Saturday, October 31, 2020

Another Friday COINcidence For Val

Are you on the edge of your seat? ONCE AGAIN, Friday has come through for Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune, by providing a last-minute coin for the collection.

As Even Steven would have it, my schedule was off. I was in town about 90 minutes earlier than usual, due to our supper plans. The Pony and Hick wanted to have some Domino's Pizza, rather than sandwiches from a new deli that opened about three miles from our house. Since I'd promised to drive The Pony to pick it up later (because he likes to eat his pizza in the car, when it's piping hot), I needed to make my original town trip earlier, so I'd have time to eat lunch before supper!

Wouldn't you know it, on my way out of the Gas Station Chicken Store with my 44 oz Diet Coke (and an unbeknownst at the time $50 scratcher winner), I saw a welcome surprise on the rug.

That's a DIME, baby! The customer behind me waited politely for me to start out, but I'd set down my magical elixir on the slim edge of the counter outside the protective plexiglass barrier by the register.

"Thanks, but you go ahead. I'm going to pick up this dime after I get a picture of it. I collect them."

He smiled and nodded, and went on out. I got my closeup.

It was a heads-up 1978 dime. I'm sure it was relieved to slide into my shirt pocket, and get off that crumby rug. To be fair, I was there between noon and noon-thirty, with a single (and new) cashier manning the place. Shift changes at 1:00. So I guess the sweeping and vacuuming is the job of the afternoon cashier. Besides, yesterday and the day before were rainy and windy. So at least the tile floor was clean of tracked-in detritus.
I was pleased as punch to find this dime awaiting my empty weekly coin coffer! I swear it wasn't there when I went in! I'm always looking down as I cross the threshold, due to their little blacktop ramp at the door. One guy was paying as I entered, so I'm thinking it was his loss. The customer directly ahead of me used plastic, and had an armload of a 32 oz drink, a bottle of water, two cans of smokeless tobacco product, and one scratcher. So it wasn't him juggling coinage.
That's 1 COIN, for 10 CENTS, coming through on Friday, for the second week in a row.

Penny       still at 120.
Dime         # 23.
Nickel       still at 10.
Quarter    still at 1.

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, October 30, 2020

Like When They Play With the Box on Christmas Morning

I see the glass as half-empty.
Hick sees the glass as half-full.
The Pony sees the glass as a holder of wine, to be shunned in favor of a red Solo cup.
Genius... well... Genius sees the glass as plaything to be toyed with.

It's almost Halloween, so I mailed Genius a box of treats. Candy and assorted jerky and scratcher tickets. As I packed the box that I "stole" from under the eye of the watchful minder of the dead-mouse-smelling post office, I complained to The Pony.
"I can't believe how small these FUN SIZE candy bars have become! They used to be the little long candy bar shape. A miniature candy bar. Then they turned into the square shape. And NOW, the squares are not even BITE SIZE! They're tiny. So little that the Snickers can only fit one letter on their wrapper, heh, heh."
I'm not sure The Pony was even listening. He didn't want any candy. He's been resisting my force-feedings, and the scales are rewarding him.
Anyhoo... Genius's package (oh, how he would hate to know that I used those two words in sequence) arrived on Thursday. I know that, because Genius sent me a picture. 

With the message: "These individual Snickers have so many possibilities."

You can take the boy out of his valedictorian setting, but you can't take the valedictorian out of the sitting boy. I guess he took a break from working at home to play with his food.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Not Even Waiting Until Full Moon Halloween

Paranormal shenanigans have been on the rise this month. Maybe something even bigger will happen ON Halloween. I'm hoping not!
A couple weeks ago, The Pony was home alone while I was in town. He was lolling about on his bed, laptopping (submitting job applications, I'm sure!), and eating cookies. He had the plastic tray from the empty cookie package sitting on the other end of the bed. All at once, IT SHOT ACROSS THE ROOM!
I am not one to cast doubt on another's tale of paranormality. I've seen and heard too many things for myself. The ex-science-teacher in me wonders if maybe The Pony moved, and pulled the comforter, which in turn moved the crinkly plastic cookie tray. I can't imagine he could recreate a projectile path across the room, though.
Speaking of seeing and hearing things...
Last week, The Pony asked me what time I got up.
"About 11:15. You didn't come wake me at 11:00! So I overslept."
"You weren't up around 10:00? And in the hall closet to get toilet paper or something?"
"Nope. I was up and in my bathroom at 9:30, then went back to bed. I didn't come out of my bedroom. Nowhere near your end of the house."
"Well, I heard someone walking, and standing outside my door. I thought it was you."
"Not me."
I haven't noticed anything specific. Just a feeling that something was in the master bathroom with me when I go in there in the dark around 5:30 a.m. I've had that feeling before, but not every "night." 

So... I write this Wednesday evening, after The Pony sent me a text.

"Hey Mom. Just ran a laptop by Genius. I might ask Dad to take me down to get it soon, since there's one in stock down in Casino Town. Also, you are going to be horrified..."


"I was sitting here in the tub, heard a thud. Saw something in front of the toilet when I turned around. There's a toothpaste tube on the ground in front of it."

"That is Dad's toothpaste, off the top rail of the shower door frame."

"Yet is hasn't fallen any other time."

"I know. Never when I'm in the shower, sliding the door open and closed."


"Your devil music..."

"Uh huh. Sure." 
Something is afoot! That toothpaste should have fallen straight down beside the shower, onto the tile between the toilet and shower. Not jumped way out in front of the toilet, on the rug. It is DIRECTLY in front of the toilet! Like, it would have needed to jump off the top shower rail, fly OVER the toilet, and land there. That green border at the top is the edge of the rug beside the shower. The toilet is out of frame, to the right. The Pony took this while sitting in the tub. I gave it a tight crop. No need for you to see my toilet!

I'm going to be on edge when I go upstairs tonight. Maybe I can beat that entity. I have to go up early, around midnight or 1:00, to get up early for a doctor's appointment tomorrow. It won't be expecting me yet. 

Wait a minute! That might be bad. I might catch it in the act of something...

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Ponytail Guy's Meat Report

Wow! I can hardly keep up with the Ponytail Guy's meat! This weekend, Hick brought home some new items. He didn't get pictures of it all. Including the two gallons of milk that he took to HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) over at the $5000 house, along with some of our bacon. We're not milk-drinkers, and we don't eat that much bacon. 
Hick says this time, he got meatballs! No picture yet, since only Hick has seen the Ponytail Guy's meatballs. But he did show me the Ponytail Guy's nuggets!

They still have a bit of frost on them, since Hick brought them directly from the freezer of The Original Frig over in the BARn. We will try them later in the week. I have an idea for Chicken Nugget Parm, heh, heh. We DO have regular chicken patties that we could use for that, but we've been having them on buns as sandwiches. 
Hick also scored some YOGURT! That's not meat! What was the Ponytail Guy thinking?

I'M thinking this is some tasty yogurt! Brand name, too. Better than the Save A Lot version. It's all strawberry, which is one of my favorites anyway.

It's single-serving size, and doesn't expire until December 13. Hick and I eat it, but The Pony is not a fan of yogurt. He says it's a texture thing. I'm still waiting for him to grow up. Or maybe grow HUNGRY.
I'll update you when I get a picture of the meatballs. I know you'll be looking forward to it. What else do you have to do?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Val Has Been VALidated!

Uh huh. My suspicions have been confirmed! The dead-mouse-smelling post office WAS trying to scam me! Trying to foist their fundraiser stamps on me at an additional cost of $3 per book! Seriously. Even a WALMART will offer to call around to find you an item in one of their other stores, if they are out and you ask about it. Are not ALL post offices a part of the US Postal Service? One big chain? 

But no. That gal at the dead-mouse-smelling post office just said they didn't have any other kind of stamp. Basically implying that I was just SOL until a new shipment came in, with no time frame as to when that might happen.

Anyhoo... Monday I took Genius's package to the main post office over in Sis-Town. After the packaging transaction, I said I would also like to buy some stamps.

"Do you have the flag stamps?"

"Yes we do."

"Okay. I'd like a book of those. And do you have any other kind?"

"Uh huh. We have Christmas stamps. These wreaths, and Santas, and we have these assorted fruits and vegetables."

She laid all three of them on the counter. I chose the wreaths. No extra charges. My stamps were the usual $11 per book of 20 stamps.
Something in me wants to drive over to the dead-mouse-smelling post office, hobble inside, and wave them around while doing a Told You So dance like Grace Adler (of Will&).

Monday, October 26, 2020

Val's SemiMonthy Casino Lunch Review

Time for the semi-monthly casino restaurant review! That's all you'll get this time. The Pony and I both lost our shirts on the slots last week. Hick, with his current penchant for falling backasswards into money, left with an $80 profit. It's a thorn in my side that he sat down next to where I was losing (on the slot that gave me my previous $8,600 bonus), and asked how to play the Wonder 4 Spinning Fortunes slot. Of course I showed him, and he started hitting bonuses right away. He's WELCOME! Not that he thanked me...
Anyhoo... at least the lunch was tasty. Surely you're not bored with hearing about our casino lunches! Who doesn't like looking at food pictures? Food prepared by others, and eaten inside an establishment that is not YOUR HOUSE! It costs you nothing to look, and you don't expose yourself to the cooties of the general population. So, you're WELCOME!

We'll start with Hick's appetizer. I mean PIE! Hick always has a slice of pie, and he always eats it first, before the meal is brought to the table.

Dang it! Every time I look at Hick's pie, I wish I had gotten some for myself! It's just as well that I didn't. I'm always the last one finished eating, anyway. The Pony abandons me, but Hick sits sentinel, playing around with his phone.
Hick had his usual cheeseburger.

That's a double patty, with pepper jack cheese, I think. And curly fries. Hick had a crescent of the burger left over (to make room for pie), and I had a taste. Nom-nom!

The Pony also went for pie. The little apple fried pies.

They looked even better this time. The Pony left about 2/3 of one. I had a bite, courtesy of Hick cutting off a portion when I asked. Of course, it was hollow crust, devoid of gooey apple sweetness. Hick polished off the rest. That man can never get enough pie!

The Pony went for the foot-long corn dog again. 
The Pony couldn't wait for my photo before chomping about two inches off the end of his foot-long corn dog. He also chose the "basket" option, and had some fries.

I chose my old favorite, the grilled chicken club, which I take without lettuce.

They were a bit light on the chicken this time, and heavy on the onions! The tater tots were about half the usual amount, but that's okay, I couldn't finish them anyway. As you can see, this chicken club is almost impossible to eat! Two slabs of Texas toast make it hard to wrap Val's mouth around. Even though Val has been told before that she has a big mouth!

And another thing... there was no shortage of bacon on my chicken club, but the bacon was contorted! Remember the 80s? I'm sure you do. Remember those slap-bracelets that were all the rage with the youngsters in middle school? Perhaps you don't, if you weren't in the classroom with 180 of them per day, watching and listening to them fiddle with those accessories. The thing with a slap bracelet is, at least you CAN straighten it out, before poking the metal to make it coil up again.

I tried to straighten my bacon, but I could not. It was crispy and twisted. I took off a couple pieces, trying to make my sandwich flatter and biteable. Hick and The Pony were both on alert. "Aren't you going to eat your bacon?" "Why are you taking off your bacon?"

"You can have a piece if you want. I'm just trying to fit it on the sandwich better."

They both declined. I guess they were full of pie. Even breakin' my bacon didn't make it fit very well. In addition, The Pony had declined my offer of the crunchy crust of the Texas toast. So I was on my own to unhinge my jaws and try to swallow that sandwich like a python eating its prey.

Still, we had a delicious lunch. 2/3 of us won money. We didn't have any arguments going or coming in A-Cad. So it was a pleasant day. 

Hick has to go back down to Casino Town on Monday (today) because the gun he bought from a guy doesn't work. HICK IS NOT GOING TO TAKE IT APART! The guy said he'd fix it, or return Hick's money. The Pony and I won't be going along this trip. We can't afford it right now!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Stamp My Foot

Val has a bee in her bonnet! It might as well be a MURDER HORNET! You know, that deadly new species that was found in Washington state, and the person in charge of controlling such a deadly species decided to fit it with a tracking device (!) and follow it, rather than squish it on the bottom of a shoe. Sure it had a nest. Maybe we should just put a lo-jack on copperheads and follow them around Backroads, rather than chopping their venomous heads off with a garden hoe when we see one along the driveway.
Anyhoo... I'm not here to stamp my foot about murderous insects. I'm here to stamp my foot about STAMPS! I avoided a bamboozle Friday. Fool me once, shame on me. It happened way back in October of 2016, and I am still steaming about it! Fool me twice, and I will make a snotty comment to you to resist the fooling. And write a blog post about it. I ain't foolin'!
I was in the dead-mouse-smelling post office Friday, looking at Flat Rate boxes. They have two shapes now, square and flat. The Postal Clerk stuck her nose in. "Are you looking for a specific item?"
I'm sure she was just trying to help. HA HA HA HA HA! AS IF a postal employee is there to HELP me! I don't know why it was her business. My back was to her. She'd just gotten rid of a customer at the counter. I think I should be allowed to compare box shapes in peace. They're FREE, you know. It's not like I was a shoplifter. She didn't have to be on me like a car salesman looking for a commission. WAIT A MINUTE...
I took both shapes to the counter. "I guess these are BOTH medium Flat Rate boxes."
"Yes. It says so right here. So they are."
"Because last time I picked one up over here, the lady at the Sis-Town main post office told me that it shouldn't even have been out. It was an old PRIORITY MAIL box, meant for overseas shipping, like to the troops. So I was just asking. Also, I'd like a book of flag stamps."
"Oh, we don't have any flag stamps."
"Okay. What else do you have. I just need a book of stamps."
"We have these." 
She pointed to a display on the counter, off to the side of her plexiglass drop-down barrier. Framed it with her hands, to be precise, like Carol Merrill displaying merchandise on Let's Make A Deal.  
"It's the Breast Cancer Research stamp."
"Well, last time I was given those, they cost more."
"Yes. That's the donation."
"You don't have ANY other kind of stamps? Only those?"
"That's right. Eventually more will come in. But this is how we raise money for Breast Cancer Research."
"Okay. I can wait."
The only way to mail letters and bills right now is by paying 10 cents extra per stamp? I don't think so! That is not something a government agency should be doing! It's extortion! If they do that now with breast cancer, what keeps them from saying, "We only have these stamps that raise money for overturning Roe v. Wade. Three dollars from every book goes to stopping abortion."  OR, "We only have these stamps that raise money for abortion. Three dollars from every book goes to Planned Parenthood."
Uh huh. No political comments, please. Just think about WHAT the post office might decide it needs to raise funds for. You may agree with it, or you may not. Maybe it will be to eliminate toenail fungus. YOU SHOULD HAVE A CHOICE to buy those stamps, or not. 
Seriously. Did I miss a decree that first-class postage for the month of October will be 65 cents instead of the usual 55 cents? What in the NOT-HEAVEN? I need to check with the main post office over in Sis-Town, and see if THEY only have the breast cancer stamps. 
I still have five flag stamps left. So I can go a week or two. Otherwise, I'm going to take my mail to the counter, and pay individually for postage. They can take my 55 cents per letter/bill, and stamp the postage on there with that red ink thing they use. It's not THAT easy to outsmart a smart-@ss like Val. 

Let the record show that Val has nothing against donating to Breast Cancer Research. But it should be a CHOICE. No, three extra dollars per stamp booklet is not going to send Val to the poorhouse. It's not quite the cost of two 44 oz Diet Cokes. The problem is, the post office shouldn't be able to strong-arm people into donating, just because people have bills to mail. It sets a dangerous precedent.

Oh, yeah. Hick said, "Just pay it, Val. Just pay the extra three dollars."

Nope. I'm making a stand.
Here's the official release, from the USPS website:
The U.S. Postal Service had available for sale in September 2020 the following 65-cent fundraising or “semipostal” stamps: the congressionally mandated Breast Cancer Research stamp and Save Vanishing Species stamp as well as the U.S. Postal Service’s discretionary Healing PTSD stamp. These stamps were available for purchase at Post Offices™, online at The Postal Store®, and by toll-free phone order at 1-800-782-6724. 
The price of a semipostal stamp pays for the First-Class single-piece postage rate in effect at the time of purchase plus an amount to fund causes that have been determined to be in the national public interest. By law, revenue from sales (minus postage and the reasonable reimbursement of costs to the Postal Service™) is to be transferred to a selected executive agency or agencies. 
It doesn't say how MUCH of that 10 cents per stamp will be taken out for "the reasonable reimbursement of costs to the Postal Service," or what the "selected executive agency" is that will get the rest. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

It's Not the Size of the COIN in the Find, But the Find of the COIN in Time

Whew! I was starting to sweat it this week. 81 degrees on Thursday, then Friday morning dawned dark and dreary, 70 degrees with temps dropping to 58 by the time I left home, and 46 by the time I got back. I cooled off considerably, when I found my FIRST COIN of the week at Save A Lot.

Funny how things work out. Due to the weather, I planned to make chili on Saturday. So I wanted my ingredients handy, to stir my cauldron before I left home on Saturday. The parking at Save A Lot was NOT Val's friend. I had to go around to the opposite side of the row, because the only two empty spaces were not ample enough for T-Hoe's wide doors, which need full opening for the egress and ingress of Val's ample buttocks. And creaky knees.

Anyhoo... when I came out, the wind whipped my lovely lady-mullet all willy-nilly, but mostly into my open mouth. There was a chill in the wind. I debated whether to push my cart/walker over to the side of the building rack, or to the parking lot corral. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. My cart-walker was facing the cart corral when I closed T-Hoe's hatch, so cart corral it was.

Well! On my way there, eyes stinging with flapping lovely-lady-mullet strands, I thought I saw a dime on the ground! I squinted. Couldn't quite tell. I vowed to stop and get it on the way back to T-Hoe. With a picture and everything. If it turned out to be the foil top off a 5-Hour Energy bottle, I could throw it away. Nobody sitting in their car observing me would be any the wiser. I was not going to take a chance on missing my only coin of the week!
Hobbling back to T-Hoe, phone in hand, sorely missing the WALKER half of my cart/walker, I saw that there was no more doubt for my dime prospect. The lighting was perfect from this angle.

That's a DIME, baby! Lined up with my path from T-Hoe to cart corral. Oh, the decisions that went into putting me in that place at that time, and keeping another car from parking on top of my dime!

It was a heads-up 2020 dime, shiny and clean. From being new, and from the previous night's rain. Who could leave such a beauty behind? Not this old Val, that's for sure! 

Only ONE COIN this week, barely, for 10 CENTS toward Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       still at 120.
Dime         # 22.
Nickel       still at 10.
Quarter    still at 1.

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Butt Patter Crazy Guy

Of course Hick has encountered a new character at his Storage Unit Store.
Last Sunday, Gun-Buying Buddy came over to Hick's knife-and-firearm boutique. He has his own storage unit store "across the way," as Hick calls the row of units facing his row across a wide expanse of gravel
"Gun-Buying Buddy came over to ask me what's wrong with the guy selling next to him. He said, 'That guy who's always hopping around here. He's crazy! He was talking about your Old Man Buddy, saying, 'If he don't keep his hands off my wife, I'm gonna shoot 'im!' I just thought you might want to warn your Old Man Buddy.' 
I didn't like the sound of that at all. I called up the Storage Unit Owner, and told him. He said to go ahead and call the police, and have them come talk to him. And that he'd probably tell the guy he had to go. So I called the police, and they took statements, but The Butt Patter Crazy Guy had left." 
"Well... don't sell him a gun!"
"I have no intention of selling him a gun!"

"It's always something! Did your Old Man Buddy do anything to that guy's wife?"

"NO! I'm 99.9 percent sure he didn't, anyway. The Butt Patter Crazy Guy said Old Man Buddy had been patting his wife on the butt!"

"Is he the kind of guy who would do something like that?"

"Not at all. He's 68 years old. His own wife is usually up there with him. I've never known him to do something like that."

"What about The Butt Patter Crazy Guy's Wife? Is she someone he might want to flirt with?"

"NOBODY wants to touch HER! She walks around there drunk every weekend. She's in her 50s. She's accused other guys of doing stuff, too."
Anyhoo... since then, the Storage Unit Owner has decided not to kick out The Butt Patter Crazy Guy. Hick is a bit perturbed. Not that it has anything to do with HIM. But another of his buddies got banned from up there for some conflict that was less than a threat to shoot somebody for butt-patting a wife.

"That don't seem fair, for him to kick out my buddy to 'avoid conflict,' he said. I've got a sneaking suspicion it's because The Butt Patter Crazy Guy's Wife has three storage units. So he's collecting rent on three units from her."

"What about your buddy?"

"He only had one unit. He wasn't real good about paying his rent."

"There you go! It's a business decision. I can't imagine kicking out anybody these days who's actually paying their rent!"

I'm pretty excited about the upcoming weekend. A good story might come out of it!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Who Will Pluck This Pesky Jewel

When we last convened, Val was vowing not to crank back her OPC (Old People Chair), lest she fall asleep, slack-jawed, and awake to something quite unpleasant dripping into her gaping maw. 

Good thing do-gooder Hick vowed to do good in his own homestead. Sure, he took The Pony on a three-county tour to a graveyard the next morning. But they were back by 1:00, and as soon as Hick licked his fingers clean of Captain D's fish, he was ready to replace the wax ring of the toilet in the boys' bathroom.

Hick is a master of designating duties. While he was eating, he instructed The Pony to move all objects out of the bathroom, and clean around the toilet, and unscrew the bolts. Hick may or may not have already had The Pony turn off the toilet's water, and drain the tank. I don't know much about replacing a toilet's wax ring. I was in the shower when they returned home.

What I DO know is that as soon as Hick started handy-manning, Neighbor Tommy called about his car not starting, and needing a ride back to work after lunch. In 10 minutes! Hick told him he'd need to find someone else, because he had just started taking out a toilet. Tommy asked if Hick could find someone else for him. Um. No. Not this time. There IS a limit to Hick's selflessness. On this day, a toilet was more important than Tommy's afternoon shift.

Apparently, the operation was a success, and the patient has lived to flush again. The plywood flooring was not damaged to the point of needing replacement, which was Surgeon Hick's greatest concern. He had plenty of healthy wood in which to attach the bolts to screw down the toilet after its wax ring transplant. "That wood will dry out again, now that the leak is gone." He said the operation took about 30 minutes.

Later that evening, as I was sitting on the short couch while Hick ate his supper, The Pony whirled into the living room while running his nightly bath in the big triangle tub.

"Oh, Mom. Do you want to see what we found in the toilet?"

"Um. I'm not sure..."

"It's in my room. I'll get it!"

Out came The Pony, fist closed, waving it under my chin.

"Are you ready?"

"I guess so. But get it away from me! I don't want something pulled out of a toilet in my face!"

The Pony opened his hand.

"It's a piece of AMETHYST! Don't worry, I washed it off."

"In the TOILET? It was in the TOILET?"

"In the tank. We don't know how it got there."

"I'm pretty sure we know who put it there!" Said Hick. I assume he meant The Pony.

The Pony has always had an affinity for rocks. In his early elementary days, I'd have to dump rocks out of his pockets before washing his tiny jeans. When asked about them, The Pony explained:

"Those are my jewels! I find them on the playground at recess!"

I can't imagine Young Pony lifting the heavy lid off the toilet tank, and stashing a prized jewel such as this piece of amethyst in there. He had a sink right in front of him if he wanted to splash around with his jewel while on the toilet. No need to contort himself and lift a lid that weighed half as much as he did.

Young Genius, however... the arch nemesis of Young Pony, might have found the amethyst forgotten on the sink, or dropped on the floor, and plunked it into the tank for revenge. He was always a strapping young specimen, tallest in his class.
Young Genius was not one to hang onto rocks. Young Pony was an aficionado of Grab Bags of assorted minerals, bought for him at the Annual Rock Swap my grandma used to work at, up at the old lead mine museum. Young Pony also kept a special box of his best "jewels" from the playground, the creek, and the "panning for gold" activity at Meramec Caverns, where he got to keep what he sorted from a bucket of rocks.

I guess we may never know how the amethyst got into the toilet tank. But one thing's for certain. It has now been reunited with The Pony.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Another Horrific Tale From Thevictorian Basement

Last Wednesday night, I sat upon my throne kicked back in my OPC (Old People Chair) to watch a DVR of Big Brother with The Pony. It was around 10:00 p.m. Hick was upstairs watching something loud on the other TV.
Let the record show that for a week or two, I would intermittently hear an odd noise from my OPC. Since the non-Pony-TV-watching hours I frequent my OPC are between 1:00 and 5:30 a.m., it did not occur to me to call out to the other occupants of Thevictorian Mansion.
They were not other-worldly sounds. Nor wildlife such as the cricket which has recently broken in, or come back to life. The sound was a sort of drip drip drip. It came at random times. Sometimes sounded like it was hitting the wooden TV tray that sits next to my OPC, acting as a side table for the remotes. 

When I heard it, I'd check everything around me. We don't have a drop ceiling down there. Just the wooden floor joists, and the plywood subflooring for the main level above. Hick did all the plumbing when we built the house 22 years ago. He's not one to be slipshod in his workmanship. I saw no drips or sweating on the white PVC pipes. 
Surveying my immediate surroundings, I saw nothing on the lid of my bubba cup of ice water. Nothing on the remotes. Nothing on the box of Puffs With Lotion. Nothing on the TV tray table. Nothing on the stand-up bendy lamp my mom gave us. Nothing on my OPC. (I actually ran my hand over all those items, checking for moisture.) Nothing on the tile floor. WHAT in the Not-Heaven WAS that noise?
When I heard it Wednesday night, with The Pony sprawled right there on the basement couch, I said,
"Pony. Do YOU hear that?"
"Yes. I hear it. It's over my head."
"No. It's over MY head."
I muted the TV.
"It's definitely behind me. Not over there by you."
"I don't see anything falling."
"Come around here and look. I can never figure out this sound. Here. Take this little green metal flashlight from two Christmases ago that I keep here in case the power goes off. Do you want me to turn on the bendy light?"
"No. I'm good." The Pony walked around behind my OPC, shining the light on the floor, and up on the ceiling beams. "Huh. I hear it. But I don't SEE anything." 
He bent low. Then stood and tilted his head back. I could only see him peripherally, on my left side, over my shoulder. 

"Wait a minute! There it went! Ehhhh... um... it's dripping from this pipe."

"That's the TOILET PIPE!"

"Yes. Yes it is."

"I KNEW IT! I've been checking that pipe every time I hear it, but I could never find it! It's the main drain pipe from your bathroom. But that part there is right under the TOILET! Am I going to get hit in the face if I lean all the way back?"


"This chair doesn't lean very far back. I've been leaning it back, though, and FALLING ASLEEP in it! Oh, no! I could have had POOP dripping in my mouth!"

"Technically, it's only water. I think the back of your chair looks that way because WATER has been hitting it. Or maybe that's just the color of the leather. It's hard to tell with this light."

"Oh, no! All this time, I've been sitting in it! I could never feel anything wet, though."

"It's on the back. DAD! Come down! The toilet it leaking!"

Down, down, down stumped Hick, bare feet on the 13 wooden steps. Almost as fast as the time The Pony slipped and fell, and laid at the bottom with corn-dog ketchup fanned out around his head, looking like seeping blood.

"Look. The plywood is wet. That's where it's dripping."

"That's gotta be the wax seal. I'll put a new one in tomorrow. Don't flush the toilet until I fix it. You'll have to use our bathroom. Or come down here to the NASCAR one."
"Pony! Will I be okay if I just move my chair forward?"
"Yeah. You should still be able to lean it back, too. It's barely hitting it. Here. I'll push you."
"NO! That's okay. I don't think you have the strength to push me AND the OPC. I'll do it. But I'm not leaning it all the way back until that leak is fixed!"

Sheesh! I'm pretty sure Hick is trying to kill me. By poopy water torture, dripping in my sleeping mouth. I sh*t you not!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

It's Not the Snow, Rain, Heat, or Gloom of Night That I'm Worried About

It's Sunday afternoon. I mailed my Bad Ticket to the offices of the Missouri Lottery in Jefferson City a few hours ago. I wrapped it in a nicely-typed business letter, explaining the situation, and demanding requesting my rightful $25 winnings. I was cautiously optimistic that, barring Creach thievery, I would be receiving a check in about 10 days.

UNTIL I dropped my letter in the mailbox.

Let the record show that I prefer to do my mailing at the main post office over in Sis-Town. There's something about the Dead-Mouse-Smelling Post Office, located about 7 miles from home, that doesn't sit well with me. It could be the smell. It could be the counter worker who pushed special stamps on me, which gave me 4 less stamps than a regular book of flag stamps, and refused to take them back for a refund the next day. We are not simpatico, the DMSPO and Val.

Anyhoo... I DO mail things from that location, if there's no pressing time constraints. For example, bills that are still 10 days or more from their due date, but not Genius's weekly letters, or my DISH bill.

The outside mailbox has a little drive-thru lane on a side street across from the DMSPO, beside a tiny park. It's a city park, with a small fountain that shoots out of a fake rock WHEN the city decides to let it flow. There might be one picnic table in that tiny park. Maybe two benches. I rarely see people there, unless the fountain is on, and moms take toddlers to look at it or maybe stick their feet in. I always make a U-turn after dropping my mail in that mailbox, to get back out to the main street in front of the DMSPO.

Anyhoo... the wind was blowing strongly on Sunday. I kept a good grip on my Bad Ticket envelope as I dropped it into the snout of the mailbox. 


My Bad Ticket envelope didn't DROP into the mailbox! Instead of the skittering sound and then the "snick" as it landed on other mail... I heard NOTHING. It was like I let go of my Bad Ticket envelope, and it barely traveled two inches. WELL! That's no good!

Normally, I would reach my hand into the snout, and pull my envelope out, and toss it towards the back of the snout's throat. Just to make sure it went all the way into the mailbox's gullet. Only this time, there was a large black SUV behind me, waiting its turn to mail a letter or bill.

No way was I going to reach my arm into the mailbox's snout and pull out an envelope! Even my OWN envelope, if I could sense it by the touch. The driver behind me would likely take a picture and report me to the U.S. Postal Inspector! As a MAIL THIEF!

I drove on, making my U-turn. Hoping that driver behind me didn't reach in to pull out my Bad Ticket envelope. There was a lot of mail piled up in there. It will take TWO large white post office bins to hold all that mail for carrying back into the DMSPO.

Now I'm worried that when the postal worker retrieves the mail from the box on Monday, my Bad Ticket envelope will blow away!

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Exact Moment Old People Became Public Enemy #1

Well, I guess I've answered my own question from a couple posts back! I now know when old people became Public Enemy #1.

Yesterday, I shared how I had a bad winning lottery ticket. How the barcode was unreadable, as I tried to cash it in at the Gas Station Chicken Store.

I was keeping my six-foot distance, down the soda fountain aisle, waiting my next-in-line turn, when another guy came in. He only stood three feet back from the guy paying. The Gas Station Chicken Store doesn't have those distancing circles on their tile. He waited like a gentleman when it was my turn.

I'd just done my regular transaction, cashing in normal scratchers and taking back an Even-Steven amount in tickets, and paid correct change for my magical elixir. As I was pushing the Problem Ticket through the plexiglass slot, to explain my predicament, an Old Man came through the door. 

Even if the door hadn't given off its annoying chime, we would have known he was there. He was a short bald man, looking like Red Buttons, or his country version, Little Jimmy Dickens, without the hat. He came in chatting. No problem. Some people do that. They're friendly, not curmudgeons.

"I'm here to start work for my $15.40 an hour! I'll go fry up some chicken!"

Old Man was referring to the Help Wanted sign on the door. And the good old days, when chicken was still fried and sold on premises. (They're hoping to start up again when the VIRUS panic is over.)

Old Man also started singing a song. "Angie..." I don't remember the words. It was NOT the Angie made popular by the Rolling Stones, nor the Angie Baby crooned by Helen Reddy. Maybe Old Man just made it up. Anyhoo... he kept singing it. Loudly. Then he'd stop and talk some more.

"If that's a winner, you're taking me to Red Lobster!"

"It's $25. I'd rather you fry us up some chicken."

See? Val can make small talk with an Old Man. Even though it was her rightful turn in line, and she was entitled to the full attention of the clerk. Who was at that moment trying to scan the Problem Ticket on her terminal. She said something back to me, which I couldn't hear because of Little Red Dickens.

"Angie... Or can you even go IN Red Lobster these days? I bet you can't sit down and have a meal. Blah blah blah blah... ANGIE..."

It was to the point where I had to actually, LITERALLY jam a finger into my right ear to shut him out! Little Red Dickens had gone from a friendly, entering-the-store greeter, to an annoying blow-hard who didn't know when to shut up. 

The clerk was scratching away at my Problem Ticket with a nickel. I think she said she could try washing it off with something. I can't be sure, because my right eardrum was throbbing with Little Red Dickens' sound waves. That guy was as loud as the hourly GET OUT OF THE POOL air horn. I just shook my head, and held up my hand for the ticket back.

"I'll just mail it in!" I shouted. 
I'd taken up enough time in line without trying to communicate any further.

Sheesh. Right then, I realized this could be a Julia Sugarbaker moment


Not sure if that enemy was ME... or Little Red Dickens.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Scratch THAT! If a Winner is Uncovered in a Dark Basement Lair, and the Barcode Isn't There, Does Anybody Pay It?

Like a tree falling in an uninhabited forest, there are likely to be multiple answers to the title question. Technically, my winning scratcher HAS a barcode. But nobody can read the barcode. It's hard to explain. So here's a picture.

This is the new Missouri Lottery $5 ticket, Holiday Cash. It came out last week. It's a SEE-THROUGH ticket. Made of that flexible plastic that reminds me of the stuff holding up the collar in a man's new shirt package. This is about the fourth ticket I've had. They have differing degrees of scratchability. The first one was kind of gummy. The other two were fine. This one was nearly impossible to scratch. You can see my struggles. As you know, I am NOT a novice scratcher. I always do my scratching at home, on my lair desk, with the same quarter (my LUCKY quarter, heh, heh).
The barcode at the bottom is the part you scan to check your winners on a phone app. And the part the store checks on their terminal to pay you for a winner. When it became clear (heh, heh, how ironic, for my CLEAR ticket) that the barcode was not going to reveal itself... I wasn't worried. There's still the line of numbers above the barcode that you can punch in for the same purpose. Except NOT. Not on this ticket.
You might imagine my frustration, because this ticket was a $25 winner! CLEARLY, you can see the STAR symbol, with a prize of $5. The STAR symbol means 5X your prize amount.
  This ticket came from the Gas Station Chicken Store on Friday. So I took it in on Saturday, hoping maybe the owners would be around. I saw the Man Owner's car out front, but he was not within the public portion of the store. I explained to the clerk, who is my favorite who waits on me daily. She tried the terminal, which rejected the ticket, just like my phone app. She picked up a nickel and tried scratching for herself, but only succeeded in smearing it darker.
I knew the clerk wouldn't have the authority to pay me, just from looking at the symbol alone. I thought maybe an owner could make that decision. I figure they have to send in their cash-out tickets from the terminal, to be reimbursed for winners. So maybe they could send this in with their stuff for reimbursement. 
That's a moot point now, since owners weren't available. I'll mail in this ticket with an explanation, and hopefully the Missouri Lottery will send me a check for $25. I don't see how they can deny payment, when a winner is CLEARLY showing!
The back of the ticket has a couple of barcodes, and some numbers for identifying information. Surely the Missouri Lottery has a way of determining the legitimacy of my win! I know an everyday person can't just scan those back codes to see if the ticket is a winner. Otherwise, there would be no convenience store clerks, because THEY WOULD BUY ALL THE BIG WINNERS FOR THEMSELVES!
Tomorrow, there's a little more to this story, though it doesn't have anything to do with the validity of my ticket...

Saturday, October 17, 2020

One For the Money, Two for the Grow, Val's PENNIES Were Ready, On With the Show

Val's Future Pennyillionaire World was full of promise on Sunday. A trip to town revealed the week's first penny at the liquor store. Doesn't everybody stop by the liquor store on Sunday? This ol' Val does. Not for liquor. For scratchers. 

The liquor store reminds me a little of the Gas Station Chicken Store. It's not the newest or brightest shop on the block. In fact, the liquor store had just added a little shelf under their counter. Which seems to be selling aids for clean pee. That's the best I can figure it out, from zooming in. Which may say something about their clientele. Not me, of course!

It was a face-down 1993 penny. I don't know how my phone flipped the picture like that. I guarndarntee you I was NOT sitting on the counter, snapping that pic between my dangling feet. I've tried flipping such photos 180 degrees, in Paint, but BLOGGER still overdoes it or underdoes it when putting it on my blog. I'm not taking 15 minutes to get one picture to sit the way I want it. I hate the new Blogger.

Speaking of the Gas Station Chicken Store... that was my next stop. I ended up parking by the air hose again. Must have been a reason my other spots were taken. That reason being the PENNY that was waiting for me as I stepped out of T-Hoe.

There it is, my rightful heads-up 1981 penny. The top spot of the two under the grease spot. The other one appears to be a rusty hole in the blacktop.

This time my phone was on its game. Such a clear shot of Abe Lincoln. Oops! I actually did not intend that little faux pas. If I did, it wouldn't have been a faux pas. It would have been a real pas, I suppose. Halfway through typing, at the s h , I thought to myself, "Oh, no. Too soon?" Eh. I'm letting it stand.

Sadly, (or happily), there were only (or a bounty of) 2 PENNIES this week, for a total of 2 CENTS. At least my Little Caesar's "goblet" won't overflow THIS week. Hick really needs to find me a 2020 goblet. I've only been asking for 10 months.


Penny       # 119, 120.
Dime         still at 21.
Nickel       still at 10.
Quarter    still at 1.

Penny     134
Dime        20
Nickel        8
Quarter      5

Friday, October 16, 2020

Creacher Feature

After a few blissful weeks of no Creachers (unauthorized denizens who patronize our creek beach), no missing mail, no break-ins, and no stolen trucks discovered on our property... I made a troubling discovery on my way to town Sunday afternoon.

This is actually a picture I got on my way back home. Which means that this car was parked there for over an hour. But I'm getting ahead of myself. No need to become like the most-hated Seinfeld episode ever, the reverse wedding in India debacle.

As I left, I drove past this small gray sedan. I think it was a Ford Focus, but I don't remember now. The front window was down, and there was a "kid" sitting in the driver's seat. By "kid,", I mean a young man, maybe between the ages of 18 and 30. I'm not good with ages, especially on this "kid" who looked like my teenage heartthrob Robby Benson. Surely you remember Robby Benson! He was SO DREAMY! Especially in that basketball movie, One on One. 

Anyhoo... Kid Robby had that short black haircut. I didn't see his face, because he was sitting sideways, almost putting the back of his head out the window. Showing off that hair, maybe. OR HIDING HIS FACE AS I DROVE BY!

There was a person in the passenger seat, but I couldn't make heads or tails of them. Man, woman, combination, I don't know. I was driving, you know! I made a mental note to ask Hick if that car belongs out here. I glanced at the creek, in case they were waiting on friends wading or trapping minnows. Not a Creacher was stirring in the creek. Or on the beach.

When I returned at 2:59 p.m., that car was still there! I was really crafty about getting this picture. I parked T-Hoe on the blacktop road, by Mailbox Row, and acted like I was checking my phone before getting out for my mail. Which I didn't do, because it was SUNDAY, no mail delivery. But people out here (until the thefts) sometimes don't check their mail every day, and have been known to pick it up on a Sunday.

Anyhoo... I zoomed in and got this picture as I turned onto the gravel and drove by. It turned out better than the mailbox photos. I didn't linger, because Creachers might object to being photographed by someone who only has every right to be here due to residency. When I got home, I asked Hick about the car.

"I have a picture of it."

"That's okay. I saw it when I came home. I didn't see anybody in it."

"WHAT? There were two people in it when I left! They've been there over an hour, doing who knows what. And now they are MISSING? I don't like the sound of this."

"I looked in the creek, but didn't see anybody there."

"Me too. Is that somebody's car out here?"

"I don't know. I don't remember seeing it."

"Maybe you should put in on the Facebook page and ask if it belongs to anybody, or their visitors."

I don't know if Hick did that. He's not good at following through. But he hasn't heard reports of anything missing. I told him midweek that maybe he should drive up and see if that car is living on our Other 10 Acres. Or abandoned in the woods.

Hick said he had done that the day before, and saw no sign of it. So that's a good thing.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

When Did Old People Become Public Enemy #1

My students used to joke around with me, pointing out how old I was. Like, "You're so old, Jesus signed your yearbook!" And, "You're so old, your Social Security number is 1." Ha ha. I thought those were pretty funny. That might be because I didn't think I was old yet. Even though those 13-17 year-olds KNEW I was.
Well, today it's no joke. I yearn for the days when someone would tell me that my Social Security number was 1, rather than acting like I was PUBLIC ENEMY #1.
Last week, I stopped by Country Mart to pick up some Velveeta (don't be hatin') to put on some broccocaulipeppot. You remember broccocaulipeppot, don't you? My concoction of steamed broccoli and cauliflower, covered with sliced Velveeta, and topped with a face-down, split-open baked potato, then topped with sweet banana pepper rings.

Anyhoo... Country Mart was bought out by another chain in July, and has been rearranging the merchandise. I did not know where to find the Velveeta. I was on my way across the store, on the main front aisle, reading the signs hanging from the ceiling. Wondering if they were the OLD signs, or if they'd also been moved.

On the first aisle to the left, which used to lead to soda displays on the front wall, but now leads to a rack of school supplies, I saw a young man, perhaps early 20s, fiddling with a shelf. He was wearing a dark shirt with a logo, and a dark mask of the kind the employees wear, for a uniform. I didn't know if he worked there. I only recognize a few of them. But he was the only person around.

"You wouldn't know..."

YoungMan looked up at me at the same time I glanced into his cart, which held a case of energy drinks, and a large bag of chips.

"... no, you probably wouldn't."


Sheesh! Gravity did not affect those daggers he shot at me with his eyes, even though I was about 20 feet away. Ouch! Eye-daggers are pointy. I do believe he would have euthanized me on the spot, if he had suitable equipment. Rather than slap me into a nursing home, have me tested for the VIRUS, call 911 for an ambulance to the hospital, and sign papers to put me on a respirator to assure my complete death, all before he could say, "OK, BOOMER."

Whatever happened to society honoring their old folks? Treating them a beloved storytellers of unwritten history? Why can't I be Chinese, a culture which reveres their elders? I mean... except for the part about shoving them, still clinging to life though infected with the VIRUS, into incinerators in Wuhan. [The Truth in Blogging Law requires me to reveal that this might be a conspiracy theory put out as a video of a Chinese woman telling her cab driver what she witnessed.]

Anyhoo... all I did was ask this guy (not even all the way!) if he might know where the Velveeta was. People ask me where stuff is all the time, and I don't even dress like an employee! In fact, a man once asked one of my teaching colleagues HOW TO BAKE A CAKE, while holding a box mix with instructions on the back. So, such a simple interaction is not out of line.

YoungMan could have simply shook his head. Or just said no. He didn't need to react with such vitriol. I was far away, asking a simple half-question. Not sitting on his chest, hands around his throat, interrogating him until he led me to the Velveeta. Maybe he was all hopped-up on energy drinks.
You'd think I might have asked him to take my list and cart and do my shopping, while riding me around in the child seat. Or that I'd asked him to change my Depends. Or that I'd slipped, and expected him to help me up.
What's the thing with these young whippersnappers? Are they are THAT BITTER that they don't have the fancy house, the newest truck, and the big-screen TV all handed to them? That they must actually work a JOB and make payments the rest of their working lives in order to have something? Do they begrudge us our paid-off homes and vehicles and monthly income that we worked for 40 (or more) years to accrue? How DARE we enjoy our golden years! 

That afternoon, I told The Pony about my encounter. He was sitting on the long couch at the time, leaning over my marred coffee table, fingering his phone, as I stood in the kitchen putting away groceries. (Including the Velveeta, which was at the far end of the store, on shelves dedicated to pizza crusts, pizza sauce, and pizza toppings like pepperoni and mushrooms and grated parmesan powder.)

As I was getting to the end of my story, The Pony turned and leaned on the arm of the couch, smirking.
"WHAT? What's that LOOK all about?"

"I was just going to tell you, 'Okay, Boomer.' Right before you got to that part."

I'm tellin' you, mark my words, these young whippersnappers are a blemish upon society. We might as well counter their impertinence with, "Okay, Tumor."

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

He Can Bring Home the Meat of a Ponytail Guy, But I Bake It Up in the Pan

Hick separated the FREE oven-roasted chicken from its 20 lb bag, and put it into gallon ziplock bags so he could carry them over as needed to thaw for a meal for me and him and The Pony. The Pony actually did the job of carrying the chicken from the Original FRIG in the BARn, to the house for thawing in FRIG II. The Pony said the bag he brought contained a whole chicken, cut up.

I don't know what kind of chickens The Pony has been eating or cooking or hanging out with for the past four college years... but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a standard chicken with two legs, two thighs, two wings, and two breast-halves.


I bet that fowl would have been a challenge to catch, what with running on four legs!

The Pony decided he didn't really want chicken for supper. He'd only been playing along to be polite. He opted for some of Ponytail Guy's FREE Bacon, left over from the previous evening. I coated the roasted chicken pieces with BBQ sauce, and put them in the oven for 25 minutes. Mmm...

Hick, a true leg-man, took one thigh, and four legs, to eat with the roasted potatoes/carrots/onions that we'd had with bacon the previous night. Which left me to feast on the half-breast, thigh, and two wings. Well. Kind of. The BBQy skin of the wings stuck to the bottom of the roaster pan, along with some of the meat. But I still had a plethora of tasty oven-roasted BBQ chicken. I think this is the best of all the Ponytail Guy's meat.

I guess you could say that Hick and I had the half-chicken special. Though it was more of a special-chicken half, due to Hick's questionable bagging of fowl body parts.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Hick is Caught With His Zipper Down

Not literally! That title is a reverse euphemism for what happened to Hick. So don't be too hasty, expecting some boom-chicka-wow-wow pr0n music to start playing!

Supper Monday night was some of the FREE roasted chicken Hick got a couple weekends ago. You know, it was a Ponytail Guy's meat we gnawed on for our meal. Problem was, Hick and The Pony were both dragging their feet about bringing the chicken from the BARn to the house, so I could let it thaw before cooking.

Hick even spent Sunday afternoon over in the BARn, in his words, "piddling." I had told The Pony earlier in the day that I'd need a bag of chicken from the BARn. He forgot. Said he'd be up early (8:30) on Monday morning, and he'd go get it then. He even asked Hick to lay out the key to the BARn, so he wouldn't wake me looking for it in the bedroom. So considerate, that Pony...

Anyhoo... The Pony followed through with this promise. When I got up around 11:00 on Monday, The Pony was quite talkative.

"I put the bag of chicken on the cutting block, like you said, to let it start thawing before you put it in FRIG II. It's in a styrofoam bowl--"

"WAIT! That won't be enough! A whole bag of it fits in a bowl?"

"It's still frozen together. Just the way it's balanced, it fits in the bowl. It's enough. It's a whole chicken, in pieces."

"Okay. I'll go put it away."

"Oh, Mom. When I got over there, the door was open!"
"NO! Is all the meat thawed out?"
"Not the refrigerator. The BARn door! I was afraid somebody broke into the BARn! The door was unlocked, and the lights were on! I looked around. I didn't see anything messed up. Or any animals in there..."

"Animals! What, like POSSUMS or something?"

"I don't know. Or our dogs and cat..."

"Well, maybe Dad went over there this morning before he left to take his cancer girlfriend to the hospital."

"Maybe. I turned off the lights and locked it up."

Turns out Hick did NOT go over there that morning. He had forgotten to turn out the lights and lock up on Sunday evening! Not a good idea with recent ne'er-do-well activity in our enclave.

So here's the fun with the title. When I was a kid, the way to tell a guy his zipper was down was to mumble, "Barn door's open," as he walked by. Because, you know, it wouldn't be fitting to announce loudly, "YOUR FLY IS OPEN!"

Hick had literally left his BARn door open! So in reverse, I announced that Hick was caught with his zipper down. You know. So as not to embarrass him...