Sunday, December 31, 2023

A Hick, a Jug, and a Vibrator Walk Into a War

In the throes of my sickness on Friday morning, I got the urge for some yellow Gatorade. I could set it on the table next to the short couch, and sip intermittently, alternating with water. I sent Hick a text, asking if he could bring me a bottle when he came home around 5:00.

Hick came home early, right after his Senior Center lunch, bearing my yellow Gatorade, plus blueberry pie and lemon cake. I had really only wanted one bottle of Gatorade, like from a convenience store when Hick stopped for a soda. But he went to Dollar General and bought me six giant bottles. Good for him, he's trying to heal me, though throwing out my back and shoulders from lifting those behemoth bottles.

Hick wasn't home to tend to me, just to drop off the Gatorade (and mainly his desserts!) before going back out for his weekly shot, and his Friday afternoon bull session with his cronies.

Later that night, I also asked Hick, once he was done with his leftovers supper, to look for my vibrator next time he was in the basement. Here now! It's a G-rated vibrator that I found at Walmart many years ago, and is great for loosening up my clogged sinuses during a cold. Hick made a special trip down those 13 rail-less basement stairs, and returned with my vibrator. Such a loving husband.

The atmosphere took a turn about a half-hour later, when I had to cough. Most of my coughs are of the dry hacking variety, but this one had a bit of phlegm. It took several coughs, with considerable gurgling, to clear that material.


Like I could help it! It was either get that stuff coughed up, or choke to death. This smug and hateful gaze from the tilt of Hick's recliner really rubbed me the wrong way. How could he appear so caring of my health at first, and then flip to his King of the House persona, begrudging me oxygen for life?

I was livid as he gave me a short lecture on how I should and shouldn't cough! 

Hick then denied that he had given me any kind of look. Which is as good as an apology when you're feeling poorly, since it meant Hick at least felt guilty enough to lie about his hateful look. Plus he had the good karma of toting home a tanker truck worth of Gatorade, and hiking to the basement to fetch my vibrator.

Not sure which of us will be happier when this cold runs its course.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

The End of the Trail For Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune

Hey! Looks like I'm not going to reach Pennyillionaire status. I have not been to town in a week, being busy with Christmas cooking and activities, then coming down with a cold on Tuesday night. So my coffers have not gained a single cent. Who knows, maybe there was a collision with a Brinks truck, and coins were strewn all willy-nilly for Val to find! Or not.

My heart is just not in this quest any more. So I'm calling it quits. It has been a pleasant journey, but my heart tells me that my destination has been reached. 

If I was feeling better, I would look back and find the grand total. Alas, my watery eyes are not currently up to the task. Perhaps some day in the future. 

I will leave you with the 2023 numbers.

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


Penny           91
Dime            18
Nickel             1
Quarter          4


Penny           124
Dime              21
Nickel              7
Quarter             9


Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6

Friday, December 29, 2023

Christmas Dinner, the Afterthought

Poor pitiful Val, the much-put-upon chef of Christmas recent-past. 

We didn't get home from the house of my sister the ex-mayor's wife on Christmas Eve until 11:00. Then I had to have OUR Christmas dinner ready to serve at 11:00 a.m. the next day, because of Genius's plans. 

Here's my plate of Christmas dinner:

Let's start at 12:00 and go around. Delicious spiral honey-baked ham, roasted carrots/onions/potatoes, a blob of mayo, because I didn't have a squeeze bottle, and I spooned out a bit too much, Sister Schubert's Rolls, and a slice of Nutty Oat Bread with cheddar cheese, for making a ham sandwich, and potato salad, and a deviled egg. 

There's my large bowl of 7-Layer Salad, the layers all akimbo. In the background, some round slices of Oberle Cheese, a local product that is creamy with a garlic flavor, some Ritz crackers for cheesing, a bowl of black olives I haven't raided yet, and a slab of Kerrygold Butter that was intact when I started filling my plate. Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, the feeders didn't wait for the cook before digging in!

Here's the deal. The Pony was working the next day, and didn't want to take any leftovers home. Hick ate his lunch at the Senior Center the next day. I ate some leftovers on Tuesday, before going to the casino that night. Then Hick had Senior Center lunch and played bar bingo Wednesday, and I was too sick to eat anything. Here it is Thursday now, and we're nearing the end of safe leftovers. 

All that work for naught! Except for the feeding frenzy for 15 minutes on Christmas day.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

A Not-So-Merry End to Christmas

We only enjoyed the company of Genius for a couple days this holiday. He and Friend left early on Wednesday morning to drive back to Pittsburgh. We did have Christmas Eve, and a couple hours on Christmas Day for a dinner that had to begin at 11:00 a.m.! Not a problem for Val, whose school lunch time for two decades was 10:53 a.m.

Tuesday night, we went to the casino to spend some Christmas cash. Spend, indeed! NOBODY was a winner. I didn't even have any jackpot worthy of a picture. This was an unfortunate end to our holidays, since we moved Backroads and earth to obtain a block of time to meet up. The Pony had to work on Tuesday. He hustled his hooves off to be done by 5:00. Hick picked him up, and we were at the casino by 6:45. Genius and Friend, who were staying in the city, arrived three minutes later.

I had taken a ham sandwich, a couple deviled eggs, and a slice of Oreo cake for The Pony to eat on the way. When we were almost there, he said he wasn't feeling well. Don't blame my food! The Pony's hands were shaking, his back and legs hurt, and he was lightheaded. He said he felt okay to go in.

The casino was SO SMOKY! I almost didn't want to stay. I felt like I couldn't breathe. And it was HOT, too. We soldiered on, losing our money all willy-nilly. The Pony's heart just wasn't into it. He sat near me, and was lacklusterly pushing the SPIN button. A couple times I thought I saw TEARS forming! Poor Pony!

We left around 9:15. The Pony seemed to perk up a little under the full moon, in the crisp night air. Yet on the way home, I felt a fever in his forehead. He had an achy, restless night. Actually took his scheduled day off on Wednesday, rather than work for overtime as he'd planned.

On the ride home, I developed hoarseness and a drippy nose. It's like The Pony and I came down with something on the exact same timeline, although my symptoms were different than his. At first I thought it must be irritation from the casino cigarette smoke. Not sure what we picked up, or where. The Pony could have caught something at work. Otherwise, we were both around Genius and Friend, and at Sis's house on Sunday night. Sis said on Monday, she had a cough and felt bad, but thinks she's getting over it.

I would love to go to town for some new scratchers that came out on Tuesday, but my body would rather loll around the house, nose dripping, drowsy, and relax.

So far Hick has not shown symptoms. We'll see. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Let Me Eat Cake

Christmas Eve dinner at the home of my sister the ex-mayor's wife is a non-salad bar wrapped in a buffet inside a smorgasbord. It's serve yourself. Or in my case this year: have The Pony serve you. The Pony was at the adult kid's table in the kitchen. He asked if I wanted him to get me something, and I am always eager to get out of walking. He brought me a plate of assorted finger foods. Not too much, not too little. He's a good egg, that Pony.

Sis always makes loads of Christmas candy, and displays it on a big platter. Some years it's on the sideboard, some years on our table to pass around, and this year it was in the kitchen. There was also a raisin pie, a Yule Log cake, and a coconut cake. I didn't bother The Pony to fetch me dessert, but when Hick got up to get some for himself, he asked if I wanted anything.

"Yeah. I'll take a piece of that coconut cake, and a turtle off the candy platter."

"Okay. I'll take that plate back for you. Here. Take your fork, you'll need it."

When Hick returned with my dessert plate, it held two items. Neither of which were cake.

"Um. Where's my coconut cake?"

"You never asked for it."

"Yes. I did. And you said 'okay' and told me to keep my fork. Why would I need a fork for THIS? You can't eat a turtle with a fork. And I never wanted that pretzel thing with the pecan on top."

"Huh. Well. Give me your plate. I'll go get you some cake if you want some."

"And get me one of those cookies with the Hershey Kiss, like you have."

That's what Hick brought back. I had asked for that cookie, though I assumed (my fault!) that he would bring me a WHOLE one! There's my turtle. My coconut cake. And two pretzel things I never asked for. Hick had added the one with the M&M. I gave them to Hick, who gladly accepted them. Maybe that was his plan, to get extra dessert without looking like he got extra dessert.

Anyhoo... the cake was pretty good, and I appreciate Hick (eventually)fetching it for me.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

We're On the Eve of Deduction

On Sunday, we went to the annual (heh, heh, can't really have it more than once a year) Christmas Eve family dinner at the home of my sister the ex-mayor's wife.

Sis has a lovely home, tastefully decorated.

Here's my view, sitting at the end of our usual table, looking toward the kitchen. I have hidden Friend's identity. You'd have that look on your fake face too, it you saw Hick coming up behind you.

Here's the view to my left, looking into a sitting room with a piano out of sight to the right. Part of the evening's entertainment was Babe playing the piano while everyone sang Christmas carols.

There on the left is the front door standing open. Not open for thieves and vermin to rush in, unobstructed. There's a glass door. But it was 60 degrees! So unseasonably warm here for Christmas. That dark area on the right is a half-bath on the little hall that leads to the kitchen.

On the sideboard is a raisin pie, made by the ex-mayor. Poor guy. Nobody ate it! There were too many other goodies. I don't like pie. And Hick doesn't like raisins. He had a piece of the Yule Log cake on that platter. I had a slice of coconut cake. More on the dessert tomorrow.

Anyhoo... we played a new game. It's like if Pictionary and Telephone had a little game baby. We had six people at our table, so everyone got a stack of six slips of paper. You write a phrase on the top paper, then pass your stack to the left. The next person looks at the phrase, puts that paper on the bottom of the stack, and draws a picture of the phrase. Then passes the stack to the left. That person looks at the picture, puts it on the bottom of the stack, and writes what they think the phrase is. This goes on until the stack gets back to you. At which point you show people around the table what your original phrase was, and how it was interpreted at each step, to see if you get a "correct" picture from the last person. As you may well suspect, you most certainly do not!

As Sis pointed out when she started the game: "This is JUST FOR FUN! Not for a prize!"

Good thing. Because you never would have been able to deduce what the phrase was from that final picture! Here's one example. It didn't help that Hick was to my right...

1) Sis started her stack with the phrase: "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth."

2) Hick read the phrase and drew a picture.

3) The picture I got from Hick was TERRIFYING! It looked like a badly-drawn version of THIS! Only with pockmarks and an open mouth. Once I got over the shock, I laughed so hard I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head. But I couldn't show anybody that picture. Yet. I wrote what I thought it was: "Zombie Woman, Screaming."

4) On my left, the ex-mayor's sister-in-law read my guess, and drew a full body wrapped like a mummy, with a face that had long hair and what looked like a beard, but was an open mouth.

5) The ex-mayor's brother saw that picture, and wrote: "Old Man." How that was his take on a figure wrapped in toilet paper or mummy cloth, I'll never know. He's kind of like Hick. They might even march to the same drummer.

6) Ex-Mayor drew an old man with a walker.

I suppose, if we're quibbling, there's a chance that the old man with a walker was wanting his two front teeth for Christmas. But that's not a phrase I would ever have deduced from that picture.

We had a fun evening, and my ribs are recovering from laughing.

Monday, December 25, 2023

When Life Gives You Lemons, Ask What They Are

While I was in 10Box for bananas on Thursday, I also picked up two limes and a lemon. You never know when Hick or The Pony or Genius might want a twist in their cocktail with Christmas Dinner.

My checker was a young guy. Maybe not even 21. I haven't tried to buy alcohol from him, so I'm not sure. He picked up my limes, and said

"What are THESE?"

Then he picked up a laminated sheet showing pictures of produce, and their names! Funny how I don't remember anything like this back in the day, when I was going to the grocery store with my mom. Or even five years ago, when I was going to buy my own groceries!

"That's a lime."

"Okay. Now what's THIS?" He said, holding up the lemon. Not finding it on his picture sheet.

"That's a lemon. The label on the shelf said 38 cents, just like the limes."

"I'll see if you're a liar or not!" He said saucily, as he laid it on a clear window by the conveyor. "Well. It's not telling me. I guess I'll have to take your word for it." 

This guy would have been great at the restaurant where the waitresses insult the customers. He was actually quite funny.

Meanwhile, a my-age lady behind me put all her stuff on the conveyor without putting in a divider. There were three available. Not my problem. I was way back when I put my stuff on, because the guy ahead of me had his cart behind him while trying to bag, blocking my way forward.

"Wait! That's not mine!" It was a loin, I think, or maybe a brisket. A long slab of meat in a cylinder shape.

"YOU!" said the checker to the Loin Lady! He called a supervisor to clear his error.

"Pardon him, I've been teaching him what a lime is, and also a lemon.." [You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take teaching out of the teacher.]

"You should see them go crazy when you bring up a turnip!" said Loin Lady.

Then I had the audacity to pay my $5.47 total with SIX ONE-DOLLAR BILLS! 

"Don't you just hate it when people use actual money?"

CheckerBoy nodded as he counted out my change. I'm not sure if he had a chart showing him what coins to give back.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Travels With My Placard: Geezy Rider and the Simian Space-Stealer

Last Friday, I pulled into a handicap space at 10Box. It was the same space I'd had before, with a regular space to the left of it, where a close-parker had been over the line. Once again, I put T-Hoe's two right tires a bit into the wide, blue-striped walkway between handicap spaces, even though there was not a car in the offending space at the time.

When I came out, a black older-model Chevy Trailblazer was parked there. Tires on the line, but not too close to block T-Hoe's wide door from opening. I stowed my groceries in T-Hoe's rear, and pushed my cart up to the sidewalk, traveling between our two cars. When I got to the front, it was a bit of a squeeze to get my cart past the bumper of that Chevy and the yellow concrete tire-stopper. Of course I was extra-careful, because an old lady was sitting in that Chevy's passenger seat, with her window down.

I climbed into T-Hoe and started writing my total in my checkbook register. Old ways are still the best, by cracky! Through the windshield, I saw a bald old geezer driving a motorized cart. He stopped at T-Hoe's left front bumper, and tried to drive between our two cars. Nope! Not enough room. His Chevy's front fender, and that yellow concrete tire-bumper, were too close. 

Old Geezer got a scowly frowny face. He didn't look directly at me. So I'm not taking the blame! After all, HE is the one who parked there after ME. He could clearly see T-Hoe's position when he parked his Chevy. Not my fault he couldn't drive his cart through there. He went around to the other side of his car, where thankfully there was an empty regular parking space.

As I backed out, Old Geezer was unloading his groceries, putting them into the back of his Chevy, on top of a folded-up handicap scooter. I didn't see his license plate, nor if he had a handicap placard. I'm sure he had one or the other. Just luck of the draw that all 6 of the handicap spaces were taken by other handicapped parkers when he got there.

Or was it...

I turned T-Hoe to drive the other way, across the front of the store. A big Ford F250 pickup truck was parked in the handicap space closest to the door. No handicap plates, no placard. As I went by, a mid-30s woman came out of the store. She jumped up onto that Ford F250 like a juvenile monkey climbing on a jungle gym!

I call shenanigans! Old Geezer should have motored over there on his cart, and opened up a can of whoop-rumpus on that gal!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Not Quite CENTsational

I found a mere pittance this week to add to my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. Still, it's better than nothing! Looks like no records will be set this year.

SUNDAY, December 17, I was waiting behind two lovebirds at the Backroads Casey's. They couldn't keep their hands off each other! It actually made me a bit queasy, though I don't begrudge them their infatuation. A better place than Casey's could surely be found to conduct their romance.

It was a face-down 1982 penny, seen here under the snack rack, at the front of that guy's left foot. I couldn't get a closeup because I had to keep my head above the counter to talk to the clerk getting my scratchers. I just scooted out that penny and pocketed my treasure. 

To my HORROR, when I bent down, I saw ANOTHER penny in the area that is blocked here by that woman's legs. The horror was because it was too far back to scoot out with my toe. The rack blocked my access. Had there been no line, I might have stayed to try and get it with my hand.

Those lovebirds also bought a couple scratchers. As well as a case of beer, a fountain soda, three loose cold beers, and some snacks. I guess they had a big evening planned!

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


Penny           # 91.
Dime             still at 18
Nickel           still at 1
Quarter        still at 4


Penny           124
Dime              21
Nickel              7
Quarter             9


Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6

Friday, December 22, 2023

Even Santa Is Not Beyond Reproach

Hick brought in a good haul from the Christmas party at the Senior Center. He even went early to help set up. So maybe that was his scheme to reap the benefits. He said they had piles of presents to give out. Didn't mention how they went about it, but came home with a big gift bag.

I heard Hick come in. He was late, because of the weekly Wednesday night bingo. Didn't win anything there again! I heard rustling in the kitchen, and asked what he was doing. Strange noises in the presence of Hick require investigation.

"I was setting out something for you, from my bag. It's on the table."

There were actually four, but I ate a Santa head before it occurred to me to take a picture. Hick will be getting his cookies back. They are TASTELESS! That won't bother Hick at all! The cookies are not too hard, not too soft. The icing is just right. But both components are tasteless! How can you make a cookie without taste? I don't know if these were bought, or made by the staff. Somebody went to a lot of trouble. Maybe they're for elderlies on a bland diet.

Anyhoo... Hick's bag of goodies had some of these same cookies left for himself, and chocolates, candies, two pair of socks (that Hick really liked), a boxed set of shampoo and other toiletries, a blanket, and other stuff I can't remember. Kudos to the people who got this giveaway together for the elderlies.

In other news, gift-delivering Hick and his buddy had a complaint! A lady called the Senior Center to inform them that the lady next door got a bigger package that she did! Huh. Maybe SHE was on the naughty list!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Val's Heart Grew Two Dollars That Day

I went in 10Box on Tuesday, to the lottery machines along the front wall. A couple tickets were for me, but the majority were for gift-giving purposes. As I was finishing my transaction, a young boy and girl to the left caught my peripheral vision.

The boy was there first. He was around 4, and had run from the checkout to a grabber machine, peering through the glass. "Santa! Santa! Look Grandpa, there's a Santa!"

The girl ran up next. She was probably 6, and more quiet, though she also seemed thrilled to see a stuffed Santa in the grabber machine.

"Grandpa! Can we play?" Little Boy was so excited, and hopeful.

"I'll give you each one dollar," said Grandpa. He was rifling through his billfold as Little Girl ran a few steps to the door, where Grandma was waiting with the cart. She appeared to be telling Grandma about Santa in the grabber machine. Little Boy had turned back to look at the grabber toys.

I stopped by the Grandpa as I walked toward the door. "Would it be okay if I gave another dollar for each of them to play?"

"If you want to, yeah."

Of course I was prepared. I always have ones in my shirt pocket when I'm out buying scratchers. Little Boy turned expectantly to Grandpa as I was peeling off two ones.

"Here's another dollar for you." I handed it to him. 

"Thank you!" He was in awe, and needed no prodding, though the Grandpa was in the process of telling him, "What do you say?"

Little Girl ran back to Grandpa, ready to get this grabber show on the road. "Here's a dollar for you." I handed one to her, and she also thanked me, as Grandma was telling her, "What do you say?"

"Oh, they both thanked me. I just love to play those grabber machines! Even now, at my age! I'm feeling in a Christmas mood."

The Grandma thanked me, and I went out the automatic doors. My chest felt funny. Like something was expanding. I'm pretty sure Genius would have diagnosed it as my cold, cold heart thawing just a little.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

A Perfect Trap For Catching Unsuspecting Elderlies

As if tempting me with top-shelf, full-boxed Fake Honey Nut Cheerios was not enough...

Monday, I stopped in the Sis-Town Country Mart for the $8.99 dark meat chicken special. Gotta find my yardbird somewhere else, ever since the Gas Station Chicken Store closed their kitchen a few years ago. 

Also on my list were a few things I need for Christmas festivities. Like two boxes of Ritz Crackers to go with the cheese and sausage that we give HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) and The Veteran. And soda for our Christmas dinner. I get the 2-liter bottles for that. Usually, we only have individual bottles for Hick, and the cans of Shasta or Best Choice Diet Cola for me. 

Well! Imagine my surprise to see that soda was on sale! I was planning to get three bottles anyway: Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite.

Does anybody besides 5'8" Val Thevictorian see a problem here? The mini Cokes and Sprites are at my eye level. The bottles I desired, those of the 3 for 5 sale, were on the top shelf. Above my head! And necessitated lifting those heavy bottles over their little fence.

Let the record show that Val's arthritic hands sometimes don't want to grip properly. They still work better than Hick's bent fingers. But they don't have the strength they used to possess. Also, tilting my head back often results in a flash of dizziness, which makes me unsteady on my feet. Especially when holding a heavy bottle of liquid over my head.

I am convinced that this sale display was a clever trap to conk elderlies on the head, rendering them unconscious! For what nefarious purposes, I don't know. Sis-Town is no Portland! So being dropped into a tunnel by ne'er-do-wells is probably out of the question. However, Sis-Town DOES sit on top of a labyrinth of lead mines.

Surely this product placement was just the work of a clueless stock manager. Or WAS it...

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Betrayed By Those You Paid: An Agony Aunt Tale

Don't expect a barrel of laughs from Val today, people. AS IF you ever do...

This is not a typical "agony aunt" story. It's the tale of my actual aunt, in agony! My favorite gambling aunt, to be exact.

Auntie is a widow, who lives alone with her cats and dog. I forget the number of cats. It might be three. Maybe more. She took in the dog as a favor to someone who couldn't keep him, after her own dog went to the big farm upstate, over the rainbow bridge.

Auntie is in her late 70s/early 80s. She is like a Six Million Dollar Woman. Not judging her by wealth, but on the number of body parts that have been upgraded or replaced. She was in a terrible car accident many years ago, and has an ankle that doesn't bend. Replaced hips and knees. A repaired back. And a shoulder that is currently giving her fits. Not to mention the diabeetus that she medicates for.

Because she is unsteady on her feet (still the ones she was born with), Auntie has had a Life Alert necklace for about 10 years. She has used it on numerous occasions after a fall. Some inside the house, some in the back yard, some in the front yard. Every time, an ambulance arrived to "save" her.

Last Wednesday, Auntie went to the city to see a doctor about her shoulder. I think it might have something to do with the rotator cuff, though Auntie is not a major league pitcher. She had a relative with her, and they stopped for lunch. When Auntie got home, she decided to do something in the garage pertaining to her pets. I lost track of the minor details, because I was gasping in horror at the major focus of her tale.


She fell backwards, and hit her head. She doesn't remember exactly what caused her to fall. She thinks maybe it was her ankle not adjusting to the unevenness of the ramp on the garage floor.

"I realized that I was lying on the ramp. I pushed my Life Alert button. The kitchen door was open. I thought I could crawl back into the house. I drug myself up the ramp, but I couldn't get over the threshold. My shoulder didn't have the strength. I waited for the Life Alert people to send the ambulance. But it didn't come. I kept pushing the button, but nobody showed up. 

The pet door in the garage was open. I thought maybe I could crawl over and yell. I tried, but my body hurt so much! I couldn't. I ended up half on and half off the ramp. All I could do was lay there. And push my Life Alert button.


I was just wearing a long dress. I was cold. I had to urinate right there where I was lying. Seven times over those four days. I was freezing. I could hear my phone ringing in the house, but I couldn't get to it.

Finally, on Saturday, [my son] came over. I found out that [my daughter] had been trying to call me, but couldn't get an answer. She looked at my Facebook page, and saw that I hadn't been on it since Wednesday. That's when she called [my son] and told him to come check on me. He said, 'I go see her every Sunday. Can't it wait?' And [my daughter] told him, 'Go right now! I have a terrible feeling!'

When [my son] came in through the house, I hollered, 'I'm out here! In the garage!' And he walked to the door and looked at me, and said, 'What are you doing down there?' And I said, 'Call an ambulance!'"

Auntie's son (my cousin) lives less than a mile from her. He bought my mom's house. Her daughter lives in the city. The ambulance came and took pictures of Auntie, then took her to the hospital. She was SO THIRSTY, and asked for some water, but they told her she would just vomit it, and gave her an IV.

The doctor said a few more hours, and Auntie would have died. She had a concussion, with a bruised face and black eyes. They suspected a brain bleed, but a CAT scan showed none. The doctor asked if she'd been having shoulder pain, and she said that she had just been to a doctor for it. He said that she'd had a heart attack! And that she also had A-Fib. I'm not sure if that's what they suspect of causing her fall.

Anyhoo... as for the mystery of why Life Alert didn't respond, that is, indeed, a mystery. Let's just say a lawyer has been contacted.

Auntie is currently in rehab, getting stronger. She is planning to move into assisted living, where she is only allowed to bring one pet. That's the hardest part for her. She is in the process of finding homes for her fur babies.

Monday, December 18, 2023

It Was Food

That's about the best review I can give our lunch at the casino last Tuesday.

Let the record show that when we started going to this casino, we LOVED the food! They had a buffet! A most extravagant and satisfying buffet. It was worth the 90-minute drive just to eat there. Sadly, the buffet was closed before The Virus struck. I think it was even before the casino changed ownership.

We learned to settle for the grill inside the gambling area. The burgers were good. There was a pretty good selection. I liked the 1 lb of catfish nuggets. The nachos. The BBQ brisket on toast. The pulled pork sandwich. Hick liked the big fat slices of pie. But those things are not offered now. The pie is about 1/3 the size it used to be. A mere sliver. I wouldn't be surprised if we show up one day, to find only a bored lady sitting behind a wooden crate with a handwritten sign proclaiming: Lemonade, $5. That's the sad state of dining at this casino now. The big fancy restaurant is not open during the times we're there, and we wouldn't eat there anyway. 

Tuesday's trip was a good time, but we all had second thoughts after strapping on the feedbag. Hick tried a new item that is only being offered during December.

They're called Red Star Fries, but I think Hick would give them ZERO stars. It was fries topped with white cheddar Wisconsin cheese curds, chicken gravy, and andouille sausage. He said the taste was fine, but it was too messy to eat. Yes, he used a fork.

"It might have been okay on a glass plate. But not on that paper. It made the paper dissolve. I kept feeling like I was eating paper. I might have been."

The Pony had a fried chicken sandwich and fries:

It was a normal size chicken sandwich, not a slider like this picture makes it look. The Pony took the picture, the perspective of which gives him a gargantuan hand and giant fries. As you might notice, The Pony has peppered the fries. That ruins them! Hick and Genius do it, too.

I also had the fried chicken sandwich and fries:

At least this time, I got more than a single ring of onion! The Pony had them leave off his pickles, but I like them. He had a normal amount of sauce. I barely had any. It looks like mayo mixed with hot sauce, but I didn't have enough to judge the flavor. Pardon all the napkins in the background. I used every one of them!

Yes, it was a nice plump piece of chicken. The taste was good. That's a benefit, since I had to chew each bite like an Everlasting Gobstopper. So did The Pony! The chicken breast we each had was composed of those twisted fibers that are almost impossible to chew. I guess the management is buying the cheapest ingredients available.

I would recommend this place if you were starving, or getting a headache from not eating, or have excess money to throw towards merely edible food. Our bill was $50.89. That's half a nice scratcher winner! The portions and selections have decreased, yet the prices have increased.

I am considering smuggling in a bologna sandwich in the future...

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Even Steven Is Always Riding Shotgun With Val

We were headed to the casino on Tuesday morning. Planning to leave home at 9:30 with The Pony meeting us to ride along. At the time he was supposed to start out here, I got a text. The Pony could not find his ID! You may recall that we made another casino trip, when The Pony only discovered the missing ID as we got out of the car to go in. Made it inside on a fluke, AND hit a jackpot that day, which required ID to collect.

Anyhoo, The Pony last remembered actually holding and looking at his billfold about 10 days previous, when he was checking his insurance number for a prescription. He did that within his postal vehicle. Then stashed his bag with the billfold in it behind the seat. He never carries his billfold on him when he's doing a route. Problem was, since that day, The Pony had worked multiple routes, and driven FIVE different vehicles.

To be sure, The Pony searched his house three times. Everywhere, including drawers and refrigerator and washer/dryer. Took out all the cushions of the couch and moved it to look under. Searched under the bed, and between the mattress and the wall. Found a pair of glasses he'd lost! But no billfold. Which contained his driver's license, credit card, two debit cards, insurance cards, and social security card. No money, though. 

I tried to talk him off the ledge. "You'll just have to get another license. They'll print it from the picture they already have. Otherwise people with bad pictures would be constantly 'losing' their license! The license office is on the way out here. So just stop by and they'll give you a temporary license, until they mail the replacement."

The Pony agreed, but said he was running by work first. Such an advantage, living only a few blocks away. He told the manager the situation. Searched three of the vehicles he had been in, without success. Another was in the shop for repairs. And the last one was out on a route with a person The Pony is not on speaking terms with. (No details on this situation at this time.)

Anyhoo... The Pony had checked his accounts, and they had not been accessed. So the situation was pretty much under control. He got a temporary license, and we went to the casino. On the drive, I said that if that one person had found his billfold, he probably wasn't getting anything back. It was most likely tossed into a dumpster somewhere along the route. The Pony said that would be the BEST possible scenario!

We were only an hour late leaving home. We still had plenty of time for gambling, and eating lunch. More on lunch tomorrow...

Here's one of my jackpots:

This was on the Wild LepreCoin game on a Wonder 4 Tall Fortunes slot machine. I was playing four games at once. As you can see, I was on my last spin, being down to only 5 cents credit left. The top game hit a lot of leprechauns. Here it's adding up my jackpot. 

Below is the total I finished with. I had hoped for more, but I guess the 50 cents that was actually bet on that one game limited my success!

So it paid me $85. You might think that made me a winner... Au contraire! Being Val, I did not pocket my win and run out the door! I was there to PLAY, by cracky! Not leave my money in my purse. I had some more successes. And even more not-successes. I left about 1/3 of my casino bankroll in those no-armed bandits!

Hick finished $40 ahead, and The Pony walked out with a $30 profit. I was content to be the biggest loser. Can't win if you don't play. Can't win if you DO play, sometimes! Like this day for me.

Anyhoo... I was not at all sad. I was happy for Hick and The Pony.

The next day, I went to town for scratchers as usual. Found a penny in Orb K! Which turned out to be a sign of good luck!

That's the $10 Triple Red 777 ticket again! Winning me $177! I had the triple symbol.

And also matched one number. So that made $150 plus $27, for a total of $177. Thanks, Even Steven. That more than covered my casino losses. Not exactly EVEN, but since I was on the positive uneven side, we won't quibble over exactness with Even Steven.

We all had a good time, despite the rocky start to our casino excursion.


I had already written this and set it to publish, but on Saturday night at 5:20, The Pony sent me a text:

"Coworker just found and brought me my billfold. I was woken up from a nap by her calling. She'd missed it when I asked her to look before, and found it wedged down in behind the seat."

"GREAT! Did you cancel anything yet?"

"I didn't. I'd gone in and gotten the social security paperwork for a new card, but not turned it in yet. Hadn't gone through with canceling the cards."

"I might scrape up some Chex Mix for you to give her! She's not the mean one, is she?"

"No. She is great. I'm definitely going to offer her cake the next time I make one. I talked to her Tuesday, but she hadn't seen it then, and I didn't see it when I glanced in her truck then."

Even Steven is sitting on The Pony's shoulder, too! Even though it took him five days to find his perch.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

A PENNYful Showing Again This Week

No grass growing under Val's feet this week on her parking-lot penny-hunting grounds!

TUESDAY, December 12, we were going through the line to order our lunch at the casino when I glanced down and saw

A semi-lucky penny! More on that tomorrow. But it's lucky for YOU if you can see it in this tile pattern! I had The Pony get a picture for me.

It was a face-down 2008 penny, hoping to hitch a ride 85.6 miles northeast. Abe Lincoln has trouble thumbing a ride, especially with his face in the tile.

WEDNESDAY, December 13, I stopped in Orb K for some scratchers. I spied this little luckster under the counter:

This face-down 2014 penny was the real deal. More on that tomorrow, too. I couldn't get a closeup without excessively ample-rumpusing a riled-up line waiting in the maze behind me. So I got this picture while the clerk was scanning my tickets, and then snatched it up with a quick amp-rump.

THURSDAY, December 14, was errand day. Over in Sis-Town, I returned from paying for T-Hoe's gas to harvest this little fellow:

I saw it on the way in, but two fears held me back. I would have been standing in the driving lane, where people are wont to whiz by, uninhibited by objects moving or non- in their path. AND there was a somewhat raggedy man of questionable residence, leaning on a trash can against the building, staring at me from the moment I stepped out of T-Hoe. I did not want to out-weirdo the weirdo. Besides, what if he asked if I had spare change? How could I say NO, when he had just observed me picking up my rightful penny!

Thankfully, the stare-gazer was walking away with a companion when I came out, and did not witness the presentation of my ample rumpus as I got pictures and scooped up this penny of indeterminate age or orientation. Even at home, after a rinse, and under a magnifying glass, I couldn't make heads or tails of it.

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


Penny           # 88, 89, 90.
Dime             still at 18
Nickel           still at 1
Quarter        still at 4


Penny           124
Dime              21
Nickel              7
Quarter             9


Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6

Friday, December 15, 2023

Hick, the Helpful Helpster

Hick won ANOTHER afghan at bingo on Wednesday! 

"I felt bad for winning again. So I told the caller to just give it away on the next number. I hit on O-63, and I said to call O-64, and give it to whoever had that number. It took forever to explain what I was trying to do. And then the lady that got it didn't understand why. She kept asking, 'WHO gave this to me?' And the same thing with the set of dish towels I also won, and gave away. They didn't know why they were getting them."

"Which is exactly how you are WINNING SO MUCH playing against these elderlies!"

"Oh, and they had piles and piles of gifts that have been donated. I'm going to help deliver them. When I seen all them packages, I knew it would be hard for the people who deliver the Meals on Wheels to carry the packages along with the meals. So me and One Guy are going to take the presents."

"That takes all the glory away from the people who deliver meals all year, and might want to see how happy the people are to get the gifts."

"We're just doing it to help."

"You should wear your SANTA outfit!"

"I'm not the one delivering the packages."

"You just said you were!"

"I'm going to DRIVE. One Guy is going to take the packages to the door, because I don't know where I'm going."

"How's THAT going to work? If you don't know where to go."

"It's in School-Town! The lady running it was getting all confused, trying to tell me. She said, 'It's really hard to find your way around there. I can tell you how I go.' And I said, 'I grew up there! I know where everything is! So it's not a problem for me.' She's going to write down the addresses, and I won't have no trouble."

Hick says he will have to lay the seats down in A-Cad, to fit in all the packages. I still think it would be more fun for the people if he wore his Santa suit, even while driving.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

A Lock to Pick With The Pony

On Monday, I had a package delivered by the USPS. It was not large. Just a cube shape about the size of half a shoebox. Of course it wouldn't fit into EmBee, our mailbox, because she is a cylinder of steel pipe, about six inches in diameter. A key on a keyring fits just fine in her not-so-gaping maw, though. Which is how our packages get delivered. The mailman lady leaves a key in the mailbox, to one of the four parcel lockers that sit on a stand beside Mailbox Row.

Two of the four parcel lockers had keys in them, which meant that two people had already picked up their packages, so mine was either in the upper left locker, or the lower right locker. I looked at the clear plastic stick attached to the keyring. Barcode. Some writing too small to read. No number. Huh. I tried the key in the top left locker. Didn't fit. I tried the key in the bottom right locker. Didn't fit. 

This is a problem I've had before. I CANNOT get those keys to work in the parcel lockers. One time I had to put the key back in EmBee, and text Hick to try it on his way home. This time, 
I turned that key seven ways to Sunday, in both of those parcel lockers, and finally got it to work in the bottom right lock, by inserting it upside down with excessive jiggling. 

Let the record show that I read a forum on a certain online platform that is an unofficial place where workers of the USPS go to vent. There is no love lost on customers who have less-than-perfect interactions with the parcel lockers.

As we left our enclave on the way to the casino Tuesday, I picked this bone with The Pony.

"MAYBE, if you guys would attach a message along the top of the parcel lockers to indicate that keys must be put in the lock UPSIDE DOWN, people would be able to get their packages out, and your workers would have one less thing to complain about! It took me five minutes to get that locker open yesterday."

"Oh, Mother. People ARE idiots! That wouldn't help."

"It would have helped ME. Almost as much as if you actually had the number of the locker indicated on the key!"

"We used to. They start out that way, with the locker number on that plastic stick. But people peel them off. Or they fall off."

"Well, there's still the fact that the keys have to be put in upside down. AND they don't slide right in. I thought I'd never get that key to fit. But at least I knew not to try the OTHER lock, that the carriers use."

"Yeah. They break them off in those other locks. Sometimes people never find their package. Then they complain that it wasn't delivered, after they've dropped the key in a mailbox because they think it was lost."

"No. They probably think it didn't even go to their parcel lockers, because the keys are too hard to insert UPSIDE DOWN. You have to be a genius to figure it out!"

Words cannot describe the pitying look The Pony cast my way from the back seat.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Travels With My Placard: The Worthy

I've been living it up in the parking lots, ever since I got my handicap placard last week! 

One of my first stops was Save A Lot. It's in a little strip-mall place, and parking is horrific. One long row, with a second row directly across from it. There are four handicap spaces, two on each side of the cart return. Only one space is up to my standards! The space to the right of the cart corral. It guarantees that nobody can block T-Hoe's driver's door. Unless they put carts there, outside the corral. But carts are easy enough to move out of my way. The other three spaces lend themselves to close-parkers!

Lucky for me, that coveted space was the only handicap slot open on the day I went. I parked and helped myself to a cart/walker to go inside. First stop was their lottery machine. Then I proceeded to the bread, which they've put in the most inconvenient place possible. Because who wants to buy their bread first? After you've gone through the store, you might have picked up something that requires buns or rolls! In which case you have to traverse the maze of barriers of sale items to get back to that front wall bread display.

Anyhoo, I had just turned down the north wall to get some romaine lettuce, when I noticed a man trailing behind me. An older man, though perhaps not quite as old as me! He wasn't a full weirdo, but I felt like he was following me. I encountered him on a couple of other aisles. It just seemed like a sense of disapproval was coming from him. What could THAT be about? Did he see me park in the handicap space? I hung my placard! Am I not worthy?

Follower was faster boxing his groceries than I was. And I found myself behind HIM as I went out the door and wheeled my purchases to T-Hoe's rear. I was mortified to see that Follower had a limp, and was putting groceries into his truck, which was parked directly in front of 

Did I take away a handicap space that he needed??? Wait a minute! I also needed that handicap space! I have a PLACARD, by cracky! And my limp was a little worse than his. I'm pretty sure he could beat me in a footrace. Had he been following me and watching me because he wanted that parking space?

As I finished stowing away my two boxes of groceries, and was closing the hatch, here came Follower, wheeling his cart up along T-Hoe, to put in the cart corral. What in the NOT-HEAVEN! Follower was giving me the side-eye! I took a step so as not to get closed under T-Hoe's hatch, and Follower spoke:

"Can I take that cart for you?"

"Oh, yes! That would help! Anything that saves me a step, I really appreciate. Thank you so much!"

"I just had my knee done, and I know how much it helps for someone to save me a step."

Wow. What a nice guy. At least he is on the mend now.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Hick Doubles Down On Irritating the Elderlies

Hick was back at lunch bingo on Monday. I guess he's been storing up his luck. He sent me a picture of his "price" around 10:45.

Look! Hick won TWO prices. A Conehead Snowman, and a Cousin Itt Santa. No wonder the elderlies get irritated with him. He's taking all their fun out of winning! But wait! Less than five minutes later, Hick sent me another picture:

"I just won an afghan on coverall!"

"That's a good prize. They will all resent you even more."

Lunch was hamburger and mushrooms, mashed potatoes and gravy, mixed vegetables, a biscuit, and cherry peach cobbler.

"Your dessert is bigger than your main course. Did they give you extra?"

"No. Just filled the slot."

"Are they trying to kill off the diabetics?"

Hick had no answer to that. I guess he was too busy admiring his winnings.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Can't. Help. It. I SWEAR!

This is the longest winning streak ever! I am prepared for it to end. Each day, I tell myself, "This is probably the day I'll win nothing. It's about time." Only it's not! I'm a jackpot magnet! 

Friday, I pulled into the Liquor Store parking lot. Got my favorite parking place down front, where I can pull out without backing up, and without being impeded by the drive-thru line. It wasn't particularly busy. I knew the tickets I wanted. But something kept me from getting out. I glanced across the street to the Casey's, and noticed that it was not busy. Huh. Maybe I should go there instead.

I put my seatbelt back on and was lucky to hit the exit while the traffic light had the cars stopped. Made a quick left to get to Casey's, where I nabbed the handicap space (thanks, placard!). I went in and bought four tickets, using some of my oh-so-generous previous winnings. When I scratched them at home, I found that every ticket was a winner. My two $5 crosswords each won their money back. A $10 ticket won $40. And then there was THIS:

I matched every number! The prizes added up to a $177 WINNER. Yeah. That's an odd kind of jackpot, but this Triple Red 777 ticket has odd prizes because it uses 7s as well as the normal 5s, 10s, and 20s.  

I'm really glad I changed my mind at the last minute to buy tickets at Casey's instead of the Liquor Store. Heh, heh! You never know, though. I might have missed a big jackpot there! My usual crosswords that I get every day at the Gas Station Chicken Store won nothing. I didn't mind.

The Pony has taken a vacation week, so we are going to the casino one day. I am not overly optimistic for my success. Usually, if I'm winning at scratchers, I lose at the casino. And if I'm having a bad scratching streak, I finish pretty close to even or better at the casino.

We'll see how this pattern holds up...

Sunday, December 10, 2023

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad, You Take the Placard and Then You Have...

The BAD dampening your excitement for the GOOD!

Heady with power, my new handicap placard in hand, fresh from the DMV where Hick took my paperwork... I started to town on Tuesday. First place I tried it out was at the Backroads Casey's. I already used this picture, but here it is again:

I didn't walk around the back of T-Hoe to get to their sidewalk ramp, because I could hold onto T-Hoe to step up and down on the curb. There was one normal parking space to my left, and then the door. I waltzed in like I owned the place. Or at least a handicap placard. Did my business. Came back out, and saw that T-Hoe's door was blocked from opening all the way! Ain't THAT a fine how-do-you-do, welcome-to-the-handicap-placard-club!

Parked next to me, fully within the lines, was a mid-sized black sedan. We were both in the middle of our parking spaces. T-Hoe's large door would have opened all the way, had it not been for the side mirror on that sedan! Even if the driver had pulled forward, closer to the sidewalk, my door would have opened. No fault of the driver. I'm sure he wasn't considering his passenger mirror, and T-Hoe's large doors, when he parked.

I had to open T-Hoe's door only to the first notch. Hoist myself up onto the running board. Get my right leg in, sit down, and then try to make my left knee bend enough to get my shoe-toe to clear that door and get my left leg inside. All while holding onto T-Hoe's door so it wouldn't slam the sedan's mirror. It's hard wrestling a large door and a stiff knee at the same time. I finally accomplished the (to me) contortions necessary.

Well. That was not such a success for my handicap placard. I usually park down at the other end, beside one of the worker's cars, where I know I will still have space to open my door when I come out.

Off to 10Box for some groceries. They have six handicap parking spaces along the front of the store, separated by wide, striped walkways. There are also two regular parking spaces at each end of the handicap spaces at the front of the store. All handicap spaces were occupied except one. I did not notice if the cars had placards or plates showing their right to park in them. This place is notorious for regular people parking in the handicap spaces. YOUNG PEOPLE! In sporty little cars! 

Anyhoo... I went to the open handicap space, on the far left. There was an SUV in the regular space to the left of it. Well, KIND OF in it. Both the right side tires were over the line. Lucky for me, I had that wide, striped walkway on T-Hoe's right, so I put my two right tires into it. Two can play at THAT game! Not sure why the SUV was parked in such a wonky manner. Maybe the car on its left had been over its line. I didn't look too closely, because there was a person sitting in the passenger seat.

Last stop, the Gas Station Chicken Store. As I rounded the pumps to get to my preferred HANDICAP parking space, I saw that it was occupied by a gray SUV that was facing me. There was a driver behind the wheel. Regular plates, no placard. My own placard was swinging from the mirror. Even though you're not supposed to leave it there while you're driving. I veered right, to loop around the diesel pumps and come in behind that SUV, to park in front of the FREE AIR hose. It's still level there. Not a bad parking space, unless somebody is in a rush to get FREE AIR.

That driver must have had a guilty conscience. Or maybe just ready at that time to leave. Because he drove off as I was parking, and I was able to pull forward into the handicap space. For once, no jackrumpus decided to park in the driving lane and block me in while I was inside. So finally, a success. Even though I have been parking in that handicap space for a while now...

So far, I can see my new handicap placard being of help at 10Box and the Sis-Town Country Mart. And lessening my guilt at the Gas Station Chicken Store. But I'll probably still park like I used to at Casey's. And not use it at the Liquor Store, Orb K, School-Turn Casey's, or Sis-Town Casey's, due to the threat of close-parkers.

Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention my fit of guilt while using my handicap placard at Save A Lot. That's a story for another day.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Good COINS Come in Threes

There was no time wasted in starting the week's Future Pennyillionaire collection! Any coin is a good coin!

On SUNDAY, December 3, I stopped at the Liquor Store for scratchers. As usual, they were doing a booming business. Not sure if it's all alcohol. When I'm inside, I notice they sell a lot of vapes, and a good share of fountain sodas. 

As I turned onto the parking lot, rassen'-frassen about the car that darted in from the other entrance, taking my intended parking spot, I squinted into the sun and slid into a lesser parking space. Good thing! If I'd parked in my favorite, I would have missed this:

I had wanted to park in the space directly in front of his one, and would not have seen the penny glowing there behind me.

It was a face-down 2018 penny, posed so prettily in the shade.

MONDAY, December 4, I was waiting for the clerk to tear off my scratchers when I spied a sight for sore eyes:

Way over by the wall, under the scratcher display! I told the clerk as I took my tickets from her at the center register, "I see a lucky penny I'm going to get. So no need to think I'm doing anything weird!" Just so she didn't panic at the thought of me being a Secret Shopper. I laid my scratchers on the counter by the closed register, and got my pictures.

It was a heads-up 2022 penny, which refused to take a good photo. This is actually the better of the two that I snapped. My phone camera is quite recalcitrant at times.

TUESDAY, December 5, I was back at the Liquor Store to refuel my habit! I knew they had the $5 crossword scratchers, because of the number on my tickets I got Sunday. Sometimes stores run out of my crossword, so I try to remember where the numbers were low on the roll. Turns out I didn't win anything on them later, but when I stepped out of T-Hoe, there was another kind of reward:

I'm talking about the penny, not the cigarette butts! There's the Gas Station Chicken Store across the street.

This poor Abe had a bad case of pavement rash on his face. I guess he was run over and flipped to land this way, heads-up. At home, with the right lighting and my tiny plastic magnifying glass, I determined that he was from 1992.

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


Penny           # 85, 86, 87.
Dime             still at 18
Nickel           still at 1
Quarter        still at 4


Penny           124
Dime              21
Nickel              7
Quarter             9


Penny        124
Dime           14
Nickel           7
Quarter         6