Friday, January 31, 2020

The Cantankerous Scratcher

Wednedsday, I completed my shopping at Country Mart, and stepped up to the lottery ticket dispensing machine on the right side of the door. They have two. I bought my ticket, and moved to the left machine. As I put in my money, I was conscious of somebody standing behind me. It was an older man (probably younger than me, heh, heh) and one of the workers.

"Well, yesterday a lady won $500 on one of the new Queen of Hearts tickets. That's the biggest I've heard of."

"Ever since [Gas Station Chicken Store Owner] and them went to meet with them in Jefferson City, there haven't been any good winners around here. I think they're doing it on purpose, to get back at them."

By that time, I had my ticket. The worker had walked away. The Old Man was waiting to buy a ticket out of my machine. Since I always like hearing about what has been won, and where, I turned to share with him.

"I won $1000 a couple weeks ago, on a $5 ticket."

"Did you get it here?"

"No. Over in Sis-Town, and the Casey's."

"Well. There you go. That's what I mean."

"It was on this ticket."

I held up the kind I'd won on, which I had just bought out of the left machine. I really wish I'd been eavesdropping a few minutes earlier, because the ticket I'd bought out of the right side machine was the same one the lady had won $500 on the day before. I wouldn't have picked that same ticket, had I known.

"Oh. That's unusual to win that much on THAT ticket."

"I agree."

The Old Man put his money in the machine. I didn't hang around to see what he bought. Now that I think about it, there HASN'T been a big winner from Backroads for quite a while. We used to have them pretty regularly, mostly from the Gas Station Chicken Store. I can't remember a time when Country Mart or Orb K had a big winner. I think the Backroads Casey's might have had a $10,000 winner a while back.

I still don't think the winners are distributed totally at random. Not when I look at the map of winners every month. They don't happen in clusters like that. I think the big winners are scattered around, to be fair, which makes them NOT random. Each distributor has a certain code number on their tickets. They can tell if the ticket came from their store or not. Otherwise, how would they be able to track suspected fraud? Or say where the winner was bought?

I assume that the time for Backroads is coming.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Shower the People You Love With Bug

Due to a lunch date with my favorite gambling aunt, I had to get up early on Tuesday, at the Not-Heavenlish hour of 9:00 a.m.! Before you get all judgy about Val's slothfulness, please remember that she goes to bed between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. So who's the sloth NOW, huh? You probably got more sleep. I was preparing to make myself presentable to the world, I slid open the shower door to turn on the water.


I couldn't run out to get my phone, because I was ready to step in the shower. I wasn't getting dressed again. The living room shades were open, and I'd just had dealings with a man on the porch. It wasn't a normal day where I might throw caution to the wind and streak to the kitchen counter for my phone camera.

With every intention of getting a photo after my shower, I stepped inside. The ladybug didn't seem very active. The water wasn't splashing up on it. I shampooed and rinsed my lovely lady-mullet. As I closed my eyes and put my face under the spray, I put my right hand on the soap dish to keep my bearings. It's about shoulder height.

Face rinsed, I opened my eyes again, and saw that ladybug crawling on my right thumb! NO! That doesn't happen. Droplets of water ricocheted off my flesh. I didn't want that ladybug to get waterlogged. I moved my hand across, under the nozzle, near the wall, to let the ladybug crawl off by the door, high up on the shower wall.

It fell to the floor!

Oh my gosh! That just wouldn't do! I got the ladybug off the wet shower floor, and onto my finger. I slid the door open, and let it crawl onto the wallpaper about waist high. Whew! That was a close one!

When I got out of the shower, the ladybug was on the rug. I avoided it. Dried and dressed. And went for my phone. When I came back the ladybug was crawling off the rug and onto the dark green tile.

It had its fragile, see-through wings out, probably drying them. That's the pattern and glare from the glaze on the dark green ceramic tile, not flaky skin cells and creeping crud. I had every intention of setting that ladybug free on the front porch, once I combed my hair.

It was gone when I looked back.

Yes, I know it's technically a beetle, not a bright red ladybug. It's what we have around here, and we always call them ladybugs.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Pony, the Glitch, and the Bedclothes

The Pony has a situation. He sent me a text last Thursday, at 11:05 p.m.

"So, I'm sleeping on the couch tonight."


"Bed's haunted. Distinctly saw a person shaped fuzzy blob just laying in the middle of it, not by the blankets. Gone with the lights on, there with the lights off. Not dealing with that. Ghost wants the bed, they can have it for now."

"Maybe you shall heed my advice in the future!"

That was a pointed reference to his evening of Ouija fun before Christmas. Kids these days. Can't tell them anything. They have to figure it out for themselves.

I don't know what's going on out there in Oklahoma, but I have had similar experiences here in the past, without the use of an Ouija board. Must be a glitch in the matrix. Maybe some kind of electrical disturbance that alters our brainwaves, making us see things that might or might not be there. Or another dimension drawing on electrical energy to manifest, since here it seems to happen in rooms where the lights go wonky from time to time.

Don't worry about The Pony. He's fine. Sent me a picture of his lunch Tuesday, a flatbread pizza that he picked the artichoke hearts and olive bits off. He ate the pesto, chicken, sun dried tomato, spinach, and feta cheese. But he thought the olive chunks should have been smaller than the chicken chunks. Also didn't like the texture of the artichoke hearts.

I, too, had pizza for lunch Tuesday. I'd already taken a picture, to send it to The Pony.

He and I seem to be on the same wavelength. Though he has access to better pizza.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Hick, the Merchant of Good Will

Oh, no! Val has misspoken! She must set the record straight, and hope that the long arm of the law is extra-long this time. Shh...was that a siren? Am I headed to the Crossbars Hilton for violating the Truth in Blogging Law? Will one of you bake me a cake with a file in it? Rainbow Chip, please. In case the file doesn't get through, I can still enjoy some delicious cake!

Here's the deal. Last week, I revealed that Hick bought a Goodwill gift (along with a do-gooding stranger) for a Down's Syndrome girl (age 21) who visits his Storage Unit Store. I mistakenly called that Goodwill gift a Wonder Woman DOLL. Well. That shows how closely I listen to Hick. It was actually a Wonder Woman GLASS! I know, a $12 glass. No wonder my mind couldn't wrap around that. was a Wonder Woman glass, from 1975.

Hick put the glass on a shelf in his Storage Unit Store. Sunday, the girl came in with her mom and dad. Hick said, "I have something for you, but you'll have to look and find it." Her mom told her to go in and look around.

"I found it!"

"Go tell him, so you can have it."

"I found it!"

"Okay. Let me tell you, I got this for you, and another man I don't even know helped me pay for it. He wanted to make sure you got it."

The girl picked up the glass. She loved it. She told her mom, about Hick, "I love him as a friend!"

The mom told the girl, "This glass is extra special. It's from 1975, and that's the year I was born."

The whole family was happy as could be. So was Hick. And somewhere, so was that other guy.

Monday, January 27, 2020

He'll Drink to That

Remember when Hick was brewing his own beer? It's READY!

Actually, Hick's home brew was ready on Friday. He decided not to go to the auction that night. I don't think it had anything to do with his beer. It was a messy, snowy day. Maybe this isn't such a good auction. It's not like he doesn't go to three other ones during the week.

Anyhoo...Hick had mentioned earlier that his beer would be ready on Friday. That's because I thought he was neglecting it, and asked if it needed tending. I think his actual words were:

"I think I'll get it cold and try one Friday night."

Well, he forgot about the cold part. He came back from his Friday gallivanting and put a new pump in the big triangle bathtub in the master bathroom. I heard him thumping around upstairs. Then he stumped down the basement steps. I heard the squeak of the workshop door, and figured he was getting his beer to carry upstairs. After I heard him go up and settle in his La-Z-Boy, I sent him a text about supper, and asked if he'd be having his beer with it.

"Oh. I guess I need to come down and get some to cool them off."

Apparently, he had been returning tools to the workshop. Apparently, not tools that one would use to fix a squeak on the workshop door.

Anyhoo...we had a Walmart deli pizza for supper, and Hick popped open a Coke Beer. It was 3/4 gone by the time I went to sit on the short couch to chat with him.

"How's that beer?"


"What's it taste like?"


"I mean, like what brand of beer would it compare to?"

"I don't know. Just beer. Here. Taste it."

"Uh...not sure if I want to do that. I'll smell it, though. Huh. It smells like Miller Lite."

"All beer smells the same."

"I don't think so."

"Try it."

"Maybe just a taste..."

I was pretty apprehensive, because I could see stuff floating in the bottom of the bottle. But I took one for the team, so I could give you a review of Hick's Coke Beer.

"Oh. It tastes like Miller Lite, too. Only a heavy Miller Lite. Maybe just a Miller. It has that same aftertaste. Like metal."

Let the record show that Val is no beer connoisseur, and has not imbibed since May 29, 1992. However, her beer palate has remained intact. I was shocked that Hick's brew tasted like a commercial product. Not sure what I had expected, but this was encouraging.

"Tastes like beer to me," said Hick, tilting the bottle. "I think I'll drink it down a little more, and then pour it out."

"Yeah. Didn't you strain it? I thought Genius bought a strainer."

"He did. I DID strain it. But it has those particles."

"Well. I'm not so sure how well you cleaned those bottles to start with. Where did you get them?"

"From my collection over in the BARn. I boiled them! They're clean."

"Meh. I'm not so sure what is beer particles, and what was from the bottles to start with."

Anyhoo...Hick drank one of his Coke Beers, and seemed none the worse for it. I have been feeling kind of icky for two days, but I doubt it was caused by letting some Coke Beer touch my tongue. Much as I would like to blame Hick for one more thing...

Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Starless Review of the Buffet in the Gambling City on the River

After cashing in my big lottery winner on Wednesday, Hick and I stopped by our old favorite casino for lunch. Uh huh. Lunch. I didn't have a monetary food comp like usual, but I had a free buffet comp. Hick always gets a free buffet comp. So rather than pay to eat a burger (gotta save that scratcher money), we decided to try the buffet for the very first time. I’m sure glad I did not pay for that! It was not very good. Golden Corral is 10X better.

The best thing I had was the Orange Chicken. It must have been crack, soaked in MSG, dusted with chicken flavor powder, and coated with a sugary glaze. Nom Nom! Unfortunately, the “fried” rice that accompanied it looked and tasted like white rice soaked in vegetable oil and stirred with a scrambled egg. Totally bland. It might have better been used to feed a sick pet.

The Beef and Broccoli was a close second, but I only had a taste. A guy darted in from my left shoulder as I was going down the line, and scooped out almost all the beef. The one piece I had was tender and tasty, as was the broccoli.

The roasted chicken was dry. The skin around my slice was colored as if it was truly roasted skin. But the texture was like that tape Walmart uses to hold multiple items together, like stacking bowls with lids. I was unable to cut through the skin, so peeled it off like the red casing on a slice of bologna.

I just said NO to the Fried Cod. It looked like it was made from pressed pieces of fish flakes, every piece the same size and shape, deep-fried like a McDonald's hash brown, only about 1/3 the thickness. The baked cod farther down the line looked mushy, so it also got left behind.

Of course I had a fried-chicken thigh. Good thing that's my favorite piece, because I didn't see any others. I was sadly disappointed to discover that the crispy-looking skin was rubbery. It was uncuttable. There was a tiny crunch from the coating, if you could get a piece sawed off to eat it. Here's the thing. I like to pick up my fried chicken to eat it. I think it's finger food. It's not like I'd pick up a ribeye, or a slab of meat loaf, or chicken parm. I'm civilized. I just think fried chicken should be eaten with the hands, and not sawed-at awkwardly. However...I could not bite through that skin! I had to eat like some fancy-pants socialite! Who would probably not stoop to fried chicken anyway. The chicken itself was moist, and had a good taste, if you could get it into your mouth.

My third favorite was a dessert. Not sure what it was. It looked like chocolate mousse in a foil cup, with a dab of whipped cream and some crumbs on top. It was smooth and chocolatey, but the sprinkles were disconcerting. They were like round, fat, solid, rice krispies. Not nuts. An awkward crunch that I could have done without. Oh, and I had to eat it with a fork, because there were no spoons. Only knives and forks provided in a rolled-up napkin. I could have gotten a black plastic spoon at the ice cream station, had I known beforehand.

The dessert section was a few cookies, something like chocolate mousse in a foil cup (pick of the litter), about 3 kinds of ice cream you had to ask for dipping, cherry pie, and chocolate cake. Unlike the pretty but tasteless cake we get out at the Riverwind buffet in Norman, Oklahoma, this one tasted pretty good. It was sliced in a small square, as if out of a one-layer rectangular cake pan. It tasted like something a 10-year-old girl might have made from a box, to take as cupcakes to her FALL FESTIVAL party at school. It was the fourth-best item on my plate. Of course, the rubbery-skinned fried chicken thigh, and the slice of dried-out roasted chicken didn’t bring their A-game to the competition.

Hick sat down with a plate of peel-and-eat shrimp, and popped a whole one in his mouth. Of course I watched to see what would happen. He spit it out.

"Did you forget to peel your shrimp?"

"No. I can usually bite it off in my mouth."

YUCK! I'm so glad that I don't eat shrimp with Hick on a regular basis. He also had some peas that looked way over-cooked. They were dimpled and gray. Hick also had the fried cod, and only took one bite. I forget the other stuff he had on his plate. He did have a slice of cherry pie, and some mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Neither of us partook of the sandwich station at the end. Are you freakin' kidding me? I can make a sandwich AT HOME! Besides, the little bit of shaved ham and maybe turkey laying on the wooden paddles would barely have satisfy ONE of us!

We both agreed that we would never PAY to eat there again, and it would be iffy should we both have a FREE offer again. I'd say that we did not get the $13.95 ($15.95 with drink) value out of our FREE lunch buffet.

I regret that I did not take any pictures. It wasn't good enough to brag about, and not bad enough (I'm lookin' at YOU, tiny condiment cup of side-order slaw) to shame the buffet.

Of course there was a weirdo component to my lunch adventure! We had just sat down with our plates, and unwrapped our knives and forks, when a mob came pouring out of a separate room. I swear, it was like the running of the bulls at Pamplona! You'd have thought those people were risking life and limb for GOOD food. Sadly, they were not.

I told Hick I was glad we'd decided to meet for lunch at 11:50, rather than noon. Because I had my plate, and no intention of making another trip to the buffet. Hick tried, with limited success. He was actually going to try the Orange Chicken, on my recommendation, but the herd of locusts had picked most stations clean.

We didn't go hungry, but we were not exactly sated. It's kind of like if you had the chance to eat all you wanted at a school cafeteria. You discover that you don't want all that much.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Val Plays Fast and Loose With the Ha'PENNY

MONDAY, January 20, a soon-to-be member of Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune appeared under the counter at Orb K. I was getting anxious with my path to it blocked by a fellow customer.

In better news, the energy supplements were fully stocked, and the sweeping seemed to be up-to-date. My heart skipped a beat when that customer bent down to pick up her parcels. Her head was right over that penny! I know she saw it. Perhaps she was too proud to pick it up. Perhaps she didn't have a spare hand.

Anyhoo...I was able to capture this face-down 2003 beauty for my collection. Yay, ME! It was the only one this week.

By my calculations, I will need to find just over 2.5 pennies per week to beat last year's total. 3.5 weeks into 2020, I should have accrued  8.75 pennies so far. I'm ON SCHEDULE! Technically, if you don't count the decimal...

2020 Running Total
Penny     # 8.
Dime       still at 1.
Nickle     0
Quarter  0

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, January 24, 2020

Val's Most Recent Casino Weirdos

No trip to the casino would be complete without weirdos. At least for Val. Hick never seems to encounter weirdos. Maybe HE'S the weirdo!

Anyhoo...this trip wasn't too bad for weirdo sightings. We were at the casino for three hours, and part of it was spent lunching, another part trying to get A-Cad back from the valet. More on the lunching in a couple days, more on the valet at the end of the weirdo report.

Only two weirdos this time. Nothing severe. Nobody touched my slot machine, or chatted me up at the cash machine, asking if I'd had any luck. But I DID have a close-slotter.

Let the record show that Val does not shoehorn herself into a game on a busy slot row. I will go on by, and find a less populated area. I most certainly never go sit by a lone slot player when other seats are empty. That would be like seeing one member in the audience at a theater, and plopping down right next to them, to Lucy-Ethel the armrest.

After lunch, I went to a Fortune Coin slot. There were three machines in the row, all the same. Same progressive bonuses, because they were linked. I chose the slot on the left end. On the aisle. I hadn't been there five minutes when a guy sat down RIGHT NEXT TO ME! The middle slot! Never mind that there were three of the same kind on the back of them, not being played, because I could hear no sounds. So out of the five total slots available to him, this guy chose the one RIGHT NEXT TO ME!

To make matters worse, the minute he sat down, he COUGHED! Not just once. COUGHY hacked at random intervals. I hope he didn't have that Chinese bat pandemic virus! I turned my head left, towards the aisle, every time I needed to inhale. I'll take my chances with the carcinogenic cigarette smoke, by cracky!

I would have left immediately, but I was IN A BONUS when Coughy sat down. I wouldn't care one bit about hurting his tender feelings, making him wonder if I left because of him. As soon as my bonus was done ($60 on a 60-cent bet), I cashed out my ticket and left. I suppose I was meant to do that, because I went one row over to the Dancing Drums carousel, sat down, and hit the bonus in about three spins. That one paid me $60-something on an 88-cent bet.

I don't hang around after a bonus, feeding the money back. I went two rows deeper off the aisle, to one of those ram's head kind of slots that I play down at our new favorite casino. I know I've put a picture here before. Anyhoo...I put in a twenty, and started playing at a 60-cent bet. I'll be darned if my second weirdo didn't sidle up and sit down on my left. There were only two machines there, so I guess he was entitled to play. There wasn't another one like it.

This second weirdo reminded me of Coughy! It might have been the same person, but more likely a twin or a doppelganger. Because I didn't get sprayed with the corona virus.

Doppelganger Weirdo had a styrofoam cup with him. I figured it was the FREE soda, or water. He set it on his slot keyboard. Imagine my surprise when he fished in his pants pocket, and DROPPED SOME COINS in the cup. They jingled, like they landed on other coins. What in the Not-Heaven? Why would he be carrying change? You can't put coins or tokens in slots any more! Only bills or tickets. I'll be darned if he didn't then pour some of those coins into another cup on the other side!

I wasn't ready to leave that slot. I just knew I was going to get the bonus. I put in another twenty, and I DID get the bonus. Which paid me, you guessed it, $60-something. It was still counting up when Doppelganger Weirdo got up and left. I mentioned yesterday, I think, or maybe not...I didn't leave the casino a winner, but I only lost 12% of my casino bankroll. That's as good (ALMOST) as a win, after spending three hours there. I hit several bonuses, but they were all about $60, and you have to spend money to make money. So I didn't break even. I didn't have a picture-worthy bonus, although I did take one on my very first slot.

It's not particularly noteworthy, it's just one of my current favorites to play. That was the end of a bonus that paid me $60.90, on a $1.50 bet. I'd put in two twenties by this time, still had $16.60 of the second one left when I hit the bonus. I'd been varying my bets from .50 to 1.00 to 1.50.


Hick does not always use the valet here. We used to walk in from the outside parking lot, but then my knees got more painful, and he'd drop me off, and we'd walk out together. With his hip and knee hurting, he decided to use the valet. We've used it before, depending on the weather. Their latest method is to take your phone number, so you can text them when to bring the car around. Hick does it, so I don't know the particulars. I DO know that as we were getting ready to leave, Hick looked at his phone, and said,

"That darn valet never sent me a text! How am I supposed to reply to him to bring the car around? I'm going to have to go to the window, and hope they can find our car."

Well. I did not like the sound of that. How was Hick going to prove that our car was his? He didn't have the key. THEY had the key! I still don't know how they figured it out. Hick said they let him look at GMC keys hanging on the board! It was not a very busy day at the casino. Not many cars for the valet. Hick said, "Yep, them are my keys." And they got the car for him. He had given them the whole keyring. They figured out that the valet had put Hick's phone number in wrong. Wrong area code. Though to be fair, when Hick recited the number to him, Hick left off the area code at first, then corrected himself.

Anyhoo...we were reunited with A-Cad, and made it home with most of our money, and most importantly, my lottery ticket winnings intact!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

It's a Not Very Big World After All

Isn't that a catchy title? Somebody could write a song about that, and maybe market it to theme parks to play during a ride...

That's not as good as Season 5, Episode 4 of The Middle, though. It was their 100th episode, and the fictional town of Orson had a celebration which included Ron Cougar Mellencamp, singing "I Was Born in a Teeny Place."

Anyhoo...Wednesday, Hick drove us to the city to cash in my $1000 scratcher at the lottery office. It's in a really out-of-the-way place. Like an industrial park. As I was getting out of A-Cad, putting on my jacket, and grabbing the folder with my precious and the claim forms, Hick said,

"I know that guy."

"What guy?"

"Behind us. Getting out of that car parked in front. Hey, bud!"

Yes. Of course we drove 90 minutes, to an out-of-the-way place, for Hick to know one of the only two people there! This guy lives in Sis-Town. A couple of blocks from Sis, herself. He had just cashed in HIS $1000 winner (what was my theory about winners not being random at all, but hitting in clusters around the state every month), and was going back inside for their bathroom. They have really clean bathrooms at the lottery office.

Anyhoo...after lotterying, we went casinoing. Not on the same money, of course! More on that adventure another time. Because I must tell you what happened when we went Goodwilling.

We'd driven about halfway home when Hick hit the exit ramp. It was pretty clogged up, for then being just after 3:00. The city rush should not have been this far south yet.

"Wow! Who knew there would be so many people out today, cashing in their $1000 lottery ticket, stopping by the casino, and heading to Goodwill!"

"Yeah. Seems to be a lot of them." Said Hick, for once getting a joke.

He turned into the mini mall with the Goodwill, turned up a parking aisle, passed a couple empty spaces, and parked.

"Huh. Will you look at THAT! What are the odds?"

It was a van from the company Hick USED TO work for, BEFORE he was lured away to start a competitor from scratch, with just an office manager and president. Where he just retired from a couple years ago, having made quite a business out of it, from the ground up, taking an empty facility and wiring it and filling it with machines that also make saw blades for butchers.

"Heh, heh! I wonder if I'll see anybody inside Goodwill that I know."

Turns out, he did not. I saw a dude get into that van. Open up a snack bag of some kind. Take a couple bites, and drive off. Hick was disappointed. But conceded that maybe the driver had been in the grocery store next door, and not the Goodwill.

Yes, it's a not very big world after all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

In Case You Have Some Extra Sympathy Sitting Around

For those of you who may have excess sympathy (I never do), Hick's latest pity party needs a tiny violinist. Oh, Hick would never ask for it himself. He soldiers on, troubles coursing off his cotton-duck, Carhartt-clad back as if they were water. It is I, the main thorn in his side, who can sense his vulnerability.

On Sunday, Hick was planning a play date with our across-the-road neighbor. Not so much a play date, like shooting guns or digging through his storage unit treasures. A play date, to watch the Chiefs in the playoffs. Hick said the human daddy of the Killer Poodle and Crazy Rottweiler had asked him to come over and join him and some other guys to watch the Chiefs. Maybe it was reciprocation for the free hay that Hick gave him for his horses the week before. Or maybe he just saw Hick at the right time for an invitation.

Anyhoo...I was meaning to text Hick on Sunday morning, while he was at his Storage Unit Store, to see if he needed to pick up something to take to the festivities. He'd only told me about it the night before. Not enough time to whip up a 2.5 hour batch of Chex Mix. Or maybe he wanted to get some beer, since his home brew had another week to ferment. Hick could even have taken some bottles of the homemade wine that had been gifted to him. It would be a nice gesture. I mentioned before, Hick came home early from his Storage Unit Store, due to lack of customers and sore joints and the 26-degree temperature. He said that when it was time to go, he planned to get in his truck and drive out of our compound, then return.

"I'll leave in the truck, so the dogs don't follow me. Then when I come back, I'll just go down their driveway. I don't want the dogs to follow me on the Gator. They don't get along with their dogs."

Well. That's certainly an understatement. Though since their dogs massacred all our chickens, one or two at a time, we haven't seen their dogs the killers over here for a while. The presence of intimidating Copper Jack, the side-neighbor's dog, might also put the kibosh on such invasion.

So, Hick had his timeline all planned out, and his strategy. He was looking forward to it, as he's a gregarious guy, and a lukewarm fan of the NFL. It's not NASCAR, by cracky!

Within a half hour, Hick relayed information he'd just received by text.

"I won't be going to watch football. They're headed to the city to pick up a grandkid. Oh, well. I can watch it here."

Which he did, not wanting any special snacks, and snoozing intermittently in the La-Z-Boy. Hick got a text later in the afternoon, saying the neighbors were back, and he was still invited, although they didn't have time for the mister to make his chili. Hick was fine with finishing the game at home. No ill will. Stuff happens.

In retrospect, Hick lost an opportunity to unload that football crock pot as a gift...

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Hick Needs a New Marketing Strategy

Hick has an item he has been trying to sell since last year at this time. It's been in his Storage Unit Store, with no takers. No interest. This week, he changed his marketing plan.

"I've got a crock pot that's a football. I was sure somebody would want it, but nobody's even looked at it. I think I'll move it up front, with the Super Bowl coming up."

"A crock pot?"

"Yeah. In the shape of a football."

"You mean a warmer? Like for dip or something?"

"A crock pot. Like a football. With a lid."

"It sounds like more of a warmer for serving hot food. What's kind of lid does it have?"

"A lid that goes down on it."


"Uh. ALL lids go down on it. That's what a LID does! What's it made of?"

"It's a football."

"IS IT GLASS OR PLASTIC! Just answer the question! I know it's not a leather football."

"Well, it's plastic, to look like a football. But the underneath part is glass."

"I'm just saying, I don't know why anybody would want a crock pot shaped like a football, for cooking regular crock pot stuff. But they might want a warmer to serve snacks during parties they have to watch a game."

"Yeah. But nobody wants it. I think I'll move it up front. By my football stuff."

"Where DID you have it?"

"In the back, with the cooking stuff. Because it's a crock pot."

"Maybe it's because people don't shop at flea markets during Super Bowl post-season. It was 26 degrees this weekend!" 

Anyhoo...Hick was scheduled to sell stuff at an auction on Monday night. He had it all packed up. Decided to take the "football crock pot" with him. Sadly, on the way out of Backroads, he saw a gal come around a curve and spin 3 times on the just-snowed road, and into a ditch. He decided not to go to the auction.

I asked Hick how much he was asking for his "football crock pot."

"Eight dollars."

Monday, January 20, 2020

Hick's Joints Are, Apparently, Relapsable

Hick had been feeling better on Saturday, but Sunday he came home from his Storage Unit Store early. At 11:20 a.m.! He always stays until after the church crowd. But here he was, moaning that his knee and hip really hurt. Looks like he's had a relapse of his malady. He said it felt like that time he had an infection in his knee joint fluid, and the doctor used a LONG needle to drain it out.

His knee is not swollen, nor is it red. He says it sometimes makes a crunchy sound. I propose that he overworked the knee when helping an old friend move, earlier in the week, by carrying furniture up and down stairs. Not a normal activity for him. AND, he knelt on it while fiddling with the motor thingy in the big triangle tub in the master bathroom. Also, I propose that in protecting that knee, Hick changed his stride, and that aggravated his hip. I am not a doctor. Just a proposer. If he's not better in a few days, Hick will go to the doctor.

Anyhoo...I'm sure that Hick's malady was not helped by hanging out in a storage unit Sunday morning, at 26 degrees. He ended up in the La-Z-Boy, covered with an afghan knitted by an old family friend in Alaska over 30 years ago. Fortified by a garlic bologna sandwich with pepper jack cheese, and some off-brand ruffles potato chips, he was strong enough to be a crotchety old man. I made an escape to town, leaving him to switch channels between the KC Chiefs playoff game, and the Barrett Jackson Auto Auction. Of course, first I had to find his auction channel, since he had no idea of the number or the name. VELOCITY, for anyone interested. Channel 246 on DISH.

Anyhoo...I think I caught Hick in a nap when I returned, because he was a little out of it, and congenial. I'm not sure what he's going to think when I show him what I got today in town.

That's a moneybag symbol, which means WIN ALL. Or as Hick calls it, a winnell. I spent some of my as-yet-unhatched chickens (in the form of lottery winnings) on a $10 ticket.

That's another $100 winner! So...over the past four days, I've had two $100 winners, and a $1000 winner.

I'm pretty sure this gravy train is due to end soon. Or clog my arteries.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

I Typed Smugly With Glee When I Found Three Pennies and a $100 Lottery Winner in One Week...and Then I Met a Woman (In the Mirror) Who Found a $1000 Winner

Some of you seem to think I'm lucky. I THINK YOU'RE RIGHT!

Saturday, I bought a $1000 winning ticket! Never mind that I'd already found three pennies for the week, and bought a $100 winner on Thursday! Same kind of ticket, too. Here's a pic of the whole thing. You know, to prove it happened.

Because there's nothing people like to read about more than a winning lottery ticket they didn't find, unless it's the step-by-step details of not-their win, I will elaborate.

I scratch my tickets in order, left to right, top row to bottom row. I don't bother to uncover the prize unless I have a match. I was thrilled to have a winner on the last space. Even more thrilled that it was a 5X symbol. I was excited, because I knew I'd won $25. That's what I expected it to be.

I scratch off the prize from right to left. To see the zeros. I can tell by where they are if they're going to be a $5 prize, or maybe a $10, $15, $20, or $25 on the other side of the little zeros and the decimal. But this one had BIG ZEROS! So I took my picture right then. Prolonging my excitement. At that point, I was thinking I had another $100 winner, TIMES 5!

Imagine my SHOCK to find $200 for the prize! Everybody knows that 5 X $200 is $1000! Except Hick, who looked at it, and and said, "You won TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS?" He's still a little jealous that I had the $100 winner a couple days ago. Then he put aside his peeved-ness, looked closer, and said, "Does that mean five times? That's a THOUSAND! You won a THOUSAND dollars!"

Yes. Yes I did.

Let the record show that my buying schedule was off. I got this big winner at the Sis-Town Casey's. I'm usually there on Fridays, between 11:00 and noon. This week, I didn't go, because of the forecast of freezing rain that never materialized. So I needed to get to the bank, and stop for gas, on Saturday instead. I left home at the stroke of 11:00, to get my bank business done before it closed at noon.

Of course when you're on a schedule, stuff happens. The bridge was flooded again, so I had to go the longer way. A car in front of me stopped dead in the road. I don't know why. I'm don't follow too closely, so I didn't hit it. I just had to wait until it was ready to drive again. No idea what was going on. Lost, maybe, because of the flooding, and taking another route.

On the road in front of the bowling alley, a truck was stopped in the road. Seriously. I never encounter road-stoppers. But within two miles, I had two! That truck made a T-turn after I went by.

Since my plans had already been altered, I decided to pull into the cemetery on the way by. I hadn't made my weekly visit, and a few more minutes wouldn't hurt. On from there, I was in the home stretch for the bank. Less than a mile away. When I saw flashing lights up ahead.

They were the flashers on a little gray sedan. As I got closer, I saw that it was NOT stopped in the road, but was moving at about 10 mph. It was the follow-car for a guy driving a yellow forklift. I DON'T KNOW! It's the first forklift I've encountered in traffic. I don't know what makes them run, but it had something on the back that looked like a keg of beer. Surely not. Must have been fuel. I forgot to ask Hick about it.

Anyhoo...I got to the bank, but all the parking spots were full. By ALL, I mean the 10 spaces in their parking lot. So I went around back to the drive-thru, where each of the two open lanes had two cars already waiting. I made the right choice, which was the right lane. That car drove off in no time, and I put in my deposit for The Pony's account, $15.65 to replace money he'd used to pay his credit card. We make him use it for gas, and pay it off every month, to build credit.

Anyhoo...since I couldn't go inside, I couldn't break a twenty from my weekly allowance that I'd set aside for getting two fives, a roll of dimes, two rolls of nickels, and two rolls of pennies. They won't send out more than two coin rolls in the canister thingy. So...I decided I had enough change for the week, and that I'd use that twenty on scratchers.

I was conflicted on whether I wanted four $5 tickets, or a $10 ticket and two $5s. In fact, I was still debating as I walked inside to pay for T-Hoe's gas. Still deciding as I looked at the ticket case. I went with four of the $5 tickets. This BIG WINNER was my 3rd choice. I figured that since I'd already won $100 on that kind of ticket this week, my odds were low of another winner, even if it was from a different store. If I'd gotten a ten and two fives, I wouldn't have my BIG WINNER.

This ticket is one I've been buying for about six weeks. I looked on the website for the December winners, and saw several $1000 winners on this ticket. I don't believe their winners are totally random, because every month, you'll see a cluster of big wins in different towns, and the same one or two tickets will be the winners. THAT'S why I'd been playing this ticket, not because of the second chance on the back, or just because I like the older tickets. Unfortunately, I'd had about a dozen of those tickets win NOTHING. But I kept buying them, and got my $100 winner to break the losing streak on them.

Not sure if I'll keep buying them now. Maybe until the end of the month, when I see a new winning pattern from January.

Yes. I know there's no way to tell if a ticket is going to be a winner, or where that winner will show up. Of course I DO buy a lot of tickets. But I seem to have more luck than anyone else I know.

Saturday, January 18, 2020


Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune is chugging right along like the Little Engine That Could. Nothing spectacular, but increasing weekly in a workmanlike manner.

MONDAY, January 13, I spied a heads-up 1999 penny at my feet, while standing at the counter of Orb K. I took a picture. I know I did. Not a close-up, because there was a guy so close behind me that we might as well have been recruits in line for a physical and our vaccinations upon reporting for boot camp. I'm pretty sure that bending over and extending my ample rumpus posteriorly was not a good idea. Anyhoo...once I got home, that penny-picture had vanished! Yet I still had the penny itself.

Oh, well. Easy come, easy disappear off my hand-me-down phone. Good thing that I found a second penny as I went out the door of Orb K!

It's in the center of the photo. Kind of hard to see. I made sure to watch for people flinging open the glass door, as I bent down for the close-up and the nab.

It was a face-down 2013. And I avoided a noggin-knockin', because nobody came out while I was documenting its discovery.

THURSDAY, January 16, I dropped a load of laundry in the washer before I left for town. I absentmindedly tossed in a generic Bounce, and adjusted the dryer settings so it would be ready when I got back home. You know how your mind recognizes something different, but you shunt it aside? That's what I did, when my mind noticed a pinkish spot near the dryer's lint trap.

Once home, as I was standing at the washer, tossing wet clothes across the space occupied by a laundry sink I never wanted, and into the gaping maw of the dryer, my mind noticed it again. I silently (okay, maybe out loud) cursed Hick for his carelessness. Just like him to leave something behind, even if 30 years of nagging had finally spurred him to clean out the lint trap. I figured this was a scrap of a receipt that he had washed and dried in his pocket. Or maybe a scrap off a shop towel that had been left behind. Those rags don't last forever.

Oh, I'm sure all of YOU, with your perfect 20-20 vision and keen perceptual skills, would have immediately recognized that as a penny. I, myself, did not. Not until I bent over to make sure Hick had actually cleaned out the lint trap (he had not), and discovered this face-down 2015 PENNY!

Of course I'm claiming it! Do you really think Hick would plant a penny there and leave it for me ON PURPOSE? No. He would not. He is greedy about his own pennies. Puts them in a big plastic Coca Cola bank, next to the bathroom door. It's over half full! We'll need a crane to lift it out.

Anyhoo...that's 3 pennies for Val's collection this week!

2020 Running Total
Penny     # 5, 6, 7.
Dime       still at 1.
Nickle     0
Quarter  0

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, January 17, 2020

Achy Breaky Parts

Our hero Hick has been under the weather. At least for a day, on Thursday. He said his joints ached, and he was tired. He seemed to think it was the snow and rain moving in for Friday morning. I asked if he'd changed any medications, or forgotten to take some. He had not. I suggested that it might be from helping an old friend move on Tuesday. You know how extra physical exertion really hits you two days later, when your muscles get all stiffened up. Hick DID say he had carried a headboard out of the attic of a church. Yes, I'm dying for the details, but I'm not sure I want to know.

Anyhoo...I didn't know of Hick's ailments until I came home from town. I'd been to Save A Lot instead of my regular Walmart shopping spree. So there weren't quite as many groceries to carry in. Still, I had two heavy boxes. I stopped T-Hoe in the driveway to text Hick. Can't call from the garage since Hick had that metal roof put on. And he can't receive calls in the BARn. We'd be better off with two tin cans and some twine, rather than Sprint.

Anyhoo...I knew Hick was in the BARn, because I'd seen SilverRedO parked in front. When he's home, Hick will help carry in groceries. I figured he'd hop in SilverRedO, drive over to the house, and take the Gator back over. Imagine my surprise when Hick came huffing and puffing through the people-door of the garage.

"Whew! I hope I can make it back over there! My legs wanted to give out!"

Hick only had two trips from garage to kitchen. I carried some soda and a lighter box to the side porch, so he didn't have to keep going up and down the steps. On the last trip, I said

"I didn't know you were going to walk! Why don't you take the Gator back over there?"

"Because, Val, then I'll have the Gator AND the truck at the BARn. I can't drive them both back."

"In the morning, you could drive the Gator back over there to get the truck to go to town. By the time you get back home, you might feel like walking back to the BARn after you park the truck under the carport."

"No. The battery is bad. The Gator won't work in the cold. I need a new one."

Of course he does...

"Here. Get in T-Hoe, and I'll drive you back over."

"No. I can walk."

"Why? I know what it's like for your legs to hurt. It'll only take a minute. Get in."

"No. I can do it."

"GET IN! You drop me off at the casino doors. I can drive you to the BARn!"

Finally Hick got in. We had to take the long way, up the driveway, cross by the deep sinkhole, and down the BARn field. The short route, along Shackytown Boulevard, was prohibited, because the front yard was too mushy for T-Hoe's tonnage.

Hick puttered around in the BARn for a couple hours, then came back to the house in SilverRedO, and mixed himself a Jack and Diet Coke in a red solo cup. I'm pretty sure his pain went away. At least temporarily.

The good news is, for my trouble, Even Steven rewarded me with a $100 scratcher win.

That's the back side. Imagine if somebody didn't pay attention, and forgot to scratch the back! I'm pretty sure the lottery people have thought about that, too...

The front of the ticket looked like this. I didn't want you to blow a brain fuse trying to find the winning numbers. There aren't any, since the winner was on the back.

Yes, on Thursday, Hick was under the weather, and I was over the moon. When I showed him my winner, Hick said wistfully,

"I wish I could win a hundred dollars."

Sorry. There are limits to my helpfulness.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

You Know This Is Killing Me, Right?

For the second time in three days, I must again report on something good that Hick has done! I'm pretty sure he's trying to kill me, this time by being good to other people so that I have nothing to write about except his positives. The nerve of that guy!

I think I mentioned once before that Hick has a certain regular at his Storage Unit Store. She has a daughter with Down's Syndrome who LOVES Wonder Woman. Hick himself is a fan of Wonder Woman, the slot machine. Any time he sees Wonder Woman items during his Goodwill tours, or auctioning, he buys them for the lady's daughter. He gives them to her when they come in to shop. He doesn't charge for Wonder Woman.

Yesterday Hick was at Goodwill over in Bill-Paying Town. He found a Wonder Woman doll for $12. While he was paying, the man in line behind him asked if he liked Wonder Woman. Hick explained who it was for, and the guy said, "I always love to help out those kids. Here. Let me pay half." And he did!

Yes, Hick is a good guy. I guess Even Steven could feel the goodness oozing out of Hick's pores, and made sure that Hick's charitable deed was done for half price.

Hick won't know until the weekend (weather permitting) how much that gal likes her Wonder Woman doll.

The guy behind Hick at Goodwill certainly deserves an Even-Stevening. He paid for half a doll, without being officially recognized for it. That's like not getting credit for a Big Salad.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Val Makes These Mistakes So You Will Have Solutions

Let the record show that Val does not pretend to be a good cook. Okay. She does PRETEND to serve edible food. Hasn't killed anybody yet. Usually, her limited repertoire goes off without a hitch. Yesterday, it did not.

The plan was to cook a pot of beans, using an unopened ham left from Christmas. The spare ham. Just a little one, fully cooked, already sliced. The issue is not with the ham.

I poured my two-pound bag of Great Northern beans into a large pot around 10:00 p.m. Monday. To soak overnight. Sometimes I remember, and sometimes I do the quick-boil method. But this time, I remembered. The beans looked ready on Tuesday morning. I poured out the water, and rinsed them twice. I added 8 cups of hot water to begin the cooking, even though the directions say 6 cups. I like a little soup to my beans, for adding cornbread.

The ham was quickly cut up and added to the pot. Along with minced garlic, salt and pepper, WAS OUT OF SWEET BANANA PEPPER RINGS! I always add some pepper juice, and some diced pepper rings. Oh, well. I could pick that up at the store later, and add before warming the beans for supper.

I adjusted the temperature to just-below medium-high. Left the lid ajar. Like I've done hundreds of times. When I checked back an hour and twenty minutes later, the beans looked just right. But they were low on fluid. It was barely at the top of the bean level. I needed that juice for the cornbread. I added another two cups of hot water, set the beans back on the burner, tilted the lid to let out steam, and took a bathroom break. The plan being to come back, take the beans off the burner, give them a stir, and let them sit and cool a bit. They were done. I had tasted them, and the beans were of the right consistency. I only wanted that water to mingle for a minute with the other juices.

When I came back, only five minutes later (yes, I washed my hands), I put the long plastic spoon in to give them a stir.


My beans were now stuck to the bottom of the pan! In only five minutes! With water just added! Such a calamity! AND, they now tasted BURNT! Dang it! A whole pot of beans down the drain! I wasn't ready to give up on those beans. I set them aside, and went to turn HIPPY back on. According to the innernets, there were several ways I might be able to save my beans.

A POTATO. Put a potato in, to soak up the burnt taste. I tried, not very hopeful. Only as a stopgap method while I rounded up the other possible antidotes. Which was a good thing, because after 10 minutes, the (peeled and halved) potato had done nothing.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. I had some hope for this one. After all, I was lacking my sweet banana pepper juice, so I needed something acidic anyway. The idea was to add a tablespoon at a time until the burnt taste was gone. I gave it a try, but after the first tablespoon, I could tell NOTHING had changed. So I went to the last suggestion.

PEANUT BUTTER. I don't know how this was supposed to work, but I faithfully added a tablespoon of peanut butter to my burnt beans.


I added another tablespoon for good measure. Then went to the store for my pepper juice. Added it, and some more minced garlic. Ground some more salt and pepper.

Those beans were just like new! Cooked new. Not hard, out-of-the-bag new.

Not a pretty presentation, but I guarantee that these beans were made by me, burned by me, and fixed up as good as new by a tip I got off the internet! Oh, and I also guarantee that there are actually beans under all the toppings!

Let the record further show that I do not recommend serving such doctored beans to a person with a peanut allergy.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Candyman Can't

"Who can find a Christmas tub (who can find a Christmas tub)
See chocolates, eat a few? (see chocolates, eat a few)
Set empty tub with dishes for his wifey Val to do
The Candy Man can't, the Candy Man can't."

My sister the ex-mayor's wife gave us some of her Christmas candy, left over from her annual Christmas Eve dinner. You might recall that she did the same thing last year, and one of the tubs went missing, to be discovered later in the possession of Hick.

Anyhoo...we've had two tubs of the candy sitting on the cutting block since a couple days after Christmas. It had chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, buckeyes, turtles, Hershey Hugs topped with an M&M on pretzels, and Rolos topped with pecans on pretzels. When the stockpile got low, I put all of them into one tub. Every afternoon, I'd choose two pieces to go with lunch. A few days ago, I opened up the tub to find THIS!

A single piece of candy left in the tub.


Just finish it off already! We've had it for over three weeks. Everybody got a share. I don't mind missing out on the last piece of candy. I DO mind somebody (HICK) playing this game of "I didn't eat it all."

Of course I interrogated questioned Hick about this discovery.

"Why did you leave ONE PIECE of candy in that tub? I just finished the dishes. I could have washed it."

"I was full, Val."

"Sure you were."

"There was 4 left. I was just too full to eat the last one."

"Uh huh. If' there'd been 5, I bet you could have eaten 4. I know how you are."

"No you don't. I was just too full."

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask you: "How full do you have to be to pass up ONE PIECE of candy? This size. A simple Rolo with a nut on a pretzel. Is that so filling? Will it explode a stomach? More specifically, will it explode the stomach of the defendant, who has been known to eat three Casey's donuts at once? I think not. The defendant does not have a hummingbird stomach. Nor has his gut been surgically altered like those 600-Pound-Lifers. Consider the evidence carefully."

Of course some of you jurors will take Hick's side. It's the popular thing to do. "Oh, Val. Hick is not used to eating candy! He knows he's not supposed to have it. I'm sure he really WAS too full to have even one more small piece."

Well! To you I say, "Does this line from George Michael's song Faith ring a bell?"

"And I know all the games you play because I played them, too."

I really want to leave that Christmas tub sitting there, after taking out the last piece of candy. So when Hick thinks I've forgotten, and wants to eat it, he will open up an empty tub. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Caught Freeing Wood

We had a little storm pass though Backroads on Friday and Saturday. Lots and lots and lots of rain, making the main low-water bridge impassable, and soaking the ground so that Hick had to WALK a prospective customer to his Freight Container Garage. No driving in the BARn field in this mess, unless it's with a tractor.

The Prospective Customer met Hick at the Storage Unit Store on Saturday, and followed him out here to look at the Steamer Trunk. I guess she was a cash buyer! Not pot. They both parked on the gravel road, and walked down. Anyhoo...I'm starting to wonder if that steamer trunk is full of gold doubloons. Hick told her that if she wanted it, he could use the tractor to load it in SilverRedO, and have it waiting up at the storage units on Sunday. As far as I know, she did not reply back to him.

Anyhoo...Hick had to leave his Storage Unit Store around 9:30 Sunday morning. I know that, because he sent me a text asking

"Are you up yet"

"What are you, the sleep police?"

"No. I was just telling you Tommy needed a ride to work if you saw me"

We won't get into how that might be interpreted. Was I supposed to tell Hick, if I saw him, that Tommy needed a ride? More likely, Hick was providing an alibi in advance, in case I saw him driving past home when he was supposed to be at the Storage Unit Store.

I didn't get the full story until later. Tommy had called Hick to ask for a ride to work. He said he had called people he works with, but they couldn't pick him up. Now that he has a steady job, at a produce distributor, where he is trusted to run a forklift, and load potatoes and stuff, he never misses. Except the three days he was in the hospital, when work called Hick, as Tommy's contact, saying they were worried because he hadn't showed up.

Anyhoo...I was afraid something was wrong with the $900 car we gave Tommy to get him on his feet. But no. That car has been surprisingly dependable for the past two years. Quite a bang for our buck. No, the problem was a TREE that fell across Tommy's driveway. Hick said he had plans to go back later with his chainsaw, cut it in half, and shove both parts to the side. Turns out it was bigger than he thought, and he couldn't cut it. But he DID get the driveway cleared with the tractor.

Coming home, I saw Hick down at our littlest low water bridge, shoving piles of mud and dead leaves and broken branches off the edge. Another tractor guy had cleared out the creek bed the day before our rains. And still, all this detritus washed in from upstream.

Good for Hick and Red-Tractor Man. It's not like any of the other denizens of our enclave are going to do anything but gripe.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

One-Plus-Nine Bottles of Beer On the Block

Hick's Christmas gift from Genius was a home-brewing beer kit. They went in the kitchen and rattled some pots and pans, and got it started. Hick let it sit for two weeks, then was supposed to bottle it. I think he also added some honey for flavor. The beer was actually made from a flavor packet that came with the kit, so I'm pretty sure he's not going to poison himself.

Anyhoo...Genius also sent Hick a bottle-capping kit last week, which he'd forgotten at Christmas. Hick was on his own to find the bottles. He thought of buying regular beer and drinking it, and saving the bottles. He's not a big beer drinker, and throws away his empties.

Lucky for Hick, he's a hoarder! He had plenty of COKE bottles on hand! He just needed to clean them and sterilize them. He said there was a packet of stuff for doing that, but he felt safer boiling them. Well. You know what THAT meant. More rattling and poorly-washing and not-quite-the-same-place putting away of my pots and pans. Hick did that Friday night, rather than going out in the rain to the auction.

Imagine my horror when Hick came down to my lair and informed me that he was in the middle of boiling his Coke bottles, then DRYING THEM IN THE MICROWAVE! He saw nothing wrong with his tactic of heating up a few bottles at a time, turning the water in them left from boiling to steam! I'm pretty sure Coke bottles are not made with microwaving in mind.

Anyhoo...Hick accomplished his mission without being blinded by Coke glass shrapnel. He poured his gallon of beer into the bottles, put on the caps with his capper, and carried them down to his basement workshop to sit out of the light, and age another two weeks.

Please disregard the raspberry vinaigrette that is impersonating a bottle of Coke-beer. And the beans for tomorrow's dinner, pickle jar, Hick's Ruffles chips, and the can of random Hunts spaghetti sauce. Hick does not pay much attention to the composition of his photos. Other than to set up his Coke-beers as bowling pins.

Hick's Beerola. It's the real thing.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Sing a Song of Pick PENCE, to Kick Off a New Year Seeking Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune

Val's New Year got off to a good start, with a little surprise waiting for her at the Gas Station Chicken Store.

I didn't expect to find a penny on New Year's Day, but the penny had other ideas. Not a flashy specimen, but my well-trained penny-finding eye couldn't miss it. There! Near the middle of the picture, at the edge of the shadow, just above the cracks.

It was a heads-up 2016, with Mr. Lincoln a bit foggy-headed.

Just two days later, on FRIDAY, January 3, I was pleasantly surprised by a double-coining at the Sis-Town Caseys. COINcidentally...I had just stopped by the cemetery for my weekly chat. So the DIME and PENNY made sense to me. Dimes remind me of Dad, since I found them all over my house in the weeks after he passed away. And pennies remind me of Mom.

The dime was a heads-up 2017

And the penny a 2018, face down.

Looks to me like the Sis-Town Casey's is fast approaching Orb K levels of cleanliness.


TUESDAY, January 7, I was leaving the School-Turn Casey's when a penny caught my eye.

Obviously meant for me! Good thing I rescued him before that vacuum got started up!

It was a heads-up 2010. Old Abe is looking mighty rough on this indoor penny.

THURSDAY, January 9, I stepped out of T-Hoe at Orb K, and was greeted with a special gift:

There it is, a heads-up 2009, shining near the middle of the picture. I got a close-up, but it was only a shiny glare, no detail. Due to the film of light mist that was falling at the time. But I got a close-up on my kitchen counter, because

...who knew that 2009 pennies have a likeness of Ol' Log-Splittin Abe sitting his backside on a big timber on the back side? Not this old Val! I don't see many of these, though I imagine they're common.

In future weeks, I will only include last year's totals with my 2020 running coin total. But for now, we'll include the complete history.

2020 Running Total
Penny     # 1, 2, 3, 4.
Dime       # 1.
Nickle     0
Quarter  0

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Penny  131
Dime     17
Nickel     6
Quarter   1

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

Friday, January 10, 2020

Spicing It Up, the VAL Way

Nothing ever goes right for Val. Please take a moment to rest your crazy temple twirly finger, and turn it into the world's smallest violin for a pity party serenade.

While in Save A Lot this week, I picked up a new jar of Minced Garlic. It's the brand I always get, for adding to soups and chili and chicken & noodles and ham & beans and spaghetti sauce. It's pretty versatile, and easy. Yes. I'm sure many of you crush or mince your own fresh garlic, when you're taking time out from not-watching TV, and hosting think-tanks with your closest friends, to solve all of the world's problems. I just run to the kitchen between reality shows, and put a spoonful of this minced garlic in my canned-food concoctions. I was standing at my cutting block, opening the lid on my jar of minced garlic, so shrinkage from the cold of FRIG II wouldn't thwart my arthritic fingers when I wanted to use it...I noticed that there was a rough patch on the label.

Not a big deal, until I noticed that the rough patch was SLIMY! And the clear plastic ring that fits around the lid had slipped down. My jar of minced garlic was leaking if tilted! I removed the clear plastic, and turned the lid. It did not give me that satisfying WHOOSH. So I tossed that jar of minced garlic in the wastebasket! Sure, it might have been okay. I don't think anybody deliberately tampered with it. But HOW LONG had it not been vacuum-sealed? I'm not taking any chances on spoiled garlic. Although it's probably like honey, and won't go bad. you might imagine, my hands had quite a fragrance after that garlic-handling. So I went to the sink, to use the bottle of Bath and Body Works soap that my sister gave me last Christmas. It's called 'Tis the Season, and according to the label, has the fragrances of Red Apple, Fresh Cinnamon, and Cloves. It smells delicious. I'll admit to sniffing my hands like Molly Shannon as Mary Katherine Gallagher. After I use that soap, NOT after putting my hands in my armpits!

Well. This whole garlic debacle totally ruined my smelly-good soap. I'm sure Bath and Body Works will never make a version with the scents of Red Apple, Fresh Cinnamon, Cloves, and Garlic. On the bright side, I felt pretty much immune to vampire attacks.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Val, the Slower Picker-Upper

Bounty paper towels have no need to worry. Val is NOT usurping their turf. She's the snail to their cheetah, the century to their nanosecond. She only picks up solids, and that very rarely. It requires bending, you know. So much like exercise. Val's bending is mainly reserved for PENNIES.

I stopped for the mail Wednesday, and something caught my eye as I clambered out of T-Hoe.

No, silly! Not gravel. That implement of tire destruction partially embedded in the gravel! I could have left it there. No skin off my nose, no accidental fraction of an inch off my ample rumpus. But I got to thinking about it. Once upon a time, T-Hoe had a flat tire because of just such a bolt. The front tire drives over it, flinging it into the air, or standing it on end, just in time for the back tire to be pierced by it!

I haven't told Hick yet. The bolt is still out in the garage, resting comfortably on T-Hoe's console. You can bet I'll share this info with Hick, so he can sing my praises. Even though Hick is a pretty good singer, praises are kind of foreign to him.

One more hazard off the road, courtesy of Val, the slower picker-upper.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Less-Than-Stellar Performance by Hick, the Infamous Wrapper

Yesterday, Hick sat down on the long couch to box up Genius's stuff left here at Christmas. We had our gifts for him delivered to his Pittsburgh apartment, but my sister the ex-mayor's wife and her family gave him their gifts on Christmas Eve. Since Genius was headed out west on a ski trip, with only a carry-on bag, he left his gifts behind for us to mail later.

Hick actually found the perfect size box to stow away Genius's gifts. Good thing we're hoarders and didn't rush to throw away any Christmas boxes! The only breakable items were two tumblers with the St. Louis Blues logo. Genius had given Hick specific instructions: "Don't break my glasses!"

My idea was to wrap them up in a couple of washcloths. So they wouldn't clink together, and would have a little cushion. Oh, no. That was not in Hick's plan. He said he knew just what to do with those tumblers. Imagine my surprise when he went to the kitchen, and came back with four Walmart bags. Yes. The plastic bags.

Short of blowing up those bags, assuming they didn't have the little holes near the bottom seam, to get a cushiony balloon after tying the top...I don't know how plastic Walmart bags can absorb the shock of shipping glassware. Do you?

Anyhoo, that's what Hick did. In spite of me telling him to at least layer some paper towels in there. He said it was all fine. Closed the flaps. And taped that box seven ways to Sunday. On his final circumference of tape, I said,

"Oh. I wish I'd put in a couple of scratchers for Genius."

Heh, heh. That was just to get Hick all wound up. It worked.

"Val! I just finished taping the box! I am NOT undoing it for lottery tickets!"

Then Hick moved on to wrapping some items for his brother and his brother's wife. They live in Las Vegas. Hick visited them in October. When we went to meet The Pony to bring him home for Christmas, Hick said,

"I need to stop and get a t-shirt for Wifey. I was telling them we had a town called Uranaus, and she really wanted a shirt from there."

"Well. I am NOT going in Uranus!"

"Heh, heh. I know. I'll get stop on the way back, when you're riding with The Pony."

Of course The Pony and I had a grand time discussing it, once he was informed.

"Looks like we lost Dad. I thought he'd be passing us by now. I haven't seen him since the rest area."

"Dad is in Uranus."

I will spare you further conversation. Let the record show that Uranus is on I-44, and was founded by a man who is the mayor and everything else of the town. I think the population is 6. It's basically a roadside tourist trap, and has many catchy billboards.

Anyhoo...Hick found a flat box for shipping Brother and Wifey's stuff. He had a framed newspaper thing about Elvis, and a couple more Elvis memorabilia things for Brother. Of course Hick laid the frame face down, and put some Walmart bags on the back. Then the other things and the t-shirt on top.

"I guess that will protect the glass enough."

"Huh. I would probably use that roll of bubble wrap on the shelf under the TV."

"WHAT? I didn't know that was there!"

He only sits there looking six inches above it every night while he watches TV. Since I pointed it out, he forsook the Walmart bags, unpacked the items, put the bubble wrap under the frame and curved over the ends, and added the other stuff on top. A final piece of another box, torn up, was added on the very top, to hold everything in place. I'd like to think I'm the Svengali behind Hick's future career as a wrapper.

Oh, yeah. The t-shirt? I asked Hick to hold it up. It had a logo, with URANUS at the top, and LIQUORS at the bottom. Say it out loud. Uh huh.

Val is not the only one around these parts with a the sense of humor of a 13-year-old.