Saturday, December 31, 2022

UPDATE! Such a Disappointing Ex-PENNY-ence

The end of the year has arrived, and Val has fallen short of her PENNY goal for her Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. Not by far. By a SINGLE PENNY!!!

THURSDAY, December 29, I was in line at the Gas Station Chicken Store when I spied a penny waiting for my Fortune. It was at the feet of a dump truck driver who was paying for his diesel gas, and getting three scratchers and some chewing tobacco.

When it was my turn, I stepped up to the counter and got my close-up.

It was a heads-up 2018 penny. But WAIT! As I was standing up, clearing my phone before picking up my rightful penny, I explained to the guy behind me, "I've found a lucky penny. I collect them." You know, to take the sting out of the ample-rumpusing he was about to experience. And do you know what he did??? He leaned down to pick up the penny for me, and when he handed it to me, there were TWO in his hand!!!

"Thank you! You didn't have to do that. Wait. Where did this other penny come from?"

"From my pocket."

"Oh. Thank you so much!"

The extra penny was a 2012. I don't know its orientation in his pocket!

Unless I find another coin before midnight on Saturday, it looks like I've come up ONE SINGLE PENNY SHORT from last year's totals. At least I was ahead in the dime and quarter categories. This might be the last posting of my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. My heart and rumpus have gone out of it.

OH MY GOSH! I found one! At 3:46 p.m. on SATURDAY, December 31, while coming out of the Gas Station Chicken Store!

Don't be fooled by the one that looks penny-colored! That's GUM! It's been there a while. The one on the left is the corroded penny I spied on the way to T-Hoe parked around the corner.

This was also a 2012 penny, like the one gifted to me by the kind stranger in line behind me the previous day. This one was heads-up. A fitting way to end the year. So now I'm tied with last year's penny record!

That's 2 3 COINS this week, for 2 3 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune!


Penny          # 122, 123, 124.
Dime            still at 21.
Nickel          still at 7.
Quarter       still at 9.

Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6

Friday, December 30, 2022

Things Were Poppin' Off at the SUS2

Hick took Genius and Friend to see his SUS2 (Storage Unit Store 2) while they were here for Christmas. When they walked in, they commented that it smelled like beer! Further investigation revealed the reason for that. Some of Hick's collectible beer bottles had blown their tops!

"It got so cold in there that the tops popped off some of the bottles, and beer leaked out. A couple of them broke."

Hick didn't take time to clean everything right then. He was due to give a tour of Pony House, since it was just in the initial renovation stage last time Genius was here. Plus, he was picking up The Pony to bring out for Christmas Dinner. So the official cleanup had to wait a couple days, for warmer weather, and Hick's spare time.

Another calamity was revealed when Hick went to the SUS2 on Tuesday afternoon. Soda in his mini fridge had exploded. So there was even MORE cleanup.

Hopefully the below-zero temps with 35 mph winds will not revisit us this winter...

Thursday, December 29, 2022

The Pony Learns the Perils of Town Living

The Pony returned to work Wednesday after three days off for the holidays. Having Tuesday as his regular day off is quite a perk when a paid holiday falls on Sunday! The return was not as uneventful as The Pony had hoped. By 8:35 a.m., I had a text:

"Oh boy. Apparently Sis-Town is and possibly has been under a boil water order."

"How did you find that out?"


"Well, go to Country Mart and buy some bottled water to drink."

"Point being that it's too late for that!"

"The water isn't going to kill you. Dad says."

"Well yeah, he drank creek water."


I guess that was a shock, after being off for the holidays, and spending Tuesday with us and Genius at the casino, to find out that he shouldn't have been drinking the water. To find out by seeing the headline on a paper he was supposed to deliver. I couldn't find the story on my online newspaper that I don't subscribe to. My estranged BFF Google led me to the city's Facebook page, which had more details in the comments. I shared the info with The Pony when he was off work.

"I guess the only update for the water situation is the city's Facebook page. You could sign up for text notifications, but that app is down, and the person in charge is on vacation. So nobody got their notices of the boil water order."

"Nah. I'm just assuming it's fine. Even the article said it was a precautionary one and the water was testing fine."

"That was before the latest break. But Dad says it should be kind of okay..."

"There was another one today?"

"They supposedly are pumping water from the fire truck, but Dad says it has a stainless steel tank, and should probably be okay. Just not rated for human consumption. He used to be on the fire department, you know. He ran over an old lady with the fire truck."

"Ah. Last I looked, their Facebook page wasn't loading right."

"I'm on it right now, on my laptop. Did a Google search and clicked on it. Update three hours ago. People are hot about the Christmas tournament, and all the basketball teams and fans using water! Due to the notice to conserve."

"Yeah. I'm not gonna let it stop me from my hot bath. Also, I was drinking water normally for a couple days with it like this, so damage is already done regardless."

"Probably okay, unless it's muddy with particles!"

"Yep. Mine's been fine from stuff like that."

Meanwhile, just typing this tale had me reaching for several swigs of my sweet, sweet well water.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Val Has a New Magnet

This recent cold snap must have thrown off my body chemistry. I no longer attract mere WEIRDOS. I now attract CREEPERS!

Hick and I took The Pony to the casino on Tuesday morning, to meet up with Genius and Friend before they had to drive back to Pittsburgh. Hick veered off to the bathroom, and said he'd come over to our area to join us. 

The Pony and I settled down at two slots on the wall, which I think were Wonder 4 Spinning Fortunes. The Pony was playing Brazil, hitting bonus after bonus, racking up small amounts. I played Whales of Cash Deluxe, without nearly as much success. Genius and Friend were to our left, also along the wall, playing slots with a giant dragon or snake thingy.

Anyhoo... we got there a little before 9:00, and by 9:20 Hick still hadn't made his appearance. I was worried that something might have happened to him. He didn't answer my text as to his whereabouts. I voiced my concern to Pony and Genius, but neither seemed too worried. As in, they didn't volunteer to go look for Hick.

Because Hick was supposed to join us, I kept turning around to see if he was on his way. He wasn't. But every time I turned around, the SAME CREEPY OLD MAN was sitting at a slot row behind us, not even facing his slot, just WATCHING US!


Creeper made no pretense of playing his slot, and sneaking glances our way. He just sat sidways, WATCHING US! It's not like anyone hit a big jackpot. The Pony was getting maybe $20 or $40 every now and then, but mostly smaller jackpots. He did not have the sound up loud. We were not boisterous. It was not a good show we were putting on.

That dang Creeper must have been there for 45 minutes! Like he just came to the casino with the express purpose of watching us, not to do any gambling of his own. I wanted to turn around and say, "WHAT?" But you know Val. She's not a confrontational person. I wish I had said something to the worker who kept coming by to remove old cups, and tell us if we needed anything, her name was Something. Like maybe she could have asked security to ask Creeper what he was doing.

But WAIT! That's not all! Later, after we left the area, and were playing some kind of fireworks-triggered bonus slot, ANOTHER CREEPER sat behind us! For all I know, it was the same creeper! Old men in casinos are like cowboys in westerns. They all look alike to me.

Anyhoo... Genius was playing on one end of our row, I was on the other end, and Friend was in the middle. Every time I turned to talk to them, I saw CREEPER out of the corner of my eye. Genius was done playing, and stood behind me. Friend finished up. I was still playing, saying I wanted to get the bonus out of that slot, since I had been playing a while.

Hick came over, and I told him I was done playing, but if he'd take over right then, I'd split the bonus if he hit it. Hick is not very worldly about gambling. He agreed! Anyhoo... while Hick was inserting his player's card and getting out his money, I told Genius to come over to the other side of me, so I could talk about Creeper.

"He has been sitting there all this time, watching. You know he's going to pounce on this machine the minute we walk away. I'm not giving him the satisfaction!"

"I KNOW! He's been there a long time. That's exactly what he's doing. He's not playing anything! He's watching YOU!"

Hick put in his money, and on the second spin, hit one of the three bonuses that were ready to go. He didn't win a lot. Maybe $20. So I didn't make him split it with me. But Hick kept playing, and finally Creeper left.

I haven't seen such odd people since we were last in the Oklahoma casinos!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

We Are Still Stuffed

Christmas Dinner 2022 was a glorious feast with fabulous company. The Pony had three days off in a row! He worked until 4:30 on Christmas Eve, but is always off Sunday, had Monday off for his Christmas Day holiday, and then his regularly-scheduled day off on Tuesdays. Genius and Friend made it through the winter storm to spend Saturday night through Tuesday morning in the area. And Hick (for once) did not try to sell at his Storage Unit Store after dinner, due to the frigid temperatures.

Let's start with dessert first. At least for our pictures.

That's my Oreo Cake, right after I put the finishing touches on it Christmas morning. The Pony loves this cake, as does Friend. Hick is also partial to this sweet concoction. I'm no fan. That icing is too sweet, and Oreos have never been a favorite. Right now there is one slice left, earmarked for Hick.

I didn't get a picture of the 7 Layer Salad, except for my own personal serving:

Hick and I both enjoy this salad. Genius doesn't like the layer that is mayonnaise, so he has a 6 Layer Salad, which I toss in a bowl as I'm making the main one: Lettuce, Green Onions, Boiled Egg, Peas, Shredded Sharp Cheddar, Bacon. The Pony also has a preferred version, which is a 4 Layer Salad. He leaves out the peas and bacon. They both use Peppercorn Ranch dressing. Friend takes his 7 Layer Salad full strength.

I controlled my appetite long enough to get a picture of my dinner plate before diving in.

I have a ham sandwich on Nutty Oat Bread with mayo, two Sister Schubert's Rolls, a Hash Brown Potato Casserole, Roasted Carrots/Potatoes/Onions, a Deviled Egg, and some Olives. Mmmmm!

We usually have slices of ham, but this year everyone preferred it in sandwich form. Hick was sent for bread during the big freeze, and returned with Sourdough, Honey Wheat, and Hawaiian Bread. We already had half a loaf of Nutty Oat. The most popular of Hick's breads was the Sourdough. It was all eaten except for two heels. Next was the Hawaiian. The Honey Wheat was not even opened! Pepper Jack was the most popular cheese choice, with sharp cheddar lingering on the plate. Oh, we also had dill pickle spears, but I forgot to put mine on my plate.

The Pony made Stovetop Stuffing, and had that on his own plate. I think Hick also had some. I sent the rest home with The Pony along with half a pan of Schubert's, Oreo Cake, Hidden Valley Ranch Dip, Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips, and Roasted Veggies. He did not want any ham, and I forgot the Deviled Eggs.

Hick and I will be having leftovers for a few days. I think they taste just a little extra delicious, since the only prep is warming my own plate of food!

Monday, December 26, 2022

I Think Hick's Heart Grew Two Sizes That Day

If I didn't know better, I might think my boys put a bug in Hick's ear. I'm pretty sure they didn't, because who travels from Pittsburgh to Backroads in a polar vortex bomb cyclone with a BUG in the car? And what postal worker wants to transport ANYTHING on his free time?

Anyhoo... on Christmas Day, Val was the recipient of two (TWO) kindnesses from Hick. As the second holiday meal I served within 17 hours was winding down, desserts were consumed. Hick chose a frozen chocolate pie that we had set out to thaw, eschewing the (3rd) Oreo Cake I had baked, and the storebought cheesecake selection, and The Pony's chocolate chip peanut butter cookies.

Hick sat back down at the table across from me, with the entire pie, as I was turned sideways speaking to The Pony, who was helping by putting away food.

"Did you say you wanted some chocolate pie for your dessert?"

"Uh huh."

"About this size?"


Hick slid that plated pie slice across the table to me!

"Here. Have this one."

I almost fainted! Hick never serves me pie!

But wait! That's not all! After Hick returned from driving The Pony home around 4:30, he went down to the basement. He trudged up the steps slowly, WITH MY UNDERDESK HEATER! Hick took that little electric radiator to the kitchen, and plugged it in under the table!!!

As I type this at 9:58 on Christmas night, I am toasty warm, and my heart is melting.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Plans Are Made to be Broken

As I type this, it is 4: 17 on Christmas Eve. I am not making preparations to head to the home of my sister the ex-mayor's wife for her annual night of games and tasty finger foods. No. I am sitting at my own kitchen table. Waiting...

Sis is still having her party, but we have elected not to attend. A family member found out yesterday that they have THE VIRUS. Hick doesn't want anything to delay his upcoming back surgery, having just passed his exams to assure he can withstand four hours of anesthesia. I don't want a repeat four days in the hospital, though I assume I am immune after my January bout with the sickness. Genius and Friend don't want to pick up anything that could be spread to an elderly family member they will visit while they're here. The Pony is working late, and agrees that he should not be exposing himself. (Heh, heh, says my 13-year-old self.)

Genius left Pittsburgh a bit later, knowing he did not have to get to the Sis Estate by 6:00. He had worried that he might not be able to make it until later in the week, after watching live views of the Ohio highways. He left around 8:20 a.m. his time, and sent me a picture at 11:22 my time.

"We've made it through Columbus, but we're lucky to hit 25 mph."

They were driving Genius's car, which is a Honda CRV with all-wheel drive. Good thing.

The sedan of Friend would not have been a good match for the driving conditions!

Anyhoo... they are hoping to get to our house by 7:30 or 8:00. We will feast on cold ham sandwiches, chips and dip, deviled eggs, roasted vegetables, and Oreo Cake. Paper plates will be the china of choice tonight.

The Pony just texted that he's off, and will bake some cookies to bring. Hick is driving to town to pick him up, so he can relax with a drink to start his three-day holiday. Even though it's going to be chocolate wine...

Looks like we're going to make a late night of it. MERRY CHRISTMAS to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Close, But No Cigar For Val's PENNY Coffers

Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune got a boost this week! But still not enough pennies to break last year's record.

MONDAY, December 19, I stepped out of the Gas Station Chicken Store and saw a penny winking at me from the pavement!

A car was parked there when I went in, but that penny waited patiently for me to exit.

It was a heads-up version of Abe Lincoln from 1967.

TUESDAY, December 20, was a busy day as I made multiple stops to gather scratchers to give Hick and the boys for Christmas. My wildest coin dreams came true when I bellied up to the counter at the Sis-Town Casey's.

That's a QUARTER, a DIME, and two PENNIES! I didn't get close-ups of each one. That would be crazy... I don't know if they were heads or tails, but upon closer inspection at home, I had a 1999 New Jersey quarter, a 2014 dime, and two pennies that were both from 2020.

But wait! I still had a stop to make at the School-Turn Casey's. I was meant to be there. On the floor beside a had display on the merchandising wall that keeps a line from forming logically... I spied another QUARTER!

Maybe this was a sign that I should get myself another sock cap to survive the frigid conditions of my kitchen!

It was a tails-up 2019 Idaho quarter, which did not photograph well. Never you mind! That was my SECOND QUARTER OF THE DAY! 

That's 6 COINS this week, for 63 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune!


Penny          # 119, 120, 121.
Dime            # 21.
Nickel          still at 7.
Quarter       # 8, 9.

Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6

Friday, December 23, 2022

The Best Pre-Christmas Presents EVER

I stayed home Thursday. No trip to town, due to a forecast of snow and 30-mph winds starting around 11:00, and temps falling into single digits with wind chills of 35 below zero. Val likes her scratchers, but not at the expense of becoming a Valcicle.

Hick was not so fortunate. He had two lab tests scheduled, to get approval for his back surgery to repair discs that are pressing on nerves in his lower back, giving him a stumbly gait and pain. One was a stress test, because the tech saw an irregularity on his EKG. She also commented that it might have been due to his chest hair, which prevented a good connection with the sensor thingies. You'd think she might have shaved his chest, if she knew this could cause an inaccurate reading. Then again, I think the medical establishment views Hick as a cash cow/six million dollar man. I think he has had every test and procedure known to man at this point.

Anyhoo... Hick had to get out in the weather for a 6:00 a.m. appointment at the hospital. He had told them had can't walk well enough for a regular stress test, so they said they'd do a chemical stress test. Then nobody could advise him on which of his meds to take or not. Took three people to finally get an answer the night before. 

Anyhoo... Hick passed his chemical stress test with no problems. The tech asked if he'd been having chest pains, and he said no, that he needed surgery approval. Once the test was complete, the tech said he'd have no issue with surgery, that there was nothing wrong with Hick's heart (though I sometimes suspect it to be two sizes two small when it comes to my requests for home improvements).

This was great news, and Hick was home by 10:00 a.m., before the bad weather started.

The Pony sent me a text at 4:05 saying: "Clocked out. Didn't freeze or crash." 

Which was GREAT news, except that at 4:06, our power went off! We are all-electric! Our generator needs the carburetor rebuilt, which Hick has known for months now, and neglected to complete. So no power of any kind for us! With temps dropping into single digits, winds at 30 mph, and about 1.5 inches of snow on the ground. 

Of course I was just getting out my pans to bake two Oreo Cakes for HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) and The Veteran, which Hick was going to deliver on Friday. Plus I had put off my shower until I had the cakes out of the oven. In case you don't realize the realities of country living, when we don't have electricity, we don't have water (due to the well pump), and we only have one toilet flush (because the water won't refill in the tank).

At least we still had 45 minutes of daylight left to get ourselves situated with candles. Hick had a little lantern he had charged the day before. I found my tiny flashlight to carry around. I was pretty sure we were going to die. Ameren sent us an email that they had determined a power outage in our area. No estimate of the reason, or a restore time.

I took to my bed, shrouded myself like a corpse, and waited to expire. Hick said we could drive to town, and stay at Pony House, but I liked my odds better of staying at home. Home, where we might freeze to death in 24 hours, rather than slide off the rural unkempt roads on the way to town, and die within an hour since I can't walk through snow and 30 mph winds at -35 Farhenheit.

The Pony said it was fine to stay with him. He said he had ice on the INSIDE of his kitchen window. It's a single-pane, possibly as old as the 1920 house, which Hick has known he needs to replace. The Pony was doing laundry, which at least vents the dryer hot air underneath the house, to help keep the pipes from freezing.

Anyhoo... while The Pony was texting about our welfare, asking to keep abreast (heh, heh, my 13-year-old self likes that I said A BREAST) of our situation, the power came back on at 6:44. WOOHOO!

Best pre-Christmas presents ever: Hick with a good heart and home before the storm, The Pony safe after a route through the bomb cyclone, and a HOUSE WITH HEAT AND WATER!

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Val's Last HOO-RAH Before She Buckles Down With Christmas Preparations

Every year I meet my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel to exchange Christmas gifts and Chex Mix and chocolate covered cherries. I give her Chex, she gives me homemade chocolate cherries. Sometimes we go to her fabulous house, sometimes we meet for lunch. This year we decided on lunch. 

It's about a 40 minute drive for us to get to Mabeltown. We met at 11:00 a.m. Hick decided he wanted breakfast food for lunch. He chose a breakfast platter in a skillet.

Hick had two eggs over easy, two sausage patties and hash browns. He chose to have it smothered in gravy. The other choice was a cheese-smothering. It came with a side of toast.

I chose my regular fare of a chicken quesadilla.

It had chunks of chicken, green peppers, tomatoes, and cheese. So delicious! I asked for extra salsa and sour cream. You can clearly see that only one tiny container of each is not enough for this generous quesadilla.

Mabel's husband had a cheeseburger and fries. I think Mabel had a brisket sandwich? Not sure. I could not see across the round table, and the long table of customers feeding next to us kept cackling loudly, so I couldn't hear Mabel's order. I did not feel comfortable taking a picture of their food!

Anyhoo... a good time was had by all, even counting the two HUGS that Mabel got away with. Val is not a hugger. We hadn't gotten together since last Christmas, so this was a real treat.

Val doesn't get out much...

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Maybe Customers Would Be More Compliant If You Let Them Know

Last week, I stopped by the drive-thru at our bank to withdraw our weekly cash allowance. I've done this for about 10 years now. Once a week. Send in the withdrawal slip. I used to go inside before they adopted crazy hours like 10:00 to 2:00. 

Anyhoo... the guillotine canister thingy was not so bloodthirsty this time. I sent in my withdrawal slip, and waited for that sweet, sweet cash to WHOOSH out to me. Only to hear a voice that was unfamiliar:

"Could you send in your ID or debit card?"


I figured it was a new teller. Not a big deal. I had my driver's license in my shirt pocket. My money was tubed out forthwith, and my license inside the envelope.

Tuesday, I was back at the bank for the weekly allowance. Not another soul around. Just me and T-Hoe, in the middle lane, the other two bereft of customers, green arrows giving the go-ahead. I sent in my withdrawal slip.

"You need to send in your driver's license."

It was the same voice as the previous week, but with an attitude. Not a pleasant one.

"Oh. Do I need to send it in every time now?"

"Yes. We need it to look up your account."

"Well. I don't see a sign saying we need to include ID. So I didn't know. I've done it without for the past five years."

Again, it was not a hardship for me. I'm glad nobody is able to withdraw my money all willy-nilly without showing ID. It's just the ATTITUDE that ruffled my feathers. Don't act like I should automatically know to send in ID, when that has not been the policy. 

Also, just state the real reason: to prove I'm the person who owns the account. Don't say you need it to LOOK UP MY ACCOUNT. What in the Not-Heaven? I suppose the account number on the withdrawal slip is not at all helpful...

Anyhoo... it took a little longer than I thought necessary to send my money back through the tube. I guess that teller showed ME who was boss.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Pie That Hick Cut

Monday, I cooked the other half of the turkey pot pie that I made after Thanksgiving. It had been frozen in a glass pan, all ready to go, after a suitable interval from eating the first turkey pot pie. I gotta say, that pot pie was delicious! So we were looking forward to it when I set out the frozen portion to thaw for Monday night's supper. 

As with the last pot pie in its rectangular glass dish, I let Hick cut the first portion and serve himself. I gave him the exact same instructions:

"We'll have this for three nights. So we'll divide it into six portions. Don't cut it all now, or it will leak out. Just the first two will be fine."

I expected Hick to be able to follow such simple directions. After all, he'd done it before, barely a month prior. Imagine my shock when I returned to the kitchen, and saw that Hick had made one long slice down the middle, and three slices across!

"Why did you do THAT? It looks like you first cut it in half down the middle, then cut the two long halves in half, and then one of those halves into fourths!"

"Yeah. I noticed that."

"We have two giant portions left for the last night, and four small ones for tonight and tomorrow! AND it's already leaking out from under the crust."

"It'll be fine. Take more if you want."

"Well, I only have half a bowl. But to cut it more would mean more cuts for the filling to leak out from under. I can't believe you did that."

No reply from Hick. Apparently he COULD believe that he did that. This is the man who cuts boards and drywall to renovate cheap houses! How can he not cut a pot pie into six equal portions???

The good thing is... that pot pie is still delicious.

This is the pie that Hick cut.

This is the crust, 
On top of the pie that Hick cut.

This is the turkey,
Under the crust,
On top of the pie that Hick cut.

This is the carrot/pea/potato,
Around the turkey,
Under the crust,
On top of the pie that Hick cut.

This is the soup/sour cream/minced garlic,
Binding the carrot/pea/potato,
Around the turkey,
Under the crust,
On top of the pie that Hick cut.

This is our Val,
Who mixed the soup/sour cream/minced garlic,
Binding the carrot/pea/potato,
Around the turkey,
Under the crust,
On top of the pie that Hick cut.

This is the talking-to, 
Dished out by our Val,
Who mixed the soup/sour cream/minced garlic,
Binding the carrot/pea/potato,
Around the turkey,
Under the crust,
On top of the pie that Hick cut.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Even Steven Has Forsaken Val, and The Universe Runs Rampant

Not a good 24 hours here at Val's hillbilly mansion. Last night at 2:00 a.m., HIPPIE DIED! 

I tried to resuscitate HIPPIE with a system restore, once I was able to revive him briefly. Thus began a difficult journey that reached its final destination at NOON. Seems HIPPIE could not be repaired, and required further life support measures. Much time spent loading and re-loading and quasi-repairing, until a fragile equilibrium was reached.

Though files were supposed to have been preserved, I have lost two years of tax returns, my browser of choice, access to a couple of accounts to which the passwords are a long-ago mystery, and faith in technology!

As if that were not enough, Val's phone has lost the ability to access the LOTTERY website to scan tickets to check for winners, and enter rewards.

If I didn't know better, I would swear that The Universe was conspiring against me...

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Santa Hick is Robbed of Some Thunder

Hick relented, and agreed to play Santa at the Senior Center. I think maybe he was worried that his celebrity might be usurped. He had originally declined to appear as Santa, on the day that The Grinch was coming.
Little did he know that he would have a companion on his actual day as Santa. According to Hick, this is the Grinch guy, who decided to get a Rudolph costume. I hope Rudolph doesn't get a bag of coal on Christmas morning!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Val Wins the Triple COIN

This was a better week than last for Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. Three times better!
TUESDAY, December 13, I was over in Sis-Town to give The Pony some rancid Chex Mix. It was not a wasted trip, apparently, thanks to his affinity for old nuts! While at the Casey's for scratchers, I returned to T-Hoe to find a grand sight:

TWO pennies waiting just for me at the bottom of the concrete handicap walkway.

The first was a 2002 Abe Lincoln, lying face-up near two butts.

The second was a shiny face-down 2008 version, wallowing in the muck.

THURSDAY, December 15, I was back at the Sis-Town Casey's on my regular errand day, pulling in to buy T-Hoe's gas.

As soon as I stepped out, I could see that I was in the right place at the right time.

It was a face-down 2020 penny, waiting to be harvested and hoisted into my shirt pocket. While inside, I purchased two of my favorite $3 crossword scratchers. The clerk only gave me one, so I had to remind her for the second. Which was a $30 winner!
There's two weeks left, and six pennies needed to tie my 2021 penny record...

That's 3 COINS this week, for 3 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune!


Penny          # 116, 117, 118.
Dime            still at 20.
Nickel          still at 7.
Quarter       still at 7.

Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6

Friday, December 16, 2022

Oh, the CHEXmanity!

We had a catastrophe on Monday. It involved the Chex Mix that I give for Christmas. I have to make four or five batches. Each one takes 2 hours of stirring every 15 minutes. Plus the 20-30 minutes needed to combine the ingredients before popping it into (and out of) the oven. The ingredients ain't cheap! Especially this year.

You'd think I'd have the routine down by now. In fact, I DO. I could make Chex Mix in my sleep. It's not like this ruined batch burst into flames. It looked perfectly normal. The taste was the problem. My Chex Mix requires Cheerios, Bugles, Pretzels, Cashews, Mixed Nuts, Pecans, Corn Chex, Rice Chex, Vegetable Oil, Worcestershire Sauce, Garlic Powder, Garlic Salt. I don't really measure them. I eyeball it. Still, that was not the problem.

I had already made one full batch, which turned out fine. So the next day, I made another. Here's the thing. I had a few ingredients left from last time I made Chex Mix. Which was either last Christmas, or in the spring, when The Pony said he'd like some to take on his route as a snack. Anyhoo... one item I had left was a can of mixed nuts. I looked all over it for an expiration date. Didn't see one. They looked fine. Smelled fine. Tasted fine. But that's the only ingredient that was different from the previous batch. So that has to be the culprit.

I made it between 9:00 and 11:30 p.m. I took a little ramekin to sample as I waited for it to cool enough to put in containers. Hm. That was odd. An off taste. Couldn't quite say exactly what it was. But the ingredients weren't working together for the usual delicious taste. I didn't even finish my ramekin. I left some BY THE BANANA BOWL for Hick to take with him the next morning. I told him it didn't seem right.

"In fact, you can take one of those tubs of it on the counter. I'm not giving it away. But we can eat it if you want."

When Hick got home, he agreed.

"You're right. That's not YOUR Chex Mix! I was gonna take that tub in and share it with the girls at the Senior Center. But I didn't. It's not good."

"We can throw it off the porch for the birds and squirrels. But The Pony says he'll try it. So I have two containers to take him."
I explained my suspicions when I gave The Pony his Chex Mix. He opened it and took a sniff.
"Huh. Yeah. That kind of smells like old nuts."
I thought I was going to pass out from laughing. Yes. My 13-year-old self found that extremely funny! The Pony realized what he said the minute the "old nuts" passed his lips. He tried to play it off like he meant that to be a joke.

The Pony didn't try it until after he made a supper of pasta and garlic bread. He didn't give his review until Thursday.
"I tried it. It's not terrible, but it does have that old nut smell/taste."
"Throw it out. Dad did. I'm just warning you so you don't waste your garlic powder and salt you always add to it."
"Nah. It's still edible. You know me. I'll eat garbage as long as it's one of the things I like."
"Don't make yourself sick!"
"The Chex and pretzels are fine. I don't eat the Cheerios anyway. It's not like I'm pairing a cabbage and Chipotle salad with chocolate wine again! THAT made me sick!" 

I'm hoping The Pony doesn't have to miss work, due to consumption of my Chex Mix.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

If It Weren't For Bad Memory, He'd Have No Memory at All

Hick came home early on Tuesday. He'd been working over at the Double Hovel with Old Buddy, putting some temporary foam insulation up in the ceiling until they can get a roof guy to patch the crease area where two roof angles come together. The roof itself is good, but there's a leak in that "valley" as Hick calls it, where water seeps in. 

Hick left the Double Hovel to eat lunch at the Senior Center. Then he came home and was puttering around. Mainly playing with his phone, until he got a phone call. He had to go out on the front porch to get service. Since his phone did an update, it doesn't work in the house.

Anyhoo... I was sitting at the kitchen table with HIPPIE, my laptop, when Hick came back inside.

"I was talking to one of my storage unit buddies, and he said he was getting ready to take his wife to the doctor. I told him I hoped everything was okay, and that I had to get going. I HAVE A DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT AT 2:00!"

The time was 1:35. As you may recall, we live in the middle of nowhere.

"Can you make it?"

"I hope so. I'm leaving right now. It's at my regular doctor. To have tests to get approved for my back surgery. I had a reminder in my phone, but I forgot all about it."

Yes. Hick made it to the appointment on time. Once back home, he had a reminder for ME.

"Don't let me forget that I'm playing Santa next Tuesday."

"You need to put a note on the cabinet by the bananas, where you can see it every morning."

"Oh, I put a reminder in my phone."

Yeah. How'd THAT work out for him? I will be putting a note on the cabinet. And reminding Hick myself, since he will probably ignore it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Hick Brings Home the Not-Bacon

I was planning to make a meatloaf for supper on Tuesday. Until Hick sent me a text at noon:

"Im bring turkey home for supper"

"Okay. But I have to use or freeze the hamburger."

"Okay they just had some extra turkey so I've got three packages I'm bringing home it's pretty good"

Hick arrive home with three styrofoam containers. He peeked inside. It was two dinners, and another with two slices of blackberry pie. I'm not one to turn down food that I don't have to cook! We had some leftover generic Stove Top Stuffing from the night before. So it went along with this meal.

Hick even warmed his own food! So I totally had a night off from cooking. Hick hollered from his recliner: "This is a LOT of turkey! We didn't get this much on our tray at lunch."

When I warmed my own food later, I saw what he meant:

"That IS a lot of turkey! I think I have 8 slices!"

"We had 4 at lunch. And I think I just ate 12!"

Of course, they WERE paper-thin slices, from a turkey loaf. The mashed potatoes were instant. The carrots were canned. But I'm not complaining! After all, I provided the generic boxed stuffing! I let Hick have my pie. I'm not a pie fan.

"Wow! This turkey is SALTY!"

"That's what the people at the Senior Center kept saying! I didn't think it was salty. But then, I don't eat salt."

Um. That seems it would be more likely that Hick would notice! It's true. He never adds salt, and I leave it off of things I make for him. Anyhoo... that turkey was saltier than a ham soaked in ham juice, then stored in brine for about 10 years. Didn't stop me from eating it!

Oh, and the next day's menu at the Senior Center was meatloaf. So I suppose it's a good thing I didn't make it, and force Hick to eat leftovers of the same thing he had for lunch. Even though he had turkey twice in one day...

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Foiled Again!

I almost had a chance to redeem myself for not offering monetary assistance to the daughter/mother pair in Save A Lot a couple days ago. I was ready for redemption. Had a shirt pocket full of cash. Well. I always have a shirt pocket full of cash. But I was ready to whip it out like Wyatt Earp wielding a pistol at the OK Corral.
Standing second in line at the counter of the Liquor Store on Monday, I heard the cashier tell the lady ahead of me that her card had reached its limit, and she still owed 48 cents. 

Aha! I put my hand into my shirt pocket. And then The Lady said,

"Oh. I'll try another card."

The other card was not working! Once again, I grasped a folded dollar between my index finger and bad finger, ready to step forward.

"What can I do? If it won't work, I'll just go out to the car and get money."

The guy clerk who was training the new cashier reached over and did something, and The Lady's card worked to pay her 48 cents.


The Universe seems to be punishing Val for delaying her do-good-iness on Saturday!

I think The Lady was buying a fountain soda and cigarettes, but I couldn't see around her. Nothing earth-shattering if I HAD been able to offer her 48 cents. But it's a start to redeeming myself for inaction with people who (possibly) needed me on Saturday.

Monday, December 12, 2022

I Might Have Inadvertently Maimed The Pony

It's Chex Mix season! I made my first batch on Saturday night. I had a few ingredients left from last year, and figured I might as well use them up. I warned Hick.
"I can't see throwing this stuff away. I'm going to make Chex Mix, but if it doesn't turn out right, we can throw it away then."
"Or me and my buddies will eat it!"
"Yeah. I guess. I know the cereal part will be fine, because after baking it for two hours, it's not going to be stale. The only part might be the pretzels. They're thicker."
To be on the safe side, I sampled the last crumbs in the pans. Tasted fine to me, but I didn't have a leftover pretzel. I set aside a small bowl for Hick. He took it with him to his SUS2 (Storage Unit Store 2) and said it was fine. I even offered to take some to The Pony.
Hick bought my container last week when he got canned dog food for my Sweet, Sweet Juno, who has put back on the weight she lost, and is no longer looking skeletorish. After last year's fiasco of the expensive metal tins that were much too large to fill with Chex Mix and give away, I cautioned Hick to get the plastic tubs with the holiday theme. He did. 
When I got out the tubs to wash them while waiting for the Chex Mix to finish, I ran into a problem. Those containers came in 2-packs. The fourth pack I opened would not separate. They come stacked together. I pulled and poked and stabbed and twisted. I jammed a butter knife, a sharp knife, and my letter opener down between the containers. They snapped together while I was prying with just my fingertips, and caught my left index finger between them as the inner one snapped back. It felt like I had closed my finger in a car door!
Anyhoo... after 30 minutes of struggling, I gave up on trying to separate those two. I could still use it as one container. The lid fit. It just had a double bottom. That's the container I took to The Pony.
"I will only let you have this if you promise not to try and separate the containers! I spent 30 minutes on them, and they are NOT coming apart. It's like an elephant stood on them! Don't try to jab something in between to get them apart. It doesn't work."
"I might try running warm water on the outer one, after I'm done eating it." Said The Pony, already with the lid off, and halfway finished. 
With him enjoying the yearly Chex Mix so much, I could not wrest that container out of his hands. I am worried that he will try to separate those containers with something sharp. He might lop off a limb!
We know how The Pony has a knack for injuring himself in mundane ways...

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Regrets, I've One Anew

Hindsight is 20-20. Or in this case, hindsight is $20.

I was boxing my groceries at Save A Lot on Saturday, at the long counter that runs across the front of the store, under the windows. At the next bagging station, an adult woman and her elderly mother pulled up their cart. The old lady was trying to help with the bagging.

"No, Mom. That's mine. This is yours here. See?"

Old Lady agreed, and bagged the other items.

"That's it, Mom. That's the money we have. I barely have enough to get gas this week. I'll find some way to do it."

At that instant, I thought of going over to them and handing them a twenty from my shirt pocket. Thought about it twice. Then decided against it. Some people are proud, and don't like to be offered charity. I didn't want to appear to have been eavesdropping, even though I was. So I stayed put, boxing my groceries.

All afternoon, and into the evening, I regretted my decision. I can spare a twenty. I could spare two. I feel like I let those ladies down. Perhaps I was meant to overhear their conversation. 

Next time, I will take a chance. After all, people can decline the offer. It's not like I'm going to shove money into their hand and run.

I really wish I had that chance to do over again...

Saturday, December 10, 2022

What We Have Here Is a Failure to COINmunicate

Do you see what I see? NOTHING! No coins were found this week to apply to Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. That's a shame. With the end of the year so close, I was hoping to break records in all categories. Oh, well. Still a few weeks left. Maybe a young 'un will drop a piggy bank out the window...

That's 0 COINS this week, for 0 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune!


Penny          still at 115.
Dime            still at 20.
Nickel          still at 7.
Quarter       still at 7.

Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6

Friday, December 9, 2022

Casey's May Go Broke From Lack of Hick's Business

Hick's schedule was thrown for a loop on Thursday, when the Senior Center didn't serve lunch, but offered breakfast instead. Hick talked about it all week. Of course he went for breakfast! It started at 9:00 and went to 10:00, but Hick was there at 8:30, and had a cup of tea.
The menu was a sausage patty, scrambled eggs made into patties like McDonald's, hash brown, biscuit, gravy, and a cinnamon roll. Hick enjoyed it for his $3.

I think it was just a one-time thing. Lunch was not served. I hope Casey's doesn't go broke from losing Hick's donut business! Of course, I'm ASSUMING that Hick didn't also pick up donuts before his Senior Center breakfast... He did take his daily banana with him as he went out the door.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Pony Is Not Sure-Footed

This was not exactly a surprise. I got a text from The Pony on Monday.

"Oh, yeah. I got distracted with holiday stuff, but want to see my bruise? I fell out of an LLV [Long Life Vehicle] on Wednesday and got a nasty one from smacking the bumper on the way down."

"I actually worried for a bit until the knot went down that I might have broken one of the arm bones!"

"You really should be more careful."

"I mean, it's not like I intend to fall out of trucks!"

"No. But consciously get out safely, says the mom who closed her leg in the car door twice."

"It wasn't getting out! I was swapping a pivot over to someone. So it was falling out the back. The side I landed on was fine! It's just that I smacked either the wall, floor, or bumper with the other arm. Guy that I was swapping with wasn't sure if I just stepped out too far and missed my foothold, or if I stepped on the edge and my foot slid off the bumper."
"Dang! You had a witness, to add insult to your injury."
Let the record show that The Pony has broken both elbows, from falling in the hall at the high school on his way to my room after getting off the elementary school bus, and on the steps of the middle school on his way to lunch. 

He is not one you would want to ride down the trail of the Grand Canyon...

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The Windows Are the Eyes to the Cold

When I stopped by on Tuesday, The Pony's day off,  to pick up his 8th house payment, I asked if his house was still cold.

"It's okay."

"Did you get curtains like I suggested?"

"No. I have blinds."

"Blinds don't insulate like curtains."

"But curtains have to hang down past the windowsill."

"No they don't. They can come down just to the bottom of the window."

"One of my windows is below the level of the bed."


"If I have curtains, then they will interfere with the blanket."

"I don't get it. You mean your bed is AGAINST the windows? No wonder you feel the cold! Curtains would insulate. So you wouldn't feel the cold as your heated air gets chilled against the window. You know you can move the bed a couple inches away from the window, to allow the curtains to fall."

"But then something might fall off the bed and down against the wall! And I would have to move the bed, which is on wheels, to get it!"

Sometimes, trying to reason with The Pony is like trying to reason with Hick.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Not Every Day Can Be a Banquet

Hick was happy to leave a doctor appointment in time to have lunch at the Senior Center near The Pony's house. He didn't know what was on the menu, but he likes eating there for the low, low price of $3. Sometimes, you get what you pay for. This was a new meal he hadn't mentioned before.
"What did you have for lunch?"
"Potato soup. And a baloney and cheese samwich. With some peas and cheese. They had some kind of white sauce in them. Maybe it was mayo. Oh, and a slice of cherry pie for dessert."
I'm pretty sure that was worth $3 for Hick. The cherry pie alone would have drawn him in.
"What's on the menu for tomorrow?"
"Some kind of taco something."
That's another one I haven't heard him mention. I'll have to see what's included when he comes home. 

They asked Hick to play Santa, but he declined. Some other guy is going to play The Grinch. Hick has his own Santa costume, and will be donning it for his yearly pre-school group breakfast. Not sure why he wouldn't play Santa for the seniors. Maybe they should have tempted him with more than a bologna sandwich before asking.

Monday, December 5, 2022

I Don't Mind Waiting, But I DO Mind Being Ignored

Sunday afternoon, I stopped by the Liquor Store for scratchers. Only two cars were in the parking lot, if you don't count the line at the drive-thru window. They have their own cashier, so they don't concern me unless the line is blocking the entrance to the parking lot.

Nobody was waiting at the counter when I stepped inside. The clerk was doing something at the register. I know she knew I was there. They have a freakin' COWBELL on the door. So it clangs when people go in or out. I waited patiently for her to finish whatever she was doing.

Hmm. What WAS she doing? At first I thought she was putting a roll of coins in the register. I heard the tinkle of coinage. Perhaps there had been a shift change. I waited.

A woman came in, cowbell clanging, and stood behind me at the counter. A couple minutes passed. Still no greeting or go eff yourself from the cashier. We might as well have been invisible. ANOTHER woman came in, and went to the soda fountain. The cashier from the drive-thru register passed through, to fetch a soda for a car-bound customer. Still nothing from our clerk.

If it wasn't such a big deal for me to limp my way into the store, and shuffle down the blacktop ramp when leaving, I would have taken my $11 elsewhere! But it was easier to wait than huff out in a fit of pique.

FINALLY, with three of us in line, the clerk stepped out from behind her duck-blind-like wall of assorted last-minute-purchase trinkets. Still no greeting.

I told her what I wanted, shoved the money across the counter, and left with my precious scratchers. Which yielded not a single winner.

Would it have killed that clerk to say, "I'll be with you in a minute." Or "Just let me finish up my register." 

Probably not. Good thing LOOKS can't kill...

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Val's Latest Weirdo, a Presumed Son of a Biscuit Eater

They always find me. The weirdos. I guess it's nice to know my magnet is still functioning, though I wish it would pull in more winning scratchers than weirdos.

I was in Country Mart on Friday, getting a jar of dill pickle chips for Hick. I don't know why he likes them. They remind me of the big plastic tub of dill pickle chips sitting on the condiment table in the school cafeteria, waiting to be stabbed with a plastic fork.

Anyhoo... I turned to push my cart down the aisle, and a man was standing at the end, blocking my way, with the help of a support pole. Leaving a space through which no cart could fit. He looked kind of like David Koechner, the actor/comedian from SNL, who played Todd Packer on The Office, and Lainey's dad/Murray's friend Bill on The Goldbergs. He was wearing jeans, and I swear a weird little vest like a fisherman might wear.

This was not my first weirdo rodeo. I did not make eye contact. I stopped my cart, and turned to peruse the selection of pasta across the aisle on my left. Surely that weirdo would come up the aisle and free my escape route. But no. He started to WHISTLE! Some Christmas tune, though it was not the one playing on the store's muzak. It was like a public employee stand-off. Neither one of us was going to move. We were prepared to wait it out.

I cracked. More like my KNEES cracked. I don't stand well. Moving is better. I was NOT going to turn and go an entire aisle-length out of my way. I wheeled my cart/walker toward the Whistling Weirdo. He stopped whistling. Didn't move. Stared at me. 

"Excuse me." Still he didn't move. I was trapped like a rat in a weirdo's lair.

"Stuff is so expensive these days."

"Yes. I agree."

"See these biscuits?" He cut his eyes to the two tubes he was holding with both hands, end-to-end, in front of his chest. "They wanted $5.98 for these over at Save A Lot!" 

"Huh. I usually find Save A Lot to be cheaper than here. This is the most expensive place I've ever shopped." 

I didn't look closely at the biscuits. They might have been tubes of Pillsbury Grands. Or maybe store brand. I've bought both there before. I don't remember the price.

"These are only $3.48!"

"Oh. Well. That's good."

While he was preoccupied by the biscuits, I edged my cart closer, and he stepped aside without realizing it. I made my escape while he stared after me.

I guess I'm lucky Fonzie wasn't there, ramming a cart into mine.