Saturday, December 31, 2011

Proper Convenience Store Penny Dish Etiquette

Do you ever leave a penny in the dish by the cash register? Do you ever take one?

Depending on the friendliness of the cashier, how many pennies I already have in my coin pile in T-Hoe, and how many times that establishment has dipped into the penny dish for me, I sometimes leave them. But I never reach in and take them. That's up to the cashier, in case the drawer is low on change, I suspect.

Thursday, I encountered a situation that made me never want to leave another penny.

I was at the gas-station-chicken store, buying a 44 oz. Diet Coke, because I didn't want to drive all the way to Sonic. A man came in with two boys. He didn't really know what he was doing with those boys, if you ask me. Which HE certainly didn't. Or I would have given him a piece of my mind.

Cad Dad got in the chicken line while I was catching my Coke in a recycled cup. Only $1.07 for a refill. He seemed flustered that there was no size chicken order between the 8-piece and the 20-piece. Never mind that you can buy it by the piece. He could have added whatever he wanted to an 8-piece. It's not like the package deal is such a bargain, when you consider that you get pieces that nobody likes anyway.

The boys stood behind him, asking questions about what chicken they were getting. They fingered candy on the counter, and were antsy in a way that made me think they were going to wipe out the liquor aisle across from the chicken counter. Cad Dad told them to go to the next aisle, and pick out something to share. I was glad to get them away from me. The sour-faced but nice chicken dipper got his 8-piece box ready in a jiffy. He moved two steps to the pay counter. I followed. The boys came back around and got between me and Cad Dad. They were within arm's reach of him. He could easily have grabbed them by their collars and yanked them closer. I most certainly would not have objected or called DFS on him.

The kids looked about 7 years old. The were not bad kids. Only kids in need of guidance. To learn how to behave in a convenience store. One spied the penny dish by the unused register. "Take a penny." He grabbed the penny and put it in his pocket. He turned to his kiddy companion, and said, "There's not one for you. It said 'take a penny' so I took it. You don't have one." The penniless kid ran his fingers around the dish, just making sure. The penny lifter smirked. "I got the last penny."

I know Cad Dad heard them. I heard them. How could he be so oblivious to what was going on? Well, you might say, he was a man, after all. But still. That excuse is not good enough. How are these boys going to learn proper convenience store penny dish etiquette if he does not teach them? What's next, they open a snack and eat it because the label says, "Try the new, improved Sweetysmacker"?

Handbaskets. Get them ready. We're all going on a trip.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Choose Your Words Carefully

The #1 son has been driving me crazy this week. Not that he's been home all that much. He actually rises before the crack of noon, and then goes to his grandma's house, and from there to a local basketball tournament. It's the short time that we're confined in the Mansion together that gives me fits.

Wherever I am, that's where #1 is. I swear, he's as bad as his dad. If I sit in the living room, he plops on the couch. Not to have a meaningful conversation. Just to complain about what channel I put the TV on, or to blurt out words of wisdom during a critical quote on my show. Or he's forcing his laptop screen into my face to admire a photo he's taken with his outrageously expensive camera, or shoving his phone under my nose to illustrate some crony faux pas that garnered ridicule.

Yesterday, I was trying to make a cup of ice water. I do it every day. But #1 suddenly needed a cup of ice water at the same time. He stood behind me, tapping his bare, sweaty foot. "You're going to take all the ice!"

I moved to the sink. I turned on the water and held my cup of ice under the stream. #1 thrust his cup above mine, blocking the torrent. "Stop that! I was here first!"


"Get away. I'm getting water."

"Not now, you're not. I'll be done in a minute."

Another time, I came in from picking him up lunch in town to see him wash his hands and sling water all over the kitchen.

"Hey! Stop it!"

"Stop what?"

"You know better. Get a paper towel."

"I don't need one. They're dry now. Besides, we're out."

"Get a roll out of the pantry."

"All right!"

"And don't let me catch you doing that again."

"Doing what?"

"You know what. You slang water all over the floor!"

"Ha! Whaaaat?"

"Don't deny it. You slang it. I saw it with my own two eyes. And don't even try to tell me there's no such word as "slang"!"

"Ha, ha. I know "slang" is a word. But not like that."

"I'll use it how I want. And don't you forget it."

Sometimes, it's tedious to have a 34 on the ACT living under your Mansion roof.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Rough Road To Go

It's that time of year. Pothole time.

I'm not talking about hubcap-loosening indentations in the pavement. This is Hillmomba. I'm talking about craters in the gravel road. Or, more succinctly, craters in the path of mud that we travel from the Mansion to the county blacktop road. In the morning, when temps are below 32 degrees, that's eight-tenths of a mile of pockmarked frozen hardpan.

It's like a real life whack-a-mole course, but without the moles and mallet. Just the holes. I swear that one of them goes all the way through to a country on the continent of Asia. When we have a bit of rain, these bottomless pits look deceptively shallow. But they're not! I always think I have avoided a main offender by driving all the way over to the wrong side of the road. Off on the opposite shoulder a bit, in a rare area next to the creek that has a shoulder. But no. My entire right front wheel is swallowed up. And even at the outrageous speed of 10 mph, it is Pony-jarring.

Oh, but Even Steven lives! To make up for those potholes, to balance out the universe, we also have huge hunks of bedrock that stick up in parts of the road. I'm thinking of hiring out my T-Hoe as a paint mixer for Lowes. He'll shake it up good.

James Bond would like our martinis.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How To Get Ahead In Hillmomba

Farmer H is known for his unique taste in gifts.

The year the #1 son was born, when he was a mere 15 days old, I was gifted with a Red Devil Vacuum. It was one of those handheld jobbers, a bit bigger and more powerful than a Dust Buster. There I sat, holding tiny #1 in my arm, unwrapping that magnificently inappropriate gift with the other, assisted by the young Veteran and Farmer H's Number One Son.

Upon the reveal, I said, "Oh. A Red Devil Vacuum."

Farmer H replied, "Hey! That'll work great in my shop!"

I never saw my Red Devil again.

But the purpose of this post is not to garner sympathy for myself. It is to illustrate the eclectic taste of Farmer H. I've explained how he thought about buying me Auction Meat. And how the mysterious Auction Bread turned up on my cutting block. But this Christmas, Farmer H turned his gift-giving acumen on The Pony.

An oddly-shaped package was hidden behind the tree, next to the light plug-in. On Christmas morning, Farmer H announced, "Oh, there's one more back there. It's for The Pony." The Pony has not yet reached the consensus that a gift from Farmer H is not always a good thing. He excitedly tore into the wrapping. What he revealed left us all smack dab in the midst of a bubble of silence.

It was an 18-inch tall, dark greenish-brown head.

The features were not exactly chiseled. But it had a face. And a ridge on top of its head like a funky hard mohawk, or an upside-down push broom like Marvin the Martian.

"Cool," said The Pony. A chip off the old Pop.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What I Need Is A Genie Monitor

"I wish I could scratch my head with my foot."

Be careful what you wish for.

That's The Pony's most recent desire. I asked him if it was because then he could keep playing his computer game with his hands, and not have to stop to scratch.

"That. And I just like being different. It's fun being different."

"Oh. So you already know that?"

"Hey! I can lick my elbow! Doesn't that make me different?"

Well. I guess that settles it. I hope Farmer H never buys The Pony a really cool oil lamp at the auction, and then The Pony shines it up, and a genie pops out, and grants him three wishes. Because before you know it, The Pony would be wasting his wishes on feats of contortion such as this.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Look And Listen

I am on the lookout for those three inches of snow that are supposed to be coming Hillmomba's way after 2:00 a.m.

My main concern is that I will hurt my eyes looking for the snow, much like that squirrel-headed b*astard at the Monarch Boarding House in the original John Wayne True Grit warned Glen Campbell as LaBeouf to look out for the chicken and dumplings, because he might hurt his eyes looking for the chicken.

The #1 son is out and about in his little Ford Ranger, taking in a basketball tournament and eating up some nachos with a Christmas gift card. I cautioned him to be in by 7:00, to which he replied he would be in by "Sevenish," meaning before 8:00.

Now I hear that there is sleet in the area. I am certain that #1 took off without a one of the three pairs of gloves he received for Christmas. I know for a fact that he left the Mansion without bagging up the trash that I told him three times that I wanted done before he left.

That boy inherited his father's hearing.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Best-Laid Plans

We had a sandwich Christmas dinner here in Hillmomba this year. That was the plan, anyway. My mom always hostesses our family shindig, and we decreed that enough it enough. She does not need to be stressing in the kitchen over seven side dishes and two main courses and kid food for the spoiled brats.

Mom planned to go to church, and a 1:00 dinner sounded like too much on her plate to me. I told her that sandwiches were fine. I took some deviled eggs, potato salad, vegetable dip, a chocolate pie, an Oreo cake, some wheat rolls, sugar-free brownies, sugar-free pumpkin pie, and sugar-free Angel Food cake. I bought those last four at the Devil's Playground, but made the other stuff. The last I heard, Mom told me we would eat at 2:00. But last night, my brother-in-law told me 1:00.

We arrived to find Mom darting about the kitchen, muttering that church let out late (gosh, do you think so, on Christmas day?) and that she didn't have anything ready. By anything, she should have meant turkey and ham, that she'd baked on Saturday. But no. She was baking hot rolls and pigs-in-blankets and whipping up some macaroni and cheese and deep-frying chicken fingers. I protest. Mom should have stuck to the plan.

I had informed The Pony before we left that he was going to eat a sandwich. That meant turkey or ham on a roll of some kind. I explained it would be like a chicken sandwich. He could coat it with ketchup if he so desired, but he was going to eat it. Not just dessert. The Pony was fine with that. He declared that he would take some turkey and put in on a roll not with ketchup, but with butter. He's a true Butterton, The Pony.

So I was not pleased to see Mom running around cooking dishes for kids that are grown. Out of school already. Old enough to eat adult food, or say, "No, thank you." Besides, if I am going to sacrifice green beans and bacon with new potatoes, and seven-layer salad, and hash brown potato casserole, and broccoli and cheese, and cauliflower/broccoli/carrot/onion salad, and sweet potatoes, and stuffing...I expect the young-adult-fry to have some skin in the game as well. It doesn't matter that they didn't ask for it. Or that Mom says it makes her happy to give them what they like to eat. They're not toddlers any more!!!

Just sayin'.

I hope that right now, Mom is lolling about in her new executive chair, reading Regis Philbin's autobiography, wearing her new slippers, snacking on some raspberry jelly sticks, sneaking sidelong glances at her new navy blue Berber coat draped over the back of the couch and thinking about having a piece of chocolate pie.

She says she had a very good Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Subliminal Message, Perhaps?

I raked in the Christmas swag at school on Thursday. This is high school, remember. None of those sweet ceramic statues and scented soaps and homemade drawings that teachers of the younger set garner. We usually get nothing except a gift from the principal.

But this year, my StuCo Secret Santa gave me four Pilot Rolling Ball Writers. I think they go by another name now, like V5 Stick Ball or some nonsense. But they're Pilot pens, y'all! I luuuurrrrrves me some Pilot Rolling Writers! Red, Black, Blue, Green. WooHoo! Then a sweet little gal gave me a notepad with attached pen, and a little flip-top bin for note paper. Cool beans! I was rakin' it in. AND, we all got a tin of Danish Butter Cookies. I know you can find them in any Dollar Store. But I also luuuurrrrrves me some Danish Butter Cookies.

But here's an odd thing. At the lunch table, Arch Nemesis, in saying thanks for her Danish Butter Cookies, sang huzzahs to her tin covered with snowmen, because they're so festive, and she luuuurrrrrves her some snowmen. Ahem. My tin was not covered with snowmen. My tin had a big ol' NUTCRACKER on the lid. And, the side of my tin was flat, like it had been dropped and dented.

Is someone trying to send me a message? Me? Mrs. Sweetness and Light, Unicorn Wrangler, Rainbow Shiner, Puppy and Kitten Gifter, Hillbilly Mom?

Friday, December 23, 2011

On The Outskirts Of Outer Hillmomba

We've been out late to a pre-Christmas gathering at The Veteran's house.

Farmer H drove us there, but I drove us back. Farmer H likes a nip of whiskey every now and then. He didn't set out to nip. But was persuaded to try a certain brand. Two, actually. I looked over and saw him with a glass in each hand. Thank the Gummi Mary he's not an octopus!

I thought we lived in the middle of nowhere, until I saw where The Veteran lives now. It's like going down winding two-lane blacktop and turning onto one-and-a-half lane blacktop, then continuing on bumpy one-lane gravel, then turning onto a pig trail, then driving through a field that may or may not have had a path trampled into it at one time, then over a wooden low-water bridge, and you're there.

I could hardly wait to get back to civilization and the Mansion.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Get The Milk Cartons Ready

We have two new mouths to feed here at the Mansion. Actually, Goatrude has two new mouths to feed. She had twin kids on Saturday. They're not identical. One is a small boy, chocolate brown, and the other is a bigger girl, white with a couple of cream spots on her head and flank. Sorry no pictures. We've been in the maelstrom of a crisis.

Last night, we got home a bit later than ususal. Darkness had fallen. Farmer H arrived shortly after we did. He headed out to feed his furry and feathered children. When he came back in, he was perplexed. That's unusual. Farmer H is generally pretty simple. Animals. Supper. Recliner. Television. Bed.

"I can't find the baby goats."

"I'm sure they're here somewhere. You lost that other baby goat two summers ago, and after an hour of searching, it turned up in a shed."

"But I've looked in all the sheds."

"You did then, too."

"Goatrude doesn't even seem upset."

"See, they're okay. She's hidden them somewhere."

"They're always with her, or in the lean-to. Now they're not."

"There's no evidence of carnage?"

"No. That fur on the porch is from a deer. They were both here the same night that fur showed up."

"If they got out, they'll get back in."

"If something doesn't get them first. Ann was acting funny in the front yard. I drove by her on the Mule, and she ran off."

"She was afraid you were going to run over her. If she killed them, I guarantee you they'd be out there in the front yard. That's where she drags all her victims."

"One of those hawks might have gotten them. I think they got the checkered hen. She's missing."

"The goats were a lot bigger than a banty hen. These are the biggest kids I've seen here."

"Yeah. Goatrude is a full size goat."

"A hawk could not carry off two baby goats."

"I'll check again later."

There was no appearance of the kids before bed. This morning, Farmer H looked some more. No kids. He thought he heard them, but then saw the previous baby goats. As The Pony says, "Their voices haven't changed yet. They still sound like babies."

Farmer H was ready to declare them dead. Remind me to check on my insurance policy for updates. They were not even missing 24 hours yet.

When we got home from school around 3:00, The Pony went a-huntin'. He was gone over ten minutes. That seemed to be a bad omen. I finally heard him clomping up the steps. No spring in his gait. Not good. He slowly entered. "I found them. They're under the BARn. Way under. I couldn't bend down that far last night with the light."

"Are they alive?"

"I couldn't tell. But Goatrude called to them, and I thought I heard them call back. But it might have been the other baby goats."

After much texting back-and-forth, and two phone calls from Farmer H, The Pony was dispatched to check for signs of life. He returned.

"Are they alive?"


"How do you know? Did you see them breathe?"

"Well, last time I looked, they were under the BARn. And now they're under the feeder. So I'd say they're alive."

We're all relieved.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bah! Rumpa Bum Bum.

No, that title is not a measure of my Scrooginess. Nor is it a statement about the jobless people trying to get by in this economy. It's what The Pony thinks the title is for The Little Drummer Boy.

That's how he sings it, too. "Bah! Rumpa bum bum. Rumpa bum bum. Rumpa bum bum." He's not THAT far off. But I told him he needs to be in that commercial with people butchering Elton John's Rocket Man.

The Pony did not know they were singing the wrong lyrics.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Matter Of Focus

Is it just me, or are kids today not as observant as past generations?

Maybe it's the constant texting and music-listening. Perhaps they don't see a need to focus attention on one issue at a time. The reason that I ask is due to some startling questions I received during a showing of The Day After Tomorrow. It's a weather-related movie, and we have a couple of days left until Christmas break. As one who gives an assignment every day throughout the quarter, this is my little gift to my students.

There were some good questions. About how such a mega-storm could form. But then there were the questionable questions.

"Is that the dead guy?"
No. He is walking along, tethered to Dennis Quaid. The dead guy is dead. At the bottom of the mall, broken on the escalator, after slicing his own rope to send himself to his death when the skylight started to crack. A walking-along guy is not dead.

"What have the wolves been eating all this time?"
The wolves escaped from the zoo. Perhaps other animals escaped. Or the wolves got into their cages. But most likely, the wolves have been eating PEOPLE. There's no shortage of people. They're laying dead in the streets, or trying to walk to Mexico in the super-blizzard. And all this time is just a couple of days. The title of the movie is The Day After Tomorrow. Get it?

"Is the President dead?"
Yes. That's normally what is meant by, "The President's motorcade didn't make it," when his staff explains that the President will never be arriving in Mexico, after last being seen leaving Washington D.C. by automobile during a mega-blizzard.

"Is that a pregnant woman?"
Well, since he has a distinct beard, an orange safety vest, and no poochy belly, and we have not seen a pregnant woman in this movie, I think I can safely say, "No, that is the police officer/security guard who led people from the library across the frozen bay on a quest for Mexico."

"Sam? Who's Sam?"
That would be Jake Gyllenhaal, the star of the movie, the main character, the identity of whom you have been happily oblivious to for 90 minutes of this 112 minute film.

Seriously. And I expect them to remember concepts that I teach. Me. Not Jake Gyllenhaal. Without special effects.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Where's The Vitameatavegamin When You Need It?

Because Sunday was such a busy day here at the Mansion, the weekly shopping was not accomplished.

The Pony and I dropped in to visit The Devil on the way home from school today. Just for necessities, of course. Sprite and pizza and holiday cake-fixin's and two college-ruled notebooks and six AA batteries and some S'Mores ingredients to go with the S'More-maker I'm giving as a Christmas gift, and some Eggo whole-grain blueberry waffles, and milk, and a plastic cake tray, and four oranges, and some hearts of romaine lettuce, and, well, you get the drift.

I wondered why the 20-item-or-less lines were so very long. We had a smidge over 20 anyway, even though I can't remember all the items at this moment. Two regular checkouts were open at my end, each with two customers waiting. So I got in line. For twenty minutes.

Sweet Gummi Mary on a paper plate! I have not seen the likes of these two young gals since I worked for the Missouri Division of Employment Security. That's the unemployment office to you lay people. They were so slow that I at first suspected a duel of Public Servant Standoff proportions. But they were not trying to outslow each other. They were just slow.

I had plenty of time to arrange my items in the way I wanted them bagged. Because once that anemic checker finally finished with the customer in front of me, that dear lady whipped out about 50 coupons. The checker sighed. She methodically scanned each one. I will never look at Extreme Couponing the same way again.

And in spite of my best-laid purchases, she took her own sweet time to pick and choose from the length of the conveyor, and put items in bags with items that SHE thought went together. So much for the bright idea of keeping my Christmas objects at the end in an effort to total their worth and swap out money from my Christmas savings.

Dang, that little gal was slow! She needed a shot of Vitameatavegamin.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fie On Dave Murray!

Farmer H and the #1 son have gone to a Blues game. I don't know what they see in hockey. I can't even see the puck. But I can see a squirrel's nest if it's really a bald eagle! Today is Farmer H's birthday. #1's was last Monday. So they treated themselves to a game.

It's been a busy day, what with laundry and cake baking and Chex Mix making and present wrapping and The Pony's band concert listening and dish washing and meal preparing. I can hardly wait until Monday to go back to work and rest.

I'm ready to tar and feather Dave Murray, Channel 2 Chief Meteorologist, for his zero-percent accurate December forecast. He cost me two dollars in the First Snow Day Pool. And he promised three (THREE) winter storms before Christmas, and even told the schools to be ready. PLUS, ol' Dave promised a white Christmas. Fie on Dave Murray! He's not worth the eye boogies that form as my peepers glaze over while watching him on the 10:00 news. Ptooey! I spit on his as-yet-undug grave. If my job performance was as inaccurate as his, I would be given the old heave-ho!

Psst! Davey! If you can promise me a rash of January-February storms, perhaps one every ten days or so, all will be forgiven. We can commence sweet-talking again.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Hillmomba Welcome Wagon Greets A Transient

Here's the photo of the bald eagle we saw yesterday in town. The pic is not much better than my uncorrected eyesight. But you have to consider that it was taken by The Pony on his cell phone out the window of T-Hoe. I tried zooming in, to better see the baldness of the eagle. Indeed, he does appear to be turning to look at his photographer.

Too bad the #1 son wasn't along with his fancy schmancy Canon.

I suppose you can click on it and try to zoom in. I did it in my pictures manager, or whatever that dealybobber is called where you go to save a photo in Pictures. But I didn't save the blurry zoom.

Maybe you can understand why I might have mistaken Mr. B. Eagle for a squirrel's nest. He was so BIG. And thick. He didn't look birdy. The saying, "You don't eat enough to keep a bird alive," would apply to many more people if Mr. B. Eagle was used as the standard.

He was in a little neighborhood. There's a river about a half mile away as the crow flies. I'm sure it's closer as Mr. B. Eagle flies. On the road near his tree, there was a dead squirrel laid out like a cartoon steam roller had flattened him. Perhaps that was the main attraction that drew our feathered friend to sit a spell inside city limits. Guess who's coming to dinner, indeed. It's Mr. B. Eagle.

I am terribly ignorant of eagles. My internet research (and NOT on wikipedia) informed me that they do eat dead stuff. Did you know that a full-grown bald eagle might span 36 inches from beak to tail? Or that the wingspan could be 7 feet? My only other sighting of a bald eagle was in Alaska, on a ferry trip along the Inside Passage. I hear they hang out along the Mississippi as well. Kids may have a sweet tooth, but bald eagles have a fish tooth. It's their preferred food.

Welcome, Mr. B. Eagle, to Hillmomba!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Receding Squirrel's Nest, Perhaps?

You know how sometimes your eyes deceive you? Like when, perhaps, you see a cow lumbering across the two-lane blacktop at dusk, and say out loud, within the confines of your T-Hoe, "Hurry up, you stupid cow, before I hit you!" Only to find, as you draw closer, that it's a woman in a brown sweatsuit crossing the road after picking up her mail? Well, this is not one of those stories.

Yesterday on the way home, still in town, something caught my eye. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Not my eye. I can put my finger on that quite easily, though it's not something I practice on a regular basis, because that's a good way to pick up a virus or a bacterial infection. I just knew something was different.

My subconscious was being contrary. It was something about a tree. Hm...what's different? Did all the leaves fall off overnight? Were the limbs trimmed? Up there. Near the top. I saw it now. A bald eagle? Naw. I was past it too soon. Probably just a big-ol' squirrel's nest. Big nest, that is. I have no idea how big the squirrel might be. I drove on.

This morning, coming from the other direction, before we got to that tree, I saw another giant squirrel's nest. Right in the top of a different tree. I was slowing for a stop sign. "Look!" I commanded The Pony. "It's a bald eagle."

The Pony contorted himself to get a glimpse. "Wait. I'm going to take a picture with my phone." He snapped two. They were kind of blurry. But when he zoomed in, there it was. A humongous bald eagle. "Mom. I think he saw me. He turned his head to LOOK at me!"

"Where do you think they get the term eagle eye, anyway?"

I have no idea what a bald eagle was doing in that neighborhood for two days, impersonating a squirrel's nest. But he was gigantic. I'll never look at a squirrel's nest the same way again.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Day That Shall Go Down In Newmentia History

I don't mean to brag, but the Newmentia school cafeteria served chicken today. I know. "But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom," you say, "that is nothing to write home about. Or even write a blog about. Because just last year, one of your students declared that your school cafeteria was going to single-handedly cause the extinction of the chicken, what with serving some version of it four days per week."

You don't understand the gravity of this situation. The cooks did not serve chicken nuggets. Nor a chicken patty, chicken tacos, chicken sandwich, chicken and noodles, chicken noodle soup, chicken-chili crispitos, chicken tetrazzini. They served baked chicken! WITH A BONE IN IT!!! Choice of white or dark meat!

I'm surprised we weren't reviving half the student body with smelling salts. It was an historic event.

Side dishes were mashed potatoes with brown gravy, and rice. Yeah. The teacher of the class that cooks and sews but is not called Home Ec had a conniption. Indeed. One of my students remarked that he had mixed his rice in with his mashed potatoes. "Why?" I asked. "Because you were afraid you weren't getting enough carbs?"

The problem with the rice was that it was white rice. No seasoning. Kind of crunchy. And the menu had promised brown rice and gravy, and green beans. Still. Let's leave with a warm, fuzzy feeling because they served chicken. With bones in it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Somebody Has A Paper Tooth

The Pony and I arrived home yesterday around 5:00. We were greeted by the #1 son, who handed me a package. "I found this on the front porch. That's exactly how it looked."

It was a brown 7 x 10 bubble-wrap-padded envelope with one side chewed out and the top heavily damaged. I can only blame new pup Juno for this carnage. The other dogs have not eaten a package since the black shepherd Ann was an adolescent, and chewed up Farmer H's Case Collector Knife. She ate the box and the Styrofoam and had the collectible box in her mouth when we came up the driveway. "Oh, look. I wonder what Ann's chewing on." #1 jumped out and rescued the treasure just in time.

Juno is that age. She's about four months, all gangly and loosey-goosey and boundingly playful with nobody to play with. The big dogs tolerate her now, give her a polite nose bump with a slight tail wag. But they won't romp with her. If she runs up to them while they're romping and wrestling, they stand stock still and look at her. Like, "B*tch. What's your problem?"

Silly me. I though the 27 assorted gnawing bones and squeaky chicken and rubber milk bone and three-ring rubber toy and mini basketball and rawhide chew sticks were enough. Apparently not. I thought of taking that package and rubbing her nose on it and spanking her with a rolled-up magazine. But I don't know if she has the memory to make the connection. More likely, she would look at me with sad, abandoned, starving puppy eyes while thinking, "Why New Mommy no like me now?"

So I put a note on the front and back doors for UPS and FedEx. "Please put packages in garage so dog does not eat them."

Today, the garage door raised to reveal four boxes. Kudos to UPS.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wishing You Weren't Here

Dang that numero uno boy!

I was all ready to write the most scathingly brilliant post about our pup Juno's naughty antics today, and here he came with a letter to proofread. Not that I'm not a good proofreader. I rock at proofreading. I'm a world class proofreader. Olympic caliber, even. I thirst for opportunities to strike out and underline. I yearn for them. But it does put the kibosh on my creativity.

I tell myself that in two years time, I will be wishing #1 was here bothering me, instead of off at college, out from under my thumb, loose from the apron strings, where I cannot gripe at him to my heart's content. Hold on a minute. I had something in my eye.

He is preparing a letter for his robot team. They need to solicit donors to help defray the cost of competitions. Yep. It's robot season. Bet you knew that already though. Last year, his team was ranked 12th in Missouri, and made it to the final four of state competition. And it was their very first year. The team has grown from four members to ten. That means more t-shirts, and more cars to drive them, and more food money. The school pays for most of their equipment and robot parts and entry fees and overnight lodging. But they have to pay for the rest, unless they can get sponsors. Guess who's on the sponsor bandwagon? Yep. That would be me. Let somebody else feed and clothe him and buy his fancy gewgaws.

But two years from now, I will be wishing he was here asking me for that stuff. Hey. Something's in my eye again.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Confusing World Of Farmer H

Poor Farmer H. He's the Rodney Dangerfield of the Mansion. He gets no respect.

Sometimes, though, he brings it on himself. The #1 son took a long-sleeved St. Louis Blues t-shirt out of his birthday bag tonight. "I really like this shirt!"

"Too bad they won't let you wear those shirts to school."


"You can't wear it."

"Yes we can."

"Oh. Yeah. It's cigarettes you can't wear."

"The Blues are not cigarettes."

"I know that."

Later, Farmer H asked to look at #1's birthday card. "Made from substantially grown forests. Hmm. See? It's good for the environment."

"Let me see that. It says 'made from sustainably grown forests,' not substantially grown."

"Yeah. I wondered what that meant."

Sigh. I also double-checked on the mystery Dollar Rolls. Auction bread. I suppose the next course of auction edibles will be romaine lettuce. He might as well save his coins. I draw the line at auction food.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Monday is the #1 son's birthday. Seventeen. Gosh. Where did all those years go?

Instead of taking his buddies on a trip for go-kart riding, wall-climbing, laser-tagging, and mini-golfing, he chose to redecorate his bedroom. It was long overdue. He and Farmer H taped off the walls and made some kick-butt large diagonal stripes of white and gray. The front wall, mostly window, facing out on Mansion acreage, was done with a green the color of the hard case for my glasses. I was skeptical upon hearing the scheme. But it turned out well.

They took apart the metal bright red, blue, and yellow bunkbed frame, leaving #1 with a single. His dad took one bed frame to work to blast and finish it in battleship gray shiny paint. Only he didn't. He took it to the BARn, where he worked on it all week. The plan was to put it in #1's room when he went to church, so he would be surprised upon return.

#1 asked for some green sheets to match the front wall, and a gray comforter. I told him I would look when I made my weekly expedition to The Devil's Playground. After he left, I remembered that I have the perfect comforter for that room, a white/gray pinstripe plaid. Alas, Farmer H has spirited it way to parts unknown. I'm hoping that it's just in the attic. Because if not, Farmer H has given it away with a bunch more of my stuff, or used it for goat bedding.

The Pony and I found the perfect green sheet set, and a solid gray comforter with a reversible black side. We called Farmer H on the way home. "If you can stall him and keep him out of the house, we can put the sheets and comforter on his bed, too." Farmer H agreed to the plan. We beat #1 home be about 20 minutes. Farmer H put the bedding on. The Pony acted as porter for the groceries and lookout for the arrival of #1.

Darn that Farmer H! He went outside to piddle around in the yard, and missed the reveal. The Pony and I lurked in the kitchen, then casually mosied to the living room. "I'm making lunch. Oh. You brought home lunch. Never mind." #1 carried his fast food feast into his room and placed it on his desk, next to his TV and laptop. Slowly he turned.

"That is SO cool!" He loved it. The colors matched perfectly. I told him that I would wash the sheets if he wanted, before sleeping on them.

It's getting harder and harder to surprise him as he gets older.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Going Once...Going Twice...SOLD!

Didja ever wake up and find a strange bread product on your cutting block?

That happened to me this morning. It was a bag of Dollar Rolls. I didn't buy them. I do my shopping on Sundays, with occasional jaunts to civilization mid-week for necessities. Dollar Rolls are not necessities. I don't think I have ever bought Dollar Rolls. My mom buys them. But the last time we were at her house was Thanksgiving.

So I'm left with a most disturbing conclusion to draw from that Dollar Roll mystery. Cue the stabby music from the shower scene in Psycho.


I'm leery. It is not sealed. Just a twist tie at the top. A twist tie does not make foodstuffs impervious to the poopy fingers of middlemen. Who bought these Dollar Rolls originally? Why did they not want them? Were they squeezed for freshness? Was one surreptitiously removed and consumed? Was there a railroad car of Dollar Rolls going to waste? Did the sale to the exotic animal farm fall through?

Auction Bread is not quite so scary as the Auction Meat. But it's close.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Pony Leads A Secret Life

We have a curious message on our answering machine. A lady called from Washington University to say The Pony has an appointment on December 19, and she would like us to call back with insurance information.

Short of The Pony leading a clandestine orthopedically-unsound life, and injuring himself secretly and calling a specialist for an appointment...I'm not sure what to make of this message.

It was December 2 of 2010 that he broke his second elbow. After having Wash U physicians splint it and haggle over x-ray diagnoses, he had a follow-up appointment on December 17, 2010. Perhaps those Wash-Uers made an automatic yearly follow-up appointment. The Pony has had no problems with his elbow, unless you count that annoying clicking sound when he wants to gross me out.

I'm not sure he needs to keep this appointment. I'm going to run it by Farmer H. He who would be the driver on this long, strange trip. He's never averse to a day off from work. But The Pony would have to miss school on the fun short week before Christmas break. I think we need to call a family meeting.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Welcome To Anarchyville

We have an ongoing discussion, my students and I. They declare that rules are made to be broken. That a lawless society would be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well, not in those exact words, because I don't think they realize that unsliced bread is possible. Just today, one asked me what was the purpose of a pager. And another knowingly informed her that it was what people used in the days when their cell phones were like bricks. Um. I couldn't break it to him that they were from a time with no cell phones. Thus, the pager.

I asked them what made them think I knew about pagers. I never had one. A good ol' land line was good enough for me, by cracky! They could not comprehend that somebody called a pager from a phone, and all the pager showed was a number, and that the pager-carrier had to go to another phone and call the first caller. It boggled their minds. Yes, I informed them, it was inconvenient. That's why only people that really needed to be contacted at all times in various places carried them. I did not mention the drug dealer connection. Because they all thought I had a pager. Nope. "What do you think I am?" I asked. "A skilled transplant surgeon in high demand?" That kind of flew over their heads. As do many of my offhand comments.

But we're not here to talk about my mad skillz in the operating room. We're building a lawless society.

"I'm never getting a driver's license," declared one future citizen of Anarchyville. "But I'm going to drive. I know how. And I'm going to have a cool car, too."

"Well, with no laws, good luck hanging on to it. Because if somebody wants it, he'll just come take it. What are you going to do about it?"

"I'll go get it back."

"Good luck with that. You'll be running after a moving car. Because yours was just stolen."

"Huh. I'll have another one out back."

"How are you going to pay for gas? You said yesterday that nobody has to work that doesn't want to."

"I'll just take it. Drive off. Nobody will come after me, because it's not against the law."

"How are you going to eat?"

"The farmers will grow food."

"What makes you think they want to work."

"We'll make them work. And then take the food."

"You know, there's always going to be somebody bigger than you to take your stuff."

"I'll have big friends to stop that."

"You won't have electricity because people that work in the plants won't want to work. Farmers aren't very good at running nuclear power plants. There won't be stores. No movies. Nothing to do. Except steal each other's cars and have big friends fight for your stuff and boss the farmers around. Pretty soon, nobody will know how to do anything, because I doubt the kids will want to go to school. And besides, the teachers won't want to work. So it will be a society of simple people building cars out of wood and using simple tools like the Flintstones. IF they want to work."

"Man. You ruin everything."

Today, one declared, "Look at how thick this book is. There should be a law against that."

"Oh! Anarchyville needs a law all of a sudden!"

"Well, that's the only law we need."

I can't wait until they start to clamor for more.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

They Fry Sausage, Don't They?

The Pony is a chef. A middle-school FACS chef, to be precise. His class is cooking biscuits and gravy tomorrow. Today they fried the sausage. Unfortunately, a member of his group burned the first batch. By keeping Char-ley away from the stove, the second sausage turned out fine.

The Pony made no mention of the biscuits. So I assume they are baking them tomorrow. Or else they just slipped his mind, being all boring and non-burny like that.

I am eager to hear the details of his morning repast.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Buddy Blackfork Jr. Takes On A Challenger

My favorite lunch fork has suffered a grave injury. I meant to toss him in the trash at the end of last school year. But I couldn't. He's very sturdy. At least he WAS, until the unfortunate dismemberment. I seem to have blocked the details from memory. But I think chicken was involved.

The Newmentia cafeteria forks still cannot hold a candle to my Buddy. I call him Buddy, after Buddy Threadgoode Jr. in Fried Green Tomatoes. That's because with his missing tine, my Buddy looks like that Buddy, who lost his arm in a train confrontation.

Buddy Blackfork Jr. lolled in my classroom cabinet for months. Convalescing, perhaps. But today he was called to duty to do battle with a Banquet TV Dinner. I'm tired of ham sandwiches.

It was no contest between Buddy and the Meat Patty. Banquet Homestyle Grilled Meat Patty with Egg Noodles provided me with no grilled meat patty like I'd ever seen. And it was way too soft to be real meat. One of these days I'm going to read the ingredients. But Buddy kicked some major Meat Patty butt. He was workin' with three tines, but he could have done the job with two tines tied behind his back.

I can't get rid of him. Yet.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Light The Torches

I am rounding up an angry mob. Join me, won't you?

Meteorologists must be stopped. They toy with the emotions.

Three inches of snow on the way. Uh huh. Yeah. Saturday night it will start.

No. Wait. It won't be here until Sunday evening. But it's not three inches anymore. It's just a trace. Maybe two inches. Depends on where you live. The city is going to get it. Nothing below that line there by your neighboring town. Uh uh. Nope. None for you. Don't even think about a snow day.

Hey! That path has shifted. Looks like you might get some flurries between two and seven a.m. But the drive will be fine. The ground is too warm.

Nothing here this morning. The precipitation cleared out early. It's across the river. The temperature will rise above freezing today. You're going to school. No getting out of duty this Monday morning.

Oh. Seems that there's some sleet down your direction. What's that? Freezing rain. And snow flurries. But only on grassy areas.

What do you mean there's ice on the sidewalks and your car is frozen shut? It's not my fault you didn't bring a scraper. It's almost winter. You should be prepared. I can't explain that inch of snow. And the ice on the bridges.

I'm just a meteorologist.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sharpen Up Your Bartering Skills

What's the deal? I go to my bank on Friday, and the ATM spits out TENS! Tens of TENS! Not twenties as usual. So everywhere I go, I have to count out tens. And the clerks thank me profusely. "Thanks for those tens! You're a lifesaver!" Or, "Hey! Tens! We didn't get any tens this week. We're running low."

And last night, I saw on the news that my debit card is being refused all over the nation. Well, not mine, specifically. But my bank's debit card. What's up with that? Checks are fine, but the debit is declined. Somebody's up to no good. I hope all of my personal information has not been hacked by some thirteen-year-old with too much time on his hands. That's why I keep the bulk of my benjamins in a rock-solid savings-and-loan. One that does not sell its loans to other institutions. Take THAT, you prepubescent hacker!

I might just as well invest in socks, so all of you who decide to live off the grid can buy them from me, (or perhaps swap a hen or a piglet), so you will have somewhere to keep your gold pieces under the sod of your back yard.

Hillbilly Mom. Always looking to the future, with one eye over her shoulder for the conspiracies that follow.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Not Exactly Chicken Of The Sea

I stepped out onto the Mansion porch this afternoon, into the 60-degree temperature on this freakish December 3, and spied a curious sight.

Farmer H and The Pony were fishing for chickens.

I had intended to toss some old bread to the fowl. Normally, they peck around in the front yard. But today they were curiously absent. I attributed it to Juno, our adolescent puppy, who purely loves to chase after them all the live-long day while we're at work and school. She hasn't hurt any of them. They're like living toys. Sometimes I think that pup is not too bright. She gambols up to Genius, the most mild-mannered of our cats, and snaps at his legs. Genius is not into canine frolicking, and delivers a hissing right slash to Juno's nose for her insolence. Yet she comes back time after time. Genius stands his ground. He's a patient teacher of puppy lessons.

As I tossed hamburger buns, corn muffins, and the gummy white sandwich bread that teenage boys find so irresistible, the roosters came a-runnin'. But only the roosters. I saw a commotion in the smallest of the chicken pens, the one with a wire roof, where we keep the hens with young chicks. Not the baby chicks. They go in an old rabbit hutch, because the chicks will scoot right through the chain-link dog fence that comprises the chicken pens proper. That stresses the mother hens. They cluck-cluck and pace, while the chicks insolently traipse back and forth in dog-and-cat territory. But I digress.

There was Farmer H, wielding a large fishing net. It was bigger than a basketball hoop, but smaller than a hula hoop. The Pony was the border collie in this herding exercise. It was his job to channel the hens toward the pen, where Farmer H scooped them and deposited them into the lock-up. The purpose is to imprison the egg producers. Farmer H thinks they are holding out on him. He cannot discover where they've been laying. I told him that last December, they virtually quit as well. And it doesn't help that Tank the beagle has taken to sleeping in their chicken house. I think he's eating the eggs. Or at least making the layers nervous.

I figure it costs Farmer H about $.50 per egg when we're gathering eight per day in the summer, and $5.00 per egg during the winter. Of course, he doesn't want to hear that. Or get rid of seven superfluous roosters.

Friday, December 2, 2011

16-Year-Old Smorgasbord

No, I am not channeling my mother, serving up aged foodstuffs purchased at Ye Olde Expired Food Shoppe. I am providing for the nutritional needs of the #1 son, relegated to third lunch shift at Newmentia. Most days, he can make do with the cafeteria offerings. But on Fridays, they run out of hamburgers.

On Fridays, the standard menu is pizza, nachos, or hamburgers. Because we are a bit lax with the lunch count, due to students not wishing to look uncool by raising a hand to commit to a lunch item, the good stuff is eaten up during the first two shifts. #1 invades my classroom on Fridays, to rifle through The Pony's snack drawer in my file cabinet.

I anticipated him today. Last week, he ate The Pony's mini Chips Ahoy, and his Cheetos. Today I bundled the Chips Ahoy and Cheetos into a Devil's Playground bag, and stashed it in my cabinet. I left behind one snack size bag of Cheetos. Then I scrounged up a 100-calorie pack of mint chocolate cookies, and an individual bag of Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips. The last two were a couple months past the Use By date, but nothing like four-year-old Ranch Dressing.

I was quite proud of my provider skills. What 16-year-old boy would not be happy with a three-course lunch? I heard the bell to end second lunch. Four minutes later, I heard the bell to start third lunch.

The #1 son never arrived.

After all that meal-preparation, he forsook my good will. But that's OK. His treats will be there next Friday, waiting for him all over again.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let Me Back In The Frying Pan

Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Farmer H and the #1 son are killing me with kindness today. Please make it stop.

Upon entering the Mansion, Farmer H greeted me with the news that the office chair I had ordered for my mom for Christmas had arrived. "#1 already took it downstairs."

Okay. Good to know. I even resisted his inquiry as to how my day went. Because he waits to pounce, like a cat behind the couch, peeping at a mousetrap. And the minute I mention a topic unrelated to rainbows and unicorns, he starts complaining that all I do is complain. I want to underline the word "vent" in the dictionary, and duct-tape it over his breather while he sleeps.

The #1 son came up from the basement. I asked if he left my signature form on the front door for the laser printer I was expecting. "It's still there. The guy didn't take it."

"What do you mean?"

"Your printer is here. I just hooked it up."

Whoa, Nelly! "I didn't want it hooked up."

"The boy was just trying to be nice."

"Being nice would have meant asking me when I would like it hooked up. I bought it as a Christmas gift for myself. I don't want it now. I don't have time to learn to use it. I have stuff all over my countertop. I just put a new ink cartridge in the old ink jet printer. That's wasteful."

"Fine! I'll have him go unhook it!"

"That would be stupid."

"We're just trying to be nice."

More like trying to be dictators and drive me crazy. Hows about I paint #1's bedroom while he's away at bowling league. I know he's been wanting to update the look. I can throw out a bunch of stuff on his shelves, and pick the color of paint, and the design. I'm only being nice.

And when I'm done, I think I'll load up four of Farmer H's goats to sell at the auction. He's been meaning to get rid of some. Which ones? I'll take the first four I can catch. I don't know what a good price is for a pampered goat. But I'll take the highest bid. I don't know whether to promote them as tasty, or as loving. But I'm sure they'll sell. Farmer H will really appreciate me selling his goats for him.

I'm only being nice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fractured Cardiac Organ

My heart is breaking a little bit right now. Because no matter what I do for Farmer H and the #1 son, it is not good enough.

I wake up #1 three times before I leave for work. And he yells at me that he's awake.

I put a load of jeans in the washer at 2:00 a.m., and switch them to the dryer at 5:00. But that's just my job.

I rearrange my schedule to pick up Farmer H at the car dealership in the opposite direction of my way home to the Mansion, all because #1 can't do it after robot practice. But I never do anything for anybody else.

I wash the entire contents of the silverware tray every night, because somehow folks around this Mansion find enough food to dirty twelve twelve big forks, twelve little forks, twelve serving spoons, and twelve little spoons between the hours of 5:00-11:00 p.m.

I am the aphid of the sixteen-year-old ant boy. He drops into my classroom to feed on whatever he can find in my mini-fridge or The Pony's snack drawer. He grabs bottles of water like they are free. Yet refuses to carry in replacement cases of water.

I stand at the stove warming supper for 45 minutes, yet Farmer H runs off to town rather than eat while it is hot.

I walk back to the bread cabinet to hand #1 a roll for a turkey sandwich, turkey which I have warmed separately from supper, because he is sitting closer to the roll than I, but asks me to get it for him.

I spend $360 to put brakes on #1's truck, and he asks me to buy him a $30 Nerf gun. Of course, it's a bargain, because it usually costs $60.

I go to the kitchen for some leftover pumpkin pie, and find that not only have Farmer H and #1 eaten an entire cherry pie, but also the two pieces of pumpkin.

I spend days looking for gifts for my family. But I never include Farmer H., world-renowned for his love of and skill in shopping.

If I complain, I am attacked in stereo. And I've learned to never, ever answer the question, "What's wrong?"

The Pony thanks me for anything and everything I do for him.
He's what keeps me going.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Thanks I Get

I left a page blank in a worksheet so my students would have room to draw a graph directly across from the data table. Said one, "What'd you do, forget how to staple? This has a blank page."

My mom cooked up a batch of Rice Krispie Treats with enough peanut butter to supply the Reese's company until the end of time. Genius had asked for them specifically to share at his lunch table. Mom made a special trip to leave them in my room this morning, so Genius could pick them up on his way to lunch. He left them. Making me watch the"no peanut student" like a hawk seventh hour, lest a life-threatening health crisis occur.

I allowed my class to stand up and straighten their desks before the final bell. And caught one gallivanting about the room while his chair was in the aisle between rows.

A nose-blower complained upon using the last Puffs with Aloe, and being told to open the new box resting under the now-empty box, that my tissue stocking situation left a bit to be desired. I told him that in the future, I would be glad to save my precious disposable income, and supply the classroom with a roll of school-issue toilet paper.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Don We Now

I was toasty warm on duty in the parking lot this morning. No, there has not been a return of 70-degree temperatures. In fact, it was 33 degrees with the wind chill at 23.

My secret? Double coating. Not like pork cutlets dipped in buttermilk, then flour, then buttermilk, then flour. No. I'm talking about two coats. A blue plaid quilted-lining flannel shirt jacket, and a dark green Berber coat.

Don't go assuming that I merely wore one coat on top of the other. How mundane! You must like air-popped popcorn, tofu, and vanilla ice milk I have a more refined palate myself. So I donned my gay apparel in a more fashion-statementy manner.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's frigid parking lot style? A front coat and a back coat. That's a fact, Jack. I wore the quilted flannel jacket as normal. It was already warm, because I wore it in from T-Hoe. Little quilted pockets of my body heat warmed me like a loyal pet's love. Then I pulled the Berber coat that had been hanging in my school cabinet over my arms. I was impervious to the wind. No nooks or crannies were exposed to fill with cold air, because there were no chinks in my Berber-flannel armor.

A kid walked by and asked if I was cold. Nope. But I did tell him that I was considering a Forever Lazy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Little Piggy

Every Sunday, on our weekly trip to frolic in The Devil's Playground, I reward The Pony for his help with two dollars for the game room. He usually plays some shooting game that takes a long time. Or the amount of time that I wait in line for one of the Devil's Handmaidens to check me out. One week, he had put his second dollar into that machine, and I had to stand idle while he finished his game. That's not happenin'. A fact of which The Pony is aware.

Lately, he's been using that second dollar on a game called Road Trip. The dollar gets him three spins on a big Wheel-of-Fortune-like spinner with various mileage marked off in different colors. To spin, he pushes a dealybobber like what you see in a cartoon as a plunger for a TNT box. If The Pony can score 250 miles or higher in his three spins, he wins a small prize in a plastic bubble, like you get out of a seventy-five-cent gum-machine-like dispenser. OR, he can lose that total and get three more spins. He always takes the spins. He's going for a ten-dollar Devil's gift card, or a computer game that beckons him through the glass.

Today, The Pony decided to take his small prize. That's because I normally berate him for losing my dollar and having nothing to show for it. He pushed the button and his prize fell out. He looked through the plastic. "It's a pig! A little plastic pig. You can have it."

I was fine with that. I don't have a little plastic pig. I told The Pony, "It can be My Little Piggy."

"Just don't break it," he cautioned. "Like you did My Little Pony from McDonalds."

"For your information, #1 and I did not 'break' your little pony. We wore it out. It was SO much fun--a little carousel. Pink! We took turns spinning it until we wore it out."

"But still. You broke it."

"Did you want to play with it?"


"Then lay off about My Little Piggy. Here. Lay him in the seat of the cart. I'll get him outside."

In stowing the groceries away in T-Hoe's rear end, I had to shuffle the bags. Some bread loaves were put on top of My Little Piggy. We had to separate The Pony's school snacks to leave in the car, and put the cold items under my coat, and the heavy things where lighter things could stack on top. We had the second-best parking spot ever, the second space in the row directly in front of the doors. A little blue mini car was holding up traffic waiting for us to vacate our prime storefront property. I sent The Pony to take the cart back, and hopped into T-Hoe's cockpit.

You know where this is headed, right?

We left the lot, cruised past the packed McDonald's and money-stealing Sonic, coasted over the rickety bridge, climbed past the cemetery where my dad is buried, sped by the greasy bar and grill that serves the BEST burgers and fried mushrooms, and IT HIT ME.

"MY LITTLE PIGGY! I left him in the cart! Didn't you see him when you put it in the rack?"

"Noooo. I was hurrying so we could leave."

"Well, I'm not turning around. I'm not spending three dollars of gas and twenty minutes of my time to look for a one-dollar pig."

"That's okay. I didn't want it anyway. You're the one who wanted it."

Just like My Little Pony.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Issue Is The Tissue

I've got a bee in my bonnet tonight, by cracky. It's been there for a few months now, buzzing quietly, waiting to sting. Every now and then, it gets me. I freak out a bit, vow to shoo that annoying irritant out of my bonnetted head. Then something distracts me and I forget about my bonnet-bee until it stings me again.

The bee in my bonnet is actually a Puffs With Aloe. "How can that be?" you may ask, trying to sound all witty by saying "be" when asking about a bee. Try to keep up, why don't you! I'm not talking about an actual bee. I would have gone into anaphylactic shock by now from all that venom. I'm talking about a figurative bee. Criminy! You probably think I physically wear a bonnet as well.

Who is in charge of folding the Puffs With Aloes? I want names, baby! There's a slacker in the factory. I've been getting Puffs that are not folded properly. Any connoisseur of Puffs understands that the tissue has the main body, and an equally-folded flap on each side. It's not a Kleenex, folded in near-half. Puffs have symmetry. Or they are supposed to have symmetry. Such symmetry is sorely lacking lately.

I sense a nostril drip is imminent, I reach into the U-shaped opening of my Puffs With Aloe box to snag a Puff by the folded flap, and nothing! There is no flap to grab! Nose flowing like a faucet in a middle-school-boys' bathroom sink, I have to turn and look for the handle on my tissue. Sometimes it is a tiny flap, like the tiny arms on Kristen Wiig when she plays that weird Lawrence Welk-ish show singer. Sometimes the flap is large, like the head of that banjo-playin' kid in Deliverance.

Small or large, the inconsistencies of the flap fail to stop my nasal flow until it is too late. I need a bucket strapped to my face like a sap-collector on a mighty maple. Somebody in that Puffs With Aloe factory is asleep at the switch.

Who's their quality control officer, Helen Keller?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Out Of The Closet And Into My Ire

My mother cleaned out her closet this week. Not a regular closet, but the one just inside the front door, past the curio cabinet and large vase that sometimes holds an umbrella. I'm not sure why the closet suddenly needed cleaning. Or what other treasures she might have unearthed. But I can tell you about the two items that she offered me before throwing them away.

The first was a program from my college graduation. Perhaps it's a collector's item now that my college has changed its name. I tell my students that was necessary because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was so smart. Much like the mold is broken once something unique is created, my institution of higher learning saw fit to rename itself once I graduated. They're not buying it. In fact, some still question whether I even attended college. That's their problem. I and several thousand other people know that I skipped across John Q. Hammons Center to grasp my diploma and enter a life of bestowing knowledge upon those thirsting, yearning citizens of tomorrow.

The second item proffered to me was a framed mirror. Mom said, "I thought maybe you could hang this inside your cabinet at work." This is not a good omen. I see only two reasons for offering a person a mirror.

Am I so vain that I must constantly admire myself? It would be like having an instant framed picture of me every time I open that cabinet. Am I Mona Lisa? Dorian Gray? Should I whip open that cabinet on nights that Farmer H shows up to watch a basketball game with me? Then we could be American Gothic. Without the pitchfork, of course. I'm pretty sure that would be considered a weapon by school standards.

Or was she hinting that my personal appearance leaves a bit to be desired? That I need to check out my countenance each morning before allowing people into my classroom, or venturing out of it. Has she been talking to those kids who asked me if I cut my own hair, and if so, did I turn on the lights, and bother to look in a mirror?

Mom assured me that her intentions were entirely honorable. She just thought of me. Not of my sister, mind you. But me. Perhaps that's because my sister is retiring from her kindergarten-teaching position at the end of the year, and won't need a school mirror. And after all, it was MY college graduation program.

But think about it. Were those two items really taking up so much space in that foyer closet?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

For My Next Selection...

Happy Thanksgiving to you,
Happy Thanksgiving to you,
Happy Thanksgiving to yoooouuuuu,
Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Farmer H Wet My Pants

I arrived home Monday evening to find that Farmer H had been up to his old tricks again. He took the week off. Which means he plans on totally disrupting our peaceful Mansion lives with projects that cannot wait. Yes, time off gives Farmer H a bee in his bonnet. And blinders. He goes all out with a new project that requires money and gives off foul odors. Times three.

This week, he's painting the #1 son's room. And staining the door frames and removing doors and taking them to the barn for staining and bringing them back right at the time I get home. For maximum smellage, you know. Which a more efficient person might have done...oh...I don't know...let me think...perhaps...WHEN HE BUILT THE HOUSE THIRTEEN YEARS AGO. Oh, and the third project is applying some magical sealant to the shower enclosure to plug a crack.

The crack is what wet my pants. For some reason, Farmer H could not seal a shower crack without also cleaning the triangle bathtub on the other side of the master bath. Props to him for cleaning, I say. What better use of a short attention span than to clean a tub when you have three other projects already percolating?

Now is where Farmer H and I diverge on proper tub-cleaning procedure. I say that if you need to remove from the side of the tub a pair of comfy capri sweatpants, gray with a wide purple stripe, that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom likes to wear after a long day of work educating the future of our nation, along with her black school socks and red Crocs and a yellow-and-white striped camp shirt, you simply toss it into the bathroom closet beside her pajamas. It's not that hard. The closet door is over in the barn, for cryin' out loud. You don't even have to open it. Pick up the pants, turn, toss. Mission accomplished.

Farmer H begs to differ. When he begins his self-made chore list shortly after we leave for schoolin', he chooses to take those sweatpants and stuff them over the towel rack. The towel rack which holds Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's towel, fresh from a bout of drying after her morning shower. Which results, upon Mrs. HM's return to the Manse that eve, in a pair of sweatpants that make her feel like she is wearing a wet towel.

I fear the encore for Farmer H's week-long performance.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cheesy Feet: Breakfast Of A Champion

Wouldn't that make a good movie title? I can see it as a Will Farrell vehicle.

Mondays are my duty day. I have to make sure I drop off The Pony at the stroke of allowed-drop-off-time-thirty in order to make it across town, schlep in my stuff, log on five times, and appear in the parking lot by 7:45 to deter mayhem. Sure, it may sound simple. Until you are cognizant of the fact that Newmentia time is seven minutes ahead of Basementia time. That means it takes me thirteen minutes to drive three miles.

It's not like I run into gridlock. There are not even any stoplights in this burg. The speed limit is 20 mph. I know that. Because one year, a kind young man in a black-and-white car flashed a red light at me, and informed me: "Speed limit's twenty, Ma'am." Good to know. I shan't go 24 ever again. This time-shifting conundrum is a good thing if you're going the opposite direction. When I used to travel to Basementia for the second half of my day, I could arrive there before I even left Newmentia. Voila!

The point I started out to make is that I'm rushed for time on Monday mornings. I take breakfast with me, and consume it in T-Hoe. It's usually whatever I can find that won't make a mess of the steering wheel, stain my clothes, or require two hands. Yesterday morning I grabbed a small, recycled marinara sauce container full of Munchies: Ultimate Cheddar. I'm not a big fan of the Munchies. I used to buy a super-hot buffalo wing version at Save A Lot for the #1 son, until I couldn't find it any more. So I grabbed the Cheddar.

I munched from it off and on, as traffic permitted. By the time we approached the park near The Pony's school, I was down to a cheez-it, a couple of chex, and a pretzel. The Pony came to life. That's the demarcation line where he starts putting away his reading material, listens to the off-beat news story, and tells me whether he's staying after school for Academic Team practice.

"Eww! Something stinks. What did we pass back there?"

"I don't know. What did it smell like?"

"I smells like feet."

"I didn't see anything. Maybe it's something in here. Is it my Munchies?" I passed him the container."

"That's it! It smells like feet! CHEESY feet!"

"Thanks for the blog post. Cheesy feet. Breakfast of champions."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reinventing The Meal

Perhaps I've mentioned my love for the school cafeteria's grilled cheese sandwich. You know, the sandwich that is hard as a rock. Hard enough to chip a plastic cafeteria tray. Not that I would ever use it for such a destructive purpose. That's vandalism, you know.

The hardness of that sandwich is surpassed only by its greasiness. It's delicious. Sometimes, you even get a bite of cheese! That's usually smack dab in the middle of the bread. You have to gnaw your way through the crust first, shooting out crumbs like a band saw through a 2 x 4.

Saturday, I had the bright idea to try and duplicate that magical creation at home. I know that the cooks don't have time to grill 300 sandwiches. I know they profess to cook healthily by baking. Yet there's the grease. I presumed that butter in some form was a key ingredient. Or more likely, margarine. Again, I can't picture three cooks spreading pats of oleo on 600 slices of bread. That would be a Sisyphean task. Besides, we can't even have plastic knives.

I preheated the Mansion oven and slapped a piece of foil onto a pizza pan. Then I took two pieces of white sandwich bread. What to do for the margarine? I scooped out some I Can't Believe It's Not Butter into a bowl, and slid it into the microwave. After discovering that I have no barbecue brush in the house, a condition which I attribute to Farmer H, I resolved to spoon drops of melted margarine onto my bread, and spread it with the back of the spoon. I definitely know the cooks did not do that!

For cheese, I carved thin slices off a block of mild cheddar. I had meant to buy sharp cheddar, but was distracted a beeping fat-cart on The Devil's dairy aisle last week. So now I'm looking for ways to use up the mild cheese that is too bland to take for lunch on a bagel with yellow mustard.

After cutting the cheese, I assembled my sandwich. I put the pan in the oven and waited four minutes. I peered inside. The top was turning brown. I took out my sammie and turned it over. Another three minutes and it looked good enough to eat.

Texture: A
Greasiness: C
Cheesiness: D

My attempt was a mediocre success. More grease is needed. Maybe the cooks dip the bread in melted margarine. The cheese was a bit chewy and had no taste. It looked like the pale stretchy cheese on that Travel Channel show with the steamed hamburgers. I might go with American individually wrapped slices next time. But my baking method was on target.

For some reason, the cafeteria has switched from vegetable soup to chicken noodle. A grilled cheese does not go with chicken noodle soup. I would complain to management, but seeing as how I don't buy the school lunch, I'm afraid my moaning would fall on deaf ears.

I need to send a spy to ask the cooks the secret of their grilled cheese.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

To Neglect And Be Served

The Pony and I got a late start this morning. The Devil had to wait, because I was boiling a chicken. Oh, it's not some secret Hillbilly ritual. I am planning chicken-and-noodles for supper tonight. Much like Rooster Cogburn said "A gun ain't no use if it ain't loaded, and cocked," a chicken ain't no good for chicken-and-noodles if it ain't boiled.

Since we were running behind, I offered to pick up lunch for The Pony on the way home. He chose Dairy Queen, because he loves their hot dogs. Uh huh. Bet that's not the first menu item you thought of when I mentioned Dairy Queen, now was it?

We waited a good long while in the drive-thru lane. I noticed a city police cruiser two cars ahead of us. When we rounded the building to leave, I spotted FOUR state patrol cars parked next to each other on the lot. Really! Who knew that those folks all took the same lunch shift? That would be akin to us teachers leaving the students alone in the cafeteria while we gathered in the teacher workroom to feast. Shouldn't law enforcement, perhaps, stagger those lunches? So somebody is on the road and ready to respond if mayhem breaks out after church?

I'm just not getting it. I've never seen such a thing before.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Faithful Companion

Allow me to sing the praises of clear plastic take-out containers. I'm talking about the handy cylinders which house my Hot & Sour Soup. They are magnificent. They're air-tight, you know. Because they're water-tight. Not so much water- as soup-tight.

I have a million of 'em. Or at least fourteen. Right now, two of them are cooling their lids in Frig, full to the brim with the remains of a cauldron of chili I made this afternoon. Another miracle container went for a ride with my mom. She likes chili, too. And I hooked her up in return for hosting The Pony all day. He has spent the last two Friday nights with her. I believe she felt she was getting off easy today.

The Pony loves him some Grandma time. He doesn't so much interact with her as soak up her high-speed internet with game-playing shenanigans. All the same, he knows what Grandma is doing every moment. In fact, he sometimes advises her. "Grandma, why don't you go upstairs and take a nap? I'm fine here. I don't need anything." Sometimes she humors him, and takes a nap on the couch.

This morning, The Pony asked me solemnly, "Do you want me to keep Grandma in the house today?" Like we're her parole officers, or wardens. I guess he's remembering the lazy, hazy days of summer, when I forbade her to mow her yard. She has the #1 son for that. But if he's unavailable when she thinks it needs doing, she'll tackle the job herself. I told The Pony that Grandma was allowed out. But not to rake leaves or perform other manual labor.

If she disappears from his sight without an express command from The Pony, he goes looking for her. "Grandma! What are you doing? I thought you'd been gone too long." He's a faithful companion.

I think he forgets that she manages quite nicely the other six days of the week. All by her lonesome.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Head Games

It's no secret that The Pony has mindbogglin' noggin issues.

From the time he could sit up, the #1 son ran by him and slapped him on his head, chanting, "Baby Smacky! Baby Smacky!" The Pony thought it was a game. He grinned and grimaced and did his best to gaze up adoringly at his big brother until slowly toppling over.

Before he even walked, The Pony was a tiny headbanger of the first order. We found him one evening under a three-foot tall potted plant. Trapped. He had pulled the wooden-staked plant over on himself, making sure that the stake left a red mark on his forehead.

Once he became ambulatory, The Pony cantered through the Mansion, whacking his melon on open drawers, jutting countertops, protruding doorknobs, bathroom pedestal sinks, doorjambs, table legs, wooden armrests on soft sofas, metal heating vents on cushy carpets, windowsills, and all four corners of the heavy metal legs holding a giant, freestanding cutting block.

At daycare, no trip down the slide was complete without The Pony rearing back and slamming his skull on the molded plastic. The swingset was a gauntlet to be conquered, no matter how many times a bobbing toddler butt knocked him over into the pea gravel.

Rides home from school in T-Hoe and his predecessors were not the safe transport purported by booster seat manufacturers. THUMP! On the same gravel curve every day, The Pony's head slammed into his window. "Ow! I keep telling myself not to do that!"

Last month, he had a knot on his forehead from bending over too close to the cutting block.

This morning The Pony loaded my school bag into T-Hoe's rear compartment. I heard the "ding ding" of the hatch-closing warning chime. I turned just in time to see the pointy corner of the black metal door contact The Pony's skull. "I'm OK!"

Thank the Gummi Mary the garage door has a sensor that stops its descent when even a cat is in its path.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sensationalizing Woodland (And Swampland) Creatures

Hmpf! I just discovered a show on the History Channel called Swamp People. How could I have missed that? It's in its third season, apparently. But since I'm late to the ball, we'll take this time to discuss it. Tonight's episode was Swampsgiving.

I have no issue with those dudes who look like Bigfoot. But with worse teeth. They can wear their crazy long meth beards and hunt squirrel for Thanksgiving all they want. Live an let live, I say. And those blond Native Americans can go after wild boar with bows and arrows any time. More power to them. I can't even get my panties in a wad over the no-shirt overalls dude who threw two giant blue catfish back in on his jug trot-lines in order to catch a gar. To each his own. And the Cajun-talkin' camo pop and son after the wild turkeys seem fairly normal. No. I fault them not. My problem is with production.

The History Channel. The Travel Channel. Probably TLC is next. Why do they insist on sensationalizing common game animals? I swear, Andrew Zimmern did a show where he ate squirrel and deer. Seriously. The name of his show is Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. And the swampers were hunting squirrel, but didn't see any, so they shot two rabbits. Give me a freakin' break already! Those are not exotic animals.

C'mon. Haven't you people ever eaten squirrel? Or rabbit? What are you, city folk shaking in your shoes every time a squirrel darts up a tree trunk? It's not like Anthony Bourdain digging up geoduck (pronounced gooey duck), and feasting on it on the beach.

THAT is sensational. Not squirrel. Not rabbit. Not turkey. Not gar. Wild boar, perhaps.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

He Never Met A Snack That Wasn't His

Genius stopped by my classroom to kill some time this afternoon. First stop, the mini fridge to liberate a bottle of water that was meant for my lunch tomorrow. Second stop, my desk. Where he wormed his way between my chair and the window behind me to grab the last two bites of a cinnamon Pop Tart and finger it until his hand-sweat had practically started digesting my mid-afternoon carbohydrate pick-me-up. I shooed him away. And let my treat evaporate for a few minutes.

Genius roamed the hall. Bought a candy bar in the teacher workroom. Walked a few laps around my room, thumping The Pony because he could. Then he searched the file cabinet for a rumored bag of Sun Chips. He finally settled down when a friend walked in to chat.

Shh...don't tell Genius, but the other half of the Pop Tart is in my top desk drawer. And the Sun Chips are in the file above the snack drawer where he looked.

A gal's gotta keep some things secret.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Always Look A Gift Pony In The Face

The Pony and I stopped by The Devil's Playground after work to pick up a sweet treat for my teaching buddy, Mabel. Her birthday is tomorrow. And she LURRRRRVES her some buttercream icing. I'm not worried that she'll spoil herself with knowledge by reading this, because I think she's given up on this little personal blog that I write just for her. Or so thought her husband.

Of course The Devil never has what you're looking for when you make a special trip. It was just like the time I walked all the way to the far corner, only to discover that The Devil had only one ball. Farmer H and #1 were on their way to a special Cardinals game, and needed some signing material. Too bad, so sad. I called them, but for some reason they didn't want any softballs. But I digress.

The Devil was fresh out of cute cupcake puppies with flowing buttercream fur. I fought back the urge to gift Mabel with a dozen full-size cupcakes. The mini-cupcakes did not have enough buttercream. Which left me with two choices. Both were mini cakes. One green and brown camouflage, the other blue with a fairy on top. Mabel's getting a fairy.

I sent The Pony to the back of the store for a case of water. He swore he would not look at the beer while he was in that area. Sweet Gummi Mary! I swear that boy has turned into a Duggar. We have no aversion to beer here at the Mansion. Anybody of age is welcome to imbibe if he so desires. It's just not for me. The Pony acted like I regularly put blinders on him when passing through that section. Not so.

Before getting in the short line, I picked up a box of Cheeseburger Mac Hamburger Helper for the #1 son. He was craving it last week, and the cupboard was bare. The checker rang us up. We left the water in the cart. She put Mabel's cake in one bag, and the Hamburger Helper in another. While I was scanning my debit card, The Pony grabbed both bags. He's helpful like that. I turned away from grabbing my receipt to catch him in the act.

He was swinging that Fairy Cake like the classic centripetal force experiment of windmilling a bucket of water over your head. All the while, he was cradling that Hamburger Helper like a premature newborn. I was a bit sharp with him. There WAS a fairy involved, after all.

(And don't be thinkin' "Doesn't Mrs. Hillbilly Mom the Physics Teacher mean CENTRIFUGAL force?" No. Look it up. Somewhere besides wikipedia. Centrifugal force is an imaginary force. Centripetal is the real deal. The bucket keeps that water pulled toward the center of the spin. That's centripetal force. Centrifugal force is imaginary, just the water trying to fly off in a straight line, while being thwarted by the bucket bottom and sides.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Comes In Like A Lamb, Goes Out Like A Lion

Dang! What's up with the 40 mph winds and 74 degrees in mid-November? The weather is really putting a cramp in my Christmas-music radio-station listening every morning on the way to work.

Do you know what it feels like to spend 30 minutes on parking lot duty before school with 40 mph winds? I didn't think so. Let me fill you in.

Don't bother to comb your hair before you leave for work. Because is won't matter. Really. Unless you apply a Jim Bob Duggar dose of hair spray, your coif is going to end up looking like that blond chick on Next Iron Chef. You know. Anne Burrell. The one who looks like a female Guy Fieri.

Thank the Gummi Mary, temps were balmy. Warm, in fact. I needed the wind chill to keep from sweating. But this heat does not bode well for decking the halls. The guy across the road from my classroom was setting up his yard display. For a minute, I thought he'd taken off his shirt, the way the kids were gawking. Or that a dust devil had swirled away the Baby Jesus. But evidently, an old geezer setting up latticework is inherently more fascinating that a lesson on geologic time.

I don't think anybody has entered the First Snow Day pool just yet.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Teacher's Pet

Is there any sweeter sound than that of a puppy rasslin' a toy on the porch? Okay. So maybe there are sweeter sounds. But this has got to be in the top 100.

Our pup, Juno, was rescued from starvation at the tender age of three weeks (the best we can tell, because she didn't appear to be weaned) after somebody dumped her on my mom's rural road. Now she is thriving. She's looking more chocolate-labby every day. Her silky coat is thickening up for winter. She lives like a queen. Her wooden box of a house on the back porch is surrounded by a white rubber newspaper toy, a hard green rubber barbell, a plastic plucked chicken, and various scraps of bone that she has skimmed from the stash of the big dogs. They had a complete set of deer lungs with heart attached earlier today. So I don't think they're missing any shank shards.

It takes so little to make a puppy happy. Since the first day I saw Juno, I've picked her up and held her on my chest. She's getting a little big for that now. Like the adult son in that kids' book "I Will Love You Forever," when the old lady holds him in her lap in the rocking chair.

Juno can be cavorting to beat the band, but the minute I pick her up, she goes still. Oh, she wants to wriggle. But she holds it in. She shivers. She's like a big dog with a Milk Bone on the end of his snout, awaiting the command to toss it in the air and snarf it down. Juno puts her chin on my shoulder. She grunts like a little pig. She's in ecstasy. Her filled food bowl awaits. And The Pony holds her barbell or chicken at the ready for a game of fetch. But Juno soaks up the love and soft words like puppy crack.

I think she's grateful.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Occupy Sonic

I am boycotting the local Sonic.

The out-of-the-way Sonic I will still patronize. But not the one on my way home. I'm putting my food down. Down on the accelerator, as I speed past and glare out the window of T-Hoe.

I am not averse to tipping. The rumor that I choose the drive-thru to avoid tipping is totally unfounded. The drive-thru is quicker. And easier than parking my wide mirrors between the menus in a speaker slot. I used to tip a drive-thru gal regularly, because she made the best Diet Coke with Lime, just the right amount of ice, extra lime wedges, and she always brought it out so I didn't have to wait on a carload of corn-doggers. But there's a new dude at the window.

New Dude is some kind of freaky throwback. He wears SKATES! Sweet Gummi Mary! How long has it been since Sonic carhops wore SKATES? Granted, his are in-line skates. But still skates. New Dude is overly familiar on the speaker. No matter what you order, he pushes another item. Enough is enough. I can understand if you're just ordering a soda. But when you order a grilled cheese, a Sprite, large tots, a Route 44, and a Junior Deluxe, I think it's a bit greedy to try and tack on other items. Maybe that's the policy. But it rankles me.

Aside from being excessively gung-ho, New Dude seemed fairly harmless. Until yesterday. I was alone, The Pony having wangled a night at the home of his grandma. I stopped for a soda and a junior bacon/cheddar melt. The tally was $4.21. I had three ones and a buttload of quarters. But I opted for the five dollar bill, two dimes, and a penny. Because you can never have too many ones.

I drove to the window. New Dude was practically skating in circles. He didn't seem at all nonplussed that I had rebuffed his offer of a strawberry shake. He said, "That'll be four twenty-one, Miss." He took my money. He shoved my soda, straw, and paper sack out the portal. "Thank you, you come back." And he slammed the window. Then rolled off to the grill area.

That no-good slimy sidewinder! He kept my dollar! I was sputtering like Porky Pig. I think I stopped short of shaking my fist at him. If darkness had not already fallen, and my blood pressure not been rising like the red column of alcohol in a thermometer placed in boiling water, I would have driven back around to a bay and called him out. But who's gonna believe me once I leave the window? I was in no mood to sit there and be pointedly ignored.

Genius says it was my own fault for tacking on the twenty-one cents. That New Dude assumed I was giving him that dollar. No other worker has ever done that. And when I give a tip, I say, "Here's five twenty-one. Keep the change." I think that little scammer knew exactly what he was doing. I wonder how much he rakes in during one shift by employing these tactics.

I will be pointedly avoiding this franchise for a while. I am not his cash cow, the aphid to his ant, a sugar-momma to put him through roller derby school.

I am OH SO GLAD that I did not hand him a twenty.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bubby Beat-Down

The #1 son has a problem with school lunch on Fridays. It is always pizza or nacho chips. He used to eat it. But I suppose now that he's had it fifteen weeks in a row, he has grown tired of of the faux Italian/Mexican duo.

For the last two Fridays, he has raided my classroom in search of sustenance. To which I can only advise: too bad, so sad. He should have packed a lunch, as The Pony and I do. Since my lunch time rolls around at the crack of 10:53 a.m., my meal is long gone when #1 accosts my mini-fridge at 11:54. From there, he assaults the file cabinet. That's where The Pony stashes his after-school snacks for when he hops off the bus from Basementia.

Don't forget that I'm in the middle of a lesson when #1 barges in. The freshmen gaze in slack-jawed awe at the legend who scored a 34 on his ACT last month, and who shaved his chinny-chin-chin goatee to be Harry Potter at the NHS Halloween dance, and has already grown it back.

"Hey, what are you doing?"

"I came to get food."

"There is no food."

"I know where he keeps it."

"He'll be upset."

"Yeah, yeah. Hmm...M & Ms or mini Chips Ahoy? I'm taking the Chips Ahoy."

"The Pony will cry. He told Grandma just this morning that she didn't need to bring him any more snacks--he had a full bag of Chips Ahoy."

"I'm opening them. I'm going to eat a few, and then pass them around to my lunch table."


"Somebody didn't raise that boy right."

#1 reappeared at the end of the lunch shift and my class to put the remainders back in the file cabinet.

"I only ate half the bag."

"That's good. Then your brother will only beat you within HALF an inch of your life."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Pony Is Lame

No. I'm not making a statement about The Pony's personality. That would just be cruel. He is actually lame. In the stone-bruised-hoof sense of the word.

Last night he complained of foot pain. That is not like The Pony. He's a hardy little fella. Two broken elbows, barely a peep. So when The Pony talks pain, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom listens. He said that the middle of his foot hurt. And his baby toe. Seems he hopped off the stage yesterday in PE after rescuing a volleyball.

I'm hoping he just strained some ligaments between his metatarsals. This morning, he said it didn't hurt quite as much. I told him we'd give it a couple of days to see if there was improvement. Now that there's a new convenient care clinic in town, I can trot him down there in a hot Hillmomba minute to get his hoof checked out.

They treat ponies, don't they?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Harbinger Of Winter

Winter is coming!

I know, not because The Devil insists on hawking Christmas wares already, but because the Newmentia cafeteria served chili for the first time this year. Chili! The kids love it. The teachers love it. But this year, not so much. Because we are peanut-butter-less, you see. Sure, it's a grand thing to keep a kid or two from kicking the bucket. But we really, really liked the peanut butter and syrup sandwiches that accompanied the chili.

A lunching companion bravely took a tray. The rest of us are still smarting from the lunch increase of over a dollar. But the daring, intrepid colleague bellied right up to the tray-sliding bar and asked for some sour cream for her chili. To hear her tell it, "They acted like I had asked for a packet of GOLD! They brought out ONE packet, slid it across the counter, and said, 'The kids don't get that!' Do I look like I would give it to the kids? The kids bring ME stuff." Sure enough, three packs of chips were dropped on our table in the time it took her to tell her tale.

I can't wait for her to review her itemized lunch charges, and see how much that packet of sour cream cost her.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coming Soon, In A Sideshow On The Midway Of A Carnival Near You

The thing about taking your kids to school where you teach is that your fellow faculty can fill you in on their shenanigans.

This afternoon, TheParkingSpotUsurper informed me of the antics of young Mr. The Pony J. Hillbilly. Seems her class was having a discussion of inherited characteristics versus those credited to the environment. Mr. TPJH entertained his classmates with his vast array of talents, including, but not limited to:

*the ability to roll his eyelids

*the disconcerting clicking sound that ensues when he snaps one of his previously broken elbows into hyperextension and back, quickly

*the loosey-goosey status of his kneecap when he moves it to and fro just for fun

*the uncanny ability to lick his own elbow

That boy is a regular dog-and-pony show. Minus the dog.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Such Sweet Slumber

Ho hum. I am dragging tonight. Nobody has done anything particularly entertaining or aggravating. So I'm headed to my sweet, sweet recliner to watch some Food Network. That's my story. In all actuality, I will nod off before the first commercial.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jack Frost Is Not Yet Nipping Noses

Hey! Guess what! No, that's not it. Guess again. Nope. Looks like I'm going to have to tell you.


I know. Seems like only yesterday that retailers had the common sense to wait until after Thanksgiving to set up their Christmas displays. Not so in Hillmomba. The Devil accosts customers as they enter the door with a giant, decorated Christmas tree. It's just at the end of the bargain carts full of Halloween accouterments clogging the entryway. There is also a double aisle stocked with stocking-stuffer Christmas candy. And aisles near the front with gift ideas like tool boxes and drill bits and such. I didn't look close enough, but I'm sure there's an aisle of bath beads and decorative soaps as well.

Has the Devil lost his mind? I think not. He recently reinstated his layaway policy (surely you've seen the commercials with the idiots who can't read a big friggin' sign right over their heads proclaiming LAYAWAY). Because The Devil jacked up his prices by at least 50% over the last couple of years. and gas has not only shot up in price, but seems to be of a lower grade than what is proclaimed on the pumps, regular folks can't afford Christmas unless they pay in installments. That's a cryin' shame. Dang that dirty Devil! I don't know his layaway policies, nor do I care to read them. But I guarandarntee you that The Devil will not lose any money on items that are put back, paid on, and left unpurchased because some poor, hard-working, honest sap gets his electric bill just before making the layaway payoff and can't cough up the final payment.

Criminy! It's 70 degrees in Hillmomba today. November 6th. And The Devil is rushing the yuletide season.

At least he stopped short of pumping out Christmas carols. For now.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Hillmomba Mean-Fueled Wars

The #1 son says NHS is having a Nerf gun battle. News to me. And a questionable activity for a school-sponsored club, in my opinion. But if you can't trust the school's brainiacs to shoot at each other willy-nilly with semi-soft projectiles...who CAN you trust? Anyway, I've only heard it from the boy. So he might be exaggerating a bit. Or waxing purposefully deceptive. Because this morning, he had an agenda.

There was The Pony, kneeling in front of the La-Z-Boy for me to apply medication to his forehead, when #1 reared his bullying head. He picked up a giant rubber band and stretched it like a working single mom's budget, aiming at The Pony's head. The defenseless, stock-still Pony. I ordered him not to shoot. Next thing The Pony knew, he had a stinging pain in his back. He retaliated by grabbing two pairs of rolled-up socks from the floor behind him, where I toss them for #1 to harvest and take to his room. Pow! Pow! One direct hit upon the face of #1, and one high over the back of the couch.

At that point, #1 fetched a Nerf six-shot pistol from his room. The Pony went to the basement and wrestled a giant, Aliens-worthy behemoth of Nerf artillery (with detachable weapons) up the stairs. Only to lose it to #1 who said, "Hey, let me see that." The Pony really must learn to be more wary of people. Especially sworn enemies.

I drew the line at The Pony being used for target practice. So #1 laid down with his weapons to fire at various targets about the living room, selected by The Pony, with darts fetched by The Pony. I suppose the gratitude of not being the bullseye made The Pony giddy with generosity.

Last I heard, they were wondering what happened to those humongous yellow revolving-dart-cartridged Nerf guns that I took away two summers ago.

I'll never tell.