Sunday, October 31, 2021

Val Experiences a Spooking, But Not in Her Basement

There oughta be a law! A law to prevent municipalities from spooking the elderly! I might need to talk to my sister's husband the ex-ex-mayor about that...

On Thursdays, I have errands over in Sis-Town. A couple weeks ago, I was driving down Main Street, after mailing Genius's weekly letter at the drive-thru mailbox on a street that's barely more than an alley. Once I turned onto Main Street, I let my mind wander to which scratchers I was going to buy when I stopped to gas up T-Hoe. 


I hit the brakes. I thought I'd driven through the crosswalk with a person waiting to cross! My heart palpitated as I glanced sideways, ready to give the SORRY shrug to my almost-victim.

It was a stuffed fireman's suit on a ladder!

Yes, the farther I drove down Main Street, I saw more stuffed people. I should have been expecting that. When we had our annual meeting with our financial advisor the day before, at their Main Street office, I snapped a picture of a gal out front.
"I'm ready for my closeup, Ms Thevictorian!"

I was only in the one block of Main Street that day. I didn't notice any other stuffed street people as I left to go home. Yet the next day, the stuffed street people were practically jumping out of the sunlit non-shadows!

This guy is kind of blurry. I think he's either a hipster, or a jockey. Please consider the fact that I was taking these pictures while driving down Main Street. Not actually rolling, but sitting in traffic. I didn't get the firefighter on the ladder, because that one startled me so much. I had to get these others on my return trip.

This one is maybe a ghost in a straw hat. Or a hanging angel hiding her halo.

Blurry Pumpkinhead is a pot-bellied bow-legged cowboy. He's either imitating a scarecrow, or giving the universal sign for WTF. Maybe to someone who didn't stop to let him not-cross the road.

The best picture and the best figure was BEETLEJUICE! Though I AM concerned that he is doing something inappropriate with that haybale...

If only all the figures were as cartoonish and unreal as Beetlejuice, I would not think they were people about to walk out in front of T-Hoe. I wonder if the city hired a street decorator. Or if it was a contest for groups to contribute a figure. Surely there isn't anyone on the payroll permanently as a street decorator! We (and eventually The Pony) will be paying city taxes here now!

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Val's Hunches Make CENTS

Sometimes, Val's best-laid plans are altered due to a hunch or a twist of fate.
SATURDAY, October 23, my first stop was Orb K. It's easier to go there on the way home, as my last stop, but I risked the pull-out traffic upon leaving, because I just had the urge to go there NOW. Lucky me! While buying my scratchers, I found a treat:
As you can see, I found A LOT of treats! But I'm talking about the zero calorie treat, that PENNY waiting for me to pick it up.

It was a 1991 penny, heads-up, looking blurry since my phone camera can't decide to focus on where I touch my finger, or the background tile. Good thing I stopped there first. Not only did I nab that penny, but the two $3 tickets I bought turned out to be $6 and $20 winners. That is rare on consecutive tickets.

SUNDAY, October 24, I got a really late start to town. It matters, even though it's the only place I have to go, because the Gas Station Chicken Store closes at 5:00 on the weekends! So I risk missing my magical elixir if I'm too late. 
The trip didn't start well. In my initial attempt to procure scratchers, I left the parking lot of the Liquor Store in a fit of pique, because three people were trying to walk in from one of the six parking spaces down front. Three of them were still empty. I planned on parking in one of them, but a car came in the exit, and almost hit T-Hoe head-on, barely missing those three people. With the line of drive-thru cars behind me, and my exit blocked suddenly, it was like the most dangerous traffic circle in the world, in Ho Chi Minh City!

I finally escaped, and went to the dead-mouse-smelling post office to mail my AT&T bill. Of course I had to walk it inside, since the one I mailed from the drive-thru mailbox was missing for a couple months, and then came back to me saying UNDELIVERABLE. Even though it was in the proper return envelope, address showing.

I walked around T-Hoe's rear to ascend the post office steps, and saw that I was in the right place at the right time!

A penny lay in my path. Of course it did. Meant for ME!

It was a face-down 1986 penny, ripe for the picking. So I picked it. Put it in my shirt pocket, and took my bill inside to put in the wall receptacle. On my way out, I was once again rewarded!

A nickel awaited, where I had seen no nickel before! Yet it was there all along, as evidenced in my first picture with the penny. I'm slippin'! I had walked right past it!

It was a face-down 2013 nickel, so crisp in detail on this cloudy day. From here, I continued to the Gas Station Chicken Store, and purchased my 44 oz Diet Coke and scratchers about 25 minutes before closing. The parking lot of the Liquor Store was clearer, so I headed over there for my other scratchers.

My timing was impeccable! Standing at the counter waiting on the gal to scan The Pony's Cash4Life draw ticket winners, I turned to see a beautiful sight:

No, I don't mean the candy bars! What's at the bottom of the rack: the penny!

It was a heads-up 2014 Abe Lincoln specimen. Fallen out of someone's pocket, perhaps, and missing the party. But wait!

On my way out the Halloween-decorated door, I spied ANOTHER penny!

It was modern 2019 Abe, heads-up, wallowing in the filth of the floor. I give them a pass on this one, because the weather had been nasty and rainy in the morning. Besides, their stained rug looked cleaner this time, too. There are some new employees lately.

That makes 5 COINS, for 9 CENTS this week towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       # 101, 102, 103, 104.
Dime         still at 12.
Nickel       # 7.
Quarter    still at 6.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, October 29, 2021

Val Is Public-Enemy-ing Again

Lock up your valuables! Val is on the loose!

Tuesday I went in the Liquor Store to cash in some scratchers and get more. I had $25 in winners, and bought $25 in new tickets. Of that, $8 were earmarked for The Pony, from his own winnings.

The gal scanned my winners, and printed out the receipt tickets they need to justify their cash drawer. She scanned my new tickets and rang them up. Then she pushed the stack to me across the counter. 

"Okay. We're even?"



"Thank you, and have a nice day. Good luck."


Off I went, out the front door, along the front of the building to T-Hoe. I walked past three empty parking spaces, and I was there. I reached my hand out to steady myself as I stepped over the yellow parking tire-bumper thingy.

"Ma'am? MA'AM?"

I turned around. It was the cashier gal.

"Could I have those tickets back? I did something wrong, and I need to scan them again."

"Sure. No problem."

I held them out to her, and she rushed back into the store as I hobbled after her. I think she had entered something as draw tickets instead of scratchers, since I'd bought two of the Cash4Life draw tickets for The Pony. She got her register updated, and pushed the tickets back to me.

"Thank you. I'm glad I caught you. I need to learn to do my job right!"

"That's okay. I'm not in any hurry. I don't have anywhere to go."

Well. To the Gas Station Chicken Store for my magical elixir, but no need to share with her that I was headed to a competitor.

Val the troublemaker, trying to abscond with illegally rung-up lottery tickets. I hope my bank doesn't get wind of this.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

This Is Why We Can't Have Well-Intentioned, Helpy, Homemade Things

A few years ago, when HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) lived out here, he built a bus-waiting shed for some kids who had to walk a mile from their house, and wait for the bus. Nothing fancy. Just a roof and four walls and a plexiglass window, so they could get out of the elements in inclement weather. 
They used it often, but have since moved. I'd say they've been gone for about a year, but school was remote for part of the time they were still living here. The bus shed was fine. Hick put a padlock on the door because he saw some Creachers (strangers at our creek beach) sitting in it. 
Nothing lasts forever. Last week, some ne'er-do-wells had to do what ne'er-do-wells do well. 
They broke into the bus-waiting shed. But that wasn't good enough. They had to destroy the plexiglass window. Why would anyone feel like that was necessary? Do they have an animosity for bus-waiters? A fear of sheds?

Would this be a fun recreational activity, tearing up a bus-waiting shed? Does it make you feel strong? Righteous? "No bus-waiting shed shall remain on somebody else's property on MY WATCH!"

What, exactly, is wrong with people? I guess we're lucky they didn't tip it over in the creek. I suspect the ne'er-do-wells are not known for creative thinking.

Hick says when he brings his tractor home from Pony House, he will pick up the bus-wating shed, and bring it up here to our property. Not because we need more junk, but so it will stop being both an eyesore and an attraction.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

I Hope The Pony Doesn't Have to Transfer to the Dead-Mouse-Smelling Post Office

Hick had some bad news to report from Pony House on Monday. As he was walking around, getting ready to frame in a wall where the door used to go from Bedroom 2 to the back porch, he FELL THROUGH THE FLOOR! That's because he had ripped out the old floor to fix the joists, and had laid those wall boards down to use as temporary flooring, or maybe as a bottom insulation layer, like in Bathroom 2. 

However... he had not nailed anything down. He stepped on one of the ends sticking over a floor joist, and it flipped up on the other end, sending Hick's leg plummeting to the ground underneath. He grabbed out to hold onto a wall, and ripped the index finger on his left hand at the middle joint.

Oh. That's not the bad news! 


Hick said he noticed it when he went in. He thought it smelled like a dead mouse. With the floor torn up, and the attic open, who knows what critters might be investigating. Hick's buddy, This Guy, who sold us the $5,000 house, came over for some firewood. The limbs of the pecan tree that have been trimmed so far, and are stacked on the concrete pad in the back yard. This Guy came inside, and said, "That's pretty rank. I'd say it's a squirrel, not a mouse."

Hick said he's not about to climb a ladder to look around in the attic.

"Then how are you going to find it?"

"It'll quit smelling eventually."

Hick and The Pony took a couple of cabinets and the countertop for Bathroom 2 over there on Tuesday. I asked The Pony about the smell.

"It was mainly in one area. It's coming up through the floor. So it's something under the house."

Neither of them seem too concerned about finding the source. I guess they're waiting for it to mummify, like the cat Hick found in my grandma's attic over her garage when he was looking for treasures.

Oh, and Hick nailed a board along the edge of those wall/floor boards. To keep them from flipping up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

One Throne Down in Pony House

Hick feels like he is spinning his wheels at Pony House. He can't get the help that he needs WHEN he needs it. More precisely, when he WANTS it. So he's been going back and forth between projects. He DID get a toilet put into Bathroom 2.

I said that doesn't look like a TALL toilet to me. Hick insists that it IS.

"Val, it says TALL TOILET on the box. The Pony picked it out with me. When I sit on it, my legs are straight out. It's a tall toilet."

Okay. Maybe it's the perspective. Hick says it's a low-flush toilet. Which I said I've heard people complain about. But Hick says that's about the only kind you can find to buy these days. I don't know my toilets like I know Seinfeld and ER reruns, so I'll have to take Hick's word for it.

This view was taken from Bedroom 2. Hick plans to put in a white baseboard, which I think will be a good contrast and divider between the different woods. He'll also trim out the window with white. He has not yet put in the sink or white-board on the other two walls. He and The Pony are taking the sink and countertop over on Tuesday, I think.

Hick also put in the new electric box. It's in Bedroom 2, the wall that is against the kitchen.

Of course it won't be left hanging open like that. But I asked if a bedroom wall was kind of an odd place for an electric box.

"They are in a variety of places, Val. Some people put them in a closet. It wasn't convenient for me to put it in a closet. It will be fine. You never use them anyway, unless something goes wrong."

"I know. Like when you trip a breaker. And I know ours is in the walk-in closet in the master bathroom. So I just thought it was odd to be in a bedroom."

Hick says it isn't. He might think I won't check.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Money Talks, The Pony Walks

No, I'm not talking about the fortune The Pony is making with his overtime and double time at 70 hours per week. I'm talking about The Pony's sometimes mule-like behavior.

Sunday night, we were expecting severe thunderstorms. High winds and hail. At least according to the TV meteorologists. I have a high level of distrust in them, after so many disappointments in snow days that never materialized, back when I was working. But if there's a chance of severe weather, I like to be forewarned. Even though I'm in the basement anyway, safe in my lair.

The Pony miraculously finished his job at 2:30 on Sunday, after only six hours of work, because ALL 6 scheduled employees showed up for their shifts! He treated himself with a trip to Walmart to buy socks and deodorant and wine, and then came home to make himself hamburgers while I was gone to town. That's because we make each other nervous when he's in my kitchen.

Anyhoo... Hick got home around 5:30. We were discussing the impending weather. I suggested that The Pony might want to park his Nissan Rogue under the carport, since hail was expected. Hick agreed, and said there should be room if he moved the Gator. Heh, heh. That's how low The Pony is on the pecking order. He's been back here since last May, and his car sits in the open, while the Gator is under roof.

Anyhoo... we called to The Pony, who was relaxing in his room with computer games before his nightly 2-hour soak in the big triangle tub in the master bathroom.

"Pony! Come out and let's move your car under the carport. A storm is coming."

"I'm good. I'm alright with my car sitting out."

Hick demanded that The Pony come out to talk. He did.

"Let's walk out and do it right now, before your bath."

"Are you sure of the storms? What kind of storm? It's sunny."

"It's tonight. Winds and hail, and maybe tornadoes. You don't want to get hail damage."

"I'm okay with that. It probably won't happen. It hasn't yet."

"The insurance has a $500 deductible. You have to pay the first $500 of repairs. If you do get hail damage."

"So you're okay with paying $500?"

"I'll get my key."

Heh, heh. Now that The Pony pays his own insurance and car expenses, he has different priorities. Also evidenced when Hick said he'd need The Pony's help on Tuesday, to load cabinets and take them over to Pony House and unload them.

"But it's my ONLY day off! I work 7 or 8 days in a row, and only get ONE day off!"

"I know you're tired. It's hard work. But I work, too. On you house. Nobody's paying me. If I can't get your help, I'll have to hire someone, and pay them to do it. Which comes out of the budget for the house, that you'll be paying back as you rent to own."

"Okay. I'll help."

Yes. A storm was brewing. A big storm, which hit around 8:15. We all got tornado warnings on our phones, to take cover. The Veteran called, and said the news showed a tornado right over us, on the radar. Hick of course went out on the porch to have a look. He said wind and hail. I'm writing this in the wee hours of Monday morning, so we don't know the damage yet.

However... The Veteran's in-laws had several trees fall, onto their vehicles, and perhaps on the corner of the house or garage. The Veteran was waiting for the next wave of red on the radar to pass before he took his chainsaw over to see if he could help. They live in the vicinity of Bill-Paying Town, about 20 miles south of us. I'm hoping everything is okay with them. They were in the basement, talking on the phone, the last I heard.

I also cautioned The Pony, who has to be at work to clock in at 6:00 A.M., to be alert for trees blocking the road, and possible high water on the low-water bridges. He's more concerned about breaking off a side mirror on a support pole when he backs his car out from the carport. It's a tight fit with SilverRedO. Wouldn't want to empty his tight pockets to repair a mirror...

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Strapping On the Feedbag With Genius

Can you believe it's been 1 year, 9 months, and 25 days since I saw Genius??? Well, the countdown starts again. Hick and I met up with him for lunch on Friday, in a town almost in the city. Genius was only here for a bit over 24 hours. So we had to coordinate our meetup precisely. I won't go into the reason for his journey, because that would affect other people's privacy.

Anyhoo... you may recall that Genius has a fancy apartment with his Friend in Pittsburgh, where they both work. It's by three big bridges, and Genius has just started commuting back to the office about four days a week, rather than working from home. Friend is still home-working. You can do that when most of your job involves computer juju.

They left Pittsburgh at 3:00 a.m. on Friday, driving Genius's Honda CRV. Taking turns at the wheel, of course, so they could drive straight through. It's about 10 hours, barring any roadblocks. Hick forgot he had a doctor appointment at 11:30 that day, on the way to the city. We were supposed to meet up around noon or 12:30. I had to ride along and wait while Hick had his appointment. Val is not a good waiter. 

We got to the clinic early, in case Hick could be seen earlier. He could not. Good thing was, the clinic closed at noon, so we were pretty sure he'd at least be out by then, and in 20 minutes we could be at the restaurant. I waited in A-Cad, having no desire to wander, masked, around a hospital setting. Genius and Friend arrived a bit early, so stopped at the mall to kill about a half hour. By coincidence, Genius and I both texted each other at 12:02, saying "Leaving now."

It was not a fancy restaurant, but a BBQ chain. We had thought about going even LESS fancy, to Imo's Pizza, but Genius feared they couldn't make it down to the clinic town by noon. Anyhoo... he said Friend had been excited at the though of our original BBQ plan, so he could get the Turkey Platter. I guess they don't have a BBQ Turkey Platter in Pittsburgh.

Nobody ever minds looking at food pictures, so here's what we had:

Hick chose the Pulled Pork and Burnt Ends, with Baked Beans and Potato Salad. He had a good start on it by the time I took the picture. Hick also had some Caramel Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert, but I couldn't get a photo before it was gone!

Genius also had the Pulled Pork and Burnt Ends, with Fries and SLAW. Genius is more of a storyteller than an eater, so his plate was still mostly full for my photo. Hick must have already gone through his Garlic Bread, since it is mysteriously absent from his picture. Genius does not have a freakish baby-hand like the angle of the photo makes it look. Just a regular left hand that he uses for eating, what with being a southpaw.

Here is Friend's yearned-for Turkey Platter, with Fries and Corn. You can order the meat "wet" with sauce, or "dry" and add your own. Looks like Friend's turkey was dry, to dip in the sauce he chose from the table, which I think was the Sweet Chicago version. That turkey was definitely not literally dry. Looks quite moist to me.

I had the Loaded BBQ Baked Potato, which in my case was loaded with Pulled Pork, and topped with cheese. It came with one side (SLAW, of course!) and Garlic Bread, which I took home for The Pony, who was working and couldn't join us to strap on the old feedbag. The slaw was great, though a little soupy. Which was fine, since I was eating with a fork, and left that liquid behind. The sour cream and butter were NOT as big as the slaw bowl! Just another lesson in perspective through the phone camera lens.

The visit ended all too soon, since Genius and Friend had a prior engagement that brought them to this neck of the city woods. Hick and I were happy to be penciled into the schedule.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

A CENTennial of Sorts, Worth More Than a Hick Nickel

Even Steven is up to something. Sure, he provided me with pennies this week. But not only did he withhold the higher denominations, he DISTRIBUTED ONE TO SOMEONE NOT WORTHY!
On SATURDAY, October 16, I stopped by Orb K for scratchers. While waiting at the counter for my tickets to be harvested from the dispenser, I spied a special treat:
It was a heads-up 2014 penny. Unfortunately, my phone camera pretended to snap the closeup, but kept that picture as well as a car-rental agency kept a reservation for a guy with a horse-face and flaring nostrils. Thus one customer received a totally unnecessary ample-rumpusing. Sorry. I do believe somebody at Orb K finally swept the floor!!!

FRIDAY, October 22, I went in Country Mart to get my scratchers from their lottery machine. When I came back out, the sun was just right to point out a penny waiting for me on the sidewalk by T-Hoe!

Good thing there wasn't a wayward child revving that car-cart to run me down as I bent over to harvest my coin, and leave me cents-less!

It was a face-down 2020 penny, looking as if I had posed it to perfection. In reality, I zoomed in with my phone camera, and took the picture blindly, due to the sun's reflection off the screen. I DID crop it for centering purposes, but it was happily aligned like this.

Yes, I was pleased to be double-pennied this week. But just to shove my nose out of joint, Even Steven bestowed a special gift on Hick!

Hick found a NICKEL on a floor joist under the Master Bathroom of Pony House where he ripped out the the floor. Of course he sent me a picture. He probably spent the nickel! He does not understand sentimentality. I would have put it in a little frame for Pony to perhaps hang in that bathroom. 

"Was it an OLD nickel?"

"Nah. It was a 1980."

"Um. That's 41 years ago. SOME PEOPLE, like The Pony, would consider that old..."

I can't claim the Hick Nickel as my own. It obviously wasn't meant for me. I don't know who's sending Hick this coin, but they sure knew where he'd be likely to find it.

That makes 2 PENNIES this week, for 2 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune, reaching the 100 PENNY MILESTONE for 2021!


Penny       # 99, 100.
Dime         still at 12.
Nickel       still at 6.
Quarter    still at 6.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Customer Is Always the Rumpus of the Joke

I'm not happy with my treatment at the Sis-Town Casey's on Thursday. ME! A loyal customer who buys gas there once a week! I'm sure I'm keeping them in business.
To begin with, there was some jackrumpusery going on behind the counter. It was not clear which of the two registers were open, nor who was woking. I stood at the counter between the registers. Patiently. Two women were chatting, and one gave the side-head to a young man of about 20. "Go help her over there." Nodding at the left register.
I stepped over and told him I wanted $40 on Pump 3. T-Hoe is thirsty, with a hollow tank. That would only fill him halfway. I also told Young'un that I was cashing in two draw tickets (a $2 and a $3 winner), and buying more. He set to work scanning the winners, then tore off and printed my new tickets. It's always hard to hear in there, talking through the Plexiglass the the VIRUS can't jump over or slither under, and the employees wearing masks, and some machinery always humming. Perhaps their freezer. 

During Young'un's activities, two different employees stood by and watched. Nodded and walked off. I assumed he was training, since I hadn't seen him before. I didn't look at his name tag. He had everything done, and scanned my new tickets to ring them up. I saw that he had given a wrong ticket.

"Oh, I don't want this one. I said two Cash4Life with EZ Match. This is only one, without EZ Match." An honest mistake. I was just bringing it to his attention, to get what I'd asked for. This discombobulated Young'un. A bigger older women came over. I assumed she was the manager. She was quite short, and I don't mean in height.

"What did you DO?"

Before Young'un could explain, she locked eyes with me through the Plexiglass. I explained about the two Cash4Life with EZ Match. She printed them, and removed the other ticket I didn't want.

"That will be $52."

"Um. No, I think that's wrong. I had planned on giving you $60, and getting $5 back."

"Oh. Did you have gas?" [Seriously, she was asking ME, a customer with a possible motive to lie and save $40, rather than Young'un, her own employee?]

"Yes. $40 on Pump 3. And here are the tickets." 

 I started grouping like tickets together, to show how they added up. Then she got all snippy with me!


Sure you can, Hitlerzilla. I thought, but didn't speak. She proceeded to turn over the tickets I was buying, one by one, calling out their code numbers, while looking at the register readout. They all checked out just fine. The whole time, she was sighing and giving side glances at Young'un.
I was the only one in line when we started, and now there were two customers behind me, a man with two grade-school kids, and another man. 

"Jeannie, see if anyone has cash."

"No, I already asked."

"Well, take HIM at the drive-thru register." Hitlerzilla turned to Young'un. "Now what did she give you? Did you take that off?" Young'un said he did. $5 worth of winners.

At the risk of having my head bitten off through the Plexiglass, I said, "I had one $2 winner, and one $3 winner."

Hitlerzilla looked through the receipts Young'un had printed out. "Oh. That's it. $55."

I gave her the money, grabbed my tickets and change, and turned to leave. The next guy stepped up, and laughed. Hitlerzilla was ROLLING HER EYES! It was all I could do to hold my ire by muttering under my breath, 

"Can't ANYBODY do a job right in this place?"

Pardon the Not-Heaven out of ME! How dare I do business at their store, and purchase the products they offer for sale! 

The way I see it, this whole crapshow could have been avoided by:

 - Training new employees completely, or supervising them until they learn all transactions.
 - Less personal conversations and more work.
 - Fix their card-scanner that's been down a month, so they don't need to do cash-only at one register.
 - Do not mock the customers or berate the help

- Accepting $8 in change instead of the $5 I was owed, thus cheating them out of $3.
- Taking a ticket I did not want, and foregoing two that I did.

I'm sick of their shoddy customer service! I'm not going back there... until next Thursday, when it's time for T-Hoe's gas.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Pony Does Not APPRECIATE Such Behavior

Remember back in June? Hick had his nose out of joint because The Pony bought his own whole milk (not a version that Hick drinks) to have for breakfast before work, and told Hick, "I would appreciate it if you did not drink my milk."

As much as it caused a frosty response, that statement did, indeed, preserve the milk. Perhaps The Pony should have lay in wait, to spring the same appreciation on Hick about the Symphony candy bar I bought him as a treat. It was the big bar, with many little rectangle pieces to be broken off and savored. The plain Symphony, not the kind with nuts and crunchy things. The Pony has simple tastes, unless he's buying one of every wine ever imagined, or exotic gourmet sauces and oils to add to pasta.

Anyhoo... I bought the Symphony with my groceries on Tuesday. The Pony got off "early" at 4:00! After working only 8.5 hours! In fact, he had clocked out before I was home from town. He got home before I did, and carried in my groceries. I guess his feet were teeming with energy, conditioned for another 3.5 hours of walking.

Anyhoo... Hick was not yet home. The Pony cranked back in the recliner to do some computer gaming, and enjoy some Symphony. Shortly after Hick arrived home, The Pony ran his 2-hour bath in the big triangle tub in the master bathroom. I served Hick his supper, and sat down to chat. After consuming his delicious Frito Taco Salad, Hick reached over and picked up something off the side table, next to the TV remote.

"What's this?"

"Oh! That's The Pony's Symphony I bought him as a treat."


"So don't eat it. I guess he left part of it there. I just got it."

Let the record show that Hick has no shortage of SWEET TREATS that he absolutely should not consume. Yet he does it anyway. By sneak or by blatant disregard for other people's concern for his health! He has two kinds of individual ice cream cups, one vanilla with strawberry or chocolate swirl, and the other half vanilla/half chocolate. He has bags of Christmas cookies and animal cookies that he bought at the auction. He has expired Russell Stover chocolates that he bought at the auction. He has chocolate-covered raisins that he asked me to buy for him. And right then, I offered him an alternative treat:

"There's an individual bag of Little Debbie mini oatmeal cakes, like little cookies, that I bought Pony a couple weeks ago, and he didn't want..."

"Okay. Where are they?"

So... Hick ate the mini oatmeal cake/cookies. You know what else he ate, don't you?

The Pony had Wednesday off. He came to the kitchen as I was getting ready to leave for our yearly meeting with our financial advisor.

"Did you eat some of my Symphony, Mom?"

"No. I always ask before I take something. I have those Dove dark chocolate squares. I like my Symphony with the crunchy stuff."

"Well, there are TWO SQUARES of my Symphony missing."

"Dang it! Dad picked it up last night from the table, and I TOLD him not to eat it!"

"I'm pretty sure I had half left, plus two squares. I guess I could be confused..."

"I doubt it."

The Pony got an early jump on his nightly 2-hour bath, around 4:30. When Hick got home, and was eating a repeat of his Frito Taco Salad, I inquired about the Symphony.

"Did you eat some of The Pony's candy bar?"


"You act like that's okay! I TOLD you not to eat it! AND you ate more than ONE square. WHY did you eat it? You even had the oatmeal cake/cookies after your ice cream!"

"Well. It looked really good."

I later revealed the confession to The Pony. Nothing more was said, but I could tell he did not APPRECIATE Hick's behavior.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Accommodating The Pony

Hick bought three more lights for Pony House at the auction Monday night. He did NOT share a picture with me! Why even bother to tell me if he's not going to provide PROOF?

Tuesday, Hick was working at Pony House when The Pony himself called. This is twice now that The Pony has asked Hick to pick up some lunch for him. Heh, heh! I need to ask who's paying! Anyhoo, last time was on Friday, when The Pony was working in Backroads. Of course he wanted Hick to drive over to the next town to Burger King to pick up a Whopper. So the excuse that, "Well, I knew Dad would be at his Storage Unit Store, so I thought he could bring my lunch," kind of stretches logic. It's not as if he asked for something right there in Backroads, like Hardee's, or Casey's, or Dairy Queen.

Hick asked The Pony why he didn't just get his own lunch, rather than eat it on his 10-minute break.

"Dad. I get PAID for my break, but I don't get paid for a half-hour lunch!"

Anyhoo... I guess on Tuesday, The Pony did a walking lunch, because Hick said he stopped by Pony House to walk through and take a look. To be fair, he WAS delivering on the route that includes Pony House. No word on what was for lunch.

WEDNESDAY is The Pony's day off. He had planned to go over to Bill-Paying Town for his favorite meal of Steak N Shake. And to stop by Walmart for socks and deodorant. THEN he had second thoughts when he saw me cooking hamburger for a taco salad on Tuesday night.

"No, I don't want tacos, but if you have some of that hamburger left, I might make myself hamburgers tomorrow."

Uh huh. After working 8 straight days, a 20-minute trip to Steak N Shake is not so appealing on a day off! Not when you can lie around the house and play computer games with your FEET UP. I guess maybe The Pony can wear holey socks another week (or 8 days), and maybe not smell so fresh. 
I even patted out his hamburgers for him, but he'll have to stand to cook them. Hick and I have our yearly appointment with our financial advisor around lunch time. I'm meeting Hick there, and hoping to sneak out early. No need for me to sit around while they chew the fat over collectibles and firearms.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

O Pecan Tree

O Pecan Tree, O Pecan Tree
How heavy are your branches
O Pecan Tree, O Pecan Tree
How fragile are your branches

Your boughs so green in summertime
Will soon be gone in wintertime
O Pecan Tree, O Pecan Tree
How heavy are your branches

Let the record show that PECAN tree is debatable. A couple of the tree-trimmers who came to inspect the tree and give an estimate were not sold on the pecan narrative. They said a pecan tree usually does not drop branches like the Pony House tree. Hick swears there are pecans in the yard that have fallen from the tree. I asked if maybe they were hickory nuts, but Hick swears they are pecans. As does THIS GUY, the one who sold us the $5000 Hick House.

Anyhoo... when we last convened to discuss the Pony House Pecan Tree, Hick was waiting on Tree-Trimmer Guy to get a license to do business in Sis-Town. Hick and I were discussing this very topic on Thursday evening when Hick got a text from Tree-Trimmer Guy, providing a picture of his city business license! I don't know what it cost. Hick thinks probably around $86, the cost of his building permit. He DID see on the copy that Tree-Trimmer Guy's business license is good until July 1, 2022.

Hick and Tree-Trimmer Guy met to finalize their contract on Friday afternoon. Tree-Trimmer Guy raised his price from $3000 to $3250, and Hick agreed. He is having the entire tree cut down, not just trimmed. I will worry less about it falling on Pony House that way, although I hate to lose such a large shade tree.

Tree-Trimmer Guy said he is working a regular job. He had been trying to get on with this guy for a while, and just got hired. So he will be cutting down Pony House Pecan Tree on the weekends. Except for Sundays. He doesn't work on Sundays. This does not bother Hick. He is not in a hurry, just happy to have the project underway. He went by on Saturday after closing his Storage Unit Store, to watch the process.

Hick says it is only Tree-Trimmer Guy and TTG Wife doing the trimming. Tree-Trimmer Guy climbs into the tree, secured by a safety harness, and crawls out onto a limb, which he ties off in a 4-foot section, then cuts and lowers it with a block-and-tackle. TTG Wife helps from the ground, and drags the brush out of the way, then hauls it off. Together they take the cut sections to the concrete pad up by the garage to stack it.
A story about that ladder coming up later! 

OOPSIE! One of the wood hunks fell onto the corner of Pony House! Hick told Tree-Trimmer Guy that he could fix the damage, or Hick would deduct money from his fee, and fix it himself. Tree-Trimmer Guy said he would fix it. Hick still holds the purse strings. He's not worried.

Hick came home Saturday afternoon to GET HIS TRACTOR! He loaded it on his trailer, and hauled it to Pony House. So Tree-Trimmer Guy and TTG Wife could use it to move the wood! Hick says insurance will cover any accidents. He is trying to make it easier for the Trimmers to move that wood up the slight hill to the concrete pad. "They can load it in the bucket of the tractor, and drive it up there."

Hick went over to the neighbor's house and knocked on the door, just to tell him that the Trimmers would be working there off and on. This one didn't want the power turned off like one of the other candidates. Neighbor Guy opened the door, and told Hick,

"Just a minute, I've got some money for you."

"I didn't come over to ask for money. Just to tell you they'll be working over here."

"Oh, I went and took out the money like I said. I knew they were working. I was watching, and the guy knocked his ladder over. I went to get it for him, so he could get out of the tree. His wife was gone in the truck, hauling off the brush when it happened."

Neighbor Guy gave Hick five $100 bills. Nice and crisp, but I'm pretty sure he's a smoker. Anyhoo... THAT'S a good neighbor! Let's hope nothing falls and smashes his property.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Val Gets a Crime-Fighting Lesson at the Gas Station Chicken Store

The more you know...

Sunday, business was slow at the Gas Station Chicken Store. It was just me, at the soda fountain filling my 44 oz Diet Coke, and Man Owner puttering around wiping down the counters (they close at 5:00 on Sundays), and Woman Owner behind the counter waiting on customers. As I walked up front, a man stepped one foot in the door.

"I just want you to know, my son is getting gas, and then he's got to leave for work. I'm in my truck, and I'll be getting diesel fuel around at the side, but I'm going to pay for both of us when I'm done. So he's not driving off. I'll be paying for his gas and mine."

"All right. Thank you for telling me. I don't feel like running fast today!"

They both laughed, and the guy went back out as I set my magical elixir on the counter.

"He thinks I'm joking, but I'm serious! I cleared off my counter so I can get out fast!" [There's a section that flips up like a drawbridge, where she'd moved the merchandise that sometimes sits there.]

"What are you going to do if you catch someone, grab onto the bumper?"

"I've stopped people before! There was one time that I stopped a stolen car! I didn't know it was stolen at the time. I just wanted my gas money. It was a couple years ago, a car from Michigan. There were four guys in it, and I ran out as they were trying to get away, waving my arms and screaming at them to stop. They DID!"

"I'm surprised. You'd think they'd want to get away. Oh, but I guess they'd rather face you than have you call in a gas drive-off, since they were in a stolen car."

"I was standing there while they tried to get their stories straight, to tell me how they were going to pay, when a State Patrol car made a U-turn and came flying in here! The trooper jumped out pointing his gun, yelling 'Put your hands on top of the car!'"

Man Owner walked up. "I was out there by that time, and I put my hands in the air, and said, 'Hey, this isn't how you do it on TV!'"

"Turns out the car was being tracked by GPS. They got arrested, and I had to go to court 4 times! They tried them all separately. I got a letter from Judge Judy, wanting me to be on the show. They would pay us $500 each, plus our expenses to get out there, and the judgment if we won. 
I remember sitting on the bench over at the courthouse on Law Day, waiting to be called in. I leaned over and hollered at one of the guys who worked for us, 'Hey, David, did you get your letter from Judge Judy?' Well! All the noise stopped, like I was E.F. Hutton! Everybody looked at me. 
When I got in the courtroom, I mentioned it to the judge. She said, 'Are you going?' and I told her no. Then she said, 'At least you have a little self-respect.'"
"Wow! You could have been famous!"
"No way would I go be on Judge Judy! I've watched Judge Judy! She makes everybody look like a fool, not just the guilty people!"

Never a dull moment at the Gas Station Chicken Store.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Hick Has Been in the Bathroom All Week

Hick's project at Pony House this week was Bathroom 2, the bathroom off the second bedroom. I must have misunderstood when I thought he said he would start on Monday and be done Monday night! Even Hick is not THAT efficient. I think maybe he meant something about the floor? I must have listened like he was Charlie Brown's teacher, and only heard BATHROOM and DONE. Anyhoo... I'll tell the story in pictures.

It started with boards Hick removed from the walls of Bedroom 2:

Those long boards, leaning against the wall, here in Bedroom 2. Hick said he was going to use them on the floor of Bathroom 2. Not as floorboards, but as an extra layer of insulation material. He put down the wall boards, then the insulated blue board that's made for floor insulation, then the good plywood, then the laminate flooring that IS waterproof and made for bathroom use. As Hick said, "I'm using these boards because I HAVE THEM. They are free. More plywood is NOT free."

This is the corner where the sink will go. Bedroom on the other side of that wall, and to the right, is the wall that will be against the porch/back door area. Hick says the boards come with these markings on them, so you can know where the wall studs are, since wall studs are spaced at standard intervals which I don't remember.

This is where the shower will go. The wood wall is the back of the house, and the other board is against the porch/back door area. You can also see the marked boards on the floor. That's the third floor layer, the bottom layer being those old wall boards, then the insulation board, then this. Hick had a little problem on Monday, when he dropped his WRENCH down the shower drain pipe. He had to drive home to get his magnetic stick thingy to pull out the wrench.

Here's the shower, partially done, except for the back wall. The plywood will be covered by some shiny white board that reminds me of those school whiteboards for dry-erase markers. We have it in our basement, and it makes the room bright. Pony and I think Hick should leave the wood on the back wall, and the unseen wall to the right, which is the side of the house, where the toilet will go. Too much white board will make it look like a hospital! The contrast of wood and white will be good, we think. Hick will sand the wood and seal it. That different area, which was a window, will get a mirror. You'll see!

Here's the sink corner, and the sink drain pipe. No wrench lost in that one! As you can see, Hick has the laminate flooring down. I said it looks too small for a vanity here, but Hick says a vanity is only 20 inches deep, and then quoted me the measurements here, which I can't remember. Again, these two walls seen will be covered by the shiny white board. There's a brief glimpse of the door opening to the bedroom.

This is the back wall with the mirror in place of the old window. The reflection in the mirror is the window that is over where the toilet will be. The window still needs framing. I'm really liking the thought of these two wood walls contrasting with the two shiny white board walls.

That's it so far. I don't think Hick has put in the toilet, or there would be pictures. He might be waiting to tie in something with the plumbing. His helper has only been there once, because he's working another job.

That's the current progress on Bathroom 2. Not sure what room will be next.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

A PENNY and a DOH! Not Quite Dinner and a Show.

All good things must end, and this week that good thing was Val's multi-coin streak at filling the coffers of her Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.
On TUESDAY, October 12, I was over in Sis-Town on banking business, and stopped by the Casey's for scratchers. When I came out the door, a gift was waiting, just for me!
Can you see this one? If those three gum spots formed a kite, the PENNY would make up the bottom angle where the tail would be attached. The license plate numbers have been removed to protect the innocent non-coin-harvesters.  

It was a face-down 2002 penny, basking in the sun, unseen when I entered those very doors about 5 minutes earlier. Thanks, little buddy, for saving me from a shut-out this week!
Since I don't have an interesting penny-finding story this week, I'll share a short typing faux pas by The Pony. He sends me a text every night when he clocks out, so we know when to expect him home. With him working those 12-hour days, we tend to worry if we haven't heard anything. 

"Waiting for a trick to move, then parking my LLV right, and clocking out."

"A TRICK? How interesting..."
The Pony explained, once home, that he was waiting on a TRUCK, the big mail truck semi that was blocking the whole parking lot, so he couldn't put his LLV in the line with other LLVs. Good to know. I was starting to wonder if all 12 hours were always on the clock! Or what kind of neighborhood he might be delivering in!

That makes 1 COIN, for 1 CENT added to Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune this week.


Penny       # 98.
Dime         still at 12.
Nickel       still at 6.
Quarter    still at 6.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, October 15, 2021

They Might as Well Hitch The Pony to a Wagon

The Pony could be more efficient if he was harnessed to a buggy. To a surrey (fringe missing from the top, of course). Or in keeping with the current newness of the post office vehicles, an Oklahoma Sooner prairie schooner kind of wagon. At least it would be dependable transportation for The Pony and his mail. 

The LLV (Long Life Vehicle) that The Pony was issued on Tuesday must have been on its 10th life. I got a text from him at 11:51. It was a picture:

"This is a problem. Gear shifter came off."

Well. Yes. That IS a problem. The lever came right out of the column. The Pony said he could put the lever back in, and change gears, but that lever would not stay. It kept falling out. The Pony called back to the post office, and the manager sent a mechanic. Not a USPS mechanic, but the local guy from the shop that always has 2-3 LLVs in the driveway, near the Sis-Town Casey's, cattycorner from the pawn shop where Hick does business.

The mechanic put the lever back in, and used some kind of bolt thingy to hold it on, according to The Pony. So I don't have the technical specs, due to Pony-speak. So he could continue his route. However... another pitfall awaited.

"Somebody put barbed wire by their mailbox! I think I know which one it was. I had made a stop, and before I got very far, I heard a noise coming from my back tire. When I went around to look, there was a coil of barbed wired wrapped around the axle twice. It took a while to get it off--"

"Didn't that cut up your hands?"

"Not too bad. I got it loose. I kept watching that tire, and it was going flat. Not all the way flat, but not full. Before I clocked out, I left a note on the steering wheel for the lady who usually drives that LLV, telling her she should probably check that tire, because I thought it was going flat from running over barbed wire."

The Pony was thrilled on Wednesday to get one of the two new mini vans to deliver packages, and not for foot delivery house-to-house. It had AIR CONDITIONING! And, I'm presuming, a working gear shifter, and a working horn, and four inflated tires. PLUS, The Pony only worked 10.5 hours! Not 12. It's the little things, people. The little things.

Anyhoo... The Pony said that on Wednesday, he saw the LLV's regular driver, and mentioned that tire. She said that she'd been having trouble with it for a while. That it kept losing air. So she didn't think the barbed wire wrap-around had much to do with it. She said she was going to report the tire, and have the mechanic pull it off and see if it had a slow leak.

I think The Pony has 54 hours so far this week, with one more day left before the next work week starts. He has not mentioned a day off... At least he had the Monday paid holiday off, which some people did not. Although for The Pony, a regular 8-hour day is a pay cut.