Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I'm Surprised The Paparazzi Weren't Lurking In The Bushes

I can't settle on a day to do my weekly shopping, now that all days are the same to me, and Farmer H is not locked into a M-F (that's Monday through Friday, you pottyminds!) schedule. All I know for sure is that I don't want to go to The Devil's Playground on a Friday. Unless it's pretty early in the morning.

Tuesdays are usually good. School-age kids are not there. Working people are not loading up after payday. The post-weekend shelf-stocking has been accomplished. Seems like other folks have the same idea with Tuesday shopping. I looked up to see a former school board member on the Diet Coke aisle. He might still be one. It makes me no nevermind. I was just turning around from the shelf when he greeted me, trying to wedge an 8-pack of mini bottles of Diet Coke on the side of the cart beside the 6-pack of regular size bottles of Diet Coke. I had to leave the other side of the cart free for two 4-packs of Farmer H's bottles of Strawberry Water.

"How are you doing?"

"Oh! Good! I'm good...really great. I love it."

Maybe that was overkill. I didn't want to insult him. I really liked my years at Newmentia. But who WOULDN'T rather drive around all day buying lottery tickets and 44 oz Diet Coke, rather than get up at 4:50 a.m. to spend seven hours preparing the citizens of tomorrow?

I saw a lady who used to be an aide at Newmentia, and may still be. She and her husband played on our trivia team a couple of times. Nice people. She was in the parking lot, and perhaps didn't see me inside T-Hoe, what with snatching the hand of her probable-grandson like I was some kind of reckless driver. Maybe that kid was having a sick day. He looked old enough to be in school.

In line at the checkout, I was startled by Nurse Nan. She's been retired for years, but my kids were some of the last to know her in school. Even though for some reason The Pony always referred to her as Nurse Sue. She came up and hugged me.

"I just have to do this!"

"We've got to stop meeting like this!" I saw here there two weeks ago, as I was leaving and she was coming in. It wasn't even a Tuesday.

"I haven't been here for two weeks! I've been really sick."

"Good to know. Now that you've hugged me."

"Oh, I'm MUCH better today! I feel great."

" look a little tired."

"I'm great compared to what I was. Anyway...I just wanted to say 'Hi.' I'll probably see you next week here!"


It's SO HARD to do your shopping unnoticed when you're a small town celebrity.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

For The Man Who Has Everything: Something He's Not Getting

By now, you might think that Farmer H would have one of every item in the world. You would think wrong. No matter how many self-built themed sheds he has in Shackytown, no matter how many gewgaws and knickknacks and whatnot he stuffs in them...Farmer H still has a hankerin' for something else.

I suppose this is Farmer H's version of the Sears Wish Book. He took a picture for me from a magazine at his barber shop. "I didn't tear the page out. I thought about it. But I just took a picture so you would know. You're always asking me what kind of thing I want. This would be neat."

Huh. I'm sure it would. If you look closely, you'll see it's a series of Coke bottles mailed to you in installments by The Hamilton Collection. Uh huh. It's the gift I'll never stop giving. I actually looked it up. The first "issue" or shipment is a single bottle. That one on the top left in the picture. I think the second shipment is the next bottle. The third one is the wooden crate. And then you get the remaining six bottles in one package "so you won't have to wait to display your collection." Oh, but they still bill them individually, the way I read it. Oh, yeah. Each shipment is $39.98 plus $8.99 shipping. The way I calculated it, if I read the regular-size fine print correctly, it will cost me $360 for the items, and $80.91 for the 9 "shipments." There's probably a handling fee that I glossed over.

I'm not sure how I'm going to break this news to Farmer H. I don't begrudge him having something he yearns for. But I don't want to get caught up in this subscription to the collection thingy. It's probably as hard to stop as the 1-cent for 13 cassette tapes from Columbia House Record Club deal. At least Farmer H's $1000 shoe inserts from The Good Feet Store was a one-time purchase.

I'll keep you apprised of the fallout.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Breathtaking Is As Breathtaking Does

Handsome is as handsome does. Or, in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's case, breathtaking is as breathtaking does.

The staff at the gas station chicken store apparently sees me coming. They probably throw elbows and jockey for position in a rush to hide out near the chicken-fryer in the back room, taking their chances of being spattered with grease hotter than the surface of the sun, rather than wait on Mrs. HM. I can't imagine why. I always have correct change, to the penny, for my 44 oz Diet Coke. Unless I'm getting chicken, of course, which hasn't been in about two weeks from there, what with The Devil's fried chicken convenient on the weekly shopping days.

I can't help it that almost every clerk there has made a little (or LARGE error on my lottery tickets. An error which I have always corrected, all mistakes having been in favor of ME, which means I'm saving them money and an a$$-chewing. Except for the Woman Owner, of course. I don't think she'd chew her own a$$. But everybody else had better get some fake buttocks to strap on if I stop helping them out.

Speaking of the Woman Owner...a few days ago, I stepped up to the counter to make my transaction, and she said, "Somebody got your parking space, didn't they?"

"YES! The nerve of them! They took up ALL of my parking spaces!"

There was a dump truck off to the side, by the canal that separates the gas station chicken store from Farmer H's pharmacy, CeilingReds. AND that dump truck was hooked up to a trailer suitable for hauling a backhoe.

"My favorite space is the first one over here. Where it's flat. But that one is usually taken. And then my second favorite was around to the side, by the dumpster and air hose, but every time I came out, people were waiting for me to move to get air. In fact, I got air for myself only yesterday!"

"Yes! We have FREE air!"

I think Woman Owner noticed where I parked, because she was looking out the front window to watch the gas pumps, and saw that I had parked right next to HER SUV. I left plenty of room to fling open T-Hoe's door, though. (Sunday) I parked over by the canal, because my number one favorite space was roped off with a wastebasket and orange crime tape, because apparently Woman Owner had put Man Owner to work filling in potholes with a bucket of cement again.

I had noticed something rolling around on the lot when I pulled in. As I walked across to the building, I could tell that it was a coffee cup. That's not good for business. You don't want your premises looking trashy. I was walking right by it. So I picked it up and tossed it in the trash receptacle between the pumps. I went on it, clutching my $60 winning ticket that I bought the day before (sorry for not breaking the news to you--I can only be bothered with the $100 winners lately).

The owners weren't working. It was the little Asian guy who gives me tips on certain scratcher tickets that have just had a winner, so I don't squander my easy-won money on them. I have questioned him at times on my total as well. I think we are at a draw. He's been right, and I've been right. Not a big deal. I just don't want to cheat anyone. That's bad Karma for winning.

This Guy has not been his usual outgoing self the last couple of times I was there. I don't think I've done anything to offend him. I don't try to be difficult. We used to joke around all the time about him selling OTHER PEOPLE the big winners. And about the soda being OUT of Diet Coke. But lately, we haven't been meshing.

I walked around the back of the aisle to the soda fountain.


The 44 oz cups were the kind with the fat flat bottom. Not the tapered bottom that fits in T-Hoe's cup holders. I reached gingerly to twist one out of the hole.

"Ah-ah-ah! I wouldn't do that! I'll get some in a minute. I haven't had time."

"I know better than to get one out of the box back there." It's a big cardboard box with new tubes of all sizes of the cups. "Last time, I opened it from the bottom! Sorry about that. I won't mess with them again."

"Oh, it's not that. A customer put THOSE in. We don't like to use them." This Guy finished up with his customer. He came back and pulled the fat flat-bottomed cups out. With difficulty. "And he broke some of them." I imagine Woman Owner knows to the tenth of a cent how much each cup costs, and when one is missing.

This Guy held out a tube of the good cups. "Here." I took one. Had to pry it loose with the help of his other hand holding back the one inside it. "Oh, and the soda will taste like bleach, because I cleaned the machine this morning."

"You know, I always think Dairy Queen Diet Coke tastes like Pine Sol. And McDonald's Diet Coke like it's been sitting four hours with ice in it already." I took my regular sip, to keep my magical elixir from seeping out the X in the lid. "Hey. It doesn't taste bad."

"Ha. I'm joking about the bleach."

Yes, This Guy and I had our groove back. I have a feeling he saw me pick up that cup and throw it away.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Pause That Replenishes

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not the only one who hits the road every day to quench her powerful thirst. While her drink of choice is 44 oz Diet Coke, others prefer their beverage plain. Very plain. Though perhaps not pure.

When I came down the hill towards EmBee to pick up the mail on Friday, this is what I saw. It's the fire department, filling their tanker truck with water from our creek. The water is only a couple inches deep here. It runs over flat rocks. There's a deeper section down by the low water bridge that floods, but there's nowhere to park the truck there without impeding traffic. I'm pretty sure I could have squeezed by here if I was headed on up the road.

There are actually two fire trucks. You can't see the one parked in front of this one. I couldn't tell if it was also a tanker truck, or just a rescue truck. I'm not in the habit of turning my head around backwards while I drive up our gravel road.

I'm wondering how long it took to fill up that truck, using such a small hose and two inches of water.

I might be wrong, though. You know what happens when we assume. Maybe they were getting ready to do a photo shoot for a fireman beefcake calendar, and were waiting for me to leave.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

One Of The Few Times My Mom Has Been Punctual

Dateline: Friday, 2:30 p.m.

Yesterday, I wrote about a phone call I got from an old-lady friend of my mom on Wednesday evening. Always my mother's daughter, I ended up talking for 45 minutes long-distance on the Mansion land-line after returning that old lady's call. I finished yesterday's post with a mention of how expensive that call was going to make our monthly AT&T bill this time. But how it wouldn't surprise me if a source of money to pay it turned up before the bill arrived.

Color me not surprised. And color today's Missouri Lottery Golden Ticket green:

Uh huh. I won $100 on a scratch-off ticket today. Pure coincidence...perhaps.

The day did not start off well. Last night, sitting in my OPC (Old People Chair) with the heat and the pulsing vibrator running non-stop (I have to restart them every 15 minutes when they shut off automatically) I mentally planned my daily town trip.

I needed to get the boys' weekly letter to the main hub post office before 11:30, because The Pony's was a manilla envelope with mail enclosed. Of course I would need to pick up some scratch-off tickets, and cash in the day's winners. I always plan my ticket purchase the night before. Can't plan any earlier ahead. I just wait until I get the right vibes as I think of the 7 convenience stores, spread over three localities, that are worthy of my ticket purchases.

When I'm going to buy a Golden Ticket, I consult my list of previous purchases. These are costly tickets, and nothing to be trifled with. I look at my list to see the number of the ticket I last bought at a specific store, and whether it was a winner or loser. There is only one $100 winner in a roll of 20 tickets. I don't want to buy one from a roll where I know the $100 has already been won. The little guy in the gas station chicken store will tell me if I start to buy one, and there was just a winner.

I decided the best bet would be to pick up my Golden Ticket at Country Mart, where they have two vending machines selling them. The last one I bought out of the right machine was a loser, and it was ticket number 19, the last one on a roll. So I knew a fresh roll would be in there now.

After getting that ticket, I would head on two towns over, to the main hub post office. Then I'd pick up a Beef Burrito Supreme for the non-working-Friday Farmer H's lunch that he'd requested. And maybe some chicken soft tacos for myself. The last stop would be the gas station chicken store for my 44 oz Diet Coke. Yep. I had my day planned out the night before. Not that I'm like my sister the ex-mayor's wife or anything...

So...I started to town in my green shirt (ST. PATRICK'S DAY!), not seeing the dogs, who were disloyally hanging out with Copper elsewhere. Before I was even off the county blacktop road, A BLACK CAT RAN ACROSS THE ROAD RIGHT IN FRONT OF T-HOE!!!

Oh, dear! What to do, what to do? That couldn't be a good omen! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a semi-superstitious person. She likes to keep the same routine when things are going well. Uses the same lucky quarter to scratch her tickets. Sets her two bubba cups and 44 oz magical elixir in the same order on her desk. Lays her tickets in the same place to await scratching. Puts out her aspirin and ibuprofen in plain sight for taking after supper. NOW a black half-grown kitten had scampered from left to right across Mrs. HM's luck.

I had half a mind not to cash in yesterday's tickets or buy more. To have a moratorium on scratching for one day. HA HA HA! Like that would happen. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is WEAK! She wanted her Golden Ticket!

On I went to Country Mart. Imagine my chagrin when I avoided a barreling cart-pushing hag as I tried to enter through the automatic OUT doors, like a seasoned bullfighter avoiding a loco toro, and stepped up to the right side lottery ticket machine, and saw the marker in front of my Golden Ticket that said OUT. Unfair! Unfair! This was going to be my winner! I checked the left side machine, which was also OUT of Golden Tickets. Well. Don't that just beat all? I picked up two ten-dollar tickets from it as I had planned. And left.

Well. My day was NOT off to a good start. I headed for the post office. It was Friday, you know. When I most often did the Devil's Playground shopping before Farmer H started not-working that day. I hadn't been by the cemetery yet this week to talk to Mom. I'd tried on Tuesday, but two guys on a green tractor were working in her plot area. I turned in there on the top road, and saw those two guys again! With their green tractor. I don't mean to rat anybody out, but much can you do in a graveyard with your tractor if you aren't digging somebody up or covering somebody over? Were they milking this job all week? I kept T-Hoe rolling. Talked to Mom through the window as I passed. "Well, Mom, we made it back from our trip to Oklahoma. I talked to your friend [NAME REDACTED] on the phone. She really misses you. I can't stop now. Those men are here again. I'll try again another day." Mom would understand, you know. She would join me in complaining about those men daring to do their job right when we wanted to talk.

On I went to the post office. A guy was mailing a big tray of non-profit, and a tray of profit. He had to write two different checks, he said. In the meantime, his fidgety boy-child of almost-school age flipped and flopped and flung himself along the counter, never taking his creepy eyes off me, even when a line formed behind me. I mailed my mail and went back to T-Hoe. Now I had the problem of where to get my ticket.

On my drive over, I had contemplated going to the Casey's General Store I frequent for tickets out by my bank. Every time I thought about it, I did not have a spark. No. Not time yet, my intuition shouted. I had a $100 winner from there on March 8, and it was ticket 001. They might still be on the same roll, and I already had the big winner off it.

I considered the Waterside Mart (no longer by the waterside since their new store was built up the street) by the stoplight on the way to my bank. I wasn't going to the bank today. But I didn't think it was time to buy my Golden Ticket from my other sources. I never go to this Waterside Mart. Haven't been there since I went with The Pony back when it first opened, at least a year ago, more likely two. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like I should go there for my ticket. It wasn't far from the post office. Closer than the Casey's.

Parking at the Waterside Mart was awkward. I wasn't used to their set-up, and had to drive through the gas pumps to the store. I vaguely remembered where their cashier was stationed, over on the left. Good! They had a display of tickets on the counter. But there was NO GOLDEN TICKET in that display! The clerk was joking around with a customer over by the deli. She gave me her attention immediately. Friendly-ly. Just like in the newest Waterside Mart over by my turn to go to Newmentia.

"May I help you?"

"Yes. I'm going to buy a lottery ticket. Do you have the Golden Ticket?"

"Sure do! Would you like one?"

"Yes. I'd like one Golden Ticket, please."

She grabbed it off the counter behind the display, rang it up, and pushed it toward me. "Good luck!"

The minute she shoved that ticket across the counter, my heart dropped into my stomach. NOOOOO! It was ticket number 000. I HATE to get ticket number 000. It's the first one on the roll. Even though I had a $100 winner on one in my streak of three-days-in-a-row one-hundreds, I do not like the 000. I had just thrown away my money! For NOTHING!

When I climbed into T-Hoe and grabbed my pen to write initials on the back so I'd remember that it came from the post office town Waterside unglassesed eyes realized that it was ticket number 005! NOT 000. Whew! Dodged that bullet. Then I had quite an optimistic feeling about my Golden Ticket.

The rest of my outing was fairly uneventful. Except for an oddity I stumbled upon down by EmBee...but that's for tomorrow.

I scratched off my Golden Ticket after lunch. I saw right away that I had ONE number that matched. After scratching the whole thing, I went back to scrape off the gold and see how much I won. I figured it was probably the cost of the ticket. But that would be fine! My money back to play again.

I always start on the cents side of the amount. Huh! What was wrong with this winner? I expected my little centsy zeroes. But these were FAT zeroes. BECAUSE THEY WERE PART OF $100, by cracky! They don't put the cents on those.

I kind of had a feeling that my phone call reimbursement would show up. I just didn't think it would be the very next day after I wrote that post.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Still Touching Lives

Last night I came in from giving the dogs their evening snack, then set about preparing supper for Farmer H. Yes, my priorities are in proper order. After getting his food ready, I walked through the living room for some errand I can't remember. That's what happens to us retired people, you know. Nothing is ever really urgent. One day blends into the next. I was probably moving something Casinopalooza-related from the end table to where it belongs.

As I went past the curio cabinet that houses my red depression glass set of dishes that my grandma gave me, I noticed that the house phone was blinking a message. "Huh. I guess that came in while I was on the porch giving the dogs their snack. I wonder what it is." I picked up the phone to listen. Things really must go in one of my ears and out the other, because Farmer H heard most of the message. It was an old lady from a not-so-near town, home of the Tigers, the longtime rivals of Newmentia's Bulldogs. Also the town where my great-grandma lived to be 98 years old at The Baptist Home. Anyhoo...I did not know this old lady, but I knew OF her. My mom used to talk about her all the time.

Old Lady identified herself, asked if I was me, said she was a good friend of my mom, and then said, "I read about your son The Pony in the Hillmomba Daily Record. And about Genius, too. From me to you, your mom would have been very proud of those boys. I want to briefly talk to you about them. Many times when I talked to her, they would be at her house. I want you to hear it from my heart like it would be from your mom's heart. I'll talk to you later. My number is [REDACTED]."

I went back to fixing my salad. I figured I'd call when I got back to my dark basement lair. It would have to be on the house phone, though, because of the reception. I didn't especially want to sit on the front porch pew in the chilly wind, with darkness falling, to chat with an old lady. She DID say she wanted to talk briefly. It wouldn't hurt to call. She was expecting it, you know. Like the old people do. It's common courtesy to return a call.

Once in the lair, I called. I should have known, really. Old Lady was just like my mom. A talker. She'd never heard what happened to Mom, and was shocked back then when a mutual friend had told her Mom passed away, so I filled her in. She was grateful. She told me how she went to high school with Mom, and how they did things in the later years, and how Mom was so generous, giving people little cross-stitch things and treats in Mason jars, and how my mom would get to laughing and couldn't stop. I shared the story of stopping by Mom's grave for a talk, and then realized I had poured out my heart to the wrong grave. Old Lady chuckled. Yes, Mom would have really laughed at that story. Old Lady mentioned Mom's friend who died recently, and I told her about the dream I had exactly one week before that death, of Mom telling me that the friend had just passed away.

Old Lady said that she, too, has dreams about Mom. And that last year, right about one year after Mom died, that she was sitting home one night and wanted to talk to Mom. So she picked up her phone and dialed the number, and got the answering machine with Mom's voice on it, and left her a message. "Dot, I never got a chance to say goodbye. So I'm calling to tell you that I miss you." She said it meant a lot to her to hear Mom's voice.

I told Old Lady that we had left the phone service connected until we got the house cleaned out. Because there was no cell phone service there, and Sis and I wanted to be reachable while we were there. And how it was kind of sad when Sis called to disconnect it. And how, a few days later that week, I had a dream of sitting in lawn chairs on a Little League game sideline talking to Dream Mom, waiting for Dream Sis to get there. And Dream Mom told me, "Oh, I'm having such a time. And now I can't get my phone to work!" And Dream Me told Dream Mom, "I guess you'll have to talk to Sis about that!"

Yes, Old Lady was just like Mom. We talked for 45 minutes. On the house phone. Long distance. That's going to cost a pretty penny. Oh, well. It's not like I'm a pauper or anything.

I wouldn't be surprised if some source of money turns up before that phone bill comes...

Mom always looked out for her Five-Dollar Daughter.

(This call was Wednesday night, March 15, 2017. We'll see what develops.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

She Got Up Off The Throne

Yesterday, I mentioned how my sister the ex-mayor's wife chose our hotel for Casinopalooza. Nothing wrong with that. She knew what she was getting into. I, on the other hand, did not. I am used to the suites at Holiday Inn Express. This hotel picked by Sis in Joplin was also all suites. I don't have a problem with that. They were nice rooms. But I have two issues. (Did you really expect that I wouldn't?)

When you go in, there is a kitchenette to the right or left, a desk/table on wheels that juts out from the kitchen area, then a sitting area with pull-out couch and coffee table. The room then makes an 'L' shape, with the bed on the same side as the kitchen, and a sink/closet area, then the toilet/shower. WHOA! There is no door on that sink/closet area. The toilet/shower room has a door. But it's close quarters in there. Not someplace I'd want to get dressed. have to dress in the sink/closet area, with no privacy. Not a big deal when it's just me and Farmer H, because I have him trained to "Look away! I'm hideous!" But what if one of the boys was with us, sleeping on that fold-out couch? It seems rude to send them to the kitchen so I can dress. Also, there is one TV, on a swivel from the wall. So you can watch TV from the bed, or TV from the couch. Not both. Somebody's gotta look at the back of the TV. The HIE has a separate pull-out couch area, with its own TV, divided from the doored bedroom by the doored bathroom. Much more conducive to a group who would actually use that pull-out couch as a bed for someone in their party.

My biggest issue was a small thing, really. Really, REALLY small. The toilet was lower to the ground than Puppy Jack's belly! What's up with that? I have a normal toilet in the NASCAR bathroom next to my basement lair. It's not like Mrs. Hillbilly Mom expects the world to install tall toilets for her wherever she travels. But is it too much to ask for a regular toilet? One that isn't a couple centimeters higher than a hole in the ground in some third-world country? How in the Not-Heaven is Mrs. HM supposed to get up off that thing?

Farmer H suggested using the bar on the shower door. News flash! The shower door slides. Quite easily. Not a feasible solution. I finally rigged up my sideways suitcase, wedged between the toilet and shower door, and left the toilet door open so I could grab the door frame for leverage. Thank the Gummi Mary, all casino bathrooms had handicap stalls with rails on the wall.

To Sis's credit, she did agree. "Yes. The toilets ARE really low here."

At least I only had to use that torture device a couple times at night, and in the morning before we left. I was happy to head to the HIE two days later. At least the HIE has the sink counter beside the pretty-normal-height toilet that I can use for leverage.

That first night at the casinos, I told the group I was going to the bathroom before we left. As you know, Mrs. HM never counts her money while she's sittin' at the table. She counts it while she's sittin' on the throne. Or at least standing in a stall. I guess I took a little too long in my private moment with my money. When I came out, Farmer H and The Ex-Mayor were laughing, and Sis looked concerned.

"We wondered what was taking you so long," said The Ex-Mayor. "I told Sis that she might want to come in and check on you. In case you couldn't get off the toilet."

Yep. My crew was looking out for me.

Oh, yeah. Sis had an issue, too. She was unhappy that they got a room with the kitchen and bed on the left, when she prefers to have her kitchen and bed on the right, like we had in our room.

I did not offer to switch.