Monday, September 30, 2019

Hick, In the Living Room, With a Fish Hook

I'm pretty sure Hick is still trying to kill me. He's been gone for a week on a mini vacation to visit his brother in Nevada. He got home at 1:00 a.m. Saturday night, having driven from Denver that morning, and was pretty tired. So he went right to bed.

Sunday morning, Hick got up later than usual, and went to his Storage Unit Store, where he sat out front and didn't carry out all his merchandise. He still made $20, so I guess it was a good couple of hours for him.

Hick came home while I was in town. So the first time I actually laid eyes on him after his trip, he was kicked back in the La-Z-Boy around 2:00 in the afternoon, watching a NASCAR race with his eyes closed. Of course my plan was to sit down on the short couch and have a chat about his trip. There was one problem.


He knows that's where I always sit when he's in the La-Z-Boy! On the end of the short couch closest to him. Right where my head would be leaning back, Hick had set up a harpoon to skewer my skull!

Look at that! He might as well have gone full camouflage in his effort to pierce my brain.

Seriously. Hick had the entire length of the short-couch back to set down his hooky hat. But no. He had to place it right where my noggin would be leaning. I wouldn't be surprised if he'd taken careful measurements and used trigonometry to calculate the most lethal position of his weapon.

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

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Val Is the Old-Style, Backroads Siri

I'm used to bad drivers. I encounter several each day on my 10-mile round trip to town. Saturday afternoon, I might have happened upon a queen. Let's hope she wasn't like an insect queen, leading a horde of other bad drivers.

I got behind a mid-size blue SUV at the stoplight in town. There was a white car in between us. I didn't know the severity of my position until we'd traveled through two stoplights, past the prison, and turned onto my blacktop county road.

Even though most of us drive 50 mph, the official speed limit on this road is 35. I know that, because I saw the sign that was put up three or four times, before somebody knocked it down. The ne'er-do-wells run rampant in Backroads. They're either really bad drivers, or really resent being told how fast to drive.

Anyhoo, this blue car was driving 15 mph. I don't mind a driver going slow if they're not comfortable with the road. This driver was also not comfortable staying on one side, or continuing in a uniform forward motion. I noticed that after the buffer car, the white one, turned into its own driveway.

Blue Car swove from side to side. Almost came to a stop. We were down to 7 mph. Do you know how hard it is to make T-Hoe go 7 mph? I stayed back about five car lengths. Since I can't SLAM ON MY BRAKES, due to my traction control being off. Although the light didn't come on at all this day.

Blue Car got up to 15 mph again. Went up over Mailbox Hill on the wrong side, but darted back into its lane when an oncoming white Ford F250 appeared as it crested the hill. I wanted to take one hand off the steering wheel and twirl my crazy temple finger for that Ford F250 driver, but I certainly didn't want to be that reckless, and take a chance on losing control of T-Hoe by driving one-handed at 15 mph.

Of course Blue Car turned left onto my gravel road. But the shocking part is that it sped up to 25 mph on that bone-jarring gravel surface! Of course you've probably guessed that Blue Car turned onto my branch of that gravel road.

I'm so psychic. I KNEW that was going to happen. And that Blue Car was going to STOP right there, preventing me from going around, with no other route available to get home.

All I could do was sit there in T-Hoe, off the main gravel thoroughfare by about five feet, waiting for Blue Car to make a move.

A lady got out, leaving her door wide open. She looked 50-something. She teetered along the gravel towards T-Hoe. Huh. I couldn't figure if she was drunk, having an anxiety episode, on Ambien or another pharmaceutical, or just had bad knees. But she was very shaky. Held onto the side of her car, like she was walking on ice. Then hobbled closer to my window.


You'd think maybe she would have been more forthcoming in a greeting. What was I supposed to say to that? Certainly not what I wanted to, which was: "WHAT IN THE NOT-HEAVEN ARE YOU DOING?" So I replied,


"I seem to be lost."

"Well, I don't know where you're trying to go."

"I'm looking for Rusty Blvd."

"Oh. That's the road you were on. It turns into Rusty Blvd right here, if you'd kept going straight."

"There's suppose to be a big fiddle get-together."

"I don't know anything about that. But it's possible. There are a couple of houses with cleared fields up there."

"So I should have stayed straight."

"Yes. If you go up this one, you'll have to turn around to get back out. If you close your door, I think I can get by. And that truck waiting behind me now. Then you can back up, and continue up that hill. It goes about a mile, then you'll hit another blacktop road. Don't turn off anywhere unless it's your fiddle house. Because the other roads are not Rusty Blvd!"

That lady minced her way to the back of her Blue Car, steadied herself with a hand on it, then got inside and blessedly closed the door that she'd left gaping open. SHEESH! People think anything goes out here in Hooterville with us hillbillies.

I drove past her, and the truck behind me followed. I couldn't see her in the mirror, from the angle on Hick and Buddy's Poorly Blacktopped Hill.

Just goes to show that Val is the old-style, backroads Siri. Two clueless mailpeople and one shaky lady can't be wrong. I'm their go-to gal for directions.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Cleanliness Was Next To PENNY-less!

On MONDAY, September 23, Val dodged a bullet. By bullet, she means a mop. A gray-white, stringy, MOP mop, like from the olden days. Not some modern-day Swiffer Wet Jet with a disposable mopping pad. Nor a mop with a spongy end that can be squeezed of water with a slidy handle thingy.

There I was, in the Sis-Town Casey's, standing at the counter, when I spied a penny. I had to act fast! Bearing down on it, with ever-encroaching swabs, was an employee mopping the floor! I took a quick picture, then leaned over to snatch my rightful penny.

No time for a closeup! It was a 2017 penny, face down. I almost got a very clean hand for my trouble. You can't tell here, but in person, the darkened wet sections of floor were easy to see. In fact, there's a tiny puddle of mopwater in the row of tiles above the penny, and a bigger puddle in the row above that one. It was the stuff of nightmares, I tell you! I was sure my penny was going to be swept away by the stringy mop. SHEESH! That horror would never have happened in Orb K!

I was taking deep breaths to calm down as I left the store. But I gasped forthwith as I strode down the sidewalk towards T-Hoe.

That's just a shadow. No one was mopping outside. But somebody was dropping outside! I saw that penny right away. I took a step closer, and saw a DIME lurking in the sidewalk crack!

It was a heads-up 1995 penny, and a leaning, face-down, 2004 dime. Only one coin encounter this week, but it garnered me 12 CENTS for my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune!

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 102, 103.
Dime      # 17.
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, September 27, 2019

Val Can't Catch a Brake

You'd think an 11-year-old Tahoe would be more reliable.

Val doesn't ask for much. Just a daily trip to town for her 44 oz Diet Coke and scratcher tickets. With Hick gone momentarily in A-Cad, Val depends on T-Hoe for her ride. Okay. Val depends on T-Hoe, even when A-Cad is parked beside him in the garage. T-Hoe has his minor malfunctions, but is generally dependable.

Thursday, I parked at the end of the gravel road while I got the mail and looked it over. I do this every day that there's mail delivery, as I head to town. Thursday, I turned off T-Hoe to open two bills, checking the due dates to see if I should write them out there to mail in town, or if they could wait until I got back home, to be mailed the next day. They were waitable.

I started up T-Hoe, and tooled along the county blacktop road for two miles. Then I got on the county lettered highway for the remaining two miles to town. I was almost to the prison when


assaulted my ears. What in the NOT-HEAVEN???

I felt a surge of adrenaline as I rapidly assessed T-Hoe's condition. He was still rolling along at 55 mph, air conditioner running, radio playing, power steering operational, gauges in normal range. Oh! There on the dashboard! A red BRAKE, alternating with the phrase TRACTION CONTROL OFF. As I was looking at that, it went off, and on the left side of the panel, a yellow triangle with a skidding car appeared.

There was nowhere to pull over (not turning into the prison complex, thank you). I made sure to coast down to a low speed before trying the brakes for my left turn at the next road. They worked just fine. Once in town, I called Hick. Who was having breakfast (at 1:00 my time) with his brother in Nevada.

According to Hick, when the traction control is off, I still have brakes on at least two wheels. I just don't have the traction control to switch my braking to another wheel if one of the four is on a slippery surface. So I might go into a skid. Hick's advice?

"Just don't slam on your brakes."

Don't get me started! AS IF every time I slam on the brakes, I have planned that in advance! Or like I do it as my main method of stopping! Seriously! The only reason I'd slam on the brakes is if something unpredictable happened to necessitate it. Like another car coming into my path. Or a living creature.

Hick also suggested that I could drive T-Hoe to Mick the Mechanic, say who I was (heh, heh, 'Don't you know who I AM?'), and have him take a look. Again, no thank you. That's just so awkward, to ask for Mick in person, take him away from what he's doing to look at T-Hoe, then more awkwardness of asking what to pay him, or making a decision on what work might need to be done, and then waiting for it to be performed, or making an appointment for it, at which time I would have to hang around for hours, or ride back home with a stranger dropping me off.

No. Thank. You.

Good thing I didn't take T-Hoe to Mick the Mechanic. I stopped for gas, and when I started T-Hoe up again afterwards, the light was off! No red light, no yellow triangle!

I'm not upset with T-Hoe. He has served me well. Hick, on the other hand... has been told over and over again about things not working properly on T-Hoe. At which time he suggests things it might be, but does not take T-Hoe apart, nor take him for repairs.

Don't suggest that I TAKE T-HOE FOR REPAIRS! I don't understand stuff like that. They'll see me coming a mile away, and probably offer to change the air in my tires, or replace my blinker fluid, and give me a special deal of only $1000 if I do both. SHEESH! That would be like expecting Hick to be able to put a pizza from the Walmart deli in FRIG II when he carries it in from the car.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

You're Not EVEN Believin' This!

Don't get too excited. I didn't win a million dollars, and I didn't see the head of the previously seen headless man in my basement. It's ordinary everyday stuff, but so far outside Val's comfort zone that the earth might have stopped spinning for a nanosecond.

Wednesday, I stopped by Country Mart for scratchers out of their machines. Can't just buy from one machine, because it might be the wrong one! Anyhoo, I parked in a row perpendicular to the store. Third space. Nothing was parked in the row across from T-Hoe. I walked over two empty parking spaces to get to the door.

An old man was buying scratchers at the machine on my left as I entered the door. So I went right. Bought my tickets. The old man had left the store during my transaction. Not that it took long. I know what I want when I go in there. I went to the other machine, tapped my selections, and left.

As I walked towards T-Hoe, over those two empty parking spaces, I saw


What in the Not-Heaven? Who would leave scratchers there? Here's the mind-boggling part:


Can you believe it? Those scratchers were face-down. I could tell by their size that they were the $5 tickets. I'm sure they were just losers discarded by a ne'er-do-well litterer. But they were not bent or scratched-looking. Still stiff as new. In a stack, kind of spread out. Also, they were smack-dab in the middle of a parking space. If somebody had parked there while I was inside for those few minutes, they would have needed to toss their losers under the car, to get them in that location, with the tickets landing in that neat array.

I never saw a car parked there. I was inside less than five minutes. The old man was already inside when I got there. Had he walked across that area, and the tickets fell out of his pocket? Did someone drive in and park there, just to throw out losing tickets? I have no idea where they came from, or if they were unscratched.

Here's the deal. Those scratchers were not meant for me. I'd bought my own scratchers inside, as planned. If I'd dropped mine while getting in T-Hoe, the first thing I'd do when I noticed would be to return to the parking lot, and look for them. Sure, I could have taken them inside if they were unscratched, and left them at the customer service desk just inside the door. But who's to say they would have kept them and not scratched them?

In retrospect, I wish I had at least picked them up to see if they were scratched. Skies were cloudy, and they might have been ruined if it rained. But I wouldn't have kept them. Whoever eventually discovered them more likely needed them worse than I did.

Those scratchers weren't meant for me. SHEESH! It's not like they were PENNIES!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Val's Very Good Casino Day, Until...

Last Friday, my sister the ex-mayor's wife asked if I wanted to ride to the city with her and the ex-mayor her husband, to two casinos that I don't regularly frequent. Of course I went! Hick left on his own trip, and I had nobody to answer to. Sis gave up her shotgun seat so I could get in and out of her Expedition comfortably. And the Ex-Mayor doesn't sweave!

The purpose of their trip was not so much gambling as gathering their casino comp gifts. The first one was just a water filter thingy, but the second was a backpack part of a luggage set. As Sis said, "They're free. We can use them as prizes at the Christmas party. You'll get to see them today, and you will know which size package to choose or pass up!"

The first stop was downtown, a casino with a ritzy name, where I have never been. My favorite gambling aunt went there with her daughter when it first opened, and was not impressed. I gotta say, I was plenty impressed! But only because the slots were kind to me.

We only had an hour there, so Sis and Ex-Mayor could get to the other casino before all the comp gifts were gone. We arrived a little after 11:00, with plans to meet up front at 12:15. I spent 10 minutes waiting in line to get a player's card. As a new member, I got to scratch a card, and won $5. Whoop-ti-do! It's better than nothing, but not very rewarding for a 10-minute wait. From there, I went immediately to the bathroom. On the way, I saw one of my favorite machines. So that's where I sat down first. After the bathroom, of course!

It was Wonder 4 Tower! I put in a twenty, and played all Buffalo, at the minimum bet of 40 cents per game. That means my bet was $1.60 a spin, since this machine plays four games at once. I was pleasantly surprised when I hit a bonus after just a few spins. True, it was not the tower bonus, but any bonus on Buffalo usually takes a lot of spins.

I was THRILLED to win a $74.20 bonus, since it was based on only one of my games, with its single game wager of 40 cents a spin. With extra money so early, and a limited time left to play, I increased my bet to the next level.

Whoop-ti-freakin-doo! I hit the TOWER bonus, with no weirdo there to distract me with small chat. I got this picture as it was counting up my money, giving me the coin show for my big win on the next-to-last bonus spin. You might notice the amount up top, $108.00 for that screen!

When it all counted out, I was up to $212.10, after putting in a twenty, and my $5 of free play. I think this is my best first-game ever in a casino! I don't even mind that I didn't reach the top of the tower!

I played a few more spins, then cashed out, and stuffed that voucher in my gambling purse. Of course I was in a hurry to play more slots before time to go. I headed for a Fortune Coin slot, which kept paying me little amounts, and then gave me a bonus of $105! I took a picture of the screen, but somehow it was missing from my phone when Sis walked up and I tried to show her. I shoved this voucher in to add to that, and played it down to as close to an even number as I could get.

From there, Sis and I went over to a Wonder 4 Boost. I really like this game, but it was having none of me! How cruel! I was sure I could keep winning. I could not. Anyhoo... it was time to go, and I cashed out $302. Don't think I brought it home with me! We still had another casino to go to.

That was the problem. Just like some people never watch TV, don't even have one in their house... I'm sure some people would take that money and sit for an hour, not playing, in another casino. Heh, heh! If they'd do that, they wouldn't have won the money in the first place! I go gambling to GAMBLE, by cracky! Not to WIN! If I happen to hit my bonuses at go-home time, yeah, I'd cash them out and leave. But I'm not sitting on free money, watching others play, when I've come in prepared to gamble.

I spent a portion of my casino bankroll at the next casino, out on the flood plain, with the amphitheater, and a couple new buildings built since I was there last. No pictures, because no slots there paid me even my money back. I'll know next time not to keep feeding the same machine there. Either bonus early, or walk away and find a different slot.

All told, I had a grand old time with Sis and the Ex-Mayor. I came home with $17 less than I'd taken. So I consider the trip a success. Sure, I could have come home several hundred ahead. But I could also have come home without a penny of my casino bankroll left.

Heh, heh. Some people like to gamble, some people like to golf, some people like to knit, some people like to work on cars, some people like to watch TV, some people like to cook fancy vittles, some people like to hoard junk, some people like to garden, some people like to write, some people like to play music, some people like to make crafty things, and some people like to gallop around on their high-horse. What a boring world it would be if we all enjoyed the same pastimes.

I still have my casino bankroll to play again this Friday, when I've been invited back! Sis is all hopped up about the cookware set that she's getting. I want to try that Wonder 4 Tower slot again.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Proud Non-Owners

Hick and Val are now the proud non-owners of a 32-foot camper!

I took the cashier's check to the bank (after doing Hick the favor of signing his name while he's several states away) for deposit. There were five people ahead of me, but since I waited until 1:00, the tellers were all back from lunch. That meant two were serving customers, and a third was opening up her window.

One lady had a time-consuming transaction that I barely caught the tail-end of. Apparently she was cashing a check, or withdrawing from her account. She said, "Wait a minute, before you do anything with those fives. I need to buy some fives from you. I need $330 in fives." Her daily 44 oz Diet Cokes must be REALLY expensive!

A dude finished up his transaction and left. So only three more guys ahead of me. Then one said he was wanting to talk to a loan officer, and that got rid of HIM. The other two men were together (not like that), which brought me right to the opening-up teller.

This is the Teller who knows me. I don't know her, but she's the one who tried to help with my ATM-shorted $20. I don't hold it against her. She's also told me that her aunt won a huge amount on a scratcher. Can't remember if it was $25,000 or $100,000.

Anyhoo... she took the cashier's check and my deposit slip, and typed in my account number, and looked briefly at the back of the cashier's check for the endorsements. I must say, I let out a sigh of relief when she flipped it back over. The typed in some more stuff on her computer. Then she excused herself to the back room. I thought she might be calling to verify that cashier's check, but she came right back with a printout for my receipt. She explained that $200 would be available immediately, and $5000 the next business day, and the remaining amount on October 2. That's an interesting method of holding it now.

You might recall that about six months ago, when I brought a check from my very own credit union, just a couple miles up the street, that one teller (who was working directly to my left, heh, heh) had picked up the phone right there at the counter, and then told me that my check had not been issued by my credit union! Which I'm pretty sure would make IT fake, and ME a criminal! Anyhoo... I talked my way out of that one (by telling the truth and pointing out her error in calling the wrong facility), so I'm almost over the PTSD from that experience.

I can't believe how easy this transaction was! Now I can start worrying for the next 10 business days, in case something goes wrong...

Bottom line, we sold the camper, and the check is in the bank. I imagine Hick is already online seeking new flip houses...

Monday, September 23, 2019

Ode to a Forest River Salem 32 Foot Travel Trailer

Bubbles leave the watched pot
The horse has left the barn
Our camper left the gravel lot
Early Sunday morn

Keys and title given up
For handshake and a check
The Veteran riding with his pup
Was at Val's call and beck

Ol' Val is such a doubter
Of the deal that Hick did make
The check is on the counter
Why does she fear it's fake

Sunday morning, I met The Veteran on the parking lot where Hick has his Storage Unit Store. The Veteran brought along his new pup, a yellow lab that he won in a raffle, now 15 weeks old. I'm not so sure he did it for the companionship, as much as to keep that doggie out of trouble. Seems he ate a square of the kitchen flooring during his first week in his new home. Perhaps that's how he became a raffle prize.

Anyhoo... we'd only been there about 5 minutes, The Veteran sitting in T-Hoe to chat while his large pup sat in the air-conditioned cab of his running truck, when Blue Truck Man arrived. The title and keys were exchanged for the check forthwith, and The Veteran got back Hick's FOR SALE signs. He said that Hick had instructed him to bring home the bricks supporting the camper, if Blue Truck Man didn't want them. He was relieved that Blue Truck Man said he'd take the bricks.

The Veteran helped Blue Truck Man with the hitch, then we chatted a while. Blue Truck Man decided to flip the hitch, or change the bolts around. Something mechanical of which my head has no need to fill itself with details. He came over to see if The Veteran had a Phillips screwdriver. Alas, he had everything but. No big deal. I was sure he could find one at the flea market, but he said he was going to the nearby Family Center store for an extension cord anyway, and would get one there.

Blue Truck Man said he had originally come to town to the feed store that's across the street from the storage units. As he came up the hill, he saw our camper on the parking lot. Of course he had to come look at it, and gave Hick a call. Location, location, location!

Anyhoo... I got the check home, and the more I looked at it, the more I fear it is fake!

Yes, it's a cashier's check, from a bank within 30 miles of Backroads. One end of it has a tiny-lettered sentence about security. But the date stumped me. As I looked at that date, it was 09/22/19, 9:15 AM! What in the NOT-HEAVEN? Was Blue Truck Man a time-traveler? How could he give me a check from the future?

Also, the front of the check declared that the back of the check held a reflective watermark that would be noticed by tilting the check under a light. I tilted that check seven ways to Sunday, and did not find a watermark! Sure, there was the bank's website scattered diagonally across the back, in orange ink. A couple of them had one end of the lettering that looked yellow. I don't know if that's what you call reflective.

AND, the top of the check, where you would tear along a perforation from the full page of the cashier's check specifics... did not look at all perforated! More like when you fold a piece of paper back and forth, then tear along the weakened crease.

I got on the phone to Hick, who said he was sure the check was fine.

"Val. I'm sure it's good. I have no reason to think that guy would give us a bad check. He probably got it on Saturday, and the bank printed the next business day as the date of the check. I have several calls to and from him on my cell phone. There's a camera on the front of the storage units that will show his license plates, and him taking the camper. You're worried for nothing."

I hope this is one time that Hick is right! I agree that I'm overly suspicious. It didn't help that only the day before, while waiting in line at The Gas Station Chicken Store, I saw that they'd posted a picture of a man at the counter with one word under it: FAKE! Seems like he passed a bad $10 bill. The Gas Station Chicken Store don't play!

Anyhoo... it's not the same guy. The Blue Truck Man seemed perfectly honest when he came over to T-Hoe and spoke to me. Not nervous or shifty or in a hurry for us to leave, or for him to haul that camper out of there.

One thing's for sure. My bank is going to give me a hard time when I deposit that check. I smell a 10-day hold in my future.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

In the Hick Land of No Down Payment

Here's an update on the proposed sale of our camper trailer.

Tuesday, Hick met with Blue Truck Man, discussed the price, and called him back with a verbal agreement to sell him the camper for $9000. Blue Truck Man said he was going to the bank on Wednesday. That's the last we heard, until Thursday afternoon, when Hick called him, to explain that he was going to be gone for a few days, and how to proceed with the camper.

Blue Truck Man said the bank was being slow about the loan. He wanted to take the money out of their checking account and give us a cashier's check, but his wife wanted to wait for a loan. Also, Blue Truck Man's dad advised him to take his generator up to the Storage Units, and see if the air conditioner and refrigerator(s) worked on the camper.

According to Hick: "I don't blame him for that. That's what I'd advise my own boys to do."

Thursday, Blue Truck Man called Hick to meet him at 6:00. We rescheduled supper, and Hick drove back to town. Hick said that everything still worked. They slid in the slide-out. Blue Truck Man said he was trying to figure out how to fix his truck to pull the camper. Hick said, "Won't you just use the hitch?" And Blue Truck Man said he didn't realize the hitch came with it, since he hadn't seen it. Hick had it in his truck, and put it in the storage part of the camper that's under the front bedroom.

Blue Truck Man said he was getting the money to buy the camper. Hick said, "I'm going out of town tomorrow. But my son can come meet you with the keys and the title, and take the check to my wife. You can call me, or here's his number. Should I move the slide-out back, while it's sitting here?"

Blue Truck Man said, "No. Leave it in. You've sold this camper! I had a hard time finding one like this online, with the outdoor kitchen. I saw one for $12,500 [presumably with an awning], but it was a considerable distance away. I'm buying this one."

Hick left the slide-out in, but he didn't take down the FOR SALE signs! THEN he notified The Veteran that he was on-call to make the transaction, and me that I was on-call to be home for The Veteran to deliver the check.

Friday, I went to the city with my sister the ex-mayor's wife. The Veteran had to pick up his wife from the airport. But we both made sure we were available to coordinate the camper sale.

Nothing. Not a word.

Saturday, The Veteran went hunting in the morning. I held off on my town trip to see if the transaction was in the offing, so I could stop by and take the check to the bank.

Noon came and went. Bank closed. The Veteran returned from his hunt. Nothing.

That's the thing. Either do it, or give a time frame when you might! I don't like being on-call. I like my routine. Once I'm home with my 44 oz Diet Coke, changed into my lair-wear, I don't want to climb back up the basement stairs and re-dress. The Veteran has it worse, because he has to drive farther, and make the official determination if the check looks legit.

I went to town around 1:00. Then put off the descent to my lair, and sat at in the La-Z-Boy until 3:00. The Veteran called, and said he was supposed to meet Blue Truck Man at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. I will set an alarm, and go meet him there. I hope I don't get up early for nothing.

We'll see.

I think Blue Truck Man needs to crap or get off the boot!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Beatles Boots Would Be CENTSational

Val needs a pair of Beatles boots. Or maybe just one. Not for fashion, but for functionality. AGAIN this week, Val was betrayed by her own footware, bereft of pointy toe.

MONDAY, September 15, I did okay. I climbed out of T-Hoe at the Backroads Casey's, and there was a penny waiting for me. Even Steven isn't making things easy this week. I have saved that picture to New Delly THREE times. Yet when I look in my pictures file a day later, it's gone. I save it again, and try to name it, and New Delly tells me that I already have a file with that name in this location. LIAR!

There it is, in the middle of the picture, just above that almost-horizontal line, in a dried river of something unpleasant. A 2015, heads up.

My hand shadow looks like a hungry dolphin. Starving.

FRIDAY, September 20, I stopped by Orb K for scratchers. I saw a penny on the floor, but it was my turn at the counter. So I figured I'd get my picture and penny after the transaction. While waiting for the tickets to be torn off, I spied another penny, this one up against the base of the counter. Not within bending-over reach for me. I tried to scoot it out with the toe of my shoe, but it was unscootable.

When I turned around to nab the main penny, there was a guy all up in my business. So I could only sidestep, and bend over to grab the penny. No picture until I got back to T-Hoe.

It was face down in Orb K. I'm going to call that a 1993. Only because I tried to zoom in, and I know that the 1093 I saw is not feasible. It's upstairs right now, awaiting deposit in Penny Goblet 2, and I'm not walking up there to verify it. Oh, how I grow lax in my penny-collecting.

Don't let the backdrop fool you! That ticket did not WIN. An orange $5 ticket won $15. So there's that. But Abe's patina would have clashed with an orange background.

2019 Running Total
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, September 20, 2019

Hick Really Knows How to Stink Up a Joint

Wednesday night, I went into Hick's basement workshop to do some business in one of our three safes. It was after midnight. Hick had long been in bed. I'm in the workshop at least once a week. Mainly for the safe, sometimes for the color printer. This night, I was distracted by the sound of crickets gone wild.

I knew Hick had been in and out of the workshop that day. I'd heard the big metal door that exits to the Poolio area. He'd been staining the deck, using his tiny artiste's brush. I made a mental note to chastise Hick for obviously letting in some crickets.

On my way out, I detected an unpleasant odor. SHOO! That was nasty! What in the world? It stunk like pee! I know I haven't been peeing in Hick's workshop. I'm 99 percent sure HICK hasn't been peeing in his workshop. That's it. Nobody else in there. The pets are all outside pets. Oh, no! I guess it was RAT PEE! Surely not. We've never had a rat. But we do get cute little big-eared field mice every couple of years, as the weather turns colder. Which it hasn't. We hit 94 degrees yesterday! But those little critters aren't here long enough to cause a stink with pee and poop. They're not wary of the old-fashioned wooden mousetraps.

Well, that's just great. Hick has been planning a trip, and now he would be leaving me with a peeing critter in the basement! What if I caught the hantavirus while Hick was away?

Yesterday, Hick was up and down the basement steps, getting the camper title, and delving into his Storage Unit Store riches for his trip. Of course, he seemed to forget every time, that I had asked him to carry down a six-pack of Diet Coke on his next descent. So I hollered down to remind him. And as an afterthought, tacked on the pee situation.

"Hey! I was in the workshop last night, and when I walked by the color printer, I smelled mouse pee! It didn't smell like that last week. Or the last time I was at the color printer, getting your pumpkin sign for Trunk or Treat. So I guess we have a mouse infestation! What am I supposed to do about THAT?"

"Oh. I know what it is. I was meaning to throw that away. Let me go get it."

Hick disappeared from view. I heard the workshop door. He came back to the steps, carrying a clear plastic circular piece of packaging that had once held a pool floatie.

"I put it in the basement, because I didn't want Jack to get it and chew it up. That darn cat peed all over it."

"Oh. I thought it smelled like cat pee, but I knew that wasn't possible. The cats stay outside."

"I'll take it out to the dumpster."

Whew! Can you imagine the smell in the dumpster when the trash guys open it up on Wednesday? After it baking in the 94 degree heat, and humidity almost as high?

Only Hick would bring an object soaked with cat pee INTO the house. He was probably waving it like a drum major's stick, while leading his parade of ONE, marching to his own drummer.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

There's the Right Way, There's the Wrong Way, and There's Hick's Way

Hick has been underfoot all week, using his tiny artiste's brush to paint stain on the porch boards. It was his own idea! It's not like I'm a drill sergeant punishing him, like handing him a toothbrush to scrub the floor of the latrine.

The GOOD thing about Hick being home is that for five minutes of the week, he's readily available to help me bring in the groceries if I ask. Don't think such a task would occur to him on his own. Tuesday, I sent him a text when I climbed back in T-Hoe with my 44 oz Diet Coke.

"I'm on the way home. If you're there, you can help me unload groceries in 10 minutes."

Coming up the driveway, I could see Hick sitting on the metal chair on the side porch, where I usually set the groceries as I'm going back to the car for more. He waited until I was parked, then entered the garage through the people door. I put the window down to give him instructions. It's not rocket science, but Hick needs direction. He leaned in the passenger window as I talked.

"Ooh! It's so COOL in here!"

Yes, it was. Because not far into the summer, he actually had Mick the Mechanic put freon in T-Hoe's tubes, after years of me claiming that the air conditioner was not blowing cold air. Hick was briefed on the bags to be carried, and I popped open the hatch. Once around there, Hick said,

"Ooh! It's cool in HERE, too!"

I'm starting to think I need to limit his hours in the sun with his artiste's brush. Anyhoo... Hick took in the cold goods as instructed, and I started bringing the other bags to the side porch. So he carried in from the porch level, and I carried in on the ground. No extra step-climbing. Once inside, I rushed to the bathroom. Hick said,

"I have to go to the bathroom, too!"

Don't worry. We didn't go together. I went to the master bathroom, where I changed into my lair clothes, and Hick went in the Blues bathroom, between the boys' bedrooms. When I came out, Hick was sitting on the long couch.

"Oh. You aren't putting stuff away?"

"Was I supposed to? I don't know where things go. I didn't think you'd want me to."

Not a big deal. I knew he wouldn't help. He's only done that one time, while I was waiting outside with two armloads of bags to hand him directly, not set down, because of meat and dogs. When he finally came out, he said he'd been putting stuff away. Like bananas in the bowl, and bread in the cabinet. Again, not rocket science.

Anyhoo... I went to the kitchen, and discovered perhaps the most achingly inefficient way Hick had dealt with an item.

Groceries included a Walmart deli three-meat thin-crust pizza. It comes in a box, to be refrigerated until used. I told the checker not to bother with a bag. The square box never fits in the plastic bag. It rips the side, or tips out, because it's taller than the handles. So Hick had carried it in in his hand. No bag. Just a pizza box in his hand, with other bags looped over his arms.

You'd think the easier thing to do with that pizza was to open the door of FRIG II, and set it inside. There was plenty of room. No clearing necessary. But the pizza was not in FRIG II. It was on the stove. Not merely set down absentmindedly. To put it there, Hick had to pick up a saucepan that I keep sitting there to boil water for instant oatmeal. He had to put the saucepan on top of a rectangular metal tray. Then move the tray with the saucepan on it to the back burner of the stove. Leaving him room to set down the pizza box on the front burner area. Which was two steps past FRIG II.

The Right Way: carry in the pizza, open the door of FRIG II, and set it down on a shelf.

The Wrong Way: trip and fall on the pizza, knocking it out of the box and its wrapper, for the dogs to grab.

Hick's Way: carry the pizza past FRIG II, move items around on the stove, and set down the pizza for Val to put away.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Counting Our Chickens Before They Camp

Update on the camper!

After four months of little interest in the travel trailer that will refill our coffers after the $5000 House adventure... Hick thinks he has a buyer!

Let the record show that Hick took his own sweet time prepping that camper, from May through August, and pulled it up to the Storage Unit Store parking lot when summer was almost over. I've had little hope of unloading that beast before next April, when people get the urge to go camping again. Hick said that he was sure he could sell it for deer season, that hunters would be looking for a camper like that. Pshaw! I declared that deer hunters don't want some luxury camper that could be a home, but would be happy with a sleeping bag in the bed of a pickup, under a camper shell. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Anyhoo... last weekend, Hick changed the listing on the camper, and slashed the price from $10,900 to $10,000. This bumped it up to the top of the Buy/Sell/Trade listings. Hick had three families call him to set up a time for viewing.

The first was a couple who liked what they saw, but said they had visited the local camper dealer, who was bringing a camper up from his lot near the bootheel for them to look at. They looked at ours on Friday evening, when Hick made a special trip back to town to show it to them. They were going to the lot on Saturday. Hick did not hear back from them.

The second couple called on Saturday, when Hick was busy selling his wares. The guy said he'd like to come look at the camper, as soon as his son woke up from his nap. Hick said he'd be at the units until 1:30. I drove by at 1:40, and saw a blue pickup (big enough to pull that camper!) parked in front of it, and a man's legs walking around. Hick said the guy said he was very interested, and that he and his wife (who also viewed it) would think it over.

The third couple was shopping at Hick's store when he got the call. They said they would like to look at the camper when the other family was done. Hick said they were older people, and wanted a camper to live in. They asked if Hick would deliver it to them, to their town about 20 miles away, and he said he sure would. They also wanted to think it over. Hick said no hurry.

Tuesday, Hick was putting merchandise away in his Storage Unit Store. He walked out to get a foam cup off the back of the camper (ne'er-do-wells!), and saw a guy looking at a smaller camper that had just been parked next to our a few days ago. That guy said he'd seen (the blue truck) people looking at ours, talking about how they really wanted it.

Tuesday afternoon, Hick rushed to my dark basement lair, declaring that he'd been talking to the blue truck man, who offered him $9000. Hick said we'd need a minimum of $9200, because that's how much we have in it. Which is true, if you include the $5000 house, the money put into renovations, and establishing the legal trust (through the bad-hay-baling lawyer).

Blue Truck Man said that he'd have to spend money to put an awning on the camper. True, it does not have the awning. Hick said that if he looked it up, that camper sells for around $13,000 (presumably including the awning). Anyhoo, Blue Truck Man said he was pretty sure that was his firm offer, $9000. Hick said he'd have to talk to me about it.

I'm pretty sure Blue Truck Man would cough up the $200 if Hick declined his offer. But Hick likes to rush into things, and I could tell he was itching to make that sale. So I agreed, not wanting to take a chance on waiting through the winter for another buyer. Seriously, though. If I really wanted a camper, $200 would not be a deal-breaker for me, and I'm hard-headed. I think Hick left money on the table, but it won't kill us to eat $200.

Of course I told Hick that the $200 would come out of his stash that he'd spent on renovations for the $5000 house. Funny, that look on his face.

Anyhoo... Hick sent a picture of the title. Blue Truck Man is going to the bank Wednesday, and will report to Hick how they will proceed with the almost-certain upcoming transaction.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Feds Owe Val Partial Benefits and a Pension

Over the past seven days, Val has done the work of two federal employees. Okay. Being a former STATE employee, I can understand why you're clamoring, "Seriously, Val? How much work could that actually be?" Yes. We all know that government employees have cushy jobs. Not ME, of course, when I was doing it. But everyone else.

Perhaps you recall last Tuesday, when I assisted a befuddled Mail Boy with a parcel delivery. Sure, I refused to actually take custody of the package, and deliver it myself. That was for his own good. You know what they say: "Deliver a package for a Mail Boy, and it gets his job done for a day. Teach him how to deliver a package, and he can do his job until he's old and wizened and beat down by The Man." Or something like that.

Anyhoo... yesterday, I stopped to pick up the mail on the way to town. I was delighted to find my DISH bill on top of the pile of junk mail in EmBee. That meant I could write out a check, and mail it while I was in town, saving a valuable day in the molasses-slow transit of my bill from Backroads, to Palatine, Illinois.

While sitting on T-Hoe's comfy leather seat, I saw the world pass me by. Or at least three vehicles leaving our compound, a big brown UPS truck turning in, and a white USPS Jeep driving by. That last one embedded itself in the back of my mind. Something off about that. OH! Since my mail had already been delivered, WHY was that USPS Jeep going by again? Drove right past Mailbox Row.

Within several minutes, that USPS Jeep was back! Coming from the other direction, across our low-water bridge, headed back towards town. Only NOT! Because it turned onto our gravel road, stopped beside T-Hoe, and waited for me to put my window down.

There was a Mail Girl inside this time. Looking like she'd just turned her tassel and tossed her mortarboard in the air this past May.

"Excuse me...can you help me? Can you tell me where Misty Meadows is?"

"Keep going up this gravel road. It's the first road on the left."

"Does everybody live up there?"

"Uh. I guess so. Everybody on Misty Meadows."

"Do they have mailboxes down here?"

"Yes, I would imagine."

"I don't think I'm supposed to deliver to a house. This is my first day."

"The kid last week said he could go a half-mile, but no more."

"Are you sitting here waiting for a package?"

"No. I'm paying my DISH bill to take to town for mailing."

"I guess I'll pull over by the mailboxes and look for the address. Are you leaving?"

"Yes. Right now. I'll get out of your way."

SHEESH! I'm going to need a cut of those federal paychecks if I'm responsible for getting packages delivered. It's almost like nobody under 50 has any common sense, and needs a job-mommy to hold their hand while they do their job.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Val Is a Walking Target for Bank Robbery

They must see me coming a mile away. Probably have a network of tin-can-and-twine phones to inform each other of my progress as I tool along in T-Hoe. Nothing electronical that can be detected if I decide to investigate.

Not only did my bank cheat me out of $20 by a faulty ATM dispenser, and deny my appeal... but now my credit union has hopped on the Val Has Deep Pockets And Won't Even Miss It bandwagon.

Last week, I stopped by the credit union to take out cash that I'd spent on The Pony's fall tuition. I make an e-payment, then withdraw cash from his college fund to replace it in our checking account. The total withdrawal was $151.25. Yeah. I know. That's AMAZING for a semester of out-of-state tuition at the University of Oklahoma. The Pony has a really good scholarship.

Anyhoo... I had the same teller I usually get at the credit union. A young gal of around college age herself. She's quite congenial. Started typing on her computer before I even shoved the note card bearing The Pony's name and amount through the little scoop under the glass divider. I often declare that the denomination of the bills doesn't matter, since they're just going to be deposited at my bank within 10 minutes. On this day, I needed a $5 bill back, to include with another deposit.

"I'll need two fives. The other bills don't matter."

Young Gal turned back from her money drawer.

"Ha, ha! I hope I have the right amount! We'll find out."

Not something that would make me confident, but she's never messed up before. She counted out six 20s, two 10s, two 5s, and a 1.

"There you go." She slid them through the scoop, on top of the yellow withdrawal receipt that I'd signed.

I thanked her, folded the bills, and put them in my shirt pocket. No need to ask for an envelope for that amount. I didn't want to carry it, because there was an old man with a walking stick and a trash bag sitting on a bench outside. Better safe than sorry, though an attempt by him to rob me would have looked like two Galapagos tortoises chasing each other.

I headed for the bank. Stopped for gas. Made my deposits. Took out our weekly cash from that demon ATM at the bank. It was on the way back to Backroads, for my 44 oz Diet Coke, that I thought:

"Wait a minute! I didn't get my quarter! The credit union gal only gave me bills! Not the quarter!"

I looked down in my pocket. Nope. No quarter. Dang it! I wasn't going back to the credit union. Not for a quarter. I'm not THAT cheap! Not like my mom, who bought select-a-size paper towels, and tore them in half. Um. Wait. I buy select-a-size paper towels. And cut them in half with my kitchen shears to take down to my dark basement lair. But that's different! If I have a guest, I'll let them have a whole select-a-size! And so what if I also tear my Puffs With Lotion in half before blowing my nose? I blow my nose a lot! So I'm saving money on Puffs

Huh. That took a surprising turn. But, no. I did NOT go back for my quarter. Too bad if her drawer was 25 cents off. It's JUST a quarter. I don't want to be labeled as DIFFICULT. It's not like I'd draw magic marker eyebrows on Uncle Leo at the doctor's office.

Still. That 25 cents was not their money. It was MINE. Why should I be seen as petty for trying to recover it? Where do we draw the line? A dollar? Five dollars?

I don't know. But I didn't go back.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Casino Chatter

I've been holding out on you. It's true. I went to a casino and didn't keep you informed. I know how you love to hear about my casino trips. Some of you like to live vicariously through Val. Some like to feel superior to a gambler. Some want to hear about my lunch. Some like to feel superior to a junk-food eater. Some like to try to gather evidence to report me to the IRS. (Heh, heh! That's a JOKE, IRS. No need to read further.) Yes, writing about my casino trips is a win-win-win-win-win situation. Except for losing money.

Last Sunday was rainy, and bad for Storage Unit Store business. So Hick asked if I wanted to go to the casino. Not my new favorite, but the one in the city where my burger is questionably cooked, and I get rotten fries occasionally. Of course I agreed. I don't have any pictures this time.

I was in line, waffling between the burger and the giant hot dog sausage, when Hick turned around and said, "There's your buddy." It was the order-taker who always uses my MyCash when I don't want to use it for food, and who mysteriously makes my burger come out over-cooked. I knew right then I was getting the giant hot dog. It was delicious, and my fries were unrotten. Hick had a burger which was UNdercooked, and onion rings.

I had a good time throwing away my money. Unlike usual, I hit three or four bonuses, from $81 to $151. Just like usual, I used that money to gamble further. That's why they call it gambling, not CASHING OUT AND SAVING! When the day was done, I'd incurred a loss of $40. Actually, $39 and change. I didn't even mind, because my casino bankroll is still healthy, and I had fun with the bonuses. If I hadn't kept feeding one machine, thinking it would pay me back, I'd have left with a couple hundos. Oh, well. It's like the fishing tale of the one that got away. IF you spend $39 and change on bait, and allow your big fish to jump back in once they're in the boat.

The only thing that marred my casino experience was Chatty Daffy. He was a dude sitting next to me at Wonder 4 Towers. It's hard enough to find that game open. I'd have played there even if I knew what he'd be like in advance. Anyhoo... of all the times I've played this slot, in many different casinos, I've only hit the TOWER feature twice. And one of them was this very day.

As you might imagine, I was excited. I got that TOWER feature after just a few spins. I settled back, to watch my bonus play out. Chatty Daffy just had to strike up a conversation.

"Oh! You got the tower!"

"Uh huh."

"I never get the tower. Good luck."


You'd think he might have sensed how I wasn't in a talky mood, so abrupt was I, barely responding, at a level just above ignore. But he didn't, he chatted on and on, commenting on each spin, about what I won, and how he and the lady on the other side of him had been doing. I just nodded, trying to enjoy my TOWER bonus. Only the second one of my lifetime, you know.

As it turned out, my tower went up to the next-to-top level. Didn't pay me much. I think around $18 and change. That's a travesty. The lowest bet (which I was playing) was $1.60 a spin. I didn't mind so much, though, because at least I got the TOWER bonus, and had a chance for a good win.

What I minded was Chatty Daffy thinking I was there to make a new friend. Or that I needed his play-by-play on my bonus. I'm sure some people would have chatted with him and enjoyed it. Not me. I can find any old weirdo to come up and talk to me unwantedly for FREE, by cracky! I don't want conversation when I'm paying to entertain myself.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Orb K Is a PENNYtentiary

Val is not a paid influencer, and does not receive a kickback for her endorsement. That said, GO TO ORB K FOR ALL YOUR PENNY NEEDS!

SUNDAY, September 8, I was thrilled to glance down and see a penny at my feet while buying scratchers.

It was a 1982, face down, kind of camouflaged by the unpolished away tile surface. Little did I know that another penny was lurking, there in the confinement of the metal energy-supplement rack!

Even littler did I know that when I turned around, I'd seen ANOTHER lurker!

Oh, yeah! Come to mama, baby! The penny. Not the scrap of trash that first caught my eye.

We're talkin' about this face-down 1974.

WEDNESDAY, September 11, I was back in Orb K, trading scratchers. Cashed in $30, won $25. I'll take that any day. It still beats the odds.

It was a triple play for Val! I was quite aware that it could have been a FOURPLE play, were I only more limber. As it was, I could barely scoot that wall-penny out with the toe of my shoe. After the near-tipping incident a few weeks ago in Casey's, I knew better than to try and bend over while reaching.

You may have to zoom in to see them, but all three pennies are right there on the penny-colored section of floor. The first two were heads-up, and the third was showing its tail. In no particular order, because they all jangled together in my shirt pocket, they were a 2007, 1988, and 2004.

Yes, the same dust bunnies and crumbs were on the floor as Monday. Those slovenly slackers! I bet they might sweep if they knew a penny was still trapped under the rack!

Or maybe not.

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 95, 96, 97, 98, 99.
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, September 13, 2019

It Takes a Gas Station Chicken Store to Hair-Raise a Val

I'm not saying I'm Cheers Norm, but I AM a regular at The Gas Station Chicken Store. They don't shout out my name when I enter, because they don't know my name. Sometimes you want to go where not a single person knows your name. The Man Owner greets me, "Hey, Lady!" As does his wife and one of the cashiers. It's good enough for me.

Thursday, I parked T-Hoe over at the side of the parking lot, by the moat that separates The Gas Station Chicken Store from Hick's pharmacy, CeilingReds. I gathered up my correct change, and slithered out T-Hoe's door, over the running board, and onto the blacktop. I don't step down from the running board, because my knees don't like to bend that deeply.

I've been having some pains in the top of my left foot this week, and it was throbbing from the laces over it. I still refuse to wear my Crocs to town! Anyhoo... I put my left hand against the side of T-Hoe, and bumped the heel of my left shoe into the toe of the right shoe. You know, the jolt my left foot against the back of the shoe, maybe relieving some pressure on the top where it hurt.

I took off walking towards the door. The smell of chicken wafted across the gas pump area. Of course it took me a few steps to hit my stride, what with deciding which hurt worse, the left foot or the right knee. I looked up to see one of the clerks leaning against the front wall, on her break, looking at her cell phone. As I got closer, she looked up at me, and said,

"You okay, Babe?"

"I'm fine. Just have a hurt foot right now."

Wasn't that sweet? She was concerned about me! Or maybe she thought I was weaving drunkenly, and she was going to run in and refuse to sell me alcohol. I've bought a bottle or two there over the years, for Hick or Genius at holiday time. However, she was wearing her chicken whites, so I figured she was working in the kitchen this day, not cashiering.

When I stepped inside the store, I noticed that the counter was unmanned. Huh. That was unusual, but sometimes the cashiers have to dart to the back to restock the foam cups. So I continued on past.


My hair stood on end, my heart jumped into my throat, and I sucked in air like a healthy-lunged vape-er.

"OH! You scared me!

"Sorry. I didn't mean to."

"I didn't see you there! It was like walking into a Halloween haunted house."

I'm sure the Bearded Guy Clerk had been taking care of business under the counter. Perhaps stocking some scratchers. He's not very tall to begin with, and he was totally invisibly while squatting down. Our conversation continued while I filled my 44 oz Diet Coke. There were no other customers inside.

"Have you ever been in one of those?"

"NO! I don't like stuff like that. My kids went to one at a teacher's house when they were younger, like 8 and 11. The little one wouldn't open his eyes the whole time, and had to be pulled along, holding his dad's hand. The older one was shocked. He said, 'When we came out, Mr. Heartless was up in a tree, throwing baby-doll arms and legs at us!'"

"I went to one, and a guy chased me with a chainsaw!"

"Well... he probably didn't have the chain on it."

"I hope not! He could have fallen on it and cut himself."

Um. That would not have been my biggest safety fear, but okay. I might have learned more, but a dude had the audacity to come in and pay for his gas. Nobody called him by name, either.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

It's So Eerie That I'm Growing Concerned

It all started with the mirror. The passenger side mirror on T-Hoe, that Hick suddenly decided to take a look at on Tuesday, after ignoring the problem for a month. No, he hasn't followed through yet. He's only deduced the mechanism of the malfunction. But it's a start!

Wednesday, I had to sit Hick down for a little talk. Okay. He was already sitting down. I'd brought home a fast-food lunch for him, because he was busy power-washing the end porch and half of the front porch and the pew. This power-wash and stain routine is his current project. So that activity was not surprising. However...

Tuesday night, I heard Hick taking a shower over my head. He in the master bathroom, me in my dark basement lair. It seemed like Hick's shower lasted a long time. Longer than The Pony's hour showers. Surely he was getting all pruny. How dirty can one man really get? But who am I to question another person's hygiene? I gradually forgot about it, until I went upstairs to bed, and saw what he'd been up to. Not that I sleep in the master bathroom, of course.


Seriously! Scrubbed it from top to bottom, and even cleaned the doors! A big heavy adjustable wrench was laying on the sink, that he used to tighten the shower head so it didn't flop any more. Which he'd also soaked so the spray came out each tiny hole again, I discovered the next morning.

He later declared that since he'd put in the light bulb in the ceiling fan/light (that had been burned out for at least 6 months), he saw that the shower needed cleaning. I guess that light shined all the way out the bathroom door, took a left, went through the living room, took a right, and shone on the faucet of the kitchen sink. Because Hick screwed the end off the faucet thingy and soaked it in vinegar so the water now runs straight, and doesn't spray like a well-maintained shower head.

AND, when I entered the kitchen around 1:45 on Wednesday with Hick's Hardee's 1/3 Pound Cheeseburger meal...


It's true! THREE new bulbs in the ceiling light over the cutting block. I'm pretty sure they're LED lights. I could SEE like I was in a modern-day kitchen, not in a smoky stone age cave. So I sat down on the short couch for a chat, while Hick was having his lunch in the La-Z-Boy.

"Are you feeling okay?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"Well, you've really been getting things done around the house. Like you don't have much time left. Like it's a mission you have to accomplish. Is there anything you need to tell me? About your health?"

"No. I'm fine."

Hick may be fine, but I'm a nervous wreck, waiting for the other shoe to drop. At least he hasn't done any more about T-Hoe's mirror. I take small comfort in that.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Renovating the Production Line of Val's Proposed Handbasket Factory

Whew! It's been a while since any progress was made on my proposed handbasket factory. The reasons are twofold. Maybe, quite possibly, Val's faith in humanity has increased just a skosh. But mainly, Hick was busy with first his Storage Unit Store, then the $5000 house.

Is there a single incident that has spurred Val to re-think her proposed handbasket factory? YES. It seems that the climate in Not-Heaven might be cooling! Not so much that the people in Not-Heaven will want hot chocolate instead of ice water. But enough that the handbaskets they might purchase for their journey, from Val (the exclusive Backroads dealer in handbaskets), will need insulation. What, you may ask, has caused this pressing need?


Oh, come on. It's not like he looked into Medusa's eyes and turned to stone. Not that noteworthy. But still, a groundbreaking milestone since I first informed Hick of the mirror malfunction ONE MONTH ago. At first he agreed to spray some graphite into the mechanism, but promptly forgot that promise the next day. Further interrogation inquiries led to Hick's statement of:

"Val. It's just a plastic gear. If one of the ears gets worn, it's not going to work. I don't know what you think I can do about it. Maybe tonight I'll drive it over to the BARn and see if I can loosen it up."

Of course that never happened. So imagine my surprise yesterday, when Hick volunteered to take a look at T-Hoe's mirror. He was sitting on the porch when I came home with the weekly groceries. He came to the garage to help carry them, and stopped at the passenger window on his way to T-Hoe's rear. He said,

"--- - -- ------ ---- -----"

That's what I understood. Since, you know, the window was up, and I couldn't hear a thing. I'd already turned off the ignition and squeezed my door handle to get out. Yet there Hick stood, blabbering silently. So I turned the key again to put the window down. THAT still works, anyway.

"I said if you leave the keys, I'll drive over to the BARn and take a look at your mirror."

I almost felt a jolt as the earth momentarily stopped spinning on its axis. Of course I left the keys. Hick drove to the BARn and back before I was done putting away the groceries. I'm not sure why it took him a month carry out such a time-consuming task.

"The gears are stripped. I'll ask Mick the Mechanic about it."

No timeline on when this will happen, but I am cautiously optimistic. Of course, such a chore will undoubtedly keep Hick from renovating the production line of my proposed handbasket factory. For now.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Val Saves the Wife of the Bad-Hay-Baling Lawyer From a Careless Act of Uncommon Sense

I'm not calling myself a hero, but I'm pretty sure my picture is, as I type, being inserted into online dictionaries beside HERO. Excuse me. I need a moment to puff out my chest, and polish my fingernails a bit more on the nonexistent lapels of my yellow-and-white striped button-down short-sleeved shirt. I expect my medal of honor to be draped around my neck forthwith. My press conference will begin in 3...2...1...

On my way to town Monday, I encountered a mail truck coming toward me on our private gravel road. The white JEEP kind of mail truck. He stopped at the top of the curvy hill as I was coming up.

I was unsure if he wanted to talk to me. They sit on the opposite side, you know. Anyhoo, why was an actual mail truck out here on our private gravel road? They're for town deliveries. Our mail people drive small SUVs, or sedans. The latest one being a compact maroon sedan, with a woman driver. So who was this usurper, who I later discovered to be male? Did he buy an old mail truck? Was he a wanna-be Buffalo Bill, targeting large women for their coveted epidermises? Epidermi?

I couldn't see inside the mail truck. It stopped. Started. Made no sound or sign that the driver wanted a conversation. I thought it was just letting T-Hoe come up the curvy hill, which is hard for two vehicles to pass. So I went on. Giving it a side-eye. Side-head, actually. I turned to look, but couldn't see inside due to the reflection of the window. I proceeded to Mailbox Row, parked, and walked across the blacktop county road to get my mail out of EmBee.

As I was perusing my junk mail, back in T-Hoe's leather seat, the mail truck pulled up beside me. Then backed up. I put down my window. The driver was a kid! Closer to the age of The Pony (21) than Genius (24). At least to my old-lady eyes. He was quite polite.

"I don't suppose you're Pam John?" Not the actual name, but it's a gal name and a dude name.

"No. I know who that is. It's our lawyer. Our lawyer's WIFE. They live way up in here, but I'm not sure where."

"Okay. So I guess I should leave her package down here?"

"Yes. I would think so."

"I'm not supposed to deliver more than a half mile from the mailbox."

We have never, n-e-v-ER, had the post office deliver a package to our door. I guess he had driven a half mile, didn't see the address, then turned around to go back. Now he pulled across the blacktop road to park by the mailboxes. Got out. Took the box out of the back of his mail truck, and set it under Mailbox Row.


Seriously? What in the NOT-HEAVEN!

"You're not going to leave that there, are you?"

"Yeah. It won't fit in the boxes."

"Can't you leave a notice? For them to pick it up at the post office?"

"It's not supposed to rain."

"Somebody will STEAL that package! We've had mail stolen several times!"

"Oh. I guess I could leave a note."

Mail Boy put the package back in the mail truck. I really hope he left it in there, and got out one of those orange post card thingies.

Let the record show that I had momentarily entertained the thought of volunteering to take that package, and give it to Pam John. But then it would be weighing heavily on my mind, until Hick came home, and decided he had time to drive it up there. Besides, I'm not an employee of the U.S. Postal Service! Surely there is a policy about handing over a package to a person who is NOT the addressee! After all, I've been asked for ID when I take my orange post card to the post office to pick up my own package.

I called Hick after that interaction, and he said,

"You didn't take it? To give to her?"

Way to go, Hick. Way to throw cold water on my HEROISM! Why not rip the medal from my neck, chew off my buffed nails, and deflate my chest? How dare you make me feel guilty, after I've saved the wife of the bad-hay-baling lawyer from a careless act of uncommon sense!

I think the USPS needs to update their merit test to include a question about a situation such as this.

Here's the road:

I took that picture on the way back home, before turning left on our gravel road. As you can see, it's an unpopulated area. Nobody to yell, "HEY! Is that YOUR package that you're picking up?" Like I've previously mentioned, people steal mail OUT OF the mailboxes.  So seeing a big box sitting on the side of the road would practically be an engraved invitation for ne'er-do-wells!

Mail Boy had set the box on the edge of the blacktop, between Mailbox Row and the USPS lock boxes. How was Pam John even supposed to know that it was hers? Would she have guessed that she should go look at the label, without any notice that her package had been delivered? Oh, wait. I'm pretty sure that unless she'd arrived within 5 minutes, there would have been no package sitting on the side of the road.

Years ago, before the lock boxes were installed, the mailman left one of our packages on top of Mailbox Row, just above our mailbox. It was small, but wouldn't fit inside, I guess. At least that's the story we got when I tried to track down the whereabouts of the package. Which contained a tube of acne medicine for adolescent Genius, ordered from Amazon.

I suppose that was ironic for the thief, who was a blemish on society.

Monday, September 9, 2019

That's Storage Unit Hickery!

I'm sure you eagerly await the reveal of Hick's new arrivals. Here are his latest items on display. This was not a business day. He took them up to his Storage Unit Store so they'd be ready for the weekend.

10 Walking Sticks: bought for $3 each, selling for $8 each

5 Tasers: bought for $9 each, selling for $15 each

3 Disco Light Lanterns: bought for $4.50 each, selling for $8 each

7 Bundles of Paintbrushes (3 in a bundle): bought for $.60 a bundle, selling for $1 a bundle

4 Texaco Signs: bought for $3.75 each, selling for $8 each
(keeping two of them for Hick's personal collection, one of each kind, for the BARn)

1 Gas Pump: bought for $26, NOT FOR SALE! Keeping for the BARn collection

According to my calculations, Hick spent $133.70 on this haul.
If he sells everything at the asking price, he will make take in $202.
That means he stands to make a profit of $68.
Plus, he got himself a Gas Pump and two Texaco Signs.

We know Hick will wheel and deal, and take less than what he's asking. Still, I'm sure he'll make a profit.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Val, Rogue Light Bulb User

You know how Hick gets that attitude? I know he does it with The Pony. Not so much with Genius, I think. But how he kind of chuckles, and acts like you’re a complete idiot, when you are saying the most true and sensible thing in the world, and he’s just making stuff up as he goes along?

“Why are so many lights burning out? They never used to do that.”

“Val. They’re not meant to be on ten hours a day!”

“WHAT? You’re crazy! Of course they’re meant to be on. They’re light bulbs!”

“Normal people don’t do that.”

“You are so full of it! So you’re saying that people walk around in the dark, to spare their light bulbs?”

“No. But they don’t leave them on!”

“Say a person gets home from work around 4:30 or 5:00. They turn on the lights in their house, and get supper, and do homework with the kids, and watch TV, and one of them probably stays up until at least midnight, or maybe longer. You’re saying they don’t have the lights on during that time?”

“No. They don’t. They turn them off when they leave the room, and then turn them back on when they come back.”

“That’s bull! People leave their lights on when they’re home!”

“No, they don’t. They’re not like you!”

“I turn those lights on around 2:00 or 3:00 when I go downstairs. At 10:00 or 11:00, I got out and turn them off and turn on the lamps. That is NOT having the lights on too long! It’s NORMAL!”

“No, it isn’t. Say you run them nine hours a day, seven days a week… that’s 72 hours a week! In ten weeks, that’s 720 hours! A normal light bulb only lasts so long. Here. I’ll look it up. 750 hours! So in three months, that light will burn out.”

“They don’t burn out near that often! You can’t blame this on me! I’m using lights like a normal person.”

“Here. Let me look again. ‘A normal light bulb will last between 750 and 2000 hours.’ See?”

“Well, that’s quite a difference! So my light usage might give me almost SEVEN MONTHS of light! That seems more like it. Like they burn out once or twice a year.”

“There is nothing normal about leaving lights on all the time.”

“It’s not all the time! It’s a normal day’s usage! I hate it when you get like this. You are NOT King of the World. You don’t know everything. Stop trying to say I’m using the lights wrong and making them burn out. They burn out, and need replacing. Two of them have been out for over a month.”

“Well, I guess I’ll go to town and get some light bulbs.”

“You mean you don’t even have any spares?”


That man argues more than Genius as a toddler! He used to replace (have Genius replace) a bulb when it burned out. So it didn’t seem like it was happening all the time. Now he just lets things go, and tries to make it my fault! I suppose it’s normal for a person to leave air conditioning and heat on in their BARn, even when they’re only in it a couple hours a week. Right? THAT’S normal…

Yeah, he must have felt guilty, because he went to town and bought light bulbs. Of course he didn’t go when I complained that one light was out. Not even when two lights were out. I guess I shamed him by stating haughtily that it doesn’t do much good to even turn on the lights, with only TWO of the FIVE working. He said “Yeah, I noticed that.” Yet he’d made no effort to replace them! Oh, but there’s more!

Hick put in new light bulbs. He got LED lights. I feel like I’m living on the surface of the sun. I think the light is actually coming THOUGH the wall of my office. I need eclipse glasses when I go out. I could rent out the basement as a surgical suite. The doctors would not need those pull-down lights. If a spider wanders out from under something, it will need eight tiny eyepatches and eight tiny white canes. I’m shocked that the floor tiles don’t start to smolder from the intensity of the lumens. Hick will probably need to close the bedroom door to sleep, until I turn off the basement lights and turn on my lamps.

In other news, Jack came running along the back of the garage, as I was on the back porch talking to Hick, who was standing by his fish pond, staining the slats of the side porch. Little Jack! I knew he heard my voice, and was running over to see me. Nope. He jumped into the fish pond and paddled around.

"Ooh! He's in that green water!"

"It won't hurt him. He's a dog. He does it all the time."

"You used to fill up a little dishpan pool for him to lay in. You know how he loves the water!"

"He's fine."

"He's coughing. He probably inhaled too much algae. You need to take better care of that fish pond."

"He's FINE! All the dogs drink out of it.

Then Jack got out of the fish pond and shook green water all over Hick. Heh, heh.