Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Yo Ho Ho and a Barbecue Pizza

Here it is Wednesday, and I haven't showed you Hick's "price" (unwon, of course) and meal at bar bingo LAST Wednesday. 

The grand prize was a little unusual. A basket of BOOZE, as Hick called it:

That prize would be a little pricey if bought at a store. Being a bar, they probably had a discount for bulk purchases. I pity the poor gal who was sitting at that table! Didn't leave her much room for her meal.

Hick slacked off on the fried food that evening:

He had a barbecue chicken pizza, and a brand-name beer. I'm guessing that's ranch dressing drizzled over the pizza. And also that Hick had more than one beer.

Don't worry about Hick wasting away from cutting out his two baskets of fried foods. Remember, he also ate lunch with The Pony at a Mexican restaurant on this day!

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Another Tale of Unstable Val

Here now! Stop snickering and warming up your crazy temple twirly fingers! This is a story of PHYSICAL instability. 

We had a week of frozen rain, then melting, then actual rain. Our gravel roads are a mess. The repeated freezing at night and thawing during the day have created a myriad of pot holes. Some of them going halfway to China. The loads of rock from last summer are mere memories now, swallowed by the road bed. Funny how you have to blast out solid rock to put in a basement, your phone line rests in a shallow grave a few inches deep, yet the area where the roads run seem to never have heard of bedrock!

Anyhoo... driving T-Hoe along a mile of gravel mud road gets him filthy, even though I keep my speed to 10 mph to avoid a concussion from hitting my head on the roof if I am forced through a pot hole by oncoming traffic. I don't care so much if T-Hoe looks bad until a good rain and some subsequent fair weather. I DO care about getting mud all over my pants legs from the running board caked with an inch of that mud.

Hick had come out to help carry in groceries. I'd put them on the passenger seat, because when we get them out of T-Hoe's rear, high-spirited and poorly-trained Scarlett jumps up on the bumper with her front paws, and leans on me for petting. Not one of my favorite activities in this weather. She doesn't jump up with just the car door open, so that was my plan.

Anyhoo... Hick took all the bags but one. I said I could manage it, since it only held a clear plastic box of little chocolate donuts, and two half-loaves of Nutty Oat Bread. I looped it over my left arm, along with my purse, and held my metal water bottle as usual as I climbed out, using my right hand to steady myself on the open driver's door.

I don't step down from the running board. That requires too much knee-bending. I turn sideways, get both feet out on the running board, and then slither down to the ground. The height is just about right, my rumpus coming off the edge of the seat as my toes hit the ground.

However... when the running board is filthy muddy, I try to avoid dragging my pants legs over it. So I lean back, extend my legs more, and am a bit unbalanced (HEY! I warned you about that crazy temple twirly finger already!) when I hit the ground, leaning back a bit. Usually no big deal. I push myself upright with my left elbow against T-Hoe's side.

Well. Donuts and bread must be heavier than you would think! There I was, leaning back, and slowly tilting to my left, being betrayed by gravity, bread, and donuts! I thought I was going to fall over sideways on the concrete floor, wedged between T-Hoe and the garage wall. Where Scarlett would romp all over my face, probably, the object of her ADORATION already in the house.

I clawed at T-Hoe's open door with my right hand, finally getting a grip on the frame by the window. It was still behind my center of gravity. So it took a lot of effort to stop my slow fall, remain steady, and get my left foot over enough to balance.

If I was smarter, and less offended by a little mud, I might have just sat down on the edge of T-Hoe, at the bottom of the seat, above the running board, and rested for a minute before shifting my feet, and wallowing in that mud to stand up and proceed out of the garage.

Monday, January 29, 2024

You Can't Please Some of the People Any of the Time

Hick told me a story from the Senior Center last week. There's a guy Hick knows who decided to go there for the first time and try their lunch. The Guy is not an actual buddy of Hick. More of an acquaintance, whom he knows from auctions and flea markets. Every now and then he calls Hick about bargains to be found.

Hick has always tried to be nice to The Guy. Not overly-friendly, but civil. Taking time to chat when he calls, and share info about auctions or merchandise. One time The Guy got really upset with Hick, because he walked into Hick's Storage Unit Store while a bunch of cronies were in there talking to Hick. He greeted The Guy and went on with the discussion. Later The Guy called Hick and pretty much called him and his cronies rumpusholes for excluding him from the conversation. Hick said The Guy's just like that, self-centered, always the victim. But he doesn't dislike The Guy. He's just cautious what he says to him.

Anyhoo... The Guy had told Hick he was going to the Senior Center on a certain day for lunch. They were having Sloppy Joes, tater tots, broccoli, and some kind of cake for dessert. Hick mentioned it to the staff, just saying a new guy was coming, that he knew, and not to hold that against him.

The Guy came in and paid his $4 for lunch. It used to be $3, but prices have gone up. He sat down with his tray. Hick was up getting his own tray, and one for a lady at the next table. All at once, he heard The Guy yell, "THIS IS BULLSHIT!" and saw him storm out.

One of the ladies (who gives Hick special "pet" treatment) told him what happened. The Guy had sat down to eat his lunch, but he got a phone call. After the call, he asked to take his meal with him, saying he had to leave. He hadn't eaten anything yet. The gal brought him a styrofoam box like those they use for the meal deliveries. She said he could put his meal in there. The Guy argued that he wanted them to make him a new to-go box. He wasn't asking for double food. He thought they should make him the meal in the box, and he'd throw away the tray he already had. When the gal said they couldn't do that, he got mad and stormed out. Never ate or took any food, even though he had paid.

Hick told them that's just The Guy's nature. You never know when he's going to get mad about something.

A few days later, Hick found out that The Guy had called some federal office to complain about the Senior Center, saying how rude and hateful they were to him.

I'm sure Hick will get a different story from The Guy, whenever he decides to call Hick again. Also let the record show that The Guy had been banned from both flea markets, by two different owners, where Hick had his Storage Unit Stores, for accusing customers and sellers of doing things they didn't.

I don't understand why The Guy escalated the situation to that extent. He wasn't trying to get extra food, nor a refund, and didn't even take what he paid for.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Lunch and a Show: Part 2, A Show

Driving The Pony home from their Mexican lunch, Hick heard a contest on the radio. Of course he called in! He has won things before from this radio station, like a Thanksgiving turkey, and a flag. This time, the prize was two tickets to a music show over in Bill-Paying Town on Saturday night.

"I had been planning to go anyway. Then I heard the contest, so I called. I was caller number three, and won two tickets!"

The Pony said this is not his kind of music. The Veteran said his wife already had plans for them on Saturday night. HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) did not respond to Hick's text. Hick took his extra ticket to his SUS2 (Storage Unit Store 2) on Saturday, but nobody wanted to go. So he said he'd take it along with him, and offer it to somebody outside for free. Hick is many things, but not a ticket scalper!

He got there an hour early, and sent me a picture of the stage.

Hick said the "special guest" noted on the ticket was Nashville singer/songwriter Max T. Barnes. I thought the name sounded familiar. Looking it up, I discovered that he wrote a Vern Gosdin song, "Way Down Deep." That will mean nothing to you if you have never listened to old country music. I happen to have the CD, Vern Gosdin 10 Years of Greatest Hits. Not that I'm braggin'...

Anyhoo... Hick had a grand time at his free concert. Probably more so than if he'd paid.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Lunch and a Show: Part 1, The Lunch

Part of The Pony's route includes two metal boxes outside the post office in Backroads. They are like outdoor PO Boxes. There was no more room inside, where the boxes are old-timey style, build into the wall. A couple years ago, a loose dog in the neighborhood necessitated these outdoor mailboxes. The owner could never be contacted by law enforcement and animal control, so several blocks worth of homes now have to go to the post office and stand outside to open up their box and get their mail. Bureaucracy at its worst, but safer for the postal carriers, allowing them to keep their blood on the inside of their skin.

Anyhoo... across the street from these outdoor mailboxes is a restaurant. It used to be Italian, then vacant for a few years, and now Mexican.

"I wonder if Dad would want to go to lunch on Wednesday. I'd like to try that Mexican restaurant by the post office. Every day when I'm putting the mail in there around 10:00 or 10:30, I smell them cooking their sauces for the day."

"You know Dad. He's always willing to eat. He can either go for lunch, and miss his Senior Center food, or he can go for supper, and miss his bingo night."

"I'll probably tell him lunch, because I know how much he likes going to bingo."

So... Hick and The Pony strapped on the feedbag Wednesday afternoon.

Hick had the chimichanga. 

The Pony had fish tacos...

... with sides of rice and beans. The Pony had looked at the menu online, and wasn't sure if they would have refried beans, which he doesn't like due to the texture, or "regular" beans, like black beans or pinto beans. I'm sure he offered to share his beans with Hick.

It looks like Hick probably got a lunch special, and The Pony a full dinner. After all, Hick was going to bar bingo, where he would eat again, and this was likely The Pony's meal for the day.

Anyhoo... I think they both enjoyed their meal. And while driving The Pony home, Hick got another treat, which you'll find out about tomorrow.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Hick Is His Own Technology-Savvy Mouse

Hick talked about his electric company woes at bingo on Wednesday night. No, he didn't win a prize, but he got a phone number for the electric company from one of his buddies who works for them. Like I've mentioned before, it's hard to find a trade or field where Hick doesn't have a contact.

Hick called on Thursday, and the recording while he was waiting for a person said that "A third party has been requesting a fee to pay a bill or establish service. We never ask for immediate payment. If this has happened to you, please report the number to your local police department." When Hick got a real person, he mentioned that had happened to him. The gal said that they just got that information from their corporate office yesterday, so had put the notice on their recording.

Hick put in an order to start service at the beauty shop building. We got an email about it. Hick has to talk to them more on Friday, after they do some research about that building's usage as a business. Which should show that it has not had electricity for over eight years (used to be my mom's beauty shop, and it had been closed for a couple years before she died in 2015). Anyhoo... that should straighten out the deposit needed for a business.

"How did you get that number you called in India?"

"I did a Google search for "How do you start electric service?" at [our electric company], and that's the first result that came up. I called the number, and it switched me to the call center in India."

"People pay Google to have their info come up. You should have asked me for the number off the bill."

"I figured something wasn't right. It usually starts out asking for your account number, and it didn't. Then the person wanted my social security number, and I told them they already had that, and I wasn't giving it over the phone. I did give them the last 4 numbers, though. I hope that's not a problem. And I definitely wasn't giving them a credit card number."

"Imagine how many people fall for that. I wonder how long it's been going on."

"I don't know. That lady said they just found out. Probably from customers calling to complain. So who knows. Oh, and get this! My buddy said one of their trucks pulled up at his house last week, saying they were there to inspect his solar panels. He told them too bad, because he has never had solar panels!"

"Why would they inspect them anyway?"

"Because they buy the extra electricity from them. But obviously it was a scam, because he doesn't have solar panels. Somebody must have set it up on his account or something. He said they were the real workers, and they had an order to inspect the solar panels. That he doesn't have."

Such a tangled web someone has woven, while practicing to deceive.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Hick and The Amazing Technology-Savvy Dream Mouse

Hick has the house part of the Double Hovel done, move-in ready, and on the unofficial market. He started doing a little work on the beauty shop building on Wednesday. He plans to sell it pretty much AS IS, but is tearing out the rotted wooden floor. Depends on the cost to do more to it. Hick is weighing our options. We've already had a few lookers, two of which didn't realize the beauty shop building came with the house.

Anyhoo... Hick tried to call the electric company to have the power turned on in the beauty shop, so he can have lights, and use his power tools. He had a difficult time with this task.

"We need to go online and see if we can set up service through our account."

Heh, heh. WE indeed! What Hick really meant was that I should do that task. I wanted to ask what he meant by WE. "Do you have a mouse in your pocket?"

I don't mind attempting this task, but I am most often met with the roadblock of "Your name is not on the account, so you are not authorized to make changes." I don't want to set up a new account in my name, because we already have 4 accounts with the electric company, which somehow have three different versions of our name. I blame Hick for that, but you never know how competent the employees are with doing what Hick requests. Our home account has both our names on it, as does the BARn. Hick's SUS2 (Storage Unit Store 2) had both our names, but with mine spelled wrong. Hick tried to correct the spelling, and they just took my name off. The flip house has only Hick's name. Yet all 4 bills come to our home address.

Anyhoo... Here's Hick's tale of woe.

"I called to have the electric turned on at the beauty shop building. I got a call center in INDIA! They've never done that before. I told the guy I wanted to start service, and he said I had to pay a $500 deposit. I told him I wasn't paying no deposit! I didn't have to do it on any other of the accounts. So let me talk to a supervisor.

The supervisor said I had to pay it because it was a business. I told him it was a vacant building I was tearing out. That it hadn't been a business for over 10 years. Then he said it would just be a $180 deposit. I told him no. That I have four accounts in good standing, nothing owed, no late payments.

The supervisor said he couldn't see that I had any accounts. I told him that's funny, we both get emails at different email accounts of what we've used for the month, and notices when service is out. Then he said he found our accounts, and that he could turn it on for $100, since I was a senior citizen. All he needed was my credit card number.

I told him I wasn't givin' no credit card information over the phone to India, and that he could just put it on my first bill. He said he couldn't do that, he had to have a credit card number. So I hung up. Something didn't seem right, with him reducing the amount of the deposit, and demanding my credit card. So we should go online and see if we can to it that way. 

I'll try one more time to call tomorrow, and see if I get someone that makes more sense."

This is not some rinky-dink local electric company. It's a major company that operates in Missouri and Illinois. I can understand wanting a deposit for a new account, for somebody who's never had service with them. Hick DID have to pay a fee to establish service at his SUS2, because there had never been electricity at that address. But it came on the first bill. Nothing needed up front.

Unless this is a new policy they've started in the past four months, it doesn't align with how we've done business with them in the past. Surely there's a way to do it without using a credit card. Especially since people can pay their electric bill at several designated businesses in town, using cash, check, or money orders.

Kudos to Hick for not giving out his credit card number. This is something that needs more investigation.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Hick Is the New Spider On LSD

Remember back in the 1970s, the picture of a normal spider web, and the picture of a web made by a spider on LSD? Not sure how they gave the spider LSD, but that misshapen web image is still with me. I was reminded of it on Tuesday, when helpful helpmate Hick put away the bananas.

Let the record show that I appreciate Hick taking time out of his busy BARn schedule to come carry in groceries for me. I suppose I pretty much appreciate Hick trying to put things away, even if I have to rearrange those items later, after I find what he's done with them. Seems to me that Hick's true motive is to see what goodies I've brought home. Joke's on him, because there were items meant for The Pony, which he will be delivering on Wednesday.

Anyhoo... I had two bunches of bananas. One for immediate eating, and one for eating later after they'd ripened. Hick tore them asunder. Here's how he placed them in the banana bowl:

What kind of psycho does THAT??? Look how Hick ripped them stem from stem, and tossed them all willy-nilly into the bowl. The only thing he got right was putting the mostly-green bananas in the back, and the mostly-yellow bananas in the front.

When I put them away, I take a bit more care with the arrangement:

I line them up in the order they should be eaten. Ripest first. We each have a banana every morning. No need to fish around in the bowl. Your banana is right there in the front, ready for taking.

Hick doesn't even have the excuse of LSD, or being part of an experiment.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Depth of Ice

I gave The Pony a wakeup call at 6:00 on Monday. The forecast was freezing rain that started at 4:00 a.m., continuing through noon. The Pony was already up, putting in a load of laundry. We chatted for a while, with me turning it into more of a pep talk. Hick had already cautioned The Pony to lift his windshield wiper blades overnight, so as not to burn up the motor if they froze to the windshield.

Of course I relayed my worry to The Pony. Sitting on my comfy short couch under a blanket, advising him how to do his job.

"Take it slow. Be careful on the sidewalks. I'm sure those people aren't out spreading salt."

"I wear the cleats they give us. I feel really bad sometimes, when I go up on a wood porch, and I feel them grabbing at the wood."

"Still, better than risking a fall. I worried all last week that you might fall and hit your head and--"

"Be eaten by dogs?"

"No! Well, that too. But mainly that you could freeze to death while unconscious."

"Yeah. Wearing cleats is easier than dealing with Worker's Comp."

"Uh huh. I'm pretty sure Delores in Kansas City is not feeling particularly efficient these days."

"Oh, just to give you a look at what you should have been worrying about this past week, I'm going to send you two pictures."

"That's what I've been dealing with on my route all week."

"Yikes! Do you have to walk on that?"

"A little. But here's the other view."

"I have to drive over it. I just get my speed to what I think is best, then keep my foot off the gas and brake, and my fingers off the steering wheel, hoping my Metris will just roll over it without skidding or sliding. So far, it has."

Yeah. That didn't increase my anxiety at all...

Anyhoo... The Pony ended up walking to work, rather than driving. The temperature was 28 at the time. Not sure of the wind chill, but better than it has been for a week.

"Made it in with a couple falls. Mail didn't actually make it here, so it's just packages today. Gonna do mine, maybe a few more when I see how it is."

"Be careful!"

"I will be! Got my cleats. Not rushing. Over 30 call-outs today."

By 10:30, The Pony reported that temps had risen above freezing, and the glaze of ice should start melting soon. I thought that news might make me stop worrying, but it didn't!

Monday, January 22, 2024

Two Crises, Narrowly Avoided

Val is living on borrowed time! She could have perished, twice, in the last couple of days! Yes, I have a tendency to wax overly-dramatic. But this is serious. I could have died!

Friday, I came out of the Gas Station Chicken Store and walked to my rightful parking space, the handicapped spot. I clicked T-Hoe's clicker to unlock the door. Pulled on that flip-up door handle, and was almost catapulted backward onto the blacktop pavement! You know how it is. You brace yourself for the motion, pulling open the door. But my hand slipped off the door handle as I pulled on it. That sent me rocking onto my heels. Heels which do not react in a timely manner. Heels stuck on the pavement, unable to take a step back and regain balance. 

I thought I was a goner! Falling back, lying on the pavement in the 18-degree weather, with the below-zero wind chill. Just lying there, my body heat dissipating into the blacktop, unable to right myself, while an occasional customer might not notice, nor want to get involved. And even if they DID want to help, it would have taken a team of paramedics to right my ample rumpus. Who knows the response time on such a frigid day.

Thankfully, I threw myself forward with a hand on T-Hoe, and didn't topple backwards. I tried again, got the door open, and hauled myself inside. My heart was pounding, thinking about what could have happened.

But wait! The Universe was obviously set on killing off Val this week. Because the very next day, I almost froze to death before leaving home. You know how you get your routine? Same thing every day. I grab my purse off the kitchen table. Pick up my banana peel from breakfast/lunch. Loop my metal water bottle over my right index finger. Hold the Jack and Scarlett treats of stale bread with my finger and thumb while tossing the banana peel off the back porch with my left hand.

Well. My routine was disrupted by the extreme cold, and the additional step of picking up my gloves. I had stuffed them down my shirt, so my body heat would warm them on my way to the garage. I'd turned the little button on the doorknob that locks the door. I started out, but something felt wrong. My right arm was not heavy enough.

OH! My purse was not on it! I was thisclose to slamming the door, which would have been locked. And my purse would have still been inside on the kitchen table, holding my keys, and my cell phone. I'd have been locked out in the teenish temperatures, no way to call Hick, no way to warm myself while waiting for a rescue. I suppose I would have needed to walk "next door" and see if our neighbor was home to call Hick. That would have taken about 20 minutes, in the frigid temperatures. Thank goodness I notice my missing purse before closing that door!

This is no temperature for old women.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Twizzlers Are the New Gloves

Friday, Hick went to Walmart to buy his soda. It's cheaper there than at the store, and he also needed dog food. And apparently, a package of Oreos that never crossed our threshold. When I inquired, and asked if he understood the significance of diet in living with diabetes, Hick exclaimed and proclaimed, "I share them with customers and my buddies at the locker, Val!" Uh huh. Wouldn't most of you accept a random Oreo from a guy running a flea market stand?

Anyhoo, Hick had asked if I wanted anything from Walmart. Since I had not yet found a candy aisle at 10Box, I told him to get some Twizzlers. You know, the red "licorice" that some hillbillies like us prefer over "Red Vines," which I've never seen in this area.

Of course that meant I would discover the candy aisle that very day at 10Box, though I had been looking for it since last October. I picked up a package of Twizzlers, in case Hick was unable to find them at Walmart. 

I'm sure you have already figured out what happened. Hick came through the kitchen door as I was scratching my first lottery ticket. Yes, I had stopped when I heard him on the porch. I'm not letting his bad luck interfere with my potential winnings!

Hick set down four 6-packs of soda, then removed a pack of Twizzlers from a plastic bag, and set it right in front of me, in the space I use for scratching scratchers. What's the deal with you guys? Why must you fill any open space with your "gifts?" Just like a cat leaving a dead mouse in front of the door. Hick has ALWAYS done that. Like putting his 6-pack of soda in the space I cleared on the top shelf of FRIG II, for the big pot of soup or chili or beans.

Anyhoo, Hick had outdone himself this time. Just like thinking the giant pair of gloves he found in the hall closet were obviously mine, Hick figured I wanted a giant package of Twizzlers.

I had bought the standard pack of Twizzlers. A 1 lb package. But Hick had to double my efforts, and provide a 2 lb bag of Twizzlers! The candies themselves are the exact same size, but Hick's package (heh, heh) is longer and wider. Let the record show that I eat a single Twizzler after supper. And that if I want some as a treat, I take three to consume at the short couch while watching TV. These Twizzlers will last a while. Unless Hick plans to have some.

I'm not complaining about the big bag. Just the idea that Hick believed I needed EXTRA Twizzlers. It's always better to have too may Twizzlers than too few!

Saturday, January 20, 2024

What Better Way To Spend an 11-Degree Friday Night

Nowhere to go, nothing to do but sit inside and stay warm when the temperature outside is 11 degrees. The staying warm part was helped along by our supper of giant burritos.

Though Hick folds his in a big floppy square that cracks and falls apart, I put mine on a piece of foil, and build it to roll into a tube, with just the bottom folded over. There's hamburger cooked with a packet of taco seasoning, shredded cheddar, refried beans, a dash of Frank's Original RedHot Sauce, diced onions, shredded lettuce, sour cream, and salsa. I actually have more salsa on the side, to spoon on before a bite. Too much inside makes the bottom of my burrito soggy.

There it is, all rolled up with somewhere to go. My belly! I just tear off rings of foil as I eat my way to the end.

Of course I had my HIPPIE for entertainment purposes. Oh, and let's not forget my scratchers. Those $10 tickets just love me.

I had the CASH symbol, which means you win all the prizes, for a total of $100. I also had two more of these tickets. One of them won $25, and the other won $20. So a good night indeed for the scratcher allowance.  

Friday, January 19, 2024

Hick's Eyes Are Bigger Than My Hands

First Hick told me that my gloves were on the arm of the long couch. Yet when I looked, there were no gloves, just a zippered pouch holding splicing thingies for computer wires. 

Next, Hick told me that my gloves were in the hall closet with the towels and toilet paper. Upon checking that location, I did indeed find some gloves. They were not MY gloves!

Let the record show that I have normal hands. They are nowhere near as ample as my rumpus. That's my new glove on the left. The behemoth on the right is a glove from the hall closet.

Those are not Hick's gloves, either. Though his fingers are thicker, their length, and his palm size, are about the same as mine. These might have been Genius's gloves from way back. Genius has long fingers, though not a discernable palm! I used to say he had arm-fingers. His fingers went directly into his forearm. No palm or wrist. Like an alien! The Pony does not have hands that large, but his fingers are longer than mine and Hick's.

Anyhoo... I'm glad I bought myself some $6 gloves. The temp will be dropping into single digits, and -20 windchills again on Friday and Saturday. I am prepared! 

At least I have a very-much-too-large spare, in case I lose my new gloves.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Val Thesamaritan

Val is not just Thevictorian! 

[For those not in-the-know, Val got her name from a 9th grade student who always thought "valedictorian" was actually spelled: "Val, the victorian." Because it was a victory to be top of the class.]

Val is also Thesamaritan. Not necessary a GOOD SAMARITAN. But a Good-Enough Samaritan. I am a compassionate person who unselfishly helps MYSELF!

Coming out of the Gas Station Chicken Store on Wednesday, I was startled to see a very dangerous item on the pavement about two feet from T-Hoe's left rear tire. I picked it up and put it in my pocket. Wouldn't want anybody to drive over it, and get it imbedded in their MY tire!

There it is on my kitchen counter, with a random quarter to show the size. I thought it was a Phillips head screwdriver bit. Au contraire! Hick picked it up, and said it was a star drill bit with five points. That's until he said it was a Torx bit with six points. Hick really does know his tools. Really. But he sometimes calls them something else. 

Anyhoo... Hick said, "I need that!"

So here I am, thinking I provided Hick with some rare and expensive tool. Until I looked online and saw that you can get a whole 14-piece set of these for under $7. This one happens to be a number 15. I guess they come in different sizes. Oh, and Hick says he already has one, but the points wear down, so it's always good to have another one.

Whatever. As long as that thing is not waiting for me to pull into the handicap space at the Gas Station Chicken Store, run over it with T-Hoe's front tire, just right for it to flip up and impale itself in T-Hoe's rear tire.

Val's your gal. Saving the world (but mostly herself) from unfortunate impalations.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Warm Hands, Cold Heart

With the single-digit temperatures and below-zero wind chill, I have kept myself at home since Saturday. Since the forecast Tuesday called for a high of 18, I decided it was safe to venture out again. Those scratchers aren't going to buy themselves! We were also running low on bananas, so a trip to 10Box was on the agenda.

I told Hick on Monday night that I regretted giving The Pony both pairs of cheap gloves I had bought there on Saturday. I figured he could cut the fingertips off for ease in sorting through his letter deliveries. The Pony is always losing gloves. I suppose it's genetic. I can never find mine once winter rolls around again. I told Hick I hoped 10Box was not out of gloves.

"Your gloves are right there! At the end of the couch. On the arm, under them pillows."

Huh. There indeed seemed to be a pair of gloves on the far end of the long couch. I made mental note. When getting ready to leave for town on Tuesday, I went to pick up my gloves. So much for Hick's eyesight! It was not a pair of gloves at all. It was a zippered case with ends for splicing computer wires. A set I had ordered for Hick a while back, when he was going to fix something in my dark basement lair, but decided on getting the whole box contraption instead.

Off I went to town, driving T-Hoe with my thumbs, fanning my hands out like butterfly wings from the steering wheel, to catch the toasty air from the heater set at 80 degrees. At the store, the glove display where I got The Pony's knit gloves for under $2 per pair was empty. But on an end cap at the paper plate aisle, I found myself some gloves!

Leather palms, people! The price was $6.21, and with the 10 percent added at the register, my gloves were $6.83. I could have gone with a Goretex version, but they were more bulky, and would have set me back another couple of bucks. I am looking forward to warm hands on my next trip to town!

Hick was home to help carry in the bags, and unpacked my gloves. 

"You HAVE gloves! I seen them in the hall closet by the towels, when I got out some toilet paper."

"Uh huh. You also told me that my gloves were on the arm of the couch!"

"They ARE!"

"Go look. Then tell me."

"I can see them from here, but I'll look. Huh. That's The Pony's GameBoy games."

"No. Open up the case."

"I don't have to. I know it's the games."

"You're RIGHT THERE! It's not games. It's that case of wire end thingies that you got to fix my computer in the basement."

"Huh. That IS wire ends. Genius must have ordered them for something."

Never mind that Genius hasn't lived here since 2013. I have not yet gone to look for my "gloves" in the hall closet. I'm not all that confident in Hick's report of my glove sighting. Also, I begrudge him the two rolls of toilet paper that he stole for the flip house.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

A Rare Oversight By Val

I have not intentionally been holding out on you. I was a victim of circumstance. A very feverish victim, so I am not taking the fall for keeping you in the dark about one of Hick's Senior Center bingo wins!

It was on December 26. Seriously! What kind of psycho goes to eat at the Senior Center on the day after Christmas??? Hick! That's the kind of psycho! Perfectly delicious leftovers at home, but no, he had to rush out for the food of the elderlies. I don't even remember what they had that day for their meal. Hick was more braggy about his "price."

Yes, Hick sent me the picture in a timely text. But that was the day we were getting ready for our yearly casino excursion with Genius, and worrying about The Pony getting off work on time. I figured I could share Hick's price the next day. Except I came down with a cold and then fever, and didn't feel very industrious about sharing Hick's exploits.

Anyhoo... here is probably the best price ever that Hick has won at Senior Center bingo:

Not the fluffy slipper-socks. The GAS TRUCK MODEL! Hick loves old cars and trucks. He also likes models. So this was like winning the grand prize at bar bingo for him.

I saw the slipper-socks a few days ago, and sent them via Hick to The Pony. Hick had offered them to me, but I didn't think they'd fit over or inside my favorite house footwear, my CROCS. Besides, we have mostly carpet in our house, and The Pony has hardwood with throw rugs... I figured he might make better use of them. They have little non-skid thingies on the sole.

I asked Hick just now where his gas truck model is, and he said, "Out in my truck."

"What do you have, a rolling collection of prices?"

"Yeah. I have a lot of stuff in the back of my truck."

Meaning the back SEAT of SilverRedO, not the truck bed itself. He's tempting fate. You never know when a ne'er-do-well with a fondness for vintage vehicle models might try a smash-and-grab!

Monday, January 15, 2024

What Once Was Lost Now Has Found Its Way Back

You may recall that for many years we had some odd occurrences in our home. Seeing things that shouldn't be there, hearing things that shouldn't be heard, and objects flinging themselves all willy-nilly at random intervals.

After The Pony moved to town, those happenings gradually stopped happening. The Pony said such things occurred in his house. As they had when he was living in a college apartment. I figured whatever it was liked The Pony better, and chose to abandon us. I was fine with that!

Last week, we had a resurgence of odd occurrences.

One night, after Hick had been in bed for about an hour, I heard a thump. I was sitting at the kitchen table. The thump was in the living room area. There's nothing in there to thump. I thought maybe it was from our bedroom. What if Hick had gotten his feet tangled in the sheets, and fell out of bed while trying to get up??? 

I went to look. Nothing was out of place in the living room. I opened the bedroom door, and Hick was in bed, snoozing peacefully, hooked up to his breather. I went back to look on the front porch, but the dogs were not around. I stopped short of descending into the basement. If something was down there, it could just have a party. I was not interfering.

A couple days later, it was mid-morning. I was in the kitchen washing dishes at 9:30. I heard something fall in the living room. There's really nothing in there that could fall. I went to look, and nothing was out of place. I opened the front door. No dogs. None of Hick's precious assorted figurines were toppled over. Everything was where it always was. 

Saturday, at 10:30 a.m., I was in the laundry room off the kitchen. I had just put in a load of towels from the clothes basket in there. As I was putting the Tide box back up on the shelf, I heard a crash in the living room. I went to the living room, again expecting to find nothing. But this time, I found SOMETHING!

That's a book that was sitting on top of the bookcase, with my very old glasses and case, and a mechanical pencil, four bandaids, an emery board, a toothpick, and three old casino player cards from Oklahoma casinos.

I came across the linoleum of the kitchen floor and saw it. Then I stepped over to get my phone off the table between Hick's recliner and the short couch, for a pic to show it happened. This was my view from behind the short couch. That book was arranged just like that, so I could read the title! "It's Been a Hell of a Ride." It's a book written by a guy Hick knows. Not exactly a best-seller.

Of course I immediately sent that picture to The Pony.

"I was in the laundry room and heard a crash! [picture] Fell off the bookcase. Or was flung!"

"That specific book falling sounds ominous!"

"I agree!"

"As I told you my stuff would get flung off the tub in your bathroom! Angry ghost!"

"That stuff has been sitting there a couple of years. It was on the two boxes of headlamps that Dad got for you when you were working late nights. They are not moved."

I haven't shown Hick the picture yet. I'm sure he will have some logical explanation that doesn't hold water. 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

If At Twenty-First You Don't Succeed, Fry, Fry, Fry Again

I don't know exactly how many times Hick has gone to play bingo at the sports bar on Wednesday night, but he's been going every week for months now. And still hasn't won a prize. Or PRICE, as he calls it. They don't just have one grand prize every week. They have about 7-8 prizes throughout the night. Of course, there are over 200 people playing. And they're not the elderlies that Hick beats at Senior Center bingo. So Hick is content with not-winning.

Hick really goes there for the companionship with some of his Senior Center worker cronies. That's what he says, but I suspect it has something to do with the bar food. Last week, he ordered TWO dishes.

Hick started with the onion strings. I guess those we had at the catfish restaurant a couple weeks ago made him want to try this version.

Then Hick ordered his main course, chicken strips with fries.

No, your eyes are not blurry. It's the picture out of focus. Maybe Hick had the jimmy-hands, or maybe Hick had one too many adult beverages at this point. Anyhoo... here's the exact text I got with the pictures:

"Oinion straps and chicken straps 40 inch TV for prize"

You know for sure something is up when Hick actually uses the word PRIZE.

Anyhoo... I don't begrudge Hick a night out, gorging on three fried foods, with hopes of winning something.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

In His Own Subtle Way, Hick Unspokenly Declares, "Those are NACHO chips!"

Remember several days ago, when Hick won some Christmas-colored nacho chips at Senior Center bingo? We used them on Friday night to make super nachos. Well. I am the one who made them. Hick just provided the chips.

Nom-nom! That's mine, on a small paper plate. Hick had the regular size paper plate. You can't see the nacho chips here, but they are on the bottom of the plate. We don't like them to get soggy, so just put one layer, then have a bowl of chips on the side for dipping. No liquid cheese for us. 

nacho chips
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
more shredded cheese
warmed-up white meat chicken chunks
sour cream
black olives

Hick leaves off the olives. I left out the onion, because I had already spent 45 minutes standing at the cutting block making Hick's, then mine.

I called Hick to get his plate as I was dabbing on the sour cream, and to make his own bowl of side chips. When I turned to get the bag to start my own super nacho plate, it was 1/3 full. AND most of the full-size chips were gone. After lining my plate with the best ones, I had the crumbles left for myself.

No, the chip bowl is not bigger than my nacho plate! Just the perspective. The nacho chips were surprisingly good. Crunchy and salty, not due to expire until mid-February. Heh, heh! They're not gonna make it that long. Hick was done eating when I just got started. He brought back a few nacho chips in his bowl, so I had some bigger ones, and poured my crumbs into a baggie for a future snack.

It was quite a hearty meal. Glad I don't eat lunch. I had plenty of room, and only a few soggy chips with lettuce left to throw away.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Hick Continues to Rack Up Bingo "Prices"

No trifecta this time at Senior Center bingo, but Hick at least won the bifecta!

That's some sugar-free fake Jello, and Passion Fruit Smoothie Shampoo. Neither item has made an appearance inside our house. Maybe Hick has a secret family over at the Double Hovel flip house, and shampoos there with his new price. Perhaps they also like sugar-free fake Jello. 

I think these might be two of the best prices Hick has won there. Aside from the fleece blanket. I wouldn't know about the Godiva chocolates, since I didn't have a chance to sample one. These two are nicely color-coordinated, even though they don't actually go together. 

I will let each of you apply your own version of irony to this win. Both items qualify...

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Even Steven Provides a Welcome Coincidence for Val

Remember how I saved a Snickerdoodle since Christmas Day, until I regained my taste after having a cold? And Hick ATE IT without telling me? Well. Even Steven has my back.

Tuesday, I went in 10Box to get a bag of sweet onions and some sour cream for when we make nachos out of Hick's bingo "price" of red and green tortilla chips. The onions were in the middle of the store, straight ahead from the entrance door. The sour cream was in the back right corner of the store. I turned from putting the sour cream in my cart, and wheeled by a table that had SNICKERDOODLES! That can't be just a coincidence. I have not seen Snickerdoodles in that store before. The main display of bakery items like this is in the front of the store, in the opposite corner from the dairy products.

Of course I put them in my cart! I feel like it was destiny.

I told Hick that I bought those Snickerdoodles for ME, but that he could have half of them. Then I changed my mind, and said he could have ONE LESS THAN half of them! You know. To be fair. I haven't tried one yet, but Hick took two of them that night.

Yes. That's how Hick opens a package. He ripped off the label that said the cookies were Snickerdoodles. Then, rather than taking two steps to the left to throw it in the wastebasket that sits under the counter where my dishwasher should go... he stuck it to the top of the package. What kind of psycho does THAT?

Anyhoo... the cookies look pretty good, even though they are plump and not flat.

I sure hope they taste like Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts. I know the texture won't be the same as those Genius cookies I so enjoyed (one of).

These Snickerdoodles will be left on the cutting block. Not on the table next to Hick's recliner.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Logic of The Pony

The Pony had a migraine when he got off work around 6:30 on Monday. He popped some Excedrin, took a hot bath, and asked me to give him a wake-up call at 6:00 a.m. 

The Pony still sounded kind of stuffy the next morning, but his migraine was gone. He was surprisingly chatty, killing time before getting out of bed to take out his trash, and shower for work. During our conversation, I discovered that The Pony is not so detail-oriented in his home life as he must be in his work life.

"Oh, when I'm off tomorrow, remind me to get gas, and go over to Bill-Paying Town to do my errands. I still have 5-6 miles left before I run out. So I put off driving over there when my prescription was ready. Oh, and I need to run by the Urgent Care and pay my bill from when I was there a couple months ago."

"You only have 5-6 miles of gas left??? That's not right! You could run out!"

"Mother. I only drive my car to work. The worst that could happen is that I have to walk home."

"Then how would you get gas in your car? Call Dad for help?"

"Yeah. Hopefully he has a gas can."

"Stop doing that! Keep your tank half full! That's what I do. And why are you driving over there to pay Urgent Care?"

"They ran my insurance, and then sent me a bill for what's left. But I don't have an envelope. So I figured it's just as easy to drive over there and pay it."

I'm really not clear on the concept of IRONY, but I think maybe a mailman not having an envelope might qualify.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

There Was No Snickering in Backroads

When Genius came home for Christmas, he brought homemade treats. The Pony and Hick were thrilled for the 9 x 11 pan of Rice Krispy Treats, made with peanut butter, and topped with a thick layer of hard chocolate. Just like my mom used to make. 

Genius also brought us a tin of Snickerdoodles. He said they didn't turn out like he'd planned. Usually, Snickerdoodles are round and puffy. These were flat. They had assorted shapes. Some oblong, some triangle, a few almost round. Genius said they spread out into each other, and covered the pan while they were cooking.

Anyhoo... those were the most delicious Snickerdoodles ever! I had one on Christmas night. It tasted JUST LIKE A BROWN SUGAR CINNAMON POP TART! The tin was sitting on the table between the short couch and Hick's recliner. I made myself stop at one, because they were about the size of three regular cookies. Then we got busy with the casino the next day, and I got sick with my cold, then lost my smell and taste as I do every time I have a cold. For seven days this time!

Friday, I started getting back my taste and smell. In fact, it was the day I made a big pot of sausage, potatoes, and cabbage. Cooking cabbage never smelled so good! I think the steam from the simmering pot helped my sinuses, counteracting our dry air from the furnace running often.

Anyhoo, I was thrilled to be able to taste my supper. Even more thrilled looking forward to my dessert later while watching TV. I had been saving those Snickerdoodles until I could appreciate them. 

Around 11:30, I sat down on the short couch to watch The Goldbergs. I reached for the cookie tin, almost drooling with anticipation. 


Darn that Hick! He had plenty of other sweets to eat, though he's not supposed to have sugar! He had the rest of the Oreo Cake. The Oreos left over from making three cakes. Four kinds of candy brought to us by my sister the ex-mayor's wife, left over from her Christmas Eve bash. Homemade chocolate-covered cherries given to us by my best old ex-teaching buddy Mabel. Half of the Rice Krispy Treats left by Genius (the other half went home with The Pony). Blueberry pie Hick brought home from the Senior Center. Twizzlers candy that he got at the auction.

But no. Hick had to (secretly) consume the tin of Snickerdoodles gifted to us by Genius. 

Can I get a sad, sad song played on the world's smallest violin?

Monday, January 8, 2024

Somewhere, Some Ticked-Off Elderlies Might Be Holding a Meeting

Hick has been playing bingo at the Senior Center again. He sent me a picture on Friday.

"Won bingo 3 times."

I'm not sure how Hick got four "prices" by winning three bingo games. I don't see a logical combination that might have been two of them being won as a pair. Let's hope that Hick did not strong-arm a prize away from some nodding-off, unsuspecting elderly!

Am I the only one picturing Hick with his arms spread around his loot, glancing wild-eyed around the room, lest a mob armed with plastic forks, pushing tennis-ball-footed walkers, approach and demand he stop playing after a daily win?

Hick has already delved into the Godivas. He tossed the tortilla chips onto a kitchen chair. Not sure where the blanket is, but he's been using the tissues for the cold he came down with on Friday.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Even Steven is Fiddlin' Again, and Val Likes His Tune

Val's life generally exhibits a balance. Almost as if Even Steven is her co-pilot, riding shotgun during the weaving of the rich tapestry that is Val's life. Saturday was no exception.

I was minding my own business, perusing the innernets as I am wont to do every day before I make a trip to town. We had three inches of snow overnight, so I had a picturesque view out my kitchen windows. The strip of snow on the porch rail was occasionally scuffed off by the talons of a large crow that kept landing there. Blobs of the heavy wet snow dropped off the trees, letting their limbs stretch skyward again.


My idyllic morning noon was marred by the loss of an internet connection! At 12:18. I remember it like it was today! Which it WAS, at the time of this typing. I tried a couple of re-starts of HIPPIE, but no internet was forthcoming. I thought a blob of snow might have slipped off something and onto the "eye" part of our little satellite dish that provides our internet signal. I figured maybe, as the day wore on, it would melt, or slip off.

I was disappointed, but drowned my sorrows in a nap. Then town, for scratchers, and to get bananas, and some soup in case Hick wanted it for his newly-developing cold. I figured at worst, Hick could go down to the basement when he got home, and reset the router thingy.

The snow had melted off the roads. My town trip was uneventful. Hick was home when I arrived, and came out to carry in the groceries. My internet was still not working. Hick went to the basement, and got it fixed. As a reward, I made him a hot toddy to sip while lounging in a hot bath in the big triangle tub in the master bathroom.

Then I made Hick's supper, which was leftovers from Friday's big pot of sausage, potatoes, and cabbage, with corn muffins on the side. It was almost two hours later that I got to sit down with my scratchers. Only two winners. One was $10 on a $5 crossword. The other was THIS:

That's a $500 winner on a $10 ticket! The tens have been very good to me of late. I got this one at the Gas Station Chicken store, from my favorite clerk. Here's a view of the top section:

This is the newest of the $10 tickets. It came out the Tuesday I got sick. So for a whole week, I was keeping myself at home, not-buying the new tickets. That probably affected the order of the tickets from what I would normally have bought. Here's the bottom section, a bit closer:

I figured it was going to be pretty good when I uncovered my first line of coin symbols. I was thinking "pretty good" as in around $50-$100. I was thrilled to see that $20 prize under the first coin.

The year is off to a good start!

Saturday, January 6, 2024

The Pony Straps On a Spicy Feedbag

The Pony was never really off his feed during his recent sickness. Only that one evening when he first returned to work, and was exhausted and dehydrated when he got home. Thursday was a better day. The Pony even felt like shopping for supper ingredients, rather than ordering out. I had mentioned that we were having chicken burritos, which gave The Pony an appetite for same.

The Pony likes some spice in his chicken. Not us! I just microwaved some frozen chicken chunks like those The Pony is simmering with flavor.

The Pony always adds black beans. There might also be a rice mixture there. We sometimes have refried beans, but Hick didn't want them this time. Yes, we DID have shredded cheddar, same as The Pony. He and Hick have an odd way of folding their burrito. You can see a completed one behind this one in progress. I just fold over the bottom, roll mine like a tube, and wrap it in foil, which I peel off as I eat it. I don't like the idea of it springing a leak when I bite into it.

That must be the first one, topped with lettuce. We used shredded cabbage that came in a bag as slaw mix, because I like the crunch better than lettuce. We also had a diced onion, sour cream, and salsa on ours. The Pony is not a fan of those ingredients, except maybe the onion, which he might have forgotten.

I have a suspicion that The Pony's chicken burritos were tastier than ours, but Hick declared his two to be delicious.

Friday, January 5, 2024

The Pony Is Back on His Hooves

The Pony got sick the day after Christmas, same as I did. Actually, about five hours before me. His illness was not at all like mine. It was worse! You may recall that poor Pony started feeling unwell about halfway to the casino, and once we were inside.

The Pony attributed his aching legs and arms to his heavy workload just before Christmas. The 12-hour days, delivering packages, skipping his days off to pull some overtime. Then he started to feel dizzy. His arms had the shakes. So we left a little earlier than planned. On the ride home, The Pony's forehead was feverish, according to the thermometer of Val's hand. At least the next day, Wednesday, was The Pony's regular day off.

Poor Pony! He was miserable. While I had merely a head cold that later spiked a fever off and on in the mid-101s, The Pony's temp stayed around 102 for three days. He knows this, because he ordered a thermometer when he had Nyquil and Dayquil delivered. The Pony had a cough so severe and prolonged that it gave him a headache to accompany his body aches. Even bathing in the steaming jetted bathtub did not relieve his aches. Nor make him feel warm. 

At least The Pony's appetite was not affected. He had food delivered. Basically lolled about the house, trying not to hurt, all hopped-up on Nyquil and Dayquil, popping pain-relievers. He called out sick on Thursday and Friday, due to the fever. Contemplated Saturday, but didn't feel up to working, so called in again. Besides, there was the little matter of THAT positive test result on Thursday. Sunday was a regular day off again. Monday was a holiday. 

The Pony had been without fever for three days, and decided to try working on Tuesday. The day was not off to a good start when he vomited in the shower. Just clear snot, but a bit discouraging. The Pony walked to work, not just due to dizziness, but to see if he would feel like walking his route. He asked for a route closer to the office, which was still walking loops, but had sections where he could take a bit of a rest. Nope. He was needed on his regular route over in Backroads.

Poor Pony. He sent me a picture of himself looking absolutely miserable. At first I thought he had a black eye, but it was just the lighting and his lack of good sleep. The Pony soldiered through. He sent a picture mid-afternoon of another stumbling block. A block where he might actually have stumbled!

There's some road construction in part of "downtown" where The Pony delivers. This is one occasion where I told him a mask outside might actually be of benefit! 

Poor Pony. He had been told that relief would be sent to him at 4:00, so he could start back toward the office. Yet at 4:17 the help had not arrived. 

Still managing to clock out around 5:00 as usual, The Pony said he did not feel well at all. That his cough was bothering him. I figured he had not eaten all day, nor had enough to drink, and told him to make sure to have a good supper. The Pony said he was drinking water at the moment, but that the thought of food made him nauseous. 

At least the next day was Wednesday, his day off! Hick went by to pick up The Pony's house payment, and give him the new car insurance cards. He had instructions to pick up anything The Pony might need, whether it be groceries, or a fast food lunch. The Pony said he didn't need anything. He ordered himself some pizza and breadsticks. Hick said The Pony came outside, and they walked around looking for where A SQUIRREL might be getting into his attic again. Said The Pony looked like he was getting better.

On Thursday, The Pony said he was feeling pretty good, back at work, though he got breathless if he tried to walk too fast. I think he's gonna make it!