Tuesday, July 31, 2012

If It's Not One Thing, It's The Weather

I don't know about you, but I am tired of fighting this heat wave. Seems like it's been going on since February. Ruined my snow day optimism last school year. Fried me in the classroom, even WITH the air conditioner. "Oh, don't worry," said my lunchmates. "I hear that the summer will be unseasonable cool." Heard from whom? A local chief meteorologist, perhaps? The one who said we would have four major snowstorms between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

The Mansion thermostat is set at 75. In years past, it has been on 72. Tonight, making sandwiches for supper, I could no longer stand the heat. I got out of the kitchen. And saw that the ambient temperature inside my home was 80 degrees. I asked Farmer H why that would be. He said maybe because the air conditioner can't keep up. What is it, some uncoordinated nerd trying to play basketball with the varsity? Keep up, indeed! That's what we paid for. An air conditioner that keeps up. Funny how from the get-go, Farmer H snagged a unit from a company with which he does a high volume of work business. A bargain, he declared. A floor model. It had to be replaced.

Of course he bought the new one from the same company. Seems like every winter, it needs service. And every summer, it needs service. Coolant one year. A coil the next. Farmer H is not the best at maintaining his bargains. The repairman last year specifically said to change the filter once a month. And clean the coil. Farmer H declares that he has done so. I know that he has not.

So tonight, he decided to do it again. Change that filter. Funny how he couldn't find it. After just having changed it last month, according to him. THEN he decided to clean the coil. Which meant he had to shut off the whole unit. Which then takes thirty minutes to come back on. All between 6:00 and 7:00. When the setting sun blazes across the front of the Mansion, frying us like an ant under a magnifying glass.

The temperature upstairs is now 82 degrees. It was 88 down at the creek-side cabin. Which has NO air conditioning, and does not draw any amps of electricity. Farmer H says he is calling the cooling people tomorrow. I think they might be too busy rolling around on their piles of money to make a house call.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Scratch My Back, You Scratch Yours

I've got a lot of nerve.

At least that's how it feels. Something has gone awry in my neck-shoulder area. For a few weeks I've had pain between my shoulder blades. Now, it is in my upper right neck-shoulder border. I'm thinking I irritated something while lifting a case of soda out of the back of T-Hoe and carrying it from the garage to the porch. I'm hoping it is simply muscular and nothing nervy. Nothing pinched.

This pain is in a hard spot to reach without irritating the spot I'm reaching. I need one of those stick-on hot pad thingies. Like I could have purchased today on my trip to The Devil's Playground, had I only known that upon arriving home, I would have this pain. I think we're all out of that Thermo-Gesic tube of stuff that I used to use on my back. And I wouldn't be able to rub it on there myself anyway. Farmer H was called back to work. I don't want to impose on The Pony or #1. I'm sure I've given them enough nightmare material already to last a lifetime.

I think I'm going to try to massage my neck-shoulder with the knuckle side of a red wooden backscratcher. Don't cost nothin'.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My New Job Description

Just when I had resigned myself to the title of Chief Food Warmer-Upper and Sandwich Maker...Farmer H gave me a new task. Tire Inflater.

Funny how he has begun to delegate duties once performed by himself, then the #1 son, to ME. The Pony has no idea how fortunate he is to have been skipped as a link in this chain. No more will Farmer H drive my T-Hoe over to the BARn to his magical air compressor. Nor take it to the shop for repair. It has become MY responsibility. Of course, knowing Farmer H, it is highly possible that he expects me to wrap my lips around the tire valve and fill it with my own hot air.

Since early June, I have nagged Farmer H to see about T-Hoe's tire. It has a slow leak. Loses about four pounds of air per week. That is not normal. The Pony and I have been stopping at a convenience store to use their free air. Since The Pony has never been apprenticed in the proper mechanics of tire inflation, he hops out to tell me if the valve is in a convenient area, which is anywhere NOT on the bottom of the tire. He pushes the compressor button. I get out to unscrew the valve top and put in air. The Pony climbs into the driver's seat to tell me when the automatic inflation thingamajigger says the tire is at 34 pounds. Proper inflation is 32. But, what with the leak, and the other tires hovering at 30, I shoot for 34. You see, when there is a difference of four pounds between the next closest tire, a warning light comes on. So this buys me two weeks.

According to Farmer H, HE cannot take my tire to be checked out. I suppose because his weekends are filled with auctions and flea markets and goats and chickens and cabins and BARns. In addition, he says that there's really nothing anybody can do. That with such a slow leak, it will be next to impossible to find and fix. I cry POPPYCOCK! Surely that is a job that tire shops are used to performing. Just like a chef is well-versed in warming up food in a microwave, or heating it in an oven. Farmer H acts like driving around on a tire that loses four pounds of air per week is perfectly normal. All the rage. Everybody's doing it! Who would ever expect a paid tire professional to find out the root of the problem and fix it?

I need to tell Farmer H about all the people who are taking a long walk on a short pier. It's all the rage, you know.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Armchair Lawyer

Quick, somebody give me the number for Mystery, Inc. I thought I had them on speed dial, what with all the unsolved mysteries that abound here at the Mansion. Sadly, I do not. I hope Scooby and the gang have lights and siren on the Mystery Machine. I grow antsy awaiting logical explanations.

Today I discovered a new pyramid. Okay, it wasn't quite that startling or important a discovery. But it was big. And quite a mystery.

On the end of the big couch is a stack of The Pony's shorts. The pocketed, cargo kind of shorts with zippers. He mainly wears them for school, preferring athletic style shorts for lounging on the basement couch and herding goats. This stack is awaiting the removal of outgrown clothing from The Pony's dresser drawers. They are clean and folded, but out of place. We're not a hoarder house. Yet.

Today I spied Farmer H sitting on the other end of the couch with his head jutting forward. The reason being a stack of The Pony's shorts behind his displaced noggin. The #1 son had moved them there a couple days ago, stating that they obstructed his view of the television from his sandwich-eating seat at the kitchen cutting block. I'm sure I moved them back to the original location. Yet here they were. Not.

I picked up the stack of shorts and returned them to their rightful end, closer to The Pony's room. Like that would light a fire under him to complete the drawer task. There was something dark under the stack. Not of the shorts persuasion. It was a set of three black T-shirts. I had never seen them before.

The black T-shirts bore a bowling logo. All three were stacked together, never washed, never separated. Like they came right out of a box of shipped T-shirts. Somebody had folded them over twice, still all together, so they were not hanging down the couch. I asked Farmer H where they came from.

He didn't know. Surprise, huh? He had no idea. He asked me where I got them. Right there from under the back of his head, of course. They were not there the last time I relocated The Pony's shorts stack. They just appeared! Out of thin air! Funny how back when the boys and Farmer H were making their State Youth Bowling Tournament trip, Farmer H was looking for black T-shirts. That they were supposed to bowl in. I tore the house apart looking for them. All through The Pony's drawers. On all the laundry room racks. In the dirty cloths basket. No black bowling T-shirts. Now here they were.

Farmer H still denied. Denied carrying them in the house. Denied putting them on the back of the couch. Even though he lays other things there. Like a hoodie. Or a shirt.

We asked the #1 son where they came from. He did not know! Farmer H quizzed him on whether they had been sent home with him from bowling during league play. For the tournament. Nope. Farmer H denied ever having them in his car. #1 denied ever having them in his truck. They looked at me. ME! Who has not set foot in the bowling alley for nigh on three years, because I don't like the new building.

I asked if they believed, perhaps, that those shirts simply slithered from the bowling alley out the county road, turned onto our gravel road, and drug themselves up the driveway and under the crack of the front door, to jump up on the back of the couch and mystify me.

Well, of course not, professed Farmer H. Maybe The Pony had something to do with it. I need to ask The Pony. Who has neither a truck in which to haul them, nor transportation to town to pick up and deliver them. Who conveniently happened to be absent from the Mansion at the time of The Grand Inquisition.

I'm not a betting woman. But my money is on #1, from his room, where he had stacked them under something and just discovered them. Because he cleaned out his room last week. And he has stacked other clothes on top of The Pony's shorts.

I'm going to invest in a polygraph machine when I win the lottery.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gall Of Nature

I may have been disappointed yesterday, when the clever fox in my front yard turned out to be my orange-striped cat. But Even Steven remedied his furry faux pas today.

On the way to town to pay some bills, The Pony and I saw two deer. Not so much saw, as had to grind T-Hoe to a stop and wait for them to finish crossing the road. It was a doe and her mostly-grown fawn. The kid-deer still had his baby spots, but he was a good size as fawns go. No tiny tot to be left sleeping in the hayfield and run over by the mower and stuffed and donated to Bass Pro Shop, Springfield location.

They were crossing the blacktop county road from the wooded side to the creek side, right where that tree had the gall to fall and disrupt our electric service last week. I hope it wasn't some anti-human plot, like those animals in commercials for tires and insurance.

The Pony and I picked up my mom and took her for a ride. Okay. So the ride was accompanying us to pay the bills. Mom doesn't care. A ride's a ride. Unfortunately, our favorite topic of Big Brother spoilers was off limits, because The Pony only wants to see what CBS shows on the regular programs. I took a short cut on the way back to Mom's house, through the state park. The area where you are supposed to expect deer in the road. We didn't see any. But we saw a large black bird standing there just inside the woods, according to Mom. Which I usually refer to as a turkey. Not Mom. The bird.

Mom and The Pony disembarked at her house. He's spending the night. So I'm Ponyless for twenty-four hours. I headed back home, taking the roads less traveled. Had to swerve to avoid a dinner-plate sized aquatic turtle. He didn't look like a snapper, but I didn't get a good look at his face to see if he had a mean beak. All I know is he was thin like a flying saucer, and did not have ridges along his shell spine like a snapper.

I was not wearing my glasses, but I am 99.9 percent sure that none of these critters was my own cat.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hillmomban Safari

This morning, as I sat in Farmer H's La-Z-Boy, watching the upstairs TV, which is kind of like a lesser babka, compared to my big-screen in the basement...I sensed movement in the front yard.

Through the sprigs of lilac bush that have not been clandestinely consumed by Farmer H's goats, or choked by the heat and drought, I saw a flash of orange. It did not move in the manner of Yellow Leg, the strapping rooster. Nor was it as tall as he. No strutting. More of a slinking gait. I had my glasses on the table beside me. But donning them would have taken too much effort. And made too much sense.

My brain flipped on the lights for a virtual tour. Like a walk through Hannibal Lecter's Memory Palace. Outdoors. Animals. Orange. Slinking movement. Aha! I stopped at the exhibit that housed my mother's kitchen. I peered out her kitchen window, over the new two-lane concrete highway, to the edge of the woods just past the right-of-way. There he was. A fox. Orange. Slinking.

I squinted just a little. It sometimes makes my vision sharper. I waited. The questionable critter flowed a few more paces. Came out from behind the lilac shoots. I eagerly anticipated Mr. Quick Orange Fox jumping over my lazy dogs. But that canine insult would have to wait for another day. For what I saw emerge from the bone-dry branches was not a fox.

It was our orange-striped cat, Genius.

Join me here at the Mansion later this week, when I host a symposium on Which Goes First, Vision, or Mental Faculties?

But now, I must grab my glasses and head to the door. I think I hear a herd of zebras galloping down the road.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It Seems My Teeth Are Getting Long

Gosh! We're about to run out of July! Which means that school is imminent!

I hate beginnings and endings. Just plop me down in the middle, routine established, and I'm a good workhorse. It's the changes and additions and proposals and tentative stuff not nailed down that discourage me. I want my work life organized. If a process functioned before, there's no need to change it, simply for the sake of change. To say we did. To look good on paper. Let this sleeping dog lie. Or even lay, if you're particularly niggling in the grammar arena.

The only good thing about the first few weeks of school is that carrot-on-a-stick, Labor Day, on the horizon. I set my sights on that precious three-day weekend. That's about the time the new routine is established. And from there, I can always find a lifebuoy up ahead. Smooth sailing until Christmas. This year, I will not be dragging myself to work on days when I feel subpar, under-the-weather, out of sorts, feverish, nauseous, headachy, backachy, stiff-necked, lame, snot-nosed, pinkeyed, constipated, diarrheaed, or exhausted. Because I have accumulated so many sick days that I can accumulate no more. They will vaporize at the end of the year. POOF! No compensation. No donation to others in need. Gone! Gone with the wind. Like the spores in one of those puffball mushrooms when stomped upon.

All these years of conscientious perfect-or-near attendance, and now I can stay home sick instead of working wounded. I might as well round up a shawl and seek out the makings for a mustard plaster.

I'm hobbling down the path to the precipice overlooking the pasture.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We ARE That Family

The #1 son was invited to tonight's Cardinal's game by one of his friends. There's a local boy whose father died last year working construction on the Mississippi. So some folks bid on the chance for him to throw out the first pitch. And some Hillmomba denizens have a whole block of seats for the game. It's gonna be a scorcher. If you watch the game on TV, maybe you'll see #1. He'll be the seventeen-year-old boy in a red Cardinals shirt and red Cardinals cap. ;)

Last night, when he informed me of his impending jaunt to Busch Stadium, I asked #1 if he needed any clothes to wear. You know. To save him from telling me a half hour before departure: "SOMEBODY really needs to do the laundry!" Of course he assured me that he had everything planned. No outstanding clothing needs.

Until this morning, at 9:30, when he said the Cardinals shirt he wanted was in a pile under the laundry room sink, The sink I never wanted to begin with, that Farmer H salvaged from a cow pasture or a roadside ditch, and was heck-bent on putting in my brand new laundry room, because a free laundry sink is a terrible thing to waste. But Laundry Sink can stand clear, because like Rooster Cogburn told Farrell Parmalee in True Grit, "I've got no interest in you today."

The thing with most of #1's shirts is that I hang them to dry. Not on a line. What do you think we are, hillbillies? I hang them on hangers in the laundry room. Especially those cotton shirts that like to shrink shorter, and become faded and threadbare with repeated wearings. I had seven hours. Not exactly enough time to wash and hang dry that shirt. I immediately started improvising. Like a laundry version of Chopped.

I dug through that pile of lesser-worn dark shirts. Tossed nine of them in the washer. Set it on a quick cycle. Scouted out a big fat plastic hanger. Scoped out my outsides. When that shirt spun out, I hung it and hit the front porch. I put it on the clanger of a ceramic wind chime shaped like a miniature clay oven. It fools the hummingbirds all the time. They flit around trying to feed from its underneath parts.

Juno was not happy with my improvisation. She ran up on the porch the minute I got back inside. I'm sure she was looking for me. But she went to that Cardinals shirt and hopped up to touch her snout to it. I wonder if she likes Tide Mountain Breeze. I hollered at her through the front window, and she settled down. That shirt flapped in the hot breeze, slinging the wind chime to and fro.

The Pony and I made a trip to town for my 44 oz. Diet Coke. When we returned, the flapper greeted us from the end of the driveway. Anybody driving by could plainly see our wash whipping in the breeze. Red, too. Eye-catching to bulls, and rural neighbors. "Oh, no," I told The Pony. "We've become THAT family. The ones who put a couch on the front porch. And maybe a washer."

Actually, the only appliance we've put on the porch was a refrigerator. And it was the SIDE porch. So there. We're civilized enough.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Yummy Yummy Yummy I've Got THIS In My Tummy

Sweet Gummi Mary!

That is the Mrs. Hillbilly Mom equivalent of the OMG! that the youth of today are typing as fast as their furious little fingers can fly. Hope that last reference doesn't put me on any kind of conspiratorial collection of folks who need minding. My exclamation refers to the uncanny form of the religious icon that appeared in a mound of Gummi Bears about to be consumed by one of my students. Just in case you haven't been around long enough to remember that little tale.

The reason for my exuberance is the discovery of a new favorite snack. Don't everyone run for their recipe cards. We're at the Hillbilly Mansion, you know. Not on the set of Chopped. I'm not trying to become the Next Food Network Star. In fact, it's not even a recipe. Nothing made by moi. And you can bet that it's not healthy.

C'mon, let's not even pretend. Mrs. HM is not one to be politically correct or highfalutin for the sake of putting on a good appearance. No organically grown alfalfa sprouts or arugula. You know that means they are fertilized with poop or dead fish, right? No beef from a steer that lived his life in a hammock, being massaged hourly, given beer to assuage his thirst. No free-range chicken hearts on a skewer to cook on a hot rock at your table, with a saffron and gold-flake infused sauce for dipping. No. My new favorite snack is store-boughten. From Save A Lot.


They are SO good! I know. With a description like that, you'd think I'd be an upscale restaurant food critic with my own show. Or at least the new Rachael Ray. But I'm not. So I'll try to get the word out a few people at a time. Because I want to make sure this product sticks around. Get it stocked at The Devil's Playground. Because the problem with Save A Lot is that some merchandise is here today, gone tomorrow. Thus the fate of the #1 son's new favorite, Herr's Buffalo Wings Rippled Potato Chips. They have disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least from the Greater Hillmomba Area Save A Lot.

But let's get back to MY chips. They taste like buttery corn-on-the-cob. That's kind of healthy, right? Butter comes from cows, making it dairy, which is one of the major food groups. And corn is a vegetable. And so are potatoes! So, in effect, you're getting TWO vegetables and dairy from a serving of Herr's Fire Roasted Sweet Corn Potato Chips. We can forget about that artificially flavored part. I'm sure they just put it on the front of the bag so regular people would know that this is still a great snack food. Not just a health food.

Excuse me. I've got some crunching to do.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why Can't We Just Have Zombie Problems Like Everybody Else?

The McCoy hounds struck again. They got a little spring chicken. One of the sixteen that hatched at the same time.

Farmer H found a pile of black feathers over in the BARn field. So like those McCoy curs, to pluck the poultry on our property, then take the naked bird back home to ingest at their leisure.

Maybe it's a conspiracy. The McCoys train their hounds to catch, kill, pluck, and deliver. Then the humans bake the fowl. The tantalizing, tasty, succulent little pet of The Pony. While they suck their teeth and wipe the grease on the backs of their hands, they argue over whether the rooster has sex with the chicken or the hen.

One thing's for sure. I would never take them a Marble Rye.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bullet Dodging And Butterfly Wings

My universe is delicately balanced. I walk a tightrope through life, hoping that my good karma cancels out my bad karma. Trusting that Even Steven is on the case 24/7.

You know that saying about how a single flap of a butterfly's wing might lead to a hurricane a hemisphere away? I think it was an Ashton Kutcher movie. But I'm taking a break from my BFF Google this evening, so I can't be more specific. Anyhoo...a little incident occurred here at the Mansion last night that made me think of it.

Perhaps I should say an incident didn't occur.

The Pony and I were all by our lonesome. Farmer H was off working a fundraiser at Busch Stadium, and the #1 son was working a Relay for Life event until 6:00 a.m. I told The Pony earlier in the day that we would order a pizza for supper. He prefers the cheesy breadsticks himself, but I was having pizza. The plan was to call it in between 5:00 and 5:30, and start to town as it was cooking.

I was selfishly fiddling about on the innerets, and time got away from me. At 5:30, I hollered out from my office that we were running a little late. The Pony declared that even though he was getting hungry, it was okay. He's so agreeable, that little imp.

I called in around 6:00, and the lady said it would take 35 minutes. Which is longer than usual. So The Pony and I watched a bit of Seinfeld on TBS before going to pick up the pizza. It was the Black and White Cookie episode, with the lesser babka, and George destroying the liquor store in his GoreTex coat. Not that the episode had anything to do with my convoluted butterfly story. I'm just enlightening all the other Seinfeld aficionados.

We made our trip to town and back. Picked up the pizza and breadsticks. Smooth sailing. No incidents that were even blogworthy. Until this morning.

I was reading the local paper online, and saw a headline about a high-speed chase. Seems that the police were after a shoplifter who left The Devil's Playground and headed north. She led law enforcement on a high-speed chase along six roadways, ending in a footrace into the woods.

Four of those roads enclose Hillmomba. The other two lead from The Devil's Playground. Three of them are roads The Pony and I travel every day. The chase started at 5:25 p.m. Throw-down nail strips were involved. And pursuit northbound in the southbound lane.

We dodged that bullet because of my dawdling.

Flap on, little butterfly.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What Lies Above

I might have mentioned that I dump the dehumidifier, D'Hummi, every night. Most often, it's around midnight or two a.m. I'm a night owl. The Pony takes care of daytime duty. Mostly. I don't mind stepping outside, through the basement door, under the back porch in the wee hours. Hearing the after-hours fauna. I've never had any problems with rogue wood bees at night.

A couple of nights ago, I poured out D'Hummi's bucket, and turned to add some vinegar before resetting him. Not because I'm a sour old bag, but because it keeps him from getting scaly. I heard a noise behind me. There in the shadows of Poolio's deck was Juno! She poked her snout through the rail to lick my proffered fingers. Then cautiously picked her way down the steps to lean against my legs for a thorough petting. I mentioned the encounter to The Pony the next day.


"What do you mean?"

"That doesn't surprise me. She goes up there when I get in the pool."

"She loves you. She's watching out for you. I knew she did it with #1. He said the first time she ran around the porch whining, looking down at him. She couldn't figure out how he got there. The she went down the front steps and ran around back. She laid on the deck until he got out."

"She doesn't stay long with me."

"Why's that? Is she afraid?"

"No...I think it's because sometimes she gets wet."

"And how would THAT happen? Do you splash her? Don't be mean to that little dog!"

"I don't really splash her. But I spend a lot of time jumping in. And she gets wet."

Let the record show that Farmer H has a no-jumping policy in Poolio. I think I just discovered why The Pony always turns down Farmer H's invitations to swim with him.

Yesterday, I went out to check on The Pony's solo swimming excursion. He was in the midst of a Lonely Lazy River. He runs around in the water and makes a raft float ahead of him in his current. Or maybe he is trying to catch the raft. There's not much logic in some of The Pony's escapades.

"Where's Juno? Is she with you?"

"No. She left. But you should have seen what I saw when I came out on the back porch to climb down." The boys step over the back porch railing and shinny down onto Poolio's railing to the deck.

"What? A chicken in the dog pans eating Ol' Roy?"

"No. A black snake. Its tail was caught in a crack between two boards. Then it got loose and went over the edge right there by the spout." He pointed to the corner of the porch where the downspout is attached. The part of the porch directly over where I step out to dump D'Hummi's bucket.

"Was it a big snake? What size?"

"Smaller than the blue racer we saw on the road. I don't know where it went. I think one of the chickens ate it. But it was pretty big. One of the big roosters could have eaten it."

I. Hope. So.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Oh, The Outage!

Remember how this summer has been bone dry? Baking hot? The scorched terrain of Hillmomba gasping for a sip of lifesaving moisture? For five solid weeks, nary a drop of H two O has fallen within three miles of the Mansion.

Until last night.

All summer, The Pony and I have been eagerly awaiting the debut of Big Brother. We never miss a night. It only started last Thursday. So we had viewed two broadcasts so far. Learned the names of the Houseguests. Seen two competitions. Last night, anticipating the Veto Competition just after the commercial break, our viewing pleasure was rudely interrupted by loss of satellite signal. We heard a few peals of thunder. Regained our connection after fifteen minutes, just in time to see the Veto Ceremony. Then the entire Mansion went dark.

Our second power outage in three weeks.

That's an outrage! You'd think our power grid was constructed and maintained by a tween who had just learned to wire lightbulbs in series with some copper wire and a nine-volt battery.

Hey! Have you heard? We are in the grip of a heat wave! And the Mansion is totally electric. I made a brief reconnaissance mission to the front porch, where I observed a few clouds in the sky. No rain. What might have fallen as a few random sprinkles must have evaporated upon striking the brick sidewalk like a drop of water on a hot griddle. All that angst, and still no precipitation to show for it.

Farmer H fired up his untrusty generator. The one not big enough to power our air conditioner or furnace. I give him mad props for that little service, though, because it allowed me to watch TV in the basement with one lamp, kept Frig operating, provided for a flow of water from the well, and kept the hot-headed Farmer himself from blowing his stack, with a hot ceiling-fan breeze for perspiration evaporation.

The outage officially occurred at 8:02 p.m. I had reported it online to Ameren Missouri by 8:10. Hmm...just like last time, 47 homes without power. Farmer H said the culprit last time was the McCoy trees, rubbing on the wire, causing a breaker to blow. Or some such thing. I'm not knowledgeable in electricity. The lightbulb tween has me beat.

So wouldn't you think, in discovering the reason for the last outage affecting the same households, good ol' Ameren would see any impending problems while driving the line for an initial visual inspection, and remediate them forthwith? Apparently not. The last outage lasted about five hours. Within twenty minutes of reporting it, we saw the trucks along our gravel road. Not so last night.

Around 9:15, Farmer H decided to take a ride and see where Ameren trucks might be working. Keep in mind there was no actual storm. Just some thunder. A few sprinkles. Isolated. By 9:45, Farmer H reported that the cause of the outage was a tree limb and power line laying across the blacktop county road. And that nobody was working on it. Nobody. Did you read that? Between 8:02 and 9:45, Ameren had not sent a crew. Which certainly makes me feel like the money I spend on my monthly electric bill, higher than my house payment, is not being put to good use.

Our power was restored at 2:50 a.m. I suppose I'm lucky I'm not one of those folks out east. Seven hours is better than seven days or seven weeks. But they actually had a big storm, and many downed trees. This was one limb. With a wire I suppose was live on one end laying across the road. And no other damage in our county or the neighboring ones.

I suspect the workers were sitting at home watching their TV shows until 10:00.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Goldilocks LIVES!

Goldilocks lives, all right. But now she is a brunette boy of seventeen.

Goldilocks might need to plan a short vacation to re-visit The Bears. That's because Goldilocks is wearing out his welcome at the Mansion. He's been in and out most of the summer. But now, he has two modes of existence.

I have so much to do!
There's nothing to do!

This morning, he tried to persuade me to make him french toast. Which I've never made before in my life. But Goldilocks, the authority, explained that it's just bread dipped in milk and egg. Although he did not wish to make such a simple meal for himself. Did not, even, wish to drop the frozen kind into the toaster.

You do it for me.

You are perfectly capable. You're young. Why should I have to do something you can do for yourself?

Because you signed up for it. You're the mom.

They're in the freezer. The kind in sections like a piece of bread that you put in the toaster.

I HATE that kind! Why didn't you get the other kind?

The Pony put it in the cart. You know. When he has to go and do the shopping with me every week.

That's ridiculous. You should have made him get the right kind.

You're never happy. You are Goldilocks. Remember that sandwich I made you two days ago? I never do it right. That wasn't enough peanut butter. That was too much peanut butter.

Ha ha. But really. Next time, just put more than that one time, and less than the last time.

I know. It will be just right. Then there's the pillow you asked for. You said to get one the thickness of a couch pillow. So we did.

Actually, this new pillow is too thick. I've tried everything to flatten it, but I can't. But I'm trying to sleep on it.

See? Goldilocks. Your old pillow was too thin, and the new one is too thick.

Okay, I get it.

I did not inform Mr. Goldilocks that The Pony also galloped across The Devil's Playground to pick out a pillow to my specifications. What he doesn't know can't possibly make him any more dissatisfied.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Apparently, I've Been Doing It Wrong All Of These Years

Once again, Farmer H has disparaged my talents.

He declared that what I do in the kitchen is not cooking. All I do is heat something up in the microwave, or warm it in the oven, or turn on a burner.


Maybe I'm missing something here. Because even though I am not a card-carrying member of Mensa, I kind of regard those acts as cooking. I am at a loss for what he expects.

Am I supposed to stake a claim, break up the sod with a team of oxen, plant, harvest, winnow, grind, stir raw materials in a wooden bowl, wring a chicken's neck, pluck it, scoop out the innards, stuff it with vegetables harvested from my root garden, bake in a clay oven, and serve up the meal on a hand-hewn table under my sod roof as the sunset glints through the greased paper windows?

Farmer H needs to seek a mail-order bride.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Morning At The Not-Oasis

The land of Hillmomba is parched these days, my friends. Parched, like Kelly Wiglesworth, the runner-up of the original Survivor, would be if Sue Hawk ever encountered her in the desert, and refused to give her drink of water. Just like she promised in her Rat and Snake Speech.

Our yard has not been mowed since May. No need. It's brown. And short. And, oh yeah...dry. The chickens roam farther and farther from the house. The goats even got onto the gravel road this morning when the lonely goatherd Pony was minding them for their hour of a.m. recreation. You know it's dry when a goat tries to eat gravel and dust rather than your yard. A truck passed by and honked at them. Like goats have enough sense to get out of the road.

I told The Pony to call them in. That's all they understand. Time to run out of the pen. Time to run into the pen. Goats are kind of like sheep. When one starts running, the rest follow. All The Pony has to do is clap his hands, and they dash lickety-split back into their wooded enclosure. It would make a good party trick, if a party consisted of people standing around in a parched front field, waiting for goats to return to a pen. Look for our new show on The Travel Channel.

Farmer H even drug the hose connected to the well spigot doodad over to the porch last night and watered the rose bush and lilac bush. I've never seen him do that in all our years living in this Hillmomban paradise. The sky clouds up in the afternoon, but nary a drop of rain falls to lubricate our leathery skin. The chickens might start laying leathery eggs. For real.

I truly appreciate my daily 44 oz. Diet Coke.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

When HM Attacks

Sometimes, people amaze me. And not in a good way.

This morning I watched an episode of When Vacations Attack. Contrary to the growling stomachs, soiled-clothing-stained backs, and hoarded-treasure-skinned knees of my three totally-dependent, live-in males...I had nothing better to do.

Usually, When Vacations Attack has dramatic footage of folks nearly done in by nature or Newton's Laws while enjoying a holiday at the shore, in the mountains, wrestling alligators, hanging off the side of a bridge on a bungee, driving through forest fires, taunting big game on safari, or getting tangled in homemade zip lines. But part of today's episode was a head-scratcher. Not a literal head-scratcher. That could have turned deadly, I suppose, what with flesh-eating-bacteria all the rage before those face-eaters demanded their fifteen minutes. No, this was a figurative head-scratcher. Why was this tape on When Vacations Attack?

Tourists on a whale-watching boat encountered a pod of killer whales stalking a seal. The seal was lolling on an ice floe. The whales circled, and broke off sections to make the floe smaller. Pushed it around. Then regrouped, swam in formation at thirty miles per hour, and washed a huge wave over the top of the ice to dislodge the seal.  A young killer whale waited on the other side to eat the seal when it slid into the water. Except he was young, and the seal got away. Momentarily. To swim onto another ice flow. And be washed into the water again, and devoured. Many of the tourists filmed the attack.

Big deal. No people were harmed. I kept waiting for the whales to turn their attention to the boat. To see a human life-or-death drama unfold. Didn't happen. The whole segment was about one seal being eaten after an orchestrated attack by a pod of killer whales. I call shenanigans! Nothing about this vacation attacked any people! Send it to America's Not-Funny Home Videos.

I was appalled at those tourists shrieking like it was their last moment on earth. The people last week on the slopes of a surprise volcano eruption, running from a rain of tephra the size of baby goats, kept their crap together much better than these doom-criers. News flash: It's a SEAL, people. Not a newborn human infant being ripped limb from limb. A seal. Only one man turned to the rest and said, "If you can't take the bullfight, leave." Not the most imaginative of commands. Nothing like forsaking the heat of the kitchen. But he had the right idea.

What do these Doom-Criers think killer whales eat? Cans of Ol' Orca Fancy Beast? Do they, perhaps, use their sparkling personalities to implore passing walruses to open the cans with their tusks?

Mother Nature is a harsh taskmistress, my friends. If she had a flag to fly, it would be that of a bloody carcass of indeterminable origin, shredded flesh clenched in a set of razor-sharp fangs, with the motto "Eat or Die." Because the Jolly Roger is already taken.

Those whale watchers, with their fancy schmancy video cameras and bleeding hearts, have way too much disposable darn income that could better be spent on gas station chicken and 44 oz. Diet Cokes.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Picking On Something Not My Own Size

No critter pictures today. Nothing creepy or crawly invaded the Mansion. Unless you count Farmer H. And as he always says, he doesn't seem to count.

The McCoys appear to have invested in one of those electronic pet fencing dealybobbers. Farmer H says he has seen their hounds run halfway up the driveway when he goes by on his Mule. They stop abruptly. I think Farmer H needs to stop taunting the McCoy hounds. Anyway...he hasn't talked to the folks, but that's what he hypothesizes has happened. At least we won't have a visit from Mr. Shocky.

We have deduced that the chicken killed and carried home in the mouth of the McCoy perpetrator was Son of Yellow Leg. It's quite upsetting, actually. He was one of our seven or eight roosters. Third in the pecking order.

Our first and main rooster is Survivor. He's a beautiful Ameraucana. Looks like the multicolored roosters you see painted on kitchen gewgaws. Then, second in command, we have Yellow Leg. He's a giant burnt orange fellow who finally grew into his neon yellow legs. That poor adolescent rooster was as gawky and gangly and uncoordinated as an eighth-grade nerd on a basketball court. Then he grew up, and stole half of Survivor's hens.

Son of Yellow Leg was an even more brilliant specimen. More orange. Yellower legs. Longer spurs. He just had some growing up to do. Some maturing. Of course he would be the one to tangle with a McCoy hound. The Pony and I miss him.

A couple of months ago, some critter ate the husband of our little black-and-white checkered hen. They were a matched pair. Farmer H bought them at the auction. Always roamed with Survivor's band, but appeared to be mated for life. The Pony and Farmer H hated that banty rooster. He attacked them every time they walked across the yard, jumping at them feet first, flapping his wings, pecking their feet and ankles. He left me alone, save for one instance, when I was tending to Juno in her first days at the Mansion, when she was in her rabbit hutch for safekeeping. I went to take her out for playtime, and felt like I was being watched. That black-and-white banty rooster was heading for me with violence on his mind. I turned to face him, pointed my finger, and said, "Don't you even THINK of trying that crap with ME!"

I think I made my point. He backed away. Slowly. Don't tell PETA. There may or may not have been some psychological damage done. But I swear I have no idea what actions resulted in his disappearance.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mrs. HM Or Mother Teresa?

The Pony and I saw another snakey friend this afternoon on the gravel road. He wasted no time in slithering across dusty rocks and up into the woods. He was not big. Perhaps two feet long. He looked like a black snake, but I thought I detected a hint of blue along his underbelly. Which would make him a blue racer, according to Farmer H's older boys, when they used to go looking for such critters.

However...the blue racer is apparently an Eastern Yellow-Bellied Racer, according to the Missouri Conservation Department. Here's a link from their website. And a picture from my BFF, Google.

That little dude was movin'! According to The Pony, "I didn't know a snake could move so fast!" Perhaps that's why RACER is part of the name, huh?

I told The Pony that of course that snake was moving fast. People try to kill him and his kind every day. Just to be mean. Just to prove that a car is mightier than a snake. Because they have snake phobia. Because they think the snake is going to crawl up in the truck and bite them. I don't know why. But many a time I've seen vehicles stop, pop into reverse, and back up over a snake. Then pull forward, slam on the brakes, try to skid that snake into road butter. Takes all kinds, I guess.

I stopped to let that little racer pass. Not because I am a tree-hugging snake lover. Or so altruistic that I make Mother Teresa look like a selfish bully. But because I thought he was a black snake. And they eat rats.

Some vermin are more equal than others.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

WWLDD: What Would Lisa Douglas Do?

"Oh, Oliver!"

Yeah. That's probably what Lisa Douglas would have done. Called for her mister, Oliver Wendell Douglas, to come to her rescue. Then he would have called Eb. And before Eb came in from tending to Eleanor the cow, Mr. Haney would have pulled up in the front yard. Just in time for Arnold Ziffel to root his way through the front door, right before Fred Ziffel came looking for him, in a hurry to get him back before wife Doris missed her pig-child. In the meantime, disrupting the work of Alf and Ralph Monroe on the bedroom closet door.

Where was I? Oh. My latest crisis. I went to the sink for some tasty well water, and beheld a horror at the bottom, in the sink strainer dealybobber, which I rarely keep in place, instead preferring it to rest on the counter, a peccadillo lost on Farmer H, who plops it back onto the drain, where it catches all manner of flotsam that he tries to run down the drain, but not really...because he put the strainer in. But this crisis was not due to Farmer H's laziness in scraping the food from his plate, or the feathers from his fresh chicken eggs. This crisis was a critter.

A gargantuan Daddy Long Legs lay at the bottom of my sink, his gams splayed across my strainer like the tentacles of an anorexic octopus. He was the long-leggedest Daddy Long Legs who ever legged. I swear his gam-span was eight inches from the foot of one leg to the foot of the opposite leg.

I couldn't just run him down the sink. Because he was in the strainer. And I couldn't dump him out of the strainer, because he could molest my hand with his legs. What to do, what to do? I called for the #1 son. Explained the situation.

"Come kill it for me."

"Uh uh. Not gonna happen."

Dang! I grabbed the sprayer. Sprayed that Daddy like Johnny Knoxville with a fire hose. That enabled me to grab the strainer. But Daddy held on! I could not wash him down the sink, because the hole has its own built in segment thingamajig, and Daddy's spherical body would not go through the hole segments. I snatched up that strainer by the edge and thump thump thumped it on the side of the wastebasket.

I know he dried out like Otis in Andy Taylor's jail cell overnight. Faster, too. He's probably long-legging himself all around the upstairs right now.

I hope the first item on his agenda is to drop in on the #1 son.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fortune Smiles Upon Mrs. HM With A Smirk To Rival That Of The Grinch

Pardon me. I'm a bit discombobulated. The world has once again conspired against me.

Farmer H is off work this week. Meaning that he's underfoot, wreaking havoc around the Mansion. He took off for town this morning to renew the license on some vehicles. Meaning that I had to dig up two years of tax receipts. But not to worry, because even though Mrs. Hillbilly Mom might be accused of skating on the thin ice of Hoarder Lake, she does have a two special drawers in her basement office. One for tax receipts, and one for tax returns.

When Farmer H returned three hours later, making no effort to account for the excess time, he stated that MODOT was finally resurfacing the road to town. Paving it not with good intentions, but with asphalt and broken dreams. The job they started in early May, and worked on two random days since then, was in full swing. Not good news for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Who was at the moment 44oz-Diet-Cokeless. The HORROR!

If the job was proceeding in a normal, workmanlike manner, I would have hopped in T-Hoe and nabbed my fake-sweet elixir. But no. According to Farmer H, the flagmen were gone. Replaced by a pace car. A pace car! I am not entering the Hillmombanopolis 500. Not even testing my skills in the time trials. I had no desire to sit in my running car for five minutes, waiting for a pace car to drive a line of oncoming traffic at me, then turn around, and expect my line of traffic to follow. No. I do not have the patience for such nonsense. I expect my tax dollars to pay young men in orange vests to stand on the steaming pavement with spinning signs denoting SLOW and STOP. I do not expect my tax dollars to pay for gas in a car that drives back and forth all day, a quarter mile at a time.

So I did not have my crack--I mean Diet Coke--today. I was groggy. Time stood still. I could not get my rumpus in gear. At supper, I had to drink half a can of real Coke. I like real Coke. But I prefer my 44oz Diet Coke. Which I had none of. And the three cans of Diet Coke that I spied in the basement mini-fridge last night were GONE. That's according to The Pony, who also thought there were three cans. But the mini-fridge was as bereft of Diet Coke cans as Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard was bereft of bones.

You would think a loving husband, in town for three hours, could see fit to bring his wifey a 44oz Diet Coke. Seeing as how she has one every dang day. But no. The thought never crossed his mind. And neither did it cross the genetically identical mind of his son, who was also in town this morning to pick up some fancy schmancy photo prints from The Devil's Playground.

Farmer H returned to town at 7:00 for some Sweet-Gummi-Mary-forsaken piece of BARn door latch. He had the common courtesy to ask as to whether Mrs. H. Mom would enjoy a 44oz Diet Coke delivered to her desktop upon his return. This, of course, was asked and answered through the Mansion mediator, The Pony. No. The hour is too late, and a regular Coke has been consumed. Ixnay on the odasay.

As I type this chronicle, a 44oz Diet Coke sits at my left hand. What we have here, people, is a failure to communicate.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Whatever Happened To Quality Control?

Are you good at riddles? Can you see a pattern here? I hope not, because there is absolutely nothing significant about the arrangement of these slices of Wonder Whole Grain Wheat on my back porch. The purpose of the picture was supposed to be an illustration of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom being ripped off by The Man. As in Wonder Bread. Cheated me out of some dough.

However, The Pony is not good at taking direction. He is somewhat like his father, in that he has to do it NOW. RIGHT NOW! And can't wait until I explain my photographic desires. In fact, he snapped the first pics with his own phone, which has somehow lost all ability to email. So he had to gather the bread from the chicken pile and pose it again. Then take the photo with MY phone, as originally instructed. The Pony says this is the best picture.

I, however, had conceived the layout as one of six slices of whole wheat standing on end, with the observer peering through the holes like looking down a gun barrel. Or through a tunnel, for those of you who are not card-carrying members of the NRA.

As you can see, The Pony has not concept of rhyme. Nor reason. He scattered the slices all willy-nilly, regardless of sequence or hole size. Pardon me for not using irregardless. I know it is the preferred word of the blogosphere, much like the word conversating. I apologize for my literacy.

My point is...Wonder Bread tricked me into buying substandard bread. It's not like I can open each bag and rifle through the slices to make sure it does not happen again. Surely the Wonder Bread factory has some kind of weight scanner to make sure hollow loaves do not hit the streets. In all my born days, this is the first time I've bought a loaf of bread with such bubbleitude. It's not like I pulled this specimen out of my Bread Man. Do you know how messy a peanut butter and honey sandwich is on slices like these? Me neither. Because I'm not dumb enough to use those slices. That's why they are now chicken fodder.

The Devil and Wonder Bread are in cahoots.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Mansion Is Under Surveillance

I opened the basement door this afternoon to dump the dehumidifier bucket. You remember my dehumidifier, don't you? D'Hummi? That's his name. Don't wear it out. He has to be emptied twice a day, our dear D'Hummi. The chore usually falls to The Pony, but I have been Poniless since Friday. So D'Hummi duty has fallen on me.

Just outside the door, scarcely six inches from the threshold, was this creature:

That's not the actual creature, because I did not have my phone camera with me. No reception in my netherworld, so I leave it upstairs on the kitchen counter. And since I didn't have my regular runner, The Pony, (come on, try to keep up) to fetch it for me, I used my best friend Google for the image.

That's a wood bee. An eastern carpenter bee if you want to get all specific. This one appears to be male, evidenced by the white face. Mine was female. She looked up at me with her five eyes, daring me to do something. I stepped over her, dumped D'Hummi's drippings, and edged back inside. Then slammed the door in her face. Because we're already at war with the McCoy hounds, and we don't need another battle.

Besides, the basement door is metal. And the walls are concrete. Ms. Wood Be should be more interested in the pool deck and back porch. We've already eradicated her ancestors out by the garage. They made a home, palatial, I might add, in a 4 x 4 cedar post that holds up the porch roof. And the hole they used for their portal looked just like that one in the photo. You'd think they used a compass to draw it before chomping their way in. Precise little engineers, those wood bees.

At first I thought she was a bumble bee. Then, from the back, she looked like a big beetle with shiny wings. But I saw the fuzzy yellow again from the front. I could have trod on her and put an end to her surveillance of my underground fortress. But I was not feeling especially bloodthirsty today.

I'm saving my rage for the wasps under the eaves.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hillbilly Mom, P.I.

I think I witnessed a crime today. Allegedly.

There I was, in line at the soda fountain, refill cup in hand, waiting on a dude who looked like a construction worker of small stature. He had the jeans, a red t-shirt, and the requisite trucker cap. A kind of uniform, actually, for the dudes of Hillmomba. As I waited my turn, he set aside a full 24 oz. cup and added ice to a 44 oz. cup. He proceeded to fill it with soda, then started chugging. Not a gentle sip, pinky finger extended. He poured back that soda like a beer bong was attached to the other end. Then he stopped for a breath. Poured out the soda and ice. Disposed of the 44 oz. cup. And lidded his 24-ouncer. He jabbed in a straw and headed to the cooler, where he grabbed an energy drink in a can.

I went about my business of refilling my cup with Diet Coke. As luck would have it, I was behind Slurper in line. He was jawing with the boy clerk about something. "I mean, man, that's thirty cents. You have to make use of every penny these days." I'm not sure what the conversation pertained to. Perhaps he had been charged full price, and declared it a refill. I don't know. I didn't see him enter the establishment.

When he saw me behind him, Slurper told the boy clerk, "Oh, and your Dr. Pepper doesn't seem right. It looked watery coming out. I threw it away because it didn't taste right."

Am I overly suspicious? Or does this seem like a scam? Who brings in a tiny refill cup, then plans to buy a 44 oz.? And who brings in a 44 oz. refill cup and trashes it? Nobody that I know of. And if the Dr. Pepper was so bad, how could he imbibe so much of it before deciding to pour it out?

I'm thinking Slurper left the convenience store and headed to Save A Lot to eat some grapes while pushing his cart through the store and deciding that he didn't need any groceries today.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Holy Moly Trinity

Last night I took a path less traveled, and it was marked with indifference.

I went around behind my basement recliner to turn on a floor lamp. The Pony usually does this for me. His method is to extend his long arms that sit atop his coltish legs, across the back of my recliner, until he grabs the jointed neck of that lamp. Which often results in my chair being moved, or the lamp light shining askew. As he does this, I go in the other direction and turn off the overhead light. Since The Pony was unavailable, I walked directly to the floor lamp. In the light of both it and the overhead, between the pool table and the backs of the furniture facing the big-screen TV, I encountered the Holy Moly Trinity.

There, on the floor, were three brown spots. They were darker than the pebbled pattern of the tan floor tiles. I tried not to look too closely. That often seems to create more work for me, myself, and I. But they were unavoidable. I was not wearing my long-distance glasses used for maneuvering T-Hoe through the teeming masses who travel the byways of Hillmomba. Nor was I wearing my bifocals that allow me to fill my noggin with quotes from classic literature.

I bent over. They were within three feet of each other. I shall list them in order of least embarrassing to most horrific.

A crumpled-up wrapper from a Great Value caramel cup, sold by the generic bag at The Devil's Playground. The Pony loves them, and I have been known to consume them on occasion. We keep a bag in the basement mini-fridge.

A squashed Junior Mint. We have not had Junior Mints in the Mansion in a coon's age. The last known Junior Mints were seen in my movie purse a couple of years ago. Short of Kramer dropping one while observing some kind of clandestine surgery in my basement, I have no idea how it got there. The squashing no doubt came from the boot of Farmer H, on one of his sorties to find stuff of mine to give away to passing acquaintances at work. The Pony is mainly unshod inside the Mansion, and I in my worn-down Crocs would feel it underfoot like a princess feels a pea.

A dead spider on its back with all eight legs curled up in a death throe. For the love of Gummi Mary, people! When you assassinate an arachnid, dispose of the ding dang body!

I really don't know what to make of this discovery. Perhaps it points to slovenly housekeeping on my part. But at least you know that we are not hoarders. Because you could see the floor, people! You could see the floor under the Holy Moly Trinity.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Put Your Butt In The Hand, In The Hand, You Sons And Daughters

Wednesday night around 10:30, I remembered that The Pony had a dental appointment the next morning at 10:00. That's what happens when you schedule six months ahead. And the day after a holiday.

The Pony had to get up early (for summer) to make sure his goat-tending duties were completed. He lets them out of the pen to roam around the grounds for an hour while he plugs in his laptop on the front porch. The goats don't really need minding. They don't stray off the Mansion property. But they love a good lilac limb, so The Pony's job is to shoo them away.

The Pony was not exactly chomping at the bit to have his mouth examined. He's only had one cavity in his entire life, and that was on a baby tooth that fell out the next week. The #1 son, however, who brushes rings around The Pony, almost always needs a filling. Funny how that works out.

I imagine a few folks forgot their appointments. Because there was only one person in the waiting room when we arrived. The Pony was called back within five minutes. That office opens at 7:00 a.m. So they were either running way ahead of schedule, or they had no-shows. I'd tried to reschedule the #1 son's check-up earlier in the morning, since he was leaving at 10:00 to go to that concert. However, the girl said the earliest she could work him in was July 16. You can't tell me that they were booked up from 7:00 - 9:00 a.m. that day. I smell a conspiracy.

I also smelled hot tooth enamel and drill water. I hate that. The minute you walk in, you are reminded of what really goes on in those torture chambers in the inner sanctum. At least the office was cool, since the outside temp had already climbed to 102.

While The Pony got a cleaning and a fluoride treatment, I read a magazine that I brought along, and tried to tune out the loop video playing about bright smiles. The only thing worse that sitting there looking inside strangers' mouths on a TV was looking at strangers' toes in the waiting room. Yeah. A dude came in with flip-flops. I hate feet. The Pony was also wearing flip-flops, but I can kind of tolerate his because he's family. When we left, that other dude was laid back in an exam room with his flip-flops flopping half off his feet. Close the door, people! Nobody wants to see that! Ugh! I don't know how pedicure-givers can live with themselves.

An odd thing about the dentist's waiting room is the furniture. Most of it is normal, upholstered chairs with wooden arms. Then there's one wooden straight-backed chair like a refugee from somebody's dining room table. And a brown pleather overstuffed chair that just screams, "Sit in me, and you'll never be seen again!" It's like the quicksand of waiting room furniture. But the oddest parts of the office ensemble are two hard plastic chairs shaped like hands. You got it. Large palms that cradle the sitter's butt, with thick fingers to lean back on. I imagine they're for the kids, but they are the size of adult chairs. I could sit on one if I so desired. Which I do not. Because just the thought of it is quite pervy. Putting your butt on a giant hand that rises from the floor on a wrist base. One is black, one is red. I used to encourage the boys to sit there, but they wanted no part of it. I think one time The Pony had to sit in a palm, because the rest of the chairs were taken. He was not happy.

No cavities this trip. The worst part, according to The Pony, was that he needed to wait thirty minutes before eating or drinking.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Another Rite Of Passage

The #1 son is off dehydrating himself at the Vans Warped Slam thingamajigger at Verizon Amphitheater. He said it started at 11:00 and ends at 9:00. I expect him to look like a lobster when he arrives home. A wrinkled, dehydrated lobster. With a crabby disposition.

Of course, when he instructed his friend to buy tickets while he was away at Boys State, he didn't know the area would be a blast furnace today. I'm not crazy about him venturing into the city on his own. But how am I gonna keep him down here on the farm, once he's driven himself to take the SAT and pick up pictures at Creve Coeur Camera? He was driving his little red Ford Ranger club cab. And hauling a guy and two girls with him. It's not exactly a limo ride.

#1 is wearing a white t-shirt. He swears there is a roof thingy so he won't be in the sun. I am not familiar with the Verizon Amphitheater, so I don't know if he's pulling my leg. I told him to take that shirt off and twist it around his head like desert headgear. I stopped short of sending him a white handkerchief to tie at each corner and lay on his scalp. His brain is going to scramble while it cooks under his dark hair all afternoon.

I gave him a few bucks with the understanding that it was for food and water. He says he has $50 in Google bucks or some such thing that he can get by swiping his phone. I'm a technology imbecile, so I'm sure I'm not explaining it right. All I know is that my money is probably going to be squirreled away and used for photography purposes.

I also told him not to inhale too much pot smoke. Short of holding his breath for ten hours, I'm not quite sure how he's going to accomplish that.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What If The Nation Threw A Birthday Party, And Nobody Came?

Is the information superhighway like a regular highway? Does too much traffic clog it up? Make getting from one place to another slow? Anybody? Should I put in an email to Al Gore?

I'm having a devil of a time navigating the innernets today. I am picturing a huge traffic jam. Like when city residents tried to escape in their vehicles in The Stand, or in Deep Impact. Like everybody trying to go to the beach on a holiday weekend. Only I see people in their dark, cool, basement lairs with a day off from work, frittering away time in front of the monitor. Kids battling anonymous opponents in multi-player computer games. Women shopping online.

Maybe it's too hot for folks to be celebrating the birth of our nation. Half the country is sweltering. The ground is tinderbox dry. Even in places where it's legal to set off fireworks, that's a really bad idea. The sun is beating down without mercy, roasting swimmers in their pools, lakes, and lazy rivers. Perhaps people can't afford to throw a big barbecue. Can't afford gas to travel. Can't risk dehydrating themselves with demon rum, or even Milwaukee's Best. Can't afford a trip to the emergency room if they incur a heat stroke while cranking the old-timey ice cream maker. The holiday falls in the middle of the week. No three-day weekend. So in my mind, I see folks lazing away a hot summer day. Staying out of the sun. Clogging up my internet.

Surely that's the cause of my connectivity problem. It couldn't be my own personal internet service. No way.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An Unidentified Guest

I was almost rammed by a fine feathered friend on my way to town around noon. It was quite unexpected. One moment, I was piloting T-Hoe along the gravel road, over the dry creek and through the woods, and the next moment, Birdie shot across my hood and plopped onto the overgrown right-of-way. Which is not really a right-of-way, but more of a three-foot strip of underbrush next to a stand of trees.

Well. I was on quite a steep grade, but I stopped. I'm sure my mouth hung open. I was alone, not even The Pony as my witness or official phone photographer. I reached for my phone. Birdie sat on the ground, looking over his shoulder at me. Or perhaps I should say, looking over his back at me.

This was some kind of owl. I don't know my fowl. But I know an owl's face. And that turny head thing they have going on. My new friend was apparently in the witness protection program, or feared that I was about to steal his soul. As soon as I reached for my phone, off he flew, up into a tree. I could barely see him. A photo would not have picked him out of his camouflage amongst the dead limbs and dry leaves.

Having done my internet research, I have reached the conclusion that Birdie was either a barred owl, or a short-eared owl. I am not a good observer. No field work for me. Because I did not even notice the glaring characteristics that would have settled my quandary. Birdie was not all that big. It's not like I would say he swooped across my hood. He glided. He was about 12-14 inches from the top of his head to the tip of his tail as he was sitting on the ground.

I'm guessing that Birdie was most likely a barred owl, seen here in a picture from Google.

That's the face. I did not notice the dark eyes, nor any kind of striping, nor those white flecks. To me, he seemed grayish brown and dark brown.

My other choice, based on the face, is a short-eared owl, also pictured from Google resources.

Unfortunately, I did not see any tiny ears, nor the yellow eyes, nor whether his belly area was pale. But the body coloring seems right with this one. And the face.

I don't know what this fellow was doing in the heat of the day, wafting over my auto. But I sure wish I had been able to snap a photo of my own. It seems that the key element I did not notice was the eyes. Dark eyes, barred owl. Yellow eyes, short-eared owl. I'm guessing on dark, because the yellow eyes are striking.

I would be a terrible witness to a crime. Never, ever trust Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to identify the perpetrator from a police lineup.

Here's a link to the Missouri Department of Conservation's page on barred owls. With a sound bite. I have not heard that sound around here, though. Again, I must be excessively unobservant.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hillbillies vs McCoys, Round 2

Last night, Farmer H got a phone call from our across-the-road neighbors, the McCoys. You can already sense that this isn't going to end well, can't you?

Mrs. McCoy asked if we had seen their dog. The boxer. Not the black hound that I had caught chasing our chickens last week. When Farmer H said that we had not seen it for a few days, Mrs. McCoy reported that Mr. McCoy had just seen their boxer walking up their driveway with a dead chicken in his mouth.

Of course, Farmer H, that caring soul, did not even inquire about the color or kind of chicken. So we don't know which of our darlings is now deceased. I'm also pretty sure he did not share how he dealt with the early massacre at the jaws of our own canines, which was by beating the dogs around the head and shoulders with the dead chicken.

Mrs. McCoy apologized for her boxer, and said to do whatever we needed to do to avoid a recurrence. But I'm also sure that Farmer H did not share his views on the .22 and my sniper skills. He did inform her that I had caught her OTHER dog chasing the chickens last week. Mrs. McCoyo replied that Mr. McCoy was planning to invest in a shock collar, which he would bring over so he and Farmer H could do a little dog training. Until then, we're on our own.

Farmer H called twice today to see if the dogs had been sniffing around. Negative. Right now, he is sitting on his Gator, minding his goats, armed with a paintball gun.

Hillmomba is the new Old West.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Maybe A Vacation At The Equator Would Be Cooler

Because the heat has addled my brain, it is stuck on one subject. Do not feel obligated to leave a comment. There are only so many ways to describe the temperature.

It was so hot today that the chickens did not want to partake of their favorite treat: cantaloupe seeds. They meandered over to the side yard rather than running with that awkward chickeny gait where their legs plow out to the side like rowboat oars. And they sniffed the seeds. Yeah! Who knew that chickens are sniffers? Not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. But that's what they did. One of the roosters indulged. They usually let the hens have first pick.

A couple of the young chickens grabbed some hunks of a tomato that succumbed to a mold spot. If you have chickens, you can imagine how one ran around with that tomato wedge while a dozen others chased after. They must not understand cantaloupe. Because those youngsters were not lacking in energy in the tomato department.

It was so hot that a squirrel WALKED across the road. Apparently, squirrels are the new possums. The car in front of me straddled him, so he wasn't squashed. Possums, take note.

The cats refused to move from their Salvador Dali limp postures. The dogs were not in evidence. Even a thief tossing them a tasty bone in a Mayhem commercial for Allstate could not have gotten a rise out of them. I'm guessing they were holed up under the vehicles in the driveway, in cool, dusty holes they've dug halfway to China. Or laying down in the creek.

I feel very sorry for Nellie, our long-haired, blue-eyed, white goat. She is very pregnant. Hopefully, not with triplets again. The poor thing must be miserable in this heat. She's sticking to the shade. The Pony fills the goats' water tub twice a day.

This weather is not fit for man nor beast.