Tuesday, December 31, 2019

When the Boys Come Home, the Other-Worldly Does Roam

Genius and The Pony have been home for Christmas. The Pony had a longer stay, from the 18th thru the 30th. Genius departed shortly before noon on Christmas Day, heading to Friend's house, then off to a ski trip out west.

The Pony has been quite comfortable in his own bedroom, cluttered as it may be. Genius's room has been closed since he left. Genius had carried up the gifts he opened under the basement Christmas tree. The ones I hadn't mailed directly to his Pittsburgh apartment. Hick will be mailing them once Genius returns from his ski trip.

Saturday night, Hick was in bed. The Pony sat in the La-Z-Boy with his laptop, while I reclined in my OPC (Old People Chair) in the basement. At 10:45, I heard a tremendous THUMP from Genius's room. It was startling, but I knew The Pony was upstairs. A possible explanation for such a noise.

"Are you up there?"


"What was THAT?"

"I don't know! I was going to ask YOU!"

"It was in Genius's room!"


"Unless maybe it was the dogs on the front porch, knocking something over..."


"It didn't sound like something falling on wood, though."

"I know! It was a THUMP! Something heavy!"

"Uh...will you go look?"

"I don't want to..."

"Like...on the porch. To see if the dogs did it."

"I'll look on the porch. Nope. Nothing is different out there."

"In Genius's room...?"

"Yikes. I don't really want to..."

"Keep talking to me while you do it."

"Okaayyy. First...nothing out of place in my room. I'm opening his door...Huh! Looks like those donut pans fell off the bed. It sure sounded like more than that. No clanging. But HEAVY. I don't know how he had them sitting..."

"Yeah. Funny how they sat there for 3 and a half days before falling. Nobody was moving. No vibrations."

"I know!"

I didn't go look at what The Pony saw on Saturday night. Are you kidding? That's just CRAZY! But Sunday, around noon, I opened up the door to get a peek. Surely you don't think The Pony moved anything on Saturday night!

You never know when something around here is going to demand attention.

Let the record show that Genius made donuts when he lived with five housemates in college, and fancied himself to be the next Krispy Kreme. He enjoys cooking, so I thought he might like a donut pan. Actually, I had gotten a donut pan for The Pony, with an easy recipe using only cake mix and applesauce. I wanted ONE MORE, but Hick bought two, ignoring my list. Then I figured I'd give it to Genius. But nobody wants to go to the trouble of making only 6 donuts. So I got another pan.

Anyhoo...Genius decided he doesn't think he'll use them, because he FRIES his donuts, and doesn't want to make cake donuts. Those pans might remain there until his next visit.

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Adult Lost-and-Found Box

During our Christmas vacation day-trip to our new favorite casino,  Genius's Friend lost his house key. Actually, the key to his parents' house. Which is about two hours away from the casino. It must have fallen out of his pocket while he was pulling out money.

The same thing happened to the ex-mayor my sister's husband, when they were on a gambling trip in Oklahoma. Ex-Mayor lost his car keys. He discovered their location by calling six casinos, and Hick drove Ex-Mayor back to get them. He also lost them on another trip with Sis. Who now carries the keys in her purse. Security at that casino watched Ex-Mayor on their cameras, and directed him back to the machine where he thought he dropped them, and found them still on the floor.

Friend didn't realize the loss until they were leaving. Headed, ironically, to meet his parents. He retraced his steps, with no luck. But he DID find a cell phone on the floor! He took it to the player's card desk, and asked if anyone had turned in a house key. They had not. Genius and Friend left.

Before we were ready to leave, The Pony went to the player's card desk to claim his scratcher for signing up for a player's card and earning points. He won $10. While he was there, the girl asked if his friends had lost something. She recognized The Pony from when all three of them signed up for their player's cards.

The Pony came back to me to ask if Genius or Friend had lost something. "Yes! A house key! See if they will give it to you."

The Pony returned. "No. She said he'd have to pick it up himself. He has to sign for it. I'll text Genius to tell him."

In the end, Friend discussed it with his parents, who said it didn't matter. So the key went unclaimed.

I understand their reluctance to give the key to The Pony. Casinos can't have people turning in things all willy-nilly, and other people asking if things have been found. Ne'er-do-wells might have seen the previous person turn it in, and pretend it's theirs. Likewise, the casino needs someone to sign off on getting "their" item back, to prevent lawsuits claiming theft, or them giving an item to its non-owner, who could possibly perpetrate shenanigans with it.

I hope the cell phone loser had a way to identify it!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Let's Hope This Doesn't Affect Val's Future Free Room Comps

After our casino buffet breakfast, with the majority of my facial skin cells unincinerated, we headed back up to our room to gather our bags and check out. Hick and I had used my free room comp, and we'd used Hick's to get another room for The Pony. It was an adjoining room. With those doors that each room can lock if the parties are not together.

This set-up was handy, since The Pony could come in without going out into the hall to get to our room. It was a thorn in The Pony's side, though, because Hick would walk over to The Pony's room whenever he felt like it.

Anyhoo...that morning, The Pony had come to our room when we were ready to go down to breakfast. Hick asked if he had his room card on him, and he did. Not that it mattered, because we'd asked for an extra, just in case, which Hick had in his pocket.

Hick was in a hurry to get on the road after breakfast. All we had to do was make a last minute bathroom visit, and pull our bags downstairs. We all entered our room. The Pony started to go through the adjoining doors to get his bag. He couldn't get through.

The Pony had pulled his adjoining door closed behind him when he came through to walk down to breakfast with us, but he had set it to lock. There's no handle or lock on our side. No way to get through that door. No problem, though. He had the card to unlock the hallway door to his room. He went out to do just that.

Oopsie! Back came The Pony. His card wouldn't work.

"I guess I had my phone against the card, and it demagnetized."

"I was afraid of that," said Hick. "That's why I got this extra card."

Off Hick went to open The Pony's door, and come through the adjoining one. Except he didn't. His card for The Pony's room was also demagnetized. Hick said he was going down to the desk to get another card. We heard him come back. Still didn't work. Back down again. This time, the card worked, but Hick couldn't get in, because The Pony had locked the deadbolt. And flipped that little door-blocking lever thingy!

"Huh. That's great. Now we'll never get in. They'll have to destroy the lock."

"Oh, come on! Out of all the hotels in the world, The Pony can't be the first person ever to leave the deadbolt and the lever on, and the adjoining door locked. Think about it. ALL those rooms. All over the world. All the people. I'm pretty sure they have encountered this situation before, and have a way to get in. Probably have a little gadget they can poke in to push that lever out of the way."

"Yeah. A bent coat hanger could do it," said the criminally-minded Pony.

Hick went back down. Returned, saying "They're sending up someone from maintenance."

Hick went out in the hall to supervise. It took less than three minutes for the maintenance guy to get in. Hick came through the adjoining doors.

"He unlocked the deadbolt. Used a screwdriver to push that latch out of the way."

So...after a 30-minute delay after breakfast, to get The Pony's bag out of his room, we were on the road. Well. Technically, we were waiting 20 minutes for the valet. But then we hit the road.

I certainly hope The Pony's room-locking shenanigans, and Hick inadvertently stealing that woman's $141 out of a slot machine, don't keep me from getting future FREE ROOM comps! Think of how many weirdos that would disappoint.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

A Timely HapPENCEstance, Noted By The Pony

Can Val break her Future Pennyillionaire one-year record? It's coming down to the wire. On SUNDAY, December 22, I found two pennies in Orb K.

You must have really good vision if you can see BOTH of these face-down coppers.

It was a 2006 and a 1983, both camouflaged in their own way against the mottled floor.

On MONDAY, December 23, the ex-mayor my sister's husband tried to GIVE me two pennies! I was sitting at a slot machine, on a Christmas casino excursion with Genius and The Pony, when he walked up to meet me for lunch, and plopped two pennies on the slot near my REPEAT BET button.

"Here. I found these two pennies when we stopped for gas on the way."

"No. That's not how it works. These pennies were obviously meant for YOU. Take them back. Go on. They're YOURS."

He took them back. He hit a last-spin bonus worth triple figures later in the day. His pennies, his luck. So I can't count those in my Future Pennyillionaire fortune.

On TUESDAY, December 24, I found a penny at the Backroads Casey's when I was buying last-minute scratcher gifts. Technically, it was on the counter. Not like somebody laid it there to be found, or like the clerk was using it to scratch off bar codes. Nope. It was partially under a display of Reese's Cups. I surreptitiously slid it out, and into my pocket. No time for a picture. I got one later that night, at home, after I'd used it to scratch off a scratcher gift at the Ex-Mayor's house that won me $40. My penny. My luck.

It was a 1994, found face-down.

FRIDAY, December 27, I took The Pony over to Bill-Paying Town to look for some new shoes. He clambered down from T-Hoe's passenger seat, and said,

"You're not gonna believe what I see on the running board."

Of course I knew that he meant A PENNY! I rushed around, telling him not to touch it until I got a picture.

I never would have seen it! I imagine this little stowaway could have ridden there for weeks to come, unnoticed, held in from the friction of all that mud. It must have landed there a day or two before. There's no sign of it skidding across the dried mud, yet it's not covered with mud. I'm guessing it got there when the mud was wet, which has since dried to a powder, and erased any skid marks. The only marks are from The Pony's shoe soles this day, as he climbed in and out.

This was a face-down 1983 penny, along for a ride with The Pony and me. Just a smidgen of dried mud that had filtered down on it.

The most exciting thing about THIS PENNY was...IT TIED ME WITH LAST YEAR'S FUTURE PENNYILLIONAIRE TOTAL!!! Still a couple days left to go. We'll see if a new record can be set.

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 128, 129, 130, 131.
Dime      still at 20.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 5.

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

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

Friday, December 27, 2019

As Usual, Val's Problem is Magnified

Our recent trip to Oklahoma to meet The Pony has provided a plethora of topics to share with hard-core Val followers. And we ain't done yet!

Thursday morning, we trekked down to the breakfast buffet for a hearty repast before starting our 5-hour drive home. The Pony usually orders off the menu. Pancakes. But he's learned that his plate generally does not arrive until those around him have finished second and third plates from the buffet, and people are antsy to get moving, either to gamble at other casinos (on a two-day trip), or to hit the road home, as was the case this time. The Pony decided he could survive on the buffet.

As you might guess, the casino's breakfast buffet was not crowded at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, the 19th of December. There were only four tables occupied in the front section of the dining area. So imagine Val's surprise when the hostess seated her party at a table off to the side, on the walkway between the dining room and servers' area. Okay. That was a little farther away from the buffet than necessary. But still in the front room. Back-and-forth traffic of coffee-refillers created a slight breeze, but Val had her jacket. The most egregious detail of this table choice was


Of course The Pony and then Hick pulled out chairs that kept them out of the blinding illumination. Hick had his back to it, missing it by a shoulder width, and The Pony was perpendicular to it. That gave me the option of sitting where the server laid my menu, across from Hick, and facing it full-on. Or across from The Pony, where the light burned my right cheek like I was a bug under the magnifying glass of a bully. Let the record show that I chose to be a charred insect, rather than lose my sight and undergo an unwanted facial peel.

That ray of light was brighter than the beam that shone through the headpiece on Indiana Jones's Staff of Ra in Raiders of the Last Ark! I could feel it burning into the side of my face. The crazy twirly finger temple area! No direction of leaning could escape it.

Of course Hick did not ask for another table. Or for the shades all the way across the dining room to be adjusted. He just said, "That's too bad." Indeed. It WAS excruciatingly TOO BAD.

The Pony just made a sound like "Awww."

Of course the servers were nowhere to be found when you want to complain about the right side of your face melting off. Darting here and there with coffee pots, refusing to meet your eye. Probably afraid of being blinded themselves, should they enter my proximity.

I entertained The Pony by making shadow hand-puppets on the wall. The chomping alligator is my specialty. It looked like a chomping alligator trying to escape from a hulking monster, that which was my silhouette.

Here's a view of part of the beam, on my breakfast plate. It almost over-cooked the eggs.

Let the record show that I did not eat all that food. Oh, I fully intended to when I filled my plate! When we're traveling with my sister the ex-mayor's wife, we head off to six more casinos, and you never know if you'll get another meal before supper around 8:00 p.m. This time, we were only headed home. I got full. The two muffin-top cookies I took with me for the ride home. I left a hash brown, and a sausage, and the biscuit I'd used to make a sausage patty sandwich. I did enjoy the cinnamon roll, the eggs, and the bacon.

I had a free buffet on my player's card. Hick would have had one, too, but he left his player's card in the car for the second time this trip. That man! He simply can't provide for his family in the manner he should! I also used $6 in credit from my player's points. So I saved us $18 all together.

Yes, not to be out-criminal-ed by Hick the accidental abandoned slot money thief, I absconded with those two muffin-top cookies. A blueberry muffin and a chocolate chocolate chip muffin. Wrapped them in my napkin, and put them in my jacket pocket. That was kind of awkward. It made the pocket stick way out. I had to keep a hand in there. Probably looked like I was about to rob someone. I wished I'd taken my gambling purse down to breakfast to stash that contraband. I might have taken the hash brown, too!

Of course the bus girl leaned against the wall, watching. Where was she when I wanted to escape that laser peeling off the side of my face? Maybe she was just mesmerized by the melting flesh. Maybe the staff had a pool on how many minutes it would take me to spontaneously combust. Once she darted to clear some dishes, into my pocket went those muffin-cookies.

Anyhoo...that's the story of my casino breakfast. Top o' the muffin to ME!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Val Has Been Short-Slawed!

We ate Hick's birthday dinner in the restaurant of High Winds Casino in Miami, Oklahoma. Of course Hick had a steak with baked potato. And some sauteed vegetables.

The Pony had a steak with baked potato, too. And onion straws.

I had a Reuben, with fries. I also asked for a side order of slaw. I knew they had it. It was part of a pulled pork sandwich plate, being piled on top of the pulled pork. There was an extra charge, because a sandwich doesn't come with two sides. Fair enough. I expected that. What I did NOT expect was the size of my slaw portion!

That is SO NOT FAIR! I ordered a side of slaw. Not two pieces of slaw. The container is the same size as the one that held The Pony's butter! You can see it there on my plate, since I asked to use it, once empty of butter, to hold my ketchup. That is NOT a SIDE ORDER! A side order should be equivalent to whatever else you select from the sides. Hick's vegetables did not come in a tiny cup. I didn't get two fries in a tiny cup. A side is a side, especially when you're paying extra for it!

ONE BITE was half of my side order of slaw! That restaurant robbed me blinder than the casino!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas from Val and Her Weirdo Posse

We stayed overnight at Downstream Casino for Hick's birthday, while meeting The Pony halfway for his drive home. The casino was decorated for Christmas. So don't zoom in on that little sign and think I actually took Hick to the North Pole.

As with any visit to a casino, Val was beset by weirdos. Through no fault of her own! It's not like she was stumping around looking for money left in slot machines. I'm lookin' at YOU, Hick!

I left The Pony in a bonus, and started walking toward the lunch rendezvous. On the way, I saw a slot machine that called to me. "Val! Val! You don't know me, but I think you'd like me. Sit down! Take a load off! Feed me some of your casino bankroll. That money's not going to lose itself!" Of course I sat down.

After playing about 10 minutes, getting behind, I hit a bonus. Virtual coins spewed from the bottom of the screen, cascading back down, while a familiar, though unnamed, regal tune played. All at once, an old lady appeared on my right. She sat down at that slot, and looked at me.

"Oh. Did you hit a bonus?"

"Uh huh."

Any weirdo could see that a bonus was spewing. Loud music and spraying coin generally denotes a slot bonus.

"Are you Mary?"


I make it a policy not to engage. I do not go to casinos to make new friends. I don't know why they'd want to befriend ME, unless they have some ulterior motive. Old Lady made no move to play that slot beside me.

"You're not? Mary?"

Silence from me. I vowed that as soon as my bonus finished, I was cashing out, and getting out of there. It's no fun to play while a stranger watches you.

"Oh. Aren't you playing?"

I walked away. Taking my ticket! I'd been afraid she might try to grab it. I still have flashbacks of that little lady who touched my slot to start a bonus! That was out in Norman, on a visit with The Pony. She got a forearm from me, knocking her hand away, and a not-uncertain decree to LEAVE MY MACHINE ALONE.

Anyhoo, off I went to meet Hick, and hear of his much-worse weirdo woes. After eating, Hick and I sat down to play a new Wizard of Oz slot. Don't waste your time! It's a money-sucker! Of course Hick recommended it to me. He'd played one in Vegas when he went to visit his brother.

A Maude-ish woman walked up to me. "My friend left her card. She's always leaving her card. Must have 10 of them by now! Did she leave her card here?" She looked around, like I was playing on her friend's money. Silly Maude-ish woman! Assumed-theft is for Hick!

Ignore. Don't engage. Maude finally left, having inspected only my machine, and the one around the circular kiosk from it. Didn't even glance at Hick's, on my other side.

We left Downstream for a while, but were back playing before bedtime. It was midnight-thirty, after Hick and The Pony had gone upstairs, when the third of my Werido Trifecta accosted me.

I had just gotten a FREE SODA from the fountain, and was headed to a bill-breaking machine to get smaller bills. I didn't have my money out. I'm very careful about that. I'd put it in my shirt pocket in the bathroom, so I had only to draw out one bill to feed the machine. No rummaging in my purse, distracted, around a bill-breaking ticket-casher.

I set my soda on a nearby slot, getting ready to reach into my shirt pocket. A bald man strode up and stopped.

"Are you winning?"

What in the NOT-HEAVEN! You don't ask that to somebody standing around the cash machine in a casino! I was so shocked by his audacity that I answered!

"No. Not hardly."

Baldy stood there. Um. Conversation over, dude! I just looked at him. Not moving. No more convo. Baldy finally walked off. I made sure he was a good distance away before I broke my bill. Of all the times when you want Hick at your side (because you know he's being constantly surveilled for his earlier forgotten-cashout faux pas), it was now. But Hick was upstairs snoozing.

Make a note of that. Don't ask people in a casino if they are winning. Perhaps, sharing an elevator on the way down with luggage the next morning, it could be permissible as general chit-chat. But definitely don't ask an unaccompanied woman next to the cash machine.

You're welcome for the casino etiquette lesson.

And Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Stockings Were Hung by the Fireplace With Flair

Oh, no! Looks like somebody forgot to hang the stockings by the casino fireplace!

Even a wide shot can't find them.

The best thing about this situation is Val's certainty of, "No lumps of coal for ME!"

Monday, December 23, 2019

PublHICK Enemy #1

When we met The Pony at Downstream Casino on his way home for the Christmas holiday, we had a little time to kill before check-in. The Pony and I went one way, and Hick another. We had plans to meet in one hour to have lunch, and then check in.

Hick was sitting at a table waiting for us when time was up. He looked preoccupied. While waiting for our order, he told his tale.

"I was playing at this machine when a woman came up and said, 'Did you take my ticket?' I told her no, and kept playing. She asked if there was a ticket in my machine, and I said no. She left. I hit some bonuses. I looked at the amount on my machine, and figured it was showing in pennies. When I cashed out, I had $147. I'd only been playing on a twenty. I thought that seemed like a lot.

I went around, playing several other machines, using that ticket. On about the fifth one, I heard someone behind me talking on a radio. Like a casino employee. Then the guy stepped over to me, and said, 'Are you Hick Thevictorian?' I said yes. The guy wanted to see some ID.

He said, 'Did you put your card in on someone else's card?' 

I said, 'Not that I know of. There was no card in there. A lady came up and asked if I took her ticket, and I said no. I didn't take anyone's ticket.'

He said, 'Was there money in the machine when you started playing it?' 

I said, 'Not that I noticed. I don't look at that when I put my card in to play. I put in a twenty, and started playing. I didn't do anything wrong. I did think it seemed like a lot of money when I cashed out.'

He said, 'A lady said she forgot to cash out her ticket. There was $141.36. Can you have the money to pay this back today?'

I said, 'Sure I have it right here. Let me get it out of my pocket.'

He said, 'No. You have to cash out this ticket, and then give me the exact amount.'

I said, 'Okay. Let's go over to this cash machine.' I cashed out that ticket, and got the rest out of my pocket. I didn't have the 36 cents, but I had 30 cents. I said, 'Is this going to be a problem, over 6 cents?'

He said, 'No. That's good. I'll tell the lady you were very cooperative, and I believe you did not do this on purpose.'

I said, 'I didn't do anything wrong!'

He said, 'If you had been unable, or refused to pay back the money, you would be banned from this casino.'

I called my brother (who used to work in security at Circus Circus in Las Vegas), and he said they banned people all the time for stuff like that. I don't see how it's my problem that she walked off and left her money! I didn't even realize it was in there."

Well. Wouldnt' THAT have been a fine kettle of fish, if Hick had been banned from the casino where we were staying, on his birthday!

That darn Hick. He makes my weirdo encounters seem so tame...

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Hick Had a Hot Seat

Wednesday, we drove halfway to meet The Pony on his journey home for Christmas. We stayed at Downstream Casino, near Joplin, Missouri, but in Oklahoma.

It was Hick's birthday, so he got extra free play at each casino! He was thrilled to get $5 here, and $7 there. That's 5 and 7 times the profit he's willing to make on his Storage Unit Store items!

On the way there, we stopped at Casey's in Steelville, Missouri. It's our usual bathroom break, and I buy scratchers for us. Hick's birthday luck was off to a good start, because he won $25 on a $5 ticket.

While we were playing at High Winds Casino later Wednesday evening, Hick won a Hot Seat. That means he was sitting at a slot that was selected for a prize of $25 free play. Hick said he was sitting at the slot when a casino employee came up and asked if he was Hick Thevictorian. Hick was a little nervous about that, the reason for which will be revealed in the next few days. But he agree that he was indeed Hick Thevictorian, and showed his ID.

Hick was really happy to find out that he had a Hot Seat! He generally doesn't win things like that. But on this trip, on his birthday, Hick was the only one of us who showed a profit from our night of slot play.

Good for Hick!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

This Week, It's PENNY/Slots for Val

After such a pennypalooza last week, Val was searching herself centsless this week. Nothing. I had pretty much resigned myself to a shutout when Hick and I hopped in A-Cad WEDNESDAY, December 18, to go meet The Pony on his trip home for the holidays. We decided to break up the drive, and stay overnight in free rooms at Downstream Casino, near Joplin, but technically in Oklahoma. It was a 5 hour drive for us, and 4 for The Pony. Approximately.

After having lunch at the casino, and checking into our rooms, we ventured out for play at three nearby casinos. At our very first stop, Hick was rarin' to go. There he is, headed for the door of Outpost Casino, headless by the luck of my picture-taking skills.

You might notice the reason I took the picture, there on the yellow parking space line. Yes, I had to go all the way to Oklahoma to find a penny this week! Tecnically, The Pony saw it first, since he is younger and faster and has my insurance (that's a line from a movie, with a small change). Heh, heh. In my weekly post about pennies, I said CHANGE!

Anyhoo...I would have stepped right over it, so I'm sure I'd have seen it myself without The Pony's help. What are the odds of THAT? Drive all the way across the state, have Hick circling the lot before deciding on this specific parking space, and then find a penny directly in the line you'll walk to get to the front door of the casino.

It was a face-down 2016. All shiny, awaiting a warm comfy evening in my shirt pocket.

Okay. Here's where it gets weird. We spent the night gambling. The Pony went to bed as soon as we got back to Downstream around 10:00. Hick lasted another hour. I hung out until 1:00 a.m. I'm a night owl. And a gambler! So Hick was asleep when I got back. I didn't talk to him until the next morning.

"I found a penny in my SHOE last night!" Hick is not the seasoned penny-finder that Val is. Such a discovery was a big deal to him.

"Huh. Somebody must have been thinking about you," I said with my mouth, while my brain seethed with jealousy.

"What I want to know is, how did it get in my SHOE? It wasn't in there when I put it on."

"That's a mystery, I guess."

"Maybe I have a hole in my pants pocket."

We finished getting ready, and The Pony came through our adjoining door. He sat on the end of the bed. As I turned from my laptop on the desk, to talk to him, something caught my eye.

"There's a DIME on the floor! I see it shining."

I went over to see. Yep. A dime. I did not take a picture, because I figured it must belong to Hick. Maybe he had a hole in his pocket. Even though he swore he didn't. And according to The Pony, most people's shoes fit tighter around the ankle rather than loose enough for a penny to fall in. Hick picked up the dime.

After breakfast (another story in itself, coming in future days) we came back up to the rooms to gather our stuff and check out (also another story in itself). Hick went in first, then The Pony, then slow old Val.

"Hey! What's THAT? It's a NICKEL!" The Pony is getting good at coin-finding.

Indeed. On the floor, just past where the dime had been, was a nickel. Again, I did not feel like it was meant for me. Probably for Hick, or maybe the discoverer, The Pony.

Did I mention that Hick's birthday was Wednesday?

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 127.
Dime      still at 20.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 5.

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

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

Friday, December 20, 2019

Val and Her Ample Rumpus Present a Mean Cart Wheel

If only there was someone on whom to pin the blame! Someone to bear the brunt of the smiting that Val would like to deliver. Someone whom the smack could be laid down upon. Val's ophthalmologist is off the hook. He has prescribed and provided vision-correcting devices. Perhaps Val's ancestors should shoulder the blame. After all, they contributed to her nearsightedness, and to the temperament which makes her roam about the Backroadside without her spectacles. Figuring she can see well enough.

Last Saturday, I made a special trip to Country Mart for Chex Mix supplies. That gift isn't going to make itself, you know.

I was on the cereal aisle, perusing the wares. Aha! Just what I needed. I'd already put the Cheerios in my cart. And honed in on the generic Corn Chex on the bottom shelf. CORN CRISPS, they're called as Country Mart's "Best Choice" store brand.

I pushed my cart ahead, for better access. I sensed a man and woman behind me. Too bad, so sad. They were about to be ample-rumpus-ized. Wrong place at the wrong time, I guess.

Wait a minute! My cart didn't want to roll forward. Something was stuck under a wheel. I hate it when that happens! I pushed. My cart moved forward grudgingly. Scooting. Then it broke free as it rolled over the obstacle.

What a stroke of luck! I'd rolled upon a PENNY! A too-late-to-stop-the-presses penny! Of course I whipped out my phone for a picture.

Wait another minute! Something wasn't quite right. Was my penny injured? Bent? Or just dirty on one half? Of course I wasn't going to stop taking my picture. That ample-rumpus-ized couple was still there. They were going to get a double-rumping!

I bent to get the closeup.

NOOOO! What freak of nature and the US Mint was THIS? Was my penny vomiting snot? When I ample-rumpus-ed my way to the floor to get a grip, I KNEW something was afoot. My rightful penny did not have that firm metallic feel. It was too light! Wasting away. I put it in my shirt pocket anyway. Not knowing if I was more of a fool for keeping it than I would have been for taking two pictures and leaving it behind. Heh, heh! I said behind after dwelling on my ample rumpus!

My penny was not a penny at all! It was a circle of cardboard from the box that must have held the cereals. You can see the glue on the corrugated part, where I peeled it open with my cart wheel.

It's not nice to fool Val Thevictorian.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Long and Icing Road

Having failed to escape our compound in SilverRedO, Hick "offered" to drive T-Hoe to town for my Christmas grocery shopping.

Having heard the forecast, I had conveniently put T-Hoe into 4WD Auto when I parked him the day before. That's like an all-wheel-drive car, I think. If a tire spins, the 4WD kicks into action. Don't quote me. I'm not a gearhead. Anyhoo...Hick backed T-Hoe out of the garage, and we started down the driveway.

"You can put him in 4WD now that you're done turning the wheels. While we're still in the driveway."

"Already did. When I was stopped after backing out."

"No. You're not supposed to do that. You're supposed to be rolling in T-Hoe. It says so in the owner's manual."

"Val. You lock into 4WD while you're stopped."

"NOT with T-Hoe! I read the book, because I don't know anything about cars. Way back when we got him. I've driven T-Hoe for years, in snowstorms, getting early dismissal from school, and I KNOW how to put him in 4WD! It's just a little turny button. Not like he's a WWII JEEP with lockout hubs or something. I know the wheels are suppose to be rolling."

"Ha ha. Sure you do."

Here we go, fresh out of the driveway. The road so slick that even the animals avoided it, and left their tracks beside it.

Our stimulating conversation was cut short as we reached the bottom of Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill, and saw Neighbor Jim on his Gator-thing (that Hick said didn't belong to him, but rather to a visitor). NJ was watching the Bad-Hay-Baling Lawyer's Wife trying to get up the curved hill toward the mailboxes in her white SUV. Even I could tell that she wasn't getting up that icy hill today.

Hick swove T-Hoe left, and headed up the other road toward HOS's (Hick's Oldest Son's) former residence. We had no problem at all. T-Hoe is THAT good. I've never had an issue with him in inclement weather. Once we hit the blacktop, the roads were surprisingly passable. Hick took T-Hoe out of 4WD, back into Auto. Without stopping, I might add...

When the errands were over, we were on our county blacktop road, the one we hadn't taken to town due to the B-Baler's Wife. About which Hick had stated, "I took the other way because I didn't want to stop and help Neighbor Jim get her up that hill."

Anyhoo...this road is always one of the last ones to melt down. There were large patches of ice on it. I asked Hick if he'd put T-Hoe back in 4WD.

"No. Don't need it."

"You might not right here, but going up that hill where you had the county put your BUS STOP sign might be hard. It melts last."

"I'll find out when I get there."

"Oh, sure. Wait until you need it, and try to do it while you're slipping. Or off the road in a ditch, like that time a little compact car ran me off. I sure was glad T-Hoe had 4WD that day! Drove right out."

"I know how to drive, Val."

"Well, we sure don't want to put on the 4WD 30 seconds before we need it! We might wear it out! Who are you, my MOM? What are you saving it for?"

"Heh, heh. Your mom DID resist putting her TrailBlazer in 4WD."

"LOOK! It's covered. You need 4WD."

"We're not slipping. It will kick in if we need it."

"You are SO hard-headed! When is a better time to use the 4WD, that you paid EXTRA for, than in weather just like this?"

By now we were back on our gravel road along the creek. Slipping all over the place in icy ruts. Still not in 4WD.

"What are you saving that 4WD for? For when we trade T-Hoe? So you can say it works? We need it now, to get down that hill where the lawyer's wife was stuck. EVEN YOU couldn't make it up that hill today. So it will be slick going down, too!"

"I couldn't get up it because my truck tires are thinner than these Tahoe tires. And my truck isn't as heavy. Even though it has 4WD."

"Are you SURE it has 4WD?"

"Yes, Val. I'm sure."

"Does it even work? Heh, heh! Maybe you're like my mom, and just THINK it works! When all that time, it didn't! And now we feel bad about teasing her."

"Well, that's true. Your poor mom. The first time I drove that car to work, and tried to pull out on the highway, and it did nothing but spin, I thought: 'Something is definitely wrong with this 4WD.'"

"We believe you NOW, Mom!"

No ladybugs swirled from the vents, and a rain of pennies did not pelt T-Hoe's roof. But I like to think that Mom heard me. Hick chuckled, and put T-Hoe in 4WD (without stopping).

"Yeah. We believe you now."

As we crested that gravel hill to start down the other side, we saw that somebody had plowed it down to the mud. We made it down, and up Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill, without incident. Back on the level ground, going up the tire tracks in our driveway, I asked Hick if he'd taken T-Hoe out of 4WD.

"Not yet. I might need it."

I'm pretty sure he's trying to enrage me so he can claim self-defense when he eventually sends me to my demise.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Ice Road Suckers

The reason I missed my 44 oz Diet Coke on Monday was due to a winter storm. I know we had one. We were warned! For days! Gloom and very slick doom were headed our way! The roads got a spritz of melter stuff on FRIDAY. It didn't do much good by Monday.

Tuesday, I was supposed to have lunch with my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel. Hick still thought we could make it. As late as Monday afternoon, Hick was espousing his driving skills. Well. That backfired on the jabby sweaver, when Tuesday morning, he slid back home with his figurative tail between his legs, after having figuratively bent over to kiss his butt goodbye.


He said SilverRedO could not make it up either the hill to the mailboxes, or the hill to HOS's (Hick's Oldest Son's) former residence. So...Hick started back home. Sadly, he got stuck on HICK AND BUDDY'S BADLY BLACKTOPPED HILL! I'm sure their bad blacktopping had nothing to do with it. Ice is ice.

Anyhoo...Hick said he slid off the road, and had to roll back down. Where he slid again. And only made it to the top after driving on the not-road part when he slid off again. Not surprising. Hick is really good at driving on not-road.

Of course Hick still declared that we could make the 35 minute drive to Mabel's over twisty hilly two-lane blacktop, as long as we waited 90 minutes for melting by sunlight. Mabel and I were not so sure. We put off our meeting until Friday. But I DID puff up Hick's ego by asking him to drive me to the store to lay in provisions for our Christmas dinner that will be served Saturday evening. Hick agreed, saying,

"We'll take your Tahoe!"

More on that story tomorrow. For now, here's a couple of cool ice-cold pictures.

While other sections of the state had 4-8 inches of snow, we had sleet. About two inches of sleet, capped off with freezing rain, and then a dusting of snow. Our cedars were bending. Hick said there were many broken limbs on our other 10 acres here, next to the BARn field. This is 4 hours after Hick said the roads would be okay in 90 minutes. Solid ice there on top of the gravel.

I tried to get all artsy and show you this briar and the barbed wire fence coated with ice. Turns out T-Hoe's tinted windows really filter out the light for a phone photo, although not for human eyes. Hick and I were both tearing up from the brightness. That's the field where I saw the Bad-Hay-Baling Lawyer badly baling, back in summer time.

Anyhoo...we made it to town and back, but not without a kerfuffle that was of course blogworthy. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Hick Proves To Be a VALuable Asset

Monday was a day that Val feared would live in infamy. Sleet on the ground, freezing rain breaking off two limbs in the front yard, precipitation predicted to continue throughout the day. You know what that meant: NO 44 OZ DIET COKE FOR VAL!

Hick had plans to go to town around noon. In fact, he'd already been to town once! It's like a challenge to him. Like it proves something if he can get out on the road and make it home. Anyhoo...Hick DID ask if I wanted him to bring me a soda. No. I was busy making Chex Mix and wrapping presents. Didn't know when I'd be descending to my lair. It's different when I'm the one driving myself to town for my magical elixir.

I always have an extra cup. I figured that when I was ready, I could make my own 20+ oz Diet Coke, using ice from now-working FRIG II's dispenser. It later turned out okay. I wouldn't pay $1.69 for it, but it wasn't bad. Better than McDonald's watery version, and better than Dairy Queen's fountain that tastes like it was recently cleaned with Pine Sol.

Anyhoo...I DID ask Hick if he would bring me some scratchers. I can't make them at home. Wouldn't it be great if I could? I'd have winners every day!

You might recall that Hick has TERRIBLE luck with scratchers. I guess Even Steven counts us as a unit, and because I win, Hick loses. I have even banned him from the basement when I'm scratching. Bad ju-ju. Hick says the tickets don't magically turn from winner to losers, just because he stumps down the steps. I wouldn't bet my casino bankroll on it.

Anyhoo...I told Hick two places where I wanted him to get my tickets. I gave him two winners worth $25 total. He wanted a list of which tickets to get. So he couldn't be blamed for getting bad ones, he said. Oh, Hick. As IF that list would protect you from blame!

Once he returned home with the tickets, I put them on the front burner. Heh, heh. That's not a phrase used to denote that I started scratching right away. Nope. I LITERALLY set them on the front burner. I put them on the tray I was taking down to my lair with supper (didn't have lunch, too busy) and set that tray on the stove so as not to take up counter space. It's not like I was cooking on it. Supper was in the oven, southwest chicken extra-crunchy taquitos that were very spicy.

Anyhoo...it was after 7:00 by the time I scratched my tickets. Hick done good! I had three winners. $15, $15, and $20.

I am really shocked that my luck in winning outweighed Hick's penchant for losing.

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Shell BARn

You know that expression, "Pretty as a picture?" This is NOT an example of it.

Hick is out of control. The other day, he obtained (by hook, I'm pretty sure, rather than by crook) a sign from a Shell gas station. Everybody needs one, right? If you could only get your hands on one, you'd be gloating about it, too, and posting not-so-pretty pictures of it on the innernets, right?

Are you ready for this?

One of Hick's buddies came to help him mount his Shell sign on the front of the BARn. Never mind that the view of his BARn is almost blocked by more of his hoard. There's the New Holland tractor, now with a battery. And on the right margin of the photo, the roller Hick made out of pipe and concrete. Sadly, too late to fix Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill.

There's his burn barrel. And the load of gravel that he simply HAD TO HAVE right then, several months ago, when he got the power washer to stain the porch boards. The ladder was only put there to install the Shell sign. I think that's a boat laying in front. I can't keep up with all of his clutter. I reminisce about the days when it was just a BARn, and a field in front. The grass is dead now due to winter, but it doesn't help that Hick has been driving on it in that area.

Hick sent me a text about his Shell sign:

"Looked up my shell sign on ebay 4-500 for them"

Well. Without my glasses, I thought he meant it was worth $4500! I was going to commend him on his deal. Then I asked about it, and he said four to five HUNDRED dollars. Hick says he got it for $50. A good enough deal, I guess.

If you have a Shell station.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

I Think We Have a Peeper

I think we have a peeper. Oh, not a peeper of ME, peering through the mini blinds, looking for some ample rumpus action. My ample rumpus may be known for miles around, but known to AVOID IT. Not to seek out a view.

No, what I mean is a CONTENTS snooper. Of the gifts Genius is having delivered here, so he doesn't have to carry them on the plane from Pittsburgh. Here's one that came this week. It was in the lock box down by Mailbox Row. Delivered by the US Postal Service.

To me, it clearly looks like somebody has peeled back the tape for a quick look or feel, then stuck it back down. Hick says the item is too big for the package.

Hick says the machines mess with the boxes as they go through the conveyor. I don't think a machine peels back part of the tape, then sticks it down again. I think some human hands had a hand in it. Since it came by US Postal Service, and was left in the lock box, evidence points to an insider. Not somebody wandering by and taking a look on the porch, or if it had been set on top of the mailboxes. Heh, heh. For sure not the latter, because they would just TAKE IT.

As for the rough machines...

I could believe this was a mechanical issue. Genius had the package sent here. It's someone's gift. Not mine. He wanted me to open it and check. Huh. Whatever poked the box went all the way through, and hit the spine of a beautiful literary work inside. Left a pencil-point size indentation in the spine. Not noticeable unless you're looking for it. So Genius isn't sending it back, due to time constraints. Still. You pay your money, and you expect undamaged merchandise.

Several years ago, we had a committed peeper. That was on packages delivered by UPS. I'd say over 50% showed evidence of peepage. Most of the packages were from Amazon. I did NOT suspect our delivery lady. She was quite professional, always friendly, tossing dog biscuits to my fleabags, and setting the package on top of Juno's dog house, then giving a quick knock on the kitchen door. I really miss her. I suppose she retired.

As you might have noticed, there is no love lost between Val and the US Postal Service. But they're still a step above FedEx.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

You Load 16 CENTS and What Do You Get? Another Week Older and Not a Pennyillionaire Yet.

TUESDAY, December 10, kicked off the penny week with a floor cent at the Sis-Town Casey's. I saw it while standing at the left register, but those confounded customers kept milling around the right register, preventing me from a picture or a harvest! I made use of their clean restroom, and when I came out, the coast was clear! I didn't get a picture because I didn't want to drop my scratchers, or block the counter for actual customers. But you can bet I bent over (without toppling, and without exposing anyone to my ample rumpus, since I turned sideways) to nab that penny.

It was a heads-up 2002, which I later posed on T-Hoe's dashboard, far away from his bloodthirsty, flaking plastic-aluminum door-handle.

Imagine my surprise when I spied ANOTHER penny that day, on the floor of Orb K.

I was on my way to the end of the very long line when this beauty caught my eye.

It was a heads-up 1991. So symmetrical the dates on my two pennies that day.

You might think Val was satisfied with her take, but no. That's not how a Future Pennyillionaire operates. She's always got her head down, sniffing out the next treasure. I found it by surprise on THURSDAY, December 12, at the Gas Station Chicken Store. I rarely find pennies there. Only weirdos. In fact, I've stopped carrying my phone in, because it has a tendency to pull my pants down when I walk. Can't have the ample rumpus making an unscheduled appearance!

Anyhoo...this penny was IN A CRACK (how apropos, after the ample rumpus talk, and the plumber's moon this week), in the parking lot, near the gas pumps. It was so dirty I almost missed it. Bending over, and letting the ample rumpus fly, I saw that it was a heads-up 2012. On the 12th! Genius's birthday!

I posed it on a paper plate on the kitchen counter, which actually made it look less filthy.

This was the week for doubles, I suppose. Because at my very next stop, the Backroads Casey's, I flung open T-Hoe's door and saw another cent waiting for me.

There's Hick's pharmacy drive-thru in the background, and the side of the Gas Station Chicken Store across the moat, the side where the FREE AIR (if you buy gas) hose hangs on the wall of the building.

I grabbed my rightful penny before anyone could park on top of it. A face-down 2017.

Oh, don't think we're done! On FRIDAY the 13th of December, my first stop on the way to errands was at the cemetery. Looks like my sister the ex-mayor's wife had been there and put a new wreath on Mom and Dad's plot. We had a brief conversation (totally one-sided) and I was on my way. At my very next stop, the School Turn Casey's, I looked down to see

A dime from Dad and a penny from Mom. Duly noted. Or perhaps just a coincidence, but I'm not much of a believer in those. I snatched up my mementos, a heads-up 2018 dime, and a face-down 2017 penny. That started my day off right. Who says Friday the 13th is bad luck?

On my way out the door, smug with the knowledge of 11 cents in my shirt pocket, I saw

A BONUS PENNY crying for my attention. I guess someone else was thinking of me that day.

This was a face-down 2001. Do you think I cared one whit if somebody trying to exit had to leapfrog me, or someone coming in saw me in a 3-point stance like an offensive lineman? Not-Heaven NO! That penny was meant for ME!

Such a great week! Sixteen cents richer! And I STILL have a chance to tie or break the 2018 penny record.

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126.
Dime      # 20.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 5.

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

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

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Not-So-Great Dust Bowl of '19

Genius will be coming home for a few days over Christmas. Hick has said for months that we were going to re-do his room with a bigger bed so he'd be comfortable visiting. It's not like we force him to sleep in a blue plastic race-car bed, but something more adult would be nice. Hick didn't get around to it, though.

Good news is, Hick had three inflatable mattresses over in his storage unit stuff, in the Freight Container Garage. He aired one up, but it lost all its air overnight. When I left for town on Wednesday, he was wrestling another air mattress on top of A-Cad in the garage.

"We'll give this one a try, to see if it holds air."

When informed of the plan during a random phone call, Genius was not so sure he was on-board with the idea.

"I don't want to get bedbugs from a storage unit air mattress!"

"It's not an actual mattress! I don't think bedbugs can live for over two years in a storage unit without a source of blood to feast on. I'm sure Dad will clean it off before he brings it in the house."

Anyhoo...when I came home from town three hours later, I could see my garage door lifting as I came up the driveway. Huh. I guess Hick had been expecting me, though I hadn't called ahead. He's a real knee-saver when it comes to carrying in groceries. IF he's home.

That was curious. A vapor cloud was wafting out of the garage. My first thought was that Hick had started up A-Cad, and the exhaust was condensing in the 40-degree weather. Perhaps in another pretty-sure attempt to kill me, breathing in a garage full of car exhaust. Silly Hick! Didn't he know that opening the garage door put the kibosh on that tactic?

As I stopped on the edge of the carport, not wanting to pull T-Hoe into that swirling maelstrom, I saw the edge of a push broom. Hick was sweeping out the dirt that accumulates on the floor from rainy days when T-Hoe gets coated with mud from the mile-long drive up the gravel road.

Hick motioned me in. I did not move. No thank you. Why would I want to drive T-Hoe through dust he's already shed? Or breathe that stuff as it came in the vents? I waited. Hick swept more. The cloud was so thick, a cartoon Tasmanian Devil could have been spinning inside that dirt tornado.

Hick motioned to me again. The cloud seeped around the end of the garage, toward the fake fish pond. I drove inside. There stood Hick, leaning on his broom, near A-Cad's front bumper.

Oh. Did I mention that Hick was airing out that sleeping air mattress on A-Cad's roof? I'm pretty sure I did. I mentioned it again, right there, to Hick.

"I'll wipe it off. I'm just seeing if it holds air."

Let the record show that it did not. 24 hours later, it was flat as a pancake. Genius will need to find a new bed, and some (alleged) bedbugs will (possibly) need to find a new home.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Yesterday, Val Did NOT Get Hooked on Crack

Wednesday I brewed up a cauldron of chili, which put me late getting to Walmart, which put me later getting to the Gas Station Chicken Store for my magical elixir. The local high school had just let out, and a local factory. The GSCS is more like a casino with its clientele. No young whippersnappers in there. Which is not to say it wasn't busy.

The line was back to the soda fountain. I swear, I don't know why people have to write checks in a convenience store. But even that is quicker than using plastic, since the card-readers seem to take forever. Forever and a day. Not that I have anywhere to go. But I was eager to imbibe my 44 oz Diet Coke, and to round up some lunch.

I was fifth in line. Ahead of me was a 40-something dude in a black leather jacket. In front of him was a 50-something woman buying a six-pack of bottled beer. Probably a teacher, heh, heh. In front of her had been a gal asking for two hard packs of Marlboros. And the gas-buying check writer.

Anyhoo...while the afternoon alcoholic was paying, I noticed something drop to the floor. It must have come from Leather Jacket. Ooh! It was a folded-up $20 bill! I was not fast enough to stomp my foot on top of it and declare, "Hey! I just dropped a twenty!" Nope. I was fresh from a 1.5 hour excursion around Walmart's perimeter. From deli to soda to paper goods to greeting cards to toys to Christmas in the garden shop. I felt like a sweet potato balancing on two toothpicks. In fact, I set my 44oz Diet Coke on the chicken counter, and leaned on it to take a partial load off.

As I was looking at that twenty, Leather Jacket bent over to pick it up. He was also clad in jeans and a brown leather belt. Well. I did not see London, I did not see France, nor any sign of underpants! I don't know Leather Jacket's profession, but I'm guessing it's PLUMBER.

Let the record show that the GSCS does not sell brain bleach. Nor eye-gougers. At least Leather Jacket didn't have an ample rumpus.

Sheesh! If I didn't know better, I might think he was some kind of weirdo who goes around throwing twenties on the floor, so he can force people to inspect his crack. Nobody's getting hooked on THAT crack! Take my word for it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

About a Knife

Hick and I had a discussion of Christmas gifts on Sunday. That's unusual, because the chore of choosing, procuring, and wrapping always falls on me. Hick's job is to pack the gifts in the car, and carry them in for distribution to assorted relatives. It didn't take me long to figure out Hick's newfound interest.

"I have some things in my store that will make good gifts for the guys."

"Maybe. You know I always get them some kind of gadget. They can carry it in their pocket a while, then lose it, because they know they'll get a similar gadget next Christmas."

"I have some knives. Them ones I got at Walmart for $5 each. They're about a $22 knife."

"I'll have to look at them. How much profit are you planning to make?"

"I can sell them to you for what I got in them. I have them sets with a Bowie knife and a pocket knife, and I have some hunting knives with the sheath, for the ones who hunt."

"Okay. I'll have to see them first."

"I'll stop by my Storage Unit tomorrow, and bring them home."

Monday evening, Hick had a display set up on the coffee table.

"Here, you can sit in my chair. I'll bring them over for you to look at."

Heh, heh. Hick was like a bridal shop owner, parading out his wares for me to approve and choose. I'm surprised he didn't serve me cucumber sandwiches and a beverage in stemmed glassware.

Of course I had to inspect each one, as we determined who it was best suited for. There are seven dudes to arm with knives. Which don't include Genius and The Pony, who are too highbrow for such practical implements.

Each hunting knife was a little different. Wooden handle or bone/antler material. Serrated edge or smooth or both. Nylon sheath or leather-look. As you might imagine, Val is no knife connoisseur. The Pioneer Woman Ceramic Knives are the extent of my repertoire.

I was in the middle of liberating a hunting knife from a black nylon sheath.

"Val. You have to unsnap that little strap."

"I know that! I couldn't get it loose. This knife is so big!"

I pulled it out of the sheath, the blade covered in plastic wrap. These are new knives, not used. I marveled at how it had a slicing blade, yet the back of it was serrated. And even looked like it had a bottle opener notch.

"Cool. Is this a saw, too? With a bottle opener?"

"Probably more for cutting through bone. And that could be a bottle opener."


Yes. After her ridiculing chiding of Hick for (allegedly) cutting his finger on T-Hoe's flaking aluminum-look plastic door handle, karma came back to nip Val on the thumb.

As I was turning that knife over, marveling at the saw part, my thumb brushed against the slicing blade, which had cut through the plastic bag protecting it.

"It's a KNIFE, silly! What did you expect?"

"I thought it was wrapped in plastic! But the blade cut the plastic."

"It's sharp!"

"I know!"

Let the record show that I didn't suck on my thumb to draw the blood out for sympathy. No blood. Just a little flap of skin shaved away.

I didn't say another word about it. Val is no crybaby.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Val Makes an Uncharacteristic 44 oz Diet Coke Faux Pas

Has Val lost her marbles? Is she one sandwich short of a picnic? Is her porch light on, but nobody's home? Does her elevator not go all the way to the top? Is she no longer the sharpest tool in the themed shed Hick will eventually build for a workshop?

The most horrendous thing happened Friday at The Gas Station Chicken Store! I had finished my errands of post office/bank/gas for T-hoe, and made the final stop for my 44 oz Diet Coke. I virtually skipped across the parking lot, heady with anticipation for drawing my magical elixir. If, by skipped, you count a slow limp, kind of dragging one leg behind, while flapping an arm for balance.

After a taste of the product to make sure it was not actually REAL COKE, like that one time a new employee had hooked up the wrong hoses, I put the lid on my foam cup, and bellied up to the counter to pay. I handed the Nice Guy Clerk two scratcher winners, trading them for a two more tickets. We made chitchat.

As he pushed my new scratchers across the glass counter top, having traded them even for the winners, I reached into my shirt pocket for the dollar to pay for my 44 oz Diet Coke. That's when I realized that my right hand was empty! The hand that I use to carry in my


Oh, no! I had the dollar, but I didn't have the 69 cents! The price of a 44 oz Diet Coke at The Gas Station Chicken Store is $1.69. I didn't have enough money!

I could have put back a scratcher. But that's not how Val operates. Good thing I didn't, because one was the $100 winner I showed you Saturday, and the other won $40.

"Oh, no! I left my change in the car! Can I go out and get it? I'll bring it right back!"

Nice Guy Clerk agreed. "Sure. I think you're good for it."

Seriously. I'm only in there EVERY DAY, for the past 3.5 years, buying a 44 oz Diet Coke. Yes, I could have left my stuff on the counter, until I returned with the money. But neither one of us thought of that. I carried out my merchandise like I owned it, and returned with 69 cents.

There are perks to being a small-town celebrity.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Hick Takes a Break From an Old Favorite

It's no secret that Hick loves his hot dogs. To the point of eating them six weeks old, already opened, from the back of FRIG II. But last week, Hick chose a new processed meat to have on hand for occasional lunches, and after-auction sneak-treats. Baloney. Yes, I know it's spelled bologna. I watched those Oscar Mayer commercials. But Hick pronounces it baloney.

Like some kind of freaky foreigner who doesn't understand Backroads cuisine, Hick also asked for pepper jack cheese. That's an abomination! Like eating strawberry jam on a PB&J, when everybody knows grape jelly is the standard. Baloney is meant to share the bread with cheddar. I also picked up some Nutty Oat Bread. It's the kind I usually buy, but generally goes to waste, even the half-loaf size, because Hick reaches for the Hawaiian Rolls next to it.

Anyhoo...Hick must have been really excited to have baloney in the house. Not only did he have it for lunch on the days he was home, working in the BARn, but he had it for supper too!

"Don't worry about supper. I'll just have a baloney sandwich. I really like it."

Far be it from me to protest that I was not being allowed to cook! Don't concern yourself that Hick went hungry. He makes himself TWO sandwiches for a meal. Sometimes with a mini bag of chips.

Saturday afternoon, as Hick sat on the long couch post-baloney, sharing his experience as Santa that morning, he said,

"My stomach is just churning. I don't know what's going on."

"I think it's probably your baloney sandwiches. More specifically, the Nutty Oat Bread. You go from having NO bread like that to sometimes having EIGHT SLICES in one day! That's a lot of fiber."

Of course Hick gave a chuckle, and condescendingly told me I don't know what I'm talking about. Don't worry. I'm used to it. Unlike Hick's colon and the Nutty Oat Bread.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

T-Hoe Gives Hick the Finger

On Monday, Hick volunteered to drive me to the doctor for a routine test. We took T-Hoe, for my ease of getting in and out, since I also had three other errands, and of course a stop for my 44 oz Diet Coke.

As soon as we started up the driveway, Hick got all dramatic. He started shaking his left hand, and sucking on his middle finger.

"Your door handle cut my finger! The coating is coming off!"

[It's that little white section on top of the handle, where the fake aluminum-look coating is flaking off.]

"Yes. It's been like that for at least a year. I've never cut MY finger on it. How did you do that? Why were you grabbing the door handle when you got IN. Surely you didn't pull on that to close the door! That's crazy. It's not meant for that. It's meant for OPENING the door. A normal person would use the armrest handle to pull the door CLOSED."

[At the end of the fake wood, the gap and heavy-duty plastic molding makes an armrest handle to grab to pull the heavy door shut.]  

"No. No. Maybe I hit it when I reached up to hit the button that puts the seat in MY position."

"Huh. That's not even close. You shouldn't have hit the door handle reaching for the seat button."

"It HURTS, Val!"

"Stop acting like a dang toddler."

"It's BLEEDING, Val!"

"Then why are you sucking on it, to MAKE blood come out?"

"No. So I don't get it on anything."

"You don't care about getting your earwax on anything when you dig around and then put your hand back on the steering wheel."

"You don't even care!"

"You are being overly dramatic. Crybaby."

Let the record show that I never saw a single drop of blood, even though I gave him a Puffs Plus Lotion to wrap around it. Hick reminded me of those criminal fakers on TV, who sob and shake uncontrollably in their interviews, with nary a tear to fall.

"I have some black shrink-wrap in the BARn, I think. I might heat it up and cover the handle."

Yeah. I'm sure THAT will look attractive. The handle has never cut ME, after a year of daily trips to town for my magical elixir. Maybe I should pack a first aid kit with a tourniquet, for the next time Hick drives T-Hoe. Also, a pacifier and a squeaking squeezy toy to distract him.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad, You Take Them Both and There You Have THE CENTS OF VAL...THE CENTS OF VAL

Good things come in threes, I hear. So I shouldn't be surprised that my Future Pennyillionaire collection grew by three cents this week.

SUNDAY, December 1, I started the month off right when I opened T-Hoe's door at the Backroads Casey's, and saw a lonely penny just waiting for me to pick it up.

I had to wait for that darn truck to leave, lest somebody inside call the local boobie hatch to come with a big net and collect me for public weirdness! See it there, in the middle of the photo?

It was a 2001, heads-up. I dropped it in my shirt pocket and went inside. Nothing on the floor by the counter. But when I came out,

I glanced over my shoulder while opening T-Hoe's door, and saw ANOTHER penny meant just for me! Again, it's in the center of this photo, almost against the curb. Opposite that black spot on the sidewalk.

Not so shiny, this face-down 1989. Almost camouflagy. But still welcome to join my Future Pennyillionaire collection. I put it in my pants pocket. Can't have the cents intermingling until I've been able to see their dates. PUT THAT PHONE DOWN! I know you don't have the local boobie hatch on speed dial!

FRIDAY, December 6, I nabbed another penny at the Sis-Town Casey's as I went in to pay for T-Hoe's gas. Darned if it wasn't all jammed in under the snack racks on the front of the register! That's not quite fair.

Had to pose this pretty 2005 on T-Hoe's console. I don't know why old Abe was hiding his face inside the store. He's a pretty good specimen for my collection.

Three more cents in my coffers this week! But that wasn't the best news...

MY SCRATCHER SLUMP HAS ENDED! After an 11-day dry spell of winning about ten percent of my purchases back, I got THIS on FRIDAY:

It's a $100 winner, which matched all the numbers. I'd asked the Nice Guy Clerk for the number of the ticket before I bought it. They only go to 059. He knows I usually don't like the first ticket or the last ticket on the roll. When I said I'd take it, he asked, "So, you LIKE number 58?" I told him of course I do. It's the year I was born. Glad I took it!

2019 Running Total
Penny     # 118, 119, 120.
Dime      still at 19.
Nickel    still at 8.
Quarter   still at 5.

Penny  131
Dime  17
Nickel  6
Quarter  1

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