Thursday, August 17, 2017

Some Days I'm The Weirdo-Moth Drawn To Another's Magnet-Flame

Today as I came out of the gas station chicken store, virtually skipping with glee, carrying my 44 oz Diet Coke and two scratch-off tickets, my reverie was interrupted by a BARK!

My left eye's peripheral vision picked up a little doggie hanging out the window of a pickup truck parked one space over. It was not a yappy bark. Not malicious. Not continuous. Just a BARK BARK that said he meant business, that I would notice him, and he was waiting. After I opened my door and set down my magical elixir, I turned to look. I was going to say, "Hi, doggie." Because I'm the friendly sort, you know, if people and animals mind their manners.

Well! A lady was sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, with Doggie on her lap. I was startled, because I had not sensed a human in the cab. I guess maybe her floral sleeveless housedress had helped camouflage her. She looked like Fred Ziffel's wife, only younger.

And hanging out the window was JACK'S FACE! Okay, not the brown-and-white Australian Cattle Dog markings of my precious Jack. But other than that, it was his face! The same expression, the same shape, the same tiny mouth and bright eyes.
 

"What kind of dog is that?"

"He's ah weeener dawwg."

This little dog had a black head, white body, and spots on his underbelly that I assumed also covered the rest of him.

"I've never seen one like that! I have a half-weiner, half heeler. He has spots."

"This one's pure. He's what they call a piebald."

"Well, he's cute."

Fred came out and got in the driver's seat, so I didn't continue the discussion. But that little dog was pretty as a...as a...speckled pup!

Yeah. Today, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was the weirdo asking too many questions. Some days you're the weirdo, some days you're the magnet.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It Kind Of Makes Me Long For The Things That Go BUMP In The Night

You may recall that the Mansion has experienced some unexplained thumping lately. And that I heard Farmer H clear his throat in the basement workshop down under the master bedroom where I was fully awake...over 20 minutes after Farmer H had left the Mansion to take neighbor Tommy to town last Friday.

On Saturday, I was awakened by someone saying my name. Just my first name. In a normal tone, normal volume. I was laying on my left side, as I like to sleep, facing the wall that hosts the fake fireplace with that battery-operated candle on the mantel that was mysteriously glowing one early morning as I went to bed.

"Hillbilly."

That was all. Just my first name. Normal tone, normal volume. I couldn't discern if it was a man or woman saying my name. It was not a voice I recognized. Nothing frantic like a warning, or spooky to scare me, or loud to wake me. Just a voice, over my right shoulder, as if standing at the other side of the bed, saying my name. Once. I can't really describe it. The tone was pretty nondescript. Human. From the height of where someone's head would be if they were standing. Not laying in the bed, not sitting down, not in the bathroom or living room.

Some really weird things happen around here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Debater, Dog Shaver, Not A Credit Card Activator

Sunday, Farmer H trimmed most of the dusty matted tufts off my Sweet, Sweet Juno's back, and a large wad of green-burred fur off her chest.


His dogside manner probably precludes him from a career as a dog groomer, but his work is technically proficient. He also excels at debating. If winning is not a requisite outcome.

Also that evening, as I prepared his requested spaghetti supper, I told him that his new debit card needed to be activated. His expires at the end of the month, and we got a new one in the mail.

"I have my hands in the dishwater while I'm waiting on your food to cook. Do you want to call in this card and activate it before we forget?"

[Yes. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom washes dishes BEFORE supper, and then rinses the supper dishes and washes them the next day. Let ye who have dishwasher appliances not judge.]

"Oh. You want ME to do it?"

"Well, it can't be that hard. Just call in from our home phone, and push a couple of numbers."

"Nah. I'm going to the pharmacy tomorrow. I'll just use it there."

"But it won't be activated."

"I'll activate it there."

"Did you even read the instructions? I saw that the paper was unfolded, so I know you looked at it. Besides, you even asked me about it."

"Yeah. It says you can call it in or use it to activate it."

"You can do it online, call it in, or use it AT THE BANK FACILITY ATM."

"I'm pretty sure that I can activate it when I use it."

"Um...NO. That's why they call it ACTIVATING the card. Not just getting a new card and using it."

"As long as I use my PIN number, that activates it."

"Here. I'll do it when I go downstairs!"

"Whatever."

I'm pretty sure I'm the one who got outsmarted there.

So...I activated Farmer H's new debit card, and stuck the card back on the paper, and wrote beside it (no paper plate notes for Mrs. HM!):

"Your card is activated. HERE is your PIN."

Yes. I know that you should never write down a PIN. But I also know Farmer H. Even though he uses his debit card all the time, the fact that he had a NEW one would throw him off. I'd mentioned an OLD PIN when asking him about activating it. I have his written down in a safe place, just in case. Yet Farmer H agreed that evening that the OLD PIN is what it would be under. Nope. The automated bank nearly cut me off. So I grabbed my trusty note, and used the actual PIN that Farmer H uses now.

You know what happened, right? Farmer H got home from the pharmacy, and said his card didn't work.

"I thought you said you activated it."

"I left you a NOTE that I activated it."

"Yeah, you know what I mean. But the PIN didn't work."

"Did you get your medicine?"

"Yeah. She just ran it like a credit card."

"What PIN did you use?"

"I used [OLD PIN]."

"No, I WROTE THE PIN ON THE NOTE THAT SAID I ACTIVATED IT! RIGHT ON THE PAPER THE CARD WAS STUCK ON."

"Oh. I guess I didn't read it."

"What PIN do you always use?"

"[CURRENT PIN]."

"There you go. It will work. That's how I activated it."

I really could outsmart Farmer H if I wanted to.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Man Who Could Not Take A Hint

It's no secret that Farmer H is not very adept at pickin' up what I'm layin' down.

Last night, as I came upstairs to make him the spaghetti he requested for his supper, I noticed that the light through the windows that border the front door was gloomy. Normally at this time, a ray shoots through and blinds me as I climb the steps. Like a ray through the top of that Indiana Jones staff.

"Oh, is it raining? I didn't see it in the forecast."

"--"

"Is it raining? Looks cloudy."

"Huh? What?"

"For the third time, is it raining?"

"I don't know. I think maybe I dozed off for a minute."

"Why is it freezing up here?"

"I turned on the ceiling fan."

"Yeah. And I see that you have the thermostat down to 73 already. TEN hours early!"

"I was hot."

"Oh, I can see how you would be...sitting there in the recliner doing absolutely nothing. While I'm in the kitchen toiling over a hot stove frying hamburger and boiling noodles."

"Yeah, yeah. I never do nothing."

"I'm glad you see that now."

I went on to the kitchen to get the Master of the Mansion's dinner going. Three cans of mushrooms, people! That's what he likes in his sauce. I'm going to start buying the bigger cans.

"Huh. Look at that wastebasket!"

Let the record show that I had pulled the tall kitchen wastebasket out from under the opening in the counter that was left for a dishwasher. The bag had been full when I got up. Was still full when I left for town. Full when I got back. And now I saw that, where I had pulled the drawstring ties tighter, to keep Jenga-ed stuff from falling off the top of the heap, that Farmer H had added two Diet Mountain Dew bottles, and a plastic individual container from ice cream. Not only had he NOT gotten the visual hint to take out the dadgum trash...he had ADDED TO IT!

Well. Two can play that game. And Mrs. Hillbilly Mom can play it like a pro. I added the plastic container from my lunch pinwheels, and the three mushroom cans, and the spaghetti sauce can, and the squeeze bottle of minced garlic that I used up. I had to tighten the drawstrings a little more. I had that black Hefty bag poofed up over the top of the wastebasket like a pan full of Jiffy Pop ready to take off the burner.

While I was making his supper, Farmer H got up to look out the front door. "It's not raining."

"So...whoever takes out the trash won't get wet."

Can you believe that Farmer H walked right back to the La-Z-Boy and reclined?
I'm sure you can.

"It'll be done in about four minutes. Do you want to add your own sauce? Since you always say you don't want so much sauce. After you're finished eating."

"No. You do it okay."

"All you have to do is dip it from the pan onto the bowl."

"I don't like as much sauce as you think I like."

"Then come make your own!"

Sweet Gummi Mary! It's not like I expected him to find the pans, and fry the hamburger, and soak up the grease with bread for the dogs, and find the can opener to release the mushrooms and sauce, and open up the spaghetti box, and stand over the watched pot until it boiled, and add the noodles. I even had them drained and in a bowl. All he had to do was add sauce to his liking.

Don't even get me started on Farmer H's new debit card that arrived in the mail.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Mid-Morning Hillbilly Family Vignette

My Sweet, Sweet Juno has not been a happy camper lately. She isolates herself in her dog house on the back porch by the kitchen door. I know it's not so she can catch me on my way out, to scam some extra cat kibble as I'm leaving, and not just when I get home. No dog should spend her days laying in a house. Even if it's a really nice house, insulated, with a shingle roof, that sits up against the house, three feet from the kitchen door so she can smell the tantalizing aroma of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's cooking.

Juno doesn't like Copper, the neighbor dog, so she avoids him. Unless Farmer H fires up the Gator, and then she joins in barking and acting the fool, and runs along with Copper and Jack like satellites orbiting Farmer H. Jack and Copper are always up to something, and not always in the yard. But I guess Juno thinks they are.

When it's time for the evening snack, even if I chose to walk late in the day, Juno must be summoned from her sturdy shingled lair. She runs to it as soon as I start up the steps after walking. Some nights, it's not enough to call, "Juno...come get your snack." Nope. Just like Jack magically appears when I open the door with a paper plate in hand, Juno must be scolded to come get her rations. They are dependable as clockwork.

Jack prances along underfoot, sniffing, arrives at the designated spot in front of the porch pew, and dances on his hind legs. I usually have a mini-snack for Copper, which I lay on the pew until the dogs who actually LIVE HERE are given their snack. Jack knows not to go for it. He waits for me to set down his plate in front of him. All the while, I've been scolding Juno. "Juno! Come get your snack! Juno! Come on! Copper's gonna get yours. Juno! Snack time! JUNO! GET OUT HERE!" Then I hear her galumphing around the porch. She runs to Jack's plate as he eats. He knows better than to grown at Ol' Grumpy, but he stands his ground, eats faster, and gives her the eye. As I set down Juno's plate, she sticks her nose in it, almost upsetting her place serving.

I really can't blame Juno. She WAS starved almost to death when we got her. I know she'd been at my mom's house for three days, and was only given some bread and milk on the third day. When we'd feed Baby Juno her canned puppy food, our other dogs at the time, Grizzly and Poor Dumb Ann, would crowd around her, making her snarl the whole time she was chewing. It was the funniest thing ever. But probably not to Juno.

Anyhoo...this time of year, Juno always looks quite unkempt. Since yesterday, she's had a bundle of green burrs entwined in her black flowing locks on the front of her neck. It's a big wad. No way can they be picked out. She also has several tufts along her spine that stick up, and are a lighter color from her taking a dust bath and soaking up dry dirt like a sponge in those matted wads.

I walked this morning instead of evening, and gave the dogs a mini-snack of dry ramen noodles. Farmer H drove over on the Gator, and I told him about Juno's burrs.

"Do you think you could get something and cut them off? It's a mess."

"Yeah. I'm going in the house. I'll get something."

That was a good sign. Because you never know when Farmer H might just whip out his pocket knife and start sawing at Juno's neck. He went inside, and I petted Juno to thwart her escape.

"You could have got my kitchen scissors. I can wash them."

"No, I got my hair-cutting scissors!"

"Well, I hope you wash THEM after using them on Juno! This is going to be an ordeal."

In fact, when Juno saw Farmer H come out the front door, she struggled to escape. She loves Farmer H (not as much as she loves ME, of course) and grovels at his feet when he comes out to sit a spell and talk. She's one of those dogs who keep nosing your hand if you quit petting. But now she wanted to make a run for it. I grabbed her by her neck nape with my left hand, and by some shoulder skin with my right, while putting my head close to her and sweet-talking. Jack just looked up at us like, "What in the Not-Heaven is going on now?"

You'd think Farmer H was performing a tracheotomy without anesthesia, so much squirming did Juno do! While whimpering. When in reality, it was just a quick snip, and a toss of that hair over the edge of the porch. Surely you didn't think Farmer H would take it in the house and throw it away! We live in the country! The outdoors is one big wastebasket! I also pointed out the lumps of dusty fur along Juno's spine, making her look like a prehistoric hairy dinosaur. Farmer H snipped them quickly. Tossed them for future bird's nest material, and backed off. Juno took off for her house like a high school freshman for the cafeteria at the lunch bell.

I hope all my teacher buddies are off to a good school year! Monday would be my district-wide inservice breakfast. IF I wasn't retired!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Toe's Got The Fever, I've Got The Cure

I think I've found the cure to my toe woes!

You know, the Great Toe Reddening of '17 that I spoke of on Wednesday, when I asked for an internet diagnosis. I didn't get a diagnosis, but I think I've solved the problem! By using the internet! Are you ready for this?

All I had to do was blog about it!

Uh huh. For two days now, my toe has been on the mend. It's no longer bright red, like a sunburn. Instead of looking like it's wearing a red sweater, or a crimson hoodie, it has changed into a pinky/purple/beige pullover. I don't know how to describe the exact shade. It's not red. It's not pink. It's not purple. It's not beige. Not as orangy as the "flesh" crayon from my Crayola childhood. My great toe kind of started to fade yesterday. To a sort of day-after-sunburn, less flaming red. You can still see the line of demarcation where the discoloration begins. Or ends.

No change in feeling. Still doesn't hurt, not swollen, has full sensation. The only untoward characteristic is the texture. It's kind of like an old carrot, unpeeled. Or maybe an elephant's skin, though I've never caressed an elephant.

Do you know what Farmer H had to say about it today? When I proudly stuck my foot in the air (not high, and I was holding onto the couch arm) to show him my improvement?

"I guess it looks okay."

That's kind of the opposite of Wednesday and Tuesday! When he said, "It doesn't look that bad." Yeah. Now that my great toe is looking so much better...Farmer H has an edge in his voice like there might be something wrong with me! I'd call Farmer H an odd duck, but I don't want to offend a loyal reader!

From now on, when something is wrong with me, I'm going to write a blog post about it! It's non-toxic, and pretty cheap. I assume my toe would think that's a GREAT idea.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Oh, Deer!

Okay, here's some more creepiness, right on the heels of Wednesday's tale of unidentified thumping objects at midnight.

We got a call from our neighbor Tommy on Thursday morning. I say we, but I was the one who got the call at 6:50 a.m. (I'd barely gone to bed!) because Farmer H was already at work. Tommy left a message. You didn't think I was springing out of bed to answer the phone at such an hour, did you? That's practically the middle of the night for me! I'd only been asleep a few hours.

Anyhoo...Tommy asked for a ride to town that day, or the next, to go to his bank, and grocery shopping. Farmer H has told Tommy that he doesn't mind taking him to town, to save him $30 cab fare every week. But that he will do it at his convenience. This has stopped Tommy from expecting to go RIGHT THEN when he calls. It still hasn't stopped him from calling too early in the morning.

Farmer H works on Thursdays, so obviously couldn't do it that day. I am not going to take on the responsibility, not because Tommy refers to me on the phone as "the little woman," but because I don't feel like it's proper. But I DO drive two miles over and two miles back to pick up his mail from his mailbox and take it to his driveway if he asks.

Anyhoo...Farmer H made arrangements to take Tommy to town this morning at 9:00. Last night, I told Farmer H to make sure I was up by 9:00, so I could get to the post office and mail the boys' weekly letters before the mail went out. He agreed.

This morning, Farmer H got up at 8:00. I heard him. I figured he'd tell me when he was leaving, so I went back to sleep. I woke up later and looked at the clock radio on my nightstand. It said 4:28. That doesn't mean anything. Every time the power goes off, it shows a different time. I figured that Farmer H was probably out puttering around until time to leave, and would either call me or come in to wake me. But now I was woke.

I rolled over on my back for a minute to unstiffen my knee joints before getting up. I heard Farmer H's cough. You know how people have their own distinctive cough. Not a hacking fit, not a throat-clear, but kind of in-between. A cough that clears the throat. Kind of a harumpf. It sounded like Farmer H was below me, in the basement workshop. I thought he might be getting something out of, or putting something into, one of the safes. Or maybe he'd been out the basement door and was coming back in. But I also thought he might have been down there snooping in my office, and then went into the workshop. I made a mental note to interrogate him as to his whereabouts when he came up to wake me.

I got up and walked past the door to the living room. Huh. The lights to the basement weren't on. Maybe Farmer H had been out on the back porch, or down on Poolio's deck. I looked at the living room clock. It was 9:20. Huh. Maybe Farmer H had changed the time of Tommy's shopping trip.

I went on about my business, taking meds, checking my internet, putting stamps on my letters. I got a text from Farmer H about deer in the neighbors field when he drove by with Tommy.


"Deer in [REDACTED]'s field they were right up by their house when I came down the road"

"Remember when I asked you to make sure I was up by 9:00?"

"I came and said leaving at 10 till 9 and you said ok so I figured you were awake"

"I didn't hear any of that. Woke up at 9:20. Heard you clear your throat in the basement or on the porch. I'd already been awake five minutes when I heard that."

"I'm sorry you answered me so I thought you were awake. I was gone by 9 not me clearing my throat"

Yeah. There's somethin' strange in Hillmombahood."