Thursday, October 31, 2019

Part I: It Takes a Village to Praise a Val

Today we begin a 4-part series called A Day In the Sweet Life of Val Thevictorian, Small Town Celebrity.

Such a glorious day was Wednesday! I think I'll not have another for quite some time. Every stop had a pleasant interaction awaiting me. Had I known what was in store, I might have gotten out of bed before 9:45. But then my timing would have been off. So it seems that everything worked out just as it was supposed to, the proper threads interweaving in the rich tapestry of Val's life.

Wednesday was Walmart shopping day. Yuck! You can see why I wasn't eager to get started. However, as I was waiting at the crosswalk for a gal with a cart who never walked, I spied a car backing out of a great parking space! It was on the end nearest the doors, with room to cheat over so that even a close-parker who might be on my left when I came out could not keep T-Hoe's door from opening all the way!

I stashed my purse (don't need any 80-year-old men breaking in to steal it and then steal T-Hoe), grabbed my list, and headed toward the store. There was a cart sitting on the space where lazy people pull over to get their online-ordered groceries. I figured I could do a good deed, and grab that cart and push it inside. If the wheels worked okay, I'd keep it for shopping. Kind of like a test drive.

As I was taking the last few steps toward that cart, a blonde woman in a blue Walmart vest entered my peripheral vision. I guess she'd just arrived, or had been delivering curbside.



"Haven't I seen you in here before?"

"Probably! I'm here at least once a week."

"You look like you've lost weight."

"Oh, that's so nice! I DID. But I've gained some of it back."

"Well, you really look good."

"Thank you! That's so sweet."

Seriously. That WAS so sweet. Even cantankerous old Val couldn't be mad at that lady for commenting on her personal appearance. I guess I need to be on my best behavior when I'm out and about. If even people from Walmart recognize me.

I hope I wasn't part of a hidden camera prank. If you see me on YouTube, let me know.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Val Gets Knotty and Wild at the Casino

While last week's visit to the casino was a culinary nightmare, the gambling part of it was a sweet dream. For Val, anyway. Which is all that matters.

It's always fun to get out ahead of the no-armed bandits. Remembering some success last time on a slot back by the cashier and bathrooms, I returned to the scene of not-losing. I put in a twenty, and played for a while at 60 cents a spin. The lowest bet possible was 30 cents, but that's for my sister the ex-mayor's wife (who could not go along this time), and not for me. When I got up to $30, I increased my bet to 90 cents a spin. Heh, heh! I was a big SPINDER!

I hit a bonus by getting 3 rams' heads, and this was about halfway through. It didn't pay all that much for this screen, just $9.00, but I thought it was pretty. I don't know what those symbols are. I mentally call them "knots," but I think they're some type of headgear.

This is the same game, at the end of the bonus, after it had totaled up my win and transferred it to my balance. I cashed out after than. That shows the original screen that gave me the bonus.

From there, I went to the cashier with my comp that came in the mail, entitling me to $25 FREE CASH. I folded that up in my pocket, not for gambling, but to spend on scratchers at a truck stop on the way home. So. I guess it WAS for gambling!

I met Hick up front at the service desk to get our camouflage backpack coolers, which he took out to A-Cad. Then we met for our time-consuming and undelicious lunch. After that, it was back to the gaming floor.

Of course a casino visit for Val is never without angst. I went to a Wonder 4 Boost slot that I'd been excited to play. There are three in a row. I've had good luck on the left one and the right one. I was happy to see the left one was available. I had a ticket I'd cashed out of another machine for 16 cents. You can't do much with it besides put it in another slot, unless you want to carry around a couple pounds of change for your granddaughter's bank (SIS!). I walked up to that Wonder 4 Boost, and slid that ticket into the slot. I set down my FREE soda, and got my player's card out of my purse.


Shouted the man at the middle machine, and the woman at the right machine. Well. That's very odd. Nobody was sitting on the chair. There wasn't a player's card in the slot. The balance was zero until I put in my 16 cents. The chair wasn't leaned up against the front of the slot, which is the universal signal that somebody has been playing, and has just stepped away.

As you might imagine, this turn of events did not sit well with Val.

"Oh. Of COURSE they are!"

I picked up my soda and left. I'm pretty sure that in my fit of pique, I left my 16 cents behind. I hope it was bad karma! I walked behind the SOMEBODY-shouters, just to make them nervous. Or spread some bad vibes. Because Val is vindictive like that. I made a left turn at the end of the Wonder 4 Boosts, and came upon a Fortune Coin slot. Four of them, actually. Two on one side, and two on the other. This is my new favorite machine. It rarely lets me down. I had no idea that this casino had them, tucked away back here by the terrible-lunch grill.

I sat down to play, and had soon doubled my initial twenty. I upped my bet from 60 cents to $1.20. When I profited twenty again, I jumped it to $1.80. I'd been hitting several little bonuses, which was fun, and was letting me play a long time, while not losing money. Imagine my glee when a single spin got me this line hit and coin show:

That's while it's adding up. The next picture shows the symbols, and the total.

Heh, heh! Dadblast those SOMEBODY-shouters for driving me away from Wonder 4 Boost, into the dragon-arms of this Fortune Coin slot! That was a $145.80 line hit! When I cashed out and walked back by the Wonder 4 Boost, none of those people were sitting there. I guess they lost their money and left. Surely they weren't all winners! I hadn't heard any shouts of excitement.

Don't go thinking I needed a hand truck to cart my winnings out of the casino. We ARE talking about Val and her gambling habits. When I cashed out to leave, I had my full casino bankroll, plus a profit of $147.50. Not counting the $25 FREE CASH in my pocket. Which won me $35 on scratchers on the way home.

Yes. It was a good gambling day for Val. I think blog buddy JOEH is right: Even Steven DID feel bad about my lunch.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

I Suppose I Could Use It to Pack Our Lunch Next Time

There are other things I've been keeping secret from you. You could walk right past me and never guess it, IF we were in the woods...

Hick and I went to the casino last Wednesday, to get our RealTree camouflage backpack cooler! I've posed it here on a kitchen stool. Stuffed with a hoard collection of plastic bags that Hick makes me save, so he can take them to his Storage Unit Store to bag up the merchandise he sells. It was pretty flat until I plumped it up to pose.

You may notice that I've put my camouflage metal water bottle, from the previous visit, in the side pocket. There's another mesh pocket on the opposite side. This could be used as a regular backpack, but it is indeed insulated and waterproof. The lining is a one-piece gray material with a thickness to preserve temperature.

If I was a drinking woman with a penchant for sitting in the woods, I could fill up my camo backpack with ice and a 6-pack, with a bottle of water to stay hydrated. As it is, my camo backpack will probably sit around the house, unless I gift it to Genius for Christmas. He's all about the drinking part. No so much the sitting in the woods.

This time Hick and I couldn't double up on our weekly and daily FREE MONEY comps. He had $15, and I had $25. No food comps, either, since we'd already used it for the month. After paying for our lunch, I wished we'd just gone hungry.

I had the Garbage Nachos. They're listed as having: Tortilla chips topped with taco beef, cheese sauce, shredded cheese, jalapenos, black olives, chili beans, pico de gallo, salsa and sour cream. Sounds pretty filling, right? To be fair, I did ask them to leave off the jalapenos and beans. But somehow, I expected to see more topping.

Not a fan of the canned cheese. And I think they were a bit chintzy with the salsa and sour cream. Never saw any pico de gallo, and the taco beef was somewhere under a couple of chips. I ate about 1/4 of it, and then scavenged what Hick had left in his cardboard basket.

Hick asked for the same Pulled Pork Special that we had last time. It was listed on the little blackboard easel out front. What he got was not what he had before!

This time, they gave him a pulled pork sandwich on Texas toast, with tater tots! He'd specifically asked for the Pulled Pork Special with fries. There he is looking at his top layer of Texas toast, bewildered. Also because he had to go ask for BBQ sauce. Anyhoo...I got the bottom piece of toast, a couple scraps of shredded pork, and the last five tater tots. Don't you worry that Hick didn't get enough. He also had a slice of strawberry cheesecake, while I went without dessert this time.

Let's just say we were not impressed with our meal. We waited in line 20 minutes (with only two people ahead of us), and waited at the table for another 15. That's valuable gambling time! As Hick sat mute, fiddling with his phone, I declared that I felt like walking out the gate and playing until the food came. Hick looked at me like I was crazy, then said, "Go ahead. Nobody's stopping you." The look in his eye indicated there'd be trouble on the horizon if I did. So I stayed put, having a 90-minute sweave home with him later.

Hick got an earful, though. "I don't know what could be taking so long. My food is chips, which they just throw in a box and dump stuff over. Yours is the special, so obviously it's already made up, probably yesterday, and they need to get rid of it. It can't take 15 minutes to throw fries in some grease." I guess it was worse for the man who'd been ahead of us in line, and didn't get his own food until after we did. Hope he hadn't ordered the Pulled Pork Sandwich!

The lady taking orders was so incompetent that I refused to use my points to pay for the meal. She could barely process a debit card. She was an older lady, and I know how I am with technology. So I didn't bear her any ill will. I just refused to be a party to prolonging the wait for everyone behind me. When Hick went to get his BBQ sauce, the lady handing it out said that they were shorthanded. That two gals (TWINS) had just quit. So I suppose everybody was filling in for an unfamiliar job.

Tomorrow, the gambling.

Monday, October 28, 2019

I Guess I'm Good and Ready Now

I've been withholding information. Not because it's top secret. Because it pains me to dwell on the subject, even for the few minutes it takes to type up this reveal.

Genius has moved to Pittsburgh.

There. I said it. Hold on. I need to grab a few crying towels. It's a difficult topic. Even though Genius has been out from under my thumb away from me since his freshman year of college, I was lulled into a false sense of security when he was only half a state away. Then he took a job in Kansas City, where he was an entire state-width away. Yet I still calmed myself, in the knowledge that Hick could sweave me there for a day-trip.


He's FOUR states away! He accepted a job with a company we shall call OOber. Discussed a while back. It's a good career move. But it's still a MOVE. I'm so sad. SO sad. So sad that I took this picture:

Don't strain your eyes looking for Genius. That's Hick's SilverRedO, hitched up to a U-Haul he picked up in Kansas City, loaded with Genius's junk. I mean household items and furniture. To me, even though I can't see it, it represents the last time Genius was close to me. Even though Genius drove his Honda CRV, not in a convoy with Hick, and didn't make the trip to our front yard. We had a goodbye dinner with him at Imo's Pizza 30 miles away.

I'm gonna miss him more than he will ever know.

Best of luck, Genius, as you start your new career today.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Petrie Dishing

I met Hick up front at the casino at 3:30, ready to leave. He was sitting at a slot, looking at his phone. Sometimes he plays while he's waiting. Since he wasn't, I figured he was out of money.

As he was backing out of the parking space, Hick put his right hand up to his mouth. Fished around on the side of his gums.

"What are you doing? You've just come from touching buttons on SLOT MACHINES! How can you put your fingers in your mouth??? Here. Want some GermX? Oh, my gosh! I can't believe you! Why don't you just go back and lick every button on every slot you played?"

"Don't be so dramatic. It's fine."

Here's the thing. I am extra-careful about my casino hygiene. I don't touch my face until after I've washed my hands. I don't eat lunch until I wash my hands. I don't grab my cup of FREE soda by the rim. I carry GermX in my gambling purse.

Of course while we waited 15 minutes in line for lunch, the old lady behind me sounded like she was coughing up a lobe of lung onto my shoulder. If I'd had one of those Michael Jackson masks, I'd have strapped it over her germ-spreading mouth!

You know who woke up the next day with stuffed sinuses and an ear/throat ache, right? Not Mr. Germ-Tasting Hick. It was ME!

At supper time, I caught Hick in a sneeze series. At least five before I spoke.

"AHA! It was YOU! You picked up something at the casino, and gave it to me overnight!"

"You're crazy."

"Maybe so, but not about this! It's my right ear! The one exposed to your breather spray all night."

"Ha ha. You always try to blame it on ME!"

I think the evidence speaks for itself.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

A DesCENT Down to the Wire

Time almost ran out on Val's Future Pennyillionaire train this week. She was virtually running alongside the tracks, reaching out to hoist herself onto the express train to Pennyville.

FRIDAY, October 25, I made my regular stop at the Sis-Town Casey's for gas and scratchers. Once inside, I discovered my first (and last) penny of the week.

It's kind of hard to see there, on the vast expanse of tile. It was hard for my bare eyes, too. (I don't like to say "my naked eyes," because that sounds like Val is being indecent in a public place.) The penny is a little below dead center in the picture. that I see those hanging snacks, I want some of both. Together. I imagine that orange slices and chocolate-covered raisins would complement each other nicely. I've never seen a clear bin attached to the counter like that. Looks like a penny-catcher to me!

My rightful penny was a face-down 2014. I was careful picking it up, what with being in the middle of no-Val's-land, without a counter to grab if I started to topple over. I can't believe the clerk looked at me like I was crazy! Can you?

Only the single penny this week. Better than nothing!

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 108.
Dime      still at 19.
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, October 25, 2019

Long On Story, Short On Facts

As Hick was sweaving out of the casino parking lot on Wednesday, his phone rang. "Hello? Hello? Hellooo-ooo?" Then he started to fiddle with his phone.

"Stop! If you're going to try and figure this out, go right back to the parking lot and PARK!"

Hick did not. He swove on through the side streets, back out to the main business route, heading for the two-lane divided highway. That's when he decided which buddy had called him, and returned the call. It was bad enough with his old phone, but now with the new phone, Hick is even less attentive to his sweaving.

Anyhoo...I only heard the one-sided story until he finally hung up. Then I got the scoop.

"My buddy says that the cops arrested drug dealers up at the Units last night. Said they searched their unit, and towed the car. He says they were keeping their drugs up there, and selling out of their unit. I'll have to go up there tomorrow, and see what happened."

"How would the police know they were selling up there? How can the cops get in? What were they doing, making meth in their storage unit? And how does your buddy know about it? Was he there?"

"I don't know, Val. This buddy THINKS he knows everything, but a lot of times, he only gets part of the story."

"I guess the police might have been looking around, because of that camper getting stolen a while back."

"Maybe. I'll find out."

I find it particularly rich that Hick says HIS BUDDY only gets part of the story sometimes! Anyhoo... here's what Hick found out from the owner of the storage unit complex.

"A guy and his wife or girlfriend were fighting. They have a storage unit, and were getting things out or putting things in. The police drove by, because they patrol up there a lot, after the camper was stole. They heard that gal screaming, so they went inside the fence. The owner gave them the code to get in the gate, to patrol, a while back.

When the police went in, the gal jumped in her truck and took off. They got her stopped on the parking lot, after she left the gate. She started mouthing them and fighting, and they arrested her and towed her truck.

The cops went back in, looking for the guy. Just to talk to him, in case there was domestic violence. He must have run off, because they couldn't find him. They towed his truck, too. The storage unit door was wide open, but they couldn't go inside because they didn't have a warrant. They closed it, and the owner put a lock on it the next morning."

"Surely they know who he is. Because of the truck registration. And renting the unit."

"You'd think. He hadn't really done anything but run off. I don't know if they're getting a search warrant or not. The owner didn't say anything about any drugs. Just that the gal got arrested, and both trucks got towed."

"Huh. She might have done that on purpose so he could get away. But they WERE fighting. So maybe not."

"Yeah. I'll have to watch and see what else happens."

So there you have it. Almost some excitement, but not really.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Goodwill Ducking

Hick and I made a trip down to Casino Town on Wednesday. He wanted to stop by the Goodwill first. We usually do that after the casino, but I guess Hick wasn't feeling confident, and wanted to make sure he still had money for Goodwill.

"What are you looking for?"

"Everything. Nothing in particular."

"Are you looking for another guitar?"

"No. I have three right now in my Storage Unit Store. Here's an interesting thing I found out. I hadn't noticed before, but one of them is strung with fishing line. One of my buddies was in there playing it. He said they do that in the islands. Take different gauges of fishing line, and use it for the strings. Supposedly it makes the sound better. The rhythm, I think."

"Well, I doubt the thickness of fishing line would affect the rhythm of a guitar!"

"Not rhythm. What was that? The tone! That's it. The fishing line gives it a better tone."


Sometimes I think Hick just makes stuff up to see what I'll believe. Like Jon Lovitz as the LIAR guy. Yeah. That's the ticket!

Anyhoo, Hick wasn't in Goodwill very long. He came back to the car without opening up the hatch or back door.

"Oh, you didn't find anything?"

Hick held out his fist, palm down. Of course I reached out. You never know when he's expecting me to get rid of a crumpled receipt, or candy wrapper. This time, he dropped two items into my hand. Silly me! At first I thought he'd brought me a gift. What a thoughtful fellow he is! Only he wasn't. He just wanted me to stow away the gift he'd bought himself:

They're hard plastic. Maybe resin. About 2.5 inches long. Hollow underneath. The left one looks like its tail is chipped. The price sticker was on the bottom. $1 for the pair.

I asked Hick if somebody would buy them, and he said,

"They're not for sale. I'm keeping them. I'll put them in my shed."

Meaning his Fishing Lair, the themed shack he's devoted to fishing paraphernalia.

Here are a couple of past reveals for the Fishing Lair:

You Get A Line and I'll Get a Pole, Honey

Hick's Latest Catch

Also, another picture from inside that I'm not sure I revealed, due to Hick's lack of focus:

Hick just keeps pluggin' along.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Val Might Have Her Mystery, Inc. Card Revoked

Well. It seems that Val is not quite the investigator she imagines herself to be.

Monday, I was pretty sure I'd solved the Bus-Waiting Shack Discarded Condom Mystery. You may recall that a couple weeks back, I was pretty sure I'd solved the Bus-Waiting Shack Broken Window Mystery, with those two loitering young men sitting on a rock by the creek for two days. I haven't seen them since. And the unbreakable replacement window is still intact. So I might consider that one CASE SOLVED.

Anyhoo...Monday I stopped for the mail as I came home. I saw a newer-model black compact car parked where the self-driving bus-rider kid parks. School was not in session that day. Not sure what break they're on now.

Anyhoo...I kept an eye on that car, and THE MAN AND WOMAN STANDING BESIDE IT, as I parked in the road and got out for the mail. They had been in an embrace (or grope) when I pulled up. They separated, but didn't turn to look at me. That right there speaks of no-goodness. Normal people, I think, would have turned to look, to see who was interrupting them, if they were just saying goodbye or hello.

Anyhoo...once I had the mail, I drove by them. Slowly. It's a bumpy gravel road, you know. I wish I'd taken a picture of them, but I kept thinking they were going to look my way. They did not. They might have been late 20s, early 30s. The dude was kind of stocky, with a haircut I can't describe, that might have been fashionable in the 90s. He was wearing jeans and a camouflage t-shirt (I still saw him, heh, heh) and an earring in his right ear. The only ear I could see, with him facing towards the mailboxes. The woman was in forgettable jeans/shirt attire, with her dark blond hair braided down her back.

Woman was looking intensely at Man. I got the vibe of maybe a breakup, or him going away for a while. Just that look, practically oblivious to ME, who could have been taking video, for all they seemed to care.

I also noticed that the car had a temporary plate. Meaning a white piece of paper, with black letters and numbers. They're usually good for 30 days. I didn't notice the date.

Of course I reported the incident to Hick.

"I think I found your condom-leaver bus-shack lovers! Down by the creek!" I described the whole situation.

"That car has been down there a couple days this week. Without ANY plates on it. I don't know who it is. It doesn't seem to be a bus kid."

"I don't like people hanging out down there."

"Our neighbor [the dog-groomer, human mom of the Crazy Rottweiler and Killer Poodle] has been putting it all over the Facebook page. She stops and asks people what they're doing there. She asked one guy, 'May I help you?' He said no, and she said, 'Why are you here? This is private property.' He said he didn't know that."

"BULL! That NO TRESPASSING, PRIVATE PROPERTY sign is right above where these people were standing. I'm sure everybody who pulls onto our gravel road can see it."

"Yeah. She puts them on the spot."

"I was afraid they might get mad and try to take my phone or beat me up. I don't mess with them. But I might start taking a picture. With my doors locked! I should have cracked the window, and said, 'Do you live here? I don't know everybody yet.' But they could have lied and said they did. Since I'd have admitted I didn't know everybody."

"I oughta ask my buddy if he can get me a sign that says DEAD END. We can put it down by the mailboxes, and maybe keep the cut-through traffic down."

"They already know they can cut through! They'd probably vandalize it."

"Maybe. But it could stop any new people from trying it, and finding out they can cut through."

"Go for it. Can't hurt. He got you the 20 mph signs. Maybe he's got a NO LOITERING."

Dog Lady is pretty brave, questioning people. Maybe she has a crazy dog in the car with her. She's a rescuer. One thing's for sure... she's a better detective than Val.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Just When I Want To Show Sympathy

Hick helped me carry in the groceries yesterday. And proved that sometimes, it's easier to do things myself.

On those rare instances when he's home to help, I carry stuff from T-Hoe's rear to the side porch, and Hick carries them on inside. I do that so he doesn't have to go up and down the steps every time, which is his method of carrying in groceries. All one trip from garage to kitchen, repeat. Instead of everything carried to side porch first, then ascend the stairs, and carry in things from that level.

I suppose one way is as good as the other. But the fact remains that I always take stuff halfway for him. Yesterday, he came out to the garage, draped bags on his arms, and was headed through the door before I was out of the driver's seat. I gathered up some bags and took them to the side porch. Hick came back out later than I expected him. I'd already taken my second load.

Hick was dabbing at his arm with a paper towel. Bounty Select-A-Size.

"What happened to you?"

"I almost fell!"


"I tripped on the threshold."

"Uh. Don't you know it's there, after all these years?"

"Yes, Val. I know it's there. Them dogs was running around."

"No. Juno never goes down the steps. And Jack was right there with her, waiting for me to come through and give them cat kibble."

"I almost fell flat on my face!"

"I'm sorry that you're hurt. That looks bad. Let me see."

Hick removed the blood-soaked paper towel. His left forearm had a scrape about six inches long, deeper in the middle.

"You'll have to clean that up. When I come in, I'll put some bandaids and antibiotic ointment on it."

"I'm trying to stop the blood now."

"I see that. I'll fix it when I get these groceries in, so the dogs don't get them."

"I can carry them."

With that, Hick started grabbing bags, still holding the blood-soaked paper towel.

"Uh, I'd rather you didn't. Most people don't want their food touched by bloody hands."

"My hands aren't bloody! I can carry them."

There's no arguing with Hick when he gets hard-headed. Well. There IS. But it's not very rewarding.

Once inside, Hick disappeared. I hollered that there were bandaids in the medicine cabinet. To bring a couple, and as soon as stuff was put up, I'd put them on. Of course you know that my commands were ignored. Hick wandered back into the kitchen, and stood near FRIG II. I kept putting stuff away.

"Why do I smell some kind of chemical?"

"Oh. I put that liquid skin on my cut."

"What? You can't do that until it stops bleeding. And I SAID I was going to put bandaids on it."

"It's fine. See?"

"It's still running blood! You can't walk around with it like that."

"It's fine. I'm going outside."

"You'll get dirt and dog hair in it. Or you'll sit down in the La-Z-Boy and get it all over the armrest. As soon as I'm done, I'll get the bandaids."

"A bandaid won't cover it."

"I'm pretty sure there are big ones in there."

"I'll go look."

"WHAT IN THE NOT-HEAVEN! Why did you put the sticky stuff on the cut?"

"It wasn't big enough, going the other way."

"That's why you use more than ONE! Even a couple of small ones would have added on at the ends. NOBODY puts the sticky part on the cut!"

"It's fine."

See? I just can't have sympathy for Hick. I was willing to help him, but he had to use one hand to put a bandaid on the wrong way, rather than waiting.

I would really like to help him rip that thing off. I figure he doesn't need that arm hair.

Monday, October 21, 2019

At the Risk of Sounding Bone-Headed

During our pre-supper conversation about Hick's broken radio, talk turned to his Storage Unit Store.

"You'd be surprised how many people bring their dogs up to the storage units."

"That's why I said you should sell dog stuff."

"I DO! From all that I found in them storage sheds I bought. Bowls and leashes and collars and stuff."

"You give out toys for little kids. You should give treats to the dog people."

"I had some treats up there."

"What kind?"


"You mean the dog biscuits? Shaped like bones?"

"No. Bones."

"RAWHIDE bones?"

"No. Bones."

"I'm not getting it."

"Bones. Like you'd give a dog. I bought a box of them at the auction."

"The auction! Like, from a butcher?"

"No. Just a box of bones that somebody brought. I had them in my storage unit, and then one day I opened the door, and something stunk. I had to get rid of them."

"Wait a minute! You had actual RAW BONES? With meat on them?"

"Not with meat on them. Like your dog might have laying in the yard."

"So somebody went out and collected old dried-out bones in the yard, and you bought them."

"No, Val. You're not understanding."

"I KNOW THAT! I can't figure out how you got bones like that."

"I don't know. It was just a box of bones."

"Without meat on them? Why did they stink?"

"I don't know, Val! It was just a box of real bones, and I had to throw them out."

Huh. I totally don't get the concept, or why Hick thought he could keep these bones in a box and hand out over several weeks (or months) time.

Oh my gosh! I dared to reopen the investigation last night! Can't say that I'm much more enlightened than I was before.

"You know those dog bones you bought at the auction? How much did you pay for them?"

"I don't remember, but it was less than $5."

"How big was the box?"

"I don't know. It was a box."

"The size of that one over there on the couch? About the size a toaster could fit in?"

"Yeah. About that big."

"So you don't know where they came from? Or who was selling them? Were other people actually bidding against you?"

"There was more than one box, Val! And several people were bidding."

"I still don't know what kind of bones you're talking about. Were they round, like chicken bones? Or flat, like from a pork chop? How big?"

"They was round bones, Val. They have them at the store. In Tractor Supply, or The Family Center. Like...plastic bones, wrapped in paper."

"They were PLASTIC bones? In PAPER? You said they were real bones!"

"Val! You can't ever understand anything! No, the bones weren't plastic. They were BONES!"

"You just SAID they were PLASTIC!"

"Well, that's not what I meant."

"No wonder I can't understand your stories. You tell me one thing, then change it!"

"Here. I'll find a picture on my phone. They were ROUND bones! About as long as your arm."

"The only animal with round bones like you're describing, like found in the yard, and round, with no meat on it, is a turkey, or a chicken. Unless you mean those ring kind of round. Like the cooking shows, where they eat bone marrow out of the middle."

"That's not what they were. HERE! Look at this: it says a PORK FEMUR. See? They come wrapped in plastic. Some of my bones was wrapped in plastic, but some was loose."

"OH! So you mean it's like somebody got a bunch of them, like from insurance salvage or going out of business, and divided them up into boxes."

"Yeah. I guess so."

"Didn't every dog that walked by try to get inside at those bones?"

"No. I kept the box outside, beside me, and I'd hand out a bone to the dogs."

"Well. It seems like a regular dog biscuit would be easier. If I was walking around with my dog, I wouldn't want to deal with a slippery pork femur."

"They come in beef, too."

One of these days, I'm going to learn not to ask for details...

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Journey of 659.7 Miles Ends With an Extra Step

Hick was out of town for a few days, for a reason which will be revealed when I'm good and ready. You'd think that after being away from Val for so long, Hick would rush right home, putting SilverRedO's pedal to the metal. Au contraire, virtual visitors to my lair! Hick had no qualms about stopping over, 30 miles from home, to do some Goodwilling.

I must say, he was in the right place at the right time to get this gem:

It's a RADIO! Hick parked it here on the kitchen stool. I just glanced at it as I walked by. That happens when new junk appears on a thrice-weekly basis.

"How much did you pay for your clock?"


"Yeah. The Coke clock on the stool."

"That's a RADIO! I paid $12 for it."

"How much is it worth?"

"I don't know. Maybe $20. But I'm not selling it. I'm keeping it. I've never seen one like it."

"Does it run on batteries?"

"No. It's electric. I have to take a look at the plug. It doesn't work."

Well. A broken radio is worth $12 to Collector Hick. He's pretty handy with electrical stuff, so he might get it working. It's a unique item that I haven't seen, either. Huh. They're probably for sale in mail-order catalogs, as new gadgets made to look vintage. Hick won't care.

I think his goal is to eventually have one of everything Coca Cola.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A CENTSational Twelvepeat for Val

As you recall (I had a college professor who started many lectures with that wishful proclamation), last week Val accumulated 12 unearned cents towards her Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. Well, this week was DEJA VU.

THURSDAY, October 17, I had to make a trip over to my former place of employment to sign an insurance document. That put me on a different route from my usual routine. That's just what Dr. Even Steven prescribed.

On the way inside the School-Turn Casey's, I saw a crack penny.

It was a face-down 1978, sharing the convenience store trench with an abandoned butt.

It stand out here, but I almost walked right over it with my natural eyesight.

When I came out and headed for T-Hoe, I could not believe my good fortune. There was ANOTHER crack penny right in my path!

Gotta say, this is one of my favorite penny pics of all time, what with the lighting and the artsy-fartsy angles of the shadows and the parking stripes and the round poles. I'm sure Genius the master photographer would disagree. When I took it, the sun prevented me from seeing the screen of my phone, and I wasn't even sure I had the penny in the frame.

This was a dirty, dirty face-down 2011, which I assumed to be much older until I took a peep under the magnifying glass at home.

Four stops later, at the Sis-Town Casey's, my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune shot up like the hand of Judy Hensler in Miss Canfield's classroom when The Beaver did something tattle-worthy.

I spied a dime lolling insolently under the store-for-sale Chex Mix!

It was a face-up fellow from 1977, who went for a ride in my shirt pocket to his next home in Penny Goblet #2.

I'm not a cheater, so I'm not including the DIME that I found Friday morning behind the La-Z-Boy and short couch. It's the walkway to the master bedroom. I'd been across there at least five times already that morning. But on the sixth time, I found that dime. It's on the kitchen counter right now. I don't think I can rightfully claim it as part of my collection, but you can bet I'm going to spend it. I suppose it was dropped by Hick, although he was out of the house the whole time since I got up, selling for $1 profits at his Storage Unit Store. was another 12-cent week for Val!

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 106, 107.
Dime      # 19.
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, October 18, 2019

A Refresher To Emphasize Val's Hardships

Lest you forget the gravity of Val's daily put-upon-ness, I bring you a reminder of the true nature of Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill.

Sure, it may LOOK like a good-enoughly blacktopped hill from this view, going down. And even gooder-enoughly blacktopped when it was finished on both sides.

Just because the bare gravel was covered does not mean the road was improved.

Closer inspection may reveal a few lumpy bumps. But it is the coming-up view that reveals the poor planning of Hick and Buddy with a free load of hot blacktop, that hardened before Hick made his heavy roller.

It's like one long row of speed bumps. No way to flatten that out. It's been two years since Hick and Buddy's project was inflicted upon us. I think I am now two inches shorter, my vertebrae being shaken down each day like chips settling in the bag due to shipping.

I imagine that Hick and Buddy are soundly cursed each day. Twice. By people other than Val.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

In Case Anyone Doubts That Val Lives In Outer Hooterville

Once again, Val had the nerve to assert her customership, and interrupt a lengthy conversation between a cashier and the customer ahead of her. This time, it was in the Backroads Country Mart. I leaned on my cart, and refrained from tapping my toe. I DID eavesdrop. It's not like they were keeping it hush-hush.

This is the oldest cashier, who works the short line. Sometimes she's the only one working. Hick has befriended her. He says she's 81 years old. How he knows that is a mystery. Surely he didn't ASK her age! Or cut her open to count the rings. She has a really gruff voice due to some kind of surgery many years ago. She does not look 81.

CASHIER: "I'm waiting for animal control to come back. They took seven raccoons and two possums."

CUSTOMER: "Did she have babies?"

CASHIER: "Uh huh."

CUSTOMER: "Coons are crazy about protecting their babies!"

CASHIER: "I just want to sit on my front porch and relax, without raccoons running up and biting me."

Once the customer grudgingly wheeled her cart out of the way, I tried to be friendly to the cashier.

VAL: SEVEN raccoons! That's a lot."

CASHIER: "I got bit. Had to have the rabies shot. After the second raccoon bit me, the county health center said the shot is good for three months."

Alrighty then! I, myself, might have quit sitting on the porch after being bitten the first time. But what do I know? I was bitten by a chipmunk, and the county health center didn't know if they carry rabies, so just gave me a tetanus booster.

I would swear that CASHIER told CUSTOMER that animal control  "...let them go over the state line."

Surely that's a mistake. That would be quite a drive north, south, or west to a state line. East runs into the Missisippi River about 30 miles over, as the crow flies, and I wouldn't call it a state line. Or think a raccoon-capturer would toss raccoons into Old Man River.

Maybe I need to work on my eavesdropping skills.

As I typed up this tale, I thought of another one that had slipped my mind.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

One More Reason I'm Pretty Sure Hick Is Trying to Kill Me

You might recall T-Hoe's recent overnight stay at Mick the Mechanic's shop. You'll never guess what Mick discovered as the reason for the red brake light warning and Stabilitrak Off yellow skid light. T-Hoe was low on brake fluid!!! Yeah. You'd think someone as knowledgeable of cars as Hick would have been able to check that one thing himself.

We have not gotten Mick's bill yet, because he had to order a new passenger side mirror, and Hick will schedule a new appointment for T-Hoe when he's good and ready. When questioned about why Hick himself couldn't diagnose T-Hoe's brake problem, Hick admitted that if he'd bothered to check the brake fluid, he would have known to add some.

Mick also reset a bunch of stuff, which he said made the seat heater work again. I don't know, since I haven't tried it yet.

I guess I can forgive Hick for letting me drive two weeks on bad brakes, due to his lackadaisical attitude. Although to me, brakes are the one thing I wouldn't trifle with, had I the knowledge and wherewithal to diagnose and fix the problem.

Here's the latest reason I'm pretty sure Hick is trying to kill me...

The DAY AFTER T-Hoe came back from Mick the Mechanic's fixin', the ENGINE LIGHT came on! Yeah. It's a yellow light, in the shape of a motor. It's been on before, came and went. At one point, I discovered that it came on after getting gas, and went off after a couple times of removing, then tightening the gas cap. Pure coincidence, perhaps, but I think I read about that fix online. It did not work this time.

I'm sure I've mentioned that a couple years ago, I got Hick a little gadget that can plug into T-Hoe, and read his computer mind about the warning systems. It gives a code to diagnose the problem. That little gadget is laying on the mantel of the electric fireplace, right by Hick's La-Z-Boy. Hick was shocked that T-Hoe had a problem right after leaving Mick's shop.

"He said he reset all those systems, so maybe one of them messed with the engine light."

"Don't you have a gadget to check the warnings?"

"Yeah. I'll take a look at it."

Sunday, when I got in T-Hoe for my 44 oz Diet Coke trip, the ENGINE LIGHT was OFF! That evening, I asked Hick if he'd been messing with T-Hoe.

"I took my thing out there and plugged it in. It gave me a code, then I reset the engine light."

"Okay. What's wrong with it?"

"I didn't have the book out to look up the code. I'll do it later tonight, or tomorrow."

Tomorrow came. Hick and I were sweaving along in A-Can, on the way home from supper, so I again asked what was wrong with T-Hoe.

"I don't know."

"You said you were going to look it up."

"I forgot the code."

"So you found out what might be wrong, but you don't know what it was, yet you reset the warning light, so everything looks fine?"


I'm pretty sure Hick is trying to kill me. Perhaps with Mick as an accomplice.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Peek Inside Val's Seedy World of No-Armed Bandits

Last week's casino trip on the quest to procure a FREE camouflage metal water bottle, eat up $25 of FREE food, and collect $80 of FREE cash was entertaining, if not profitable.

As with any casino trip, I tucked my casino bankroll into my gambling purse, cut out our comp coupons, and hit the road to sweave with Hick. We stayed for four hours, with my fortune ebbing and flowing. I risked chastisement from security to provide pictures for those who would never dip a dainty tootsie inside a casino, preferring to remain home carving scrimshaw on non-endangered ivory to sell for raising funds for butt plugs to stop methane emissions of beef and dairy cows, while not-watching television, and eating only raw foods harvested from highway right-of-ways, washed down with water in plastic bottles, transported all the way from Fiji.

The third slot I played was Fu Dao Le, the game where giggling babies fill the screen and portend an upcoming fortune. It gave me a second-spin bonus of $89. Which I went on to wager on a bad investment of Wonder 4 Boost.

Lucky for me, I tried a weird ram-headed slot, because it looked like something The Pony might play. He has a knack for picking obscure slots that pay him.

A few spins after bumping my bet up to $1.50, I hit a bonus that paid me the MINOR progressive, which was $114. Of course I wandered around playing more mainstream games, which ate my money like it was a pulled-pork lunch special!

I took this picture not because I was so proud of my "unbelievable win" of $35.15 on a $.60 bet, but because this machine never lets me win, and I thought the almost-full screen was pretty. Too bad it's not a video, so you can see that leprechaun nodding his head and winking! I'm not about to risk getting banned from a casino for filming! Even for dainty-toed scrimshaw carvers saving the world from flatulent cows while drinking bottled foreign water.

By the time I cashed out, I got back all but $49.01 of my original casino bankroll. But don't you worry about Val going to the pauper-house! Folded in my pants pocket, saved from wagering, was my FREE cash from my two $25 comp coupons.

I didn't want to take a picture of cash in a casino, but when I was back home, tidying up my gambling purse and putting my driver's license back in my other purse, I snapped a picture of it on the kitchen counter.

Even Steven allowed me a $.99 profit after my day at the casino. Hick did not volunteer his results, though he did say he spent his two $15 FREE cash comps. Good thing I hung onto mine. I don't usually leave with a profit.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Now Val Can Drink In Secret

I got it! The camouflage metal water bottle from the casino comps.

It's REAL (RealTree, the copyrighted camo pattern), and it's SPECTACULAR! I haven't tried it yet. But now I can drink (water of course) without being seen by wildlife. Because you know the glint of sunlight off that metal cap won't spook them.

Hick and I also had a delicious lunch for free, using our meal comps. Actually, we combined his $10 and my $15, and splurged for sodas right there in the grill (rather than walking across the casino floor to bring in free smaller sodas), and dessert, so it ended up costing us a dollar-something. The cashier asked if we wanted to use our points for that, and Hick said yes. She promptly deducted it from his 4026 points (that's worth $4 of free play), rather than my 9289 points ($9 in free play). Heh, heh! I could tell he was not pleased about that. Even though you can't cash out anything less than $5, and it has to be in $5 increments.

The special was pulled pork, on top of fries or tater tots, with cheese. I chose the tots:

It was DELICIOUS! I suppose they made too much pulled pork a day or two before, and had to unload it somehow. I had lemon meringue pie for dessert, with no real crust, just crumbly graham crumbles on the bottom.

Hick chose the fries option, and cheesecake. In fact, he told the gal the exact piece of cheesecake he wanted, and she had to slide containers around like one of those number game puzzles my mom used to carry in her purse to distract us from misbehavior.

Neither of us could finish it all. Of course we quit in time to have room for the full dessert! Too bad it wasn't the day for the camouflage backpack cooler, or we could have packed up our leftovers for supper, in the little pie containers.

The gaming report will be tomorrow. Don't waste the anticipation. I'm still driving a 2008 Tahoe.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Hick Wants Blacktop Road Cred

Hick is not some mysterious philanthropist who supports a cause behind the scenes. Oh, Hick is a benevolent benefactor. He just wants credit for his contributions. Perhaps accolades is a more accurate term for what Hick expects.

Last week, Hick decided that the mailbox bus stop area needs a sign to warn drivers coming over the hill.

"If they can put up signs by the other bridge that say "Rough Road," and not bother to fix the rough road, then they can put up a sign to keep these speeders from running over kids when they're getting on the bus. I'm calling the county road administrator to ask for a sign."

With a couple days, there was a metal post at the top of Mailbox Hill. No sign. But a metal post with an orange flag tied to it.

"Did you see my pole?" asked Hick. Un-self-consciously.


"At the top of the hill! It didn't take long. I bet they put the sign on it pretty soon."

I must say, I did not notice the day the sign went up. I am not in a habit of looking for signs. Actual physical road signs, anyway. I concentrate more on keeping T-Hoe on his side of the road, ready to dodge an oncoming driver who isn't. Anyhoo, Hick was sure to tell me when his sign went up.

"Did you see it? The bus sign is up!" Hick called me while I was in town.

"No. I didn't notice it coming in. But I'll look for it going home."

Yes, once just a shiny pole, there was now a sign to warn drivers about a bus stop.

Most people probably think it's warning about high water impassability of the road.

By the time they can read it, they'll see the bus anyway. Still, it will serve as a reminder when they see the bright color from farther back. I hope. Kudos to Hick for setting the wheels of the bus stop sign in motion.

Let the record show that Hick is also happy to take credit for his and Buddy's Poorly Blacktopped Hill, which, in comparison, makes this road seem like a brand new turnpike.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Ch Ch CHANGE's Here For Me

I want to be a richer Val...

SATURDAY, October 5, less than an hour after my Saturday CENTsus hit the innernets bemoaning a lack of coins for my Future Pennyillionaire fortune...I found a penny.

I remember it like it was last Saturday. Oh. It WAS. Right there on the floor of The Gas Station Chicken Store. Me wearing a pair of The Pony's old shoes, because I could.

It was a 2019, all shiny and face-down, reflecting artsy-fartsy-ly off the trim of the counter. Looks like the owners have put their two new clerks to work, spiffing up the place.

TUESDAY, October 8, I discovered a DIME at Orb K. Sorry, no picture of it in its natural habitat. I had to hold my place in line, fervently hoping that somebody didn't walk over to look at the scratchers display and take my rightful dime! By the time I had my scratchers, I didn't have a hand free for photography. I didn't want to hold those scratchers in my mouth. And I didn't want to stuff them in an armpit. So I just snatched my dime and shuffled on out of there. Besides, does anybody really regret not seeing the unclean floor of Orb K this week? I think not.

There it is at home, though. Posing on the kitchen counter. A 2006, which I'd noted was face-down when I picked it up. Not a bad showing this week, scooping up 11 cents.

Stopping the presses to add a late addition:

This 1975 penny was found face-down at the Backroads Casey's, at 1:53 p.m. on SATURDAY, October 12. I was unable to get a picture in the wild, as it was deep under the gum rack, and I had a close-waiter blocking me from backing up to get a shot. The close-waiter is probably scheduling a therapy appointment, after her exposure to my ample rumpus, as I scooted this penny out with the floppy toe of The Pony's old shoe, and picked it up. Here he is, chilling in the autumn sun on T-Hoe's console.

That makes it a 12-cent week for Val's Future Pennyillionaire fortune.

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 104, 105.
Dime      # 18. (surpasses last year's dime total)
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, October 11, 2019

Hick's Storage Unit Store Has a Rat

Poor Hick. He's been betrayed. I feel sympathy for him. Mark your calendar.

Hick called me on Thursday afternoon, from his Storage Unit Store. He commenced a tale so sad that my cold, cold heart thawed a couple of degrees. Fahrenheit.

"I was putting away two guns I bought at the auction Monday night, in my gun safe here at the store. It has those pouches on the door, like our safe at home. I had put some guitar strings in there that my buddy gave me, when his son put new strings on his guitar. They were coiled up, a set of strings. I probably could have got ten dollars for them. But now they're GONE! Them, and two rolls of dollar coins! There's an old man who always pays me with dollar coins. They're short rolls. I think maybe $10 rolls. Somebody stole my coins and guitar strings!"

"You leave your gun safe open???"

"I have to. So people can see what I got. I just have it unlocked, with the door pushed to. If they ask me, they can pull it open and look at the guns. They can't steal them. I can see if they walk out with one. I only have two handguns, and I keep them on a table where I sit."

"I'm pretty sure it was a gun LOOKER who took your strings and coins. Not a gun BUYER."


Well. I am simply SHOCKED! Aren't you? Shocked that customers at a flea market are not the fine upstanding members of society who would never take something that didn't belong to them. All I can say is, "Sh*tbums gonna sh*tbum." They come in looking for something for nothing, and make sure they get it.

Here's my suggestion to Hick. Find a classy box or envelope. Or get a padded little manila envelope. Inside, put a mousetrap, and a note card that says, "Not TODAY, rat!" Tape it up so it's difficult to open.

Heh, heh. I can imagine a thief picking up that little envelope, feeling it, thinking something good is inside, stuffing it in his shirt, and opening it later in the car. I'm kinda warped like that. I know the mousetrap can't be set to snap on them. It's just the idea. To let them know that Hick is aware of their shenanigans.

I'm not sure Hick is picking up what I'm laying down. He sat in the La-Z-Boy later, saying that there are still 26 coins left in the pocket of the safe! Loose. Not in rolls. Just dropped down in there. He guesses the thief didn't notice them. The two rolls were on top of the guitar strings, and might have come up when the guitar strings were pulled on.

SHEESH! You can't leave your valuables in an OPEN SAFE! Of course sh*tbums are gonna be rifling through it. It's a SAFE! For keeping valuables!

Hick did say that he thinks he'll take his 26 dollar coins out of the pocket Friday when he opens. I said he needs to keep an eye on the people who ask about guns, but don't buy one. He has a great memory for faces. I'm sure they'll keep coming back. He can check to see if his special package is gone when they leave. Then the next time, he can take a picture, heh, heh, so they'll know something's up. And maybe quit going in Hick's store.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

What Hick Needs Is the Spirit of Patrick Swayze Advocating for Him

Wednesday evening, Hick dropped me off to pick up T-Hoe, and declared that he would go on into town after chatting with Mick the Mechanic, to get Domino's pizza for supper. We haven't had Domino's since the last time The Pony was home. Which was last December. We don't really like it, except for the thin crust variety.

I took T-Hoe (now without a warning bell, hopefully with brakes) to Orb K for a 44 oz Diet Coke and scratchers. Cashed in a $15 winner, and won $50, in case you're interested. Anyhoo... the Diet Coke from the newly-installed soda fountain was fine. Not as fine as the Diet Coke at The Gas Station Chicken Store, but fine enough. Besides, it saved me another stop. I wanted to get home, you know, because Hick was bringing pizza.

I stopped for the mail, fed the dogs some bread dipped in the juices of the previous day's roasted chicken, put my driver's license back in my regular purse (we'd been to the casino), added cherry limeade and squeezed a real lime into my magical elixir, filled my two bubba cups with ice, changed clothes, and sat down to sip some water (gambling can be dehydrating) while waiting for Hick.

Seventy minutes after leaving me at Mick's, Hick sent me a text that he was starting home with the pizza. Well. Good to know. I was beginning to think he'd gone to Italy for it. Town is only 10 minutes from home! Every time I'd call to order pizza on the way home from school with The Pony, the Domino's dude would tell me, "It should be ready in 10-15 minutes." And it was.

When Hick got home 10 minutes later, he said,

"I talked to Mick for a minute, then went to get the pizza. The guy told me it would take 15 minutes. So I sat down at a table to wait. After 15 minutes, I went to the counter to ask about it. And the guy said, 'Oh, I forgot to call your name.' He went and got it off the shelf. It's still hot. It only sat there about five minutes. Good thing I got up to ask."

Yes, Hick needs the spirit of Patrick Swayze (the Dirty Dancing spirit, not the Ghost spirit) to warn those Domino's dudes: "Nobody puts Hick at a table!"

I hope this generation of doctors and lawyers are more capable of doing their job well than this generation of pizza-makers and mailmen...

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

T-Hoe Is Going Under the Wrench!

As you read this, T-Hoe is in the capable hands of Mick the Mechanic. I'm pretty sure T-Hoe's brain will be turned off at some point. Then he'll be revived before I pick him up. To keep my mind off the multiple procedures, Hick is taking me to a casino. Actually, it has more to do with the camouflage water bottle and the FREE CASH and LUNCH CREDIT we'll be getting. But I can pretend.

I met Hick at Mick's after procuring my magical elixir, so he could give me a ride home. The journey of what seems like a thousand miles riding with Hick begins with an awkward step up on SilverRedO's pipe-like running board. Then it progresses to a skootch across a cloth seat while avoiding a doorknob on the rubber floor mat.

SilverRedO is not a vehicle I frequent. My last trip in him was probably from the main post office over to Hick House to see the progress, since I didn't want a repeat of getting T-Hoe stuck in PARK on that hill. SilverRedO has a decent ride for a 4WD pickup truck. In spite of the sweaver behind the wheel. There was one issue, though...

"Whew! SilverRedO smells like a dirty old truck!"

"Well. It is. It's a truck. I use it like a truck, Val."

"It didn't used to smell this way, when you first got it. Not even last time I was in it, back in May or June."

"I don't smell anything."

"It's like a musty, closed up, dirty house kind of smell."

"Huh. I got a box of them clothes back there. Out of my old storage unit stuff, that I'm going to wash and sell."

Indeed. A turn of my head revealed a Rubbermaid tub of assorted clothing, a fleece sweatshirt on top. That'll do it! That was EXACTLY what SilverRedO smelled like.

Hick needs to get some of those cardboard deodorant trees at the car wash, to hang from SilverRedO's mirror.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Trouble On the Rocks

Friday afternoon, I was surprised to see a young man sitting on a big rock down by the creek. I'd stopped at the mailbox around 1:00. In town, I'd discovered that the local high school let out early for a parade. I assumed this dude might have gotten off the bus, and was waiting for a ride. It was an illogical assumption, but I had no other.

First of all, the bus takes at least an hour to get out here after school dismisses. Secondly, the car that underage kid drives down there to park and catch the bus was still parked. So if the bus had let off, the car would have been gone. This dude looked too old to be that kid. He had long stringy brown hair, swept back and trapped under a backwards trucker cap. He was dressed in shorts and a shirt, like any student might wear.

Dude sat on the rock, facing the road, looking at his phone. You'd think somebody who took a walk down there and was just chillin' would be dangling his gangly legs off the other side of the rock, facing the creek. Not a blacktop road. Anyhoo... Dude didn't even look up as I got out for the mail. I figured it had something to do with the early dismissal, and forgot about it, not even mentioning it to Hick.

Monday, around 1:00, I came back from Walmart to find TWO dudes at the rock. The Original Dude was again sitting in the same place, with his phone. Standing in the road, facing him was Big Dude. Still looked young enough to be a student. They both could have been between 16-20. Big Dude had a crew cut, sandy hair, and was dressed like a jock, no cap, wearing flip-flops.

As you might imagine, I was suspicious. WHY were these dudes sitting at the end of my gravel road? I usually get out of T-Hoe, leave him running, and don't latch the door. This time, I turned off the ignition, and took the keys with me.

Big Dude turned to look at me, and said, "Good afternoon." I said hello and went about my mail-gathering business. I would have taken a picture of them, once I climbed back in T-Hoe, but Big Dude kept looking at me. Of course I couldn't risk taking a picture of suspicious possible criminals, in case they might be residents who thought I was a mail-stealer.

Seriously, what business could these dudes have had down there? Maybe THEY had been going through the mailboxes. Maybe they had something to do with the recent broken windows in the bus-waiting shack. Maybeeeee they were connected to DUN DUN DUNNNN: the used condom! Why would two dudes be hanging out on a rock beside the road? Waiting to buy or sell drugs? Acting as lookouts for accomplices who were up in there stealing?

I don't know. Just seems kind of mysterious. Hick did not see them, and did not know of any residents who fit their description.

Monday, October 7, 2019

City Comps, Country Comps

Remember when I rode to the casino on two Fridays, with my sister the ex-mayor's wife, so she and he could pick up their casino comps? Sis had been excited all month, waiting for the final comp, a set of non-stick pans. I must say, it came in a big box, and pictures showed about four different-colored-and-sized nonstick pans. Perhaps with lids and utensils. Sis and Ex-Mayor each got one. I was happy for them. The previous comp was a water filtering pitcher of some kind.

Hick and I are no strangers to casino comps. We went faithfully every week one month right after he retired, to get a set of luggage. I use mine now on trips to visit The Pony, and I think Hick gave his whole set to Genius when he was going to Taiwan for work. Ex-Mayor got a different luggage set at their second casino. Sis might regret not using her player's card enough for that one.

Anyhoo... sometimes you can get good stuff. Of course it's not worth what you spend getting there and gambling with. The lure is to get you in the door. But we'd be going anyway, although not as often. That's not really my topic today. It's the difference in the comps offered in city casinos, compared to the more rural ones. I'm not saying it's like this everywhere. Just in the ones we frequent.

Heh, heh. I actually chuckled out loud when I saw the latest comp offers from the biggest casino we go to in Oklahoma.

Are you freakin' kidding me? Is a toilet paper roll holder going to get me in the door? Not-Heaven, NO! Sorry, I know it's free stuff, but that kind of seems insulting. All that's missing is the furry seat cover!

I'm not running down Oklahoma. Our new favorite casino in southern Missouri is giving away a camouflage metal water bottle! Oh, we're going, baby! Hick and I are making special plans to get that sucker this week! If it wasn't such a drive, I'd be tempted to go back in two weeks for that camouflage backpack cooler, too!

Let the record show that Hick and I have coupons to get this, with no mention of earning points. We also have coupons for CASH. No free play here! I have $50 on that day, and Hick has $30. Plus, I have $15 food credit, and Hick has $10. Sounds like a cheap date to me. AND we'll be able to stay hydrated later, with our new water bottles.

Just sayin'. It seems to be cheaper to pull in country folk to squander their money.

One thing I won't be squandering my casino bankroll on is this chair:

I guess the 7th anniversary is the PLASTIC anniversary for a casino. My grocery store had these chairs in a big box, selling for $5, a couple years ago. Again, it's something for nothing. Maybe Hick could make a dollar off of it at his Storage Unit Store. But it doesn't seem like something I'd be touting as an anniversary gift giveaway.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

One Hundred Percent of an IceBug Is Below the Surface

Just when you thought Val couldn't stoop any lower to repulse readers...

Let the record show that every day, I carry my 44 oz Diet Coke down to my lair around 2:00 or 3:00. I also take my purple bubba cup full of ice cube crescents from FRIG II, and my yellow bubba cup of ice cube crescents, to which I add NASCAR bathroom water. It's too heavy to carry down water when I already have my magical elixir and two bubba cups of ice.

I add the water, and sip from yellow bubba cup until I go upstairs to make supper. At that point, I pour that water into the purple bubba cup of ice, which has barely melted at all. I take the yellow bubba cup upstairs, dump out the remaining contents, and fill it with ice cubes again to take back down for the evening. I add some to my magical elixir. Then when it's time to shut down New Delly and go to watch TV in my OPC (Old People Chair), I pour the water and ice left in the purple bubba cup into the remaining ice cubes in the yellow bubba cup. This way, I enjoy cold beverages all day and most of the night.

Friday night, as I was making the final water/ice transfer, I noticed something before I put the lid back on. There was a dark spot on one of the top ice cubes. What in the Not-Heaven? Was it a shadow, from a little melted bubble area? I poked at the ice cube in question. It was NOT a shadow!


You know, I have a sciency background. I've always considered myself open to eating bugs. Like, if somebody offered me a chocolate-covered ant, I'd try it. The scorpions in the suckers at the old 7-Eleven store didn't bother me. And when Scott Glenn as that mean old convict rodeo rider Wes Hightower in Urban Cowboy tilted up the bottle of tequila to get the worm and bite it, I was not fazed in the least.


No extra protein for me, thank you! I don't need protein in my water. I picked up that ice cube and put it in the bowl I'd used for potato chips.

"Oh, Val," you say. "It's just a little gnat." Well, let me be the one saying that to YOU when YOU'VE almost swallowed it! Take a gander at this thing!

That's one big honkin' Drosophila melanogaster, baby! I studied them in my college genetics class. I've seen them extremely up-close, and have no desire to swallow one! Sure, it's not a possibly-turd-crawling Musca domestica, and likely resulted from one of Hick's bananas that he lets lie once he decides it's too ripe. Still. It's not going over my lips and past my gums if I can help it.

Now I wonder if it got in the first batch of ice, and was possibly poured back and forth, with me sipping from it throughout the day and evening. Or if it just crawled in the straw opening of the bubba cup at the last moment. Due to the location from whence it poured, I'd say it was in the original ice of the purple bubba cup, and had been marinating since around 5:30 in my ice water.

Oh, well. I guess drinking bug water is better than swallowing the whole bug.