Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trouble In Not-Paradise

I am fixin' to have a go-round with one of The Devil's Handmaidens.

Hear that? I'm letting you in on the ground floor. Anybody want to produce this match and promote it for pay-per-view? Or even for pay-fer-view, as Farmer H calls it? This could be a rip-roarin', hair-yankin', ear-bitin'-off shindig! Sorry, though, to all of my male fans. I don't anticipate getting violent enough for any clothes to fall off, or an accidental kiss.

It's between me and Methuselah's long-lost great-great-grandma. She of the coal-black hair in a 1950s 'do. The one I usually seek out to bag my sundries, because she is efficient and logical in her combinations. But this morning, she rubbed me the wrong way.

I had popped into The Devil's Playground on the way to taking The Pony to summer school. The purpose of the pop-in was to garner some sweet treats for my mom. Today is her birthday. Seventy-nine, thanks for asking. I found a tiny Turtle Cake. And a slice of Carrot Cake. But I was torn between it and a slice of Red Velvet. My mom used to make both kinds. But it's not very rewarding to make one for yourself. And nobody else likes them. So I got all three. Your mom only turns seventy-nine once, you know.

So I carted up to the check-out, after tossing in some frozen chicken-fried rice and sweet-and-sour chicken. Because Mom loves that stuff, and we're not taking her out until we can all be together. Oh, and I gave her cards from me and the boys, and a National Enquirer and a Globe. That's what you give an ol' gal who has everything. But we're digressing. I'll try to keep you on track.

I'll be ding dang donged if that Devil's Handmaiden did not make a smart crack about the cake. "Huh. I'd never pay $2.88 for a slice of cake. That costs the same as half a whole cake!"

I pointed out that it was my mom's birthday, and I was getting her a selection instead of a whole cake.

"Still, you could have got her a whole cake. She could have frozen what she didn't eat."

I pointed out that she might freeze some of her slices as well. But I wanted a variety for her.

"That's too much money for a slice of cake."

Hmpf! Devil's Handmaidens should be seen and not heard. Who made them the food critics of Hillmomba? The arbiters of what people should and should not buy? I suppose I'm lucky she did not call me a fat hog or a P-I-G pig, and declare that she would not sell me three kinds of cake.

Yes, Devil's Handmaidens should be seen and not heard. Unless they are screamin' in pain from a proper beat-down administered by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Dog Is A Real Knock-Out

I don't for one minute regret rescuing our sweet, rambunctious dog Juno. She would have starved to death on my mom's porch if the #1 son and I had not intervened. She has repaid us tenfold with her sunny disposition and unconditional love. I forgive her for her transgressions. The chickens she chased. The cats she tried to chew on. The eggs she eats before The Pony gathers them. The poop on the brick sidewalk when she was sore from her special operation. For the most part, her pluses outweigh her minuses.

We have a special bond. She waits for me on the side porch, the breezeway area that connects the Mansion with the garage. From this raised platform, she leans her head on my chest, her nose against my neck. Waiting for me to hug her. It started when she was a tiny pup. I picked her up and held her close. She remembers. I don't care what dog experts say about dogs not having a sense of time, or a memory of routine. She knows that when I come through the garage door, I will join in our daily lovefest.

Sometimes, Juno gets carried away. Like that time she jammed her wet doggy nose inside my mouth in a frenzy of affection. So I'm wary now. She can only hold herself motionless for short periods. I can sense when she gets antsy, and the hug is over.

Today, I foresaw the old nose-in-the-mouth trick again. And I don't mean my nose in her mouth. Unfortunately, our lovefest had happened sooner than I was prepared. I was barely out of the garage. When Juno pulled her nose away from my neck, and jabbed at my mouth area with her snout, I was ready. I yanked my head back and to the left. No doggy snot for my tasting pleasure today.

I rammed my temple into the corner of a shelf against the garage wall. I'm lucky I didn't knock myself out. Both boys were at summer school. I would have laid on the sidewalk from noon until three. But I'm sure my loyal Juno would have kept me company. Probably by laying on my chest.

She's a good dog.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life, And Its Opposite

The Mansion is bursting with life.

More specifically, the grounds of Hillmomba just outside the Mansion are bursting with life. Don't want any creepy crawlies inside the Mansion proper. I despise the creepy crawlies. Especially those millipedes that worm their way in every couple of years. And the field mice that appear every few years when we get our first cold snap. And the flies that flutter in wait, darting in as soon as one of the menfolk open the door.

But outside the Mansion, that addition of critters is usually positive. We had a new baby goat born yesterday. As opposed to and OLD baby goat, I presume. But that's how people talk, new baby style. I don't have a picture yet. Didn't you hear? She was just born YESTERDAY!

The goat momma was missing from the herd when Farmer H went to release his horde to nibble my yard plants. He could not find her, so sent for reinforcements: The Pony. The Pony found her in a nanosecond. Maybe it was a nannysecond. She's a small white goat. This is her first baby. According to The Pony, she is a good mother. Farmer H moved them to the BARn lean-to rather than let them reside in a brush pile on the trail to his cabin. They had moved again by this evening. But The Pony is intent on capturing them on his phone camera as soon as possible. The new baby is a black-and-white girly-goat. I have not yet seen her with my own eyes.

I do, however, see the new baby chicks who are approaching chicken adolescences. The first four are already going through a fowl puberty of sorts. All gangly and unattractive, bold and adventurous. The second set of twelve are moving around with more confidence, though still sticking close to their hatch-mom, a black banty hen with ankle-feathers. Another black hen is sitting, her offspring due any day now.

But because Even Steven lurks, some critters had to expire. Nature's balancing act, you know. Thank the Gummi Mary, we did not cede like for like. I did not feel at all guilty on my killing spree. My faithful accomplice, The Pony, and I made short work of a gaggle of wasps the size of my index finger. Evil things, they were. Dive-bombing The Pony when I wasn't around. And he only trying to reach the safety of the Mansion. So we took the Black Flag Wasp and Hornet Spray that shoots 20 feet, and shot those slim villains dead. Though perhaps we took too much joy in watching them writhe until still.

I'm not going to Folsom Prison. I don't know anything about that man in Reno.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Hot New Business Venture

I spent the morning roasting in The Devil's Playground.

Doesn't The Devil know that it costs more to cool those open receptacles of frozen food when the store temperature is near 80 degrees?

I actually felt faint while waiting ten minutes in line to check out. There was a little old lady on a beeper cart in front of a regular lady with a regular cart. I think they were working in tandem. But it was still two orders to put on the conveyor, and two orders to pay for.

While waiting, leaning on my cart, trying to decide whether to put my head between my knees to keep from losing consciousness, I witnessed another near beeper-cart collision in the 20-items or less aisle next to my line. A slim oldster started backing for no apparent reason, making the no-spring-chicken gal behind her scurry out of harm's way. She had no cart to absorb the shock. A tragedy was narrowly averted. Those beeper people think they own the aisles.

Meanwhile, I was losing fluids at an alarming rate, the collection of sweat on my scalp forming a regular watershed of tributaries to flow into major waterways and eventually pool at my feet. I tried fanning myself with a National Enquirer and a Globe, but they soon soaked up my hand perspiration and became as effective for evaporating sweat as a bundle of wet noodles.

I patted myself on my sweat-soaked back for not buying eggs. They would have hatched before they were scanned. Thank the Gummi Mary, it was not a week to buy biscuits, because they would have exploded from the can with nary a spoon jammed into their cardboard crevices.

With my transaction finally complete, I rejoined The Pony in the game room, where he was recklessly driving a video car. I resisted the urge to collapse in a vibrating chair for fear that I would never arise, and my flesh would grow into the fake leather fabric.

I am considering a sideline while I whip my handbasket factory into shape. I will rent space in a section of The Devil's game room, and have nurses on standby with IV fluids.

I think I could make a killing.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Priorities, People. Priorities.

Farmer H threw a rod.

No, it's not some little-known hillbilly sport that deserves to be in the Olympics right alongside rhythmic gymnastics. And it's not a grown-man temper tantrum. He was mowing the field this morning when his trusty mower that he purchased used from my deceased grandma, right after she had it in the shop several months being repaired, for $800, the exact amount that I had saved for a new laptop, finally quit being contrary and stopped running entirely.

In case that last sentence was too much of a "This morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas" moment for you, let me clarify. The mower is unusable without a new engine. It was used when we got it from my then-alive grandma for the price of $800. She'd had problems with it before we bought it. WE means Farmer H. My laptop money went for a lawnmower.

Now we are faced with buying a new mower. Even though Farmer H has a tractor that he used to utilize for mowing. His idea of having two teenage boys to trim six acres with push mowers was not well-received. He says a new motor would cost about what a mower would cost. Sounds kind of fishy to me. Like the mower salesman would throw in a seat and four tires and a steering wheel and blade for nothing. I'm so sure.

Farmer H went a-shoppin' for a mower after making The Pony pick up sticks for thirty minutes and then swim in Poolio for an hour. He called to say that he found a Cub Cadet (used) for $700. Which kind of seems like putting us back in the same predicament. But Farmer H was convinced it was a good deal. And it's cheaper than a new mower. So we won't have grass as high as an elephant's eye.

There's no saved-up laptop money to skim from. I'm sure #1 will understand that we can only send him to three years of college. Because I refuse to give up gas station chicken and 44 oz. Diet Cokes.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Helping The Helper

The #1 son sought me out this afternoon in search of chores. For money, of course. After driving to town and unloading his mower, his pre-agreed-upon mowing job this weekend fell through. I have a standard list of such chores, and corresponding compensation. #1 is somewhat finicky about which jobs he will or will not do. He would rather scrub a toilet than wipe down a dusty, powdery tile floor. So I was surprised when he contracted to clean the kitchen floor.

It's a good-size kitchen. You have the main sink/stove/Frig U-shaped area around the cutting block, and a main walkway to the table area by the back door. I quoted him a price, and reminded him that a half-butted job would result in half pay. I reminded him that the broom and mop were in the laundry room beside the washer. He responded that he KNEW that already.

About an hour later, I went upstairs to start supper. Imagine my surprise upon encountering an abandoned Swiffer, a pile of debris, and the four cutting-block stools all akimbo in my kitchen. I called to my dear son. Nothing. Louder. Nothing. I started to his room. I suppose that set off vibrations like I was some Jurassic Park denizen, because #1 came rushing out of his room, wild-eyed.

"Hey, I thought you were cleaning. I need to get in there and start supper."

"Oh. I forgot. I WAS cleaning, but I got a message, and I went to my room, and...well...I forgot. I'm finishing up now." He Swiffered another sweep, and replaced the stools. Then moved on to the table area on the other side of the sink counter. "I hate to use so much of this." He motioned to the Swiffer wet pad thingies.

"What do you mean? Those have probably been sitting on the shelf for three years. I can buy more, you know."

"They're not old! They're still wet! There were ten in the pack, and I'm on number four now. But I don't know what else to do. They get covered with stuff."

"Hey, you haven't gotten under the table yet."

"I know. I just came over here." He jabbed at the area with his Swiffer."

"I can't believe you just did that. What happened to sweeping first?"

"Sweeping? Yeah. I guess that would make more sense."

"You mean that you haven't even gotten out the broom? You've been using the Swiffer the whole time?"

"Um. Yeah. I didn't even think of the broom."

"I TOLD you where it was! And you said you already knew that."

"Well, to be honest, I had pretty much tuned you out at that point."

"Now THERE'S a surprise."

"I know, right? So you said that if I only half did the job I'd only get half pay? Well...I think I'll just take half pay and leave this pile of stuff here."

"Go get the broom."

"Oh, all right. Hey! Where's the dustpan?"

"Probably under the floorboards in your room, where I will find fifteen years worth of tape, scissors, and mini pencil sharpeners when you move out. Use a paper plate. Or a magazine."

"False alarm. Here it is. I just didn't look good enough."

I am afraid I might have to hire a paraprofessional to follow him through life. Or at least until he can capture a mate.

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's A Thankless Task, This Child-Rearing Thing

I am somewhat concerned about the #1 son. His dream is to attend college at MIT. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It's in Boston, you know. Right across that river from Harvard. My fear is that if #1 is accepted, he will set out for school and end up in California. Because that boy is a pure absentminded professor.

This morning, he took his own sweet time getting out of bed. I called to him several times. "I'm getting up!" I told him that I wanted the trash taken out before he left. It's his ONE chore. And The Pony even has to put in the new bag. "All right!"

The boys normally leave for summer school at 7:20. I had made The Pony's lunch, and also a sandwich for #1. He doesn't like some of the school lunch offerings. So it's a turkey and hot pepper cheese sandwich for the Absentminded Professor. He even wrote his name on the baggie with a Sharpie yesterday, because he was afraid a teacher might steal it out of the Elementia fridge.

The AP packed up his X-Box and some games and controllers to take to his grandma's house this evening. He laid out some earphones that he's sending back because they came apart. He shaved. He brushed his teeth. He wet his head for hair control purposes. He waffled over what shirt to wear with his plaid shorts. He told The Pony, "You might as well get comfortable, because we're not leaving until 7:30." Then at 7:40, he walked out the front door and called over his shoulder at The Pony, "We're going!"

I thought they'd never leave. On my way to the laundry room, I spied the AP's sandwich on the cutting block. I called The Pony. He's now the personal secretary for the AP. I told him the sandwich was still at the Mansion. I heard him relay the message to his boss. Some grumbling. Then, "He says to put it in the refrigerator. He'll eat what they have at school."

At 3:00, the phone rang. "Hey, are you upstairs? Did I leave my earphones that I was taking to UPS in my room? Because I can't find them in my truck anywhere."

"I just came downstairs five minutes ago. Do you want me to go look?"

"No. That's all right. Why are you so hateful?"

"Hateful? I offered to go look in your room."

"Never mind! I'm not coming all the way back home to get them."

"Then why did you call? What does it matter if they're there if you aren't coming home anyway?"

"Just forget it! I'm not wasting the gas."

"You scammed four dollars off of me yesterday in donut change. That will pay for a gallon to get you here and back."

"You are ridiculous!"

"Since I'm so ridiculous, I'll remind you that you left without taking out the trash. And you're welcome for the sandwich that I made you but you didn't take."

"I wish I'd never called you!"

Me too. Maybe we can work out a dual-enrollment deal with Stanford and MIT. A college on each coast. Just in case the Absentminded Professor loses his bearings.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Empress And The Key

Like Elaine's friends from the Bizarro World (Kevin, Gene, and Feldman), Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a study in opposites.

Today, for instance, she re-enacted The Princess and the Pea. With a few minor differences, of course. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is no princess. She is the Empress of Hillmomba, by cracky!

I set out around noon to mail some bills, and treat myself to some gas station chicken. That's because somewhere, somehow, a commenter on another blog put the idea into my mind. All went as planned. I got a 44 oz. Diet Coke, because when you're chowing down on delicious crispy gas station fried chicken, you don't want a sugary keg of soda to fill you up unnecessarily.

I put my precious beverage in the cup holder, then opened the back passenger door to deposit my chicken. I have to open the box to let it breathe. Nobody likes soggy, suffocated fowl. I climbed up into the control center of T-Hoe, put a stack of tissues over the top of my caffeine-filled elixir so as not to melt the ice on the way back to Hillmomba, and buckled my seat belt. It was going to be a bumpy ride, you know. Because I live on a gravel road.

The keys were missing!

I could not begin my journey of five miles with a single twist of my wrist. Because the keys were missing! Missing, I say! The keys were missing! And even worse, the gas station chicken was getting cold, and the 44 oz. Diet Coke was getting hot! Oh, the humanity!

Then I remembered where I had last seen the keys. I opened my door, leaned way over, and fetched them out from under my ample buttocks.

I didn't even feel them.

I think, perhaps, that gas station chicken and I should part ways.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Ill-Fated Dog-Toy Harvest Of Greater Hillmomba

Farmer H took his diseased self outside last night to mow the front field. Good for him. Breathe that virus into the great outdoors. Let it dissipate. Why he's mowing the field himself with two strapping boy young 'uns laying about the Mansion is a good question. It's right up there with "Why do you wash dishes by hand when you have two offspring that could do it as a chore to earn allowance money or as a condition of room and board?" as queries to test the wisdom of Siri.

Farmer H did command The Pony to pick up the dog toys from the front yard. As he skipped outside with his ancient Easter basket to gather eggs, The Pony stepped off a grid and picked up a green rubber squeaky duck, a mini tire on a rope, the carcass of a blue canvas duck with orange nylon rope legs, and a piece of plastic of undetermined origin. The problem was, The Pony tossed each item over his shoulder toward the sidewalk and porch area. Where Juno promptly snagged them and wiggle-walked her way back into the yard to The Pony to play hard-to-get. Which kind of defeated the purpose of removing dog toys from the yard.

Bless his little duck-tossing heart! It only took The Pony about three tries to figure it out.

This morning, I saw all the toys back in the yard. And the grass didn't look any shorter. Perhaps Farmer H's eyes were bigger than his blade. There might be a repeat performance tonight.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why Mars And Venus Can't Be Best Friends

Both boys are attending summer school right now. The #1 son drives The Pony to Newmentia, drops him off to gain his PE credit, and continues to Elementia, where he is earning hours towards an A+ scholarship by tutoring small fry. Or medium fry, perhaps, as he rejected his assignment to kindergarten level in exchange for smartifying fifth-graders.

That is neither here nor there, but explains how Mrs. Hillbilly Mom came to be watching three episodes in a row this morning of Friend Zone on MTV. I'd never seen it before. Like so many mindless reality shows, it lured me in. Wove its web of mystery around my tiny brain. It was a little more intellectually stimulating than yesterday's mini-marathon of Silent Library.

Friend Zone introduces you to a a pair of boy/girl best friends. One of them has romantic feelings towards the other, and enlists Bestie to assist Friend in planning a blind date. That includes how to dress and how to act. Then, as Bestie drops Friend off at the date location, Friend confesses the set-up and declares feelings for Bestie. Can you say AWKWARD?

An alien on Alpha Centauri could see that these unions are not gonna happen. From space, people! That's how obvious the lack of romance is in these relationships. Which is not to say you don't feel sorry for the sweet Boy Friends who want so badly to date their Besties. In fifteen minutes of each relationship, I could see that Bestie was all into the bad boy type. Not the sweet boy. That's why he's the friend. The not-gay (yet) confidante. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The Girl Friends were giving their Besties what the dudes couldn't get out of their romantic relationships. Fun. Give-and-take conversations. A faithful ear for guitar practice in a metal band. You should have seen the horror on the faces of the Besties when the Girl Friends asked if they would accompany them on the "blind" date. They did not even have the decency to hug Girl Friend when she burst into tears. "See ya later." Exit Bestie.

Here are some of the reasons the Besties gave the Girl Friends:

"Wow. That's never gonna happen. I don't think of you that way. You're like a sister to me."

"I like how you take care of me. You're like my mom."

On the other hand, the Boy Friends were let down easier by their Besties:

"You deserve a girl who will love you for yourself."

"I don't want to hurt you or lead you on. We're just friends."

I think the guy Besties were kind of using the Girl Friends. Not exactly getting the milk for free without buying the cow, but getting a sweet, gentle companion with no strings attached. A harness, maybe. A companion who would plow their field or pull their wagon with no demands in return. Bestie can just turn them out into the pasture and forget about them when the mail-order bride arrives on the next stagecoach.

The girl Besties seemed to have a genuine platonic affection for their Boy Friends. They treated them like actual friends.

Every pair ceased being best friends after the reveal. Even though they all said how they didn't want this issue to change anything between them. Every pair. No longer best friends.

Or even friends.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bloodshed Narrowly Avoided

I was in an accident yesterday. I can't say it was a fender-bender, because there were no fenders. It happened on Checkout Number 5 of The Devil's Playground.

There I was, operating my cart according to the rules of the mart, when a wizened little man in front of me on a beeper back-up cart started beeping. He had just put his items on the conveyor. Two cans of spray paint. Black. I didn't peg him as a huffer. I hear they prefer the metallic paints, gold and silver. And Backy didn't have that telltale splatter ring around his lips.

The woman in front of him was still filling her regular cart with her purchases. She had been conversing with him earlier. I sensed some kind of connection. He was apparently paying for the paint on his own. But that was pure conjecture, because Backy threw that differently-abled-rod in reverse quicker than you could say, "Hey, I'm back here, Backy!"

With nary a glance o'er his shoulder, Backy gunned it. I tried to move out of his way as fast as I could. Backwards. Because I learned from John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit that it's best to always go backwards when you're backing. But I could not prevent the collision of Backy's seat-back with the front end of my cart. Which resulted in the push bar jamming into my ample gut. I may or may not have emitted an "Oof!" upon contact.

Backy apologized. "Oh, sorry. There's no rearview mirror on these things!" He wheeled out of line and sped back into the merchandise. I was bumfuddled. What to do? Wait for him to come back? Unload my cart onto the conveyor? Backy's cans sat lonely and unattended on the motorized mat.

I asked The Devil's Handmaiden, "Should I wait? Or set out my groceries?"

"Well...that's a good question. He left his stuff."

The woman just leaving turned around. She knew Backy was gone, because it was she who told him the location of some item he said he forgot. She paid for the cans of paint, and took them with her. I threw my stuff on the counter. I did not want to be there when Backy returned. To look at me accusingly. From the level of my navel.

It's all fun and games until somebody loses a pinky toe. And if it's MY pinky toe, there'll be The Devil to pay. Because I will push the issue of mirrors sadly missing from the sit-down beeper carts.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Never Put The Pony Before The Pizza

Farmer H and the #1 son are away from the Mansion for the evening. With formal meal preparation off the table, The Pony and I decided to partake of DiGiorno Pizza. Let the record show that if The Pony had his druthers, he would consume the square Garlic Bread Cheese Pizza. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, however, is partial to the round Rising Crust Supreme. And because the hand that bakes the pizza rules the world, we had the Supreme.

Note to Self: Do not share a pizza with The Pony.

For starters, I had to remove everything but cheese from The Pony's side of the pizza. Do you know how difficult that is? First of all, that stuff is frozen. So it has to be pried out of the solid sauce. Of which DiGiorno could save a couple million bucks by decreasing, as I don't enjoy a saucy pizza. I excavated onions, red peppers, green peppers, sausage pellets, and black olives. That's AFTER all pepperonis were dispatched. They are pure evil, and I will not suffer a pepperoni to enter my gullet.

It has been so long since I had a DiGiorno, an entire year, perhaps, that I forgot to cook it on my special holey pizza pan. The Pony likes a soft crust. So when he has his Garlic Bread Cheese Pizza every couple of weeks, I use a regular pizza pan. Like tonight. The results were less than stellar.

The minute the cheese starts to blister, the pizza must be removed. The Pony is finicky like that. He puts Morris the Cat to shame. No Mikey, he'll eat anything is he. When I sliced the pizza with my giant butcher knife, a product of Farmer H's affiliates, a knife that strikes fear into blind mice on seven continents, I knew that something was amiss.

The Pony's slices came out just fine. Tailored to his tastes. Mine were as diametrically opposed to my desires as the #1 son is to my views on in-Mansion child labor. Rather than the cracker-like hard crust that I prefer, the rock-hard edge crust that eats like a Snyder's of Hanover packaged pretzel, I found crust as tender as a Pillsbury Flaky Layers Biscuit. Floppy crust. Limp. As I attempted to transfer them from pan to plate, my toppings poured over the edge like valuable gold nuggets in a clogged-up wash pan belonging to those crazy meth-looking miners led by Todd Hoffman on TLC's Gold Rush.

Do not share a pizza with The Pony.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stopping To Smell The Roses Before They Bloom

My internet connection has been exceptionally slow tonight. So slow, in fact, that it has inspired me to think up things it's slower than while I am waiting for pages to load. And here they are:

1. a Japanese bullet train

2. an actual bullet, fired from a train

3. a car driven by a drunken Billy Joel, just before it crashed into a house

4. a frog's tongue snagging a fly

5. George Costanza leaving a burning apartment during a child's birthday party

6. Elaine Benes's trip to the hospital to visit her boyfriend, including a stop for JujyFruits

7. the long version of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird"

8. an arthritic Galapagos Tortoise running the 100-yard dash

9. Julia Sugarbaker stating her opinion

10. the final class period of the last day of the school year

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Universe Effin' Toys With Me

I might have mentioned that Thursday was the last day of school for the students. And that both boys were off to spend the night elsewhere. And that Farmer H was cooling his heels in a bar somewhere in Massachusetts on business. So I was home alone. Of course I had grand plans for my evening of solitude.

But as usual, the universe conspired against me.

The #1 son was supposed to stay after school on Wednesday to help The Pony stow away a hundred or so of my textbooks. It was a paying proposition. Which #1 conveniently forgot. Hope he understands when he gets expelled from college because I forgot to pay his tuition.

With my room-squaring-away behind schedule, I took it upon myself to get the ball rolling Thursday morning on my plan time. Wouldn't you know it. On the second stack of books that I carried across the room, my lower right back went into spasm. It's not like I had to walk leaning over. But it was a spasm. A painful contraction of the muscle that could only be relieved by sitting down and leaning just the right way. Which did me absolutely no good during graduation rehearsal, when I had to stand for 20 minutes waiting for things to get underway.

In an effort to appease my anger at my back's insolence, I stopped for some gas station chicken on the way home. After turning on my upstairs laptop and internet connection, and gathering all materials needed for a pleasant repast and evening of reading and TV watching, I headed to the basement. Without my personal Sherpa, The Pony, I was laden with supplies. After the descent to my base camp, I still needed to hike to the well and draw water, and venture to the ice house to scrape sawdust off a block of lake ice to cool down my complaining knee. Okay, so in reality, I only had to turn on the faucet in the bathroom next to my office, and walk ten steps to the mini fridge under the stairs for my baggie of knee ice. But it certainly felt more strenuous.

I no sooner sat down to relieve the spasm in my screaming back than I saw that my internet connection had been severed. Without The Pony, swift of foot, to gallop up the stairs and reconnect me, I had to ascend to the summit myself. And descend again to base camp. Where I saw that my connection had once again forsaken me.


I saved my files and did a restart. I hiked back up those 13 steps again to reconnect. After a restart. Then back down. A Pilates workout would have been more restful.

Did I mention that upon arrival at the Mansion, I found that the thermostat had lost its ever-lovin' mind? Because while orchids might revel in this little piece of 74-degree, 99-percent-humidity heaven, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not. I had to fiddle and faddle until I got that thing set to hold at 72 degrees. Normally, I have it on 73. But that was not pleasing the ambient temperature gremlins. So I kicked it down.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom plans. The universe effin' toys with her.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Teenager

Since today was the last day of school, I held my students captive. In fact, I mounted a search party for two who were present at lunch, but absent from my classroom four minutes after. It doesn't pay to fool Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

After refusing to grant parole to my prisoners who desired to roam free, and denying transfers to those who sought a change of facilities, I popped in a DVD of David Blaine, Magic Man. Because nothing holds adolescents' attention like perceived magic skills from a hypnotic-eyed creeper. As they referred to the esteemed Mr. Blaine.

In one scene ol' Dave does a card trick for a Tennessee boy who appears to be 5th or 6th grade age. It must have been a sweltering day on that occasion, because Dave is dripping sweat in his black shirt, and the kid had put his own t-shirt behind his head. You know, so it looked like he was shirtless in front, and wearing a shirt backpack on his shoulders. Dave has Kid look at a card. It's the four of hearts. Kid puts it back in the deck without showing Dave. Dave tells him to put his hand on Dave's upper left pectoral area. Or in Dave words, "Put your hand on my chest right here." It's above Dave's nip. Fingers at his collar bone. After a moment of concentration, Dave says, "I've got it. You can take your had away." Dave pulls up his own shirt and reveals a temporary black tattoo of the four of hearts card.

And that darn student audience of mine all exclaimed, "Eww! Creeper perv!" Because (1) Dave looked at a kid with no shirt, and (2) Dave told the kid to touch his chest, and (3) because Dave pulled up his own shirt and showed his chest.

Sweet Gummi Mary! Is this the Victorian Era? Do these kids never go to the pool? What's wrong with a dude with no shirt? Or a hand on a chest?

Keep in mind that this judgment came from students who will touch each other inappropriately all the live-long day, and push the boundaries of the school dress code until it cries, "BULLY!" unless they are monitored around the clock from the time they set foot on school grounds.

There's a reason we have to stand in the hall between classes, and also keep the eyes in the back of our head on the classroom. Couples of mixed and same sex will engage in full-frontal hugging until a hose is turned on them, hop on each others backs, give the old titty-twister or purple nurple, and "sack" each other during their routine jaunt from classroom to classroom. Inside the room, hugging breaks out, along with neck and back massages, hair stroking, lap sitting, and over-desk leaning.

Guys try to wear their saggy pants so low that only a long shirt prevents a public indecency arrest. Seriously. The waistband is below Mr. Peabody, and entire boxer-covered cheeks make an appearance if the arms are raised. At least this violation is easy to spot by the gait of the perpetrator. Girls wear the navel-plunging necklines, or tanks that have the required two-inch shoulder width, but are cut out in the back to reveal entire shoulder blades, bra bands, and bra straps. Fingertip-length shorts have apparently been mistaken for wrist-length shorts. It is a constant battle, but one which we are winning. Because nobody wants their parents called, and they hate covering up with a shapeless jacket all day.

So explain to me, please, how David Blaine is the perv.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

All Alone Again...Unnaturally

My men are leaving the Mansion like so many rats swan-diving from a sinking ship! I would cry mutiny, but that would be waaaayyyyy overestimating their energy and drive.

Tomorrow is our last day of school for the students. The Pony has been planning for his grandma to pick him up after his early release. He will eat noodles and biscuits and founder on high-speed internet before spending the night and next day wallowing on Grandma's couch without a care in the world. He seems to have forgotten that he starts summer school on Monday to earn his PE credit, thus freeing up an hour for band in his high school schedule.

The #1 son plans to spend the night at a friend's house in a neighboring town. His Friday agenda calls for mowing two lawns and attending Newmentia's graduation ceremony. He will be graduating next year.

Farmer H will be flying to Manchester, Massachusetts tomorrow for work. His mission is to inspect a machine to see if it's worth buying for $45,000. Since the price of such a machine new is over $400,000, he can save his company a pretty penny.

I will be working regular hours tomorrow and Friday, and gracing graduation with my presence. Actually, it's mandatory.

Funny how you wish for peace and quiet and no demands for your time...and when you get it, the victory seems hollow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Trying Hard Not To Hear You

This is the best time of the school year. I don't mean because we only have two and five-sevenths days left to go. No, I mean that the students and I are simpatico. We know what to expect from each other. We don't yank each other's chain. Rattle each other's cage. Rain on each other's parade. We peacefully coexist.

It's a balancing act, really. To get to this point without being that battleaxe who makes kids quiver as they approach the desk. Or the buddy who gossips and jokes along with them. A professional distance must be maintained, tempered with an aura of approachability.

The down side of this fait accompli is that I find myself fielding questions the minute I walk into the classroom. Not soul-searching questions, nor lesson-stalling questions. Simple greetings. "How was your Mother's Day, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom? Did you enjoy your weekend? Did you do anything fun?" Easy enough to join in their banter. But by this time of the year, I would like to proceed. To take attendance without ten other thoughts rattling around in my head.

I can't be rude. Shut them down. That would be altering the status quo. So I will grin and bear them for the short time we have left. They're really good kids. All the subs say so. Newmentia, Basementia, and Elementia are at the top of the substitutes' wish list. Students are polite, eager to please, and, for the most part, know when to stop the shenanigans. I need to bask in the light of their good will while I can.

I will be nurturing a new crop soon enough.

Monday, May 14, 2012

And He's Not Even The Water Sign

Farmer H has two projects underway.

The first is readying Poolio for the summer. He and the boys have pumped the brackish, decayed-leaf liquid off the top of the black cover. They've removed itto expose the clear water underneath to the sun for warming. Which is what I thought the black cover was for.

Farmer H cleaned out the filter. He has been hydrating Poolio with the garden hose, straight from the well. The next step will be taking a sample of water for testing, then the purchase of mass quantities of various pool chemicals.

I asked Farmer H whether it might not be simpler and cheaper to drain Poolio each spring, and start afresh with pristine well water filtered by years of percolating through nature's filter. He said no.

The second project is re-pumping the fake fish pond. The pump broke, the water turned to dark green pea soup, and Farmer H put all the overgrown Devil's Playground goldfish in a giant garbage can in order to inspect the pump.

I am afraid the fish will overheat and suffocate in the big barrel-like can without aeration. Farmer H says no.

I halfway expect to look out and see those 10-inch goldfish doing laps around Poolio.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For The Sweet

Farmer H set about making breakfast this morning. A double-yolked egg fresh out of one of his hens last night, and some bacon that expires in two days. "But Hillbilly Mom," you might ask, "how is one egg enough for all of you Hillbillies to have for breakfast?" Oh, my dear friends. Try to keep up. We are talking about Farmer H! The man is an island. He did, however, ask The Pony if he wanted an egg. You know. Because apparently, today is Pony's Day.

Happy Mother's Day to me.

My boys came through with four little spiral notebooks that I love, love, love. And some tasty candy that I will no doubt love, as well. Not that I need it, of course.

The #1 son was in for a bit of ribbing when I saw that his card declared me to be a Maxi Mom. And one of his notebooks had the word KIND on the front, the other sporting SASQUATCH on the back. Even more jarring, considering that The Pony's card was festooned with butterflies, one notebook proclaimed GREAT, and the other exhibited DREAMSICLE on the rear cover.

"What's this? You think I am already MAXI, a SASQUATCH, yet you foist candy upon me? And clearly, you are commanding me to be KIND, because all you ever tell me is how cold my heart is.! And look what my little Pony gave me. He thinks of me in terms of BUTTERFLIES, DREAMSICLES, and GREATness! What a sweet child he is!"

#1 took it well. He didn't even let it slip that The Pony had picked out all the swag, and designated which half would come from #1. In effect, The Pony set himself up to come out smelling like a rose. He says he didn't even notice which gift was which, though.

They all bought me a wonderful strawberry cake. And Farmer H kicked in with a card and a Whitman Sampler. Sweets for the sweet, you know.

I must now bid you adieu so I can watch the season finale of Survivor, while DVRing the season finale of Celebrity Apprentice. I will provide more pearls of wisdom tomorrow. If I am not in a hyperglycemic coma.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Beginning Of The End In Newmentia

The end of the school year is at hand. Four more days. Three and five-and-a-half sevenths, to be precise. But...we'll have a work day on Friday. Then graduation Friday night, with mandatory attendance by the faculty. I'm a short-timer! I keep reminding myself not to get in a helicopter like Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake.

With the end comes an incentive day, awards assembly, graduation practice, finals, book-checking-in, inventories, and loose-end-tying. I am a creature of  habit. Like a toddler with naptime disrupted, I grow cranky. It behooves those around me to remain calm during the final days. No sudden moves. No unnecessary requests for form-filling-out, or trips to the bathroom, locker, gym, office, parking lot, cafeteria, or other classrooms. No. Just no. The answer is no. Likewise, no visitors to my classroom.

On the last day, I even lock my classroom door. That deters many an interruption. School is not a free-for-all. Nor one big going-away party. No signing of t-shirts. No popping into my room to hug a friend goodbye. No farewell tour. Just no.

No, no, no.

That pretty much sums up the last day for curmudgeonly ol' Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dirty Little Secret, Eh?

I have a dirty little secret. Okay, I have way more than one. But the one that is up for discussion tonight is my water cup.

I love water. It does a body good. Milk stole that slogan. And the only reason milk got that "Got Milk?" cash cow of an ad campaign is because water does not leave an unsightly ring around your mouth. Really. Who wants to be all marked up like a shirt collar, or a toilet bowl? Not me. I don't partake of the milk. Except for a dram of chocolate milk on occasion. For medicinal purposes, of course.

My giant translucent water cup came from the hospital. It may surprise you to know that it was a regular hospital. Not a mental hospital. My cup has a gray lid (grey if you're British, Canadian, or Australian), and blue writing. BJC Health Care. And measurements down the side in ounces and milliliters. Along with a big ol' honkin' list of hospitals. I got mine at Barnes-Jewish when I had my thyroid out. A fair exchange, some might say. Give us your thyroid, we'll give you a water cup.

Shh...I actually have TWO of these water cups. No, I don't travel the midwest, unnecessarily having organs removed in order to procure cups. I took my mom for a procedure a couple years ago, and they gave us BOTH a cup. That's why insurance costs are so high, I assume.

You might think that with two cups, I would use one, put it in the dishwasher, and use the other one the next day. Repeat. And so on. But you'd be wrong! Silly! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not have a dishwasher. And she sure ain't risking dishpan hands just to have a clean cup every day. So I use my cup for a week at a time. It's only water! Water doesn't go sour like milk. Try spilling milk on your shirt some day. You might as well cry over it. Because that stuff will curdle and stink. But not water. And besides, I have a straw in my cup.

But here's where it gets interesting. At night, on the way to bed, I stop by Frig and load up on ice. No. I don't just do it because it makes such a loud noise and I want to irritate Farmer H. That's just a bonus. And in the morning, as I fill The Pony's metal water bottle (which I wash every night--what do you think we are, Barbarians?), I dump any extra ice into my cup. Then I top it off with some more water, and I'm off to work. When I get home, I add more ice and water.

So you see, my water is kind of like sourdough starter. At least for a week. Because there's always a little bit of the original water in there. Stop gagging. It's only water. It's not like that east coast hamburger restaurant that deep-fries hamburgers in grease that has been there since the Revolutionary War. Okay. That's Dyer's in Tennessee, and it's oil not grease, and it's only 100 years old. But that still makes my water more appetizing, huh?

Because I feel like we're friends, I'm going to share a little tip with you on the care and cleaning of water cups. If you happen to live in an area like Hillmomba, with oodles of minerals in your well water, there is a simple remedy for the scaling you get at the bottom of your week-old cup. Pour an inch of vinegar in the bottom, and swirl it. Let it sit about 5-10 minutes. Pour out the vinegar. Wash as usual. That means in a dishwasher if you have one. But if you do, then you probably wash your cup every day, and don't get scaly mineral build-up, and don't need this advice. Voila! Your water cup is as pristine as when you brought it home from the hospital.

Ready to face another week!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Driving Miss Crazy

I took today off from work to ferry Farmer H to the eye doctor. He had a skin lesion removed from the nose area near his eye. Which had me begging the question, "Would you go to a dermatologist to remove a cataract?" Funny how I got no response.

While not a serious procedure, one thing is for certain. Farmer H cannot state: "It was no skin off my nose." Because clearly, it was. The appointment was made three weeks ago, when the growth was discovered during a routine six-month exam. At that time, I started planning for a release day from work in order to drive him home. Because Farmer H will be driving himself there. And also Driving Miss Crazy, as he would no doubt refer to me, if he had an inkling of what  pop culture is all about, and spent his leisure time watching movies with more substance than Booty Call.

Because we reside in Hillmomba and not Mayfield or Mayberry, this dual excursion has been condemned, then coveted, then condemned, then coveted several times over. Just last night, Farmer H flung up his arms and denounced my participation in his operation. No skin off MY nose, buddy. Bwah ha ha! But this morning, our trip is on again.

Farmer H has a way of overreacting sometimes. Like when he thinks people don't understand what he's trying to say. Or when they DO understand, and disagree with him. Or when they won't drop what they are doing and carry out his bidding forthwith. For example, when he lays in a recliner and hollers, "Answer the dang phone!" to others laying in their recliners. Let the record show that this tale has been censored, since Farmer H has never been one to use the word dang. In this specific instance, I attribute Farmer H's outburst to anxiety over his upcoming appointment to have a section of skin sawed off like so much shoe leather. That's how my mom described her own such experience, anyway.

Yes. All is forgiven. Farmer H was not intentionally wounding the one person who is there to help him. But it makes me leery of removing a thorn from a lion's paw.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Do You Ever Wonder?

Here is a list of items that puzzle Mrs. Hillbilly Mom:

If dinosaur farts caused the atmosphere to warm, and led to their demise, why hasn't the overwhelming overpopulation of humans done the same thing? I know there are way more people than dinosaurs. And some of them are really gassy.

How is it that the melting ice caps and icebergs will raise the level of the oceans, BUT if you fill a glass to the top with ice and water, it does not overflow as the ice melts? Ice takes up more space than water, you know. Because water expands when it changes from liquid to solid. Just try putting a bottle of water in your freezer if you don't believe me.

How could NASA erase the original moon videotapes so they could recycle the tapes and use them again? Really. You'd think the agency in charge of the only moon landing in the world would recognize the importance of such an event, and take more care with the evidence. What's the deal? Did a summer intern need to record Mork and Mindy?

How is it that schools are expected to have an all-seeing eye when it comes to bullying, even after hours and in social media, yet are not supposed to monitor student social media?

How is it that kids are getting fatter and fatter, yet they are now eating three meals a day at school for all but about two months of the year? That ketchup must be one high-calorie vegetable!

How are the not-fat kids going hungry on those three free meals plus weekend backpack food, when their parents get food stamps to feed them at home, subsidized rent, free medical and dental treatment, free phones, free school supplies, and a hefty tax refund though they may not even work? It almost seems as if those benefits are not going to help raise the kids!

How is it that nobody has ever found a Bigfoot skeleton or a true missing link between apes and humans? Surely if such things exist, one would have been found by now, what with people scouring the earth in search of them.

How could people believe that the Cottingley Fairies were real? C'mon. LOOK at them! Even in 1917, somebody should have known that pictures can be faked.

Why are animal lovers so quick to condemn any act that so much as ruffles the fur on Fido's head, yet subject their own pets to stabbings with a hypodermic needle, and mutilation as birth control?

Would Meow the 39-pound cat still be alive if do-gooders had not put him on a diet and made him lose 6 pounds? Reports point to a stoppage of breathing as the cause of death. Was he on a treadmill, or what?

Perhaps some of you have the answers. Please share.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Old Moms, Children, And Half A Jug Of Whine

I am formulating a new scientific theory. I am so certain of my data that I'm going to bypass the theory part, and make it a law. Hillbilly Mom's Law of Universal Ingestional Interruption.

You know what people forget to warn you about when you are mere days away from bringing a little bundle of joy into the world? YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN HAVE AN UNINTERRUPTED MEAL. That's what.

You can feed that baby until it's full as a tick. Dandle it on your knee until its eyelids droop. Lull it into a deep sleep with the repetitive motion and hum of a mechanical swing. But the second you sit down and dare to put a morsel into your mouth, your petite cherub cranks open its gaping maw and commences to caterwauling until you put down your fork.

Oh, you can hope that the infant will grow out of this phase. And with a boatload of luck and a truckload of karma, that might just happen. At the exact moment your mother starts calling you the nanosecond you sit down to supper.

I screen my calls. That's what grown-up babies are for. The Pony is an effective personal secretary. Only two numbers will pass the screen test at mealtime. One is the school information line during inclement weather. And the other is my septuagenarian mother.

I refuse to screen my mother's calls. No matter what I'm doing, I pick up. Because that's only right. After all, I kept her from enjoying many a repast. And now it's my turn.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bound For The Food Network, Perhaps

I have a concept for a new show. I'm not sure which network is deserving of my pitch. It's kind of a hybrid of an idea, as Mr. Mendel would say. A mongrel, to the canine world. A conglomerate, to a geologist. My show involves both cooking AND a psychic! It could be called Chopped Medium.

Of course the star would be Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

I would do what I do every day...besides trying to take over the world. I would whip up suppers in my Mansion kitchen. Notice that is plural. Because it is a rare evening when all residents concur on the vittles. But that's not the psychic part.

Farmer H sits down to eat when he's good and ready. He gets home at 5:00 and tends to his animals. The boys are hungry much earlier. So I feed them at the cutting block, then prepare food for Farmer H and myself. Which is usually the same.

Deciding when Farmer H will appear to sup is the psychic part. Sometimes, the meal is ready, but the Farmer is missing for a good two hours. Other times, the minute food goes into the oven, Farmer H is sniffing around like a junkyard dog outside an abattoir.

There's room for another kind-of cooking show, right? Because I'm not about to have 19 kids or go noodlin' catfish to get on TV.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rootin' Tootin' Times At The Mansion

I hope I have not misled my readership. To hear me tell it, Hillmomba must be one big rootin', tootin' paradise, a land flowing with goat milk and free-range chicken eggs, where a Pony can be a Pony, living off the fat of the land.

That's not always true.

I know this comes as a shock to you, after years of sunny, upbeat stories letting you peep into my rainbow-and-unicorn, I'm-okay-you're-okay, everyone's-a-winner world. Clutch your pearls, people! Today, I dip into the seamier side of life with Farmer H.

For three days last week, The Pony and I enjoyed an idyllic respite from Farmer H and the #1 son. Farmer H was away on business at Lake of the Ozarks, and #1 was preoccupied with preparations for the Newmentia school carnival. We waved goodbye to Farmer H Tuesday morning. Figuratively, that is. Literally, we hollered, "We're leaving!" and dashed off to school while he was still abed. Our next two days stretched out ahead of us like a grade-school summer vacation, no end in sight. Like his father, #1 remained in the sack as we motored up the driveway. He would pointedly ignore me at school (except to scam $13 for his Chem II shirt), return to the Mansion at 9:30, shower, and do homework until bedtime. Barely fifteen words passed between us all week.

But then the master of the house returned. I had forgotten how unrestful the nights are in Hillmomba.  My rootin', tootin' husband has been lootin' me of a good night's sleep for so long that I have become complacent. Do you know how much rest you can get when there is not a person shoving his pillow up under the edge of yours, snaking his arm under it, dislodging your brain-packed cranium that is trying to renew itself with a scant five hours of elusive ZZZZs? Or that you can hear frogs peeping when the air is not ripped with the silent but deadly, unconscious, gaseous emissions of your bedmate?

Funny how I slept more soundly once he returned.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It Takes So Little To Make Him Happy

The Pony has returned from the school carnival victorious.

He did not win a cake at the cakewalk. Nor a pair of multicolored, stuffed snakes for me to use as neck supports. Nor a grab bag of miscellaneous plastic toys. Nor a Cat-in-the-Hat hat. Nor a finger-on-a-stick pointer. No. There comes a time to stop winning childish things. The Pony just turned fourteen. And he won a prize that made him the envy of teenage boys throughout Hillmomba.


He only made it home with twenty. Because he had to sample one, of course. And the #1 son finagled a pack away from him. #1 gave a resounding thumbs-up review: "Take the rest of those home, and we'll eat them there!" Because, of course, what's The Pony's is also #1's.

They are Little Caesar's cookies, like McDonald's cookies, only shaped like pizzas. The Pony won them by tossing Little Caesar's Crazy Bread Bites into Little Caesar's open mouth. A wooden cut-out board head, not a real dude. A stuffed Little Caesar costume was there, though. Stuffed face down in a box, with only his sandaled feet sticking out. The Pony bought twenty tickets for two dollars, which gave him forty bites. Twenty-two of which sailed through Little Caesar's oral cavity.

And the best part? Each bag had stapled to it a coupon for a large, one-topping pizza and a large order of Crazy Bread. All for the low, low price of $5.99!

The Pony is in hog heaven.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Totally-Uncalled-For Athlete

Did you know that Farmer H is a world-class athlete? That he is renowned throughout Hillmomba for his feats of skill? That I sometimes wish him an athletic-career-ending injury?

That's not nice. But I can't help myself. A gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do. And that future record-setter must be stopped. Before I kill.

Farmer H's sport? Dogfood flinging.

We feed our fleabags dry food. Hard, crunchy pellets. Each morning at 6:00, save Sundays, Farmer H tromps through the laundry room and steps out onto the back section of the wrap-around Mansion porch. He opens the metal trash can that acts as a canine canister for feed, and dips out three cups of food. One cup at a time. He dispenses it into each of three flat metal pans. Because our dogs do not share a meal nearly as peacefully as the cats do out of their single metal roasting pan in the garage.

Imagine, if you will, a jai alai player with his long, curved wicker scoop attached to his arm, running at the dog dish, winding up, and flinging those hard pellets at 188 miles per hour. Then imagine the sound. Three times

I rest my case.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One Captain Per Ship, Please

The person who cleans my room is the cleaningest cleaner who ever cleaned! The place gleams like a tile-and-steel operating theater. No germ would dare to encroach upon my sterile territory. However...

I don't mean to be a complainer. But this leopard cannot change her spots. Spots which would be scrubbed from her very hide, if she was under the jurisdiction of The Cleaner, making her a rare, stand-out, albino sitting duck for predators.

By now, folks should be privy to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's peccadilloes. She is the captain of her ship. On that ship, there is a place for everything. And everything had better be stowed away in its place. This was no problem for The Original Cleaner. In fact, it seemed to apply to objects on the floor as well as classroom furniture and major appliances. Without even time to break in a middle-of-the-road replacement, The Cleaner was assigned to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's flotilla.

What could possibly go wrong with a gold-medal caliber cleaner, you ask? Bounds-overstepping. That's what.

Imagine my surprise, one minute before first bell, when I noticed that my four rows of desks, with accompanying chairs, were out of alignment by two tiles. That's two feet! Twenty-four inches! It might as well have been a thousand miles! Because, you see, I know my students. I deliberately place my desks in a predetermined grid for maximum classroom efficiency. Too far forward, and they pin me against the board by afternoon. Too far aft, and they block the main aisle across the back of the classroom. Too much space in between, and the sardining effect is negated. Students feel free to roam willy-nilly about the classroom.

It was too late to remedy the situation for first hour. I should have noticed upon arrival, but was caught up in some last-minute changes to my lesson plan, which required typing and printing and copying a word bank of twenty words. So I muddled through.

As soon as my plan time rolled around, I moved twenty-five desks and twenty-five chairs back into the proper position. To add insult to my perceived injury, I have the kids line them up each day before the final bell. So all that half-butted work and my accompanying haranguing had been an exercise in futility.

We won't take time today to discuss the relocation of my plastic, four-drawer tower of textbook CDs that had been moved where I couldn't reach them without standing.

Please. This is like hiring a Merry Maid and discovering that she moved your furniture to suit her personal feng shui needs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sometimes, I See The Strangest Things At School

As I was locking up my room today after school, I saw a student down at the end of the hallway. On the way out, I stopped to greet the little sow.

You know what a sow is, don't you? Surely you've seen Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn, picking up a stick along the railroad tracks and ordering Doo's new girlfriend out of his Jeep. She makes it quite clear. "A sow. That's a woman pig!"

Oh, excuse me. I have not filled in all details of this story yet. A few days ago, this student told me she had just gotten a new pet. I miniature pig. Black. And this afternoon, her mother brought it in after school. At first, I did not notice the baby porker. The Pony had already carried some stuff out to T-Hoe, and reported that there was a tiny piglet running around in a colleague's room. So I was on the lookout.

Did you know that a black piglet snuggled up against a black t-shirt is virtually invisible? I greeted the student, and was about to go on outside when she said, "How do you like my baby pig?" Then I saw her. The little sow. The proud new pig-owner set her down for me to admire her tail and manner of perambulating. Did you know that pet miniature pigs have straight tails? Me neither. No curly corkscrews for them.

Here's a whole basket of baby piggies for your viewing pleasure.

You can decide which one went, "Wee, wee, wee!"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

You Say Oui, And I Say No No

This is NOT Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom.

That goes without saying, you might think. You would think wrong. Just this morning, a student mistook my classroom for a sidewalk cafe.

I have not been promoting my den of learning with a campaign touting croissants, baguettes, cafe au lait, crepes, or eclairs. Nor have I installed pegs upon which one might hang a chapeau. A beret, perhaps. The desks have not been replaced with tables. No streaming sunlight. Frankenwindow still holds court near the pencil sharpener. People-watching is impossible with no boulevard to overlook. Unless, of course, you find it restful to observe adolescents in captivity. I, myself, do not.

Even though it lacks all of the accouterments of a French cafe, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom was STILL mistaken for such this morning. Why else would a young lady attempt to enter while carrying a 55-gallon barrel of Joe. I might be exaggerating just a smidge. She actually held it with one hand. But that foam cup was as tall as a 44 oz. Diet Coke. Of course I stopped her. Food and drink are not permitted in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom. It's right there in the rules. I dwell upon it throughout the year. The prohibition of such contraband is clearly mentioned in my First Day of School Speech. Others before her have had their ill-timed consumables confiscated.

"Stop. You're not going into my room with that."


"You know the rules. No drinks allowed."

"SIGH!" (The air that gushed from her lungs could have replaced a wind farm in Nantucket Sound. No need to worry, Cape Codders. It doesn't kill birds, and it's relatively quiet.)

"I don't know why you're just standing there. The bell is going to ring."

"What do you want me to do with it?"


"You can put it in the trash can in the cafeteria. Or you can put it in your locker. But it is NOT going into my classroom."

So Tall Cuppa Java did neither, and hoofed it next door where an enabler allowed her to stash it until the class period was over. Different strokes for different folks. It makes no nevermind to me where that giant carafe of coffee went until the bell. But I would never undermine my fellow faculty like that. Perhaps it was due to a cultural difference. The harborer DID come to apologize with a shrug, in a "What you gonna do?" manner. So I have no bones to pick there. And I know she is not operating her own French cafe. Because she simply detests the French.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Not the cool teacher.