Monday, August 31, 2020

(Formerly Known as Puppy) Jack Needs a Public Defender

Oh, dear. After so many incidents where my little Jack has been unfairly accused of mischief such as pooping on the trunk of the 1980 Olds Tornado, or pooping in the garage (real culprit was HERE), or pooping on the deck of Poolio, or eating 3/4 of a Bison Leather Wallet with RFID from The Sharper Image... I am used to pleading his defense in the Court of Hick. Okay. I do admit to declining the Case of the Eaten Bison Wallet. A guilty plea was entered by Jack, and he has been on double-secret probation for a few years now.

Anyhoo... Jack's latest (alleged) crime is a case for which I cannot, with conscience, mount a defense. Though evidence is circumstantial, a jury of Helen Kellers, sitting in a court of Judge Tommy (deaf, dumb, and blind kid) the Pinball Wizard, would not let him off.


Well, technically, he only ATE about 1/3 of it, chewed 1/3,

and left the remaining 1/3 for evidence. It's not like the local mailbox-robber or house-breaker-inner dropped by for a tasty plastic snack. Copper Jack only eats paper plates, and my Sweet, Sweet Juno does not deign to chew things. She hoards them in her house, perhaps carries them from place to place, but never chews. Which leaves only my little Jack as the prime suspect.

It does not help his case that Jack chewed the nose off the fake resin dog that Hick has standing guard on the front porch.

I'm sure Jack was only trying to make friends with this pooch! He's not a BAD DOG! Look at this little guy... That's Jack, practicing his courtroom demeanor to elicit sympathy from the jury.

 He DOES, however, like to lick and chew! For which he's well-equipped.

Jack seems to be shining a little brighter these days...

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Hick: An Inconvenient Couth

It may come as no surprise to you that Hick has always been a little uncouth.

He may choose to wear a wildly patterned shirt that is 20 years out of date for pictures at his son's college graduation. Along with a sweatshirt advertising a different college.

He may assume certain groups of people are interchangeable. As when he pontificated on his belief that people can simply go to work, do their job, and leave their personal life out of it. It's not that belief that was uncouth. But his insertion of "the gays" in place of "people," and when called on it, his replacement with "The nudists. I meant to say nudists. Same thing."

He may assert that all prostitutes have dark hair, parted in the middle, since he watched a crime show about a serial killer in Arizona whose victims all looked amazingly similar in their photos.

Like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you can never be sure what you're going to get when you have dealings with Hick. But just like all chocolates involve chocolate... dealing with Hick usually involves something a little uncouth. When it doesn't, the world wobbles a bit on its axis.

Last week, I made a supper of peppered bacon draped over potatoes, carrots, and onions. All baked in a roasting pan, with a little Hidden Valley Ranch powder sprinkled in. The bacon was gone before the vegetables, so we had them another night with lemon-pepper chicken. And Hick stretched them to a third night with leftover chicken.

Normally, Hick would put the couple of carrots left over back in the bottom of FRIG II, in the giant roasting pan. I'm used to that. The dogs will eat them, because of the bacon flavor. There was quite a bit of "juice" left in the bottom of the pan. I had a loaf of stale bread on the kitchen counter, by the back door, waiting to soak in the juice, as a treat for the dogs. I'd even told The Pony (AND THE DOGS), "There's a good treat coming up tomorrow!"

Imagine my shock when I came upstairs in the wee hours of "tomorrow" morning, and saw the roaster pan sitting on the back of the stove. The lid was off, and inside was NOTHING! No carrots, no onions, no juice! In fact, that pan looked like it had been rinsed with HOT water! No greasy film clinging to the sides. Nothing to sop up with bread!

Upon interrogation later in the day, Hick revealed that he'd had a sudden attack of couth.

"What happened to that juice I was going to soak the dog bread in?"

"Oh. I poured it out and rinsed the pan."

"WHY? I was saving it for the dogs! I even told them! WHERE did you pour it? Hopefully not down the sink! The grease and the onions will clog the drain."

"I just poured it off the back porch."

"Of all the times to do that! You've never done it before. Didn't you see that bread I had set out for the dogs?"

"I figured I'd be in trouble if I left a messy pan on the stove. So I poured it out."

AS IF being in trouble for doing such a thing, for over 30 years, had finally shamed him into cleaning up a pan that he used last! Such an inconvenient time for Hick to acquire some manners.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

No-NonCENTS Val Refuses to be Intimidated by a Masked Joy-Sucker

This week, Val is in the ebb phase of her ebb-and-flow community penny harvest. You can't discover a Nuestra Senora De Atocha every week, you know!

MONDAY, August 24, this treat was waiting for me inside the Backroads Casey's.

There was a bit of controversy about its harvest.

I was able to nab it, though. A face-down 1978 penny, exposing his coppery rumpus. For my trouble, I was accosted by the masked manager in the back-room office calling out, "Is there a PROBLEM with the gum rack?"

Nope. It provides perfect cover for waiting pennies until I arrive to scoop them up! I insolently pocketed that copper while meeting her above-mask gaze. Nobody sucks the joy out of a Val penny-find! Once outside, safe in T-Hoe, I sighed with relief that she hadn't run out and squeezed my wrist to make me drop it.

FRIDAY, August 28, I stopped by the School-Turn Casey's while out and about with The Pony, picking up pizza for our lupper. That meal which combines lunch and supper. As I stepped out of T-Hoe, I said, "I'd better take my phone, in case I find a penny!"

FOUND IT! Only a few steps down the sidewalk, there it was, right in my path.

It was a filthy specimen, a crusty, face-down 2014. But all pennies are welcome in Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. This one required a sink shower before being allowed to join the collection.

Only 2 PENNIES, for 2 CENTS this week, but I am happy to have them!


Penny       # 104, 105.
Dime         still at 15.
Nickel       still at 9.
Quarter    still at 1.

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, August 28, 2020

Hick Has An Unrefined Palate

Last week at the casino, each of us had a coupon for $5 off a $10 food purchase. Not free, but at least half price! Unless you have to get pie, like Hick. I didn't get a picture of Hick's pie, because he had already eaten it when I got out my phone for pictures! I blame the order-taker, because she gave Hick his pie as we went through the line to order. She allowed him to eat his dessert first! Anyhoo... Hick chose Coconut Cream Pie, even though he has professed for 30 years that he doesn't like coconut.

Hick chose his regular lunch order there, the burger with pepper jack, and fries. I promise, there WAS a burger under that lettuce!

Of course he ruined his fries by adding pepper. He does that since he saw Genius do it once, and The Pony has followed in their peppery footsteps.

The Pony stepped away from the burger, and ordered a new special, the Fried Shrimp, and fries.

There were SO MANY shrimp in that basket! The Pony couldn't eat them all. I had one, and Hick had three. The cocktail sauce was tasty, but I wouldn't taste the other kind. The Pony liked it better. I don't remember how he described it. My phone photo doesn't do justice to those shrimp. I had a bad angle. And I DID show Hick's meaty forearm...

I gave up my Chicken Club Sandwich in favor of a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. It was real, and it was spectacular. Though I'm sure the denizens of Philadelphia might beg to differ.

Look at that monster! I had to eat it with a (plastic) knife and fork. No way could I have picked it up. The tater tots were also delicious. They fry them nice and crispy. A few strands of my Philly's cheese was stretched across them. It was a delectable mess.

Lunch was the high point of our casino trip. We all played in the slot tournament again, but I was not a Fourteenthampion this time. I only earned 126,000 points. Sometimes, the odds are not remotely in my favor. My slot machine didn't give me enough special balloons to pop for bonus points. Bad luck of the draw!

The Pony got 167,000 points, and was in 10th place when we left. I guess the later rounds had some good totals, because he did not place in the top 16 for a prize, even though his score was higher than mine that won me $40 last time.

Hick won about $40, but not in the slot tournament. So he definitely had a good time. The Pony and I enjoyed ourselves despite coming home poorer.

On the plus side, we were all so stuffed that we didn't even stop for Krispy Kremes on the way home.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Val's Ample Rumpus is Always Under Surveillance

I'd put that Casey's encounter on the back burner. There are a variety of clerks there, and I'd been getting a polite young gal who calls me "Hon," or the older lady missing a tooth who is always friendly, even though she takes her sweet time. Yep. I'd forgotten all about that accusatory manager gal, until Wednesday.

One customer was ahead of me. I stood on my 6-foot circle, squinting to see the numbers on the scratchers. I recognized the scratchers by their color and general location. But the little number dots were out of focus to my near-sighted, unglassesed peepers. It's always good to have your "order" memorized when you step up to the counter. Not that Casey's is run like a certain New York soup stand, of course...

With my tickets committed to memory, I let my eyes roam, and saw a PENNY under the counter, in front of the feet of the customer ahead of me. She seemed oblivious, so I was pretty sure I'd be adding to my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. That always puts me in a good mood.

When it was my turn, I handed my winning scratchers to a young gal I've only seen once before. She had on a colorful, fruity-print mask, and was a cheery little thing.

"What can I get you?"

"I'm trading in these winners. I'd like a number 2 and a 7 and a 10."

As she was scanning my winners, I took a picture of MY rightful penny! Then I bent over to get a close-up. Mid-snap, I heard

"Is something wrong blah-blah blah blahber?"

HUH? Where did THAT come from? I looked at the Cheery Clerk, tearing off my tickets.

"What? I couldn't hear you."


What in the Not-Heaven? She didn't look at me. I caught movement straight behind the counter, in the office area. My nemesis, The Problem Shouter, was leaning around the door frame. Was it HER? With all this mask-wearing, I couldn't see anybody's lips moving. Couldn't tell who was talking, or to whom. The evil eyes of The Problem Shouter led me to believe it was HER. I also noticed that she'd been facing the surveillance monitor. It was almost as if a couple of casinos had called to tip her off that I was on my way!

"Gum counter? No. I found a penny on the floor. I collect them. I was taking a picture..."

With that, I scooched the penny out with my toe, and bent over to pick it up, dropping it in my shirt pocket while meeting her laser-beam eyes.

There's no law against that, right? A penny on the floor is fair game. It's common knowledge. Like tie goes to the runner. First smeller's the feller. JINX, you owe me a Coke. Two for flinchin'.

The Problem Shouter stared me down until Cheery Clerk stepped over to ring up my tickets, and blocked her view. Apparently, nobody there has received customer service training since my last PROBLEM.

Makes me wonder why she's so paranoid...

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Customer is Always Left Standing (and Given the Stinkeye)

[This is turning into a convenience-store-review blog! Here's a tale I had written up and thought I'd posted, but found lurking in the drafts.]

The Pony asked me to pick up a $20 scratcher for him a couple weeks ago. Also, a Powerball ticket, after I first learned how to pick the numbers he asked for. He's pretty asky lately. Now that he had a little win. Maybe a story on that another time, here or there.

Anyhoo... I went to the Backroads Casey's. There was a customer at each register. The lady at the left one finished. I stepped over, just as the Pony-age gal clerk tried to slither away behind the scratcher display. Believe me, I know the type well. I used to work with an older version at the unemployment office. You know, those people who want to be PAID for a job, but don't want to WORK for a job.

"Hi. I'm not sure if I did this right, but I'd like a Powerball ticket with these numbers."

I handed her the slip with the colored-in numbers on it, and she stuck it in the scanner and printed out the Powerball ticket. Then handed me back the slip.

"Do you want anything else?"

"Yes. A number 2 and a number 7 and a number 9."

"We're out of the number 9."

"Okay. Then just the 2 and 7."

The gal tore off the scratchers. She set them down on the counter in front of me, by the register, but not close enough for me to reach.Then muttered something to the boy clerk at the other register, who had a customer. Then she walked over to the back room, where the manager or assistant manager hangs out. (I used to work at a Casey's, you know).

Gal waved her arms and muttered to the doorway. I was swaying at the counter. It keeps my knees from locking up. Gal came back. Manager with her. Boy Clerk came over and stood on the other side. So Gal was flanked by a backup team.

"What's the problem?" Asked Manager, piercing me with the stinkeye.


"No problem. I'm just waiting to pay for my tickets."

Gal waved the Powerball ticket and muttered some more.

"Oh. You throw that one away."


"Well, you just scan it. Like the others. Ring it up."

Off went Manager and Boy Clerk. What just happened? Did she really come out there and get sassy with me like I was causing trouble? I was the CUSTOMER, by cracky! I am always right!

Gal rang up my two scratchers and the Powerball ticket. It came to $27. I handed her two twenties and two ones. She looked at me like I was even dumber than she was! So stupid I didn't know how to count up money! Giving her too much on purpose!

"I don't want small bills back. I should get a ten and a five in change."

Gal seemed gobsmacked that my calculations were verified by her cash register. [Little did I know that I would be meeting her male counterpart (at least HE was polite) at the Sis-Town Casey's a couple weeks in the future.] She handed me a ten and a five. Kind of jabbed her hand out with them. No "Thank you," or "Here you go," or "Beat feet." Not sure why she had to be so petulant. I was the one who was accused of having (or causing) a PROBLEM.

My suggestion for that Manager would be: If your new employee is not fully trained, don't put her out front alone serving customers. Also, perhaps the place to start in the training would be CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

You'd Think Security Would Know His Name By Now

Let the record show that I CAN let Hick out of my sight, and frankly, I enjoy when it's not my day to watch him. The point is that I can't let Hick out of my sight in a CASINO!

Hick set out on his own Monday morning, for Casino Town, on an inventory-replenishing trip for his Storage Unit Store. He did not offer to take The Pony or me along with him. Of course I knew he would slip into the casino while he was there. And of course there was a controversy!

"I didn't have my player's card, because it's in the Acadia. So I went to the desk, and the old lady there gave me a new one. I went around playing several machines. Then I sat down at one that had a card laying on it. I guess somebody forgot it. So I left it there.

When I slid my card in, the panel said, 'Welcome, Cindy.' Huh. I figured the slot machine hadn't updated itself for my card yet. I looked at the card laying there, and the name on it was Cindy Smith. So I pulled my card out, and slid it in again. The slot still said, 'Welcome, Cindy.' I pulled my card out and looked at it. 


I'd been playing on it all that time. I went back to the desk, and showed the lady, and asked how come she gave me that card. She said she remembered making me a card, but that she had no idea how it came out with Cindy Smith on it!"

"She probably waited on Cindy Smith before you, and forgot to clear the screen, and hit PRINT or whatever they do to make a card. So it made one for who was on the screen."

"I don't know how she did it. She called over that younger gal, who I guess is her boss. She went through looking at my account, and said, 'Oh, I see you play in our slot tournament,' and I told her yes. She made me a new card with my name on it. But I told her, 'I've been playing for about an hour, and now I don't get credit for those points because I was using a card for Cindy Smith's account!' She put 200 points on my account for me. So that worked out okay."

"Somebody should have noticed that Cindy Smith was playing two different machines at once, in different parts of the casino! Security knows everything!"

"Yeah, unless Cindy Smith had already left the casino. But here's the thing... What are the odds that I would sit down at that machine that Cindy Smith had left her card on, and find out that my new card had her name on it? Those odds must be ASTRONOMICAL!"

"Well. I wouldn't say they were astronomical, heh, heh. It's a probability equation. I was never very good at probability. How many people were there?"

"Not many. It was a Monday morning. Maybe 50."

"So out of all the people there, if a card was left, there weren't a lot to choose from. You had a 1 in 50 chance to get Cindy Smith's card. But I don't think that's how to figure your odds. How many slots are there?"

"I don't know. But what are the odds that Cindy Smith would have picked the same machine I was on to leave her card?"

Okay. I think I have it figured out. I looked up that casino's slot machines, and supposedly they have 900. So Hick had a 1 in 900 chance of being on that slot machine. But Cindy Smith also had a 1 in 900 chance of being on that slot machine. I think you have to multiply their chances, to find the odds of them both choosing that specific slot machine.

1/900 x 1/900 = 1/810,000

So... the probability of Hick sitting down at the same machine where Cindy Smith left her card was 1 out of 810,000.

Don't get me started on the chance that Hick would have been mistakenly given a new player's card with Cindy Smith's name on it!

Maybe the odds of THAT happening WERE astronomical! In any case, I seem to remember only one possible reader with the mathematical background to prove me incorrect. So I'm going to pull a Hick, and tell you that of course my calculations are right!

At least Hick didn't "steal" Cindy Smith's points or money, like suspected during his other unfortunate casino events when not under my direct supervision!

PublHICK Enemy #1

The Ring Lady and the Beater

Even as a VALEDICTORIAN, I had issues with calculating probability, and also slope. Then there's the whole geography debacle...

Monday, August 24, 2020

One More Indignity Inflicted Upon Val by The Pony

A couple weeks ago, Val had an embarrassing problem. Wet pants! Seriously. I did not remember peeing myself. How could I have wet pants? The wetness wasn't even in the area you would associate with wetting your pants. The "crouch" as Hick calls it. The wetness was never on my town pants, but only on my lair-wear, the blue sweatpants with white and gray stripes down the legs. It was sometimes around the waistband, or on the hip, or maybe over the plumber's crack area.

What in the Not-Heaven?

My lair-wear is like my lounging uniform. I put it on when I get home from town, and at night, when I go to bed (meaning 4:00 or 5:00 a.m.) I drape it on the edge of the big triangle tub in the master bathroom.

Being a curious type, I began to ruminate on what conspiracy might lead to my pants being wet. I was sitting on the toilet at the time. Some of my best inspiration comes from that location.

Let's see. When I get home from town, I take off my town clothes, sit on the toilet, and pull on my sweatpants. It's easier than standing on one leg like a flamingo. MAYBE there was still water on the tile floor from my shower drippings as I stepped from one rug to another. Perhaps I could be dragging my sweatpants across that dripped water as I readied them to insert my feet.

For a couple days, I made sure to wipe up any dripped water from the tile where I walked. But my pants were still wet when I put them on!

I knew I didn't drape my sweatpants low enough to hit the bottom of the tub. Water doesn't stay in the tub anyway. It drains completely after The Pony has his nightly bath, which is over by 9:00. And my pants don't get there until 7-8 hours later.

Wait a minute! The tub has been looking nice and shiny lately, because The Pony uses vinegar and a scrubby sponge to wipe down the sides. Hey! Maybe--

I stood up to get my sweatpants. Lifted them, and looked at that section of the tub, where there's a six-inch indented space, and a clear plastic little bar to hang a washcloth on, or use as a handle to get up.


Laying in that little shelf was the scrubby sponge, still wet. It was the kind that's yellow on the bottom, with the rough green layer on top. The same color green as the big triangle bathtub! My sweatpants had been hanging against the edge of a wet sponge!

I told The Pony, and he brayed like a mule! Then he trotted in to move the sponge over to the space at the other end of the tub.

Mystery solved.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Messin' With Sass-Squad

I was over in Sis-Town on Friday, to get gas for T-Hoe. Also some scratchers, of course, seeing as how I was going to be standing right in front of the display case! The Pony wanted two $3 tickets, his new favorite, a Bingo scratcher. That always messes up my purchase. I try to deal in tens and fives, so my change comes out in manageable increments.

My plan was calculated to get back a five and a ten, which are easy to use when I go to Country Mart to buy tickets out of their lottery machine. I knew what I wanted in the Sis-Town Casey's that would get me that change. With pre-paid gas and scratchers, I knew my total would be $46. I had three twenties, but didn't want to get back $14, because that would give me four ones. So I put a dollar with my twenties. Easy peasy, right? I handed over $61, expecting to get back $15.

The clerk looked at me like I was stupid! I may BE stupid, when it comes to things like... oh... I don't know... GEOGRAPHY! But I am not stupid with money. That clerk shuffled the bills. Splayed them out. Looked at me. Pinched the one between his fingers like he was going to hand it back to me.

Let the record show that this clerk was a young man about Genius's age. Mid-twenties. The group that knows everything, and is not afraid to sass back to demonstrate their superior intellect. We've coddled them and given them trophies for merely existing. So we have only ourselves to blame for their superiority complexes. The group that holds us oldsters responsible for every little thing that displeases them about their current life and presumed future. Genius's people. His unofficial squad.

Let the record also show that this young man was polite. At no time did he ACTUALLY sass back. I just sensed a lack of patience in his demeanor. Annoyance. Like a cat twitching its tail.

"That's what I meant to give you. It'll come out right. I don't want a bunch of ones back. This will give me a five and a ten. Punch it in your register. You'll see."

He did. And he did. It was like I'd done a party trick for him! Like reading the time off an analog clock. Old People Magic! His register showed that he owed me $15 in change.

There's no need for these Hipsters to act like we doddering codgers are too Alzheimered to be on the loose. We've still got a trick or two up our shawl-covered sleeves.

In parting, I said, "Don't you hate it when old people come in and mess with your head?"

The clerk did not reply. I guess there's really no good answer to that.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

A CENTSational Week in the Realm of the Future Pennyillionaire

Once again, Val planned... Even Steven laughed. And bestowed coinage upon her within 30 minutes of her scheduled Saturday CENTSus posting!

Yes, SATURDAY, August 15, I headed to Country Mart right after chipping in 33 cents for a guy who was short of money at the Gas Station Chicken Store. I grabbed a cart that was left in front of the building, and had gone only a few feet when I discovered:

A shiny dime in my path!

It was a heads-up 1986 dime. But even more rewarding, I spied two PENNIES in the shadow!

A heads-up 2002.

And a face-down 1953 WHEAT PENNY! This is one wheat penny that I'm NOT giving to Hick! For a minute after looking at the big picture, I was worried that I'd missed another penny over by the cigarette butt. Nope! It turned out to be a wad of gum.

TUESDAY, August 18, found me at the School-Turn Casey's on the way to mail Genius's weekly letter. My errand schedule was off this week. Good thing! I parked on the end in my favorite space, and started toward the door. What's THIS?

A penny by the ice machine! I stopped for a photo, not caring that parked to my left was a city police car, the copper having just climbed inside. My ego says he was watching me, but there's a slim chance he had more pressing matters on his mind. Let the record show that he was parked in the HANDICAP space, and I didn't see a limp! Oh well. I don't begrudge him a special parking space, what with never knowing when he might have a frozen water bottle heaved his way, or have unscheduled, unwanted LASER surgery performed on his peepers!

It was a heads-up 1968 penny, plopped there in my path.

Once inside, I was doubly pleased to see a penny peeping out from under the snacks on the front of the counter. I could only get one picture, by leaning down and waving my ample rumpus around. I had to scoot it out with the toe of my shoe.

Imagine my glee when I bent to pick it up, and saw ANOTHER penny lurking behind it! The front penny was a face-down 1983, and the dirty Abe behind him was a face-down 1994.

On I went, three pockets holding my treasures, to the post office, and on to the Sis-Town Casey's. While in line waiting for my scratchers, I saw a penny over by the un-open register. I was quite sad, knowing that I would never be able to pry it out from under that clear plastic snack shelf. I was still grousing when I turned to leave that fallen fellow behind, and saw THIS:

A replacement penny, blocking my way out! Of course I took a picture. And snapped it up, to carry in my hand, all pockets currently occupied by previous pennies.

This was a brand-spankin'-new face-down 2020 penny! Quite a profitable Tuesday for Val!

THURSDAY, August 20, found us in the casino. Looks like Even Steven knew I was comin'!

Of course I picked it up! And took a picture, too! I hope I don't get in trouble for capturing one of The Pony's shoes.

It was a heads-up 2005 penny, forsaken on the floor by some stratospheric roller. Sadly, that penny is about all I left with! Well. Not all. But I left half my Thursday casino bankroll there. And NOT on the floor.

FRIDAY, August 21, I was once again back at the Sis-Town Casey's, after a bank trip for cash to pay off Hick's extortion for dog and cat foods, and to get gas for T-Hoe. Waiting for me at the counter was a special treat:

No, not those sunflower seeds and beef jerky. The PENNY under them!

It was a face-down 1994 penny, easily within toe-dragging reach. Into my shirt pocket it went, while the clerk tried to figure out a problem with my pre-pay for the gas pump. I had to move T-Hoe to a different pump, because somebody left 1 cent (ONE CENT!) on that pump, and they couldn't reset it. I paid for a different pump, so another clerk had to run out and stand by it until I could move T-Hoe over there. This was obviously meant to happen, because once moved, I stepped out to pump gas, and saw:

That a penny had been waiting there for me to park T-Hoe JUST SO, where I was not on top of that cent lying there by the pavement crack.

It was a face-down 2006 penny, kind of scruffed-up from enduring the weight of other vehicles rolling over it while waiting for me. Had I gotten gas at my regular pump, I never would have seen it!

Yes, it was a very good week! I found 10 COINS, which were 9 PENNIES and 1DIME, for an addition of 19 CENTS to my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       # 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103.
Dime         # 15.
Nickel       still at 9.
Quarter    still at 1.

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, August 21, 2020

Meating Expectations

When we last convened, Hick was cooling his meat in FRIG II, planning to serve it up on Sunday. My duties entailed making garlic bread, assembling individual salads, and nuking some giant potatoes. I knew it would take Hick only 5-10 minutes to heat his meat, but about 30 minutes to complete my own duties.

The filet mignon that Hick bought from a guy out of a trailer on the parking lot of Rural King over in Bill-Paying Town were individually wrapped. Vacuum-packed, like sweaters and quilts by that air-sucking contraption that used to be hawked on late-night TV. The flat back part of the wrap was black, and the bubble part over the meat was clear.

My first hint that something might be off with the filet mignons Hick bought (aside from the VERY FIRST hint, which was hearing where they came from), was when he opened up FRIG II and said, "Oh. I need a paper towel. It leaked."

What in the Not-Heaven! Sealed meat should not be leaking! But off Hick went to Gassy G Jr, to get his grill on.

The Pony acted as a go-between, throwing away the wrappers for Hick, and helping me by handing me stuff from other parts of the kitchen, and keeping us each informed on the progress of our assigned foodstuffs. He set my heart to racing when he came in and said, "Dad needs a knife."


"To cut one and see if they're done right."

"WHAT? You can't cut into meat! It lets the juices run out! Let me guess, he's cutting into MINE, right?"

"I don't know which one he's cutting."

Of course when Hick's meat came in, it was indeed MY filet that had been cut. Twice. The guys got their plates and sat down to eat. I cleared up the kitchen and took my plate down to my lair. Two bites in, I was done. Done with Hick's meat, anyway. It was quite unappealing.

First of all, my filet was shaped like South America. The top measured 2 inches across, and down by Tierra del Fuego, it was 1 inch across. I know filet mignon is a small cut of meat. Hick orders it all the time. At least the ones he gets in a steakhouse are about 3 inches in diameter. And round.

When I cut into my filet, hardly any juices ran out. That's because ALL MY MEAT JUICE RAN OUT IN THE CRACKS OF GASSY G JR! I tried to eat my bargain expensive steak, but I could not chew it! It was like MEAT GUM! Round and round it wallowed in my mouth. Without getting any smaller. I don't really think Hick's grilling was the major problem.

As I'd come down the stairs, I heard The Pony asking Hick what he was spitting out. "Just the fat." Seriously? I would have LOVED to have some fat meat! The Pony later said that Hick picked the fatty one for himself, to give us the better ones. I doubt that. I don't recall filet mignon having fat. That's why it gets wrapped with bacon.

Anyhoo... I called The Pony down and gave him my filet remains. "Give that to Dad." I figured Hick would like having more meat, since the servings were so small, and he had spit out part of his. That milk of human kindness curdled quickly. Hick came storming down the steps, meat in hand.

"What am I supposed to do with THIS?"

"Um. EAT it? I don't want it. I was trying to be nice. But if you want to be that way, give it to the dogs! I don't care what you do with it. I can't eat it."

The Pony apparently ranks higher than the dogs. Hick gave it to him, and The Pony put it in FRIG II for lunch the next day.

When the remaining $25 of Hick's Folly is served up, I won't be touching Hick's meat with a 10-foot pole! I can go vegetarian again for one meal, or make something else.

It's a good thing Hick's friend didn't pick up his meat off the seat of SilverRedO and take a chomp. I also hope the other half of that box of filet mignon didn't go home with Lotus Flower! Chewing Hick's meat might be too strenuous for her...

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Hick Unveils His Meat

Years ago, Hick came home from the auction and said he almost bought me some meat. Recoiling with horror, I made it clear that I would NOT be eating any auction meat.

"I figured you wouldn't, so I didn't buy it."

"But what kind was it? I'm curious..."

"I don't know. It was in a square box that had MEAT on the side."

No thank you!

Anyhoo... last Friday, Hick took his Cancer Friend to her chemo. He always hopes she feels well enough afterwards to traipse through assorted stores to allow him to buy items on special that are limited to two per person! Even I felt it was wrong of him to expect this of my rival, Lotus Flower! [Not going through an explanation of The Good Earth again!]

Apparently, Lotus Flower was not up to snuff, because Hick only got two of the guns on sale, when he was wanting to buy four. Let the record show that Hick was NOT too disappointed to reveal his meat! Right there in front of Lotus Flower.

While coming out of Rural King, Hick saw a trailer that was selling MEAT! A box for $100. Of course this was like redneck catnip to Hick. He eagerly approached to see what all the hubbub was about.

"That guy was sellin' filets! They was 12 to a box, for $100. I told him I didn't have room for that many. And asked if I could buy half a box for $50. He said okay. So I got us 6 filets for $50. We can pay me back later. I'm keeping them in my buddy's freezer while we sit and talk like every Friday, after I drop off my friend."

"Huh. That seems kind of expensive."

"Val! It's filet mignon! You can't find it for that price in a store. Not even Save A Lot. Well. Probably you can't find ANY filet mignon in Save A Lot. But it's a steal."

Okay. So Hick put three in the freezer of FRIG II, and three in FRIG II proper, to thaw out for grilling on Sunday. We were all looking forward to the meal. Especially Hick and The Pony, confirmed carnivores.

Conclusion tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Not a Creacher Was Stirring, Not Even a Louse

Hick missed a meeting Saturday morning, due to his Storage Unit Store proprietorship. He's down to only Saturdays and Sundays lately because of his FREE RIDES to medical facilities. He doesn't want to miss out on any $1 profits!

Anyhoo... while proprieting, he got a text from our dog-groomer neighbor across the road. She said a meeting was being convened around 10:00 on the Creach (our creek beach) by Mailbox Row. The subject to be discussed was the recent mail theft problem. She had a package stolen on August 10. I guess that's in addition to the one she had Hick looking for previously.

Anyhoo... somebody had a picture of a suspect and his car, and the license plate. I'm not sure if he's the thief, but it's a car I have seen several times on the blacktop road between the mailboxes and the county lettered highway. I'm out and about between 12:30 and 2:30. That's when I see the car. That's the time frame when the mail arrives.

Anyhoo... Hick doesn't know how we're going to solve this problem. He didn't mention the meeting to me. In all fairness, I would have been in bed or freshly arisen. But my suggestion is that we residents set up a watch party. I know many of us are not working. How hard would it be to schedule 15-20 minute intervals between, perhaps, 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. I would be happy to serve a window.

How hard could it be? Sit in your car parked in the shade by the Creach, and take a picture of any car or person that seems like it's going to stop, and leaves because they see you. Or take a picture of anybody you don't recognize, checking the mailboxes. If they really live here, they'll understand. If not, then who cares if they get mad? Or ask them what road they live on, and see if they give a reasonable answer. For example, the road name at the Creach does not have any houses on it. So if they give that as an address, you'll know they're lying.

The residents with mailboxes over on the other county road have also been experiencing thefts. A couple of them chased a gray Nissan that stopped at their mailboxes at 1:00 a.m., but lost it. ALSO, a couple who live over near those mailboxes had a home break-in. They put up the video of the thief on our enclave's Facebook page. He walked in through the woods, carrying a duffel bag and backpack, wearing a mask, with a baseball cap and a headlamp, and something on his arms that Hick said looked like protection to use when smashing in windows.

This thief was similar to the picture taken in broad daylight at our Mailbox Row, but our guy had no sideburns, and a longer hairline on his neck. They both looked like young dudes in their 20s. It was quite creepy seeing this thief moving around in the dark. I'm guessing that he parked elsewhere, and walked in through the shallow creek, then came in through the woods behind their house. The timestamp on their video was 12:38 a.m.

Huh. I'm always awake at that time, with lights on. In addition, we have the dogs who go crazy at night, baying and galloping around the porch. I'll pay more attention to their antics now. Probably go upstairs and turn on the porch light. Thieves hate that, you know!

Hick says the people who got robbed don't have a dog. Maybe that's what has kept us unrobbed. It would be hard to walk into our yard without the fleabags raising a ruckus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

No Wonder SilverRedO Needed New Tires

Last week, Hick put two new tires on SilverRedO. According to Hick, they keep going flat. No wonder, with all the miles he puts on SilverRedO, ferrying people to and fro.

Now Hick is branching out. He's not just taking folks to the hospital or medical appointments.

Sunday afternoon, he got a text.

"Huh. Callie [not real name!] needs a ride."

"WHO is Callie?"

"From the Storage Units. I mean--the auction."

"Sure she is."

"Her and her husband see me at the auctions. Now they're at the one up the highway, and they've sold their car. They need a ride home."

"That's a likely story. Why would anyone do THAT? Sell their car and strand themselves."

"I don't know, Val. I guess somebody offered them a good price for it. I'll go pick them up and take them home."

I really hope they have another car. Hick is going to spend all his weekly allowance on gas. Except for that $7.56 that got paid forward to him for his Casey's lunch on Saturday...

Don't think Even Steven is forsaking Hick. Monday evening, he got a text from Back Creek Neighbor Nick.

"I had to charge his battery for him this afternoon. He had it all hooked up wrong. To the wrong terminal. Now he says he has half a cantaloupe he'll bring us. I'm telling him we don't like it."

Let the record show that Hick and I both like cantaloupe. But half a cantaloupe is not worth getting pulled into helping with something else. It's not that we're above eating other people's garbage. We just don't want to fall into a never-ending, real-life tale of: "If You Take a Neighbor's Cantaloupe..."

Monday, August 17, 2020

Even Steven Finally Tracks Down the Elusive Hick

Hick had a story to tell me Saturday evening. He mentioned it before I even hinted at my good deed of buying a guy's whiskey and Pepsi on my own convenience store visit, so I know he wasn't making it up.

"After closing up my store, I went to get something to eat at Casey's. I had a soda and slice of pizza and some potato things. I noticed a guy watching me. Like he was afraid I was going to step up in his place and take his turn. He went to the register, and the lady said, 'This young man would like to pay for your purchase.'"

"That was nice of him. I guess I'm a disgrace because I only chipped in 33 cents for my guy."

"I told him, 'No, you don't have to.' He said, 'But I want to.' I told him, 'No, really, I can pay.' But he said, 'I want to pay it forward and buy your stuff.' I guess he had been looking at me to see what I had!"

"Yeah, to make sure you didn't have a large pizza and a case of beer."

"So I said, 'Well, you don't have to, but I'll let you do that. Thank you very much, young man. It's not often these days that I see your generation do stuff like that.' He was probably about Genius's age."

The Pony snorted.

"I don't know what YOU'RE snorting about! You wouldn't even help an old lady up off the floor that time she slipped in Walmart."

"She was a scammer!"

"We didn't know that until five minutes later! When her son started telling the manager that she slipped on water over by the bakery!"

"Still. She was a scammer. So I didn't get involved."

"Yeah, Pony. You'd never offer to buy anybody's stuff."

"Yet he'd give away 99 cents in change at the casino ticket-cashing machine in Norman. I saw him!"

"That goes to charity, Mother."

"You don't know that. It didn't specify. It just asked if you wanted to donate your change."

Hick said, "I know I have more money than that kid. Look at what I had in my pocket! (His Storage Unit Store kitty and the day's profits.) I didn't want him to have to pay. But I'll pay it forward.

If I thought somebody really needed something from my store, I wouldn't hesitate to give it to them. But now the other day, a guy came in trying to sell me tattooing equipment. He said he needed the money to get to his cancer treatments in the city. You know how you get a feeling about somebody. I told him, 'Buddy, you can go to the church store right up the street here, and if you need money to get to medical appointments, they'll give you a gas card. I see them do it all the time.' I hope that guy didn't really have cancer. But if he needed money to get to the doctor, I told him how to do that."

Heh, heh. I'm surprised Hick didn't just offer to drive him up there! He's got a clandestine medical transport service, you know.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Whiskey Giver, Break My Bind

Some days the weirdos find me, and some days I have to seek them out. I entered the Gas Station Chicken Store on Saturday, and faced a line of unforgiving stares. Yes. I faced them, because nobody around here wears a mask. At least not in the GSCS. Not that it bothers me.

At first I thought it might be the High Horse Brigade that is monopolizing the county health center's Facebook page comments. But no. None of them were wearing masks, so that could not have been their beef with me. I suppose they thought I might be a line-jumper. It's not my fault that I had to cut between two of them to get to the soda fountain.

As I listened to the sweet, sweet gush of my magical elixir into my 44 oz cup, I saw a man in my peripheral vision, at the cooler on the back wall. He got a bottle of Pepsi, then walked behind me to the front, and stood where I usually stand to pay. But not today, because the grimacing line wound across the front of the store.

Since PepsiFella was browsing the whiskey selection, I figured he was still shopping. I went back around to the end of the grimacing line. I was 5th. When I was almost 2nd, the Gray Haired Aged Stringbean in front of me motioned for PepsiFella to go ahead of him. How magnanimous!

PepsiFella asked for a pint of whiskey. I think it was a pint. A flat bottle, but not the smallest one on the shelf. He used his card to pay. The Cashier Gal told him,

"That's going to be 33 cents more. Your card didn't have enough on it."

PepsiFella patted his pockets like people do, when they know they don't have enough, and they're figuring out how to handle the situation.

"Did you say 33 cents? I have a dollar in my pocket. Let me fish it out."

I had to set down my 44 oz Diet Coke on the counter, and dig out my wad of bills to get to it. But there it was. The dollar I usually spend on my magical elixir, but was not needed this day, as I was using an odd dollar from my scratcher winners, after purchasing The Pony three tickets that cost $3 each.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I've got it."

"Thank you!"

"You're welcome. I've done it myself. Come in without bringing my money."

"Really, thank you."

"No problem."

The cashier gave me back the change from my dollar.

"You know this will throw off my exact amount, right?"

"Heh, heh! I gave you back 73 cents."

"That's okay. I still have the right coins in my hand for my soda to come out even."

I guess she gave me my change from the dollar, plus whatever was in the found coins cup. I can't believe that guy who let PepsiFella ahead of him didn't pony up the money. I guess he figured he'd done  his good deed already.

Funny how at my next stop, Country Mart, I found a dime and two pennies on the way in...

I hope I don't get a reputation for being THAT VAL who buys liquor for people. Seems like only 3 years ago that I gave a dollar to the 11:00 a.m. alcoholic in that very same store.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Two, Four, Pics, WAIT! See Val's PENNIES, Celebrate!

Please join me in a virtual high-five for a celebration of this week's penny harvest. If pennies were children, I could have a show on TLC about my multiples!

SATURDAY, too late for the Saturday CENTSus, which had already gone to press (don't think I haven't noticed your little plot, Even Steven)... I found a couple of tardy Lincolns late for the party. I stepped into line at the Backroads Casey's and saw one waiting at the un-open register.

Look past the dance-step decal--I mean the social-distancer--to the metal rack. It's there! I swear.

It was a heads-up 1994 penny, begging me to bend my ample rumpus for a photo. I did.

On the way out, I made ANOTHER discovery!

Where I found the nickel last Wednesday, there was now a PENNY! And it looks like the floor hadn't been swept in the interim. But here's the most HORRIFYING DETAIL! Look out the door, by the mat. I MISSED A QUARTER! To be fair, somebody came in the other door while I was photographing my second cent. So MAYBE they picked it up. Which would explain how I didn't see it as I walked out. My head is always down searching, you know!

Anyhoo... this was a heads-up 2008 penny, wallowing in Wednesday thru Saturday's accumulated filth. While I was taking my closeup and picking up a piece of my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune, the DING DONG kept going off. In fact, the clerk told me I was setting it off. Not in a hateful manner. Good to know. I guess there's a laser sensor or something at foot level, to notify them even if short people are entering.

MONDAY, August 10, my luck got even better. In fact, it DOUBLED! I stepped out of T-Hoe at the Sis-Town Casey's, and saw FOUR pennies waiting for me in the handicap space.

I hopped out and harvested them like a spry person! Before some needer of that parking spot arrived to battle it out with me over the crop. I nabbed a face-down 1980 penny, and heads-up 1999, 2018, and 1999. So smug was I in my haul that I marched right past AN UNNOTICED ABE in the handicap walkway! It's there. Just zoom in. You'll see it like I did, though you probably won't feel your eyes well up with regret. I suppose THAT penny was meant for someone else to find...

FRIDAY, August 14, the penny grounds were extra-fertile again. And again, my luck lay with the Sis-Town Casey's. I couldn't get the pics inside where the pennies awaited, because of other people in line. I'm pretty sure a dad is not going to be okay with a crazy old woman taking pictures of the lower half of his grade-school son! As soon as they turned to leave, I grabbed that treasure off the tile and scooted out with the spoils.

The left penny is a 2018, which was found face-down. The right penny is a mint-condition 1960, which was found heads-up at my feet while trying to pay for gas, scratchers, a draw ticket, and redeem some winners. Here they are in T-Hoe, posed on The Pony's Show Me CASH draw ticket for Friday night.

Yes, a good week, worthy of a celebration. 8 PENNIES, for 8 more cents in Val's Future Pennyillionaire coffers.


Penny       # 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94.
Dime         still at 14.
Nickel       still at 9.
Quarter    still at 1.

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, August 14, 2020


Val Thevictorian, Future Pennyillionaire, AND NOW FOURTEENTHAMPION!

My titles are accumulating like Pop Tart wrappers in The Pony's wastebasket.

Thursday, we took a little road trip down south, because Hick wanted to do some running and gunning, wheeling and dealing, tale-telling and re-selling. It was a happy coincidence that our new favorite casino is in that town. And a happier coincidence that they were having a slot tournament, and the three of us had a free entry!

I've never played in a slot tournament, but I've seen them on YouTube. As with regular slot play, it's a crapshoot. You might win. You might lose. The outcome is totally random, based on the nanosecond you hit the button, and which digit it triggers in the random number generator that determines payout.

Anyhoo... Hick dropped off The Pony and me at the door, then made his rounds of the town (probably after heaving a sigh of relief). The Pony and I went to the player's card desk at 1:00, to get a voucher for our FREE MONEY comp ($10 for The Pony, $30 for me), and turned in our coupon for the entry into the slot tournament. That also netted us a voucher, which we gave to the Guy and Gal running the slot tournament. They programmed us into the rotation, and told us to come back at 2:00.

It was so cool! There were eight slots dedicated to the tournament, all playing the same game. There were two rows of four, back to back. At 2:00, we found the slot with our name showing, and waited for the festivities to begin. The Pony was on the other row, so I couldn't see him. On my right was a little old lady with a player's card signifying the TOP LEVEL of gambling. She was a stratospheric roller, not just a high roller! She had never played a slot tournament either, because she kept trying to put her player's card in, even after the Guy told her not to do that.

We had to wait for the countdown to start. At that time, we had TWO MINUTES to accrue as many points as possible. That means pounding that PLAY button as fast as we could, while watching the screen for any digital balloons that appeared, to tap them with a finger and burst them for extra points. It was kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. For TWO MINUTES.

I must say, I did really well. In fact, for most of the TWO MINUTES, my machine showed #1. With about 20 seconds left, it turned to #2. Then the rankings went away, replaced by the final countdown to the finish. When it was over, I saw my name at #2, and The Pony at #3! That was just for our session, though. The very first session of the day. They ran other sessions as needed, every 10 minutes at first, and then a few per hour. The slot tournament ran from 2:00 to 7:00.

I knew my score would likely not hold up. I had 166,000-something points. The Pony had 160,000-somthing. The prize was a "share" of $1500. I don't remember the top prize. But places went from 1-16. I DID look at the 16th place prize and it was $30. We did not want to stay that late to see the outcome. The Guy said you didn't have to be present to win. Just make sure the player's card desk had your email and phone number. They had mine.

We left around 4:45, to make it home by 7:00 for the live Celebrity Big Brother eviction. At 7:20, The Pony and I were in the basement, during a commercial, and heard the phone in my office. The Pony trotted in to get it for me. It was the Guy, calling to inform me that I won 14th place, which paid $40! He said that to claim it, I should take my player's card and ID to the player's card desk. That they would HOLD MY PRIZE FOR 10 DAYS!

You know what that means! We'll have to make another trip to the casino! I hope we go when there's another slot tournament!

I may not be a CHAMPION, but at least I'm a FOURTEENTHAMPION! That's better than The Pony and Hick fared. Not that it took any skill, of course...

Thursday, August 13, 2020

I Cried Because I Got Stuck in a Rut by a Passing Garbage Truck, and Then I Met a Pony Who...

The Universe conspired against me on Wednesday, when my weekly errands were fraught with difficulty.

The bank line of TWO CARS took me 15 minutes to get my turn.

A red sports car blocked the parking lot at the Sis-Town Casey's. I thought it was an inconsiderate driver, taking his half out of the middle, until I noticed that it wasn't moving. And it was sitting at an angle with its nose down. After navigating around it to park by a truck that was sitting in half of the handicap ramp access, I saw that the red car HAD NO TIRE ON THE FRONT DRIVER'S SIDE. Not a donut spare. Just that tiny disc about the size of a frisbee, that the wheel gets attached to with lug nuts.

Then the Sis-Town Casey's had a problem with their lottery scanner. Of course the man at the other register wanted five Powerball tickets checked for winnings. So the clerk had to manually punch in a series of numbers on each one. Which left MY clerk standing and waiting to enter my two scratchers, which had no problem once she gained access to the terminal.

When I came out, the tilt-bed tow truck fetching the red car was parked semi-across T-Hoe's right rear flank. I was able to maneuver around it to escape. I almost made it home without further incident.

I heard my phone concertina (I'm using concertina as a verb, because that's the sound I've set for my text notifications) as I coasted T-Hoe down Mailbox Hill. Once I grabbed the lone piece of (junk) mail from the back of EmBee's throat, I closed her gaping maw, and started up the gravel road. NOBODY at the Creach this day, the driverless van I saw on the way out having disappeared.

Just past the bus-waiting shack, I checked my phone. I had a warning from The Pony:

"Bog truck hauling rock just went by in front of the house. Be careful."

That boy has his daddy's spelling talent sometimes. Well-versed in reading Hickinese, I knew he meant a BIG truck. The Rockers are back!

I was on the lookout, and sure enough, just before I reached the flat waterfall entrance, here came a BOG truck. I was able to steer T-Hoe into the foliage and let it pass. Thanks to The Pony's timely warning. On I went, less than a mile from home.


Rounding the curve to climb Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill, I encountered our GARBAGE TRUCK. I was glad to see him, because our trash didn't get picked up last week (nor our neighbors'), so at least I knew our overflowing dumpster had been serviced. But now I had to escape this 0 mph game of chicken.

I had no choice but to guide T-Hoe across the deep rut on the right, left by the torrential storm of Monday night. It might have been about 2 feet deep. Lucky for me, T-Hoe's tire was of sufficient diameter to roll across the narrow (yet deep) gap, to rest on the other side.

Garbage Man gassed his giant vehicle and blew past me. I crept along until I could get T-Hoe back on the gravel where the chasm narrowed. The Pony later said he didn't have time to text me about THAT bog truck, since I turned into the driveway as soon as he'd retrieved the dumpster.

Here's the thing.

In burdening The Pony with my tribulations, he suddenly said,

"You think YOU had it bad? I got up from the new recliner, and something stabbed into my foot! All the way in! I had to sit down and pull it out. IT WAS ONE OF DAD'S TOENAILS!!!"


I cried because I got stuck in a rut by a passing garbage truck, and then I met a Pony who got stuck in the foot by his father's toenail.

I'd take him for a rabies shot if it wasn't so difficult to see an in-person doctor...

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Lengths Hick Will Go To

A bad storm rolled through here on Monday evening. As opposed to a good storm, heh, heh! It blew up all at once. Black sky, lighting, thunder, wind, and RAIN! Lots and lots of rain. Hick rushed out to release some water from Poolio, which he'd been meaning to do for a few days, since our last early-morning deluge.

While dehydrating Poolio to make room for more hydration, Hick noticed that the downspout was clogged. He had the bright idea of taking The Pony out with him, and climbing on a ladder, to dislodge whatever was inside. Most likely leaves, though we don't have trees very close to the house.

The Pony objected, not particularly wanting to stand in the rain like Hick, and claiming that the ladder needed the rungs tightened. Hick agreed to wait until Tuesday morning for that chore. Which wasn't really an improvement for The Pony, since he likes to sleep in.

Once The Pony retired to his nightly 2-hour whirlpool bath, Hick decided he might as well do the unclogging on his own.

"It looks like the rain is slacking off. I could do it now."

"Who will hold your ladder? Not me! Can't you use something like a snake? A plumber's snake? Won't that twist around and get it loose? Without climbing a ladder?"

"I know! I can use my fish tape. I can poke it in from the bottom. That'll probably work."

Let the record show that I have no idea what fish tape is. Hick has been talking about it lately, in terms of pulling electrical wire. I have a feeling it's not used for fishing. And it's not really tape. It must behave like a plumber's snake, since I gave Hick that idea.

"Huh. My fish tape is over in the BARn. I'll have to go get it."

"Driving the Gator?"

"Well, yeah. I don't want to walk through that muddy mess." Hick went to look out the kitchen door. "It's still raining a little bit. But I can go."

At that moment, a spike of lightning flashed out the living room window.

"Uh. There's lightning."

"Oh. I'm not going, then. I don't want to be standing by a metal downspout with lightning!"

Especially since it knocked out our house phone and tripped some breakers a few weeks ago.

Anyhoo... Tuesday morning I got up to find THIS on the back porch, by the kitchen door:

I had neither seen nor heard from Hick. This was not the downspout area he'd been talking about, but we had a leak in the metal roof above there. Right after the roof installation. That's a long way down to the back yard.

I hoped Hick hadn't fallen. Hoped he wasn't sprawled awkwardly 16 feet below. But I didn't look. Interrogation of The Pony revealed that Hick had NOT asked him to come help by holding the ladder.

"No. He never asked. I heard him and some other guy outside my window around 8:00."

I'm pretty sure Hick left the ladder there so I would see it. Possibly with hopes of triggering me to rush to the rail to look over, possibly skidding on the wet boards, and plummeting to my death! I'm pretty sure Hick is trying to kill me. This would be a perfect set-up!

Now if I could only figure out how he summoned that storm...

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

This Must Be How O-Lan Felt When Wang Lung Brought Home Lotus Flower

If you don't get that title, you must not have read The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. I'd never heard of it. Had no plans to read it. Then I was really bored during the summer before my freshman year of high school, and stepped down into the basement to peruse the shelves of Reader's Digest Condensed Books. Oh, I didn't find The Good Earth in them. I DID find Airport, by Arthur Hailey, and Up the Down Staircase, by Bel Kaufman, and To Sir, With Love, by E.R. Braithwaite. Lucky for me, The Good Earth was a full book, sitting next to the Digests. Left over from my mom's college classes, I suppose.

Anyhoo... I know you didn't drop in to see what a future VALedictorian read for pleasure during the long, long summer. I'm just explaining the title. Though if you have time on your hands, you might want to check out The Good Earth. Or watch the old black-and-white movie.

Here's the deal. You may recall that Hick has been running a clandestine medical transport service of late. It all started with THIS GUY'S WIFE, who sold us the $5000 house, and then broke her hip while visiting her husband, THIS GUY, after his back surgery, before giving us the title.

More recently, Hick's weekly passenger has been his high school friend undergoing cancer treatment. I know he drives her to chemo on Fridays. And assorted trips to the city as the situation warrants. You may recall that a couple weeks ago, Hick asked me to get some Corn On the Cob Popcorn for her. Which I politely refused, telling Hick that Country Mart will also sell popcorn to HIM, and not just me.

Anyhoo... I had no idea where Hick was on Monday. By noon-thirty, I tracked him down with a phone call.

"Oh. I'm in the city, at the hospital, waiting for My Friend."

"I don't recall you mentioning that when I asked if you were doing anything today, but the reason I called is that your cat peed on the steps, and it stinks, and you need to wash it off." [He DID buy that new power washer last year!]

"Okay. I can do that."

"I'm tired of that cat pooping and peeing all over the porch. It needs to go away."

"I can do that, too."

"NO! We've waited 15 years for that cat to die, but if it disappears now, I'll think you had a hand in it."

"Okay. I'll just clean off the steps."

Anyhoo... around about 3:10, I saw SilverRedO coming up the driveway. I was on the phone with my favorite gambling aunt. Hick came in and went directly to the basement. I thought maybe he was going out the basement door to get his lawnmower. But no. He came back up. Giving me an excuse to get off my already-20-minute call.

"What are you doing?"

"Getting THIS." Hick held up a square box. "It's that diabetes tester that the company sent me two of, and had no record of it when I called to try and give one back. My Friend says the doctor wants her to monitor her sugar several times a day. He gave her test strips, but she don't have a machine."

"Huh. That's great. Let's see. You already gave her a refrigerator. And let her eat popcorn in your truck. We might as well count her as a dependent on our taxes next year."

"Yeah. Let's do that."

"I'm surprised you haven't given her a box of your auction popcorn!"

"It IS her favorite kind."

"You've probably been giving her auction MEAT."

"No. I haven't given her any meat, heh, heh."

"So you're going to drive that over to her now?"

"No. I have to get going. She's out in the truck..."

WHAT IN THE NOT-HEAVEN? Now Hick is so bold that he brings THE OTHER WOMAN to my house!

That was a long, strange trip to explain a title.

Monday, August 10, 2020

POP Goes the Geezer

Now that auctions are open again, Hick is on the lookout for bargains. Any bargain will do. He's been deprived for so long that he buys just to be buying. That Storage Unit Store profit isn't going to spend itself! Last week, he went to a Tuesday auction and a Saturday auction.

Hick bought 24 bags of Skinny Pop white cheddar popcorn for $6 at the Saturday auction. I know this, because he sent me an email crowing about it right after his purchase.

What I DIDN'T know was why. Hick is not addicted to white cheddar popcorn. Especially not a brand called Skinny Pop. Sure, he buys snacks at the auction every now and then, if he deems it a great bargain. Which this was, at 25 cents per bag.

The next evening, as Hick sat in the new recliner eating Parmesan Shrimp and crinkle-cut fries, I reminded him that I was still waiting on him to reimburse (me) the house fund for the ammunition he bought on sale at Rural King on Friday.

"I bought $6 worth of popcorn at the auction!"

"Um. THAT is supposed to be your repayment?"

"Yeah. I thought you knew. I sent you a text."

Let the record show that Hick bought two ammunition thingies, at $4.29 apiece. Times two, that is $8.58. The tax rate is about 10 percent, although Hick proclaimed it to be 8 percent. Which makes Hick's debt either $9.26 or $9.44.

When I told The Pony to check the receipt, he said, "It doesn't show the tax rate anywhere."

"It has to! It's always on the receipt. Look at the bottom."

"Oh. I tore off the bottom, because it was a really long receipt, with coupons, and you're always yelling at me about looking at the receipts I leave you."

Funny how he tore it off just above the tax rate. Let the record further show that I DO yell at Hick about the receipts he leaves me, because he leaves them folded in upon themselves, taking two hands and several minutes to unfold and find the store name and the total. I spent 28 years breaking kids of the habit of tossing a folded-up absentee slip on my desk. They were quick learners. Hick does not seem to be a learner at all.

Nor a repayer of debt.