Thursday, July 30, 2015

Somebodies' Mommas Didn't Raise 'Em Right

There are none so low as he who stoops to grave robbing.

Yes. That's a quotable quote from Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She has stopped short of merchandising T-shirts with these words of wisdom.

We're not talking about Muff Potter, Injun Joe, Doc Robinson and the headboard from Hoss Williams's grave. Nope. We're talking about ne'er-do-wells out to make a buck from melting down metal flower holders that screw into the headstones of somebody's dear, departed loved ones.

Last week, I stopped by the cemetery for some alone time at Mom and Dad's grave. I noticed that the flowers were gone. A guy was mowing in another of the gardens, and this one had just-trimmed grass. So I thought maybe they had taken out the flowers for mowing. I did not see any other metal vases standing. Not a big deal. This place has all flat stones, no raised ones. It would stand to reason that they remove the upright vases for close cutting.

Yesterday, I stopped by again. No metal vase on Mom and Dad's headstone. The little white weeping angel, the one with its head on its forearms, the one that always makes me cry...was still there, but tipped over, with its head resting on the stone. The grass was not freshly cut. Way down in the new section, a guy was riding a mower.

I drove out of that area, onto the county road, and started off to the lawyer's office for house-sale preliminary document-signing. Then I turned back in, at the lower entrance by the mausoleum. What if the vase had been put back at the wrong grave? Dad has been there for 20 years. We've never had the vase go missing before. Every time I go by, it's there, screwed in, with whatever flowers we had put there for the season. Something was amiss.

Of course there was nobody home at the mausoleum. Well. Nobody that would talk to me. Even though The Pony declared that he heard voices when we held Mom's service there, I, myself, did not. The sign on the front door said the office hours were 8:00 to 4:00. It was now 9:45. I walked right in. It's a peaceful place, carpeted, chairs set up for services. The office is in the back. It had a sign on the door that said "Come on in." I tried. It was locked. I knocked. Gave a rap rap rapping on the office door. Nobody. Is it bad to say I saw no signs of life in that mausoleum?

I left. At the lawyer's office, I asked Sis if she had taken the vase. To shine it up, perhaps, or switch out the flowers. No. She had not. And she informed me that people steal those all the time. That a woman at her church, whose husband's grave is three plots down from Mom and Dad's, said his vase had disappeared THREE times. And each time, the cemetery owners replaced it. "You have to go to the office," Sis said. "And report it, and tell them you want it replaced."

"What if they say it's not their problem?"

"Tell them that it is! That you know somebody who has had it happen several times, and they have replaced it for them. Don't get too specific. Don't give her name, or say where the plot is."

"Okay. But I was already there, and nobody was home in the mausoleum."

I went to the grave again. No metal vase. In fact, there were no metal vases in the row of graves along the road. The others had theirs. I'm sure there would not be a mowing of only one row of graves. I drove down to the mausoleum. Went back in. The minute I stepped through the front glass doors, a lady came out of the office door. It's not like she was psychic. I'm sure they have security cameras all over that place. Just not over the row of graves by Mom and Dad's plot.

"May I help you?"

"Yes. I noticed that the metal vase is missing from my parents' grave. I was here a week ago, and it was gone, but I thought that was because of mowing. Now I see that it's still not there."

"Oh. That's too bad. Did you look down in by the headstone? Sometimes the groundskeepers lay them down while mowing."

"No. I saw the little white angel. But no vase or flowers. I can go back up and look."

"Oh, no! My groundskeepers can do that! Let me get the names, and which garden. We will check on that, and see that it is replaced."

"Thank you."

Here's the thing. Like Sis said, "If you ran a junkyard, wouldn't YOU be suspicious if somebody pulled in with 30 grave vases? I don't know why they keep paying money for them like they're scrap." Our local paper had an article about it a while back. Some guy was caught selling those vases to scrap dealers. I guess a reputable business around here turned him in.

Indeed. I have a good idea where those vases are being cashed out. Even the 14-year-old kids at Newmentia know what kind of place this is. "I went with my grandpa to help him tow an old truck and sell it for scrap. The dude says, 'Do you have the title?' Grandpa said no. So the dude says, 'Okay. I'll make sure and crush it today.' Then he gave grandpa the money." The #1 son says that everybody knows that place is just a front for selling drugs. Remind me to ask how he knew this.

I suppose the police are getting information out of there. So it must benefit them more to keep their sources than to shut the place down.

Still. It's pretty low to steal vases off graves. I don't care how poor you are.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Misspent Summer

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is an eternal optimist.

Last night, she made big plans for today. No appointments, no house-clearing-out, no bill-paying, no trip to town for soda or lottery. Just a relaxing day around the house, making a quick lunch for The Pony, the rest of the time spent reading or writing. A staycation for her mind.

Even Steven had other plans.

When I got up at 7:30, I saw an email from our lawyer had come in at 5:20 a.m. Don't you worry about the Hillbilly family. Our lawyer keeps donut-maker hours. It was about the paperwork for straightening out those phantom 3 acres on the deed to my mom's house. Even Steven likes nothing better than a game of giveth and taketh.

The first email was actually at 5:17. "Need Dad's full name." The second at 5:20. "Found in file. Drop by and sign." I'm quite thrilled that he was brief. His time is my money, you know.

So...I sent a text to my sister the ex-mayor's wife so she could sign. I figured this couldn't take long. I would leave home by 9:00, and be back by 10:00. Still with the whole day ahead of me.

At the lawyer's office, the receptionist behind the smoked-glass window that is opened when you ring a doorbell told me that she did not have the paperwork. She went to check while a hardened criminal and his gun moll eyed the back of my head or my ample buttocks as I waited. Oh. Lawyer had left the paperwork for her to get ready, but had not told her we were coming by today. They could have it in an hour.

As I told them I'd be back, and that I would notify my sister, in walked Sis. Alone.

"They're not ready yet. I was just going out to get my phone to text you. Where's Babe?" That's her granddaughter, 18 months old, who she's keeping this week.

"I left her in the car."

"NOOOO! It's 100 degrees already."

"Ha ha ha. Really. I left her in the car. I'm only going to be here a minute." She smirked while I elbowed past her out the door. "Of course, the ex-mayor is in the car with her, and it's running. He had to work all night, so he's off now."

Oh. I forgot to mention the part where on the way to the lawyer's office, I stopped by the cemetery, and saw that the metal flower-holder thingy is missing from Mom and Dad's grave. No time for that story today. Let it suffice to say that to kill an hour, Sis and her crew went to The Devil's Playground, and I went back to the cemetery.

Because my cemetery business did not take an hour, I went to bill-paying town to pay the house bill two days early. Then I went to put The Pony's college money in his account. By that time, an hour and 15 minutes had passed. I went back to the lawyer's office.

"Oh. There's only one of you?"

"Yes. I thought we were just signing papers."

"Don't worry. The papers are done. But Lawyer wanted to meet with you both."

"That's news to me! It wasn't in the email at 5:20 this morning. And nobody mentioned that an hour and 15 minutes ago."

"He's just really bad at communicating with us. He's REALLY in trouble now!"

"Let me go out to the car and get my phone. Sis lives just up the road. I'll see if she's back home now."

She was. She arrived in five minutes, and we went in to talk to Lawyer. He wanted to make sure which of the deeds was the land that needed to be officially linked with the house and other acreage. Then we signed the papers. He left to get us a each a copy. Sis is usually a talker, like Mom. She had already complimented Lawyer on the re-design of his office. Not that we're regulars or anything.

"Sis! He charges by the minute!"

"What?"

"I can't YELL it! He charges by the minute. Even if you're chatting."

"I know!"

So he came back, and we asked if we would be responsible for 40 years of back taxes on that parcel, and he said the county could only go back 5 years. It was their fault they nobody caught this mistake until now. Also, that the title company said there was no sign of a lien against the property. So we would probably be okay.

Then we got up to leave, and Sis started asking about his daughter, who joined his practice, and whether she knew what she was doing, and Lawyer said he has to help her, because law school really does not prepare you for the actual job, and Sis said, "Just like teaching." It was all I could do to keep from grabbing her in a headlock and dragging her out the door. Where is one of those vaudeville shepherd's crooks where you need it?

Next, I had to call The Pony and explain that I was just now starting home, way after 10:00, and see if he wanted me to bring him lunch, since I was not in much mood to make him something.

By the time I got home and sat down to my own lunch, it was 1:00.

Every day this summer has been like that.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Booty Ain't Picky

The temperature in the garage was 109 when The Pony and I climbed into T-Hoe for a drive to my mom's house. It was a mere 95 when we pulled into her driveway to meet my sister the ex-mayor's wife. Sis and I both left our windows down. Sweet Gummi Mary! The heat index was 110.

From 4:00 to 6:30, we cleaned out the hall closet, a curio cabinet, and sorted through stuff sitting behind the furniture and along the wall. Not a lot there. Mom was no hoarder. But Farmer H kept buying her glass cake plates with lids, even after she told him she had enough. More than enough. So some things would not fit into her china cabinet, and had to sit behind a wing chair or a ceramic cherub holding a bird bath on his head. Hey! My grandma took up ceramics late in life. She loved giving gifts.

As we loaded up our respective SUVs to leave, I heard Sis jawing with The Pony. "How were we supposed to know? It was bright and sunny when we got here! Now I'm going to be in trouble!"

Seems an unforecast rain shower had passed over. T-Hoe's seats were wet, too. We both have leather. Mine are black, and I think hers are gray. Lucky we had approximately 57 ShamWOWs laying on T-Hoe's back passenger seat from the last time we cleaned out a room. I locked the front door of the house and met them in the driveway.

"Here, Mom. Your seat got wet, too."

I took the proffered ShamWOW and rubbed T-Hoe the right way. I wiped down the door panel where the window switches and door locks and mirror control had accrued droplets. Then I handed the ShamWOW back to The Pony, who wiped off the shotgun seat. Not that he was riding there. He was sitting behind me again. We backed out of the driveway.

"Make sure you spread that out to dry. My butt is still wet. Did you give Sis a ShamWOW to wipe down her seats?"

"Uh huh. That was the one you were using. She gave it back after she dried her seats."

"You mean we have some of Sis's butt on our butts?"

"No. Just you. My seat was dry."

"Great. Part of Sis's butt is on my butt!"

"Technically, you also have some of the ex-mayor's butt on your butt. He drives that car, too, you know."

"ACK! It's getting worse by the minute!"

"The booty ain't picky."

Yeah. Those are The Pony's words of wisdom for today.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Balm Doesn't Work On A Jagged Staple Laceration

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has an issue. Mark the calendar. OH WAIT! You can't do that, because that calendar is full of previous issues. Get another calendar. Mark it.

Last night, we were out until the crack of dusk, loading up stuff from my mom's basement. My sister the ex-mayor's wife decreed that the afternoon/evening hours were best for her and the ex-mayor. I was of no mind to whip up a delicious repast of vittles heated in the oven and warmed in the microwave, so after The Pony and I left with our load in T-Hoe, I had him send a text to Farmer H to stop by and pick up Chinese food at Bejing House of Hillmomba.

Don't get me wrong. The food there is really good, as long as you don't get anything breaded, like General Tso, or Hunan Chicken. That's a big mistake, because you can't find the chicken. I have tricked them by ordering Hunan Pork. It's real meat! Maybe even pork! Sure, they're skimpy with the filling in the Crab Rangoon, but the flavor is good. My issue is not with the taste. It's the packaging.

You see, Bejing House of Hillmomba used to put their dinners in flat white plastic rectangular containers, with a clear plastic lid. BONUS! Hillbilly Tupperware! Then they switched to foil rectangular containers with a cardboard lid. And for the last several years, they have been sending our food home in rectangular flip-top Styrofoam containers. Not that such a practice is uncommon. It's the way they secure the carry-outs.

BEJING HOUSE OF HILLMOMBA STAPLES THE STYROFOAM SHUT!

That's right! They staple the front corners of the containers! It's not enough that the flat tongue thingy fits into the slot thingy. Nope. They staple that sucker, with a common teacher-tool stapler. Do you know how hard it is to remove a staple from Styrofoam? You might think you can simply pull up on the lid, and the staple will slip through the weak Styrofoam. Uh huh. That used to work. Until last night.

I think Bejing House of Hillmomba got a new stapler. Those things would not budge. Not even when I ran the edge of a serving spoon between the top and bottom edge. That ALWAYS worked before. But no. The Styrofoam finally gave up my meal by breaking in jagged tears along the THREE staples that held it shut.

What happens, I ask you, if a child, perhaps, or a fellow in the throes of a feeding frenzy rip open their Chinese dinner and those staples pop out all willy-nilly and imbed themselves in the fried rice? Huh? Then what?

Somebody's gonna call Jackie Chiles.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's All Over But The Heavy Sighin'

Yesterday, I got my letter from school with the opening day schedule for our inservice festivities.

Only one more breakfast where my section of the room goes last, and has a spread of loose grapes and tired scrambled eggs left to choose from.

Only one more time to sit through a three-hour meeting before we get down to the business of receiving our handbooks so we can flip to the duty schedules.

Only one more viewing of the sexual predator videos which are exactly the same from year to year.

Only one more time to bemoan the fact that we must sit and listen rather than use the time wisely to prepare for the first day.

Only one more open house!

Only one more viewing of the new year's class rosters.

Only one more time to slap those emergency evacuation posters on the wall and hope they stick longer than a week at a time.

Only one more time to hook up my technology control center and whip into into working order by trial and error. Mostly error.

Only one more time to head off to the first day of school with my grown-up little Pony.

Bittersweet.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Audacity Of The Farmer H

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is quite confused by this creature that roams Hillmomba. The creature called Farmer H. How it has survived for over five decades is a mystery to her. She would think such a creature might have perished without constant assistance from people so kind as herself. The Farmer H can scarcely remember to breathe in/breathe out. In fact, it buries its head under a quilt each night, and if not for the contraption called a BREATHER, it would, in fact, perish from lack of oxygen.

Imagine Mrs. HM's astonishment this noon when she discovered that the Farmer H has but a rudimentary understanding of the English language. She had just returned from The Devil's Playground and had barely stowed away her provisions. The Pony knew he would soon be conscripted into serving the Farmer H's construction commands, as soon as he was finished lovingly assisting Mrs. HM with her shopping duties. So Mrs. HM sent a text to the Farmer H (working at the BARn) in an effort to find out whether The Pony should report immediately for duty, or wait until after the Farmer H's feeding time. The text went exactly like this:

"Did you have lunch? Just asking. Nothing here but bologna or hot dog."

See what she did there? Mrs. HM sent a text that only required a YES or NO answer. So that The Pony could trot out to help, or go downstairs for gaming until his presence was requested. Sometimes, while in town, Mrs. HM will text and ask if the Farmer H desires any foodstuffs to be picked up for his midday meal. But this was not the case. She let it know right off that nothing had been broughten. But the Farmer H answered that text in a striking exhibition of self-centeredness:

"I would eat a couple dogs."

See there? Quite presumptuous of the Farmer H to assume that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is on call to cater to its every peckish desire. Does a creature of its years not understand how to provide for itself? Can it not toss a couple of dogs into the microwave with two handles, set the timer for 30 seconds, and pull two buns out of a bag? Nowhere did Mrs. HM offer to make the Farmer H's lunch. That would have been something like, "Did you eat yet? I can make you a bologna sandwich or a hot dog." But she did not. She assumed (and look what happened) that the Farmer H was capable of keeping itself alive in her absence.

The Farmer H may have eaten for a day. But it will not eat for a lifetime. Unless that lifetime is not much more than a day.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Some Folks Deserve A Sound Thrashing

Yesterday I stopped by a different Save A Lot that the one I regularly frequent, in order to pick up milk and bananas. It was on the way home from my mom's house, where we'd been working at clearing out some stuff. As I pulled into the parking space, Farmer H called me.

I left T-Hoe running so The Pony (seated in the front due to piles of stuff in the back) and I wouldn't overheat. While I was talking to Farmer H, T-Hoe started to sway. It was like we were in that movie 2012, and a fissure had opened up right under us, so severely did we shake.

"WHAT was THAT?"

"Mmm...oooeeeooo." Which I think means "I don't know" in Pony.

The swaying diminished. I turned to look out The Pony's side of T-Hoe, and saw a lady (let the record show that I use the term loosely) getting into her big white sedan, which was parked adjacent to us.

THAT WITCH HAD SLAMMED HER DOOR SO HARD INTO T-HOE'S SIDE THAT IT MADE HIM SHAKE! With ME inside!

I put the windows down on the passenger side. I can do that, you know. I have supreme power over T-Hoe.

"WHAT IS MAKING OUR CAR SHAKE? OH! THAT LADY SLAMMED HER DOOR INTO US!"

Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not playin'. She WANTED that witch to hear her statement. The witch folded her long legs and accordioned into her driver's seat. She must have already loaded her broom into the back seat.

I threw her the stinkeye and held my gaze. She had the audacity to look right through T-Hoe's open windows. It's a good thing she couldn't see all the way into my soul. I stared her down until she broke. Or until she started backing up out of her parking space.

One of these days, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's mouth is going to write one too many checks for her butt to cash.