Sunday, June 30, 2024

Keeping the Dogs Alive, and Hick Out of Jail

It's a full-time job, really. Monitoring Hick's activities, and making sure the dogs are okay.

Saturday morning at 5:55, before leaving for a day at his SUS2 (Storage Unit Store 2), Hick sat on the long couch, and voiced his plans to buy dog food.

"I only have enough left to feed them this morning. Then I'll be out. So on my way home, I'll stop and get dog food."

"Where are you getting it?" You know, because there might have been something else we needed.

"I'll go by the Family Center in town on my way home."

I passed Hick on his way home around 4:15, out on the county blacktop road. When I returned at 5:00, Hick was out back, fiddling with POOLIO's filter.

"Did you get the dog food?"

"No! I forgot! So I need to go to Walmart. The Family Center closed at 5:00. I'll do it here in a minute when I'm done flushing the filter."

"Are your pants unzipped?"



"What did you ask me?"

"Are your shorts unzipped?"

Hick checked the fly of his khaki shorts. "Oops!" And zipped it up.

"I just asked, you know, because you're going to town. And I don't want you to get arrested for indecent exposure."


Yes. It's a full-time job. I must remain ever-vigilant.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

What Hath Hick Wrought?

We got a letter from the county clerk yesterday, addressed to Hick. Of course I was curious. This had a return address labeled Election and Voter Registration. Yes, I open all the mail. Hick had his chance when he drove it from EmBee down on Mailbox Row, a mile up the gravel road to our hillbilly mansion.

Inside was a document, titled "Certificate of Appointment of Judge of Election."


It stated that the clerk of the county commission certified his appointment of "the following" to serve as Judges of Election in a certain precinct on a certain day. This election will be in August, and the precinct is not the one in which Hick and I vote.

Anyhoo... there was a column headed "Republican" with a supervisor and three judges under it. And a column headed "Democrat" with a supervisor and three judges listed under it. And centered on the page just below those two columns was "Judge: Hick Thevictorian (NPP)." And his phone number, same as with all the other supervisor/judges.

The bottom third of the page is labeled "Qualifications." Heh, heh! I won't put the whole thing here, but one section says"


I suppose Hick qualifies!

"HEY! Why are you getting a notice that you're an election judge?"

"Because I volunteered."

"WHAT? When did you do that?"

"I don't know. The last time I voted, I think. They were looking for people to be judges, and I said I'd do it."

"Wait. Does that mean you have to be there for whole election day?"

"I don't know. I guess maybe? I don't remember much about signing up for it."

"Won't that mean you can't drive me to vote?"


"Huh. Well. Maybe there won't be anything I want to vote for. Or I'll have to drive myself."

Yeah. Well. That date is the Missouri primary. So of course I'll want to vote.

Our usual polling place is in a little country church, and I have to go DOWN STEPS to get to the voting area in the basement. It has a really small parking lot, difficult to find a space, and easy to get blocked in. The best time to go is around 6:00 a.m. when it opens, but there's still the stair issue.

For the past couple years, we have been going to the county voting place over in Bill-Paying Town, which is THE OLD MORGUE across from the old hospital. But at least it's one level, and Hick drops me off at the door before parking. As I remember, they allow early voting here. So I guess Hick will be able to take me, and do his own voting at the same time.

That Hick. He's full of surprises. Sometimes, he even surprises himself...

Friday, June 28, 2024

I Imagine He Was Horrified

Hick had a new assistant on Tuesday. Old Buddy had something else to do that day, so Hick picked up grandson HOSS (Hick's Oldest Son's Son) to help him clean out the shed at the Double Hovel. He needs to clear out the previous owner's junk so that he can store some items in there while finishing up the Beauty Shop kitchen/living room.

Anyhoo... HOSS had been asking if Hick had any work for him, because he wants to earn some money, and isn't old enough for a real job, and has no way to get to one if he was. He's around fourteen, and can't drive yet. Legally. 

"Are you going to get him something for lunch?"

"I'm taking him with me to the Senior Center."

The menu that day [typed exactly as on their monthly handout] was:

Chicken Salad
On Bun
Spinach Salad
Pickled Beets
Strawberry Cookies OR Fruit

"I don't think he's going to like that. Will you pick up something else for him?"

"If he don't like it, I will."

In the past, Hick has taken HOSS to Casey's for some pizza slices and soda. There's also Burger King, McDonald's, Sonic, Hardee's, and KFC in the area. Stuff probably more palatable to HOSS than a Senior Center menu.

When he came home that evening, Hick reported that the lunch was not a hit with HOSS.

"He picked at it. Ate the bun. I thought he might eat the cookies, but he said he didn't like them. And not the salad or beets. I won't even eat the beets!"

"Did you get him something else?"

"I offered to, but he said he didn't want nothin'."

Or maybe he was just eager to end his day with Hick...

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Missouri is the New Florida

Backroads was in the news a couple days ago. The city news, at least. A St. Louis station sent a reporter down to give a live report. What could be of interest in li'l ol' Backroads?


I drive by that lake all the time on my way to or from School-Turn Town, to visit The Pony, or when returning from my Thursday errand day over in Sis-Town. It's fairly unremarkable. There are usually people walking on the blacktop trail around its circumference. People fishing from the little platform made for such an activity. We used to go over there when HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) and The Veteran were young, on a different (roofed) platform about a quarter of the way around the lake, to throw in a line for fishing. Sometimes it was underwater from the rains. But mostly, only turtles took our bait.

Anyhoo... the newsworthy report was not a big surprise. Of course alligators are not naturally-occurring in Backroads. But people DO have them as "pets," and grow tired of them. No sewers here to dump them in. So I can believe one got "set free" at this lake.

On the news, a local guy who runs a pet shop was at the lake, with a fishing pole and a bag, trying to catch that alligator! He did not succeed. Reports of the original sighting said the alligator was two feet long. The woman reporter from the news station said THEY saw it (a brief video), and it was closer to three feet long. 

The local police department gave a statement that if you see it, don't try to catch it. No worries there! I most certainly won't try to capture an alligator. I don't think it's all that dangerous. Maybe a bite, but The Pony has probably suffered worse from dogs on his mail route. How much damage can a three-foot alligator inflict? I'm pretty sure it couldn't grab my ample rumpus and subject me to a death roll.

Anyhoo... the pet store guy said that if you catch the alligator, to call him, and he'll take it. The local police said to call them if you see it.

I'm not all that worried. Nobody swims in that lake. Winter will take care of that alligator.

What next? I'm proud to live in Missouri. But I must admit, it has become the Florida of the midwest! And not in a good way! In a tabloid news sort of way.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The Seasonal Opening of POOLIO

The Pony came out on Sunday, because we had plans to listen to a preview of some upcoming new-release music from a composer he follows. We had a nice lunch. The Pony had some wine. When Hick returned home from his SUS2 (Storage Unit Store 2), The Pony helped him take the cover off POOLIO.

Hick did not open POOLIO last summer, due to his back surgery and inability to submerge. It's a bit late this year, but he wants a chance to "swim." Meaning lie on a floatie and take a nap, with a cap over his face. I don't begrudge Hick this pleasure. He works hard, and likes to relax in the evening.

Anyhoo... Hick had spent three days dipping wet leaves off POOLIO's cover, after pumping off accumulated water from the past two years. The sight of an uncovered POOLIO was not pleasant.

Here's the thing. Hick ALWAYS leaves the same water in POOLIO! Rather than drain it and put in fresh. Hick says that well water is too cold! It takes days to warm up. Poppycock! The temperature today was over 100 degrees! Wouldn't take long at all!

This water issue is one reason I don't partake in POOLIO dipping. That, and it's inconvenient for me to haul myself back out. POOLIO is a round above-ground pool. Nothing fancy. We've had him since the boys were around 5-8 years old. The Pony couldn't get in without close supervision. He could barely stand on the bottom, and only breathe with his head tilted back to keep his face out of the water.

The first year, Hick drained the water and used fresh. Don't cost nothin'! It's not like there's a bill for our well water. Hick just complained that it took too long to warm up. And this is when he filled it in May.

After that, Hick left the same water in, and just treated it with chemicals from the pool store that installed POOLIO. I said he and the boys were swimming in butt-water soup. Especially after seven or eight years of using the same water. Didn't deter Hick!

Monday, Hick spent $192.52 on pool chemicals. That's just for the initial shocking, and to get it to the right pH. We don't use chlorine. It's Baquacil. Doesn't burn your eyes like chlorine. 

Hick was down by POOLIO's side on Monday afternoon, skimming again, and putting in the chemicals. He sent The Pony a text:

"Got a dead squirrel out of the pool."

"Wow! Only ONE???"

Heh, heh. I don't think The Pony will be coming out to swim. He's not a child anymore.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Val's Quest For Redemption (Of Her $500 Lottery Ticket)

After scratching off my $500 winner on Thursday evening, I was itching to get it cashed. Not because I had any plans for the money, other than to roll it over into my casino/lottery bankroll. No special purchase on the horizon. Just money to sock away in one of the safes until I want it for something. Still, you don't want such a winner to loll around the house, possibly being misplaced, or having a chance of being stolen or burned-up or blown away in a tornado!

According to Missouri Lottery rules, any winning ticket of $601 or more must be redeemed at a regional Missouri Lottery office. They are located in Jefferson City, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield. Since my current winner was $500, I could cash it at a retailer. EXCEPT...

Each ticket has a disclaimer printed on the back:

Claim prizes of $3, $5, $10, $15, $20 and $25 at ANY Scratchers retailer. Prizes from $25.01 up to $600 are paid at retailer option. You may also claim prizes by signing the ticket and mailing it to Missouri Lottery [with the address of the Jefferson City office].

Here's the thing. Not every retailer will cash a $500 ticket. I know that the Gas Station Chicken Store will, if the Man Owner or Woman Owner are there to do it. They allow clerks to cash up to $300 winners. 

10Box will also cash a $500 winner. 

I have never asked at Country Mart, where I bought this winner. I only go over to Sis-Town once a week. They MIGHT do it, since 10Box used to be a Country Mart, and also did it back then. With my history of getting teenage workers over at Country Mart, I didn't want to make the 20-mile round trip to see if somebody with such a ticket-redeeming authorization was working.

None of the Casey's will cash a ticket that high. Their policy is $100 or less. I'm not sure about the Liquor Store. I haven't asked there.

I left home early on Friday, hoping to cash my ticket at the Gas Station Chicken Store. I'm a regular there, you know. They might as well holler "NORM!" when I walk in. Thing is, both owners have usually left by 4:00 p.m. I got there just before 3:00. My favorite clerk told me, "Oh, they both left early today." So that was out. 

I went over to 10Box. The manager-type lady who was working is the one who took my GUILT MONEY for the two six-packs of Diet Mountain Dew that I stole a couple weeks ago! She went right to the service desk to check and see if they had the funds. They did not.

"Sorry, but we don't have that much cash for a $500 ticket. We've only cashed in one ticket today. It was for $40."

"When might be a good day for me to try again? There's no hurry."

"Come back tomorrow. We do a LOT of business on Saturdays. Try mid-morning."

"Okay. Around 11:00, maybe? Or will it be lunch times?"

"Oh, somebody will always be here who can do it, even during lunches."

"All right. Thank you very much."

So I went back at 11:00 on Saturday. I was also picking up some lettuce and salad dressing and bread. At the checkout, I saw only two lanes open. I went to the older lady, rather than the young guy. I asked if she could call somebody to the service desk. Well! You'd think I'd asked her to reassemble a 747 to fly me to Las Vegas in the next 10 minutes! She got all flustered, started talking to herself, turned to ask the kid who was there to call...

AND JUST THEN... a manager-type lady came in the front door, just back from lunch! She's really nice. She's offered to open a register for me at times when the lines are backed up, even though I tell her it's okay to wait. So polite. She said that yes, they could certainly cash my $500. Just give her a minute to go to the back for the money. Which she returned with momentarily, apologizing that it was all in twenties. Not a problem! I actually prefer twenties. It's what I use at the casino.

My ticket is cashed, and the money squirreled away, safe from that lawnmower-buying Hick's eyes! I'm ready to do it all over again.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Val Goes High-Rollin' and Lands a Jackpot

Sitting on the short couch Thursday morning, I had an urge to go high-rollin' with my scratchers. Rather than sticking to my favorite $5 crossword tickets, and the occasional $10 tickets, I wanted a $20 scratcher. I even had the specific ticket in mind, the newest orange-colored version. Also, I knew I wanted to get it out of the right lottery machine in the Country Mart over in Sis-Town.

Off I went on my errands. First to the bank for our weekly cash allowance. Then to Casey's for T-Hoe's gas and some scratchers. Dang that clerk! She shorted me $5! It wasn't worth walking back in after pumping gas, and perusing my scratchers. Shame on her! I'm pretty sure she's the one I made re-count one day, due to charging me $5 too little. That'll learn me, I guess! It would have evened out with this purchase. But Val's an honest gal.

Then I was off to Country Mart for two big salads for our supper, and soda on sale for Hick, and some cherry tomatoes. As I entered the store, there were two old ladies, carts parked in front of the right lottery machine! They weren't buying tickets. They were just shooting the bull. As I passed by them on the way to the left lottery machine, I glanced at the selection, and saw that THERE WAS NO ORANGE $20 TICKET in that right machine. Welp! That blew my "feeling lucky" theory out of the water. 

At the left machine, I was readying some previous winners to scan in when I felt like I was being watched. YIKES! Looking to my left, a guy was staring right at me from the end of the checkout counter.

"Oh! Were you going to use this machine?"

"No. Nope. We're all done."

His wife was paying for groceries, and he was holding some scratchers in his hand.

"Okay. I didn't want to jump in front of you."

I scanned my winners, and got my orange $20 ticket. Then I pushed my cart/walker the wrong way through an unused checkout, and did my shopping.

Back home, with Hick mowing, I turned on my "lucky" music and started scratching. On the second line, I was excited to uncover the WIN ALL symbol!

The lowest prize symbol on a $20 ticket is ten dollars, so I was thrilled, thinking about adding up all those ten-dollar prizes. Imagine my surprise when I revealed them all, and they were more!

That's a $500 WINNER! All the prizes were $20. I sent a picture to The Pony, and he reminded me that I hadn't scratched off the top bonus area. So I did, but didn't win any more. Not a problem!

But wait. That wasn't my only lucky winner that day! I had two $50 winners on $5 tickets. And some on $3 tickets. Adding up to a total of $660 for the day. That's incredible! BUT WAIT! At my first stop, while getting T-Hoe's gas at Casey's, I'd bought The Pony a ticket with winnings he'd built up from his daily Cash4Life draw tickets. He didn't scratch it until Sunday, but it won $100! So that day, I actually bought $760 in winners! 

When you feel it, you gotta take your shot. I had been putting off buying The Pony's ticket for over a week. It didn't feel right. But that morning, it did. 

Don't do as I do! Gambling is a slippery slope! Don't spend what you can't afford to lose, people! I've spent (heh, heh, SPENT) thirty years building up my gambling bankroll. Never play on your household money. Only on your "allowance," or your entertainment budget.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

You Can't Bullcrap a Bullcrapper

The decrepit house across the corner from the Double Hovel flip house went up for sale about a month ago. We have been watching the listing. Not because we are interested in buying it, but because Hick says it is outrageously overpriced. I tend to agree. It is a pukey green color, with a bad roof, and stuff falling apart. The real estate listing only showed six pictures, and all were of the outside. That right there should tell you all you need to know.

Anyhoo... this house has a unique look, vaguely Victorian, but it's not that old. It has two bedrooms, one bath, and a tumbling-down shed. Nothing remarkable. The price was $54,000. That's more than we spent for the Double Hovel, and it has TWO houses! Anyhoo... within a week, the price had been reduced to $49,000. 

Well. Wednesday evening, Hick was looking up stuff on his phone, and saw that Green House had sold on Tuesday, for a price of $42,500. Which Hick still thinks is too much, considering the work that will be needed to make it sellable. Not that he cares. We are not interested.

Friday, Hick stopped by the Double Hovel to kill time while waiting until his Friday afternoon fat-chewing session with his cronies. He's usually getting a shot at that time, but had to go early that day. Anyhoo... a guy working on Green House came over and started talking to Hick.

"Whatchoo got here?"

Hick explained how the main house is renovated and ready to move in, and the Beauty Shop building needs the kitchen and living room finished. Green House Guy lost interest pretty quickly. It's not something he would want to buy, since he seems to be in the flipping business himself. Of course Hick had to put his foot in his mouth as usual.

"I cain't believe what you paid for that house!"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean $42,500 is a lot of money for that."

"We didn't pay $42,500. We paid $34,000! And we've already got it gutted."

Hick thought this was odd, since the house just sold on Tuesday, and the guy said it was gutted shortly after noon on Friday. I guess it's possible. Anyhoo... the guy went on talking.

"We're gonna make $100,000 profit off this house."

"Huh. What are you going to do about the roof?"

"Just leave it. If anything, we'll put a rubber coating on the top. And we'll paint the corrugated metal part. People will think it's cute."

Hick is skeptical. He thinks, minimum, that it will take $50,000 to make that Green House sellable. A profit of $100,000 would put the sale price pretty high for a two-bedroom, one-bath house.

Then again, Hick's not a realtor. But he pretty much knows the cost of goods and labor.

Hick says the house already looks better. They've put a new porch on the front. They plan to put on siding, which will get rid of the pukey green color. Anything they do will help us by improving the neighborhood, so our prospective buyers won't be put off by a falling-down, pukey green house across the corner.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Maybe it Could Become an Air(less)bnb

While chatting with Genius over our BBQ lunch on Wednesday, he showed me a picture of his new dresser, or chest of drawers. Whatever you call them in your region. It was shorter than it was tall, and had four or five drawers that were wide, with no mirror on top. So take your pick for the terminology.

Anyhoo...Genius related a tale of woe concerning his new purchase.

"We had a storm a couple weeks ago. It wasn't so bad in Pittsburgh, but worse in the outlying areas. However, the lights flashed for just a second, and came right back on. The lightning didn't cut out our electricity. But it was just enough to disable the elevators in our apartment building. They're still not working! And it was during this time that the dresser arrived.

It came on boxes for each piece, and we had to assemble it. But first, we had to get all those boxes to the 4th floor! There was a cart we could use to pull the boxes to the stairs. But then we had to carry them up."

Genius showed me a picture of the pile of boxes. And then of the completed dresser.

"Huh. You could rent those out to Japanese businessmen to sleep in!"

Heh, heh. Genius is also a Seinfeld fan.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Pretending To Know

On our ride to meet Genius for lunch on Wednesday, I passed the time chatting with Hick. Not so simple as you might think, since he has the radio turned up loud, and responds in mumbles while his face it turned away, gawking out his window. Even asking him to turn down the radio gets "I DID turn it down! It's down!"

Oh, well. I have a hand to reach out for that knob, even though Hick refuses to lessen the volume by clicking on A-Cad's steering wheel controller lever. Then began the attempt to entertain ourselves.

"I saw a cute thing on the unofficial post office REDDIT that Pony and I read. It was a picture, with a long line of LLVs [Long Life Vehicles], showing their front ends. The closest one had its serial number where you could read it. The guy who put it on there said to comment when you figured it out. This will be easy for you, since I'm saying it out loud, rather than you reading it. That number was 8675309."


"Do you get it?"


"Then explain it."

"It's like the TV show."


"That TV show. You know. About the radio station in Cincinnati."

"WHAT? You mean WKRP in Cincinnati?"

"Yeah. That one."

"That's LETTERS! Not NUMBERS! How in the world did you get THAT?"

"Oh. That's not it?"

Anyhoo... we got to lunch. While waiting for the food to arrive, I told Genius about it.

"Oh! It's that song!"

"Yeah. Which song?"

"I don't remember the exact words. It was before my time. I think in the 90s. But I know the song it's about."

I took Genius's word for it. Later, on the way home, I called The Pony, to confirm the time he and The Veteran were taking Hick out for a belated Father's Day supper.

"Hey, did you see that picture of the LLVs on REDDIT? With the serial number on the first one?"

"No. I was too busy to get on there. What is it?"


"OH!" The Pony started singing the song, with the right melody. Even though he was born after Genius, so it was even more before his time.

Heh, heh. Who would have thought that The Pony would come up with the right answer instead of Hick and Genius.

That song was 867-5309/Jenny. From 1981.

For the record, The Pony also advised me that such a serial number meant that LLV was one of the newer models...

Thursday, June 20, 2024

A Disfunctional Dinner With Thevictorians

Genius was passing through on Wednesday, on his way to Missouri Boys' State, where he works every summer, giving back in the form of time and free labor in their technology department. Only this year, he has some other job, supposedly more elevated, in putting out media for future attendees. Or as I call it, propaganda! 

Anyhoo... it's a good program in leadership for high school juniors. Most schools our size can send two students. Friend also contributes in the technology department. So we met them, driving 45 minutes north to a Bandana's BBQ restaurant for lunch. Or dinner. Whatever your region of the country calls it. Around here, the evening meal is SUPPER, and the noontime can be lunch or dinner. Which doesn't really fit the old breakfast, lunch, and dinner saying.

Anyhoo... we had a good visit while chowing down on BBQ.

I chose the Chicken Sandwich, with a side of slaw.

I picked dark meat chicken. Here, I've added two sauces. The Sweet and Smoky in the picture, and Chicago Sweet, which I can't really describe. The bun was buttered and toasted. I ate my sandwich with a fork stabbing the chicken, then taking a bit of the bun. I don't like messy food! The slaw was tasty, looking like the bagged variety, but with too much "juice." It was almost like slaw soup! I mainly ate the top of it, and left the soggy bottom.

Genius also chose a sandwich, the Burnt Ends, as well as slaw for his side.

Genius's sandwich looked a lot better before he put that top bun back on after saucing.

Friend had the Turkey Platter, with Baked Beans and Fries.

This was almost going to be my choice, but I decided on a sandwich.

Hick had the BBQ Baked Potato, with Baked Beans for his side.

This was a travesty! When I used to get the BBQ Baked Potato, it was much bigger. Like a Terrible Tater we get elsewhere. Look at this puny spud! It's almost like a new potato! There IS meat in there. And cheese. Hick has doused it with the butter and sour cream. He had two slices of garlic bread, but the other was tiny.

And now... for the disfunction. When we sat down, the roll of paper towels they have on each table was just a tube with a couple towels clinging to it. I said that when the waitress came to get our order, we needed to ask for more paper towels. Of course nary a one of us opened our mealy mouths to request more. So when the food came, Genius tore off a towel and handed it to me, and then he took the one he had to pry loose from the cardboard. Sorry, Hick and Friend! You're on your own! When the waiter came back to deliver Hick's sad potato, Hick DID ask, and we got a roll of paper towels.

Genius then strong-armed Friend into giving him a slice of garlic bread. That was dirty pool, since Friend had bitten off the small piece, saving the larger one for last. Of course that's the one Genius got. 

When Hick had first ordered his BBQ Baked Potato, he was told he got a side dish, and he said he wanted garlic bread. The waitress told him, "It comes with two slices of garlic bread. Do you want more?"

"Yes, I want my side to be garlic bread."

"Okay. That will be five slices of garlic bread all together..."

"Oh. Well. Then I don't want THAT much. I'll take baked beans."

After hearing Hick grousing to Friend about how they each got one good piece of garlic bread, and a tiny one, I felt bad for Hick. So I gave him half my bottom sandwich bun, which had a nice toast around the edge, plus some sauce that had leaked through my chicken pieces. Hick took it so gladly that I wished I had give him the whole bottom. But not enough to deny myself the other half.

A nice visit was had by all, and the food was tasty.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Pony Cannot Catch a Break

Poor Pony, struggling through a bout of The Universe serving up crap sandwiches! I think The Pony is due for a platter of filet mignon. Then again, I'm just a hovering parent.

Last week, The Pony encountered a lady out in her yard with her dalmatians. He voiced his concern to me by text.

"These people, insisting their dogs are friendly and fine to deliver mail if they're out. For reference, these are large dalmatians with a habit of jumping up on you, per the resident herself. She even said they knocked her over and she broke an ankle before, and still insisted they're fine to come up and deliver when they're out."

But that's not all. Later that same evening:

"RIP to my NY ice cream, since my freezer apparently didn't close *again* when I got ice for my extra water bottle. Everything else is fine. Just thawed a little."

But wait! Tuesday took the non-existent cake!

The Pony was supposed to be off, since Wednesday, which is the USPS Juneteenth holiday, is his regular day off, and so Tuesday would become the holiday. The Pony volunteered to work Tuesday, to gain extra leave hours. "It will be easy. Only 8 hours for sure, because they don't want to pay any penalty time for going over."

Well. If only. I got another text on Tuesday morning:

"Gonna be a long day. They're strapped for people, and I have three different every door things. Gonna take two and do the overtime. Since it's penalty time to do it on my holiday/day off."

During a break around 2:00, The Pony sent a message about things we read on Reddit on the unofficial post office thread.

"Another burnt LLV on Reddit! Apparently it was 2 minutes start to finish."

"Oh, the MAILmanity! Somebody's bills aren't getting paid this month! Dang. Bless the Metris you drive on your route."

"It makes things more bearable."

"A very thin silver lining."

Until 3 hours and 45 minutes later, when The Pony sent me a video. I won't link it, because I haven't asked permission.

"This is, uh, worrying about the Metris. Uh. It's still running. The key is NOT in it." All shown in the video, the key out, the motor running.

"What are you doing about it?"

"Being careful as I can and getting it turned off however I can with key jiggling. It is getting worse and more regular that it's not shutting off, or where things from turning the key are delayed. Which is definitely worrying because the gearshift is also in that batch of electronics."

"Drive back to the office while you can!"

"Yeah, I'm gonna try to do this next walking bit and then call and ask if I can just finish packages and skip that mail."

"Dad says he can come get you if you're stranded."

"I'll keep you updated."

At 6:22... "Five packages then back, got permission to skip the last bit of normal mail."

Well. Isn't THAT nice of management...

Anyhoo... The Pony was off at 7:15. So much for "volunteering" to take an 8-hour shift.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Can You Believe Val is Annoyed?

Hick went to an auction Monday night! I had a night off from making his supper and cleaning up after him! It's as good as bingo! 

That's not what annoyed me.

With Hick away, I picked up my favorite Dairy Queen supper of soft pretzel sticks and a cheeseburger off their 2-for-$5 menu. The line was not too long. Only four cars ahead of me. It moved quickly. I got my food. The gal didn't even wrap the long receipt around my debit card, but folded it in half and handed it beside the card. I checked in the bag, and my queso sauce was included. Off to enjoy my solitary meal and scratchers and music from Spotify on HIPPIE.

Well. I pulled into the garage, and set my DQ bag on T-Hoe's console, so I could just turn and grab it once I got out with my purse and metal water bottle in hand. No need to walk around and fetch the DQ bag from the passenger side.

What in the NOT-HEAVEN???

That bag tipped over before I could get my door open! Dang those DQ order-packers! I don't know WHY some of them have to use the SMALL bag for my cheeseburger and pretzel sticks. They wad up two or four napkins and stuff them in the bottom. Then put in my cheeseburger. Then put the pretzels on top. That's too much for a small bag! It's TOP-HEAVY! I always pin it to the back of the passenger seat with my purse, so it won't fall over if I have to hit the brakes. It will usually at least STAND UP when placed on a flat surface. Not this time.

I heard something fall out of my DQ bag! I was afraid it was my pretzels, but only one of the three escaped, and was lying on the edge of the console. I quickly stuffed it back in the bag, but my precious queso sauce was missing!

I reached back to the floor behind the console. Felt on both sides, in front of the seat behind me, and the passenger seat. No queso! Dang it! I got out and opened the back door. Felt all around again. Looked. NOTHING! I DID find a dollar, all folded up. So there's that! Finally, I picked up the maroon quilted slick-fabric winter coat I haul around in case I get run off the road in the snow. I moved it farther back. I figure I won't need it for several months. Anyhoo... my queso rolled out! How it got down in some folds where I couldn't see it or feel it, I'll never understand.

Anyhoo... here's the small bag they stuff my food in:

It's so small that the pretzel sticks hit the side, and lose some of their butter coating. Inside, it looks like THIS:

Even if the bag hasn't tipped over, and I've restored a pretzel stick and queso container, the pretzel sticks are always slapped into the cardboard container all willy-nilly. Here's my precious queso that I will forever look for before driving away, since that one time they left it out:

Those pretzel sticks are not the same without queso! And now I have an extra dollar, too, for my trouble!

I really like it better whey they use the large bag, and set the cheeseburger and the pretzel sticks side by side on the bottom. I does not tip over. Nothing gets smashed. And the salt doesn't get knocked off the pretzel sticks like when (EVEN WORSE) they put the burger on top of the pretzels in a small bag.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Through the Eyes, Into the Brain, Over the Head, an Effort in Vain

You may recall that our adopted dog Scarlett (the red Australian Shepherd we rehomed from a former student who works in law enforcement and didn't want to keep her crated 12 hours a day) simply ADORES Hick. He is the one who has always fed her. Made sure she had a house. Let her off her cable when he thought she knew she belonged here. And the one who drove around to get her every time she ran off over the first few months. Also, the one who got her cable tangled around his Gator tire, and almost strangled her to death. Scarlett does not hold that near-fatal incident against him.

Scarlett tolerates me. Runs to greet me. Happily accepts a daily treat. But her heart lies with Hick. I tell him that all the time, and he just says, "Huh." Not in a questioning way, but just like, oh. Scarlett paces the porch when he's inside, hoping he will appear. Which Hick does, sometimes, to go pee off the porch. At which time Scarlett is ready to greet the object of her ADORATION, prancing and jumping, receiving nary a pat, but sometimes gets lucky with a, "Hello, Scarlett."

"You really could give Scarlett a little more attention. She ADORES you!"

I tell Hick that at least once a day. And he either says, "Huh," or something like:

"I'm going out to mow the yard. She'll come with me."

Indeed. Scarlett chooses a shady spot to lie where she can watch Hick on his mower. Not even me coming down the driveway, with Jack and neighbor dog Copper Jack barking their fool heads off to greet me, a treat imminent, can tear Scarlett away from her Hick-watch.

I was reminded of this attachment as I looked for a Father's Day card in 10Box. They have a decent selection, but there were no Father's Day cards. I figured they were on a special cardboard display up front by the service desk. At a spot where I'd have to push my cart as if SHOPLIFTING my groceries, or first check out, get a card, then go back through a line to pay.

It's not that I don't love Hick enough to put out that effort... but WHY, when there were some perfectly good cards for 99 cents right in front of me, that could work just as well as a $5 Hallmark card up front. Granted, I'd have to get one that was blank inside, and write my own message, but I'm a reasonably-educated woman, a former VALEDICTORIAN, you know, capable of conveying my sentiments in a greeting card.

The perfect card caught my eye. A sweet doggie, tilting its head in the way they do when they are trying to figure something out.

Inside, I wrote: 

Happy Father's Day
Even though you are sometimes hard to understand, I still ADORE you!

Well. Hick read the card. It seemed to take him a long time. Then he thanked me for it.

"Do you get it?"


"Really? Explain it."

Silence. "Well." Hick read it out loud. "It means you adore me."

"You're not getting it. See the dog on the front? How they turn their head when trying to understand? It's like when you 'explain' something to me. You don't make sense. But I still love you. I love you as much as SCARLETT loves you!"


To be fair, Hick is very similar in the way he treats me AND Scarlett. He provides just enough attention to keep us alive.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Disappointed, and Disowned

It's no secret that Val is a fan of reality TV. Not embarrassed to say so. Won't pretend that she threw out her TV twenty years ago, to climb upon her high horse and gallop across the Blogosphere, proclaiming that she is a highbrow who would never deign to waste time in front of the boob tube, preferring instead to grow her own wheat, harvest and thresh it, and bake artisanal bread to show her superiority to the heathens who purchase the sliced storebought variety.

One of my non-guilty pleasures is the reality survival show Alone. Contestants are dumped into the wilderness with only 10 items of their choosing, to build a shelter, find their own food, and outlast the other nine contestants.

Imagine my excitement upon viewing the first episode this week, to see that there was a MISSOURI contestant! Welp. Of course he was the first one to tap out. But now I must disown him!!! His name is Cubby, 34 years old, and upon reading his bio on the History Channel, it turns out he only moved (from Arkansas) to Missouri when he was 32 years old! I cry shenanigans! Plus, he lives in Barry County, which might as well be in Arkansas, because the only thing separating us is the imaginary state line to the south!

Anyhoo... Cubby started out being quite industrious, building the framework for his shelter. He decided on Day 4 that he was hungry, and took his bow and arrows on a trip through his territory, to assess the wild game available. While walking through the brush, an arrow fell out of his quiver, and as he took a step, in pierced his left inner leg near the knee. 


Anyhoo... Cubby had to PULL OUT THE ARROW, and put a compression bandage on the wound, and try to get back to his camp 30 minutes away. Then he decided to tap out. I don't blame him for that. You don't want to hobble around in the wilderness with a four-inch-deep puncture wound in your inner knee area.

However... I DISOWN Cubby as a Missourian! He's from Arkansas, born and raised. Hasn't even been in (borderline) Missouri for two whole years!

Also, I (in my own challenged way) find it IRONIC that Cubby, who earns his living making bows, was felled by an arrow (that pierced his leg) made by Cubby himself!

Anyhoo... I'll still watch Alone every week. I'll have to pick a new favorite. Probably the one with the least amount of agenda to promote.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Strange Fruit

On the way to town last week, I got a sense that something was not quite right. I was on the gravel road, getting ready to turn onto the county blacktop road down by Mailbox Row. You know how your eye catches something that is different, even if you are daydreaming and not paying attention to your everyday surroundings.

A glance to my right assured me that I was not yet ready for a chorus of crazy temple twirly fingers. Indeed, something was amiss. Something bright red, where no bright red should be.

I took a picture through T-Hoe's window:

What in the Not-Heaven??? It looked like a not-very-sophisticated purse stapled to a tree. There was writing on that purse. A person's name, perhaps? Nope.

That was no purse!!! It was an INSECT TRAP! Did you ever hear of such a thing? I think of a trap like a heavy metal snapper designed to catch bear paws. Or a cylindrical clear mini-barrel with a funky opening in one end to trap minnows. Neither resembles this purse-like 3D plastic envelope.

I suppose there are holes in it somewhere, to let the insects in. Maybe something sticky to hang onto them so they don't get out. Apparently, signs saying PRIVATE PROPERTY do not deter insect-trappers. 

Not saying it's a conspiracy... but their little purse flat-out claims they are government workers.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Val is Once Again ASTONISHED at the Gumption of Everyday People Who Park in the Handicap Spaces

It's almost to the point where the majority of people I see park in the handicap spaces DO NOT HAVE handicap plates, nor placards. I must goad Hick into setting up my proposed handbasket factory! This certainly must be the beginning of the end. 

Thursday, I parked T-Hoe at the gas pumps at the Sis-Town Casey's. I was waiting to cross the parking lot when a car pulled into the HANDICAP space. Oh, and they were way over the line, too, taking up part of the striped walkway I use to avoid stepping up or down from the sidewalk.

Anyhoo... those scofflaws were out of their vehicle, and inside the store before I hobbled over there to pre-pay for my gas. Inside, I saw them at the case by the deli, getting slices of pizza from the round warmer thingy that rotates. Neither of them appeared to be differently-abled. They were late-30s, and argumentative with each other. 

Heh, heh! I was NOT sad that they got in line behind me, dealing with a new cashier, who was quite slow in getting my scratchers, and ringing up the transaction. In fact, she skipped one of  my $5 crosswords, and I had to remind her that I had TWO, and to scan another time, so I didn't STEAL again!

Back at T-Hoe, I pumped my gas, cleaned a squashed bug off the windshield, and climbed inside. The Scofflaws had just returned to their car. In fact, they were making their getaway as I tried to get a picture.

There they are, backing out. When they parked, there was a car next to the white one. But still, a space next to it. So it's not like the handicap space (and the striped walkway) were the only spaces available.

There they go, having procured their pizza slices, for which they could not park in a legal space to shop. Can you believe these people took up a handicap space??? Yes. I know you CAN.

It's not like I wanted that space. I never park in it, because close-parkers will put their car too close to me on the left, and I won't be able to get my door open. I park across the striped walkway, in the space that is not designated as handicapped. Unless I'm at the gas pumps, where I don't need a parking space at all. 

However, you don't know when somebody might need that space, rightfully theirs, being taken up by inconsiderate pizza-eaters.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Back to Wednesday Night Bingo

FINALLY! Hick has returned to playing bingo on Wednesday nights! That's after a few weeks of not playing at all!!! I'm pretty sure I am happier than Hick. His people decided to switch nights, since the Tuesday night version did not have good prizes, and not much of a crowd.

I asked Hick to send me pictures of his food, and the big prize. Of course that's not a simple task for someone like Hick.

"Shrimp and chess sticks"

A typical Hick response. I'm pretty sure he meant CHEESE sticks.

"Mmm. Why do the shrimp look sticky?"

A normal person might have responded with the name of the shrimp. But not Hick.

"They are but they are good"

"I MEAN what flavoring makes it sticky?"

"It's spicy something head sweating"

"Well. I guess you could have read the menu."

So I still don't know what kind of shrimp Hick had for his supper. He said the big prize was 2 tickets to Fort Lauderdale Florida. Which he did not win. However...

"I won a sign"

"WooHoo! At least you won something!"

"It's actually a pretty nice sign"

Yes. Since it was FREE!

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Deed is Done

Val is FREE! Free from arrest, conviction, and incarceration for her shoplifting of two six-packs of Diet Mountain Dew from 10Box! Tuesday, I went in to buy bananas and onions. But the onions released a mini-swarm of some kind of wide-winged gnat when I picked them up. So no go! It wasn't even the Vidalia onions that I had wanted, but a 3-pound bag of "sweet onions" that I would have settled for. Not when I saw something fly out of them!

Anyhoo... I picked up my bananas, and went to the right end of the store to get two 12-packs of Shasta Diet Cola, and one six-pack of Diet Mountain Dew. As well as some sturdy paper plates, because we are running out.

On my way across the front of the store, I saw the Older Lady with long gray hair. She speaks to me on occasion. She is also a frequenter of the lottery machines. I motioned to her when she caught my eye.

"I have a problem. I was here on Friday, and took items I did not pay for. I would like to pay for them now."

"I can do that. What was it?"

"I had three six-packs of Diet Mountain Dew, and was talking to the cashier, and did not tell her I had two more in the cart when she scanned my soda. I figure the EASIEST way to do that is to charge me for THREE of them now, while I'm buying ONE. I know it would probably never show up, but by doing this, it will even out the money and inventory in the long run."

"That's right. I probably wouldn't show up. I can help you."

"Should I go over to the service desk?"

"Yes. That will be fine."

She might have been on her break. She stopped to talk to a young cashier I have rarely seen. I went to the service desk and waited. When Older Lady arrived, she said she could ring up my whole order there. Which was only ONE six-pack of Diet Mountain Dew, two 12-packs of Shasta Diet Cola, six bananas, and a pack of paper plates.

"Thank you for being honest."

Thank YOU, Ma'am, The Universe, and Even Steven. I prefer to be judged on the content of my character, rather than the ampleness of my rumpus, the length of my lovely lady-mullet, or the stickiness of my fingers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Universe is Not Only a Narc, But a Harsh Taskmaster

Well. Not only did The Universe tattle on Val to Even Steven concerning her (inadvertent)  crime of stealing two six-packs of Diet Mountain Dew... but it also levied an unpleasant penalty on our (mostly) innocent Val!

Monday, I went in Country Mart while over in Sis-Town at the bank. I picked up Hick's Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, and saw that Diet Mountain Dew was on sale 3-for-$11. They even had it on the shelf! So I BOUGHT three six-packs. Paid for all three!!!

Once home, I opened up T-Hoe's rear to retrieve one to carry in the house. What I saw was a punishment from The Universe for my (accidental) thieving ways.

One of the Diet Mountain Dew six-packs had turned over. It happens all the time. But this one was LEAKING!

What in the NOT-HEAVEN??? I got a stack of Puffs Plus Lotion from up front, and tried to sop up part of the mess. At least it was diet soda, so not a sticky stain. I set that six-pack on the metal chair on the side porch. I noticed that one of the middle bottles was almost empty of liquid.

Of course Hick came up the driveway as I was climbing the steps with the grocery bag and a box of my own Diet Shasta Cola. He has a knack for arriving right after I've carried everything in. As I was setting that stuff down, the kitchen door open to gave my dogs a treat, here came Hick carrying that six-pack of soda.

"Don't bring that in here! It's leaking! Take out the leaky bottle."

Hick's solution was to set the whole thing on top of my Dear Departed Juno's dog house. You know, because it's easier to let ME take it apart and bring it in later.

When I went to look at it closer, I saw the problem. The cap on that middle bottle was not put on straight at the factory. Of course The Universe made sure that's the six-pack I grabbed off the shelf, and the one to turn over in the car.

Not such a bargain after all, I suppose. Seeing as how I didn't get 18 bottles for the $11, but only 17. A lost value of 61 cents. I figure there's still over $9 worth of retribution for my ill-gotten gains left before The Universe is done meting out justice.

Perhaps my debt to society will be paid when I return that shoplifted windfall to 10Box on Tuesday. Then I can return to my regular luck, and spill-free shopping.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Apparently, a Life of Crime DOES Pay. Until Even Steven Catches You.

One day after Val's crime spree stealing two six-packs of Diet Mountain Dew from 10Box (a $9.71 value), she fell rumpus-over-teakettle into a fortune at the Gas Station Chicken Store.

I was joshing with my Favorite Clerk about how her counterpart on the other three days of the week had just sold me a $100 winner two days previous.

"You really need to step it up! She puts you to shame lately."

"I'm trying!"

In fact, Fave had set out my daily Cash4Life draw ticket (that I get for The Pony), and my crosswords, on the counter. She'd seen me drive in. Wasn't busy. So had gotten my tickets ready. She had also pulled out the $10 ticket I always buy, but hadn't torn it off yet.

"I saw you coming. Let's see if I'm right. I didn't tear off the ten, because sometimes you switch things up."

"Well. That is what I was planning to buy. So you did good!"

Back home, I had just sat down to scratch when Hick came fuming through the door, his nose out of joint over shoddy treatment at Walmart automotive department when trying to get a battery for SilverRedO. I lent him an ear, then went back to finish scratching my $10 ticket when Hick sat down in his recliner.



Usually, Hick's presence is the kiss of death when it comes to my scratcher luck. He's like a "cooler" in a casino. But not this time! See that 50X symbol on the second row, right side? 
I knew I had a good one!

That's a $1000 WINNER, by cracky! I was shocked. 

Sunday, I was on my way to The Pony's house to gather up his half of the flip house costs, plus his monthly house payment. I stopped by the Gas Station Chicken Store to show Fave what she had done.

"Ooh! Take THAT, [Redacted]!"

"Yes. Now you've outdone her. She might as well tie a bandana on a stick and hit the road."

Of course I will be treating Fave to a couple of extra scratchers when I next see her on Thursday. No good deed goes unrewarded by Val. 

I DID, however, have to tell her to put back the $10 ticket she had torn off when she saw me drive in. No way I'm buying another one of those for a while at this store. 

I suppose The Universe ratted me out to Even Steven about the stolen soda. Because when I scratched my Sunday tickets, I only won $5. I shall be repaying my debt to 10Box forthwith.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Is There an Incarcer(VAL)ation in the Future?

After asking for a discount on my expired slaw mix on Friday, I bought my scratchers from the machine, and proceeded back to T-Hoe. I recorded my transaction in my checkbook register, and was surprised at the total. $15.04. Huh. That seemed cheap, considering how I'd bought bananas, pepper jack cheese, discounted slaw mix, and three six-packs of Diet Mountain Dew.

WAIT A MINUTE! They had only charged me for ONE six-pack of Diet Mountain Dew! Oh, no! That was because, as usual, I'd only set one of the six-packs on the conveyor, intending to mention as it was scanned that I had THREE.

In all the talking, I had neglected to mention the other two six-packs in the cart. You know how elderlies despise hefting heavy items onto the conveyor. But I always tell them. Until now!

My knees did not feel like walking back inside and waiting for somebody to come to the service desk. The lady who would do that was busy pulling the expired slaw mix from the cooler. I vowed to take my receipt with me on my next trip into 10Box, when my legs were fresh, whether it be for lottery or shopping, and explain my criminal faux pas, and pay for those two "free" six-packs of Diet Mountain Dew. 

Is this a logical decision? I do not want to be a thief. They are SO nice to me at 10Box. I'm not out to defraud them. I know it won't show up until they do an inventory, or perhaps have an audit. But I want it off my conscience! Stealing, whether by choice, or by neglect, is NOT good karma!

Meanwhile, I had stowed those groceries on the passenger side of T-Hoe. Hick was not available for carrying-in, due to his grilling for the elderlies at the Senior Center. So I only took in one six-pack of Diet Mountain Dew. In fact, that was the only reason I did ANY shopping that day. Hick was out of Diet Mountain Dew.

Oh, he said I didn't have to. Said he could buy a single bottle at the Backroad's Casey's. But you know how it is. Hick's absolving me of shopping before my intended trip was dripping with much put-upon-ness of the permanent victim variety. I know it well! I use this tactic all the time for my own  benefit.

Anyhoo... those two six-packs of Mountain Dew are riding along with me on my trips to town, MOCKING me for being A THIEF!!!

I can't wait until our bananas are used up, and I go back to 10Box for more. At which time I will ask for somebody to come to the service desk, and show them my receipt, and pay for the STOLEN two six-packs of Diet Mountain Dew.

It will be a load off my conscience.

Would you go back and pay? Right then, or the next time? Or would you just figure it was an oversight by the cashier, and revel in your windfall?

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Ask, and Ye May Receive

I went in 10Box on Friday, because Hick was out of Diet Mountain Dew. There was no sale, but since he was out, I had to pay regular price, rather than wait for the next sale. The price was $4.15 per six-pack of 20 oz bottles, plus the 10 percent added at the register. Making it $4.565 per six-pack. Still, cheaper than the marked price of $4.99 per six-pack at Country Mart. Anyhoo... I picked up three six-packs of it, as usual. Can't have Hick withdrawing from caffeine! 

My main purpose for going to the store was bananas, but I hadn't planned on doing that for a day or two. Might as well get everything while I was there. The bananas. And some pepper jack cheese, because the pack I saw in FRIG II said to use by November 11, 2023. I tossed that out, even though it wasn't moldy. They were out of Vidalia onions, or the "sweet onions" they sell in their place. So the only item left was the bag of slaw mix. 

The dates on all four packages of slaw mix were 06/06/24. That was the DAY BEFORE the current date of 06/07/24. Still. I really wanted that slaw mix. Not for actual slaw, but because I like to put a little BBQ sauce in some, and eat it as a side dish with chicken patties or regular chicken.

Anyhoo... I got in line. A guy with a little girl about 5 years old was in front of me. She kept gooning at me (my former students' expression for staring) like I had three heads. Finally, I looked her in the eye, and she averted hers. She kept getting in the way, hanging onto the side of the cart, being smashed between cart and the side of the checkout, as the guy was trying to put a loaf of bread, and a case of bottled water onto the conveyor. He didn't interact with her. I'm thinking maybe, since it was the first weekend of the month, it was his visitation with her.

Anyhoo, once I could get close enough, I set one of my soda six-packs on the conveyor. Then the bag of slaw mix. Then my cheese and bananas. It was the cashier who is friendly with me, a fellow lottery player, who always asks if I've won anything lately.

She greeted me with that question. I told her that I won $100 on a $10 ticket, the first luck I'd had in about three months. She shared that she had bought two of the new $50 tickets, and won nothing! While conversing, she scanned my soda. Then as she took the bag of slaw mix, I told her

"It's expired, but I really wanted some slaw mix. There are three more bags back there, all with the same date. Do you think I can get a discount?"

"I'm not authorized to do that, but I can get someone."

"No, that's okay. I want it anyway. But you don't know until you ask."

Just then, the lady who is so nice to me and brings a cart to me on the parking lot came up and handed that cashier a computer printout. I assumed it was the schedule for the next week. Cashier told that gal about the expired slaw, and asked if she could give me a discount.

"Yes. Let her have it for a dollar. I don't remember what the price is. I'll go back and pull the other bags."

I thanked her. I didn't remember the price, but I know it was more than a dollar. Cashier was looking over her new schedule after scanning the slaw mix and my cheese. I put in my debit card. Got my receipt. Told Cashier,

"Hey. It doesn't hurt to ask! Now I have more money to play the lottery!"

Heh, heh. Little did I realize how MUCH more money.