Saturday, April 19, 2014

Let's Not Issue That License Just Yet

OH! Oh, oh! Mr. Kotteeeeer! You won't believe what I just saw!

Out the front window, at approximately 2:14 p.m., I spied The Pony DRIVING!

Okay, so it wasn't his truck. It was Farmer H's Gator. He had left it in front of the rock garden that lies beside the homemade sidewalk made from bricks that used to be an alley behind my $17,000 house in town. I had sent The Pony out to throw bread to the chickens, then he was supposed to help Farmer H with one of his latest ventures that involved unloading sheet metal salvaged from an entire metal shed at work. He needs the trailer, you see, to load up the riding mower to take to my mom's house to mow her yard. I don't know what plans he has for the sheet metal.

So anyway...here came The Pony, galloping from the goat pen area. I imagine Farmer H told him to come get the Gator. The Pony actually looked excited. The cart was before the horse. He hopped in, put his foot on the brake, and turned the key. Nothing. He tried again. Nothing. He took his foot off the brake. Looked down at the gear shift. Moved it. Turned the key. With a grinding sound, the Gator lurched forward. The Pony grabbed the wheel and began a wide left turn to head back towards the BARn.

When the Gator's motor roared to life, my sweet, sweet Juno darted down the porch steps, whipping her feathery black tail in excitement. Ann came from the side yard where she was no doubt stealing bread from the chickens. As The Pony motored across the yard, Ann stood her ground in front of the porch, and Juno dashed to the woods across from her. They both watched The Pony putt by. Then they gave each other THE LOOK. Like, "WTF?" When Farmer H drives the Gator, those dogs romp round and round it, feinting, grabbing each other's forelegs between their teeth, sprint ahead, look over their shoulder, race back, bark, and generally suck all the marrow out of life in this little interlude with their vice-master leading the pack on an adventure, perhaps to the creekside cabin, perhaps to the mailbox, perhaps up the road to Buddy's house. Now they were discombobulated. They followed The Pony at a safe distance. At a dogtrot.

Even the dogs know The Pony is an inexperienced driver.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Food Police Mount Another Investigation

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a taker. It's true. I heard you all recoil and gasp in shock. I know it's hard to believe. But I am. A taker. A taker of lunch.

I never know quite what I want to take. It must be something simple. Something that does not require a lot of prep time pre-taking, nor a lot of making-edible time post-taking. Something that will not dirty my microwave at school. Something that will not dirty the work togs of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Something without offensive odor that leads to my lunch companions talking about me when I get up from the table. Something that can be comfortably consumed at 10:53 a.m., in about 18 minutes.

For two weeks, I have been taking a sandwich of deli turkey on whole-wheat English muffin. With mayonnaise, of course. None of that sweety-sweet-sweet Miracle Whip. The miracle is that I don't whip your butt, Miracle Whip, for ruining perfectly good mayonnaise.

Tomato-Squirter, my left-hand lunch buddy, used to have an irritating habit of commenting on my lunch. that's before we joined forces in our plot to regain our rightful lunch chairs from Jewels. I broke Tomato-Squirter of her bad habit by bringing a solid week of inedible lunches that I pretended were real. Things like sardines in mustard sauce with a peanut butter and marshmallow topping. A baggie of Meow Mix and Cocoa Puffs mixed together. Just before digging in, I would say, "Huh. That school lunch looks so good today. I think I'll go get that." Then I would close up my inedibles. Tomato-Squirter went so far as to actually pick up the baggie of my crunchy treat and open it. I snatched it back forthwith. "Oh, no you don't! That's MINE!" But that's another story.

On Wednesday, I had a headache. One that started in the evening, and persisted into morning, squeezing the area above my eyebrows until I wanted to squeeze it with a vice to lessen the pressure. On my plan time, I took an ibuprofen with a little bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. This will usually do the trick, but I did not want that ibuprofen eating its way through my stomach lining. I went to my mini-fridge and got out my sandwich. I didn't want to eat the whole thing. Just send some buffering agents down into my gullet. I unwrapped my sammie and ate the turkey hanging over the edge. Like gnawing kernels of corn off the cob. Then I put it back to wait for lunch.

Wouldn't you know it! Tomato-Squirter snagged her seat away from Jewels. She was up to her old tricks again. "Did you bite the meat off your sandwich?" She seemed bemused. Like I was a child hiding my Brussels sprouts under my mashed potatoes. Or a stand-up comedian stuffing mutton wrapped in Gramma Mimma's napkins into the pockets of my jacket.

"Yes. I did." Oh, there was so much more that I wanted to say. But I didn't. It wasn't worth starting my head to throbbing again. Really. Since when is it a crime to make your meat fit your bread? Is that frowned upon? Because if I'd known that, I would not have done it. So we can forget the whole thing.

I swear. Let me consume my lunch as I see fit. All at once, or in installments. Until my food is photographed every day for publication in a School Lunches Around the World calendar, there is no need to make it pretty.

Sweet Gummi Mary! It's not like I brought stinky fish or asparagus.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I'm A Nixer, I'm A Mixer, I'm A Nine A.M. Fixer...I Repair Laptops Just For Fun

Alas, I was tied up at The Pony's academic practice, then got into some roadway resurfacing on the way to the bank to send the #1 son money to drive home for Easter, and I simply do not have time for a good Cus-ing tonight. But I do have a somewhat related tale.

I spent my plan time today solving a computer problem. I KNOW! Surely the end is near, what with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom discovering super powers in the technology realm. I was going to email my company computer guy, but I didn't want to be proved a fool.

First, I consulted my BFF Google. My school laptop has been losing power. That is not acceptable. My laptop never leaves the dock. It should be charging continuously, always at 100%. Last year I had this problem, too. Out of the blue. One day I noticed my power was at 99%, the next day at 98%, then 97%...I think you get the drift. Then, after bottoming out at 94%, it was cured. Miraculously healed.

Back then, I saw the company computer guy in the hall. We're not supposed to talk to him. He's like a celebrity, with a rider in his contract that we peons don't make eye contact with him. Any issues we have with computers, we must create a ticket for tech support. None of this buddy-buddy stuff of encountering him on the premises, and casually mentioning an issue. So, risking a stern talking-to, I said, "Hey, company computer guy! Thanks for fixing my laptop. It's back up to 100%." And he said, "I haven't done anything to your laptop. I haven't been in your room since August." So I blathered about the previous problem, now solved. And he said, "If that ever happens again, you need to let me know."

So, since last week, it has been been happening again. But I took matters into my own technologically-challenged hands. I checked all my plug-ins. I uncoiled the wire on my charger. It was coiled tightly, like a spring, and secured by a velcro thingy. I let the kinks out. And while I was at it, I noticed the the cord for the dock had been wound like a rope that hangs on the saddle of a calf roper, and secured by another wire, one of about 19,478 wires garbled upon my control center table. I did not remember my wires being wound so tightly. So I set them free to meander. Still, no power.

Then I took the laptop out of the dock. IT STARTED TO DIE! I grabbed the power cord, and plugged it directly into the back of the laptop. It was easy as lemon meringue pie, with a yellow ring around the connector, and a yellow ring around the socket it goes into. VOILA! The power as restored. So I knew it was not a bad power supply.

I unscrewed that flat connector to the main power cord that plugs into the dock. You know. The kind with two screws you can turn with your thumb and forefinger. It looked a little corroded inside. Some of those 30-something pins had white gunk on them. I blew on it, with no result. So I screwed it right back in.

My laptop can't have its power cord connected while it's in the dock. There's a thingy in the way. So I had to set it back up like normal, and the lack of charging started all over again. So I went wire by wire to the two power strips. I took the plug-in for the power supply out of the power strip, and plugged it in to the only other slot available. It came out pretty easy. So I'm thinking that it must not have been in all the way as I had first assumed. Because when I jammed it into the other slot, my laptop started charging! Within ten minutes, I was back to 100%.

Yeah. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a computer trouble-shooting genius. And Cus is an overzealous control-center-table-duster.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Leaning Tree Of Hillmomba

For two years now, The Pony and I have been observing a freak of nature. No. We're not talking about Farmer H.

On the way to and from school, we drive down a quiet residential street, one lined with classic homes from a bygone era. Large homes. Homes that look like they might have secret passages, dumbwaiters, and parlors. Most are in good shape. Some are in the process of rehabbing. But for the most part, it's a scenic avenue with stately real estate.

The house that catches my attention each a.m. and p.m. is not all that stately. In fact, I could not describe that house if a 44 oz. Diet Coke depended on it. I am too transfixed by what stands in the front yard. It's a huge evergreen tree of indeterminate species. Cedar, perhaps. It leans alarmingly towards the street. For two years, I have been leery of this behemoth. "That tree is going to fall on us. I can feel it."

The Pony feels that my worries are unfounded. The odds of that tree falling at the exact instant T-Hoe rolls by are outrageously high. Huh. Let's not forget the fears of Aunt Josephine in A Series of Unfortunate Events. A tree canting like a drunken sailor cannot defy gravity forever.

Last week, perhaps due to rain, perhaps due to wind...The Leaning Evergreen of Hillmomba moved a few degrees closer to terra firma. A portion of the trunk snapped at the base, on the house side, leaving a shard of wood the size of rolled-up newspaper (Sunday edition) reaching skyward. "Look! That tree has shifted. It's going to fall. It's going to take out those power lines. I can't believe Ameren Missouri has not fed that behemoth to the wood chipper!"

Tuesday morning, The Pony had to be at Newmentia by 6:30 a.m. to leave for a W.Y.S.E. competition. Farmer H selflessly volunteered to drive him, so I did not have to spend 90 minutes at school waiting to start my day. I was missing my little Pony as I drove myself to town at the regular time. Sure, he sits behind me, and rarely speaks except to say, "I really don't want to talk right now." I know he's there, even though he leans toward the window so I can't see him in the rearview mirror. When I talk, I can pretend that I am actually talking to him, not to myself.

Tuesday morning, I talked to myself. "LOOK! I KNEW it was going to happen!" The Leaning Tree of Hillmomba had fallen, and it couldn't get up. The only thing keeping it from blocking the road was the power lines. That tree laid across them like Paul Bunyan laying sideways across a hammock. And my Pony was not there to see it! I couldn't get a picture, because my Pony was not there to snap one for me. I sent him a text once I arrived at school. Of all the days to miss our morning ride, The Pony had to miss this one.

I was eager to show him the carnage on the way home. Of course The Leaning Tree of Hillmomba had been surgically removed. Only about a foot of the trunk, and a few piles of sawdust, remained. I wonder if Tanya Tucker wants to come out of retirement to recreate one of her biggest hits. Some things are just not strong enough to bend.

There's a tree, out in the front yard, that finally has been broken by the wind...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Obviously, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Does Not Possess A Round Tuit

I must confess, blogoholics, that I have been holding out on you. I have another installment in the series I refer to inside my addled noggin as: Cus Wants to Kill Me.

I am unable to give it the proper attention it deserves tonight. And also unable to slather it with the right amount of tender loving care on Wednesday night. That's SURVIVOR night, people! And The Pony has his Smartypants practice. But maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to put it together by Thursday night.

You know you want it. I shall not disappoint. I've been keeping a log. Not a log that you might find under our front porch as of Sunday morning, a log from the creek bank most likely full of termites eager to jump from log to wraparound wooden porch to cedar mansion. Nor a log like Carrie Mae spoke of in The House Bunny. No. I've been keeping a written record of the latest atrocities Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has suffered at the raw-knuckled hands of Cus. With pictures!

So check back later in the week. You're in for a treat.

Unless something happens to me between now and then, like a mysterious workplace accident...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why Can't We Just Trade Chickens And Goats?

I wish I had something scathingly brilliant to report tonight, but alas, I do not.

I have been updating the FAFSA. I do not find pleasure in updating the FAFSA. There's all that signing in and remembering passwords and PINS and figuring out what is the bare minimum that needs doing. I would happily have gone on with my life tonight, ignorant of the FAFSA needs, except that FAFSA sent me an email. Uh huh. Wanting me to update the status from "will file" a tax return to "filed" a tax return.

Hey! FAFSA! Have you heard? People have until April 15th to file a tax return. So why you wanna do me like this, FAFSA? Jumping the gun, putting the cart before the horse, counting the chickens before they hatch...let's take a deep breath here and allow the proper interval before chomping at the bit over this impending deadline.

It's not like my kid is going to qualify for any aid. Seriously. We're the pay people. So why do we need the FAFSA? Oh. Another link in the chain of financial information the government collects on law-abiding citizens. Pardon me. My conspiracy slip is showing. I blush.

Last year, it was like planning a Seinfeld baby-viewing expedition. Instead of, "You've got to see the BABY!" all we heard was, "You've got to file the FAFSA!"

In other news...The Pony will be getting a free ride to the Missouri Scholars Academy this summer. Three weeks on Newmentia's dime. If, by dime, we mean $500. Newmentia is picking up the tab for his fee. HooRah, Newmentia! Schoolin' my Pony! What a lovely way to say that you're thinkin' of me.

Enough is enough. I'm off to the counting house to count out my money. I might even take a break to partake of some bread and honey. One thing's for certain. You won't catch me in the courtyard hanging out the clothes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

TV Is My Life

So many TV shows to watch, so little time!

I have frittered away my day with laundry and dish-washing and a trip to Save A Lot so my family does not starve, and a bit of bill-paying this morning so we're not out on our ear. Now I want to sit in my blue basement recliner and stare at the big screen TV and enjoy The Amazing Race, and Naked and Afraid, and something on the Food Network, and some stuff I have on the DVR from other nights when there were so many shows, so little time.

I'll leave you with my newest find this morning, while I was paying the bills. I don't remember the channel, and I think it's in reruns, but it's called An Idiot Abroad. On the episode I caught, this dude from somewhere in England (have you heard, it's an ISLAND!) was sent by Ricky Gervais to China. Ricky starts the show by saying how much fun it is to put his friend out of his comfort zone, and that he wants him to have the most miserable time possible, and that this show is quite possibly the most expensive practical joke he's ever played on anyone. Of course the dude is not thrilled to see The Great Wall of China, what with not just seeing the touristy part, but covering the entire wall, all the way to where it goes into the ocean. He declares that it really isn't protecting anything, because all one has to do is roll up one's pants, take off one's socks, and wade around the wall and voila! He's in China, ready to pillage.

Also, this dude did not care much for the food, what with eating a bag of "crisps" he brought with him while watching an old Chinese man eat a thousand-year-old egg. "What IS that?" Dude asked his cameraman. "A FETUS? Who eats a FETUS? Besides that gentleman over there. Can't he just let it be born, grow a little bit, THEN eat it?" Indeed.

Sorry. I have to skedaddle. My shows are coming on.