Monday, May 25, 2015

A Tale Of Two Fittings

Last week we went suit-shopping for The Pony. We met the #1 son at J.C. Penney to guide us in our fashion quest. He always looks sharp. People have noticed, ever since that first school picture in kindergarten, when he refused to leave the Mansion in anything less than a white shirt with a vest and tie.

I asked if we would be meeting him around back, near the catalog pickup area, or in front. "Oh, we'll meet in front of the store." Said #1. So I walked all the way across the parking lot, into the store, and around a maze of yellow-brick-road-like white tile, to arrive in the mens clothing area at the back of the store, near the catalog pickup area.

#1 and I debated for a bit over the merits of various styles and shades of gray. The Pony stood by patiently, awkwardly shoving his arms into a suit jacket when commanded. Finally he was sent to the dressing room. I moved across to the shoe department and scammed a seat on one of their chairs. The Pony finally came out and stood uncomfortably while #1 and I re-dressed him with our eyes. "Those pants look too tight. I think he needs a bigger size. Here, Pony. Give us the jacket, and go put on these pants. Now let's look at shirts."

Of course the shirts I liked were declared cliche' by #1. He was for a check instead of a solid. We found a couple to present to The Pony, who finally came out in the bigger pants. We got his approval on a shirt, and sent him back to dress himself again. Then we searched for ties. "Mom. These ties are buy one, get one half off. Will you buy me this bowtie? I have the shirt in salmon that will just match it." Yeah. I would.

We (and by we, I mean #1) chose several ties for The Pony's approval. Of course he went with the one recommended by #1. What does a Pony know about ties, anyway? Then we sent him off to try on the shirt, because we were unsure of his neck size. Funny how it takes a Pony twice as long to put on a shirt as it does to put on a complete suit.

"Mom. You'll never find shirts cheaper than this sale they have today. You might as well get him another shirt. I'll pick one out." That meant another tie. I went to sit down again, since it seemed that The Pony and his shirt were not going to make an appearance this side of Christmas. When he emerged, only to be sent back with a smaller neck, after much huffing through flared nostrils, I checked the time. We had been there an hour already. Like Tina Turner, you know, #1 never does anything nice and easy.

We finally headed to the counter (back up front, of course) with a suit, two shirts, and three ties. #1 asked about any specials, and saved us another ten dollars off the half-price suit "sale" by using his smartphone to look up a barcode.

Contrast that excursion with today, when I took The Pony for a new pair of shoes. Not fancy dress shoes. He already has a pair in black and a pair in brown. He needs another pair of everyday Asics for prancing around Boys State and his Jackling Intro to Engineering camp.

"I would be fine with a pair just like these," said The Pony. "I like them, and they're comfortable." Not exactly cutting edge in fashion, that one.

We went back to the store where we got those shoes. Walked inside. The sales guy was on us like a freshman boy on a free cupcake. "Is there something particular you're looking for?"

"Yes. A pair of shoes like the kind he has on."

The guy showed us down the long aisle to the side wall. "Here are Asics. And some Nikes. They're all that style. Let me know if you need anything."

The Pony picked up the shoe on display. "This is it."

"That's exactly like the pair you have on. Don't you want a different color?"

"No. This is it." The Pony was already picking up the first box under that display. "That's my size. Let's go." Let the record show that I made him try one on, just in case. That shoe fit like a glove. We paid and left. Couldn't have been in there more than five minutes.

"Don't you like shopping with me better than shopping with #1?"

Yes. I think I do.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Skills Of Discerning Leg Pee From Rain Have Been Greatly Underestimated

Remember when the #1 son was home for Christmas break, and left Mrs. Hillbilly Mom throttled?

How he pointed the finger at poor Pony, and declared that The Pony had been gaming on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's dime. Or, more specifically, on Mrs. HM's DISH Network internet connection? Yeah. The Pony admitted that he was on there one day, because he forgot to switch back to his own unlimited account through his phone, after #1 had switched him over when it wasn't working. But he declared that it should not have been enough usage for Mrs. HM to be throttled by DISH.

As you know, Mrs. HM is a bit of a simpleton where electronic gewgaws are concerned. She had her doubts, but took #1's word for it. And now, as coincidence would have it, after #1 was home for SIX DAYS, Mrs. HM finds herself throttled once again! What are the odds?

I'd been having internet trouble on Saturday afternoon. I supposed it was the atmosphere. I called to The Pony to see if the TV was messed up. Satellites of a feather malfunction together. "No, Mom, but I've been having trouble with my internet, too." So I supposed that it was, indeed, the atmosphere. We do have a separate DISH for internet. Perhaps it was oriented in another direction than the TV DISH. Or maybe there was a solar flare. Something to disrupt the phone satellites or towers or whatever those waves travel through. So I took a break for about an hour. Then my internet came back. But it was slow.

Today, too, my internet was slow. I knew the skies were basically clear. I had, after all, made a trip to The Devil's Playground. The sky had that funny tint, where it's not bright sun, but the glare is terrible. The kind of tint where you put on your sunglasses to cut the glare, but then it's too dark to see properly. So again, I assumed it was the atmosphere.

Then, on a whim, I typed in that code that takes me to a screen that shows me my DISH internet usage. I usually consume only 10-15 percent of what's allotted during a normal month. Summer, now, that's a different story. But still, I rarely use even half. It's not like I stream movies or download music. So imagine my surprise when that screen came up and showed that I WAS THROTTLED!

I got on the phone to #1 forthwith.

"Hey! How come my internet is throttled?"

"I don't know. I guess you used too much."

"I never use too much. The last time was when you were here for Christmas, and blamed The Pony and his games."

"Well, he was playing games on your internet."

"Not this time. You know it was you. Why don't you just admit it? Why did you use my internet when you know I told you not to? I pay for you to have unlimited through your phone. That's why we had to get Sprint phones, if you remember, and I'm sure you do, since you picked them out. Because they were the only company with unlimited. So why do you always want to be on MY internet?"

"It's so much easier. I can still use my phone while I'm on the internet. I checked your usage the day I got home. You'd used half. That's an incredible amount for you."

"So you just decided to use the rest of it?"

"Oh, calm down. It resets tonight."

"Yeah. In 8 hours and 19 minutes. But I'm on the internet right now. Or trying to be. But I'm throttled."

"You'll get it back tonight."

"The next time you come home, I'm going to stop you from throttling me. I'm sure there's some kind of...um...plug-in thing...that I can take out of the wall...and...um...take to work with me so you can't be using my internet!"

"Haha! There is no such thing! You can't stop me."

I am not pleased with is insouciance. Safeguards shall be put in place for the next home visit. I think a hit in the pocketbook will be most effective. I shall frame a notice to hang on the door of his room, like in a hotel, that declares any throttlage during his visit, or after his departure, will result in a fine of $100 from his monthly stipend. Yeah. He was skating on thin ice, and he crashed through. He was counting on the usage not to show up until after the usage period reset. Let's hope he's better at that with his bank account and his gas tank.

If this happens again, the throttler shall become the throttled.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Time For Amending Is Nigh

My mind has been boggled so much this year that you might as well put my gray matter under a clear plastic dome, shake it violently, and see what you make of the results.

Friday was the last day of school, you know. At the end of the last week of school. Most of which had temperatures in the 70s. That's how it is at the end of May. But if you had been in Newmentia this week, you might have become disoriented. Thought you'd taken a wrong turn, and ended up on that show Life Below Zero. The one about folks living near the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Because students were walking the hallowed halls of Newmentia draped in fleece. I guess nobody has told them that behavior is as socially unacceptable as draping oneself in velvet.

Seriously. Why would anybody need to drape herself in fleece? Because it's not the fellas doing this. It's the gals. Perhaps...not wanting to step on any bare toes here...may I suggest...wearing enough fabric to cover your arms and legs? Because then you won't feel the need to drape yourself in fleece in rooms that have been thermostatically set at the same temperature all year, that being 72 degrees in warm months, and 70 degrees in cool months. Months you did not seem to need this fleece blankie draped around your shoulders, hanging like a vampire cape, because your flesh was covered with clothing.

Sorry, but Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not buy the whine of, "But I'm cold!" Nope. Sorry. Jackets and hoodies are not prohibited. Fleece should be. It is in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's room, and that's a fact, Jack! We've already amended the attire regulations to prohibit wearing jammies and house slippers. Fleece blankies need to be added.

I swear. These pupils cannot decide if they want to be in a cafe or a bedroom.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dr. Pepper Has Been Kidnapped!

It takes a lot to put one over on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Especially if one is of tender years, nowhere near as finely-aged as Mrs. HM. However...there are times when even Mrs. Hillbilly Mom second-guesses herself. Perhaps a sign of dotage, due to her advancing years.

This morning Mrs. HM found herself in such a situation. Though the end result was the same, two possible scenarios were flipping a coin in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's head.

Yesterday, a soda was left on a desk in the back of the room. Let the record show that sodas are not permitted in Mrs. HM's room. Nor water, nor milk, nor juice, nor coffee, nor Monster. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is an equal opportunity dehydrator. The reason being that a classroom is for learning. It's not a cafe, a canteen, a coffee shop, a snack bar, a diner, or a truck stop. The only exception is the class after lunch, which is allowed to bring in their lidded unfinished drinks, but must have them in a backpack, or set them on the windowsill or the desks against the back wall that are unoccupied. Times are hard enough without making kids waste their parents' hard-earned money that they spend on soda (sugar free only) from the machine in the equipment room every day at lunch.

I noticed the soda as I straightened the room at the end of the day. It was a 20 oz. bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper, sitting all alone on a back desk. I moved it over about four feet so it sat next to my wire racks that hold hand-back papers. Less conspicuous. No need to advertise a soda in the room, for freshmen to question, they NEVER being allowed to carry in beverages. I did not throw it away. Usually the owner remembers, and comes back for it. In fact, somebody left a cellophane-wrapped chocolate rabbit head on a stick on the windowsill over Easter break. And re-claimed it the day we returned. That Dr. Pepper looked unopened to me. I didn't see a little crack between the plastic lid and the ring that's left below after you snap it open, but then again, I wasn't wearing my glasses. I figured one of my after-lunch kids would claim this afternoon.

Well. I entered the room after first bell, having just returned from my duty way down the hall, and saw Mr. Dr. Pepper sitting on top of a desk in the second row. There was no soda by my paper racks where I had left it.

"Why is this Dr. Pepper here? It was on the back desk where I put it. Now it's here. None of you even sit here."

"Oh. Thirsty put it there." Said a dude who was sitting at the desk adjacent, not his assigned seat, either. Thirsty soon returned from turning in a book to another teacher.

"Why do you have that Dr. Pepper? Wasn't it on the back desk when you came in?"

"Oh. Yeah. I was just seeing if it still had carbonation."

"Put it back. It's not yours. Somebody might come back for it."

"Oh. Okay. But who's going to want an opened soda?"

"It looks like you did."

Seriously. Either Thirsty scammed a brand-new unopened Dr. Pepper off my back desk, or she, herself, was planning to drink another person's already-opened soda.

Both scenarios which Mrs. Hillbilly Mom finds distasteful.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sometimes, The Messenger Isn't What Needs Killing



We know Farmer H has a problem expressing himself. Even way before that time I told him I was going to have a story published in an anthology, and he said, in his typical way of endorsing/giving permission for everything under the sun, even those things that don’t concern him, “Go ahead, let them publicize it.”

This morning, to make sure I could not enjoy my chair nap, Farmer H stood behind me and said, “Well, I’m off to work. I don’t even want to go. Yesterday I sat through a three hour meeting of this Lean Manufacturing they’re trying to shove down my throat.”

“What’s that?”

“Good question.”

“No. What is it?”

“You tell me.”

“I want to know what you’re complaining about.”

“I couldn’t tell you.”

“You started to tell me.”

“That’s all I know. It’s a bunch of bull they’re trying to shove down my throat at work.”

“Well…if you’re not going to tell me what it is, I guess I can’t help you.”

“Whatever.”

Huh. I suppose Lean Manufacturing is better for you than fatty, high-cholesterol manufacturing. Still, I had no idea what Farmer H was talking about. Which is a pretty common occurrence.

So when I got to school this morning, I looked up Lean Manufacturing. Of course I went right to Wikipedia. Because, you know, I figured that would be the simplest, most basic explanation I could find.


Apparently, I figured wrong. I read through all that, and, like Farmer H sitting through a three-hour meeting, I couldn’t tell you any more about Lean Manufacturing than I knew before I started. Sure, Toyota runs on that model. Farmer H’s factory is no Toyota.

To me, the jaded year-away-from-retirement teacher, this looks like the real-world version of Common Core.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Room Is The New Wonderland

Have you heard? Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's room is the new Wonderland. I know! I was not informed, either. I figured it out, though, by the behavior of my pupils this week. It was like a whole new ballgame, instead of extra inning number 14, at the end of the season, when players and coach are well-versed in the rules of the contest. Yep. This week was a whole new ballgame. Like watching five-year-olds in a town-league T-Ball tournament, the rules as foreign to them as the instruction manual for a Boeing 787. In Portuguese.

Yes, it seems that various items in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's room were sporting signs, visible only to adolescents.

EAT ME. Individual cereal packets smuggled in by one pupil, and tossed to two others.

DRINK ME. Iced coffee carried in despite the year-long coffee embargo.

PUT YOUR BUTT ON ME. The rolly chair that has been off-limits to pupils for the past 172 school days.

WASTE ME. The Puffs With Lotion bought from the hard-earned direct-deposit digits of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

DRAPE YOURSELF IN ME. The fleece blanket wrapped around the shoulders of one who should have dressed more appropriately. Or simply dressed more. (Contrary to popular opinion, NOT velvet, as a certain Humpty Dumpty With a Melon Head was wont to drape himself in.)

TRIP ON ME. The backpack in the main aisle by the windows.

WEAR ME. The aviator sunglasses brought to school by a scoffrule.

BOUNCE ME NUMEROUS TIMES AGAINST THE FLOOR WHILE WALKING AROUND THE ROOM. A tennis ball kept on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's desk, designated for official testing of project.

ABANDON ME BY STOMPING OFF IN A HUFF. Project reduced in points due to rule breakage.

CRY ME A RIVER. Score of project reduced due to a group member breaking rules of equipment handling immediately upon the final measurement.

LAY ON ME. The floor, which is off limits to body parts other than the feet.

USE ME OVER AND OVER AS IF I BELONG TO YOU. The dry erase marker at the whiteboard for writing the group score next to the group name.

LEAVE ME ON TOP OF A DESK WHEN THE BELL RINGS. Scissors who call the back table home.

LEAVE ME INSIDE A DESK WHEN THE BELL RINGS. Wooden ruler who normally cohabits with the scissors.

TURN ME AROUND TO USE AS A HIDING PLACE. Desk whose opening belongs in the front.

SNEAK ME FOR A SNACK. Bag of little chocolate donuts carried into class willy-nilly.

UPROOT ME AND LEAVE ME ON THE OTHER SIDE OF MY WORLD. Chair from a back desk left at the front of the room.

BOUNCE ME OVER AND OVER ON TOP OF YOUR DESK SO I MAKE LOTS OF NOISE THAT CAN EVEN BE HEARD IN THE HALL. Ping pong ball carried in pupil's pocket for some mysterious reason.

SKIP MY CLASS, BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH I TOLD YOU NO, I WON'T MISS YOU WHEN YOU DON'T SHOW UP UNTIL HALFWAY THROUGH THE HOUR. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's forehead.

TAKE AN ATTITUDE WITH ME BECAUSE I DON'T STOP A CONVERSATION WHEN YOU BUTT IN. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's forehead.

ARGUE WITH ME ABOUT THE ATTENDANCE POLICY, WHICH I HAVE NO SAY IN, BECAUSE YOU WERE UNEXCUSEDLY ABSENT, ALTHOUGH ACCORDING TO YOU IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT THAT YOU GOT UP TOO LATE. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's forehead.

Wonderland is such a magical place. All that labeling to take the guesswork out of rule-breaking. A new pattern seems to be trending:

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's forehead is the new billboard for invisible signs.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Celebrated Short-Tine Fork Of One Hillmomba Kitchen

Funny how things disappear around a house. How things disappear, about the same time a child moves away to college. A child who denies taking any household items with him.

The #1 son is home this week. You'd think one more mouth to feed wouldn't make much difference in the housework scheme. But you'd be wrong. One more mouth to feed makes four times the dishes to wash. By hand, I might add, because perhaps I've been remiss in informing you that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has no dishwasher. Like the courtesy of Fred's two feet propel the Flintstonemobile around Bedrock, the courtesy of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's hands clean the dishes in the Mansion.

Last night I had to wash the dishes before I could make supper. That’s because, when left home alone, #1 fancies himself a five-star chef. A five-star chef without a dishwashing staff. It’s a good thing Goodwill doesn’t charge by the pound, because the bowl my five-star chef used to slurp his gourmet ramen noodles was quite hefty. I know it was his bowl, because that bowl was not from around here. All maroon and heavy ceramic, a singleton in an eight-place-setting world.

Let the record show that I called The Pony to the kitchen to pick up his food. I'm a short-temper cook, you know. The Pony was having Devil's Playground Buitoni Sweet Italian Sausage Tortelloni with Classico Four-Cheese Pasta Sauce, and four pieces of garlic bread made with Italian bread spread with Save A Lot Home Churned margarine mixed with minced garlic from a squeeze bottle. Yeah. I know. I can't avoid the name-dropping in this gourmet feast. The Pony trotted upstairs and grabbed his portion. Then I called for Farmer H, who was having the same main course, but with garlic cheese bread made by adding mozzarella, and also a bowl of broccoli with cherry tomatoes. Finally it was time for #1 to fetch his meal, the same as Farmer H's, with the substitution of salad for broccoli. Uh huh. It's quite exhausting to cook for these helpless people. Oh, and because the tortelloni didn't stretch that far, I was having leftover chicken livers with a salad.

However...at the moment of calling #1 to the kitchen, I was standing at the sink up to my elbows in soapy water and eating equipment.

"Hey!" #1 was outraged. "There's no small fork!"

"Well, we used to have eight of them, but ever since you went away to college, we only have four. The Pony is eating with one, and three are at the bottom of this sink, because they are dirty."

"I haven't even used a fork since I've been home!" Said the eater of two bowls of strawberry shortcake consumed two hours apart on Saturday evening. "I don't know why I get accused of taking the small forks."

"Because you and The Pony are the only ones to use the small forks. They disappeared right after you left for college. Like, the first time I washed dishes after you left for college. Dad doesn't use them. I'm the keeper of every kitchen tool under the sun. And I don't see any reason for The Pony to hoard them, because that would be like biting off his nose and then stabbing it with a fork and throwing away the fork, just to spite his face. Besides, you had ramen noodles, I see, while we were at school. I know you didn't eat them with your hands."

"I used my own fork! I have four!"

"Of course you do! I rest my case. The four short forks from our drawer."

"NO! It's MY fork. They're a quarter apiece at Goodwill. They are totally different from your short forks."

"Well, I'll find out when I get to the bottom of this sink. Here. I'll wash a short fork for you. Look. It's one of ours."

"You'll see."

Yeah. But I didn't. There was no unmatching silverware. Only that heavy bowl.

Somebody's been fibbin'.