Monday, May 31, 2021

Always the Criminal, Never the Hero

My little dog Jack gets the blame for everything that goes wrong around here. From pooping on the trunk of a 1980 Oldsmobile Toronado, to eating solar lights, to pooping on the pool deck, to knocking a large Amazon box out of the back of the Gator, to pooping in the closed garage... Huh. Jack gets a lot of blame for pooping, but he has NEVER pooped anywhere but the woods where all our dogs have done their business.

Sure, maybe Jack DID have that little lapse in judgment when he ate 1/3 of Genius's intended Christmas gift of a monogrammed bison leather wallet from Sharper Image with RFID chip. But he's not that bad. 

When I rounded the corner of the house on my way to town Friday, I spotted something on the porch.

What in the Not Heaven was that? A closer look revealed it to be BOWLS.

Stacked metal bowls, wrapped in plastic. I'd never seen them before. They were apparently new. And now on my porch. As I stood there looking, talking to myself about where they might have come from, I was joined by my Sweet, Sweet Juno. A minute later, Jack ran around from the side of the garage to join us.

OH MY GOSH! I looked up from checking my phone to see if I had a blogworthy picture, and caught Juno PICKING UP A BOWL!

Well! That is not allowed! She has a whole dog house full of hoarded items, including a small antler rack from a deer. And all the toys we ever bought Jack. She didn't need something shiny! I started to scold her.

"NO! Juno! NO! Bring that back! Come here!"

I'm sure all she heard was JUNO and WAH WAH WAH. And maybe NO. Yet she insolently kept walking away with a stolen bowl in her mouth. I'm pretty sure she's a Lab and Border Collie mix. The Labs the neighbors have had were always picking up resin bunnies and other yard ornaments and carrying them home, and if I tossed a loaf of bread off the porch, they could put four slices in a stack before making off with the loot.

Jack's demeanor changed from joy at seeing me, to protective mode. Nobody messes with Jack's stuff. Including his human momma. He stood between me and Juno. Looking from one to the other. Juno was NOT giving up her treasure. She walked down the steps. I thought she was going down the sidewalk and out in the yard, but she stopped at the bottom of the steps.
Jack ran from me to the top of the steps. He did the little hopping run that he uses when he's ticked-off. He was on alert, ready to start barking at Juno any minute, like he does to chase off Copper Jack when he doesn't want to share me. The only thing that kept him from barking and charging at Juno, I think, was his realization that Juno is Top Dog. 

With both of us advancing on her, Juno dropped the bowl, and ran up on the side porch, where Jack shouldered her away from me. No petting for the wicked! I put the bowls on the garden shelf where the cat kibble used to rest in the roasting pan, until we cut off the squirrels' supply.

Saturday night, I asked Hick about the metal bowls.

"Oh. I found them in the storage unit stuff. Them squirrels must have knocked them off the grill. That's where I stacked them."

"I put them on the shelf by the garage, so the dogs didn't get them."

"Yeah. That Jack is into everything!"

"Uh. You need to quit blaming my little Jack for everything. Look at this picture!"

"Yeah. Look at him. He's right there, getting ready to get those bowls."

"Nooo... look behind him!"

There she is, caught red-mouthed! The closeup doesn't lie! And she's not even sorry! It's like she's DARING me to come get it!

Hick was not about to switch the blame from Jack to my Sweet, Sweet Juno. He launched into another story about Jack stealing stuff. ALLEGEDLY.

Maybe more on that another day.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

URG, the Casino Version of a UFO

Some things you see at a casino defy explanation. Like a UFO is an Unidentified Flying Object, a URG is an Unexplained Rolling Gambler. They are rare, but certainly get your attention when they are present.
My Sister the Ex-Ex-Mayor's Wife was the first of us to spot one. I wasn't along on that trip, and it was many years ago.

"I was headed toward the back of the casino, and that's when the Half-Woman passed me."

Sis was not talking about somebody who was caught between genders. Nor somebody dressed like a bride on one side, and a groom on the other as a gimmick or a comedy routine. She was talking about a LITERAL half woman.

"She was on a stretcher, just a body. Not even a whole body. A half body. She wasn't sick. She was alert and everything. I guess it was her husband walking along with her stretcher. There were a couple of guys pushing it. I have no idea where she came from, but she acted like it wasn't her first time."

Okay. Sis tops me with that story. I've never seen a Half-Woman in a casino. But I did see something else not nearly as puzzling.

On the way out of the casino, I got behind an  old man pushing an old woman in a wheelchair. I assume they were husband and wife. He seemed quite protective of her. She was spindly, but sitting up, and alert. 

Old Man pushed her towards a gate next to the metal posts that they want you to walk through when you exit. All at once, the security guard manning the entrance started yelling.

"SIR! STOP! STOP! Do not open that gate! STOP! This way!"

Guard motioned Old Man and Old Woman to a gate on the other side of the entrance. It looked just the same, except it didn't have a big sign on it saying DO NOT OPEN.

"That's the emergency exit. An alarm will go off it you open that gate."

It was a lot of drama. I don't know if the Oldies were shaken up or not, but Old Man pushed Old Woman's wheelchair toward the bathrooms at the entrance. I was headed there myself, but I had to go out the regular exit, and walk around the cattle-chute set-up they have to funnel people past the temperature scanner (alleged, I've never seen it) and the camera where they have a sign that says "Lower Your Mask." 

The city mask mandate expired, so the casino doesn't require them anymore. They had a sign last time saying they were STRONGLY RECOMMENDED, but this time there was no signage about masks. They were no longer playing the recorded message every 15 minutes that masks must remain fully on the face.

Anyhoo... Old Man had parked Old Woman near the entrance to the bathrooms. Men go to the left, women to the right. No doors. Just an open right turn for me, then a right-angle left turn into the ladies' room. I waited a respectful distance behind the Oldies, not wanting to get in their space. 

Old Man locked the wheels, then helped Old Woman stand. She teetered a bit. I actually thought Old Man was going to walk into the ladies' room with Old Woman! And in that case, I wondered why  he didn't just push her in. She was not steady. 

After a few steps hovering behind her, Old Man veered off to his own bathroom. I followed Old Woman, hoping that she didn't fall. 

Let the record show that Val uses the handicap stall. I need the rail to hoist myself off the throne. If it's a high toilet, I can do without a rail. But the catch is, you only find high toilets in a handicap stall! Anyhoo... this bathroom has two handicap stalls. A big one suitable for a wheelchair, and a regulation size stall with handrails on each side. Doesn't matter to me which one I get. If a person is in there who looks like they might want the handicap stall, I wait.

Anyhoo... I was hanging back, waiting to see which stall Old Woman wanted. I'll be darned if she didn't stop midway down the row of stalls. Huh. Maybe she needed to rest her legs. She reminded me of Grandma Georgina and Grandma Josephine, bedridden for 20 years in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, trying to get up and do a song and dance like Grandpa Joe. Kind of wobbly. I wished she would walk along the wall and put a hand on it.

As I was wishing, Old Woman pulled down her mask under her chin. Didn't bother me a bit. But THEN she took a lighter and a pack of cigarettes out of her sweater pocket, and LIT ONE UP!

Okay. That's not against any rules in this casino. It allows smoking. Anywhere. In fact, I suspect some people STARTED smoking just so they could lower their mask and sit at the slots for the past year.

Old Woman veered into a stall. NOT a handicap stall! I guess her plan was to sit in there and finish her cigarette. That's the unexplained part!

WHY was Old Woman smoking in the bathroom? She could have been smoking during her ride to the front of the casino in her wheelchair. Or while parked outside the bathroom waiting for Old Man. Surely he knew that she smoked! I can't imagine her driving herself to town and going in for cigarettes.

Such a mystery. An Unexplained Rolling Gambler, the Old Lady "sneaking" a smoke in the bathroom.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

DOLLARS to No-Guts, Val Will Shun Paper Currency

Quite a week in Future Pennyillionaireville!

SATURDAY, May 22, Even Steven played a little joke, giving me one last penny before the week was technically over, but after the weekly penny report had already published.

Hard to miss, right there in the open, on the way to the people-chute for waiting in line.

It was a face down 2021, all sparkly and pretty as a picture not taken by Val! My first 2021 of the year.

SUNDAY, May 23, as I was getting ready to leave for the casino... I found a surprise on the bathroom floor:
It was a heads-up 2007 penny, obviously meant for ME. But wait! It gets better. I picked up that penny and laid it on the bathroom sink, and stepped into the walk-in closet to get my gambling uniform. Meaning my plaid shirt that doesn't show food stains as bad as a plain shirt.
It didn't photograph very well in the dark confined of the closet, but it was a face-down 2001 Rhode Island quarter. I left the bathroom two coins and 26 cents richer than when I entered, and told Hick:

"I see you've left me some coins on the bathroom floor."

"I didn't leave no coins. Unless I've got a hole in my pants pocket." He went to look, and did not. But The Pony chimed in:

"I THOUGHT I heard a coin hit the floor when I took off my shorts before my bath. But it wasn't worth it to look and see. So those are my coins, if Dad says he didn't lose any."

"Too bad! They're MINE NOW! It was worth it for ME to find them and pick them up."

Too bad I was mean to The Pony, and shame on Even Steven for letting me get away with it. As you will see after the next penny...
At the casino, there was another miraculous find concerning a bathroom. When I came back from the bathroom as we sat down for our casino lunch, a little friend was waiting for me:

Under MY chair. Nobody else's.

It was a face-down 2019. I was pretty happy with the day's take (and by that I am now talking about the three coins I'd found so far. SO FAR...

I was in a hurry to cash out and stop by the bathroom before Hick got mad for me being one minute late. I passed The Pony on my way to the front, and told him to inform Hick I would be right there. He proceeded to cash out. When I climbed into A-Cad, The Pony said from the back seat:

"Oh, Mom. I found this on the floor at the cash-out machine, so I picked it up for you. It was face up."

It was a 1974. I don't know how I missed it, but it was obviously meant for ME to find. Otherwise, my agent The Pony would not have ended up with it. He's not a penny-seeker.

TUESDAY, May 25, I let one get away. On purpose! It was a DOLLAR on the floor of the Liquor Store, right by the counter. I picked it up and handed it to the clerk. She was the polite one who calls me "Hon." For all I know, she counted it as her tip. But you know my views on dollars. They don't fit into my ice cream dish penny goblet. It seems like stealing to take paper money.

That makes 5 COINS and 29 CENTS this week towards my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. And a dollar that got away.


Penny       # 48, 49, 50, 51.
Dime         still at 4.
Nickel       still at 1.
Quarter    # 3.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, May 28, 2021

Birth of a Themed Shed

If you had been chillin' on a grocery-store air mattress in Poolio this week, carefully keeping all exposed flesh out of the Buttwater Squirrel Carcass Gumbo that is the water... you might have heard the pitter-patter of a nail gun as Hick was in labor, birthing his newest themed shed.

He hasn't really stated the theme of this one. He says he's going to put "school stuff" in it. Like some old school desks, and books. I said books would be eaten by squirrels, and Hick haughtily declared that squirrels better NOT be getting inside his shack!

Anyhoo... Hick went to get some lumber, but returned with only nails. He said the price of lumber is OUTRAGEOUS, and he won't be buying any for a while. Instead, he took apart some wooden pallets that he's had since he bid on them at work. He's used many of the pallets over the years, building his Creekside Cabin, and an outhouse down there, and a mini-barn.

Work started on Tuesday:

Not looking very shed-like at this juncture.

Hick never draws up plans. He might roughly sketch the general shape on a napkin or paper plate, but he's not an architect, nor a draftsman.

Wednesday saw 2-and-a-fraction walls in place. Yes, those walls were already complete. They are two GARAGE DOORS given to Hick by my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel, when she got new garage doors. The side you can't see is not white. The garage doors are a wood-grain pattern.

The window is one Hick had laying around. Not sure where he got it. Maybe an auction, maybe somebody traded it to him. He says it's 6 feet by 3 feet, and kind of big, but it's free, and he's not using it for anything else.

Thursday saw the project coming along nicely. Not sure how Hick drove both SilverRedO and the Gator over there. I guess he came back with materials in SilverRedO, then walked to the house for something, and took the Gator back.
At this rate, we might have to change the address of our hillbilly mansion, because Shackytown Boulevard is creeping ever-closer...

Thursday, May 27, 2021

2/3 of Thevictorians Were Victorious

Sunday, we made a trip to the casino. It has been FIVE WEEKS! I'm surprised A-Cad still remembered the way. We had a late start, because Hick had to finish selling at his Storage Unit Store. Of course he tried to cheat me out of playing time, but the rule is, we always stay 4 hours. Actually, it's not a rule. That's just how it seems to work out. About an hour of it is for eating lunch

We finished lunch at 3:30. Hick wouldn't give a time he wanted to leave, so I said 5:00. We didn't get there until 1:45. So he was actually getting a break from the 4-hour rule. He was just cranky because he didn't have his usual outing to visit pawnshops after dropping off The Pony and me at the casino. Oh, and because he was losing...

I was losing too, at lunch. The Pony was way up, having hit a bonus on Buffalo Chief that paid him more than he makes in a week of work. I did well after lunch. And just before, with The Pony looking over my shoulder, and Hick standing off to the side waiting for me to move my rumpus to the food line, I hit a bonus on Wild Americoin, on a Wonder 4 Boost slot.

That was not enough to put my bankroll back to even, but it was close. And after lunch, I headed to my new favorite, Jackpot Streak: Garden of Amazon:

I played over an hour on this Jackpot Streak. It would take almost all my money, then give me a bonus. Each time I won money back, I increased my bet. When I hit this MINOR JACKPOT of $172.36, I had it up to the maximum bet on the machine. When this bonus ended, I slid in my other winning ticket and cashed out!

With just a short time to spare, I headed for my old favorite, Wonder 4 Tall Fortunes, to play Buffalo Gold and Miss Kitty. I hit the tower bonus on Buffalo Gold.

It was a disappointing bonus of $46.30. Especially for hitting the TOWER bonus, which is hard to get. I didn't reach the very top, but a good bonus would still have paid me a couple hundos. I guess maybe they have this slot set to hit the bonus more often, but not pay back a high percentage. I never used to get this bonus in other casinos.

Anyhoo... I had a good time, and left with a profit. The Pony left with over twice my profit. And Hick left in a bad mood. It didn't help that the server forgot to give him his Oreo cheesecake. Without the counter right there to pull it from, I guess she has to wait until she serves us our food. However... she forgot it then, too, and Hick had to ASK for it. He always eats it while waiting for the meal to arrive. So maybe he was HANGRY, and that carried over to the ride home.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

When Is a Cuban Not a Cuban?

This is not really a riddle. It's more of a statement. A complainy kind of statement, masquerading as a question. But you expected that, right?

We went to the casino on Sunday after Hick was done with his Storage Unit Store. We haven't been to the casino for FIVE WEEKS! We usually go every other week, but The Pony has been earning his keep, and we like to take him along.

Since we were there last, the little grille where we eat has been renovated. At least that's what the casino's Facebook page touts. Personally, it looks to me like they just gave it a different name, a different sign, and made the menus on the wall harder to read. Oh, and they TOOK OUT the cold case where Hick chooses his pie! It's on the menu, but not nearly as enticing as seeing it right there in a clear box.

I don't know what's going on with the removal of the cold case. It didn't save any room. The line and register are exactly the same size, in the same place. You couldn't grab your pie anyway. It was behind glass. The worker had to get it out for you. Hick always wanted a specific piece, and would have the gal maneuvering things like one of those plastic 16-space, 15-number puzzles that my mom used to carry in her purse. No more cold salads and sandwiches sitting there to choose from, either.

Anyhoo... there was a new item on the menu this time. A Cuban Sandwich. Of course I wanted to try it. I've seen them on TV! I have Cuban mustard in FRIG II. I was nearly salivating at the thought of the crispy grilled bread and the mustard and pickles.

I was sadly disappointed.

At first glance, you might think that was a delicious Cuban Sandwich. You'd think wrong.

I'm not a bread snob. I don't care if the bread is Cuban. I DO care if the bread is not crispy! My Cuban Sandwich was served between two slabs of TEXAS TOAST! I was given a TEXAN, not a CUBAN! As you might surmise, the Texas Toast was NOT crispy. It was moist. Soft. Nobody wants a sandwich made with a whole loaf of bread. That's what it's like to eat a sandwich made with Texas Toast.

I wasn't even sure what kind of meat would be on my Cuban Sandwich. But I WAS expecting the Cuban mustard, and dill pickles. NO! I had neither!

"But Val," you might say, "I can clearly see pickles on your Cuban."

I PUT THEM THERE! The Pony offered me the pickles off his cheeseburger.

"You probably won't want extra pickles on your Cuban, but I don't want them. I forgot to say leave them off. So you can have them if you want, or I'll put them here in my box."

I pulled the lid off my TEXAN Cuban, and saw NO PICKLES! Of course I took The Pony's. They were the round, crinkle-cut slices that the school served at lunch, in a big vat sitting on a condiment table on Hamburger or Pizza Fridays. Really sour. But they were good on my Cuban. That's because THERE WAS NO MUSTARD! Cuban or otherwise. There WAS a weird sauce that dripped out of the bottom. It was kind of whitish pink. I don't presume to know the ingredients. I'm thinking it was like the remoulade sauce The Pony gets with his shrimp, and mayo. It was pretty tasteless, really.

Oh, let's not forget the meat. It was a slice of ham, and a blob of the pulled pork served as the pulled-pork sandwich, also on the menu. The pork was a little too smoky for me, but it wasn't all that bad with the tang of the borrowed pickles. At least they got the cheese right. I THINK it was Swiss. But it might have been provolone, which The Pony had on his burger. I don't recall them offering him Swiss.

Yes, I was disappointed with my Cuban. It was all I could do to choke down the entire sandwich. At least they were stingy with the tater tots this time, so I didn't fill up on them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Is This Any Way to Treat Public Enemy #1 thru 4 ?

As you may recall, Val has a checkered relationship with her bank. And credit card company. And a certain Oklahoma casino. All through no fault of her own, but nonsense on their part. Except maybe the casino. I'll own that one. I knew I was breaking an unwritten rule.
Anyhoo... after a visit to my bank today, I was mad. Not merely mad, but really most sincerely mad! Maybe that's not the best reference to my mood. I'm no wicked witch. Really.

Anyhoo... I went to the bank to deposit money for The Pony. He's had an account there for five years. It's a student account, which has to have an adult name on it, which is ME! Even though The Pony himself is an adult now, he's not all that concerned with updating things. Unlike Genius, who got me out of his financial records toot-sweet!

Anyhoo... I had filled out the deposit slip. The Pony has never had checks or deposit slips, so I used the counter slips which the bank gives out. All they require is the last 4 digits of the account, plus the name(s), and the amount. I listed The Pony first on the name line, then myself, so they'd know I wasn't trying to pull a fast one and deposit in somebody else's account (like they denied me a deposit for Genius).

Anyhoo... I saw that the first two drive-thru lanes were occupied, so I pulled into the empty one on the right side by the alley. All three lanes had the green light on. I put the deposit in the canister, set it back in the tubey alcove, and hit send. Hit send. Hit send. THAT DANG THING DIDN'T WORK! It wouldn't shoot the canister through the tube. All it did was close the clear door and open the clear door. I gave up after the fifth try. I took the money out, and drove around to Lane 2.

While I waited behind two other vehicles, I saw a guy in a white sedan pull into Lane 3. He reached out to push that SEND button (I'm assuming) FIVE TIMES. Then he drove off. Left the premises. I guess his banking issue wasn't all that pressing.

When I got my turn, the canister shot into the tube like champ. The Teller greeted me immediately. I told her I was making that deposit, and wanted two rolls of pennies (my magical elixir doesn't pay correct change for itself, you know). I had included such a note in there, with a dollar. 

It only took a few minutes for the canister to shoot back out, containing my receipt and two rolls of pennies. I set the pennies on T-Hoe's console, and tucked the receipt into my purse, and drove off, allowing the line behind me to move forward.

When I got home. I set out the receipt for The Pony. I looked to see if the balance was on there. He had a discrepancy with his time card and his first paycheck, and he might want to see if it had been fixed. I noticed that the bank does NOT put a balance on the printed receipt, unlike our credit union. But I also saw something much more horrifying.


That's right. The Pony's money was deposited in MY account! The account numbers are not even similar. Hick's name is listed first on our account. It is NOT similar to The Pony's name. I guess the Teller just pulled up the last name, and chose the most active account. You know, because why should she actually go by the account that's written on the deposit slip? Maybe she can also decide what AMOUNT to deposit, since they're so free and easy with their rules!

As you might imagine, Val was HOT TO TROT! And not in a good way, but in a seething anger kind of way, popularized by my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel.

The time was 3:45. No time to go back. It's 30 minutes each way, and they close at 4:30. I'm pretty sure they PRETEND to be closed at 4:00. So I opened up HIPPIE to look up the phone number, which is conveniently not on the receipts. HIPPIE is not a fast starter.

I think the gal who answered the phone must have been Teller. She said she remembered, yes, that I was there about an hour previous, and deposited that amount of money. An error? Oh. Well. We'd get that fixed right up, after bringing up the account.

She was polite, in the manner of one who is desperate to appease you, and get you off the phone.

I will be calling the automated line to check on both accounts when I'm done typing this tale. Yes, calling was quicker than driving there again to straighten out the matter. But do I REALLY trust that they did this transaction right over the phone, when they didn't while I was there in (sort-of) person?
It didn't endear me to them any better, considering that while I had to take the time for this, my Burger King Whopper and fries were getting colder by the minute. Okay. It was 86 degrees here. So maybe they didn't actually get cold. But they got luke-cooler than necessary.

Good thing I don't live in Jersey. It would be hard to provide a thumb print over the phone to deposit money in a half-mine account...

Monday, May 24, 2021

Apparently, Even Steven is a Friend of The Pony

For those of you who were concerned yesterday that The Pony would have to spend his hard-earned money on a new tire... quit your frettin'!

We went to the casino on Sunday. But that's not what this story is about. It's about what happened on the way HOME from the casino.

Hick threw a monkey wrench in my journey home. We always gas up before we go, then make a stop about 2/3 of the way home, so Hick can use the bathroom of the LOVE'S Truckstop, and The Pony can go in and get me some scratchers from their machine. I give him ticket money for himself for his trouble.

THIS TIME, we weren't even out of Casino Town when Hick pulled over at a gas station. Huh. Maybe I should have been worried about running out of gas on the way down there! How inconsiderate of Hick not to tell me. I missed out on some angst.

Anyhoo... Hick pumped the gas, then went inside. He returned with a Diet Mountain Dew and a Milky Way. 

"I hope this doesn't mean we'll be going straight home. We ALWAYS stop at the LOVE'S station. For my tickets."

"We can stop."

I'm pretty sure Hick was just a little cranky from his casino experience.

Anyhoo... as we went up the exit ramp 55 miles later, I turned to tell The Pony which tickets I wanted.

"...and if they don't have the crosswords, you can get me some $5 tickets in their place. You know what I like. But I still want the three $3 crossword tickets. You can have $10 to spend on yourself."

Sometimes The Pony buys a $10 ticket. Sometimes the $5 tickets. And last time he got a combination of $5, $3, and $2.

He came back to A-Cad with bad news.

"They were out of the $5 crosswords. So you have a $5 50X, and a $5 Black Pearl. I also got a Black Pearl for me. And a $5 Hot Cash. Here. You can pick which one you want. They're number 55 and 56."

"It doesn't matter to me. I'm not attached to either number. You can pick."

"All right. Then here, you get the 56."

I always save my tickets until we get home, to scratch in my lair. But The Pony does his right there in the back seat, leaning forward to lay the ticket on A-Cad's console.

"Ooh! Winner! And another winner! And another! I'm starting to think they're all going to be winners!"

"Wait. Did you start from the bottom of the ticket?"

"Yeah. I look for symbols first. And I have the pearl necklace automatic win symbol. And some repeating numbers. We'll see. I'm scratching off the top numbers to see what matched... YEP! All winners!"

"That's gonna be good. They can't all be five dollars. There isn't a $75 winner on those tickets."

"Looks like fives and tens."

"That's a $100 winner!"

Yes. The Pony's flat tire replacement has been paid for. With $5 to spare.

 The Pony definitely scratched this ticket. It looks like a psycho got ahold of it!

I can't believe my WINDAR is on the fritz! I got no vibe at all from this ticket. If The Pony had pressed me to make the choice, I would have chosen 055, because double numbers stand out more than 056. But I really had no compulsion to be the picker. The Pony said he, too, decided on 55 because of the double.

Even Steven has some 'splainin' to do.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

I Look Down From My High Horse, and See a Donut as a Just Dessert

Coincidence or karma? 
Friday, I mentioned how The Pony and I had a text tiff which made me sad. And within five minutes, the time it took me to get from the driveway to the mailbox, a ladybug appeared inside T-Hoe. How I stopped for my weekly drive-thru graveside chat with my mom and dad, and on the two subsequent stops, found a penny and a dime.

Those quirky discoveries definitely lightened my spirits. The Pony was not so fortunate.

I can't presume to know what he was feeling, but our interaction seemed as if he was angry with me. Not sad. Casting blame on me for a conversation we had SIX YEARS AGO.

Anyhoo... about two hours later, everything had been smoothed over by text. No apologies from either of us, just my explanation, and his eventual dropping of the subject, and initiation of a new topic. I pulled T-Hoe into the garage, assuming from The Pony's last text that he would be home within the half hour.

Hick followed me down the driveway on the lawnmower, and walked in before I could lower the garage door. Heh, heh! I didn't mean for it to sound that way. Of course I don't try to close the garage door in Hick's face! I have more subtle ways to irritate him.

"Your son ran off the road and has a flat tire. I told him to call Triple A. That's why we have it. I'm not driving down there and crawling around under a car. It's 81 degrees. He was coming home the back way, and said a car coming at him was over the line. He got a tire off the edge, and it's flat. I told him to get a tow to Mick the Mechanic. I'm headed there to wait for him."

Let the record show that our county blacktop roads get resurfaced periodically. Which consists not of scraping off the old blacktop, but of adding a new layer on top. Which is not quite as wide as the previous layer. The road might be 6-8 inches of blacktop deep. It's quite a jolt if you get off the edge. There aren't any shoulders to pull over. Just a drop to a ditch. 
I slow way down when I'm on a narrow section and meet something like the Poop Truck (that tank truck that hauls sewage from the prison, to dump on a guy's land on the way to town) or a dump truck or Hick's buddy in his driveable camper that tows a trailer. The Pony was on a narrower road. Even in his smaller Nissan Rogue, he's not as experienced a driver.

Anyhoo... The Pony had texted Hick. Not me! He notified me after he'd called Triple A.

"They won't send a tow, but they're sending a guy in a truck to change the tire. His ETA is 12 minutes."

"Be careful driving [that horse was already out of the barn!] on the donut. You're not supposed to go very fast on them."

"I know. Dad says he doesn't know if we can find a tire this late on a Friday. I need to text my supervisor to tell her I can't use my car on my route tomorrow."

Here's the tire:

It was the right front tire. Got off the edge of the blacktop, and got a big gash. Probably from the built-up blacktop. but maybe from a big rock as he dropped down. He also bent the wheel. Mick the Mechanic thought he might be able to hammer it out. Here's a closer look:

No can of Fix-A-Flat is going to make THAT tire roll again! Dang it! There was still good tread left, too! The good news is that The Pony's donut spare was actually a full size compact tire. Not a tiny one like I had to put on my Toyota Corolla in the middle of nowhere between Steelville and Potosi when I had a blowout and had to change my own tire back in 1989. 

"Dad's buddy said that he might be able to find me a tire at a scrap shop."

"Scrap shop???"

"Or maybe he said scrap yard. He thought he had one, but it was just a little bit too small. He said that since I have all-wheel drive, it might mess that up. So he's going to call around and try to get the right one on Saturday morning."

He did. Hick went to pick it up. Cost $95. That's 5.27 hours of walking the post office beat for The Pony. Who will definitely be reimbursing us. His supervisor said she would send him out on the walking route if necessary, until she could get an LLV (Long Life Vehicle) running on Saturday morning. 

Luckily she had an LLV for The Pony. Who ended up working 11 hours yesterday. That three hours of overtime will probably pay off the tire debt. The Pony gets time-and-a-half over 8 hours, and I think it switches to double time after 10.

Anyhoo... I'm quite relieved that The Pony wasn't hurt, nor his Rogue damaged. Every day, on my brief drive to town, I usually encounter at least two distracted drivers coming into my lane. Some of them require the horn! Is it wrong of me to take pleasure in honking at drifters?

Saturday, May 22, 2021

My CENTSation Has Returned

Things are looking up for Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune!

TUESDAY, May 18, I had to drive over to the main post office to mail my DISH bill. I don't trust the dead mouse smelling post office in Backroads, because last month they lost my AT&T bill I put in their drive-thru mailbox. Of course I stopped for scratchers on the way.

Good thing I did! A lonely penny was waiting for me next to my regular parking space at the School-Turn Casey's. They've re-done their parking space lines, and left this area unmarked. I think it's for the delivery people, but regular folks still park here. Like me! Can't see the penny? Look at that big splotch, around the 11:00 position. The penny isn't within the splotch itself, but just outside it, in line with the stenciled feet of that wheelchair decal in the handicap space.

This was a face-down, scuffed-up, 1972 penny. He might have been waiting for me a few days!

From there I mailed my bill, then went to the Sis-Town Casey's for different scratchers. On the way to the door, another copper lay in wait for me!

Right there by the crack in the sidewalk. Don't be distracted by the feet of one of the three young biddies who were cackling it up beside a white van. I wasn't. I was focused on my penny!

It was a blindingly shiny heads-up 2020. Abe was practically glowing.

My Backroads haunts forsook me, but on THURSDAY, May 20, I went back to mail Genius's weekly letter, and the Casey'ses didn't disappoint! The School-Turn Casey's was busy with a delivery truck, so I went on by, planning to circle back later. I think my timing was right!

At the Sis-Town Caseys, my regular Pump #4 had a car in it. So I had to choose Pump #3 or #5. I took #5, because it was easier to make the turn. I went in and paid. Got some scratchers. Came out to pump T-Hoe's gas. I was distracted by a USPS LLV gassing up at Pump #6. In glancing at the pumper, I saw:

A penny peeping out from the side of the pump! The Pony said I should crop the legs of his brethren out of the photo. I saw no need. It's not a crime to show random legs on a blog with a handful of readers!

This was a face-down 1972 penny.
My last stop was the School-Turn Casey's. Of course there was a car parked sideways in the unmarked area where I normally park. I was about to head for my second choice, in front of the store, when a white truck pulled in there. So I went to the side of the building, where I haven't parked for over a year.

Wouldja lookie there! It's a girl my Lord in a flatbed Ford, slowin' down to take a look at me! OH, WAIT! That was the Eagles, takin' it easy. What I meant to say was: It's a DIME, by cracky! Waiting for me where I parked badly to leave room for T-Hoe's door to open. Otherwise, I'd have been right on top of that shiny coin!

It was a face-down 2020 dime. My second 2020 of the week. So much for trying to forget that year...

That makes 4 COINS this week, for 13 CENTS. Hope that's not unlucky! Because I was feelin' pretty LUCKY to find them! It's been a while.


Penny       # 45, 46, 47.
Dime         # 4.
Nickel       still at 1.
Quarter    still at 2.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, May 21, 2021

What Does It Take To Make You a Believer?

It's no secret that Val believes in karma. And in PENNIES FROM HEAVEN. And in ladybug visits when her deceased mother is wanting her presence know. Go ahead and pooh-pooh Val all you want. Cut eyes at each other, and twirl your crazy finger near your temple. It's okay. I believe what I believe. You don't have to.

Thursday afternoon, The Pony and I had a tiff. A tiff by text. It came out of the blue. We were joking around when he left on an errand, it being his day off from work. Right before I left the house, I read a text from him that really upset me. HE SITS UPON A THRONE OF LIES! Oh, wait. That was the fake Santa in the movie ELF. Anyhoo... by the time I got to the end of the driveway, the tears were flowing. I tried to compose myself by the time I got back to T-Hoe with the mail. No good can come of driving with obscured vision.

Dang it! The minute I pulled onto the blacktop county road, a bug was buzzing my head. Darn fly! Of course it snuck in as I climbed up in T-Hoe. I didn't have the window down, and I closed the door when walking across the road to EmBee. I was about to put the windows down and try to get it out when that bug lit on my left forearm.


I haven't seen a ladybug in months and months. Maybe in a year or more. But at this moment when I was having a pity party with my hurt feelings, a ladybug came to my rescue. When I got to the field where the professional dog used to guard the sheep, I pulled off on their gravel road by their gate. I tried to get a picture of the ladybug. It was pacing back and forth on my window. My stupid phone wouldn't focus, no matter how much I tried to zoom in and stay with it. The phone wanted a picture of the field where I saw that little stray pup that turned out to be a coyote!

Well. That picture just wouldn't do. I knew it was a ladybug, but it's hard to recognize. I got back on the road, and stopped by the cemetery for my weekly visit. I've missed a week, because there was a funeral last week. As I sat there for my drive-thru chat, the ladybug lit on the window again. I tried to pick it up, to set it on the dashboard for a photo op, but it fell down in the window slot! Welp! That's that!

But wait! It crawled back up, and sat on the window, almost posing. Not pacing. I tilted my phone to shoot down along the window, trying to get that darn camera to stop focusing on the background.

How cool is THAT??? Looks like it's underwater, in a bubble, but it's just the reflection.

And another. Like doing pushups mirroring another ladybug!

This really lifted my spirits. A ladybug just for me! I drove on. I didn't notice it again. Maybe it flew out when I mailed my letter to Genius, or when I got out for gas or scratchers.

Oh, at my first stop, I found a PENNY!. And at my second stop, I found a DIME! Some people would find those finds to be quite the coincidences. I, myself, do not.

Everything happens for a reason.

Consider The Pony's misfortune on his way home... that's a story for another day.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Talk It to the Lime-It

You know how Hick always seems to fall back-rumpwards into FREE stuff? Some of that is rubbing off on Val. She left the Gas Station Chicken Store on Wednesday with more than a 
44 oz Diet Coke and scratchers!
Woman Owner was manning the main register, and Man Owner was womanning the second register. Only one customer was ahead of me, but he was a problem. Nothing in his demeanor. Nor his demands. He was just deliberate and insistent. Something about a draw ticket that was showing nothing. I think it was the long thing you can fill out with your numbers to be scanned and generate an actual ticket for the drawing. 

Woman Owner tried to explain that if wasn't scanning. She tried at least five times while I was there. Trying to explain how sometimes people put too many numbers on the form, and it won't scan. Customer didn't want to hear that, but he was polite. Woman Owner said she could keep scanning it over and over, but was only getting the same result. She was very patient with him, which is NOT her strong point.

Anyhoo... Man Owner said he'd help me at the other register. Thing was, he couldn't get to the terminal to scan my winners because Woman Owner was using it. So we waited. I told him the new scratchers I wanted, so he could tear them off and have them ready. I was trading in $24 worth and taking that amount back in tickets. I also had correct change for my magical elixir. So it was just a matter of waiting for the scan to get the printout to ring up my purchases.

"I'm sorry for your wait."

"That's okay. I don't have anywhere to go."

"It shouldn't be too long..."

"I see these Key Lime KitKats here. I always think I might buy one, to try it, but I like having my correct change ready!" [Just making small talk about the display on the counter.]

"You know what? Sometimes we give free samples!" [He handed me a Key Lime KitKat. 
For FREE!]

"Oh, you don't have to do that! I wasn't hinting at it. I've just wondered what they taste like. Key lime, I guess, heh, heh!"

"You know, I tried to give it to one lady, and she refused it! Then another lady I gave two of something, and the next time she came in, she said, 'THANKS A LOT!' And bought two more."

"Yeah, you're trying to get me hooked on them! But they're probably just a seasonal thing, and will disappear if I like them. Like the mint M&Ms."

Anyhoo... Customer finally gave up on doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, and bought some scratchers and left. I took my FREE Key Lime KitKat, balanced on top of my 44 oz Diet Coke. Pics or it didn't happen, right ?

Pretty packaging. Green is my favorite color. And I like lime and mint flavors, often represented by green packaging.

I got a $1.29 value for FREE!

So pretty and pastel. Though the taste was a bit waxy. I'd eat it again for FREE! I might even pay for it, but next time I'd have it chilled from FRIG II, and not at room temperature.

Yes, that small-talk worked out pretty well for me. Only won $15 on my scratchers, though!

You can spend all your time losing money
You can spend all your talk making lime
When it all broke to pieces last evening
It was still mine...

So put me in a delay
Slow up the line
Talk it to the LIME-it
One more time

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Tis the Season to Be Loll-y

Nah na na na na, na na na naahhh!
It's that time of year when Hick gets Poolio ready for a summer of lolling around the pool in the evening. Sometimes during the day, but Hick is busy running all over three counties then, procuring merchandise for his Storage Unit Store. He's actually a bit late this year. April showers brought before-May mowers. Hick has been trying to keep up with the grass that shoots up overnight. 
Usually Hick starts the Poolio unveiling on May 1, shocks the water with Baquicil and whatever else the pool supply store says he needs from the sample he takes in, then lets the sun heat it up for a week. With more rain coming last week, Hick took the black cover off the top of Poolio. He had just gotten the accumulated winter water off the cover, and didn't want to deal with it again. The next morning, Hick had a surprise.
"I need to get the dip net. I found a dead squirrel in the pool. I guess he fell in, or maybe thought he'd get a drink, and then he couldn't get out with the water level low from me draining some out for the winter."
The NEXT day, Hick reported FIVE dead squirrels in Poolio!
"I think I've invented a better squirrel trap! Some guy up at the storage units was wanting to buy some .22 shells. He said he has a real bad squirrel problem. I told him there's an easier way to kill them! And cheaper these days, too!"
The day after THAT, when I came home from town, I saw another victim.
That is NOT a small specimen! It's a big ol' freeloader, fattened on dry dog food that Hick has once again been putting in the self-feeder on the back porch. The squirrels feed themselves more than the dogs. The dogs can sometimes be bothered to give chase, if they're in the mood. But Hick has caught seven squirrels, to Jack's one.

Here's the deal. Hick is not going to drain Poolio and fill him with fresh water! He never does. He leaves the same water in there year after year. He says the chemicals purify the water. I say the particulate matter doesn't get zapped into thin air by the chemicals. Hick says they get filtered out. I say he is swimming in buttwater soup, from all the years of him and the boys lolling around in the same water.

Fresh water won't cost a thing! Only time and elbow grease. We have a WELL, by cracky! No water bill. A spigot out in the yard (it's not like we have to lower a bucket to fill Poolio by a bucket brigade) to attach the hose and let run. That's how Hick tops off Poolio anyway. 

I'm not sure how Hick drains Poolio in the fall. Maybe he sticks a hose in there and gets it started and siphons it out to the desired level. It's not like he has to dip out the water with a chipped teacup found in a storage locker, or hire a tank truck to suck it out like a septic tank. That contaminated squirrelly water can drain out across the back yard, filtering itself as nature intended as it seeps through the ground to rejoin the water table that provides for our well.

These dang squirrels are just puffy-tailed rats. They're in no danger of becoming extinct. They grow bold! One with white markings on his ears jumped on the kitchen window screens THREE TIMES Monday morning, after he sat on the rail LOOKING at me, and I said, "GET OUT OF HERE!"

Hick said he saw a small squirrel when he put out the dog food (!) in the self feeder.

"I could have reached down to pet it. I thought about it. But what if it BIT me?"
[Was he throwing some shade at my failed chipmunk rescue, perhaps?]
"You should have grabbed it by the tail and swung it into the porch post. Easy peasy. No mess. No pain and suffering for the squirrel."
Hick reluctantly decided that maybe he DIDN'T build a better squirrel trap.
"It's a hard way for them to die. Maybe I should put the ladder back in so they can climb out."
"NO! I prefer the roach motel method. Squirrels check in, but they don't check out."
"I thought surely I'd gotten rid of most of them squirrels, but this morning they was as many of them as before!"
"Yeah. You're putting out FOOD for them! It's like a free buffet."
You won't find Val swimming in Poolio this summer. In my mind, Poolio has gone from Buttwater Soup to Buttwater Squirrel Corpse Gumbo.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Parent Val Put Her Helicopter Up On Blocks Too Soon!

You'd think that Val's days of helicopter-parenting were over. Okay. Maybe you wouldn't. But with The Pony having spent the past year at home with us, and now with a full-time job keeping him out of the house 40 + hours a week, we've gotten into a routine. He's right here! We know he's okay. He's not 9 hours away, sick without a ride to urgent care.
Monday night, Hick and Val's hearts were in their throats. Choking them! In a panic-y kind of way.
The Pony worked 7:30 to 4:00 last week, and was home by 4:30. Mid-week, his hours changed to 9:00 to 5:30. Home by 6:00. He'd send a text as he was starting home. Just because that's what our family has always done. I'd leave my mom's house after a visit, and she'd want a call when I got home. That's just us. Friday night, The Pony had to wait on his supervisor to push his new-hire partner when her LLV (Long Life Vehicle) broke down on the street. Again, he sent a text to inform of lateness, and arrived home around 7:10.

Monday was a rainy day. Stands to reason that a mail route would take a little longer. The Pony said when he left that his hours would be "9:00 to whenever it gets done." I was making spaghetti. I said I wouldn't even start it until 6:00, and I'd leave his sauce separate in case he wanted to add more spices. The Pony said to text him at suppertime if he wasn't home, and he'd let me know. Hick likes mushrooms and hamburger in his, so I went ahead and mixed his together.

I didn't hear from The Pony. I figured he was busy finishing his route. I mixed his noodles in his sauce and set it on the back burner. Hick ate his spaghetti and garlic toast. I washed the dishes. Hick wondered out loud where The Pony was. I wondered the same thing myself. It was 7:30 p.m. Getting dark.

"I guess he's finishing up."
"I sent him a text, and he never replied."
"Maybe he had to do a route in Bill-Paying town. And he's headed back to the main post office. And can't look at his phone. That takes 20 minutes."

"Have you heard from him?"

"No. My text doesn't even show 'read'."

"I guess he's okay. It's getting dark."

"He has a headlamp!"

"My buddy says he sees his mail getting delivered at 7:30-8:00."

"Yeah. Maybe he got that route..."

"You'd think he could take 5 seconds to send us a text."

"Maybe his phone went dead."

"Here. I'm calling him. Huh. Went straight to voice mail..."

"He might be on the way home right now, with a dead phone."


Time passed. At 8:15 I was getting worried-er.

"We don't even have a number to call to check on if he got back from his route. What should we do if he doesn't come home?"

"I'm sure they'd know if he didn't finish his route..."

"IF they could contact him. At what point will we REALLY worry that something's wrong? 10:00? Midnight? It worries me about the phone going to voice mail. What if he was in a wreck and nobody found him? [The week he started, a rural carrier was hit head-on. She's still in the hospital with two broken legs and internal injuries.] What if his phone is under water!"

"It didn't rain that much."

"I mean, he could have driven off into a pond or lake. The brakes on those trucks aren't good!"

"I don't know."

"I guess I'll go downstairs. Can't sit here just worrying about him. Where are you going?"

"I'm driving over there to see if his car is still parked at the post office. Then we'll know he's still on the route."

I listened for the dogs to bark when somebody came home. Maybe Hick would meet The Pony on his way, and they'd both be home any minute. Nope. At 8:45, the house phone rang. I heaved a sigh of relief. When I looked, it showed an incoming call from Hick. I figured he'd found The Pony.

"His car's not here, Val."

"He's not home, either. Are you in the right lot?"

"I've looked at the lot by the old unemployment office, where he says they park. And the other one up by Subway. I've even driven through their underground parking garage. His car isn't here."

"Maybe you passed him..."

"I can't see cars passing me in the dark. I didn't meet him on the gravel or the county road. He's an adult now. Maybe he went out and didn't tell us. Maybe he turned his phone off."

"That's not like him. He was looking forward to spaghetti. He just bought new post office shoes. It's not like he was going to disappear."

"I don't know what else to do."

"Me neither. I guess he's okay... that nobody knocked him in the head to steal the mail. Or dragged him into a house and tied him up... I guess at worst, we can call the office tomorrow and find out if he finished the route and clocked out..."

THE PONY GOT HOME AT 8:50 PM! I immediately sent Hick a text. A phone call is a long distance charge from the landline to our own cell phones. And my cell won't work in my lair except for texting.

"We were SO worried about you! We had no idea where you were!"

"I worked from 9:00 until 8:30. When I got to work, another LLV was broken down. The engine exploded. So there were NONE left. MAW [the middle-aged woman hired the same time as The Pony, with whom he's been working a route] had to use her own car again, because her LLV still isn't fixed. Mine was given to the engine-blower, I guess. Not that we have a certain vehicle assigned to us. I had to drive my own car today. Then we had to swap out some stuff on the route, due to me using my car. I got more of the walking deliveries today. And I had a whole extra load of packages that they said would take about an hour and a half, but took way more. Then my phone died with 20 percent power left..."

"You can call them on your scanner thingy, can't you?"

"Technically, yes. But nobody in any of the training sessions had any idea how to do that. So they have my number, and call me on my phone with instructions. Lucky I had let MAW know that my phone was going dead, and she told the supervisor. And MAW drove to find me on the route to tell me what I needed to do. I was getting ready to head back to the office to let them know about my phone, so I didn't get in trouble for not communicating."

"I guess you need one of those power pack thingies like Genius has."

"I'm taking my charger tomorrow. Even if I get an LLV. MOST of them have a working cigarette lighter that I can plug it into. Or I might have to use my car."

"So you might be this late again tomorrow?"

"There's a chance. Then I get a specific new route on Wednesday."

"Okay. We'll be prepared. Maybe send a text if it's 6:30 and you know you'll be late."

"It's not like I planned for my phone to die at 20 percent. Or I would have."
Sure, call us overprotective. But tell me you wouldn't have been worried about an overdue family member you couldn't contact. Meanwhile, I need to talk to Hick about getting my helicopter running again...