Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Biting The Hand That Feeds Them

We have a pest problem here at the Mansion. And I'm NOT talking about Farmer H!

Every evening, as I sit on the front porch pew acting as a mediator during Jack and Juno's nightly snack meeting...mosquitoes flit around my head. I know the winter (and I use that term loosely) has been unseasonable warm. But you'd think those darn mosquitoes might have died during that one week of icy, school-missin' weather.

I told Farmer H, a few nights ago as he sat in the metal chair that gets blown off the end of the porch during tornado season, "Something needs to be done about these mosquitoes! They're all over the place!" Meaning they were stealthily flitting around my head.

"I know. Look at the size of THAT one!" Farmer H did not seem to sense the urgency of my statement. Or appear at all inclined to doing anything about the mosquitoes. The one he was impressed with was on his arm at the time.

"I guess they're in that log down there." It's an old log, dead for quite some time, which has been there for years. But there's a little moss on it. I figure those mosquitoes must be living in the cracks. It's moist.

"I doubt it. The sewer trap is right under where you're sitting." Let the record show that the front porch pew is against the outer wall of the master bathroom. And the porch is composed of wooden boards, with crack room in between them. And that the porch sits about two-and-a-half feet off the ground, with lattice board covering the front edge to the ground. AND that if there's one thing Farmer H knows, it's sewer traps and how they work.

Still, he showed no inclination to do anything about those woman-eating pests. I have SIX bites! All inflicted within the past two days.


No. That's not me auditioning to be a model for one of those remote-control holders, or glasses holders. And it's not really as dark as the far, unexplored corridors of the Mammoth Cave system on my front porch. It's my bad hand-me-down phone camera again.

Look. I have a bite on my wrist. I think it's ready to grow its own body. That red shiny part of my hand is not a bite. It's just residue from when I was breaking up the dog snack of gas station chicken breast and wing bones. The index finger has a bite on the first joint crack. It is painful when I try to bend that finger. The ring finger has TWO bites, at the first joint crack, very itchy, which has swollen the fingertip portion due to my scratching. The other is at the second finger joint. And the pinky finger has a bite on the side of the finger at the first joint. My right wrist has a matching bite like the left one. It was first.

Here's my theory. I am busy chatting with Farmer H, or supervising the dogs so they don't steal each other's plate, and I don't notice when I'm being bitten. I sit with my left hand on the pew, fingers curved under the seat. I guess that's when they got me.

Something really needs to be done about the pest situation. You decide which one I'm referring to.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The WAI-AI-TING Is The Enragingest Part

Please excuse Mrs. Hillbilly Mom from blog-posting tonight. She is having a Not-Heaven of a time getting her IRS tax transcript, which the #1 Son needs by March 1st. It's not like he will qualify for any grants, or needs any loans. His FAFSA is done. But he's been "selected" for account verification. He only has one semester left, and only a few hours of required courses. But we don't want any problems in the financial aid office to interfere with his current scholarships.

I am so tired of jumping through IRS hoops that I might as well drape myself over a bare tree branch and call myself a Dali clock. This is exhausting work. Even though most of my time has been spent WAITING.

The stupid account thingy I set up in order to view and download that IRS transcript online does not want to recognize ANY of our phone numbers. Except for #1. He got his own tax transcript in about 2 minutes. Mine has to mail me a code, since they can't text it, because they won't recognize any of the cell phones. You know how our mail goes. 5-10 calendar days, they said. Just for a CODE number! Of course we never got it, after requesting it on Feb. 3rd.

Tonight I tried to get through by phone. Nope. Automated. After three tries, I THINK it's mailing me a copy of that tax transcript. Allow 5-10 calendar days! I say I THINK, because it took three tries, and two of them said they could not process it.

Oh, and don't get me started on the MAIL! The day after Valentine's Day, we got nothing. I mean NOBODY out here got anything. I know that, because, yes, I broke federal law and looked inside all the mailboxes on Mailbox Row. Nada.

AND...with the President's Day holiday, of course the mail wasn't delivered Monday. BUT...I had mail in my box this morning, BEFORE the mail was delivered today! Sure, it was just a magazine I never ordered. But it had my name and address on it. And was the only thing in any of the mailboxes. So I figure somebody else got it, and put it in the right box when they came looking for fresh mail.

I figure that secret code that I'm missing was also delivered to the wrong person, and they opened it, seeing that is was something from the IRS, like maybe a check, as if I'm that stupid and that efficient that poor that I already have my taxes filed and a refund on the way. Then, seeing as how it was nothing but a stupid six-digit code for something they didn't have the rest of the info for...they panicked and threw it away instead of putting it in my mailbox.

So now I don't know if to wait on that mailed IRS transcript, or try to have the code mailed again to access it online, or if I can do both without canceling the other, and Farmer H wants me to call the IRS tomorrow, as if I can find a number to a real live person, who will only tell me that HE has to call, because his name is first on the return.

I'm pretty much mad at the world right now. A new puppy would have gone a long way towards soothing my frayed nerves.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Both Sighed Now


Soft and silky spotted fur
Now and then wrapped ‘round a bur
Covering a precious cur
I yearn for pups like that

But now my hope is sadly gone
The pup that spotted fur is on
Won’t be romping on my lawn
Or chasing my three cats

I’m wishing I had not known now
About sweet Pepper, yet somehow
I’m glad she found a home, y’all
Even though we didn’t get the call.

Farmer H tried. He really tried to get me that little dog Pepper. The one who looks just like Jack, same mix. As of last night, the lady who put Pepper on Facebook to give away (!) said she was deciding who would get her.

Well. This morning all the way through noon, and shortly thereafter...I felt like I should throw some snacks in my briefcase and head off to the office to work on the Penske file. You know. Like George Costanza did, even though he didn't know if he really had a job or not. 

Farmer H said that the Pepper lady had put on Facebook: "Thanks to everyone who showed an interest in Pepper. Pepper will be ready for PPU this afternoon." And that was IT! So we had a debate over what PPU could mean. Farmer H thought it might be for "Possible Pick Up." I thought it might be the initials of the person who had been selected to adopt Pepper. But really...who would put all three initials on there for something like that?

"I gave her my phone number. I sent a message that my wife really wants Pepper."

"Yeah. I'm pretty sure we didn't get her. I'd hate to think that we're supposed to pick her up, though, and don't know about it."

"Here. Just in case. I'll send her another one. 'I still don't know if I get Pepper. If I'm the one, let me know the time and place to meet you, and I'll be there.' I can't do much else besides that."

"Yeah. That just seems really strange, the way she put that PPU on there for everybody to see, without us knowing what it means."

"She has my phone number. If she calls, I'll go meet her. I have some fence ready to put up for a little pen at night."

"Probably somebody got Pepper to keep inside. That's good for Pepper. It's what she's used to. I just really wanted her."

"I know. It is what it is. There'll be other dogs."

Don't I know it! Every week, I check the Pound Pups section of the paper. This week, there were 9 cats and 3 pit bull mixes. Sorry. I'm not adopting one of those.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

You Don't Know What You Want Till It's Gone

Farmer H sure knows how to tug at my heartstrings. I'm not so sure tug is the correct term. I'm pretty sure he's trying to rip my heart right out of my chest.

This morning it was his duty to wake me in time to get ready for a movie date. The awakening was accomplished by sitting in the living room in his La-Z-Boy and yelling, "It's time to get up!" Which is not so very horrible. It's what he said next.

"I've got something to show you."

That is NEVER something you want to hear from Farmer H. Especially in the morning, when you're laying in bed, still a little groggy.

"I bet you do. That doesn't mean I want to see it."

"Just a minute. I have to find it."

"That doesn't sound good."

"No. It was right here. Now it's gone. Give me a minute."

"I'm going to get in the shower. I don't have time for this."

When I got out of the shower, Farmer H was still sitting in his La-Z-Boy. He was holding his hand over his head. Out over the back of the chair.

"Here. I've got it now."

I picked up one of my four current pairs of glasses, in varying prescriptions, two of which reside on the table next to the La-Z-Boy. I squinted at Farmer H's hand, which held his phone. The screen went black.

"You'll have to show me more than that."

"Oh. Here."

It was a picture of Puppy Jack. In a kitchen, standing over a bowl of dry dog food, bits of kibble scattered on the tile. WAIT A MINUTE! That wasn't Puppy Jack!

"A lady put it on Facebook this morning. 'Free to good home. Pepper. A weenie heeler mix. She's five months old. Okay with kids, but nips their fingers.' I thought you'd like to see her. She looks just like Jack."

"I KNOW!"

Thing is, you never know WHY Farmer H is showing me something like this.

"Well...I don't know. Do we need another dog? We've always had three. It wouldn't be that much different than having two."

"Yeah. It wouldn't be any different at all."

"Should we call about her?"

"She's NOT coming in the house!"

"I know that. The weather's warm. She'd have to learn that she lives here. Do you have somewhere to put her up for a week or so?"

"I could put her in the chicken pen."

"She'd dig her way under the fence."

"Yeah. Jack already has a hole where he goes under, to get in the goat pen. I'd have to fill that in."

"She'd probably stay. With the other dogs. And getting fed here. Juno will hate her! For a while. Then maybe they'll be buddies, like Juno and Ann were."

"Yeah."

"Do we want to get her? While we don't have any chickens left for her to kill? She'd have to have her operation! Is five months old enough?"

"I don't know. It would be close. We don't want any pups!"

"Yeah. We need a pet carrier that she'll fit in. Since you can't find the big one."

"She'd fit in that other one right now. She probably won't get any bigger than Jack."

"Yeah. They may not let us have her, if they know she'll be outside. I wonder what's wrong with her? Why they don't want her?"

"I don't know."

We went to the movie. Didn't speak of that little dog again. Until we were coming down the driveway, opening up the garage door.

"What do you think about that dog?"

"I don't care. Here. I'll send that lady a message."

This was around 1:30. We didn't hear anything until 7:00. The lady is trying to decide who to give that little dog to. I have a feeling we won't get her. But if that's because she's going to somebody who'll keep her in the house, then good for Pepper.

My heart feels like it's a size too small right now.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Still Wondering

On Thursday, the evening after Farmer H's near-miss with the Garlic Bread Toaster-Warming Plan...he again astounded me by remaining alive after making a less-than-wise choice.

Let the record show that I give Puppy Jack and Sweet, Sweet Juno a snack on the front porch every evening after my walk. They get assorted leftovers and expired food from the pantry or FRIG II. On that very day, I had set out a loaf of sliced french bread from The Devil's Playground bakery section. It had been in FRIG II for two weeks, and I'd just bought a loaf to replace it, so I needed the room. The dogs enjoyed their bread snack, along with a few of the softer bones from some Devil's deli chicken. There was still half a loaf left for the next day's snack.

Farmer H was left to his own devices for scrounging his supper Thursday night. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom doesn't cook warm in the oven or heat in the microwave on shopping day. Besides, Farmer H enjoys Devil's fried chicken and slaw, though not as much as he likes hot dogs.

On Friday, Farmer H had plans to go to the auction. I offered to warm him some frozen Buffalo Chicken nuggets that he'd had for the Super Bowl. They're quick. He had about 45 minutes to spare before leaving. He said that yes, that would be good. He liked the Buffalo chicken chunks.

"You can have some slaw with them. Or a salad. And there's a bag of rolls I just bought yesterday. They're in the refrigerator."

"I can have some bread."

"Oh, you mean the garlic bread? Yeah, I can warm that up for you."

"No. That other bread."

"Oh. The french bread. Yeah, I got another loaf of that, too. You'll have to put a twisty on it when you open it. There's one of those tape thingies holding it closed. They always tear the bag when you take it off. I'll lay out a twisty."

"I'll just have the slices, like I had last night."

"What do you mean?"

"On the counter."

"THAT WAS FOR THE DOGS! And I just threw it away THIS MORNING because there was mold growing on the top! I wouldn't even give it to the dogs tonight!"

[Let the record show that the mold looked like a map of the Americas. (Ever since that England is an island debacle, Mrs. HM loves to show off her mad geography skillz whenever she gets a chance.) Let the record further show that Farmer H has a thing about moldy bread, and turns green at the mere thought of touching a bag with moldy bread inside.]

"Well...there wasn't any mold on it last night..." I imagine Farmer H's innards were writhing, despite his rationalization.

One of these days, Farmer H is going to remember that anything set down on the counter in that area is meant to be fed to the chickens, dogs, goat, or mini pony. Until then, he might as well expect to contract food poisoning.

Considering all the trouble Indiana Jones had getting that poison antidote before he entered the Temple of Doom...perhaps Farmer H needs to wear a vial of poison antidote around his neck.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sometimes, You Gotta Wonder How He's Survived This Long

Farmer H asked for spaghetti last week, and spaghetti I made him, by cracky! When The Pony was here, and the #1 Son eons ago, I also made them garlic cheese bread.

There used to be a Pizza Inn near my $17,000 house in town. It's Puppy Jack's veterinarian's office now. But it used to serve good pizza. Every other Friday, when Farmer H picked up his boys, HOS and The Veteran, we took those youngsters to feast at Pizza Inn. We got pizza and garlic cheese bread. YUM! I figured out how to make it by the time #1 and The Pony were born and old enough to enjoy it.

Since it was just Farmer H and me last week, I didn't plan to go all out, spreading butter and sprinkling shredded mozzarella out of a bag and shaking some garlic salt on top. That's more work that I was prepared to put out for Farmer H. When I bought the hamburger for the sauce at Save A Lot, I grabbed a foil loaf of frozen garlic bread. Normally, when I buy that stuff, it's the sliced Texas Toast kind of garlic bread. Save A Lot was out! So...I got the kind that's like a loaf of french bread sliced down the middle. That meant that I had to hack it into chunks. Frozen.

I hacked 2/4 off the bottom crust. That was more work than if I'd taken the sliced french bread I had in FRIG II and spread it with butter and sprinkled on shredded mozzarella out of a bag and shook some garlic salt on top. Anyhoo...Farmer H had spaghetti and garlic bread for his supper.

I made enough spaghetti for three servings. Farmer H asked for it, so obviously he WANTED it, so I figured he could want it for two more nights. Wednesday night, Farmer H was going to feed the animals and putter around in the BARn. He said he'd warm up his spaghetti when he was ready. But...knowing Farmer H like I do...I offered to lay it all out for him.

"Do you want me to put the spaghetti in a pan on the stove, until you're ready to warm it?" I knew at least it would be in the pan I wanted it in if I did it for him.

"Yeah. If you want to." I HATE it when he says that. Of course, given a choice, I don't WANT to! He could just say, "Yes, please." Not act like I take great joy from it and he's doing ME a favor.

"Okay. How much do you want. The rest of the container?"

"No. Just half of it's good."

"Do you want garlic bread?"

"No. You don't have to make that."

"I mean...the kind you had the other night. The frozen kind. I can put in on a foil pan, ready for you to put in the oven."

"Nah. I'll just toast it."

"What?"

"I'll warm it in the toaster."

"Uh...you're not going to fit those chunks in the toaster."

"Oh. I thought it was slices."

"You'd actually put Texas Toast coated with butter in the toaster? Where would the butter go?"

"I'd just lay it across the top if it wouldn't fit."

"I'm putting it on a foil pan. I'll write your directions on a paper plate."

"Okay. If you want to."

How in Not-Heaven has that man survived this long? Maybe I should have let him use the toaster, and told him to clean out the melted butter with a fork...while the toaster was ON.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Even Steven Dishes It Out, Then Allows Mrs. HM To Take It

Dang! Even Steven had his way with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom this morning!

On the way up the driveway, I noticed that we'd had a visitor sometime in the night or early morning. I managed to get a picture of the evidence on the way home.


How do ya like THEM horse apples? Not much, if you're Mrs. HM. Because they are right where she places her dainty feet when she takes her driveway walk every afternoon. AND the dumpster needs to be brought back down to the garage today, so it will have to be rickshawed on the other side, which has a little depression down the middle.

The neighbors who possess the Killer Poodle and Crazy Rott have three horses, in a field just across the gravel road from the Mansion driveway. They can't projectile-poop that far, but they sometimes get out. This could be the explanation for the dogs going crazy last night. Or not.

Meanwhile, in town, The Devil's Playground was out of big sandwiches. It's been at least six months since I bought one. But last night, Farmer H said he wouldn't mind to have one, to use for some lunches on his four-day weekend. So...the only time I promise him something, The Devil is fresh out.

I was standing at the end of the tortilla table up by the bakery section, and a fellow old lady shopper pulled her cart right up in front of me so I couldn't get away without backing up and taking a detour around an abandoned cart on the other side of the display. Let the record show that she was NOT looking at the tortillas. And that when she stationed herself there, she met my eye, like a hoodlum in a souped-up jalopy revving his engine beside a muscle car at a stoplight.

The stockers were out in full force, their wheeled carts blocking three different aisles. I swear, no matter what day I choose to go shopping, they're re-stocking. Then there was the old man with his cart parked in the middle of the waffle aisle. So I had to squeeze by, compressing my quilted flannel CPO jacket that I had draped over the side of my cart, just so it didn't flap him in the butt as I walked by. And the lady on the bread aisle who parked her cart on one side, then stood on the other, effectively cutting off cart-walker traffic flow until she was good and ready to  rejoin her buggy. I had planned to pick up some hot dogs for Farmer H to throw on Gassy G this weekend, but a lady with a baby in her basket, and a screaming boy toddler with his wrist in her death-grip, were working out their behavioral issues in front of that section. A little old lady buying sugar parked her cart to block the Splenda display. And a re-stocker clanging wine bottles as he removed them from the shelf nearly deafened me as I was picking up two four-packs of strawberry water for Farmer H in the beverage section.

At the checkout, my Devil's Handmaiden was oblivious to my need for a divider on the conveyor. So I had to let a reasonable gap develop before taking the imminent purchases out of my cart. THEN the lady behind me was a close-shopper, and blatantly ogled my PIN when I used my debit cart, after I practically needed to elbow her out of the way to get to the scanner.

On the way out the EXIT door, a scofflaw had the nerve to try and ENTER! There was a time when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would have tried to maneuver her fully-loaded cart out of the way to make room. Today was not that time. I kept going straight out the middle of those double doors, so Scofflaw had to stop in her tracks. Karma, Scofflaw. Use the right friggin' door.

I spent the ensuing soda/lottery interlude danging ol' Even Steven. But once I settled down to sip my 44 oz Diet Coke and scratch my lottery tickets, I changed my tune. Because sweet ol' Even Steven gave me $65 in winnings today.

Life is a balancing act.