Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Adjoining COIN Shall Not Be Purloined!

Mark your calendar. On MONDAY, August 26, Val let a bleeping coin lie!

I was over in Sis-Town, off my regular schedule, dealing with The Pony's college funds at the credit union. I figured I might as well take a 3-block detour before heading home, so I could get a scratcher at the Casey's.

I saw the penny right away. I'm kinda skilled at that. It was up by the counter. Heartbreakingly close to the foot of the lady customer at the register on the right. Woe was me! The cashier on the left became available, and called to me. Dang it! I had to step up and state my business.

Let the record show that Customer Lady was standing almost on the penny! It was no more than millimeters from her sandal. Even though I abhor feet, the sight and nearness of her exposed toes were not what deterred me from snatching that penny. I could have held my gorge to get it. The only thing saving that penny from my clutches was the fear that I might be thought a PERV! Same reason I didn't get at least a picture, because people in line might have thought I was taking a picture of the woman's foot!

I could't even stretch out my own shod toes to drag the penny near me, without risking stepping on that Customer Lady's toes. Yes, I thought about it, but couldn't devise a way to harvest that penny during my 30-second transaction. I'd rather not have seen it at all.

WEDNESDAY, August 28, I eagle-eyed a penny on the floor at the School-Turn Caseys.

If you're not a fellow eagle, allow me to assist you in locating this penny. Start at the shelves, in front of those Kinky Pink alcohol bottles. Count FOUR light colored tiles toward you, and there it is! In the upper right corner of the fourth light-colored tile. You're welcome.

It was a face-down 2017. I sighed with relief when I picked it up for pocketing. Or maybe that was a grunt from the effort. At least I'd avoided a shut-out this week.

Outside, my relief was doubled when I saw ANOTHER penny next to T-Hoe.

I'm tellin' ya, The Universe made me work for my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune this week! Neither of these beauties were easy to spot. Not at all like that tempting toe-penny that got away. This one is in the shadow, dead center of the picture, in that shady dark spot past T-Hoe's tire.

It was a scuffed and corroded face-down 1999. They're all beautiful to me.

Only two cents (captured) this week, but enough is as good as a feast.

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 91, 92.
Dime      still at 16.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 4.

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

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

Friday, August 30, 2019

Donuts to Donuts

While eating our comped lunch at the casino on Tuesday, talk turned to donuts. My sister the ex-mayor's wife brought up the topic.

"Did you know this town has a Krispy Kreme donut store now? Last time we were down here, we picked some up." Sis went to college there, and knows way more about the town than me or Hick.

"I did not know that. Genius and The Pony LOVE Krispy Kreme. Whenever the school clubs were selling them as a fundraiser, I had to buy TWO dozen. One for each boy."

"Those were just plain glazed, right? These at the store are so much better! They have all kinds. Cake donuts, filled, long johns."

"Yeah, the school donuts were always plain glazed. The sponsor or a relative would drive up to the city, and pick up the order. I never did like the Krispy Kremes. Too messy. Too sweet. But the boys would go through three or four a day."

"They would really love these from the store."

The conversation moved on then. I didn't think any more about donuts. Sis and the Ex-Mayor left at 2:00, to get home in time to host her overnight guests. Hick and I stayed at the casino until 2:30. While sitting up front waiting for Hick to appear, I got a text from Sis.

"Just bought 2 dozen donuts. All varieties. You should stop."

"No! You are trying to kill my driver!"

"Oh. Sorry. I actually forgot that he can't have them."

"He already had a Casey's donut this morning when he took the car to town for gas. It took a lot of interrogation to get that out of him, but I wasn't a teacher for 28 years for nothing!"

"Forget I even mentioned it."

I didn't forget she mentioned it, but I DID forget to tell Hick that they'd stopped for donuts.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Easy Come, Easy Go

Yesterday, I mentioned how our lunch at the casino was delayed a bit, thanks (and I do mean THANKS) to my sister the ex-mayor's wife, who's a low-roller. Sis always bets 30 cents, or the lowest option available. She seeks out slots with such low bets. Hick is similar in the way he rolls, but will try other slots, and if he gets ahead, will jump up his bet for a few spins. The Ex Mayor and I have comparable gaming habits. We play slots we like, that are more volatile than steady, and are not afraid to bet $1 or $1.50 a spin. It's great if you win, but you'll lose your shirt if you don't. We always enter a casino with a shirt we're willing to risk.

Anyhoo... the plan was to meet at noon to use our $10 comps for lunch. Sis was the only one of us who had not earned her points yet to qualify. I arrived at the entrance to the grill at 11:50. There is a row of older slot machines along the wall there. Hick has won on them before, while waiting. I was just above even, and didn't particularly want to risk any more of my bankroll in throwaway gambling just because I was bored. However... Val IS a gambler.

I intended to play a Mystical Unicorn slot. I've played one once before, and didn't win, but it was the only slot that I recognized. Just as I stepped up to pull out the chair, a guy to my right moved over to the seat right next to it. No thank you. I'm not sitting elbow to elbow with a stranger to lose more pre-lunch money. I moved left, towards the grill entrance, and saw a faded slot that stood out because it was pink and not shades of brown and blue.

Hick came up behind me as I fed in my $20. That was ALL I was willing to wager on it. Of course Hick was a distraction. He tried to play a slot next to me, but it wouldn't react to his touch. Neither would mine! I tried the SPIN button, and one in the top row. Nothing! It had eaten my money, though. Hick's machine let him cash out the ticket he was playing on, and he moved over to a slot just like it, which let him play. "This one works!"

I turned back and tried mine again. I pushed the PLAY 5 LINES button. It worked! Imagine my surprise when I looked at the screen, and saw that I HAD BET $5. That's too much! Even for Val! Looks like it was the BET 5 button. Of course I was upset. I had assumed it was a $1.25 bet. You know, a quarter a line, five lines. I didn't see the denomination on the slot. That's what I get for being an idiot. It was apparently a DOLLAR machine, which I couldn't tell until a bet was played.

Now I only had $15 to lose before lunch. I made sure to push the BET 1 button. I must have done five spins, winning back small change, when somehow I got a BONUS! That was 15 spins! They were good ones, too. Hick kept looking enviously at me as my machine played loud bonus music. No volume control on this old thing. By the time it was done, I had won $68.50. THANKS, SIS, for being late to lunch. I cashed out right then, and watched Hick until we had lunch.

This was some kind of country cowgirl singing theme. That's the last screen of my bonus. I guess the guitars were wild, and that particular combination won me 5 cents.

The most exciting win had come about a half hour before lunch, when I recouped some early losses on a Wonder 4 Boost. I've played it in Oklahoma. Since I was playing four screens at once, I had a choice of Wild AmeriCoins for $2.40 a spin, Buffalo Stampede for $1.60, Rhino Charge for $1.60, or Whales of Cash for $1.00.

I'm a Buffalo Val, so I started playing that. After a couple spins that didn't even win back my bet, I switched to Whales of Cash. I've only dabbled in it. I don't understand what symbol pays the most, or how to bonus, but I know that whales seem to be wild, with a multiplier. Whales earned some of my money back. In fact, I was back to over $20. I threw caution to the wind, and hit the $2.00 bet. I GOT A BONUS!

Even better than getting a bonus, I looked at the screen that gave me the bonus, and that screen itself had won $100.

Pic, cause it happened! Look at the bottom right screen. That's the winner. Under it, you can see (if you enlarge, maybe) the 5 (moneybags) wins 2500 x 4 = 10000. That's a hundred dollars! Or ten thousand pennies. Anyhoo... I cashed that out right away, too.

Does that mean I was a winner for the day? It wouldn't be gambling if you just walked in, increased your money, and left! I was there to play, so of course I risked my newfound riches.

For once, I DID leave with a profit, $50.75 more than I walked in with. Yeah. I could have had more. But I could have had less, too!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Different Casino, Different Burger

Hick and I headed south for the buffet-banning casino on Tuesday. I gotta say, I really miss their buffet. Now we have to eat at the only eatery open, which is a grill just off the casino floor. The food HAS improved from what it was right after (THE DAY OF) the buffet closing. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I called my sister the ex-mayor's wife to see if they wanted to join us. She said she'd get back to me, since she had overnight guests arriving at her house Tuesday, late-afternoon, and she was going to be making supper, so needed to be home earlier than we'd planned. We finally agreed to drive separately, which takes away a good part of the fun on that 90-minute trek. However, it shaved an extra hour travel time, each way, off mine and Hick's trip, since we wouldn't be going by to pick them up. The drawback was that we'd be leaving earlier, and I'd have to get out of bed before 9:30!

Anyhoo... it was OLD PEOPLE DAY at the casino. If we played 250 points, we could get a $10 food credit. Of course we were game to gamble away more than $10 to get $10 free food! It was practically a bargain!

Also, there were drawings every half hour to win cash. Two winners every 30 minutes. I was a little disappointed none of us won. On the way down, I'd mentioned to Hick, "I hope Sis wins a drawing today." And he said, "Forget about Sis! Why can't you hope I win a drawing?" Heh, heh. He's so self-centered, our Hick. The Ex Mayor has won a couple of drawings in our casino travels, and I've won more than him. So I was wishing for Sis. I'm a giver like that.

We were a little late getting lunch, since low-rollin' Sis hadn't earned her points yet. More on that tomorrow, maybe. We all ordered separately, since we had the $10 credit. Since Hick and I got a combo, it went a little over $10, which we paid for with player's points from our player's cards. So... FREE LUNCH, even though we drove three hours there and back, and gambled money.

Hick had gone through the line first, and chose the table. Not very well. I didn't think we'd have room for our food and that giant wire basket of condiments in the middle of that square table.

"Why are you here? We won't fit. Let's move to that one. Are people sitting there?"

"No. I don't think so. It looks like they're gone."

A couple paper straw wrappers were on the table, and a couple napkins. We set down our sodas, and started gathering up the trash. This was two square tables together, with six chairs. Of course Sis arrived right then.

"EWW! Why are we sitting in somebody else's trash?"

"We're cleaning it up right now."

"Well, I see YOU took the clean end, and left the dirty end for me and Ex Mayor!"

"We've picked up all the trash. Besides, surely you don't expect us to sit down at the DIRTY end, and leave the clean end for YOU!"

"Here. I always carry wet wipes (she and Hick are the only two people who call them that), ever since I took care of Babe for five years. We always had to wash our hands before eating."

Sis wiped off the table, and was so caring of other people (unlike The Pony) that she even gave Hick a wet wipe to use on our end.

By then, the food arrived. I had the BBQ Bacon Double Burger, with fries.

Here, I flipped its lid for you to see the inside.

It came with a fried onion ring, pickles, and onions. I asked for no lettuce (tasteless, ruins a burger) and no tomato (slippery, not worth the mess in public). The only complaint (you knew there'd be one) was that they skimped on the BBQ sauce. The fries were hot and crispy and none were rotten. And no, my bun is NOT laying on the table, but on napkins.

Hick had the Mushroom Swiss Burger with fries. The Ex Mayor had a Caesar Chicken Salad (already prepared, picked up in a clear box from the cooler section). And Sis had the Garbage Nachos.

Let the record show that we've had the Garbage Nachos before, with varying success. I must say, Sis had a heaping pile this day, and almost made me wish I'd ordered them. However, as with most things, Sis must add a twist. Perhaps you get the name, Garbage Nachos. That refers to all the stuff they put on them. Sis asked for hers with ONLY MEAT AND CHEESE. Heh, heh. Even the lady taking the order smirked and chuckled. "So you want the GARBAGE Nachos, with nothing but meat and cheese?" Yeah. That's my Sis.

I regret that I didn't get a picture of anybody else's food. Oh, I thought about it. But they already think I'm a weirdo, so I didn't remind them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Greasy Baby Steps

First off, we'll start with a POSITIVE.

Hick made his own lunch on Monday! I'm so proud. He usually has lunch in town, using fast food coupons that I clip for him. He had appeared in the house as I was putting on shoes to go to town. Said he was going to make a sandwich of leftover bacon on Hawaiian Rolls, and leftover potatoes/carrots/onions that had been roasted with the bacon. I figured he could handle such a task, although he would prefer that I did it for him. He said he was fine with making his own lunch.

"There's tomato. If you want to slice it. Tomato is good on a bacon sandwich. My Pioneer Woman knife slices really well. But DON'T cut it on a paper plate on the counter! You have to put the cutting board over there, or the knife will leave a scratch through the paper plate."

Hick did not accept nor reject the addition of tomato to his sandwich. He just nodded. I took that as my opportunity to escape, and off I went to transfer The Pony's funds for fall semester books. Oh, and since I was out, to pick up a 44 oz Diet Coke and scratchers.

When I returned home, Hick was racing across the front field on the Gator, like he was going to cut in front of me. Turns out he just wanted me to stop. A hand up signifying "HALT" might work better next time than a narrowly-aborted game of chicken. Just sayin'.

After a brief conversation, I entered the house to find [NEGATIVE COMING] a plastic quart container half full of water, sitting in the sink.

Let the record show that I did not expect Hick to wash that container. I do the dish-washing, and figured he would set it beside the sink, like normal, for me to wash later. Here's the thing. Nobody fills a plastic quart container, with congealed bacon grease coating the inside, with cold water! That is folly! Nothing is gained, except a bigger mess!

Such a container is first pre-treated by wiping out the grease with a stale bun, to feed it to the dogs, or with a paper towel, to throw away. THEN the container is rinsed with HOT water, and then washed in the sink with the rest of the dishes.

Seriously! Who does that? Soaks bacon grease in cold water? And just when I was thinking that Hick might be able to survive without me telling him when to breathe in/breathe out.

I'm guessing that maybe he actually sliced a tomato, though. Or else he ate it like an apple, on the side. Because one tomato was missing. AND both of my Pioneer Woman ceramic knives had been used, because they were put back in the wrong place. IN the dish drainer instead of jammed down beside it. So Hick used two knives for something, and actually washed them. WAIT! I need to check the smaller one to see if it's greasy! I bet it is. He probably used it on the bacon. I can't imagine him letting the water run long enough to get hot.

No new scratches were evident on the counter. But the cutting board was still as I left it. So maybe Hick used the actual wooden cutting block to prepare his lunch. All in all, I'd say that I escaped Hick's lunch foray relatively unscathed.

And now, for another POSITIVE...

Hick had stopped me in the front field to say that he was getting (one of) his tractor(s) to go up the gravel road and blade the road by the house of those weird people whose kids didn't bring the fundraiser card Hick paid for until three weeks after they promised. You know. Whose dad had asked Hick to spread a load of gravel for him, and never offered any compensation, be it gas money or future help with a Hick project.

"Them people got a rut about yea deep," said Hick, holding his hands two feet apart. "I don't know how they drive on it. I'm gonna knock it out with the tractor."

Because he's a nice guy, our Hick. I'll admit that. Even though we usually mix like bacon grease and cold water.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Nothing To Tell Here

Oh, what a sad state of affairs here in Backroads. Nothing is happening. The most newsworthy event might be receiving a letter from one of our financial institutions that our accounts will be classified as inactive if we don't take action. Huh. Who knew that you had to pay fees to allow a conglomerate to use your money? Seriously. How hard is it for them to let that electronic money lay there, and not do anything with it? Unless they're investing it for their own profit, of course.

Anyhoo... I suppose I'll send Hick over there with some money to deposit. That should shut them up, and get us another six months of financial freeloading. At the very worst, it will give me something to write about if Hick reports that he was robbed of the money, and needs more.

Wait! That reminds me! Hick was kind of robbed. Theoretically. HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) asked to borrow Hick's trailer. The long trailer, suitable for loading up a car and pulling it somewhere else. It's not a great trailer, but it's serviceable. Don't tell anyone, but Hick used to leave it parked over by the Freight Container Garage, loaded with some storage unit stuff, just so he could NOT loan it. "Oh, sorry. I'd let you use it, but it's loaded, and I don't know when I'll have it cleaned off." Heh, heh. Hick didn't get this far in life without being a cantankerous old goat.

Anyhoo...HOS said he needed it to haul off some stuff from his old homestead up on our other property. He's behind with erasing his lived-on footprint, as set forth in the deal for the $5000 house. So Hick said HOS could come get the trailer. There was no logical excuse, since Hick had unloaded it for helping HOS move.

This was three weeks ago. When Hick drove by there on his way to the auction, he noticed that nothing had been moved. When he was in town for his doctor's appointment, he went by Hick House HOS House to see about his trailer. Which was nowhere to be seen. So he sent HOS a text as to its whereabouts, and was told it was currently parked at a buddy's house, because there's no room for it in town.

Another week passed. No signs of activity, or the trailer. It's one thing to loan a trailer for a job, Hick says, but entirely another thing to have it gone indefinitely. He got back on the phone. HOS said he had been too busy with work to move his stuff, and besides, his truck had broken down, and he couldn't use it to pull the trailer right now.

Hick volunteered to use SilverRedO, and help HOS move his stuff on the trailer, but a time could not be determined. So Hick said he needed his trailer back by Monday (last), to help one of his buddies move something. Heh, heh. In effect, giving HOS a taste of HOS medicine, I suppose. Though I don't know if Hick planned it like that, or it's only my perception. I do know that Hick was NOT helping anyone move stuff.

Anyhoo...again there was no action or information. Monday came and went. So Hick called HOS and said he was coming to get his trailer, where would he find it. And HOS said it was out at his mother's place, the only location he could find to keep it. HA HA HA! Might as well spray a tanker truck of gasoline on an already raging fire!

Yesterday, Hick reported that he now has his trailer back. He went out there to get it, and nobody came out to question his motives. Which is good, because you never know what information the trailer-harborer might have received as to its ownership.

"It took me about 10 tries to back the truck and hitch it up, the way he had it parked. I can't imagine SHE wanted that trailer sitting in her front yard, either."

Hick is still ready to help load up that trailer and move HOS's stuff. No animosity there, just impatience about the original plan.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Ice(maker) Age 2

Two events. Both equally shocking.

I came upstairs the other night to see Hick folding his laundry and watching TV. Neither of those situations are shocking. He's been doing his own laundry since right before Genius was born, because he made that choice rather than pick his dirties up off the floor and put them in the hamper for me. He's always watching TV when I come upstairs around supper time. Usually The Andy Griffith Show, now that his obsession with MASH seems to be over.

The shocking part is what Hick was watching. It was Ice Age 2. There's nothing wrong with Ice Age 2. I've never seen it myself, even though I'm sure I took the boys to see it. I have absolutely no memory of any of the characters or plot. I DO recall the original Ice Age. The movie, smartbutts! Not the first cooling of the earth!

Anyhoo, I thought maybe the TV had been left on that channel, and Hick was sitting over on the long couch away from the remote, folding his tighty-whities on the coffee table. Or maybe he was trying to figure out that familiar voice of the mammoth. So I said,

"That's Raymond, you know. Ray Romano. The voice. From Everybody Loves Raymond." That comes on sometimes after Andy Griffith.

Hick said, "Huh."

"Do you want me to put it on something else?"

"No. I have the remote."

Well. That was indeed kind of freaky. I never would have thought Hick would sit and watch Ice Age 2, by choice, and start relating the plot to me. All these 30 years, and I'm still discovering things about Hick. He's a true international man of mystery.

The other shocking thing concerns the problem with FRIG II's ice maker. I took that picture, and told you the tale. What I didn't tell you was that I took TWO pictures. The one I originally posted, and one with my phone held slightly inside, to show you the belly of that beast. When I viewed the picture on the monitor of New Delly, I gasped.

I might have shoved back in my rolly chair. What in the NOT HEAVEN was that in my ice? I had just filled two bubba cups! It was only ice cubes. Nothing in there. I'd put back the bin, and taken my pictures. When had something gotten inside?

YUCK! I was almost sick. Was there something foul in my bubba cups with my half-moon cubes? One was already filled with water, and the other was a spare for adding to my 44 oz Diet Coke. Dang it! That looked like a worm! We don't have worms. Only millipedes. Had one gotten inside FRIG II, and dropped down from the top when I slid the bin back in? NO NO NO! Don't let that be a millipede in my ice supply! I refused to pop the lids off my bubba cups to look. I figured I'd peep inside the bin when I went upstairs at supper time. As you might imagine, I was not looking forward to this investigation.

I didn't know which would be worse, to look inside and SEE IT STILL THERE, or to look inside and NOT SEE IT! So I put it off until after I'd made Hick's supper. And after I'd made my supper. Until it was time to fill one bubba cup again for the evening.

I didn't mention my predicament to Hick. It was his Ice Age 2 night.

Finally, the time had come. Time to stop being such a baby, and face my fear. I couldn't put it off any longer. I opened up FRIG II, and peeped inside.

I am SUCH AN IDIOT! It was the silver metal coily thing that rotates to move ice forward.
Never mind.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

It's Raining PEN(ce)

WooHoo! The week was off to a good start for Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.

MONDAY, August 19, I scored a double! They were waiting for me at the Backroads Caseys. I hadn't been there for several days. I consider this event as Casey's giving their two cents on my return.

The front penny was a face down 2019, and the bashful one under the Hubba Bubba was a heads-up 1988. It took some toe-fishing to drag that one out.

From there, I hustled over to Orb K before the stroke of noon, because several factories let out for lunch then, and those folks are in a hurry to get their convenient lunch.

Orb K made it a triple, with a treat for me right inside the door, on the floor mat.

I stepped across the portal, and turned back to get a photo. Can't have people needing to leapfrog over me as they enter in a rush. It was a 2012, heads up.

Shiny, but with a glare from the doorway. The rest of the week was uneventful, until...

FRIDAY, August 23, the skies opened and a virtual deluge of good fortune rained upon Val. You won't believe this (joeh might), but at 11:11 I parked T-Hoe at gas pump #2 at the Sis-Town Casey's. I know it was 11:11, because my cell phone was ringing its fool ringtone off as I pulled up to the pump. I picked it up to see a scam caller, and noticed the time. I blocked that ne'er-do-well, and gathered up my cash for gas and scratchers. I slid down over the running board, closed the door, clicked the lock, and stepped back to the pump. Well lookie here! Just for me! Right between T-Hoe's gas cap and the pump, where I couldn't miss it.

Did YOU miss it? In the middle, at the bottom of that yellowish stripe, above the two small grease spots. A face-down 1999.

I dropped it in my shirt pocket and headed inside. They've just done a remodel. It was my first time to see the new counter. I thought there were some pieces of trim on the floor that hadn't been swept.

The more I squinted, the more I thought one might be a penny. When it was my turn, I saw that THEY BOTH WERE COINS!

That lady wasn't wanting to gather up her candy bar too quickly. This is as much of a closeup as I could get, because it took me my whole transaction to scrape that 1983 penny on the left, and the 2014 dime on the right (both heads up) out where I could nab them without tipping over.

After my banking (not shorted any money, but still don't have my twenty back from last week), I headed to Backroads, where I parked at my usual unmarked spot at Casey's.

Welp! The Universe was still showering me with good fortune. In my path to the uncurbed part of the sidewalk was another penny! Kind of camouflaged, but it makes the end of an "L" with those little grease spots by the yellow curb.

It was a heads-up 1970. You'd think finding four coins within an hour would be good enough for anyone. But you'd be mistaken. Just inside the door was my 5TH COIN of the day!

This 2019 was also heads-up, and very close to the area where I found its kin on Monday.

SHEESH! It took me longer to write this and post the pictures than it did to FIND them!

This week's total is 8 coins. That's 7 pennies and 1 dime. 17 CENTS!

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90.
Dime      # 16.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 4.

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

Ragin' Away Again in Hatey Waiterville

I don't like unpleasantries. In the dog world, I would be like Sweet, Sweet Juno, who slinks away to hide at the first hint of conflict. I couldn't do that at lunch on Wednesday, because... well... BUFFET!

My favorite gambling aunt had called last week to set up a lunch date. I asked if she would mind if Hick came along. Just to eat, not for the whole gossip session. He wanted to ask her opinion on his upcoming selection of an insurance supplement plan, now that he is almost old enough to boot off my outrageously expensive premiums. Of course she agreed. Auntie is not a Hick-ist.

The restaurant we'll call Italian Pie Shack to save it future embarrassment. It's a common chain, not nearly as tasty as it was years ago. I arrived first, and waited on the parking lot for my companions. I saw Auntie pull into the handicap spot, and walked over to greet her. A family of three darted through the door ahead of us, so we were left standing in the heat until we could fit inside. Once the waitress took the family to their table, we stepped in. Auntie kept on walking!

"Uh. Wait. It says so right there on that podium! Wait to Be Seated."

"Ahh... Sissy is already here. See? There she is. I asked her to join us."

Let the record show that I have never met Auntie's Sissy, and I don't mind one whit that she was included. I just didn't want to break the seating rule. Sissy already had a glass of Sprite on the table. We made her move over one table, where two were jammed together, because it was going to be crowded with the four of us at a single. I called Hick, who was a few blocks away, and told him to come on in, that he'd see us from the door.

When the waitress showed up, she said, "Oh. I didn't know you were here." Which I took to be a passive-aggressive reference to us walking in without waiting to be seated. But I said nothing, because we DID violate the Italian Pie Shack Seating Law. To make it clear from the get-go, I said, "This will be on separate checks." Hick was leaving early, and Auntie and I always pay our own way, and Sissy was nodding at me as I glanced her way with a raised eyebrow.

"Oh. Well. I'll need to go get my order pad."

Seriously. What kind of waitress shows up to take an order without an order pad? A super brainiac, maybe, but she was not it. Auntie volunteered that we were all having the buffet, so Hatey Waity turned on her heel and said she wouldn't need that pad. She took our request for two Diet Cokes, and one unsweet tea. Sissy asked for extra napkins, and Auntie asked for Hick to get some silverware, as his place setting had none. Hatey Waity rolled her eyes and sighed.

Off we went to the buffet. Precariously. Because the tile floor was slick with either mop-water or, more likely, grease. I could hardly stand up. My legs were splaying like a newborn colt's. I wished I had four. I grabbed a plate and glided over to the salad bar like a speed skater warming up. I took some white-noodle stuff, and limp lettuce, with mushrooms, red onions, cheese, and ranch dressing. Plus two short breadsticks with sauce, and a short cinnastick without icing. The pickin's were slim. The pizza was cut into tiny slices the size of a bookmark. Hick took four of each kind he wanted. He said four made one regular slice.

I was the last one back to the table. Our drinks had arrived, and I saw that Hick was unrolling his silverware. "Oh, did she bring you some utensils?"

"No. He got them off another table," said Auntie.

Hatey Waity showed up, and demanded to know: "Did someone here order a pizza?"

I shook my head. No. Not that I knew. Hick shook his head. Auntie said no. Then Sissy said, "Well, I did."

Hatey Waity said, with a condescending tone reserved for the old and feeble, "We don't do that here."

Sissy nodded. "Oh, okay, that's fine."

Hatey Waity again emphasized, "We don't make pizzas on request."

Auntie, to smooth things over and make her Sissy feel less ridiculed, said, "Oh, they make them over at CiCi's."

Hatey Waity looked at Auntie and said, "This isn't CiCi's." Like Auntie was senile or something.

Auntie got that teachery edge in her voice, and said, looking Hatey Waity right in the eye, "I didn't say it WAS."

Heh, heh. Good for Auntie, but I wanted to sink through the floor. Just because we're old, and didn't follow the rules, doesn't mean that Hatey Waity can lord it over on us like we already have four feet in the mass grave.

"Huh! I've never seen a waitress with such an attitude. I guess she doesn't want a tip!" Auntie does not suffer fools lavishly.

Every now and then, Hatey Waity showed up to take away plates from Sissy and Auntie. Mutely. She didn't take Hick's, and I was still eating off mine. Hick was needing a soda refill, but Hatey Waity ran away before he could ask. He got as far as lifting his empty glass at her, which she did not acknowledge. After three attempts, Hick got up and stormed off. He returned shortly with a full glass.

"I got it myself."

"You're not supposed to do that! It's the waitress station! They bring a new glass."

"I don't care. She wasn't getting it, so I did!"

Shortly after that, Hatey Waity came by and took a plate from Auntie, and Sissy asked for a refill. "Oh, you want some more water?"

"No. I have Sprite. Which you brought me the first time."

Hatey Waity brought back a Sprite, and our bills. "Here. They're all the same. It doesn't matter." She set them down in front of Hick, and left.

I picked them up and passed them out at random. Auntie started saying, "We should all get the 10 % senior discount. Be sure to tell them at the register." Well. My bill was $8.69, and I was not going to quibble over 87 cents. That won't even buy me a 44 oz Diet Coke.

As we were talking, Hatey Waity showed up, carrying two dark sodas, waving them in front of Hick. "I thought you might need a refill. Now which was it, Dr. Pepper or Root Beer?"

"I didn't have either of those."

"Oh. Are you sure? I just couldn't remember which one."

"I'm sure. I had Diet Coke. I don't want those."

Hatey Waity stood there for a minute. Expecting Hick to compliment her, I suppose. Like when a toddler picks up some tiny piece of trash off the ground, and hands it to Mom or Grandma, and they say, "THANK YOU!" about twenty times, like the kid just split the atom, and credited them in his Nobel Prize speech. All Hatey Waity got from Hick was a stare. She finally took her two dark sodas and left.

"There's somebody who decided they want a tip, now that the bill is here," said Auntie.

I must confess that I left two dollars on the table. Hick left one. Sissy and Auntie didn't have any cash on the table that I saw as I was standing up to go pay. I don't think Hatey Waity deserved much of a tip, but she hadn't done anything noticeable to ME. Besides, what goes around comes around. It didn't kill me to leave a 23 % tip. If all she got was from me and Hick, that's 9 % from our table. I hope Hatey Waity sees it as a learning experience.

We'll never know, because I'm not planning to have lunch there again for quite a while.
I guess Hatey Waity really DID need her order pad.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Playing Grab-Ice

Val detests the game of grab-ice. She is doomed to play it, thanks to The Universe and Hick.

Last week or maybe before (these retirement days all run together), FRIG II had an issue with the ice maker. It made a grindy noise, and the twisty coil wouldn't turn. So I took out the ice container, and chipped away the slab that builds up under the twisty coil. That happens because sometimes FRIG II behaves, and makes regular half-moon cubes, but sometimes spits out hollow half-moon cubes with water in the middle under a thin ice lid.

Chipping out the slab ice always solves the problem. Occasionally, the two prongs that turn the twisty coil also need to be whacked with a butter knife to knock off their icy buildup. This time, when I replaced the ice tray, all I could get was crushed ice. I figured the cubes would clear themselves, and FRIG II would go back to dispensing my half moons again.
No siree, Bob!

Pushing the CUBE and CRUSH buttons on the front of FRIG II don't do anything. They make a click noise, as if the pushed button is activating itself. But still, all I can get is crushed ice. I can feel up inside the dispensing hole (NOT WHILE IT'S RUNNING), where there are two parallel blades. That's what's crushing my half moons as they try to fall into my bubba cup.

That's more than Hick the world-traveling machine genius figured out. All he said, after taking out the ice bin and looking around, was that something is keeping the control set on CRUSH, even though it seems to switch back to CUBE when you push the button.

"I think it might work on a magnet. Something fell down in there, and is keeping the magnet from moving. Maybe you can run hot water over that end in case a piece of ice is jammed in there, or it froze up."

Never mind that every time I take out the ice bin to chop the slabs on the bottom, a piece of ice stuck in the dispenser blades would most likely melt. AND, if I run hot water on it, what's to keep that water from freezing as soon as I put the bin back inside FRIG II? There's no way to take that part apart. That I can see, anyway.

Let the record show that to get ice cubes out of FRIG II, I have to REACH MY ARM INTO THE ICE BIN AND PULL IT OUT WITH CUBES IN MY FIST.

You know how that goes, right? My hand fits inside easily, but when I hold cubes in my fist, my hand is hard to get out the opening!

Let the record further show that it takes 13 fistfuls of FRIG II ice to fill one bubba cup. On about half of those, the little door flaps shut on my hand. On the other half, my hand hits the frame, and a cube escapes. Does it fall into the bubba cup I hold next to the bin? No. It does not. It falls to the floor, where it shatters into a minimum of four pieces, all shooting different directions like the points of a compass. Under the cutting block, under the stove, under the laundry room door, and towards the living room.

I am not happy with this seemingly eternal malfunction of FRIG II's ice dispenser. But at least I don't have a Portal to Not-Heaven like The Pony has in his apartment freezer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A Junker's Dozen

Hick has a habit of getting himself into some predicaments that could turn out badly. We'll save the danger for another time, and go with something more prankish. His latest plot is to trick an old lady.

“There’s this Old Lady who won’t come in my Store. She walks by every weekend, and I tell her to come look around, I bet I have things she’d like, and she says, ‘I’ve already been in there. I remember that bowl.’ It’s an eggnog bowl with six cups. It’s sitting up front. I guess she thinks I’m like those other sellers, and don’t ever change out my merchandise. So I’m going to hide that bowl in the back, and see if she’ll come in.”

“I think she’s probably smart enough to remember where your store is, and who YOU are, since you talk to her every week.”

“Nah. I bet she’ll come in.”

“If she finds that eggnog bowl, she’s gonna be really mad at you for tricking her.”

“I don’t think so. She’ll already have come in, and she might find something she wants. She’s been asking for a bowl with a handle that pours. I looked for one in Walmart yesterday. I’m willing to take a loss on it, just to tell her I have one. Then she might come back and buy more stuff.”

“You mean like for a mixer? I’ve seen them with mixers. They were probably part of a set, and she broke hers. That’s why you couldn’t find one. They were with the mixers.”

“I’ll get her in there some way!”

It's been at least two weekends now, since Hick moved the eggnog bowl farther back in his Storage Unit Store. He has not see the Old Lady, but he HAS told another old lady about his prank. This is not going to end well if they know each other...

Also, Hick sent me a picture of his completed fishing poles that he put together and donated to the Boy Scout Ranch, along with a tackle box he filled with assorted angling accoutrements.

I guess you'd call that a Junker's Dozen. For the most part, he's a good egg, our Hick.
Except when he's pranking old ladies.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Conclusion: That's Bank-Way Robbery!

I left the bank, madder than a wet hen, madder than a hornet whose home was just run over by Hick on his $1700 lawnmower, madder than a teacher waking up to see that the forecast four inches of snow has not materialized. I called Hick to vent, and he SAID the phone dropped the call, in explanation of our disconnection. Thrice. When I was finally able to discuss it with him, Hick acted like it was no big deal. So I said, 

"Then you won't mind that it's YOUR weekly allowance that comes up $20 short this week. Surely you don't think I'M doing without, when I'm the one dealing with the issue. And I'm not taking away The Pony's weekly money, or shorting Christmas, the taxes, the insurance, or the Pony's extra college money cushion."

THEN Hick seemed to grasp the gravity of the situation. He declared that it's not something to ignore, because we are rightfully owed that $20, or credit for it in the account!

I hate dealing with stuff like this. Why can't people and machines just do their jobs? It's not even like I was out $300. It was only $20. But that's 11.8 Diet Cokes, by cracky! Or four scratchers! I almost (almost) wished I had been shorted more, so I would mind jumping through their hoops less.

I know the bank can't just hand out $20 to every Val, Hick, and Pony who say they were shorted. After all, I'm still Public Enemy Number One to them, after daring to deposit a check from my in-town credit union that they thought was fake, and asking to withdraw money from my own account, and trying to deposit money into Genius's account without my name being on it.

I had every intention of going back out to the branch bank on Saturday morning. Hick had that intention for me, too. I had the teller's card, with her name. She knew the situation. But she HAD already told me I'd have to file that grievance thingy, after the transaction posted to my account. I called the automated number several times Friday night, but the transaction was still pending.

Saturday morning, it had posted to my account. I punched in the number to talk to a representative. I got a machine that said to state my purpose. All it recognized was ATM. But it gave me a real live rep. Without any muzak wait, too! And even better, SHE HAD NO ACCENT! I understood every word she said!

She asked for my name, even though she could clearly see that I was calling from my home phone, and had it there in front of her. I guess that's standard policy. Their calls are possibly monitored, you know! I told her my predicament, with pertinent details such as location and time, and what I'd already done to try and resolve the issue.

I heard her typing about 100 words per minute. My own personal record (when measured) was 42 wpm on a manual typewriter when I was 16. Not that I'm bragging. I think I'm a little faster now. My students used to turn and gape at me in amazement and say, "How do you type so fast?" I'm pretty sure it was less actual amazement, and more flattery and work-avoidance.

Anyhoo... the rep told me that my grievance had been filed. My account should reconcile within 10 business days. I will get something in the mail. I might have to write out my response, so they can hear it from my own fingers. Within 45 days, I should get a report of the investigation.

"So... what if it doesn't come out that I was shorted $20? Will they take it back off my account?"


"I mean, I KNOW I didn't get that $20. I was just asking..."

"It will be in the findings of the report."

Now I'm just waiting on the mail, and for time to pass. I'll check the automated system every couple of days to see if they put the $20 back in my account. I'm pretty optimistic that they will. Only one thing possibly concerns me. Is it a bad omen that my rep's name was Katrina?

Monday, August 19, 2019

That's Bank-Way Robbery!

Every Friday, I go by the bank and take out our weekly cash allowance. Along with it is money that is set aside for long-term goals such as Christmas, taxes, insurance, and some cushion for The Pony's college living expenses. I'm not some technowizard like Genius who can partition my finances into clever online compartments every payday. We get by the old-fashioned way, with envelopes, locking money bags, and combination safes. No, not the wall kind behind a painting with eyes that follow you. The heavy industrial kind that a safecracker might need to use a stethoscope on. This method has served us well for 30 years. We don't have to scramble to come up with the money when the time arises, and we don't see a higher balance in the checkbook that tempts (one of) us to spend it.

Anyhoo... I use the drive-thru ATM that is located in the back wall of my bank branch. It gives out cash in designated quantities, which are less than the amount I need. It's also kind of touchy, with the touch screen feature not always aligning exactly with the choices.

On Friday, I took out the first half of my withdrawal without incident. When I touched the screen to get the second half, the FAST CASH button below it lit up, and the ATM gave me $40. That's not what I wanted. I took the money it spit out, and punched in the remainder of my weekly withdrawal. Which was now an amount ending in $60. This has happened once or twice before. Not a problem.

I heard the ATM whirring as it counted out my bills. When it spit them into the slot, the top bill was crunched up. About 1/3 of it was folded back. I reached down and pulled out my bills. Then I did something I don't normally do. I COUNTED THEM. Right there at steering-wheel height, in full view of the camera mounted in the wall. Years ago, I always counted, but never had a problem. So I stopped counting. But with a bill folded over, which has never happened, I felt like I should.


I counted three times, each with the same result. I was missing $20 from my withdrawal. Each time, it added up to an amount ending in $40.

Of course I wasn't going to let this go. I looped around down the alley, and back to the middle of the three drive-thru lanes. I had to make a deposit in The Pony's account anyway. When the Teller finally greeted me about five minutes after I sent the canister through the tubey thing, she said,

"I'll be with you in a moment, I'm in the middle of a transaction with another customer."

"Okay--but I was just at the ATM, and it didn't give me all my money! While I've been sitting here, another car went through, but I don't know if it got money. It wasn't there long. The ATM might be jammed up."

Teller did not reply. I guess she was thinking.

"Do you want me to come inside to deal with this?"

"Yes, that would be best."

"Okay, then just do the deposit for now."

"I'll send that back out to you, and you can do them both inside."

So I looped back around the back alley and into the parking lot in front of the bank. It's a small branch. Only 10 parking spaces, plus two handicap. Of course ALL the spaces were full except the very last handicap. I took it. I'm not proud. But I DO have trouble with my knees, and I was NOT going to leave my $20 there.

As you might imagine, there was a line of customers out the door. Only ONE teller was working. She had all the lobby customers, PLUS the drive-thru, which she was alternating. Two other workers were in a glass office and a cubicle, probably opening accounts or taking loan applications with the customers sitting with them. One old man ahead of me threw up his hands in disgust, and shouldered past me, muttering about only ONE teller.

I was pretty happy with that development, since it moved me into the vestibule. But then I realized I'd left The Pony's deposit envelope out in T-Hoe. So I had to gimp my way back there to get it. Of course as I was gimping back inside, a man parked in the now-vacated space, and got to the door ahead of me. So I was right back where I started waiting.

I'd been at the ATM at 11:30. I got in line for a teller at 11:40. When it was my turn, it was 12:05. Of course Teller remembered me. It's not like there was another one. She listened to my story.

"Here's the money that came out. You can see how it's turned every which way, and wrinkled. I've counted it three times. Here. You can count it. It's my last transaction. It should end with $60, but there's only $40."

Teller counted it. Another worker walked past behind her, saying something wasn't working, which I assumed to be the ATM. Teller told me all I could do was file something. I'll say a grievance, but it was some other word.

"I can do that for you here, or you can call the automated number, and a person will help you do it."

"Well, let's do it now."

Teller typed up a screen, said she saw my transaction, which said I got the amount ending in $60. "It may resolve the amount when it posts to your account. So then everything will be fine and you won't have to file the grievance." She continued typing, then called to the wandering employee behind her. "It won't give me the screen to file the grievance."

"Oh, you can't do that until the transaction posts to the account. She'll have to wait to do that." So Teller gave me her card, and said I could come back when it posted, or call her, or call the automated number. She was very polite.

I took her card and left. I knew they weren't going to open up the ATM and count the money and give me my $20. I've forgotten my card in the ATM before, and gone in to ask for it, and they said it wouldn't be available until the next day, after they opened the ATM. So I figure it only gets opened once a day, for refilling and balancing their transactions.

Tomorrow, the rest of the story...

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Maybe the French Maid Needed a Companion

There is the edge of insanity, and then there is the abyss. Pretty sure I'm stealing that quote from Andrew McCarthy in St. Elmo's Fire.

Hick's habit continues to consume him. I fear that he's toppled into the abyss. Here are his latest auction acquisitions. Just the ones he sent me pictures of. I don't want to break the internet by showing everything he buys.

Saturday night, Hick got this Coca Cola cooler for $12.50, and the oil lamp for $3. I don't know what the going rate is for Coke coolers, but I'd imagine there are collectors who'd want this, and Hick will make a couple dollars profit. Everybody likes an oil lamp. So much that they're always picking them up and breaking the globes. If he can keep it healthy, I think this lamp will sell, too. You can tell by the furnishings what a ritzy place Hick frequents. I'm hoping that thing between his feet is a clandestine piece of candy that Hick dropped.

Here's where, in my opinion, Hick hangs ten on the edge of insanity. He bought this tub of 30 M&M candy dispensers for a total of $5. He plans to ask $2 or $3 apiece. I said he'll never sell them. Hick haughtily replied that he just sold one like them for $6.

Okay. Are you ready to plunge into the abyss?

Hick bought himself a 30-inch BUTLER! For $7. I can't imagine anybody (besides Hick) wanting this guy. Maybe that "French Maid" that The Pony asked him to bring home from his France trip needs a companion. Here she is, posed in front of The Little Barbershop of Horrors. Not much of a maid at all. I told her tale on my supersecret blog.

I think she currently resides in The Pony's Sword Shack, where it's pretty crowded. We might need another shack for the butler...

Saturday, August 17, 2019

It Must Be Those Darn Kids Trying to DePENCE Me!

This was not a good week for penny-picking. I wonder if other Future Pennyillionaires had the same problem. The only logical explanation I can form is that my former life as a teacher is catching up with me, and the current crop of back-to-school students are making me the object of their pranks.

I've been dePENCEd!

Not cool, kids. Not cool. Of course, I could just be making them the scapegoats when in reality it is The Universe dealing out justice. After all, some of these young whippersnappers might not even know what a penny IS. To them, you spend thin air by waving a plastic card. They go from the cradle to the classroom thinking pennies aren't good for anything besides swallowing, or jamming up their nostrils, or throwing across the gym.

I did manage to find ONE SINGLE PENNY on FRIDAY, August 16. Whew! I heard my pennylogical clock ticking.

See it there? Under the Funyuns? Under the overhang of the mis-shelved bag of Cheetos? Don't be fooled into thinking that white thing under the box of Sequin Slap Bracelets is a dime. It's most likely a tear-off seal from a bottle of energy supplement. And that's not another penny up in the left corner. That's a drop of soda.

I'm sure that by now, you recognize the filthy floor of Orb K. My penny was heads-up, a 1976 throwback. That was the year Val was VALEDICTORIAN, you know!

I managed to snap my pictures and pick up my rightful penny without even falling on my face! I've still got it, by cracky!

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 83.
Dime      still at 15.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 4.

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

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

Friday, August 16, 2019

First Hick's Head, Now His Butt

I must have entered the Twilight Zone, on my way from Backroads to the Bizarro World, in a waking sleep. For the second time in three days, I find myself having sympathy for Hick! Seems like only a couple days ago Hick had lost his head. Now it's his butt. He hasn't lost it, exactly. But it's been damaged.

It all started because I bought a collar and leash for our newest dog, Marley,

who we took in when HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) moved to town. Marley runs away when let out of the pen. So he stays incarcerated most days. Hick finally got with my plan Thursday evening, and took the collar and leash (less than $2 each at Walmart) to let Marley out of the pen for a while, and prevent him from running through the briars and burrs up to his old home.

Here's Hick's tale...

"Marley walked real good on the leash. I took him over by my barbershop (Little Barbershop of Horrors, the themed shed). I was actually sitting on the step of The Pony's Knife Shack. I petted Marley. I brushed him--"

"With what? We had that old brush for Juno, but the pointy things started falling out."

"With a comb!"

"From your barbershop?"

"No! A currycomb. For a horse. I brushed him a while. Then I rolled him over and started rubbing his belly, and he STARTED GROWLING AND SNIPPED AT ME!" [I would have said SNAPPED, but it's Hick's story.] 

When Jack 

heard that, he went crazy! He run up on Marley and started biting him! I was holding Marley up, trying to keep him away from Jack, and they was both biting each other, and I tried to stand up, and got tangled in the leash. I fell over on the gravel there that runs by the sheds. I actually fell in between them. I thought, 'now I'm in trouble, I'm gonna get bit, too.' Me being in between them stopped them for a minute. I stood up and pulled the leash, and Marley didn't waste any time trotting along with me back to the pen. He didn't try to run out, either!"

At this telling, Hick was sitting in the La-Z-Boy. He showed me a big scrape on his elbow, from the gravel.

"I think I hurt my hip, too. Something in it hurts when I walk. I'm an old man! I can't be falling like that!"

"Were you brushing Marley's belly? Maybe you hurt him. Pulled his fur."

"No. I was done combing him. I was just rubbing his belly. He's snipped at me a couple times before. I said, 'MARLEY! BAD DOG!' And he quit. But when Jack heard him growl at me, he went nuts."

"They're very loyal, heelers. From what I've read, anyway. And we know Jack is no angel."

"He was doing fine when I was walking Marley around. Ran up and sniffed him. They seemed to be okay with each other at first."

"So... you picked up Marley when Jack attacked him?"

"Well. With the leash."

"Wait! You lifted him up by the leash? You could have choked him!"

"I didn't have time to do anything else, Val. I was trying to get them apart, and stand up. He's fine. I yelled at Jack, and he quit when I walked Marley back to the pen."

"Well, I guess we'll need a few more sessions before Marley is ready to be let loose. He didn't have a fair fighting chance, being on the leash."

"Yeah, I think he was ready to run off instead of fight."

Poor Hick. I hope his bum hip doesn't inhibit his Storage Unit Store business. He says he's not selling on Friday anyway, because he's going to help our neighbor spread some gravel. From the seat of the tractor, I assume.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Almost as Much as Sally Field at the Oscars

I like it! I really like it!

Hick took his white chamber pots (dishpans, according to him, which was factually correct, but not as much fun to chastise him about) off the outer garage wall like I commanded. Now people driving by (all 15 of them) can't see that eyesore from the road. Because, you know, I'm very concerned about my public perception! Nobody wants their garage to look like this:

In the place of chamber pots, Hick decorated that wall with more of his junk. At first I was skeptical. I didn't realize that his willingness to follow my command to remove was tied with a plan to replace. I saw his handiwork when I left for town, and I must admit,


Oh. Did I already mention that? I'm just so shocked that Hick has done something of which I approve. I meant to get a picture when I returned home, but Hick was there, with SilverRedO parked in the way. He'd already sent me a picture, though. Once I opened it on New Delly, I was a bit disappointed. Perhaps Hick should not have stood with his phone in the sun when he took the picture. The contrast is not up to my standards. But here it is:

I suppose if you can zoom in, you might see the collection. I'll try to describe.

Starting on the left side, we have a log-rolling tool. Hick's picture has cut off the very end. Below it is a tool for driving railroad stakes. Next, we have an old-fashioned saw. There's another one mirroring it on the right, which you can see better. The red-ended thingy is a tool for cutting cornstalks.

That big flat blade thingy is actually a board, according to Hick. He says it is for digging holes for planting seeds, and has a hook on the bottom end. In the middle, we have a decorative flat-thingy arrangement, with a saw at the top. The wooden boards are levels, according to Hick. They have a little round thing with water inside. Like how a modern metal level works. Then a slicer-dicer dealybobber, which Hick says is a cabbage shredder. Below it, looking like a hot-cross bun, is a strainer. Next is a rake. I knew that one myself! The round thingy is a damper for a stove flue, so all the heat doesn't get out. Then that other saw, with a little cast-iron frying pan below it, and another cornstalk cutter. On the far right is a hames, from a horse harness.

In the foreground, hanging from the edge of the carport roof, is a block and tackle. A couple of them. And a more modern decorative sun thingy. The board thingy with two nipple-looking large screws is a fence stretcher. For a metal fence, like with that diamond pattern. The back looks just like the front. You take the boards apart, and then screw them on a metal fence, and hook up the chain to pull with a block and tackle to stretch it as you're putting up the fence. A Dietz lantern. And something nailed to the post, which Hick says are hames from a harness.

More on this fence stretcher thingy. You put it on the fence in the up-and-down direction, and hook the block and tackle to that chain, and pull sideways. I don't know why Hick couldn't just explain this to me without playing 140 questions. He says that is actually a small fence stretcher, and it would take at least two of them to work right. He also neglected to start out by saying that you do this after you already have one end of the fence stabilized with something, like a corner pole. He wears me out, that information-miser.

I do like the wall arrangement.
Hick might want to start a side business as an exterior decorator.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

With Faux Sadness, I Announce: Hick Has Lost His Head

Don't you worry about Val. The loss of Hick's head doesn't affect her in the least! It's not like Hick actually used his head every day. Or even occasionally. It's been years, I think, since Hick even remembered that he had a head.

Of course, when Hick discovered last week that he'd lost his head, he was a little bit sad. At one time, he was pretty attached to his head. He's asked for it for Christmas one year, and The Pony and I bought it for him at an indoor flea market. The Pony had to show me where to find Hick's head. But I'm the one who asked for it, and paid the bill. $65 for Hick's head! I think he was worth it. He'd been wanting a head for a long time.

I have pictures. You might not want to look at them. Hick's head is lost, but it's not gone. The pictures show the carnage. If you have a weak constitution, you may not want to look. Or you might want to make sure you're sitting down, and have some smelling salts strapped around your neck so if you fall over, they may land near your nostrils and revive you. We'll start with the tale of Hick's head, so you can mentally prepare yourself, and decide on whether you want to see the pictures.

"I went down to my cabin, and there was crumbs of stuff all over the floor! Then I saw what it was! I guess them mice down there have eat my deer head! The nose and antlers was on the floor!"

"Was the head still on the wall?"

"Some of it."

Later that night, I hollered up the stairwell: "If you go down to the creek, send me a picture of your mouse head. I mean DEER head! Eaten by the mice!"

It took a while. I guess maybe Hick had to recover from the trauma. Here come the pics.

Yeah. That's little bits of fur. I don't see the nose, myself. Or the antlers. Maybe Hick set them aside. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough. I saw that book, though! I swear is says PASSION. And it's laying face down.

Has Hick been reading romance novels on the sly? I asked him, and at first he denied having a book down there. Maybe because I accused it of being pr0n. Pic means it happened! He was looking within seconds. Said it was a western! About a man who married a woman who sent for her daughter, who the man's buddy wanted to marry his son. Pretty quick with that synopsis. I might believe him...

Here's the neck. Hick says his deer head was mounted in 1962. Because he looked at the newspaper stuffed inside, and that was the date. So now that Hick has finished reading his pr0n romance novel, he's reading deer-neck newspapers.

Okay. Get ready. Here comes the head! Hick took it outside on the porch for the photo.

Not quite so majestic any more. I do feel sympathy for Hick. His head was attached to some good memories. He'd go down to his creekside cabin at the first cold snap (I'm sure NOT to get away from me and the boys), and start up a fire in his wood stove. He'd brew a pot of tea. Call in our old dog Grizzly, the half lab/half beagle, shaped like a large beagle, but colored like a chocolate lab. That looks like Juno's footprints by the bald deer head. She won't go inside the cabin, but Grizzly liked to sleep in the warmth of the wood stove while Hick read his romance novel.

I don't know if Hick will want another head.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Trapped Like a Rat in a 2008 Tahoe

I've been planning to share this tale for a while now, but I had to wait until the trauma of it wore off. Every Friday, I have the same routine. I take the boys' weekly letters over to the main post office in Sis-Town. I put gas in T-Hoe at the Casey's there. I go by the bank for our weekly cash allowance. I swing back by the School-Turn Casey's, and stop by Walmart if shopping is necessary.

Back on July 19, when I left home around 10:30 a.m., I was happily unaware that The Universe would be conspiring against me. Everything unfolded as usual, until I made my stop at the School-Turn Casey's for some scratchers. There's been road construction on the main street for about eight months now. So I come in from a side street. I was pleased to see my favorite parking space available on the side of the building. It's the space on the left end of five spaces, where my door opens up into a yellow-painted walkway.

I traded my winners for what later turned out to be not-winners, but that's not the issue. I'm okay with The Universe taking its share. I know I can't win every day. No, my issue was with THE BEER TRUCK BLOCKING T-HOE when I returned!

Who does that? Here's the view out the back and passenger windows of T-Hoe. I guess I was supposed to wait until the delivery was over! I had the brick wall of the building three feet in front of me, and the side of the beer truck three feet behind me. Let the record show that I was NOT happy.

There's a view from my side mirror. The one that works. Not that taking pictures was going to help me free T-Hoe from his hopped-up prison. Good thing I've been piloting a large SUV for over 20 years! It took some finesse, all without a backup beeper, but I managed to get T-Hoe parallel to that beer truck, to make my getaway across the empty parking spaces, going the wrong way out the drive-thru lane that runs behind the store.

I took a picture of the company name, just for shaming purposes. That lady walked into my shot at random. She came from the alley across the street. Sorry, anonymous lady, for putting your face out to single digits of readers!

As you might imagine, I was pretty ragey on my drive over to Walmart. After ten minutes of shopping, and twenty minutes in line, my parking lot ire was abating. Until I unloaded my groceries and climbed into T-Hoe.

I always try to park next to a cart return. I can judge how much room I need for my door to open all the way, and I know that nobody is going to park too close and give me trouble trying to get back in. This cart return was overflowing with carts when I came out. They were sticking way out of the metal rails of the cart corral. Not a big deal. I knew I'd have to back up farther, straight back, before I cut my wheels to go up the aisle.

What I didn't count on was the cart-retriever with his trolley. I saw him up above me as I was unloading my groceries. The car beside me left as I was buckling my seatbelt. I looked around for that Cart Jockey, and he was ON FOOT, across the cart corral, talking to people in a car in the row across from me! Of course he'd abandoned his trolley in an awkward position for my navigational purposes! 

So... without a backup beeper, I had to maneuver far enough past the line of carts jutting out of the corral on my left, look out for pedestrians darting behind me, and avoid the cars parked in the row behind T-Hoe, until I could cut my wheels to proceed up the aisle without hitting the trolley.

I hope The Universe had a good laugh at my expense. I don't know what I was supposed to do with that abandoned bottle of laundry detergent. I'd probably have run over it and popped it, if the long line of carts wasn't jutting out of the corral, keeping my from cutting my tires sooner.

I am grateful, though, that The Universe probably kept me from some more serious catastrophe or calamity, by delaying my drive home with those two trappings.