Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Microwave Mystery Shower

Well, it ain't Val's house if there aren't unexplained events! We'd grown complacent over the past few weeks. Maybe we were just busy looking for our Christmas package deliveries, or stirring Chex Mix, or throwing away (Hick's and my) money at the casino. I guess SOMETHING has been feeling neglected.

Wednesday morning (and by morning, I mean 1:20 p.m.), I got in the shower before my trip to town. The Pony was in the kitchen, making himself a salad from a bag of Caesar Salad that was left over from me not using the lettuce in my 7 Layer Salad. It was an unopened bag, still within the expiration date. The Pony was planning to add some Imo's cheese to it. For anybody unfamiliar with Imo's Pizza, that cheese is made for their chain, a mixture of provolone, swiss, and white cheddar.

Anyhoo... just before I stepped out of the shower, I heard the microwave door close. I figured The Pony might have felt more peckish, and decided to warm up a slice of ham to go with his salad. OR, maybe Hick was home from the pawn shop 30 miles away, where he'd been headed, according to his text an hour earlier, at 12:20:

"I was at the locker for a while to show my police buddy again now I'm going to go out for Tosi at the pawn shop see if they got anything" [Yeah. Welcome to my life of loose interpretation. I think he'd been showing a gun, and was going to look for another.]

The water was off, the sliding door was slid open, and all I had to do was step out of the shower onto the rug. The clock showed 1:40. Yet there was that microwave sound. I listened to see if Hick was stumping around outside the bathroom door, depositing his wad of cash on the dresser. No. Didn't hear anyone. Must have been The Pony, even though he professes not to like ham very much.

I dressed, gathered up a load of laundry, tossed it in the washer, put on my socks, bade adieu to The Pony, and headed to town for Hick's ice cream, bananas, and more lettuce. The Pony greeted me in the garage when I got home, and carried in my groceries.

As he was putting them away, and I was adding Sugar Free Cherry Limeade powder to my 44 oz Diet Coke... I asked The Pony if he had some ham for lunch. 

"No. I don't like ham very much."

"What did you warm in the microwave?"

"Nothing? I didn't put ANYTHING in the microwave. I thought that was YOU!"

"I didn't put anything in the microwave!"

"I heard you! I thought you were out of your shower, and having something before you went to town."

"Nope. Not me. Has Dad been here?"

"I don't think so. I didn't hear the door. Wait. [The Pony trotted to the front door and looked out.] No. His truck isn't here."

"Huh. That's weird."

"Maybe you heard the ice maker dumping ice."

"Did YOU think it was the ice maker dumping ice?"

"No. It sounded like the microwave door."

"I KNOW! They are completely different. Oh, well. I guess our friend must be back."

I opened the laundry room door to put my clothes in the dryer. HOLD ON! There was a broom and dustpan in the middle of the floor! Take my word for it. We don't use a broom and dustpan all that often around here!

"Pony! Look! The broom is all the way out across the tile. And the dustpan there isn't even clipped on anymore!"

"Maybe THAT'S what we heard!"

"No. It wasn't there when I put the laundry in before I left. That was after we heard the microwave. It had to fall during the time I was gone."

"I didn't hear anything then!"

"EEK! The dustpan just grabbed my ankle!"

"Mom. You stepped back as you were turning to put the clothes in the dryer. Your ankle touched it."

"Well, it SEEMED like it tried to grab my ankle!"

Here's the thing. The broom (with plastic dustpan snapped on the top of the handle) leans in the corner by the washer. It leans in the corner, 6-8 inches away from the side of the washer. To jump out in the floor like that, the broom would have needed to stand itself upright at 90 degrees, then fling itself over onto the floor, while giving a little hop to free itself from some kind of rack that is leaning in that alcove.

I picked it up, snapped the dustpan back on the handle, and set it in the corner again. That thing had BETTER be in the same place when I go in there tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Winner, Winner, Hot Dog Dinner

Perhaps Hick and I should not have indulged in such exotic fare for our casino lunch on the Tuesday of Christmas week. If we'd stuffed down a quick hot dog like The Pony, and gone right back to the gaming floor, maybe WE would have been winners like The Pony. But no. We took our time. Chewed our food thoroughly. Checked our phones. Asked for takeout containers for our leftovers. Hick took them out to A-Cad before returning to gamble. 

I left the dining area, walked to the second machine from the exit, and plopped my ample rumpus on the stool. It was an Indian Dreaming slot. A stand-alone version of the game I like to play on the Wonder 4 Rising Fortunes. Bets ranged from 30 cents a spin to 2 dollars, I think. I mainly played at 50 cents and 1 dollar. I played over a half hour there, winning and losing it back. A couple times I won $50. And a couple times I won $100. I added some to my cash-out ticket, and played the rest. I didn't get a picture of any winning screens. This slot is not very bright or colorful. It didn't occur to me. 
I finished the gambling day with a decent sum of cash, but I was not ahead from the casino bankroll that I brought along. Hick lost $40, and was thrilled about it, because it wasn't his own money, as I had given us each some Christmas money to wager. Hick had actually profited some, leaving with more than he'd brought to gamble with, since I doled out the Christmas cash in the parking lot before we entered.

I DID take one picture, just because the screen was all pretty with a win.
I really expected a better payout than $75. I guess that's why I don't play these kinds of slots. Hick is always plopping down in front of an unknown game, feeding it a twenty, and sometimes reaping a profit. This slot was called Winning Streak. It was over by the cash-out machines, next to a dragon game that had paid Hick $80 on a 30-cent bet a few trips ago. Guess I should have played THAT ONE! Or maybe bet 30 cents instead of a dollar! Anyhoo... I just took the picture for the colorful screen.
And now, for our big winner, THE PONY!
That's not The Pony. That's Heidi. Of Heidi's Bier Haus, the slot machine. You have to get 5 Heidis to trigger a bonus. The Pony got a few extra. This is right before time to leave. The Pony had upped his bet to $2.25 a spin, to play out his remaining money before cashing out and meeting us up front. I think he had about $15 in it when he hit this bonus. It paid him $671.10. He put in another ticket he'd been saving to cash out, and the amount he took to the cash-out machine was $777.06. Which kind of irritated The Pony, as he wished for one extra cent. Supposedly, 7s are lucky for gamblers. In fact, the address of many casinos, including this one is 777 Something-or-Other Boulevard.

So... The Pony was a big winner. Hick and I were okay with our losses. Everybody had a festive time on this December 22 casino trip!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

You BET We Were Ready to Feast

Now that you're awakening from your Christmas Dinner leftovers food coma, I see fit to share pictures of our last casino trip meal! It was way back on December 22, when I still thought all my packages would arrive on time.
The casino had a special meal that week! Of course Hick was the only one brave enough to try it.
That's Smoked Prime Rib topped with Bordelaise, Green Bean Casserole, Scalloped Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Tasso Ham, and a Buttered Croissant. All for $12.50. Heh, heh! I took that description right off their advertisement. Hick declared this meal delicious, and asked for an actual takeout container, and ate leftovers for two days. He must have been full from the cake he ate first:
It was injected with some kind of molten lava. He'd already started excavating it by the time I returned from the bathroom to get a picture!
The Pony was not very hungry. Nor adventurous. He had a hot dog.
Yes. The Pony is one of those creatures who put KETCHUP on a hot dog!
I was also feeling adventurous, but not Prime Rib adventurous. I opted for a new creation, the name of which escapes me. Some kind of Pulled Pork Potato Mojo Something-or-Other.
That was pulled pork with BBQ sauce, over a bed of batter-fried potato discs covered with nacho cheese. It was much tastier than it looks. I was full before finishing, even with no dessert first.

That's a side view, to show the potatoes in their glory. They were crispy and delectable. Not so much, upon rewarming for two days at home to finish them off.

I have a feeling the restaurant people at this casino take their leftover quantities and make them into a new "special." Which makes me leery of the Garbage Nachos on their menu!

Anyhoo... we left there stuffed, with meals to carry us over until Friday's Christmas Dinner. Except for The Pony. Who went to Steak N Shake.

Tomorrow, the gambling results...

Monday, December 28, 2020

City Wows, Country Wows

I'm jealous of Genius. He had a white Christmas! Snow on the ground. Pic to prove it happened!
There's the Pittsburgh city skyline, and a view of his frozen swimming pool from his balcony. Genius also sent a picture of his favorite gift. It's a camera made of wood, that comes in a kit to put together, and allegedly takes real pictures!
"Merry Christmas! I love my pinhole camera!"
An hour later: "Well, it delayed our Christmas dinner prep. But it's done!" Let the record show that the snowy cityscape was taken by Genius's phone, not this camera!
Around here, we had temps in the 20s, and a blustery wind. No snow. Not only that, but our Christmas did not go as planned. Not only did some gifts not arrive on time... but gifts that WERE here had a way of avoiding the festivities.
We open gifts in the basement living area, by the Christmas tree (that's been up since last year). I had The Pony carry down stuff as I opened the tracked-down packages and wrapped the items. The Pony knew that there is one shipment still in limbo transit, containing 4 gifts for himself, and one for my niece's daughter. Yet our Christmas morning seemed so meager that I had to question myself.

"Pony! Where are the gifts that were in that box I asked you to bring down to the tree?"

"Box? Oh. It's in Genius's room!" Off he went to get it, and hand out gifts to himself and Hick.

A few moments later... "Pony! What about that gift for Dad that you were going to bring in from the back of T-Hoe a couple days ago?"

"Oh! I'll go out and get it!"

After Christmas dinner, and after Hick had made a trip to town and back TO MAKE A SPECIAL SALE AT HIS STORAGE UNIT STORE... "Pony! Where is the bag of sugar-free candy I told you to hide from Dad, for his stocking?"

"Oops! It's in Genius's room. Be right back!"

Yeah. That's how it went. But we had it easy compared to my sister the ex-mayor's wife. They brought us some treats from her Christmas Eve finger-food party. We stood on the porch to exchange those treats for some deviled eggs and hash brown casserole. 

Sis explained that when Niecy Jr opened her second gift from us, a little box with the picture of her item that has not yet arrived... she read the note (she's a precocious little thing, with a kindergarten teacher grandma [Sis] and a 1st Grade teacher mom [Niecy]) and exclaimed, "WHAT is THIS?" while waving the picture. Heh, heh. Sorry, Niecy Jr.

Oh, but much worse was Sis's BANDAGED THUMB!

"Niecy got a little purse. The handles were clamped together with those white plastic ties. I said, 'I'll cut them off for you.' And Ex-Mayor said, 'Here! I have that pocket knife that Hick and your sister gave me!' I used it to cut off the ties, and on the second one, it slipped and stabbed into my thumb! I know you're not a doctor... but do you think maybe I should have it looked at? I'm not going to uncover it here, because I have ointment on it, and this bandage. But that knife had blood all over it when I pulled it out. Ex-Mayor said, 'That's about a half-inch deep, according to the knife blood.' I can move my thumb, but I don't have any feeling in the end of it."

Sheesh! I told her to call a nurse line with her insurance, or go to urgent care. That sounds like a severed nerve! At least the thumb was pink, and getting circulation. One time a dentist cut through a nerve while doing a root canal procedure on my bottom right third molar. He said, 'Oops! I've cut through the nerve. Your face will be numb for a while. But usually a nerve will grow back together within 6 months to 2 years." I guess that can work with thumbs...

Anyhoo... Genius had a great Christmas. Ours was one for the record books.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Val Is a Victim of the Good-Ol'-Boy Network

Of course! ONE DAY after I declared a downtick of local ne'er-do-welling in my comments, I was slapped in the face by ne'er-do-wells in the very act of never doing well! In fact, a mere 16 hours had lapsed. It was almost as if Even Steven was all-knowing, and tipped off the ne'er-do-wells as soon as I left for town.

When I returned around 3:45 on Saturday afternoon, I crested the hill in front of our newest 10 acres, next to the BARn field, and saw two vehicles parked in our front yard! Not the front yard proper, next to the house. But the front yard/field by the end of the driveway, next to the sinkhole closest to the gravel road.


You don't want to come home and surprise strangers in your yard/field! It was a minivan the color of metallic sea-mist green/gray/blue. Not quite describable. It was about three car-lengths into the field, next to the trees that surround the sinkhole. In front of the minivan was a Gator-type ORV, dark green or black, a four-seater, with an orange triangle on the back warning traffic to look out for it, and it was HOOKED TO A TRAILER like Hick's car-hauling trailer!

Seriously! What business could these two vehicles possibly have on my property? 

As I turned T-Hoe in the driveway, I slowed. The minivan driver hopped in and started his vehicle. The driver of the Gator-thing turned to look at me. A look that said, "WHAT?" As if he belonged there! Not a challenging, smart-@$$ look. Just one that implied I was out of place for staring.
It crossed my mind to steer over there and ask them WHAT IN THE NOT-HEAVEN ARE YOU DOING ON MY PROPERTY?

Then my mind reminded me that I am an old lady with stove-up knees, not good at running, not good at fighting, and not packing heat. I doubt my sharp tongue would be protection enough in a rumble.

I stopped T-Hoe midway down the driveway. I called Hick, who is slow to answer.

"Why are two men parked beside our sinkhole?"

You know, because Hick has some questionable acquaintances, and more than once, more that twice, he's had oddballs out here to help him with something, or has given them permission to borrow the tractor or pick up equipment while he's not home.

"I don't know what two men are doing by our sinkhole! How would I know? I'm in town, at my buddy's auction."

"Well. Sometimes you let people come out here to get something, and you don't tell me."

"No. I didn't tell nobody they could come out. What are they doing?"

"I don't know! One has a trailer like yours hooked up to his Gator-thing, and it's empty! So I hope he didn't steal your trailer. OR I hope he's not throwing stuff down our sinkhole!"

"I'm on my way. Leaving now."

"Well, they just left when I stopped to look at them. I couldn't see where they went while I was talking. They were behind me. Now they're both gone. It was a green/silver/blue minivan, and a dark colored 4-door Gator-thing with an orange triangle, hooked to a trailer. The driver was wearing a red plaid shirt, and had a long gray beard, like Santa Claus. He was a little chubby. I'm going to drive around to see if I see those vehicles anywhere out the back entrance."

I did, and I did not. No vehicles like that were parked or in motion on the back two-mile stretch of gravel road. I figured if they left by the mailbox way, Hick would encounter them on his way home. OR they may have gone in deeper in the compound, up the gravel road past our house, and Hick could drive around on his Gator and look for them.

When I got back home, Hick was parked in SilverRedO up by the sinkhole. He started down the driveway as I was walking from garage to porch. THEN he disappeared. The Pony heard my tale, and went out on the porch to look for Hick. He saw SilverRedO over at the BARn, then Hick get in and start toward the house. About 5 minutes later, he came in the kitchen door.

"What's going on? Did they dump something in our sinkhole? Did you see them along the road?"

"I'm coming in to tell you. Settle down."

"I want to know why two strangers were parked in our yard walking around our sinkhole. Do you know anybody out here that looks like that?"

"I went to look in the sinkhole, and didn't see anything. I saw their tracks. When I was coming back from the BARn, Dog-Groomer's Husband called me. He said he had some broken-up concrete, and he put it down our sinkhole--"

"WHAT? How is that something people would think is OKAY? I don't want somebody's trash going down our sinkhole! It will get in the groundwater! I don't want YOU throwing OUR trash down the sinkhole! He only called you because I caught him doing it! And he wanted to let you know before I TOLD ON HIM! Did you ever give him permission to throw stuff down our sinkhole?"


"Did he ask if he could do it?"

"No. That kind of bothers me. But he DID say he did it, and that he had Jimbo helping him. So that's the van you saw."

"Who's Jimbo?"

"The kid who lives up at the log house."


"Yeah. But he wasn't living there then."

"See? They could have thrown ANYTHING down our sinkhole, and just TOLD you it was concrete! A headless body... a HEAD... evidence of some crime... I don't want people thinking it's okay to throw stuff down our sinkhole!"

"Oh, Val. He just put concrete in there."

So now I'M the hysterical woman who doesn't understand that sometimes, guys just need to drive onto someone else's property, and unload a trailer full of SOMETHING, to dispose of down their sinkhole, which is perfectly fine if you call and tell the property-owner after the fact.

What is YOUR verdict, O Great Internet Jury? Am I overreacting?

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Anybody Else CENTS a Chance of a New Record?

Will Val eclipse last year's penny harvest total? Right now, she's beaten the dime record AND the nickel record. Quarters are a lost hope. Dang! People were quarter-pinchers this year. But there's still the possibility of a PENNY victory. Two will tie, and three will break that record! Who would have thought that it would come down to the wire like this? Especially with one of Val's ample rumps tied behind her back due to the Stay-At-Home-Down part of the year!

This week was off to a premature start on SATURDAY, December 19, after the Saturday CENTSus had gone to post. I was back at the scene of the close-parker, the Backroads Casey's. Outsmarting any more such door-jammers, I parked beside a car already there, leaving myself plenty of room. And there was a surprise waiting for me!

Problem was, my rightful penny was underneath that JEEP Cherokee! It's around the 4 o'clock position from that giant spot. The whole time I was inside, I was plotting how to harvest that penny. It's not like I carry a car-creeper to roll under vehicles and nab coins. But I DO carry a long-handled ice-scraper (a must for T-Hoe owners) that lengthens my arm by about two feet, and is good at scraping. DUH! It's a SCRAPER, by cracky!

Of course I looked around, all surreptitiously, to make sure nobody appeared too interested in my exploits. Then I yanked open T-Hoe's back door, and grabbed my royal blue scraper with the foamy soft hand grip, and dragged out this face-down 1968 Abe Lincoln. Nothing to see here!
SUNDAY, December 20, I went into Orb K for the first time in over 6 months. My former hotbed of loose pennies and unswept floor detritus did not let me down!

No penny can hide from VAL behind a price sticker! My toe scooted that heads-up 2013 penny into the open, to be ample-rumpused forthwith! Out of respect for the line behind me, I did not stop for a closeup. 
That's 2 PENNIES this week, for an addition of 2 CENTS in my Future Pennyillionaire Dessert Dish Goblet. It's been a pretty good year for coining...

Penny       # 131, 132.
Dime         still at 25.
Nickel       still at 10.
Quarter    still at 1.

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, December 25, 2020

Not Today, SANTA!

Christmas Eve was not the same this year. My sister the ex-mayor's wife didn't have her annual finger-food dinner party. Oh, she had the foods, and her daughter's family over. But the rest of us didn't go. Sis called to ask my opinion the week before. I told her I'd just as soon not sit in a closed-up house breathing other people's breath. We agreed that this event might be best put off for a while. Don't you worry about Val accidentally losing a pound, going without that tasty food! Sis is bringing me some on Christmas Day (TODAY!).

Anyhoo... I was preparing part of our own Christmas Day feast on Christmas Eve. Hick loaded up A-Cad to deliver gifts to Sis, HOS (Hick's Oldest Son), and The Veteran (Hick's second son). In his Hickish way, he FORGOT the main gift for HOS's youngest boy, a mere toddler. Hick had put it in his truck. So he came home, bringing some treats and the gifts from Sis. Then he left with the toddler present, a big dump truck full of blocks.

Since I was two hours into making deviled eggs, I asked Hick if he wanted to pick up something quick for supper. I still had all 7 layers of the 7-Layer Salad to prepare. I had no plans on cooking a meal tonight. The Pony wanted Burger King. Hick seemed less than enthusiastic. You can tell, when he gets all frowny, and says to tell him what we want, right after we've just told him what we want. Then he gets exasperated, throws up his hands, and says, "I don't know what you want!"

The Pony texted it to him. But Hick sent a text saying he'd bring home Captain D's fish if that's what we wanted. Which had not even been discussed, but I didn't care, as long as I wasn't cooking. So The Pony sent back our selections.

I had finished deviling the eggs, and was cutting the cheese (heh, heh, that's for a certain blog reader's 13-year-old self) to grate for the 7-Layer Salad, when I heard Juno dash out of her house and go crazy barking. She sometimes does that when Copper Jack the neighbor dog walks up on our porch for a drink from the water bowl. Then I heard our Jack, and the Copper fellow, baying as well.

Hmm... maybe Hick was home with the food? It had been almost two hours since he left. Captain D's is way over in Bill-Paying Town, 20 miles away. So the timing was right, after his second Christmas delivery to HOS's house.

I waited. Diced the boiled egg layer. Started on the little green onion layer. Maybe someone had delivered a package. That sets off the dogs. But they'd quieted. Maybe I should send The Pony out to look. The mail ran today. Could it be my in-transit package? Nah. The dogs were probably just going nuts playfighting with each other.

Another five minutes went by. I heard the kitchen doorknob. I looked up from the table, and there was Hick. He had three Captain D's bags on his wrist, and was holding his hand to his head. As he rounded the counter and set them on the cutting block, I could see blood on his left index finger. Quite a bit. Just then, he said,

"I fell down in the driveway."

"Oh, no! You've cut your finger! It's bleeding! Are you okay?"

"That blood is not from my finger. It's from my nose!"

The Pony trotted into the kitchen to survey the damage, and act as Florence Nightingale so I could keep my oniony hands to myself. I swear, The Pony is going to break something, letting all this empathy out lately.

It wasn't blood from a bloody nose. It was blood from a CUT. Across the bridge of Hick's nose, and in a furrow on his forehead.

"I got out of the truck, and went around by The Pony's car, to set up the light-up Santa that the wind had blown over. I was walking back to my truck, and got my feet caught on the gravel. Sometimes my feet don't work like they should. I fell down in the gravel, right on my face! I've got a scratch on my glasses. I'll have to get a new lens. I have holes in my knees from the rocks. My shoulder hurts. I guess from trying to catch myself. I think my hat might have helped my face not get smashed too bad."

"You are going to have a bruised face tomorrow, Dad. Your nose already looks purple. I'll put a bandaid on your head for you, if I can find the right size."

"Put pressure on it! To stop the bleeding."

"I'm going to use the liquid bandage I have in the cabinet."

So now I feel a little bit sorry for Hick. Who lost a fight with SANTA. I guess it could have been worse. Hick said he was almost to SilverRedO, and could have crashed his face onto the bumper. Or he could have been electrocuted by Santa, in a Final Destination kind of way. Brace yourself! Here comes a picture of the damage:

The forehead laceration is sealed up pretty good with the glue (or liquid bandaid). Or maybe the frowny-face holds it closed! The nose looks a little bit crooked! Hick did not think he wanted to strap on his breather for the night. As I type this, he might be snoozing in his recliner instead.
I really wish I'd sent The Pony out when I first heard the dogs. He might have changed the whole course of events. Maybe set up the Santa himself. Or helped carry in the bags. Or just distracted Hick enough that his feet remembered to work.

I feel kind of bad. I need to listen to those hunches! As soon as the had dogs quieted, and there was no Hick, I wondered what might happen if Hick fell in the driveway and couldn't get up. The wind was really cold every time he'd opened the kitchen door carrying in the stuff from Sis. I was just seconds away from having The Pony look out from the front porch, for a package or what the dogs might have seen. Sometimes, I'm NOT being overly dramatic with imaginary worst-case scenarios...

Thursday, December 24, 2020

FIVE Earflap Hats! FOUR Tubs of Chex, THREE Gift Cards, TWO Unicorns, and a Cooling Pad on the Front Porch

Oh, that's not all. I don't have time to rewrite the whole song. Those are a few of the items I've been wrapping and labeling to be delivered by Santa Hick on Christmas Eve. We won't even start on the baking of the Oreo cakes. At least I had The Pony to help with that. He makes a good sous chef, though he is a bit indecisive and requests affirmation.
Of course there are way more than FOUR tubs of Chex. More than TWELVE, even! Let the record show that I have 14 adults and 6 kids to gift, which has been a chore this year.
"Oh, VAL!" you say. "No need to be so dramatic. You ain't the first woman ever to give Christmas gifts." 
WAIT! That's not you at all! That was Hick, when I was put on bed rest for a week, three months before The Pony's birth. As I recall, his exact words were, "You ain't the first woman ever to have a baby. I don't think 'bed rest' means you can't stand up for a half hour to make supper and wash dishes." Right before he left me home on the couch (in favor of traipsing through the woods, claiming to be deer hunting), ALL ALONE, after taking a week off from work to tend to me. 

Anyhoo... the gift-choosing and keyboard tapping and PayPal paying was not taxing. The wrapping itself was not all that much trouble. I've made Chex Mix so many times I could do it in a trance. No need to decorate the tree, because it is still up from last year! No, the effort was not the problem.
The most difficult part of this year's Christmas preparations has been GETTING THE GIFTS DELIVERED! I'm not even talking about our packages going to complete strangers, and also the next-door neighbor. I have a package in LIMBO! It has been IN TRANSIT since December 8. I'm pretty sure the Pony Express could have had that delivered five or six times by now. But it looks like the USPS cannot do the ONE JOB they are paid to do!

This package contains four gifts for The Pony. It's not like he's getting a lot besides that. I guess I'll hand him an IOU. He DID get one of his gifts that actually arrived EARLIER than predicted. It came yesterday. I was notified by an email from FedEx that it was on the porch. AND IT WAS! That must have been their ONE reliable deliverer, the woman in the white JEEP. 
I sent The Pony out to look for it within three minutes of the notice, and he found it! It was the cooling pad that he wanted for the new laptop he bought with his casino winnings. It's a fancy one, with colored lights around the edge. He picked it out himself, so no surprises there. 

The main item I wanted from that missing shipment is for my niece's daughter. It's a unicorn light. Like a night light, but it doesn't plug in. It runs on batteries, with an on/off switch. I'll just have to wrap a picture of it with a promise that SOME DAY, she will have her pretty unicorn.

Don't you worry about Niecy Jr. She's getting ANOTHER unicorn, with wings that light up when you stroke it, and also emits SPARKLY sounds! Yeah. I don't know what that is either, but it was in the description. I have it here, in a giant box. The Pony and I tried to fit it in a smaller box we had on hand, but it was a no-go.

"Um. Yeah. I don't think we'll be wrapping it in this."

"Not unless we cut off the head..."

You can be the judge of who proposed the decapitation.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Old Christmas

Genius sent a picture of his Christmas tree.
Don't tell anyone, but it's not real! It's the tree he got for the first Christmas of his adult life, working in Kansas City for that GPS gadget company, programming navigation information for boats. I mean ships. Like giant YACHTS. Not that there are tiny yachts, of course.

Anyhoo... Genius packed up his Christmas tree when he moved to Pittsburgh. I'm pretty sure he put it in a box, and didn't strap it to the roof of his Honda CRV. You can see some of the ornaments are Star Wars themed. They belong to his roommate, who is a fan. Genius himself is not. 

In the background, you can see Genius's balcony. Where he MAY use his smokeless grill that he's getting for Christmas. Shh... it's a secret!

Here was our communication by text:
"Such a tasteful tree!"
"It's too small! I wanted to buy a bigger one but got shut down."
"Ours is still up from when you were here last year! But with fewer working lights."
[EMOJI eye-roll] 

"Do not EMOJudge me!"

"I'll judge as I please!"

Same old Genius. I really miss him.


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Two-Thirds of Thevictorian Family to the Rescue!

The Pony had lunch plans yesterday. He left home at 2:00, while I was taking the Chex Mix out of the oven, and finishing a package-wrapping. I was on my way out the kitchen door when Hick came in the front door.

"You might see a fire truck on your way to town."

"And... "

"I'm just sayin', don't be surprised. You can probably still get by. It wasn't there yet when I came through."

"Are you telling me I should go the other way? I don't understand."

"No. It's by Footy's."

"Um... I don't know who that is. So I have no idea where you're talking about. I'll just go the other way."

"You can't. It's on our gravel road. At the top of the hill, where the first road branches off."

"Why didn't you just SAY that? Now I know where you're talking about."

"The Pony saw the fire. He called me to say there was smoke all over, and a line of flames on the ground. I told him I'd check it out, and started home. By the time I got there, the flames were going crazy. I ran up to the Footy's house, and started pounding on the door. Nobody came out. I saw that the flames had burned up a little trailer, and they was headed toward the garage. That's when I called 911."

I got on the Facebook and told everybody who lives out here. Footy must have been on the phone with his mom. He seen it, and put on there, 'I put the fire out!' He'd been burning trash."

"Great. Now if he doesn't have a fire tag, he'll have to pay. He'll be mad at you. AND he's admitted that he was burning trash!"

"Well, that's too bad. The fire was getting to the woods."

We know all about that. OUR neighbor, Copper Jack's human family, set the woods on fire back when The Pony was an infant. The teenage daughter was burning the trash, in a barrel, and some blew out and DID catch the woods on fire. While waiting for the fire department, her dad was out digging a fire break ditch, and hosing down our (CEDAR SIDING) garage with his garden hose. Hick had to rush home from the bowling alley to deal with it. The fire got put out by the volunteer fire department. As far as I know, the neighbors had a fire tag. They weren't mad at us.

Anyhoo... as I left for town, there WAS a fire engine blocking most of the road, but T-Hoe squeezed around. The smoke was thick. The house is way up the road. So I guess the fire was being fought in the woods at that time.

When The Pony returned home before I did, he said there was also a Missouri Conservation Department truck parked in the way. They were all gone when I went past. The wind was so strong today, most of the smoke was gone. Just a faint hickory smoke smell. 59 degrees, dry and windy, sun blazing. Not our typical Christmas week!

Perhaps the biggest headline would be: Pony Now Cares About Helping People!

He's still in limbo, that Pony. Not yet made the jump from student to adult. So his first thought was to report the emergency to Hick. Good thing he did! And Hick the Do-Gooder rushed to save possible inhabitants. Even if it was by posting the fire on Facebook, when his door-pounding failed.

Meanwhile, I was oblivious to the drama, being an hour off my schedule with the Chex Mix preparations. Thank goodness we are upwind from that location, and only one house was in the "line of fire," and was saved.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Internet Santa Has Some 'Splainin' to Do

Genius is not coming home for Christmas this year. Pennsylvania is not down with the travel thing. I have been internet-buying, and having his gifts sent directly to his apartment. What could possibly go wrong? 
Genius has a doorman or concierge or some dude whose job it is to accept packages for the apartment-dwellers, and hold them at the desk until they get home from work. Heh, heh! The joke is on THAT GUY, because Genius has been working from home for many months now, and goes down to check his mail when it's convenient for him.
Last year, I had a couple items sent directly to Genius, because he was leaving from here on a ski trip the day after Christmas, with a return flight from skiing, to Pittsburgh. He couldn't be schlepping his Christmas gifts across the country in his overhead carry-on. 
There was a bit of confusion, since Genius didn't know if it was a package HE had ordered, or one I had sent. So this year, I told him I'd put his name on the address with the middle initial of C, for Christmas. That's not his real initial. It has been working out great, since he knows that's something to wait to open.

Yes, everything had been working out just fine. Until I got a text from Genius on Saturday:

"I wonder what this could be lol"

"Dang them all to heck! I guess you can open that one early."

I guess he's lucky I didn't send him anything embarrassing...

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Bad Val! Bad Val! Whatcha Gonna Do When They Don't Come For You?

It's just my conspiracy theory, currently. I have only circumstantial evidence, and no positive identification. All I can do is describe the perp to a police sketch artist. They still have those, don't they? But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As you recall, I've been having terrible service from package delivery drivers. The most recent was the package left on a neighbor's back porch. I THINK I KNOW WHO DID IT!

When I came home from town Wednesday, there was a traffic jam at the turn-in to our gravel road. I waited beside Mailbox Row to make my left. An oncoming car crossed the bridge, but I still had to wait. There was a black pickup truck parked on the wrong side of our gravel road. On the left, where I usually park (facing the right direction) to get the mail. I had room to go past him, but another vehicle came barrelling down the gravel, dust flying.

I'm always on the lookout for ne'er-do-wells, of which I was sure this was one. I figured it was someone taking a shortcut through our enclave, due to bridge construction over by the other entrance to our compound. People do that a lot, even without the blacktop road over there closed. They dump trash, and throw gravel around while fishtailing in their speed.

Anyhoo... this was a brown car, shaped like an Acadia. I don't pay much attention to make and model. There was a sticker on the side. A magnetic square, such as real estate agents sometimes use. The car slid to a stop, the driver waiting for me to turn in, I guess. Which was difficult with him sitting in the middle of the road, next to that black truck. He didn't have a signal on. I assumed he was pulling out and going right, up the hill, in the direction from whence I'd come. Maybe T-Hoe was in the way of his turn. What with the truck taking up room.
I saw a few letters on the magnetic sign. I though it was a US, and fleetingly gave a mental nod. "Oh. It's the Post Office." Which was disconcerting, because the post office doesn't deliver to individual houses out here, despite those two different young temp employees this summer in the mail JEEP, asking me directions to specific houses.

I glanced at the driver, to see which variety of maniac he might be. A description won't do him justice. Let's just say he looked like if Jonah Hill and Marty Feldman had a baby. His face was all chubby Jonah Hill, but his eyes were crazy Marty Feldman. They were rolling around and popping out of his head. Like he was running from something, or in a terrible hurry. Or just a dude with weird eyes and curly hair.

My deduction was: "Here's one that's for sure going postal!"

As I passed by, that car pulled out and turned left, going over the bridge, in the direction I'd been headed before my turn. Huh. A signal could have solved this logjam.

There are so many weirdos around here, I really didn't give Crazy Eyeballs a second thought. Until Thursday, when I was trying to astrally project and find where my parcel was delivered. I had gone back to the front window, where I sit at HIPPIE on a TV tray. It makes a good desk. Though tiny. My plan was to look up a phone number for UPS, to see if they could track down that driver while he was still on the route, and make him bring my package to the right address. Yes. I know that was folly.

A car went down our gravel road. Right to left. From the direction past our house, heading out towards the mailbox/creek area. It was a brown Acadia-shaped car, with a square magnetic sign on the side.

WAIT A MINUTE! That car didn't belong out here. But it was familiar. THE SPEEDER! The Post Office car! Except the magnetic sign might have said UPS. Not USPS.

I think that's the guy who delivered my package to the wrong house! Crazy Eyeballs!

Even if I'm right, there's nothing I can do about it. Other than shake my fist menacingly at him if we pass on the road again. I might not even do that. Because he has Crazy Eyeballs.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

1, 2, 3, 4. People Don't Drop QUARTERS Any More!

SATURDAY, December 12, I found a surprise penny at the liquor store. Please give Val props for her eagle eye! Did YOU see it right away? This one was well-camouflaged.

Old Abe is just above the center of the photo, in a line that would point to the cigarette butt in the hole at the 1:00 position. Don't go thinkin' that I missed a nickel or a quarter. That's a spot of bird poop! 
I tell you, these pennies are meant JUST FOR ME! There I am, parked at the end (where nobody can pull in too close to T-Hoe!), and standing where I just slid out of the driver's seat. I think my ample rumpus was still leaning against the side of the seat when I took the picture. That penny caught my eye before I even righted myself to close the door.

It was a 1984 penny, heads up, WATCHING ME! When I told The Pony the date, he said, "Well, isn't THAT prophetic!" Heh, heh. The Pony has such a droll sense of humor.
TUESDAY, December 15, I returned to the scene of the maniac who parked too close to me. No maniac this time. When I started up the sidewalk to enter the Backroads Casey's, 

I saw not only the trash that had been removed from the receptacle, but a PENNY waiting for me! It's there! You have to have VAL eyes to sniff it out.

It was a face-down 1995 penny, awaiting a ride to my New Future Pennyillionaire Fortune Goblet. I pocketed that little treasure, and went inside. When I came out, I had already hoisted myself up onto T-Hoe's running board when I thought I saw something on the ground.

I DID! I eased back down to the pavement, and snapped the picture. Again, you can see that finding these pennies is not as easy as some might think. You can easily be fooled by parking lot stains! Go to the exact center of the picture, then straight up. The penny is almost against the yellow curb.

This was a face-down 1994 penny. I don't know how I missed it walking in. All those spots, I guess. The vantage point and reflection from T-Hoe's running board saved it.

THURSDAY, December 17, saw me at the Sis-Town Casey's, paying for T-Hoe's gas, and picking up some scratchers to give as Christmas gifts. I'll be darned if I didn't see a penny to my left, at the vacant register. I had plans to get a picture and that penny when my transaction was finished. But NO! My guy was so slow that another clerk came out, and opened that register! But the customer was also an employee. That meant chit-chat. 

By the time she was done, there was a line behind me. I did not feel comfortable taking up time in front of that register to get a picture and a penny. I DID feel comfortable enough to ample-rumpusize those poor line-waiters while I bent over to pick up my rightful penny. I had other errands, and didn't get a chance to take its picture until I was over at the School-Turn Casey's, waiting for a Red Bull man to wheel in his dolly.

There it is, the former heads-up 2015 penny, posed on my St. Louis Blues mask. Oh, don't think I WEAR it! My penny is not getting germy. That's my pocket mask. I carry it in, just in case somebody asks me to put it on. Which has NEVER happened! The mask I wear is my Kansas City Chiefs. And that only at the casino and doctor's office.
I'm closing in on my 2019 penny total! Will I make it? So close, but yet so far! I've given up on the quarters this year. This week I found 4 PENNIES, for a total of 4 CENTS added to my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.

Penny       # 127, 128, 129, 130.
Dime         still at 25.
Nickel       still at 10.
Quarter    still at 1.

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, December 18, 2020

UPS Says, "Hold My Beer..."

One day after my two-day attack on FedEx for not delivering our packages properly... there has been another catastrophic event. UPS will not be outdone!
At 12:53 on Thursday, I received an email that my package had been delivered, left on the back porch. That was curious. I was sitting at HIPPIE at the front living room window. There had been no vehicle in the driveway. The dogs were lolling in the sunshine in the front yard. There had been no barking. I went to the back porch. I looked all around the deck. On top of Juno's dog house. Around the corner towards Gassy G Jr and the steps to the garage.
"Pony! Come out here. I just got an email that a package was delivered, but I didn't see or hear anything. Go look at the back of the garage."
The Pony returned from his mission. "I looked by the garage doors, and on my car, and in the Gator, and in the little mailbox Dad put there for packages, and on the front porch, too. There is no package."
Here we go again. I was rassen-frassen FedEx, mid-curse, when a further check of the email revealed that it came from UPS. Sitting back at the window, looking up UPS on HIPPIE, I saw a car go down the gravel road. Hey! That car doesn't belong out here, but it looked familiar... MORE ON THIS LATER.
Well. UPS recommends that the package recipient foist the filing for a lost or damaged package on the SELLER. So it was unlikely that I'd get any satisfaction by that route. Of course there was no phone number to call, to ask WHICH back porch had received my package, so they could sent to driver back to get it and do his job right.
My best hope was to assign the case to Hick. He could put it on our association's Facebook page, asking our denizens to check their back porches. Unfortunately, he was a county away, picking up three free garage doors.

What in the NOT-HEAVEN, people! Why can nobody deliver a package to our home of 22 years?

It's not like we live down a winding pig trail in a dense forest, where I might shove the deliverer into the oven. Our house is not perched atop a Machu Picchu peak on the other side of a Grand Canyon gap. It's down a driveway through an open field, easily seen from the gravel road. 
WE HAVE A SIGN WITH A HANGING ADDRESS on a metal post, three feet off the road, for cryin' out loud! Our main gravel road has a sign with the street name at the turn.
Hick says the GPS takes you right to our driveway. What are these drivers using for navigational purposes, a potato? A variety of drivers have seen fit to deliver our packages to houses miles away, on different roads. Sheesh! Osama bin Laden could have chilled out here in POOLIO with no fear of discovery, we're such a black hole of an address!

These delivery drivers have ONE JOB! To drive a package from Point A to Point B, and leave it. A job where creativity is not encouraged. You don't get to choose a Point C-thruz-Z for the final destination of my package.
On the way home from my town errands, I passed Hick going the other way. I called him and put him on the tracking detail for my missing package. By 4:43, Hick had solved the case!

"Your package is next door. Copper Jack's Human Daddy found it when he got off work at 4:30. I'm going to pick it up."

I'm pretty sure I know how my package went right past my address sign and was put on the neighbor's back porch. More on that Sunday, after Saturday's Future Pennyillionaire Report.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Putting FedEx on Blast (Part 2)

We left for the casino at 9:30 a.m. I pretty much kissed Hick's out-for-delivery vintage muscle car calendar goodbye. I was sure it would arrive before we got back home. While I didn't know exactly where one of the assorted FedEx drivers would leave it, past experience spun the dial, and pointed at A DOG ACCESSIBLE LOCATION. Oh, well. It wasn't all that expensive. Somewhere around $12.98. If it got chewed, it got chewed. Hick would still have the vintage truck calendar, which had arrived safely with his shotgun-shell-ridden trifold wallet.
Of course I got the dreaded notification email shortly after we arrived at the casino.
Hi VAL THEVICTORIAN. Your package from CABELAS LLC was delivered on Wed, 12/09/2020 at 11:43am. Delivered to [correct address for Thevictorians, which I'm not about to reveal]. Left at front door.
Let the record show that the part with the address and location was in teeny-tiny print, down below the green bubbles on the timeline that are checked off at each step of the delivery. So I didn't even see that part, because I was playing slots, with my glasses on top of my head, when I checked that email.
Anyhoo... we got home after the sun went down. Still dusk, but getting darker by the minute. I'd told Hick and The Pony to be on the lookout for a package as we came up the driveway.
"If Jack got it, there might be pieces in the front yard. Like with Genius's bison leather wallet, monogrammed, with RFID blocker, from Sharper Image..."

Nobody saw anything. As I was putting my sunglasses and water bottle and jacket back in T-Hoe, Hick got on the Gator to drive around the grounds. The Pony circled the porch. 

"I didn't see anything, Mom. I went all the way around. I even looked in the dog houses on the other end of the porch. Because sometimes Jack sleeps in there. It was pretty dark. So I'm getting my phone to shine a light in there, and I'll look again."

He came back with nothing. Hick came in from his Gator tour.

"I didn't see nothin'! It wasn't in the back of the Gator. Not on top of The Pony's car. Not in the back of the truck. Not in the garage. Not even over by the BARn. Nothing anywhere in the yard or field. Nothing over by the hay bales where Jack has a hole where he sleeps at night."

"I don't know where it could be. It says it was delivered at 11:43. Unless... wait a minute! The phone is flashing. Remember when they left your diabetic machine thingy down at the German shepherd's house? Maybe..."
I played the message. It was the lady who lives down at the house with the German shepherd (and her husband too, of course). "This is German Shepherd Lady. A package for you got left on my porch. I'll put it on top of my JEEP, and your husband can drive down and get it."
Which doesn't let FedEx off the hook. This German Shepherd House is not even on the same road! It's a half mile away. Our road has a sign before you get to the German Shepherd House. Hick says GPS will bring you right to our driveway. So I don't know how a FedEx driver could make such a mistake. Other than GROSS INCOMPETENCE AND LAZINESS!
Not a fan of FedEx. 
Oh, and looks like if Hick's vintage muscle car calendar HAD been delivered to our very own front porch... I wouldn't have needed to worry.

No way was Jack getting his tiny mouth around THAT box. Looks like Cabela's is as good at packing merchandise as FedEx is at delivering it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A Little Secret, Putting FedEx on Blast (Part 1)

I'm about to reveal a little secret. You won't tell, will you? I'm sure I can trust you. It involves Hick's Christmas presents. So far, I've gotten him three gifts. I set out to get ONE, but like that book about giving a mouse a cookie, it led to more and more issues! Hick doesn't read much of anything besides listings to buy or sell firearms. Certainly not this blog. So our secret should be safe, unless one of you has an uncontrollable urge to poop this party.

Hick carries his money in a trifold wallet. He does not like a bifold. Gotta be a trifold. Sometimes, they're hard to find. At least hard to find in the design he'd like, and in the last-minute time period when I try to buy them. It's a standard Christmas gift for him. If he didn't get a trifold wallet every year, the other one might explode as he crossed the street, stuffing a tear-off strip for free guitar lessons into it.

Anyhoo... I used to find these wallets at Tractor Supply. I haven't been there in a while. It's over in Bill-Paying town, and I stick close to home these days, mainly going only to convenience stores and Country Mart and Save A Lot. They don't have brown leather trifold wallets embossed with a deer head. I checked online, but they were sold out on the websites I consulted.

BUT... I found a brown leather trifold wallet, not with a deer head, but with THE ROUND END THINGY FROM A SHOTGUN SHELL EMBEDDED! Yep! That'll definitely do! So I ordered it, from Bass Pro Shop, although the shipping info said it was coming from Cabela's. I thought they were competitors, but any store that sends me a brown leather trifold wallet is good with me.

There's the problem. Being SENT to me. The arrival window covered a day that we would be gone to the casino. Gone during delivery hours. Leaving any package at the mercy of Jack the Leather Wallet Eater! I didn't want to take a chance on ordering later, lest it sell out. I've tried before to have packages delivered on a certain day, but FedEx ignores information you put in on their website for just such a service.

I had the most scathingly brilliant idea! If I ordered something bigger, to be shipped along with the wallet, Jack would not be able to carry off the box to the front yard for a snack. Even if he could get his tiny mouth on it, we would most likely return before he ate all the way through the box. I found a nice calendar of vintage pickup trucks. That would be something Hick likes. Since he also has a birthday coming up, I added a calendar of vintage muscle cars. He DOES have more than one themed shed where he can hang his calendars, you know!

Imagine my glee when I saw that my package had shipped early! With an arrival date the day BEFORE our casino trip. But then I saw the note that it was a partial order! It was coming in TWO SHIPMENTS! Of course it didn't say which items.

The day before the casino trip, I got out of the shower to hear Hick, who'd come home for lunch, say that I had a package. 

"I seen the FedEx guy coming up the driveway, so I went out. I told him to put any packages on top of The Pony's car, or in the back of the Gator, because we don't want the dogs getting to them. He said he'd most likely be the one to make our deliveries, and he would."

"I thought you said Jack can get things out of the Gator. He climbs in on the seats, and then in the back."

"Oh, yeah. Well, maybe he won't."

So I was relieved that our packages would be okay this year, with that guy knowing where to put them. I went to open the package, but IT WASN'T THE WALLET! It was checks I'd ordered, that had been scheduled to arrive on Friday, not days earlier.

Off I went to town for a haircut. As I came out to T-Hoe and checked my phone, I saw an email notice that my Cabela's package had been delivered 10 minutes ago. I called The Pony. No answer on his cell phone. No answer on the house phone. I sent a frantic text about the package.

"Oh. I just got in the shower. That must by why the dogs were barking. I'll check when I get out."

Of course, chances were that I might make it home before The Pony every got out of the shower. But I guess he cut it short, because when I arrived, he had the package.

"I found it sitting on the concrete. Between the two garage doors."

So much for our FedEx promise. I guess there was more than one driver on this route. I opened the package, and found the wallet safe, and also the vintage truck calendar. Which meant the vintage muscle car calendar was shipping separately.

Later that evening, I heard footsteps on the front porch. As I was walking to the door, Hick entered.

"Here's another package. I found it here on the porch. Beside the door."

It was a soft plastic bag of pajamas and socks that I'd ordered a week ago. Good thing the dogs had been with Hick over at the BARn. Obviously this was the THIRD FedEx driver that had left a package that day. All in a different place. Like an Easter Egg hunt!

Of course by now, I'm sure you've figured out when the muscle car calendar got delivered... More on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Val Goes Psycho As the Casino Stabs Her in the Back

You know that Val has a soft spot in her heart (and head) for casinos. They bring her joy, even as they take her money. Val bears no ill will to casino employees who are just doing their jobs when they confront her for taking pictures of her own winning slot machine screen for which she has paid dearly to obtain. Nobody at our new favorite casino has ever told Val that she could not take a picture. So she takes them all willy-nilly, to brag on a jackpot, or simply show a bonus that is hard to get, or maybe simply colorful.

Such was the case last Wednesday, when my first slot, Wonder 4 Tall Fortunes, gave me the "tower bonus," as I call it. The bonus that every player strives for. I did not win much, considering it was on the big bonus. But I like to get the tower.

Ain't it purty? Here is the next-to-last game of my bonus. As you can see, the top game has given me the tower symbol to make my last spin the whole six games. You'd think I might get a big win.

You'd think wrong. That last spin, the 13th of 13 spins in the bonus, was pitiful. My entire jackpot was $46.95. I wasn't really disappointed. I'd achieved the bonus for the first time in months. I couldn't even share it with The Pony, because he'd gone to the back wall of the casino to see if our favorite slots were available. The Wonder 4 Spinning Fortune where I'd won my $8,600 bonus in July.

The Pony appeared at my left shoulder and his report on the availability of our machine made my blood turn to ice water!
"They took it out. The whole area is covered with a black tarp. I guess they're putting in new games. The stools are moved."
MY JACKPOT HONEY-HOLE HAD DRIED UP! More accurately, had been drained and paved over for progress! I DREAM about playing that slot for the whole 90-minute drive. Sometimes I dream about it the night before our casino trip. And now it was GONE! I wandered aimlessly, playing some old favorites, without much luck.
About a half hour before our lunch break, The Pony sent me a text that the new slots had been opened up. He was playing, in the seat where I'd won my big jackpot. 
"Dragon Tower Jackpot. An 88 cent bet one. I'm not sure how to feel about it."
I went back there. It was set up like our old favorite. Four slots, four stools, and a big screen up top that linked them together. The Pony was on the right end, Stool #4. So I went to the left end, Stool #1. A lady was playing on the other side of my plexiglas divider, on Stool #2.
I put in a $15 ticket, and started to play on an 88 cent bet. That machine ate my ticket. Didn't pay me back anything! I fed it a twenty. After playing almost all of it, I hit a bonus. I don't know how. A dragon-snake thing came slithering across my screen, which told me to LOOK UP, and Press Play to start the bonus. When it was done, it had paid me $36. Not great, but it was my money back! I decided to cash out. 
That's how I make sure I have some money to take back home. I keep a ticket that I add to. Small wins, but they accumulate. I fed that ticket into the Dragon slot, saw my that bonus got added to my ticket amount. I played a couple of spins, to bring my total down to an amount ending in 0, and hit CASH OUT.
That's the little button that says CASH OUT. It popped up the usual rectangular box saying ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO CASH OUT. I tapped the box that said YES. Nothing happened. That question stayed on my playing area. I hit YES again. Nothing. I tried hitting NO. Nothing. Wait a minute! After a delay, that questioning box went away. I could have hit the bets to play more. But I only wanted to cash out my ticket.
I tried CASH OUT again. Same results. Same strategy. When I finally got that question box to go away, I hit the CALL ATTENDANT button. Because otherwise, I have to either play all my money in that machine, or walk away and leave my money in it! I waited. Waited. Looked around, all antsy. You KNOW they're watching on camera. The eye in the sky should have noticed my angst, even if the CALL ATTENDANT button wasn't working. That's what those security people are paid to do, you know. Watch people for odd behavior which could mean cheating, or trouble brewing.

THERE! A dude wearing a casino shirt and badge. He acted like he was going to walk by right behind me. There I was, with my CALL ATTENDANT button pushed. I waved him over. I pointed at the touch-screen part of the slot. He could see it had the CASH OUT screen on there, with the question ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO CASH OUT. I'd been trying it again while I waited for help. I motioned to it, and shrugged.
THAT DANG ATTENDANT SHRUGGED RIGHT BACK AT ME! Like he was MOCKING ME! That did not go over well with Val Thevictorian! He could have said, "Did you call an attendant?" Or "Can I help you?" Or "Is there a problem?" But no. He MOCKED ME!
"I'm trying to cash out, and it won't do anything. It's like the screen is locked up. I've tried it four times."
"Well, you'll have to MOVE!" 

What an a$$hole! Of course I knew I'd have to move. IF he was going to help me. Of which I'd seen no indication. For all I knew, he might have said he needed to call a technician. Which has happened to me in other casinos, resulting in them "lifting the hood" and check for paper, or any of the things that make the BEEP BEEP noise on an open slot machine. 
Attendant Dude didn't have to be so a$$holey about it. I got up. And do you know what he did? He started tapping on the button for YES! Like he couldn't have reached his arm there from beside me to do it! I was on the END, for cryin' out loud. I'm pretty sure his arms were not too short to touch the YES button from standing beside my slot. But I hope his arms ARE too short to box with God. Because he deserves a beat-down!

To further enrage me, that slot machine started printing my ticket!

"How did you DO that? It wouldn't work for me."

"Well, sometimes when your fingers are wet [AS IF I HAVE A SWEATING DISORDER, OR LICK MY FINGERS IN THE COVID CASINO!] the machine won't recognize them. So you have to use two fingers."

He was getting a$$holeyer by the moment. What he was REALLY saying was that they didn't have that touch screen part calibrated right on this new machine! Am I right? Me, the technology simpleton? THAT'S why TWO fingers could make it work. They could touch off to the side, where the sensing part was out of place! Yeah? Maybe? Am I onto something? 
I asked Genius in his weekly letter, but he hasn't gotten it yet. Because if the problem was just that electronical thingies don't recognize that I'm alive, then it should have worked for him the first time, and he wouldn't have needed to tap it multiple times, then use TWO fingers! If that's not plausible, I don't want Genius to let me know. Because right now, I feel vindicated. Like that Attendant Dude knew they had messed up with this new slot machine, but was just gaslighting me about it being MY OWN FINGERS' FAULT!

Sheesh! I don't know what was wrong with that Attendant Dude. Most people would be happy to still be working during these times. Especially in a non-essential casino! Maybe that was his problem. He didn't WANT to be working. Everyone else in that casino is polite. Especially the food workers who give Hick that extra-fat slice of pie. 

I don't begrudge the casino the part of my bankroll it kept this time. I DO feel stabbed in the back by the removal of my jackpot-giver, and the less-than-polite treatment by this Attendant Dude. Somebody needs to tell him that in a casino, the loser is always right.