Thursday, January 31, 2019

BRRR! Chili!

We knew the cold snap was coming. It's been in the news for a week. I know that we're inside with the thermostat set on 70, but still, looking out and knowing that single-digit temps are headed our way makes me want chili. Mmm...chili.

That's what we were having for supper on Tuesday! I had a Hot & Sour Soup container of it in FRIG II's freezer. Those containers are great for not-spilling. I'd been waiting for a good time to put this leftover chili in the supper lineup. I told Hick on Monday night, when I set it on the cutting block.

"I'm taking this chili out of the freezer for supper tomorrow."

"Yeah. That'll be good."

"You can have chili dogs if you want."

"Yeah. I'll have some chili and chili dogs."

"Okay. Just let it sit here. It's frozen solid. I'll put it in the fridge when I come up later."

You don't have to tell Hick twice to do nothing. I put the chili away around 3:00 a.m. Huh. Something in the container looked kind of funny. I guess it was a chili bean along the side. Darker than the rest of the chili. I make it with assorted beanage. Maybe kidney beans, or pork and beans, or black beans, or even blackeyed peas.

We were busy most of the Tuesday, what with buying Hick's new used truck. When I got home from the store, it was going on 4:00.

"Do you want me to go ahead and warm up the chili? I haven't had lunch, but it seems a little late for that. We could go straight to lupper."

"That's fine. I just had a piece of beef jerky while I was over at the Freight Container Garage taking some stuff out of the TrailBlazer."

"All right. Do you want your hot dogs in the oven?" I like that better than microwaving, but Hick likes them soggy in boiling water unless he has to do it himself.

"Yeah. That's good."

"Okay. I'll start warming it before I go change clothes. OH CRAP!"

"What's the matter?"


Dang it! I had my taste buds set on chili. Not soup. Don't get me wrong. My leftover soup is equally as delicious as my leftover chili. But I had been looking forward to my chili for nearly 24 hours. Mmm...chili. With crackers. Maybe some shredded cheddar sprinkled on top. I wanted chili. Not this:

I know it doesn't look so appetizing here, all full of crackers. But I assure you that my vegetable beef soup was as delicious as the day it was made:

What should have been my clue that I was thawing soup instead of chili was the green bean I saw pressed up against the side of the opaque container. I don't know about you, but I've never put green beans in my chili.

Again, the soup was quite delicious. Hick even said so. Although he commented before eating it, "Huh. I really wanted that chili." He still had his hot dogs, with KETCHUP instead of chili on them. Seems like the chili had been so tasty that we didn't have any left over after all. I didn't really NEED the crackers I'd bought for my chili. Oh, I used them in the soup, just because.

That's another story entirely...

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Hick's Gotta Keep On Truckin'

A while back, Hick and I had an argument (I know, it's hard to believe, isn't it) about car vending machines. I told Hick he was crazy, that just because you see a commercial with a car vending machine doesn't mean there really IS such a thing! Seriously. Like that car insurance commercial with those annoying people (who look computer-generated to me) standing in front of the Statue of Liberty, when in reality there's nothing there for them to stand on at that location. You know, the current commercial with the bicycling dude with giant calf muscles.

Anyhoo... I was extremely disappointed when my research revealed that there really ARE car vending machines! Not only do I think that's really stupid, but it meant I had to concede that HICK WAS RIGHT and I was wrong. If that's not a sign heralding the apocalypse, I don't know what is! You'd think Hick could have been more gentlemanly about my unfortunate misinformation. Rather than bringing up the topic with the ex-mayor my sister's husband on a trip to the casino while I was held captive in the shotgun seat of A-Cad.

Anyhoo... on Tuesday, I thought of that car vending machine again, when I saw THIS:

Heh, heh! Now that's MY idea of a car vending machine. Not real cars. Just toys. Or models, as grown men call their toy cars. I didn't mention this to Hick, though. I didn't want to spoil his day by reminding him of that time HE WAS RIGHT, and I was wrong. Oh, wait...

No, I didn't want to bring up anything that would distract him in his state of euphoria sitting in the car dealer's office buying a new truck!

Okay, it was a USED new truck. Still. It was Hick's new grown-up toy. That's it, behind the mini car vending machine!

Ain't he a beauty? It's not leaking, and nobody took a pee there where that puddle is. That was water running out of the truck bed when the worker parked it there, according to Hick. I saw it online Monday night, showed Hick, and he went to drive it Tuesday morning before I was even out of bed. We've been casually looking, for about a year, for a replacement for the 1999 Ford F250 4WD Extended Cab Long Bed, which has 190,000 miles, some rust, performance issues, and has been with us for the majority of The Pony's life.

No, it's not NEW, new. However, a 2011 Chevy Silverado with 60,687 miles on it is nothing to sneeze at. It's a one-owner truck, from a local guy, who bought a NEW new truck on January 4th, and traded this one in. Has its owner's manual and everything. Another guy was going to buy it on Saturday. He'd completed all the paperwork, and was sitting in the office signing the loan papers when he said, "I don't think I want to stay at my job for five years. Never mind. I don't want it after all." I bet THAT guy would never have paid $1000 for shoe inserts at The Good Feet Store!

Hick is a bit hard-headed, and I don't blame him. The offers for his two trade-ins were $1303 for the F250, and $782 for the 2002 TrailBlazer. Hick told the guy, "No hard feelings, but I'll keep my trade-ins. I'd rather give them to somebody who needs them, like my neighbor Tommy, than give them to you for that price!" Hick came home, and was telling me this story. Also, that the salesman only came down $500 from the asking price. "We'll find another one."

I figure we were meant to have this truck. Nothing else has come close to being what we wanted. You know this one wouldn't last long. That's why I told Hick, "If you want it, go do it." Hick called the guy back, with another offer, and said that we would finance through the dealer if he could get us the rate our credit union offers. Another return call from the salesman, and we were off to start the paperwork at 1:00. I didn't notice until we were sitting in the office that Hick was wearing a bright red long-sleeve t-shirt. Isn't that cute? He was color-coordinated with his new truck! Just another sign that this one was meant for us.

Hick plans to park the F250 and the TrailBlazer up at his Storage Unit Store lot with a FOR SALE sign in the window. The owner lets people do that, if they have a storage unit there. Right now two campers are sitting out front.

I haven't yet settled on a name for the newest vehicular addition to our family, but I'm considering "SilverRedO."

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

No! More Mr. Nice Guy!

You'd think Hick was campaigning for dogcatcher! I might need to call the CDC, because a mysterious fever might be percolating in Hick's innards. His nicety lately knows no bounds.

Monday afternoon, the weather took a turn for the cold, dropping from the upper 40s into the 20s. That drove Hick back home, when his Storage Unit Store, where he was sorting fishing plugs, became too drafty. He puttered around fixing the motor that runs the triangular jetted bathtub, and watched 90 percent of Coyote Ugly. Then he headed to the BARn to putter around. I heard him return near 3:30, and kick back the La-Z-Boy.

Then I heard him TALKING! Without hearing his phone ring. Sure, he could have called someone. But he was over by the front door. At first, I thought he was talking to the dogs, while checking the weather. That's how we do it here. Fling open the front door, and stick a nose out. Hick seemed too cheery to be talking to the dogs. He's kind of gruff with them. Sometimes, he'll say, "Here ya go, Stupid."

I'm never quite sure if he means my Sweet, Sweet Juno, or (formerly known as Puppy) Jack. Hick blames Jack for everything. Even a pile of poop found on the side porch last week. I'm sure it was that darn black cat, the Garage Pooper. It looked exactly the same. And Jack runs around all the time. No way is he porchbound, too lazy to poop in the woods. Whereas that black cat is ALWAYS on the porch, now that his garage access has been denied.

Anyhoo... Hick sounded downright friendly. We weren't expecting anyone. If it was one of Hick's associates, they would have hopped on the Gator and headed to his Freight Container Garage, or the BARn. There's heat in both of them, plus unnamed treasures to dig through. But Hick doesn't sound all sweet with his cronies. I resisted the urge to go see what was happening. That would have required me to rise off my ample rumpus.

Hick just happened to come downstairs. I hollered for him, but he ignored me until the third try. I wanted to show him a used truck I'd found at a local dealer. While looking at it on New Delly's screen, Hick revealed that some neighbor kids had come to the door.

"It's them kids that live up on the hill. The ones who use the Bus Stop that HOS built. They were selling those cards for a fundraiser. You know, the kind with discounts. I figured if they were eager enough to come knock on the door, I'd buy one from them. It was $15."

"Oh, so now we'll owe you the $15 back?"

"No. I bought it with my money."

Aww... what a soft touch Hick is! Of course, I bought fundraiser stuff from students who asked me, but I didn't use MY OWN MONEY! I used our household money. Because we all shared in whatever I bought. Maybe Hick isn't going to share with me!

Later, when I went upstairs to make supper, I asked what businesses were on the card. Sometimes, they're actually a good deal, if it's places you go to anyway. Sometimes, you can use them for discounts for a whole calendar year.

"I don't remember exactly. I know Pizza Hut was one of them. Maybe Sonic."

"Do you have it with you? Let me look."

"Oh. I don't have a CARD. They just showed me one. They said they'd bring me one tomorrow."

I really hope Hick didn't get scammed by some kids. Oh, he could afford it. And would probably have handed them $15 if they'd asked for a donation. But if he doesn't get his saver card, his feelings will be hurt.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Nice Guys Finish Aghast

Poor Hick. The perpetually put-upon nice guy. I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.

A few days ago, Hick declared that I didn't need to make his supper. He was going to cook up a feast of ham and eggs and biscuits. Let the record show that I DID buy the ham (already sliced) because Hick had asked for some bologna (they were out of the garlic variety) or ham for some lunch sandwiches. Also, I provided the biscuits, which I had bought way back when The Pony was home. We didn't have time to use them, and I'd mentioned that they needed to go. Because the last time I forgot about biscuits in the refrigerator, we had an unfortunate explosion, which resulted in the arrival of The Original FRIG.

Anyhoo... this was Hick's idea. He knows how to cook his eggs over easy, and I've only done it a couple of times. Which may be why he wants to do it himself. I could hear him upstairs in the kitchen, stumping from FRIG II to stove. Heard the oven door. It's not that I try to spy on him, just that a mother always has one ear roaming for possible trouble, and Hick is pretty much like a kid who needs some supervision. I could smell the ham frying. Let the record show that I'd made myself a bowl of chicken/refried beans/cheese/salsa/sour cream, since I knew that Hick would not be preparing any extra food to offer to me. I'm psychic like that.

Anyhoo... I heard Hick clomping down the stairs. I wondered if he'd had a kitchen catastrophe. He stepped into my lair, and said

"I just got a call from Wreck [back creek neighbor Bev's husband]. He's broke down on that stretch where you came to get me in the Mercedes that time." [1986 Mercedes, wedding-mint-yellow, boxy, bought in 2006]

"Oh. That's too bad, right at suppertime."

"I know. I just got my eggs done."

"Well, you can give them to the dogs, and make more eggs when you get back."

"Yeah. Or just warm them up."

Anyhoo... Hick left to drive six miles out to get Wreck, and drive him six miles back home. He said that Wreck's van had a broken accelerator cable. I guess that's a thing. Hick said he was holding it in his hand when he drove up. Also, that Wreck has no idea how to drive a car that's being towed, because he wouldn't keep the chain taught, and twice Hick had to stop to reconnect it. Finally, when they got to the top of the mile downhill, Hick said, "I'm unhooking you. You can coast down to the gravel road, and then we'll hook back up."

Hick also said that Wreck asked him to tow the van farther out another back road, to a mechanic, but Hick told him no. The reason being that Hick had such trouble towing Wreck a couple miles that he was not about to embark on a longer journey.

"Did he offer to pay you for your trouble?"

It was a reasonable question. Wreck had taken Hick away from his supper, after dark, in the frigid cold, on a dangerous mission on two-lane blacktop with no shoulder. And Bev and Wreck always pay Hick for the odd jobs they ask him to do. Plus, Bev was Hick's best customer for that storage unit Tupperware, having bought at least $600 worth of it new in boxes, which Hick said was also a bargain for her, being worth about three times that. Anyhoo... I just figured they probably would have offered to pay. A tow truck from town would certainly have cost money, and taken twice the time.

"No. That kind of surprised me. He thanked me a bunch of times, and said if there was ever anything I needed, to give him a call. I thought he might offer me something. But he didn't."

Here's the thing. Hick doesn't do stuff like this in hopes of being paid. He does them because he's a nice guy. He might even have refused to take anything for his trouble. Bev has given him a bunch of stuff that she doesn't want, which Hick has sold for profit at his Storage Unit Store. They don't owe him anything. They've been more than generous.

Still. An offer might have been nice.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

No Wealth For the Wicked

Sometimes, Val just needs to stay home. Like Saturday.

I had the beginnings of a headache mid-morning, but no plans to do anything. I figured I'd just get my 44 oz Diet Coke and lounge around my lair. Hick was at his Storage Unit Store (made $59) when a text came in from the Ex-Mayor. He and his wife my sister were planning a casino trip within the hour. Did we want to meet them?

Hick said he could be home by noon-thirty, so plans were to meet up with Sis and Ex-Mayor at our old favorite casino for a burger. I gathered my gambling paraphernalia and we hit the road at 12:37. I must admit that lunch was good. It was, in fact, the high point of Val's day. So that's saying something.

My burger was done JUST RIGHT! I ordered it medium, and it came out kind of rare. But that's fine, because it was tasty, not a dried-out disappointment. I credit the other not-much-English-speaking worker who took the order this time, rather than the one who always scams my MyCash without permission. I also think they're making those burgers bigger again! Like old times. I must confess, I stuffed down every morsel. Though I DID leave some fries behind.

Across from me was the Ex-Mayor's Italian sausage and onion rings, but I didn't fit them into the picture. He scraped the peppers off anyway. Seriously. I don't know what's wrong with my associates! Hick and my favorite gambling aunt, on separate occasions, have also wiped their sausage clean, and bemoaned the peppers. It tells you right on the menu that an Italian sausage comes with onions and peppers! Who doesn't know that?

Hick had a burger with pepperjack cheese and all the fixin's, with fries. Sis had a bowl of chili and a burger with ONLY cheddar cheese. Of course we all had free sodas from the soda fountain. We paid with my $10 food comp, and Hick's MyCash! Ex-Mayor paid with his food comp and MyCash. So it was all virtually free. During lunch, Ex-Mayor told us how he'd been winning on a bank of slots that were linked, and the goal (according to him) was to play as fast as you could to hit one of the jackpots. He described where they were, even pointed, on the other side of the casino, along the wall.

By the time we were done eating, I had two hours of gambling time. That casino is smoky and loud, and my almost-headache was creeping nearer. I found a couple games to play, because the ones I was headed to were usurped by others when I was mere steps away. So I took over the games THEY had been playing. I can't remember a time when the odds were more stacked against me!

I hadn't lost much during my first hour, because I wasted so much time trying to log into the player's card thingy to get my free play. I swear they fix those things to get you right up to the point of your PIN, then the screen locks up. THEN I got a text from Ex-Mayor, showing a jackpot he hit, then another shortly thereafter, telling me he was at those dollar machines. I said I might work my way back there. It's not like I was having any luck on anything else.

Well. I must have spent 15 minutes walking around that casino, down the entire wall where he'd pointed out those machines, and could not find him. I found Hick. And I found Sis. But not the one I was looking for, who had given me specific directions. Turns out he was on the OTHER SIDE of the casino, at completely different slots! Which I discovered when he found ME, saying I wasn't where I said I'd be!

Anyhoo...I was quite ready to leave after two hours. That's unheard-of for Val. Even more unheard-of, I still had MONEY IN MY GAMBLING PURSE that I didn't even want to wager! I'd played all that time without winning anything other than $19 on a line hit on Fu Dao Le, and $12 on a Buffalo Stampede jackpot. That's RIDICULOUS! Val know her way around a casino, my friends, and this is totally unacceptable. I'm not throwing away more of my good money when I've been getting NOTHING in return! I couldn't even double my money, which I always cash out. I left there without cashing out a single ticket! I don't think that has EVER happened before! It's not like I fed it all into one machine. I played at least 10 different slots, all with equally dismal results.

At least Sis and Ex-Mayor were doing okay. When we left, anyway. Hick and I both agree that we prefer the Shady Buffet Casino over this one. We will drive farther, and eat less, because at least at that one, we have fun playing, with little wins here and there to keep us going.

Good thing I won $75 on a $5 scratcher on Friday!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Strange Case of the Boomer Coming After the MillPENNYal

I found him on a Wednesday and my heart stood still, my new pen-pen-pen, my new pen-pen! Uh huh. Only a single penny this week. But that's better than zero pennies! Because my pennyscape has been bleak of late, I must say, I was quite excited to make this discovery, waiting two customers deep, over by the chicken counter.

Okay. My heart didn't really stand still. It thump-thumped with excitement. I was like an older, smarter, fatter, less-male, non-arm-waving Horshack. With more fear. Fear that somebody else might snatch that coin before I was waited on. Only one dude ahead of me. A Millennial Dude, wearing jeans, no socks, and thongs on his feet!

That's right! These young whippersnappers can't fool ME! Those shoes are called THONGS, by cracky! NOT flip-flops! Why use two words when one will suffice? Call your g-string by its proper name, and leave us Boomers with our thongs! Don't even make a pretense of that early-oughts lingo of SLIDES, worn with socks! No. Those shoes are THONGS! Not even proper thongs, either. They're weirdo thongs, without the torture device that belongs between your big toe and the little piggy who stayed home.

And here was this Millennial Dude, thankfully oblivious to Old Abe under his navy blue improper thong. That Millennial Dude would have made a terrible princess, probably unable to feel a pea through a single silk sheet. But that's good! Because it meant my penny wasn't getting snatched up by him.

I can't even complain about this 2016 Abe being face-down.

The HORROR of laying there, helpless, unable to move, while watching a dude's bare foot in a generic navy blue thong descend over your face would be equivalent to the HORROR of Genevieve Bujold's character being a surgery patient in Robin Cook's COMA, after a dose of succinylcholine, watching that breathing mask descending over her mouth and nose. Have I mentioned that I hate feet?

Once Millennial Dude finished paying for his purchases with his plastic money, I got my picture and my penny. I refrained from taking a picture of Millennial Dude's thong suffocating my rightful penny. I respected his privacy. Who wants a picture of their bare foot on the innernets wearing a generic navy blue thong?

Sometimes, becoming a Future Pennyillionaire is really hard work.

2019 Running Total
Penny   # 10.
Dime   still at 1.
Nickel  still at 2
Quarter  still at 1

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

2017 TOTALS (Started in March, 2017)
Penny  78
Dime   6
Nickel  0
Quarter  0

Friday, January 25, 2019

T-Hoe is Dead to Hick

Are you sitting down? Do you have smelling salts ready? A defibrillator, perhaps? You're not gonna believe this, but


I know, right? The planets must be aligned, because while I was down in my dark basement lair, Hick took it upon himself to get his Check Engine Checker, and go find out what in the Not-Heaven ailed T-Hoe. He even wrote it down, so there would be no confusion. Well. Mainly so there would be no need to repeat his efforts, probably.

Looks like Hick had the same penmanship teacher as Mrs. Cranky! Pardon me while I brag on my Sweet Baboo, because it looks like Hick won the penmanship medal. Don't tell little Rhoda Penmark, 'kay?

You can plainly (?) see that T-Hoe had a problem with his Pedal Position Sensor, and that his #7 Cylinder was misfiring. Of course Hick fixed these problems. You wanna know how?


Uh huh. Hick did nothing to impart some sense into the Pedal Position Sensor, and did nothing to fire up ol' Cylinder #7. Don't act all surprised.

I'd been telling Hick for months that sometimes T-Hoe won't get-up-and-go. Like on the hill heading into town, by Hick's Storage Unit Store. And also that sometimes, T-Hoe would rev up like I was trying to do a burnout, when I was just putting the same pressure to the pedal, not even trying to smash it to the metal. Like he would jump into overdrive for no reason. In addition, T-Hoe sometimes "coughed." Or "putt-putted." As my mom might have put it, the engine was "missing."

I have no idea if either of those problems can be attributed to the issues illuminated by the Check Engine Checker. But I am secure in the knowledge that these problems will arise again. Hick seems to know what he needs to fix the #7 Cylinder. He has no idea what the Pedal Position Sensor needs. "Could have just been the cold weather making it act up."

Anyhoo... here's the thing. This checking of T-Hoe's Check Engine light cost me $174.66. No, Hick did not give me an itemized bill for his time and rental of his Check Engine Checker. What do you think he is, some money-grubbing opportunist who'd charge his own wife for a second-hand lava lamp to give their son for his birthday?

Nope. While Hick was checking my engine light, he had to have the power on. When he finished, and got in T-Hoe to start him up and see if the Check Engine light was now off... he discovered that


Yeah. So he had to jump T-Hoe using A-Cad (who, as you may recall, has no visible battery, but only two connector points for battery-jumping), and drive to town for a new battery.

I guess that's the new battery he has been telling me T-Hoe needed for several months now.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Click Click Rrrrr

Never a dull moment in VALtown. When I think I've run out of material, and have nothing for the morrow...all I have to do is make a trip to town.

I'd already obtained my 44 oz Diet Coke at The Gas Station Chicken Store on Wednesday, and picked up some scratchers from Country Mart's machines, and was tooling out of the parking lot, happily unaware that my tickets were losers, when it happened.


Huh. That's odd. What in the world was my Shaming Bracelet trying to tell me now? It gives random beeps and boops throughout the day. Mostly when I'm too sedentary, and unlikely to achieve my day's goal, which thanks to Genius's miscalculations when programming it at Christmas on December now 4 MILES per day. Rather than my usual 1.5 miles.

Anyhoo...I was making the turn onto the parking lot's exit road when


happened. I didn't want to glance down to see what symbol was on my Shaming Bracelet. I knew for sure that I hadn't walked 4 MILES, and besides, the sound wasn't the one I hear when GOAL! and digital balloons cover the screen. I held my left wrist to my ear.


Well. That sound wasn't coming from my Shaming Bracelet! It was coming from T-Hoe! That quickened my heartbeat a bit, though I'm sure my Shaming Bracelet didn't give me credit. What if


had something to do with that faulty airbag that OnStar said T-Hoe had a recall for, but no repairs were yet available! Was I going be pierced with shrapnel forthwith? This couldn't be good. What if T-Hoe was about to throw a rod? I don't know that that entails, but I'm sure that wouldn't be good! What if a piece of T-Hoe fell off? Or what if something extra (hopefully not a kitten, NO NO NO, got into the engine, like that time I was in kindergarten and my dad went out to start his truck one chilly morning)?

Everything seemed to be working as normal. Had brakes. Had power steering. Had acceleration. Had radio and gauges. GAUGES! Check the gauges! T-Hoe is so old that his gauges are still like little dials. Not digital.

The gauge on the upper left looks like a genie lamp with something dripping out the spout. I'm thinking maybe it stands for oil pressure, but I know less about cars than I know about the geography of the UK. The dial goes from 0 to 80, and the needle hovered a bit shy of and then a bit over 40, depending on whether I was waiting to pull out onto the road, or actually accelerating. So that seemed okay.

The gauge on the upper right is the battery. I'm pretty sure. I know what a battery looks like, and this symbol is rectangular, with a couple bumps on the top. It goes from 9 to 19, and the needle was just over the middle marking of 14. Hick has been saying I might need a new battery, but the needle is always in this zone when I look at it. So that seemed okay.

The gauge on the bottom right looks like a sailboat's mast riding on waves. I'm not sure about this. Maybe it's supposed to be a thermometer? Or something to do with the radiator? Some other fluid? It goes from 160 to 260, and the needle was straight up, in the middle, on the 200 mark. So it seemed okay.

WHOA! The CHECK ENGINE symbol popped up while I was looking at the gauges, while stopped waiting for traffic to pass so I could pull onto the road that takes me to my left-turn light to get on the lettered highway that takes me home. I KNOW the CHECK ENGINE light. It's an orange outline of a motor. Throughout my quick inspection of T-Hoe's dashboard, there was the constant


I was leery of driving home. It's just 5 miles, taking 10 minutes, but I sure didn't want to break down on the way. There's no shoulder! And it was 27 degrees! Who knows where Hick was. In the BARn, nobody can hear you call. I'd just pulled onto the road, but quickly made a left into the area that harbors my pharmacy, Hardee's, and Dairy Queen. I pulled onto the Dairy Queen lot, making sure not to strand T-Hoe on top of a giant rock like that one lady. I parked, and left T-Hoe running. Because I wasn't quite sure if he'd start up again. My intention was to call Hick, and let him hear the


Lucky for me, Hick was asleep in the La-Z-Boy! When I left, he'd been eating a ham sandwich, planning to take some stuff to the BARn. Double-lucky for me, he answered groggily on the second ring, rather than taking 10 like the previous day when I wanted him to help carry in groceries from the garage. NOT so lucky for me, as soon as I touched the red square with D for Dad (my phone contacts being set up by Genius) to call him, there was a sudden stoppage of the


Of course Hick didn't know what I was talking about. He told me to turn off T-Hoe, and he'd come get me if T-Hoe wouldn't start again. That went against every fiber of my being, because why would you turn off a running car, on the chance that it may not start again? Anyhoo...I did, and T-Hoe did, so Hick told me to drive home, and call back if I broke down. I guess he needed few more ZZZZZs.

I was sure to tell Hick my route, which was a bit of a detour, due to the low-water bridge being flooded from all that snow melting Tuesday, and rain overnight. Lucky for me, T-Hoe drove home like nothing had happened, still shining his CHECK ENGINE light, with the usual messages popping up alternately. Those being SERVICE SUSPENSION SYSTEM and SERVICE PARK ASSIST.

Hick came out to the garage wearing gloves and an orange hat with ear flaps, and proceeded to check my oil (about half a quart low, he said, which is what he sometimes calls me, if he doesn't agree with my opinions). Then he closed the hood, and said, "Who knows what it could have been."

Of course I suggested that perhaps he might fetch the gadget I gave him for Christmas that plugs into T-Hoe and reads the error that made the CHECK ENGINE light come on. It's a CHECK ENGINE checker! Which I got specifically because T-Hoe's CHECK ENGINE light keeps coming on, then going off after a couple days. Hick said it was over in the BARn, where no cars live, go figure!

We'll see what develops...

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Val Is Off Her Rocker

It's no secret that Val is a sciency kind of gal. So the Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse on Sunday night was on her radar.

I've seen a total lunar eclipse before. It was real, and it was spectacular. That one was years ago, when I was still teaching, and I caught it during the early morning hours, pre- and post- shower. The orange glow is real, folks! Not just something to read about in science books. these parts, the beginning of the Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse was supposed to begin around 9:40 p.m. The shadow of the earth would be starting across the moon at that time. It would take about an hour to progress, and then another hour for the shadow to recede. I was concerned about our weather for my viewing. The last I saw was bright sunshine when I descended to my dark basement lair shortly after noon.

At 2:49, Hick sent me a text: "It's snowing like crazy big flakes"

Well. As far as I knew, snow was NOT in the forecast. The snow had already passed by. So this was a surprise to me. I was afraid it might throw a monkey wrench into my Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse viewing later that night.

Around 5:00, Hick screwed my new hub (heh, heh) into the wall under my computer desk, and New Delly was up and running like the olden days. So I was rejoicing and preoccupied with my innernets, and completely forgot about the Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse!

Thank goodness The Pony is a good sciency offspring, and sent me a text at 10:02:
"Are you planning to watch the eclipse?"

I went upstairs. Hick said the snow had stopped around 7:00. So I had some hope. The yard looked really bright, though in retrospect, it must have just been the dusk-to-dawn light reflecting off the snow. I stepped out on the back porch. BRRR! I think temps were in the teens then, before dipping into single digits overnight.

Try as I might, I could not find the moon. I leaned as far as I dared, standing on the back porch near Juno's dog house, not wanting to step into the packed, icy snow layer near the rail. The moon always rises over the treetops by our septic tank. Then passes over the house, in the direction of Shackytown Boulevard, and then across the front yard sky. The house roof seemed to be in my way. So I headed to back inside, to come out the front door.

I started across the front porch, to get to the end rail, and look for the partial moon.


As I approached the rocking chair that once rocked Baby Genius (he HATED to rock), it started rocking by itself! What in the NOT HEAVEN?

My feet were crunching on the snow that had blown onto the porch during the snowstorm. It was kind of eerie, all cold and still, dark on the porch, with our yard light glowing on the snow. I figured maybe my Jurassic Park-like footfalls as I tromped along the porch boards might have caused a vibration that started that chair to rocking. I went on, to the porch end, where I discovered that what I had hoped was the glow of the moon above was just light reflecting from our dusk-to-dawn to the snow and back up into the foggy kind of atmosphere. No stars visible, either. I guess we were still under cloud cover. Such a disappointment.

Anyhoo... as I went back down the porch, towards the front door, I looked for that chair to start rocking again as I passed. But it didn't. Huh. Must have been from the door-side boards I'd stepped on. So I turned around and tried to recreate the rocking. Nope. That chair didn't budge. I got a picture of the scene.

You can see my shoe tread coming back from the end rail's anticipated, but not-realized, Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse viewing. I wasn't on any of the boards that run directly under that chair when it started rocking.

Hick said it was the wind. Which would be a great explanation, if the wind had been blowing. It had not. I surely would have noticed a wind chill cutting through my VALcrosoft Nerd jacket, and blowing my striped fleece sweatpants.

Then Hick said it must have been the black cat running out of there. Please. That cat is not going to sit on the porch at 10:00 at night with temps in the teens. Besides, I saw NO animals on the porch, until I was back to the door, and had taken this picture, when Juno came around the corner behind me from the other direction. There are dog footprints by the pew, when I zoom in, most likely from big-footed Copper Jack earlier in the day.

No prints are around the rocking chair. There's something behind it, under the metal chair, that looks like maybe a bird might have hopped in and pecked at something. But nothing I can find that would have made a chair rock.

Another mystery unsolved by sciency Val, adding more evidence for Hick's files when he tries to declare that Val is off her rocker.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

After the Brownie Maker Incident, I Fear THIS Could Scar The Pony for Life

The Pony doesn't ask for much. Maybe for last Christmas's brownie maker to actually be included in the box he takes back to college, when he opens it up to make brownies. But otherwise, he rarely drops a clue for those who are seeking gift ideas. Imagine my surprise, when fishing for birthday gift ideas for next month, The Pony said he'd like a lava lamp.

He used to have one. Still does. It's on the lamp table by my OPC (Old People Chair). The Pony tried to make it work, but it was either unplugged behind the couch, or has lapsed into permanent dormancy. It's not like they're expensive. The Pony said he'd like one in purple, similar to the old one.

Of course I mentioned it to Hick, who said, "I think I have a couple over in my storage unit stuff." Now, before you go all "AWW..." about Hick giving The Pony one of his lava lamps, let the record show that Hick continued: "We can pay ME for one instead of Walmart."

I wasn't real keen on that idea. After all, we'd just sent The Pony back to college with a box full of assorted wires to use for making brownies. Surely we could kick in enough cash to buy him a lava lamp that wasn't second-hand. Not according to Hick.

I came upstairs to find THIS on the kitchen counter. Yes, next to Hick's jar of beets (?) and his empty plastic Coke bottle that says "DAD," and his unopened bottle of Jameson (from an auction) that's been there at least six months. As you can see, this is not a modern lava lamp. It looks like an antique to me. More horrifying than the dented base are the innards!

It looks like something that might have been kept in Hannibal Lecter's storage unit next to Benjamin Raspail's jarred head. No way was I going to give that thing to The Pony as a birthday gift! Hick said it was fine. "It just got cold in the storage locker. It'll thaw out."

Scarily enough, two hours later, that giant-red-blood-cell-looking disc had started to melt.

And was even behaving like a proper lava lamp.

No way am I giving that to The Pony for his birthday. I'd sooner send him a new box of wires for brownie-making.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Finding Out the Hard Way

Last Tuesday, Val and Hick and Sis and Ex-Mayor hit the road for a little casino action. We had a limited time frame for this trip. It's really hard to coordinate our schedules, what with Hick's Storage Unit Store and auctions, Sis's days devoted to watching Babe, and Ex-Mayor sitting on the boards of several municipal entities. Val? Oh, my calendar is open! I can go to the casino any day, any time!

Normally, we go on Mondays. That's a Babe day. However, due to snow remainders, Sis was off Babe duty, since Niecy was off school and could keep Babe at home. Since Hick never plans anything, he sprung the casino idea on me by text while I was sleeping. We live in the Backroads Triangle of Text Transmissions. So I had been up and washing dishes for a while when Hick came home.

"I sent you a text. Do you want to go to the casino today?"

"I didn't see one. I'm nowhere near ready. I'm finishing these dishes, then I still have to take a shower."

Once my hands were out of the soapy water, I checked my phone, and saw that the text had arrived. Had I seen it earlier, I would have been ready. As it was, I called Sis to see if they wanted to go.

"Well. If you had called me only 15 minutes earlier, I'd say yes. But now I have two pots of beans boiling, so I have to finish them. It would be at least 2-and-a-half hours before we'd be ready."

"That's a little late. We wouldn't even get there until 4:00."

"Yeah. If I'd only known earlier, before I put these beans on..."

That's how it goes. I told Hick I'd rather put it off until Tuesday, which would interfere with his auction night. He said that was okay. So we picked up Sis and Ex-Mayor Tuesday at 10:00, with a plan to be home by 6:00 for one of Ex-Mayor's meetings. We knew the casino buffet wasn't open on Mondays or Tuesdays.

Tuesday's comp was a wheel spin after playing a specified number of points. I won a $30 food credit! That was the best thing on the board. Ex-Mayor was standing there with me, and he won a 20x multiplier for his points earned that day. He wasn't really happy about it. Sis and Hick didn't have enough points to play yet, when we went to lunch.

Lunch was at a grill inside the casino that we'd never tried, since all previous trips were on days the buffet was open. Sis, Ex-Mayor, and I all had the Garbage Nachos. Sis with only cheese and meat, Ex-Mayor without black olives, and mine without jalapenos or guacamole. We got a giant pile of homemade chips, with a little topping. They conveniently forgot the sour cream and salsa for ALL THREE OF US. So Sis asked the lady who brought them out, and she went back for some little plastic containers about half full. I thought the chips tasted stale, but I didn't want to say anything. Sis later said she thought they were off, but maybe it was because they were homemade. Hick had a mushroom swiss burger, which he declared delicious.

When they spun the wheel later, Sis got a 12x multiplier for her points, and Hick won A $30 FOOD CREDIT! It was only good until the following Tuesday. So we went back on Thursday, the only day available, due to auctions and the weather forecast, just me and Hick. Again, he sprung it on me out of the blue. I figured we would have the buffet. Mmm...I was looking forward to their fried chicken, and Hick always gets a ribeye, cooked to order. We just jumped in the car and went, not extending the offer to Sis and Ex-Mayor, going out the back way from our house, rather than going to town to pick them up.

I had not eaten anything, so on the way I asked Hick if we'd be having lunch, which is from 11:00 to 2:00, or supper, which starts at 4:00. Our ETA was 1:00. Hick was difficult to pin down. That man purely hates to make any kind of decision. I explained that if we weren't eating until 4:00, I'd open up the little pack of peanut butter crackers I'd brought along. But if we were going straight to the buffet, I wouldn't bother. Hick decided we would eat first, and then start home when our money ran out. Heh, heh. Not even a pretense of when we hit a jackpot.

Anyhoo... we walked into the lobby, and saw a makeshift wall in front of the buffet. Figuring it was just there until it opened up, we walked across and read their posterlike sign, which declared the hours on Thursday started at 4:00. Well. That meant I had three more hours to wait for my first morsel of the day. Still, we were at the casino! So I figured I'd just go hungry for a while longer.

We gambled, not winning, but getting enough back to have fun, and met up front at 4:15. That's because I thought everybody in there would rush up to get in line shortly before 4:00. That's what usually happens, and I hate standing in line until the backlog is cleared up, when I could be sitting on my ample rumpus and losing more money.

There was no line! Probably because that wall was still up! Yet the sign clearly said they would open at 4:00. So we walked back to the casino entrance, and Hick asked the dude stationed there to check IDs of the young whippersnappers. Dude said the buffet was closed. FOREVER! Ain't THAT a fine how-do-you-do? Dude could have told us that earlier, when we first got there, and he saw us reading the sign.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that dang casino should put up a sign that plainly says BUFFET CLOSED FOREVER. They could have clearly put up the information, and we'd have seen it on Tuesday. I even check their website every time before we go, to see the comps that day, and NOWHERE on the website does it mention that the buffet is CLOSED FOREVER. In fact, it still lists the hours of the buffet, and promotes it as one of their restaurants. [I just checked the website on Sunday, and now there is no mention that a buffet ever existed. Way to ruin my pre-scheduled blog post, too, you shady casino buffet!]

That's not fair! They got us hooked the first time we went, when they gave OLD PEOPLE a FREE BUFFET for signing up for a player's card. Then they dropped the free buffet after a certain amount of points on Old People's Day, and only gave a $10 food credit. Still, we were hooked. Then they closed the buffet on Mondays and Tuesdays, yet still we came, on other days, so we could have the buffet, and paid full price. To ditch the buffet completely is a cryin' shame. All us old people were milling around that grill, reminiscing about how good the buffet was.

Yes, Hick and I had to go back to the same grill we ate at two days previously, in order to spend his $30 of free food money. I got the nachos again.

Shockingly enough, they were FRESH this time! Half as many chips, twice as much topping, and the lady STILL forgot the sour cream and salsa. I asked for it, and she brought out the half-full containers. Sheesh! At home, I can use half a jar of salsa! I really had to ration!

Hick had the mushroom swiss burger (it's a double patty) again. He says it's better than the burgers at Burger Brothers at our old favorite casino. He also had a dessert that appeared to be a piece of pound cake with strawberries on top. I had the pre-packaged Grandma's Cookies, brownie flavor. We each added a soda, even though you can carry in the smaller cups of it for free from the casino floor. We had to spend the whole FREE $30, you know.

As it was, we went over by 44 cents. So Hick used the points on his player's card. We STILL would much rather have had the buffet. I'm pretty bitter about its closing. I don't know if the longer drive is worth it, without the buffet. We can go to the old favorite casino with 2/3 the drive time, an hour instead of 90 minutes.

You don't want to trifle with Val and her buffet... she'll lose her money elsewhere.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Farewell, Gravy Train

The gravy train has left the station! The land is no longer flowing with milk and honey! Here's some food for thought. Not to bite the hand that used to feed me, but I'm ready to kick the casino's butt for closing down the greatest thing since sliced bread: THEIR BUFFET!

This closure is a bitter pill to swallow! WHY would a casino close its buffet? That's a tough nut to crack. I guess a big cheese bit off more than he could chew. That buffet, it seems to me, was the casino's bread and butter. Always a crowd. Prices not cheap. Yet we were willing to pay. To spend the bacon we brought home. Maybe the problem was that our stomachs were bigger than our eyes. We always stuffed ourselves, dedicated to getting our money's worth. Now that we can't, we are stewing in our own juices.

Perhaps the executive who made the decision did not have egg on his face. Maybe he had too much on his plate. Bigger fish to fry. So he stole the candy from us babies. Candy in the form of a never-ending buffet. Which ended. We're trying to take this with a grain of salt, and not go bananas.

Yes, it may seem like a case of sour grapes. But Hick and Val were most disappointed to not even hear the news through the grapevine. Nobody would spill the beans. We had to drive 90 minutes, read a sign that the buffet opened at 4:00, and then be told AFTER ASKING that it was closed forever. That's harsh! It's extremely difficult to make lemonade out these lemons. We don't like these apples at all.

The peabrain who dropped this hot potato has put us in a pickle. Now we have to eat at a little cafe with big prices.

If we are what we eat, Val is a nacho, and Hick is a burger.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Val Picks Up Some Common CENTS, But Has Apparently Lost Her Senses.

Whew! I was afraid that Even Steven had seen fit to deprive Val of a SINGLE CENT this week! It took until FRIDAY, January 18th, to nab a numismatic morsel. The wait was worth it, though, because when I entered Orb K after a several-days absence, and figured out where they'd moved the scratcher display board... I found THIS:

A double dose of Future Pennyillionaire coins, left there just for me! Looks like Orb K is ready for the storm rolling in tomorrow morning.

The 2014 penny was face-down, which I've come to expect. Seems like way more than 50% of my floor-Lincolns can't meet my eye.

The 1988 dime was face-up, though. Even though FDR hid some health concerns from his public, he is not afraid to meet Val's gaze.

2019 Running Total
Penny   # 9.
Dime   # 1.
Nickel  still at 2
Quarter  still at 1

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

2017 TOTALS (Started in March, 2017)
Penny  78
Dime   6
Nickel  0
Quarter  0

In other news this week, I regret to inform you that I have totally lost my senses. LOOK WHAT I BOUGHT ON WEDNESDAY!

What kind of a MORON am I ???

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Corpse's Husband Was Wearing a Windbreaker and Tennis Shoes

That's a quote from a friend's mother. A blast from the past, way back in 1985. I was teaching in Cuba (the town in Missouri, not the island nation), and ran around with a tight group of friends. Okay. Two friends and me. We had a fourth that we sometimes included, as was the case for The Joan Rivers Extravaganza.

I don't know whose idea it was to get tickets to see Joan Rivers at The Fabulous Fox in St. Louis. I'm sure it wasn't me. Even though I've always been a fan of comedy, I'm not exactly one to take the reins and plan a social outing. I'm guessing it was my second best old ex-teaching buddy Karen who did the planning, seconded by my third best old ex-teaching buddy Jim, who was kind of theatery and appreciated a good show, having run the lighting at some point in his life for a performance somewhere of The Sound of Music. None of which particularly helped him in his career as a 5th grade teacher.

Anyhoo...I'm pretty sure this was 1985. Karen was from South St. Louis, and volunteered her parents' home for our overnight stay. So we packed up and hit I-44 and headed north. I think we took Jim's sedan, since I drove a Nissan Sentra, and Karen had a Chevy Chevette. Our fourth friend, Jerri, had a sedan I don't remember, other than once it had a flat tire, and the biology teacher walked over to her rental house to change it on his plan time.

All this is neither here nor there, just a slow-as-January-molasses lead-in to today's tale, which is actually about Hick.

But back in 1985, we were gathered at Karen's home, getting ready to go out on the town to see Joan Rivers. Jerri, our ethereal elementary art teacher, was taking the longest, she being fond of actually putting on makeup and doing more than drag a comb through her hair. Jim and I sat in the family room, chatting with Karen's Mother. She was interested in our hometowns, Jim and I being from within ten miles of each other. Karen's Mother recognized our towns, as she had recently been in one nearby for a funeral. Being a proper urban lady, Karen's Mother had found our backwoods funeral home customs scandalous.

In the outspoken way only those familiar with South St. Louis folks will understand (no offense meant), Karen's Mother drew herself up to her full five feet zero inches, and announced, "And the corpse's husband was wearing a windbreaker and tennis shoes!"

Well. Holding in my laughter at that moment was one of the hardest things I did during my Cuba years. I knew Jim was struggling too, as he wouldn't meet my eyes, and was looking down at his very own Walmart brand tennis shoes. This quote became one of our favorites when we needed to break an awkward silence or lighten the mood.

Anyhoo...I bring it up, because Hick and I went to the funeral home Wednesday night. Not a laughing matter, of course. One of our oldest neighbors passed away. Not oldest in age, but oldest in the amount of time they've lived out here along with us. It was a shock to hear, and a reminder that cancer of the pancreas will not be denied. Also a jolt of reality, when somebody younger than us dies.

No, I did not laugh at the funeral home. Our neighbor was dressed appropriately to greet people paying respects to his wife. But I was quite disappointed in Hick when I turned around and realized what he was wearing.

A bright green John Deere hooded sweatshirt, and dilapidated workboots.

I'm pretty sure our neighbor understood.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hick is Unstopperable!

Last week, I mentioned how Hick had finally put in T-Hoe's running light that had burned out LAST YEAR! Of course, he was fishing for praise, after finally getting around to that task, and another issue that arose on December 30th. ALSO last year, I might add!

When we had our Christmas Dinner with Genius, my kitchen sink suffered a setback. The meal and festivities were over, Genius had departed for another after-Christmas party, and I was toiling in solitude to clean up the aftermath. Once the first set of dishes were done, I pulled the sink plug to let out the water. The plug came out fine, but half of its rubber gasket thingy stayed behind. Uh huh. The rubber blew a gasket.

Let the record show that we built this house during the year The Pony was waiting to be born. Which makes it 21 years old now. I suppose things wear out after 21 years. That's nobody's fault. But as you might imagine, if you're an astute Val-reader, is that a part of this situation IS MOST DEFINITELY Hick's fault!

On December 30th, I told Hick that I needed a new sink stopper. Of course you can't just run out and buy a matching sink stopper, because my kitchen sink is so 1980's style that people on any HGTV show would scream and run out the door and exclaim "NO! It will need a complete renovation!" I can't believe those folks, can you? They get a perfectly livable house, maybe one that's just been completely remodeled to sell, and they can't wait to tear everything out with a sledgehammer and crowbar to put in their own hideous style that will be outdated in a year. kitchen sink is almond. The color. I did not want an almond sink. We built the house, you know, so I could have anything I wanted. Except I had to have what HICK wanted. Which was an almond sink. I don't dislike my almond sink. It goes well enough with my burgundy countertop. But all along, I'd been asking for a stainless steel sink. I had one in my $17,000 house in town, and it served me well. The size was right, a double sink with room to submerge my biggest pans. It didn't show marks from the pans rubbing against the sides. It was easy to clean. And shiny.

My almond sink is a double sink. It's not big enough to lay down my 9 x 13 glass baking dish. It shows a black mark if the cookie sheets or certain pans rub against the sides. It takes two scrubbings to remove those marks. And there are two chips in the almond part, from Hick dropping a knife or something. I don't even want to admit how long I scrubbed, thinking they were just black marks.

Anyhoo...Hick said he'd get me a sink stopper. I waited. And waited. The dishes couldn't wait. I found that if I wrapped the rubber back around the stopper, I could get a pretty good seal in my sink water. Good enough to get the dishes washed before it all leaked out. Every day, when Hick returned from his two or three trips to town, I would ask if he had my sink stopper. Nope. He forgot. But on JANUARY 8TH, Hick had my sink stopper.

Okay. It's Hick we're talking about. So he didn't really have a new sink stopper for me. "I fixed the old one." It must not be easy to find a matching almond sink stopper for a 21-year-old sink.

"How'd you do that?"

"I didn't buy one. I pounded in a new rubber until it stayed in place."

There it is, in all its faded-almond, pounded-rubber glory.

Of course, it doesn't seal quite as tightly as the old version. Bumping that round part with the edge of a bowl will knock it loose. But I'm alerted by the gurgling sound, so I can fish around through sharp knives and shove it back in.

I'm still trying to figure out how I can remember to prepare Hick's meals 365 days a year, but he can't be bothered to repair items that I use daily. Unless he has an agenda.

Uh huh. I discovered why Hick suddenly completed two (TWO) last-year's tasks on January 8th. I KNEW there was a reason. Hick let it slip on January 9th.

"Oh. I took paperwork by the lawyer's office so he can tell me what I need to do about that strip of land the car repair guy has his driveway on."

Another money-sucking venture that I think warranted a joint discussion before implementation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Val Ain't Gettin' Any Brownie Points From The Pony!

When wrapping Christmas gifts, I knew that The Pony was a bit lacking. It's not a big deal. He got some things early, and had a couple gaming cards in the same package, but in the big scheme of wrapped gifts under the tree, his pile was short. I might have mentioned that I played a little prank on The Pony, but in case it was on my supersecret blog, I'll fill you in.

Last Christmas, I gave The Pony a brownie maker. He loved the brownies his grandma made, and I figured it was time for him to learn to make his own. How hard could it be? Storebought brownie mix, and a brownie maker to pour it into. Easy peasy. He seemed to like his brownie maker. So I was surprised to notice the brownie maker box under the living room coffee table as I was wrapping this year's gifts. Oh, come on! Admit it. Some of you also have stuff from LAST Christmas sitting under your coffee table for a year. Right?

Anyhoo... I bought two bags of brownie mix (Always Save brand, from Country Mart), and wrapped them. Put them under the Christmas tree in The Pony's pile. He seemed a bit curious upon unwrapping them. So I confessed my little plot, and told him that THIS time, he could take the mix and his new brownie maker back to his college apartment. We were planning on making some brownies while he was home, but time got away from us.

Anyhoo... when it came time to go back, The Pony boxed up all his stuff. I reminded him not to forget his brownie maker under the coffee table.

Thursday night at 8:30, I got a text from The Pony:

"So I just opened the brownie maker box. To make brownies."

"Hope they turn out better than the cookies that you and Bestie tried to make."

"Well. They can't."

"The box is full of old electronic stuff."

"Oh no! Maybe the weight of the box might have been a tip-off?"

"As the picture shows, it is full of old electronic cords and stuff. Similar weight. Similar clankiness. But Dad is the one who packed it in my box of stuff, anyway."

"I have just spent 2.5 hours trying to connect New Delly to the internet. So I kind of feel your disappointment. I'm pretty sure your box has a short ethernet cable that I need. Pretty sure that's IRONY!"

"Most definitely irony."

So... my Christmas prank on The Pony was extra-pranky. Not intentionally. And Even Steven repaid me with internet woes. Which I don't find very funny.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Salad Days of Val

One of these days, I'm going to learn to speak out. Stand up for myself when service is not what I expect. I'd much rather not. I don't like to make a scene. But let me tell you, I was THISCLOSE to saying something when we repeat-dined at a steakhouse in Miami, Oklahoma.

We'd eaten there during CasinoPalooza 3, and the food was great. With The Pony requesting steak for his last supper when we took him halfway back to college, we figured this place was as good as any. I enjoyed my side salad last time, so I ordered the same thing again.

Back then, I got a picture of my salad. You know, the one showing the direct energy weapon trying to set it ablaze. Funny what you pick up in a picture that you didn't see with your naked eye. Anyhoo... I'd asked for a vinaigrette dressing, and was told that a raspberry vinaigrette was available. So I took it, and enjoyed this dressing, pictured there in the little black plastic cup.

Well. This time, I also asked for a vinaigrette dressing. The waitress, different than before, said, "Um. Okay. Do you want it with oil?"

What does that even mean? I didn't ask for oil and vinegar. I asked for vinaigrette dressing. So I said, "No." I did not want oil. I should have asked for the raspberry vinaigrette. But I didn't remember what kind I had. It's not listed on the menu, and I knew it was red, but didn't know if it was strawberry or raspberry or some other berry.

So I just said no to the oil. Not knowing exactly what is in a vinaigrette, having not been educated at culinary school, and not watching enough of the Food Network to learn. Now Google informs me that vinaigrette IS oil and vinegar. So WHY would a waitress ask me if I wanted the oil left out of the vinaigrette? It's a conspiracy, I tell you! Would she ask if I wanted the bread in a chicken sandwich? No! Because obviously, bread is part of a sandwich, by definition. Which would make oil part of a vinaigrette! Otherwise, you're just getting vinegar!

When my salad was served, the cup of vinaigrette looked different. It wasn't red. I was kind of colorless. Clear. I was suspicious. I told Hick,

"I don't think this is the dressing I asked for. It looks like plain vinegar!" I poured some out on my salad. Runny as water. I tasted. "This IS plain vinegar! Who pours vinegar on their salad?"

Hick said to tell the waitress, and get something else. However, like him with his $1000 shoe inserts from The Good Feet Store, I did not want to appear foolish by declining what I'd asked for. I ate my salad. With vinegar. Let the record show that I did not use the full cup of my "dressing."

The last time, my dressing was delicious. The vinegar was not. You can catch more return customers with sweet, sweet raspberry vinaigrette than with vinegar.

At least I didn't pay $1000 for my little cup of oil-less vinaigrette.

Don't you worry about Val. She makes her own salad at home, piled as high as a bowl of Hick's vegetable beef soup. A salad with romaine lettuce, mushrooms, onions, sharp cheddar, and tomatoes.

Which Val dresses with raspberry vinaigrette from a bottle.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The 50-Foot Solution

Here's what's keeping me going right now:

It's a 50-foot ethernet cable stretched from the router in a cabinet under Genius's desk to the back of New Delly's tower. Uh huh. Across the floor. Router to desktop. It didn't photograph well. The wire is actually a pretty blue color. Not that such a cosmetic feature matters...

I'd pull back and show it without the tight closeup, but then you'd see what a slob I am, and all the junk piled around my office. Because that wire runs along about six feet of countertop, and lays there waiting to strike, the other end snaking along another four feet of dropped-down countertop that is my desk, behind my monitor, to the back of New Delly.

This arrangement really doesn't bother me, except for the fact that the wire prevents me from piling more junk in that area. Oh, and I have to be extra-careful when walking in and out of my dark basement lair. Because another anomaly of that top picture is the brightness. It's DARK in that spot. The office fluorescent light by the door is burned out, and also the one in the lair behind it. AND the ceiling light just outside the door is burned out, along with the ceiling light over Genius's desk having only one bulb of three working. I think it's 20 watts.

Seriously. I live like a sewer rat trying to avoid discovery. Not by my choice, though. Hick's excuse is that he's never down here, so he doesn't know when a light burns out. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT? In what world would Val not politely inform accuse Hick of the blackout, and request demand a replacement?

Anyhoo...this wire doesn't lay flat on the floor. No siree, Bob! It kinks up like a dragon's back, trying to catch my toe every time I step over it. I'd say those loops are at least six inches off the shadowy floor.

I'm pretty sure Hick is trying to kill me...

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Resuscitating New Delly

Paging Dr. Genius, paging Dr. Genius!
Having an internet emergency!
Text at your convenience!

Okay. Not quite as catchy as Samantha Stevens paging Dr. Bombay. But still, you get the message.

I had a conniption on Thursday night, when THIS message popped up on New Delly:

NOOOOO! I call it the Gray Boot of Death. It's not like a trained, trusted friend trying to HELP me. Nope. I could get nothing to work in making a response. No mouse, no arrows, no backspace, no enter. So I just stared at it, and sent a text to Genius for further instructions. It was 9:59 p.m.

Genius responded right away.

"What did you DO?"

"Nothing. I was just without internet since 5:00 yesterday, and the only thing I could think of was that the stupid thing had updated again. So I checked System Restore, and it had, at 3:30. So I tried to restore it to before that update, and it came back and told me System Restore had failed."

"I thought we agreed that you were NOT going to try a System Restore again! Now you have probably killed New Delly."

"I know I said I wouldn't. But that's what worked before. I just wanted my internet back. I didn't know you FORBADE me from using System Restore. I kind of thought of that as a suggestion. That it's probably not a good idea."

"If I said you were a moron, THEN would you know I was serious?"

"Well. That's a bit harsh. But I think it would make me realize that System Restore is forbidden." [Let the record show that I would NEVER have used the word moron in talking to my beloved mother. NEVER.] "So what am I going to do next?"

"What do you mean?"

"If I don't do anything, New Delly will just sit here on this screen for eternity."

"What do you mean, eternity?"

"Um. FOREVER? is it ever going to get off that screen. I can't respond."

"Well maybe you should have thought of that before you did a System Restore! That was fine 15 years ago for Windows XP. But times are different now."

"I'm running Windows 7 Professional. Which is from 12 years ago. So I'm really not that far off from 15, when System Restore worked..."

"I don't know how to fix it. Send me a picture of the screen."

"Uh. I guess I need to walk upstairs and out on the porch and hold my phone out from under the metal roof. Because this picture is not sending."

I hoisted myself out of my broken-armed rolly chair, and started ascending the 13 steps. On number 7, I got another text from Genius. So I had to steady myself so as not to fall, and use both hands to look at my phone.

"Email it to me. That uses the wifi."

I bent my index finger backwards while trying to hold onto part of the upstairs floor while I turned around on the handrailless steps. Went back to my desk and rolly chair, and emailed a picture of the screen.

"Unplug your mouse, and plug it back in."

"That didn't even make that BLUMP sound like it usually does if you unplug and replug a device."

"Yeah. That's not good. Try the TAB."

"That does nothing but turn on a blue light above my number pad."

"WHAT? That shouldn't happen. Try again."

"Same thing."

"Hold in the power button until it turns off."

"Okay. Has it been long enough. Should I turn it back on?"

"Go ahead. But don't get your hopes up."

"It's coming on! Hear it? The coming-on sound! It looks like normal!"

"That's surprising. I was pretty sure you'd killed New Delly. And that I was going to have to drive five hours."

"But we're getting 8 inches of snow tomorrow! Would you do that?"

"No. I wouldn't."

"Hey!. My computer icon thingy looks like it has a connection! Should I try to connect?"

"Um. Yeah. I thought you were doing that."

"It works! I have internet! And it's not cutting out with the RED X!"

"Don't get all excited. I don't think it's fixed. I'm pretty sure you have a bad wire."

"Well, right now I have internet! So I'm going to use it! And I know you need your sleep for work tomorrow. So thank you. And you'll never guess what I saw in Walmart yesterday. LA CROIX!"

I couldn't believe the change in Genius's tone. He was down for chatting about his favorite beverage. Telling me which flavors are best, and how I should try it.

"The CranRaspberry is the best."

"Oh. You mean you can taste that one? I don't know. What's the smallest I can buy?"

"Well, the CranRaspberry only comes in a 12-pack."

"I don't know... that's a lot if we don't like it."

"Mom. It only costs $4."

"Well, you complained that I spent $25 for a kit with an Ethernet tester and plug end thingies and a crimper."

"That's $25! I wish you'd asked me before you ordered it. I only wanted you to get the wire. I have three of those testers somewhere in the workshop."

"Well, it's MY money. Money you'll never inherit now."


"Okay. It's still working, so I'm going to use it. Thanks for your help."

"Let me know what you find out when you test the wire, and I'll walk you through repairs."

My internet connection lasted exactly 30 minutes. I closed out the FireFox browser, and opened it again, and I got 33 minutes of connection. Then the RED X reappeared, and has been there since. Until Friday evening when Hick unfurled his cable.

I have a temporary work-around fix, and I'm gonna make blog hay while the internet sun shines!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Val and Her Sixth CENT

After last week's deluge of pennies, I was ready for Even Steven to show me a drought. He showered me with a consolation prize, though.

MONDAY, January 7th, I had lunch with favorite gambling aunt. After overstaying our welcome at Pizza Hut from 11:00 to 2:25, I peeled off a couple extra dollars to add to the tip, and headed to pick up some scratchers at the new Casey's. Which is actually the old Waterside Mart. Not my favorite place, seeing as how the standards have dropped, the scratcher selection has gone to pot, and the different workers are not as cheery.

Can't complain this time, though, because even without their race car driver ad for pizza on the front of the counter... I was able to snap a picture of TWO coins waiting just for ME!

I had to snap my pictures in a hurry, and skedaddle between the two coins to make sure nobody rudely intruded to scoop one up. Not that they would. Like everyday manners, coins are something that people younger than me don't seem to have much use for!

I first harvested that face-down 2002 nickel, since it was five times as important as the penny. Not really. I appreciate all my found coins equally. It just made sense to grab the nickel first, since standing in front of the penny, by the register, protected it while I was in the midst of my transaction.

My face-down penny remained happily unmolested until I could lift him to my shirt pocket. He's pretty shiny for a 2013.

With a layer of snow growing by the minute, I don't think I'll be getting out on Saturday morning for a 44 oz Diet Coke. My penny harvest will end here, with my sixth cent.

2019 Running Total
Penny  # 8.
Dime at 0
Nickel  # 2
Quarter  # 1

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

2017 TOTALS (Started in March, 2017)
Penny  78
Dime   6
Nickel  0
Quarter  0

Friday, January 11, 2019

Intermittent Technical Difficulties

I've been having connection problems with New Delly in my dark basement lair. So if I disappear for a few days, it's not because Hick finally did me in. Of course, I'm still pretty sure he's trying to kill me...

There's no pattern to my disconnection. I get the RED X in my little connection icon, not the yellow triangle. New Delly tells me there's an ethernet cable not connected, but long-distance Genius thinks it's the router, because New Delly is too dumb to tell me the difference in a router problem and an ethernet cable problem. He recommended a deal on ethernet cable, which he ran many yards of when he set up our home network. Hick is ethernet capable, so we will eventually get to the bottom of the problem.

The key word there is EVENTUALLY.

In the meantime, HIPPIE has been (mostly) working upstairs. So there's that. He runs on wifi, not on wire. But then again, he also disconnects occasionally. If I was a doctor of computer internet connections, I would refer both HIPPIE and New Delly to a specialist. The specialist who happens to live in Kansas City, and can't make a house call.

I only bring this up so my vast readership of loyal VAL-ies will not call the police to report a murder. Can't have you all crying WOLF!

There's a chance my service and your time-wasting won't be interrupted. But I just spent 2.5 hours getting connected (Wednesday night). And I still couldn't replicate the process. Last thing I remember is plugging two phone-cable-like wires into different slots on the router. Then being surprised when after 15 minutes of off-and-on connection, New Delly finally loaded a page.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Usual Admiration Society

It's not enough for Hick to break his own arm while patting himself on the back. No siree, Bob! Hick might be a flamboyant self-congratulator, spinning his Pop-Arm seven ways to Sunday in auto-admiration... but he still needs affirmation from others. Namely, from Val.

It must be a genetic trait. One that Val's chromosomes do not contain. (After all, Val spent 28 years of employment, silently toiling, sitting by mute while her Arch Nemesis was given credit for student testing successes, even though Arch Nemesis vehemently declined the accolades, pointing out Val as the true mentor of the young geniuses, who had only been under Arch Nemesis's tutelage a mere month before the standardized test, learning material which was not even on that test.) Genius, though, inherited Hick's praise neediness. Even as a toddler, Genius required an audience for whatever he was doing.

Anyhoo... remember back when I had a problem with T-Hoe's running light? I'm sure you do. Better than Hick! I believe the first time I mentioned it was December 12th. Could have been before, but I'm pretty sure Hick himself became aware of the problem on NOVEMBER 28th. That's when he drove T-Hoe, when we had an appointment with our financial advisor who makes me lose the will to live every time I'm trapped in his office, listening to him and Hick shoot the bull for an hour. As Hick parked T-Hoe in the garage when we got home, he noticed the dark side on the front garage wall, and got out to declare that running light kaput.

So... I've been driving T-Hoe all willy-nilly across the county, with a burnt-out running light. I even stopped to let a POLICE CAR back out of a parking space in front of the food pantry last week. Which of course I mentioned to Hick:

"I really hope you are ready to put in my running light. I stopped to let a cop back out of a parking space at the food pantry down by the river. After I left the bank, he was sitting over at the old Casey's. Probably waiting for me, so he could pull me over for having a burnt-out running light, and search T-Hoe for weed, and make me balance on one leg and walk heel-to-toe on a line, and tilt my head back with my arms out and touch my nose with my eyes closed. The only thing I could pass would be not having weed in T-Hoe! Good thing I gave him the slip!"

"You're too dramatic. I have your light."

"Yeah. You've had it over a month! It's been a year since you saw the light was burned out!"

"It hasn't been a YEAR! You always exaggerate!"

"Was it, or was it not, 2018 when you saw that the light was out?"

"It was..."

"And this is 2019. So it was LAST YEAR when the light burned out, and you STILL haven't fixed it."

"I'll fix it. I've been busy."

Give me a break! I don't know what could be more important than keeping one's wife out of jail for being too dizzy and cripply to pass a sobriety test when stopped for having a running light out!

Anyhoo... on Tuesday, JANUARY 8th, Hick announced that he had put the new light in T-Hoe, and completed another task that had been on his assignment list since December 30th.

"Okay. It only took you A YEAR! What have you done that you don't want me to find out about? There must be something, for you to all at once put in T-Hoe's light, AND fix my sink plug!" [another story for another day]

"Nooo... I just remembered, and got it done. I can't believe you didn't thank me for cleaning T-Hoe's dash and door panels!"

"Oh. You cleaned them?"

"How could you not notice?"

"Well, obviously the cleanliness of T-Hoe's dash and door panels is not important to me, or I'd have been keeping them clean."

"You didn't even thank me."

"Well, I'm glad you finally got around to fixing that light after a year..."