Thursday, February 28, 2019

An Offer Hick Couldn't Refuse

A while back, Hick got us on a trivia team with a couple of his old friends. They are former teachers who have known Hick since he was just a student refusing to collect bugs for his science class, even though he worked at a gas station and had easy access to all kinds of flying critters, due to the bright lights at night. We have visited with them on and off through the years, but Hick has a weekly confab with This Guy every Friday, when they join others of like mind to shoot the bull.

A couple months ago, Hick mentioned that This Guy had a house he was trying to sell. He was hoping to get $15,000 for it. We thought of HOS (Hick's Oldest Son), but that is out of his price range. This Guy had originally bought the house to help out the owner, who was sick. When the owner died, This Guy didn't really do anything with the house, which was in not very good shape. As he's gotten older, This Guy realized he didn't want to fix up and take care of that house. So much that he told Hick he could probably let that house go for $10,000.

Funny how Hick had been talking a short time back about flipping a house. His buddy, Buddy, had done it, and is making money renting it out. Hick had helped him with some renovations. We've had rental property before, but sold it so as not to be bothered with non-payers.

"I've been thinking about buying a house to flip. But the older I get, I don't think I want to mess with it. If I was younger, I might, now that I have the time." I think the idea popped back into Hick's head when he heard about This Guy's house. "It'd be a shame to pass up a $10,000 house."

Two weeks ago, This Guy told Hick, "If your boy can get the money together, I'd take $5000 for that house, and be rid of it. Otherwise, I'm going to donate it to Habitat for Humanity, and take a tax write-off."

Two weeks is kind of short notice to scrape up $5000. HOS was planning to sell some stuff, and said he'd get back to Hick. While we were in Oklahoma, This Guy's wife called Hick, to see if HOS wanted it. "I had a call from Habitat, but I didn't answer. I called back and said I was out of town until Monday. Do you think you'll know by then if HOS wants the house?" Hick made a couple calls. HOS was not able to, in that time frame.

On the drive home from Oklahoma (9.5 hours is a long time to think), Hick made a decision.

"Val, I just can't let a $5000 house get away. I was thinking about buying it. I can make it livable. Nothing fancy. HOS can help me. I won't pay him, but if he can pay me $5000 and materials by June 1, I'll sell it to him. If not, I'm sure I can sell it and double or triple my money. I'd even take that camper he's got, and sell it myself up at the Storage Units. Either way, we get our money back, and HOS still has a chance for this house."

It seemed like a good enough proposition for me. You know, the former buyer of a $17,000 house. Here's the new Hick House.

Hick and HOS have been working on it for two days now. Some windows need replacing. Hick has assorted materials, like a shower, a toilet, a sink, a door, some windows. They're measuring to see what will fit, and what is needed. Hick has seen stuff at auctions that he knows he can get for a good price. The electric gets turned on Friday, so Hick can use his power tools. As you can see, there's an upstairs. What you can't see is the partial basement. I'm pretty sure this is a good investment.

I figure the deal was a win/win/possible win. Hick got a $5000 house that can make him money, This Guy got the city off his back for derelict property, and HOS may get a new home. I'm pretty sure Hick was meant to buy this house.

Look what he found the first day!

Oh, yeah... Hick House is three doors down from our first home, my $17,000 house in town.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

On Monday, Val Was Public Enemy #2

Yes, Val's crime spree continued! Totally unpremeditated.

During our drive back from Oklahoma on Sunday, Hick decided to make a major purchase. It will be brought to light in the near future. All you need to know now is that Val agreed to the plan, and was designated to procure the funds on Monday. We have our fortune spread amongst assorted institutions. I generally go to the closest one to withdraw the amount needed. That's how I ended up at our credit union on Monday afternoon.

I'm in there all the time. They recognize me on sight. I'm usually there to take out The Pony's monthly college allowance, or a lump sum to cover his housing or meal plan. It's a fairly secure facility, with two windows covered with (bullet-proof, I'm sure) glass, and a little scoop out of the counter, covered with metal, where you slide your paperwork/money in/out. I sometimes feel funny sliding a note card in there, with our names, and the amount I want to withdraw. It's the easiest way, though, since I don't want anyone at the other window, or waiting in line, to hear my business. The act always gives me the silent giggles, since movie characters rob banks that way.

There's a daily and weekly limit on the amount of cash one can remove from this facility. They've violated their own rules for me before, and given me more, but I wasn't expecting them to do that this time. I said a check made out to me was fine.

I took that check out to my bank, with the intent of cashing it. Our purchase was to be a cash transaction, scheduled for a couple days later. I practically skipped into the lobby, glad to be almost done with this chore, headed next to procure my 44 oz Diet Coke, which I'd not had since the Wednesday previous, before our trip. There are three teller slots at my branch, and two already had customers. A new gal came from the back, up to the third window, and said she could help me.

"I would like to cash this check. I have an account here." I slid the check across the counter, and opened my checkbook to show her my account number.

"This is more than I'm authorized for."

"Well, is there someone here who's authorized for this amount?"

"Um. Let me see."

New Gal fiddled and faddled without leaving her window. Looked at her computer screen. Said they couldn't do it.

"Well, I can deposit it. And withdraw the money from my account, right?"


"I can't withdraw my own money???" Let the record show that there was considerably more than the amount of my check in our account. We just didn't want to use it for our major purchase.

"Just a minute."

New Gal took a step sideways, and picked up the phone. She held her other hand over her mouth so I couldn't hear her. Mighty secretive, that New Gal! I don't mind them calling to verify a check. They do that when we get a check from our insurance company, like for our hail-damaged roof. I don't blame them. With printers these days, people can fake those checks. Not that I know anything about that, mind you!

New Gal stepped back to the counter. "They say it's not one of their checks."

"WHAT? I just came from there! I just got it! What do you mean it's not their check?"

"They say they didn't issue this check."

New Gal was tapping her index finger on an address at the top of the check. It was upside down to me, and I couldn't see what it said.

"Let me see that. Who IS that? That's not where I got this check! THERE! That first address! That's where I just came from. Just up the road! Call THEM! They're the ones who gave me that check. I can't believe this!"

New Gal looked like she wanted to disappear. I was not loud. Just emphatic. I bore her no ill will. But this mess had to get straightened out. New Gal went back to the phone. Cupped her hand over her mouth. All at once, I remembered that I hadn't signed the back of my check! You know, because what if I'd been in a wreck between there and here, and somebody took it and cashed it? Which would probably have been easier for THEM that it was being for ME!

New Gal stepped up to the counter. "Okay. We've got it. So you want to deposit this?"

"Yes. And withdraw that amount from my account. But you'd better let me sign the back, because I forgot."

I signed the check, and filled out a deposit slip. New Gal fiddled and faddled again at her computer. I swear, the tortoise could have beaten her in a check-deposit race. Then she went to another area for a printout. Which showed that my funds would not be available for 10 days, with the reason box checked where it said because the financial institution may not honor the funds. Huh. They used to do that all the time with Hick's bonus checks from work. And even with a CASHIER'S check! I don't mind them following policy, but you'd think New Gal would have at least looked to see if I'd endorsed that check first!

"Okay. Now I'd like to withdraw that amount from my account."

"Oh. Well. I'm not authorized..."

"Get somebody who can do it."

Seriously. This had gone on long enough. I was not going to be denied money from my own account, money that had nothing to do with this 10-day-malingering check. I filled out a counter withdrawal slip. New Gal called over a teller I've dealt with before. While waiting, she asked for my driver's license. I don't mind that a bit. I would HOPE they check ID if somebody fills out a counter withdrawal slip to take money from my account.

"Sure. Just got a new one."

Old Gal came over. "What's going on?"

"She just deposited this check, that's on hold, and now she wants to withdraw this money from her account. AND SHE JUST GOT A NEW LICENSE!"

"Is this her?"

"It's me! I can show you my old one, too! Here it is--"

"Oh, that won't be necessary--"

"I insist! LOOK at that! Would I carry that around if it wasn't ME?"

New Gal looked at it and started guffawing, while Old Gal typed up the info in the computer. "New Gal, New Gal...what are we gonna do with you?"

"I know. I'm so much trouble. But I'm not authorized for that much."

"Here. Give it to her. It's okay."

New Gal counted out my money from her drawer. This whole episode had taken 30 minutes, when all I wanted to do was cash a simple check. I was very conscious of the cameras on me the whole time. What with being fresh off the hook for credit card fraud on Friday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

On Friday, Val Was Public Enemy #1

We visited The Pony over the weekend, for his birthday. One of the gifts was yet-to-be purchased: a new cell phone. The Pony's has been shattered since last fall. It still worked. He has a repair plan as part of his phone contract. But I guess after three years, a kid these days gets to hankerin' for a newer model.

With limited visit time, the plan was to purchase the phone online through Sprint, have it shipped to a local Sprint store (or get one there in stock), and have The Pony save all his data crap ahead of time, (there's even an instruction video for idiots like me), so we could just make an appointment and walk into the store and get it. Thing was, I had to be present, with the credit card I used for payment, and The Pony had to be present, because it was his phone. Kind of puts the kibosh on either of us getting that phone without the other. I don't understand how all this phone tomfoolery works, but that's how Sprint does things, and we've had Sprint since Genius decreed that's who we would use as our carrier. Even though he, himself, shuns Sprint now with his iPhone, but is still on our plan, having his Garmin discount phone perk applied to our bill.

Bear with me. I'm about to get to the part where I'm a criminal.

We had it all lined out. We checked into our hotel, set up HIPPY my laptop, and The Pony picked out a Galaxy S9. The S10 doesn't come out until March, and we won't be there then. Besides, The Pony said he didn't need anything that fancy, and replacing his S7 with the S9 was what he wanted.

We put that S9 in our virtual cart and headed to checkout. Filled in the credit card info and selected the store where we'd pick it up. The Norman Sprint store had terrible reviews, so we were headed to Midwest City the next day, just a short trek up the road, where we go have lunch at Steak n Shake when we visit. The Pony clicked the button to complete our transaction. I couldn't believe how easy that was!

Except a red banner showed up at the top of the screen, saying my credit card had been declined!


That was preposterous! My credit is excellent! There were only a handful of purchases on the card this month, and we pay it off completely every month. I was discombobulated. The screen said to contact my bank (meaning the one the credit card was through). I told The Pony that maybe I shouldn't have my middle initial in the NAME section. I never do that when I used my credit card, even though it's on the card itself.

The Pony took out the initial, and tried again. Same DECLINED message.

We changed the street address from DR to RD. When we first moved out here, the address had one, then changed to the other. Nope. Same DECLINED message.

The Pony wanted to try it with Hick's name. Same DECLINED message.

We changed the street initials again. Same DECLINED message.

"Why does this always happen to me? I plan everything out, and something stupid goes wrong! I HATE dealing with Sprint!"

I called the automated credit card number. It asked if I recognized FOUR CHARGES for that phone! Which was NOT cheap! I poked the number to talk to a person.

"I'm in Norman, Oklahoma, trying to buy my son a phone and pick it up in Midwest City. My card has been declined, and I'd like to know why. In fact, it's been declined FOUR TIMES!"

The mostly-unaccented rep wanted my full credit card number, and the three-digit thingy on the back. I was not happy about reciting it, because we had been hearing people talking in the next room. I hope they didn't write down my info! The mostly-unaccented rep said, "Oh. Yes. I see that you've tried to buy 4 phones."

"No. Just one phone. Four times. We thought there was something wrong with the information I put in. I didn't know it would show up as four purchases."

"Let me add some info here on your account. There. Now it should be fine. Just do your transaction again, and it should go through."

"Okay. We have to type in all our info again. So I won't keep you on the line."

Of course it didn't work. I was DECLINED for the fifth time! I got right back on the phone, and got a different rep, who wanted my full credit card number, the security code, the primary cardholder's name, and the primary cardholder's mother's maiden name. Because, you know, if I was committing fraud, that's what I'd do, call the credit card company to complain that my card wouldn't work!

This rep said he didn't see any changes in my account from my call a few minutes ago. "Your credit is fine. This is well within your limit. There shouldn't be anything holding it up. Did you go back to the same page? Maybe you should clear your browser and start over. Or use Google Chrome instead of whatever you're using now. There's nothing wrong with your card."

So... I hung up. Looked at The Pony. He said he has all kinds of trouble with Chrome on the school website. I don't want Chrome. I use Firefox. So we decided to wait and go to the store and get his phone, even if it meant a 2-3 hour session of waiting. Hick decreed that we were going to the Norman store, right then, despite their reviews. It had shown up as having the Galaxy S9 in stock. So off we went. Without an appointment.

We signed in (okay, I needed The Pony's help with that gadget sign-in thingy). We waited. Not too long, although only one other customer was being served, and about five extra employees were roaming around and talking about somebody getting a Wii. A guy came over and asked how we were doing, and Hick said we were fine, just waiting to be waited on, and that we'd signed in. WELL! That guy was there to wait on us. Which he could have communicated more clearly, like saying, perhaps, "How may I help you?" Which we would have understood as an offer to...oh...I don't know...maybe... HELP US. Not just a generic greeting of "How ya doin'?"

Anyhoo... That Guy went in the back room and brought out an S9 and The Pony picked out a protector thingy which we'd agreed on while waiting. That Guy looked at our account, and tried to push me into a lease instead of purchase (which Genius said was not a good idea, because any little scratch on a leased phone at the end of two years is an excuse for them not to honor their agreement), so I fought to pay more and purchase the phone outright. Using, you guessed it, my credit card!

I have never sweated out a purchase like I did that S9! I've never had a problem buying anything! But I must have looked guilty as Not-Heaven, doing everything but whistle nonchalantly, cutting eyes at The Pony, while awaiting approval after jamming my card into the chip-reader.

IT WENT THROUGH! No problem at all. That Guy got The Pony's info off his old phone, and onto his new phone. The whole thing took about 45 minutes from the time we entered the store. That Guy was polite, even though two other employees wandered over, wanting to make small talk with him while he was doing his job. I don't know what's wrong with this generation!

The Pony has a new phone. Val possibly has a stop-and-hold order for credit card fraud.

Monday, February 25, 2019

When It Comes to His Coke Collection, Hick is Jaded

Hick is proud of his latest acquisition to put in the loft of his BARn with his Coke collection. He said he's been looking a long time for it. I believe him. I never knew such a thing existed.

According to Hick, this set is made of JADE. My sister the ex-mayor's wife and I were skeptical. JADE? Wouldn't that make it worth a fortune? Apparently so. Because when interrogated questioned further, several days later, Hick recanted, and said it was made of JADEITE. That's a little different.

Anyhoo... Hick knows a guy who has a set, and paid $70 for it. Hick bought his at the auction for $23. He found the big item, the crock, on eBay for $59 by itself. So he thinks he got a bargain. I tend to agree with Hick!!! You can mark your calendars.

I think that crock is actually called a cookie jar, but Hick told me it was a crock. The other two are a creamer and a covered sugar bowl.

You never know what such items will sell for. I looked for less than five minutes, and saw the creamer listed on eBay as a "Coca Cola Green Jadeite Milk Glass Spout Handled Cup" for $79.19. Which doesn't mean it's WORTH that much, or that it will even sell for that much.

The sugar bowl is also listed as a "covered box/salt box/jewelry box", but the cookie jar is always called a cookie jar.

Hick has no plans to sell his set. It has become part of his hoard. But he does like to think how much more it's worth than what he paid for it.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Oh, the Hick Gives Pointy Knives, Dear, and He Makes Them Floral Print

I might have accidentally let it slip, on rare occasion, that I think Hick might be trying to kill me. You recall that he gave me a birthday present of ceramic knives.* I was quite pleased with a second set of these incredibly sharp implements, because they cut through everything like butter. With the exception of that pesky cardboard circle that I cooked under my pizza...

We had that same kind of pizza again last week. I reached for my ceramic knife to cut it. Not the very newest set, they were still in the package. I used my Christmas knife. It worked great, especially without that cardboard circle. After slicing, I took my ceramic knife over to the sink, to pre-rinse the cheese off the blade. It's really hard to get pizza cheese off knife blades later! I've discovered (call me Magellan Columbus da Gama de Leon) that if I rub a little soap on the cheesy blade, and scrape it with my thumbnail, it washes a lot easier later.

I had not yet tried this pre-cleaning treatment on my ceramic knife. Last time, I'd started slicing the pizza with my giant black-handled butcher knife. By the time I switched to the ceramic knife, the cheese had cooled enough to not be sticky. So I had no inkling that rubbing my thumbnail and index finger along a ceramic blade would not be a good idea.

Ceramic knives slice fingers in the most awkward of places. I had no bandaids available in the kitchen. You'd think that's where I should keep them. I had to swaddle my dripping digit (pictures comin' up, be prepared to look away!) in a Puffs With Lotion, and go to the master bathroom to ransack the medicine cabinet. Of course we had every kind of bandaid but the one I needed, a small round or square one to soak up blood. We had the four-prong sticky-thingy kind, like for putting on a finger joint. Giant bandaids for covering skinned knees and scraped shins. And these Scooby Doos left over from when the kids were little. I really need to put bandaids on my shopping list. One of those multi-packs.

Anyhoo... here comes the actual injury.

Please pardon the cheese and yellow pepper fragments. I had not yet washed my hands, but had only daubed to stem the blood flow a couple of times.

You might say to yourself, or out loud so all around you can hear, "Val! You were in no danger of dying! Stop saying that Hick is trying to kill you!" Well. If that's the case, YOU are someone I don't want on Hick's jury after he succeeds! I only survived because I am no longer taking that demon drug Xarelto, which could have caused me to exsanguinate right there on the kitchen floor!

Anyhoo... this near-death-inducing injury (I have not checked my life line, but you can, if you're a chiromancer), was not painful. It was awkward. Do you know how hard it is to type on New Delly's keyboard while wearing Scooby Doo on the tip of your finger? It's difficult.

*Uh huh, who's proved to be prophetic with this title, now?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

I Need to Start Calling This the Saturday CENTSless

Conditions in Backroads have been harsh! It's like a UFO shone down a tractor beam with more branches than a baobab tree, and sucked out all my CENTS!

I have nothing to show for my troubles this week. Nothing! Unless...

Thevictorian BirthdayPalooza triggers a rain of pennies between here and The Pony's college town. Hick and I are off to Norman for a brief visit. We'll see what develops. My dream of becoming a Future Pennyillionaire might wither on the vine, with no copper fruits to show for my labor.

GOT ONE! On WEDNESDAY, February 20, I found my long-anticipated Lincoln on the dirty, dirty floor of Orb K. He was face-down, from 1962.

Looks like somebody's going to be running out of energy! I had not even planned to go in Orb K. Haven't been there for about a week. Sadly, the Casey's parking lot had no room for T-Hoe, so I figured I could go to Orb K instead. That register wasn't even open when I walked in to look at their scratcher display. I was in the other line when they closed it to check in a delivery bill of lading, and opened this register. I was the second in line, and grabbed the penny.

I left the wrapper, though. Don't know what comes in such packaging. Maybe it was illicit drugs. Must have fallen out of somebody's pocket when he reached in for change. Oh, NO! I hope my penny isn't covered with illegal residue!

Oopsie! Found another one on THURSDAY, February 21, in STEELVILLE, MO on the way to visit The Pony in Oklahoma.

Dang it! I had a wide shot showing my toe and Hick's feet while he was paying for (NOT A DONUT) a Diet Coke at the counter. I don't know why my phone went all wonky.

In fact, I'd gotten out of A-Cad with it sitting in the console, but told Hick, "Wait! I'm getting my phone. Might find a penny." And so I did, on the way out the door.

2019 Running Total
Penny   # 14, 15.
Dime    still at  3.
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, February 22, 2019

He Wants to Put On His His His His His HICKy Shoes, and Get HICKy With You

Hick has been looking for some new work boots. Not so much looking, as sitting back in his La-Z-Boy and relating how he almost slipped on the tile floor of Casey's (not mentioning his quest for donuts) because the soles of his old work boots are treadbare. I've given him the go-ahead to get new work boots, but Hick has not acted on his own behalf.

Last week, Hick got a call from one of his Storage Unit Store buddies. They've been separated for a couple weeks, due to icy weekend weather and no shoppers. The buddy tipped off Hick that a semi-local K-Mart was closing, and having fantastic mark-downs on the merchandise. Of course Hick hopped right out of his La-Z-Boy, and headed to K-Mart.

Looks like Hick doesn't need new work boots any more!

You might assume that Hick got TWO pairs of new work boots that day. But you'd be wrong. Hick got THREE pairs of work boots. I can't show you the other pair, because it was on Hick's absent feet. I saw the foot work boots, though. They looked cheap, but Hick said they were comfortable. And the reason they looked cheap is because they WERE cheap!

As Hick said, "For $5.99, I can wear them for a week, and if they fall apart, so what?" I hope he didn't buy that tape to repair his cheap boots. The tape cost more than the cheap boots!

As you can see, the boots in the picture cost Hick $14.99 apiece. That's pretty good for leather boots. The original price was 3 X that!

If that mark-down holds true for Hick's cheap boots, I think we can assume that their original price was about $17.97. Which means Hick bought himself three pairs of boots for $35.97, plus tax.

I hope Hick doesn't think this means he can go to The Good Feet Store and get shoe inserts for each pair...

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Val's Input Does Not Garner the Desired Output

In a case of Val's life tossing her coincidences at pertinent times, an email arrived from the casino yesterday when I was typing up that line-BUTTer story. I had responded to an survey about my recent casino experience, thinking, perhaps, that there might be a $5 comp in it for my troubles! Turns out there was not. I guess that might be considered a violation of gaming protocol in whatever state that casino is headquartered in.

Anyhoo...the survey had questions where you ranked from 1-10. It also asked for details to explain the ranking. I skipped most of that part, but on the section about whether anything happened that was especially pleasant or unpleasant, I mentioned the line-BUTTers. Let the record show that I emphasized how the actions of the line-BUTTers were not the fault of casino management, and that we had not even brought it to anyone's attention for possible remediation. But that since it had happened TWICE in one visit, that perhaps security could show more of a presence when lines are long. That might make patrons feel more comfortable to suggest to a line-BUTTer that the end of the line is actually WAY BACK THERE, and not in front of him/her.

When the survey asked if anything could have made my visit more pleasant, I elaborated that a BUFFET would get me in the doors more often, and that our trips there had dropped off since the buffet closed.

Well! I can't believe I got a response from the Player Development Manager within 24 hours. A fairly lengthy letter concerning my survey, assuring me that my line-BUTTer suggestion had been passed on to Security Management. Also, that the decision to close the Farmer's Pick Buffet was to give guests what they requested: quality over quantity.


That buffet stuff means they were losing money on people eating a lot. The buffet was always busy. Didn't look to me like guests were staying away because of the QUALITY of the food. They liked it well enough to strap on the old feedbag and belly up to the two hot counters and circular dessert counter, causing a line to get in. In fact, that time we were surprised to find the buffet closed, all the other surprisees we talked to while waiting at the grill to order food also expressed their disappointment at the closure.

I seriously doubt that people who submitted surveys previous to the closing were taking time to complain about the quality of the buffet food. It's not like we casino buffet patrons have a discerning palate. We're old, we spend hours clogging our sinuses with second-hand smoke (or we're the first-hand smokers), and we know a bargain when we get one. I don't think anyone arrived in a limo, after asking for some Grey Poupon at a stoplight. It's a buffet, by cracky! Not a 3-star Michelin restaurant.

Anyhoo... the response was great customer service, with an actual person's name to it, and a phone number and email address, making me feel like my opinion mattered.

Still no comp for my time, though...

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Less Adherence To Social Mores

Nothing ruins a casino experience like a BUTTer. Okay. Very little ruins a casino experience for Val. Not even non-smoking smokers who let toxins from their lit butts waft across her face, or slots that gobble her money like adolescent boys at a pizza buffet. I found the BUTTinskies to be a minor annoyance.

The Ex-Mayor my sister's husband was more incensed. I guess once you've been mayor, the act of people showing you no respect becomes less okay-er! Sis was a bit put-out herself. Granted, the BUTTinsky got right in front of Ex-Mayor, who was in front of Sis. I was thrice-removed from the BUTTinsky, in my position behind Sis. So I just rolled my eyes. Sis was more vocally grumbly. She and the Ex-Mayor did not feel a need to moderate their voices when grousing, "Huh. I guess people don't know how to go to the end of the line anymore."

I saw that BUTTinsky lady walk up to them. She looked like someone from our neck of the woods. Maybe deeper in the woods that Sis and Ex-Mayor. Could have been neighbors to me and Hick. She had mousy hair pulled back in a not-ponytail, and was dressed in nondescript jeans and a shirt with a jacket. She walked up to the side of the line, right there at Ex-Mayor's left shoulder, him being the next person by the roped channels and WAIT HERE sign.

We knew she was going to do it. Otherwise, she would not have stood at his shoulder, but would have gone behind Hick, who was behind me. AND, if it was rightfully her place as next in line, she wouldn't have been at Ex-Mayor's shoulder, but would have been IN FRONT of him.

When one of the two working cashiers called, "NEXT!" the usurper weaseled her way past Ex-Mayor's shoulder and dashed to the counter. If looks could kill, Sis and Ex-Mayor would have been led out in handcuffs, locked up, and the key disposed of.

As if that wasn't bad enough, poor Ex-Mayor had ANOTHER encounter with a different BUTTinskess at the cash machine/bill breaker. "I was next, and this lady just plowed right in front of me!"

I guess he was smart enough not to make a scene. It doesn't seem safe for a man to question a woman's actions or motives these days.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

It's All About the VALjamins

Hick and I joined my sister the ex-mayor's wife and the ex-mayor for a casino trip on Valentine's Day. The trip wasn't really a celebration of the holiday. Just an excursion to get Sis and Ex-Mayor out of their house so their cleaning ladies could clean unimpeded.

We haven't been to that casino lately, because of the closed buffet. In fact, Sis even suggested that we might have lunch somewhere off the property. HOWEVER... I had $25 in food comps from the casino, because February is my birthday month. So I told Sis we would be eating something at the casino. We went back to the grill where we got the big nachos.

Sis had the nachos again, with only the chips, beef, and cheese. The lady actually brought her TWO containers of salsa, a pleasant surprise, because Sis had been rehearsing her request for a second salsa. "Do you think I'll have to pay extra for it? I don't care. I need more salsa."

I didn't point out that Sis did NOT receive sour cream. Maybe she doesn't like that as much. She was pretty happy with her nachos. Ex-Mayor got a salad, the type of which I'm not sure. Maybe a Caesar. However, he lamented that he hadn't also ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, which he would have cut up to put on his salad.

"I asked how many points I had, and she wouldn't tell me. She just said, 'Oh, you have PLENTY of points to pay for your meal!' Remember, I won that 10X points on the wheel spin last time. So I must have a lot of points."

Hick had his usual Mushroom Swiss bBurger, with fries, and a side order of mozzarella sticks. I forsook the giant nachos this time, for a BBQ Bacon Burger, with tater tots.

Sorry, I almost forgot to take the picture. I was well into my feeding frenzy before I could curtail my chowing. Mmm... it had a double patty, onions, tomato, and pickles. I told them to leave off the lettuce. That simply ruins a burger for me. The tots were nice and crispy. I haven't had tots for several years. I think the last time was when I was with The Pony, and we went to Sonic. Probably when phone-shopping before he went away to college in 2016.

Here comes the bone of contention. I knew I had $25 in food credit. I told Hick,

"By the time we each get a burger and the combo, that will pretty much use it up. My burger is $8.99, and the soda/fries add 2.99. So that's $12. And yours. With tax, it might go just a little over. Do you have cash?"

Heh, heh! Hick always has cash. He's a junk man, you know! Anyhoo... I figured it would probably be less than a dollar over. I think Hick's burger was $7.99. Hick ordered first. He threw me off when he threw in the mozzarella sticks for himself! Then I added mine, and told the lady I had $25 food credit for my birthday. She rang it up, and said, "The difference is $4.13. Do you want to use your points for the rest?"

"NO! We'll pay."

Hick got out the debit card. He wasn't using his money for $4.13!" Even though I always pay him back out of the household money later. Thing is... Hick thought I should have used my points! No siree, Bob! Why should I used my gambling money's point rewards to buy HIM an extra side order?

I will NOT let Hick take advantage of me. Even on Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Forgetters Gonna Forget

Just before Hick bestowed my Valentine's Day gambling quilt upon me, my sister the ex-mayor's wife sent me a text:

"We have to leave the house tomorrow because our cleaning ladies are coming. Ex-Mayor said he would "take me" to the casino for Valentine's Day. If you are interested."

I knew right away that she was inviting us to go along. Not just bragging about her cleaning ladies and having a Valentine's Day date for the casino. This would take some planning. I called Hick, who said we could go. I called Sis, and set a time for us to pick them up. You know. To avoid their cleaning ladies. Let the record show that we arrived on the exact minute agreed upon. We might have been late, if we'd gone back for Hick's player's card. He decided that he'd just get a new one made when we got there. Anyhoo... once we arrived at their garage door, I sent another text so they would come out. It took a few minutes.

"Oh, that one cleaning lady loves to talk and talk. Her partner isn't even here yet. We had to get away."

Not that Sis is snobby or anything. She just had plans (that she'd made to avoid being in the house with the cleaning lady). We were at the end of the driveway when I asked if Ex-Mayor had his player's card. Not pointing a finger, but he has been known to forget things. Like that time we were on the original CasinoPalooza, and got back to the hotel parking lot, and he couldn't find his car keys. Which were at the very first of the six casinos we had Paloozed. So Hick drove him back. Ex-Mayor also lost his car keys in Kansas City at a casino, and security had to track him on their surveillance cameras to where he'd lost them. AND he left his phone laying on a slot at our old favorite casino. So I just felt like it would be prudent that I asked.

"OH! NO! I don't have it! It's upstairs! Let's go back."

Hick backed A-Cad up the curved blacktop driveway. If you think riding forward while he sweaves is scary, you should try riding backwards, when he only watches the backup camera screen! While back-sweaving, Sis declared that she, too, had forgotten her card. So we went back, Ex-Mayor cut through the garage and into the kitchen door (their usual method of entry), and returned with both cards. I asked if he had his keys, and he said that Sis had hers, that he always makes sure now that she carries a set.

Anyhoo... we were off to the casino, tale(s) of which will be forthcoming. For now, we will jump to the return trip, 4/5 of the way home, almost to Bill-Paying Town, when Sis asked Ex-Mayor:

"Do you have the garage door opener?"


"How are we going to get in?"

"I don't know. I wasn't thinking, with the cleaning lady there. I didn't even think about needing the garage door opener to get back in. I always pick it up, but my routine was off. Do you have a key to the back door?"

"I don't know. We never use it. Can you even tell what that key looks like?"

"I think so. It's kind of extra-long. There. I think that's it."

"Don't leave us when you drop us off! We might not be able to get in!"

"We could call Niecy, and have her bring a spare key..."

"If she's even home!"

Let the record show that we waited, and that Sis did indeed have a key to the back door, so we got rid of them and didn't have to adopt them and give them Genius's room.

I don't know what else there is to be forgotten. For now, my departure checklist will include: player's card, phone, keys, garage door opener.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sweets For the Bitter

Oh! What with birthdays this week for Val herself, and also The Pony, Valentine's Day was almost forgotten. Almost. Of course I had a card and some fake-sweet, sugar-free candy for Hick. I set it out where he would find it, on the coffee table by the long couch. I was a bit surprised that there was nothing left on the kitchen counter for ME. After all, I'd found my birthday gift awaiting me there.

Hick came back from town (most likely having donuts at Casey's), and saw his Walmart-bag-wrapped fake sweets. He heaved a sigh and stumped off to Genius's bedroom. From there, he proceeded to the footrest of his La-Z-Boy (where I was ensconced with HIPPIE), and laid a large soft item and a Walmart bag on my lap.

Once I rescued HIPPIE from possible smotheration, I saw my Valentine's Day gift from Hick:

It's a GAMBLING QUILT! Not to take to the casino, of course. Just a gambling themed quilt, for warming myself here. I LOVE IT! The picture didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. We were having an overcast day, and the lights of the living room didn't do it justice. It's a full size quilt, but not heavy. You know. Not all quilty. Not stuffed with stuffing. Just right.

Hick said there were two up for auction, and he was going to buy them both, and give one to my sister the ex-mayor's wife, but another guy outbid him on the first one. He made sure to get the second one for me. I don't mind getting a gift he bought at the auction. It's not like he gave me AUCTION MEAT.

The only drawback was when I spotted a HAIR on my new gambling quilt. I might have slightly screamed, and told Hick to take it off my lap. He said it was JUST a hair. That it might even have been HIS. I said that he might have sat on it and got his poopy butt on it, too, but that didn't mean I wanted a poopy quilt. So Hick said, "Well, you can always wash it."

I think perhaps Hick should have washed my hairy quilt before giving it to me. It being a gift and all. But I still love it, and I'll wash it myself.

Hick also gave me a heart-shaped box of chocolates, and a box of chocolate XOXO. They were from Walmart, and did not need washing.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

PONY'S From Heaven

Val's Future Pennyillionaire Train has run off the rails! Not a single penny to be found for her taking this week. Opportunities abounded, what with two trips to Walmart, two trips to the bank, a visit to her credit union, her usual smattering of convenience store runs, and a jaunt to her new favorite casino. Those are all places one might reasonably expect to find escaped coinage. But no. None for Val.

The only bright spot was Val's shower on Wednesday. No, silly! I didn't find a penny in my own shower! What kind of freakish occurrence would THAT be? That's crazy talk! No, when I got out of the shower on Wednesday, I saw that I had a text from The Pony.

"Look what I found on the floor of the lab"

Let the record show that The Pony had a birthday this week, too. Maybe pennies are the new ladybug. Neither of us has seen one in quite some time. Unless you count the stuffed one that may or may not have been a costume for a toddler, that I saw in Walmart on Friday, on the bottom rack of a mini-cart.

Let the record further show that I did not inform The Pony of the bumpin' and thumpin' party I heard overhead from my OPC (Old People Chair), in his room and bathroom, at 1:20 a.m. Wednesday morning.

2019 Running Total
Penny   still at 13.
Dime    still at  3.
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, February 15, 2019

I Won't Go So Far as to Say I Made It Proud

Earlier this week, I was out and about on my birthday, and looked down to check the time. Not on T-Hoe's in-dash clock. That thing is 22 minutes fast. I've left it that way since I retired. My school clock was set ahead to facilitate dismissal times among the campuses, so T-Hoe ran on school time. Not-Heaven, NO! School time was not 22 minutes fast. It was about 5 minutes fast, which crept to 7 by the end of the year. I didn't bother to reset T-Hoe's clock for a year or two. Do you know how TECHNICAL that is? I just kept in mind how far ahead it was. Like now. I know it's 22 minutes. That doesn't mean I want to do mental math every time I check if I'm on schedule.

Sometimes I just glance down at my Shaming Bracelet. It's like a watch, you know. A watch that also beeps with chastisement if you're not moving enough to meet your day's goal. Which is set at TWICE what it should be, thanks to Genius at Christmas perhaps forgetting that I'm an old lady, and programming it for a random sedentary millennial with an office job and lazy bone.

Anyhoo... I glanced down at my Shaming Bracelet to check the time, and didn't see the time! What I saw instead was THIS:

Ignore the reflection of my phone taking the picture. And also my crepey wrist-skin. Or as The Pony would say, my creepy wrist-skin.

I'm pretty sure my Shaming Bracelet was NOT suggesting that I eat an emergency cupcake. I'm pretty sure my Shaming Bracelet was wishing me Happy Birthday.

That was even more heartwarming than earlier in the day, when the secretary from our financial advisor's office called to wish me a Happy Birthday. You'd think the insurance agent could have had his secretary call. It's not like it costs anything.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Genius Has Driven Himself to Success

Just a bit of horn-tooting here, to make up for instances where I might have maligned poor Genius for hardening my cold, cold heart with statements like, "I think of you more as a short-TEMPER cook." (When I declared that I was not a short-order cook, available to whip up a sandwich at his whim.)

Genius was unfurled as a banner on his college website yesterday, in a story relating his success upon graduation. When he tipped me off to check it out, I replied:

"You're famous! And a good promotional tool for your university!"

Such a modest fellow, Genius was not sure about me sharing his fame with the riffraff who read my blog my devoted readership. I had to perform an intricate dance I call Psychological Long-Distance Arm-Twisting. He acquiesced, and my bragging can commence. Perhaps my declaration that we probably won't remember his real name for long, anyway, what with our generation's susceptibility to senility, Alzheimer's, and don'treallycareitis, allowed him to relinquish control of his brand.

I have always known that Genius was headed for greatness. I was about to share a list of childhood anecdotes which I find quite humorous, but I don't want to push my luck with his good-natured permission to share this link of his success.

Well done, Genius! You will always be my shining star.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Slice of Wife

Hick is such a smooth operator. I woke up on my birthday morning, and found a card and a present on the kitchen counter. I could tell that Hick had wrapped it himself.

I have no idea where he found the paper. From the looks of it, probably inside a gift bag that was being saved for re-use. Not that he could put my gift in the actual gift bag, of course. Or bother to wipe the counter before dropping my gift there. The tape came from the roll of shipping tape that I use to wrap packages for Genius and The Pony. It's really strong tape. As Hick said, "I shoulda stole more than one roll of it when I retired."

Actually, kudos to Hick for wrapping my gift, because I had washed the black-handled scissors (sticky from that really good tape), and they were in the dish drainer. Which meant he had used the orange-handled Fiskars I've had since my first year of teaching, passed on to me by my mom, with a broken handle for the past five years. When you try to cut with them, the broken orange plastic handle moves, but doesn't make the blade move.

I'm sure you are dying to know what was inside Hick's package (heh, heh).

KNIVES! Knives, knives, knives! I love them! They match the set I got for Christmas. Except these are red, and my Christmas knives are blue. They're ceramic, and very sharp. Now we can cut my tough food easier!

Remember the Christmas knives?

I guess now we have a his 'n' hers set! Hick might be catching on to the way to Val's heart. Hopefully, it doesn't involve carving his way there with a knife.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Couple of Updates in the Continuing Saga of Hick

Remember the saver card that Hick bought for $15 from those kids who walk by our house every school day? The one that took a week to get? Well, Hick made use of it for the first time last week. He went to lunch with his second-oldest son, The Veteran. It was a spur of the moment thing. The Veteran called and asked, so Hick accepted.

They went to Colton's Steak House, over in Bill-Paying Town. Hick said that The Veteran paid for the meal, but Hick used his SAVER CARD to get them a FREE Bloomin' Onion. Oops! It's called JT's Onion Blossom at Colton's. The cost was $6.99, so Hick has that much back for his $15 now, anyway.

I was not the least bit envious of Hick going out to eat a bloomin' Onion Blossom without me, because a bloomin' Onion Blossom has from 1090 to 3000 calories with the dipping sauce, depending on how you look it up and determine the serving size. Hick said they had about half of it left, but he didn't bring it home! That's not right! Even if I could have resisted, the dogs would surely have liked a bloomin' Onion Blossom! Last time I checked, Juno was not watching her girlish figure.

In other news, Hick sold his 1999 Ford F250 4WD Extended Cab Long Bed pickup truck, with 190,000 miles, on Monday afternoon. The dealer had offered him $1303 trade-in when we bought SilverRedO. Hick said he'd rather sell it himself than give it away for that. Or just give it away himself if he couldn't sell it. So he put $360 into it to replace the coil packs (whatever that is), and put on a couple tires. He advertised it on his Buy/Sell/Trade thingy Friday, and had a guy ready to buy it Sunday night.

In fact, Hick drove to town at 8:15 p.m. to show the guy the truck. He said he got off work at 3:30 Monday, and he was going to the bank to see if he could get a loan. He was pretty sure he could. Hick said to let him know, but that he wasn't holding the truck if someone else showed up first with the money.

Monday around noon, a different guy wanted to see the truck. He asked if Hick had the title in hand, and Hick said, "All I have to do is drive home and get it from my safe." This guy was picking up his daugherter at school at 3:00, and driving over from near Mabel-Town to see it.

"You need to make sure the first guy knows about this, before he goes through the hassle of getting a loan for a truck that's already been sold!"

"I told him about his guy, and said I'd let him know as soon as I actually met the guy."

Turns out the second guy arrived for his test drive, at 3:40, and the first guy was in the bank awaiting loan approval. He said they wouldn't know until the next day. Hick told him the second guy was offering cash on the spot. Hick ended up selling it, and the first guy found out he was approved for the loan, at about the same time. No hard feelings either way. Hick sold his F250, the second guy got a 4WD used truck to drive to construction sites (where he'd been promoted from an inside job), and the first guy found out that he COULD get a loan if he found another truck.

Oh, yeah. The selling price was $3800. Cash money. No tricky trade-in finagling.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Val Discovers Ancient Chinese Secret

Don't be jealous! It's not like I'm getting my own series on The Discovery Channel. I was, after all, scooped on that discovery the ENGLAND is and ISLAND! My discovery is more like that of Hick, who uncovered the concept that GOATS are HERD ANIMALS!

It's uncanny that I even stumbled upon my new knowledge. I'd had a headache for almost two weeks, and was not thinking clearly. Sitting in the salesman's cubicle while buying SilverRedO on January 29th, I'd told Hick:

"I hope I don't get that headache again. Every afternoon it starts. I think it has something to do with the weather. I'm fine when I get up, but in town, my head gets all stuffy. By the time I get home, I have to take something for it. I'm pretty sure it's my sinuses. It hurts in my forehead, but mostly in my face."

Of course Hick didn't reply. Not even a grunt. No sympathy for the devil his loving wife.

My headache started arriving earlier, and hurting more. I did everything I could to relieve it. Acetaminophen. Aspirin. Ibuprofen. Frequent sessions with my vibrator...

...which I used to loosen up congestion in the sinus areas, at times resulting in a gush of clear snot like I'd opened a spigot, and to push the end of my nose sideways, which can sometimes elicit a sneeze, which loosens the congestion as well.

As it progressed, the headache kept me awake at night, and started as soon as I woke up from an hour or two of sleep. I actually considered seeing a doctor! Especially after three days of pain in my upper left jaw along with the headache and pain in my neck and shoulders. I figured the neck stuff was from stress from the constant head pain. And the jaw could have been a toothache, I guess, since I have a broken tooth in that area. However, holding my face under hot water in the shower made ALL THE PAIN GO AWAY! For the shower, and about 30 minutes after.

This just strengthened my opinion that I had sinus issues. I consulted my estranged BFF Google to see if sinuses can cause jaw pain. THEY CAN! Particularly maxillary sinusitis. The symptoms were exactly what was wrong with me. I was relieved to see that it usually resolves on its own, even without treatment. I figured I was nearing the end of the tunnel. I could tough it out a few more days.

THEN I saw, in the suggestions for home treatment, a hot shower. Uh huh. I was on the right track. I'd been doctoring myself pretty good with that method. It was the another suggestion that caught my eye: ACUPRESSURE!

Acupressure is like acupuncture, but without needles. Apparently, there's an area called LI 20 that you can press to relieve a headache. SUUURE, though Val. But I looked it up. It's where the bottom edge of your nose joins your cheek. Put a finger there, on each side, and press on it for 3 minutes. You can hold pressure, or massage it. I just pushed. At first, I couldn't even swallow my own spit like that. I was so congested. My ears wanted to pop, and I kind of choke-snorted. So I quit trying to swallow. After 2 minutes, I wasn't sure this thing was doing any good. But right at 3 minutes, I could swallow as if nothing was wrong. My head had quit hurting. My jaw had quit hurting.


My pain was abated for a couple hours. When it started to creep back, I did the pressure thing again. I was able to sleep all night. When I woke up, the pain was gone, but I had a little blister/abcess thingy on my gum by that tooth. That comes and goes, every couple of years, because I won't go to the dentist. I'm wondering if relieving the pressure on that tooth nerve let it vent an infection to the gum, or if a sinus infection had gotten into the tooth nerve. Chicken or egg, I guess. I'm thinking the latter, because normally a hot shower on the face doesn't cure a toothache. Doesn't matter, because the next day, that little blister was gone. Everything's back to normal.

I'm really glad I discovered acupressure!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Val's Six-Year Sentence Has Been Served!

With my birthday looming on the horizon, I went to renew my driver's license Friday. A couple renewals ago, the state of Missouri decided that a license would last SIX YEARS, and expire on your birthday. At least that's rememberable. Last time, in 2013, I never got the little postcard reminder, despite having lived at my current address since before The Pony was born. Oh, I knew when my birthday was, but it slipped my mind that I'd just renewed it in 2007. Thank goodness I had my license out (probably packing my gambling purse for a casino trip) and noticed that it was going to expire.

The renewal in 2013 was a nightmare! Since I didn't have the renewal card, I needed proof of my birth. That meant a trip to the county health center for a copy of my birth certificate embossed with the state seal (since who needs something like that on a regular basis, and remembers where you put it). Also, a trip back home for a utility bill to show proof of residence. Which turned out to be no good, because it was in HICK's name! (As if he ever wrote out a check to pay our utilities!) So I made another trip back home for a copy of my paycheck. THEN there was the whole issue of the worst picture ever taken in the history of driver's license pictures.

Are you sitting down? Do you have some garlic and holy water on the end table. A crucifix, perhaps? Or a wooden stake? Silver bullet? Even the Coors version might help. I can't show you the whole photo. I will not be held responsible for causing a fatal coronary. But I'm going to give you a sneak peek at that old license photo. This is one peep show that nobody, ever, would get excited about. Hold onto your hat! If you're not wearing one, you might want to raid the hall closet. Here it comes. Brace yourself...

Are still with me? Do you need some smelling salts? Don't try to get up. Here. Let me put your feet higher than your head. Take some deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

Back then, I got quite a bit of mileage out of my misfortune.

The Face That Launched a Thousand Quips

The Journey to Renew One's Driver's License Begins With a Single Trip to Town

The Face That Even a Mother Can't Love :(

Who knew that being despondent over the worst driver's license photo in the world could bring others such joy? Not this ol' Val, that's for sure.

Anyhoo... this time, I had my reminder postcard from the MO Dept of Revenue. That should tell you something right there! The main purpose of a driver's license renewal is to generate money for state coffers! Seriously! How often do you need one of those things? It's not like you go to the casino and win more than $1200 on a single machine every day. Or get pulled over by the cops. Or vote.

It was deceptively simple this time. All I had to do was TELL the gal my social security number to prove that I was born. Show her that reminder postcard for my address. Then step over to the ViewMaster thingy to read 3 blocks of letters, identify 8 road signs, and tell which side of my head the lights were flashing on. Easy peasy, will wonders never cease-y! Then I moved back to another chair and had my picture taken. Then paid $20, and got a paper printout to use for my license, while my old one was punched out with a VOID hole-puncher. AS IF I was going to want that thing back!

This process was not without some disturbingness. Those 3 blocks of letters? They were the biggest letters. Across the top line. I could NOT SEE ANY OF THE FIRST BOX. I only knew there was a box, because I figured they wouldn't start in the middle of the screen, and if I squinted both eyes, I kind of saw an outline of the box.

"I can't see any in the first box. But the others are blah blah blah."

Yeah, I could see the middle and the right side just fine. The gal asked if I wore contacts.

"No. I have glasses. But I don't wear them to drive."

"Well, on your last license, it says RESTRICTED, and that you have to wear your glasses."


"You passed this test. So there's no restriction. But if you ever break off your left side mirror, you need to get it fixed right away."

WHAT IN THE NOT-HEAVEN??? Did she get a kick-back from a car repair shop? That's the most unwanted and inappropriate advice ever to be spouted by a minimum-wage private-contracted employee of a local license office! Okay. Maybe that's a bit of faux outrage. This license office is the least unpleasant one I've ever patronized. Perhaps because back in 2009, Missouri started taking bids and assigning offices semi-fairly, rather than by political appointment.

Anyhoo... after taking my picture, that gal SHOWED IT TO ME on her computer screen. "Is that all right? Do you want to take it again?"

"AGAIN? You mean, if I like the first one better, I can go back to it?"

"No. If you don't want this one, you get another shot, and this one disappears, and you have to take the second one."

"Um. I think I'll stick with this."

Val is not a gambler! At least not where her six-year picture is concerned. This one wasn't great, but it could turn out worse! What if I smiled, and looked like a deranged clown? What if my eyes were half-closed? Because that gal had made it clear that the only picture they couldn't use was one with my eyes completely closed.

You're dying to see it, aren't you? The new picture. Which I thought was perfectly okay to use for the next six years. Let the record show that when I got outside, and looked at that black-and-white temporary printout in the cold, cold light of day, I wondered WHYYYYY? Crybaby Nancy Kerrigan had nothing on Val! So here it is, in part. Comparable to the old one. Get ready to lean your head over between your knees if you feel faint.

I sent a picture of my old photo to Genius (as if he doesn't have it set to pop up when I call), and also the new picture.

"Remember this? I've served my six years. Now I have a new mugshot. Not sure it's an improvement."

"I think it's probably better haha" Said Genius. Knowing who gives him drink money for CasinoPalooza.

I sent the same message and photos to The Pony. His reply?

"I'm not certain either" The Pony seems to forget he has a birthday coming up, four days after mine.

Not responsible for nightmares, chipped teeth from fainting, or rescue calls to deploy a defibrillator.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

With the Famine Here, I'm Feeling CENTimental About Those Weeks I Feasted

My plans for making Pennyillionaire seem to have gone awry! One penny per week is not gonna get me there! You know what a Pollyanna I am, though. I am thrilled to have found a penny on TUESDAY, February 5th, at The Gas Station Chicken Store.

I saw him dancing there by the record machine. WAIT! No I didn't! That was Joan Jett, ogling that guy about 17. What I meant to say was that I saw my penny laying there by the lottery machine. Only it's not so much a machine as a stand where you can mark your tickets if you pick your own draw numbers for games like PowerBall and MegaMillions and Lotto. I don't play them. But I saw my rightful penny as I walked in. Down the brown-striped carpet.

Old Abe was face-down, a 1975 relic, perhaps dropped by someone who was confusedly scratching a ticket over at the draw game podium.

Maybe I SHOULD play the draw games. Wednesday night, someone from a neighboring town, even farther in the boondocks than Backroads, won the $1.3 million Lotto jackpot! I'm sure they are deserving of that money, and will put it to good use. Nobody would drive out there just to buy a Lotto ticket. It's not like some richie rich person was cruising down the interstate and stopped off for a cappuccino and landed backasswards, as Hick would say, in a pile of money. Enough money to burn a wet mule, also courtesy of Hick.

I never had much luck on draw games, though. So I'll stick with my penny-picking and scratchers.

Found another one! FRIDAY, February 8th, I went to the license office to renew my driver's license. It's been six years, you know. The last time I renewed my license, I had two boys in high school, and my loving mother, ridiculing my photo! I was thinking about it all day on Thursday, reminiscing about how Mom and I laughed until we were breathless and in tears. I looked back in my blog and found three posts about it. [I linked them on my SuperSecret Blog, but I'll put them here in a future tale.]

That really put me in a good mood. I was still smiling about it as I drove to town with my renewal card. I was a regular Mona Lisa behind T-Hoe's wheel. I parked in my favorite License Office space, on the end. No other vehicles in my row. They didn't seem busy at all. I slid down out of T-Hoe, avoiding his dirty, dirty running board after the creek-flooding rains we've had this week. Once inside, I did my business (of course there's another story) and was out within ten minutes!

Back outside, I saw that a red truck (not Hick) had parked right next to me. I could still get T-Hoe's door open all the way, though. In fact, I left it open after stowing my purse and new paper license inside, while I opened up the back door to get my jacket. 24 degrees! But I hadn't wanted my jacket on in my new picture!

I turned back to climb into T-Hoe, and saw

What was obviously a Penny From Heaven, meant just for me! I hadn't seen any penny there when watching my feet slide out of the driver's seat to go inside. Must have come from that red truck somehow. It couldn't have been positioned in a better place for me to find it! What are the odds that I'm going to the License Office for the first time in six years, and just happen to arrive in 24 degree weather, and just happen to be needing gas in T-Hoe, and want to be warm when pumping it at my next stop? Avoid my gaze and cut eyes to each other and twirl that crazy finger near your temple! Nobody is going to convince me that this was a pure coincidence!

My Abe Lincoln was face down, with something colorful on his back. He was a 1975, just like my earlier penny this week. I don't know how that happened. In fact, I thought I was looking at the other one. Like I got them mixed up. But no. The other Abe was right on top of the pile in my new Future Pennyillionaire goblet. I took their picture together:

To prove it happened. I don't know the significance of that year. It was my senior year in high school. Nothing else particularly stands out.

BUT WAIT! Squeaking in SATURDAY, February 9th, under the going-to-press deadline was a pair of DIMES! A scant 105 minutes before automatic publishing. It just doesn't pay to pre-post about pennies, I guess. Well. It PAYS. A little.

Over by the $5 DVD rack, hiding in the scuffed-up floor of indeterminate composition, was a face-up 1978. That's the year I forsook the local junior college and headed away to a state university.

Nobody was working at that register, so I set down my Polar Pop (The Gas Station Chicken Store's soda fountain ran dry of Diet Coke on Friday) to get my pictures. When I turned back to see how many people were in line staring at me, I saw

ANOTHER dime awaiting harvest! Some customer jittery from excess energy drinks must have dropped it. I guess those fellow customers think I'm really poor until I whip out my money for scratchers.

This FDR was face -down, a 1990. I can't think of anything interesting that year. I was adjusting to life with Hick, my new husband. Not that I ever had an old husband, of course. At this time in 1990, we'd been married about 10 weeks. Come to think of it, I'm STILL adjusting to life with Hick.

So much for my appropriate title. This really wasn't bait-and-switch. When I wrote it, thinking it was ready and could loll there in limbo awaiting automatic publishing... I had no idea I was going to find another penny and two dimes.

If I knew when I was going to find my special coins, I'd be a Pennyillionaire already!

2019 Running Total
Penny   # 12, 13.
Dime   #  2, 3.
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, February 8, 2019

A Queso Premature Evacuation

With Hick hanging both legs over the edge of his possible-kidney-stone deathbed to act as my chauffeur, we journeyed to the eastern border of the state to meet my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel for lunch on Wednesday. It only takes 35 minutes, but it seemed like so much longer.

Anyhoo...we made it to our Mabel destination for an early lunch. Hick had the breakfast skillet again, two fried eggs, sausage, and hash browns, covered in white gravy. I don't know how he finds that appealing. And I'm pretty sure it's not on the Kidney Stone Diet.

I had the chicken quesadilla. My usual.

That picture doesn't really do it justice. But it does show that at least this restaurant fills the little cups of sour cream and salsa more than 1/3 full.

There. Now you can see how my quesadilla was crammed full of the good stuff. Let the record show that this isn't my knife. I dropped mine on the floor. I was perfectly okay with wiping it off on my napkin and continuing my quesadilla cutting, but Mabel volunteered her own knife for me. Even though she'd already used it to cut her cheeseburger, and it had a little ketchup on it. She assured me that she hadn't licked it, though. So there's that.

Of course everyone else was finished before I was. I had at least half a quesadilla to go when Mabel's Hub declared he was taking the rest of his chicken strips home, and got a box. Hick's skillet had been cleared away. Mabel was having an occasional fry. One piece of her serving of fries at intervals. Conversation was flowing, so I kept on eating. "I plan on finishing this! Just so you know." They assured me that was fine. We're all retired, you know. Not on a schedule. We were going to Mabel's house afterward, for my birthday gift!

We always get an early start on lunch, because we sit around and talk all afternoon. This time we met at 11:15 to order lunch. The place wasn't busy. Maybe 1/4 full. So it's not like the waitresses were kept hoppin', and a line was waiting to be seated.

Now comes the most terrible part of our meal! I was chowing down on my last couple bites of quesadilla, dipping them in the sour cream and then the salsa. Mmm... really enjoying that last of my repast. Our waitress had been to the table at least four times after delivering our plates. To see if we needed drink refills, to take Hick's skillet, to bring Mabel's Hub his take-out box. And now she was back, standing at my left elbow.

"How's everyone doing?"

"Good. Fine. It was delicious." Said my tablemates.

Still, she stood there. And stood. While I was cutting and dipping the last of my quesadilla.

"I just came to see if I could clear any plates out of your way."


Even though she had still been consuming the occasional fry, Mabel gave up her plate. And the waitress stood. NO WAY was I going to give her the last scraps of my quesadilla. I don't care how much of a hog she thought I was, standing there like I should be done and relinquish my plate. I told Hick later,

"I wish I'd picked up my plate and licked it clean before shoving it over to the edge of the table!"

I didn't say anything to the waitress, or to Mabel. She's a regular there, and probably knows the staff, and I didn't want to be rude.

Even though it seems rude to me to stand and wait while someone finishes what's on their plate.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Hick Sings a Chorus of the Deathbed Blues

Val and Hick hit the road Wednesday morning, for a trip to join Val's best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel for lunch. A trip not quite as ill-fated as the voyage of the S.S. Minnow. The creeks were up, and I was concerned about hitting a low spot on the lettered blacktop highway that gets us there. A space marked with Impassable During High Water signs. Also, Hick virtually climbed out of his deathbed to embark on our journey.

Hick is a you say...hypochondriacal. He has a history of going to the emergency room for a sore throat, and mistaking an ear infection for a brain tumor. But he DID end up in the hospital on our Branson vacation when the boys were little, me driving him across town at 2:00 a.m., looking for the hospital, with moaning Hick and cranky young 'uns distracting me on my mission. That was for a bout of kidney stones, and Wednesday morning, Hick thought he was coming down with one again.

I tried to determine the gravity of the situation. Perhaps put off the lunch for another day. All while Hick continued full speed ahead toward our rendezvous.

"I got up at 1:00, because my back was killing me. It's right here. I think it might be a kidney stone."

"Did your back hurt there before, when you DID have the kidney stone?"

"I don't remember it hurting there. But that's where my kidney is. They say to see if there's blood in your pee, but there wasn't. All I remember is that back then, it hurt so bad I thought I was gonna vomit and pass out."

"Do you feel like that now?"


"We can call and reschedule. Or I can drive. We'll take T-Hoe."

"No. I'm fine. It's gonna hurt whether I'm here sitting around, or if we go to lunch."

"Yeah, but if you get sick while driving and run off the road, you'll kill ME too. Instead of just yourself. Let's go back and get T-Hoe. We're only at the mailboxes."

"I'm fine! Maybe the seat heater will make it feel better."

"You should probably call the doctor."

"There ain't nothin' they can do for it. Last time they just gave me pain medicine and told me to watch my pee until it came out."

"They're not gonna give you pain medicine now! Only people who don't need them seem to get opioids now. But they could tell you what to do."

"Maybe I'll get some cranberry juice. Isn't that what they tell people to do for their kidneys?"

"I think that's for a kidney infection. Just drink a lot of fluids and pee. That's probably all."


"Are you okay?"

"Yeah. It just hurt."

"Great. Now we're all the way in the middle of nowhere. I can still drive A-Cad, though."

"Why? I'm fine."

"You make those noises. I know you're going to kill me. I sure wish I'd paid The Pony's tuition when I saw it this morning, instead of waiting until we get back. Then at least he'd be okay for the semester, even if I'm dead."

"I knew it! You don't even care about ME!"

"Well, it will be your own fault if you run off the road and kill us. But if I was driving, only you would die of your kidney stone, and I'd still be fine. No big deal."

"I can't believe you!"

"And I can't believe YOU!"

Let the record show that by the time we left Mabel's house four hours later, Hick's back was no longer hurting. Oh. And he didn't kill me.