Monday, July 31, 2023

Val's Very Bad Day

Saturday started off not-good. Little did I know that it would get not-gooder.

The heat index was headed for 110 degrees. Hick was hobbling around with a bum knee, courtesy of his good deed for Former Backcreek Neighbors Nick and Bev. The Pony had texted me that he was sick, and calling out of work. So I started my day worried about them. Though Hick and The Pony might argue that they were each having a worse day than Val...

When I left for town around 3:30, it was so hot that my little Jack did not even get up from his dust wallow under the carport in the space that is usually beneath SilverRedO. He never does that! I was kind of worried about him. Even Scarlett plodded along the porch, rather than prancing. She turned up her nose at the treat of stale tortilla chips I tossed to her. I made a mental note to give them both some ice cubes when I got home. That might be a nice treat.

In town, the Liquor Store was out of the big jug of whiskey that I meant to buy for Hick's mixed drinks. The polite gal with facial piercings went to look on the shelf, and said, "Huh. We had one here earlier, but I guess somebody bought it this morning." (!)

My favorite clerk at the Gas Station Chicken Store told me that she had just talked to another lady who said she picks up pennies! Not news I was wanting to hear!

The line at DQ was non-existent when I went by to get scratchers from the Country Mart machines. Of course they were empty in three of the four slots that hold my $3 tickets. As I headed for DQ, I saw a line of seven cars. So no DQ pretzel sticks for me! Too hot to sit in line.

The skies that were sunny when I left home had somehow filled with angry purple clouds. A few raindrops sputtered down, but didn't trigger T-Hoe's automatic wiper feature. So I had to turn them on and take a few swipes to clear the windshield. I just missed my left-turn light by DQ, and had to wait. Between that stoplight and the prison two miles out of town, the temperature dropped 10 degrees. Then another 10 by the time I hit our gravel road. The winds were buffeting T-Hoe along the way. Then again, T-Hoe is nothing if not a big metal rolling box. 

At the bottom of Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill, I encountered an obstacle.

Well. Ain't that a fine how-do-you-do? I was relieved that it didn't extend into the road, but was basically lying beside it.

That tree was not so spindly as it had appeared upon first glance. At least I could get around.

The farther I progressed, the more I saw how lucky I was that this behemoth was not across the road, blocking my only way home.

Sometimes, The Universe decides that it is better to place small obstacles in your path, rather that put you in the wrong place at the wrong time, and have a giant obstacle land on your T-Hoe.

I proceeded up the gravel road, and turned into our driveway to see a strange dog romping and barking with Jack, Scarlett, and Copper Jack. He might have been a Walker Hound, but looked less pedigreed, and more like a tall beagle mixed with a rangy shorthaired breed. I called Hick to see if he knew anyone with a dog like that. No.

While still on the phone with Hick, who had just arrived at the downed tree, I complained that my garage door opener didn't work. I've been begging him for YEARS to get me another one, or figure out how to put in a battery. Then in side-stepping blame as usual, Hick spoke the most chilling words ever:

"The electricity might be off."

As Hick was coming down the driveway, I maneuvered T-Hoe to sit in front of the closed door, still with room for me to get out without toppling off the back edge of the carport. I was walking around to the passenger side to get my purse and stuff, rain pelting down now with a vengeance, when my garage door opened and Hick walked out. He had gone through the people door and used the pull chain.

"There. Now you can park inside."

"NO! Then I'll be trapped!"

"I'm going to leave the door up."

He never does that. Thinks that garage needs to be hermetically sealed. And when T-Hoe is parked, the pull chain is over his roof. Which requires a young, at-home, Genius or Pony to climb up on the running board to reach it. Anyoo... I walked back around T-Hoe to drive inside, still getting wetter from the rain.

You might think the worst part of my day was over. But you'd be wrong...

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Hick's Good Deed Does NOT Go Unpunished

Hick got a call from former Backcreek Neighbors Nick and Bev on Thursday, asking him to come out for a consultation on their broken lawnmower. He agreed to go that evening, leaving here at 4:10 to get there around 5:00. They're certainly not just over the creek now.

Hick got home at 7:15, limping through the kitchen door.

"I was leaving there, walking to my truck, and I FELL ON MY FACE! My right knee give out."

"Did you step in a hole?"

"No. I was just walking, and it give out. Nick said, 'Are you okay?' He asked if I stepped in a hole, but I didn't."

"I hope you didn't mess something up."

"I'm about half mad. I drove all the way out there, using $15 worth of gas, and they was eatin' supper. So they didn't come out until they was done. Oh, and Nick had forgot to set out his tools. So he had to gather them up. And Bev says, 'What else were we going to ask him to do? Oh. Change that light bulb.'"

"At least they always pay you. They DID pay you, didn't they?"

"They give me a tote."

"No money?"

"Nope. I haven't looked in the tote yet. They usually give me stuff I can sell."

Friday morning, Hick could barely walk out of the bedroom. I had heard him up and down all night. He said something was wrong with the back of his right knee. He couldn't go down in the basement to reset my internet. He had to get his cane so he could walk out to SilverRedO. 

Hick gets a shot every Friday, and was planning to ask to see an actual doctor while he was there. He said the pain made him sick to his stomach. I told him he could go to the ER, because a doctor would just send him for tests anyway. Hick said he didn't want to wait for 10 hours to be seen. Turns out no doctors work on Fridays at his doctor's office. So nothing was diagnosed.

Anyhoo... Hick didn't go to his Friday afternoon bull-shooting session at his buddy's shop, because the heat index was 110. He came home to cool off, after being too late to play bingo, but having chicken-fried chicken for his Senior Center lunch. He had planned to go pick up Chinese food for us for supper.

"If your knee hurts, I can make something here. It's too hot to sit in the drive-thru."

"I go inside to order, and wait. I can walk. I'm slow, not crippled." 
[Hick really likes his Chinese food!] 

When he got home, Hick said, "Guess who was there picking up Chinese food! NICK!"

"Huh. Did you ask him if he has homeowner's insurance to pay for your knee surgery?"

"Nah. I didn't say nothin'."

Anyhoo... on Saturday morning at his SUS2 (Storage Unit Store 2), Hick had some buddies carry in that tote given to him by Nick and Bev. 

"I didn't have time to look in it yet, and some woman came carrying a soft-side cooler. Camouflage. Looked like it would hold a 12-pack. She said, 'How much is this?' I just told her $10. Then she said there was two, and what was my price if she took both of them. I told her still $10 each. And she bought them. I got to looking, and there's some other smaller soft coolers in there. Or maybe a purse. I'm sure I can get $30 out of that stuff."

Well. I guess if that's all Hick thinks his services and travel time and possible laming are worth, then his good deed was justified. I tend to think he should agree upon a monetary fee before he helps Nick and Bev again.

Oh, and Hick was able to walk without cane on Saturday afternoon, and said his knee didn't hurt as much, but stiffens up when he sits.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Val Acquires Some Common CENTS

Val experienced limited success this week on her Future Pennyillionaire Fortune quest.

WEDNESDAY, July 26, I rounded the corner of the Gas Station Chicken Store and was greeted by a Lincoln-in-waiting.

Of course I stopped to capture the moment.

It was a face-down 1974 penny that subjected those across the moat in the parking lot of Hick's pharmacy to an ample-rumpusing from Val. But WAIT! As I pocketed that aging Lincoln, and stepped closer to the door, I saw a spread meant just for me!

No, not the suitcase of beer in that guy's hand. The two pennies in my path!

The closest was a face-down 2021 penny, shiny in the overcast light under the roof.

The second was a face-down 2010 version, a bit more bedraggled.

On Friday, I found a dime on the carpet where the kitchen gives way to the living room. I picked it up, but didn't count it, because it was right after Hick came home. I figure it fell out of his pocket. So it's not really a true find and capture.

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


Penny           # 64, 65, 66.
Dime             still at 13
Nickel           still at 1
Quarter        still at 3


Penny           124
Dime              21
Nickel              7
Quarter             9


Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6

Friday, July 28, 2023

Sometimes, on Your Quest For Pennies, You Find a Bonus

Wednesday, I found something I wasn't looking for. Ain't that the way it goes? 

I was on my way into the Gas Station Chicken Store, and my attention was grabbed by something I WAS looking for. It wasn't until I stooped to pick it up that I noticed the bonus. 

That's an extreme closeup. I didn't notice the bonus until I picked up the penny. Looking back at the big picture, I can see that it was there.

Anyhoo... I took the evidence home to show Hick.

"Oh. That's a .22 short round."

"Why was it right outside the door of the Gas Station Chicken Store??? Was somebody going to rob them?"

"Not with that! Somebody probably had it in their pocket with their change."

Huh. I mentioned it to the clerk when I went inside. She said, "Oh. Everybody around here carries a gun." She's kind of right.

Here's a picture of it on my kitchen counter, before I gave it to Hick:

It's hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement, but not hot enough to shoot off a .22 bullet.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Does a Bear Drink Hot Chocolate in the Woods?

Hick had a good lunch of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans at the Senior Center yesterday. He didn't mention the dessert, but I imagine he had two, considering how he is pampered by the chefs. He got there early enough to play bingo, and of course won a prize.

Hick continues to furnish our kitchen with his winnings:

He proudly sent me a picture of his win. He even called it an actual PRIZE this time.

"Bingo prize today."

"Hot chocolate and a pouch?"

"And a hand towel."

"Someone is re-gifting!"

No answer to that. When Hick came home, he revealed that there was another prize he coveted.

"They give away 4 rolls of toilet paper today, but I didn't win them." 

Oh, well. There will be other days, other toilet paper. I'm pretty sure of it. As for the hot chocolate... who wouldn't want that, when the temperature is going to hit 101 today.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Val's Internet Future is Not So Rosy

The struggle with internet continues... Sometimes I can access any website I desire, and other times I can only get to a few. In the worst of times, I have no connection at all. So if I disappear for a few days, that's the likely reason. 

Hick has been a good soldier, descending the 13 rail-less stairs to the basement every morning to do a hard reset of the modem and router. He has consulted a Senior Center lunch buddy. I put in a call to Genius yesterday evening. He was still at work. Meaning AT HOME, working, and on call. So it was brief, and he seemed to understand my predicament. Gave me a couple of trouble-shooters to try.

Genius said his new drone is not a basic $99 version that Hick saw advertised, but a mid-grade drone that is at the top weight limit before you need an FAA license to fly it. He has been too busy to drone on and on. In fact, too busy to cook supper, so ordering-in was on the menu. Seriously. You don't think Genius would let Friend in the kitchen to experiment...

I now leave you with an old picture taken by the hands and eyes of Genius, and not a drone. I think it might be from a couple years ago, when Genius had first moved into his apartment, and the pool was being readied for the summer. It's taken from the balcony where Genius harvests his peppers.

That's Pittsburgh. I just like the photo. Besides, Hick has given me nothing of interest to complain about, brag about, or worry about.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Even the Litter-ati Succumb to Hick's Charm

Hick left around 2:00 on Monday to go buy some more stuff from his buddy who's going out of business. It's towards the city, about 50 minutes away. Later that afternoon, I got an email from Hick:

Picked this up on side of road free should sell for $20.00

That's a nice little wagon. Looks like the tires are good! Still has a handle. I assume the door works, or Hick can fix it. I'm pretty sure he will scrub it, removing the previous rider's name from the door. I don't recognize this model. The kid might be 8 now, or 18.

The most disconcerting part of Hick's email was the SIDE OF THE ROAD. The route he takes is 85 percent HIGHWAY. Divided highway. Four lanes, or 10 lanes! I shudder to think that Hick would pull over to pick up a wagon! I asked when he came in the house.

"Where did you get that wagon?"

"On the road, where I picked up the shower and tub for HOS's (Hick's Oldest Son's) house."

"Oh. So on the blacktop road. Was there a sign on it like the shower? FREE?"

"No there was no sign."

"I hope you didn't just steal that out of someone's yard! Like if the kid left it there!"

"No. It was out beside the edge of the road. I saw it when I left, and I told myself that if it was still there when I came back, I'd get it. It was, so I did."

"There's no place to pull off. Did you park in their driveway?"

"No. I just stopped in the road. I could see traffic coming in both directions."

Huh. That doesn't mean they could see Hick! People don't pay attention these days. I had to honk at a car only an hour before, for parking at a perfectly good green light! 

Anyhoo... Hick got a bargain to sell at his SUS2 (Storage Unit Store 2). And other bargains at his sell-out buddy's place. So he had a good day. 

Technically, the wagon-pushers are not litterers. It's not like somebody threw that wagon out along the road. It's common around here to set out what you are willing for other people to take before the trash truck comes.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Two Teeth Down, The Pony Straps on the Old Feedbag

Not trying to beat a toothless Pony, but there's more to tell about his wisdom tooth extraction on Friday. Even though he ate his desired meal of macaroni and cheese later that day, The Pony was still hungry. Not sure if he had anything else, since he was babying those tooth-holes. Oh, don't worry about The Pony wasting away from hunger! He made up for it on Saturday.

"Still eating carefully. Chicken sauce, garlic bread, and tiny shell pasta. Will have leftovers."

There's the chicken. Good that The Pony has finally seemed to pick up what I was layin' down about having some protein for his meals. Probably from some frozen chicken tenders that he likes. And of course no Pony dish is complete without BUTTER.

This must be the sauce with the chicken and pasta in it. Do you think The Pony could have fit one more noodle in there?

There's the garlic bread ready for the oven. Looks like some dessert in the back. Perhaps some cookies made from a tube of dough. Please forgive the view of The Pony's hoof. Looks like he must have been wearing flip-flops on his trips about town, since otherwise his whole foot would be fish-belly white. It's an occupational hazard for mail carriers.

If you are squeamish, scroll with care. A picture of The Pony's removed molars will be coming up after out text conversation. Not the bloody view from the dentist's tray, but a pic of them sitting on The Pony's palm.

"I hope the crust on the bread doesn't hurt your holes."

"It's getting dipped in sauce, don't worry."

Okay. Here come the teeth...

You're welcome for me NOT enlarging that picture. I thought those teeth looked huge. Hick said he thought they looked small. That Hick. He's such a contrarian. I wonder how much of these teeth were poking out of the gums. It looks like he had husky fangs at the back of his mouth! According to The Pony:

"Apparently the upper two are a lot gentler to recover from."

Good to know. The Pony has not had much pain at all.

No pain in the pocketbook, either! After paying what Hick and I thought was too much upon his original appointment and treatment plan, The Pony has paid no more.

"They said I still have money left over from what I paid in the beginning. They said they could write me a check, or I could leave it as a credit. I said to give me the credit."

Not the choice I would have made, but I'm not a very trusting person. Then again, the money has been paid, The Pony is used to it being gone, and when he goes back for a cleaning or a checkup, he won't have to pay. I don't remember the exact amount, but it was more than $100, and less than $200. 

I know The Pony is relieved to have this episode over. Can't say that he's chomping at the bit to get back to work on Tuesday, but at least it should be fairly painless.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Nothingburger For the Soul

I mentioned how The Pony was having his wisdom teeth removed on Friday morning, and how he was possibly even more worried about it than I was. He had worried himself into a stress headache overnight, but didn't want to take anything for it, in case that might affect what they were going to use to knock him out for The Pulling.

Hick arrived at Pony House at 7:30 to pick him up for the drive over to Bill-Paying Town. Hick said that even though The Pony's appointment was for 8:00, the office staff did not unlock the doors until 8:10. So that gave The Pony even more time to stew over his impending tooth-yanking. Then once inside, they called back two other people ahead of The Pony.


Instead of having all four wisdom teeth removed, only the top two were pulled on Friday. I guess maybe that's not really good news, since the dentist said the bottom two are impacted, too deep in the bone, and must be taken out by an oral surgeon. Still, this was good news for The Pony on this day. And the lower teeth have not been bothering him.

Also, The Pony had NO anesthesia. Just the standard numbing shot. Not even nitrous oxide. Which meant The Pony was awake for the whole procedure, which was something he'd been afraid might happen. He told Hick that the worst part was hearing the POP as each tooth came out.

The whole thing was over by 9:00. The Pony got no prescription for painkillers. Lucky he had stocked up on ibuprofen, and that I had talked him out of Excedrin, which I'm pretty sure you shouldn't take for tooth extractions, it being ASPIRIN, which could prolong the bleeding. The Pony had no stitches, and no gauze. He said his mouth wasn't really bleeding at all, but they had given him two sets of gauze, just in case.

"I have to keep reminding myself not to tongue my holes!"

Heh, heh. The Pony can certainly turn a phrase. He went to Walmart with Hick, and picked out the special macaroni and cheese that he wanted, which he ate later in the day with no ill effects. He took an ibuprofen around noon when his numbing stuff wore off. Another around 8:00 p.m. Said he was a little sore when he woke up on Saturday, so he took another ibuprofen. It lasted all day without needing another one.

Anyhoo... the impending doom of The Pulling turned out to be a big nothingburger. I am relieved for The Pony. He's still glad he took two days off, adjacent to his regular two days off. He's not supposed to do anything strenuous for 48 hours. I think walking a 10-mile route, or climbing in and out of a Metris van delivering packages, is considered strenuous. So it's a good thing The Pony is able to loll around pampering his holes.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Skirting the Dearth of PENNIES

Val is being Evened by Steven this week, for last week's avarice and gluttony! No coins on the horizon. Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune will have to subsist on last week's harvest of two DIMES.

With no coins to entertain you, I present Hick's bingo prize from the Senior Center:

I texted Hick back: "You'll look very pretty in your new skirt!"

Heh, heh! Am I the only one who remembers the Designing Women episode where Bernice wore a tree skirt [YouTube, 1:39] to the Christmas party?

Anyhoo... sorry for the lack of pennies this week. It hurts ME more that it hurts YOU!

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


Penny            still at 63
Dime             still at 13
Nickel           still at 1
Quarter        still at 3


Penny           124
Dime              21
Nickel              7
Quarter             9


Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6

Friday, July 21, 2023

Genius is Starting to Drone On and On

Genius sent me some pictures on Monday. 

"I bought myself a camera drone on Prime Day. This was just my first flight. Hopefully I will get a lot more over time."

It comes as no surprise that Genius bought himself a drone. The only surprise is that he had not done so before now. He's always been a camera buff, having many varieties, and developing his own photos in the darkroom he made in Hick's basement workshop. Not to mention his avid love of electronic gadgets. 

I can't remember what contraption he wanted to buy when he was in 6th grade. I forbade it, what with it coming from China, and not being sure if the seller was legitimate. I questioned the language in the advertisement. "You will enjoy this garget. May you have a happy sunshine buying experience."

So of course that's what I texted back when informed of the drone.

"Wow. A new garget. Did you have a happy sunshine buying experience?"


Genius sent seven photos. One of them being himself and Friend standing on a footpath, posing for the drone. Here is my favorite:

That might be Pittsburgh's most iconic view.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Back/Biting Report

Hick went to the back doctor yesterday. The doctor said he could give Hick another shot of the steroid in his spine, but he would rather just leave it at the one shot, and keep Hick on the gabapentin to block the nerve tingles. He thinks the nerves should calm down after a month. The x-rays he took after the shot last week played a part in this decision, though I'm not sure how. Hick said his back doesn't hurt, but his legs feel like there are needles in them. The doctor said he could give that other shot in # 3, since the last one was in #4. I'm guessing that's the vertebrae or between-space.

Hick had been weaning himself off of the gabapentin, taking it every third day. So now he'll go back on it. The doctor prescribed it for him 3 times a day, but Hick is planning to take it once, at night, since that worked fine for him before. He seems to be feeling okay aside from the needling. Getting around fine. Working on the Double Hovel, and keeping up with his regular Storage Unit Store and auction activities.

The Pony is having all his wisdom teeth removed on Friday morning. Hick will be taking him. Sadly, The Pony has declined our offer to stable him overnight, and keep an eye on him. He would rather cool his hooves at Pony House. Hick will check on him before starting home after his Friday afternoon bull-shooting session.

The Pony plans to shop for soft foods today, and says he can always change his mind and hitch a ride out here with Hick on Friday evening. He has been researching wisdom-teeth recovery online, and says he will follow his discharge instructions. He is aware that he cannot drink through a straw, needs soft foods that are not chewy, and should not poke the holes with his tongue. Also, that he will need to rinse his mouth with salt water.

I'm hoping my two patients are indeed medically compliant, and will speed down the road to recovery.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Cooler Heads Wish to Prevail

Hick got a phone call as I was getting his supper ready.

"Everybody's SO worried about me getting air conditioning in my Storage Unit!"

"Wait! You have air conditioning? I thought the other sellers were just mad you had electricity! Even though you got permission same as they could have, and called the electric company, and paid for everything yourself."

"It's not the other people. And I DON'T have air conditioning. Yet. It's my buddies. That was Old Buddy on the phone. He said Walmart has one of those air conditioners that blows the hot air outside, for $298. Marked down from $398."

"Are you thinking about getting air conditioning?"

"I might. Them guys keep telling me I should, as much time as I spend down there."

"What would you do, set it by your door to blow the hot air out?"

"No. I'd put it under the window, and blow the hot air out the window."

"Why do those guys care so much? Do they hang out in your Unit?"


Heh, heh! It's not like they were overly-concerned about Hick's health! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Hick Has a Problem with His Hole

Hick has been working on the Double Hovel, our flip house, on mornings when he's not at his SUS2 (Storage Unit Store 2) or driving to a doctor appointment. It has been SO HOT this past week, but it didn't seem to bother Hick. He and Old Buddy have been putting up drywall. If I can get some pictures from The Pony, who took a tour with Hick on Sunday evening, I will post them.

Before the drywall, Hick had finished the plumbing, and put in a toilet in one of the bathrooms. It was not yet usable, because it had to be tied into the city sewer line. For that, Hick was waiting on a buddy of his with a backhoe to dig out that area so he could get to it. That got done at the end of last week. Then Hick was busy with his SUS2 on the weekend.

Monday morning, Hick was hoping to spend time digging around in his hole, finishing the plumbing. Welp! After days and days of baking heat, we had a downpour and hail at 2:00 a.m. Flash flood warnings. Hick was quite disappointed to arrive at the Double Hovel and find his hole overflowing.

"I was looking forward to using my toilet! But no way could I get in my hole and connect the pipes. Maybe it will dry out by tomorrow. I had to drive down to Casey's for their bathroom!"

Poor Hick. He doesn't ask for much. Just an open hole so he can poop.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Has Hick Fallen Out of Favor with The Universe?

After the shocking note left on Hick's windshield while he was eating lunch at the Senior Center... a new critic has accosted him! This is so unusual for Hick. He's the fair-haired boy of The Universe. People fall all over themselves catering to him.

Saturday evening, Hick got a text.

"Huh. I don't know what this is about. 'When are you going to pay me, buddy? It's been TWO WEEKS! I need my money.'"

"Who's that from?"

"The guy I have haul gravel for me."

"Somebody out here got a load of rock."


"Today, I guess. Didn't you see it along the middle of the road?"

"That's not new. Somebody just bladed it. Pulled it in from the sides."

"I don't think so. It looked all white and new. No sticks or dirt or leaves in it."

"Huh. Maybe."

"What if someone ordered gravel, and since it was out here, he just THOUGHT you ordered it?"

"I hope not! But maybe somebody could have called and said, 'Hick said I should call you for some gravel.' Like when I recommend him to someone who asks where to get gravel. Maybe he could think I was the one who wanted it. But he says it's been two weeks that I've owed him."

"Did you text him back?"

"Yeah. I said, 'If I owe you money, I'll pay you. But I don't think I owe anything.' It's been a long time since we ordered gravel. So I don't know that this 'two weeks' thing is about."

Between the time Hick retired at 9:00 p.m. for his beauty sleep, and the time he got up at 5:30 a.m., that guy had sent back a text.

"He said sorry, I'm the wrong guy. It was another guy named Hick that he meant to send it to."

That's a relief. It's not like Hick to owe people, unless they have an agreement for the next time Hick sees them in person to hand over cash.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Hick Serves Up Kitchen Accessories on a Paper Platter

You may recall that Hick has been playing bingo at the Senior Center a couple days a week. He seems to win frequently, but maybe there's not much competition. So far, his prizes have been toilet paper, knives, plastic disposable bowls, plastic forks, a 4-set of plastic ice cream bowls, and some storebought Rice Krispy Treats. Aside from the TP and food, it has all been kitchen stuff.

Friday, Hick's prize was a pack of paper platters:

Or as Hick reported: "Paper plates. Good ones oval."

There are only 8 paper platters. So I guess Hick can only have 8 feasts to eat off them.

Not sure the prize-selector is trying very hard! Or maybe she just likes kitchen stuff. It reminds me of the year I became part of the "special teachers" when I took over the At-Risk program. They had an annual Christmas dinner in the back room of Pasta House, which included a game of Dirty Santa. The gift limit was $5. In case you've never played, all gifts are put on the table. Participants draw numbers. The first person chooses a gift and opens it. The next person can steal that gift, or choose a new one to open. The third person can steal either gift, or choose a new one, etc. If their gift is stolen, that person chooses a new gift to open.

Even back then, it was hard to find a decent gift for $5. I had never been included in this activity before. I was passing acquaintances with most of my colleagues, the exception being my favorite gambling aunt, who was head of Special Services. So I had no idea what kind of gift to bring.

Patrolling the aisle of Walmart, not seeing anything that looked especially gifty for a teachers' get-together... I chose something that I figured I would like if I got it: a clear plastic cube filled with five colors of Post-It Notes. Of course I wrapped it. It was a GIFT!

Well. Upon seeing holiday trinket upon holiday trinket opened at that dinner, I was hoping to get my own gift! Who needs a wooden Nutcracker to display for a couple weeks a year?  Anyhoo... can you believe that NOBODY LIKED MY GIFT??? I know! Shocking, isn't it? They didn't have to groan and carry on like I'd wrapped up a box of fish heads! 

YES! I ended up stealing my own gift. I LOOOOOVE a big stack of Post-It Notes! Any teacher (except that group) knows how useful they are!

Anyhoo... Hick is happy enough with his "prices," as he calls them. 

Saturday, July 15, 2023

The COINtdown is Real

Friday rolled around, and Val was quite conscious of the ticking clock. Nothing to show for the week. A goose-egg for the Saturday CENTSus! But wait! What was that? Mere hours before the typing of the coin report, Even Steven came through!

FRIDAY, July 14, I had to park in a non-favored space at the Sis-Town Casey's. No gas this time, since I was on a return trip to deposit a check Hick got from his doctor's office right after I got home from errand day. Of course I was not going to waste a trip to Sis-Town and not get scratchers. In retrospect, it would have saved me some of my weekly allowance, since I only won $6.

I saw it the minute I opened T-Hoe's door. My disappointment over the parking space taken by the white car was gone. Surely I had parked T-Hoe far enough off this parking line so that a close-parker could not block the door when I came out. Being in the last space on the right, I had taken the liberty of getting T-Hoe into the far right reaches of my parking space.

It was a face-down 1998 DIME, sizzling in the 96-degree heat. Hot to the touch when I seared my fingertips to drop it in my shirt pocket. I'm sure you will have guessed by now that indeed, a car was in that space when I came out, blocking T-Hoe's door from opening to the second notch. 

It was not even a close-parker. It was a small black sedan that was within the lines. T-Hoe has REALLY large doors. I had to hold onto the door in the first notch position while climbing onto the running board, and contort myself to get both knees to bend enough to get my legs inside. It would help if I had smaller feet... or if I had parked even farther to the right of my space. Though you can see from the picture that it should have been enough. I did NOT write a condescending note to leave on the small black sedan.

On my way home, I of course went into the School-Turn Casey's for scratchers. At least I won $10 there on a $3 ticket. And also found a special treat:

Another DIME! I was worried that a little girl who was leaving would spot it and pick it up! But she merely trod upon it with her little Croc, and went on her merry way with a cold beverage.

This one was a face-down 2023 dime. Much cooler than the previous one, chilling on the tile floor. Not a productive day for scratchers, but definitely worth those stops for the dimes!

That's 2 COINS this week, for 20 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune!


Penny            still at 63
Dime             #12, 13.
Nickel           still at 1
Quarter        still at 3


Penny           124
Dime              21
Nickel              7
Quarter             9


Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6

Friday, July 14, 2023

Hick Does NOT Have a License to Teach

Hick has spent a couple days working in his Schoolhouse Shed over on Shackytown Boulevard. You know, because it's 98 degrees in the shade, and who wouldn't want to be inside a stuffy shed with no air conditioning? He sent me a picture last week when he was getting started on arranging the interior.

I remembered that when Hick was moving out of his old Storage Unit Store, he put some stuff in that shed to store it. So I didn't ask about the glass cases. You can see the back of his loyal assistant, Scarlett, at the bottom.

Yesterday, Hick sent me an updated picture of the schoolhouse. 

We'll start with the parts I like... Hick's whole reason for building this themed shed was the school desks. I like the greenboard, though something about it reminds me of the music room with a staff permanently on the board. I like the portrait of the Father of Our Country. The bust of Kennedy is a nice touch. And the map, whatever it is. Everyone knows Li'l Val could have desperately used exposure to geography to make her a better-rounded person! The shelves would have kept me perpetually daydreaming about what I'd like to play with.

Now for what I don't like: THAT GLASS CASE!

"What's with the case?"

"I'm going to display stuff in there."

What in the Not-Heaven??? Don't send your kids to Hick's Schoolhouse! They could sever an artery during horseplay!

I like where Hick is going with this little shack, but let's face it: Hick is no Miss Beadle.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

I'm a-Pickin', and Pony's a-Grinnin'

Every week, I send Genius two $5 scratchers in his letter. I've done this since he went off to college. I didn't send The Pony lottery tickets in college, with him being in Oklahoma, and unable to cash in the winners. Now that Genius is in Pennsylvania, he saves the winners until he deems it worthy to mail them, and I send him a check when I cash them in.

Anyhoo... now I buy The Pony a Cash4Life draw ticket every day. That's what he prefers. Because who WOULDN'T want to win cash for life? The most he's ever won is $100, once. Mostly it's nothing, or $2, $3, or $4 on the Easy Match feature. I save them until there's enough to buy The Pony a scratcher. He likes the big tickets.

A few weeks ago, The Pony had accumulated $20, so I got him a $20 multiplier scratcher. He didn't specify what he wanted. He tells me: "Dealer's choice." Meaning for me to decide. I gave it to him the day we went to the casino. He scratched it on the drive, despite Hick's sweaving. HE WON $100! Of course he was happy.

"Do you want me to buy it from you now, for cash at the casino? Or wait until we get home to cash it in, and save it?"

"No. I want two of the new $50 tickets!"

"Oh. Well. People say they don't pay as well as the old $50 ticket. I guess there are more BIG prizes on this one, and people don't win as often, or just win their money back. I haven't looked at the odds."

"I still want the new ones. You decide when and where."

Of course I didn't rush right out and buy those high-dollar tickets. Every day, I'd think about it as I was getting my own scratchers. Look at the ticket cases in my various haunts. Then one day I decided I'd get one from the Backroads Casey's. Almost a week later, I got the other one at the Liquor Store. The Pony was busy, and I didn't have time to go by to pick up his house payment check. So finally we worked out a time on Sunday for me to stop by.

The Pony scratched the Liquor Store ticket first. It was a loser. I HATE THAT! That's why I rarely buy those high-dollar tickets. Then The Pony scratched the Casey's ticket.

"WINNER! It's a 20X symbol!"

"Ooh! I love to get a symbol!"

"I saw the 20, and knew it wasn't a regular number! I'm going to finish scratching before I look at the prize."

It's a pretty ticket. The Pony is a sloppy scratcher. There's his 20X prize! $500 !!!

I'm not sure who was more thrilled! We were both squealing like schoolgirls at a boy-band concert, but stopped short of fainting.

I've still got my touch. Maybe Even Steven was guiding me. This will come in handy for The Pony's teeth bill. Not sure if I'm going to tell Genius.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Old Biddy Must Be Revolving In Her Web of Deceit

You might recall how Hick got the night-time gabapentin that stops frayed nerves from needling him. And how he was supposed to have a referral to a pain clinic for a shot in his spine. AND how after two weeks of not hearing from either the pain clinic nor the back doctor, he called. Got the runaround. Found out nothing had been done. And the one guy there at the back doctor's office who seems dependable said he'd take care of the pain clinic and the about-to-run-out nerve medicine.

Well. I'm sure you will be absolutely SHOCKED to hear that on Friday, with less than a week of his medicine left, Hick had to call again to find out the status of his appointment and prescription. He got through to the pain clinic, who said they had no appointment for him, and that they were booked-up until mid-August. Hick insisted that they find a way to see him, because of the medicine running out, and it being almost 30 days since he was told he'd be seeing the pain doctor. 

Turns out they could do nothing, except give him an appointment on Monday at their office deeper into the city. Of course Hick jumped on that appointment.

"All of this I been through, with the referrals, and the gal gave me two-page questionnaire to fill out about stuff that don't even apply to me. Like if I had an opioid addiction. What does that have to do with getting a shot in my spine? And that new medicine isn't even a painkiller. It's a nerve-number. I didn't fill it out! I gave it back to her and told her I left it blank, because that's not why I was there. She just said OK.

The doctor said that they had me down and were planning to get me an appointment for the end of August, because I needed to see the pain counselor first. I told him I couldn't wait that long, and that my medicine was running out in three days. He said, 'Oh, I can give you a prescription for that. What are you doing, taking it three times a day?' I told him NO, it was ONCE a day, at night. So he wrote it for that. Then he said they should be able to work me in for the shot, and they would call me."

"Good luck with THAT. And you probably could have agreed to the three times a day, and gotten a supply that would last you three months!"

"Yeah. I didn't think of that. Anyway, I checked with the pharmacy on the way home this afternoon, and they had no record of my refills. I guess I'll go by there tomorrow and check again, before I call the office and complain."

I guess that Hick's luck is turning, now that he doesn't have to go through Old Biddy at the back doctor's office. His prescription was ready on Tuesday, and the pain clinic called with an appointment for his shot on WEDNESDAY! Hick was flabbergasted. 

"See how quick they can get me in when nobody else is involved?"

"Yeah. I still think Old Biddy is messing with your medical care!"

So odd that nothing goes right for Hick's appointments when Old Biddy is in charge. I'm not shy about making accusations, false or reality-based! Old Biddy must be sabotaging Hick on purpose, or is a real butterfingers in handling only Hick's appointments and records. Not just a butterfingers. Her hands must be slathered with butter, Crisco, bacon grease, vegetable oil, that grease that goes through a goose, and the stuff they coat the flagpole with at the county fair just before folks try to climb it and grab the $100-bill at the top.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Val Unwittingly Makes The Pony Skittish

Val is on-call 24/7/365 for her offspring. No time is a bad time. Not that I'd let on, anyway. With my helicopter up on blocks, I can at least do my parenting by text.

Let the record show that The Pony took a day off last month for a dental appointment. He had a couple appointments for gum stuff that he did after work. He needed three fillings, which were scheduled for his new day off, Monday. And he will be taking a couple days off to get all his wisdom teeth pulled later this month. 

Let the record further show that Thevictorians are not dentist people. Oh, we made sure the boys had checkups through childhood. But now that they're adults, it's not a high priority. Nothing to be proud of. Just revealing the truth. Hick goes for regular cleanings and a checkup every six months. Yet he is the one of us with the fewest teeth!

Anyhoo... at 12:01 a.m. Monday, I got a text from The Pony. I was sitting at the kitchen table playing solitaire on HIPPIE, what with my internet currently being an on/off situation.

"Oh! Could you text/call me around 6:30 or 7? I've got my alarms, but having a tough time sleeping and need to be up and moving early for the appointment at 9 for dentist stuff."

"Yes. I can do that."

Another text came at 1:32. I was still playing solitaire. My record time dropping from 3:04 to 2:57.

"Ugh still not sleeping well. Why am I so nervous for my fillings!"

"It's no big deal. Only the shot to numb you might pinch a bit."

"... for fillings?"

"Yeah. They give you a shot in the nerve, and you feel like you have a fat lip. Might give you more than one, depending on the location of the fillings. I was never afraid of the actual dental work. Just the feeling of being TRAPPED in the chair, knowing I couldn't get up."

"Huh. Didn't know they numbed for that. Now I'm more nervous!"

"Tell them you are nervous. They will be extra nice, maybe. They will put that sucker thing in your mouth for the spit. Like hang it over your lip. Unless they have new modern ways."

"Yeah. I'm gonna try to sleep again."

"Okay. I'll give you a call."

Of course I felt like a heel. Like the worst mom ever. I had made my sweet Pony more nervous than when he reached out to me for reassurance! At 6:25 a.m., another text.

"6:25 now! I live!"

"Good to know!"

Of course I called The Pony anyway, to try and calm his fears, and tell him that even though Hick was going to the city for a pain consultation, I could drive over to Bill-Paying town to the dentist if The Pony needed me. I think that helped a little bit. The Pony admitted that yes, he'd had a filling before, but didn't remember being numbed, since it was way back in middle school or early high school. Anyhoo, I told him to keep me updated.

9:44 a.m. "Update: I am numbed on three quadrants of the mouth. The sound of the needles going in was the worst."

"Ooh! I never heard them!"

"I have good hearing! I could hear that little punch sound as it goes in."


"Yeah! Very! Top left and both bottom sides are numbed."

"It gets tingly when it wears off."

10:13 a.m. "I am free and filled."

"That was pretty quick after the shooting! Now you can have a nap."

"I want some food now but that is an unequivocally bad idea!"

"Yes. Save it for normal lips."

10:51 a.m. "Mmm hmm. I think I can start and handle a burger and fries and a shake! I just finished my other errand over here."

"Be careful chewing, and wipe your mouth!"

"It's probably a good idea."

"Did they say how long to wait before eating?"

"They did not! It's fineee."

The Pony loves Steak N Shake. Couldn't pass up a garlic burger, fries, and shake. Said the burger didn't even need chewing, and the fries barely did. I think The Pony is going to survive.

Monday, July 10, 2023

The Pony is Being Followed

The Pony has been delivering on the route he enjoys. The one he put a hold on for the month of July. He is not alone! Sent me a text on Wednesday:

"Little helper following along with me today."

"Aww! Hope he knew his way back home!"

"He's still following! This part is a square though, and ends like 3 down from his house I think."

"Well, it's good to have a buddy that doesn't want a taste of your flesh!"

"Aww. He decided he liked a yard full of dog poop more than me. Betrayal! He'd never make it as a regular."

"I'm glad you are able to resist the call of dog poop!"

This must have been the day we had a cold snap, and the temp only reached a high of 84, judging by The Pony wearing a jacket. Doubt that would happen at 118 in the van.

The next day I got more pictures:

"Beagle followed me again."

"And a ladybug!"

"That looks like TWO ladybugs!"

"Just one ladybug. It was taking flight!"

Good to know The Pony is not lonely on the job. And that somebody is watching over him.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

30 Karens Agree: Hick is NOT Their Pet

Hick may have the Senior Center lunch ladies eating out of his hand, but his charm on the streets has waned. Seems like only yesterday people were falling all over themselves to laud Hick's talents and provide him with free and reduced goods. Oh, how that worm has turned...

When I got home from town on Friday afternoon, I was bemoaning the stupidity of local drivers. 

"At the stoplight going into town, they SEE that traffic is backed up, yet they continue anyway through the green light, rather than holding up until there is room. Four cars blocked the whole intersection, and when other lanes got their green light, nobody could move!"

Hick snorted the minute I mentioned stupid drivers. He at least held his tongue until I finished my boring story. He seemed kind of excited to enter the conversation. True, he was standing at the kitchen sink without his phone in his hand, but I definitely had the feeling he was paying attention.

"I come out of the Senior Center and found a note on my truck! Some crazy lady left it there. I know it was a woman from the writing! She must have stood there and took a whole lot of time to leave me an insulting note complaining about how I parked."

"Well... I sometimes tell you that you're on the line, and you say you're not."

"I was in front of the old phone company building. There was a white truck parked on my left when I pulled in. It was off. I could barely get my door open and get out. So I might have been on the other line a little bit. But there was nothing on the other side of me when I parked."

"So she parked there, KNOWING that there was less room because you were over? It's not like you blocked somebody already there, so they couldn't get their door open?"

"Yeah. I was the one who could barely get my door open, because of that white truck. Nobody was parked on the other side of me."

"Did that note hurt your tender self-esteem?"

"Nah. I didn't think nothin' of it."

"Now I want to see the note!"

"It's laying in the truck. I'll bring it in after the auction."

"Wow! That's harsh! She seems a bit unhinged."

"Yeah. I can't believe she took the time to write it."

"Is there even anything in that building now?"

"Nah. She would have probably been going to the restaurant across the street."

I'm betting that she jaywalked! That area is the middle of the block.

I may be overly critical of close-parkers, but I would NEVER leave a note like that on somebody's vehicle. I just come home and passively-aggressively blog them to shreds!

In case you never watched The Kids in the Hall comedy show, that title is a reference to their "Thirty Helens Agree" sketch [34 seconds], where thirty women named Helen standing in a park, giving an opinion on a topic. I can imagine this loony note-writer and 29 other "Karens" critiquing Hick's life skills.