Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Another Victim of Downsizing

I made a mind-blowing discovery Monday night. It had nothing to do with world geography. 
Hick, the thoughtful do-gooding ever-giver, made a purchase at the auction a couple months ago that was JUST FOR ME! That's what he said, anyway. Maybe around the time he bought the 12 bottles of Sparkling Grape Juice for $8.00, but I'm pretty sure it was before.
It was back when I still had the homemade chocolate-covered cherries that my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel gives me for Christmas. I remember that, because the auction gift Hick bought me for $2 was three boxes of Queen Anne Cordial Cherries. You know Queen Anne Cordial Cherries. They're the cheapest chocolate-covered cherries you can find. They used to cost $1.00 per box of 12. 
I haven't shopped for them lately. Nor did I before, because they're not really something I find delectable. I only know the cost, because that's what the boys used to give me for a gift when they were young. I'd give them money for the "school store" around Christmas time, and that's what they got me.

Anyhoo... here's the discovery:

NOW there are only 10 cherries per box! Look how they re-did that little plastic tray. That probably cost more than they're making by leaving out two cherries per box!

The picture didn't turn out very well, but I was in such a hurry to get out one of the cherries I don't really like that I didn't want to take the time for another photo.

AND my treat isn't even expired! They're good until January 2022. I'm pretty sure they're not going to be around that long. I'm also pretty sure the store price didn't go down when the number of cherries was reduced by 1/6.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Nothing Like a Feel-Good Story to Make Val Feel Bad

Saturday, I came across a news story that grabbed my attention.
Oklahoma Goodwill Employee Finds $42,000 In Donated Sweater
Of course I had to read it! We used to travel to Oklahoma on a regular basis, to visit The Pony at the University of Oklahoma. I knew Hick would want to hear ANY news about Goodwill finds. And who's not curious about finding $42,000? It was obviously a story made for me.
Here's a link. In case it quits working, here's the gist of the story:

A 26-year-old woman had been working at this Goodwill Store in Norman, Oklahoma (home of OU, where we visited The Pony) for about six weeks, when she found something wrapped between two sweaters. She first thought it was books, but upon unwrapping, saw that it was envelopes filled with $100 bills. $42,000 worth of $100 bills!

The gal turned in the money, because she believes in karma, and didn't want to risk stealing, since she has a 6-year-old daughter to take care of. There were documents with the money that led to the owner. The money-owner asked for $1000 to be held out, and given to the gal as a reward for her integrity. There's a video that will make you cry!

Anyhoo... I told Hick, and he watched the video. He's been in this Goodwill every time we went to Norman. Later, I went back and read the comments on the story, and I was SHOCKED! The majority of people who commented said they would have taken the money, and that this gal was stupid for turning it in.

Such comments as:

"Goodwill employee? Idiot!"

"That's when you leave your job and don't say anything."

"The right thing to do after finding this large sum of money that doesn't belong to you is to go on a shopping spree."

"The owner only gave her $1000? Seems like a reward for returning that much money would be higher."

"Hopefully there was $50,000 tucked away. Take a little give a little."

"I would've kept it."

"If I knew him I would have just unfriended that guy."

Sure. Maybe they thought they were being funny. But out of 44 comments, I didn't see ONE that said this gal did the right thing, and they would have done the same.

What's wrong with the world these days?

Monday, March 29, 2021

Val is Quite the Idiot

I don't mean to brag. I'm sure there are idiots far more idioter than me. Though that sentence begs to differ. I have made the most egregious error in judgment. You know what happens when you ASSume.

We had Chinese food on Friday night. Hick always picks it up. He's a regular there. Through the years, I've had my share of pickup runs, mainly back when I was working. I'd swing by on the way home, since Hick took a different route. But since his retirement several years ago, picking up Chinese is Hick's job.

We always get the same thing. Hunan Chicken with fried rice for him, Hunan Pork with white rice for me, and Sweet & Sour Chicken with fried rice for The Pony. Plus an order of Crab Rangoon. Hick orders, then sits in the waiting chairs for it to be cooked. I don't know if they're allowing sit-down dining now. We have no mask mandate here. It's a small place, mainly carry-out business. But they have a soda fountain and four or five tables for in-eaters. It's a family-owned business. We used to chat with their teenage kids who worked there, about stuff like their high school, and getting their driver's license.

Anyhoo... Hick is not such a regular as Cheers Norm, but he's there a couple times a month. I don't know if the business has changed hands, or new workers have taken the place of the now-adult kids. The food is still delicious. So much that I have it for three days, compiling everyone's leftovers.

Saturday, as I was throwing away the waxed-paper bag that had held the crunchy ends of The Pony's Crab Rangoons, I noticed Hick's container wedged down in the wastebasket. I'd given it a shove, and later put in an empty can of storebought water chestnuts on top. I noticed the writing on Hick's container.

Wait just a gosh-darn minute! Is this Chinese restaurant like Starbucks? Do they write your name on the container? There in the wastebasket clearly sat "HICK!" No way! How does he always get special treatment? Maybe they gave him extra, as a payoff for not squealing on the cook who put the floor-onions (one of which I ATE, let's not forget) back in the wok last time. I looked at my own container. I know they don't know me. But maybe Hick had told them my name to put on my food.


Um. Yeah. Unless that was a thinly-veiled judgment of my ample rumpus, missing a "Y," I'm pretty sure the employees were not referring to me by name on my food container. And why had Hick given them his BLOG NAME, and not his real name? This mystery was getting more mysterious by the minute.

I stepped over to the wastebasket. It sits under the counter in the space that was meant for a dishwasher when we built the house in 1997. I moved the waxed paper and can away, and pulled up the foam container for a better look.


Never mind...

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Hick's Horror Story: The Lawnmower Man

Now that spring has sprung, an old man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of mowing. Hick is no exception. He got out the riding mower, and gave it a spin. Wednesday evening, he had a story to share. To him, it was just another day on Shackytown Boulevard. To me, it was a horror story.

Please understand that my re-tell is likely to get some details wrong. When Hick starts touting the specs of his machinery, I go all Charlie-Brown-teacher-listening. WAH WAH WAH. I will pick up occasional words, like a dog hearing its name, or TREAT, or GO FOR A RIDE. I've found that like reading a technical manual, some words may be skipped without affecting the message.

"I ran over a stump and MESSED UP THE IDLER PULLEY ON MY MOWER. I took off the deck to see if I could fix it. That's a part I broke before, and I replaced it with what I could find. I might need to drive halfway to the city and get the official part for it.

Anyway, I figured while I had the guard off that I'd take the blade off and sharpen it. I just sharpened it last year, but it never did seem to cut better--"

"I remember. You'd be out there mowing for two hours, and then the next morning, I'd think, 'Huh. That grass sure grew back fast!' Because even watching you mow, I couldn't tell that the grass was getting shorter. I thought maybe you needed to lower the blade. I could see the marks in the grass, but it didn't look freshly mowed like usual.
Why do you need that pulley thing?" 
"It's on the drive belt. The mower won't run without the idler pulley keeping tension on the drive belt. I just welded it because I didn't have the exact part, but now I broke it again.

Anyway... I took off the blade to sharpen it, and I seen that I'd put it on backwards! You know, I'd noticed that I kept scalping the area around where I'd had the tractor parked, and out by the edge of the road. I wondered why my blade was so low that it would kick up the dirt, but it didn't cut the grass really short in the rest of the yard. Now I know. The blade has a little bar on top of it, to kick up the grass so it shoots out the side of the mower easier. Only that bar had been hitting the dirt, scalping the ground. With the grass, it just bent it over, but didn't cut it."
"So you were just combing the grass all that time? And that's why I could see the mow marks, but the grass wasn't much shorter?"
"Well. There's two blades. It's a 48 inch mower deck. So the OTHER blade was on right. It was cutting. Then I'd go back over half the section I just mowed, and I guess the good blade cut SOME of the grass that had just been beat down by the upside-down blade."

"THAT explains why it looked like you kept missing parts. Like with a push mower, when you don't line up the wheel over the edge of where you just cut, and leave lawn mohawks between rows."


"Heh, heh! You spent HOURS mowing all summer, but you weren't really mowing? Just enough to keep the grass down enough that it didn't look weedy?"

"I guess so. I tried to remember when I last had the blade off to sharpen it, and I think it was the beginning of the summer."

Hick didn't seem to be upset about his wasted mowage. I suppose there's no real drawback to riding around the yard on a mini tractor on a beautiful summer day, wearing a straw hat and no shirt, drinking a beer.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Val Can't Put in Her Two CENTS This Week

I've been stifled! Stifled like Edith Bunker. I have no say in anything this week, since I only have my ONE CENT to put in. I don't believe that's a thing. You never hear anybody say, "That's just my one cent." Please. It is not nice to celebrate my stifling. I'm right here! The balloons and unfurling paper tooting horns are a bit much. 

My lone capture this week was wrangled from the floor of the Backroads Casey's on MONDAY, March 22.

It was a heads-up 2017 penny, avoiding foot traffic, under the candy shelves on the front of the counter. I had a Not-Heaven of a time dragging it out with my shoe-toe.

Not only did I have to suffice with a single cent this week... I had to resort to a single PICTURE as well! No time nor space for a close-up. Well, "Skittle-dee-dee!" as Scarlet O'hara would have said, had she access to this delicious rainbow-colored candy rather than a limp carrot coated with dirt.

That's 1 COIN, for 1 CENT tossed into Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune ice cream goblet.


Penny       # 28.
Dime         still at 1.
Nickel       still at 1.
Quarter    still at 2.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, March 26, 2021

Of Ships and Masts and Hick's Good Tasks, and Even Steven's Zings

The casino we frequent twice a month is on the banks of the Mississippi River. I mean ON the banks. Just on the other side of the flood wall. Old Man River better not come knock knock knockin' on Century's door. That's the name of the casino now. Century Casino. It used to be The Isle, before it changed ownership. Anyhoo... my point is that I sense a nautical theme. The Pony and Hick disagree. I think they do that on general principal. 

Look at that! How can you say it's not nautical? There it is, with the old logo. But the structure is the same. We don't go there after dark, because it's a 90-minute drive home. But even in the daytime, surely a normal person could see something ship-like about this venue.

I even pointed it out to Hick and The Pony back in February, with snow still on the ground.

"Look. The light poles are nautical, too! They're like masts on a ship!"
"Um. Mom. No ship would have a mast with a curve like that."

"WHAT? That's what makes it look like a mast! The CURVE! I guess you're right... you wouldn't want that on your ship. But why would they make all the light poles bent like that?"

"MmmMMMMmmm." Hummed with a shrug of the shoulders. You know how it goes. The wordless 'I don't know.'

Do YOU know? Don't you think these light poles look like they belong on a ship?

Don't be gaslighting me, saying they must have bent in the wind. I'm not falling for it.

In other just-as-exciting news... I figured out why Even Steven didn't give Hick a profit on his slots Tuesday, after he gave that little car-inspection gal a hundred dollars of his own money on Monday.


That's a $100 winner on a $5 ticket. We stopped at the LOVE'S Truck Stop on the way home, so Hick could use the facilities. They have a lottery machine inside. I gave The Pony some cash, and instructions what tickets to buy. This is just the front. This ticket is a backscratcher. More chances on the other side.

 Poor Hick. I guess his karma will catch up to him one of these days.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Who Will Win This Saucy Duel

Tuesday we had company for our trip to the casino. My sister the ex-mayor's wife, and the former politician himself went along. By that I mean we drove separate cars. They take a different route, and to pick them up or meet them for the ride adds an hour each way to our journey. As frequent pee-ers, Hick and I prefer our routine.

There's nothing to report in the WIN column. Not a single one of us left with more money than we entered. In fact, I didn't even have a jackpot worthy of a slot picture! But we had a good time. And a decent lunch.

The high point of MY lunch was lemon meringue pie!

I don't usually have dessert at the casino, but when I do, it's lemon meringue pie! This was the last slice. No, it's NOT true that I only took it so Hick couldn't have it. He had the two-slice cheesecake container. And ate them both. My meringue was as high as an elephant's eye! Or at least as high as the top of the container. I think it got flattened a bit. I love the glow of light through my lemon. I don't know what that glow of light is from those blue dots in the background. I think they might have been lights on the stage. You can see the Ex-Mayor's elbow. And Sis's finger. We'll get to them later...

The Pony and I had the 3-Cheese Pizza. That's because Hick is fickle, and at the counter, declared that HE wanted his pulled pork sandwich and curly fries. Anyhoo... the pizza was good enough. For a cheese pizza. The Pony had mentioned the VEGGIE PIZZA, but I put the kibosh on that right away. When I want pizza, I don't want veggies! Actually, I don't want plain cheese, either. Not even three kinds. Anyhoo... we ate pizza and took some home. Hick ate all his meal, as did Sis and Ex-Mayor. But there's more to Sis's story.

In line, they somehow got ahead of us! I blame Hick for lagging at the hand-wash station. He always forgets, and has to walk back out of line to the entrance. I was fuming a bit while waiting. Please. Do you need smelling salts from the shock of that revelation?

"Why did you let them go ahead of us? You KNOW how she is!" [I love my sister, but she is very thorough in every public undertaking.]

"They just walked up there Val. It's not a big deal."

"My knees are breaking. And my back, too. I guess I'll lean on this partition here, where a thousand people have put their hands. So much for washing mine before we came in."

Meanwhile, Sis was playing 20 Questions with the order-taker/server. And so was Ex-Mayor.

SIS: "Now, what comes with this? Okay. I'll have the burger. I don't know. What kinds of cheese to you have? Oh. Um. I'll take sharp cheddar. What? I thought you said that. Oh. Okay. I'll have the sharp American. And fries. Oh. The regular kind. And a soda. I want a soda."

EX: "Uh. I'll have the Grilled Chicken Club. These chips... are they like homemade chips? No? Oh, you're out of them anyway? Well, I'll have tots."

SIS: "Can I get some BBQ sauce on my burger?"

SERVER: "No. It doesn't come with that. Not unless you get something like chicken."

EX: "Can I get it with my Chicken Club?"


SIS: "Will you check my card to see if I have any discounts? We don't get your mailer any more. Twenty-one dollars? Yes. I'll use it. Can I used it to pay for everybody? Yes. I mean just the two of US."

EX: "Will you check my card, too? Even though she's paying for mine? Oh! I have twenty-five dollars!"

SIS: "Now if I used that, will it affect my free play? It won't? Good."

"Heh, heh! It will too! She could have used that for slots, but now she used it for food. And Ex-Mayor can still use his to play on!" I told The Pony while hunched over the metal railing. Waiting...

As Hick was ready to order, a lady came up behind Sis and Ex-Mayor, who were picking up their soda cups. She was there to get a carry-out order. SERVER went over to get it for her.

SERVER: "Did you have the chicken?"

LADY: "Yes. To go."
SERVER: "Did you want BBQ sauce?"
LADY: "No. No sauce."

SIS: "Can I have the BBQ sauce? To put on my burger?"


We finally put in our order, and went to sit with Sis and Ex-Mayor. Hick and I ate our desserts. Sis kept trying to find a way to get BBQ sauce.

SIS: "I don't know why she won't give it to me. People put BBQ sauce on hamburgers! Ex-Mayor, YOU ask her for some when she brings the food. She doesn't like ME!"

EX: "I already asked and she said no."

"They never even put BBQ sauce on my pulled pork sandwich! But Hick gets it every time! Too much! I have to ask, and one time, she brought me some in a plastic ramekin. But I know she won't bring it to me for pizza!"

"I can scrape some off my pork for you when it gets here..."

SIS: "No. That's fine. Here she comes! Ex-Mayor. Ask her."

EX: "Could I get some BBQ sauce for my chicken?"

SERVER: "I'll have to charge you 55 cents."

EX: "Oh. Never mind."

"It's not like it even costs them 55 cents for that! You know they buy it in a big barrel! Just a little squirt into a plastic cup can only cost a couple cents. She didn't even bring us salt and pepper and mustard and ketchup packets this time!"

Funny how we get much better service when Sis isn't along. Though I don't think she was out of line for asking for BBQ sauce to put on her burger. Ex-Mayor went up and bought her a 55-cent squirt of BBQ sauce. So don't you worry about Sis.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Mr. Good-Deeds Goes To Town

Hick had a do-gooder moment when he was out STIMULATING the economy on Monday. I guess spending $1600 and 8 hours at Mick the Mechanic's shop wasn't enough stimulation for Hick himself. 

"I was sitting in the waiting room, drinking a Diet Mountain Dew, when this gal came in lugging a baby in a carrier. It was about a year old. Not really walking or talking yet. She had a bottle of juice. She looked at me the whole time. So I started talking to her.

'You have a bottle? Look here. I have a bottle, too!'

I wiggled my Mountain Dew bottle, and the baby's eyes bugged out. She held out her own bottle and looked at it. Then she dropped it. The mom said something to her about doing that all the time. It was a cute little baby. I guess what struck me most was that it was clean. Lots of times these days, people don't take care of their kids.

The Mom was probably in her mid-20s. Mick said her and her husband come in there quite a bit. They're having a little trouble. He had a kid, and she had a kid, and now they have this one. The Mom was wearing a nurse outfit, like scrubs."

"Maybe she's a CNA."

"She got out her billfold to pay for her car inspection. She handed him $11, and Mick said, 'Uh, the inspections is $12.' The Mom said, 'Oh. The temporary license is $11. I got mixed up. I'm going over there next.' She was digging out a five and some ones. I guess maybe she just bought a car with her Covid money. Thing is, a temporary license is only good for 30 days, and then she has to get the regular license anyway."

"Why would she do that?"

"Because she might not have had the money to pay the taxes on the car right now. You can't get the license until you pay the tax. But you can get a temporary. Anyway... I got to thinking about that as she walked out to the car. She bought a stick, and isn't very good at driving it. So she asked the guys if they'd turn it around for her to drive off the lot. She got the baby fastened in, and was sitting there for a minute. Nobody else was around.

I walked out and handed her a hundred. 'Here. Go pay the taxes and get the license on your car.' She said, 'You don't have to do that.' I told her, 'I know I don't have to. I want to.' She thanked me. She wasn't cryin' or nothin', but she was happy. I figured a hundred ain't gonna hurt me none, but it could make a difference to her. Sure, I could have said I'd follow her over to the license office, and pay it for her. But I figure she'll use it the best way she needs to."

"That would have been creepy, following her. Then you'd know her name and stuff, if you stood there and paid it for her. Is a hundred enough to pay the taxes on that car?"

"I don't know. I figured if she got $1200 and spent it on a car, it would be enough. Now if she spent $1400 on a car, it might not. But it would help. It's like people coming up to my store, saying they have their Covid money to spend. With the timing, I figured that's how she bought her car."

"Oh, well. That was a nice thing to do. As long as you weren't creepy about it."

We don't want Hick to do too much stimulating...

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Titillating Mr. Hick-ly

I was sitting at the kitchen table working on taxes when Hick burst through the back door. This was after I'd already endured The Pony making his lunch and sitting at the cutting block to eat it, rather than taking it to his usual dining place of the coffee table in the living room. These two are scarcer than hens' teeth if I need something moved or brought in from T-Hoe. But let me sit down when concentration is needed, and they seep out of the woodwork like supernatural beings in a horror movie.

"I'm TRYING to work on the taxes!"

"Well, I'M out STIMULATING the economy, heh, heh."

"No. Just no. That sounds so very wrong the way you put it."

"I AM! I got tires put on your car, and I just brought back the Acadia with new tires. I got the oil changed in both of them. Now I'm here to get The Pony's car for an oil change. PONY! Get me your keys! And after that, I'm coming to get my truck for an oil change."

"That VIRUS money was burning a hole in our bank account, I guess. It's only been there 5 days."

"Val. I might as well get it done while Mick has the time to do it."

Off he went, to do some more stimulating.
There's T-Hoe's new driver's side rear tire. Oh, he got a set of four. I just didn't take a picture of each one. Not that I don't want to bore you. I DO! But my phone acts up sometimes when I take too many pictures. And this was down by Mailbox Row, with the other side of T-Hoe in the underbrush at the edge of the woods.

Sorry. I already got T-Hoe's new tires dirty. And picked up some gravel. Look how deep those crevices are! I haven't seen such a sight in a couple years. These tires are in such good shape, I bet T-Hoe could make it all the way to Patagonia.

By the time we got there, the tires might be the only thing left.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Psychos Gonna Psycho

The Pony had my "tax preparation desk" all set up Sunday morning. He had HIPPIE charging at the kitchen table, with the external CD player installed, and TurboTax loading. It was a cheery space in which to work, with the three windows giving me a view to the outside if I needed to procrastinate.

"Thanks, Pony. All I need now is a way to get last year's taxes to install here. So I don't have to type in every little thing."

"That's on New Delly. Do you want me to go down and put them on a flash drive?"

"Yes! There's one next to the tower."

Off he went, my extra set of legs and partial brain. He returned within five minutes and handed over the flash drive. It worked like a charm. I was in the tax business forthwith.

"Oh, Pony? I brought up a mechanical pencil, but I don't have a black pen. I think there's one in my gambling purse. In the side zip pocket."

"No. It's blue ink."

"Look in that green bag I take to Oklahoma. I used to have a couple in the bottom of that."

"No. There WAS one, but it didn't work. Here. Try this one."

"NO! I can't use that fat thing! That's the one Dad left when he TOOK my thin black pen because it fit better in his little notebook. I hate that one. It's hard to grip."

"Okay... I'll look in the closet."

"Anything in there is probably 20 years old! Take a paper plate to scribble on, to see if they write."

"Nah. I use my hand."

The Pony returned shortly, with ink swirls on his left hand. The meaty part by the thumb.

"Here. I found this pack. They're still kind of fat, but not as much."

I see he's still using the same opening technique that he applied to the pack of AA batteries, the zip-lock sandwich bags, and the box of crackers.

The Pony might be trying to earn a new nickname: "Pack, The Ripper."

Sunday, March 21, 2021

For Someone Without a Job, The Pony Earned an Awful Lot

It's that time again... TAX TIME! Okay. It's been tax time for a while now. But Val is a procrastinator. An accomplished procrastinator. Val is a procrastinator's procrastinator. Part of my problem this year is technology. Well, technology is a problem for me all the time. But THIS year, New Delly is unable to assist me with my tax returns.
New Delly operates on Windows 7 Professional. TurboTax has washed his hands of Windows 7. So I can't sit in the comfort of my lair, puttering around at my leisure, doing a bit of tax work each day until I'm satisfied that I can't do any better.
NOW I have to use Windows 10. I don't want to upgrade New Delly. That means HIPPIE will have to assume the duties of TurboTaxing. HIPPIE is a cheapie, off the shelf at Office Max when my old SHIBA died unexpectedly. HIPPIE is bare bones. But came with Windows 10. He has no CD/DVD drive! I prefer to get my TurboTax on CD. I had relegated myself to the idea of downloading it, but The Pony came to my rescue.
"Um. Mom. For a person like you... I think that would be hard. Why don't you let me get you a CD player to plug into your laptop, and you can order the TurboTax CD and use it like usual."
"YES! Do that for me!"
It's been here for over a month. On Sunday, The Pony is setting it up for me. At the kitchen table. I'm not hauling HIPPIE down those 13 rail-less basement stairs, finding extra room for him on my desk, and looking for electrical outlets under my desk. I will sit on an uncomfortable kitchen chair, with Hick's TV blaring from the living room, trying to ignore kitchen traffic, while punching in numbers without a keypad. At least HIPPIE has a cordless mouse that Genius bought me.
Anyhoo... I glanced at some documents I gathered on Friday night. One of them being The Pony's 1098T concerning his college scholarship. Due to spring semester tuition being billed during fall semester, but the scholarship being distributed spring semester to cover that bill... The Pony shows that he received a tidy sum of scholarship money in the spring, but applied none to tuition. I know. That's crazy talk. But that's how it goes. That info is reported to the IRS, and it's the same for many students whose universities report in that manner.

The only solution is for The Pony to file his own tax return (meaning that I do it for him) for this unearned income. He'll be fine. He only "unearned" a tad more than the standard deduction. So he won't owe much at all.

HOPEFULLY, The Pony will be doing his own taxes next year!

Genius was appalled at the tax process. He did it himself ONE year. Now he uses a tax service. I don't know what made it so hard for him to understand. TurboTax walks you though like a (non-creepy) crossing guard holding a kindergartener's hand to cross the road.

I am not looking forward to sitting on that hard kitchen chair.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Two CENTS, Four CENTS, Six CENTS, I Holler!

Penny-pickin' was good this week! On MONDAY, March 15, I spied a penny as I entered the Backroads Casey's. It was on the rubber mat in front of the door, so I didn't want to block ingress and egress while trying to get a picture. I pocketed my penny, and went in, planning to pose it in T-Hoe later.

It was a 2000 penny that had been heads-up, obviously looking for me!

Inside, as I stood in line, I found another. Probably a relative of the outdoor Abe. You can see the mat through the door, where I picked up the first one without exposing my noggin to a concussion while photographing it before capture.

Got the reflection here, but this inside one was a face-down 1985 penny.

On TUESDAY, March 16, I was off to visit my sister the ex-mayor's wife. Of course I stopped by the Sis-Town Casey's for scratchers. I was meant to be there on this day! Because on the way out, a little treat was waiting for me.

Wooden you know it! (heh, heh) It was a PENNY!

It was a face-down 1979 penny, looking especially focused here in his closeup.
THURSDAY, March 18, I headed back to town to mail Genius's weekly letter at the main post office. The one time I mailed it at the dead mouse smelling post office a couple months ago, it was A WEEK LATE! Anyhoo... I stopped by the cemetery for a quick (one-sided) convo with Mom and Dad, and off I went. At the very next stop, the School-Turn Casey's, I found a treat.
It was almost as if my cemetery words had gone from my mouth to someone's ear! And here was my reply. Also, it looks like the snacks are in short supply!
This was a face-down 2020 penny, which I nabbed before anyone else could figure out what I was toe-digging and ample-rumpusing for. 

I mailed the letter with minimal interference from The Universe. I DID have to drive from home with it laying on the defroster vents. When I left, the rain had turned to a condensing mist, which shook off the rail of the porch steps, and got onto Genius's envelope, which was stuffed in my purse, hanging on the arm that hung onto the rail. It dried out just in time to be shoved into the snout of the outside blue metal mailbox. 
On I went to the Sis-Town Casey's, for T-Hoe's weekly gas. I could see that my usual Pump 4 was available, as I passed by to the stoplight (we DO have them) to make my left turn town the sides street to get in there. Of course the minute I drove onto the lot, a white truck took my rightful pump! I had to switch to Pump 3, which is a bit farther from the concrete handicap slope that I walk up instead of stepping on and off the curb.

I was meant to take Pump 3 that day. On my way in, I saw a surprise that would have been out of my sight line from Pump 4.

No wide shot of this one. It would only have been a vaster expanse of parking lot. I tried, but couldn't get any cars or building in the frame with the cent. It was a 1978 penny, heads up. And wet. But definitely meant for me!

FRIDAY, March 19, I headed to Save A Lot with The Pony as my co-pilot. He was along for the ride. The ride to Domino's to pick up our supper. I pulled onto the parking lot, and found no suitable parking spaces near the building. I pulled into a lesser space. 

"Pony. Am I too close to that truck? Can he get the door open. I don't know... I'm going to pull through. Wait. I don't like facing this way. Somebody will pull in behind me, and I won't be able to get the hatch open. Hold on. I'm going over here. No. THIS one. Most people don't like to park by this light pole."

All this with no response from The Pony. But I was satisfied that I was by the cart return, and had room to get my door all the way open.

Yep. I was meant to park there. See that penny on the ground by the swatch of sunlight on T-Hoe's running board?
It was a heads-up 1979 penny, soaking up some sun until I arrived nd chose the fourth of the parking spaces I was considering.

That's 6 PENNIES this week, for 6 CENTS toward's my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.

Penny       # 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.
Dime         still at 1.
Nickel       still at 1.
Quarter    still at 2.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, March 19, 2021

Oh, Look! We Had a Visit From the Rock Fairy!

I think this must be a special kind of extortion. Way more sophisticated than a high school band putting fake flamingos in a yard, wanting money to come remove them.

When I left for town on Wednesday, I had barely pulled out of the driveway onto our gravel road when I saw a most unusual sight. I couldn't get a picture then, but I got one on the way home.

This is a load of rock dumped in front of our BARn field. IN THE ROAD! Who does that?

Of course the answer might be HICK. He would do that. We had a bunch of rain Tuesday morning, so I can imagine Hick ordering a load of rock, and saying, "The field is muddy. Just dump it in the road, and I'll move it with my tractor so you don't get hung up."

I sent the picture to Hick, with a text: "What's this all about?"

Hick replied: "Beats me."

What in the NOT-HEAVEN? A load of rock just appeared in front of our property? Rock is not FREE! It's quite expensive, actually. For a dump truck load, it's around $200 unless you know the hauler who owns the truck and do favors like wiring rental houses for him.

It's hard to pass by this pile. T-Hoe can do it, but anything bigger has to get off the side of the gravel road. Hick said he almost spun out in SilverRedO. You can see his ruts in the top picture.

Yes, we have a lot of potholes along this section of road. There's our driveway and dumpster up ahead, on the right. That rock is definitely needed there.

Hick said later that he paid the guy who drives around with a flat-bed trailer of rock, leaving piles to fill potholes, $100 for the rock, and spread it out with the tractor.

"I said the other day I wouldn't mind you giving him money for rock. Like when you and the other guys used to chip in, and have roadwork weekends blading and filling in the holes."

"Yeah. He was up and down the road earlier, between rains, leaving piles to work with later on his tractor. So I stopped him and gave him money."

"This almost seems like extortion! He drops a load of rock and blocks the road, then you PAY HIM, and DO THE WORK YOURSELF, heh, heh!"

"I'm going to tell him to bring me another load tomorrow, to finish the part up past our driveway."

Not that I object. But Hick should at least get his money's worth of rock. That's not a dump truck load.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Somebody Should Learn How to Give a Good Flocking

Tuesday, I stopped by the home of my sister the ex-mayor's wife. I had a donation to giver her for my niece's daughter's fundraiser for the American Heart Association. Sis had called to ask if I wanted to donate. Sure. She furthermore had emphasized that MOST PEOPLE were donating on Facebook. Not this ol' Val! I only have a fake Facebook, so I can get into the casino's Facebook and see what slots the jackpot winners were playing (by looking at the slot behind them holding their big check). Sis said she GUESSED that a donation of currency would be okay. What is the world coming to when paper money is frowned upon??? 

Anyhoo... when I parked Dirty Dirty T-Hoe in the ex-mayor's precious pristine driveway, I noticed four fake flamingos stuck in the yard. SIS HAD BEEN FLOCKED! By the band of the local high school, of which we are both alumni, and where Sis retired from, and where Niecy teaches. Sis explained the band's extortion attempt fundraiser to me.
"Somebody pays to have the flamingos put in your yard. If you donate $25, they will come and get the flamingos, and never bother you again, and you can pick where the flamingos go next. If you pay $15, they will come and get the flamingos, and MIGHT bring them back if somebody pays to send them to you."
"What if you don't pay anything? Do they leave the flamingos?"
"I don't know. Maybe."
"Well, I'd just take one look at those flamingos that appeared in my yard, and say, 'Hey! Free flamingos!' and take them in my house. THEN what are they gonna do?"
"I don't know. Most people wouldn't do that."
"They're not very smart if they just leave flamingos in the yard for the taking. Maybe they need to think this fundraising thing through a little better!"
Surely I'm not the only person in the world who would not take kindly to this extortion! It wasn't even a good flocking! Only FOUR flamingos. Three blue, and one pink. It's not like there were HUNDREDS of flamingos stuck all over the yard. 
I think what Sis really needed was a good FORKING! I'd be more likely to pay for that, and wouldn't steal the forks, even though I prefer a good smooth white plastic fork to a metal fork, and wash and reuse my plasticware.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Hick Is No Confucius

Welcome back my friends, to the blog that never ends. We're so glad you could attend... 
No, I don't have a mouse in my pocket. WE means me. Me and Hick. Who is the source of all this entertainment. A somewhat questionable source at times. Like the quote that initiated today's topic.

When we got married, my grandma (Dad's mom) gave us a quilt. I'm sure she'd had it ready for years, just waiting... waiting... It was a beautiful quilt, old-style hand-stitched, nothing by machine. It was basically white, with rings of dark green and orange. How she knew the color (green) I would choose for my future marital boudoir, I'll never know!

Anyhoo... we had it hanging on a wooden quilt rack that my mom gave me one Christmas. Such a quilt is a family heirloom, you know. Not for everyday use. According to ME! Hick the collector does not understand collectibles that belong to someone else. Sure, go ahead and say that quilt was half Hick's. You KNOW it was meant for ME. Something to be handed down through the family.

One winter I had washed our bedding. Not that I only do it on occasional winters! But this time, I'd put on the flannel sheets. So the bed was basically ready, but the blanket wasn't quite dry. Hick put MY SPECIAL WEDDING QUILT on the bed. Of course he heard my opinion of this! But he decreed that it was a quilt, meant for keeping a bed warm. So it stayed. 

Hick is not a dainty sleeper. In fact, he's a flopper. He's also an exuder. I don't know what comes out of him, but it's not pretty. Even though he showers in the morning, and bathes at night, something seeps out of his pores that turns his pillow dark. No, he doesn't use hair oil! He barely has any hair! 

Anyhoo... Hick also pulls the covers up over his head. Not enough to suffocate himself! No... you're not reading disappointment in my typing...

The top of my SPECIAL WEDDING QUILT is now in tatters. Hick blames his breather. "That hose! That's what does it!" Sure. 

Hick actually washed the quilt on Sunday, and said he was taking it to "his lady" who hems his Goodwill jeans and apparently knows a lot about quilts. So she can repair the top edge (on HIS side!) and turn it back into a quilt and not a rag. We'll see. It's a thoughtful gesture, and Hick wasn't even in the dog house.

Anyhoo... here's what I had to set the scene for. We were discussing the specialness of my wedding quilt, Hick and I and The Pony, when Hick uttered the most unusual saying:
 "We buy you books and send you to school, and what do you do? You eat the covers."

"Huh? What does that even mean, Dad?"

"It's a saying. Don't tell me you've never heard that."


"I think you're making it up. I've never heard ANYONE say that!"

"It's old-timey. People said it all the time."

"I never heard it from my mom or dad or either of my grandmas. Not even my Favorite Gambling Aunt. Nobody says that!"

"Not these days. But it was common back then."

No. I don't THINK so! Pardon me for getting a little bit Julia-Sugarbaker-ish. I'll hold back on a lengthy speech. But I'm giving you that raised-eyebrow look. This has never been a saying! 

If it HAS, break it to me gently. Give me some context. Maybe a character on an old black-and-white TV series said it once. Maybe it was a comedian, like Red Skelton.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't a thing. Hick must be making it up, or misremembering it. If, in the future, Hick is regarded as an ancient philosopher... his name will be Confuse-us.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

I Got 99 Problems and a Twist is One

All I wanted was a slice of bread. I reached into the corner cabinet for the bag containing a loaf of Nutty Oat bread from Save A Lot. That darn twist tie! Not the tie itself, but the twistiness of it, which I attribute to The Pony. I had asked him the day before to hand me a slice of bread. Which was a mistake in itself, because he handed me the next-heel! Nobody wants to eat the next-heel! You leave it there against the actual heel, as a freshness buffer for the rest of the loaf.

Anyhoo... I was in no mood to be stymied by a plastic-coated wire. It's not like the bread was going to escape if The Pony didn't put 8 TWISTS in that little thingy!

It's a simple tool. A rudimentary padlock. Not for extreme security. All that twist tie needs to do is hold the plastic bread bag closed. A SINGLE TWIST WILL DO!

I'm reminded of my second boss when I worked at the unemployment office. He looked like Ned Flanders. Exactly. The only difference being that my boss had the normal five digits per hand, and not the cartoon three. And I'm pretty sure my boss's wife was alive, and had not been killed by a t-shirt cannon shot by Homer Simpson.

Anyhoo... my second boss had a pet peeve. He couldn't stand it when he pulled a file out of the drawer and found PAPERCLIPS in the documents.

"People. You don't have to use paperclips in the files! They're not going anywhere! The papers will stay in the order you put them when you close the file. They're hanging in the drawer. You don't have to hold them together! Think of how many paperclips are in these drawers!"

Yeah. Well. We nodded politely. But it's hard for a leopard to change its spots.

Anyhoo... I don't need to have my feeding frenzy slowed by the time it takes for an extra seven untwists of that little wire doohickey on the bread bag. 

At least it's not as bad as when Genius lived at home, and used his freaky left-handed BACKWARDS twists to deny me my daily bread.

Monday, March 15, 2021

What's the Deal, Eh?

During our casino trip last Wednesday, I was excited to try a new item I saw on their Facebook page. It's a PIZZADILLA! Looked like a pizza to me, but I'm always willing to eat pizza. I looked at the options:
BBQ Chicken
Pepperoni Explosion
Three Cheese
Meaty Deluxe
The Veggie
Philly Cheesesteak
They are all 12-inch pizzadillas. I didn't know if everybody would want to try them. I knew The Pony would prefer the Three Cheese, but that seemed too tame for me. Of course Hick would have wanted that Meaty Deluxe. I leaned toward the BBQ Chicken, or the Supreme.
Turns out Hick was not interested. And The Pony declared that he was not really hungry, after his McDonald's sausage biscuit combo breakfast. He said he'd just have a soda, and maybe try a slice. So... we ordered the BBQ Chicken Pizzadilla, which The Pony said he would try. Hick got a regular menu item. And pie.

 There's "my" BBQ Chicken Pizzadilla! Oh my gosh! It was SO delicious! And filling! The toppings were: smoked chicken, mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, red onion, green pepper, and BBQ sauce. The edges were nice and crispy, but the middle of the crust was a bit saggy from all the cheeses. Though not any less tasty!

"Pony, I don't get it. This looks pretty much like a normal pizza to me. I thought it might be folded over. Like a quesadilla."

"Look. I figured it out. The crust? It's in two layers. With the sauce in between. So it does have a double layer, even though all the stuff is on top."

The Pony ate one slice. I scarfed down three! That left four slices. Hick didn't even want to try one, because he was stuffed from his Pulled Pork Sandwich, and curly fries. And PIE. I missed the picture of Hick's pie, because I left the table before he sat down, for a bathroom visit, and when I returned, only the empty container remained!

"Pony! I don't have a picture of Dad's pie!"

"He was so fast! Anyway, it was the Oreo Cheesecake Pie. Just use an old picture of it. They'll never know the difference."

Nope! I'm not running afoul of the Truth in Blogging Law! I'm not risking a night in the Crossbars Hilton for falsifying Hick's dessert. But here's his sandwich:

Look at all that BBQ sauce they put on Hick's sandwich! Every time I get it, the sandwich is served DRY, and I have to ask for sauce after the server brings my Sahara-dry pork to the table! They didn't add that ketchup to Hick's curly fries, though. He's not THAT special. He had to rip open the packets himself.

Anyhoo... I gave Hick the two small peppers off the side of my Pizzadilla. I bit into the big one, because I like those kind of peppers. I laid it back down on the pan, because all we had to eat on was a cardboard dish like Hick's sandwich was served in. The minute I laid down my big pepper, it started expelling liquid like a full-pressure fire hose! I thought that juice would never stop flowing! I had to pick it up and sop up the pickled liquid with some napkins, before it reached the pizza across that open expanse from where I'd extracted a piece!

Hick asked for a take-home container, and brought back the rest of the Pizzadilla. He ate two slices that night, and two slices on Saturday night, before the auction. I'd definitely get that again. Or allow Hick to try the Meaty Deluxe, but only because he won't eat a Supreme. He has a dislike of green peppers, even though that didn't stop him from eating half of my BBQ Chicken Pizzadilla.

And now, for the saga of The-Doesn't-Really-Care-About-Helping-People Pony...

I had set my soda and purse down at our table, and was on my way to the restroom in the back, past the bar. I said over my shoulder to The Pony, "Keep an eye on my purse. I'll be right back."

There was a man and woman seated at a table on the way to the restroom. They were actually at a table next to us, but it was about 10-12 feet away. So we were not creepy close-sitters. As I passed by, the woman reached out to me.
"Could you take our picture?" she implored, holding out her cell phone.
"Oh. I don't know. I don't think so. I'm not very good with phones. Um. Hey! Pony! Can you come take their picture?"
Of course he could. Since I had drawn him into the do-gooding, The Pony could hardly refuse. What excuse could he possibly have? That he needed to sit at an empty table and stare at my purse? He didn't have the excuse of being aged, and not able to understand cell phone technology. So he came over and took the lady's phone, and two pictures. I think it was a mother (late 50s) and her 25-30 year old son. He, unlike Hick, was born with a funny bone.
"Don't choke!" said the son.
"I'm not choking," said the mom.
"I meant, for the picture, don't choke. Relax. Smile."
"Oh. Well, you know I don't like having my picture taken."
"That reminds me... last time we were here, a lady DID choke! They had to call someone over. She was wheezing, so she was getting air. But it was kind of scary. And NOW we have someone at the next table warning against choking!"
"I'm glad ours was just a joke!"
Yeah. Some people might have freaked out about handling another person's phone these days, with them unmasked while eating at their table. Not Thevictorians! Especially not The Pony. He's healthy as a horse.

Sunday, March 14, 2021


Don't get excited. Yes, Val went to the casino. Was she a big winner? Nope. She escaped with her shirt and the majority of her casino bankroll. Hick was the winningest. He was up $170 at lunch, but said he lost some after, though still finishing ahead for the day. The Pony was the biggest loser. There's no award for that.
Of course, Hick didn't spend all his time or money in the casino. He dropped us off and went to procure merchandise for his Storage Unit Store. I guess he's getting ready for the fishermen now, since he invested over a hundred dollars in a bundle of fishing poles.

I had a good time, with a couple of jackpots that kept me going. You gotta spend money to win money, though. I don't partake of a 3-hour drive to sit on a profit. I'm there to gamble, by cracky! Anyhoo... I had a little jackpot on the creepy-eyed Miss Kitty tower again, before lunch.

Not as good as my last visit. I didn't get to the top of the tower. Still, it was good money to continue playing. And not so many blinking big-eyed meowing cats!

After lunch, I tried a new slot (to ME). I think it's called Jackpot Streak, Garden of Amazon. I played for about an hour on $20. Then I used $10 of my free play, and kept winning, until I got up to THIS:

Not a fortune, but pretty good play for a long time on a small amount (to me). When you hit the bonus, those multipliers at the top go into effect. As long as you have a win, it progresses to the next jackpot on the next spin, which multiplies your win. The farthest I got was the third one, which gave me a 5X instead of the Minor.

Tomorrow you'll see a NEW FOOD ITEM that we had for lunch. And hear a tale of The Pony being forced into HELPING somebody!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

For Two CENTS, I'd Ample-Rumpus an Old Lady, and Tackle a Young Man

Okay, no I wouldn't. That would be too much physical activity. Almost like work. It's enough that I actually BEND OVER to pick up a penny that is not contested. I can't believe TWO CENTS slipped from my very-near distant grasp this week. So close, but yet so far...
After the debacle on MONDAY, March 8, when the little old lady beat me to the penny, I was, as you might imagine, quite disappointed. Not depressed enough to throw myself off the top of the 13 basement rail-less stairs, but in a funk. 
I left the scene of the whine, and headed for Orb K. The cashier there was quite unpleasant, which did not improve my mood. However... as she was doing a headstand to rip off their lowly-stocked lottery tickets, I glanced down at my feet, and saw

 A penny peeping out from the Muddy Buddies!

It was a shiny 2015 penny, heads up. I snatched old Abe off the floor before a random predatory old lady in line could think twice about making him her own! Maybe that Tuesday jeans and t-shirt guy from Save A Lot had been at Orb K ahead of me, and this surly cashier had not notified him that he dropped a penny! Take THAT, Contrary French Cousin Unfair Robert! Even Steven will always provide for Val.

Only 1 PENNY this week, for 1 CENT. But at least it wasn't a shut-out.


Penny       # 21.
Dime         still at 1.
Nickel       still at 1.
Quarter    still at 2.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, March 12, 2021

Another Present From the Gifty Gifty Giver

Such a treat from the never-ending source of blogworthy tales! I don't even have to ask Hick about his day. He just spouts off the interactions he has that are not something a "normal' person would experience. 
Due to heavy rain all morning Thursday, Hick was lounging around at home when I got back from town, using up oxygen and the living room TV.

"I barely made it home! The creek rose over two feet in the hour I was gone. The little one down here below the neighbor Jack bit is about a foot over. But T-Hoe made it across. Your mechanic buddy has a lake in front of his shop. That road is a mess."

"I took my truck to get the windshield put in. I got there early, and was waiting for my time when Mick (the Mechanic) went rushing by, with another guy behind him. Mick looked mad. He didn't say a thing to me. In a few minutes he went by again, carrying a shotgun. He said, 'You know you're coming with me!'"

"To YOU???"

"Nah. To the guy who was following him. A truck got stolen there last night."

"One waiting to get worked on? Or one that was finished?"

"A truck he finished yesterday."

"Well, then. I imagine the owner came and got it. Maybe to avoid paying."

"No. That's the first person he called when he saw that it was gone. To see if the guy picked it up. He said he didn't."
"SURE he didn't! But a friend of a friend of a friend might have! You know how that goes, with overdue payments and insurance claims."
"Well, maybe. But I don't think so. Mick thought he'd found the stolen truck, and was going to get it back. But that wasn't the truck. I told him when he came back, 'I was worried you was gonna do something stupid that you'd regret. You don't want to be that person who takes things too far.' He said he thought about that, but he was mad that somebody stole from him."

"Think about it. WHY would a car thief steal something off the lot of a repair shop? He doesn't know if it will run or not. I sure wouldn't want to sneak up there, planning to steal, and get in one that won't run!"

"They probably loaded it on a trailer."

"Seriously? Car thieves around here pull trailers to steal trucks? Doesn't that make it harder to outrun the cops? That's the dumbest thing I ever heard! Why would you steal it if it won't run?"

"Probably for parts."

"I don't think they're that organized here. You better check our other 10 acres when the water goes down. It could be parked up there!"

"Yeah. I never thought the first one would be there!"

"I guess Mick has insurance to cover it."

"I don't know. Maybe not. When I worked at the station, we had a truck parked inside the garage, with the building locked up, AND the truck locked. It got stolen. The insurance wouldn't pay. They said we had it protected like it should be. But if we'd left it out on the lot and it was stolen, they'd pay."

"That's crazy!"

"That's insurance for you. They always try to find a way to get out of paying."

Said the Hick who bullied them into paying his going rate for a new truck windshield...