Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Cusdom Rat's Nest Of Discarded Paper And Cardboard

I am not a happy camper right now, even though I'm comfortably ensconced in my dark basement lair, fully Diet-Coked, with a heater blowing on my knees. I have not been a happy camper since approximately 3:55 p.m., when my classroom was invaded by Cus.

As you might surmise from previous tattle tales, there is no love lost between Mrs. Hillbilly Mom and Cus. Just the name sets me on edge. I think of it as CusCusCusCusCus. Like Popeye's laugh. Only not happy. As in not a happy camper.

You've yet to hear the rest of the story, with photo evidence. I can't squeeze all that into a weeknight post. But I can relate the latest little bit of Cusdom.

As I sat minding my own business, trying to enter tomorrow's assignments in my computer gradebook program, waiting for The Pony to finish with his Smartypants Team practice...Cus paraded back and forth past my door. Not once. Not twice. THRICE! That's three times down, and three times back. Wheeling the big cart holding mop water and a trash bin. JUST GET IT OVER ALREADY!

Cus entered my room. Dumped the wastebasket. And said, "I know this is probably a mistake to try and do this now, but it's looking pretty junky." And proceeded to go up and down the rows scraping junk out of the desks. Which Cus has pointedly not done since I refused to rearrange my furniture. In fact, I clean out those desks as needed. Just this afternoon, I threw away a returned assignment, and an empty water bottle. Sure, there might have been a sucker stick (thanks, NHS, for taping a mini Tootsie Pop to every student locker for Easter) and...I don't know what else. Because I cleaned out what I saw, except for the sticky stick, which requires a neon green hazmat suit paper towel to swipe with. The desks need cleaning out very seldom, because I see stuff and grab it in the morning when I go in and don't have to waste time rearranging 25 desks and 25 chairs. That, and Captain Mrs. Hillbilly Mom runs a tight ship, and has been known to track down a student at lunch and send him/her to the classroom to dispose of detritus left behind.

My point is that I see no need for the editorializing. Just scoop them out if you're gonna, and don't insinuate that my room is filthy because I'm a bad teacher. Not unless you want me to say, "Yeah. You haven't been cleaning them out for a while."

The old custodian never cleaned out a desk. I don't expect it. I'll do it myself if it gets to be a problem. I especially don't need to be trash-shamed for your job while I'm working at MY job.

One of these days, you'll get the full expose.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Juggling Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Circus Schedule

When Even Steven opens one door...he slams shut another. And another. And another.

This weekend is the state youth bowling tournament for The Pony. He goes every year. Anybody in a league who is a member of the bowling association can enter. Last year, The Pony kind of got cheated. The #1 son was being recognized by Missouri Scholars 100 on the same weekend, and we went to Columbia with him while The Pony stayed with his grandma. The bowling tournament is not too far away this year, but far enough that Farmer H and The Pony are staying overnight.

Even though I will be without my shopping helper for the third weekend in a row, I was kind of looking forward to some quiet time. I've been planning on it for a few weeks now, ever since I made their reservation. Nobody to answer to when they can't find stuff. Nobody to prepare meals for. Nobody to drive around for school functions. I can laze about until late morning, or stay up into the wee hours. Just relaxing. Writing. Catching up on my DVRed shows. OR, I could put the Friday afternoon bill-paying trip off until Saturday, and take my mom along and stop for lunch. The possibilities are endless.

Were endless. The #1 son reports that he will be coming home for the second weekend in a row. And he's bringing a friend. You know what that means. I have to be presentable. Like, comb my hair. Wear real pants instead of the sweatpants that have developed a hole in the left hip area near the waistband. Put on a regular town shirt instead of my stained pinstripe affair. Leave my bright red Crocs parked beside the rocking chair. Oh, and the boys will be requiring one meal, but #1 doesn't know what kind of food they want. He thinks they are just coming for the day.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my #1 son. He is welcome in our Mansion any time. But since he's only been back twice since Christmas, I was a bit surprised. It's the lure of the darkroom. He did not have time on Easter weekend to develop his pictures. So here he comes again. And I will welcome him with open arms to embarrass him in front of his friend.

Maybe I can eke out some ME TIME on Sunday morning, before Farmer H and The Pony return. IF I do the shopping Saturday morning, and pencil Mom into the Friday afternoon bill-paying trip.

I really wanted to do some writing without interruption.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ponychild In The College Land

It seems I've been remiss in telling you of The Pony's adventure last week at the #1 son's college.

No. He was not invited by his loving big brother to come down and see the campus. I know you find that shocking, what with the tight bond between them. The Pony's visit was all business. His W.Y.S.E. team had a tournament there. In which, by the way, they took 2nd Place in the small schools division. The Pony did not place individually, but he was a part of the team score.

Perhaps you recall that The Pony has gotten himself into the Missouri Scholars Academy for three weeks this summer. And that The Pony is the definition of a mama's boy homebody. In fact, if you look in the dictionary under mama's boy homebody, you will see The Pony's picture there, laying sideways on the couch, tangled in my apron strings. So it will be a stretch for The Pony to survive three weeks on his own. We won't even go into the laundry.

I have told The Pony he needs to start eating foods outside his comfort zone, to prepare. The trip to #1's college for this competition seemed like a good place to start. "I think you'll have lunch in their cafeteria. You need to see how things are set up in places like that. So you'll have some idea. And you'll have to find something you like to eat."

Upon return, I learned a lot. The Pony said the cafeteria was chaos. Students were everywhere. He managed to find himself a plate of pasta. With alfredo sauce. Oh, and a soda.

"Did you have breadsticks? Were there any breadsticks?"

"Well, they had some. But I didn't get any. They were extra. What I got, the noodles and the soda, was just under six dollars."

"You could have had some breadsticks. I gave you $29 this morning. For breakfast and lunch and if you saw anything you might want."

"They gave us each a six-dollar voucher for lunch."

"You know, don't you, that you could have paid for the breadsticks with the cash?"

"I know. Here's some change. I was just full. And besides, we were going for pie."

Ah, yes. The pie. The #1 son had told me on the phone that Newmentia's team was coming for the tournament, and he was going to meet them for pie. Apparently, there's a real kick-butt pie shop near to campus. When Farmer H goes down there, he says they go out for pie. Even though Farmer H is not supposed to have pie. So #1 had been talking at least a week about having pie with the team.

"There's not more change, because we stopped for breakfast, and also, I bought pie for #1."

"You bought pie for #1? I just sent him $20! And I NEVER send him money. But I did this week. What did he do with that? Why did YOU buy him pie? He's known for a week he was going for pie when you were there."

"He didn't ask me or anything. I just bought it for him. I think he didn't have his money with him. And the pie store didn't take debit cards. Only cash."

"What kind of pie did he have?"

"Uh...apple or cherry, I think. It was red inside."

"What kind of pie did you have?"

"You know I don't like pie. But when we went in, I saw they had brownies. So I had three brownies. That's how they came on a plate. They were really good. I think it cost me $10 for me and #1 to have pie."

"Did he talk to you? What did he say?"

"Yeah. He talked to me. Actually, he talked more to the people at my table. He got to the cafeteria just as we were finishing lunch and going for pie."

"What was he wearing? Shorts? Pants?"

"He was wearing his black college hoodie. I don't know about what else. I don't look at guys' legs."

"Tell me what he said to you."

"Actually...he said...'You're buying my pie!'"

"Oh, Pony. Why did you tell me he didn't ask, that you just bought it for him? Wishful thinking?"

"Yeah. Kind of. But he DID talk to me in the cafeteria. I told him what I was entered in, and that I didn't think I had placed, and he said that if I did, he would clap at the award ceremony."

Baby steps. That's all I can ask for. Baby steps.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Dinner Theme Song

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of an Easter treat
Some deviled eggs went out today, their ultimate fate to meet.

Twelve of those eggs had olives on, but four were olive poor
To please a certain ex mayor, for olives he abhors
Olives he abhors

Two years ago he ate them though, the olives that he hates
Because he could not pick them off, and lay them on his plate
Lay them on his plate

He spied the naked deviled eggs, "I see you left some plain."
Then picked one up
With olives on
Before the prayer...
He ate it.
Like it was good.
Then we had one less, for olive folks,
My plans simply in vain

The audacity of ex mayor man, to ignore his naked eggs
After I made them special for the one who crybaby-ly begs

So next year when I put olives on each and every one
Don't look at me and wring your hands, "Oh dear, what have you done?"

You'll get no more of my plain eggs, those heady days are through
Learn to pick or acquire a taste, these olives are for you.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Let's Not Issue That License Just Yet

OH! Oh, oh! Mr. Kotteeeeer! You won't believe what I just saw!

Out the front window, at approximately 2:14 p.m., I spied The Pony DRIVING!

Okay, so it wasn't his truck. It was Farmer H's Gator. He had left it in front of the rock garden that lies beside the homemade sidewalk made from bricks that used to be an alley behind my $17,000 house in town. I had sent The Pony out to throw bread to the chickens, then he was supposed to help Farmer H with one of his latest ventures that involved unloading sheet metal salvaged from an entire metal shed at work. He needs the trailer, you see, to load up the riding mower to take to my mom's house to mow her yard. I don't know what plans he has for the sheet metal.

So anyway...here came The Pony, galloping from the goat pen area. I imagine Farmer H told him to come get the Gator. The Pony actually looked excited. The cart was before the horse. He hopped in, put his foot on the brake, and turned the key. Nothing. He tried again. Nothing. He took his foot off the brake. Looked down at the gear shift. Moved it. Turned the key. With a grinding sound, the Gator lurched forward. The Pony grabbed the wheel and began a wide left turn to head back towards the BARn.

When the Gator's motor roared to life, my sweet, sweet Juno darted down the porch steps, whipping her feathery black tail in excitement. Ann came from the side yard where she was no doubt stealing bread from the chickens. As The Pony motored across the yard, Ann stood her ground in front of the porch, and Juno dashed to the woods across from her. They both watched The Pony putt by. Then they gave each other THE LOOK. Like, "WTF?" When Farmer H drives the Gator, those dogs romp round and round it, feinting, grabbing each other's forelegs between their teeth, sprint ahead, look over their shoulder, race back, bark, and generally suck all the marrow out of life in this little interlude with their vice-master leading the pack on an adventure, perhaps to the creekside cabin, perhaps to the mailbox, perhaps up the road to Buddy's house. Now they were discombobulated. They followed The Pony at a safe distance. At a dogtrot.

Even the dogs know The Pony is an inexperienced driver.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Food Police Mount Another Investigation

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a taker. It's true. I heard you all recoil and gasp in shock. I know it's hard to believe. But I am. A taker. A taker of lunch.

I never know quite what I want to take. It must be something simple. Something that does not require a lot of prep time pre-taking, nor a lot of making-edible time post-taking. Something that will not dirty my microwave at school. Something that will not dirty the work togs of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Something without offensive odor that leads to my lunch companions talking about me when I get up from the table. Something that can be comfortably consumed at 10:53 a.m., in about 18 minutes.

For two weeks, I have been taking a sandwich of deli turkey on whole-wheat English muffin. With mayonnaise, of course. None of that sweety-sweet-sweet Miracle Whip. The miracle is that I don't whip your butt, Miracle Whip, for ruining perfectly good mayonnaise.

Tomato-Squirter, my left-hand lunch buddy, used to have an irritating habit of commenting on my lunch. that's before we joined forces in our plot to regain our rightful lunch chairs from Jewels. I broke Tomato-Squirter of her bad habit by bringing a solid week of inedible lunches that I pretended were real. Things like sardines in mustard sauce with a peanut butter and marshmallow topping. A baggie of Meow Mix and Cocoa Puffs mixed together. Just before digging in, I would say, "Huh. That school lunch looks so good today. I think I'll go get that." Then I would close up my inedibles. Tomato-Squirter went so far as to actually pick up the baggie of my crunchy treat and open it. I snatched it back forthwith. "Oh, no you don't! That's MINE!" But that's another story.

On Wednesday, I had a headache. One that started in the evening, and persisted into morning, squeezing the area above my eyebrows until I wanted to squeeze it with a vice to lessen the pressure. On my plan time, I took an ibuprofen with a little bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. This will usually do the trick, but I did not want that ibuprofen eating its way through my stomach lining. I went to my mini-fridge and got out my sandwich. I didn't want to eat the whole thing. Just send some buffering agents down into my gullet. I unwrapped my sammie and ate the turkey hanging over the edge. Like gnawing kernels of corn off the cob. Then I put it back to wait for lunch.

Wouldn't you know it! Tomato-Squirter snagged her seat away from Jewels. She was up to her old tricks again. "Did you bite the meat off your sandwich?" She seemed bemused. Like I was a child hiding my Brussels sprouts under my mashed potatoes. Or a stand-up comedian stuffing mutton wrapped in Gramma Mimma's napkins into the pockets of my jacket.

"Yes. I did." Oh, there was so much more that I wanted to say. But I didn't. It wasn't worth starting my head to throbbing again. Really. Since when is it a crime to make your meat fit your bread? Is that frowned upon? Because if I'd known that, I would not have done it. So we can forget the whole thing.

I swear. Let me consume my lunch as I see fit. All at once, or in installments. Until my food is photographed every day for publication in a School Lunches Around the World calendar, there is no need to make it pretty.

Sweet Gummi Mary! It's not like I brought stinky fish or asparagus.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I'm A Nixer, I'm A Mixer, I'm A Nine A.M. Fixer...I Repair Laptops Just For Fun

Alas, I was tied up at The Pony's academic practice, then got into some roadway resurfacing on the way to the bank to send the #1 son money to drive home for Easter, and I simply do not have time for a good Cus-ing tonight. But I do have a somewhat related tale.

I spent my plan time today solving a computer problem. I KNOW! Surely the end is near, what with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom discovering super powers in the technology realm. I was going to email my company computer guy, but I didn't want to be proved a fool.

First, I consulted my BFF Google. My school laptop has been losing power. That is not acceptable. My laptop never leaves the dock. It should be charging continuously, always at 100%. Last year I had this problem, too. Out of the blue. One day I noticed my power was at 99%, the next day at 98%, then 97%...I think you get the drift. Then, after bottoming out at 94%, it was cured. Miraculously healed.

Back then, I saw the company computer guy in the hall. We're not supposed to talk to him. He's like a celebrity, with a rider in his contract that we peons don't make eye contact with him. Any issues we have with computers, we must create a ticket for tech support. None of this buddy-buddy stuff of encountering him on the premises, and casually mentioning an issue. So, risking a stern talking-to, I said, "Hey, company computer guy! Thanks for fixing my laptop. It's back up to 100%." And he said, "I haven't done anything to your laptop. I haven't been in your room since August." So I blathered about the previous problem, now solved. And he said, "If that ever happens again, you need to let me know."

So, since last week, it has been been happening again. But I took matters into my own technologically-challenged hands. I checked all my plug-ins. I uncoiled the wire on my charger. It was coiled tightly, like a spring, and secured by a velcro thingy. I let the kinks out. And while I was at it, I noticed the the cord for the dock had been wound like a rope that hangs on the saddle of a calf roper, and secured by another wire, one of about 19,478 wires garbled upon my control center table. I did not remember my wires being wound so tightly. So I set them free to meander. Still, no power.

Then I took the laptop out of the dock. IT STARTED TO DIE! I grabbed the power cord, and plugged it directly into the back of the laptop. It was easy as lemon meringue pie, with a yellow ring around the connector, and a yellow ring around the socket it goes into. VOILA! The power as restored. So I knew it was not a bad power supply.

I unscrewed that flat connector to the main power cord that plugs into the dock. You know. The kind with two screws you can turn with your thumb and forefinger. It looked a little corroded inside. Some of those 30-something pins had white gunk on them. I blew on it, with no result. So I screwed it right back in.

My laptop can't have its power cord connected while it's in the dock. There's a thingy in the way. So I had to set it back up like normal, and the lack of charging started all over again. So I went wire by wire to the two power strips. I took the plug-in for the power supply out of the power strip, and plugged it in to the only other slot available. It came out pretty easy. So I'm thinking that it must not have been in all the way as I had first assumed. Because when I jammed it into the other slot, my laptop started charging! Within ten minutes, I was back to 100%.

Yeah. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a computer trouble-shooting genius. And Cus is an overzealous control-center-table-duster.