Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Two-Trick Pony

I declare! The piper has more hands than that Indian deity with a whole passel of arms!

Monday, I found an envelope for The Pony in EmBee. It was from the USPS accounting center. Which you might recall billed The Pony earlier this month for some continuation-of-pay that he received before his Worker's Comp claim was denied and closed. He paid it back with his debit card, while professing that he thought it would be MORE. The Pony thought he got more weeks of pay when he was first injured.

Anyhoo... I sent The Pony a text: 

"You got a letter from the USPS accounting center. They might want the rest of their money!"

Of course it was around 4:30, and The Pony was still working. I could see that The Pony read the text, but he didn't reply. So I set the letter on the kitchen counter, where I put the scratchers I buy for him every day when I get mine. But first, I slit open that envelope with my letter opener. I didn't read it. It's not my business until The Pony shares it with me. But I purely loathe watching him, and seeing the aftermath, of an envelope he's ripped open. You'd think somebody who works with the mail would be more adept at getting it open!

Anyhoo... once The Pony got home around 7:00, he checked that letter. It was indeed a statement from the USPS accounting center, showing the payment he had made previously, and touting a  new balance of $0. That's right. They sent a return envelope, and a bill for $0. Not that The Pony is complaining.

Anyhoo... The Pony then got to scratching! I had given him a $1 ticket and a new $2 ticket. He shoved the $1 ticket across the cutting block at me.

"I won."

"HOW do you do that? I can't win ANYTHING on those little tickets! Seems like you always win."

"It's just a ticket, but it's a winner."

"Yeah. They count it as a dollar. I can apply it to a bigger ticket."


Yes way! The Pony did indeed uncover the $100 symbol on the new $2 ticket. Funny how I can buy those little winners FOR HIM, but I can't win on them myself.
Not only did The Pony get a bill for $0, but he won $101 on scratchers I gave him. Even Steven still has some more EVEN-ING to do with that Worker's Comp claim. But this is a demonstration of good faith.

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Piper Appears With Palm Outstretched

We didn't get any mail on Saturday. I checked EmBee at 4:30 when I came home from town. Our mail used to get here by 1:00. Not any more! Last week, we also didn't get any Saturday mail, but The Pony said if we got any at all, it probably came after dark, so to check on Sunday. And there it was!

Anyhoo... yesterday I parked T-Hoe to walk across the blacktop county road and check EmBee. Hick was rolling down the hill in SilverRedO, and paused long enough in turning to smirk,

"Heh, heh! It's SUNDAY! There ain't no mail today!"

"We didn't get any yesterday, so it might be here now."


On he went, probably sad that the gravel road wasn't dry enough to leave me in a cloud of dust. I DID find EmBee's gullet full of mail. I pulled it out and turned to wave it in the direction of SilverRedO's receding tailgate. I hope Hick was looking in his mirror! I love to be VALidated!

Anyhoo... our mail contained two junk mail catalogs, three offers for Hick to switch his Medicare supplemental insurance, and one envelope for The Pony. It was not a letter.


You know, the ankle he broke while on the job delivering mail for the USPS. For which his Worker's Compensation claim was denied over a technicality of an Urgent Care nurse-practitioner's signature rather than a specialist's signature, and the absence of one form that he got the runaround on for over two weeks.

Anyhoo... paying the piper isn't the issue. It's HOW the piper will be paid.

The orthopedic practice has been more than accommodating. The ankle was broken on July 15. The Pony was in the soft half-cast applied by Urgent Care for TWO WEEKS before he could get the necessary form filled out to get an appointment with a podiatrist. 

One walking boot, two more appointments, two x-rays, and four months later... this is the first bill The Pony has received. It is coded as "current." The bill is itemized. Everything listed is care that The Pony received. The Department of Labor was billed in October and November. Paid $0.

The orthopedic practice is certainly entitled to their fees. The last time The Pony was there, they filled out a form for the specialist's signature and pertinent details of the injury. The Pony told them he needed it to file for a RECONSIDERATION on his claim, which had just been denied and closed. The office representative said this happens a lot, and they would keep trying, no need to pay anything at that time.

Here's the thing. Insurance won't pay for a work injury. It's considered insurance fraud (by The Pony) if they pay, and then he gets a Worker's Comp claim settled.

Hick says that if The Pony pays, the orthopedic group will stop billing the Department of Labor, because the bill is paid. Then the DOL won't ever pay. That The Pony would likely have to sue them to get his money back for the medical bills he paid.

It's not an issue of the money. The Pony brought home the amount of the bill in one week on his last pay period. Sure, nobody WANTS to spend their hard-earned money on a doctor bill, but it's in his account, and it's not a hardship to pay it in full. But he WAS injured ON THE JOB. The USPS has never disputed that fact, and sent in the corroborating paperwork confirming the on-the-job injury.

The packet with all the forms for the RECONSIDERATION was mailed on September 17. The Pony finally got confirmation from the DOL that it was received on October 12. Right now his claim is being reviewed. Reconsidered, if you will. So the claim is technically OPEN, and not yet resolved.

I say The Pony should take the orthopedic group a copy of his DOL letter saying his case is being reviewed. That way, they will have confirmation other than The Pony's word for it. They might put a letter in the file, and keep billing the DOL until the case is resolved by payment or official denial.

The Pony is taking the bill and the DOL letter to discuss with his shop steward, and if she isn't available, with his new acting manager, for advice on how to proceed. I doubt The Pony is the only beast of mail burden that this has ever happened to...

Sunday, November 28, 2021

You Get What You [Don't] Pay For

After all the trouble I went to getting my FREE TURKEY, as documented last week... I am beginning to think that I did not get a bargain.

It was an 11.75 lb fowl. I thawed it for three days in FRIG II. I let it rest at room temperature for 45 minutes before sliding it into the oven. It was supposed to be an hour for that size turkey, according to my estranged BFF Google, but I hit the snooze button a few too many times.

I turned my oven on to warm at 400, then dropped it to 350 when I put the bird in the oven. I put a little bit of water in the roasting pan, under the rack, to keep my oven interior moist. I patted the turkey dry after unwrapping it and wrenching its neck from inside its gullet. I rubbed on some vegetable oil to brown the skin. I put foil loosely over the top for the first hour of the 2.5 that it was cooking. Then I moved the foil to just the leg part of the turkey.

The little red thingy popped up at 2.5 hours. I had The Pony lift that heavy bird out of the oven and set it on top. It looked great! The skin was a perfect shade of brown. The only hiccup was the leg condition. That turkey had chicken legs! Not robust, renaissance-fair, snack-stand legs. Thin legs. Almost as if it had been raised in a cage, and rarely allowed to walk!

Anyhoo... as Hick was carving the turkey, I told him to SLICE it, not saw it. He denied sawing, and said the knife was dull (one that he brought home from his factory whose business was making cutting products for butchers) and that he was slicing. I guess that was my first clue...

I chose a turkey leg for my plate. I like dark meat. I waved it around like a drum major's baton, decreeing that I was going to toast my FREE TURKEY leg with a flagon of mead. Hick and The Pony truly do not appreciate my sense of humor...

Anyhoo... as I ripped the flesh off that magnificent drumstick, I felt the need to chew past the normal swallowing point. The meat was a little tough. I attributed that to my cooking. Sure, I kept the legs under foil. But I did set the temp at 350 rather than the 325 the package suggested. I was willing to take responsibility for overcooking those fowl gams.

The Pony chose white meat turkey, and also a bit of the Kentucky ham that Hick had requested. He made tiny sandwiches on Sister Schubert's Rolls. As he got full, he had a bit of turkey left, which he donated to me. It was about two bites, and chewed like ten. When I mentioned that fact, Hick said his turkey was a little tough, too.

"It's like when you get chicken breasts sometimes, and the fibers are all twisty, and it chews like gum. I guess turkeys have that problem sometimes, too. I should have known that nobody would give away a GOOD turkey for free!"

Before we had put the rolls in the oven, I had told The Pony to slip in a foil pan holding the neck and heart and a scrap of liver. The surprise that came inside the turkey.

"I'm going to feed these to the dogs later."

In trying to also bake the hash brown casserole, and a foil pan of some ham slices (no need to cook the whole ham, with a full turkey sitting on the stove redistributing its juices), we saw that our last-minute two pans of Sister Schubert's Rolls were not going to fit.

"I guess you can take out the neck and heart and liver. I can put that back in when the rolls are done."

"You know they're DOGS, right? And you don't have to cook for them? Because they eat this stuff raw."

The Pony is such a joy to have in our home...

"Okay, okay! Take them out, they'll be fine. They're already part-way cooked."

Since Hick insisted on giving the dogs the turkey carcass after dinner, I withheld the neck, heart, and liver until Friday. As I was leaving for town, I gave Juno a wing flap thingy, and held out the neck to Jack. Hick said Juno got most of the carcass, so Jack should get the neck.

JACK SNIFFED IT AND ARCHED HIS BACK LIKE A CAT! He looked like a croquet wicket! He shuddered, and turned away as if he felt nauseous! 

"Okay, then. You don't know what you're missing! We'll give it to the glutton!"
I reached that turkey neck into Juno's house, where she lurks like an eel in a crevice at the bottom of the ocean. At any given time, she has at least one antler, one skull, and assorted long leg bones littering the floor of her domain.
JUNO WOULD NOT TAKE THE TURKEY NECK! She sniffed it, and retreated farther from the door. With assorted dead things in various states of decay lining her parlor, Juno refused the FREE TURKEY neck!
I guess it's just not a very good turkey... 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Second PENNY Verse, Same as the First

For the second week in a row, One is the Loneliest PENNY That You'll Ever Find. You're right. That is NOT very imaginative. Not clever. But it IS the truth.

WEDNESDAY, November 27, I came out of Orb K to find a special treat waiting for me.

It was glowing perfectly on the overcast day, so as to catch my attention.
It was a heads-up 20019 penny, complete with a sheen of oil from that puddle where it rests. I was careful not to drop it in my pocket, nor contaminate my scratchers. I wiped it off with a Puffs With Lotion from the console of T-Hoe.

Creatively counting, I could claim that I also found 20 quarters this week, on Friday, when I grabbed them from Hick's quarter jar. But that wouldn't quite be fair. It was fair to Hick. I left a $5 bill in their place.

That's one COIN this week, for one CENT towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       # 111.
Dime         still at 12.
Nickel       still at 7.
Quarter    still at 6.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, November 26, 2021

Bad Eggs In Backroads

Val is no spring chicken when it comes to boiling eggs. We used to raise chickens, by cracky, before the neighbor dogs killed all 38 of them, one or two per day. I knew that those delicious free-range eggs were not good for boiling. Too fresh! I bought eggs at the store when I wanted to make deviled eggs.
I've also tried internet suggestions like adding some vinegar to the water when boiling the eggs. I take the eggs off the heat when they're done, and let them soak in nearly ice-cold well water from our tap. If I have good eggs, I can peel them in one or two pulls per egg. Maybe in large chunks of shell, or round and round in a long strip, like one of those weird apple-peeler turning machines. 
It's great when my eggs cooperate in shedding their shells. The eggs I attempted to devil on Wednesday evening were truly devilish! The first 8 of the two dozen were fine. I knocked their ends on a paper plate on my inherited Mom's kitchen table, then rolled them under my palm, and the shells came off easily when I pulled on the end with the air bubble. Got ahold of that thin skin, and off with the shells. The other 16 eggs were not so cooperative. It took me an hour to peel two dozen eggs!

Both cartons of eggs came from Save A Lot, where I always buy my eggs. They were Grade A Large. Both from the same box, with the same USE BY date that was three weeks in the future. They looked unremarkable when I put them in my copper-bottomed pot and turned on the burner. I added a dash of vinegar to the water. There was enough water to cover the top of the eggs. Once they started boiling, I turned the heat down to maintain a rolling boil without great blobs of water jumping out of the pan. SAME AS I ALWAYS DO. After 9 minutes, I took them off, poured out the hot water, and ran cold water in the pot and let them sit in the sink. Twice I poured out that water and freshened it with more cold water. Then I set the eggs in the sink drainer to drip dry. When I returned from town, I put the eggs back in the cartons, and into FRIG II until the next day.

I have no idea how those first 8 eggs so randomly peeled perfectly! What are the odds of me grabbing the best 8 eggs out of 24? I treated the next 16 eggs exactly the same. Yet they didn't want to shed their shells!

These eggs clung to their shells like Val clings to her paying-bills-by-check-through-the-mail ways! Like the sides of those plastic produce bags cling to each other when you're trying to buy five limes. Like a flowery pair of panties clings to the inside of your jeans, only to fall out when you're in a circle doing a trite greeting activity at teacher inservice (not me, but a teaching buddy).

It's like this second group of eggs had no air bubble. It was impossible to get that thin skin pried up off the egg white. Only tiny, tiny crumbs of shell could be picked off. And sometimes, those crumbs brought a chunk of the egg white with them! Those eggs were more pockmarked than Edward James Olmos!

At least I had the 8 good eggs to fill the 16 sections of my deviled egg holder. I made a 4 more for pre-snacking by Hick and The Pony. Then I used 6 of the bad eggs in my 7 Layer Salad, and 6 in my potato salad.

At least the yolks were perfectly done...

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving Eve Has a Different Feel

I might be lying awake all night in anticipation of the big day... but it's not from excitement. I think the word I am grasping for is DREAD. Although I DID get all my side dishes except one ready Wednesday. Not counting the Stove Top Stuffing, a request by The Pony, which takes less than 10 minutes from start to plating.

Oh, and did I mention that Wednesday was also my wedding anniversary? I think I did. Good thing, or it would have been completely forgotten. To be fair, Hick got me a card, and I got him a card and some scratchers (he won $20). But we didn't do anything. Well. That's not quite true. I spent 9.5 hours preparing dishes for the big feast, and Hick spent that long playing around over at Pony House.

Hick went to bed at 9:30. I finally sat down with my LUNCH at 9:00 p.m., and I'm still up at 2:20 a.m. Hick needs his rest, you know. It's not easy to digest a full Thanksgiving meal that will be swallowed in 10 minutes. I will have plenty of time to digest my meal. It can settle down and progress though my digestive tract while I'm standing to wash the dishes.

I have to slide my FREE TURKEY into the oven by 8:30 a.m. Even the turkey gets an HOUR OF REST before the big feast. I only need to whip up a hash brown casserole before dinner is served. And the storebought Sister Schubert's Rolls. And find room to warm up the roasted veggies.

I'm kind of looking forward to this yearly feast. Because once we sit down to eat, it will be another whole year before I have to prepare it again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

He Loves Me, He Really Loves Me

No, I am not talking about Hick on this, our 32nd wedding anniversary. Although I'm pretty sure HE loves me, too.

This title actually refers to Genius. And I think I mis-typed, because more accurately, I'd say Genius loves MY THANKSGIVING FOODS. He won't be joining us tomorrow. He's making his own feast in Pittsburgh. And in doing such, HE NEEDS MY RECIPES!

I found out by text when I was parking at Country Mart, to pick up a couple last-minute items.

"Can you send me recipes for your bacon wrapped green beans and your potato salad?"

"Later tonight? I'm in town, getting rum and cheesecake and my magical elixir."


Two hours later, I sent him that detailed information by text. From memory. I could have typed it up and sent as an email attachment. But that would have been more trouble. I DID find a printout of the basics for the green beans. So I sent a picture, and then typed in my changes.
Three and a half hours later, I had a THANK YOU!

Funny how Genius didn't ask for my deviled egg recipe. He loves them. I guess they're too much trouble to make.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

They Know How To INSTALL Those Tire Stopper Bumper Thingies, But...

 ... they don't know how to make them actually STOP TIRES!
Back at Country Mart, I parked on the very end without being blocked in by a biker's rumpus. I noticed that the broken yellow tire stopper bumper thingy was gone, and a new one in its place. However...
These yellow tire stopper bumper thingies do not seem to be effective. People (more specifically, the TIRES of cars the people drive) have pushed them all willy-nilly. I'm pretty sure most of the properly-installed yellow tire stopper bumper thingies have two bolts anchoring them to the pavement. 

Also... it looks like the new quota of 6 handicap spaces along the front, with 4 huge striped walkways dividing them, are NOT enough handicap spaces. This Lincoln Town Car on the end has a handicap symbol on the license plate. I guess all those 6 handicap spaces were full, so it had to park down here at the end.

I had to be careful taking this picture. Careful not to show the sidewalk running down in front of the store, and the actual signs for the handicap spaces. Because three employees had taken a break to smoke. They were on a bench when I put my groceries in T-Hoe, but meandering back toward the door, still talking and puffing, when I started pointing my phone. 
I didn't want to risk that angry mob rushing me, in case they thought I was documenting their slackerism.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Turkey Talks, Val Walks

On Friday, I went shopping for my Thanksgiving vittles. Juno was willing to help, un-store-wise, by dragging hunks of bloody presumed deer meat up on the porch, but I prefer a store-bought holiday banquet. I was concerned that I'd picked a busy day, but I had errands on Thursday, and figured Saturday would be busier, on the off chance that SOME people are still working, and didn't have Friday off. I didn't want to risk the store running out of any ingredients on my list. Their new weekly sale started on Wednesday.

I rarely check the sale ads. I only looked at it this time for Hick's Diet Mountain Dew addiction. He ran out of the last six 6-packs I got on sale, and was imbibing my Diet Coke, which I'm pretty sure was past the use-by date. I only pour it at home if we've been to the casino and I don't have a chance to get to town for my 44 oz Diet Coke. We haven't been going to the casino very often, now that Hick is working on Pony House. Anyhoo... the current price of those Diet Mountain Dew 6-packs of bottles is $4.59 when not on sale!!! 
I won't buy it at that price. 

Lucky for Hick, the sale said I could get his addictive elixir 3-for-$9.00. Not as good as last time,when it was 4-for-$10. But good enough. Anyhoo... while perusing the online sale ad, I saw that I could get a FREE TURKEY! All I had to do was spend $100. Alcohol not included. It's not hard to spend $100 at Country Mart. I generally spend around $50 each trip, and it seems like I buy nothing! And now I had all my Thanksgiving items on the list.

Hick was down to his last inch of Wild Turkey. So I figured I'd pick up another bottle. He likes the 101 version, which I think is extra alcoholic. It's probably a dollar cheaper at Walmart, but I haven't been in there for almost a year and a half. T-Hoe's gas for the longer trip would be more than a dollar.

I stuck to my list, and several sales I'd seen on the ad. Rather than some 2-liter bottles of soda for our feast, which always go bad a few days later, and don't fit in FRIG II... I got some 12-pack cans. It was 3-for-$12.00 on Coke products. So I got The Pony a Sprite, me a Coke, and me also a Diet Coke. Which Hick can drink when he runs out of the 3-for-$9.00 Diet Mountain Dew. 

The cake mix for The Pony's Oreo Cake were 2-for-$4.00. I grabbed two Kerrygold butters for Pony the Butter Connoisseur. NOT on sale, and a bit expensive at $3.49. Also some regular salted butter for us, in case The Pony was feeling stingy. The Stovetop Stuffing was 2-for-$4.00. Not as cheap as the store brand, but this is one product where you can tell the difference. I got some green olives for my deviled eggs, some black olives as a side dish, and Kraft Mayo (expires in December, but I will use it by then, in the deviled eggs and 7 layer salad and potato salad and on sandwiches).

Hick wanted some ham as well as turkey. Have I mentioned that he's a carnivore? Or do you remember the tale of his towering bowl of vegetable beef soup? Anyhoo... I picked up a small Kentucky smoked ham. Not sure if that's a famous brand, but I figured a ham from Kentucky would probably be pretty good. I needed the frosting and Oreos for The Pony's cake. A bag of potatoes. Sour cream. A large box of Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies for energizing The Pony to deliver the mail. Some plain generic cornflakes (no sugar) to top off my hash brown casserole. The old box of cornflakes was past the due date last year. That's all we used them for.

By that time, I figured I had $100 worth of groceries, not counting the Wild Turkey. I headed to the turkey bin, one of those open freezer sections in the middle of the aisle. They seem SO inefficient. Anyhoo... I knew my sale ad said it had to be the Best Choice brand turkey between 10-12 pounds. 

Those dirty-tricksters! They had NOTHING marked about those free turkeys! AND right beside the 10-12 pound turkeys were 13-and-up turkeys. So you really had to know what you were doing to get this deal. When I got up front, I made sure I pointed out my FREE TURKEY before putting anything on the conveyor. The hulking young man who was my cashier was all ears.

"I have this turkey that your sale ad says is free with a $100 purchase. I'm pretty sure I have that much. And I know alcohol doesn't count. I have a bottle of Wild Turkey that I'm not putting on the conveyor. We can do it at the end."

"Okay. Yeah. We'll leave it for last. I might have to ring it up separate."

"That's fine. I have 3 of these 12-pack Cokes for $12.00, and 3 of the Mountain Dews for $9.00. So I'll just set one of each up here for you to ring them up. Is that okay?"

"Sure." He turned to his trainee, who was bagging, to show him how to ring things in the future.

After scanning everything, my total was $120-something. Checker Dude said that was fine, to put the turkey on. He scanned it, and that 11.75-pound bird RANG UP AT THE REGULAR PRICE! Which I think was $15-and-something. Not really a good price, unless you get it FREE!

"Hey! Connie! It's doing it again. How did you fix it for me last time?"

Connie (not real name) came over from the service desk. She seemed perplexed (or maybe she's a good actor) about this dirty-trickery, and fiddled around at the register, and said, "Scan the alcohol." Which I had sitting on the conveyor, waiting for my turkey decision.

"I didn't scan it. The sale says alcohol doesn't count."

"Scan it." Connie dragged it across the scanner. My total jumped up to $140-something. "Oh. That didn't work." Connie stuck her thumb on a fingerprint scanner thingy which let her override the register [sheesh, Country Mart must be taking lessons from a certain bank with the thumbprint thingy!] and she took off the price of my turkey. However, Connie still did not tell Checker Dude how to solve this problem...

Checker Dude apologized to me, and took my debit card transaction, and handed me my receipt. The Trainee had been bagging my groceries and putting them in the cart. I took my receipt, and started off.


I was only a couple steps away. Not even to the first lottery machine.

"MA'AM! Don't forget your turkey!"

There it was, on the end of the counter. Along with my (Hick's) bottle of Wild Turkey 101.

"Oh, no! I've forgotten the most important parts! MY TURKEYS!"

Seriously. It was that darn Trainee's job to put those in my cart! He put everything else in there. Anyhoo... I have a sneaking suspicion that if people don't ask about the FREE TURKEY, they don't get the FREE TURKEY. And some of them might THINK they got it, only to find out IF they take their receipt, that it was charged to them anyway.

I don't really trust Country Mart.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Pics In the Hall

More framing was done at Pony House last week. Hick and his buddy put up walls for the hall bathroom, the utility room, and the furnace room.

This is the toilet set in place for measurement purposes, in the hall half-bath. It will have a pedestal sink opposite, in the area where the picture-taking Hick was standing. It's 36 inches wide, and maybe six feet long? Just a place for guests to relieve themselves and/or wash hands without traipsing through a bedroom. Hick says the floor in here is fine, just needs scrubbing and sealing. Not sure about his plans for the walls.

That's Hick's buddy hard at work on the half-bath wall. The ladder is where the toilet goes. On the other side of that old patchy wall is the shower area of the Master Bathroom, and the expanded part of the Master Bedroom.

After the half-bath was framed, Hick and his buddy blocked in the utility room across the hall from it. The water heater and washer and dryer will be in the utility room. It will have an accordion door. Beside it is the hallway to get to Bedroom 2.

Here's a look at the hallway, taken from the living room. Half-bath on the left, utility room on the right, just past the hall that leads to Bedroom 2. I told Hick that hall looks narrow. He said it's standard, 36 inches. You can see the toilet sitting in the half-bath, but it's turned sideways right now, not hooked up!

This is the framing for the furnace room. It will take up part of the current living room, with a door to enter from the kitchen. The furnace room will contain the furnace and some shelves. The area where the sawhorses are sitting is a nook that Hick says would be great for a computer desk (or laptop desk, heh, heh). Someplace for The Pony to do his gaming and computing and bill-paying. OR he could put his TV on the wall where that board is leaning. It's the area by the hall to the back door.

Still a lot left to do, but Hick is happy to show off his progress.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

One Is the Loneliest PENNY That You'll Ever Find

Not a good week for Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. A shut-out was avoided, though, on THURSDAY, November 18, at the School-Turn Casey's.

I was waiting back 6 feet from the customer at the counter when I saw a penny languishing on the floor near the corner of the counter. I would have loved to pick it up right then, but such an action would have put my noggin embarrassingly close to that guy's private area. So... I let it lie.

The customer over at the second register left, so I went over there. Which was a signal for that cashier to wander away and chat with the one working on my penny-blocker. Seriously. Just wrap up the transaction with this guy, before somebody else nabs my rightful penny!!!

Oh my gosh. I don't know how much longer that guy could fiddle with putting his card back in his wallet. THEN he asked for a bag for his stuff. How dare he!

I was so ready to step over there and be waited on. But the second that guy left, my own cashier returned to "help" me. The very nerve of her!

Anyhoo... another customer stepped up to the penny-hindering register. I wrapped up my purchase and stopped for that penny. I kept my back to the customer. So even though he was ample-rumpused by Val, there was no appearance of impropriety concerning the location of my head.

I put that penny in my shirt pocket and headed to T-Hoe before anyone could catch me! I posed Abe on the $4 winner that the cashier said had already been scanned, thanks to the darn Country Mart malfunctioning lottery machine! I may be out $4, but really it's only $3.99 because of my found penny!

It was a heads-up 1991. Mine all mine!

That makes ONE COIN this week, for ONE CENT towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny       # 110.
Dime         still at 12.
Nickel       still at 7.
Quarter    still at 6.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, November 19, 2021

Val Is Betrayed By Indiana-Jonesers, Parking Lot Monopolizers, a Machine, EmBee, and Hick

It's hard out there for a gimp. Thursday is my errand day. I hobble into assorted establishments to accomplish my tasks. It seems that The Universe was working overtime yesterday to conspire against me.

Two separate people (as opposed to conjoined twins, heh, heh) found it necessary to play Indiana Jones with the doors to the Gas Station Chicken Store and the main post office. You know the type. Not only do they neglect to hold open the door for somebody behind them, or even give it that extra push as they walk on in... they slip through a minimal crack like Indiana Jones rolling under a falling temple door. So the person behind them (ME!) has to reach out off-balance to grab the handle, or let it close and then reopen it.

It was bad enough that I had to drive on through the cluster-cluckery of the Gas Station Chicken Store parking lot the first time, and return later to find the situation unimproved. The first time, a 4-wheeler was parked in the handicap spot beside the building, a car with the trunk open and full of clothes was just behind it in the air hose area space, and another car was at the air hose behind it.

When I came back, the clothes-trunk car was finally leaving, the air hoser was gone, and the 4-wheeler started up. That was going to leave BOTH of those spaces empty beside the building. Except the young guy in the little gray pickup truck ahead of me PULLED NOSE IN at an angle, taking up BOTH parking spaces! No. He did not have handicap plates, nor a placard on his mirror. Not even a limp! All he bought inside was a bag of ice.

At the School-Turn Casey's, I handed the cashier 3 winning scratchers. Two of them were $4 winners, and one a $3 winner. She scanned them, and said, "You have $7."

"Only $7? I thought I had $11."

"This one says it's already been scanned."

Indeed, they had all three been scanned! The previous day, at Country Mart's left machine. It told me their winning amount, and asked if I wanted to use the balance to play on. I hit the YES button. The machine showed my balance as 0.00. So I had to put in money to buy more tickets. I slipped a ten in the slot. But then it LOCKED UP! Would not let me buy anything after the initial $3 ticket that it spat out. I had to wait in line at the slow-service desk to get a gal to open up that monster to get my $7 back.

"Oh, this machine does it all the time. I've told them we need a new one."

"You might want to put a sign on it..."

Yet she closed it back up and walked away. Anyhoo... I don't know why only ONE of those three tickets I scanned showed up at Casey's as being already scanned. Now I'm out $4. But it could have been all $11.

When I got home, I stopped by EmBee, our steel-pipe mailbox. I guess we got our mail after dark Wednesday night, and then again at the regular time Thursday afternoon. Three business size envelopes were curled up in the back of the pipe, behind a stack of four catalogs and The Pony's monthly postal worker magazine. As I reached back for them, my badfinger hit the magnet hanging from the top, that holds the round metal door closed. It gouged out a chunk of flesh above my middle knuckle. The good thing was, it was so compressed that the flesh was jammed in the gouge. It swelled up a bit, but didn't bleed. UNTIL I got inside the kitchen after dog-treating, and took off my jacket, and noticed blood running down the finger. 

Hick is also on my betrayal list. I woke up Thursday morning with my throat so dry it stuck together. Within a few minutes, I had a sore throat when I swallowed. I blame Hick for giving me his leftover sausage/potato/cabbage plate on Wednesday evening.

"I'm full. I can't eat no more. Do you want me to give this couple pieces to Juno?"

"NO! Let me have it. I haven't eaten since my banana and fake honey nut cheerios this morning [noon:30], and I still have to wash dishes before I make my plate to take downstairs. WAIT! I don't think I want to eat off your fork. You've been sneezing and sniffling."

"I ALWAYS sneeze after I eat. You know that."

"But you've been working with your emergency room man!"

"He ain't really sick. He's just a hypochondriac. He went to the ER on Friday night, but then didn't even fill his prescription till Monday morning at 9:00. I don't know why he didn't go to Walgreens. It's open 24 hours. It's a half mile from the hospital."

"I know you'll make me sick. Here. I'm wiping off your fork."

Yeah. That was a bad move. Although it still could have been from Hick's sneezing. He doesn't sneeze like a normal person, with a petite "Ah-Chooooo" through his teeth and pursed lips. No. Hick sneezes by putting his rather large lips together, then raspberry-ing them like he's motorboating the earth's entire lower atmosphere.

Anyhoo... my nose is back in joint from the Indiana-Jonesers and the Parking Lot Monopolizers. I've resolved to eat the $4 ticket that was actually The Pony's win. I have a bandaid on my badfinger. And after much gargling with hot water in the shower, my sore throat has eased.

I live to be betrayed again.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Hick's Framing Hits a New Low

Hick is still working on the Master Bathroom of Pony House. You may recall that it was down to bare bones. Barer bones! Even the floor joists had to be replaced.

Anyhoo... Hick lowered the ceiling of the Master Bathroom from 9' 4" to 8'. As he says, there's no reason to pay to heat that extra foot of air.

Hick sure likes to show off his wood, heh, heh! Here's a view of the Master Bathroom, taken from the Master Bedroom. You can see the framing for the ceiling. And the new wall that will divide the bedroom from the bathroom. Hick has extended the bedroom about 4 feet, rather than having a giant bathroom.

Here's a view from farther back in the Master Bedroom. You can see where the original bedroom ended, and where Hick put in more floor. The bathroom area was originally several inches lower than the bedroom floor.

The coiled wire corner is where the shower will be. Hick took out the base he had sitting there for measuring purposes. The sink will be in the middle space of the wall, where that board is on the floor. The door from bedroom to bathroom is on the left.

Hick also lowered the ceiling of the bedroom addition. He is leaving the original bedroom ceiling at 9' 4", because the drywall is good. It only needs paint. No need to go to the expense and effort to lower that ceiling. This lowered section will get drywall to match up. It will just have a ceiling that's a foot lower on that end by the bathroom. No big deal. Hick is re-building a safe, livable house. Not the Taj Mahal.

Hick has actually gotten a lot of work done, without much to show for it but new wood.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Not a Close-Talker, But a Far-Parker

I knew what a close-talker was before Seinfeld was a thing. About 17 years before! I was a freshman in high school, and had gym class and band with a sophomore close-talker. She looked like a blond version of Blair Warner on Facts of Life. Her family ran a big chicken farm, and she had a strikingly handsome blond older and younger brother. Not that I noticed... Anyhoo, to be fair, she wore glasses, so maybe her close-talking was just a function of bad vision. Her brothers were not close talkers. Darn it!

Anyhoo... we're not here to talk about close-talkers. We're here to talk about FAR-PARKERS!

When I returned to T-Hoe after buying scratchers from the machine (losers, except for a $3 winner), I saw this display of questionable parking skill. Surely the driver could see that bright yellow post. It's not like a concrete tire-bumper that's out of sight below the front end of the car. Speaking of those yellow concrete tire-bumpers... last week, I saw one in the space T-Hoe was parked here, that was broken in half! I doubt it was this same driver, because this car is in a Handicap spot, and the one T-Hoe is in is the first non-Handicap space of three down at that end of the store.

Funny how when Country Mart re-finished and striped their parking lot, they revised the 10 Handicap spaces along the front, and turned them into 5 Handicap spaces, with giant walkways between them. I think that's wasted space. It's not like everyone who parks there is on a gurney to be wheeled inside for shopping, like that half-woman my sister the ex-ex-mayor's wife saw gambling at the casino.

Anyhoo... I don't particularly mind a far-parker. I had to be careful when I swung T-Hoe's rear that way when backing out, but it's way less annoying than a CLOSE-PARKER.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Pony House Is Not a Hot Destination

Hick has been waiting on estimates for the Pony House heating and cooling system. He started asking a couple months ago. Hick has said all along that such a system for 1100-square-foot Pony House would be our biggest expense, costing around $6,000-$7,000. Well. After much prompting, and also asking a relative to remind the guy Hick was waiting on, he got the quote. $9,700! I know things have gone up in price lately, but we were not quite prepared for that.
Being Hick, he doesn't just hire the first person he consults about a job. He had asked two more companies for quotes. Finally got one on Friday: $6,400. So... we are going with the cheaper supplier. Since it's in the range Hick originally planned for. Hick knows his prices on stuff like that. The tree-trimming, not so much. But construction materials and machines Hick knows, from all the years he was in charge of buying stuff for his factory. 
Now it's "hurry up and wait" to get more details on when the installation might occur. Hick is progressing to the point that some drywall needs hanging, like in the ceiling of the Master Bathroom. Although it is supposed to get up to 70 degrees today, the nights have been below freezing here in Backroads. Hick says you can't "mud" the drywall unless it's at least 60 degrees. He also says he has a kerosene heater he can take to Pony House, in case he has the help to do the drywall, and the furnace isn't in yet.
Once the Master Bathroom is done, Hick plans to do the walls and floor of Bedroom 2, and then start on the kitchen.

Monday, November 15, 2021

X Marks the Spot(light)

Hick is like a wandering hobo, asking for odd jobs to earn a meal or a bed for the night. He doesn't need the meal or the bed, but he CAN use a discount on his storage unit rent. Last week he made a deal with the owner to change the burned-out light bulbs that are located on the front of the storage units.

Hick spent one evening noting which bulbs were dead, and marking them with an X. The next day he went around changing the marked bulbs. He came home that evening fuming.

"I don't know what's going on with the guy up by my storage units. I know his light was out. I know I put an X on it last night. But today when I went to change it out, there was no X. That darn guy must have washed off the X! Oh, well. He didn't get a new bulb. His unit will be in the dark."

"Maybe it's a different bulb. Maybe he changed it himself."

"That guy ain't changin' nothin'. It's the same bulb. Without the X."

"Maybe he thought some thief marked his unit, to come back later and break into it. So he washed off the X so the thief couldn't tell which unit he'd marked. Did you tell everybody you were marking bulbs?"
"No. Why should I do that? I had permission from the OWNER to mark and change the bulbs."
"He might have thought it was a prank. That somebody was singling him out."

"No. There were Xs all over the place."

Later in the evening, Hick checked his voice mail. There was a message from that guy.

"Hey, bud. I DID wash off the X on my light bulb. Nobody told anything about it. So I saw it and washed it off."

Hick did not have much of a reaction. I'm pretty sure he's not going to change that guy's bulb. Which seems kind of a petty way to punish a guy who's not a mind-reader or psychic.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Cold Dark Overload

The Pony got snowed on Friday night. More like flurried on, around 6:30, while still delivering the mail, in the dark. No accumulation.

Saturday was 38 degrees when I came home from town at 3:30. At least it was sunny and not as windy as the previous few days. Poor Pony had to work until 8:30. No sun then! One of his head-lights went out. The lights he clips onto the bill of his official USPS cap, so he can see in the dark. I think he might have been issued a head-light, but The Pony uses HICK head-lights. 
In fact, Hick brought The Pony THREE head-lights, so he can wear one, and have a spare, and a spare for the spare. The Pony only takes two of them to work with him, and leaves the other here waiting for new batteries when he has time. Hick didn't even charge for the head-lights! That's at least three 50-cent profits that he gave up!
The Pony says they've had extra mail for a couple days, that they can't get delivered, so it's added to the next day's workload. He was scheduled off on Sunday, but that got canceled on Saturday. He may or may not get a day off this week. He can be worked 13 days in a row without any rules being broken. This is Day 8. The build-up started when the sorters or whatever they're called got behind mid-week. It didn't help that on Saturday, six regulars had scheduled time off. Probably for deer hunting, I'm guessing. 
Deer season has cut into Hick's Storage Unit Store business. He was back home by 11:30 Saturday, when he usually sells until 3:00. Hick blamed the cold, but I told him his customers are probably at deer camp. All those rifle/ammo/fishing equipment customers. The outdoorsmen who shop for Hick's wares.
Anyhoo... The Pony knows the next two months will be the hardest part of his job. He says his office has hired 5 new CCAs (City Carrier Asstistants, the same job classification as The Pony), so that might help a little. Even though right now they have just gotten the phone offer, and still have to go through two weeks' training. The Pony is optimistic that at least a couple of them will stick it out. Although he does say, "Now if we can only get vehicles for them to drive!"

They may get vehicles, but I'm pretty sure they're not going to be top-of-the-line!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

For 2 CENTS, I'd Write a Blog Post

 SATURDAY, November 6, provided a surprise penny on the sidewalk of Country Mart.

Yes. It was right where that cheeky bicycle mom blocked me in while taking an hour to adjust her purchases in the backpack she tried to hook on behind the child seat holding her son. Okay. Maybe I exaggerate a bit... Anyhoo... it's in the sun, by the windshield portion of T-Hoe's shadow.

It was a face-down 1976 penny. The year of Val's VALedictorianship!

SUNDAY, November 7, Even Steven tried to tell me that I was in the wrong place at the right time. I parked in my favorite spot at Orb K to get scratchers.  As I was getting out, a lady in a white SUV pulled into the handicap spot across the walkway from me. Wouldn't you know it... I spied a penny UNDER HER CAR. It was unreachable. Not a good omen. I should have left, but I figured I might be able to get it after that car's lady left.

Once inside, I was first at the counter, but the cashier saw me looking at the lottery display, and shoved the back of a receipt across the counter to me. "I think you should know, we are out of #s 11, 12, 17, 18, 20, 3, 5, 8, and 10." Well. Good thing she had them written on that receipt. It included my favored crossword ticket, and another. I left with tickets I hadn't really planned on getting. All later losers.

Anyhoo... back outside, I lingered like a creepy lurker, standing beside T-Hoe with the door open, waiting on that lady to come out. She did, and finally left, so I could turn and get my picture.

Don't be fooled by the old gum next to the blue line! The penny is above it, and shiny. About halfway to the pair of snakebite-looking, light-colored spots.

It was a face-down 2012 penny, that perhaps I was not meant to have, since it took so much effort!

That makes 2 COINS this week, for 2 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny     108, 109.
Dime         still at 12.
Nickel       still at 7.
Quarter    still at 6.

Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1

Friday, November 12, 2021

Val's Nose Gets Dislocated In Country Mart

Okay. If you're looking for a bloody accident in which Val was maimed within an inch of her facial features, move along. My nose was not literally dislocated. But it WAS out-of-joint by the time I left Country Mart on Thursday.

I went in for the purpose of procuring salad and salad dressing. Hick and I had a chef salad Wednesday night that I picked up at the deli cold counter. It was delicious. Unfortunately, Hick's Lite Ranch dressing had expired on October 13. I warned him by text, before he got home. He chose to use it anyway, and not stop for more, or use my Ken's Steak House Blue Cheese. 

Anyhoo... the salad was so good that I wanted more. I pushed my cart/walker over to the deli cold case. Three women were standing there chatting. All employees in their black polo shirts with their name tags. Two were inside the counter, the kind of toothless one who makes the pinwheels, and is always friendly and gives me extra shrimp in The Pony's dinners without charging me. And her new assistant. The other was an older black-haired lady I have never seen before. She was standing outside the deli, but in the walkway to get there, beside where the register is.

I thought nothing of them as I stopped to look at the salads. I had an even more delicious one last week that was a fried chicken tender salad. I was looking at the six salad containers on the shelf when I noticed that Black Hair was staring at me. You know how you get that feeling, and then can see it in your peripheral vision. As I squinted through my glasses, trying to peer through the foggy clear plastic lid to see which salads were available, the stare continued. The conversation had stopped. What in the actual EFF?

I turned to look at Black Hair. Met her gaze. Held my tongue, resisting the urge to throw up my hands and say, "WHAT?"

Black Hair acted like I was doing something untoward. Something that was frowned upon. I hadn't even touched one! Although I WANTED TO. So I could see if there was a chicken version, but more specifically to check their dates. Country Mart is notorious for selling expired foods to the unsuspicious shopper.

"Those are chef salads."

"Huh. I was looking for a chicken tender salad."

I picked one up. Glanced at the date. Then put it in my cart. Had I not been under such close surveillance, I might have picked up three or four, to check the dates, and peer inside to see if any of the lettuce was limp. I didn't dare.

"No. They're all chef salads. I made them this morning."

"Oh. So they all expire on the 13th."


Black Hair kept watching as I picked up another salad and put it in my cart/walker. I shoved off, wheeling down to the bakery end for some packaged Hawaiian Rolls, passing a man waiting at the meat counter. Way back up front, there was a woman waiting at the hot deli counter. I assumed they would be served when Gossip Hour was over. 

Well. EXCUSE US for patronizing your business, and inconveniencing you by wanting to purchase the products you sell!

I looped left around the end of the bakery/produce area, and came up the canned goods/pickles/olives/sauces/dressing aisle. Got some Lite Ranch for Hick. Peppercorn Ranch for The Pony. And Ken's Blue Cheese for me. Oops! I forgot that I also wanted some tomatoes, to make my own salads with the romaine that I had at home. So I exited that aisle up front, and turned left to go back to the produce area.

Wait a minute! WHAT was my new catch phrase? Oh, yeah... "ABE ON A SCRATCHER!" My path was blocked by Black Hair and her two cronies! Black Hair was leaning on an empty cart, and the other two stood at the sides. I guess it was a traveling Gossip Session! I huffed, and wheeled over past the seasonal fruits display, almost to the deli counter again, and back to the produce to find some grape tomatoes.

When I go into a store to buy something, I expect the employees to be business friendly. Polite and cordial, without telling me their problems or life story. Just ask what I want, get it for me, take my money. Easy peasy. I do NOT expect them to treat me like I am an inconvenience.

This may or may not be relevant information. A couple days ago, I was in Country Mart, just to buy scratchers from the machine up front. A man and woman stood near the lottery machine. Both wearing the black polo shirts and name tags. I'd never seen either one. I assumed the man might be a regional manager, and perhaps the woman was the store manager. 

MAN: "Well, out of all the applicants, she's the best we have. There's really nobody else. We can try it for a while, and if it doesn't work out, we'll do something else."

WOMAN: [nod]

Maybe this might have been about Black Hair? Maybe she was the new deli manager? I don't know if they needed a new deli manager. I don't even know if she was a manager. But as I passed their blockade at the head of the produce section, I heard the word "schedule." And Black Hair seemed to have some kind of power over the other two deli women.

Maybe she was just an actual witch...

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Hick Makes a Little Progress in the Bathroom

Hick continues his Master Bathroom project at Pony House. He has the walls insulated, and part of what he told me is GREENBOARD up around the jetted bathtub. He has moved the toilet pipe over several inches. Has put down the best layer of plywood floor. 

Once Hick sent me the picture, he had some 'splainin' to do.

"You told me you were using GREENBOARD. That looks blue to me."

"Well. They call it blueboard now. But it used to be green. Back when we built our house, it was green."

SURE it was. I can't believe I fell for Hick's shenanigans again. I don't ever recall hearing him talk about GREENBOARD before. But I have heard him mention blueboard. I'm pretty sure in a discussion of Pony House Bathroom 2. At least River in the comments wasn't fooled by Hick's gaslighting a couple days ago!

Hick also has the shower base in place, so he can figure his measurements for its accoutrements, and how it will affect the closet.

Standing where the picture was taken, that's where the door will be to the bathroom, from the Master Bedroom. I'm not sure about that pipe by the shower. Whether it has something to do with the shower, or the sink that will be in that general area. Not sure where the bedroom wall will be, since Hick is making the Master Bedroom a little bigger, using some of the space that was this huge bathroom.

Still a lot of work to do in this Master Bathroom, but Hick is happy to show off his progress. He will be building an enclosure around the tub. And lowering the ceiling in the closet from 12 feet to 10 feet. He wants to get the drywall ceiling up in this bathroom pretty soon, too.

Every day, The Pony asks what progress was made.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Pony Gump and the Parking Lot Chocolates

Allow me to spout some words of wisdom concerning The Pony and his working conditions. Who knows, I might even become famous with my quote...

"The post office LLV fleet is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get."

According to The Pony, there is no rhyme nor reason to the assignment of vehicles. Sometimes, the LLV stays with the route. Sometimes it stays with a regular. There's usually a shortage of one or two LLVs. So work times need to be staggered so a vehicle will be available. The only sure thing is that LLVs BACKED INTO THE PARKING SPACE ARE NOT TO BE DRIVEN! The Pony says there's usually two or three backed into the last row.

"Huh. There's always three or four parked up at the mechanic by Casey's! Like they don't never get fixed."

"Dad. I'm pretty sure those are just there to be used for parts on other ones that break."

Here's what initiated this conversation from Monday night:


Yeah. This is how your mail magically appears in your mailbox. Driven in THIS, then walked, courtesy of The Pony's (or an equivalent's) two feet.

Monday, The Pony went in at 6:00 a.m. He was excited to get off EARLY at 5:30, after only working 11.5 hours. Oh, and the LLV (Long Life Vehicle) he was assigned did not have a blinker. Well. I guess it HAD a blinker. But it didn’t have that little lever on the column that you move to signal which way you’re turning.

“How did you SIGNAL?”

“Um. I didn’t.”

“You didn’t use hand signals?”

“No. Whatever that is. I turned on my flashers to make a turn. Until they quit working.”

“Oh my gosh! Didn’t you take the driving test? Since you drive on the right hand side, stick your arm STRAIGHT OUT the window to make a right turn, and bend it up at the elbow, fingertips pointing at the sky, to make a left turn.”

“No! Your arm goes straight out to go left, and bent to turn right!” Hick the expert, not paying attention.

“You are forgetting that Pony drives on the right-hand side of the LLV!”

“Nobody would know what that arm thing means, anyway.”

“OLD PEOPLE would know!”

“There aren’t that many old people on the road.”

Ooh! Val feels another quote coming on!

"Old People are like a box of chocolates. There's never one around when you want some."