Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pony To The Infirmary, STAT!

Pity my poor little Pony. He came home from Grandma's on Sunday with a blister on the pinky toe side of his right hoof. Grandma called during his visit to let me know. She wanted to know if she could treat it with something. Um. NO. Because the last thing she treated was her own hangnail, which resulted in a FAT RED PINKY FINGER that an osteopath wanted to amputate. She went round and round and got a second opinion because I insisted, and had it surgically cleaned down to the bone, but not amputated. So excuse me for not wanting her to work her first aid magic on my precious Pony. I know the most recent supplies in her house have to be the fresh triple antibiotic ointment I made her buy in 2006 for the FAT RED PINKY FINGER. And I suspect that she still has some 1980s-era Bactine-soaked cotton balls in a pill bottle in her downstairs bathroom closet.

The Pony also came down with a cold on Sunday evening. I can not find his favorite cough medicine anywhere. He's down to the last dose.

Last night, our helpful loyal Pony slammed his own finger in the front door of the Mansion while relaying a phone message to Goat Baron H. It's his bad finger. Just below the nail bed. I think he's going to lose the fingernail.

Thank the Gummi Mary, Even Steven is looking out for The Pony. He might get picked up by Grandma after school on Friday, and get to spend the night.

If he survives the rest of the week without further injury.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sixth Sixth Sixth. The Mark Of The Devil's Playground.

At the Devil's Playground, you're always 6th in line. Wasn't that their slogan a few years back. Oh, no. You're right. The slogan was, "You're always NEXT in line." Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Now I've nearly given myself a hernia laughing.

I stopped by The Playground after school, to pick up some cough medicine for The Pony. Poor little critter. He picked up a bug over the weekend. I'm thinking he got it at bowling league on Saturday afternoon, because the headache and sore throat started Sunday night. But he could easily have contracted it from the #1 son, what with the sharing of remotes and refrigerator door handles and bathroom faucets.

The Pony asked to wait in T-Hoe, so I let him. I don't think it's against the law anymore, now that he's thirteen. And I put all the windows down. After all, I was just running in for a minute, for ONE item. The cough medicine. Which of course The Devil seems to have discontinued, as with all products one prefers. So I grabbed a poor substitute that was only grape flavored, not red grape flavored, and got in line. Behind five other customers.

Yeah. I though surely there would be more than five lanes open in a SuperPlayground at 4:30 on a weekday afternoon. Or at least a 20 items or less line at each end. Nope. And, there were two ladies behind me. Seventh and eighth in line.

I was not a happy player at The Playground. First of all, my beloved Pony was in a hot T-Hoe, sniffling and snorting. Secondly, the customers in front of me were paying by check. Why couldn't they just whip out some plastic. Debit, credit, EBT...I wouldn't be picky.

And then, the icing on this poop cake: the woman right in front of me took out a handful of coins. COINS! Nobody uses COINS anymore. Ms. Meter Maid laid down a ten, four ones, and a handful of quarters. "There's $18," she said. Her bill was $29.38. The Devil's Handmaiden counted it. She counted it again.

"Ma'am? This is $17." She counted it yet again for Ms. Meter Maid, and stacked up the quarters in dollar piles. Then she had to calculate the difference so Ms. Meter Maid could write a check!

When I forked over a ten for my $6.57 box of cough medicine, the lady behind me said, "Oh, she's paying for mine, too." I told her I would be glad to. If it got me out the door any sooner.

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's All About The Spin

I make a weekly journey to The Devil's Playground every Sunday. Today is Monday. The Pony informed me he is out of shampoo. The Pony is my partner at The Playground. He should know better than to risk my ire over such a trivial matter. He should rub his head with a bar of Irish Spring with Aloe until next Sunday, rather than tell me that he needs a product from The Devil. Or squirt a little Soft Soap onto his forehoofs and scrub his mane. But no.

Rather than accost The Devil again so soon, I stormed Save A Lot. I needed more margarine anyway. Not butter. I'm no Paula Deen. So I told The Pony that I would see if Save A Lot had any kid shampoo.

When I returned to T-Hoe, I told The Pony that I had two choices. Purple Barbie shampoo, or Coconut Smoothie. "I hope you got the Coconut Smoothie! I love coconut."

You know that if I'd only brought out the coconut without the Barbie qualifier, he would have declared it the most terrible shampoo in all of Hillmomba.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Roadkill Etiquette Of My Youth

On the way to town this morning, I saw a dead armadillo in the road. They don't flatten out like possums. During my youth, you would have been laughed out of town if you told the kids on the bus that you saw a dead armadillo.

"Yeah, right. Where do you think we are, Arizona?"

"Ha ha. You must be blind."

"Armadillos don't come up here, stupid!"

"You wouldn't know an armadillo if it bit you on the a$$!"

"What are you gonna do, write a song about it? 'Dead armidillo in the middle of the road; dead armadillo in the middle of the road; dead armadillo in the middle of the road, stinkin' to high heaven!' "

Ahh. Simpler times. Colder times, perhaps.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Show-Me Stater

We had a little discussion this morning, Slumlord H and I, on how we used to own a duplex for rental purposes. It was a good deal. One side paid the payment, and the other side paid for repairs. When the renters actually paid the rent.

I reminded Slumlord H that HE was the one who rented the empty side to a man with a wife, three kids, and no job. I had recommended that he rent it to the college girl. Because her mom would pay if she didn't. Now the story has changed. Slumlord H declares that the college girl's mom said she would not pay for her to live there. Funny how we had both applications and an argument back in the day as to who we were going to rent it to. Seems that point would have been moot if only one applicant expressed interest.

Slumlord H's excuse was that the man's father-in-law had paid the deposit and first month's rent. "Yeah. Because obviously, he knew the guy was a freeloader, and this was the easiest way to get rid of him." Slumlord H countered that the man had actually acquired a job after we rented to him. "Oh. Like that's better. He HAD money, but didn't want to waste it on rent."

The other renter was a divorced woman who liked the bottle. Not that there's anything wrong with that. She always paid on time. Even if she DID drop a hot cast iron skillet and burn a circular hole in the carpet. I accused Slumlord H of joining her for a drink every now and then.

"I didn't ever have a drink with her. I would go in and talk to her when I went to try to get rent from the other guy. Besides, she invited me. She came to the door when I was on the porch, and said, 'Come in. I want to show you something.' "

"Uh huh. I'm sure she did."

"Heh, heh. It wasn't like that. But if a woman tells me she wants to show me something, I'm going to look."

The #1 son was sprawled on the couch throughout the conversation. He simply rolled his eyes.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Out Of The Mouths Of Ponies

This evening I noticed that something had bitten my right hand between the pinky knuckle and the ring-finger knuckle. As I puttered about in the kitchen, I spouted out to no one in particular, as I am regularly wont to do, "Gosh, something bit me."

The Pony lay sprawled on the living room couch, fiddling with his laptop. "Was it a student?"

Thank you. He'll be here all week.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Mysterious World Of Men

Funny how a man who builds machines that put teeth in steel bands to make saw blades for butchers, and who has been sent to Brazil, Germany, Wales, and New Jersey to bid on and buy such machines, and teach others in the company how to use these specialized machines...can not figure out how to shut the lid on a box of Tide laundry detergent because a piece of the cardboard flap did not perforate properly.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Kid You Not

Newest trend in vehicles on the roads of Hillmomba: a missing driver's door, replaced with clear plastic held on with yellow tape.

Kind of defeats the purpose of driver's-side airbags.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I have a secret. Not a very well-kept secret, but a secret nonetheless.

My nose is with pimple. Up inside the left nostril, growing larger by the day, my little bubble of joy is percolatin' to beat the band. I put some clear gel stuff on it. That took away the pain for about two hours. I put a white, creamy paste from a tube proclaiming that it includes nonoxynol-9 up in there. That works for four hours. I don't know about nonoxynol-1-thru-8, but the 9er usually does the trick.

There must be a magic strike among nostrils, because nothing is getting rid of my painful nuisance. It precedes me into the classroom by a good three inches. The end of my nose is bulbous and red. I'm the W.C. Rudolph Fields of the nose-pimple set. My left nostril is constricted like a coronary artery in need of a bypass. If I was a pig, I could not model for piggy banks until the swelling goes down. Unless you want a piggy bank with one large snout hole and one tiny snout hole.

I'm sure the general public wants no such thing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Morton Salt Girl Pays Mrs. Hillbilly Mom A Visit

When it rains, it pours.

Silly old me went off to school this Monday morning, heart full of love and head full of optimism. I knew I had parking lot duty. I left in plenty of time. Dropped off The Pony and his trombone at Basementia. Scooted on over to Newmentia. Wrote the assignment on the board. Logged on at my control center, in spite of a recent rash of parsing errors. Hoofed it out to the parking lot, dutifully.

I observed traffic flow. Greeted select students who appeared to do mornings. Chatted with Mr. Principal. Re-entered the building. Started class. Took roll. Pledged allegiance. Assisted with guided practice.

And then it began to unravel, that fine thread of sanity that I cling to diligently in an effort to just get by until 2:56.

I had been using my down time to set up the command center for a short Nat Geo video as filler for my quick classes. You know, the ones who find the assignment to be a breeze. No need to sit and stare at each other when we could be learning about the invisible world all around us, the different types of creatures and energy that inhabit our kingdom.

As I went to disconnect and re-connect the white and yellow wires from the DVD player to the VCR for that 1979 videotape so carefully preserved by the library, I spied a wire hanging by a thread. It was on the main sound box on the bottom of my tech equipment tower. One. Single. Copper. Thread. And as I turned the stack of black boxes to get a closer look, it slipped out. From which hole, I could not tell. I'm on a short leash that hangs through my ceiling tiles.

I called the classroom next door to snag the #1 son before he got away. He could not make it until after the bell. At which time he said, "Well, I can put it in this hole, because that one might electrocute you. But it's not going to stay." I promised to call his teacher to excuse his tardy. But just as he finished, I remembered that her phone does not work. What do you think this is, anyway, a regular business? I called and got her voice mail and left a message, which will probably be discovered about the time she decides to retire, long after #1 has graduated.

So I went down the hall to tell her in person, taking along the DVD-RWs that I got to copy the new textbook resource discs that had been needed last Friday. But Arch Nemesis had the originals, so LunchBuddy had to send a student after them. While we waited, she showed me how the wire should go in the back of the black box. "Red on the right, black on the left. Two empty holes in between." Which was fine and dandy, but I had no colored plastic on those wires, they having been stripped to bare metal.

Back in my room, I looked for the custodian, holder of screwdrivers. Called the office, who had not seen him. Heard him in the hall, snagged him and his screwdriver. He listened to the set-up, whittled away at my short leash, exposed some colored wire, and hooked it up in a jiffy.

By now, only five minutes remained of my plan time. So I called the Basementia library and described a DVD without a key word or title that I need next week. The librarian went to the shelves and found it, agreed to ship it by bus with the afternoon Pony. Next, I called Arch Nemesis to negotiate a lab tour time for Tuesday or Wednesday. Then I called two teachers to arrange for work for my next hour students who were new to me today.

Those three new students needed math help, which I did in between grading papers from first hour. Lunchtime rolled around, and I warmed up my food, and ran 110 copies for tomorrow, since my plan time wasted away. Upon arrival at the lunch table, I discovered (through the kind enlightenment of my fellow faculty) that this week I have lunch duty. I showed my appreciation by running from the cafeteria to turn in a stack of back-to-school forms my students had given me.

Fourth hour was the jewel of the day. Fifth hour, the #1 son waltzed in for a parent signature and three-dollar lab fee. I negotiated it down to two, plus my John Hancock. Next came the Tech Nazi to remediate my parsing error. He was quite pleasant and efficient, our company computer guy, and if he continues on this track, I might feel bad about my name for him.

Sixth and seventh hour, I tried to use my down time to get into the teacher text resource materials. Let's just say it was easier for Indiana Jones to get into and out of the Temple of Doom. But at least the students got to retch at the dust mites and eyelash mites in The Invisible World. That brought the academic day to a close, but I had yet another round of parking lot duty to attend. Then some unpaid time with which to run more copies and write in my plan book and record scores.

I'm thinking Tuesday is going to be an easy day.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Devil To Pay

The Devil is out to get me.

I spent 35 minutes in his overheated den of rising prices, gathering merchandise that was not the brand or size that I had bought the previous week. Funny how the stuff you like disappears, and The Devil's Own brand pops up.

At 11:35, I pulled into a check-out line. For the first time in a long time, I was next in line. But the customer had issues. The checker kept going out to her cart and scanning things still in it. I hopped two lanes over, to the next open checker. I was next to next in line. It moved a little faster. For a minute. I went back. I got discouraged again and hopped back to my second choice. Then somebody got behind me, and I was stuck.

At 11:51, I was all rung up and paying.


I hate The Devil like the devil.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another Road Hazard

Well. Looks like I forgot to post something for tonight. Maybe that's because...nothing much happened today.

I did encounter a car smack dab in the middle of the road. Stopped. In my lane as I rounded a blind curve. A woman and little girl were wringing their hands as a guy carried a big tire from the back of his truck. Which was also parked in the road, in front of that lady's SUV. Her front left tire was absolutely shredded. Down-to-the-rim shredded.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm of the opinion that if your tire is already shredded down to the rim, you might as well drive it another 75 feet and get the confounded accident-waiting-to-happen off the freakin' pavement and into a private driveway before somebody gets killed.

Funny how nobody ever seeks out my opinion.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Boot Boot Bootsie, Goodbye

Do you every wonder, when you see a single boot in the road, how it came to be lolling solitarily on the gravel? Probably not. Which means you live in civilization. I, on the other hand, inhabit Hillmomba.

It was black rubber boot, the kind sold by The Devil, popular with cow-milkers and concrete-shovelers and kids dying to make the most of a snow day. Bootsie was not there when The Pony and I left for school this morning. A pounding rain had arrived around 4:30 a.m., complete with lightning and thunder and moderate winds. By 6:50, the air held the humid promise of a sweltering afternoon. But there was nary a raindrop to be found.

Parts of our gravel road had been sluiced into channels. The Grand Chasm on the first hill had deepened. But the run-off had dissipated quickly. Not even the creek was advertising the downpour.

Bootsie lay abandoned in the afternoon. My scenario says a good ol' boy in a pickup taking a shortcut happened upon the newly exposed boulder just before the Grand Chasm. A bone-jarring, tooth-rattling landing after his four-wheel-drive hillbilly cruiser went airborne might have jarred Bootsie loose. I picture Bootsie minding his own business, stuffed upside down next to his mate in the crack between the cab and the bed of the truck. Next thing he knew, he was taking a chat nap all by his lonesome. Next case. I'm not connected to Mystery Inc. with a red phone for nothin', you know.

I really hope that Scavenger H does not pick up Bootsie and bring him home. Just in case we ever need a single boot in a size nobody here wears.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just Checking In

I was not sure I would like having my planning time 2nd hour. After one day, it seems like a workable idea. Of course, I gave no assignments, so I had no papers to catch up with after school. But as far as making the day fly worked. I barely had time to catch a breath after lunch. Boom, boom, boom, boom. Four classes in a row, and it was over.

Once schedule changes are over, it will be smooth sailing. She said optimistically.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Last Minute

No time tonight to entertain. I am preparing things for the opening day of Hillmomba Educational Season tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Accomplished Today At Work

I spent nigh on 12 hours at work today. What did I accomplish? Not much of what I needed to accomplish. But aside from decorating a pear tree with a partridge, I did a little bit of everything.


went to office to ask for old textbook inventory which was not handed back yesterday

raided office file cabinet for highlighter, staples, paperclips, and old-timey attendance slips for substitutes

backtracked from classroom back to teacher workroom for blank textbook inventory form

updated inventory

roamed the hall searching for a way to print rosters

printed rosters

found the boys' athletic locker room

updated tornado evacuation procedure to new destination of boys' athletic locker room

updated schedule

completed emergency contact form

completed additional board-paid life insurance form

completed direct deposit paycheck form

wrote out donation for United Way of Hillmomba County

calculated replacement cost of new textbook

discussed two new textbooks that arrived with a bit out of their spine with the principal

set out three sets of syllabi for tonight's Open House

made copies of Open House sign-in sheet (good thing-needed 4 pages)

used Fantastik to clean off two desks used for holding sign-in sheet and syllabi

made copies of new inventory

found file folder used to store inventory

turned in new inventory and contact info to office

stapled bell schedule to bulletin board

searched (unsuccessfully) for grading scale that was on wall when I left for the summer

searched (unsuccessfully) documents, H-drive, flash drives for grading scale

made note to copy front-of-room grading scale onto colored paper tomorrow

was called to a meeting about a student by the secretary's son by order of the principal

went to wrong room according to secretary's son's instructions

found correct meeting room

told colleague to find my syllabus on T-drive to use as template for his new course

looked up syllabus upon his second request

found syllabus on H-drive and copied it to the T

laid out dri-erase markers and eraser

wrote name and subjects on whiteboard

contacted #1 son about squeal in projector speakers

made deal with colleague to take my game duties for extra fee

tried to utilize resource CDs that came with new textbooks

called #1 son for help with resource CDs

welcomed colleague who offered to help with resource CDs

amongst four people, made resource CDs work

made note to write two weeks of lesson plans Wednesday, the day before classes begin

greeted wandering student back from last year while working on resource CD issue and taking a call from Lower Basementia from a colleague/parent while trying to figure out how to take another call coming in at same time

said goodbye to student while apologizing to Lower Basementia caller for losing her on hold while #1 son fiddled with my phone

gave up and left the building for 90 minutes before start of Open House

Somebody needs to hop in the recliner and put her feet up for a while. It's the little things, people. The little things.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Journey Of 174 School Days Begins With A Single Day

One down, one hundred seventy-three to go. Or maybe I should read my contract.

Today was packed with meetings designed to pack my empty summer noggin with knowledge. It is bursting at the seams with visions of Gaggle dancing in there like a Louis and Gilbert from Revenge of the Nerds. That's Gaggle. Something new I need to master by the end of the week, I suppose.

Tomorrow I must take myself on a tour of the boys' varsity locker room. It's expected of me. I must familiarize myself with this turf by Thursday. It's my hallway's new haven in case of a tornado. Forgive me for being in this building ten years and not knowing where to find the boys' varsity locker room. Why would I? It's not like I'd have a reason to go there. Until now.

I am really kind of tired tonight. The high of finding out that our End of Course Biology scores improved by 35 percent over the previous year has long worn off. I would like to take credit. I would like my colleague Arch Nemesis to take credit. But I think we both know that it would be comparing apples to oranges. You do the best you can with the class that must test. This year, we will have The Class Without A Middle. I don't know how things will shake out. There are some upper-level scholars that are amazing. And there are some other scholars that are not motivated. Nothing in between. I must find a way to grab their attention.

But tonight, I am just tired.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Our Paths Diverge

Tomorrow I will rise at 5:00 a.m. and begin my honest day's work. It will involve eating a catered breakfast buffet, sitting for three hours to listen, going to lunch for one hour, sitting for two more hours to listen, then working in my room for thirty minutes.

I am almost to the point of taking a sack lunch, rather than driving to civilization to buy lunch that must be eaten in the same amount of time as a school lunch. I prefer a more leisurely meal. Watching the clock stresses me. I would be not a good lunch companion. I have no summer vacation tales to tell. And I'm not particularly interested in hearing anyone else's.

Let's get this school year on the road. It's always better about two weeks in.

Farmer H will be having a medical procedure tomorrow at 9:00 which requires anesthesia. He is not exactly a scheduling wizard. I told him I can not miss the first day. The #1 son will be driving him and bringing him home. I am hoping that all goes well, and that they do not resort to hand-to-hand combat before leaving the Mansion.

The Pony gets the best end of the deal, what with spending the day with his grandma. He is the only one looking forward to tomorrow.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

All Good Things Must End

This is the official last night of my summer vacation. Tomorrow is Sunday night, the night before my return to work.

As usual, I wish I had accomplished more during my time off. The time off itself was most relaxing. No worry of going under the knife like my throat-cutting last May 25. No week in Missi-freakin-sippi, hotter than the burning pits of not-Heaven, for basketball camp. No stressful family vacation, since I sent the family and had my own staycation. I put work out of my mind, relaxed myself into a stupor, and thoroughly enjoyed my break.

After I get through Monday, I will be on the long, downhill slide towards next summer.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Good News, Bad News Editiion

Let's switch things up. Because I'm a rebel that way. This is going to be the Bad News, Good News edition.

Bad News-the power went off at the Mansion this afternoon during a thunderstorm.
Good News-it came right back on.

Bad News-my mini flashlight was not where I left it.
Good News-I found it a few feet away on the #1 son's computer desk.

Bad News-my New Delly shut down lickety-split.
Good News-last night, I saved the 10 files I've been leaving open.

Bad News-The Pony and I went to Great Clips for haircuts after lunch.
Good News-I had two coupons for $3.00 off. And we were not scalped.

Bad News-my haircuttress called a little girl back, put her in the chair, combed through her hair, called a colleague...and sent the little girl out the door.
Good News-she had already cut my hair, and I was waiting for The Pony.

Bad News-my Pizza Hut plastic cup had a chip in the rim.
Good News-I did not slice my lip on it, so I did not have to devote many Hillbilly Mom-hours to suing the entire franchise for pain, suffering, and disfigurement.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Am Not A Travel Lodge

I rue the day that cell phones were invented. It's bad enough that I have to battle them every hour of every day in my classroom. Bad enough that I'm not allowed to have my cell phone out unless I am hermetically sealed in a studentless closet. Bad enough that my cell phone won't even work at school if I hang my head out the window, necessitating a walk to the parking lot before school, at lunch, or on plan time to try and contact medical providers, while hoping that students are not observing me out of the classroom windows.

But the very worst part of the creation of the cell phone is the confounded apps available. I am never safe from the dastardly genius that is the #1 son. Today, while wrapped in T-Hoe's comfortable leather seats, waiting for the movie theater to open, he stuck that evil EVO 3D in my face and snapped a photo. Flattering, I was sure, being taken by surprise like that.

He announced, "Here's your new contact picture when you call me." I looked at the screen he stuck in my face. I shoved his wrist back, because I did not have my bifocals. And I saw "my" photo. It was the new Hampton Inn behind the movie theater.

I know I am not svelte. But by no stretch of the imagination am I the size of a two-tiered motel. The boy said he had the wrong photo up. Mine was next. He showed me my likeness, all black with neon outlines around my glasses and lips. Some new photo app. Like the blacklight of yesteryear.

That's his story and he's stickin' to it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tinkling Down Memory Lane

D'Hummi stopped humming along at 3:00, and cried to be changed. I removed his bucket and tossed the contents out the basement door. Upon replacement of his fluid-catcher, D'Hummi remained deadly silent. He would not respond to my attempts at resuscitation. It was like he had gone into a coma. His red light remained on. I couldn't turn him off, or adjust his fan speed or humidity level.

I called upstairs to the #1 son. Not an expert in D'Hummies, but in electronic gewgaws. His suggestion was to unplug D'Hummi. Easy for him to say, as he laid his slumbering noggin back on the couch. The electrical outlet is behind the piano. Not that it mattered to that strapping sixteen-year-old that his out-of-shape old-lady mom would have to heave a heavy piano away from the wall to accomplish that task. (SPOILER ALERT: D'Hummi was revived by this minor operation.)

Now don't go thinking we're some hoity toity Hillbillies with a Liberace grand piano in our basement next to the pool table. It's an upright piano. Kind of beat-up. It used to belong to my grandma, who gave it to us before she passed away last fall. Don't you worry none about Grandma. She had another piano, as well as an organ. She wanted us to have this one because #1 plays the piano. I can tinkle out a melody (maybe you shouldn't try to picture that) and a few chords, but #1 is a regular two-handed, music-readin', ivory-tickler. This piano used to belong to my elementary school. Grandma was on the school board, and bought the piano when it was replaced.

When he was four years old, my mom paid for #1 to start piano lessons. He had remarked that he would like to learn how to play. He was four. I did not pay it much mind. #1 enjoyed going to the piano lady's home for 30 minutes each week. He didn't have a piano to practice on, so we bought him a little keyboard. When he visited my mom, he used her piano. Oh, don't think she knows how to play. She just always wanted a piano.

The first recital was held at my mom's Methodist church. The piano lady was a member of the congregation, and played the Methodist organ. So she had a built-in venue for her recitals. Being the youngest student, #1 went first. I had given him a child's music portfolio thingy to carry his sheet music. It came with a little stuffed bear.

When his name was announced, #1 stepped up to the elevated piano. That boy has always had the look of a politician. He wore a vest and tie, which he would also request to wear in his school pictures. #1 set his music portfolio on the piano bench. He removed his music and put it on the piano. The piano lady slid onto the bench to turn pages for him. As #1 set his portfolio down beside the piano, he removed that stuffed bear. He placed it on the piano ledge right above the keys, and turned to smile at the audience. A squeaky-clean, short-haircutted, blue-eyed, 100-watt smile. They oohed and ahhed. I must admit that #1 was just too precious for words at that moment. Then he sat down to play.

And he was good. Not Liberace good, like the next kid, who was a couple years older, with a true flair for piano playing. But good. Technically proficient. He hit all the right notes in all the right rhythm. And when he was done, he packed up his little bear and beamed from ear to ear.

Where does the time go?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Clean Is In They Eye Of The Paper Towel Holder

Here's my latest issue with Farmer H. I might as well give myself a little less typing and just start calling these things "H-ssues".

Yesterday, I tried to wipe some soap off the bottle of soap. Funny how soap can be dirty and need to be washed off sometimes. Not funny how I turned to grab a paper towel off the upright spinny rack thingy on my cutting block, and all I found was the cardboard tube with the final piece glued to it. I suppose Farmer H thought since he didn't take the last one, he didn't have to replace the roll.

Finding no drying action in that quilted cardboard tube, I made a beeline for the pantry. Where I had to open the door with my wet hands, entice the double-roll new pack of paper towels off the top shelf with my wet hands, rip open the plastic wrapper with wet hands, unscrew the heavy metal apple on the rack with wet hands, remove the quilted cardboard tube with wet hands, drop the new roll on the metal rod with wet hands, screw the metal apple back on with wet hands, and pry loose the first paper towel so I could dry dry hands.

This afternoon, after washing a sink full of dishes by hand, I turned to grab a paper towel. On top of that brand new roll was the black imprint of two dirty fingers. I swear, they were so dark I could almost have found fingerprints there to convict the culprit.

What kind of person washes his hands so poorly that he leaves dirty fingerprints on the paper town roll as he is trying to tear one off to dry his just-washed hands?

I think we know his name.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Price Of New Shoes. A Metaphor. And A Simile.

It looks like I will be going to school every day this week.

The Pony and I moved 31 desks and chairs to their proper positions, plus a wooden teacher's desk. Oh, my achin' back. The #1 son arrived to assist with the six-foot table, the four-foot table holding the mini-fridge and microwave, and the file cabinet. But before he could do that, he had to move seventeen boxes of books, the majority of which weighed fifty-six pounds apiece, according to the labels. Plus a few that were heavier. But before he could do that, he had to take the chair off the top of each desk so he had somewhere to put the boxes. Then he had to open them, so he and The Pony could carry the books to the newly-moved table so I could brand them with the school name/address, and write numbers on them. Tomorrow, he will have to put the marked books on the bookshelf and get rid of all the boxes. I don't know how teachers without children to boss around can get things done.

There was a snafu with one set of texts, that being the resource materials were not for the same edition as the student texts. I'll be gosh-darned it I'm going to start out my year by inventing all my own worksheets and tests, plus look up every answer to the section review questions. Sweet Gummi Mary! It's like we're back in the dark ages. Next thing you know, I'll be running masters on a mimeograph machine and deeply inhaling the sweet smell of purple type on the fresh copies. Arch Nemesis is on the case, and has a call in to the publisher. She's definitely a take-charge kind of gal. We're holding off on marking those texts until we find out if the materials are available. If not, we want a refund and downgrade to the older edition that goes with our resource materials. At least I only have one class in that subject.

This week, I will be writing out my lesson plans and getting copies ready. That would be a breeze if I was still using my old textbooks. Those materials are as comfortable as a worn-out shoe. Alas. The price of progress. I must reinvent the wheel.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The End Grows Near

I'm off to school tomorrow. Unofficially. For free. To see what needs to be done in my room. Because as any teacher can tell you, summer is a dangerous time. The custodians do a bang-up job of cleaning and polishing, but then replace the classroom furniture in a pattern that they might use if it was their classroom.

I also expect to mount a safari to find items captured by my fellow faculty. You know. Because they saw it in the hall, and figured I was wanting to get rid of it. Like the hall is a giant curb where you put your stuff for passers-by to help themselves.

In addition, I'm curious about the locking thermostats which were touted at the end of last school year. I need to know if a fan will be required for me to keep my cool. Sorry to be pessimistic, but if I bring a fan, it's going to be on ME. The years of turning them on students are gone. If the kids are hot, they can just complain at home. Them maybe somebody will see the error of the lockbox ways. Hopefully, it was just a threat, not a promise. I am a very responsible thermostat juggler. And I always put it back on the timed setting overnight. And I never leave my windows open. And never go below the recommended 72 degrees. It's just that sometimes, you have to set it on 70 to maintain 72 with a room full of students.

The new textbooks should be here, so I need to familiarize myself with their layout. It's not like any scientific theories have changed over the summer. Unless it's that global warming business. And that polar bears are not sweatin' endangeredness all that much.

I'll need to see what wicked web has been woven of my computer accessory wires, and inform my assistant, the #1 son so he can set it up the right way. For pay. I'm all about paying him for a service that the people paid to do won't get to until the first day. Or later.

I'm a regular Boy Scout when it comes to starting my job all over again. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom will never be caught unprepared.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Period Piece

For something completely different, The Pony and I did our business with The Devil on Saturday instead of Sunday. Not that you could tell.

On our way in, a motorist dude swerved around a woman with a toddler and blew through the crosswalk area, running the next two stop signs as well. Crackhead.

I was almost backed over by a woman riding a cart on the pest spray aisle. I was actually looking for some dust wipe thingamabobs, and thought maybe some Lemon-Pledge-like products may be grouped with other aerosols. No. I searched four aisles and never found any dusting products.

Because it was the first weekend of the month, and back-to-school time, and a Saturday at 11:30 a.m., The Devil had his minions blocking foot traffic and displays with industrial carts loaded with product. Because the busiest shopping hours of the month are apparently the best time to stock shelves. What do those employees do from midnight until dawn? Have a hoedown with The Devil? I had to wait nigh on ninety seconds for a blue-vested girl to unload a milk crate of...well...milk into the cooler. I thought about grabbing a half gallon out of a crate on her pallet, but thought that might be a bit aggressive. So a bald, bearded dude and I made do with sighing heavily until she finished unloading that crate. Then we swarmed the cooler like a couple of Supermarket Sweep contestants.

The strangest obstacle I encountered was on the back aisle of the health and beauty products department. While The Pony was busily sniffing the assortment of Axe antiperspirants, I was stymied by three people camped in front of the feminine hygiene shelf. One woman was a worker. A man and lady, fairly young, were quizzing her on the availability of what sounded like some kind of pygmy tampon, the kind that's like somewhat folded up in itself, that a girl can carry in her pocket. Their words. Not mine. Sweet Gummi Mary! Were they shopping for a birthday gift? It's not like this was some hoity toity boutique dedicated to the disbursement of tween period products. It was The Devil's Playground, for cryin' out loud! What you see is what you get. Bait and switch. They get you hooked on a certain brand and size, then discontinue it and foist Sam's Choice or Great Value on you. Did these folks think they could ask that clerk to special order a custom item?

Seriously. It made me look for a hidden camera.

Friday, August 5, 2011

With Nary A Watch Nor Warning

The atmosphere was angry today, my friends. Like an old man trying to send back soup at a deli. Well...technically, that was what George Costanza said about the sea, shortly before revealing that as a fake marine biologist, he had removed a Titleist hit by Kramer off a cliff at the beach from a dying whale's blowhole. Let's just say that a wicked thunderstorm kicked up this afternoon in Hillmomba.

The Pony and I had just returned from town. Dark skies followed us along our winding route like a Boston terrier nipping the heels of a hurried mom dropping off her toddler at an in-home daycare. Just before we left the gravel road for the Mansion driveway, fat drops of rain pelted T-Hoe. Just enough to create a muddy sludge on his back hatch and bumper.

The Pony carried in our belongings and went back to the garage for more. I was setting down my things on the kitchen counter when I heard a large crash. I feared that The Pony had fallen down the porch steps and onto the concrete sidewalk. It was a thumping sound like thin-skin-covered bones on wood. Not the whump of the metal door slamming on the wooden door frame of the garage. I rushed outside onto the back porch and around the corner made by The Pony's bedroom. He was nowhere to be seen. But the two-piece bookshelf/chest of drawers that Farmer H had set on the side porch had lost its top. The bookshelf was laying face down, sticking off the wooden planks, soaking up sideways rain.

I could not see The Pony. I hollered for him. He finally appeared in the garage door with his Kindle in a plastic Devil's Playground bag. He trotted three steps through the horizontal-pour, and hoofed it up the steps. But didn't. The Pony put a foot wrong. It slipped out of his Adidas slide and he crashed onto the four steps to the porch. The Kindle was OK. The Pony had a red leg. Not bloody red. Angry skin red.

We righted the porch furniture but did not put the bookshelf back on top of the drawers. The dogs paced and shot us the stinkeye. They don't much like storms. I don't much like dogs in the house. We left them to stew in nature's juices and retired to the safety of The Mansion.

There was nary a watch nor warning to be found on broadcast TV.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chinese Chicken Crow

You know you're a hillbilly when... have to step out on the porch for cell phone reception to call town and order Chinese food, and during the call, a black-and-whited checkered banty rooster hops up on the porch of your Hillbilly Mansion and crows so loudly that you have to repeat your order of Sweet & Sour Chicken and General Tso's Chicken.

Apparently, chickens understand English.


...the UPS man ignores the two dogs lounging on the porch, but eyes the flock of approaching chickens with distrust. "I haven't been flogged by a rooster in quite a while."

Apparently, chickens make good watchdogs.

************************************************* can't walk five steps from the basement door to your backyard pool without chickens swarming around your ankles, looking up longingly into your eyes.

Apparently, chickens are well-schooled in Pavlovian conditioning.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ooh, Boys! It's Hot!

On a day when the thermometer reads 90 at 9:00 a.m., and the forecast is for a heat index of there anything better to do than lounge around your Mansion soaking up the cool, cool air conditioning?

Why, yes! Apparently, there is. If you are Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, you schedule a routine medical test that requires you to drive 20 miles in your black, sun-absorbing T-Hoe, for the test that requires you to go without deodorant. Timing is everything, my friends.

And after that, why not go to the County Health Center with updated information on your son's Tdap shot, so you can walk across the sweltering blacktop through shimmering heat waves to find out that yes, he does need the "ap" part of the Tdap, because he only had the Tetanus and Diphtheria part at the ER when he gashed his eyebrow open in 2009, but that the "and Pertussis" part is not required for school attendance, so he can skip the hordes at the upcoming shot clinic on Monday.

Then you should drive even farther out of your way to turn in that half-sheet scrap of yellow paper you got in the mail called a "contract" and turn it in to Newmentia's main office.

From there, you can go home and relax for a few minutes in your cool, cool air conditioning, until your mom calls with a question about The Pony's new computer game that won't register with the code number, and asks if you can please consult the resident computer genius who happens to be floating in Poolio's buttwater soup on an air mattress two sizes too small. Which means you have to stand in the sun while he talks on the phone, and the chickens swarm you because they think your name is FOOD FOR US. So you feel guilty and go get the rest of your taco salad to throw them, but the #1 son wants to eat it, and then he needs a fork, so you go back inside and bring not only a fork, but some pineapple chunks from Dollar Tree that only expired a month ago to feed those chickens, who must be so hot that they are practically frying right before your eyes.

Problem unsolved, you take the phone back inside your cool, cool air-conditioned Mansion, and call The Pony with further questions. You find that a deal has been struck to pay #1 $10 to solve the gaming issue, then do a simple Google search and make The Pony's day. For free.

Ooh, boys! It's hot! So say the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, anyway.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hot Time In Hillmomba Last Night

Whew! The Mansion lost her air conditioning last night. The fan blew tepid air, but the temperature started to rise. It was 78 at the time I went to bed. I woke Farmer H to share that information with him. He who turns on the ceiling fan in the bedroom every night because he says a setting of 74 is too hot. There he was, covered to the gills with a quilt, mumbling that it felt fine to him.

Farmer H arose at 4:00. I heard him whacking something metallic out back. Then he took a shower and reclined in the La-Z-Boy until time to go to work at 6:00. When I got up at 7:00, the house felt cooler. I called Farmer H. "I spun the fan on the condenser and got it going. It had frozen up. The guys are supposed to come look at it sometime this morning."

Farmer H had set the thermostat on 72. I left it. I didn't want to jinx it. But by 9:00, the temperature started rising again. When the repairman came at 10:20, it was back up to 75, and climbing. The repairman put in a new capacitor, and I felt a puff of cool air again. It's still working right now. I'm hoping the problem is solved, and that we don't lose electricity tonight from everybody using too much power.

I kind of wish Farmer H hadn't called that repairman a couple weeks ago when nothing was wrong with the AC.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Somebody Needs To (Part 2)

This morning, the #1 son invaded my living room territory as I was half-way watching The View. He laid back on the couch and spouted his opinion of guest Dana Delany as she talked about some show where she's a coroner. On of the mouthy hosts asked about how she prepared for a role where she works with dead bodies. Apparently, she did that by working on actual dead bodies. Which is just a waste of dead bodies if you ask me, which nobody did, because you know that on the show, she works on prop dead bodies. So why she felt the need to desecrate the dead I'll never know. But it's not like her 'patients' were complaining.

Then Ms. Delany brought up something about her 84-year-old mother still working. I was not paying close attention, but I assumed she was talking about her real-life mother. And I said, "Shame on her, making all that star money and not letting her mother retire. And drink box wine like Kathy Griffin's mom, Maggie."

I looked at the #1 son. "You'd be like that. 'Oh, Mom. You really need to keep working. It doesn't matter that I am the new Bill Gates. That's MY money. Now somebody needs to pump up her wheelchair tires and get crackin'.' I know you. That's exactly how it would be." He laughed like I was joking.

Soon after, we left so I could take him to get shot. The bacterial meningitis vaccine that all kids must have to live in a college dorm. No need to put it off. It's a one-time thing. He could have driven himself, but what with that unfortunate flu vaccine faux pas in which he left the doctor's office dragging one leg and declaring that he had lost all feeling in it, he wanted me to take him.

"I can see it now," I told him. "I'll be rolling you out of the health center in a wheelchair, while you shout, 'Somebody needs to push a little faster!' "