Monday, February 28, 2022

Pony House Kitchen: A Pony Walks Into a Bar

Hick has been making some progress on Pony House, when not wrecking vehicles all willy-nilly while trying to spring me from the hospital. One of the items on his to-do list was the breakfast bar in Pony House kitchen. The bar itself has been in, but with a single support pole. Hick has since put in the shelves that go under the bar.

Of course, as progress marches on, the breakfast bar is more like a tool bar. Here are the shelves right after installation. And then more complete:

Here they are after Hick put the back on them. Not sure if the shelves will remain that natural color, with a coat of something to seal them, or if they will get a stain or paint. I think Pony is still mulling it over. 

There is a bit more room behind the shelves to allow for The Pony's legs as he sits on a stool at his breakfast bar. Hick already has the stools. They're one of the first items he bought for Pony House.

No refrigerator yet. It will go beside the stove, where that green plastic chair is. I suppose that's Hick's office.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

What Freezes Up Must Melt Down

The Pony was lucky to be off for the two days that we had sleet and a tiny bit of snow. He returned to work on Friday at 5:00 a.m., and hit the streets around 9:30 on the route he previously had a hold on. The Backroads route that includes Country Mart.
I made it to town, all roads being clear except our gravel road, which was solid sleet. It was 30 when I left at noon, and only sections of the road in the sunlight showed faint tire tracks as T-Hoe rolled over it.
When I was stuffing groceries in T-Hoe's rear outside of Country Mart, a vehicle pulled up close. It was THE PONY! In his right-hand drive Metris, to deliver the mail. We had a brief chat. The Pony looked remarkably happy for someone who had been working since 5:00 a.m.
Of course that schedule meant The Pony was off by 5:00 p.m. He can't work over 12 hours in a day. It's a union thing. At home, he showed me a picture he took at the plaza across from Hick's Storage Unit Store compound.

The Pony actually had a video. It was quite relaxing, the sound of that water flowing out. I used to do a demonstration for my students like this, when we were learning about PRESSURE. I'd poke a high and a low hole in a styrofoam cup, and ask the kids which stream of leaking water would shoot out farthest. Sometimes they said both would be the same. Nope! The lower hole has more pressure on the water.

Anyhoo... Hick says the drainage system is blocked. I imagine the whole brick support thingy full of water, but I don't know if that's the case. I agree with Hick that our recent freezing and thawing will tear up those bricks. Like vertical potholes, only smaller. And hopefully nobody drives over them!

It's times like these that I regret being a technology simpleton. The Pony had a cool video.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Val is Back in the PENNY Business!

It's been a difficult 2022 for Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune! I've got a lot of ground to make up to be competitive with my previous years' collections.

I took sick on Jan 22. It was a dismal day anyway, what with a shut-out on pennies for the week. Since then, I haven't been to town seeking my FPF (Future Pennyillionaire Fortune) until the past couple weeks. With NOTHING to show for it! But now...

Of course it took illness to reunite me with a single penny. I went to Convenient Care on TUESDAY, Feb 22, over a bright pink hive-y rash around each of the 6 shots of Lovenox I got in my belly during my Unfortunate HospitVALzation. Hick drove me to my pharmacy across the street, and when I came out, I saw

A beautiful PENNY meant just for ME! It may not look so beautiful to you, but it was a precious jewel to me, after such a long drought in the penny-finding. I never would have seen it if I hadn't been there to pick up the meds prescribed by Convenient Care.

This filthy fellow needed a vinegar bath once I got him home, to discover that he came from 2011. He was heads-up, though I couldn't tell it when I harvested him.

That's 1 COIN this week, for 1 CENT towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.


Penny          # 10
Dime             0
Nickel           0
Quarter        0

Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter          6

Friday, February 25, 2022

Trapped With a Rat

Hick did not go to town to work on Pony House on Thursday morning! I suppose it was just as well, what with bringing home SilverRedO less that 24 hours earlier, MOSTLY repaired from the snowy slip on Feb 3. I say MOSTLY, because I overheard Hick on the phone telling The Veteran that Mick the Mechanic still needs to replace the broken tail light.

Anyhoo... Hick declared that it was too dangerous to go to town on the sleet, with more sleet and freezing rain expected to start by 11:00. He told his helper they weren't working. He made himself bacon and eggs. He left two pieces of bacon on a plate for The Pony. No mention was made to me about extra bacon. Nor was I asked if I'd like some eggs. That's Hick for you. 

I heard some cracking or rustling or other unexplainable noise behind my head, from the kitchen, as I was sitting on the short couch.

"What are you doing?"

"Cleaning the cutting block."

"Cleaning OFF the cutting block?"

"No. Cleaning the cutting block. Scrubbing it. It's dirty."

"Um. It's ALWAYS going to be dirty, unless you sand off a few millimeters of wood. It's all those layers of oil that someone used to condition it when it was a real butcher block. Every time I wipe it off with a wet paper towel from the dishwater, it comes out black. No matter how many times I wipe it."


By that answer, I could tell that Hick was finding out the same thing. It's not like we toss our bare food on the cutting block without a plate, and start eating, as if from a trough! I don't know why he sees the need to scrub the cutting block. I wipe it off every day when I wash the dishes.

Speaking of dish-washing... later in the evening, I was sudsing up the CHINESE TUPPERWARE that came with our carry-out on Wednesday. I couldn't find my green scrubby thing. It's that dark green rough stuff like on one side of a sponge, but it's just a little rectangle of the green stuff. Flat. A little bigger than a sponge. 

"Hey, where did my green scrubby thing go? I need it to get in the little grooves at the edge of the Chinese Tupperware. To get all the oil out. And to get the gummy rice stuff off the silverware."

"I used it. To clean the cutting block."

"WHAT? You didn't ask! Where is it?"

"I throwed it away. It was dirty."

"You threw away my green scrubby thing? And didn't even tell me? It could have been washed! I need it! I use it every day! A plain sponge is too soft for some things."

"I figured you had more."

"No. I don't. So you'll have to go buy me more green scrubby things. Since you threw my last one away."

I can't imagine what kind of item Hick will bring home and declare that it's the same as a green scrubby thing. I'd show you a picture, and give him one to have on his phone while he shops, but he THREW AWAY the last green scrubby thing. Don't for one second think that by holding it in his hands, he will remember what it was like.

This is why Hick needs to get out of the house every day. EVERY day.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Yep. Trying to Kill Me. Pretty Sure.

Hick, Hick, Hick. The busiest attempting-murderer in the history of attempted murder. I'm pretty sure he's trying to kill me again. Here I sit on Wednesday afternoon. The sleet is bouncing off the porch rails. And Hick and SilverRedO are cooling their heels and tires (at 20 degrees) during a Winter Storm Watch, at Mick the Mechanic's shop.

Tuesday evening, Hick said SilverRedO was out of the paint shop, and getting his bumper put back on. So not ready for pickup yet. Wednesday morning, I offered to drop Hick off there as I went to town later. Hick said that due to the impending snowstorm, he would not get SilverRedO until Thursday. He didn't want to be out in the storm. He had plans to work on Pony House, then beat the weather home, picking up Chinese on the way.

"I should be leaving a little after 1:00. It's not supposed to get bad until 2:00."

I don't know how he thought he'd get SilverRedO on Thursday, in the midst of the storm. But that was his plan. "I can go by myself, and park the Acadia up at the lockers. It'll be in the fenced area, safe. Mick can pick me up there and bring me back to his shop." Indeed. It's only about a half-mile or less from Mick's to the Storage Unit Store.

Anyhoo... I went to town at noon, and was home by 1:00. Hick said he was getting ready to leave Pony House. He showed up at 2:00 with the Chinese. 

"My truck is ready. You can take me to town for it, Pony."

"How do you know it's ready? Did you call?"

"No. It's sitting outside. It's ready."

"I want to eat my food while it's hot."

"Okay. We'll eat, and then you can take me."

"I can take you now. Before we eat. Then it will be done."


"I'm not even putting on my town clothes. I'll go like this."

We left at 2:05. As I neared Mick's to drop Hick off, I said,

"Do you have the key? Should I wait while you go in?"

"I have the key, Val. Besides, Mick has a key to work on it. I'll be fine. It's ready. Just pull in here, and you can make a big U-turn to get out."

So I did. On the way home, by the low-water bridge, freezing rain hit T-Hoe's windshield. The wipers decided to automatically turn on. They do that. They only scraped across the frozen raindrops. By then I was coming down Mailbox Row Hill. That freezing rain turned to sleet. I was home at 2:25. I sent Hick a text.

"Sleet started."

Didn't hear anything back until 2:38.

"Be home in a bit they have to finish one thing."

"Too bad you didn't check first. Don't wreck it again."

2:55 "Done yet?" No answer. 3:11 "Still there?"

"Yes waiting on parts store to bring part"

"This is terrible. I guess you'll check next time."

"Yes sorry"

"What if they can't bring it?"

"I'll get him to bring me home."

At 3:26 I called Hick. "Still waiting on the part?"


"It will take another hour once they get it."

"No. It will take 20 minutes."

"Will you text me when the part gets there?"


"This is causing me a lot of stress. I don't need this right now."
"Val. There's nothing you can do. Don't worry. I'll be fine."
It is now 4:00. No text. Here is the view outside:

You can't see the sleet that's still falling because, well, it's SLEET. Not fluffy snowflakes.

Oops! Here comes a text!

"Part just got here"

"Okay. Still sleeting."

Ten minutes later: "On my way"

So... Hick spent two hours sitting at Mick the Mechanic's while the sleet was pelting down. He'd better not wreck SilverRedO again on the way home! When I called him, he said he was taking the other road home. Not the one with Mailbox Row Hill.

Considering that Hick has run a vehicle off both roads, requiring a tow... that is not quite reviving me from my near-murder.

Okay, because Val is not in the habit of near-murdering her readers, we won't end with a cliffhanger. Hick arrived home at 4:25. He took the road with Mailbox Row Hill. SilverRedO is fine. As far as I know.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Hick Is Reunited With SilverRedO

As I type this, SilverRedO is set to be sprung from his long sojourn on the parking lot of Mick the Mechanic. I hope I'm not jinxing the homecoming!

You may recall that Hick put SilverRedO in a ditch on the morning of Feb 3, returning from a trip to town to see "how the roads were" on the day he was supposed to pick me up from my Unfortunate HospitVALzation.

Hick got too far left, caught SilverRedO's tires in the deep stuff, and was pulled into a slanted ditch just above Mailbox Row.

It was somewhere near here. Right after the slope of the hill levels off. Hick called our across-the-road neighbor, who came down and tried to pull him out. Couldn't do it. Only pulled SilverRedO forward a little. Hick couldn't drive him out of the ditch.

As Hick and The Pony were on their way to get me (before getting A-Cad stuck on a different road), Hick took this picture of SilverRedO sitting in his snowy grave.

That's where SilverRedO remained, waiting for a AAA tow later in the afternoon.

As you can see, SilverRedO is near a tree. NOT AGAINST a tree. The AAA tow truck driver got SilverRedO partway out, with front tires more on the road, and the bed of the truck down in the ditch. Against the tree, with a broken tail light and dented side. He said his winch was broken, and he'd be back. But he didn't come back, and that's when Hick got into it with the tow owner on the phone the next morning. Saying they wouldn't come out for just a $35 tow out of the ditch, but they'd tow SilverRedO to a body shop.

Hick had no other option, and SilverRedO has been at Mick the Mechanic's shop since Feb 4, waiting on an insurance adjuster and parts and repair and a paint job. SilverRedO has been held hostage long enough!

I really hope SilverRedO is sprung today!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Even Steven Has Been Waiting For Me

Sunday, Feb 20, I made my third solo trip to town since my Unfortunate HospitVALzation. You may recall that I originally took sick on Jan 22. I had not been out on my daily 44 oz Diet Coke/scratchers run since Jan 21. Yes, my weekly allowance WAS burning a hole in my purse!
Anyhoo, while I was out of action, the long-awaited $50 scratcher ticket was released. The Pony and I had been waiting for a couple months, after seeing a sign for it in the Gas Station Chicken Store. The Pony got me one for my birthday. It won $50. Money back!
I cashed in that $50 winner on Sunday at the Gas Station Chicken Store. It was kind of surreal. Last time I was there, Man and Woman Owner were the only people who worked on the weekends. But this time, a familiar face was behind the counter. A familiar face that I hadn't seen in months.

"I've been gone so long I almost forgot how to buy scratchers! It's been about a month since I was in here. I've been sick."

"I almost forgot how to scan the tickets! I've been gone for 10 months!"

Okay. She had me there. I vaguely remember that she and another cashier had left to work at a liquor store downtown. Anyhoo... I got my new $50 ticket, and two $5 tickets, and two $3. Plus a couple $2 tickets for The Pony. I went on to Country Mart, where I bought some tickets out of their machines.

The machine on the right JAMMED when I bought a $50 ticket with money The Pony had given me for that purpose. I dared not walk away! Nobody was at the service desk except a customer waiting for service. Two cashiers were working, each with two customers. I stood leaning against the lottery machine.

A little old lady was at the machine on the left. She got some tickets, and was milling around. I wanted to yell, "TAKEN!" It was clear she was after my machine.

"I put $50 in here and it jammed! I'm not leaving until I get my ticket out!"

"Oh, this one always seems to jam up."

When the younger cashier was done with his customers, he went to the service desk and waited on the man waiting. Then he came to open up the machine and give my my ticket.

"This happens a lot. I think these tickets are just too big. When they tear off, they don't fall."

I took my ticket, pointed out that a $3 ticket also showed JAMMED, and he fixed it. The Little Old Lady started buying her tickets out of it. I had moved to the machine on the left. I bought two $5 tickets, two $3 tickets, and two $2 tickets for The Pony.

Once home, I started scratching. The $50 ticket was first.

It was a $100 winner! Made me sweat it out until the last number! And then the Bonus area also paid off. I was pretty happy to double my investment. Which was actually nothing, since I'd cashed in a winner to buy it.

The next ticket I scratched was from the Gas Station Chicken Store, the newest $5 ticket, which came out while I was in the hospital.

In case you can't see my winning number, here's a closeup:

It was a $100 winner! I scratch off the prize first, and thought I'd probably get a 1X or 2X multiplier. But no! I got the big one, the 20X!

My next ticket was a loser from the left machine at Country Mart. But my fourth ticket was the other $5 ticket that I got out of the left machine.

Let me show you a better view of my winner:

It was a $250 winner! If the other machine hadn't jammed, I never would have bought this ticket! I usually don't get this one, but it's the first thing that caught my eye when I scanned in my winners to buy tickets.

Thanks, Even Steven, for such a profitable day. I only had one other winner, $5 on a $5 crossword. The Pony's tickets all lost. He knows why. In fact, he said,

"Remind me not to ask you to buy tickets for me for a while. I think you've used up your luck for now."

Yes. I think I have. I'm pretty sure $455 in one day is a new record for me.

Monday, February 21, 2022

A Unique Delivery

The Pony always documents interesting items that he is tasked with delivering. Sunday, which is package day only, he had this:

Heh, heh! I asked The Pony if it was a squid.

"No. It says it's a PIG. I don't get that. But the BEST part is the description:  
NOTE- Actual product has no eyes or mouth and will not speak to you. We think."

That price! ONLY $73 for a pack of 2. I don't know about you, but if I spend that much for a drain skimmer, I expect it to have eyes and talk to me!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Furnishing Pony House

I'm still not back to my lair, to show you progress on Pony House. But I DO have a picture of a bargain Hick found on furniture.

The financial responsibility for furnishing Pony House falls on The Pony. We have some furniture he can use. My old kitchen table and chairs, a bed frame and dresser and chest that were my mom's, that Genius used for two years and gave back. But The Pony will still have to get a couch, chairs, water heater, washer and dryer, and mattress and box springs. He has money, but who wants to pay full price when Hick can get you a bargain?

One of Hick's buddies from the Storage Unit Store has his own unit, and has two identical chairs for sale. Hick sent The Pony a picture to see if he liked them.

The Pony likes the pattern and the style. He okayed the purchase of $35 per chair. Hick did a little bargaining, and got both chairs for a total of $60.

I really like that little table on the left. I'm going to tell Hick to ask the price. Hick says he has end tables over in his Freight Container Garage. But this one looks promising.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Slip of the Tongue, or Proof Hick Really IS Trying To Kill Me?

You may recall that for the past several years, I've been pretty sure Hick is trying to kill me. If you don't recall, you can simply type pretty sure trying to kill me into the search bar in the upper left corner of my blog, and read more than you ever wanted about Hick's tactics.

Thursday, we had a storm come through. Rain all through Wednesday night, then dropping temperatures through the day on Thursday, with sleet and snow. Poor Pony! The snow part had barely started when he got home, and we only got about an inch, but the sleet was under it. All over our wooden porch and rails.

I was planning my very first solo trip to town on Friday, since my unfortunate HospitVALzation. Hick had relinquished T-Hoe to me. And now this weather crap. 

"The Pony says it's supposed to be in the 40s tomorrow. I know the roads will be fine for T-Hoe. I'm kind of worried about falling on the sidewalks from the sleet. I guess by the time I get to town, it will be melted. Will you clean off the porch steps for me as you leave? I notice that my broom has disappeared, and my dustpan has been broken since I was in the hospital..."

"Pony broke the dustpan trying to clean off the steps to bring you home. The broom is somewhere in the garage. Besides, I got you a brand new broom and dustpan. They're in the back of your car."

"Doing me a lot of good there. Anyway, will you clean off the porch steps? They're always the last to melt."

"Yeah. The sun doesn't get to them. I'll put ice on them for you."

"WHAT? You'll put ICE on the steps for me? Now I KNOW you're trying to kill me!"

"I meant I'd put SALT on them for you."

"I am not a mind-reader. You said ICE."

"Oh, Val. You're so dramatic."

Huh. I'm not the one who told an unsteady recent hospitalite that I'd put ICE on the steps.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Val Gets Her Casino Legs Back

Our casino trip on Tuesday was a grand day for Val. No, there was NOT an $8,600 win this time. They took that slot machine out! The best part of this trip was that I FELT FINE! I was walking slowly, but I didn't get out of breath or dizzy. I didn't have to stop and sit, nor hobble from chair to chair. I didn't relish standing for very long, but I was ambulatory without need of a helping hand.

Hick dropped us off, and went to see his pawn shop lady. He might have gotten a bit of merchandise for his Storage Unit Store, but he didn't talk about it. So maybe he didn't. The Pony and I went to play our regular machines, but as I was walking to my Wild Wild Nugget, some guy stepped over to it and sat down! The very NERVE of him to disrupt our gambling routine!

The Pony was loyal, and didn't sit down at his Pompeii. We continued deeper into the casino to our Buffalo slots. I don't even know the names of these newer ones. They have NEVER paid me a cent since they were put in. During our Christmas trip, Genius and The Pony both won a couple hundred on them. So I figured I'd give them another chance. The Pony went to the next circular kiosk of a slot with the white Buffalo. I sat down at the first one.

I made a good choice. That Buffalo started giving me little wins to keep me playing for a while on my twenty. When it eventually ran out, I contemplated moving one slot to my left, but figured since this one was letting me play, I'd stay put. I slid in another twenty, and on the first spin, I hit a bonus.

This was a bonus within the bonus. Look, one of them is a $50 block! Anyhoo... by the time the bonus was complete, I had won $215.

I was happy with that! But you know what? A man had sat down at the slot machine to the left, where I'd considered moving. And he won a HAND PAY! I don't know exactly how much. He was calling someone on his phone, and said he was down to $14, and won $80, and decided he'd play $10 bets until he used up that money. Because he'd seen someone winning on $10 bets there last week. That sure worked out for HIM! Even if I'd switched, I wouldn't have been making $10 bets. And the timing would have been different. So I'm sure I would not have gotten a hand pay from that machine. A hand pay is at least $1,200. The staff have to bring out paperwork, and then they count out your money into your hand. Unless you choose a check. Federal taxes are automatically withheld.

From there I went to play a LOSING Wonder 4 Boost. I hit a bonus that paid me $4. That should be a crime! Hick made me mad here, because he walked up behind me and PUT HIS HAND ON MY SHOULDER! You don't do that in a casino! I was counting spins in my head, concentrating on my losing, heh, heh, when I felt a HAND ON MY SHOULDER. Then Hick leaned over and asked how I was doing. How was I supposed to know it wasn't some WEIRDO touching me? Of course he had a little fit when I told him not to do that, and swore that he talked before he touched me. Which he DID NOT!

By then it was time for lunch. A waste of a lot of good gambling time, just to eat my SADwich!

After lunch, I wanted to play Miss Kitty. But every time I went there, some inconsiderate body was on it! Didn't they know that I was there, getting my casino legs back after a four-day hospital stay twelve days ago???

I went to my Wonder 4 Tower, and had a good time, but lost a little. I found The Pony, who was having some success on a wheel-spinning slot that worked like a little devil kind of slot we play in Oklahoma. Darn it! ANOTHER person was on my Miss Kitty! I looked around, and saw a new set of slots that were Asian themed. Of course I went over there, because...

When I got up that morning, I'd been skimming HIPPIE before getting ready, and the screen that popped up on Bing was full of red lanterns. I don't know if they were Japanese or Chinese lanterns, but I showed The Pony, and said, "Remind me to play a slot with lanterns."

Well, lookie here what popped up before I went through a twenty! I hit a bonus with FOUR lanterns, when only three were required. You may consider these fireworks, but to me, they were close enough to lanterns! 

They gave me 15 free games. I had no idea how this slot worked, but it was fun to play. Good thing I had that lantern stuff on my mind.

It wasn't a big payoff, but it was a win! That Golden Gong slot gave me several more bonuses. One of them a little better:

Anyhoo... I left there and went to the finally available Miss Kitty. Where I had a grand time, playing that Wonder 4 Wheel game. I got several bonuses, but none of them worthy of pictures. Okay. They were good enough for pictures, but it was my last 30 minutes of play before I had to meet Hick up front. So I didn't take time for pictures. I played until 4:28, and scurried to the cash machines to redeem my big ticket I'd been building all day.

Standing at the cash machine was my low point of the day. It took so long to cash out my bills, and then feed them back into smaller bills for my next gambling trip... that I got a bit weak-kneed. I was okay though! Just had to walk a little slower to meet Hick, who of course was already up front. He went to bring A-Cad around to the front. The Pony appeared.

It was a decent day at the casino for Thevictorians. I won back every cent of my casino bankroll, plus another 10 percent over it. The Pony finished either 5 percent up, or 5 percent down. He couldn't remember if he added part of his bankroll to the birthday money he brought to spend. Hick lost 30 percent of his casino bankroll. Which is great for Hick, since he usually spends it all. Though his bankroll IS less than The Pony and I take to wager.

We were there four-and-a-half hours. So that's pretty good entertainment for a recovering hospitVALite. Especially since I turned a profit!

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Val's Casino SADwich

Good news and bad news! Hick took us to the casino on Tuesday. I felt just fine. Walked around without needing to grasp the back of chairs, or sit down before reaching my destination. The only hiccup was when I was ready to leave, but that's another tale. We'll get to the bad news in a few paragraphs...

When Hick proposed the casino trip, I was worried about being able to walk around. By Sunday and Monday, I was feeling more normal. So my thoughts turned to anticipation of the LUNCH we would have at the casino. I could not decide! I even discussed it with The Pony.

"I don't know what I want! I love the catfish nuggets, but I don't think I'm ready for so much fried food. I might go with the burger. You and Dad get it, and it looks so good! But I also like the Philly Cheesesteak. And the grilled chicken club is pretty good. And also the pulled pork. If I got one of those sandwiches, would you want the Texas Toast? One slice of it?"

"I do like the Texas Toast, but I don't need it. Get what you want."

"I just can't decide! I guess I'll know when I get there."

We met at 1:30 for lunch. Got in line. Hick ordered the burger and curly fries, and the Oreo Pie. Pony also got a burger, with regular fries. He saw that they now have a CHOCOLATE fried pie on the menu, and got one. It was his birthday too, you know.

While I was in line, I saw they still had the Smothered Pork Loin Po Boy on the menu! Hick had it last time, and it looked really good. He ate it all before I could ask for a bite. But I got a picture back then!
It had looked so good that I wanted one now!
"I'll have the Pork Loin Po Boy, with tater tots."

"Oh. Well. I think we're out of gravy. Let me check." The order-taker went over to the window, and yelled in, and came back saying that they were indeed out of gravy.

"That's okay. Can I have it without the gravy? We don't have to smother my Po Boy! We can let him live."

She giggled. "Yes. You can have it without gravy."

We went to the table, where they now have all the condiments on the table again, in a wire basket. And napkins in a holder, so you don't have to ration the ones they bring. We sat and waited. And waited. It was taking WAY longer than usual. 

"I hate using my gambling time to sit here! It's been 30 minutes! Darn you guys for ordering a burger! They take a long time to cook!"

"How do you know it's not your Po Boy?"

"Because it's already cooked! They were just out of the gravy. So we're waiting on a fresh burger."

FINALLY the food came out. Carried by a different gal than took our order. "I have a burger with fries?"

"Here. That's mine."

That's The Pony's burger and fries. He's busy adding ketchup and mayo to the top bun, which he set aside.
"And a pulled pork."

"Uh. I ordered the pork PO BOY. Not pulled pork."

"Oh. Okay." She left and came back with Hick's burger and curly fries, and Pony's chocolate pie. "Bad news. We are out of the gravy."

"I know that. That's why I said 30 minutes ago that I'd take it without the gravy, and the girl said that was fine."

The food-carrier acted put-out. "Okay. I'll go get a Po Boy."

"Now they'll do something to it! She was NOT happy to be called out on that Po Boy. If I get sick, you'll know it was from this food! Where's the receipt? That Po Boy was $11, not $8 like your burgers! Hey! It only shows the total. Not the itemized order. So I can't even PROVE that we paid for the Po Boy, and she's trying to serve me an $8 pulled pork!"

"Calm down, Val. She'll bring your food."

"But you'll be done by then! I'm always the last one done. It's taking up my gambling time!"

That's Hick's burger and curly fries. Of course he started eating right away. As did The Pony. Leaving me to watch and stew in my own juices. The Pony was also enjoying his burger, and his chocolate pie.

The Pony's pie was HUGE, and also very full of the chocolate filling.

It took another 15 minutes to get my Pork Loin Po Boy. The food carrier came back. "Here's a Pork Loin Po Boy with fresh tater tots. And an Oreo Pie." Which Hick had asked for twice. He usually gets it at the beginning, and has it eaten by the time his burger gets to the table. But at least he GOT IT.
I call shenanigans on my Po Boy!
Look at it! Is that not the saddest sandwich you've ever seen? I don't really think that's pork loin! I think it's pulled pork that they slapped on a roll with cheese and onions. It doesn't even cover the roll! It's not nearly as good a sandwich as when I get the Philly Cheesesteak. Or even the pulled pork on Texas Toast. This is a SADwich!

I ate it all. Even the roll. Gotta keep up my strength, you know! I normally eat the meat and half the roll. I didn't finish the tater tots.

I will not be ordering the Pork Loin Po Boy again! I might even go with a burger. It's way better than a SADwich!

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

That Awkward Stage

Hick and I are at that awkward stage. I think I am ready to drive again, but HICK HAS POSSESSION OF T-HOE!

That's because Hick wrecked SilverRedO on Feb 3, the day he was supposed to pick me up from the hospital. He ran off the road by MAILBOX ROW! So close to home! Yet he got off into a drift, and tipped sideways in a deep ditch. A neighbor tried to pull him out, but only got SilverRedO in deeper. The AAA guy came and tried, but did not succeed, and in fact pulled SilverRedO into a position that put him against a tree. 

THEN the AAA guy was supposed to come back, after saying he needed to fix his winch. But he kept giving hourly updates, and never showed. Then the next morning, his boss said he wasn't coming out for a $35 tow. After they'd already messed it up, and damaged SilverRedO. He did, however, so kindly offer to come out and TOW SilverRedO TO A REPAIR SHOP. Which meant the tow company would get a lot more money, because it would have to be turned into our INSURANCE. So Hick, wanting SilverRedO back, agreed. Since there is no other AAA tow service besides that one.

Thing is, if Hick could have gotten SilverRedO out, he was driveable. It's a smashed tail light, and body damage down the side. Pretty sure it's in the hundreds of dollars. Of course it will probably be our deductible, even though the tow company is at fault for the damage. They didn't put the truck in the ditch, but they pulled it partway out and let it slip back and into a tree.

So... since Feb 4, SilverRedO has been sitting at Mick the Mechanic's shop. Hick was driving A-Cad, but then said he needed T-Hoe to haul something to Pony House. And he's never given up T-Hoe! He even had to replace a battery in his T-Hoe clicker. When I said I wanted T-Hoe back, Hick said, "What do you expect ME to drive, the Acadia?"

Well. Yes I do. He's driven it all along. It's easier for me to climb in T-Hoe with his running board. A-Cad is just a little too high. No running board. With a lip that I have to drag my feet up and over to get in and out. Like a submarine door! I'm not comfortable. I like to sit up high in T-Hoe.

Hick seems to think that SilverRedO will be finished by Friday. And then he can give me back T-Hoe. We'll see. Until then, he's going to have to drive me around. In A-Cad. Because it's easier for me to get in and out of as a passenger.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Val's Tiny World

It's a tiny world, after all. Val's world has shrunk to just the upper level of her mansion. No lair visits lately. Maybe soon... I am definitely missing New Delly and my OPC (Old People Chair). Right now I have only the basics. I'm able to cook for myself and sometimes others. I have the main TV, and HIPPIE at the kitchen table. I'm most concerned about getting down to my lair, and not being able to get back upstairs. Those 13 rail-less stairs are no joke. I don't THINK I'm that weak, but you can never be sure until it occurs. Some weird things have happened. For instance, I stood up and felt TOO TALL FOR MY BODY! Isn't that odd? I'm my own weirdo, I guess.

I've only been out to the doctor visit on Feb 9, and a trip to Country Mart on Feb 12. Hick is going to take me and The Pony to the casino for a birthday non-surprise. I feel up to it. I can walk slowly, and there are plenty of sitting places along my way. My Monday shower was completely normal, and did not exhaust me. I'll be making supper for Hick and The Pony. Baked chicken, stuffing, and baked potato. They're carb-lovers, and not so much into vegetables. At least we've enjoyed a big salad for the past two days. I seem to be doing okay in the tiny world, and will start branching out to get back to normal. 

When I have access to New Delly, I can start showing more Pony House progress. My laptop HIPPIE is not photo friendly. It CAN be done, but not easily.

Monday, February 14, 2022

The HospitVALzation: Part 10, Final Thoughts

I am now 23 days out from the date I succumbed to the VIRUS. This is the best day I've had! Feeling pretty much normal, but with a little lingering dizziness. Not sure what that's from, since I had it before I got sick, too.

Seems I just had the misfortune of the Hick and Pony double-whammy. I'd gone about my business for over two years, daily trips to town for my 44 oz Diet Cokes and scratchers. Grocery shopping a couple times a week. No issues. The only sickness being a double ear infection in December. But THEN... Hick brought home a mild version of something that he caught from his Pony-House Worker, who said he'd had the VIRUS.

Hick and I were over that version in four days. Mild sore throat, fever in the 99s. Mainly a malaise and little cough, which was like throat-clearing. The Pony brought home a Post Office bug that had put five or more workers out. Let the record show that The Pony was always masked in the mail room, and had his shots. He missed one day of work due to fever and nausea. His original symptoms were loss of taste and smell the first two days, with sinus congestion and bloody snot. 

I caught The Pony version two days after I got over the Hick version. I think that was my downfall. Not quite over the first one when hit by the second one. Hick and The Pony were "lucky" to only have one version to deal with.

Genius and Friend in Pittsburgh caught the VIRUS the week after I did. They both had their shots. They'd been working from home since Christmas. Had groceries delivered. Rarely went out. BUT they walked two blocks to eat at a restaurant. Genius wore a mask that night, Friend did not. Of course Genius places the blame there, although everyone knows the VIRUS is too small to be stopped by a mask, short of somebody spitting or coughing directly into your face. 

Anyhoo... four days after the dinner, Friend got a scratchy throat and sickness. Two days after that, Genius got it. Lost taste and smell for two days. They took at-home tests, which were positive. Genius said he never had a fever. The worst part for him was a cough, and FATIGUE. "I'd get up and feel tired and lay down on the couch, and a couple hours later go back to bed. Even though I've been working from home, I couldn't do it. I had to call out sick. I didn't feel like eating anything. Maybe a half-pack of ramen noodles. I couldn't sleep because my chest hurt from coughing. My oxygen went down to 90 one day, and I pondered whether I should go to the hospital, but I didn't. I didn't start feeling better until about seven days after I caught it."

So there you go. Like Dr. Debra told me at the hospital, it affects every person differently! Shots or not, masks or not. Pony, Genius, and Friend still got it. Of course they are 40 years younger and more than 40 pounds lighter and still have their thyroids, as well as no underlying health conditions. Hick seems to be the luckiest bullet-dodger of all.

I am fortunate that I had a nurse practitioner at convenient care who wouldn't let me leave without checking my oxygen level after a short walk to the door. Fortunate that I responded to the steroid shot and oxygen given to me at the first ER. Fortunate to have had some GREAT nurses at the hospital where I got a bed. Nursing is like teaching. You don't go into it for the money. It's a calling. 

Every day I feel better. You can bet I'm going to continue taking my vitamin supplement with C, D, zinc, and quercetin. Can't hurt, right? Hick is taking it too.

I'm glad to be back...

Sunday, February 13, 2022

The HospitVALzation: Part 9, Recovery

Back at home on Thursday, Feb 3, I was shaky and weak. I did my breather thingy every half hour as instructed. Mainly sat on the short couch a while, then at the kitchen table on HIPPIE. My oxygen stayed between 95 and 99, depending on my level of activity. I had two days of oral antibiotics to finish, and seven days of oral dexamethasone, the steroid. Which was a bit of a problem.

When Hick picked up my prescriptions from the pharmacy before liberating me from the hospital, the pharmacy was short on dexamethasone. They only gave TWO pills instead of SEVEN. With a note to pick up the rest the next day.

Friday afternoon, Hick went to get the rest of the dexamethasone.

"Oh, we don't have that."

"You said it would be here today."

"We are out. It may come in tomorrow."

"And if it doesn't, my wife will be out! She just got out of the hospital. She HAS TO HAVE IT."

Here's the good thing about WHO YOU KNOW. The pharmacist there is a 30-something brother of two of my former students. He knows me on sight, and by name. He told Hick he would call around to find those five pills. He found some at a pharmacy over by Sis-Town.

"Okay, then I'll just drive out there and get them."

"No. We can't let you do that. We'll have to send someone to bring them here."

And they did. Sent their delivery driver to get my five remaining pills, and gave them to Hick on Friday afternoon. If I didn't know anyone at the pharmacy, do you think I would have gotten those pills? I don't. So once again, things worked out for Val.
On Wednesday, Feb 9, I had a follow-up appointment with my nurse practitioner, and some bloodwork for the hospital lab and Dr. Debra. I was worried about getting in and out of the facility. Still shaky. No visitors allowed, so Hick couldn't go in with me. He dropped me off at the door. I put on my mask, but the greeter gal said everybody had to wear THEIR mask now. Which was just a paper version, nothing special.
"Have you been exposed to THE VIRUS? Do you have any symptoms?"
"I just got out of the hospital with it last week. I'm here for a follow-up appointment."
"Oh, congratulations on surviving!"
Well. That was a bit off-putting. Here I was, feeling like I was on the road to recovery, like maybe the ordeal had been blown out of proportion. And she was telling me I should have died! I was shaky-legged waiting for one of the two elevators to come down and take me to the second floor. That's the only way to get there. Not that I could have walked up steps anyway.
I waited 25 minutes to be called in for my appointment. It was kind of stressful, not feeling my best, all alone, sitting. They called me back, put me on the scale, and Mr. NP showed up behind me.

"Well! You were quite a popular gal last week!"

"Believe me, I didn't want to be."

They put me in an exam room, and a nurse came in to question me and take vitals.

"Do you smoke or vape?"


"That's what kept you from dying. Over the past two weeks, have you felt depressed?"

"No more than you would from ALMOST DYING."

"Fair enough."

Sheesh! If everyone was going to point out how I was almost a goner, I might as well go along with it!

"Do you want a VIRUS shot?"

"No. I think I'll use my natural immunity."

"Well, I couldn't give you one anyway. Because you just had THE VIRUS. But I always ask everyone, just to see their answer. Some say, 'HELL NO!" and others say, 'No thank you.'"

That seemed like some kind of perverse game to me, but weirdos are gonna weirdo, and they're gonna be attracted to Val.

Mr. NP came in and discussed my situation. Listened to my lungs. 

"When I saw your name come across our list, I told everyone, 'I do NOT want this for this lady!' You are moving air well. We'll do an x-ray in one month, and some bloodwork. The order you have is from Dr. Debra, so that will be separate. I will get the results, and one of my girls will call you with it by tomorrow."

I made my next appointment, and went up to the lab, only to be told that I had to go downstairs to the hospital lab because Dr. Debra was on the hospital staff, not the clinic staff. This was becoming quite an ordeal. Hick had dropped me off at 2:15, and it was now after 3:30. I made two trips by the bathroom on the third floor. I couldn't see my feet under that giant paper mask that kept creeping up toward my eyes. I had to wait to be called to the admitting desk in order to get approval for the bloodwork. Then walked past the lab to a cubicle, and back to the lab to a row of curtained blood-drawing chairs. Gave my sample, and made my way out to the lobby to text Hick to pick me up. It was taxing.

I still have trouble sleeping, but it's getting easier to breathe. Dizziness comes and goes, not sure what it's from. Saturday was my first trip out, to Country Mart, with Hick as my companion in case I felt faint. I made it okay.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

The HospitVALzation: Part 8, Homebound

My pickup from the hospital was fraught with uncertainty, with the snow still falling, and Hick having left SilverRedO in a ditch around 8:00 a.m., and waiting for a tow out of another ditch in A-Cad around 10:50 on his way to get me. I was dressed and ready, sitting up in a chair, my belongings in a bag on the bed. Just breathing, and taking pee breaks while I waited.

At 12:21, Hick and The Pony arrived at the hospital, and parked at the main door. I called my nurse, Alex 2, on the call button. He came in with a chair to wheel me out. It was not the standard wheelchair, but one of those hard plastic chairs on wheels. It still had the foot pads, and armrests to hold onto. I guess it was their SNOW CHAIR for getting people to the curb.

"Where is your coat?"

"I don't have it. It's out in my car."

"Here. Take this blanket."

Alex 2 took a white blanket off the bed, and draped it around my shoulders. Probably a $500 souvenir, heh, heh, from my stay. Alex 2 wheeled me the short distance to the entrance. As I said, my room had a window facing out on the circle drive. I was just a few feet from actually seeing A-Cad's grill. Alex 2 wheeled me out the door. The snow was packed, even though this exit/entrance was under roof. Hick got out and started around the front of A-Cad.

"No. Get back in the car. I'll get her in."

Alex 2 put on the brake. Adjusted my blanket on my shoulders. Stood in front of me, proffering a hand to get me up. He had the passenger door open.

"Watch your step. Come right over here. Grab onto this handle and the door. Careful."

I shuffled across the snow, and got settled in A-Cad. Thanked Alex 2 for all his help. Hick helped snap in the seatbelt, and we were off. The Pony pulled the blanket from my shoulders, and gave me my jacket, which I put on backwards since I was in the seatbelt. Pony rubbed my shoulders. 

"It will be okay. We'll get you home, Mom."

Well. After their just-towed experience, I was not so sure. The snow was still coming down. The hospital drive and all roads out of it were covered. We had to ease along, because people didn't want to stop at the side-street stop signs, lest they become stuck. Also, we had to creep up a slight hill behind a spinning car in front of us. Hick got A-Cad to the highway for our 20-mile journey.

"Would you please stay in the right lane? Just to make me feel better? I don't want to spin out. I can't be sitting beside the road waiting for a tow."

"I'll stay in the right lane. The passing lane is deep."

Indeed. The right lane was not clear. It had some tracks in places, but was pretty much snow-covered, though not deep. We came up on a snowplow. Hick stayed back, waiting. It turned off at an exit. We came up on another snowplow in the fast lane. Bided our time until there was room to go by on the right. Hick is a good snow driver, despite putting two vehicles in the ditch that morning!

The most dicey part was getting on our blacktop roads. They had not been plowed and there was only room for one vehicle in the ruts of previous traffic. If we met a car, somebody was going in a ditch. But we DIDN'T meet a car! So lucky! Got on our gravel road, which was also a mess. At least people were staying home and not rushing out for donuts or to pick up hospital patients!

Hick backed A-Cad into the garage so I could get out without stepping in the 7+ inches of snow. The garage isn't big enough to open the passenger door when parked the right way. The Pony went out to the steps, and swept off all the fresh snow. He stood behind me as I gripped the rail and slowly went up. The dogs were crazy happy to see me, even without a treat.

Once inside, I leaned on the back of the couch, exhausted. I was sweating like crazy.

"They said they keep the rooms at 69 degrees, because the patients seem to respond better to that."

"I can turn down the thermostat, Mom. It's only one more degree."

"Yeah. Do that. I'm going to try to have a shower."

All those four days, nobody at the hospital had offered me a chance to wash up, nor change the bed. That's okay. I sleep in my regular bed for four days without changing the sheets. But I do wash up! I hope they hadn't given up on me! Anyhoo... I got in the shower, planning on it to be brief. It was briefer than I planned.

Back when I had my bilateral pulmonary embolisms, the respiratory tech had told me that taking a shower was like walking up two flights of stairs. I felt like I was walking up the Empire State Building. Got light-headed. Got out quick after a hair-wash, which made me dizzy lifting my arms over my head. I had to sit down and rest on the toilet. I wasn't chilled, I was burning up. Had to cool off before toweling off and getting dressed.

I went to sit on the short couch. Later The Pony helped make me a chicken patty and fries. I was sadly missing the hospital supper I had chosen, which was going to be chicken with mushrooms, pasta with peas, and peach pie. But I WAS happy to be home.


Friday, February 11, 2022

The HospitVALzation: Part 7, The Release

It is now around 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, Feb 3, Day 4 of the HospitVALzation. The day I am being released. I've had time to mull this over. I'm feeling better. The snow is supposed to stop by early afternoon. I've had breakfast. The new nurse came in.

"Hi. I'm Alex, your nurse."

"Wait. Did you just say your name is ALEX? My nurse last night was Alex."

"Uh huh! You're getting two-for-one. I'm also an Alex. I'm here with your Lovenox shot. I'm the fastest shot in the west. Don't worry, it'll be over in no time."

Indeed, the shot did not hurt. Those nurses were all good at it. Alex 2 also had my morning pills, and the dexamethasone to shoot into my arm needle, and a bag of the antibiotic levofloxacin to hang for 90 minutes. 
"I'm taking a multivitamin. It has vitamin C, D, zinc, and quercetin. Do you think that helps any?"
"Yes. And elderberry! Try elderberry. It's an immune system booster. A lot of people use it."
"Okay. I've got my vitamin here to take with my other meds. I set one out last night when Alex brought me the bottle so I didn't forget it. I'm going home today."
"Oh! You took it now? I need to scan the bottle. To show what you're taking, in case you have a reaction to something, they'll know everything you took."
"It's right there in the cabinet, on the top of my bag."
Alex 2 got out the bottle and scanned the barcode the hospital pharmacy had put on the bag. He then tended to Miss Maisy, who was sleeping. He woke her and asked her to take medicine for him. She said, "No. No. No." Then she must have swallowed it, because Alex was offering her a drink of water. He asked her to take a bite and eat some breakfast, but Miss Maisy was having none of that. Alex called her doctor, who came in and said he guessed it was okay to keep taking her blood pressure in the ankle, due to her arm port thingies for dialysis in both arms. Not sure what else was determined in that visit, as I tried not to listen.

Dr. Debra came in shortly after 9:00. She assured me I was doing fine, and again emphasized the my oxygen WOULD go down when I went home. 

"We'll send you with a prescription for oral antibiotics, and oral steroids. Get up and move around, and if you get breathless, take your time and BREATHE. If you get an infection, or can't breathe, come back. You need to follow up with your doctor within 10 days, and come back here for labs. I will get your discharge papers ready. Your pharmacy is the Backroads NearMin?"

"Yes, that's it. Thank you for explaining everything so well."

"We'll get you out of here!"
 As soon as everybody was gone from my room, I called Hick about picking me up.

"The doctor was just here. Thinks I'll be able to go home around noon. Before you come, check the pharmacy to see if my prescriptions are in."

Hick seemed a bit preoccupied.

"Okay. I drove to town to see what the roads were like. Highways are covered but it's okay. Our road is the worst, but passable. And pick up donuts for me and The Pony. He called out of work because of the snow, and because he wants to be with me to pick you up."

"Gotta get me home!"

At 10:02, Hick texted if I was still getting out at noon.

"As far as I know. Did you find the pulse-ox I told you to look for? It was on the coffee table last time The Pony took it out of the box."

"No. We've been looking. But haven't found it. I can buy another one if we don't find it."

"It was RIGHT THERE! I'm going to need it."

By 10:23, Hick said they'd found the pulse-ox.

"That's a relief. I was getting shaky. Could be the steroid, though. Did you call the pharmacy?"

"I will. You have one prescription from Dr. Debra."

"I need TWO, she said. So you need to check again."

"Pony here. We're on the way to the pharmacy now."

A 10:50, I got a text from Hick that they had run off the road, and were stuck on a blacktop road not even to the main blacktop highway to town. And also found out from The Pony that Hick had put SilverRedO in a ditch by the mailboxes on his earlier trip to town, and it was still there. A neighbor had unsuccessfully tried to pull him out, and had given him a ride to the house.

Then it was pretty much a waiting game. Alex 2 brought my discharge papers and went over them when he came to unhook my antibiotic IV bag.

"I might have a problem getting picked up. My husband is stuck and waiting to be towed out."

"You are not technically discharged yet. If you need any meds, I can give them to you. But you will have to keep me posted on your ride. If he can't make it, I'll have to schedule hospital transport to take you home."

"Can they make it? Is it 4-wheel-drive? I live way out in the middle of nowhere. My husband has put our truck and our car in a ditch already this morning. We still have one vehicle left that he can go back and try."

"Oh, no! Don't use your last vehicle!"

"I'll just wait and see when he gets towed out."
"I'd be glad to keep you here if I could!"

At 11:13 the tow truck was on the way. At 11:38 Hick and The Pony were out of the snowdrift, and on the way to the pharmacy. Which had two prescriptions, but only two of the dexamethasone, which called for seven pills. They said they should have it the next day...

By 11:57, Hick and Pony were on their 20-mile way to the hospital. My lunch had arrived. Of all the times to not have a leisurely lunch! 

I had roast beef, new potatoes, carrot medallions, a yeast roll, a jello salad, and LEMON MERINGUE PIE! I ate the roast beef. A couple potatoes. About half the roll, which was delicious but time-consuming. Not a carrot fan. And about 3/4 of the pie. It was spectacular! I had no desire to even open that jello salad.

I pushed the call button and said my ride was on the way. I got myself dressed in the tiny bathroom, since the window shade and curtain were still wide open, with a plow trying to clear the snow every 10 minutes. Very small bathroom! Just a toilet and wastebasket. About 3 feet wide. Of course my insurance card and ID fell out of my shirt pocket and behind the wastebasket. I got quite a head rush while bending to pick them up. It was hard balancing on one leg to get my pants on. I retrieved my shoes from under the sink. I'd packed up my phone charger the night before.

Exhausted, I pulled that plastic chair over by my bed, and sat down to wait. I had all my discharge papers, and my plastic breather contraption, in my bag, ready to go.