Friday, December 31, 2021

Val's Secrets Revealed

Too click-baity in the title? Perhaps. But for those of you mystified by my mention of YELLOW onions, I shall pull back the curtain and SHOW you what I'm talkin' about. After all, this is the Show-Me State. I shall make my blog the Show-You Blog.

Here are the yellow onions:

They're not exotic. Maybe you just call them "onions." They're not the sweet onions like Vidalias. Just a regular onion. They are great for roasting with carrots and potatoes, like this big pan I made for Christmas dinner and leftovers:

Mmm... can't you smell them from here? Of course, you can't see the wedges of onions in this pan. Maybe one if you look really close. There are baby carrots on the bottom, then the onions, then golden potatoes. They're like Yukon Gold, but Country Mart brand is just called Gold Potatoes. The Pony prefers them to the Idaho potatoes I used to put in. Which are more crumbly and not as waxy or sweet as the Gold. 
Anyhoo... I shake in some Hidden Valley Ranch powder on each layer, then top the whole thing with bacon, and bake, covered, at 300 or 350 until I think they're done. It usually takes an hour or a little more. I put the carrots in to cook while I'm cutting up the onions and potatoes.

Yellow onions. No longer a mystery.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

What Do You Give a Genius Who Has Everything

I didn't give gifts this Christmas. Hick said he didn't need anything. The boys are grown. The Pony will get a few items for Pony House when he moves in. With Genius living in Pittsburgh, it's a hassle to send gifts. Last year they didn't all arrive on time. This year, with Genius only coming for a one-day visit, we didn't have the time to open gifts, and force him to load them up and drive them across the country. So we gave cash.

Seriously. Who WOULDN'T like a gift of cash? One size fits all. You can customize it for what you want. Besides, we were taking a gambling trip to our local casino. You can't feel guilty losing money that hasn't been earned by the sweat of your brow.

Well. Who knew that giving Genius cash would be such a hardship? Not this old Val!

As we were parting ways at the casino, Genius and Friend having followed us down so they could take the highway back, and not meander down our two-lane curvy blacktop to retrieve Genius's Honda CRV... Genius had a request.

"Mom. Do you think you could write me a check? For this money that I didn't gamble?"

"Oh! I don't bring the checkbook when we come to the casino. It's home in my other purse."

"Okay. There's no hurry. It's just that neither one of us has a physical bank. We only do online banking. I don't know what to do with this cash." He looked at Friend. "I guess maybe you could spend it when you buy the groceries..."

"I can write you a check and send it in your letter. I can send it tomorrow."

"That would be good. Like I said, there's no hurry. But we don't carry cash."

"Yeah. We didn't even have a coin to scratch the lottery tickets my parents gave us for Christmas," said Friend. "My grandpa had to toss us a quarter! I think I still have it. We'll have to share it to scratch the tickets YOU gave us!"

Heh, heh. You'd think I had given Genius a suckling pig that Friend would have to take to market under his arm, squealing all the way, to trade for a slab of fatback and an earthenware jug of whiskey! 

At least The Pony will spend cash on a snack at Casey's when he darts in for a bathroom break during work. I know that, because he always uses a twenty, and the living room coffee table is covered with tens and fives and ones from his pocket at the end of the day.

I can't believe this generation is so anti-cash! But at least they can still read cursive! They were a couple years before that stopped being taught in elementary school.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Knock, Knock, Who'd Dare?

A bit of a controversy has arisen over the placement of the Master Bedroom door in Pony House. Okay. I'll admit that the controversy was created by Val. Hick sees nothing wrong with his workmanship. In fact, he's proud of it. So proud that he took a picture, which he sent to me, which started the controversy. 
I am hearing the faint sing-songy question posed by my second best old ex-teaching buddy Karen, who used to beat me in hand after hand of poker (for pretzel sticks!), and ask the room: "When will she EVER learn?" Yeah. Too bad Hick didn't have a best old ex-teaching buddy Karen. Or he might quit sending me controversial pictures.

Here. You be the judge. But don't forget that Val reserves the duties of jury and executioner for her ownself.

Here's the Pony House living room, in a picture taken from the front door. You can see the furnace room has been drywalled. And the hallway to the back door, with the half-bath on the left. And then there's the door of contention on the living room wall.

Who would DARE to hang a bedroom door that opens out into the living room, where it can hit any furniture placed behind it??? A door opening out into the living room wouldn't be so bad if it at least opened against the wall there by the half-bath. Nothing is going to be on that wall.

Hick says it's normal the way he has placed it. I disagree. I wouldn't spend $23,000 on a house with a wonky door!

"It will limit where you can put furniture in the living room! Why can't it open the other way?"

"Because then The Pony can't reach the light switch! It would be behind the door!"

"WHAT light switch?"

"In the bedroom."

"How does that door affect the bedroom light switch?"

"If I put the door the other way, it will."

"Well, that's just poor planning! But I mean to keep the door opening out into the living room, just the other way. Up against that wall."

"Val. Doors come in left-opening or right-opening. Because of the hinges."

"Can't you just flip it upside down?"

"I COULD. But I'd have to adjust the hinges."

"Is that really so hard?"

"No. Not really. But the door is fine how it is."

"Huh. Better ask The Pony. And everyone looking at it tomorrow when we show Genius and Niecy the house."

"I'm sure they'll agree with ME. It's common sense. Ain't nothin' wrong with how that door opens."

I beg to differ. 
The Pony looked at the picture, and said, "Actually, I'm fine with it. And MY opinion should be the only one that matters."

He'll be neighing a different tune, straight out of his Pony mouth, after the bazillionth time he opens that door and whacks a lamp off an end table.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Our Special Talents, Which Required No Training

I am sure you will not be surprised to hear that most of Thevictorian prizes won at the Christmas Eve Games at the home of my sister the ex-ex-mayor's wife... were earned with HOT AIR! That's right. Thevictorians are, apparently, champion blowhards!

Hick's long sausage, Crisp Kringles, and Dubble Bubble were all won at our first contest. Sis set up a row of 8 of those round flat candles along her kitchen bar. On either side of each candle, she placed a prize. The contestants had to stand at the end of the bar, hands behind back, and BLOW along that row of candles, to see how many they could extinguish. Only the consecutive blow-outs counted. If you skipped one and left it lit, the next blow-out didn't count. Only up to a still-burning flame.

I can't remember the specifics of who scored what. But we had three tries, since it kept repeating until all prizes were won. Hick was the third challenger, and I think he blew out SIX candles! Oh, he and The Pony also won $1 scratchers tickets, which turned out to be losers. I forgot them in our prize display.

This Blow-Hard contest is where I won my Gingerbread Kitchen Towel, and Dove chocolates, and Hershey Kiss/fingernail clipper combo. I also won a BIG PAPA, which was a giant dill pickle in a pouch of brine. But I gave it away to be won again, since I didn't think I'd eat it.

The Pony won his Antibacterial Gloves, Peace/Love Pot Holder, and Russell Stover chocolates in this contest. Oh, and there were also two booby prizes, which were a baggie of Babe's toenail clippings, and a baggie of Babe's Barbie hair pulled out of a brush. Heh, heh. Babe won her own toenails, and Niecy won the Barbie hair!

The next contests were for teams. Couples could not be on the same team. Heh, heh! Did Sis think this was a punishment? I was THRILLED not to have Hick on my team!

Solo cups and styrofoam balls were the next contest materials. Sis said we each had to put Solo cups on our hands to make reindeer hooves, and use them to pick up six styrofoam balls from a bowl, and hand them to each other to be put in another bowl at the opposite end of the table, then transfer them back to the start. MY TEAM WON! I earned my Hazelnut Cookies here, and The Pony won his Gold Chocolate Coins.

Fresh from passing "snowballs" with our hooves, my team was fired up for the ANTLER contest. We each got four small balloons to blow up, tie off, and give to our designated reindeer to stuff into a pair of pantyhose. Once full, the pantyhose "antlers" had to be put on the head of the stuffer. Niecy was our team stuffer. Which is kind of advantageous, because she has been known to cheat in almost every contest ever!

Here's Niecy at the moment we won. I have given her a tasteful Mardi Gras mask courtesy of Paint, to preserve her anonymity. There was a bit of controversy after we were declared the winners, because the ex-ex-mayor purported that we CHEATED, because you could see the toe of our pantyhose, it not being stuffed with a balloon. Too bad, so sad. He is also a well-known cheater. The tree doesn't let its apple fall far! I present Exhibit A below as evidence that his team also cheated!

That's 7-year-old Babe modeling the losing antlers. Which you can plainly see ALSO have a toe that is not stuffed completely. So there. (Sorry for the cowlick, Babe. My Paint skills leave a bit to be desired.)

Here's loser Hick, wearing the crown that came in his Christmas Popper thingy. I gave him some racing shades for a slim disguise. Babe is in the background, perhaps practicing for an attempt at robbing a convenience store with her pantyhose disguise.

Back to individual competitions. We had to hold up a paper plate proclaiming TRUE or FALSE concerning Christmas song lyrics. The Pony and I tied, getting 17/20 correct. I conceded, and that's how he won the Ghiradelli Hot Chocolate Cup packet.

The last individual competition was a contest I HAD PREVIOUSLY WON! How could Sis and Niecy be so careless? It's their goal to make me lose, yet they practically handed this one to me on a silver platter. I lost.

Everybody got a Solo cup. Babe walked around the room with an ice cube tray, distributing frozen Baby Jesuses. It was totally random which iceberged Baby Jesus you got. You could even ask for a certain one before she popped it out of the tray. My Baby Jesus was face down in that cube, his rumpus near the surface, but his left arm and leg deeply embedded.

In my previous win, which was at the BABY SHOWER before Babe was born, we could not touch our ice baby. Couldn't take it out of the cup. But this time, we could grab Baby Jesus and put our hands all over him. I tried my previous winning form, breathing on the ice baby, and swirling the cup. The winner this time was Babe's dad. HE took Baby Jesus out of the cup, and rubbed him on his jeans until Baby Jesus broke free. I'm pretty sure Babe is headed for a lifetime of cheating in contests such as this...

Anyhoo... great fun was had by all at the 2021 Christmas Eve Games.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Thevictorians Emerge Victorious

Thevictorians had a good night at the Christmas Eve Games at the home of my sister the ex-ex-mayor's wife! We brought home a box full of prizes! Of course I have to display them for you. We'll get to the games tomorrow.

We'll start with my own prizes. That baggie to the left of Santa holds come Hershey Kisses, and a nail file and metal fingernail clippers. Then behind it, a bag of Dove Milk Chocolate squares. Behind that is a Gingerbread Man Kitchen Towel. And on the right, a can of long Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies.

Hick won the long Slim Jim sausage. The Dubble Bubble Gum canister. The Crisp Kringles. 

The Pony won the most. The Russell Stover Santa that contained 3 chocolates. The Golden Chocolate Coins. The mug of Ghiradelli Hot Chocolate makings. The Antibacterial Gloves, which are washable, and used for cleaning the screens of your electronics. His own can of Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies. And the Peace Love Pot Holder.

I am also giving The Pony half of my Dove Chocolates, since I actually prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate. And the Gingerbread Man Kitchen Towel, for his Pony House kitchen.

Yes. We were competitive. We had a good night!

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Val, the Accidental Christmas Prankster

We were out late Christmas Eve, at the home of my sister the ex-ex-mayor's wife. The last thing we did was hand out the non-gifts we agreed on this year. Like my Chex Mix. I was sitting on the piano bench, and had young Babe (granddaughter of Sis, daughter of Niecy) pass them out. I didn't put the sticky nametags on them this year. So I told her by color who to hand them to. You can't have two alike in the same household, or there will be accusations of somebody eating somebody else's Chex.
Christmas morning, at 9:15, I got a text from Sis.
 "Were you mad when passing out the Chex Mix?"

"No. Why?"

"Well, mine only had a few pieces in it. I noticed everyone who opened theirs here last night had a full container. Ex-ex-Mayor said, 'She made sure to say, Sis gets the blue one.'"

"OH NO! I will get you TWO smaller ones. I was hoping Babe didn't notice that hers was smaller. Don't tell her! I guess I ran out of Chex between batches, when filling them."

"No, I just had to ask. Ex-Ex-Mayor thought it was some kind of a joke. His had more than mine. But it is okay. Just didn't want you to purposely be mean to me."

"I only had four containers that size. I saved them for you guys. It WOULD have been a great joke! But I would have told everybody to open it up and try it. So I could enjoy your reaction! Blue was the prettiest container. So I said it was for you."

"I forgive you."

"I made four batches in four days. They were stacked all around the kitchen."

"I actually thought someone at your house had been eating it behind your back."

"They might have been! Remember how a whole container of your cookies disappeared when Hick brought them in from the car?"

"I thought about that."

"The first batch I made was for US, because Hick tricked me into making it with WALNUTS he got at the auction. I didn't like it. I put it in three METAL TINS. I told Hick the blue one was the best, not from the bottom of the pan. Maybe he was confused."

"Maybe he liked MY container better than the one with walnuts."

"Hick and The Pony said they liked the walnuts. But it also had the wrong pretzels, because cheesy flavor was all the store had. Hick will bring your Chex by tomorrow."

"He doesn't have to do that. I was just kidding. That is probably all you have left isn't it? I am fine with what I have. In fact, I'm having some now."

"No, I still have enough left for Genius and Friend."

Hick denies eating any Chex other than the walnut version. Same with The Pony. Anyhoo... Hick will be delivering Chex Mix to Sis on Sunday.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Not Even Christmas Can Stop Val's Quest to Become a Future Pennyillionaire

Sometimes, Val is in the right place at the right time. Like at the Liquor Store on WEDNESDAY, December 22. The atmospheric conditions were JUST RIGHT as I walked out the door clutching my scratchers.

So bright from that angle in the setting sun.

It was a face-down 2021 penny, soaking up the late-December rays.

THURSDAY, on our trip to a semi-distant town to deliver Chex Mix to my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel, we stopped by the Love's Truck Stop so Hick could take a potty break, and I could patronize the scratcher machine. As I got out of A-Cad, I said to Hick:

"I'm not taking my phone. I hope I don't find any pennies!"

You know what happened, right? On my way out the door, I saw two pennies on the ground by a concrete wastebasket holder. Dang it!!! Even Steven is such a prankster.

Here they are posed on my kitchen counter. Both were face-down when I found them a couple inches apart. A 2013, and a 1990. You didn't think I could get a picture in the car, with Hick driving on that winding road, did you?

That makes 3 COINS this week, for 3 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       # 121, 122, 123.
Dime         still at 13.
Nickel       still at 7.
Quarter    still at 6.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, December 24, 2021

I'm Dreaming of a Right Hickmas

Good thing I was too tired on Christmas Eve eve for our nightly episode of This Is the Time We Talk About the Most Recent Thing You've Done Wrong! We might still be sitting there, Hick in his recliner, and me on the short couch.

I was tired from getting up early (8:00 a.m.!!!) to take my special Chex Mix to my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel. I only had 2 hours sleep. Maybe 2.5 if you count the times I nodded off while watching TV. We got back home around noon, and I commenced deviling 24 eggs, and making a tub of potato salad. Those are the dishes I am assigned to take to the Christmas Eve shindig at the home of my sister the ex-ex-mayor's wife.

I was done around 4:00, but too tired to wash up all those dishes. I went to lie down for a nap, and got a text from The Pony that he was getting off work, and had plans before coming home. Seems like I'd just drifted off to sleep when my phone buzzed with another text from The Pony at 5:17, that he was starting home. So I got up to start running his bath in the big triangle tub in the master bathroom. It takes a while.

Hick was out delivering the Oreo Cakes and Chex Mix I'd made earlier in the week, to HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) and The Veteran. They also got some cash and scratchers in a card, some Oberle cheese and sausage, and some crackers. I don't know if Hick was as tired as I was. Probably not. Though he should have been exhausted from HELPING ME! As with most help from Hick, he gave it his own special touch.

First of all, Hick volunteered to go by the store when he went to town for his donuts at 8:00, and buy the meat he will be grilling on Christmas Day. So helpful, our Hick. I also asked him to pick up bananas and a bag of yellow onions. Hick returned with a bag of white onions.

"Thems what you wanted, right? White onions?"

"No. I specifically told you to get YELLOW onions."

"I picked up the white onions, and almost put them back, thinking you said yellow onions. But then I knew I was right, so I got them."

"White onions are hotter than yellow onions."

"It won't matter none in potato salad."

"Yes, it will. I'll use the sweet onions I have for that. I was going to roast these with the carrots and potatoes and bacon. I don't know how they'll turn out. I always use yellow onions."

"Okay. Where's that tub of Chex you told me to use for SoAndSo's gift? This one here. You said the one on top, with the reindeers."

"NO! That is NOT the one with reindeers. You took it yesterday. That is one for The Veteran's family."

"I didn't take no Chex tub yesterday. You cain't remember nothin'!"

"I know I was sitting right here, and pointed to it, and you took it!"

"I did not put no Chex tub in the car with the cakes!"

"I don't know what you did with it, but you DID take it!"

"No I didn't."

Heavy sigh from me. I stood up. Looked towards the door, and saw the reindeer Chex tub sitting on Hick's chair on the other side of the kitchen table.

"Obviously, you DID. Because there it is, right there on your chair. You're welcome."

THEN we started on our 35-minute journey to Mabel's. It's a curvy road. Hick drives A-Cad as fast as he can, sweaving onto the wake-up bumps cut into the sideline. A couple times I heard things shift in the back. I tried to put it out of my mind. In the back was a gift bag with Mabel's cows (CowParade Cows, for her birthday and Christmas), and three of the giant metal tins Hick bought instead of my plastic Chex Mix tubs.

When we got there, Hick went around to get the stuff out of the back while I had a brief tussle with my knees to get out of the car and stretch. 

"Huh. One of the lids came about half off."

"WHAT? Did it spill? How did that happen? You know the metal lids don't snap shut."

"I just set the box in there. They was on their sides in the box."

"You didn't set them FLAT? Who does that? They were only in the box because they wouldn't stack on the table. I didn't mean to transport them on their side in a box! Did it spill out?"

"Yeah. Some."

"That is such a waste! You can't save it?"

"Well. It's just in this box. So I think I can."

Most often, the holidays are easier without Hick's help...

Thursday, December 23, 2021

A Dog and Pony Showdown

The Pony was excited to learn on Wednesday that he MIGHT get Saturday AND Sunday off! He originally was only getting Saturday for his Christmas Day holiday. Of course he will probably work 12 hours on Christmas Eve.
Anyhoo... The Pony said his supervisor told everyone that if everything gets delivered on Christmas Eve, NOBODY will come into the office on Saturday or Sunday. The Pony is hopeful, since everything has been delivered on Tuesday and Wednesday, with nothing left over for the next day.

The Pony put a hold on a route here in Backroads, which he started this week. He says that on a light day, he can get it done in 8 hours, not counting the time he takes getting his mail ready. I forget the word for that. Not sorting... maybe CASING? Anyhoo... he went in at 5:30 Wednesday morning, and was done by 4:00. Which is EARLY for the way things have been going lately.

So far this week, The Pony has been gifted with two big slabs of peanut brittle, a $25 Amazon gift card, and another $10 gift card, the business which escapes me. He's been in high spirits, giddy with the thought of having at least one day off after working only four in a row. Here's a tale from Wednesday.

"I've never been so justified in using the "dog loose" clause for skipping a house! I was on a walking loop when I came to an abandoned house. All it ever gets is junk mail. There was a dog running loose. A dog I've never seen before. I didn't feel safe, so I skipped that house, and the five past it that were left on the loop. When I drove back by there, THREE DOGS were running around in the yard, and one of them had BLOOD all over its neck! Good thing I skipped that area!"

Sometimes, you just gotta go with your gut.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

It's Almost Like Somebody's On a Mission!

A funny thing happened on the way home from Country Mart on Tuesday. I only noticed it as I was putting T-Hoe in reverse to back out of my parking spot. I was so shocked that I turned off the ignition, and reached for my phone camera.
Did you notice? No, it's not a lack of customers, nor the absence of a bicyclist blocking me in by standing beside her bike at T-Hoe's door.

Do you see what I see? 
A slab, a slab, broken in the day
Makes me wonder again, "WHAT THE HEY!" 

Okay. That little reference was a bit of Christmasizing in honor of the holiday season. But I DO wonder what in the Not-Heaven is going on here! WHO is breaking all these parking slab tire bumper thingies? 

This is the 3rd one I've seen here at Country Mart! And when I looked along the sidewalk, I saw the 4th broken parking slab tire bumper thingy!

Number four was broken even worse! AND knocked up on the sidewalk! Is this one person with a hatred of parking slab tire bumper thingies? Or a gang using this act for initiation? 
Is Mr. Magoo shopping at Country Mart?

Maybe it's a problem with their construction. That one seems to have the bolt needed to anchor it down. If the others don't, shouldn't they just move? Wouldn't the anchored one break just as easily?

It could be substandard materials, used to save a buck. What are these broken parking slab tire bumper thingies made of instead of the usual concrete? 
Chalk, maybe? I know it took precious little to snap a piece of chalk back when we still used blackboards! You'd no sooner take a piece out of the box than it broke as you were laying it on the chalk tray. 
Or maybe the stuff from those candy cigarettes? C'mon, man! You remember when cigarettes were CANDY, and nobody saw anything wrong with kids chewing on sweet white (before they were known to cause) cancer sticks, with the ends tinted red like an ember. IF you were lucky enough to get one that wasn't broken in half in the pack.

I'm going to keep my eye on this situation. To see if these parking slab tire bumper thingies get replaced, or if MORE get broken.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Second Time's a Charm, Sort Of...

Remember when I sent Hick to pick up plastic tubs for my Chex Mix? And he brought home 10 giant metal tins? Well, so far I have manged to use five of those 10 tins. Three for my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel's Chex Mix, and two for our share of the recalled Chex Mix.

Monday, Hick went to Walmart for something Pony-House related, and I asked him to get me the proper plastic tubs for Chex Mix. He DID! His version, anyway...

Hick bought 10, but I only had room for six in the pic. You might notice that these tubs are not connected in two-packs with clear plastic. Hick brought them home in one bag. They were all stacked together. A sideways tower of 10. In the photo, I have put a lid under each one, trying to match them up. THAT was the problem.

Hick said all these tubs were on a shelf. Loose. With lids. Loose. So it was mix 'n' match. He picked two of the pinkish plaid, two of the red plaid, two of the critters, and four of the green signs. That was a decent variety. But the lids are where his pickin' skills were lackin'. Hick had five green lids, and five red lids. One of those looking kind of maroon, as you can see mid-tower. Oh, and each lid had a scene on top. NOT related to any of the tub patterns!

I used the maroonish lid with a gnome and a woodchuck to put on a critter tub. Another red lid had a tractor on it. So I gave that one to one of the four green tubs with signs. The other three red lids said NOEL. So they went on these three plaids. Oh, no! I can't remember the five green lids! If I remember, I'll update tomorrow when I'm upstairs sharing my kitchen table with them.

Anyhoo... these tubs are a bit smaller than I like to give out, but they are great for conserving the Chex Mix! Good for Hick, even it he picks out tub patterns like he picks out shirt patterns to wear for college graduation pictures!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Val's World-Famous Chex Mix Has Been Recalled!

I'm three batches deep in the Christmas Chex Mix, with two left to go. I only make one batch a day, because it takes 20 minutes to put together, and 2 hours to bake. You can't rush Chex Mix. It must roast at 250 degrees, and be stirred every 15 minutes. Chex Mix, like a baby or a rich socialite, must be pampered.

There was a bit of a hiccup in my usually smooth routine on Friday. I've only had 20 years to perfect it. I set out my two non-stick 11x13 pans, and the big black-and-white speckled roaster pan. I had some ingredients on hand from the last time, and a few I'd picked up at Country Mart just in case. 

When it was time to add the pretzels, I saw that the bag had expired in October. OF THIS YEAR! Don't assume the worst! I opened it and gave a sniff. NOPE! That wouldn't work. They smelled like cardboard. I tossed them in the wastebasket. The dogs don't like pretzels, and the squirrels are going to need an appointment with Dr. Nowzaradan if they get any fatter.

Lucky for me, I'd found ONE bag of pretzels left on the shelf at Country Mart. Since I only make one batch of Chex Mix a day, I took it, knowing I still had that one at home, and planned on getting more on my next trip to Save A Lot. I got the new bag of pretzels, ripped it open, and had shaken them into the two 11x13 pans when I noticed something was amiss.

Yes, those pretzels were thinner. But they were brand-name, Rold Gold, when I always use the store brand of pretzel twists. But they were also ORANGE! I picked one up. Ate it. Dug out the bag to read it. They were CHEESE flavored! Huh. Well, too late. That's all I had. How much difference could a pretzel make?

There was another deviation from the recipe. I used to add pecans. My mom bought them in bulk from a town over on the Mississippi River. The ones I got from her have been used up from my freezer. So I only add them to the special batch I make for my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel. HOWEVER... 

Hick got a bargain at the auction. He bought four 16 oz bags of walnuts for $6. That's $1.50 apiece! I saw them in Country Mart, 12 oz bags for $3.98. Anyhoo... Hick said to use the walnuts in the Chex Mix. The Pony agreed. So I put in almost a whole bag.

The results were not gift-give-able. :(

I also didn't put in enough vegetable oil. I was confused after making just the Chex and nuts for The Pony to take as a work snack. So each pan had a deficit of 1/4 cup of oil. You wouldn't think it would make that much difference, but it affected the flavor, and the amount of garlic powder and salt that stuck to the ingredients.

Hick and The Pony liked the walnuts in the Chex Mix. I did not. They change the flavor. Or maybe it was just those cheese pretzels. We have two of the big tins full for them to enjoy. I will pick around the nuts and pretzels.

The subsequent two batches are DELICIOUS! Of course I had to sample them. Three down, two to go. The house smells great. Like Christmas. We're not a cookie family. We're a Chex Mix family.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Don't Feed the Reaper

 Once again, Hick has reaped the benefits that come from simply being Hick. 

Our electricity went off at 2:20 a.m., and we had a restless night. You know. Because people need their electricity in the wee hours of the morning. It was off until 11:00 a.m. Our house must have good insulation, because the temp never went below 70, despite outside rain in the 30s. The only casualty was The Pony's shower, which he takes at 4:30 a.m. Not that he went to work dirty, after his 2+ hour soak in the big triangle tub in the master bathroom the night before.

Anyhoo... Hick got up around 6:30, and left for his Storage Unit Store. Which still had electricity, being on the other side of the prison, where the outage occurred. He determined this by checking his security cameras with his phone. I think. Details are sketchy. I was sleep-deprived.

Anyhoo... Hick returned home around 3:00, carrying a white plastic bag. I thought he'd gotten some bargain in trade.

"Ooh! What do we have?"

"WE don't have nothin'. But look what I have."

Hick set his bounty upon the slim sliver (as opposed to a fat sliver) of table that wasn't taken up by the 10 giant Christmas tins he'd bought for my Chex Mix. He had two large square containers, and a smaller round one.

"I was sittin' in my store, and a guy came walking up carrying this bag. He asked if I was Hick Thevictorian. I said I was, and he said, 'I'm supposed to deliver this to you, and tell you Happy Birthday.' So I said, 'Who's it from?' And he said, 'I don't know that. I'm just from Door Dash.' I opened it up, and there was eggs and bacon and sausage and hash browns and a biscuit. And then a giant pancake. With strawberry sauce and whipped cream! I'm getting ready to eat the rest of my sausage and biscuit now, then I'm coming back for my pancake."

"Who could have sent that to you?"

"I don't have no idea. I guess maybe some of them guys up at the units. Or somebody who shops with me who heard everybody wishing me a happy birthday. I really don't know. But it sure was good! It came from Huddle House, down the road. It was still hot. I ate some there, then left it in my truck. It should be fine. It was 37 degrees."

I don't know who sent breakfast to Hick. I sure didn't do it! I don't begrudge him a fancy breakfast eaten out of plastic in a storage unit. Funny how Hick never thinks anybody is trying to kill him. Which was my first thought, knowing that Hick most likely had eaten two or three donuts already when he chowed down on that gift breakfast.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

It Ain't HaPENNYing On Val's Watch!

The pickin's were slim this week on Val's quest for pennies. So slim that on Wednesday, I had just about abandoned all hope before entering the Gas Station Chicken Store. I parked around the side, by the FREE AIR hose, and left my phone in T-Hoe. No need to have it weighting down my pants pocket, pulling those pants south, making ample-rumpusing even more dangerous to the person in line behind me.

Of course that was a signal for the ol' prankster Even Steven.

As I rounded the corner of the building, I was greeted with a penny meant just for me. No, I did NOT want to walk back to T-Hoe, in the 35-degree wind and drizzle. I figured I could nab that cent when I came out. There didn't seem to be a line waiting to collect it.

It was a heads-up 2002 penny. Normally, I would crop this photo and give you a closeup. But I like the artsy-fartsy quality of the iridescent crescents from the OIL SLICK on top of the puddle Old Abe was submerged in.

That's right! Abe was underwater! I felt guilty about putting my magical elixir first! I should have rescued Abe on my way inside, and not made him hold his breath until I returned to T-Hoe and grabbed my phone. Abraham Lincoln is NOT DROWNING on Val's watch! No siree, Bob! Not today, Even Steven. Not today.

Only 1 COIN this week, for 1 CENT towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       # 120.
Dime         still at 13.
Nickel       still at 7.
Quarter    still at 6.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, December 17, 2021

Riding Shotgun With The Pony

Riding shotgun with The Pony would not be very comfortable. You'd be perched on a shelf, probably holding mail for The Pony to reach for as he delivers it curbside. Of course you'd be on the left side of the LLV (Long Life Vehicle), on the center line of the road, since it's a right-hand-drive vehicle. Since it's not really feasible to ride shotgun with The Pony while he's on the job, we'll let you experience it vicariously, through The Pony's following three photos, from three different days this work week.

This is the Magical Mystery Switch that The Pony found last Friday. Just a random switch. No label. I wonder if he was adventurous enough to flip that switch. Just to see what it would do. I'm guessing maybe not, because he's still here. He didn't get transported to another dimension. Hold the presses! Upon further interrogation, The Pony admitted he DID flip that switch. It turned on the fan that is mounted on the dash. The only form of "air conditioning" built into the LLV.

I found this one to be particularly artistic. The Pony said it was a dangling car charger. Not to charge a car, but one of those things like a cigarette lighter. A hollow tube used to plug in a cable to charge an electronic gewgaw. Or as Hick termed it, a "hanging female receptacle." Which absolutely horrified The Pony!

On Monday, The Pony was loading in this LLV his part of the 12,000 packages his office received, when another worker said, "Oh, I brought that one back. I think it might have a problem." When The Pony got started, he saw this gauge was redlined. So he drove back onto the lot and called his supervisor to report it. She said,

"Oh, it's okay to drive. I think that's one of the two that show they're overheated when they're not. Let me call the repair shop."

Yes. That was indeed one of the two LLVs that show they're overheated when they're not. Hick says it's a broken "temperature sending unit." I thought maybe it should be a temperature sensing unit. But he said it twice. Three times. Because I couldn't remember it. Hick doesn't understand why, if the repair people KNOW the gauge is broken, that they don't fix it. In fact, The Pony said this LLV was actually delivered to the parking lot THAT MORNING as being repaired and ready to go.

The Pony also says his new acting manager says that if anybody knows of a good repair shop there in Sis-Town that can tow cars and work on them... to let him know!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Did Val Just Witness a Crime?

Save A Lot is a hotbed of criminal activity these days! In the same place I saw that parking altercation where the police were called, I observed another possible crime on Wednesday. 
I have a knack for being at the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time, I guess.

I was standing by my cart, shoving Chex Mix ingredients into T-Hoe's rear, when I noticed a man and woman taking carts out of the cart corral. I assumed it was two workers, taking them back into the store. THEN as I turned to wheel my own cart over to the corral, I saw that they were LOADING THE CARTS INTO THE BACK OF A RED TRUCK!

Well, crap. I couldn't be obvious about my suspicions. People who steal a truckload of grocery carts probably would think nothing of preparing a snitch for stitches! So I pushed my cart into the corral, and hobbled back to T-Hoe. If my wind-dried lips could have whistled, I would have been the poster Val for insouciance. 

That's when I heard the young worker who just came out the door. He was in the red polo uniform shirt, maybe 21 years old, just a gawky kid.

"Hey! Did you pay for those carts?"

Well, crap. Was I going to get caught in a rumble? I don't like confrontations. By now I was stepping into T-Hoe. Cart Taker replied, "Ha ha!" He mumbled something else, but I had closed my door for safety, and couldn't make out the words. They both had a couple things to say, some arm gestures. The woman Accomplice didn't say anything. Cart Taker loaded MY cart in the back of his truck. Then Young Worker went back into the store, and Cart Taker and Accomplice drove off.
Yeah. I was kind of nervous. I pretended I was checking my phone and texting, being so nearsighted that I had to hold my phone in front of my face.
I blocked out Cart Taker's face. Accomplice had the good sense not to expose her identifiable features to me. I wonder about their parking choice. The could have loaded those carts easier if they parked in the space beside the cart corral. However, it's a handicap space. So I guess that cart thieves in Backroads are respectful of the disabled.

Those are new carts, too! Only about 6 months old. They even roll straight! And don't have broken handles that pinch my hands!

All I can think of is that maybe one of the other Save A Lots in the area needed more carts. There's one over in Sis-Town where Pony works and his house is located. But nobody was wearing any identifying uniform. Surely a hoity-toity management person wouldn't be doing physical labor, loading carts!

It's a mystery to me. This is Val, signing off, at the Backroads Save A Lot.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Scene From the Clash Struggle in Backroads, Missouri

For many years, Hick has had a pattern of "helping" me with acts that actually cause great hindrance to my routine. It doesn't matter if I've asked fro the "help," or if Hick just takes such a good deed upon himself. It never works out the way he imagines. We clash on this regularly. 

Last week, Hick mentioned that he'd be going to Walmart for some light bulbs, and a few last-minute toys for Santa to give the kids at the pre-school function he would be attending. 
I had a request:

"Since The Pony is so busy these days, and can't get to Walmart, will you look for those plastic containers I use to give out Chex Mix for Christmas? [The Pony got up and counted through the ones I have in the pantry and closet.] I'll need at least 14. They usually come in a 2-pack or 3-pack. Get more than one pattern."

A normal man would likely text his wife with a picture before buying 14 containers. Hick is not a normal man.

I didn't know which day Hick went to Walmart. But a couple days later, he said,

"I got your tins. They're on the kitchen table."

"My WHAT?"

"Your tins. That you wanted for the Chex Mix."

"Oh! My containers! How many did you get?"

"Ten. That's all I saw."

"Oh. Well. That's not enough, but it's a start. Were they over by the frozen food bins, like I told you?"


"Up front, in the Christmas stuff?"

"No. They was on a back aisle when I was getting the dog food and light bulbs."

"Huh. I've never found them back there."

A while later, I got up to go to the kitchen, and saw my containers.

"WHAT IN THE WORLD??? WHY did you get THESE containers! I can't use them!"

"Why not? It's what you wanted."

"Um. They actually ARE tins! GIANT tins! Do you know how much Chex Mix they'll hold? We'll go broke if I fill these up to give out! They'll hold at least three times the amount as my usual containers!"

Yes. That's what Hick bought instead of that smaller plastic container I've perched on top. He bought TEN of them! You can see them, still piled on the table. Along with Hick's other clutter, like an almost-empty bag of York Peppermint Patties, a dirty pair of work gloves, 4/6 of a Diet Mountain Dew 6-pack, and a partially-used bag of white cotton work gloves. Oh, that's Hick's package in the background. Now empty.

I don't know what I'm going to do with all these containers. At least they weren't expensive. $4.48 for TWO. So $22.40 plus tax. Oh, the one I took out for posing? Is dented. Flat on one side. I haven't checked the other nine.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Sometimes, the Old Ways Are the Best

Val was draggin' on Monday, with a headache like a vise squeezing her forehead. Pretty sure that's from a lack of sleep two nights in a row. It's no secret that I stay up late and sleep in. But the late got later, and sleeping in was out, with phone calls disturbing my beauty sleep.

Saturday night, I didn't fall asleep in my OPC (Old People Chair) until after 8:00 a.m. That's when The Pony left for his 8:30 shift. I'd meant to snooze off earlier, but was caught up in catching up on my three DVRs of MTV's The Challenge. They're 90 minutes long, but less than an hour each when you fast-forward through the commercials.

Anyhoo... on Sunday night, I spent 1:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. looking for Pony documents. Since his Worker's Comp claim denial was reversed, The Pony's new office manager said to bring in his forms from the doctor showing that he was not released for work during his broken-ankle time, and his supervisor would re-submit them to get The Pony his Continuation of Pay for that time.

To be fair, The Pony sent me an email at 8:30 p.m. with those forms attached. He said he took a phone scan of all his documents before submitting them. His email said that a couple might be duplicates, but to print all six. My printer in my lair won't print. Only copies. Something is always hung up in queue. So I have to print to the copier in Hick's workshop. Which is cantankerous, and makes you turn it off, then back on, to get the next copy in queue. So I did that six times. Even though I saw that EVERY DOCUMENT WAS IDENTICAL!

That one document only covered a two-week period. But I found the next two-week one in an old email from The Pony. Another I had to go up those 13 rail-less steps and dig around in a box until I found the third document. So those three covered all the weeks except the first two. Which he doesn't have, because Urgent Care refused to fill one out, saying they couldn't diagnose a broken ankle, even though they took an x-ray and labeled it a fracture. HOWEVER, I found a totally different form with the podiatrist's signature, listing the date of disability from July 15 to September 13. So that MIGHT suffice, if I can find the Urgent Care letter refusing to fill out the initial form.

Here's my point: Sometimes, the old ways are the best. 
If only The Pony would have put his documents in a folder labeled with contents and dates, and put those folders in a box, I could have found what he needed in 10 minutes or less. Every time he's asked me to print something from a scan, or from an original, I've made an extra set of copies. So it should have all been ready to pull out of a folder and take to work.

Even with my "work" done, I stayed up until 4:35. That's when I heard The Pony get up for his shower. I was kind of waiting, because a couple weeks ago, The Pony overslept for his 5:30 a.m. shift, and was almost 30 minutes late. He called in, at least. And last week, I just happened to wake up at 4:45, and hollered up to see if The Pony was awake, to which he said, "I am NOW!" and barely got ready in time. It's hard working 12 hours a day, 11 days in a row, and getting up at 4:30 a.m.

The Pony says he sets his alarm, but it doesn't wake him. I suggested a different tone, and he said he uses eight different tones, so he doesn't get used to one.

I'm pretty sure an old-fashioned clangy windy-up clock would wake him. The kind you want to throw across the room because it's so annoying. But it has no SNOOZE option.

Did I mention that I think SOMETIMES, THE OLD WAYS ARE THE BEST!

Of course that doesn't include the practice of shooting an equine with a broken ankle...

Monday, December 13, 2021

I Don't Like the Way He Handled Hick's Package

We're not doing much for Christmas this year. No collectibles for Hick that will need their own themed shed. The Pony will be getting a few items for his "new" house when he moves in. But I DID order each of them a pair of shoes. Hick also has a birthday this month.

Last I checked, Hick's package (and The Pony's too--they SHARE a package!) was in Wisconsin, and expected here on Monday. But SUNDAY, I got an email around noon saying that Hick's package had been delivered. Huh. I hadn't heard the dogs going crazy. 

I went out on the front porch to look. No package. Not on the porch, not on the yellow metal chair down by Hick's brick sidewalk, not on the dumpster under the carport. Wait. What was that in the back of the Gator? It looked like a box.

I put on my CROCS and went out the back door. Nothing on Juno's dog house, where our old UPS lady used to set the packages, give a quick knock, toss dog biscuits to the mutts, and leave. She was fantastic! Nothing on the side porch. I went down the steps and walked to the Gator parked under the carport. It WAS a box, but it was an old box. With some assorted junk from Hick. 

The dogs were going nuts, thinking I was out there to give treats, or take a walk in the driveway, or drag the dumpster out to the road. Nope. I wandered back to where Hick put up a mailbox on a post, thinking those idiots would deliver packages to it. Silly Hick. UPS and FedEx only put packages in REAL mailboxes where they're not supposed to! Not in decoy mailboxes meant for them! Nothing there, of course, because that mailbox was way too small for Hick's package.

I turned to look along the back of the garage. HICK'S PACKAGE!

It was sitting up against my garage door. That is just pure idiocy! A normal person entering the garage from the people door, hitting the button to lift the garage door, could never see this package. It's not like T-Hoe has a backup camera. That box was so close that I don't know if a backup camera would see it. Had I not acted on my hunch, and patrolled the grounds looking for Hick's package, I would have backed T-Hoe right over it! SMASHING Hick's package!

My guess is that the FedEx driver pulled that delivery van up to the garage doors, and tossed it out, not bothering to disembark. Good thing it wasn't raining, or Hick's package would have been soaked!

I don't like the way the FedEx guy handled Hick's package. A woman would have taken much more care with it.

Let the record show that The Pony slit open Hick's package with a kitchen knife in the house. Hick and he both took out their respective packages to show me. I was afraid The Pony's package was too large, and Hick's was too small. But both tried them out, and they were fine. Merry Christmas birthday!

Hick chose Sketchers, white leather with blue trim. And The Pony got black leather New Balance with non-skid soles, suitable for delivering mail.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Guys Are the Window to the Goal

Hick has been working on Pony House every weekday. He is limited only by other people not showing up as promised to do their part. His buddy has been recovering from a sickness for a couple weeks now, so that can't be helped. He's there when he feels okay, and Hick says he's a good worker who needs little supervision.

Hick trimmed out the kitchen window on Thursday, while working alone.

Hick is a good trimmer, but he had to wait until he and his buddy got that drywall up on the kitchen wall. The living room is looking like a disaster area. Might be time for Hick to make a trip to the landfill in SilverRedO, before he needs his trailer.

I don't remember if I mentioned this at the time, but a couple weeks ago, Tree-Trimmer Guy stopped by the house to work on the remains of the pecan tree. When we last convened on this subject, the tree looked like this:

That was November 5. Hick had paid all but the last $1000 for the job. Tree-Trimmer Guy, there in the background, said he'd be back on the weekend, but didn't show up. I talked to his helper, there in the foreground, who also works at the Liquor Store. He said Tree-Trimmer Guy had him working in St. Louis, where he got some jobs after a storm. Helper didn't really like that, because it cost him a lot to drive his truck and trailer an hour to the city, when he could have been driving 10 minutes over to Pony House.

Anyhoo... Tree-Trimmer Guy showed up a couple weeks ago, worked about 15 minutes on WHAT Hick couldn't tell, and then said to Hick, "I think I might just say 'screw it' and forget the rest of the money." Huh. I guess a contract only works one way. Hick figured he'd let it go, and eventually find someone else to take down the rest.

However... Tree-Trimmer Guy showed up on Thursday, and told Hick he was going to rent a lift to take down those other two limbs, but he didn't have the money for a $500 deposit. So Hick paid him the final $1000. Tree-Trimmer Guy came back with the lift, and took down the big limb over Pony House. Now the pecan tree looks like this:

Of course Tree-Trimmer Guy never showed up on Friday. I told Hick he probably won't see him again, now that he paid all the money. Hick says that's not cool. He called Tree-Trimmer Guy, who said he'd be back to take down the rest of the tree, but didn't say when. He's in for a big surprise on Facebook regarding his "business" if he doesn't come back!

One good thing about Friday... the Furnace Guy came to install the furnace! It's in the furnace room. The ductwork is in the attic. All hooked up. Hick can run the furnace now. Furnace Guy said he'll be back next week to install the air conditioning part of the unit. Hick hasn't paid HIM anything yet!

Hick is excited to have heat, since the temps have been falling overnight to near or below freezing. Now he can put up drywall so the attic isn't open, and Pony House will be warm enough to "mud the drywall." It has to be a certain temperature to work. I think in the 60s or warmer.

The next big project is getting the plumbing done under the house. Hick's buddy will have to crawl under for that. And Hick has a guy coming with a backhoe to dig up the old sewer, so Hick can connect the Master Bathroom plumbing to it. Hick is concerned about drainage from the Bathroom 2 area. He's going to run his "fish tape" through, to see if there's a blockage, since it seems sluggish. I suggested a tree root, but Hick said it might just be a squirrel that got in there and died (like under the house), since the pipe was open for a while.

Hick's eyes light up like a kid in a candy store when he talks about Pony House.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Christmas Is Coming, the Goose Is Getting Fat. Won't You Please Put a PENNY in Val's Ice Cream Dish Goblet?

Okay, so it doesn't quite have the same rhyme to it! I tried to make my title relevant!
TUESDAY, December 7, I went in Country Mart for bananas and Hick's Diet Mountain Dew. Of course I had to patronize the lottery machine! As I turned to leave, something caught my eye: 

At first I thought it was just a dried-out blob of gum. But I realized that Country Mart takes better care of their floors than that. Sure, they may try to slip expired foodstuffs by you, but they are good floor-polishers. When I looked closer, I saw that it was...

A 2006 DIME! Okay. The 2006 part I didn't know until some rubbing with a dish scrubber at home. And I can't declare whether it was heads-up or face down. But it was definitely a DIME!

FRIDAY, December 10, found me BACK at Country Mart. We are banana-eating fools around here! They don't keep for long. Of course I had some other groceries to grab as well, necessitating stowage in T-Hoe's rear. When I turned to wheel my cart/walker back to the sidewalk, I found a special gift that had been under a car when I started unloading.

Yes, we'd had some rain. This penny was almost sparkling under the overcast sky.

It was a heads-up 1998 penny. That's a Pony-year penny to me! I had to shake the water off Abe's face before dropping him into my shirt pocket. I turned to continue pushing the cart back to the store, and stopped in my soggy tracks!

There was ANOTHER penny that I had just rolled over with my cart/walker. I don't know how I missed it on the way to T-Hoe's rear. Right there on the black-and-white border.

This was a 1974 Abe, also heads-up, but shrouded in a water bubble. At least they were cleaner than that dime!

That's 3 COINS this week, for 12 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       # 118, 119.
Dime         # 13.
Nickel       still at 7.
Quarter    still at 6.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1