Friday, April 30, 2021

Is This Themed Shed Designed for The Boxcar Children?

Hick's Railroad Car shed is not fully furnished yet. I thought he was going to put train stuff in it. Like the boys' old Thomas the Tank Engine toys, and a couple trains that were Hick's, with little village pieces for putting around the Christmas tree.

It doesn't pay to think around Hick. Actually, doing anything around Hick doesn't pay. It's like volunteer work. Of the unrewarding kind.

Anyhoo... Hick sent me a picture of the inside of the Railroad Car shed. He was working on it during the rains Wednesday.

He's installing the floor. You might think that looks pretty fancy, for a shed that might rot from the walls in, due to rain, or have squirrels chew a hole near the roof. But Hick is a crafty re-purposer. This is laminate flooring he got from Back Creek Neighbor Bev when she had new floors put in. So it didn't cost Hick anything, and it wasn't being used. 
I believe his previous plan involved plywood. Until he went to buy some, and told me that PLYWOOD COSTS $65 A SHEET! When it used to be $7 a sheet! Ixnay on the ywoodplay, I believe is how the learned scholars in Pigville say it...

What catches my eye is the contraption on the left. That has nothing to do with putting down laminate flooring, or trimming or measuring boards. 


Really. I think that's it. I don't recall how I wrangled it away from my sister the ex-ex-mayor's wife. The plastic toy pinball machine used to sit in my mom's family room. Now it sits in a themed shed shaped like a railroad car. I don't think Hick is opening a hangout for pinball-loving youth. So I'm not sure why it's here. Maybe he found another one at the auction, and unloaded it there while cruising down Shackytown Boulevard in SilverRedO.

Anyhoo... kids and trains got me to thinking about The Boxcar Children. One of my elementary teachers used to read it to us right after lunch recess. When we were all wound up, and sometimes sweaty, from running around the playground as kids used to do, playing kickball or tag on a blacktop surface slippery with gravel and hungry for knee-skin.

I LOVED The Boxcar Children stories! No matter how much we begged, we couldn't get more than one chapter a day out of our teacher. Checking them out of the library would put you out of order in the series. So there was nothing to do but wait until the next post-recess session. In retrospect, the premise of The Boxcar Children is kind of depressing...

I bet they would have loved a pinball game in their boxcar.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Won't You ReMake Me In Shackytown

Hick has been working on his Railroad Car Shack over in Shackytown. Seems he originally put the porch boards too close together. He thought a quarter-inch would be wide enough cracks to let water flow through. He didn't count on the fallen twigs and leaves from the trees that line Shackytown Boulevard.

The boards had started to rot, so Hick tore them off to rebuild his porch. His intention was to buy some new boards at Menard's or Lowe's. Then he discovered that lumber prices have gone up 250 percent. Heh, heh. I could have told him THAT, if he'd asked, and waited five days for me to read it in the news.
Anyhoo... Hick refused to pay so much for wood, and salvaged some that he'd saved when he dismantled the deck of Back Creek Neighbor Bev. No, he's not leaving them at odd lengths like in the picture. He's going to drop a chalk line on there and saw them off.

As you can see, the side of his shack themed shed has also suffered water damage. The solution for that is to cover it with a 2 x 6 board, repaint the whole side, and extend the porch farther over the side so rain will pour off onto the porch, and not get blown in against the wall. He worked on it all morning Tuesday, when we had bright sun and temps up to 81 degrees.

He sawed off the porch, now with a half-inch gap between the boards. The 2 x 6 board is in place, some of it unseen down under the edge of the porch, the rest painted black. I see new trim around the door, but it seems as if another coat or two of paint might be forthcoming. I think the original plan was to paint this shack themed shed a maroon color, like an actual railroad car. Maybe that's on hold.

Here's Hick's final photo from Tuesday. He's added more accoutrements. As for the paint-thirsty walls, I do know that Hick had a story of looking for paint at Lowe's, seeing a tiny container for $12, then spying a GALLON on top of the shelf for $12. So he said he took the gallon, and the guy mixed it for him, and he only paid $12. I didn't listen close enough to remember the color. I DO know that it rained all day Wednesday. So I doubt the new paint is seen in this picture. 

You can see that Hick has extended the roof out over the porch. I wouldn't want to sit under it during a rain, though. Not even taking swigs from that moonshine jug.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Catbird, Move Your Rumpus

Val has retaken control of the catbird seat! Winny days are here again!

Monday was SUPPOSED to be the day new lottery tickets came out. It's a whole thing for Missouri Lottery. They call it MO Money Monday. Hype it up. As IF people who buy scratchers really need any extra incentive...

I'd had a pretty good day in the midst of my current losing streak. A day in which I won back more than I spent! I took my winners to the Gas Station Chicken Store around 3:00 on Monday. Plenty of time for them to get the new tickets in their glass case at the counter. They're usually the first store to put out the new tickets. 

But NO! Nary a new ticket to be found! The Woman Owner was as discombobulated as Val, when she had to give change back! I usually know what I'm buying, and plan for my purchase to come out even with what I've cashed in and what I've bought. 

"Well. This upsets my plan. So I don't know HOW this change is going to go!"

It felt so wrong.

"You'll have to take it up with UPS. They were supposed to be here hours ago. Nobody knows where they are."

They knew on TUESDAY! I don't know how the Gas Station Chicken Store got the new tickets. Maybe the lottery (heh, heh, I keep typing that as LOOTERY) sent out replacements. Because Man Owner told me, 

"We found out where our tickets went yesterday. To MISSISSIPPI! And right now, they're in TENNESSEE! Not just ours. Tickets for 120 stores!"

Good to know. Because that first day of tickets will be arriving within the week, I'd think, which means the Gas Station Chicken Store will have a backup supply of winners! I'm pretty sure the first batches of tickets are always win-heavy, to make people want to buy the new ones. Then it seems like after the first week, it's a long time between winners. 
They say it's totally random, but looking at the monthly map of winners, you can see how the batches move from one geographic area to the next. SOMEBODY knows where they're sending winners. I mean like the $1000 winners, that have to be claimed and not just cashed at the store. You'll see one town have three or four, and then the next month a different town.

Anyhoo... I finally got my new tickets on Tuesday. There were three new kinds. My $5 ticket lost, as did the $2 and $5 tickets I gave The Pony. But I had a big winner:

I got the bankroll symbol, which is an instant $100 win! Of course, the ticket itself cost $20, so not a gigantic profit. Still fun to win, though!

I know what I WON'T be buying tomorrow! At least not from the Gas Station Chicken Store. My winner was #006. There are 30 of these tickets per roll. 000 to 029. So I'm not buying anything until a new roll starts. I'm pretty sure this will be the biggest winner on it. They'll tell me what number it's on if I ask. I only do that at the GSCS. I'm a regular, you know...

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Pony Tales: One Day On the Job, and Already Providing For the Family

The Pony started his (paid) training on Monday. He left at 6:30 a.m. for his orientation in Casino Town. He takes the exit past the casino exit, so it's a bit more than a 90-minute drive. Plus he stops for breakfast at McDonald's on the way. He said he got there about 30 minutes early, which was a comfortable cushion for him.

8:58 a.m. 
"I'm in. Whiteboard on the wall. 'Expectations: Stay Awake.'"

12:36 p.m.
"Had my snacks for lunch. Only get 30 minute break."

3:06 p.m.
"Done. Going by Steak N Shake on the way home for supper."

5:11 p.m.
"Have you cooked for Dad yet? If not, I think I might be bringing home 2 extra burgers; the waitress made the wrong ones at first and felt bad so I guess I get to take the other two home???"

"If they let you have them."

"Since she didn't take them away and asked if I wanted boxes. This was incredibly awkward as a thing. I have no clue how the waitress misheard garlic as royale, but I feel bad for her. She was just so mortified too. But yeah, I'm bringing home two burgers (lightly smashed) and the fries that fit. And leaving her a big tip because of everything."

So... Hick had a Steakburger for supper instead of roasted chicken, and I also had a Steakburger instead of whatever I was gonna find in the FREE freezer. Hick got to the fries before I took his leftover burger. That's okay. I don't like Steak N Shake fries. This burger had a fried egg on top, with bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and a sauce that Hick had already wiped off, thinking he was eating both burgers.

Thanks to our little Pony for providing supper. He's not quite a breadwinner. He's a burgerwinner.

Steak N Shake might now be referred to as MisStake N Shake.

Monday, April 26, 2021

An Endearing Profession of Love From My Sweet Baboo

Sometimes, in the middle of the day, I get a loving email from my loving husband, just to say how much he loves me. HEY! Stop that! I will NOT pay for surgery to repair the hernia you just gave yourself while laughing too hard! Nor will I foot the bill for your concussion due to loss of consciousness from lack of oxygen during your gales of laughter. Hick DOES send me emails!

Like last Wednesday. He doesn't put anything in the subject area. You know. To surprise me with his tender poetry expressing his feelings for me. Oh, I'm surprised all right!
"Look what the mouse did to my plastic drawer."
Hick is not a poet, and we all know it. His email wasn't even about me! It was about himself! About his possessions. Of which there are less now, from the looks of the corners of his drawer.

That's over in the BARn. Hick has a problem with mice eating his stuff. Not all the time. Randomly. It wasn't any better when we had five cats. A mouse will get in and have a heyday. Of course, maybe Hick shouldn't leave such tasty items as plastic drawers laying around to tempt the rodents.

"What's that in the drawer?"

"Fish hooks."

"WHAT? That's not fish hooks!"

"Yes, Val. [heavy sigh] It's treble hooks."

"That's not any kind of hook I've ever seen. I bet they don't work very well for catching fish!"

"Oh. Them's handles."

"I thought they looked like some kind of tool. Drawer handles?"

"No. They're fishing rod handles."

"If you say so..."

I don't see it, but my fishing poles have always been bought off the shelf at Walmart for under $20. So maybe I don't know the fancy handleage of the newer or more classy models.

Maybe they even make a pole now that can write poetry, to reel in a wife...

Sunday, April 25, 2021

The Catbird Has Returned...

Genius does not seem to have inherited Val's gift of gambling. He must take after Hick when it comes to wagering. Genius rarely plays the games of chance. The exception being the scratchers I mail him in his weekly letter. Saturday, I was surprised to receive a text from him. I knew he and Friend had some buddies coming in from Kansas City, but I didn't know Genius was going to a casino. I think it's been a year since he last went. Looks like he was down to $2.45, on a 60-cent bet.

"Not a promising day."

"'I said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this, I said.' That's from a song, young whippersnapper."

"I DID know the song. We've been here for about 2 hours. I hit one $40 Super Wheel on those president dollar sky wheel machines, but that's it. I'm down for the day."

"You gotta spend money to win money!"

"It's my favorite machine. The Super Wheels and the Quick Hits are my go-to's."

"I like the Wonder 4 games."

"Friend played one of those quad games."

"They're expensive, but they can pay big. $8,600 big!"

"Between the five of us, everyone is down $60-150."

"The casino has to make its money back after being shut down for months."

"They turned down the win percentage to zero. We head home (significant) losers."

"I am also a loser for two days now, on scratchers."

Yes, the gravy train hurtled over the cliff into the dry gorge. I jumped out at the last minute, and am now limping down the tracks, looking for a side-car to propel myself back to Easy Street. 

It was fun while it lasted. Sitting in the catbird's seat, my feet propped up, counting my winnings. Until I heard:

'Ahem! I believe you are Val... if that's what you call yourself. You seem to be IN MY SEAT. I will thank you kindly to remove your ample rumpus forthwith.'

Duly noted. I was only keeping it warm. Back to the OPC (Old People Chair) for me.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Inside, Outside, All Around Two Towns... It Makes CENTS to Keep Your Eyes Cast Down

It was a long time coming, but THURSDAY, April 22, I finally found my first penny of the week. I went in the School-Turn Casey's for scratchers, on the way home from my errands of T-Hoe gas and post office. I swear, when I slid out of T-Hoe, there were no coins in sight. You KNOW that's the first thing I look for. I looked around while letting my knees unstiffen, before closing the door and starting to walk. Nothing. Yet when I came out, THERE WAS A PENNY!

See it? Right there by that little poochy part of the shadow, from T-Hoe's door handle. Nobody was parked near me when I got there, nor when I came out. I didn't have to wait in line. That penny either materialized out of thin air, or the angle of the sun kept it invisible until I walked out. Hmm... I wonder which of those theories is more plausible?

It was a heads-up 2017, waiting for me to scoop it up for a pocket ride to the ice cream dish penny goblet on my kitchen counter.

FRIDAY, April 23, I stepped into the Gas Station Chicken Store at the very instant I was supposed to. 

Waiting for me were TWO pennies! Of course I whipped my cell phone out of my pocket like John Wayne drawing a six-shooter! That way, anybody coming in behind me would see that I was staking my claim. In fact, a woman DID come in behind me, and after a short huffy exhalation, went down the left aisle to the back cooler area. I'm sure the huffing was because she wanted my rightful pennies! Not because my ample rumpus was waving in the breeze...

The first was a blast from the past, a face-down 1969 penny. It probably contains actual copper!

The second was also face-down, a 1998 version of a penny, with a fake shine.

That makes 3 PENNIES this week, for 3 CENTS joining Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       # 41, 42, 43.
Dime         still at 3.
Nickel       still at 1.
Quarter    still at 2.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, April 23, 2021

A-Thievin' the Knife

Hick doesn't know it yet, but the topic of the next "This Is the Time of Day When We Talk About the Most Recent Things You've Done Wrong" summit will be his sticky fingers.

Hick recently asked for some Honey Nut Cheerios. Or as he calls them, Honey Nut CHERRY-O's. He says he's going to lay off the Casey's donuts for breakfast. We'll see. He said he wanted the cereal to use up his FREE gallon of Ponytail Guy milk. Whatever. I bought the cereal on Sunday. It's from Save A Lot, so a generic form. Probably called something like Nectar Almond-Flavor Circus O's. I don't recall.

Anyhoo... I was going to bed on Monday at the time Hick was in the kitchen making his cereal at the cutting block. I'm pretty sure he would have used MY space on the counter, but I was standing there turning off my cell phone.

I vaguely remember Hick at the cutting block, trying to tear open the plastic bag inside the cereal box, using his weak hand and his PopArm. Then he poured cereal into a Styrofoam bowl, added milk from the gallon jug, and started slicing a banana on top.

I keep a kitchen knife on the cutting block. A butter knife. I use it for hacking ice cubes that stick to the back of the bin in FRIG II's freezer. I need it daily. Monday afternoon, it was not there. Well! It's NOT-HEAVEN to need a butter knife for hacking, and not have one within reach. So I had to walk THREE WHOLE STEPS to the drawer to get another butter knife out of the drawer.

Tuesday, my replacement butter knife was gone! The neurons in my brain all fired at once, probably setting off a lightbulb-shaped glow over my lovely lady-mullet, and I realized what was happening to my ice chippers. HICK HAS BEEN TAKING THEM!

Not to store in a nest of rags and regrets, like a packrat. But to use for his breakfast banana-slicing. I had noticed he was using a butter knife, but only because of the freakish way he held it, so the slicing section was about half handle and half blade. I had no idea he didn't get his own knife, but had used MINE, specifically designated for ice-hacking. Then he laid the knife beside the sink. When I went to wash dishes, I noticed the sticky banana-pulp clinging. I had thought it was one of The Pony's butter knives, used for BUTTER, which he licks clean. 

Yeah. Hick has sticky fingers, and we're not talking about banana pulp. More like one of Fagan's boys, the rat-faced weasely kind, not that angelic Mark Lester as OLIVER! in the Academy-Award-winning movie from 1968. Hick is not a very artful dodger.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

To Squeal, or NOT To Squeal

Now that The Pony has accepted employment with the USPS, my hands are tied when it comes to complaining about the USPS. Right? I wouldn't want my actions to shine an unfavorable light upon The Pony during his 90-day probationary period! Though my current longed-for complaint would actually be HELPING the USPS...

Monday the 19th, I parked T-Hoe in the road (I'm entitled, I LIVE here!) and walked around to look in EmBee for our mail. I pulled out a couple of "magazines" (as the boys used to call catalogs), and the bill for SilverRedO's payment, which was DUE on April 15. Good thing I paid by phone on the 6th when I figured the statement would arrive too late for mailing.

But that's not my complaint! Not a statement reaching me over two weeks later than it used to. Nope. My complaint is about what remained in EmBee.

The USPS is totally off the hook! SOMEBODY is stuffing mailboxes with advertisements for their business. I'm pretty sure that is a federal offense. Once you put up a mailbox, it becomes the property of the USPS. Nobody can legally put stuff in there, except for the USPS. I know this, because I looked up the statutes many years ago, when a high school student was bragging about wiping his butt, and stuffing his underwear in a certain person's mailbox. 

Anyhoo... this FLYER (I use the term loosely) was stuck to EmBee's innards like skin on pudding! (If you're old enough, you'll remember that.) I couldn't get that paper out. EmBee is made of metal pipe, about 6 inches in diameter. This piece of paper had unfurled itself inside, and I couldn't get a grip on the edge or corner. I must have spent 5 minutes trying to fish it out. I finally jammed it against the back wall, and got thumbnail under the front left corner. Just enough to wrinkle it up, press, and get a folded piece I could grab.

Of course Mr. Mobile Home Businessman wants to advertise for FREE! Rather than pay for digital or print ads in the local papers, or for radio time. Or get a proper advertisement to send out by (PAID) bulk mail.

I really think the USPS might be interested in informing Mr. Mobile Home Businessman that he is stealing their services, by using the receptacles designated as their own. When I was in high school, there was a big flap about the local newspaper being put in boxes attached to the sides of the rural mailboxes. Nope. Not allowed. So my dad had to put the newspaper box on a separate post beside the mailbox.

Anyhoo... I'm going to refrain from inserting myself into this cause. The timing isn't right, what with The Pony's recent hire. I know I'd have to give my name, which is not all that common around here. So another criminal escapes. Not due to Val's spinelessness, but due to her desire to allow The Pony an unobstructed release out of the starting gate.

Yes, I cut off the town and address from the picture. Hick agreed that such advertising is frowned upon. Although he was more ticked-off that: "I guess he seen a gravel road and figured there's a bunch of trailers up in here." I can only think of 5 or 6, out of the 49 households. I know the 49 number because of the electric company reporting how many lose power when one of our poles goes down. 
More complaints than business will result from Mr. Mobile Home Businessman filling our mailboxes with illegal ads. Minus one, of course.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Definitely Not Sasquatch, Certainly Not Susan, and Not Even George

You may recall last week, when socially-unacceptable Hick confused the name of Sacajawea with Sasquatch. Back when I said I had a gold dollar out in T-Hoe, and Hick declared that it was definitely not George Washington, but maybe "Sasquatch or that other lady." As if he knew anything about dollar coins, what with Susan B. Anthony being SILVER, and not gold.

Anyhoo... I finally looked at my T-Hoe gold dollar. But I was still in the dark. I had my glasses on, but couldn't read the print. I could tell that it was not Sacajawea. Nor George. When I got home, I tried to scrub him up a little under the faucet, using Peach Bellini foaming hand soap that my sister the ex-ex-mayor's wife gives me for Christmas. I STILL couldn't tell. So I took it to Eagle Eye Hick. Who only has one eye, you know. But it seems to be quite powerful.

"Oh. That's Miller Fillmer."

"Um. Do you mean MillARD. FillMORE?"

"I guess. If you say so."

What Hick doesn't know is that I have a very special connection to Millard Fillmore! Back when I was Little 3rd Grade Future VALedictorian, my teacher Mrs. Elvins (she had the same name as our TOWN! How cool was THAT?) asked me a question during Social Studies.
Yes, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my desk in our old building. It had to be fall, because we moved into our new elementary school before Christmas. I had broken my left arm while roller skating on my grandpa's sidewalk, and I had a hard cast past my elbow. The old-fashioned plaster cast, not one of these fashionable neon-colored lightweight casts for today's arm-snapping whippersnappers. White dense plaster, which I refused to let anybody sign. That was like graffiti! Oh, and I had a sling made from a dish towel, because nobody had those blue pouch-like slings of today. My mom cautioned me every morning to keep my hand higher than my elbow. I remembered, when my fingers turned blue.

Anyhoo... the question was something about a president that we had not yet named. Perhaps we were reciting the order. It escapes me now. But I KNEW the answer! Mrs. Elvins had been prompting other students. "Come on. You know it! Millard... Millard..."

I was squirming so much that my butt came off the seat. I couldn't stand up, though, in those one-piece desk-chair contraptions. But I was waving my good arm energetically while my plastered arm clunked on the desktop.

"Li'l Val? Do you know it?"


"Oh. Well. Ha ha. Not quite. It's FILLMORE!"

No. I did not feel shame. In fact, I reveled in the laughter of my classmates. Apparently, more than one of us had a beer-drinking grandpa. 

I don't know who should shoulder the blame for sending me on my life's quest of clowning around to get laughs. My classmates, who encouraged me. Or my grandpa, who inadvertently gave me the punchline that set me on this journey. 

Here's my buddy Millard:
Yes, I'm sure I've spoken of him before. But Val's blog is like the teacher lunch table. If you hang out there long enough, you'll hear repeats and threepeats of stories that were boring the first time around. 

My gold dollar doesn't have a flaw that makes it worth asking $10,000 for. But at least I'm pretty sure mine is worth a dollar.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Walking 8-10 Hours In All Kinds of Weather May Not Be the WORST Job The Pony Could Have

We all agree that The Pony will have to get used to the physicality of his post office carrier job. But it could be worse...

In the two-block drive from the Gas Station Chicken Store to Country Mart, I had to wait for these electric crews to snip a wire. Seriously. That's what they did. There are two men in that bucket. The one you can see had a giant pair of bolt-cutters. Looked like the ones our custodian used to bring out when he had to cut a lock of a student's locker. Only bigger. Good thing there wasn't juice in those wires!

By the time I got this picture, they were folding up the bucket to move it out of the way. In the background is the big gray building where Neighbor Tommy got his first job. The rat poison factory.

Anyhoo... I wouldn't want The Pony up on a lift cutting electrical wires. Nor working in a rat poison factory. He should be able to adapt to walking and carrying. The driving part will probably be hardest for him. He got his training information on Monday. Three days down in Casino Town, and four days in Springfield. Then a couple of job-shadowing days back here in the local post office where he will work. All paid hours.

Of course he will still be seeking chemical engineering jobs in the meantime.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Behind the Blue Door

Val is pretty good at following her hunches. Last weekend, my sister the ex-ex-mayor's wife, invited us to our first CasinoPalooza in over a year. I regretfully declined. At the time, I knew Hick had a medical procedure coming up, yet to be scheduled, and that The Pony was waiting to hear back from his conditional post office job. 
We ended up going to our new favorite casino a couple days later. I confessed to Sis on the drive down there. By text. 
"We are on our way to the casino. I didn't think you'd want to go, since this is the eve of your CasinoPalooza."
I was correct in that assumption. My instincts were also right on staying close home that week. I won a small fortune at our new favorite casino on Tuesday, and Sis later reported that they'd lost half their bankroll on their CasinoPalooza. That very morning before we left for our casino, Hick got his call from the hospital to give pre-op information, and schedule his surgery for Thursday at 7:00 a.m. AND on Thursday afternoon, while I was in town, The Pony got a call from the post office, with an appointment Friday at 11:00 a.m. It would have been very hard to receive that call inside a casino, and return from Oklahoma for this appointment the next morning.

Anyhoo... Hick survived his surgery, and The Pony had a brief pre-employment meeting.

"I went in to the counter like she told me over the phone, and the lady there said to go back into the lobby, and through the blue door. Then up to the second floor, down a hall to the Postmaster's office. It was kind of creepy on those stairs. They reminded me of the ones at college that nobody ever took.
She didn't really tell me much. The main point of the meeting was to let them take a copy of my driver's license and social security card, and to fill out an I-9 form saying I wasn't an illegal alien, and sign a paper saying that I would never tamper with the mail, because it's punishable by imprisonment.

She wanted to make sure I understood it's a LOT of WALKING. I said I figured that, and it doesn't bother me, because I walked to campus and back every day, since parking was so hard to find there, and the shuttle bus to my apartments didn't run after a certain time.

Also, they will add me to their rolls on the 24th, and then the following Monday I will probably start training. More specific information will be in an email they're supposed to send me this Monday."

So... The Pony seems to be really employed. He will see exactly what the job entails in about a week. He'll probably have one last hurrah and drive over to Steak N Shake for a last lunch.
I went to the main post office on Saturday, to mail my DISH bill that may or may not reach its destination by the due date of the 25th. I saw the blue door, which wasn't blue the last time I was there. It's probably been two months since I went inside. I couldn't resist getting this picture for you. I guess I was seen on the surveillance camera. I hope they can't tie me to The Pony...

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Gravy Train Continues to Fatten Val's Bankroll

If my bankroll was a rumpus, it would be overly-ample these days! That decision to leave the not-mine $10 on the Country Mart lottery machine last Wednesday has proved quite profitable in the karma column. On Tuesday, Hick took us to the casino. Even Steven was along for the ride.

On my second slot, I mined the elusive $200 nugget on Wild Wild Nugget! The Pony chastised me in A-Cad on the way down there, for saying I was planning to play "Gold Gold Nugget." I guess my subconscious knew what was coming.

It's hard to land ANY nugget, much less get them all the way across so you can get paid for the last column. Ain't it a beaut? That earned me $208.70. It has already switched over to the credit box. I had $10.15 in there when I hit this Wild Wild Nugget. Betting $1 a spin.

I wanted to play my Wonder 4 Tall Fortunes slot next, with Miss Kitty, but as I hobbled over, an old man jumped up and stepped around the corner and took it! Meh. It wasn't so much not getting on the slot as it was wasting the steps and being almost there. I headed back towards the restaurant area to play my new favorite, Jackpot Streak: Garden of Amazon.

I played a long time here. I hit several jackpot streaks, keeping my money even, but not enough to cash out and save. The Pony wandered by, when I was in the midst of another streak, and caught my Minor Jackpot win of $101.60. It's still counting up in this picture. I had gotten my credit up to 49.38 after putting in a twenty in the beginning. I was betting $1.60 a spin when I hit this jackpot.

From there it was time for lunch. The Pony ordered nothing, because he was full of McDonald's breakfast. Hick had the pulled pork sandwich and curly fries. Again.

Hick had enough BBQ sauce on there to scrape off and save for my sister the (former) ex-mayor's wife! [He was recently elected mayor again--and I DON'T mean Hick.] Also, Hick complained that "There's too much meat on this sandwich! Half would be enough. You can't hardly fit it in your mouth." Well. When I used to get that meal, I ate the meat, and part of one Texas toast. The other I gave to The Pony. Here I caught Hick in the act of ketchuping his curly fries.
I had the catfish nuggets and tater tots. The nuggets are buried under that mountain of tots. The Pony helped by eating some tots, which he dipped into my tarter sauce. I couldn't finish all of either. Since Hick didn't make a clear plastic purse of his pie (plain cheesecake) container this time to carry leftovers, we sadly threw away the dregs of our meals.
These food pictures look so dull! I don't know what was wrong with my phone camera. I guess it was all amped-up from taking colorful slot machine pictures, and couldn't muster the effort to make our food look tasty. Sheesh! It looks like we were having lunch with Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher in McDougal's Cave. Us eating pulled pork and catfish nuggets, and Tom and Becky eating picnic "wedding" cake.

After eating, we returned to the casino floor for another hour. I was able to get on my Wonder 4 Tall Fortunes with Miss Kitty. First of all, I hit several Tower bonuses. That never happens! I hit them on all three games I played. Buffalo Gold, Indian Dreaming, and Miss Kitty. The only one worth documenting was Miss Kitty.

I didn't even make it all the way to the top of the tower, but the results were pretty good! That's the end of the bonus, Game 10 out of 10. It paid me $381.40. I had fed the tower a few twenties, and had $3.79 left when I hit this bonus. I was betting the minimum on this game, $2.40 a spin (which is 60 cents for each of the 4 games. It IS called Wonder 4 Tall Fortunes).

I was the big winner for the day. Of course not all of that made it out the door with me. You have to spend money to win money. But I had every bit of my casino bankroll back, plus winnings in the mid three-figures (not counting the decimal places!). Even Steven shunned Hick. He lost $50. I'm sure he'll make it up in sales in one day at his Storage Unit Store. 

The Pony was not the biggest winner, but he hit the biggest jackpot. In fact, it was while sitting right next to me at Wild Wild Nugget when we first got there. He was playing Pompei, making me jealous as he raked in the cash.

The Pony took that picture for me. He's got a problem the opposite of Hick. Whereas Hick takes a picture with a tiny subject in the dead center, and way too much scenery surrounding it... The Pony has a problem with EXTREME CLOSE-UPS.
Anyhoo... his jackpot was $453.05. I'm not sure what he was betting, since I don't play Pompei. I'm guessing it was somewhere between $1.00-$2.50 a spin. He played back a bit more of his winnings than I did, but then again, he has less of a casino bankroll to start with. In fact, he deposited his $800-something winnings into his bank account from his solo casino trip on Friday, April 2. So he's in the plus column lately.

Yes, I'm going to ride this good-karma gravy train until it runs over the edge of a cliff. Then I'll jump off and take a solo side-car down the tracks until another gravy train comes along. A streak never lasts forever, whether it's winning OR losing.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Val's COIN-Confiscated Laundry

MONDAY, April 12, got my penny week off to a good start. I had stopped by the Backroads Casey's for scratchers, even before the Gas Station Chicken Store. That's because from the stoplight, I can see part of Casey's parking lot. No, I don't have such good vision that I can spot a penny! I do well to discern whether there is room to park in front of the store. Their lot is cramped by the gas pumps.

I took the alley behind the GSCS, across Hick's pharmacy CeilingRed's parking lot, and pulled up to the sidewalk in front of Casey's. I noticed nothing fit for harvest on my walk in. But when I came out, the sun was just right.

There it is, under the grease spot that looks like a heart-shaped cloud hanging over the head of an obese giraffe.
It was a face-down 1998 penny. The side with Abe's face was all skinned up. Like he was playing baseball, and slid into home plate face first. Or maybe was caught under a car tire that was peeling out.
WEDNESDAY, April 14, my well-laid plans were skewed all cattywompus when the Gas Station Chicken Store had a broken LOTTERY TICKET READER! That meant they couldn't cash in my winning scratchers, so I went places I didn't intend to go. Like Country Mart. 
I was heading way down to the end, where I can park with certainty that T-Hoe's door will not be blocked. Then I decided to stop where I was, and trust that a ne'er-do-well would refrain from parking in the no-parking striped zone, thus making T-Hoe's door just as safe.
I was obviously meant to park there, because when I opened T-Hoe's door, there was a penny waiting for me.

It was a face-down 1975, showing his age. Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune ice-cream dish goblet. Where old pennies go to not-die.

From Country Mart, I headed over to the Liquor Store. I had tickets to cash in! A car was in the parking space where I usually pull through, to be ready to leave their small lot. So I parked in the space in front of it. You know what happened, right? I was meant to park there!

A penny awaited my plucking! I saw the glint before I even stepped out. Look at the thin shadow from that sign, and follow where it would go if it reached across the yellow parking line about the same distance it is on the other side. Then you'll see the glinty hint of my penny.

It was a face-down 2013, as brilliant as Val Thevictorian herself!

FRIDAY, April 16, was an extra-special day. At my first stop, the Backroads Casey's, I opened T-Hoe's door to get out, and found this!

No, not the waxy smashed earbud thingies in the other parking space, but the DIME waiting for me by the yellow line.

It was a heads-up 1976 FDR dime. He's looking pretty chiseled here. As you might imagine, I was THRILLED to find a DIME! Little did I know that there was another one waiting for me at home!

I usually don't count a home coin in my tally. But this one was in the washer as I was getting out my load of socks and underwear. I heard a CLINK, and saw Franklin Delano Roosevelt looking up at me from the bottom of the washer! Hick had done a load of shorts and underwear the previous afternoon. Looks like he didn't clear out all his pockets. I had no claim to that dime, which is why I TOOK IT!

I didn't get a photo of the bottom of my washer. It's clean! It's a WASHER, by cracky! It washes itself every load. But my phone was across the kitchen, and I didn't want to walk all the way back to get it. I'm kind of lazy like that. I'm sure that comes as a shock to you. Anyhoo... I CAN give you an electronical artist's rendering:

This was a heads-up 2017 dime. Sorry, FDR. I'm not very good at drawing with a mouse. Your head is a bit flat, which probably explains your pessimistic expression.

That makes 5 COINS this week, for 23 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       # 38, 39, 40.
Dime         # 2, 3.
Nickel       still at 1.
Quarter    still at 2.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, April 16, 2021

This Honesty Business Really PAYS OFF!

It has been one week since I found $10 left in the lottery ticket machine at Country Mart. And left it there. In that one week, I have had a tremendous run of luck! In fact, yesterday I had this:

That's a $100 WINNER! There in the middle, I found the 20X symbol, with a $5 prize. Yes, when I saw the 20X, I invited The Pony down to watch the reveal. You never know when it might be spectacular. Though $100 is nothing to sneeze at!

I don't put my wins here to brag. I put them here because I GAMBLE SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO! I'm selfless like that. So what I'm really doing is telling you that we've been riding a winning wave. Sure, it's bound to crash into the rocky cliffs before much longer. But right now, we're riding a gravy wave!

The found money that I left behind was on last Wednesday. The day after that, I had TWO $50 winners. Monday, I had that magnificent $500 win. And Tuesday, I scratched off another $50 winner. It was on the way home from the casino. We won't talk about that today... but it was a profitable trip.

I don't take pictures of $50 winners. That would be crazy. Who DOES that? Not this old Val.

Anyhoo... my point is that I feel like my luck might not have been so good if I'd used the $10 that didn't belong to me in the ticket machine. I believe that everything you do leads to you being in a certain place at a certain time when you're meant to be there. Win or lose. So taking the time to tell the cashier about the found money altered the pattern of my life over the past week.

Let's recap. So you can remember what you won this week, vicariously through me: 
$50, $50, $500, $50, $100. Pretty good for a week. It thumps the stuffing out of my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. More on THAT tomorrow, and more on the casino after the Saturday CENTSus.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Sasquatch Rides Next To Me In T-Hoe

Monday evening, Hick was watching Pawn Stars. I never watch, so it might have been an old episode. But it was new to me. A guy brought in a gold dollar coin, which he said had an imperfection. He was hoping to get $10,000 for it. That's a little steep! Even for a staged TV show.
Anyhoo... this coin was a regular George Washington dollar. Not really gold, just gold in color. Mainly made of bronze. The Guy knew that. His determination of the value was because he got the coin from general circulation. His brother found it in a roll of dollar coins. And it had a big bubble deformity on each side. Like a ladybug got trapped under the metal.
Pawn Star Rick looked at the coin with a jeweler's eyepiece thingy. And said, "That's not real. It has been cast, not stamped. The Treasury stamps out US coins. They started making George Washington in 2007. This is counterfeit. Not even a good one. It looks like the sand stuck to the coin when it was cast. The lines are not defined in places."
Heh, heh. Not only was The Guy not getting $10,000 for his irregular coin, his George Washington dollar coin wasn't even worth a dollar! I gleefully pointed this out to Hick. 
And said,

"I have one of those out in my change cup in T-Hoe."

"No. You don't have one of them."

"Yeah. Maybe not George Washington. I haven't looked. But I have a gold dollar. I'm always mistaking it for a quarter when I reach in."

"You don't have one like THAT. You might have that lady. Or that other one. What do you call it? Sasquatch."

"Um. Susan B Anthony. She's not a GOLD dollar. And I'm pretty sure [it was hard for me to get the words out, I was shaking with such mirth] you mean SACAGAWEA, not Sasquatch!"
Now I wonder which one I have, but it's not worth walking out to T-Hoe as I'm writing this on Monday night. I'm hoping my dollar coin is worth a dollar. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Hick Is Egging Me On

Monday was clean-out day for FRIG II. Not that I am so organized as to have a schedule. It's been a week since the Easter feast, and we still had some delicacies left. 
I tossed out a Chinese Tupperware container-and-a-half of roasted vegetables. The soup container containers. We had three of them, and I ate heartily of what I wanted of that dish all week, so no big deal. We usually have some of it left, even on non-holidays. There was a smidgen of potato salad. Not even enough for a decent serving, had I been feeling particularly Teflon-stomached to consume 10-day-old potato salad. But the most heartbreaking item I purged from FRIG II was the DEVILED EGGS!

I worked so hard on those eggs. Eggs don't devil themselves, you know. They take boiling, and peeling, and precise slicing, and just the right amount of three wet and two dry ingredients for the filling, and careful rationing and dexterous forking to stuff them, and the division of green olives into three segments to place two slices on each egg... about an hour and 45 minutes total when the eggs peel easily.

Hick and The Pony LOVE deviled eggs. I could do without them. In fact, I only ate a broken white used to scrape the filling from the bowl at the end. So they could have more. They each eat 2-3 halves per meal. And grab a couple for a snack, or for The Pony's breakfast. I made 22 deviled eggs. My real Tupperware deviled egg container holds 16 halves. The other six were in a sandwich container for Hick and The Pony to enjoy on Saturday, the day I made them. A preview, if you will.

Monday, I took the deviled egg container out to the back porch, and tossed 9 DEVILED EGGS over the side. That is a travesty. Hick professed (upon interrogation over the rail as he was sitting in the Gator when I later left for town), that he had eaten 3 eggs, twice. That must mean the 3 samples last Saturday, and the 3 with his Easter feast. That leaves The Pony with 3 samples, 2 during the feast, and 2 later, because I saw them sitting out on the cutting block in a bowl, because he likes them room temp.

Hick is too lazy to pick up the deviled egg container from the bottom shelf, and take off the lid and put them on a plate. That's the only conclusion, since Hick claims how much he LOVES deviled eggs. I know he was fixing himself a ham sandwich, and potato salad. And on another day or two he had the roasted vegetables as a side dish. He ate the 7-layer-salad in normal leftover amounts.

We will have a family meeting before I make another batch of deviled eggs. I may require a signed contract committing to the consumption of a specified number of deviled eggs...

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

In Case You Doubt That Even Steven Is Looking Out For Val's Finances...

Remember last week, when I discovered that somebody had left $10 credit on the lottery machine in Country Mart? And I tried to tell the cashier, in case they came back looking for it? THAT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

Not only because the very next day, Even Steven rewarded me with TWO $50 winners. But because on Monday, Even Steven further showed his appreciation for my attempted good deed:

That's a $500 WINNER, baby! Those don't come along every day. In fact, the last one I had was back in 2017. I knew when I scratched off 12 matches that something good was afoot. I sent a text to The Pony to see if he wanted to watch the reveal. He didn't reply, so I set it aside, and moved on to my $3 scratchers. 
I've been allowing myself one of these big ones occasionally since my two $50 winners. I got one of these tickets Saturday [# 001 on a roll that goes from 000 to 029], and won my $20 back. Then I skipped a day, and felt like the time was right on Monday. I got it at the Gas Station Chicken Store. [# 017] It's the only place that still has this very old ticket.

I hadn't even finished my $3 scratching when I heard the thump of The Pony's hooves on the 13 rail-less basement steps.

"Did you start yet? I JUST NOW got your text!"

"No. But I'm ready. Let me put the song back on that I was listening to when I scratched it." 
[Not that I'm superstitious or anything... Let the record show it was Bob Dylan's "Shelter From the Storm Take 1," the version that plays over the credits at the end of the movie Jerry Maguire. This is it, but my track from Spotify had a better sound.] 
"Look. 12 matches! I KNOW they don't have a $120 winner. So it will be better than $10 under each symbol."

OH MY GOSH! The first one had $40 under it! The Pony was quick to calculate. 

"I think you have a $500 winner. I bet it's ten of the $40, and two $50."

The Pony was right!

Now I'm living on Even Steven's credit. I have to do $500 worth of good deeds for a while. I'm okay with that.

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Blueglass Stake

Hick found some buried treasure over in his Freight Container Garage. As you may recall, as soon as the Freight Container Garage was move-in ready, Hick bought his original 18 storage units. So there's still a lot of "merchandise" over there that has yet to be unearthed. Last week, Hick found this collection:

It's not a matching set. But it's Cobalt Blue Glassware. I've discovered by consulting the innernets that the two large urn-looking things in the back are actually a pair of Anchor Hocking Cobalt Blue Ribbed Glass Vases. I think they are 13 inches tall, according to assorted listings. People seem to be asking around $45 for one.

That funny square one in the front left is a Blenko Cobalt Blue Glass Double Spout Carafe? Water jug? Bottle Pitcher? Nobody seems to use a standard description of this one, other than Blenko and double spout. They also seem to be listed for $45. Doesn't mean people will pay that, but it's a starting point.
I mention the asking prices because when Hick showed me his "collection," he said, "I can get $20 for the set." I think maybe he could get more individually. He plans to put them on Buy/Sell/Trade. So I told him to make sure he mentions Anchor Hocking and Blenko in his descriptions. Because you know people will look them up before going to barter with Hick.
Oh, and they're all VINTAGE. Not antique! Depends on how you search.

Upon sharing this knowledge with Hick, which he already professed to know (I seriously doubt that he searched for a carafe), he said, "I'd sell on the internet if you'd set it up for me."

"No. I'm not going to run your business for you. I'm not going to check every day to see if somebody bids on it, and I'm not going to feel the pressure to get it mailed out on time. YOU have a laptop now. The Pony fixed it last weekend for you. So why don't YOU set it up to sell on the internet? Huh? Oh, wait. That would take up too much TIME! And effort."

"Actually, I don't want to sell on the internet. If it gets broken during shipping, then people will whine that I sent them a broken item. And good luck getting it back if they want their money back. I'll just put it on Buy/Sell/Trade. Then they come meet me at my store, and it's done."

Yeah. That's a real smart decision by Hick. Especially since there's no way in Not-Heaven I'd sell stuff online for him. I don't have a stake in Hick's business.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Fighting Theft By Offering More Merchandise

Everything works out for Hick. He may have lost three knives from a set due to a thief, but he will still make money by selling the remaining two knives separately. 
Hick decided to keep his knives in a case from now on. What a coincidence that he went to the local church store, seeking new merchandise, and discovered A GLASS CASE sitting up front. It had just been donated. In fact, there was a lady standing there, thinking about buying it.
Here's the story from Hick:
'It was a nice case! With four shelves. The front is slanted. It's actually a jewelry case, about four feet long. The bottom shelf is wood, up about a foot from the floor. Then there are three glass shelves. So there's four display surfaces. I really wanted it, but the lady who runs the store pointed to another lady standing there, and said, 'She has offered to buy it.'
I was ready to pay up to $90 for that case, but I didn't know what the other lady had offered. I said, 'If she wants it, then sell it to her first.' That lady said, 'I'll have to call my husband to see if he wants it.'  So we stood there a minute. She said, 'My husband isn't answering. So I can't get it right now.'

The Church Store Lady said, 'You'll have to take it away right now.' I said, 'Not a problem. How much do you want for it?' The Church Store Lady said, 'Well, she offered me $20.' And I said, 'Okay. I'll take it for $20 if she doesn't want it.' The other lady said, 'I can't take it, because I can't get my husband on the phone.' So I bought myself a glass display case for $20.'"

Heh, heh. I don't know how Hick does it! He's always in the right place at the right time to get a good deal. Except when people steal his stuff...
Hick has been trying to get the storage unit next to the double unit he currently has for his Storage Unit Store. That would mean he pays for two units per month, and doubles his overhead costs, but he thinks it will be worthwhile, to spread out his stuff where he can keep a closer eye on it. I don't know how he can be in two places at once. I guess he can set a chair at the wall between them.
I'm afraid it will mean MORE junk for thieves to steal, but Hick says it will be easier without the clutter. We'll see. Even The Pony voiced his concerns. 
"How can you watch TWO units when they're stealing from ONE already? And you only have your cameras in one."
"There are six cameras with that set. I only have four of them set up."
Hick says the old man who currently rents that unit does not sell at the weekendly flea market. That maybe he and his wife will open up and sell about once every two or three months. Hick asked the owner of the units about it. Of course Hick is buddies with the owner.
Anyhoo... the owner said he's had a talk with that old man, and said that if he wasn't going to sell on a regular basis, he would have to take a unit at the back end of the storage facility, because the front part is for the flea market sellers. The old man wasn't happy, but said he guessed he'd have to move, then. Since he didn't plan on selling every weekend.
"Do the units up front cost more?"
"No. They're all the same price, depending on size. The double units are more, with the front and back doors." 
"Heh, heh. Business is business. I bet the owner could charge extra for the units up front! Maybe you want to suggest that to him! I'm sure you'd be happy to pay him an extra $10 a month for that privilege. Why don't you suggest it to him?"

"Yeah. I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna do that."

Nothing is definite yet. But that's the plan. Am I the only one who doubts that Hick will just spread out his merchandise into two units, without adding more?