want it to hinder my hiney from bending over to pick up next week's pennies.

For 2018: This was Penny # 115.
For 2018: Dimes still at   # 15.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.
For 2018: Quarter still at #1.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 193.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 21.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Quarter #1.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Every Move I Make

Every move you make
Every meal you fake
Every thirst you slake
Every drive you take
I'll be watching you (unless there are groceries to be carried in)

Hick has been retired for a year now. I think. Seems like longer. Anyhoo, he's loosened his hold on me a bit. He gets up and leaves the house without making sure he accidentally wakes me. He doesn't suddenly appear in the doorway of my dark basement lair at the very moment I'm about to have lunch and scratch lottery tickets. He doesn't follow me around the kitchen cutting block like we're attached by carabiners on the face of El Capitan. Yes, he's loosened his hold a bit.

When I came back from shopping and acquiring my 44 oz Diet Coke on Wednesday afternoon, Hick sent me a text:

"I'm watching for you and I'll carry in your stuff."

"I'm in the garage."

Funny how he hadn't seen me as I stopped T-Hoe at the top of the driveway, lifted the lid of Dumpy II, noted that the trash had not been taken yet, closed the lid, and drove down the 1/8 mile driveway to the garage. Let's not make him a watchman for anything important. If Hick had been helping Paul Revere, we'd all be speaking English right now. Oh, wait...

Hick had the good nature to act sheepish upon entering the garage, after I texted him that I was sitting in the garage when I got his text. Maybe he thought I was pranking him, like that time he told ME he was at the mailboxes, and I passed him four miles away, not even within spitting distance of the mailboxes. Even now, I sometimes tell him, when he calls or texts to ask where I am, "By the mailboxes." Just so he doesn't forget that I remember the incident.

Still, after a short interval where I could practically hear the gears turning in Hick's head, with him wondering if he should walk out to the garage, just in case I really WAS there...he did show up.

"I don't know how I could have missed you coming up the driveway!"

"Yeah. Me neither."

Let the record show that from the La-Z-Boy, you get a clear view of about 80% of the driveway. Unless your eyes are closed during a nap, maybe.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Another Day, Another Old Man

With 4-8 inches of snow on the way Wednesday night, I headed to Save A Lot while in town for my 44 oz Diet Coke. It's not like I NEEDED anything. I picked up a pack of paper plates, four bananas, two jars of salsa (medium), and two TV dinners (Banquet Backyard BBQ).

Only one checkout was open, manned by an acquaintance who's the mom of one of Genius's former classmates. A young gal was at the next register, but her light wasn't on. I didn't feel like stepping over there, only for her to say, "PSYCH! I'm not open!" Not that she would.

A woman customer was paying, and there was an old man behind her. I got behind him, noting that he only had a couple items, not even a cart. He was paying as I set my stuff on the conveyor. Acquaintance Mom Checker (AMC), said, "It's not going through. Try again." He did. "Huh. Do you know hom much you have on your card? It shows insufficient funds. Try again. Sometimes they're touchy." The Old Man re-scanned. "I'm sorry. It still won't pay."

I contemplated stretching out my arm, debit card in hand, and saying, "Put it on mine." I didn't. You never know how people are going to react. I've been behind others when their cards don't work. Some pull out another card and use it. Some hand over cash. Some say never mind, they'll come back. Besides, I don't want to embarrass anybody. Or make them mad, like that Crazy Donut Man in Casey's who went off on a tirade because I asked if he was in line, so as not to butt in front of him. So I did nothing. You never know when you'll get a Crazy Donut Man instead of a happy Morning Drunk like the gal I gave a dollar to for whiskey at The Gas Station Chicken Store. I'm a sucker for someone who who flat out says, "Do you have a dollar for a bottle of whiskey?" No pretenses there.

Throughout this exchange, the Old Man had not said anything. Not since chatting about the weather before his card wouldn't pay. So AMC didn't know how he was going to pay, or what he was going to do. He just stood there, card in his hand. "I'll take care of it," said AMC. The Old Man asked if she was sure, and she said she was. He thanked her, and went over to put his items in a bag at the bagging counter. It didn't take long.

AMC was writing a note on a little slip of paper beside the cash register. "Sorry. I have to do this so I won't forget." I thought at first that Save A Lot might have some policy about writing off something like this. Then I realized that AMC was going to pay for it out of her own pocket.

As AMC started to scan my groceries, I said, "Put his on my card."


"Yeah. It's not a big deal. I didn't want to embarrass him."

"I always hate to see that happen. I try to take care of it when I can."

Anyhoo...she rang up his transaction as "grocery" on my receipt. It was $2.51.

Yeah. So I'm not bragging about being a grand philanthropist for the elderly. It didn't really cost me THAT much. Since over at the gas station chicken store, the Man Owner insisted on giving me a free 44 oz Diet Coke today.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Bumbling Bear

Hick means well. I'm sure. Giving up his time better spent junking and Goodwilling, to drive sweave me to my doctor nurse practitioner appointment Monday morning.

The trip was fairly uneventful until we reached Bill-Paying Town, where my appointment was in the clinic in the same building as the hospital. Let the record show that we used to have TWO hospitals here in Backroads, but that Hick's went out of business, and mine and the boys' absorbed some of its staff. Anyhoo...Hick doesn't know his way around my hospital very well, especially now that they've upgraded the ER.

Hick missed the first turn that can you get in there. "Is this it? Will this take me there?"

"NO! It's an apartment complex. It doesn't go through. You should have gone by the surgery center. I thought you knew! You've had surgery there twice." Sheesh! It's not like we're in a big city. Bill-Paying town has a population of 18,000.

Hick went on to the main road, almost turned into the EXIT lane of the roads divided by the hospital sign, and tried to drop me off at the ER. "I know I have a cold, but it's really not that serious!" 

The plan was for him to park, come wait inside in the chairs by the elevator while I was upstairs, and then go bring T-Hoe to pick me up. However, the lab had the audacity to demand all cell phones and BEEPERS be turned off inside its confines, and I didn't text Hick to get the car. I'd told him, "I can probably walk back out. I don't care if I'm wheezing AFTER my appointment." Silly me. I'd thought Hick would park in the first available space. But we walked out to the LAST ROW, (me without a coat) even though upon arrival, I'd noticed only the first two rows were full. I remember, because I'd thought, "Oh. Veteran's Day. I guess not many people want to get up early for the doctor." Hick swore that the rows were all full and this was the best he could do.

On the way home, we stopped by Walmart for Chicken Bacon Ranch Pinwheels, and spent over $60 (without finding any pinwheels). I don't normally have Hick with me at Walmart. I climbed out of T-Hoe, and immediately lost him.

"Here. I was getting you a cart."

"Why in the Not-Heaven would I want to push a cold cart around the store?"

"There may not be any inside. The cart rack was overflowing."

Hick continued to push MY cart/walker. Tried to push it right in the exit door. So I had to scold him about using the entrance. Where rows of carts were waiting. While I was busy discovering the lack of pinwheels, Hick ordered himself some General Tso's chicken from the deli counter, for lunch, to go with his fried rice left from Friday's supper. I must say, he handled that transaction with no problem.

Buying his new favorite Golden Delicious apples, however, WAS a problem. Hick bought some at the auction the other night, and of course they were the best apples ever invented, grown, and sold at an auction. So he was looking for some. He wheeled the cart he got me right down the apple aisle.

"What about your Golden Delicious apples?"

"They don't have none."

"Um. I think they do." I said, picking up a 10-lb bag clearly labeled Golden Delicious.

Hick continued pushing the cart he got for me, while I walked along without swinging my arms like Molly Shannon in a Seinfeld episode. Because I didn't know what to do with my arms. They're always on the cart! Of course Hick made wide turns around the ends of the aisles, narrowly avoiding several collisions.

While I was buying olives and flat-sliced sandwich pickles, Hick was harvesting two bags of sugar free candy off the other side of the aisle. Looking at me accusatorily as he put them in the cart. As if I don't look for them every week. I can't get them if their space is not stocked.

On the spaghetti aisle, which Hick thought should be by the mac and cheese aisle (au contraire, my baffled bear), he decided that after 29 years of demanding spaghetti noodles (which I don't like), what he REALLY likes is rigatoni.

On the soda aisle, Hick had the six-packs of bottled Diet Mountain Dew placed all wrong on the side of the cart, with the bar code turned away from the checker. So he had to turn them around (with my suggestion). Once in line, the checker forgot to ring up the soda, because Hick was standing at the head of the cart, where I couldn't push it all the way through so the checker could use her hand-scanner by taking one step around her bag carousel. I reminded her, of course. Because I'M HONEST LIKE THAT.

Hick was also blocking the escape route of the checker on our right, from her tiny workspace at her register. She excused herself, trying to get out of her prison, and Hick said, "That's alright. You're okay." As if HE was the one in control, and not HER, trying to do her job.

Yes, I appreciate Hick taking the time to drive me to my appointment on a snow-forecast morning. I bear him no ill will for being a bumbling bear. In fact, I didn't even yell at him. And he didn't even say, baiting-like, "I should have known I would do something wrong!" so I could reply, "I knew you would, too!"

Nope. We were home by 11:30, with half the day still ahead of us. To spend separately, of course.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Snorage Wars

Let the record show that Val has been a bit under-the-weather with a virus wafted over her face by Hick's breather. I'm sure that was how I contracted it. I am not around people, save a handful each day in assorted convenience stores. I know not to touch my face after I've been out, until my hands are washed. I veer away from coughing people, or hold my breath until their germs have settled.

I even avoided the Hickovirus when he was at his most contagious, starting on Friday, November 2nd. I made sure I wasn't in the path of his exhalations. Was careful of sanitizing my hands after touching the remote beside the La-Z-Boy, and sink faucets, and the handle of FRIG II. I'm virtually a one-woman staff of my own Center for Disease Control. I stop short of manufacturing my own vaccines, though.

So, with Hick not admitting to feeling much better, but sounding like he was knock-knock-knockin' on death's door, then turning the corner...I felt like I was home free. Surely a man can't be contagious for 8 days. Well. Hick is no regular man.

I started feeling not-so-great on Friday. Chills. A little pain in my right lung and right ear. The side exposed to His Royal Hickness in the marriage bed. I can only surmise that Hick's potent virus got into his breather, which he hasn't been cleaning since he didn't feel good, and set up shop inside. To waft out at night, upon Hick's expelled breath, to invade my orifices and mucous membranes.

Anyhoo...I've had much worse sicknesses. But I dared to mention to Hick, "I don't feel very good today." And that just-escaped-the-Grim-Reaper's-clutches Hick had the nerve to say, "Huh. You just have a cold."

It's hard to sleep with congestion. It's harder to sleep with a big bulky man-arm shoved up under your pillows. Leave it to Hick to choose this trying time to burrow under my nearly-nodding noggin. Sometimes, he's tricky about it. I returned from the bathroom, having consumed extra fluids all day and evening to combat my sickness, and settled in for two more hours sleep before I had to arise and prepare for a routine 6-month office visit to keep my prescription train running.

Ahh...under the warm quilt with added blanket on top. My pillows just right. I was drifting, drifting...


WHAT in the infernal Not-Heaven WAS that?

Oh. Just Hick, scratching at the underside of my pillow. As much as I'd like to give him credit for being an evil mastermind, I cannot. He's always done this crap. Some people tap their fingers, jiggle their leg, crack their knuckles. Hick scratches whatever is handy. Like the bottom of the table beside the La-Z-Boy. I don't know why. He denies that he does it.

When Hick pulls this stunt when I'm sleeping, I've been known to reach my hand back over my shoulder, grab his wrist, and get downright indignant about it. This time, I didn't have the strength. I was almost in dreamland when I snapped awake in a nightmare.

"Get your hand out from under my pillow!"

I didn't shout. But it was my stern teacher-voice. The scratching stopped momentarily. Started again. Then stopped. I can only guess that Hick fell into a deeper sleep and accidentally stopped tormenting me.

When the alarm went off for me to wake up, Hick said, "You were talking in your sleep."

"No. I knew exactly what I was saying. I told you to get your hand out from under my pillows."

"I didn't have my hand under your pillows."

Hick needs a framed needlepoint that reads: "Lying Doesn't Make It So."

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Four Faces of Dr. O

See this?

No, it is NOT a giant persimmon from Australia! I normally think of this fruit as a tangerine, due to the size and ease of peeling the skin. The sign over it at Country Mart proclaimed this citrus delight to be a Clementine. I remember back when we had a librarian who harped and harped about it being "Clementine Season," and I wondered what in the Not-Heaven she was talking about.

Then I saw those commercials with the evil kids wanting revenge on their parents for taking their "Cuties." Which appeared to be...well...tangerines!

The label on the bag makes no mention of Clementines, tangerines, or Cuties.

Hmm...looks like this fruit is a Mandarin Orange!

Whatever you want to call it, I find it delicious. Had two of them for lunch. Uh huh. Nothing dainty or upper-crust about Val. She will jam miniature oranges into her face as she sees fit. And she also eats meat, watches TV (REALITY TV), and doesn't think she's better than those who don't. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I don't normally buy these treats. I was looking for vitamin C. The price on the 3 lb bag of oranges was prohibitive. The price on the 2 lb bag of tangerine/Clementine/Cutie/Mandarins was less. Not that Val is a pauper, mind you. But a lot of a regular orange is that thick skin with the bitter white stuff on the inside, so I might have paid for 3 lb of oranges, yet only gotten 2 lb of the edible portion.

Anyhoo...since Hick has by intention or happy accident infected me with his death-La-Z-Boy cold...I was looking for a natural remedy that might speed up my recovery. Lots of water, and some vitamin C. That's my self-prescription.

On Monday, I'll see a regular doctor. Oops! I mean nurse practitioner. It's a routine 6-month appointment to get another 6 months of my thyroid and blood pressure meds. How convenient that my sickness fell within that time frame! It's hard to get in to see a doctor nurse practitioner when you're actually sick.

I hope I don't catch anything while I'm there!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Terror at 1.5 Feet!

Saturday, I held my 44 oz cup against the lever for the Diet Coke spigot at the Gas Station Chicken Store, and heard "Pfft! Pfft-pftt! PFFT!" Well. This ol' Val wasn't born yesterday! I know that the soda fountain makes that noise as it runs out of soda. Happened to me two weeks ago, when I got about 1/3 cup of Diet Coke, and then white foamy liquid. The Stern Old Lady clerk went to fix it, though, and tested it with a smaller cup, until it was right.

This time, a line of 5 people awaited the nice but new-and-slow clerk to ring up their gas purchases. I knew that I was not going to get special treatment from him. My heart pounding, instinct took over. I pulled my cup away, took one step to the right, and finished my last 30 oz at the Diet Pepsi spigot on the lesser soda fountain. I don't normally enjoy Diet Pepsi, but it was palatable, and better than going without, or making an extra stop.

Even better, the Man Owner came out of nowhere (nowhere most likely being the back room), and opened the second register, right when I was next in line. Because he's always so congenial, I shared the information that I had sucked his spigot dry. Or at least relieved it of all Diet Coke. And Man Owner said, "I'm not going to charge you for the soda."


I thanked him, but insisted on paying. "I already have my correct change ready! It's no big deal. You don't have to do that."

"Well...I'll catch you next time."

He's a class act, that Man Owner. As I type this, I am enjoying my 44 oz Diet Coke-Pepsi mixed with sugar free cherry limeade powder. It couldn't be any sweeter if it was free. It's the thought that counts.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Scream a Song of OnePence

Whew! I narrowly avoided another shut-out this week in my Future Pennyillionaire quest.

On MONDAY, November 5th, I was leaving Orb K feeling dejected. Rejected. Summarily dismissed without a penny! But right by the door, a fine specimen stood up and screamed to be found.

Seriously! How could I doubt that this penny was meant just for me? Not merely lolling on the questionably-maintained tile, nearly camouflaged...but shining brightly, all propped up to be noticed, between me and the exit door!

Yes, there it was, leaning against the donut case. It couldn't have been more obvious unless I was a daily donut-buyer!

Of course this cheeky little penny was showing me his TAIL side, but I'm not picky! I photographed this 2015 beauty, and pocketed him like he had proper manners! One more drop towards filling my goblet.

For 2018: This was Penny # 114.
For 2018: Dimes still at   # 15.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.
For 2018: Quarter still at #1.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 192.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 21.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Quarter #1.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Hick Swove a Few Miles For a Camel

Hick spent $2 at the auction Wednesday night. I'm not sure why. Here are his purchases.

He bought a family of unknown people, which he thinks are over 100 years old. He said there are 12 pictures, probably from the 1800s. I can't vouch for Hick-dating. I'm pretty sure it's not as accurate as carbon-dating.

I don't know why Hick would want these pictures. He can't sell them, unless a lightning-strike PowerBall-jackpot of a coincidence brings the relatives to shop at Hick's Storage Unit Store. I guess he just likes old things.

The other purchase included in his $2 was a card/dice game.

Obviously, it's associated with the Camel cigarette brand, because that's Joe Camel's picture on the cards. I tried to find out more, but didn't see this blue version. It's not expensive, according to Google. The year that kept popping up was 1992. But I never did see this color of the packaging. Let the record show that it was NOT an extensive search. I lost interest after a couple of minutes. Versions that looked older than this one were going for $17 or $24 at the highest, and some were $5. This one almost looks like a foreign knockoff, because it's not immediately recognized as the camel on the cigarette pack.

I'm really hoping Hick already has a themed shed that this will fit in, and that it does not require new construction. I'm going to recommend his Little Barbershop of Horrors.

Hick says the blue is the BACK OF THE BOX, and the front does, indeed, look like a white pack of Camel cigarettes. He plans to put it with his "smoke" stuff in...I was right...The Little Barbershop of Horrors. Of course Hick sent me a picture of the back of the box of cards. I guess I was supposed to know that, from his attitude of, "Yeah. White. The FRONT of the box is white."

Hick says people buy old pictures like crazy. CRAZY! That they'll pay $2-$3 apiece for the pictures, of which he has 12 or 13. So he plans to sell them.