Thursday, February 29, 2024

Faux Springtime, When a Middle-Aged Weirdo's Fancy Heavily Turns to Thoughts of Val

The weirdos have been coming out of the woodwork lately to swarm our gal Val. Well. They have been coming out of the casino, and the parking lots. Maybe it's the unseasonably warm weather of late. Faux springtime, when a middle-aged weirdo's fancy heavily turns to thoughts of Val. Or perhaps a pheromone Val is exuding unbeknownst to her. 

First it was the guy in the casino who thought it was his business to sit next to me, put a twenty in the machine, and push the button every minute or so, while watching MY slot play, and commenting on what I was winning. The second was a more indirect weirdo, whose encounter will be discussed in the future. The third happened Tuesday, at 10Box. That is our tale for today.

All the handicap spaces were taken! I did not do a close inspection of license plates, nor placards. I was in a bit of a hurry to get home and enjoy my Hickless time while he was at Tuesday night bingo, from whence he returns 90 minutes earlier than from his previous Wednesday night bingo.

Anyhoo, I was lucky enough to find open the far left parking space in front of the store. I like this one, because I don't have to walk across the driving lane, and the spaces are offset so nobody can block T-Hoe's door while I'm inside. I was only there for bananas, trash bags, and baby dill pickles.

As I parked, I saw a guy with a bicycle sitting on the employee smokers' bench. He was probably mid-40s, average size, average haircut, wearing khaki shorts and a tank top. Temps were in the upper 70s. He has been there before, but not for several months. Here's a picture I got later, without the weirdo. More on that in a bit.

I got out, clicked T-Hoe's doors locked, and grabbed a cart that had been left there at the corner of the store and the propane tank lock box. Weirdo gave me a reverse head nod, and said, "What's up?"

I nodded back, and said, "Hey." Just a generic acknowledgement. 

"I'm here every day if you want to go for a ride."

EWWW! That is just inappropriate! Seriously! I imagine you have a fairly accurate image of what Val looks like. It is definitely not a physique which one might associate with going for a bike ride on somebody's handlebars!!!

I ignored that invitation, and cart/walked myself in and did my business. When I came out, I didn't see Weirdo as I put my meager purchases in T-Hoe's rear and pushed the cart back up against the propane tank holder. Once in the driver's seat, getting ready to write down my receipt total, I saw Weirdo come walking across in front of those stacked bags, to sit down again.


I wanted to get a picture, but not with Weirdo watching me. And I did NOT want to sit there to write down my receipt total. I started T-Hoe. With that, Weirdo got up and walked toward me (!) but was actually turning the corner to go toward the store entrance. The minute his back was turned, I reached for my phone.

BUT WAIT! Weirdo turned back around! I put it down. He was motioning to me! Looked back and forth at the driving lane, and gave a grand gesture for me to back out. What in the actual Not-Heaven? From that end parking space, it is easy for me to see what's coming. I stubbornly waited. Just because. Weirdo turned around and walked to the store double-doors. I got my pictures, then backed out and drove up to the other end of the lot to write down my receipt and on my scratchers.

If any of you elderly, lame, ample-rumpused ladies would like a bicycle ride, your chariot awaits. The driver might be inside, sprucing up in the bathroom sink.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

It Was a Nice Run While It Lasted

Remember back when I had that $1000 scratcher winner? It was the day before we went to the casino. So I didn't expect to win there. Usually, I'm either lucky with the scratchers, or lucky at the casino. Val's gambling life is a balance of ups and downs. But not this time!

Every slot machine I played was generous! Not spitting out giant jackpots like the time several years ago when I won $8,600. But enough to show that it was a bonus, and put me ahead. Of course that doesn't mean I pocketed all the winnings. I was there to play, by cracky!

I played a Wonder 4 Boost slot, and it gave me a SuperFree bonus that means it was four screens, not one. Then it gave me the BOOST while in that bonus. Which means it switched to eight screens. That was fun and profitable. I didn't get a picture while it was playing those eight screens, because a weirdo had sat down by me, and was doing a play-by-play on my spins.  

I cashed out a nice addition to my wins ticket, and went to my favorite, the Wonder 4 Tall Fortunes. My old stand-by, Indian Dreaming, was not paying at all. So I switched to the Buffalo Gold game on it. Still tight. So I swiped in my other game, Miss Kitty. That's where the action was! I hit the TOWER bonus!

I was down to $5.86 when I hit that bonus. Only two spins left. Then I won $155.88. That darn WIN symbol covered up the screen that had so many kitties on it. Anyhoo... it was fun to play that bonus. Then I found a penny leaned against the bottom of that slot when I moved around the corner to the left to play a game The Pony had waiting for me.

Of course we had lunch. Nothing special on the menu. We all had a burger with fries. I didn't get a picture of Hick's. He was too busy eating.

That's The Pony's burger and fries. He had cheese which I think was provolone, and lettuce and onions. I don't like lettuce on a burger. I think it's tasteless and takes away from the burger flavor.

I take my burger straight! Without the cheese. Only onions and pickles for me. I had to set my burger out of the cardboard dish, to allow room for ketchup for my fries. As you can see, these are not pre-pressed and frozen patties. Somebody actually took a handful of ground beef and plopped it on the grill.

For once I did not get shorted on the fries. The Pony was finished before I was, and I gave him the pointy-ended fries. I like the square ones better.

Anyhoo... we all had a good time, and there was only that one weirdo who could not resist my magnet. I left with $200 added to my casino bankroll. The Pony was $40 ahead. And poor Hick lost 70 percent of his gambling stake.

Oh, and when we stopped on the way home for Hick to use the bathroom and get a soda, I gave The Pony money to get us some scratchers out of the machine at that truck stop. The Pony didn't win anything, but I had a $50 winner on the ticket I told him to get me.

This has been one of my longer winning streaks!

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

A Last Gasp For the Future Pennyillionaire Fortune

Since I ceased my quest to become a Future Pennyillionaire at the close of 2023, I only saw THREE pennies between January 1 and February 12. That's six weeks, people! And it was not that I wasn't observant. I'll never stop noticing coins The Universe plops into my path. Imagine if I had been actively collecting for my Future Pennyillionaire Fortune, and only harvested three pennies in six weeks! I think I got out at the right time. However...

The Pony joined us for a casino trip on February 13th. It was a little celebration for our February birthdays, falling after mine and before The Pony's. Tomorrow I'll share a bit more of the casino trip. Right now I want to reveal a different experience.


I never expect to find coins at the casino. Everything is paper these days. Even the "penny slots," heh, heh. You feed paper money or paper tickets of your winnings into a slot in the slot machines. No coins, no tokens. All paper. The only coins in a casino are in the restaurants or bars, or perhaps dispensed from the cash-out machine. This casino still does that. The ones in Oklahoma, or the other casino we sometimes go to in the city, do not give change back. Just a ticket, or some will ask if you want to donate it to whatever charity they're promoting.

Anyhoo... it's like the coins were waiting for me this day. As if they knew where I was going to walk or play!

The first was a nickel. I had The Pony snap a picture, because I had my hands full of my cane and a FREE soda.

Next was a penny, up against the cabinet of a Miss Kitty slot I had been playing and hit a jackpot. I suppose it may have given me luck before its discovery! The Pony had called me around beside it to play a goldfish slot. You can see my foot on its footrest. The Pony took the picture and picked up my penny. We marveled that I'd found TWO coins when I had barely seen any for six weeks.

But wait! The Pony and I separated, and at my next slot I saw another penny! Not a very good picture. The Pony was not where I could persuade him to take the photo for me. Looks like somebody needs to vacuum this area! My attention was drawn to that piece of foil that I thought was a dime, but then I saw the penny.

Incredible as it may seem, there was yet ANOTHER coin in my future. On my way back from the bathroom, I spied this nickel along the main walkway. 

That's FOUR coins in a couple of hours. Way better than three in six weeks!

Let the record show that none of these coins were found near a restaurant or bar, and were on the other side of the casino from the money-cashing machine.

These coins DID seem to be symbols of good luck for two of the three of us...

Monday, February 26, 2024

Travels With My Placard: The Squatter

Should there be a time limit on handicap parking spaces? I think so!

Last week, the same car was in my rightful handicap parking space at the Gas Station Chicken Store. Not every day, but at least four out of the seven. As you might presume, Val was NOT pleased with that usurpation. 

I had come in from the alley, after visiting the Backroads Casey's. So I just parked in the space by the air hose. Letting my handicap placard fly, of course.

On the second day, the culprit was walking back to her car as I parked T-Hoe. Gray hair. No obvious infirmity. Since she was old, I gave her a pass. Not all elderly-abledness is observable. Perhaps she had a heart issue, or COPD. It's not like those able-bodied 20-somethings parking there to put ice in their cooler.

Anyhoo... on the fourth day it happened, The Usurper must have noticed the look of distain on my face as I put T-Hoe in PARK. She suddenly slapped her own handicap placard onto her mirror. Well! Why didn't you say so??? She just got there first, and had a right to that space. However...

I once again slid out of T-Hoe, and limped my way past The Usurper's car and into the store. She was still parked in that spot when I came out, and when I left. I made a trip to the drive-thru mailbox, and then to the Liquor Store across the street. 

The Usurper WAS STILL PARKED IN MY RIGHTFUL SPACE when I left the Liquor Store! She must have been there 30 minutes from the time I initially went into the Gas Station Chicken Store.


Who needs to stay in one parking space for 30 minutes? It's not like they were going to deliver something to her sedan. Only one clerk on duty. Can't leave the store unattended. I think I saw scratchers in the hand of The Usurper when she got into her car. There is no need to STAY PARKED THERE while scratching! The Usurper should have pulled over by the moat, and completed her scratching there. So as not to take away the ONLY handicap parking space for those who may need it.

Do your bidness on your own time! Not in a handicap space. 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Life With Hick Is Like a Box of Chocolates

You never know what random text you're going to get from Hick. Like Friday, when I received the following:

"I bought this beaver today."

At least there was a picture to sort-of explain.

I shared that text with The Pony.

"Um. Do you know what "beaver" means in slang?"

"YES! I know! But he sent me this picture. Do you know where that is?"

"No. It's not the flip house. Maybe it's where he got it from."

Further interrogation inquiry when Hick got home revealed that it was, indeed, a picture from the seller's house. Hick had gone there to look at other items, and this was just a bonus find!

"Are you going to sell it?"

"I don't know. I'm going to put it in my storage unit, with the deer head."

"How much did you pay??? And what would you sell it for?"

"I paid $100 for it. I'm asking $200."

Well. At least he's not asking $100.50. But this pricing makes it look like Hick really does not want to part with his beaver.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Pony Didn't Take the Bait

I have mentioned before the running USPS joke, "Not today, Postal Inspector." Referring to the belief that postal inspectors try to tempt carriers into succumbing to thievery, with delectable enticements planted along the route, in a ploy to test integrity, and weed out bad apples. 

The Pony is having none of that. He sent me a picture on Thursday:

"Not today, Postal Inspector."

It took me a minute to notice the phone on top of the mailbox.

"Ha! Looks like a set-up!"

On our morning phone call the next day, The Pony agreed.

"I'm wasn't touching that phone! Not even to put in in the mailbox for safekeeping. I didn't want my fingerprints on it!"

I think maybe a kid waiting for the bus might have left it there. The Pony found it during the morning hours. I can't think of any other reason it would be out there.

Better safe than sorry!

Friday, February 23, 2024

This Will Not End Well, But It Will End Soon

That's just my prediction. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but I've never been confused with Pollyanna. Hick shares my sentiments on this case.

As we drove out the main entrance of our enclave a week ago, on our way to the casino with The Pony, we observed a startling sight on Mailbox Row. You may recall our last visit there, in the aftermath of destruction

There had been a black plastic mailbox on the end of the row, next to the parcel lockboxes. It stuck out on the end, having been placed there after the structure was built. The Destroyers had broken the door of that black plastic mailbox clean off. It was lying on the ground behind Mailbox Row. That poor mailbox received its mail doorless for a week or so. And then the entire box was taken down. And replaced with a metal mailbox.

The windows of A-Cad almost imploded from the collective inhalation of our audible gasps. 

Look at it! So innocent. Proudly sitting atop Mailbox Row. Shiny and without a dent or scuff. Ready to serve for years as a receptacle for important correspondence, monthly bills, slick coupon pages, and random political postcards and assorted advertisements. The hopefulness of it makes my heart hurt.

"Welp." Said Hick. "That won't be there long."

Indeed. Might as well paint a red-and-white target on the side. Put up a sign with a flashing arrow pointing to it. 

If it wasn't for those parcel lockboxes blocking the way, I'm pretty sure that poor new mailbox could be home-runned into the middle of the creek.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Prices Flow Freely at Senior Bingo

Hick was back to playing bingo at the Senior Center on Wednesday morning. He sent me a picture of his "prices."

"Won bingo twice. Food stuff for bingo today."

"Wow. Your prizes look delicious."

"Won blanket too."

"They must hate you!"

"No they get a big kick out of it especially when I loss."

Pretty sure he meant LOSE. Hick is generous with his prices. He gave me the Thin Mints, the Hot Cocoa Ball, and the Fruity Pebbles. I'll pass the Fruity Pebbles along to The Pony. Also, Hick gave me the Cozy Sherpa Blanket. Good to know that I won't freeze to death when I climb Mount Everest!

Hick said that most days, they are allowed to win once at regular bingo, and once at coverall bingo. On Wednesday, there weren't many people, so they could win twice at regular, and once at coverall. He said he actually won four times, but didn't claim the others because he'd already won.

If only Hick was such a winner at bar bingo!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

New Night, New Bar, Still No Win

Hick went to bar bingo on Tuesday night instead of Wednesday, at a new location. He was mainly there to see his buddy honored with his official BIG CHECK for winning $8000 a couple weeks ago. It's less than a mile from the old location. Same rules apply. No charge to play.

Hick left later, and got home earlier! That's not a plus for me! He said the time difference was because this place didn't have any problems. Not sure what that means. How many problems can you have, anyway, running the same bingo game every week?

The food did not look better to me:

That's a cheeseburger and fries. I don't care much for the presentation. Hick declared this food was MUCH BETTER than the food at the other place.

"Not sure what the prizes are, but this is what they are setting up."

I see wine glasses, and a stuffed guitar. I can't tell what the other prizes are.

Here is the big prize winner. I tried to keep him anonymous...

I especially like his crown! The big-check presenter was as happy as the winner. Wish it could have been Hick, but at least he knows the guy who won. I don't know if this will be the new venue for Hick's weekly bingo or not. His friends play several times a week, at different bars.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Getting Old Is a Pain

I'm not one of those people who have to be busy all the time, spending their day productively, keeping a spotless home, whipping up delicacies from scratch, making trendy usable items from trash, and probably nigh on creating a better mousetrap and reinventing the wheel. Nope. I'm a sloth.

My days consist of a phone call to The Pony to start the morning, napping on the couch, perusing the innernets on HIPPIE at the kitchen table, a drive to town for scratchers and sometimes groceries, then throwing something in the oven for Hick's supper, washing dishes, and TV on the short couch. Nothing too strenuous.

Yesterday, I sustained an injury. I DON'T KNOW HOW!

One minute I was sitting in front of HIPPIE, having just finished my daily banana and some fake Honey Nut Cheerios, when a stabbing pain struck my back ribs on the left side! I wasn't even moving at the time. Not reaching, not laying down the banana peel, not taking a sip of water, not scratching. Just sitting. Only my eyes moving across the laptop screen.

What in the NOT-HEAVEN???

It was a sharp pain. Made me squirm, trying to get comfortable. The only comparisons I could make were when I had "pleurisy," as my grandma called it, one time when I coughed too hard, and the lining of my lung separated from what it should be attached to. That was bad. Every breath was agony for a few days. I couldn't get a deep inhale. But it gradually got better. The other was when I had gallstones, and a knifing pain shot through from my back to my front, on the right side. No position alleviated that pain. Only hard-core IV morphine in the hospital while they waited from my liver enzyme levels to drop enough for surgery.

This pain could be assuaged by leaning just the right way, and was exacerbated by leaning the wrong way. I had taken my daily aspirin about 30 minutes before I was besieged by this pain. It wasn't helping. I popped an ibuprofen. Still no relief an hour later when I laid down for a nap.

By the time I started to town about three hours after my "injury," that virtual knife was still in my back, at about half the pain level it started. I thanked the aspirin and ibuprofen.

The pain made a comeback around 9:30 p.m., when Hick returned from the auction. Usually he causes me a pain a bit lower...

Right now, it's 2:51 a.m., and I barely feel any hurt in my back left ribs. Getting old is a pain, but not getting old would be much worse.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Hick Senses Make Bad Neighbors

You may recall that The Pony's trash can disappeared a couple weeks ago. Trash day is Tuesday. The Pony set out his trash in just the bag this week. He is afraid that a new trash can may not fit in his car. "It would be terrible to buy one, then not have a way to get it home." 

Hick thinks a trash can will fit in The Pony's Nissan Rogue. It's a hatchback. But Hick also thinks The Pony doesn't need a trash can.

"I saw it! It's sitting in his neighbor's driveway!"

Hick even sent a text to The Pony, telling him to go get it and bring it back. His neighbors aren't there anyway. They've been having renovations done on their house. I mentioned the trash can on my morning phone call to The Pony.

"I told Dad to pick up a trash can for you, and he said just go get it from your neighbor's driveway. He saw it there when he drove by on his way to lunch at the Senior Center."

"He sent me a text about it. That is NOT my trash can! My neighbor has the same kind. That one has been sitting there for a while. It's full of shingles off the roof. So theirs didn't blow away! It was there before the windy day that I lost mine."

"Oh. I'll tell Dad. So he can get you a new one. What kind do you want?"

"YES! Tell Dad that I am NOT going to steal my neighbor's trash can. I don't care what kind he gets me. I don't even need a lid. I still have mine. It was on the porch. My trash that day was piled higher than the top, and the lid wouldn't fit."

Hick doubted The Pony's tale.

"Yeah, it's full of shingles because they got The Pony's trash can that blew away, and put them in it!"

"No. He said it's been there for a while."

"Well. I DID see another trash can that looked like The Pony's, way down the street."

"Maybe you should go by again, and pick it up!"

Hick didn't have a response to that. I sure hope he doesn't dump out those shingles and put that trash can on The Pony's porch.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Rat Takes the Cheese

I made a pot of vegetable beef soup on Saturday. One thing I enjoy with vegetable beef soup is Oberle Cheese. It's a regional thing. A tube of soft garlic cheese, the consistency just a bit firmer than Velveeta. I found it on the back aisle of 10Box. When I was checking the dates, they were all the same. Sell By 02/13/24. Unfortunately, the day I was wanting to buy it was 02/17/24.

If I had this cheese in FRIG II, I would use it a couple weeks past the date, as long as it had no mold, and smelled like it should. But why should I fork out $3.75 (plus 10 percent at the register) to buy expired cheese? 10Box often has displays of recently expired merchandise, marked down to about half price. Since I really wanted that cheese, and it was only four days past the Sell By date, I put it in my cart, intending to ask at the register about the date and price.

Of course there were only two registers open. One with a full cart, and another with the young man checking who had not known what a lime was. I chose his line, figuring I'd just buy the cheese. No way was I going to bring up the date and price with him. 

Lucky for me (but not for her), the older lady who is always so nice to me came by and said she'd check me out at the register on the end. I told her she'd regret it!

"I feel like I can ask you about this cheese that's past the Sell By date. Can I get a discount on that? Probably you're not allowed to bargain with me, but it doesn't hurt to ask."

"I can't. But I can find someone who CAN."

"No. Wait. You don't have to go to that trouble. I want the cheese. I just thought I'd ask, in case I could get a bargain. You don't know until you try, right?"

"Here she is now! Look at this cheese. It's past the date."

"All of them were the same. Probably 10 more back there."

"That's the meat department. I can't change anything. But I'll go ask about it!"

"That's okay. I'll buy it. But you might want to tell them all the cheese has that date."

"I feel bad charging you for this!"

"It's okay. If I had it at home, I'd still use it a couple weeks past the date. Just ring it up. It's fine."

"Oh, no. Now I rang it up twice. I'll have to call someone to void this."

"Just have her get me another pack of the cheese. I'll take two of them."

Off she went, and came back with another cheese and the lady who was consulting the meat department. Meanwhile, the customer who had come up behind me with only one tomato and a bottle of orange juice had snatched her items back, and gone to the young man's line. I hate being that rat who holds up a line. I hope the young man was more familiar with tomatoes than with limes.

"The butcher said this label is wrong. They just came in on the truck this morning, and somebody should have put a new label on it."

"Okay. Thank you for finding that out. I'm so sorry to cause trouble. Next time you see me come in, you'll run the other way!"

"Oh, this is nothing. I already went to the butcher about something else today for another customer. Don't worry about it."

Now that I've put up the picture, I see that on the left, beside KEEP REFRIGERATED, it shows a tiny Sell By date of 04/17/24. Too bad I didn't see it in the store. I could have saved a lot of people some extra effort. Though I bet I wouldn't be the only one to question the larger Sell By date that was past.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Val Is a Victim of a Hold-Up at Her Bank

Settle down! Don't push the panic button, or put a dye pack in a bag. It wasn't the robbery kind of hold-up. It was a delay kind of hold-up. Just as irritating, but not as dangerous.

Let the record show that I haven't been to the bank in slightly over two months. All year long, I stash money away in one of our safes, in designated envelopes, to defray end-of-the-year costs such as Christmas, property and real estate taxes, and insurance. It's like I have several "Christmas Club" accounts of my own making. When those bills come due, I write out the checks for payment. Then instead of making my weekly trip to the bank to withdraw our weekly cash, I mete it out from those "club" envelopes. It works great. It's like not having to deal with "unexpected" expenses, even though you've known all year they would be coming.

Anyhoo... those 2023 "clubs" have been used, and this week I have started going back to the bank. Of course I picked the wrong line! Only two were open. I had a 50-50 chance. One car in each drive-thru lane. Both with their engines turned off. I picked the lane with the easiest canister dispenser to navigate with T-Hoe.

Another car pulled up in the lane beside me. So there were four of us sitting there. For about five minutes. Then the car in the other lane started up and left. So much for picking the wrong line. But it got worse!

The driver of the car in front of me reached for the canister. It was a sedan, with a woman driver, a teen girl in the middle of the back seat, and a teen boy in the passenger seat up front. They had their phones out, swapping things back and forth. I figured the lady driver was counting out her money, or looking at her receipt. But then she put the canister back and pushed the WHOOSH button!


Another car pulled in beside me, so there was no advantage to switching lanes. Or so I thought. Three or four minutes later, the canister came back to the car in front of me. The woman driver took it out. There was more moving around of the phones. I was starting to wonder if they had a giant check cashed. They were taking selfies. Leaning into each other. Having a regular party. After about five minutes of these shenanigans, the woman driver put the canister back. No WHOOSH. 

Did the car start up? No. It did not. Those people continued their phone festivities! Like they were having a family reunion. Or sight-seeing at the bank drive-thru. I thought maybe they were going to set up residence right there in Lane 2.

FINALLY, I saw the brake lights come on. The car slowly pulled away. I had spent 20 minutes waiting for that one car. While three others went through the lane beside me.

That's a low-down dirty bank hold-up if I ever saw one.

Friday, February 16, 2024

It May Not Be a Beauty, But It Will Be Serviceable

Hick has been working on the Beauty Shop apartment at the Double Hovel flip house. He emailed me a plan of the bedroom and bathroom last week.

"I know you don't like drawings but this I think works out pretty good. This is the back part haven't figured out kitchen and living yet."

In typical Hickical fashion, he did not provide any orientation for his drawing. No north or south or reference to the other house on the property, or location of the front door. I was viewing it on my phone, and could not see where he had marked the door.

I DID notice that he had arranged the bathroom fixtures exactly like we have in the boys' bathroom here in our mansion. Which is great, because I had been talking for two weeks about how it was the perfect use of space in a bathroom. I'm really glad Hick had that idea...

Anyhoo... when Hick finally told me, after an hour of interrogation, that the head of the bed points at the other flip house, I could picture the plan inside the Beauty Shop. I spun the drawing around, as if I was standing in the front door looking in across the living room area.

It looks reasonable. I think maybe he should have the bedroom door swing the other way, so it won't hit that closet or dresser or whatever he plans to put there. Better start talking about that before he puts in the wall and the door! As you can see, Hick DOES plan to have a washer and dryer in a little laundry area with folding louvered doors. It won't be a palace, but a suitable space for a single person.

Hick put in the bathtub yesterday.

Don't go grabbing your rubber ducky just yet! Hick merely set it in place. Still needs to put the splash boards around it, and the faucet and shower head and plumbing. It will have a rod with a shower curtain, not an enclosure. He's got the toilet drain ready. It's still looking better than the last picture Hick sent two weeks ago of that area of the Beauty Shop:

Hick is a man with a plan.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Super Hole Sunday

When planning snacks for the Super Bowl, I asked Hick what he wanted for dessert. He said Oreos. That was easy enough. I even bought him the Double Stuff version. In a family pack! I don't like Oreos, and The Pony preferred the little chocolate donuts, and the brownies. So Hick had a family pack of Double Stuff Oreos all to himself. Not that he'd eat them all on Super Bowl Sunday, of course. But nobody else would be partaking of them.

If only the Oreos looked like that picture on the package! Well. I still wouldn't eat them. But wouldn't that be a treat? If the Double Stuff Oreos of today had that much cream filling? In reality, they don't even have as much cream filling as the regular Oreos used to have. Shrinkflation, I guess. I only notice when I make my Oreo cakes every Christmas.

Anyhoo... as I was shopping in 10Box, I found two stacks of Double Stuff Oreo packages on the shelf. Not wanting to risk a package that might have been knocked off the shelf and broken, I carefully removed a couple of packages, and took one from the stack behind the main stacks. Only the best for my Hick!

On Super Bowl Sunday, I went to town early. I was back home by 2:45. I started setting out the stuff that I'd stored on the kitchen table all week. The chips, the donuts, the brownies, the Oreos, the Hawaiian Rolls. As I arranged them to my liking, something about the Oreos caught my eye.


Too late to go back to town for more. The Pony was coming at 3:00 to get started planning the cooking schedule. When he came in, I showed him the compromised Oreo package.

"That's not good!"

"I know! But Dad is expecting Oreos. I didn't think I had to inspect every single package before buying something off the shelf!"

"Huh. He probably won't notice."

"It's not like a rat gnawed it open. Looks like it got stuck and ripped on the seam, or got cut open when they took it out of the box. They might be stale."

"I doubt he'll notice."

"Especially if we give him enough Wild Turkey! You're in charge of making his drink."

After his main courses of snacks, The Pony offered to bring Hick some Oreos in a bowl. "Just tell me how many you want, Dad." Hick never mentioned anything about the Oreos. I think he's been eating some out of the package since then. 

I know Hick didn't sneak into that package of Oreos early, because he's not one to disguise his efforts. He would merely open the top of the bag as normal, and press the seal back down. His sneaking comes from indulging while I'm gone to town. Not in secretly opening a snack.

I'm pretty sure Hick will suffer no permanent damage from eating Oreos out of a package that was not sealed when I bought it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Val, Val, the Lucky Gal

You'd think Val must be lugging around a purse stuffed with four-leaf clovers, rabbits feet, horseshoes, and the bigger halves of wishbones! Val has more than her fair share of good luck when it comes to lottery tickets. Now she's done it again.

That's my go-to, the $10 ticket. This time it won me $1000! In January, this is the kind of ticket that gave me a $500 winner. No wonder it's my favorite.

I got this one Monday at the Gas Station Chicken Store. As I was scratching it, I was happy to match a number. Then get a couple of the automatic win coin symbols. I figured I'd win $15. But as I kept scratching off more winning numbers and symbols, I thought I'd win $50, and dared hope for a $100 winner. Boy, was I off this time! Instead of the smallest prize amount of $5 being under those wins, it was $100. And ten of them!

Now I have to travel to the city to the lottery office to cash it in. The stores are not authorized over $600.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Amazing Incredible Pony

The Pony hasn't been offered a residency in Vegas yet, but he's showing promise as a magician! Last week, he made a trash can disappear. Sure, it was his own trash can that he sets out by the curb on Tuesday mornings for trash pickup. And it WAS quite windy that day. But still... The Pony presented the trash can, and by the end of the day, it was nowhere to be found. Not quite up to par with David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear, but a step in the magician direction!

If you think that's a stretch, take a gander at THIS feat of magic:

I asked The Pony to sweep under the kitchen table before we began our Super Bowl snack preparations, and this is what he did with the broom! Well. He swept first, and went out on the porch to beat the rug by the kitchen door. But then was playing around with that broom while chatting with me, and this was the result.

Not sure if that's a statement of The Pony's talent, a feature of my lack broom usage, or just dark magic!

Monday, February 12, 2024

Super Tray Sunday

Who needs the Super Bowl when you have a super TRAY???

The Pony came out yesterday for the Super Bowl. Didn't watch a second of it. Hick was a viewer, but The Pony and I just used it as an excuse to consume mass quantities of finger foods, and sit at the kitchen table watching The Good Place on my new laptop that The Pony gave me as a Christmas/birthday present.

The Pony was in charge of coordinating the heating of assorted frozen foods at different temperatures and durations. He did an admirable job. I made the dips, and the list of cooking times and temps. Of course we called Hick in to fill his tray first. Hick needed an overflow plate. I didn't get a picture of his treats. The Pony took one of ours.

That's The Pony's tray. Mozzarella sticks, Little Smokies in BBQ sauce, toasted raviolis, chicken tenders, pretzel bites, Ruffles potato chips. You can barely see the marinara sauce. Out of sight is his cheese and mustard sauce, Hidden Valley Ranch dip, and Hawaiian Rolls with ham.

That's my tray. I had the same things as The Pony, but less, without the ham sandwich, and with some steak and cheese taquitos. Which were a bit too spicy for my liking, though I ate them all.

Hick had Buffalo chicken instead of the plain version. So there was a lot of coordinating that went into getting everything in and out of the oven in time for Hick to hear Reba sing the national anthem.

The Pony left after half time, and didn't even take any leftovers!!! Looks like Hick will be having Little Smokies for supper for a couple nights.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Geographically-Challenged Val Is Led By The Pony

My mom used to call every morning at 6:00, and we'd chat for a half hour before I went to work. Last month, The Pony suggested that I give him a call at 6:00. That would give him a chance to wake up, and me a chance to talk, since we basically only see each other on holidays and casino trips. Poor Pony. He didn't know what he was getting into.

I've been watching Below Deck marathons on BRAVO. It's a guilty pleasure. Okay. I don't really feel guilty at all. It's just a pleasure. The current season is Below Deck Mediterranean, with Captain Sandy. I was chatting with The Pony about them being in Croatia. Then the south of France.

You may recall that I am not well-versed in world geography. I can label every state, and recite most of the capitals. But when it comes to other countries, I'm a blithering idiot. I'm not proud of that fact. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person. After all, I was VALEDICTORIAN, by cracky! 

I have a knack for English, except for a mental block with irony. I have no problems with math, able to figure percentages in my head, and do my own taxes, and explain geometry when Hick isn't interchanging angles with elbows. I can tell you where assorted organs will be located before cutting up a mammal, and how Newton's Laws cannot be broken, and why your feet actually get cold because energy is flowing out of them and into the chilly floor. I can read music, play a clarinet, pick a melody on piano accompanied by chords with the left hand. But I CANNOT tell you where over 50 percent of the countries on earth are located!

I blame this on my high school geography and world history teachers. The first was a football coach who only talked about football. We didn't even have textbooks! The second went by the nickname of Bore Moore, a perfectly pleasant young woman who might as well have been nicknamed Sominex. Even though I diligently remained awake, no learning was forthcoming. It is so much harder to learn "new" things when you're old...

Anyhoo... I asked The Pony about where Croatia was. What it was near. He said, "The Mediterranean Sea." DUH! As if that would be a help! Then he said it was near Italy and Greece. WAIT! Italy and Greece are near each other??? Then I said, well, that might make sense, if Greece was by Rome, because the Olympics have Greco Roman wrestling. To which The Pony replied that ROME is a CITY, which DUH, everybody knows THAT! But The Pony said Greece and Italy didn't really interact that much, and I was confused to think that they weren't wrestling each other in ancient times.

Anyhoo... The Pony sent me a map. I told him not to, because that always raises other questions when I see things are not as I imagined.

I looked at that map after we concluded our call. Of course I had questions! So the texting began.

"Wait a minute! Germany is landlocked, and ABOVE Switzerland???"

"Germany isn't landlocked."

"It is in your map. I was wondering how the Allies stormed the beach at Normandy."

"Normandy is in France."

"Oops! Were we fighting France?"

"France was occupied by Germany in the north and had a nominal collaborator regime in the south."

"Science is so much simpler."

And so is watching Below Deck.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Thunderstorm Intermission

Nothing today. It's 11:13 p.m. in Outer Backroads, and we have THUNDER and rain and hail. That means intermittent internet. Tired of trying to keep a connection. See you tomorrow.

Friday, February 9, 2024

One of These Things Is Not Liked By the Others

Such entitlement these days. Almost like a whole generation was not taught to take turns. Or follow rules. As if they are the most important beings in The Universe.

I was waiting patiently for my green arrow at the stoplight next to the Gas Station Chicken Store on Tuesday, when I spied a rule-ignorer in the oncoming traffic. Can you guess which one?

That black car came out of the Liquor Store parking lot. Couldn't wait for traffic to clear from the left-turn lane. Chose to block the lane for traffic headed across the intersection. Matters were compounded by the flow of traffic coming from the rat poison factory across from 10Box, which had just ended a shift.

As if this violation of common decency wasn't enough... one of those cars waiting in the left-turn lane did NOT make a left turn, and came straight across the intersection, passing to my left.

People are crazy.

Don't think that I am in the wrong lane, judging from the angle of this picture. There are four lanes on my side. The lane for oncoming traffic, a left-turn lane to my left, the straight-across lane that I'm in, and a right-turn lane to my right. Val obeys the rules of the road.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Tuesday evening, Hick got a call. I could hear excited talking coming out of the phone. It was a female voice. Hick's replies didn't give me much info, except for him saying something was great. Of course I interrogated him when he was done.

"My buddy I play bingo with from the Senior Center just won the big prize! That was his wife. They were playing at a different bar. They play about three nights a week. Anyway, he hit the X on his card. He had to get it before 21 numbers. They were drawing #20, and his wife said, "You need a ....." and he GOT IT!" They were really excited. The prize was $8000! But then they found out that there are 41 other bars who have to report. So he might have to share it if somebody else got the X too."

Of course Hick went to play regular bar bingo the next night with them. Nobody else had hit the X, so the guy DID win $8000. According to Hick, "He had to pay $2800 in taxes, but the rest is all his." I told Hick it was his turn now!

Hick had the chicken strips and fries, and said the big prize was cash.

"How much?"

"They haven't said depends on crowd is what they told us."

"Seems like it would be the crowd in all those 40 places. But it doesn't cost to play, so why does the crowd matter?"

"Food and booze sales the prize comes out of bar money big money comes from money they have to pay for everyone to play."

Well. If you understand all that, you're better at reading Hick's mind that I am!

An hour later, I got another text from Hick:

"Not quite like my buddy's $8000 but I get in a drawing for something but she didn't say what."

"Ooh! That's something. Your first possible win!"

"Ya at least a win."

When Hick got home, he still didn't know if he won anything besides that can cozy. He DID know that he's in a drawing for St. Louis Blues hockey tickets. Hick has been to hockey games before, on FREE tickets given to him by vendors when he was still working. Genius loved hockey, and was always Hick's companion.

Now Hick just has to KEEP winning. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Hick To the Rescue

T-Hoe has a door that sounds like it is going to fall off every time I open and close it. His clicker only works 50 percent of the time, and needs a new battery. As does my garage door opener, which takes 10 tries to open. Hick must be too busy for my needs. He has definitely been informed. Several times over the past month. However...

Hick's efforts are obviously needed elsewhere. Remember the house where Hick put in the 90-degree plumbing joint that was actually 45 degrees? And made Old Buddy crawl under the house in the leaked-out poop? For the 74-year-old guy with a wife in poor health? Well. That guy needed Hick's help.

"I went to my buddy's house today to look at his well. He hasn't had water since Sunday. I'm not sure what's wrong with it, but I can't pull a well pump. I told him he needs to get ahold of a well person. He said that's really not an option right now. He can't go without water! I gave him $500 to pay for a well service to come fix it. I told him I wasn't going to mention it to anybody. I just wanted him to get his water fixed. He said he'll pay me back. I'm sure he will."

"Is that enough?"

"Yeah. It should be. He said he has $300 he can spend on it. It might be something as simple as the electric to the pump, but I don't have a way to test it. I just want him to have water again."

Hick's a pretty good guy about helping anybody besides me...

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The End Of a Hick Era

On Sunday, somebody destroyed Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill!!!

Can you believe it? Ten years of more of that blotchy blacktop, bumpy and uneven, but keeping the hill from washing out during heavy rains. The day after Hick and Buddy's handiwork was installed for FREE, one of the local denizens started badmouthing them. Well. I hope she enjoys the week of "smooth" driving she will have for now. Once we have a rain, that road is going to wash out. Just like it used to. A giant rut will form. Probably more than one. Oh, and even if the weather stays dry for a couple weeks, it won't be long before there are humps like a washboard, from people slowing down, then spinning their wheels going up the hill.

See there? It's not even gravel. They pried up the blacktop, and left a dirt road underneath. Dirt turns into MUD, you know, during a rain. I'm not saying Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill was perfect. Nor even average. But it was drivable. Didn't wash out. 

There's the pile of broken blacktop. Most of it. Some ended up in our sinkhole, because Hick gave somebody permission to dump it there.

Not a good picture, but that's the view of our front sinkhole from our driveway. There's the ruts from the truck that backed up to dump the blacktop chunks. Poor clueless Hick! He says he is planning to fill in the sinkhole! That's not how it works. I'm pretty sure that sinkhole is a portal to a cave with a water system that feeds our well. If you drop something directly into the hole, you hear a splash. That's never going to get filled up! Anyhoo... there's the Freight Container Garage in the background, across the BARn field.

I know whoever decided to "fix" Hick and Buddy's Badly Blacktopped Hill meant well. But they didn't think it through. Nor did they consult Hick, who knows a little something about roads. He said they should have poured something on that blacktop, then lit it on fire. Maybe motor oil. I wasn't paying attention. Hick said that would have melted the blacktop, softening it. Then a load of gravel should have been poured on top. That would have stuck the gravel into the blacktop. The dirt would not have been exposed to erode with each rain.

That hill is going to be a mess when we get precipitation, and then freezing overnight resumes. It's not like we're out of winter yet.

Monday, February 5, 2024

A Timely Justification For Decrepit Mailbox Row

Not even a week ago, I showed pictures of EmBee while complaining about pointing out the LIARS AT FEDEX when they misdelivered The Pony's package. In case you were wondering why we persist in keeping our mailboxes in the decrepit casing that is Mailbox Row...

Between Saturday evening when I came home, and Sunday afternoon when I started to town, ne'er-do-wells had once again attacked Mailbox Row. They also hit other mailboxes on the county blacktop road.

This neighbor out on the blacktop county road was lucky, I suppose. The vandals didn't knock the mailbox off the post. Only bashed the top, so mail can still be delivered.

Here's the view of Mailbox Row as I returned from town. Pictures were not convenient as I left, though the damage had already been done.

The lonely mailboxes, unprotected from evil-doers, who attack under cover of darkness.

Poor, defenseless mailboxes, their doors bent down like panting tongues.

Just plain meanness. No reason to bend the doors down, other than SPITE because they couldn't knock the mailboxes off the post, nor smash the bejeebers out of them. There's no incentive for us to build an aesthetically-pleasing case for these mailboxes, because it would be beat to NOT-HEAVEN within days. At least this one still serves its purpose of protecing the mailboxes enough that they don't have to be replaced many times a year.

Some people are just rumpusholes by nature.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

The Pony Is Not a Mountain Goat

The weather has taken a surprising turn, and we hit a daytime high of 69 degrees last week. Now it's been holding in the mid-50s. That means shorts weather for The Pony. He has used a step-counter to determine that his route includes 8.5 miles of walking, if I remember correctly. 

Saturday was not a good day for The Pony, despite the favorable weather. He's not known for his sure-footedness.

"Owie. Bashed my knee right into concrete in a fall. Not much blood, but ow."

"You need training wheels!"

The Pony was off work by 5:20. Not sure what else happened, but according to Pony: "It wasn't a good day so I'm just going to sleep as soon as I'm home."

Not as bad as a swollen bruised bloody dog bite. Or a broken ankle. Or a flayed-finger cat scratch from poking mail through a door slot. And certainly not as painful as a burned thumb and hand from splashing oil while cooking a steak. But still. Worse than my on-the-job injury of a paper cut.