Sunday, February 28, 2021

The One Where Val Lovingly Prepares and Feeds Hick Dog Biscuits

Let the record show that I did NOT feed Hick a processed treat made as a doggie snack, perhaps with the added perk of cleaning his teeth. I fed Hick hot dogs wrapped in biscuits. At his request. Using FREE Ponytail Guy hot dogs (only 8 packs left!) and a can of buttermilk biscuits from FRIG II.

Don't call them pigs in blankets. They're hot DOGS, not hot PIGS! And a biscuit is most certainly not a blanket. It wouldn't keep my big toe warm! So the the hot dogs in biscuits should be called Dog Biscuits. (Surely you wouldn't suggest Wiener Biscuits!) You can feed them to a dog if you want. Won't hurt.

Anyhoo... I'd had The Pony dig down under the 70-something remaining egg rolls in the mini freezer, to get out a pack of hot dogs. I thawed them in FRIG II overnight. I knew I had some storebought biscuits, even though Hick professed that I should use the FREE Ponytail Guy biscuits. Which are frozen in bags, and I'm pretty sure are already baked, and only need warming. Not so good for poking a hot dog into.

I saw the can of biscuits on the front of FRIG II's top shelf, where The Pony had put it upon carrying in groceries. I thought we had another can somewhere, so I rummaged around and found the exact same kind, but instead of a March expiration date, this one had December. And I don't mean 2021. 
Well. I was sure there was nothing in that can of biscuits that would harm Hick. But it WOULD harm FRIG II. In fact, that's how FRIG II came to live at our house. The Original FRIG was fatally injured by an exploding can of biscuits! Seriously! In the middle of the night. Hick thought somebody shot at us! We eventually checked the kitchen, and upon opening TOF's door, saw the carnage that lay within. Foodstuffs strewn all willy-nilly, and the side wall and door plastic CRACKED by the explosion!

The Origianl FRIG was beyond repair. Hick said he couldn't maintain coolness like that. This was before the days of that black goopy stuff on TV that can patch a hole in the bottom of a boat! TOF sat on our porch for a couple weeks, then Hick moved him to the BARn, deciding that TOF would work well enough to keep water and soda (and probably sugary snacks) for him and the boys.

Anyhoo... I wanted to flatten those biscuits for a better fit around the hot dogs. Usually I just wrap them around, two to a hot dog, and they sometimes pull apart while baking. Even though I pre-heat the hot dogs so they aren't cold, with condensation forming to loosen the seal. I don't know where my rolling pin is. I think in the back of a corner cabinet. I'm not a baker. Nor a candlestick-maker--but I know how to use one!

My choice of improvised rolling pin was a CANDLE. Not a fancy stick candle that goes in a holder on a white tablecloth for a romantic meal. A jar candle that is the go-to gift for Val at Christmas. We'd just utilized some of them during our power outage on that 4-degree Friday when we were snowed-in. And the one sitting on the end of the piano by The Pony's room looked like the perfect candidate for rolling out Hick's Dog Biscuits.
THERE it is. Purple Sand. I'm not sure what purple sand is supposed to smell like. I did not take a whiff to find out. I washed off the outside of the jar. That cloudy business you see is on the inside. It was squeaky-clean without.

Pardon the mess on the cutting block. That PEPSI belongs to the traitor Pony, from his Little Caesar's food on Friday. I really should sand down the top of the cutting block. It's about eleventy-billion years old, a true antique, gotten from Hick's old workplace when he was tasked with cleaning out the basement of the factory. It's solid wood, on a metal base. 

Actually, I kind of like the patina on it. And by "like," I mean that I'm so lazy I'd rather leave it like that than research on how to scrub it up, and actually expend the elbow-grease.

Anyhoo... that can of December biscuits practically opened themselves! All I had to do was peel back a tiny portion of the wrapping, and POP it went. I hate to open biscuits, but this can didn't give me enough time to get all worked up about it.

I put two biscuits at a time on a paper plate, and rolled over them with that candle like I was re-paving a blacktop road. The biscuits flattened, but it still took two to wrap around each hot dog. They came out of the oven beautifully, all golden brown and smooth, looking like actual hot dog buns with enclosed ends. I called Hick to come and get it. He added some Cuban mustard for dipping, and returned to his recliner to feast. 

He had asked for three, but could only finish two.

"Do you want this last one?"

"Yeah. I'll take it.  I didn't make anything for myself, and The Pony didn't want anything since he went out for lunch."

"Them was REALLY good!"

"Huh. Maybe it's because I rolled out the biscuits this time."

"What kind of biscuits was they?"

"Just store brand. From Country Mart. Maybe Best Choice. Buttermilk biscuits. We have another can of them."

"I like them."

"Well. The date on them was December 14..."

"Oh. That might be what made them so good, heh, heh!"

Good to know that Hick is not too picky about the origins of his Dog Biscuits.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Sun Came Out and Melted All the Snow, and Val's Future PENNYillionaire Fortune Was Again Good to Go

When it stops snowing, it pours! The week has been good for Val's itsy-bitsy Future Pennyillionaire Fortune! Of course it started last week, technically, with a late entry on SATURDAY, February 20, after the week's report had already published.

I stepped out of the liquor store, scratchers gripped in my hot arthritic hand, and saw a penny meant just for me. Maybe it had been trapped under the snow, waiting for me to arrive!

Looks like Abe had a few smokes while he was waiting. Abe is to the left of that snow wad. Cigarettes ARE major merchandise at the liquor store, which is actually called a smoke shop in its name. No wacky tobaccy, but they have accessories.

It was a heads-up 2001 penny, showing evidence of salt melt around the rim.

MONDAY, February 22, we went to the casino. At my second slot, sitting beside The Pony, who I'd tricked into playing the slot next to me, I was shocked to spy a penny under his seat!

HOW do these pennies end up on the casino floor, when the machines don't take them, nowhere near a cash-out machine, conveniently in Val's line of sight?

It was a heads-up 1978 penny. At first I thought it might be a dime, from the lighting. But it was indeed a penny. The Pony picked it up for me (grudgingly), upon request, to save some elderlies from an ample-rumpusing.

TUESDAY, February 23, my scratcher quest led me to Orb K, which had a surprise waiting.

There it is, beneath the Caramel M&Ms, and the White Chocolate Peanut M&Ms, neither of which I have a desire to try. I would like to sample a new Snickers with a brownie hidden inside, though. But enough about ampling my rumpus...

It was a face-down 1994 penny, lolling on the cold concrete between me and the scratchers display leaning against the front window. Yes. A customer DID receive an ample-rumpusing.

WEDNESDAY, February 24, was the most fruitful day of the week. Even Steven works in mysterious ways. I cannot explain my first penny-find.

Yes. That is a penny perched on T-Hoe's running board. I found it as I was closing the door after climbing out to enter the Backroads Casey's. There is no logical way that penny got there. It was not there when I climbed into T-Hoe at home in the garage. That's where I step to climb in. I always look there, to put my foot right. No stops from home to town, until Country Mart. When I came out, the penny was not there. Again, I looked, to put my foot on the running board to climb in. From there I drove through the outdoor mailbox and put the window down to mail my AT&T bill. Then I drove straight to Casey's and got out.
It was a face-down 1981 penny. As you can see, there is not a speck of road dust on it! That penny did not ride there from home. I do not carry pennies in my pockets. Only after picking up a new find. All of my found pennies are home and accounted for, their dates written down as I put them in my ice-cream-dish goblet. HOW did this penny jump on my running board? In a position under the edge, where it could not have fallen out and made a turn in mid-air. All I can surmise is that SOMEHOW, a passing car ran over a penny and tiddly-winked it up on T-Hoe's running board! I guarantee you nobody was jogging alongside and dropped it there. Nobody got out of a car or walked by when I parked at Casey's. It's a mystery, by cracky!
BUT WAIT! I went inside, and smirking at me from under the healthy gum display was Thomas Jefferson! Thank goodness he was not sitting on a boot taking a crap!
I got my picture, and stepped over to put my toe on Tom's face and scoot him out.
Told you he was looking at me! A heads-up 1992 NICKEL! My first nickel of 2021.
That's  5 COINS, for 9 CENTS, captured this week on Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune Safari.


Penny       # 12, 13, 14, 15.
Dime         still at 1.
Nickel       # 1.
Quarter    still at 2.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, February 26, 2021

Even Steven Lays the Smackdown on Contrary French Cousin Unfair Robert

There's a new force behind The Universe, aiding in conspiring against Val Thevictorian! That new force is Unfair Robert, the French cousin, twice-removed, of Even Steven. He's a persnickety fellow, demanding the French pronunciation of his name, always looking to shake up the status quo.

On my Thursday errands, I stopped by the School-Turn Casey's for scratchers. My previous stop had been the Sis-Town Casey's, which threw off my carefully calculated cash-in/purchase plan. They did not have the newest $10 ticket that was released on Monday. So I had money left over that had been earmarked for that ticket. Of course the School-Turn Casey's was also bereft of my desired new $10 scratcher.

Thinking on the fly, I named off my pre-planned tickets for this store, while vacillating on whether to use that extra money for two $5 tickets, or an older $10 ticket. At the last split-second, I asked for the $10 Millionaire Money. It's been around since June 22. There have been four new tens issued since then. Something about it caught my eye, whereas none of the fives stood out.

I had my money ready to hand over. I'm pretty good with money. I know how much I'm spending, and have the proper bills ready. Imagine my surprise when the clerk said it would be FIVE DOLLARS MORE than what I'd calculated. Don't you worry about Val. She's not some 10:00 a.m. alcoholic who needs to panhandle waiting customers for enough money to pay. Val carries extra currency in her shirt pocket. Not so much for this kind of emergency, but because sometimes a special ticket might be available that she hasn't seen in a while, and can't resist.

Anyhoo... if I'd been at the Gas Station Chicken Store, I would have questioned the total, and we would have laid out the tickets and both calculated their worth, minus the winners cashed in. But I'm only in this store once a week, usually with different clerks, and I don't like to hold up their line or make a scene. I figured I must have asked for an extra ticket as I was naming off the numbers in the case, and trying to make my decision on the $10 ticket.

Driving down the side street shortcut on my way back to the main road, I pulled those tickets out of my purse and laid them on the console. Don't worry about T-Hoe. I did it as I was stationary at the three stop signs along the way.

Dang it! That clerk had overcharged me FIVE DOLLARS!

I wasn't so much outraged as inconvenienced. It was already after 3:00, and I wanted my Burger King Whopper lunch! I did NOT want to drive the short distance back to Casey's, park, and haul myself in and out of T-Hoe to wait in line, explain my situation, and see if they'd pull the register tape and compare it with the video of the clerk scanning the tickets. For fifty dollars I would. But not for five!

Here's the thing. I don't think the clerk deliberately cheated me in a scam to pocket the money. Sometimes those scanners count a ticket twice, and they have to void it and re-enter. You can hear the beeps as they scan. But I wasn't listening, I was thinking about my tickets. 

When that gal cashed out after her shift, I'm sure her drawer would show that she was five dollars over. Unless she'd made another mistake and given somebody back five dollars too much! That actually happened to me in that store with a guy clerk, and I DID go back and give him the money. That was different. I'm no thief.

Anyhoo... as I told The Pony back home, "That girl might get fired for being over, and get a better job. Or she might have accidentally made back five dollars she gave out in error, and saved her job. IF I had gone back, I might have gotten in a car accident on the way home. You never know what could change if you alter your intended actions by even a few seconds. I'm fine with it. Five dollars isn't going to put me in the poorhouse."

I gave The Pony a $3 ticket that I'd bought with the intention of giving it to him. He declined at first. "No. I don't want to take your ticket! You're out five dollars."

I insisted. The Pony scratched.

"Mom. You're going to regret that decision. My ticket is a $5 winner!"

Meh. You can't go wrong bestowing generosity. Karma is accumulating.

I went down to my lair. After lunch I scratched my tickets. From the ones purchased at that Casey's, I had a $5 winner. And a $20 winner. And THIS:

That's a $100 WINNER! I got the WIN ALL symbol there in the middle, where I quit scratching the numbers, because there was no need, I'd won all the prizes.

The WIN ALL is not common. I had to look at the symbols to see what I'd won.

Contrary French Cousin (twice removed) Unfair Robert is no match for Even Steven!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Hypocritic Oaf

Val shies away from controversy. Is not, by design, a pot-stirrer. But sometimes a situation grabs her by the ear and drags her into the fray. Such as the current VIRUS situation in her neck of the woods.

Let the record show that I don't care if you wear a mask or don't. If you want the vaccine or don't. I DO care about you riding in on your high horse, jonesin' for accolades for your exemplary moral standards, and then jousting the common people off their glue-factory-destined nags, while your high horse's hooves kick dirt clods in their faces.

This VIRUS seems to have brought out a sickness in select people. A sickness that has been around for a while. Any little thing seems to turn people against each other. Rich/poor, young/old, urban/rural, working/non-working, political parties, races, TP hoarders/square-sparers. It's almost as if people have too much time on their hands, and look for a way to be offended!

I'm not offended. Do your own thing, but don't tell me what to do. As we used to say on the school playground: Who died and made YOU boss? 

I've noticed an ironic twist to this VIRUS situation! Okay. Maybe ironic is not the word I'm looking for. Irony and I are not even as close acquaintances as me and my old buddy, world geography.

A couple months ago, St. Louis news reports were full of online comments about how the city hospitals were full of rural people. RURAL PEOPLE! Because rural people shouldn't be clogging up city hospitals, you know, but should keep their VIRUSy rumpuses in their own backyard hick hospitals! Obviously, somebody had a direct line with the hospital administrators, keeping them updated on where each patient came from, heh, heh!

Anyhoo... I'm sure there were a lot of rural people in the city hospitals. But it's not like those poor old nursing home hicks were out partying it up without masks, just daring that VIRUS to infect them. They were stuck in a nursing home, somehow got sick despite all the masking protocols and quarantine against family visitors, and got sent to a city hospital.

Here's the thing. We USED to have our own hospitals, until the bigger hospitals bought them and laid off workers and closed some of them. We now have a hospital with a trauma unit, and maybe a couple hundred beds. Or less. We can keep you alive until we can get you to a specialist. If you're pacing back and forth between death's door, and alternately knock-knock-knockin' on Heaven's door... you'll be whisked away to the city toot-sweet! (Tout de suite, in case the Grammar Police are on patrol.)

That's the thing. Our local hospital can deliver babies. Take out your gallbladder. Rehydrate you. Give you chemotherapy. Observe you and run tests. But for anything serious, you'll be shipped to a city hospital. It's been that way for at least 15 years. You can make an appointment with a specialist who comes to the area once a week, but your treatment will be in a city hospital. Nobody seemed to be complaining about our business until the past six months!

Anyhoo... I AM finally getting to my point. The VACCINE is like that hard-to-find Christmas toy. The Cabbage Patch Kid in 1983, Tickle Me Elmo in 1996, the Furby in 1998, the Xbox 360 in 2005. People WANT IT! They want it NOW! They will go to the ends of the earth to get it! Even to RURAL WALMARTS!

Heh, heh! Last night I read that a pharmacist at the Jackson, Missouri, Walmart said that 85 PERCENT of the VACCINES they've given have been to people from St. Louis!

WHOA, now! Rein in that high horse! Are people from THE CITY actually traveling to get the VACCINE meant for RURAL FOLKS?

It's just anecdotal evidence. A comment on a Facebook page that does VIRUS  data updates. A lady asked the pharmacist about the VACCINE supply, and that is the answer she said he gave her. Heresay. 

Make of it what you will. People not in the correct VACCINE-receiving tier are jumping line all over the place to get their VACCINE, butting ahead of great-grandmas and great-grandpas who qualify.

It just seems a bit hypocritical that certain city people had a hissy-fit over their hospitals treating rural patients, yet those certain people do not have a problem with driving a hundred miles or more out in the sticks to get VACCINE that was specifically shipped to a rural area.

Not my pony, not my show. I have no dog in this fight. I just wanted that title!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

You're-a Picky, and I'm Chagrinin'

The Pony often joins me in the kitchen as I prepare our nightly meal. Not necessarily because he likes to help people (which was patently proven untrue by his SAT personality inventory), but due to his penchant for not liking everything I cook.

He's a picky eater, that Pony! There's usually a variation that he requires. Baked chicken breasts with lemon pepper is not his style. He wants Shake N Bake on his. Pasta? Usually he'll use some weird infused oil instead of the red sauce. Tacos? No meat simmered in taco sauce. He adds it dry, and adds other stuff like oregano and spicy oil and a white cheese instead of cheddar.

Tuesday night, I made the FREE Ponytail Guy Italian Sausages. Hick and The Pony wanted them split down the middle, and fried in a skillet. However... The Pony didn't want his on regular plain hot dog buns. He had to pull it apart, and slip four halves into the oven.

"Oh, Mom. Do you think I should put a little butter on my buns [heh, heh, I held my 13-year-old tongue on that opening], or maybe a little mayo?"

"Well. I use mayo when I toast bread in a skillet. But it might work in the oven. If you wait just a minute, I'll set these sausages out when they're done, and you can put your buns in the skillet."

"No. I'll put them in the oven. I think I'll use the Garlic Aioli. It's just mayo with garlic."

"Okay. Whatever. I offered to toast them."

"Mother. I can make my own food!"

Hick and The Pony each had two sausages. I didn't have my lunch (ham and cheese sandwich, with BBQ potato chips) until 4:00, so I didn't want any supper at 6:30.

"I know I'll regret it later, but I don't think I want any supper. I'll have my sausages tomorrow, since there are only two pieces of chicken in the Ponytail Guy's package."

"I might have half of a sausage left, Mom. I'm making this garlic toast, too." [With some too-long bread that I had cut off my Country Mart deli sandwich. Don't tell the dogs, who were destined to have it for Wednesday's treat.]

"Okay. But don't save any just for me."

Turns out The Pony DID have half an Italian sausage left. He set it aside for me to take down to my lair after I finished socializing with him and Hick. Not too filling, that half a sausage on a hot dog bun. I had no qualms about eating that bun spread with Garlic Aioli. It didn't get very toasty in the oven, so maybe The Pony will listen to me next time. Okay. We all know he won't.

Anyhoo... back down in my lair, I picked up that sausage and took a bite. Much to my chagrin, a dollop of mixed condiments dripped onto my lairwear gray zip-front fleece sweatshirt. [No, it was not Old Baby Blue, who so many of you commanded me to THROW AWAY. He still lingers, on the back of the basement couch. For emergencies.]

WHO puts KETCHUP on an Italian sausage? That is SO VERY WRONG. The Pony had also added a generous squirt of Garlic Aioli to the sausage itself. It had sunk to the lowest level of the sausage, that being the crack in the middle, where it ran like a river out the end away from my bite.

I'm sure it was just an accident. Not premeditated. The Pony is the one person I can trust not to conspire against me. You know. It was his PHONE that accidentally locked me out by hitting that turning thingy in the kitchen doorknob...

This TITLE really should not need explanation, but perhaps not all of you share my childhood TV experience with a classic show such as Hee Haw. It had a regular segment with Buck Owens and Roy Clark, called "Pickin' and Grinnin'." Which started out with Buck saying, "I'm a-pickin'..." and Roy responding, "And I'm a-grinnin'." Here's a 2-minute clip if you're interested.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

'Tis Better to Have Listened and Glossed Than Ever to Have Answered at All

You know this house can't run without Val, right? It almost goes without saying. But I enjoy saying it seven times a week, just to prove my point.

I was getting out of the shower Monday morning when I heard the phone ring. There's a phone on the wall of the bathroom, but the ringer doesn't work. Hasn't for over 20 years. You'd almost suppose I didn't have a husband who earned a living as a facility maintenance manager, or had a dad who worked for the telephone company. Surely there's an easy fix for that ringer thingy.

Anyhoo... I don't pick up the phone if I don't know who's calling. Hick was available in the living room, and The Pony just steps away in his bedroom. I heard the phone continue to ring, and a muffled voice message. When I asked Hick who had called, he glossed over it. Like he wasn't responsible.

"I don't know."

"You were sitting out here, right, when the message was left?"

"Yes. It was some delivery service."

"Delivery service? What do you mean?"

"Not UPS. And not that other one. FedEx. But the other one."

"I don't know another one. I don't have any packages out. I guess I'll have to listen to the message..."

Here was the message:

"--Amazon gift card. Please hang up if you recognize this charge. To cancel this gift card order, please call back to Amazon Support on the same number which is displayed on your phone's Caller ID. Alternatively, call Amazon Customer Support at 424 426 0737." [That was the number on Caller ID]
Of course this is a scam. Starting the message in the middle of a sentence. Wanting me to call back the same number the call came from. A robovoice that sounded suspiciously like the one last week threating us with prosecution (over something that was cut off at the beginning of the call) if I didn't PUSH 1 to talk to somebody.
I'm glad Hick didn't answer. He might have called back! He wanted to call to find out why we might be prosecuted! Even though our name, and no personal details, were ever mentioned on either call. 
Hick's off the hook for this phone call. What he doesn't investigate can't hurt us.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Hick, Investigative Hurligist

Friday night, we had Hick pick up Chinese food for supper. He eats his Hunan Chicken dinner all in one meal. The Pony gets two days out of his Sweet & Sour Chicken with fried rice. I get three days from my Hunan Pork dinner, because Hick leaves me the fried rice he has left.

That Hick. He's so thoughtful. He usually texts me while he's waiting for our food to be prepared. Friday he included some additional information.

"I'm getting food now. I just watched him drop green onions on the floor and pick them up and continued cutting them up for food."

"Oh, well. They get cooked." I said smugly, knowing green onions didn't come in my dinner.


My dinner was especially delicious this time. I was happily chowing down in my subterranean lair when I noticed a distinct flavor in one bite. A text upstairs to Hick was necessary.

"I just ate a green onion! Probably a floor onion."

"Maybe. I didn't have any."

Of course Hick didn't. Nor did he say anything about what he witnessed. Except to ME, of course. I had to interrogate him on Sunday, before I prepared my last Chinese supper.

"You saw the guy drop green onions on the floor, and you didn't say anything? You just watched?"

"He was chopping green onions. He knocked a bundle on the floor. They had rubber bands around them. He picked it up and put it back on the counter. Then he chopped it up. I guess I COULD have said something, but I didn't want to start anything."

"Yeah. Because he'd remember you, and who knows what he might do to our food next time. Anyway, I wasn't expecting to get a green onion in my food. I only get them in my Hot & Sour Soup. Not in my Hunan. Maybe it was a warning, to keep quiet about it!"

Here is my AMPLE second-leftover dinner. I was out of pork, so I cut up a Country Mart deli chicken strip to add to it. 

That's a Ponytail Guy FREE eggroll that I warmed in the oven. A couple of leftover crab rangoon. And some of The Pony's leftover sauce, although it didn't suit my palate, and I only tried a bite. Let's take a closer look:

That's Hick's fried rice, mixed with my white rice and the Hunan sauce I had left in the bottom of the container. I have those black pepper bean thingies, and some celery or the Chinese equivalent, broccoli, snow peas, carrots, water chestnuts, maybe a bamboo shoot, and white onions. I NEVER have green onions as part of my Hunan Pork. 
I really wonder how that piece of green onion got in there and subsequently in my mouth and down my throat. I hope it wasn't stuck to something else that fell on the floor!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Life's a Bench, Then You Sigh

Friday was the first time I got out after the Monday snow storm. It was the first time temperatures rose above freezing in 10 days. 

Country Mart had only cleared one end of their sidewalk. I had to park way down at the end of the building, where they've closed off the doors that used to let you in at the deli and pharmacy end. The management hasn't really posted a notice that those doors are closed. Instead, the doors no longer open automatically as you walk up, AND they've put a bench in front of them.

When I parked, there were two men sitting on the bench, their workboot-clad feet propped on the snowdrift. As you can see, the sun was shining, and the 41-degree temperature was melting the snow. One man was wearing overalls and a t-shirt, the other jeans and a flannel shirt. They reminded me of Hee Haw, like Buck and Roy sitting around shooting the bull. I'm pretty sure that puddle is snow melt. That Flannel Shirt, sitting on that end, didn't take a pee. We're not heathens. There was a BUCKET available, for cryin' out loud!

These men were around 60 years old. They were scratching lottery tickets, and making small talk. I climbed out of T-Hoe, sighing at the long walk I was about to inflict on my knees. I move so slow that I heard a chunk of their conversation.

Overalls: "If it wasn't for the snow, it'd be plumb hot!"

Flannel Shirt: "I know. I've got on long johns, and I'm about to sweat to death."

When you've gotten used to ZERO, and a few degrees below, a sunny 41-degree day can indeed feel like a heat wave. I didn't even need my jacket that I'd worn out of habit.

The bench-warmers were gone when I came out, so I got a picture. I'm not one to put total strangers on my blog. Except for that plumber's-crack guy a couple months ago...

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Val COINS a New Term: The Lincoln-Douglass Rebates

Wouldn't you know it? Even Steven must have read my pitiful penny post last week.  Feeling sorry for my lone penny, and anticipating my scratchers losses from Hick's purchases, good ol' Even Steven came through for me! He made sure I got at least a little of my money back. In advance!
While I was in town SATURDAY, February 13, only 49 minutes AFTER the Saturday CENTSus had gone to post, I found a coin that should have fallen into that week. I used to wait until my town trip, and STOP the presses, if you will, to include a recent acquisition. That's too much like work! I prefer to get my posts ready the day before, and schedule their release. Anyhoo...

I had just parked at the Liquor Store to buy scratchers. As I walked around the front of T-Hoe, there was a QUARTER waiting for my hot hand (as hot as it can be at 11 degrees) to snatch it up.
It was a 2017 District of Columbia quarter, face-down, although Frederick Douglass was looking up at me! This is actually the back side of the quarter. Oh my gosh! Now I have to go back and dig this quarter out of my dessert-dish goblet, to see if it is a 2017 P, with irregularities, one being nicknamed a GHOST, and the other being nicknamed a LADYBUG! How appropriate! But mine is probably just a regular quarter with no die-casting errors.
SUNDAY, February 14, I went in the Backroads Casey's for some scratchers to hoard for the next day. The snowstorm was a-comin', and I knew I'd be stranded. I guess Even Steven also knew that my penny-nabbing would be put on hold... because he provided me with this wondrous sight:

Good thing nobody was "not themself," nor worried about improving their breath! Because such a customer might have spied this penny first. I paid for my scratchers, then scooted over to this unused register to pick my penny.
It was a heads-up 2012, waiting there patiently for a ride home in my pocket. 
That makes 2 COINS this week, for a total of 26 CENTS! Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune is fattening-up once again.


Penny       # 11.
Dime         still at 1.
Nickel       still at 0.
Quarter    # 2.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, February 19, 2021

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad, You Take Them Both, and There You Have...the Hick's Sad Wife

Remember back on VALbirthentine's Day, when I gave Hick four scratchers? And ALL FOUR WON, giving him $40? I also bought myself some tickets that day, and set half of them aside for Monday, since I knew we'd be snowed in, and I wouldn't be going to town. My own tickets that I scratched on VALbirthentine's Day won me $45. So I bested Hick! But that's not the GOOD part! I only had one winner on the tickets I saved for Monday, but it was a doozy!

If you like scratchers, and an-ti-ci-pAAA-AAA-tion, you can try to figure out what I won. If you don't, it will be in the second paragraph after this one. 
This is a $5 scratcher. There are two puzzles that pay separately. You have to get 3 or more words on a puzzle to win. If one of the words in your winners contains the money bag symbol in the top puzzle, the prize doubles. If one of your winners in the bottom puzzle contains the money stack symbol, you win triple the prize. The prizes are shown in the Prize Legend. OR you can win on the Bonus Word, which I did not. I was all excited, because I thought I had a $40 winner! Five words on the top puzzle, for $25. And three words on the bottom puzzle, for $15 (5 x 3) for the money stack symbol in "key."

Imagine my surprise when I scanned the barcode, and saw $100 WINNER! I had miscounted my words. There are FIVE words on the bottom puzzle! For $75 (25 x 3). Plus the $25 from the top puzzle. I was also thrilled because it was ticket number 000, which I normally shun like the plague!

Anyhoo... that's the GOOD part of my week of isolation. Now for the BAD part...

Since Hick has been going to town for not-so-secret donuts from Casey's, I asked if he would buy scratchers for me. He agreed (on my dime or cash-ins). He bought them for me Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I didn't start scratching the Hick tickets until Tuesday afternoon.

Over four days of purchasing, I only had TWO winners from the Hick tickets. They were both a $3 crossword ticket. Each won $6. ONLY $12 IN FOUR DAYS was won on Hick-bought tickets!

I appreciate his effort. Really. I told him so. It's not for his lack of trying. I guess this shows that NOT JUST ANYBODY can buy winning scratchers, heh, heh! You can't send a Hick to do a Val's job! While I enjoyed the scratching, it was quite disheartening to put forth so much effort, only to lose time after time.

For the record, when The Pony scratched his birthday tickets on Monday, he also had a $100 winner. Bought by Val on Saturday.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

I Scream, The Pony Screams, We All Scream at Hick's Ice Cream

We're still in the deep freeze. Hovering around zero degrees overnight, but at least climbing to 20 during the day. Hick sent me a picture on one of his FOUR trips to town. Granted, two of them were taking/picking up Neighbor Tommy for work.

That's ice from the water that seeps out of the rocks under the highway overpass. I don't know what made it blue. I don't recall any news of an airplane dumping its toilet over Backroads! I almost accused Hick of driving T-Hoe. Then I noticed the reflection of SilverRedO's red side in the mirror, and not the black flank of T-Hoe. Their interiors are quite similar, both being Chevrolet products.

Hick sent a message along with the pictures. "Ice siclices by hospitol." Isn't that cute? Not that I'm VALedictorianculing Hick's message. I'm sure Hick knew that ENGLAND IS AN ISLAND long before I did!

Anyhoo... when Hick was at home for a short interval, he blurted out:

"I know what I was going to say! Why don't we make snow ice cream?"

"Dad. No. Just no."

"I don't plan on making it!"

"Didn't you have snow ice cream when you were a kid? I did, because we were poor!"

"We were poor, too. My dad would bring us a bowl of snow into the kitchen so we could play with it, but we didn't EAT it!"
"Dad. Do you even know what's in that snow?"

"It's snow. It's only been out there two days!"

"It might be different if you mentioned this while it was accumulating a couple inches an hour. But not now. Not after it's been sitting in the yard."

"Huh. To make snow ice cream, you mix a cup of milk, a third cup of sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla with the snow."

"YOU can. I have no intentions of making it. If it's so simple, YOU do it. I don't even think I have vanilla."

"There's vanilla, Mom."

"Well, I guess if you've seen some..."

"No. I KNOW there's vanilla, because I brought some with my stuff when I moved home."

"Okay. Find it for Dad when he makes his snow ice cream."

"I didn't say I was going to make it. I said we SHOULD make it."

"Okay. Go ahead."

Can you believe that no snow ice cream was made at our house?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Val Talks Turkey, and Hick Do-Goods Again

Tuesday dawned at -5 degrees, with 8.2 official inches of snow on the ground. Of course Hick took off for town. The good news is, he brought back Casey's donuts for The Pony and me, and he picked up some scratchers that I'd requested (and given him money to procure). So Hick was free of the bitter naggin'. For a day, anyway.

This was from Monday, after only about 4-5 inches had accumulated. The birds were having a Not-Heaven of a time perching on that rail, making sure the coast was clear enough to steal dog food out of the self-dispenser.

In another move of mind-boggling selflessness, Hick called neighbor Tommy on Tuesday morning, to make sure he was okay, and see if he needed a ride to town for groceries. He did not. However, Tommy asked Hick to plow his driveway. Which Hick declined, offering instead to drive him to work. That meant picking him up after his shift. Which turned out to be 8:00 p.m.!
Anyhoo... knowing the snow was on the way Sunday night, I dug into the mini freezer for some FREE food to use up. I chose a 2-pound roll of ground turkey. It took a day to thaw, and Monday night, I made a turkey pot pie.
It's not very photogenic, but it was crusty and delicious, a hot meal on a frigid day. Neither too runny nor too dry, but JUST RIGHT! We could have invited Goldilocks to dinner! The hardest part of making it was browning the ground turkey. The rest involved stirring ingredients in a bowl, pouring them into a dish, and sliding it into the oven. Here's my recipe, which I usually make with chicken, not turkey.
I used a 9 x 13 glass baking dish (coated with butter), and first mixed my ingredients in a large bowl (kind of like a plastic cauldron).
3/4 bag of thawed frozen hash brown cubes
1 1/2 bags thawed frozen peas/carrots
1 can cream of chicken soup
16 oz sour cream
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
a couple of shakes of garlic salt
ground black pepper
I stirred that giant bowl of ingredients with a giant spoon, and poured it into the 9 x 13 glass pan, where it fit just right! Then I topped it with 2 store-bought pie crusts. The kind that come 2-to-a-box, in the refrigerator section. I poked some big holes in the crust by stabbing a knife in and twisting it. Perhaps i enjoyed that step just a bit too much, but a pot pie has to breathe, you know! I baked it at 425 for 35 minutes total. After the first 10 minutes, I covered the crust with foil to prevent burning, then took the foil off for the last 5 minutes.
Hick and I will be feasting on that for several days. The Pony will go without, since he's a pot pie snob. The turkey is not as good as using chicken, because turkey doesn't have much flavor. It's like the tofu of the animal world. This turkey pot pie was tasty from the other ingredients, though I wish I had added a bit of garlic powder as well.
Thanks, Ponytail Guy, for our FREE protein. I heard Hick calling his cronies on Tuesday afternoon, informing them that there WILL BE food boxes again this Friday. Hick had better not plan on bringing anything home! Unless there are those delicious crispy chicken patties, of course. Or the chicken nuggets. 

The sun came out Tuesday. Hick said the main roads got plowed after noon, but the parking lots were covered and treacherous. Maybe he's just trying to keep me captive. I have only his word for it. I DID see that temperatures rose into the low twenties. More snow is in Wednesday's forecast, but I'm hoping we're on the TRACE end of it, not the 2 inches.

I miss my daily 44 oz Diet Coke outings. Thank goodness I have a supply of bottled Diet Coke to make my own not-quite-magical elixir.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Grouching Tiger, Bitter Naggin'

I am trapped! Trapped in the house with an impounded animal! Hick can't go roaming around the countryside due to the snowstorm! He COULD. And he WOULD. But nothing is open for him. Just Casey's and the grocery store and businesses he does not patronize. He made a quick sortie to a small auction on Sunday afternoon, but was only gone about 90 minutes.
Hick won't be taking a dip in Poolio. We have about 7 inches of snow on the ground. 
We're getting some drifts of snow on the back deck out the kitchen door. Hick is not getting MY drift.
Hick has been pacing like a caged tiger. Pacing, from a seated position in his recliner in the living room. But you can tell that mentally, he's pacing. GROUCHING, too! The attitude emanates from him like Pepe Le Pew's stink fumes. Not even Gunsmoke reruns could keep him entertained.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I could go over to the BARn, and turn up the heat, and work on my fishing lures."

"No. It's 3 degrees! The electric bill will be high enough without you RAISING the temperature of the BARn."

"I might get on the Gator and go down to the cabin and light a fire in the stove."

"That's not a good idea. What if you get stuck down there? Your phone won't work, and I can't come rescue you."
"I think I'll go down and clean stuff out from under the pool table. I heard you sigh! I should have known better! You always get like this! What's wrong with cleaning? Huh? What's wrong with cleaning. I want to play pool!"
"Nothing, if you didn't have this attitude. It's like your SUNDAY CLEANING ATTITUDE. You're grouchy and want to boss people around. Little HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) and Little Veteran (Hick's second oldest son) were scared to death of you on Sundays."
"Fine. Never mind. I won't clean anything."
"That stuff has been under the pool table for 15 years. Why does it have to be cleaned up now? It's the boys' old toys. You can't take it up to your Storage Unit Store. You can't take it over to the Freight Container Garage. You can't put it in the trash because it looks like we're going ANOTHER week without trash pickup. So I don't know where you're going to clean it to. Besides, we've played pool on it all along. It's your stuff ON TOP of the pool table that keeps you from playing. All those old albums that your got at your buddy's estate sale. And the paper you used when you wrapped Christmas gifts, and the paper I used that you had The Pony carry down to put there, instead of in the storage tub. So I don't know what the sudden hurry is to do it today."
"Don't worry! I'm not going to clean anything!'
Sheesh! Hick went down to the basement, making sure to leave the TV volume as loud as his deaf ears need it, and without giving me the remote to change channels (which I always give him when I relinquish control of my daily hour of TV in the living room) or turn it down. 

I don't know what he was doing down there, but he was back upstairs when I got out of the shower. Thank goodness I'd put the TV on the end of Mr. Mom, with Problem Child, and then Problem Child 2, to follow.

I made my escape to my lair around 3:30, after watching a bit of Problem Child with Hick the Grouch. His mood improved almost as much as when he used to rent the Ernest movies.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Happy VALbirthentine's Day

Such a whirlwind weekend of doing nothing! The Pony and I both have a birthday within four days of each other, and then there's Valentine's Day in between. So we did what any two birthday gal and equine would do, and bought ourselves a cake!

Technically, The Pony bought it, but he used my money! It's not the best cake ever. I'd rather have more butter cream icing piped around the edges than those sprinkles. But for something right off the bakery shelf, it's okay. It looks gigantic here, but it's a quarter of a sheet cake. Still a good size, but we have three cake-eaters to devour it.
Hick got a bit horsey with me (that's an expression my dad used to say, though I'm not sure exactly what it means, other than it was not a good thing to be acting horsey in the presence of my dad) when I told him that he was welcome to have some cake, but that The Pony and I claimed the roses. I believe Hick's exact words were,

Seriously! Hick is not even supposed to be eating CAKE! He has The Diabeeeeetus, you know. Plus he drives to town every morning and eats Casey's donuts. So I don't think he should get his nose out of joint when I practically save his life by denying him extra-extra sugar.

Anyhoo... Hick gave me a heart full of chocolates, and a card that has Snoopy and Woodstock on it and plays the Charlie Brown music when opened. I really like it. I REALLY like opening and closing it to start and stop the music. Some might assume I do it just to be annoying...

Hick also gave The Pony a (smaller) heart full of chocolates, because that's his tradition. He used to give my mom one as well. I gave The Pony some scratchers. I gave Hick some SUGAR-FREE chocolates, and had planned to give him a few scratchers, too, but he decided we'd do the giving as soon as I got up, and not when I returned from town. 
I told Hick sorry, he'd missed the holiday window since gifts had already been bestowed, but he could look forward to me giving him some scratchers NEXT Valentine's Day. Then The Pony got a little horsey, and declared that I could STILL bring Hick some tickets from town.

Well. I did that, and now I have to live with the consequences. I got Hick four tickets. EVERY ticket was a winner. $5, $5, $10, and $20. HICK WON $40 on my gift to him! 

Not that I'm bitter. The Pony gave me tickets for my birthday, and I won $90 on them. He has not yet received his birthday scratchers at this writing.

Now if you'll excuse me, there's a cake calling to me for the purpose of ampling my rumpus.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Use Your Inside Hat

Panic in the sticks! The most terrible thing EVER happened to us on Friday night! Well. Next to a headless body being discovered in a septic tank a quarter-mile up the gravel road from us. Or being informed that people were living in a car parked on our other 10 acres. Or having the police find a stolen truck wrecked in our woods. 

I was happily innernetting at New Delly in my not-so-dark basement lair, having just consumed half a delicious pork steak from the Country Mart deli. I had returned from a potty break in the NASCAR bathroom, loaded my music list, and started working on my first scratcher when it happened. I could hear Hick stumping around in the master bathroom overhead, showering before warming his pork steak dinner with sides of green beans and mashed potatoes. The Pony had finished eating his fried shrimp dinner with mac & cheese and mashed potatoes, and was doing whatever he does in his room all day. I know the sounds of my house from my lair.

The time was 5:55 p.m. Darkness had come to outer Backroads. The temperature was 10 degrees and dropping. Inside we were a comfy 70. Sheryl Crow was on my SPOTIFY, singing "The First Cut is the Deepest," acoustic version, when she sputtered! The lights blinked. THEN WENT OFF. New Delly made that dying whine. My underdesk heater conked out.


My lament might have been heard from space. It was NOT heard by The Pony. Who trotted downstairs anyway.

"I just came to see if you're okay. Do you have a light? There's the emergency one under your counter. Want me to get it for you? I took this one from upstairs. You've got one in your bathroom, too, over the sink."

"No. Shine it this way. I have a little flashlight here, but I can't feel it. OH! There it is. I'll be fine with this. I'm going to scratch by flashlight. Nothing else to do right now."

"All right. I wanted to check on you."

"Did you hear me scream?"

"No. I knew you were down here in the dark, and wanted to make sure you were okay."

"Aw. Thanks. Somebody will need to call the electric company. I don't have their number."

"I'll tell Dad."
"Hand me my hat over there. You need to find a hat. Keep warm. This could take a while."
"I don't need a hat. I have plenty of blankets in my room."

[Obviously taken after power was restored.]
The Pony faded back into the darkness. Galloped up the steps. I could hear them upstairs with their cell phones. The landline goes dead when we lose power. We also lose heat, as our house is totally electric. No water, either, since the well pump runs on electricity. We're pretty much up frozen crap creek without a heated paddle.

Hick got the recording to report our outage, and the response that it was due to a vehicle hitting an electric pole, 53 customers were without service, and repairs were estimated to be completed in five hours.

Of course that news didn't set well with my post-pork-steak stomach. Nothing makes you need to use the facilities like the thought that you CAN'T use the facilities! We have ONE flush when the power goes off. Just the water left in the tank. Good thing we have three toilets. So we actually have three flushes. I lasted an hour before I had to give in. Sorry, NASCAR bathroom. 

My lair grew colder and colder. It has two outside walls made of concrete, although they DO have a layer of that pink insulation board covered with fiberboard and a coat of paint. I was all done with my scratchers. I'd dawdled as much as I could. I had three crosswords, and a couple bingo tickets. All the $3 scratchers. It went slower by flashlight. In the end, on the last ticket, I'd only won $3 back. 

I went upstairs at 7:30, by the faint light of the emergency plug-ins. The smell hit me before the illumination. Hick had FOUR candles going. A Cranberry on the fake fireplace mantel, a Garden Rain on the coffee table, a Purple Sand on the piano bench, and a Pumpkin Ginger Spice Cookie on the kitchen cutting block. I give him an "A" for effort. 

Hick had sleuthed out the perpetrator on our enclave's Facebook page. It was the Bad-Hay-Baling-Lawyer's son, who'd just turned 18 this very day. Bummer. I'm gonna venture NO PARTY FOR HIM.
[I think that might be parts of the engine. AND the yellow reflector strip that Hick put on the pole so people could see it, and not run into it!]
The good news is, he was not hurt. The bad news is, he destroyed a car, and 53 families' Friday night. He slammed into the electric pole near the little waterfall entrance on our gravel road.
[Maybe that reflector strip should have been on the other side, for people planning to crash into a pole on the wrong side of the road!]
Speed or shenanigans is suspected by Hick and me. 53 families have traversed that section of road for four days without incident. Even The Pony!

You know in Risky Business, when Tom Cruise as Joel Goodson is waiting for school to let out so he can cash in his savings bond (given to him by his grandpa) to pay off his hoo-er Rebecca De Mornay as Lana? And the clock on the classroom wall actually ticks BACKWARDS? That's how I felt about the passage of time while sitting there chatting with Hick by candlelight.

"Oh my gosh. I am FREEZING to death!"

"Heh, heh. You're not freezing to death, Val. I'm comfortable, and I'm wearing SHORTS!"

"But you're under the afghan!"

"You are NOT cold."

"I'm sitting here wearing a knit hat with earflaps and a yarn ball on top, my hands jammed down by pants between fat rolls to keep the feeling in them, wearing a fleece jacket stained with BBQ sauce, zipped up over my nose like Bazooka Joe! I AM FREEZING!"

"They'll get it fixed. They might just now have gotten the pole. They'd have to call in a crew, and drive the pole out here. Good thing is, it's private property. They didn't have to call the police to make a report first. The breaker is right down there by the mailbox. They could probably put a metal brace on the pole. It didn't look that bad from the picture. But they'll probably drill down and put in another pole."

"They SHOULD make that kid stand there and hold up the pole for a few days. Then he'll think twice before squirreling around next time! I hope the Bad-Hay-Baling-Lawyer has a good lawyer, heh, heh! Will they have to pay damages to the electric company?"
"Oh my gosh! I can't take this anymore! It's only 8:50."
"I'd drive down and see their progress, but it's really cold outside. And I'm in shorts."
"Surely somebody went down to check. See if they put it on Facebook."
"No. They're just asking if anybody's heard any more about the repair time. And one says she's glad she has a propane heater."
"I TOLD you, way back in November, to make sure our generator was working! Every day I walk past its flat tires in the garage."
"I actually tried to start it the other day, and it wouldn't. If I had more energy, I'd go and jump it with the truck battery. There's probably a little bit of gas in a can in the BARn. But it's too cold outside."
"And you're in shorts."
"I wonder if they'd hurry it up if I told them I'll die without my CPAP machine tonight."
"You'd probably get more sympathy if you said we're ALL ELECTRIC and HAVE NO HEAT! I'm going to lay down for a nap and maybe get warm. I'm gonna get a lot of static from wearing my hat on the pillow."
"I'm going to call and see if there's been an update."
"NO! I don't think I can take it if they say it will be longer! AND I have to go to the bathroom again. That will be TWO flushes gone. Plus I'm going to get even colder."
"Here it is. Listen. '...service is expected to be restored by 10:00 p.m. on SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21st.'"
"WHAT? That's 10 MORE DAYS!"
"Oh, Val. They can't really mean that."
"Don't be so dramatic."
"I'm going to the bathroom and to bed! Wake me if it comes on before NEXT SUNDAY! Huh. I guess I'll take my phone with me so I'll have some light in the bathroom."
My phone had gone dark (I don't have that fancy flashlight app) on the edge of the big triangle tub as I settled my ample rumpus onto the throne--
I gave a quick flush while the flushing was good. I went out to see The Pony open his bedroom door. 
"How long have the lights been back on? Why didn't anyone tell me? I noticed there was light under the door."
"Didn't you hear me scream with joy? It just now came back!"
"Pony. Check the thermostat. See what the temperature is in here now."
"Okay. It's 68."
"Well, I AM STILL FREEZING! It feels like it dropped way more than two degrees!"
"I'm going to turn off these candles."
"Um. People from our generation say 'blow out' the candles."
"Whatever. We're done with them."
Yes. For now.