Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Bad, The Good, The Promising, And The Ugly

Never enough time to shop for the Thanksgiving meal, prepare it, pack up leftovers, wash dishes, use leftovers, wash containers, cook a new meal from the leftovers...


Let's not even talk about my five-day weekend. Jury duty was canceled for Monday. CANCELED! Which I found out Wednesday afternoon at the stroke of 4:00. Necessitating a call to my secretary so she could call my sub so she can enjoy her five-day weekend! Oh, and let's not dwell on the fact that it took me 30 minutes to figure out how to text a colleague who had agreed to trade parking lot duties with me for Monday.

In other news, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has dipped her great toe into the stream of holiday shopping this evening. More to do, even from a list, but time is sorely lacking. She might be able to scam a few bargains tomorrow on cyber Monday, but not as many as if she had been OFF FOR JURY DUTY and not chosen. A fifty minute planning period is not a lot of time for strolling the virtual aisles to choose just the right gift for each person.

One good blip on Mrs. HM's radar was the statement from the #1 son's college. It is supposed to come on the 25th of each month, but showed up yesterday in her inbox. Seems that the Hillbilly family owes a grand total of -$5,342.67 for Spring 2016! Uh huh. #1 is doing an internship or some such -ship where he works and gets credit for the semester. So we are wondering if his scholarship money will apply to the following semester, or will be issued in check form as previous overages. Such a problem to have.

The Pony is applying for a scholarship that needs lots of documentation and a letter from his counselor. In true Pony fashion (of the past year), the deadline is Friday. He has his parts done, but must rush the counselor's office first thing tomorrow. AND he needs copies of any time he has had newspaper articles written about him. The problem there is that it's limited to 10 pages. But they can be front and back! AND the whole packet needs to be dropped off at a local establishment for the scholarship sponsor. Which is a kind of bar setting. Hope Mrs. Hillbilly Mom and The Pony don't make the front page in this endeavor!

Farmer H volunteered to make the assault on The Devil's Playground this morning. Remembering how much extra work his help usually costs her, Mrs. HM politely declined the offer. He DID rinse out the bowl from the 7-layer salad without permission and without warning. A fact discovered by Mrs. HM when she returned from dealing with the Devil and discovered her sink was clogged with particles of lettuce and green onion. AND Farmer H determined over the course of the afternoon that his creekside cabin has a leak in the roof, as does one of his shanties, the Fishing Lair. He assumes it is just a leak through a nail hole on the roof of each structure. But you know what happens when we assume. I don't know how to lock up my retirement nest egg rocks so Farmer H doesn't sell them out from under me to make repairs.

Even Steven gets me comin' and goin', folks.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How Farmer H Goes About Impressing An Impressionable Guest

Thanksgiving dinner was to be an event during which the Hillbilly family put their best foot forward.

It was the first such holiday meal hostessed by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. The #1 son was bringing along a friend from college. We picked up some clutter. Farmer H vacuumed and mopped and dusted. Probably in that order, unfortunately. Because every time I opened the microwave door (with TWO round drawer-pull handles!) I was rewarded with a bevy of dust bunnies raining from above. I figure Farmer H used that telescoping-handle round brushy duster, no Lemon Pledge, and swiped at the decorative rail along the top of cabinets. Thank the Gummi Mary, I did enough opening and closing to harvest all those bunnies so that none hopped into the food I had set out buffet style on top of the stove.

#1 said he would rather we used real dishes and glasses rather than Styrofoam trays and red Solo cups. I even bought napkins. Paper, sure. But we don't exactly have the linen kind with fancy carved holders. And still better than a select-a-size paper towel.

You might see where this is heading already...

It's not like we don our gay apparel and dine all formal-like. No suits and ties. No dresses. The Pony was in shorts and Adidas slides. But they were zip-fly, plaid shorts, with a navy blue collared polo shirt. It's not like he was in mesh athletic shorts and a t-shirt with the sleeves cut out. Farmer H, however, had been better-dressed for the opening night of the annual holiday basketball tournament than what he wore to the dinner table.

I looked up to see Farmer H uncapping those four two-liter soda bottles, and noticed his attire. "Um. What's that on your t-shirt?"

"I don't know. Water, maybe. From carrying the sodas."

"You drove them from your BARn refrigerator in the Gator. I don't know where water would have come from."

"I don't know then."

"You look like a bum who just rolled out of the gutter." Let the record show that Farmer H had on jeans and a cream-colored t-shirt with some kind of logo in red on the left side of his chest. I think the shirt was actually supposed to be cream-colored. I hope so. And there were splotches that looked wet from the chest area to his belly.


As we sat down to eat, I saw with horror that Friend was using a select-a-size paper towel to wipe his mouth.

"Um. I thought The Pony gave everybody a napkin when he set the table." I turned to my right to glare at The Pony."

"I DID!"

"Oh, I gave him that. I didn't know if you wanted us to use these." #1 pointed to the triangle-folded napkin under his knife and spoon. Stop it. We're not exactly the Vanderbilts.

"That's okay. I have a whole package. Right there on the stool under the cuckoo clock."

Somehow, between talking of Friend's family and how the only embarrassing thing they could say about him was that he rolls his napkin (and perhaps select-a-size paper towel) up in a ball...and truly embarrassing tales of #1's childhood turned to strip clubs. Okay. So perhaps I was the one who brought it up. All I remember is that we were talking about embarrassing things involving faculty and pupils.

"Remember that strip club out here on the highway? You won't, #1, because you weren't born yet. But your dad went there one time with a guy from our apartment complex. And some teachers went there, and were trying to go unnoticed, when a pupil who was a senior came strutting out to do her pole dance! They got out of there as quick as they could. They figured they wouldn't say anything about her, and she wouldn't say anything about them. It was not a classy place."

"It was a hole in the wall! Not like the Playboy Club. They had one of them at South County. Did you know that, #1?"

"No. How would I know that?"

"I knew that. When I was a kid and we went to the mall, we drove past it."

"Yeah. There's a Toys'R'Us there now." Farmer H is a keeper of history.

"Huh. It's gone downhill, then."


"Well, it has!"

"I remember going there with my buddy. You had to have a key, and he had one."

#1 looked at me, eyebrow raised. I nodded. Now we were going to hear about Farmer H's Playboy Club experience. No stopping that train once it's left the station.

"Yeah, we went in and sat down at a table. I was really impressed. It was nice. And I noticed they had laid out candy for us. I was thinking, 'This is classy.' I picked up that piece of candy and peeled off the wrapper and took a bite. That's when I realized that it was butter. But I had to act like I knew what I was doing, so I ate the whole thing."

I'm pretty sure Friend will remember this Thanksgiving dinner for a long time.

Friday, November 27, 2015

This Is Why We Do Not Buy Soda In Two-Liter Bottles

Oh, dear.

Just as all the dishes were being set out for buffet-style Thanksgiving feasting, I announced that the feeders could get their beverages. The Mansion is not a full-service restaurant, you know. I will commend the four dudes for not stampeding like they were running with the bulls in Pamplona. No elbows were thrown, in spite of the dangerously high level of testosterone filling the kitchen.

A raggedy line was formed in front of Frig II, to fill up with ice. I had assigned that duty to The Pony, but the #1 son and his college friend must have felt sorry for him, or else did not want his hands on their glasses. So the three guys were icing up, and I was setting out the last-minute deviled eggs and veggie/dip tray and seven-layer salad when I heard it.



That was not a rhetorical question. Farmer H was standing across the kitchen counter from me, opening the two-liter bottles of soda. ALL FOUR OF THEM!

The #1 son caught my eye and rolled his. The Pony snorted. Friend looked uncomfortable.

"I'm opening the soda, HM. So we can pour it."

"Do you really think you need to open all four bottles? Maybe we're not going to drink every kind." Sweet Gummi Mary! You'd think we were ten-year-olds at CiCi's Pizza making suicides.

"There's nothing wrong with opening them."

"They'll go flat."

"They won't go flat. There. I'll drink the Diet Mountain Dew. I like Diet Mountain Dew."

"I know. You drink it all the time. So why did you open the Diet A&W Root Beer?"

"I didn't. I stopped."

"Yeah, Mom. He stopped." I really didn't need #1 taking sides. Unless he was on MY side.

"Then why is it all foamy on top?"

"Let me check the lid. Yep. He opened it all right."

"That doesn't matter, HM. I'll drink it. And it doesn't have to be cold." The look on the other four of us did not seem to matter.

"Uh huh. Just so you know, I caught him keeping a bottle of real Coke, which he's not supposed to have, sitting on the floor under the window. It had been there since Christmas at Grandma's house. And it was about 1/3 full."

"I can't believe he said he wants the Sprite left over to mix with his bourbon. That's just wrong."

"He doesn't have bourbon! He has that Jack Daniels that I bought him in the gift box with the honeybee flask."

"At our college house, we bought 10-year-old bourbon that came with glasses."

"Says the expert who drinks his margaritas out of a tumbler."

"Anyway, you don't mix whiskey with Sprite."

"Especially when you're not even supposed to have the Sprite!"

Yeah. Farmer H was taking liberties with the two-liters. At least no alcohol made an appearance.

That I know of.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Needs A Hidden Camera

Sweet Gummi Mary! If Mrs. Hillbilly Mom didn’t know better, she would swear that the ghost of Cus has returned to haunt her classroom! Except for the fact that Cus is very much alive, and working at Basementia. No moonlighting for Cus.

Between the time Mrs. HM left her room at 3:30 on Friday, and returned at 7:30 a.m. on Monday…a 32 oz. foam cup of once-carbonated cola-looking beverage from McDonald’s found its way into her wastebasket, along with a used paper plate, and a strip of blue cellophane packaging.

Here’s the thing. Mrs. HM did not put that trash there. All the other trash of the day, such as used Puffs With Lotion and discarded graded papers that Mrs. HM’s students are not wont to hang on their very own Frig IIs, was gone. So obviously, the trash had been dumped at the end of the day Friday.

In addition, the back row of desks was off by half a tile. That’s right. Moved too far back by half a tile. They are always aligned on the tile seams, you know. If the last class of the day is remiss in doing so, The Pony straightens them. Very strange. All aligned, but on the wrong crack.

What could possibly explain such phenomena? Obviously, somebody with a master key was inside the perimeter. Doubtful that it was a custodian’s child. A custodian would not leave trash after dumping. They are resentful if they clean a room at the end of sixth period, and then seventh period students dare to throw anything away. And what about the desks? It was obviously an insider. One, perhaps, with a group of students, one of whom clamored that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would freak out if the desks were not aligned properly.

All that comes to mind is the cheeryellers. They decorated the building before Monday morning. Perhaps Mrs. HM’s room was used as a staging area. It IS closest to the gym and cafeteria.

Still. Nobody is putting anything over on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Arm Is Kind Of Sore From Grabbing That Climbing-In Handle By T-Hoe's Shotgun Seat

We had to stop by The Devil’s Playground on Tuesday afternoon for some last-minute feast preparation items. Let the record show that The Pony has been volunteering to drive lately. Must have something to do with wanting to escape my clutches and attend college. Even though he was set to take the wheel last Friday, and changed his mind as we walked out of the school building to T-Hoe. As we exited the Playground, The Pony again volunteered.

“Okay. Do you want me to get you off the lot? They’re kind of busy today.”

“Yeah. It’s hard for me to back out.”

“Me too, with that backup beeper broken for a year and a half now.”

So…I wove through the wayward walkers, jammed on the brakes for the pull-out people, and swung T-Hoe into the old Sonic driveway to switch over. The Pony did not want to adjust the seat. I have it all the way back. Farmer H pulls it forward until his belly butts up against the wheel. We have the controls set for each of us.

“Go ahead, Pony. You can move the seat closer. It will go right back when I push my button.”

“No. I’ll hunch forward anyway. It’s fine. Now let me see where everything is. Blinker. Mirrors. Okay. I’m ready.”

Let the record show that T-Hoe is a large SUV. Bigger than The Pony’s little Ford Ranger. Bigger than the Chevy Blazer that Farmer H took over from my mom. So The Pony was really out of his comfort zone with all those horses under the hood. He has driven me twice before. Maybe once.

Upon making a left from the Sonic lot onto the outer road, The Pony gassed T-Hoe aggressively. Even though he does not like to drive fast.

“Watch it there.”

“Yeah. I’m just getting used to this car.”

“The speed limit is 30 along here. Um. Twenty is fine.”

“Uh huh. And after the bridge here, it’s 45. Okay. That guy is on his own side.”

We tooled along at 30 mph. Slower up the hills.

“Okay. Watch your speed here. We’re starting downhill. PUT YOUR FOOT ON THE BRAKE! This curve will eat you up.”

“It’s on the brake. I’ve got it.”

We made it to the new section of road behind the high school where The Pony would attend if I didn’t bring him to Newmentia with me.

“The speed limit here it 30.”

“I know.”

“You don’t have to go 20. It’s straight. A smooth road.”

“Yes. But there’s a tailgater behind me, and I’m teaching him a lesson.”

“Do as I say, not as I do. I at least go the speed limit when I teach people a lesson.”


“Here’s the roundabout. Do you know what to watch for?”

“Uh huh.”

“I guess that guy went on around?”

“No. He’s still behind us.”

“Wishing he was never born, I imagine.”

We made it past the prison. Across the bridge over the big river.

Hey! They patched that deep hole today. Great timing. You didn’t have to swerve or knock a tire off the rim. Good. You have your signal on. Slow down a little! Now, make your turn. WHOA! Hit the brake!”

“I was just turning like you said.”

“You know you can use your brake during a turn…”

“Oh. Good to know.”

“Seriously. You didn’t know that?”

“I did not. Is that why you keep grabbing the OH-BEEP handle?”

“Heh, heh. Well…kind of. It just takes practice. You’ll get the hang of it.”

Maybe his dad needs to spend more time with this driving practice.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Do You Hear The Rumble Of The Handbasket Delivery Truck?

Monday, there were signs of impending handbasket delivery all over Newmentia.

It was the annual before-tournament pep rally day. So we had an assembly to fire up the team and the fans.

Normally, we faculty stand along the rail at the end of the sunken gym, where we can look down upon the bleachers full of would-be ne’er-do-wells. Close enough to the action to enjoy the festivities, and also close enough to nip trouble in the bud. Sometimes, the stinkeye is enough. Other times it takes a finger-snapping with a pointing. Occasionally a name called out to get attention. And once in a blue moon, it takes a point, a thumb-jab, and removal of a pupil from the general population. The kids know this. They keep an eye on our section, and mind their Ps and Qs.

But this day, as I walked through the cafeteria doors to the gym, I saw that our spots were taken. TAKEN! Like a poorly-saved seat at the Paradise Twin Theater for a showing of Prognosis Negative.

I had a good mind to give up and go next door to see Rochelle, Rochelle: A Young Girl’s Strange, Erotic Journey From Milan to Minsk. But I couldn’t, still being employed at Newmentia. So I shuffled on down. Down past the three custodial staff lining prime rail real estate. Past other members of support staff. Past the plethora of recent grads returned to grace us with their presence on this near-holiday. Past the underclassmen gathered around them. All the way to the glass backboard.

Yeah. That’s how far I was displaced. Other faculty went the other route. A couple sat in the midst of the pupil body, which means at least they are behaving nearby. But visibility in low. Others leaned against the cafeteria wall, unable to see the bleacher kids, and most of the goings-on down on the gym floor. Some stood at the rail behind the bleachers, where they could see, but could not catch student attention without charging in like a bouncer at a biker bar.

So far down the rail was I that the coaches had to elbow me out of the way to grab the ropes to pull the piƱatas of the other teams’ mascots out from under the wiffle ball bats of the participating players.

We had a real live Hungry Hippo competition, with four faculty being chosen to lay belly-down on scooters and capture balloons under inverted laundry baskets while pupils pushed them and retrieved them with a rope tied to the scooter. I told Arch Nemesis that she was the best Hippo. Jewels had an issue with her cardigan, the wheels of her scooter running over it and burning several holes. Brainiac was slow for a thin Hippo, and the Street Lawyer cheated so much that his efforts didn’t count.

The Pony got in a tug-of-war over a t-shirt shot into the crown with a giant two-cheerleader rubber band. Thank the Gummi Mary, he did not suffer the fate of Ned Flanders’ wife. He actually let the girl have it, then she tried to give it back to him when she saw that it was an XL. The Pony is not an XL either, so they tossed it to a buddy down the row.

A top-row pupil took the paper holder off her rolled-up crowd-shot t-shirt, and threw it several rows down, where it bounced off a tough guy’s head. I think she was actually aiming at her brother sitting next to tough guy. TG jumped up and turned around. Had I been closer, I could have squashed that beef, but rail-clinging in Outer Mongolia, I thought, “Meh.” There were enough hillbillies there to stop a tough guy from thumping a rude gal.

And, as if that displacement of the guardians of the gymnasium wasn’t enough of a sign…today I walked to the teacher lunch table and saw a sub sitting right next to my chair. Actually, she was kind of IN my chair, although I can sit at the one next to it, depending on how the chairs are skewed on any given day. Not only was she taking up that chair, but she had her bags spread next to it. Uh huh. BagS. You’d have thought she was newly homeless, what with all the stuff she had piled around her.

Jewels came out to join the Think Tank, and had to sit WAY BACK from the table. Thank the Gummi Mary she did not have stinky fish for lunch, because she was between me and Sub, and four feet back from the table.

Yes. I regret that the truckload of handbaskets is rumbling down the highway, and my proposed handbasket factory was beat out on the bid. Perhaps this load is just priming the pump. A call to action which will garner future business for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sometimes, I Wonder If The Pony Has A Little Bit Of My Mom In Him

Bittersweet times here at The Mansion. It was the day before Thanksgiving last year that my mom had a seizure, which led to a cascade of other symptoms, which resulted in her demise two-and-a-half months later. We're thinking of you, Mom. Like that time you served me four-year-old ranch dressing at the Thanksgiving Dinner table!

It's no secret that Mom was thought to buy her bargains at Ye Olde Expired Foods Shoppe. Now The Pony seems to have picked up some of her traits. Not that he shops for food. It's kind of hard to do that when you don't have a driver's license. But he DOES have a way of picking up the dented can, the torn label, the crushed box. Not that he saves any money.

Saturday night, I decided to allow myself a little treat. We have, inside Frig II's freezer, a bag of individual ice cream cups. Farmer H asked for them. Yes, he has the diabeetus. But he has lost weight since the summer, and his A1C or whateveryacallit has been pleasing his doctor. So as long as it's a small portion, and eaten with a protein, he thinks he can have sugar every now and then. I disagree, but short of taking his keys, I can't prevent him from sneaking worse treats like a waffle cone or a half-dozen Casey's donuts if the mood strikes him. So I picked up these birthday-cake flavored ice cream cups at The Devil's Playground. We had some way back when it was actually ice cream season, but eventually they ran out.

So I asked The Pony on Saturday night to fetch me an ice cream cup and a Little Debbie Cosmic Brownie. What good is ice cream without cake, right? And The Pony dutifully fetched them for me, even bringing a spoon. Unfortunately, he dropped the brownie right as he was handing it over. But that's all right! They come individually wrapped, you know.

So I went to open my brownie, and the end was open already. "Pony?" Is this one you were going to eat one morning, and changed your mind?"

"No. It's a new one."

"Okay. Maybe it popped open when it hit the floor." I took a bite. "Um. No. It tastes funny. And it's kind of hard. But sometimes Little Debbies are. Here. Try it."

"That doesn't taste right."

"I know. It's like cardboard and old people." Not that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom eats cardboard. OR old people.

"I can get you another one."

"Where did you get THIS one?"

" was from that open box that's been there awhile. Here. Have one of these!" He reached under his end of the coffee table and produced a brand new box of Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies. "They were left over from our potluck we had in class Friday. Here. I'll open them. We didn't even need this box."

I picked up my ice cream cup. I like to let it get a little melty. But this one had not. I breathed my hot breath across it. Still. It did not melt like a normal ice cream cup. "Pony. Where did you get this ice cream cup?"

"In the freezer."

"I know that. But was it in the bag? The one I just bought a couple weeks ago?"

"No. It was sitting by itself."

"That one was OLD! Months old! That's when we ran out. And it was at least two months before I got any more. There is only a thin piece of cardboard protecting the ice cream from freezer burn. This one is all crystallized!"

"Oh. I'll go get you another one."

"No. I already have this one. Never mind."

I guess the good thing about The Pony's selections is that I don't really crave ice cream and a brownie any more.