Thursday, September 30, 2021

Hey! I'm PARKIN' Here!

The Universe continues to conspire against Val.
Let the record show that I choose parking places for T-Hoe that leave room for the driver's door to fully open. It's a 2008 Tahoe, by cracky! Those doors are huge, and only have two notches. Not far enough, and all the way. If I only open the door to the first notch, I cannot bend my right knee enough to get my foot in. That's not a function of my giant clown feet! It's due to my right knee barely bending to 90 degrees. So if somebody parks too close to T-Hoe, I have to wait until they leave to get in. 
Country Mart has a space at the end of the store, in a little notch where the pharmacy section sticks out. There's a single parking space, with unlimited room on the driver's side, because the door opens onto the sidewalk area. On the right, the drive-thru pharmacy customers queue. A perfect spot for Val to park T-Hoe. It's usually open, because it's far from the main door, the other set of doors having been permanently locked to provide space inside for deli customers to eat.
Anyhoo... I was happy to see this parking space available on Wednesday. As I pulled in, a gal was pushing a cart along the sidewalk, with a toddler boy in the child seat. She turned it to the corner of the store, where her bicycle with a build-in child carrier was waiting. I paid them no mind, getting my lottery money ready, and checking my phone to see what was new. Nothing. My own pharmacy had sent me a text right after I picked up my meds.
WAIT A MINUTE! I grabbed T-Hoe's door handle to get out, and saw THIS!
What in the NOT-HEAVEN? She already had her kid in the bicycle seat. But no. She had to stop right next to my door, so I couldn't get out!!! With me in the special parking place made just for me, because it always allows me egress and ingress with no issues from people blocking me in! Until now.
Oh my gosh! She fiddled and faddled with that pink backpack! Trying to attach it with a bright orange carabiner to the back of the child seat. Yes. I watched. What else did I have to do? I surreptitiously took this picture, thinking she was getting on her bike to leave, and not wanting her to get away without a blog post for me! 
Silly Val. There was all the time in the world to get a picture. 11 MINUTES! I know that, because when looking at the time stamps on my photos, this one was taken at 3:58, and this next one I took as soon as she left, to show the corner where she'd parked and put her toddler on the bike, was taken at 4:09.

You can see how much room was available. She could have parked over by that bench to do her fiddling about. Or in front of the store. Or even in the empty parking space that was next to me, set back by T-Hoe's bumper. Or done it before leaving the corner area. Why get right up against T-Hoe's door for this failed attempt to hang that backpack? She obviously KNEW I was in the car. She saw me park as she wheeled her cart up to the corner.

No, I didn't put the window down to ask her to move. You can't be too careful these days. People are bat-crap crazy. Not saying this gal was, but you never know. Perhaps it was a scam to make me open my door, and then claim that I hit her! Or maybe she was just a young mother getting exercise while riding her kid to the store. I wasn't willing to find out. 
I keep to myself, and keep my mouth shut. 

And I keep my distance from people parked in cars.

My title inspiration came from these two short clips (1 minute each). Yes, I have seen both movies in their entirety, more than once.  Midnight Cowboy    Miss Congeniality

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Particularly Torturous Twist of Irony

You may recall that poor, pitiful, broken-ankled Pony had his workman's compensation claim denied for incomplete paperwork. Namely, documentation from a doctor, not the urgent care nurse practitioner he saw the night he broke his ankle on his mail route. He jumped through more hoops than a circus pony to finally get official paperwork for an appointment with a specialist for treatment TWO WEEKS after the break. After all that hoop-jumping and being given the runaround by superiors in several agencies, it boiled down to The Pony needing to have followed up on the promises of paperwork submission made by the treating physician's office.

The Pony returned to work on September 13th. On the 14th, he was able to get copies of that supporting paperwork from his physician. He compiled a multitude of forms, which he needed to mail in for a RECONSIDERATION of his claim. I took them to the main post office myself, in a manila envelope addressed in my precise, block-lettered handwriting. I obtained proper postage. The counter gal asked if I wanted tracking. OF COURSE! So she said it had to be send as a package. Four dollars and change. No problem.

That was on September 17th. The receipt said the package would be delivered on September 21st. As I type this, at 10:45 p.m. on September 28th, the tracking says The Pony's package (heh, heh) is IN TRANSIT. It didn't get very far. On the 17th, it was accepted by the main post office, left the main post office, and arrived in St. Louis. Where it is now IN TRANSIT. Which I believe is code for: sitting in a trailer on a parking lot at a St. Louis postal facility.

Of all the ways to further thwart The Pony's efforts for his rightful medical bills and lost salary due to his injury working for the USPS... it's the USPS that is holding up The Pony's chance at RECONSIDERATION!

Yeah. Even I know this is irony.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A $15 Fridge For Pony House

Technically, the title is correct. Hick did, indeed, buy a $15 refrigerator for Pony House.

However... what refrigerates in Pony House does not stay in Pony House. This is NOT one of the appliances that will be installed in the kitchen. Oh, it's IN the kitchen. Temporarily.

That little fridge could never hold The Pony's special cheeses and sauces and wines. Not that he's a gourmet. He just likes to try different things. That may change when he's the one footing the bill, heh, heh.
Anyhoo... Hick bought this Coca Cola mini fridge at the auction for $15, for the express purpose of holding bottled water and Diet Mountain Dew for him while he's working at Pony House. It didn't hurt that it's a COCA COLA version. Did you know that Hick collects Coca Cola memorabilia? Pretty sure you did. Just by way of knowing that Hick collects just about everthing. The stand didn't come with it. Hick says he has three of these "stands." Which I think are TV trays.
Hick was thinking of keeping some of those boards as an accent wall in Bedroom 2. It has its own boards. These aren't suitable, because a cut has been made in one section. Hick will cover it with drywall and cabinets. He may leave some of the front wall exposed. Like where the kitchen window looks out on the porch.
Did you guess that Hick was the photographer as soon as you saw the picture? Small subject. Centered. Lots of surroundings. It's vintage Hick.

Monday, September 27, 2021

You Can Find Everything You'll Ever Want (or WON'T) at Hick's Flea Market

The flea market where Hick operates his Storage Unit Store has something for everybody. Hick sent me a picture Sunday morning when people were setting up. It surprised even ME.

It is SO like Hick to send me such a picture with no explanation. Other than: "Only in Backroads." Yes, that IS a camel. And yes, Hick still has his signature picture-taking style. Small subject in the middle of a vast expanse of surroundings.

"Wait! Was that camel for sale?"


"Don't tell me they're keeping it in a storage locker!"

"Nope. They have a business that gives pony rides and camel rides. They have a unit down at the other end, where they sell stuff at the flea market. So they just brought the camel to have in front of their place, to drum up business."

"Did it work?"

"I don't know. They're down at the other end."

"You'd think it wouldn't be good for a camel's feet to walk on that gravel."

"I guess you could put shoes on a camel, like on a horse."

"WHAT? You can't nail a metal shoe to a camel's foot! They have toes. They're like dogs' feet. Pads on the bottom. Not hooves. They're made for sand. They spread out as the camel walks. Like a snowshoe keeps you from falling deeper in the snow. If you made a shoe, it would be like a leather tie-on shoe. Not nailed!"

"Oh. I thought they had hooves."

I'll give Hick this one. After all, HE knew that England was an island. Then again, he flew there for work...

Anyhoo... that's not Hick's stuff set up on the tables. It belongs to his buddy next door. He's got a typewriter, and a TV. A blender. A set of speakers. Some green plastic pellet thingies for a pellet gun. Lots of jars of jewelry, sold by the whole jar, not piece by piece. A wicker basket. A sewing basket. A picture on an easel. But that tablecloth underneath the stuff is not for sale. That would have been my first choice.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Mining the Virtual Gold

In case you've been missing my big lottery wins... SO HAVE I! 

It's been quite a dry spell. I win enough to keep playing, but nothing notable. $15 here and there, some $10, lots of $3 and $6. But nothing over $25 for a couple months. Of course, I'm pretty much low-rolling on my scratchers choices, so the wins are smaller. My favorites lately are the $3 tickets. Like THIS ONE:

That's a HUNDRED DOLLAR WINNER on a $3 ticket. Yeah. I'll keep buying them. Not off this roll for a while! It came from the Gas Station Chicken Store. They were training a new guy, who sold it to me. I hope he's going to work the hours I usually stop there!

On the same day, I bought The Pony a $2 ticket. I never win on them. But he sure does. Usually $2 or $4, sometimes $10. But this day, he won TWENTY DOLLARS on a $2 ticket. It's upstairs, or I'd show you that one, too. They're a smaller ticket.

Also in Pony Life... he worked 12 hours and 47 minutes on Saturday. Saturday starts the new pay period. The Pony gets double-time pay after 10 hours in one day, but the first 10 hours count as regular pay until he goes over 40 hours in a work week. Any hours over 40 (which are not the double-time pay) make The Pony time-and-a-half his hourly rate.

I'm sure The Pony is exhausted. He's also working on Sunday. Supposedly it's "easier" because it's all package deliveries. It won't be easier for The Pony, because he has to climb in and out of the truck to get the packages, which he says hurts his (formerly-broken) ankle more that plain walking.

I told The Pony that all this overtime is a gold mine. He's is earning his "furniture money" for when Pony House is habitable. He seemed a bit surprised. As if we were going to furnish the house, too. Nope. Hick and Val's rent-to-own houses are unfurnished!

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Four COINS If You're Doubtin'

Have faith in Val! Even though her Future Pennyillionaire Fortune has been languishing in a near-coma for the past few weeks... Even Steven has smiled upon Val again.

SATURDAY, September 18, I stepping into the Backroad's Casey's, and almost trod upon a DIME! I was so excited that after I got my (bad) close-up, I fumbled that dime like a rookie running back. It was like trying to catch one of those tiny just untadpoled frogs on a dusty dirt road along a creek. Every time I had that dime in my fingers, it slipped out and I had to find where it bounced, and snag it again. Ample-rumpusing in all directions!

I can't believe none of the people already waiting in a line to my left did not pounce on that dime! I guess they are all rich, or only buy with plastic.

It was a face-down 1998 dime, which did not lend itself to a close-up. Seems like it's always in this Casey's where my phone can't focus. I think they are running anti-close-up programs, jamming my phone camera. Or that could just be my conspiracy mindset manifesting...

TUESDAY, September 21, I captured a penny at the Sis-Town Casey's where I stopped to treat myself to scratchers after a bank deposit. Not my regular errand day, but I was obviously meant to stop there.

Good thing nobody was in line at the other register! They might have had a fat foot on my rightful PENNY!

It was a 1992 heads-up penny, unworthy of payment at the Gas Station Chicken Store, where those elitists, heh, heh, only want pristine coinage.

From there I went to the Gas Station Chicken Store, which came through for me again! This time way down the middle aisle. Who has a penny out on the middle aisle of a convenience store? You can't pay there, and surely you don't have all your purchases in hand, since you've just entered the store.

As you can see, the Gas Station Chicken Store has higher cleanliness standards than Orb K!

Ain't he purty? Such a shiny specimen, from 2018, showing his tail and hiding his face.

FRIDAY, September 24, found me back in the Gas Station Chicken Store. It was after-work time, and the store filled up with gas customers as I was paying (correct change) for my scratchers and 44 oz Diet Coke. I was making a quick getaway, with people packed like sardines in the confines of that crackerbox, when I saw THIS on my way out:

I said the Gas Station Chicken Store is clean. Which doesn't mean it is in good repair! This front wall used to be covered with winning scratchers as wallpaper, but they were taken down a few weeks ago. I think they added a nice ambience, but then I have a slight affinity for scratchers. In case you can't tell, this was a QUARTER!

It was a face-down 1990 quarter, whose close-up was spoiled by the busy pattern on the tile below. That dang phone doesn't know where to focus, even when I tap on the coin part of the picture as a reminder. Anyhoo... someone in line said, "Everybody came in all at once!" And I said, "But I'M the one who found the quarter!" I'm pretty sure somebody in line would have grabbed it. The clientele of the Gas Station Chicken Store is a bit different than that of Casey's. Yet still they had to endure an ample-rumpusing from Val.

That makes 4 COINS, for 37 CENTS this week, added to Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.

Penny       # 94, 95.
Dime         # 12.
Nickel       still at 4.
Quarter    # 6.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, September 24, 2021

Hick Must Be the FREE-Loadingest Man in Backroads

Another week, and more freebies dropped into Hick's lap for Pony House!

Remember This Guy, who sold us Hick House for $5,000? The one who had some surgery, and his wife went out for a smoke break at the hospital, and tripped and broke her hip? So Hick did errands for them during their convalescence. Well, they have a college-graduate son who has a construction business. He's currently working on a house remodel.

Hick got a call from This Guy's Son, saying he had FIVE interior doors that Hick could have if he wanted them. Otherwise, they were going on the burn pile. Are you kidding? Of course Hick wanted them! Hick drove about 20 miles to the job site. He helped This Guy's Son put in an upstairs window. I don't think that was a condition of the door-giving. Then Hick loaded up his five new used doors in SilverRedO, and took them to Pony House.

They are six-panel doors like we have in our house. Only these free doors are painted white, and ours just have a stain on the wood.

The door pictures were taken in the house where Hick picked them up. That's not Pony House! No drywall and uniform windows like that in Pony House.

Hick says there are two 36-inch doors, which will go in the Master Bedroom and Master Bathroom. Also a 32-inch door, which is the size of the Bedroom 2 doorway. Then he has 30-inch and 28-inch doors. He was planning to use the 28-inch on Bathroom 2, but I think it might work better for the furnace room he's creating. Sheesh! We can afford to buy a door or two... No need to make the entrance to a bathroom be a Fat Man's Squeeze! That's the name of a particularly narrow passage through the granite boulders at Elephant Rocks State Park, near Backroads.

One of the 36-inch doors includes the frame. Hick will build frames for the other doors. He's good at that. Hick says the doors would probably cost about $100 each if they weren't free. I suppose The Pony will get to choose the doorknobs, unless somebody drops a box of free ones in Hick's lap.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Tying Up Some Loose Ends in the Unraveling Rich Tapestry of Val's Life

The Missing Croissants

I went back to Country Mart on Wednesday. You know, just for research purposes. Some of the bakery racks were back! Of course I veered straight to the croissant rack. NO CROISSANTS! Such a high, seeing that rack was back, then the express elevator to Not-Heaven when I saw no croissants. There were pretzel rolls, both long and round. And fresh-baked hot dog and hamburger buns. Some fluffy dinner rolls. But no Hawaiian rolls, either. I selected a pack of dinner rolls, although they're nothing like croissants.

The tables of cakes and pies and cupcakes were NOT there. In place of them were grocery carts. At first I thought one of them contained a clear plastic box of my precious croissants. But no. They were apple turnovers. Also nothing like croissants. There was a smattering of cupcakes. Some cookies. I bought a pack of six Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are also nothing like croissants. The Pony and I have stashed them out of sight in the pantry. They're not good for Hick. And he never looks in the pantry.

I guess the tables for baked goods might eventually return. Maybe they just had these about-to-expire treats that wouldn't fill the tables, so put out the grocery carts. It looked very amateurish. 

Pony House Pecan Tree

Hick met with a tree-trimmer on Wednesday evening. He's from a town on the Mississippi River, 36 miles from Pony House. He said he could do the job of trimming that pecan tree for $2500. He said he didn't want to talk bad about any other services, but you need to do your research to know what you're getting. He also said he'd need to have the electric company turn off power to Pony House and the neighbor's house while he was doing the job. He wasn't sure if he could get to the very top, but he could get the limb hanging over the neighbor's carport. Oh, and he's about 2 months behind in his jobs.

Hick got the limb cut up into wood he can use in the stove that heats his Freight Container Garage. He also called the electric company to hook the wire back up to the house. Hick could have done it himself, but he couldn't get something loose to attach it.

The Return of The Pony

As of Tuesday evening, The Pony had 33 hours accumulated for the work-week that runs Saturday to Friday. So after another 7 hours of work, he'd be in time-and-a-half pay until Friday night. He went in at 9:00 on Wednesday as scheduled, and found out the acting manager did not have a route for him. She'd forgotten he was back to work. So he could have worked his guaranteed-by-union two hours of show-up time, or have the day off. The Pony said his feet chose the day off. 
Thursday, he goes in at 7:30, and has a new route that was created while he was off with his broken ankle. It's in the general area of Pony House, and most carriers say it takes 3-4 hours, then you fill in and help other carriers until the day is over. 
The Pony says they're getting some kind of mail from the city now, instead of from the Casino Town regional facility. That it's supposed to be already organized by routes, but IT ISN'T. So it may take a little longer to get things ready before heading out on the routes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

I Was Almost Looking For the Hidden Cameras

I go to Country Mart every two or three days. Sometimes just for scratchers out of their two lottery machines, but usually to pick up several items that I've decided I urgently need. 

Monday, I went in for bandaids (my big toe is irritated by my shoe since our casino trip), Solo cups (Hick has been drinking unsweet tea as much as his Diet Mountain Dew), croissants (for making a chicken sandwich), red grapes (they go well with a chicken sandwich on a croissant), Frank's Original Hot Sauce (to put in my own Hardee's-like chicken bowl), and vegetable oil (we are going to be roasting The Pony's nuts, heh, heh! Like Chex Mix, for him to take to work as a snack). Oh, and I also threw in a box of M&Ms for The Pony, and a box of tall kitchen trash bags.

Anyhoo... here's the layout of Country Mart. As you go through the two sets of double doors, the lottery (heh, heh, I typed LOOTERY) machines are on each side, backs to the parking lot. In front of you are four check-out counters towards the left, and a corral of carts directly ahead. Past those carts is the vast produce/deli area. The deli counter is on the right, and L-shaped. Cold foods run down the tall leg of the L, then racks of breads like croissants and pretzel rolls and french bread and Hawaiian rolls. Then the glass cupcake case.

There are tables of baked goods in a row running toward the back aisle. Cakes, big cookies, pies, sliced cake/breads like banana nut bread. To the left of those tables are bins for produce. The seasonal fruit in front, then bananas, then potatoes/tomatoes, then onions. And on the left side of this whole area is the cool case with fresh produce that gets the misty shower every so often. That's where my grapes would be.
You go to the right, around the carts, past the coin-pusher machine and the stuffed-animal grabber machine to get into this whole deli/produce area. I kept going right, in front of the bottom leg of the L-shaped deli counter. It's the hot food side, which I had no interest in. I was on my way to the pharmacy area for the bandaids, and then the solo cups towards the back. I noticed, upon entry, that across the cart corral were two bright orange cones, and a sign that said CAUTION, Wet Floor. I made mental note to be careful there.

With my first two items in the cart, plus those Pony M&Ms and trash bags, I moved across the back aisle, and turned up into the deli area to get my croissants. They are baked in-store, and come 4 in a plastic box.


They were gone! Not just my croissants, but the entire contents of that deli area that are usually between the glass cupcake case, and the cold deli food like pinwheels and salads and sandwiches and cold (leftover) fried chicken. Racks and racks of breads! That floor area with the two cones was BARE! I could have walked unobstructed to my left, and into the swinging door to the kitchen! But I didn't. I was in shock! WHERE WERE THE BAKERY GOODS?

Oh, no! Was Country Mart going to close? Had they changed ownership again? Last summer when that happened, their lottery machines went unfilled. As tickets would run out, they were not replaced. That was happening NOW, too! For over a week, my $3 crossword scratchers had been out. And then several other tickets. Was this another sign? No bakery?

I might have done a complete 360, like Mary Richards in the opening credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Only I didn't throw a hat into the air. I tried to calm myself, and headed over to my grapes. They looked plump and tasty, anyway.

I got my other items, and got in line. As the middle-aged lady rang up my purchases, she asked how I was doing. 

"Well, I haven't been here in three days, and now I find out THE WHOLE BAKERY DEPARTMENT IS GONE!"

"What? Gone? No it isn't."

"There's no bread! All the racks are gone. I was wanting some croissants, and there aren't any croissants! Nothing! Not even Hawaiian Rolls! What's going on?"

"I don't know that there's anything going on."

Checker Lady turned to look. As if I was making all this up. Then she started talking to a little man about three people back in line.

"Let's ask Shorty. Is there something going on over in the bakery? Is stuff missing?"

Shorty had a speech impediment, and I couldn't make out what he was saying. Apparently he's a sometimes worker there, or a regular who buys a lot of bakery goods. He turned to look at the bakery area, and spoke excitedly, and gestured. Checker Lady translated.

"I know they've been working on the floor. Shorty thinks they just moved the stuff so they could get to the floor. All that bread is probably sitting in the kitchen."

Sure it is... I can't believe nobody else noticed anything amiss! It made me wonder if Stephen King is in Backroads, about to knock on my door, and ask to stay in one of Hick's themed sheds while he writes another story about The Langoliers. 

This WAS on the day of that night's full Harvest Moon...

The Pony took this Friday night, before the moon was full, as it was rising over the garage and basketball goal, when he got home around 8:30.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Bad Cars

Toot, toot, hey... beep, beep
Bad cars,
Talkin' 'bout the sad cars
Sad cars
Talkin' 'bout the bad cars

You see them out on the street all day, broken
Balkin' at all kinds of terrain
If you play it right, you can drive 
Because seniority's might

Danged if he does, danged if he don't. The Pony is having an issue with his government-issued vehicles since his return to work after his broken-ankle sojourn.

He's been mistakenly given an LLV (Long Life Vehicle, the standard mail JEEP thingy) that was earmarked for someone else, and had to bring it back and clock out early, because there was nothing for him to drive. 

The next day, he had to drive one of the new little vans out to find the LLV that was earmarked for HIM, and reload all his deliverables in it after switching out the van to the new hire on her very first solo route.

Yesterday, The Pony's LLV broke down, and he had to sit for an hour waiting for another LLV to become available for his rescue. It took him until 8:30 p.m. to finish his route. 
You might surmise that The Pony is being pranked, or punished in some way with the vehicle assignments. You would be wrong.

"I knew this one had problems. I think it was the starter this time. All it did was CLICK when I turned the key. We were shorthanded anyway, which is why they called in at 8:30 when I was scheduled for 3:30. So I knew it would be a long time to get rescued, and nobody would be helping me, because we didn't have enough people. I've gone to help people 3 times since I've been back, when they broke down in this LLV."

According to The Pony, the regulars have a vehicle that's pretty much assigned to them. The CCAs (City Carrier Assistants) get what's left, depending on the route and the time they're scheduled to work. Thus his planned late start on Monday, when an LLV would be available after another route was done.
Don't think The Pony had a Cadillac when he got a functioning LLV on the good days. There was THIS one:
That's the horn. Or where the horn SHOULD BE. 
"My horn got stuck. It kept honking, even though I wasn't touching it. I tried to get it to not honk by pushing on it and letting up, to make it unjam, but it wouldn't. Then when I turned a curve, the whole thing popped off! You'd think that would make it quit honking, but it didn't. At random times, it honked. But if I needed to honk, it wouldn't."
I guess something like that is minor. Even though you'd think it was a safety hazard. At least it wasn't like the LLV that lost its brakes one time. Thankfully for The Pony, he was not the one driving it. As you can tell from the picture, these LLVs are lacking a modicum of tender loving care. I daresay they've never even experienced indifferent tolerant care.

Anyhoo... The Pony said his replacement LLV after his breakdown Monday worked okay. Except for the headlights flickering when put on bright. Which he kind of needed, being out after dark.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Even Steven Is At It Again

Yesterday, I mentioned how Hick discovered a giant problem over at Pony House on Friday afternoon. That being a fallen tree limb that knocked the electric wire loose from the house. Hick has no problem fixing the electricity. It's what he did for a living. It's just the issue of getting that giant tree trimmed before it does any more damage. As you might imagine, that limb kind of took the wind out of Hick's sail.

But wait! Don't you worry about Hick! He has made a miraculous recovery!

Saturday afternoon, on his way home from his storage unit store, he called me. You know, because he couldn't wait for the 10 minutes it takes to drive from there to home. I could tell he had good news. His voice was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.

"Guess what I just saw!"

"Um. I don't know... a deer?"

"No! MY TRAILER RAMP! It's chained to a telephone pole!"
As you see, this story is in need of a few more details. A couple months ago, before closing on Pony House, Hick was working on his Schoolhouse Shed. He wanted to get it under roof before the weather got bad, so he SPENT HIS OWN MONEY on metal roofing. The place to get this metal roofing is out in the sticks. Even stick-ier than our enclave here in Outer Backroads. It's about 40 miles away, on twisty two-lane blacktop. 
Hick hitched up his trailer to haul the metal roofing. Here's a picture of the trailer, with our new loaner-dog, who did not go on the roofing run with Hick.
Anyhoo... after putting the metal roofing on the Schoohouse Shed the next day, with the help of HOS (Hick's Oldest Son), who did the climbing... Hick noticed that one of his trailer ramps was missing. It's a metal ramp that looks like a little ladder, for using to drive a car or lawnmower up on the trailer for hauling. Hick only had one. He was just sick about it. Somebody had given him these ramps not very long ago. They were better than the ramps he had before.

"You know it probably fell off out here somewhere. Where the road is bouncy. Not on the smooth road."

"Yeah. Maybe. I think I'll go drive around and look."

Hick even drove into town, looking along the roads. And maybe partway out of town, retracing his route. But he did not drive the whole 40 miles. He put something on his Facebook page about losing his ramp, hoping somebody might find it.

THEY DID! But they didn't contact him on Facebook. They chained it to a telephone pole!

Hick doesn't know how long it has been there. As he said, you'd think one of us would have noticed it, on all our trips to town. Even though I told him I'm usually looking at the cars over the center line when I'm going around that curve, not looking to see what's chained to a telephone pole. But sure enough, when I went to town later on Saturday, there was Hick's ramp. I got a couple of bad pictures on the way home, but you can't see the ramp. Forgive me. I was driving (on my own side of the road!) at the time.

It was at the first house past the prison. That side road goes to one of the buildings where they have orientation for new prison workers. The house is on the left, in those trees.

Hick's ramp was chained to the bottom of that pole, but you can't see it, due to my bad camera skills at 50 mph. Hick had stopped to look at it, and a neighbor from across the road came over. He said the guy was down in Bill-Paying Town, but he'd give the phone number. Hick had already put a note on the guy's door, with his own phone number. The neighbor said Pole Guy found the ramp, and figured somebody would be looking for it. So he put it where it might be noticed.

I haven't asked yet if Hick picked up his ramp.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Trouble in Pony House Paradise

Meanwhile, back at our money pit...

It's a good thing Hick has been saving money hand over fist in gathering supplies to repair Pony House. We've been pleasantly surprised at some of the bargains Hick has found, and discovering that the back wall did not have to be rebuilt as he had budgeted for. However...

The heating and air conditioning will need replacing. It was an item planned for, but not certain until the heating and cooling man came to give Hick an inspection.

When Hick first got the keys to Pony House, and was doing a walk-through, the next-door neighbor guy came over to meet him. Next-Door Neighbor Guy brought up the big tree that's on the edge of Pony House property. He said limbs fall on his carport roof, and that he'd be willing to give Hick some money towards tree-trimming. Specifically, he would contribute $500.

Hick thought this was a generous neighborly thing to do. After all, a neighbor is not responsible for a tree not on his property. Hick called three tree-trimmers to get estimates. As of last Friday, two had given him a quote.

One wanted $6,000. Yeah. Recharge the defibrillator! That's pretty steep for cutting up a tree! The next guy wanted $4,300. Here's a couple views of that tree, from the first set of Pony House pictures.

Here it is, from the side street, looking at the back of Pony House. It's a good-size tree. A pecan tree. Hangs over Pony House Bedroom 2, and over the Neighbor Guy's carport.

The pecan tree is fairly close to Pony House. Nice and shady, but probably over 100 years old, since the house was built in the 1920s. As I said, Hick had planned on getting it trimmed, even before Next-Door Neighbor Guy offered to contribute.

Well. While Hick was mulling the estimates, and waiting on a different guy to call him back, who supposedly has a lift high enough to trim the top... something else happened.

On Friday, Hick went by Pony House after his Storage Unit Store, and found a LIMB DOWN! On its way, the limb ripped the electric wire off the side of Pony House. Now Hick has to call the electric company and have them shut off power, so he won't get electrocuted when he hooks it back up.

I guess the Next-Door Neighbor Guy is breathing a sigh of relief that it missed his truck and his carport. Hick thinks he might even offer a little bit more when he hears the estimates. Not that he's obligated. I'm still shocked that he's offered to contribute. Bad trees make good neighbors, I guess.

Right now Hick is waiting on the third estimate. He's going to negotiate a bit, because that price is cutting down the whole tree, and removing the wood. Hick only wants the dangerous limbs trimmed. And if he has to, he can get rid of the wood another way.

It's not money we want to spend, but the goal is to make Pony House a SAFE, livable house. Not a palace. But not a death trap, either.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Val Doubles Her PENNY Harvest This Week

If only it had been one of those 16-penny weeks that I doubled! Still, going from one penny per week for the last three weeks, to TWO pennies this week... is nothing to sneeze at!
THURSDAY, September 16, I was in line at the Sis-Town Casey's, waiting to pre-pay for T-Hoe's gas, and cash in some scratchers. I couldn't tell if a man and his three young daughters were actually in line, or still discussing other treats. When he looked back at me, I motioned for him to go ahead.

"Oh. We weren't in line yet."

"That's okay. I'm not in a hurry."

So they went next. For my good deed, a special treat was revealed to me where they'd been standing:

The meek shall inherit the earth, and the polite shall inherit the pennies! 
It was an old-timey heads-up 1970 penny. Of course, while I was taking the picture and picking it up, two more people got in line ahead of me. But they didn't get a penny!

From there I went to the Gas Station Chicken Store for my magical elixir. It was a few minutes after 5:00, so I rushed inside, leaving my phone on the console, before the after-work crowd got there in their pickup trucks to buy gas using their plastic money. The card reader takes forever at the Gas Station Chicken Store. It's a little box on a cable, and sometimes needs two or three tries.

I was fourth in line. Not too bad. When I stepped up for my turn, I saw a PENNY hiding under the corner of the rug! Of course. THAT'S how to find more pennies! Leave my phone in T-Hoe. Anyhoo... I picked up that penny, and posed it for a picture back in T-Hoe.

It was a face-down (in the store) 2016 penny, all glowy here in the setting sun.

That's 2 COINS this week, for 2 CENTS added to Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       # 92, 93.
Dime         still at 11.
Nickel       still at 4.
Quarter    still at 5.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1
And now, for something completely different... Okay. I'm no Monty Python. For something strikingly similar... THE PONY FOUND A PENNY!
I am not including it in my total, although he generously gave it to me. Even took a picture for me! He found it on WEDNESDAY, September 15, at 3:29 p.m. when he returned to clock out. Two months to the day from when he broke his ankle. And he found it on the post office parking lot, on his second day back to work.
I daresay The Pony has inherited my keen eye for common cents. That little Lincoln was pretty camouflaged, if not for landing on the tar filling a crack.

It was a heads-up 1952 WHEAT PENNY! Very special. Thanks, Pony! Someone was obviously thinking of you as you returned to the workforce on your healed ankle.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Hot New Merchandise for Hick's Storage Unit Store

Looks like Hick is laying in some collectibles for the pre-Christmas shoppers at his Storage Unit Store. Here are his latest auction finds.

These look like football figures, thus the "Quarterback" label on the boxes. Hick paid $10 for them. There are 20, and he says he will ask $1.50 each for them. Sports memorabilia fans will probably snap them up, although I'm not sure how many such fans shop at Hick's Storage Unit Store.

This next set might prove more collectible. Star Wars is big business!

I don't know what's in these boxes. Nor the smaller boxes in the photo below. Maybe they're the unpopular characters. Maybe they're the new batch, not the classics.

Hick paid $40 for this set of 40 pieces. He plans to sell them for $3.00 each. So if he sells 14, he will have made his money back, plus a $2 profit! That's better than 50 cents...

That's the thing about Hick's Storage Unit Store. He has something for everybody, and tries to put out something new every week. Just to keep people coming back.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Hick's Recent Acquisition Floored Me. And, Imminently, Pony House.

He's at it again, that falling-back-rumpusward-into-free-stuff Hick!

One of Hick's buddies at the Storage Unit Store has an adult daughter who is remodeling her house. For whatever reason, she and her husband were putting down new flooring. They were throwing away their old flooring. But wait! The Hick Buddy found out, and said, "No. Don't throw away that flooring. Somebody might be able to use it." I think this was even before we bought Pony House.

Anyhoo... Hick had plans to use laminate flooring, like he did in the Railroad Car shed, over on Shackytown Boulevard. He used materials given to him by Back-Creek Neighbor Bev when SHE got new flooring. Here's a picture of how it turned out in the Railroad Car shed:

I think Hick had some of Bev's flooring left, but I don't know how much. He was probably planning to use it in the still-unfinished Schoolhouse Shack. Anyhoo... he had planned on buying flooring for Pony House. Until Hick's Buddy offered him his daughter's old flooring, COMPLETELY FREE!

Here's a picture of one plank of this laminate flooring, perched on my laptop, HIPPIE:

It's perfectly usable! I do see one little scratch near the top of this piece, but that's not a problem for Pony House! It's going to be a safe, livable house. Not a palace. I'm sure Hick can find something to color in the scratch.

Anyhoo... Hick says he got about 600 square feet of this flooring. Which he thinks will be enough to cover the floor of Pony House Master Bedroom, Master Bathroom, and Bedroom 2 and Bathroom 2. Hick looked up the price of such flooring at Lowe's, and said it's $1.50 per square foot. So that's $900 (plus TAX of 8.35 percent, which is $75.15) that he saved by having his buddy give him FREE flooring! Sorry to be so dramatic, but that helps our renovation budget.

Hick is pretty valuable when it comes to scoring FREE stuff.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Caning of The Pony

Saturday, The Pony was milling around restlessly while Hick was at his Storage Unit Store, and I was warming up leftover Chinese food. It was his second day out of his ankle boot, so maybe he was just kicking up his heels. He had already walked two miles on the treadmill in the basement workshop, while I was in town fetching my 44 oz Diet Coke. Back and forth, from living room to kitchen. Not pacing, but not standing still.
"Oh, Mom. There's a spider on the ceiling."
"I know! I saw it yesterday while I was sitting at the kitchen table playing Candy Crush. Is it over my head now? TELL ME! That's where I saw it yesterday. Over the sink. I'm not tilting my head back to look. That makes me dizzy."
"No. It's here in the living room. Behind the couch."
"Let me see... yeah, that's the one. Just a little spider. I knew I couldn't reach it with anything."
"I can't either, really. I can't jump with my ankle right now... I don't think I could reach it from standing on the couch."
"I KNOW! Use my cane! I mean my grandma's cane. That one I took to the casinos last week, for my knee." 
"And only used once..."
"Never mind about that! It's right here. Use the bottom of it to smash that spider. If it leaves a stain, we'll worry about that later. Just stand right under it, and poke that cane tip on it. WAIT! Let me back up. I don't want it to fall on my head!" 

"Here goes... GOT IT! Um. Mom? That didn't do anything to it. The rubber tip on this cane is CONCAVE! I only trapped it for a minute! You know what? Are you sure it's a spider? I think that might be a little scorpion. Look! It has pincers!"

"It DOES! I just thought it was one of those long spiders, not a round spider. But I definitely see pincers. Or two grabby hand-thingies. Spiders don't have that! GET IT THIS TIME! Use the edge."

"There. Got him!"

"Oh, no! Where IS he?"

"Stuck to the bottom of your cane!"

"Take him outside. Or here, let me get a paper towel and make sure he's smashed good! Or... uh... you could just scrape him off in the wastebasket like that, so I can't find him, and he'll crawl out and find me in bed and sting me with his bendy tail!"

"He's dead. I heard him crunch. Besides, when I poked him that second time, I saw his legs curl up. That means he's dead. That's how they move. Once their hydraulic system is broken, their appendages curl up, and they're dead. That's how arachnids move. Hydraulics."

The Pony usually knows his facts. Or else I might think he inherited his father's art of gaslighting me with stuff he thinks I won't fact-check.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Put On Your Swimming Cap, You're About to Float Down a Not-River in Egypt

Get ready! Might as well hold your nose, too. I am about to reveal info that will make your head swim. Make it spin, like Linda Blair's noggin in The Exorcist. Pop a Dramamine while you're at it. You must be in full possession of your faculties to grasp the technicalities. Here's the basic outline:

The Pony's Workman's Compensation claim was denied last Wednesday.
The Pony's broken ankle is healed.
The Pony went back to work yesterday.

The Pony, Dean of Denial

The Pony's broken ankle, and quest for compensation, could be termed a comedy of errors... if it was funny. Which it is not. The pain from his work-acquired injury, plus loss of wages, is in no way humorous. At least it was not devastating, what with having Hick and Val as a safety net. 
The Pony broke his ankle when he tripped on a sidewalk during the last hour of his mail route on July 15. In a perfect world, The Pony would have reported it to his supervisor, been sent for medical evaluation and treatment within hours, and have started receiving his Continuation of Pay within a week or so. If he was out more than six weeks with the injury, Workman's Compensation would have paid him 60 percent wages until released back to work. Here's a litany of what really happened.

-Reported injury, supervisor took pictures and completed forms, sent him to urgent care
-Urgent care was closed by the time Pony got there, went to a different urgent care
-Forms faxed by the supervisor to urgent care wouldn't go through
-Supervisor left on a previously scheduled vacation after work that night
-Day 2, acting supervisor emailed Pony the forms, to print out and take [ON A BROKEN ANKLE] back to urgent care
-Urgent care refused to fill out one form, saying they couldn't give a diagnosis, only a specialist could. Yet they couldn't refer him to a specialist without that form!
-Day 5 and 6, urgent care and acting supervisor both denied responsibility for that form
-Days 7-13, The Pony got the runaround concerning that form, and couldn't get an orthopedic specialist's appointment without it.
-Days 7-13, a former manager working elsewhere, and a regional specialist in KC, had to be consulted to find the missing form from the vacationing supervisor, to allow The Pony an appointment for his still-broken LEFT ankle, which had been in a soft splint this whole time. The original form, once found, listed the RIGHT ankle.
-Day 13, The Pony got a notice from the Department of Labor that his Workman's Compensation claim was lacking documentation of a form signed by a DOCTOR, not a nurse practitioner.
-Day 14, The Pony discussed the forms with the podiatrist treating his broken ankle, and left assured that they do this all the time, and they would get the forms sent in
-Days 15-35, The Pony continued his healing in a walking boot, still making 2-3 attempts per day to contact supervisory personnel about his lack of pay that should have started
-Day 36, The Pony had a 3-week checkup with the podiatrist. Healing. New appointment in 3 weeks.
-Sometime between Day 36 and 56, The Pony was paid 1 week of Continuation of Pay.
-Day 56, The Pony received a letter from the Department of Labor denying his Workman's Compensation claim for lack of documentation. He will have to pay back any money given on his claim (that one week, safely sitting in his bank account) if the decision is not reversed.
-Day 57, The Pony went to his podiatrist appointment, where he informed them of the denial, because their forms were never send in [or at least never received by the Dept of Labor] He got copies of all the forms, to sent in a request for a Reconsideration. Looking them over at home, ONE BOX was marked wrong.
-Day 58, The Pony returned to the podiatrist to get the box corrected. The doctor was out in another town.
-Day 62, TODAY, The Pony is missing work to go back for the paperwork correction

If that was confusing to you to read, or even SKIM OVER, imagine your medical bills and wages depending on it! The Pony's main form of communication was text and email, for an electronic record of his efforts to get medical care in a timely manner. Besides, you can't just pick up the phone and call somebody at the post office and expect to get a live person.
Good thing his union shop steward kept pushing to spur on management. It did not seem to be a deliberate effort to thwart The Pony's claim, but rather a matter of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing. Or in this case, the left ANKLE... At no time was there any dispute from the USPS about The Pony's work-related injury.

The one item that The Pony might have mishandled, contributing to his denial, was not responding to the Dept of Labor after the notice of lacking documentation. He ASSUMED the materials from the podiatrist (whose appointment he had the day after receiving that letter) would remedy the problem. Apparently, the Dept of Labor only sends out one notice like that per claim, and the claimant has to contact them about it, not just rely on the documents arriving.

Anyhoo... if The Pony gets that form corrected today, the whole packet is going in the mail on Wednesday. Even though he has 30 days from Sept 2 to file a Reconsideration, or 1 calendar year to file a different form of appeal. Good thing The Pony is stabled under the roof of Hick and Val, and strapping on their feedbag. It takes at least 90 days for a Reconsideration to process.

The Pony Returns

The podiatrist took more x-rays last Thursday, and said the ankle was good to go. He asked The Pony when he wanted to return to work. The Pony said, "Pretty soon, since I've been getting no money this whole time I was out of work." So the podiatrist released The Pony for full duty starting Monday, Sept 13. The Pony took the release to the post office, and they put him on the schedule for Monday. However...

The Pony went in to work at 9:00. Around noon, he called to tell them he was done with his first loop. Did they want him to come back to the office, or go help someone else with a route. Um. They needed him to come back, because they'd given him an LLV (Long Life Vehicle) that they shouldn't have. I was worried that it was not safe, but The Pony said it was designated for a Rural Carrier, but somehow the supervisor had the key, and assigned it to him. They told The Pony he could leave early, and that they might need him Tuesday after his podiatrist paperwork mission. 

Anyhoo... while The Pony was off with his injury, the 120-calendar-day period expired on his probationary period. So it looks like he's an actual CCA (City Carrier Assistant) now, and can only be let go for cause, not just because his probation isn't working out. So there's that. They've already worked him since that deadline passed. Good luck getting rid of him!

The only tragedy here is that The Pony went two weeks on a broken ankle, unable to see an actual doctor for treatment. Only ONE podiatrist/orthopedist office in our area takes Workman's Compensation claims, because they're so fraught with problems. They wouldn't take The Pony without that USPS form, and nobody else would even take him with insurance, once they heard it was a work-related injury that would be going through Workman's Compensation.
Thank goodness his fracture had minimal displacement, and The Pony didn't need surgery or a closed reduction. He can survive without the money, but it's over five grand, not including the medical bills. So you can bet The Pony will pursue every avenue available to recoup his compensation.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Hick Demolishes Basically: Pony House Back Wall

Last Thursday, Hick and his helper HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) tore off the sagging back wall of Pony House. They first had to remove the steel siding. And the other siding under that. HOS had already done some work on it, but Hick needed him to help put up the new wall covering. We'll get to that in a moment...

This is the back wall of the Master Bathroom. Hick used his time without HOS to put in one of his new used $20 windows. Trust me, that window is level. Hick proudly sent me a picture with the caption: "Window dead level." Even though I think it was a different window... You can see the archaeology of the siding here.

Hick and HOS tore that wooden siding off until they reached the bare bones.

Hey, now! Stop peeping into The Pony's bathroom!

Hick wanted an economical material to cover up the wall for now. It might stay, it might be improved upon. I'm hoping for the latter. Hick got this bright idea on our trip to the Oklahoma casinos. He saw this material on a house along curvy two-lane blacktop.

This is cedar siding that comes in 4 x 8 sheets. Hick bought 11 sheets of it at $33 per sheet. He said that had it painted in a grayish-white color, but it was $48 per sheet. So he got this wood version, saving $165. I am not a fan of the look, but it's growing on me. That section to the left will be torn off, and it will be the covered back porch. Out of camera range, on the left side, is the back wall of Bathroom 2. It will also have this cedar siding.

Hick says he might eventually paint it white to match the house. Or he might put white siding over it. Right now he wanted that wall closed in for the winter. Let the record show that we actually put in, on purpose, a cedar accent wall on the front porch of my white-vinyl-siding $17,000 house, and it looked nice. Although it was the horizontal plank style cedar siding, not this vertical cedar sheet siding.

I guess you'll have to see the whole back of the house when Hick is done with it, to form a proper opinion. It won't hurt my feelings if you don't like it, since I'm still not sold on the concept. We have a specific budget for renovations, and this area might have to wait for more tender fond care.