Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Me and My Shadower

The best investment I ever made was the purchase of 18 storage shed contents for $1100. NO! WAIT! That's the 2nd-best purchase I ever made. Hick paid back the money in less than two months. This self-given gift has kept him occupied over 10 hours a day, seven days a week, what with sorting and transporting to his Storage Unit Store and selling and attending auctions to supplement his store inventory.

The BEST investment has to be the $5000 house. It also keeps Hick busy over 10 hours a day. Besides, it's a FREAKIN' $5000 HOUSE!

Without these distractions, life with retired Hick would not be so rosy for Val. During the short hours that he's home, it's like having a toddler, or an anxious house-pet. As with toddlers and pets, I've learned that mealtime runs smoother if you feed them first. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

When home, Hick is the antithesis of Where's Waldo. He's more of a Here's Hick. I never have to look for him. He's always there when I turn around. Like The Sidler from Elaine's office at her J. Peterman job. The Sidler, without Tic Tacs in his pocket. If I make a sudden move, I'll run into Hick, who has somehow snuck up under my armpit when I was not consciously following his whereabouts. It's as if Hick has imprinted on me like a baby duckling. Where I go, he goes. A kangaroo and her joey couldn't be much closer. Hick shadows me closer than a double-crossed jewel thief tracking the ringleader in an effort to regain his cut.

Last week, Hick and I were having separate suppers. Of course I prepared his first. I do everything but shovel it into his mouth and pinch his nose shut for him to swallow. I leave nothing to chance. On this night, Hick was having a Terrible Tater, so-named by one of our old favorite restaurants. A Terrible Tater is a giant baked potato, topped with BBQ pulled pork, or beef, and other fixin's you might desire.

I admit that my version is more of a Naughty Tater. Not so terrible, in that it's not quite as large as those behemoths from the restaurant, and not quite as densely topped. Anyhoo... I had everything ready for Hick to make his own Naughty Tater. We differ on how we like it, with me preferring to slice mine down the middle, poke holes in it until crumbly, then add the toppings. Hick likes to slice his incompletely down the middle, then cut the halves into attached cubes of six or eight sections. From there, he dumps the toppings into the middle crack. He doesn't even distribute his toppings equally on the cubed sections!

All of the toppings were set out on the cutting block. Hick had to get nothing out of FRIG II, nor put anything away. Just slice his Naughty Tater and top it. Knife and fork were laid out beside a plate. A spoon was beside the sour cream. He had a plate of diced onion. A bowl of shredded cheddar. The tater was on the stove-top. The BBQ pulled pork in a bowl next to the tater.

Yes, everything was set out so that Hick did not have to reach between my belly and the counter to get to the silverware drawer. He could leave me working at the kitchen counter by the sink, slicing a lime for my Diet Coke, getting ready to warm the leftover chicken I was having.

Out of the corner of my left eye, I saw Hick take his tater to the cutting block, and start slicing. I turned to see the order he put the fixin's on. Just in case he wanted me to do it next time. Hick dumped the whole bowl of cheese into the middle, then slopped on some sour cream, then the onions.

I was sure Hick would next grab the bowl of BBQ pulled pork to dump on top of his Naughty Tater. But no. He carried that heaping (paper) plate to the counter on the other side of the stove. Shoved a bag of limes and a jar of peanut butter back against the canisters, and wedged his heaping plate so about 1/3 of it hung over the edge of the counter. It looked stable enough, but still kind of made me nervous.

In the meantime, I had picked up a pizza pan from the stove top, and was removing foil I had used at lunch while warming some taquitos. I had the roll of non-stick foil in front of me, ready to tear off a new piece to warm my chicken. I set the pizza pan back down and turned to throw the wadded-up old foil in the wastebasket under the counter on the other side of the sink, where it sits in the space left for the installation of a dishwasher 21 years ago.

As I turned back to tear off new foil, I was shocked to see that


Of all the places he could have put it, like RIGHT BACK WHERE HE GOT IT, on the stove top, he had instead put it dead center on the pizza pan I was working with. I had to put down the box of foil to move the bowl back to the stove top so I would have access to the surface of the pizza pan to apply my soon-to-be-torn-off foil.

"I can't believe you did that!"

"Did what?"

"You always have to be up in my space! I had that pan all ready to put on foil. You SAW ME just now take off the old foil. You can see that I had set out the box of new foil. I turned away, just for a minute to throw away that old foil, and YOU TOOK UP THE ONE SPACE I WAS WORKING ON!"

"I didn't see you do that."

"I was RIGHT HERE! How could you NOT?"

"I don't pay attention to stuff like that."

Seriously. For someone not paying attention, he sure can throw a monkey wrench dead center into my immediate plan.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Val's Weirdo Magnet Still Retains Maximum Charge

I have been remiss in updating you on the uncanny powers of my Weirdo Magnet. I don't get out much, and tales of CasinoPalooza are often fraught with more newsworthy incidents. However, I assure you that my innate Weirdo Magnet is as strong as ever. I was reminded of that fact on Sunday, in the middle of Country Mart.

I only stopped for a few items. Large potatoes for baking, onions, chips, hot dogs, dill pickle spears, apple/cinnamon instant oatmeal, buns, and bread. You know, just the regular health foods that I feed Hick on a regular basis. Except for the oatmeal. That's mine.

The potatoes were not in good shape. I touched every one of them and settled on two. Then I veered from my list to pick out a few bananas. Hick has two left, and it will be mid-week before my Walmart excursion. I bent over to pick up a bunch from the boxes shoved under the bins, hoping that a giant tarantula didn't run up my arm. Decisions, decisions. The bananas still didn't look that great. Three should be sufficient to tide Hick over for a few days. I pried and pulled and twisted, trying to separate three bananas from that bunch of six. They were the strongest bananas I've ever wrestled with. I swear, it was like trying to break off a sapling's lower limbs.

While I was struggling, I sensed someone watching. Oh! Maybe I was in the way. That happens on a regular basis. No matter where I park my cart, somebody needs to get to the items behind it. I looked up to see a little old lady staring at me.

"Oh! Excuse me. Let me move my cart up a little bit. I'm trying to get a few bananas loose. I don't need this many."

Little Old Lady kept staring. She seemed neither perturbed nor pleased. Finally, she spoke.

"I just paid 18 cents a pound for bananas at Walmart."

"Huh. Well. I don't want to drive all the way to Walmart today."

... "I had to go anyway. For my medicine."

Things were becoming clearer to me. This Little Old Lady seemed to be high as a kite. I'm guessing opioids. She was moving kinda slow, like Uncle Joe on the porch of the Shady Rest in Petticoat Junction. It took her a while to voice her thoughts, and to respond to my replies.

"I usually buy my bananas at Walmart, but I have trouble with their potatoes and onions being rotten when I slice into them."

... "I have that same problem with the potatoes. Get them home, and three days later you can already smell them, because they're rotten."

"I have more trouble with the onions. Three out of four of them are rotten inside."

... "I read that if you buy the flat ones, they're less likely to be rotten."

"The onions here don't give me as much trouble. The last bag I bought DID have a lot of flat ones in it."

... "Yes. The flat ones."

"Okay. I need to get going."

Little Old Lady stood there, watching me go. If she called out, I had already traveled out of earshot. She seemed to be there with a Little Old Man, who was over by the deli counter, because I saw her glancing in his direction a couple of times. Or maybe she was going to go flirt with him. I don't know. She didn't have a cart to ram into him like Richie Cunningham trying to pick up a date at the supermarket.

I'm thinking Little Old Lady picked up her medicine at Walmart, and popped some pills on the way to Country Mart. Why she chose me to chat with is beyoooond me.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

A Pound-Pound Joke

Pound, pound.
Who's there?
Hick who?

I'm pretty sure Hick is still trying to kill me. He's just going about it in a very subtle way. Bumbling about, like a lovable, lumbering bear, yet still just as deadly. Appearing to have unfortunate faux pas at the expense of Val's patience and good will minimal tolerance of his blood-pressure-raising antics.

Saturday morning, for instance. We all know that Val has no need to arise at the crack of before-noon. She has no pressing engagements. With a bedtime of 4:00 a.m., expecting a few hours of slumber before starting her day of doing nothing does not seem too much to ask. It's not like Hick needs a breakfast of country ham, redeye gravy, hash browns, a half-dozen eggs over easy, biscuits slathered with butter, and flapjacks with syrup. Nope. Hick knows how to find breakfast at Country Mart's deli, or a Casey's donut, before he starts selling his Storage Unit Store wares at 8:00.

I normally arise at 9:30. Hick sees this as a travesty. He stops at virtually nothing to wake me before my time. Unless, of course, I've asked him to make sure I'm up by 9:00 on Fridays, to get to the post office before the mail goes out. Then he might give me a wake-up call at 9:20 if he thinks of it.

Anyhoo... I was awake at 7:30 on Saturday morning, as Hick was getting ready, plopping on the edge of the bed and jouncing me clean off the mattress like I was a jolly good fellow in a blanket toss. That's the only place he can sit down to put on shoes and socks, you know. On the edge of the bed. All other seating areas in the house are off limits. Oh, and he can't do it with just the natural morning light seeping through the french doors on the east side of the bedroom. He has to leave the bathroom door open so the six big round lights over the sink can reflect off the carefully placed mirrored shelf on the south wall, and right into my eyeballs through the thin skin of my eyelids.

Anyhoo... I'm pretty sure I exchanged some unpleasantries with Hick as he was telling me about his plans for the day. I might have lost consciousness from my skyrocketing blood pressure, because the next thing I knew, I heard Hick flinging dry dog food into the metal pans on the back porch, as if with a jai alai scoop. I sighed contentedly, and snuggled into my pillow for two more hours of sleep.

RING RING "Call from Hick Thevictorian" RING--

I rolled out of bed and grabbed the land line before the answering machine picked up.

"Hello? Hello?"

Nothing but murmuring. Hick's voice. Chuckle. Murmuring. What in the NOT-HEAVEN? Was he butt-dialing me? That's impossible, because Hick carries his phone in a holster on his belt. Quick Draw Faux Pas. That's him.

I looked at the clock. It was 7:53 A.M.!

Lucky for Hick, he was not within earshot or quick-trial-and-error-learning-to-shoot-a-gun shot of Val and her displeasedness with him.

Later, Hick did not even have the good sense to claim ignorance, but instead stated that he had accidentally called me while talking to his buddy at the Storage Units, and said, "Oops! Now I'm going to be in trouble for calling her." Seriously. So he had known all along that he called me, but rather than saying into his phone, "Sorry, I didn't mean to do that," he just ignored my HELLOS and joked with his buddy.

But that's not all! After confessing to this while eating his supper in his La-Z-Boy, Hick got up to go to the auction, leaving me on the short couch without a remote, watching some show on PBS about patching a basement's field stone foundation in an 1860s house.


What in the NOT-HEAVEN! I hoisted myself up and hurried to the kitchen door, where I could see Hick creepily peeping through one of the three big window in the kitchen table alcove, his hands cupping his face, making sure I was rushing to his rescue. I unlocked the kitchen door.

"You're KILLING me!"

"Forgot my keys!"

Hick stumped past me to the bedroom, then came back chuckling.

"Huh. I'm killing myself! The keys were in my shirt pocket the whole time."

I'm pretty sure Hick is trying to kill ME. Not himself.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Val Tries to Make CENTS of the Recent Drought

After flowing like springtime mountain meltwater, Val's Future Pennyillionaire watershed has dried up in recent weeks. Only a single drop was available to quench her thirst for pennies.

FRIDAY, April 26, I was twitchy and on-edge from penny-finding withdrawal. The week was not treating me well. As I stood in line at the Backroad's Casey's, waiting to cash in a winning scratcher, I looked left. Good thing, too!

Misers and other penny-pickers had left me no crumbs at any of my regular hangouts throughout the week. But I spied this 1967 heads-up coin almost by accident. I don't normally look for pennies way over there. It must have taken a good roll, or the line was way backed up when it was dropped.

There's my latest Abe Lincoln, understated, with his patina of age preventing a gaudy shine.

I am prepared to continue on my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune quest, even if it's only one penny at a time.

2019 Running Total
Penny   # 56.
Dime    still at 7.
Nickel   still at 6.
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, April 26, 2019

Hick House Window Dilemma 04-24-19

While Hick was working solo at Hick House, he got carried away with window replacements. The master bedroom project has not yet begun, but Hick set about putting in a window. There's one that looks out on the front porch, but has been boarded up since we bought the $5000 house.

Here it is behind HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) in the original picture, with a KEEP OUT sign on it.

Hick took a new picture from the front porch, where a piece of plywood is leaning against the non-window area. At least most of the siding is gone now, although Hick and HOS continue to be slovenly worksite operators.

You can also see where that window belongs in the interior photo of the future master bedroom:

Hick thought he had a window to go there. In fact, he had two. But they were both too big! He needs a five-foot window here, and his were larger. So he came up with another plan. You might want to make sure you're sitting down.


These doors! Hick mentioned the plan to me on the phone while I was in town. I kind of treated it like all of Hick's comments about Hick House, and "Uh-huh'-ed and put it in the back of my mind. By the time I got home, that thought was screaming to get out. I called Hick, frantic that he might have already done the deed. Hoping that I had misunderstood his motive.

"Hey! You didn't mean one of those pair of window doors you were going to use in the living room, did you?"

"Yeah. It won't open, but I'll cut one down and have a nice window there on the front of the house."

"NOOOO! You can't do that! Don't ruin those doors! You have a pair!"

"I don't have anything else to use them for."

"You MIGHT! If you're even thinking about flipping another house. DON'T cut up the door! Bring them home. You have plenty of room to keep them. Surely you can find another window somewhere."

"I looked. They were $250 or more."

"Even at the used house stuff Goodwill kind of store? What's the name of that place?"

"Uh... um... the Rehab Store. No, that's not it. It's something like that. I can look there."

"You can get on Buy/Sell/Trade, or call Tradio. Say you're looking for a window, and can't pay more than $50. I'm sure you'll find one. People call in there all the time, selling stuff for only $10. I'm sure someone has a window for $50. You can even say it doesn't matter if it opens."

"No. It has to open."

"You just said that if you made it out of the door, it wouldn't open."

"Yeah. But if it's a window, it will have to open!"

"I don't understand you, but I'm sure you can do better than ruin a nice door to make a non-opening window."

"There's not much money left to buy stuff. I can try looking."

"Those free doors are worth more than using one as a window. DON'T cut the door!"

I really hope Hick paid more attention to what I said than I did to what he said!

Later the next night...

"It's Habitat for Humanity!"

"What? That's people who build houses for free."

"It's a re-store. Habitat for Humanity."

"The Habitat for Humanity Re-Store?"

"Yeah. That's it."

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Hick House Outside and In: Electric and Window 04-24-19

Hick has solved the problem of the 6-inches-too-low electric wire over the deck of Hick House. He got approval from the electric company to bring the electric in from the wires on the street side of Hick House. It's ready to be hooked up there, pending two limbs trimmed by HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) or HOS's buddy, and another visit from the electric company to run wire from the street pole to the house.

Don't you worry about how Hick has been working without electricity for a week. He hasn't. He still has electricity rigged up in the basement, so he has power where he needs it inside Hick House, to run his saws and and radio.

There's Hick's electrical handiwork. Once the electric company disconnects the electricity from that wire over the deck, Hick will be moving the meter (seen over the basement door) forward to that electric box he installed. The conduit at the bottom runs electricity to the basement, where the main box will be. Hick is a stickler for labeling breakers.

You can also see the upstairs window that Hick replaced. He really needed HOS's help, but HOS was otherwise occupied for a couple days. Hick made do with some blocks of wood to keep the window from falling out. I don't know yet if he's told HOS that he can be replaced by four blocks of wood.

Here it is from the inside, at 9:50 a.m.

And at 12:10 p.m., after Hick has trimmed and put in drywall. At first I accused him of being a sloppier painter than HOS, but Hick said he didn't paint anything. The drywall is white, and he filled in some nicks and holes in the green wooden trim with putty. I'm sure this bedroom is waiting for a full coat of paint from HOS.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Next Thing I Know, Hick Has Lost an Ear

Oh, the predicaments Hick gets himself into! Now he's lost an ear. Let the record show that Hick is no Van Gogh. Nor is he J. Paul Getty III. Or even Mr. Potato Head. And he would never allow his barber, even during one of his three-hour haircuts, to shave him with a straight razor like This Guy did while on heavy painkillers after back surgery. No, my Hick didn't lose just any ear overnight.

He lost an ear of corn left from our ill-fated Easter Feast.

Silly me. I had simply assumed that Hick ate all three ears of corn. The ones I'd put in the microwave, rolled in plastic wrap, and forgotten to turn on. I had told him, after all, that he could have all three, because I wasn't climbing 13 stairs and descending again just to get an ear of corn.

When I came upstairs around 4:00 a.m., I smelled the corn. It smelled pretty good, actually. I peeped inside FRIG II to see if maybe Hick had left me an ear. Not that I would have eaten it right then, mind you. But maybe for lunch the next day, which was technically THAT day. No ear in sight, though. The trash had been bagged. I guess the kitchen just held the aroma of corn.

That evening, I went upstairs to warm up leftovers. That darn Hick was sitting in his La-Z-Boy with a plate of hot dogs and beans and potato salad.

"Do you want me to warm up a pork steak and the beans?"

"No. I've got hot dogs. I already did it."

"You just came in! I was coming up to get supper ready. I can't believe you didn't wait!"

"That's okay. I like hot dogs. We can have the other tomorrow."

"Okay. There are two ears of corn left. I guess you ate the other three."

"No. I only ate two."

"Well... what happened to the third one? I didn't see it in the fridge."

"Oh. I forgot about it. It was in the microwave. I didn't find it till this morning. I threw it off the porch."

I guess I'm lucky I didn't find Hick's third ear in the cushions of the La-Z-Boy, like that banana peel a while back.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Thevictorian Easter Feasters

We did not have a big Easter dinner at the home of Thevictorians. Genius is living in Kansas City, and did not drive across the state for a free meal. He is saving his vacation days to devote 7 of them to his work at Missouri Boys' State again this summer. The Pony rarely comes home unless we decree such a trip. With an 18-hour round-trip drive, that does not happen often.

Hick said he didn't care if I prepared a big meal. In fact, he said that since the weather was nice, he could grill. Well. Who am I to say NO to a meal I don't have to cook? We decided on a feast of BBQ pork steaks, hot dogs, and four sausages left over from one of Hick's last-week meals. I don't really like those Montreal Steak flavored sausages. That's why four of the six were left in the package. They're too spicy for me. Not a fan.

For side dishes, I warmed up some maple-bacon beans straight from the can. Didn't even make a pretense of adding other flavors and baking them in the oven with onions and bacon. I bought some potato salad at Save A Lot, which saved me about 90 minutes prep time. Of course I had some slaw on hand, from Walmart. I also picked up some corn-on-the-cob at Save A Lot. Sure, Hick could have wrapped them in foil and cooked them on the grill. But it's easier to wrap them in plastic wrap and microwave them for two minutes. No dessert here. We aren't sweet people.

Anyhoo... Hick has been having trouble with Gassy G, the gas grill he bought at an auction several years ago. He says only two burners work now. In addition, he found out that his propane tank was empty. Thank goodness he has several spares that he's picked up here and there, so he was able to commence the cooking. I spent a few minutes talking to him, while shucking three ears of corn over the back porch deck. Took him a foil-covered pan to put the cooked food in when he was done.

As our feast was finishing cooking, I set out the potato salad, slaw, hot dog buns, and some chip dip on the cutting block, in their original plastic containers. No tablecloth even necessary! I DID use the metal spoons, rather than plastic. The beans were simmering on the back burner. I wrapped the corn and put it in the microwave. Then I went to sit down for a few minutes in the La-Z-Boy. Such hard work, this holiday meal prep!

It was less than 60 seconds that I had my feet up, because Hick barged through the kitchen door with a plate of BBQ hot dogs. Not even one of the GOOD paper plates, but the plain white fluted-edge flimsy ones.

"Ooh. I don't know WHY you slather BBQ sauce on those hot dogs. I don't like sauce on mine. I just like them grilled. Why did you put the hot dogs on a PAPER PLATE! I brought you a tray for them!"

"Well, they wouldn't fit right."

Said the man renovating a $5000 house, yet unable to arrange pork steaks and hot dogs on a round pizza pan covered with foil. He put them on the front burner (a no-no, because the juice will seep through, and next time I use that burner, it will smoke and set off the smoke alarm). I moved the plate to the metal part of the stove top. Hick went back for the pork steak platter. Why he trusted three dogs to watch them is beeeyooooond me!

Here's when our feast began to unravel. Hick went to take his nightly shot, which is just a jabby thing into his leg, not like he's mainlining a narcotic. He told me to go ahead and fix my plate. Surely you didn't think we would sit down at the table and eat together! Hick generally sits in his La-Z-Boy, watching TV, so I take mine down to my lair. I told Hick to fix his plate when he returned from his shot. He told ME to fix my plate. We never go in this order! I can't have him thinking he's in charge.

"No. You get yours ready first. It will take me a while to get mine ready, because I have to put stuff away."

"No. YOU go first. I'm going to sit at the cutting block."

"Well, thanks for telling me now! I could have been cleaning it off. I set all the side dishes out there."

"You didn't ask. Go ahead and get yours. You always say I'm in the way."

"That's because you ARE in the way. When you sit at the cutting block, I have to go around you to get to the fridge and put stuff up. Here. I'll start cleaning it off."

"You go ahead first. I told you."

"Well, then YOU will have to put stuff away!"

"I can do that."

Against my better judgement, I complied with Hick's command. I had some little ramekins that I used for some beans and potato salad and slaw. No need slopping up a plate with juices running together. It was also portion control. You know, because I wouldn't want to indulge too much, what with a pork steak and a hot dog as my main course. Plate in hand, I abandoned the kitchen, and any hope that Hick was going to put stuff away right.

"I set out a container for the meat. Don't forget to put it in the refrigerator, and the stuff from the cutting block. Don't put the bean pan back on the burner, and don't fill it with water in the sink. I don't like picking beans out of my drain."

Hick grunted like he intended to comply, and off I went down the basement steps. As soon as I was below eye level of the living room, I heard Hick eject from his La-Z-Boy. I'd no sooner set down my plate beside New Delly than it dawned on me. I had no ear of corn! I went out to the bottom of the stairs to holler at Hick.

"I forgot to microwave the corn. It's ready to go! Put it on one minute. Then turn it and do another minute. I don't want it now. It's not worth walking upstairs for. So you can have all three if you want, or throw it out."

This is what happens when Hick disrupts my plan. No sooner had I sat down at New Delly and taken a bite of hot dog--WAIT A MINUTE! That was no hot dog! It was one of those darned sausages! I'd taken it off the tray with the pork steaks, because it was the blackest, and had the least sauce. I went back to the bottom of the stairs.

"I'm guessing you put the sausages on the tray with the pork steaks. I wish you would have told me, because now I have one instead of a hot dog."

"I did put the sausages on the tray. I didn't know I had to tell you."

"Well, you led me to believe you'd tried to put the hot dogs on the tray, and they wouldn't fit. So I thought I'd found a good hot dog without much sauce."

No reply from Hick. No sooner had I sat back down to my lair feast than I heard Hick hollering something. Huh! What in the world was he blathering about? He'd better not be mouthing at me about the sausage-hot dog fiasco. I went back to the bottom of the stairs.


"I said my hot dog bun had green on it, so you'd better check yours. I got out the other bag of buns."

"Don't worry. I'm not eating it anyway, because I don't like the sausage."


I finally sat down to feast, with the rest of my solitary meal being fairly uneventful. The pork steak was tasty, and okay, but not up to Hick's usual standards. I think he'd put too much sauce on the hot dogs, and neglected the pork steaks. They didn't have the usual char around the edges with caramelized BBQ sauce. Still, it was done, and not dried out.

We have leftovers for several days. Maybe Hick can take some hot dogs for himself and HOS for lunch. I figure I can wipe some sauce off a hot dog, add some sauce to a pork steak, and warm them in the oven for my finicky tastes. I'll probably go without the sides next time, and cook myself one of the two remaining ears of corn. I hope Hick enjoyed three of them. He might not want corn next time.

The boys don't know what they missed. I'm pretty sure I'm going to tell them in their weekly letter, though.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Val Tries to Get a Grip on the Handle Situation

You may recall that T-Hoe's door handle broke off in my hand last week. It was quite a traumatic experience for me. Now that I don't have The Pony riding around in the passenger seat behind me, available for opening that door from the inside, it put me in a pickle.
Hick called his on-call car repairman buddy, Mick the Mechanic, that very afternoon. Props to Hick for not waiting four-years-and-counting like he has about T-Hoe's backup beeper and tire pressure sensors. We drove T-Hoe over to Mick's shop that night, and left him. It only takes 7 minutes to get there.

As I was moving stuff into T-Hoe's console, to get it out of the way of jabbing knees in case somebody had to crawl across from the passenger side to get that door open... Mick came out. He had seen us lurking around amid the cars entrusted to him by other jalopy owners. Mick said the Tahoe is notorious for breakage of those plastic door handles.

"It's usually the back doors. Kids yank too hard on them, trying to get the door open when it's locked, or frozen in the winter."

I'm not sure what that says about my door-opening skills. But T-Hoe IS 11 years old now, and I get in and out multiple times a day. I am NOT a yanker!

While we were standing there, Mick's wife came out. You know. Because Val is such a prime specimen of old-lady-hood that she might steal away another woman's legal live-in mechanic. Sheesh! I already have one mechanical man. Why would I want another one?

Hick hangs out with Mick a lot, when he's not busy safe-eteering and inspection-eering his $5000 house. Usually, there's an issue that spurs the visit. Like earlier last week, when Hick backed SilverRedO into a pole. Of course he made it out to be MY fault. "Heh, heh. I just pulled a Val. I backed into a pole on the parking lot." We don't need to discuss his reference at this time. Anyhoo... I told Hick to get SilverRedO fixed.

"I didn't buy you a new used truck for you to drive around in a junker. Get your bumper fixed."

"Mick says he can do it. He says he might even have a part laying around. When he fixes one of those bumpers, he only uses the section that's damaged, and keeps the other parts for later."

Anyhoo... we picked up T-Hoe the following evening. Hick had stopped by to pay Mick on the way home from Hick House. That's a benefit of being buddies with your on-call mechanic. Your job gets rush treatment. Hick had laid the receipt on the kitchen counter where I tell him not to put stuff.

"I can't believe a plastic door handle for a 2008 Tahoe costs $72!"

"It's not the door handle, Val. It's the guts of it, not the handle. It comes in a kit. It's the parts that go inside the door that cost that much."

"Huh. Did he use my old door handle on the outside? It looked fine to me. I should have asked for my old door handle back!"

"I don't know if he used it, Val. Probably not."

"Then where is it? What's he doing with it? Using it on somebody ELSE'S car?"

"Mick wouldn't do that."

"You just told me that he does it with bumpers! Only uses the broken part. Then probably bills the next customer for a whole new bumper, and uses the other ones."

"I seriously doubt that, Val."

"Then why would he only use the section for the damaged part? Instead of replacing the whole thing?"

I couldn't understand Hick's next words. It seemed like more of a growl. Of course I couldn't wait to wind him up again the day after we picked up T-Hoe.

"I think your buddy and his workers must have taken T-Hoe to town for lunch. I swear I had more gas in there than when I picked it up."

"They didn't take your car anywhere, Val."

T-Hoe HAS been known to show a different level in the gas tank after being parked with his hood slanted down. Maybe that's all it was. I just don't want Hick and Mick to think I'm some patsy who doesn't know what they're up to in their secret greasy tooly manual-labor world!

"When I drove by the shop this morning, Mick was walking around the cars. He waved to me, and I waved back. We're kind like family now, you know."

Except for maybe driving my car to lunch and scamming a plastic door handle.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Physics Defiance Disorder

One evening last week (okay, early-morning), I was startled by an unidentifiable noise. You'd think by now that I wouldn't be startled by such happenings. It's no surprise that they occur. It's only a surprise as it happens. There's no predicting these incidents.

It was sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. I'd been in my OPC (Old People Chair) since 11:30, leaned back watching TV. Yet there it was. The sound of a golf ball dropping into the cup. I don't play golf, you know. I've only played three times in my life, if you don't count miniature golf. But I know that sound. I've heard it on TV. Not that I watch golf on TV. That's just a notch above hockey, and below NASCAR.

Hm. There's no golf course in my basement. No golf balls or clubs. Certainly no 18 holes, or even one, so no cups built into my basement press-down tile over concrete floor. The strangeness of this sound made me sit up straighter in my recliner. It was not the usual footsteps above, or bed-turning, or heavy objects dropping into a bathtub.

The sound came from the basement for sure. Over past the 13 steps to the living room. Maybe in the area between Genius's old desk, and the NASCAR bathroom. Towards my office.

Do you think I got up to go investigate? NOT-HEAVEN, NO! I just sat there, slightly more upright, frozen, waiting for it to happen again, or for something even more heinous to occur. It did not. That was it. An isolated noise incident.

I'd pretty much forgotten about that noise when I descended to my dark basement lair the next day. I flipped on the light as I entered my office, and saw disarray.

On the floor were three empty Diet Coke bottles, and some thin cellophane that had held an 8-pack of mini cereal boxes together. Huh. That was curious.

Let the record show that I have a large kitchen trash bag in my office. Not in an actual wastebasket. Just a loose trash bag, the black kind with a blue drawstring top. It sits on an open box next to my good rolly chair. The one that's too long for my legs, that I've parked next to one of my bookshelves. The box sits on another box of stuff from school. It's about the height of the seat of my good rolly chair. I dispose of trash as needed, and when the bag is full, I carry it upstairs and out to the dumpster.

I just took out the trash last week. The new trash bag had some empty mini cereal boxes in it, and some empty Diet Coke bottles. It was nowhere near full. Maybe 1/6 as full as it was going to be when it was time to go to the dumpster again. Every night, before I go out to my OPC, I put my empty Diet Coke bottle in that trash bag. I'd done so at 11:30.

Let the record further show that I shake the bottle down into the bottom of the trash bag. It is not unstable. The stuff in the bottom sits in the hollow of the not-quite-empty box. I lay the top of the bag back down on itself.

Somehow, the open top of the bag had leaned itself over, and ejected three empty Diet Coke bottles, and that thin cellophane wrapper. Which you might think would stick to the sides of the black plastic trash bag with static.

I still can't figure out how THREE Diet Coke bottles made ONE noise, and didn't bounce on the tile floor.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Not Much HaPENNYing in the Future Pennyillionaire Business

I knew that my rate of penny-finding could not sustain itself. A dry spell is expected, even amidst the April showers we've been having here in Backroads.

MONDAY, April 15, I was surprised to find a penny waiting for me at Orb K.

It was a 2002 heads-up cent, there by the after-weekend depleted energy supplement rack. Looks like someone was too exhausted to find a wastebasket for their donut wrapper. I hope they bought an energy supplement!

I was even more surprised that although I took a closeup of my rightful penny, my phone camera had other ideas. Once in T-Hoe, I sent the photo to my email, for easy blog access. When I swiped to the closeup, all I saw was a black screen, and heard a SNICK sound like when the picture snaps. That crazy Genius hand-me-down phone had led me to believe that the closeup was taken. Darn technology!

Don't you worry about how Even Steven is treating Val, though. She heard her special song "How Can I Help You Say Goodbye" on her drive past the cemetery this week. And last Thursday, upon returning from cashing in her $1000 lottery ticket and having lunch at the casino with her sister the ex-mayor's wife... Val found this on the floor of her garage.

Don't see it? Allow me to assist you with a closeup. It's just under that white stripe.

It was a ladybug, and it was alive! Hick has to let me out before he pulls A-Cad into the garage, because of course when building the garage, he did not allow for enough room for two cars' doors to open completely. Or maybe it's just all the junk he has stored on that side, because T-Hoe's doors open on his side of the garage.

This was on the 11th, which happens to be a significant number pertaining to Val's birthday.

Sometimes, riches come in a form other than pennies.

2019 Running Total
Penny   # 55.
Dime    still at 7.
Nickel   still at 6.
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, April 19, 2019

Hick House Exterior: Deck Complete 04-19-19

Here's the latest on Hick House. The deck is finished, the siding is progressing, and the kitchen table is in.

The handrails are on the steps, and the dilapidated-looking picket fence is up.

Kind of a long and awkward view, but you can see that Hick finished off the handrails with a board cap. It looks sturdy to me.

Hick has since trimmed off the bottom of those fence pickets. He and HOS really need to maintain their worksite in a less junky manner. They didn't ask my opinion, though, and I haven't lifted one finger to help, so I'll keep that opinion to myself.

Hick has trailered a bunch of metal roofing over there, so on the next dry day, he and HOS can put a roof on that concrete shed. Hick also wants to take his tractor to town, and scoop out some dirt that's inside the concrete garage, and dump it in the little creek. This will be a flat, slanted roof, higher in the front. Nothing fancy.

Believe it or not, there's nothing wrong with those three windows on the back of the house. They will get paint, and new shades inside should make a difference.

HOS has been putting up siding as weather permits. I wouldn't want to be on that ladder hanging siding.

The front corner of the wall will get a piece of trim. If HOS doesn't have one in his FREE siding stash, Hick will make one out of lumber and paint it.

HOS also stained and sealed the kitchen floor, and moved in the kitchen table.

Hick's phone camera does it no favors. I guess the kitchen chandelier was too bright.

Hick is currently building a closet in the master bedroom, so he has a place to run electric wire to the upstairs. The electric company told him that he can run his over-deck wire to attach at the front corner of the house instead, and they will come hook it up and disconnect the old wire. Hick said he already has the wire, or he wouldn't do it that way, because it would cost him $100 for about 30 feet of wire. He's pleased with this new electrical plan.

Updates will continue as Hick provides photos. Hick House is not a palace, but it is growing safer and more inspectable by the week.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Even Steven Owes Me One

Even Steven seems to have chosen a nonmonetary way to restore equilibrium after my $1000 lottery winner. I've been doing okay on the scratchers. No big wins, but still getting back my usual 40% returns, or more. I'd been expecting a long dry spell, bereft of winners. That's usually how it goes. What I did NOT expect was a downturn in my everyday luck.

Not so much everyday luck, as getting through every day without unfortunate mishaps. Like Wednesday, for instance.

I had only been up for about 5 minutes when the first of my misfortunes befell me. I was at the kitchen sink, having just taken my thyroid pill, which requires a full glass of water. I keep a red Solo cup on the counter, just for that purpose. I had swallowed the pill, and was in the midst of filling my almond-colored sink with hot water and dirty dishes. The red Solo cup was 3/4 full of water. You don't expect me to chug it, do you? It takes a few minutes.

I reached to the counter for my Dawn orange-scented dishwashing liquid, and my hand hit the red Solo cup. I jerked in surprise, which tipped the cup over, flooding the floor and the left leg of my pajama pants with cold water. Dang it! I squished my way to the laundry room for some towels to mop up the mess. Then started a load of laundry for the towels and pajama pants, and also some other clothes. I figured I could toss them in the dryer when I got home from town.

Easter is coming up Sunday. Did you know that? I, myself, forgot. So it dawned on me while touring the innernets with HIPPIE that I must get some treats to send The Pony a package. Genius sent a text that he did not need treats, but would appreciate some scratchers. He does not buy them for himself. Then here came Hick up the driveway in SilverRedO, unexpected, and took up some time chatting with me before heading back to Hick House in A-Cad, to meet with the man from the electric company about the over-deck wire, then pick up This Guy from the nursing home rehab for his back surgery, and take him home.

As I came to the county lettered highway, I saw the road department had flag men limiting it to one lane while they worked on the bridge. But no one was watching my county blacktop road. So I just kept sitting there, waiting for either flag man to motion me out. Finally I was noticed, and given the go-ahead.

The bank, the Sis-Town Casey's, and the main post office were visited without incident. It was the school-turn Casey's that threw me for a loop. I came out with scratchers (for Easter-sending), unlocked T-Hoe with my clicker, and reached for the door handle. The door would not open! I thought it might be a clicker problem. I've been having those for several years, yet Hick refuses to take apart my clicker to see about the battery, or give me the spare clicker. I definitely heard the clicker unlock the door. When I tried again, the handle came out, and stayed out.

I gave it several tries, but that handle was not opening the latch! Great. I went around to the passenger side. Don't be thinking Val is nimble enough to climb over the full console and into the driver's seat. Those days are long gone. My intent was to reach over and open the driver's door from the inside. Well. Maybe if I was Stretch Armstrong, or Inspector Gadget with a telescoping arm. I finally had to get up on my knees (ouch) on the passenger seat and console, to reach the inside handle and open the door.

Did I mention that the wind was blowing 25 mph? It was. Unfortunately, from the driver's side of T-Hoe. By the time I climbed down and walked around to pull the driver's door open, the wind had blown so hard that it had clicked the door partway closed. Partway might as well be fully latched, because that door handle was ornamental only. I went BACK around, climbed in the passenger side again, and opened the door with the inside handle.

You know what happened, right? The exact same thing! The wind blew the door halfway latched. I tried the back door, behind the driver's door. I stood up on the running board, and tried to reach forward, but T-Hoe's inside door handles are way up front. So again, I climbed down and went to the passenger side. Oh, did I mention that parked on that side was a County Sheriff SUV, white with brown markings? Didn't matter, because nobody was getting out to assist Old Lady Val.

This time, I climbed across and opened the door, and used my purse on the driver's seat to wedge against it. You know what happened, right? The purse kept the wind from latching the door, but when I pulled it open, my purse fell down and dumped everything out. Also, the door didn't want to close (go figure!) when I pulled it shut from inside. So I had to fiddle with the latch clicky notch thingy on the edge of the door to make it close.

I got in and called Hick, to tell him I was having a very bad day. He seemed to have a modicum of sympathy, but it's not like he could bring me A-Cad. He was waiting on the electric company man, and then had to go pick up This Guy, who can't climb up in T-Hoe with his surgeried back. I told Hick I still had stops to make, and I couldn't keep climbing in the passenger door, and that I felt like leaving the door unlatched.

"I can take my purse in. There's nothing else they can really take. But the wind keeps blowing the door latched."

Hick suggested that I stuff my coat in the edge. I went one better, and used a glove only, jamming a couple fingers into the latch part on the body of T-Hoe. Sheesh!

Don't go thinking my troubles were over!

While I was in line waiting to pay for Easter candy at Walmart, I got a text. From the electric company. "We are investigating a reported power outage in the area of YOUR ADDRESS. We estimate that power will be restored by 3:45 p.m. To confirm your status, reply with 1 for power ON, 2 for power OFF, or 3 for Do not know." Not good news for my wet clothes back home, awaiting the dryer.

Dang it! That was at 1:50 p.m. I was not looking forward to getting home and carrying my purchases into a house with no power. Did I mention that it was 82 degrees?

When I came out of Walmart, I was relieved that nobody had stolen my highly-desirable 2008 Tahoe. I also discovered, in washing my hand with GermX, that I had cut a finger on T-Hoe's door latch. I figured I'd survive, though, with only three stops left to make.

When I came out of the Backroads Casey's, I reached to open the door, and the HANDLE CAME COMPLETELY OFF. Not that it really mattered.

I wish I was some kind of Idiot Hick MacGyver Savant, and could whip out a gewgaw made from parking lot junk that would open my door. But I'm not.

There's the handle, on the dash, when I stopped at Country Mart. A door handle should not be riding INSIDE the car!

I made it home without further incident, making sure to jam that glove into the latch at every other stop, and take my purse inside. On the way up the hill before our mailboxes, I passed an electric company truck. It was parked in the road, with the driver walking around to get in. As I came up the driveway, I was relieved to see the garage door go up with the clicker. We had power!

Oh, yeah. I bought myself a couple scratchers as well. Won 40% back on them.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Customer Can Sometimes Be Right

Remember when the customer was always right? Like in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, when that angry guy didn't believe he'd been served the best breakfast he ever ate? Even though he ate most of it, and demanded his money back. HE was right. He got his refund, and he got Brad fired from All-American Burger.

These days, it's like the customer is never right. They're an annoyance.

I'd be satisfied if I could be right at least half of the time. Walk in, do my business, no hassles, nothing out of the ordinary. Just pay for my items and leave.

Friday, I set out my Walmart purchases on the conveyor. I am a well-known grouper. Boxes with boxes, produce with produce, cold with cold. All the checker need do is run the stuff over the sensor, and put it in a bag. It's GROUPED with what it needs to be bagged with. That wasn't good enough for my checker.

I started with the fried chicken. It was hot from the deli warmer, and I didn't want it bagged with anything else. In fact, as soon as I get it to T-Hoe, I take it out of the bag so it doesn't sweat. Nobody wants sweaty chicken. Boxes of stuff were next. Some crunchy oats and honey granola bars, an assortment of mini cereal boxes. Then Hick's loose bottles of strawberry banana flavored water, six of them. The produce was next, a bag of limes, a bunch of bananas. Lastly, I had a few cold items grouped together. A block of extra-sharp cheddar, some bratwursts, BBQ pulled pork, and a pack of eight fried chicken wings from the deli refrigerator case.

I had my eye on that checker. Usually, they will bag up my hot fried chicken, and set it on top of the bag carousel, where I pick it up and put it in the child seat of the cart. Just to keep track of it. Same way, I put my cold stuff last, so I know it's in the end of the cart when I get to T-Hoe, and put it in my soft-side cooler first.

The checker was holding my hot chicken hostage. She had set it lengthwise (!) down in a bag, and it was turning on the carousel as she bagged other items. Not turning all the way around, where I could get it, but back and forth, on the checker's whim, as she decided what she was bagging together. You know, because my sorting wasn't good enough.

As the cold stuff came to the sensor, the checker put in the cheese block with the bag of limes. The bananas had been bagged with the box of granola bars. I didn't say anything, even though I didn't want my bananas exposed to the sharp corners of the granola bar box. I drew the line, though, when she took my little container of cold chicken wings, and put them down beside the hot fried chicken.

"No. I'd rather not have my cold chicken wings bagged with the hot chicken."

That checker looked at me like I was overstepping my bounds. I thought for a minute she might twirl her crazy finger near her temple. What she did instead was take out both the hot fried chicken, and the cold chicken wings, and proceed to set each one down on top of the carousel while she felt the top and bottom of the other container with both hands. All the while, looking me in the eye! That's some creepy stuff. She finally put the hot chicken in a bag by itself and handed it to me. Then put the cold chicken in with the granola bars and bananas.

As soon as I got to T-Hoe, I put the limes with the bananas, the granola bars with the cereal, and all the cold stuff in one bag to go in the soft-side cooler.

Sheesh! That checker was pretty much calling me out, doubting that I had both hot and cold chicken. You'd think she'd realize that. You know, working there every day. This is the second checker I've had to caution about putting cold items with hot, and they both acted all put-out with me for mentioning it. The other one wasn't this psycho, though.

I wanted to twirl my crazy finger, but I was too scared.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Because Val Is a Giver Like That

Our casino visit last Thursday was nothing to write a blog post about. Of course that's not stopping me. We figured that since we were in the city to cash in my $1000 scratcher winner, we might as well run by our second-favorite casino for lunch and some slots. Yes, Val was feeling slotty.

Before leaving home, I sent a text to my sister the ex-mayor's wife. She thought something was wrong, for me to be up SO EARLY at 8:30. I told her of our plans, and she said that she and the Ex-Mayor had talked about running up to the casino, since their cleaning lady was coming, and they wanted to be out of the house. We agreed to meet up for lunch at the casino.

Hick and I got there around 10:30, and Sis arrived around 11:00. We went our separate ways to gamble until noon. Can you believe that the casino has rearranged their slots? They also switched management companies, and some slots had newer versions. I switched up my favorites, with some success. If you call success not losing as much as usual at this casino. Don't worry. We didn't lose my lottery winnings. Hick had his own money, and the lottery pays by check. So my fortune was safe in the car with the valet (!).

One good thing about changing ownership, I guess, was that Burger Brothers inside the casino didn't have that little guy who always messes up my order. I didn't give the new one a chance, choosing a giant hot dog instead of a burger. It was delicious. In fact, Sis looked longingly at it, and said she would get it next time, rather than her bowl of chili and burger with only cheese. Not an adventurous eater, my sister. She even picked out the tomatoes and peppers in her chili. The Ex-Mayor had the Italian sausage and onion rings, and left the bun and half of the peppers and onions uneaten. Hick was the only normal one of us, having a burger with pepper jack cheese and everything but the special sauce (which is especially not tasty) and onion rings. I wish I had taken a picture, but it's just as well, because I'm not sure I could have fit the whole hot dog in the photo.

After lunch, I had a bit of success, playing for 90 minutes on less than $10. Before you go thinking I was low-rolling at a penny a spin, let the record show that I went to the 3-reel, old-timey, quarter slots. Just to be different. Well, that... and the memory of the Ex-Mayor there last time we went, winning a $600 jackpot on one of them. I didn't win a $600 jackpot, but I won SOMETHING.

I don't know exactly what. I know that I put a twenty in the machine, and I think I had less than ten dollars in it at the time I hit these fives. If you zoom in, you can see the amount of $111.75. That includes what I had in it. This was a quarter machine, and I was playing 75 cents a spin. I'm thinking maybe the fives gave me 15 credits, which were multiplied by three and then three again, for those triple symbols. That would have given me 135 credits, which would be $101.25 on that line hit. I don't even know the name of the slot. I think it might have been Triple Blazing 7s.

Anyhoo... I had given the slots so much money before lunch that this didn't make me come out a winner. But I cashed it out and didn't play it back. None of us left as winners, but we all lost less than usual. Plus we had a good lunch.

Also, we discovered that half of the whole casino is now NON-SMOKING! Of course it's the side with the older slots, like the 3-reels. Sis and I spent most of our time in that area, since we are both still battling the cough that we acquired on CasinoPalooza 4, which was THREE WEEKS AGO.

Of course every party has its pooper, and the poopers on this day were two young fellows, probably a few hours over 21, who stood RIGHT BY a sign than said NO SMOKING AREA, puffing away on their cigarettes.

I made sure to cough as I walked by them.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Waitin' at the Car Wash Blues

Val can't write a song or sing like Jim Croce, but she can tell you about the car wash blues.

On Thursday, Hick swove A-Cad to the city so we could cash in my big scratcher winner. On the way back home, we met my sister the ex-mayor's wife and her husband at our second-favorite casino for lunch and some slots. Hick decreed that we leave at 2:00, so we could miss rush hour traffic for our one-hour drive home. I was even two minutes early for departure!

We were about halfway home, southbound on a major interstate, when we noticed traffic backing up on the northbound side. Having swoven this route for over 25 years, Master Sweaver Hick said,

"It doesn't take long to back up. That's going to take along time to clear."

"Yeah. Our side will probably back up, just from the gawkers."

"It happens."

We still had about six miles to go before turning onto our other interstate for the last half of our journey. Going past an exit ramp, I said,

"Now that we're past the exit, I'm surprised you didn't stop for a free car wash."

[Let the record show that we bought A-Cad from a dealer in the area of Hick's Work Town. Part of the perks of the purchase was free car washes as long as we owned the car. Sometimes Hick would drive A-Cad to work, just to get the car wash on his way home. Whenever A-Cad goes to the city, he usually gets a car wash.]

"We're not past it yet. It's the NEXT exit."

"We don't need a car wash today. We might get stuck in traffic if we stop. It's getting closer to rush hour down here. And the gawkers might be looking at that accident on the other side."

"Yeah, I think I'll get a car wash."

"NO! That's why I waited until we were past the exit. I don't WANT a car wash. Is it really that dirty?"


Hick signaled to leave the highway. We went down the outer road to the car dealership. Hick drove A-Cad around back to the car wash.

"Look out! Don't run over that guy."

"He's just a salesman."

"Still. Don't run over him!"

Hick turned toward the car wash. There were six cars already in line!

"See? We don't really need a car wash today. This will take forever."

"It's fine, Val. It won't take that long."

Of course it did. We sat in line, idling, for 35 minutes! You can probably imagine what a scintillating conversationalist Hick is. Most of the time was spent in a disagreement over how cars qualify for the free car wash. There was a sign on the building that said only cars marked with the dealership name (I forget the exact wording) were allowed in the car wash.

"So they have to have it on the back like that? The sticker thing that looks like it's painted on there?"

"No. They could just have a license plate holder."

"I don't think so! They you could use it on all your cars, and get them all washed for free."

"They sell other car brands. Look there's some Toyotas."

"Still. I think they have to have the name on the actual car. Anyway, what are they going to do, have someone run out and say, 'Wait a minute! You didn't buy that car here! Get out of line NOW!' Are they going to reach in and grab the driver? I don't see how they can enforce this unless they screen all cars before they let them in line."

"Yeah. I don't see how they can stop it."

Whew! Finally it was our turn. As we were pulling away from the automatic air dryers, Hick remembered that I hadn't reminded him that he needed to stop and buy some screws for Hick House.

Our one-hour trip home took two hours. All because I had to mention the free car wash.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Hick House Downstairs: Bathroom 04-13-19

The bathroom of Hick House is slowly coming together. HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) has been laying out the plumbing, but it's not hooked up yet. HOS also installed the sink, and cleaned up the other fixtures. At his own pace, of course. He's also been hanging siding on the outside.

Let's remember that the bathroom was originally just a room. Four walls. Actually three walls, I think, because Hick closed in a fourth one, to make a hallway between the bathroom and the kitchen.

After painting the bathroom a light green, and staining the wood floor a darker color, HOS turned his attention to the tub. Not the shower, as you can plainly see, using it as a catchall for junk. The toilet is one that Hick used to have on the second floor of his BARn. The lid has a damaged corner, because some squirrels got in the BARn, and knocked something off a shelf that hit the toilet lid and chipped chunk out of it. Still usable, though, for a $5000 house, and FREE.

Hick thought he might have another toilet, because his Storage Unit buddy called him Friday night, saying he had a toilet he'd taken out of his rental house. And it was green! Hick said not to throw it away, that he'd look at it. Unfortunately, the green was a shade too different from the walls. Besides, the buddy had not brought the lid! He said it was in his rental house somewhere, and that he'd find it eventually. Hick told him not to bother, because of the color difference. He put the green toilet in SilverRedO, but he says he's going to take it to the landfill.

Anyhoo... HOS got that tub cleaned up real nice, and added the faucet. It's awaiting the plumbing before being closed in. Hick actually had to add a panel against the wall, because he had to move the tub out so there would be room for the plumbing for the faucet.

You can see the sink that HOS installed, and a smaller medicine cabinet. Here's a better view, with the lights.

Also, you can see Hick's ill-fated light switch behind the door. This is an older style sink, which was in better shape than a stained, more modern one that Hick also had. I really like the light fixture. Not sure where it came from. The floor will still need baseboard trim when they're finished with everything else.

Opposite the sink is the alcove for HOS's stackable washer and dryer. And the other switch Hick installed that turns on the ceiling light/exhaust fan.

Two days later, HOS had cleaned up the shower. They'll be using a rod and shower curtain on it, unless Hick finds doors for it at the hardware resale store or elsewhere. Can't always come up with luxuries for a $5000 house with a $2500 budget.

I'm not sure what the next Hick House update will be, but I'll try to have something by the end of the week.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

It's No COINcidence That Val Gathered More Pennyillionaire Funds This Week

Val's Future Pennyillionaire train keeps chugging on down the track. TOOT TOOT! Don't be laying any pennies on the track, you wannabee ruffians. That's dangerous.

On MONDAY, April 8, I found a two-fer at the Backroads Casey's. Two pennies for one sighting! Can't beat that with a stick!

Looking at that candy rack makes me want some of that Juicy Fruit gum! There by the empty space, in the yellow bag. I've never seen it in those little squares like Chiclets. Only in the yellow pack, each stick individually wrapped in foil.

It was a heads-up 2007, and a face-down 1984.

On THURSDAY, April 11, my schedule was thrown off by a trip to the city to cash in my $1000 scratcher winner. It was after 4:00 when I got to town for my 44 oz Diet Coke. I'd thought about not getting one so late, but Val is a creature of habit, and loves her magical elixir. The minute I stepped out of T-Hoe, I knew I was meant to be there at that place and time.

I parked over by the moat that divides the parking lot of The Gas Station Chicken Store and the parking lot of Hick's pharmacy. Had I parked a few inches farther back, or to the left, I would not have been able to find the nickel rightfully meant for me. I doubt it was there during my usual noon-time Diet Coke run.

It was a 2013 nickel, heads-up. Hard to tell the date, because the rough blacktop had gouged out part of the date. Poor Thomas Jefferson had a big scar across his head, too. I imagine he'd been run over and flipped face-up before I found him.

FRIDAY, April 12, I discovered a penny waiting for me in the Sis-Town Casey's, when I went in to pay for gas. Don't tell me to pay at the pump! There's been a rash of credit card fraud around here, from those scammer thingies put on Walmart self-checkouts, gas pumps, and bank ATMs.

So conveniently located, right by the register, easy to photograph and pick up while the clerk was getting my scratchers. No big winner this time. Just $5.

This was a face-down 2014. Nice and shiny.

If I could find 8 cents every week, I'd be $4.16 closer to being a Pennyillionaire by the end of the year! I figure we're 15 weeks into 2019 right now, and I should be at $1.20 to be on pace. I'm ahead of schedule, with $1.79. Future Pennyillionaire, here I come!

2019 Running Total
Penny   # 52, 53, 54.
Dime    still at 7.
Nickel   # 6.
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, April 12, 2019

Hick House Exterior: New Steps and Deck 04-11-19

Hick works pretty fast when he wants to. He tore down the rickety steps of Hick House, and replaced them, along with a new deck, in two days. Probably three days, officially, because the rails aren't on yet.

Here's the picture from yesterday showing the old steps, coming out of the back porch pantry area off the kitchen, behind that newest old interior door painted white and gray. In fact, let's start with the latest picture of that door, showing the doorknob and latch:

If you step through this door into the pantry area, and make a left, you'll come out the exterior door, onto these rickety old steps. The picture from yesterday: 

Hick got to Hick House before HOS that day, and tore off the old stairs:

Look out for that first step! HOS arrived and put up more siding, while Hick built a deck and started the new stairs:

I think maybe Hick bought these runner things that the steps fit on. Or maybe he bought the boards and cut them. But the other lumber was used stuff that HOS had laying around, that had been given to him FREE by one of his salvage buddies.

Hick pretty much finished the steps, except for the handrails:

Here's the deck:

I can't say I'm on board with that picket fence railing. I dislike it enough in our front yard by the carport. Also, I don't think it looks sturdy, but Hick says every slat of it will be screwed in, and it will be plenty sturdy, unless you jump at it with both feet and try to kick it down. I'm just reminding him that HOS has a 10-year-old son, and a less-than-a-year-old son, so it must be safe. Hick assures me that it will be. Of course all sides will have rails. I'm not sure about a gate.

As with Hick's door and light switch faux pas in the bathroom, he also discovered a problem after putting up the deck. He stepped out of the house onto the deck, and noticed an electric wire overhead. It's only 9.5 feet above the deck. Hick is pretty sure that the electric company requires it to be 10 feet above the deck. He's going to call them and have them come take a look and advise him. He thinks he can raise it enough without rewiring.

On Sunday, you'll see more updates on the bathroom.