Thursday, January 19, 2017

That's The Way It Was, And We LIKED IT!

Tomorrow, I'm going to town to mail a letter to the #1 Son, and a couple of bills. Kind of important, I guess.

My boy will be rifling through his cul-de-sac mailbox for his weekly $6 and HOPE on Monday. The $6 because that's what my mom used to send him every week when he first went off to college three years ago. And HOPE in the form of two scratch-off lottery tickets. He won $100 a couple weeks ago, so he's a bit more interested in them now.

The bills are payments for a little yearly thing called THE MANSION INSURANCE. And DISH Network, which keeps Mrs. Hillbilly Mom on the innernets. Good thing I got those bills in the mail!

The mail. It kind of worries me. But not enough to switch over to automatic bill pay online. I've been going to the main hub instead of the dead mouse smelling post office ten minutes away. I have found it to be more reliable. Until Tuesday. I pulled into the parking-garage-like lot and stepped out of T-Hoe, my only business there to put The Pony's weekly letter in the slot, and I saw a printed sign taped to both glass outer doors.

TRANSACTIONS LIMITED TO STAMP PURCHASE WITH CORRECT CHANGE OR CHECK. INTERNET IS DOWN.

Sweet Gummi Mary! Is that any way to run a government agency? Does that make me feel confident that The Pony will get his letter? No Siree, Bob! But what options do I have? And why can't postal clerks figure out purchases without exact change? Don't make excuses for them about not having cash in the drawer! They give back change on days when the internet IS working. There's a bank a block away, for cryin' out loud!

Nope. I am not feeling at all confident in my mailings tomorrow. The insurance premium for T-Hoe, mailed LAST WEDNESDAY, has still not cleared the bank.

Why are things so complicated in these modern times?

Farmer H said he tried to pay for a purchase with cash the other day. He did not say where, but chances are he was at a Goodwill or a Lowe's. The total was $15.17, so he handed the gal a $20 bill and a quarter. She was bumfuzzled. Discombobulated. Flusterated. She had already seen Farmer H pull out the twenty, and punched that into her register. It was telling her to give him back $14.83. Farmer H tried to explain that all she had to do was hand him a five-dollar bill, and a nickel and three pennies. He said it took a while to convince her.

I asked if she was young. Because the only way you're gonna have somebody use common sense and count back your change is if THEY'RE OLD! Those old ladies in the gas station chicken store sure know how to do that. They'd better, or their woman owner boss will have their head! I guess old people just KNOW how to do this stuff, though, because that's how we were schooled.

Let's hope nobody has to read or write cursive next time the internet is down!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Guess It's Kind Of Like A Feline Version Of A Twice-Baked Potato

It's no secret that I give my Sweet, Sweet Juno and Puppy Jack a treat of cat kibble every time I come back home from getting my 44 oz Diet Coke. It's always referred to as their treat. As in, "Want a treat, want a treat? Do you want a treat?" In baby talk. It gets them all hyped up. It's never called a snack. That term is used after our afternoon "walkies," when I got through the kitchen and meet them on the front porch with leftovers. Snacks outrank treats. There's usually meat involved.

Anyhoo...I get them all hyped up for their treat. I usually am holding my purse, 44 oz Diet Coke, and possibly a food bag containing a Hardee's Chicken Bowl, or some gas station chicken, on my right arm and hand. The left is kept empty for petting, hugging, and treat-doling.

Let the record show that these dogs are up on the side porch, and I am down below on the sidewalk from the garage. That puts their faces at about my own face height (if Jack stands on his hind legs, which he does often), and I have to be careful of getting a mouth full of accidental dog nose while I'm talking to them. Here's Jack on an earlier day, enjoying is treat.


While carefully pivoting to keep the 44 oz Diet Coke and the fast food away from their licking muzzles, I reach my hand up to the shelf that holds the roaster pan of cat kibble that is left out for the three cats. Usually there's enough to grab a handful and dispense half in a little pile for Jack, and half in a little pile for Juno. I used to give her a bigger pile, because she's a bigger dog, but she has a habit of running over to Jack's space and rooting him out, because she thinks HE got more. She outsmarts herself like that, my Sweet, Sweet Juno.

Sometimes my hand feels like it is reaching into Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard. Those are days when Farmer H has not done his chore of dumping a small saucepan (nonstick!) of kibble from the mini lidded trash can in the garage into the large roaster pan that's the feeding dish. My kitchen inventory seems to suffer when these pets are involved. On those days, I go in the garage and get the pan, and the dogs get really excited, and even my Sweet, Sweet Juno runs in there. Jack likes the garage, because the growling cat that hates him is often up in the rafters, growling, which means he must bark loudly to show her who's boss. Juno was put in there for 24 hours (vet's instructions, to put her up and protect her) while she was coming out of anesthesia from her very special operation when she was a young 'un. So I think she associates that garage with not-fun.

Anyhoo...on this day, I reached my arm up, protecting my own treats on the other arm, and started to grasp a handful of cat kibble...but some hunch told me to turn and look.


Good thing I did. That's cat yak right in the middle. Vomit, people! One of those darn cats had REFUNDED right in their feeding pan! I left it there, of course. They'll eat it again. For being so finicky and preferring to have a fresh pan poured each day rather than eat yesterday's pan...they certainly have no qualms about eating their own yak. Thank the Gummi Mary I saw it, and adjusted my fistful to near the edge.

Our fleabags. They bring us such joy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Here In Hillmomba, The Weirdos Keep A-Stalkin'...They Stick To HM Like The Shower To Farmer H's Caulkin'...They Won't Even Leave When They Overhear Her Talkin'...And That's Just One Day

On Saturday, my Sweet Baboo (otherwise known as persona non grata) offered to take me to the casino. The fact that we were encased in ice from the previous day's storm did not deter me. Off we went. I enjoyed a delicious burger for lunch, and only lost $10 for the whole day. Oh, I had a big win of $200 on one play, but of course I gambled it right back before we left. That's why it's called gambling, not winning.

Here's the thing. You'd think that in a casino, people would mind their own beeswax. I have my personal gaming system, and you'd think they would have theirs. Except Farmer H, of course. Well... even HE has a system: keep playing until I lose everything HM gives me. Anyhoo, I keep a count in my head, and I don't want people randomly chatting with me or getting in my space. I would never go up to somebody and strike up a conversation if they were playing. At the free soda fountain it doesn't matter. But not during gaming.

Farmer H and I have these two machines that we like. Identical. Side by side. I don't even mind the togetherness with him here, because at least if he wins big on the money I fed one of those machines before switching, at least it's still in the family. I had been playing one of them before lunch, and after lunch, we came back and he took over that one. I had been staying pretty much even on my money. No big wins.

Just as we were sitting down and putting our money in, a dude came up behind us. He was an older man, tall and fit, with a horseshoe of close-cropped gray hair around his bald bald head. He wore light blue faded jeans, some kind of white cross-trainer shoes, and a gray hoodie. Hood down on his shoulders, of course. Or it might have been creepy!

Hoodie walked up behind us and stopped. He watched. It's not like he was looking at machines around us to see what was open. Or looking for somebody he was there with. He watched US. I thought maybe he was waiting to see if we were both going to play. Like maybe he wanted one of those machines. In which case I say (in my head, because I am NOT confrontational like SOME PEOPLE), "Too bad, so sad!" I handed Farmer H my $20 bill that I was about to put in. "Here. Hold this for me while I fix my chair." You have to wrestle them, you know. They have really heavy bases.

I sat down and took my $20 back and fed it to the machine. I could still feel Hoodie behind me. Not physically. That would have been pervy. I could tell he was standing there. Still. Watching. I even looked over my shoulder at him, like, "WTF, Dude?" But in a nonconfrontational manner, of course. Just gave him the stinkeye. And still, he stayed.

Even when I said pointedly to Farmer H, in a stage whisper that could have been heard to the third row, "Don't you just hate it when people stand and watch you?" That Hoodie dude stayed there. I couldn't concentrate. I was going through the motions. It's not like you have any control on the slots anyway. Except WHEN you actually push the button or pull the crank. I just couldn't get in my groove. I was discombobulated by Hoodie and his goonin' eyes. (Don't know if that's what you call it where you live, but that's what the kids at old-style Newmentia, when it was located at Basementia in my early days, used to call 'staring.' Goonin'. My best ol' ex-teaching buddy can vouch for that.)

After about five minutes, Hoodie walked a bit to my left. Spent another couple of minutes standing. Watching. THEN he moved on to a row of slots at the 10 o'clock position to me. Where he sat down on a stool, having turned it away from the slot machine, putting his back to it, where he continued to watch us!

I started to wonder, perhaps, if this was somebody who worked for the casino. It couldn't be just a random gambler passing by, could it? Not in HM's mind it couldn't! Maybe he was a cooler. You know what a cooler is, don't you. In casino lingo? Haven't you ever seen that movie, The Cooler? With William H. Macy and Maria Bello and Alec Baldwin? There's no sadder sack than William H. Macy. Even his cat leaves him. And cats don't even give a sh!t. William H. Macy is this really unlucky guy, who is employed by an old-style casino, just for that very reason. Every time he gets near somebody, they start to lose.

I don't know if real casinos use coolers. And this guy wasn't making me lose. I hadn't hit my big jackpot yet. But when I DID hit it, Hoodie had moved on.

But what a freakin' weirdo!

Monday, January 16, 2017

It Kind Of Felt Like I French-Kissed A Dragon

Last week, in anticipation of the approaching ice storm, I made a big pot of beans and ham. You know that when you cook a big pot of beans and ham, you have to taste it, right?

It's not like I add a plethora of ingredients like I do for chili or soup. But I DO put in a touch of fresh-ground black pepper, and some minced garlic, and a few sweet banana pepper rings, along with some of their juice. No salt, because when we eat it, Farmer H and I add those peppers and their juice.

That pot of beans had been simmering for a couple of hours. I put the lid on them and left for town. When I came back, I was getting ready to put them in Frig II until time for supper. I knew they had cooled down enough while I was in town. "Better give them a taste," I told myself. So myself did.

SWEET GUMMI MARY!

Those beans were as hot as molten lava! All they needed was the red glow. My middle tongue took a searing. I was still able to taste my delicious creation by the time supper rolled around. Nom nom. Look at this breathtaking bowl:


It's practically layered. Like a torte! Like a 7-Layer Salad! Like Jello 1-2-3! It's kind of collapsing there. If I took the picture first, you couldn't see the layers. Oh, who are we kidding? I dug into that bowl and it was half gone before I even thought of taking a picture.

Let the record show that I first crumbled half a corn muffin into the bottom of the bowl, then added some pepper juice, a layer of beans and ham, a layer of chopped sweet banana pepper rings, a layer of diced onion...and repeated. So it was mostly vegetables, really.

Okay, I could have been perfectly sated with only half that amount. But it was delicious. AND I had partial taste in my tongue. Of course, those taste buds are fighting an uphill battle, because after my walk, when I have dry mouth, I have a couple of Life Savers Wint-O-Green mints. And at night, I have discovered a new favorite snack of a mini bag of Cheese Nips dipped individually in Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce.

Farmer H does not realize how many tongue-lashings he has been spared due to my affliction.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Widdermaker Looms

Saturday Farmer H offered to take me to the casino. That's because I had asked him to take me to the casino on Sunday. It wasn't simply a matter of him wanting to appear in control. I think he assumed I wouldn't want to go on Saturday.

It was already almost 10:00. We usually go to the casino early, before it's crowded, and are home by 1:00 or 2:00. Since it takes an hour to get there, Farmer H probably thought I would turn down such a short-lived chance to rid myself of some money. He was wrong. Also, the weather was deplorable. He might have though I wouldn't want to risk T-Hoe on ice. He was wrong.

On the way out of our gravel-roaded compound, we saw this:


That's a widow-maker! If a broken limb falls out of that mess and lands on a guy's head, it can kill him. It happened to a guy in a neighboring town a few years ago. I read about it in the paper. Technically, I think a widow-maker as I've heard about on TV is a tree you cut down, or one that falls over, that is caught up on another tree. I think these icy branches qualify.

I told Farmer H that I didn't want him driving wild on that back road on the way to the interstate. Still, though he didn't drive too FAST, he DID drive up under some low-hanging limbs. Of course they cracked and snapped off. We're lucky it was nothing big. Today on the way to town, ice chunks were falling all over the road, and some sticks and twigs, too, as the trees bent back into shape during the 33-degree temperatures.

The wrong limb would have been an orphan-maker for me and Farmer H. We have a lot of broken limbs. Farmer H says he's going to trim them after pushing them loose with the bucket of one of his tractors. But not today. Not until the ice is all melted.

Our cedars are sagging like weeping willows. Here's the tree Jack and Juno like to lay under:


I hope Old Coulda-Been-a-Tannenbaum doesn't make Puppy Jack his b*tch.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Like Taking Candy From A Baby, If The Baby Was Over 60 And A Bad Driver

That Farmer H! He serves 'em up to me like he's a waiter in a five-star Michelin restaurant. Like he's a courier delivering papers for the prosecutor in district court. Like he's a private coach for the defending high school state tennis champion.

Today, as he was sweaving to and fro up the interstate on the way to the casino, I dared ask why he didn't just hold the wheel steady.

"HM. I have driven a LOT of miles since I first met you."

Oh, such a gift. Like a nice fat softball lofted across the plate, home team down by three, with bases loaded and two outs at the bottom of the ninth. I almost felt guilty hitting this one out of the park.

"Actually, you've driven EVEN MORE miles than you think you have, accounting for all that center line to sideline movement!"

 C'mon! Who plays drums? Give me that rimshot...

Thank you! I'll be here the rest of my life!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Thank The Gummi Mary There Was No Incident With The Crown Jewels

On Monday, Farmer H and I had lunch with the #1 Son and a friend in his college town. We normally go to a restaurant that serves BBQ and advertises itself as roadkill. Alas, it's only open Thursday through Sunday, so we went to a tater patch. Not an actual tater patch, like where I used to pick up the potatoes after my grandpa tilled up a hill with his hoe. A restaurant/bar that might best be described as a roadhouse. Like a place where John Travolta and Nancy Allen would plot to dump a bucket of pig's blood on Sissy Spacek at Prom. Sorry if you only know the actors in the remake of Carrie. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom doesn't do remakes.

This place wasn't much to look at from the outside, and was a little better on the inside. It had a real fireplace with a fire burning, but of course we didn't sit by it. We had met #1 to give him back his car. We footed the bill for body work after his semi semi-collision last summer. No need to drag the insurance company into THAT affair. We were in three separate cars by then, and agreed to meet up at the tater patch. Friend got there first, and went in to get a table.

Let the record show that the place opens at 11:00, and we got there at 11:07. It's not like there was a shortage of tables. But Friend chose one away from the fireplace, much to Farmer H's consternation. Also, Farmer H parked way down on the end, in the last spot. I didn't mind that. After riding for 1:45, I didn't care to walk a ways before sitting down again.

"I'll park down here on the end, so you'll be sure to be able to open your door when we come out."

Let the record further show that Mrs. HM has aging knees, and must fling A-Cad's door open all the way to unfold herself from the passenger seat. It can be done, but it takes a while, and it's not pretty. If the door is blocked by a car parked too close, Farmer H has to back out until it will open wide. Of course when we left, a scofflaw had pulled in there where there was NO parking spot, making my shoehorning of knees back INTO the car impossible. Until Farmer H backed out.

Lunch was delicious. I had the steak fajita tater, and brought the tater part home for supper. The roadhouse restaurant started to fill up. #1 and Friend had been there before. It's not the kind of place they'd hang out, but it's a good place to eat, and they serve drinks. On weekend nights, they have live music.

Before we started the 1:45 trip back home, I said I was going to use the facilities. "#1, have you ever been in the ladies' room? Is it nice?" I could see the door right there in the main dining area. Not down a hall or anything. Just a wooden-board door with a pull handle and WOMEN on the sign.

"Heh, heh. No. I've never been in the ladies' room. The men's room is okay. I wouldn't say it's nice. It's okay. It wasn't particularly clean when I was there."

Farmer H had been, the men's room being in a little alcove out of sight, but didn't make any comments about it. I think he was still stewing about the fireplace.

By now the dining area only had a few empty tables. I didn't especially want everybody watching me enter the ladies' room, but it was what it was. I had no idea when Farmer H would stop for me if I didn't take advantage of this restroom right in front of me. With lunch's Diet Coke on board, it didn't behoove me to wait.

I opened the door, feeling ten pairs of eyes on my back, not including my own table. Huh. There was no hallway, no privacy wall. You just walked into a room that had two stalls, doors ajar. One stall was a bit larger, so I assumed it was the handicapped stall. Every business place is supposed to have one, aren't they? I use the handicapped stall for the hand rail to hoist myself up off the throne. The knees, you know. So I stepped in, and saw NO RAILS. And the throne itself was barely one step above a hole in the ground!

Seriously. I was reminded of my boys' kindergarten years, when every parent conference night their teacher tried to persuade me to sit on their tiny chairs. No thank you, ma'am! Even though my knees were good back then, no way was I squatting on a step-stool-height chair! Mrs. HM is five foot eight inches, people! She's not a little person by height nor weight. I swear this toilet was half the height of a normal toilet. About a fourth the height of a handicapped toilet. Still. I was in there. I needed to avail myself of the opportunity.

I assumed the throne, and seemed to fall forever before my ample butt made contact with the porcelain. NOW what to do? Oh. My business, of course. But HOW was I going to get up from there? What if I couldn't? Would anybody hear me scream for help? I was sure my men would keep sitting at the table, staying uninvolved. Everybody in that room would see into the ladies' room. See me being hoisted off the tiny toilet. Unless they were sitting over by the fireplace, of course.

Business finished, I gave myself a good hoist. I know physics, people! I knew that my center of gravity had to be over my feet for me to stand. Since I can't bend my knees very far, I have to launch myself forward. I gave it one good try, grabbed the bottom of the stall divider for leverage (thank the Gummi Mary it wasn't built all the way to the ground, but had an opening of approximately 8 inches from its bottom edge to the floor) and teetered for a moment, then stood. VICTORY!

Okay. Maybe I exaggerate a little. But not today. I was relieved that I made it off the toilet!

Makes you want to take a road trip with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, doesn't it?