Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Fault, Dear Hillmombans, Is Not In Our Stars...


Indeed. Lets admit it. We deserve what we hath wrought. Do you doubt that an employee of Domino's pizza would ride the kitchen broom like a stick-horse in full view of the customers? If so, then you might be a sheltered septuagenarian. A throwback to another era. When dinosaurs walked the earth, perhaps. Dinosaurs who did not suffer broom-horse-riding pizza-makers gladly. I guarantee you that such behavior is the rule, not the exception. New hires, the sheltered youth who could not wait to get a job for spending money, talk about asking off for the weekend, after working only a four-hour shift that consists of training. Declare, after working one true shift, that they will not be cleaning the bathroom because that is a job for somebody else. Their manager, perhaps. Or their mother, who should be glad to come to work and help out. After all, she does it at home.

Yes, the I'm okay/you're okay, everyone's a winner, rainbow and unicorn world has dealt these kids five aces. They don't understand the rewards of a job well done. Because even a job mostly undone, and piss-poor done at that, has garnered them an 'A' or a trophy or a write-up in the newspaper their whole young lives. They do not understand intrinsic values. From the time they can walk, or even before, they are smothered with praise for the most mundane acts imaginable. "Hand me the Cheerio. THANK YOU! Give me a kiss. THANK YOU! Oh, you found a leaf under the tree? For me? THANK YOU! Don't pull the doggie's tail off. THANK YOU!"

Business really should be paying them just to call in and say they wish they could work, but they have already made plans for Friday and Saturday night, and Sunday is church that they are planning on getting up before 1:00 and attending, and, well, weeknights are school nights, and their inflated 'A' average might suffer if they work instead of text and peruse Facebook all night.

It's tough out there for a simp.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Welcome To The Pizza California

Somebody is sucking all the joy out of Hillmomba faster than Casey at the bat in Mudville.

We have a new gourmet restaurant. Perhaps you've heard of it. Domino's. That's right. Imagine the good fortune of the folks who have grown fat and and sassy on the fare of Subway, gas station chicken, and Casey's pizza. They have a variety now. Two choices of pizza. Okay, four if you are a stickler, because our Subway has mini-pizzas, and the 44 oz. Diet Coke convenience store also sells carryout pizza.

I called one in on the way home from school. It was duty day, you know. Always a good occasion to celebrate the end of with some take-out bring-home food to avoid standing at the kitchen counter. We've never had an issue with Domino's before. Unlike Mr. Lunchtablemate, who bit down on a penny and couldn't wangle it into a lifetime of leisure, but rather ended up paying most of his own dental bills as well. He is not a pit bull owner. And he used a totally different Domino's. Anyhoo...our new Hillmomban Domino's has been open since December. You didn't think it was the Hillbilly family's first Domino's rodeo, did you?

The moment I called, I should have sensed there would be an issue. Okay. I DID. In fact, when The Pony clambered back into T-Hoe after paying for gas, I told him, "I'll be amazed if we actually get what we ordered." To start with, I was put on hold. That's fine. Other people need pizza too. But three minutes on hold is a bit excessive. Still, they didn't leave me hangin', those Dominolts.

"Do you still have the three-topping large for $7.99?"


"That's what I want."

"It's carry out."

"I know. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday."

"Go ahead."

"I want half cheese...and half sausage, bacon, and Canadian bacon."

"You don't want cheese on the other half?"

"Um...I want it to be normal pizza with sausage, bacon, and Canadian bacon. The other half is just cheese with no other toppings."

"Oh! Sorry. My mistake. What kind of crust?"

"Hand tossed." There was silence. About a minute.

"Uh, let me just re-calculate that special. It will be $8.63. It will be ready in twenty minutes."

We stopped for a 44 oz. Diet Coke. With a lot of ice. Because it IS only Wednesday. Only two minutes remained on our ready clock when we pulled into the Domino's lot. I sent in my minion, The Pony. He held the door open to let an old lady out, then paid, then waited. And waited. After six minutes had passed, the counter girl came out and spoke to him. He bolted back to T-Hoe. "They messed up our order. Didn't leave it half cheese. So she says they'll make me a medium cheese pizza for free, but it will take six minutes." What was I to do? He had already paid. He won't eat meaty pizza. So we sat on the lot while tiny sleet pellets bounced off T-Hoe's muddy-kitty-footprinted hood. The old lady The Pony let out was sitting in her car. Waiting. People who went in after The Pony were milling around the store. Waiting.

"That place is a freakin' Hotel California. You can pay any time you like, but you can never leave."

"They are different people than we usually deal with. Only that little girl knows what she's doing. While I was in there, the two guys who usually wait on me came in from delivering."

"I know. I was sitting right here. Only that short guy looked familiar."

"Yeah. He's the one that was riding the broom like a horse the last time we were here."

Thankfully, there was no coinage baked into the crust of my pizza.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Series Of Unbelievable Events

...continued from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Telephone.

When we last convened around the campfire, listening to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's tale of intrigue, and listening for that hook-armed escaped lunatic lurking just out of sight in the damp darkness along the treeline...Farmer H had just picked up the second call from a member of the weaker sex, whose name and accent suggested a tie to the land of vodka, nesting dolls, and cold tomato soup. The voice on the answering machine sounded very much like Sigourney Weaver in Heartbreakers, the scenes where she ate steak tartar with Gene Hackman in the glow of onion-shaped table lamps, smiled vacuously at the waiter who asked if she would like his big sausage on her plate, and haggled with housekeeper Nora Dunn just before setting her up to take the fall as a cigarette thief. Even though there is a dearth of good parts in Hollywood for women of age, I doubt that Sigourney has fallen on such hard times that she needs to pick up spare change on a Sunday morning by prank-calling Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. She comes from money, you know.

About three hours of taxing and feeding and 44-oz.-Diet-Coke-picking-up later, I sat down for a break of sipping and surfing. The internet, of course. I'm no beach bunny. I started with my laptop screen, to connect my internet. I swiped my finger across the mouse pad, expecting that greeny bamboo forest with my little black-and-yellow box for connection, AND GOT THE BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!

I shouted for the #1 son. He's my emergency responder. The blue screen box was ticking like a time bomb. In X number of seconds, something was going to happen to my sweet Shiba. #1 said to let her go. That she'd fix herself. I was beside myself. Never once, during our four-year partnership, has Shiba let herself go like that. I have no idea how long she had been down. Shortly, Shiba was restored. She LOOKED normal. I waited a minute or so for good measure. Then I connected. Took a trial run on Shiba. All systems were go. I hailed The Pony to carry my precious elixir down the stairs. No need to take unnecessary chances.

My desktop, New Delly, was not like I left him the night before. I close out the windows, leaving only my documents open. Yet there they were, chugging along, my Zune, my blogs, and my Gmail. That so did not happen. Impossible. I closed those windows and went to open up new ones. My internet did not work. I did a restart. My internet did not work. I sounded the alarm. Emergency Responder #1 roared in, wailing like a siren. He elbowed me aside like Nick Burns, Your Company Computer Guy. Clicked and clacked upon my keyboard like a crazed court stenographer. "There." He was gone faster than a freshman from a classroom when the lunch bell rings.

My internet still did not connect. ER#1 fiddled with Shiba and New Delly once again. Said he did not know what was wrong. I called shenanigans. "Mom! What do you expect me to do, PERFORM A MIRACLE?" Such drama from the boy who would be a certified genius in computer systems and software.

"Oh. That's okay. No internet, no taxes, no FAFSA. I can't do anything without my internet."

I spied him back at the old Shiba drawing board. Ten minutes later, I had internet once more. Funny how he says there is no way that government spying and tampering could occur with my internet set-up. But I ask you...when was the last time, in the span of three hours, you went to a conspiracy website, received two calls from a foreign operative asking for a person you KNOW but have nothing in common with besides a geographic location, had your laptop give up the ghost, and developed a bug in your LAN that almost stumped a technology virtuoso?

I rest my case.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Telephone

My kids think they know everything. And my husband as well. But let me tell YOU something. They don't. Take the case of the unexplained phone call, for instance.

Sunday morning, between 8:00 and 9:00, I was sitting in front of my picture window, trying to see if there was any frozen precipitation on the ground. Oh, and I just happened to be sitting on the end of the coffee table, perusing a favorite website on my laptop, which is the linchpin of the whole internet capability operation at the Mansion. For me, that is. The boys use their smart phones. They think they are so smart. Their smartness manifests itself when they say things to me like, "Everything is NOT a conspiracy, you know!" Huh. That's what THEY think.

The phone rang. The house line. The Pony is our first line of defense. Why should we aging bill-payers get off our considerable duffs to run to the phone, or even farther, to the caller ID? Yeah. There's no logical reason. That's why we had kids. Well, actually it was to change the channel. The screening calls thing is just a happy accident.

The Pony was already ensconced on his couch in the basement. He trotted over to look at the phony under the plier-lamp. That's a whole other story that has already been told. He hollered upstairs, "It's some NATIONALITY-REDACTED woman!" He rattled off the number. Not an area code with which I was familiar.

"I'm not answering!" I could hear the answering machine pick up. I strolled at my leisure out of the living room, behind the couch, across to the master bedroom, around our unmade bed, to my side where the answering machine resides. That's because I don't have to host a breather on my nightstand. By that time, the N-R female was rattling off her mission, with a thick accent. To please tell someone to call her. I got there late, so I didn't know who she asked for. And I was not particularly interested in listening to it at that time. As I started back around the foot of the bed, the phone rang again. I heard The Pony call out that is was the same person. He is well-trained, my little personal secretary. Farmer H, though, is not.

I heard Farmer H gallumping toward the phone between the living room and kitchen. He snatched it up, breathless. "What? WHO? No. You have the wrong number." See? What was the use? I was not happy. You never know when somebody is just calling to see if you're home, so they can send fifty more calls your way, asking for donations to various causes, because technically, they do not comply with the DO NOT CALL list, being charities and all.

To be continued...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

So Unpredictable, The Weather

I put my sweet Pony in shorts today. He is always complaining about wearing pants. I thought the temps were going into the fifties after this morning's alleged freezing rain scenario. It's not like The Pony would take initiative and pick out his own clothes. If I don't grab a shirt and pants and lay them on the back of the couch, he will lay around in his pajamas all day. "Well, you never told me to get dressed." Sometimes he's too much like his father. Without the need to be told, "Breathe in. Breathe out."

As the faulty weather men would have it, we left home going on 1:00 with the temperature at 37 degrees. The Pony insisted he wasn't cold in his shorts and fur jeans. That's what he calls the hair on his legs. Unless he's calling it his fur napkin while wiping french fry grease in it. He did, however, turn on his seat heater.

I'm still waiting for the next big storm. I don't see one on the horizon. So I'm being forced to take matters into my own hands and schedule a personal day off work. I need to get my driver's license renewed, you see. It's been six years. I'm NOT going to take that silly test again. I know how to drive better than everyone on the roads today! That would be a waste of my time and state resources.

My personal day will be the week after next. With five days to spare before my license expires. I'm not taking any chances. What if a big snowstorm rolls in?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Special Bulletin Regarding Citizens Of Hillmomba

Notice To Citizens Of Hillmomba:

In light of recent events that have occurred in neighboring regions, The Emperor of Hillmomba hereby decrees that any citizen unlawfully entering the home of another is subject to the whim of the home-dweller. These consequences may run the gamut from...

* an invitation to high tea

* a hot towel for the face

* the offer of a warm bubblebath while prayers for your immortal soul are said by candlelight

* a stern talking-to

* a command to begone, with the added incentive of a TV remote control chucked at your noggin

* a sound thrashing

* a warning shot with the advice to depart forthwith

* death by stabbing with the knife you were wielding upon entry after kicking in the door

If you find some of these offers less than appealing, DON'T UNLAWFULLY ENTER THE HOME OF ANOTHER CITIZEN OF HILLMOMBA. Simple as that. No excuses. Unlawful home entry is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. Due process is not necessarily an option.

Home-dwellers in Hillmomba will not be played for fools. They are not about to wake up dead because you had an unfortunate childhood. Life is all about choices, actions, and consequences. Some folks learn the hard way, and some folks never learn. Chances are that when you kick in the door and charge into the domicile with your knife at midnight, you are NOT planning to...

* ask to join in a game of Yahtzee

* inquire as to whether the occupant has any Grey Poupon

* recruit volunteers to help you find your lost kitten

* invite the residents to a block party

* see if a Seinfeld rerun is on one of the satellite channels

* offer a copy of The Watchtower for a small donation

* borrow a cup of sugar to bake a batch of Snickerdoodles

* deliver a balloon bouquet and an oversize check from Publisher's Clearing House

Citizens of Hillmomba, I call on you to mind your Ps and Qs. Neither a home-invader nor a cold corpse be. The days of I'm okay-you're okay, everyone's a winner, if it feels good do it, rights of the few outweigh the rights of the many are OVER. If you have a problem with substance abuse, anger issues, housing, heat, hunger, illness, depression, or even common orneriness, there is a program to help you somewhere, at no cost. Take advantage of it, and let the rest of our citizens live in peace.

Friday, January 25, 2013

I'm Not So Sure About This

A couple of students were late to my class today. I did not officially mark them tardy. Their cronies said they were finishing up a test. That was plausible enough. They had been discussing this literature test the day before. They mean well. They give the impression of trying to study. But if my class is any indication of their habits, they do daily work just to get it done, while concentrating more on their social lives and reality shows on MTV.

The missing straggled in and went about the business of working on a study guide for my upcoming test. Well, they worked on it between comparing experiences on the literature test they just took. It seems that one poor fellow had answered a bunch of questions that baffled the others. Only to reveal that his answers were about a story that was not even on the test.

A bone of contention was The Raven. They were absolutely clueless on the question, "What did the bird in The Raven say? The first problem was that one of them did not realize the bird WAS the raven. I believe that's the one who answered, "I have no idea and I don't really care."

Another student thought it through. Came up with a logical answer. "The bird said, 'What?' "

But it was the last one who came so close, yet remained so far from the correct answer of, "Nevermore."

"The bird said, 'That is all.' "

I am really trying to be optimistic about my test on atoms, molecules, and ions.

He Stopped Short Of Forgetting His Head, But Only Because It Was Attached

The boys have returned to the Mansion victorious after their first regular-season Academic Team meet. Both the Newmentia varsity and JV can add two wins to their belts.

For kids so smart, one of them is woefully forgetful. The Pony left his jacket in my classroom while embarking on the trip. That means he was out gallivanting in the 13-degree wind chill with bare arms. Of course, the frigid air means nothing to a hot-blooded adolescent. My cries for him to wear outer garments are met with hoots of disdain. You'd think I'd asked the young fellow to sport a gossamer headscarf.

The #1 son used to be forgetful as well. In fact, our name for him was The Absentminded Professor. I don't know that he's outgrown the title. He's just more careful not to let his absentminded flag fly.

They come by it naturally. Farmer H is always at a loss for the proper word. And this afternoon, I, myself, had a space academy moment. I could not for the life of me remember what a "bellringer" was. I went through various incarnations in an effort to prime the pump. Barnstormer? Brainstarter? Boardwarmer? It eluded me forever. I was nigh on asking a student, "What do you call those things a teacher puts on the board to keep you occupied while they take attendance?"

I was working with juniors at the time. It's probably just as well that I did not ask for their input. Their responses are sometimes unpredictable.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Shall Refrain From Calling The Kettle Stupid

The Pony and I were sailing along one of the city back roads of Hillmomba this afternoon, having just done battle with the updated ATM in the back wall of the bank. Not being one to wait until I reached the safe confines of my counting house to count out my money, I did so in a church parking lot beside the bank. I started for home before I remembered to wash my hands with Germ-X. Paper money is rife with cocaine particles, you know. A kid did a study on that for an award-winning science project. We read about it at school a couple of years ago.

I keep a mini bottle of green-apple-scented Germ-X in my purse. I thought nothing of taking it out for a squeeze while driving. Hey! The speed limit was 30 mph. And this ain't my first disinfectant rodeo. The road was straight. I was merrily rubbing the alcoholic gel between my fingers when a pickup truck darted from a parking lot, across the oncoming lane in front of another truck, and into my lane scant feet in front of T-Hoe's bumper. "Would you look at that idiot!" I screamed it for the benefit of The Pony. He rides in the seat behind me, you know. Reading or typing up a story on his laptop. I didn't want him to miss the latest infraction.

Then I started to laugh. Maniacally, some might say. "Ha ha ha ha ha! Would you look at that idiot! Said the woman who was driving with no hands, sliming herself with Germ-X. Oh, the irony! It IS irony, isn't it?

"Oh, it's irony."

"I was never sure exactly what that meant."

"Which means you were born without an innate sense of irony."

Which is probably some kind of irony in itself, the fourteen-year-old Pony having to explain to his teacher mom what irony is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

If You've Got A Problem, I Don't Care What It Is...I Can Help

Sir Edward J. Coke Duke needs my help!

I hope he's not in trouble! His message was a bit abrupt. That's all it said, "I need your help   " Not even any punctuation in his sentence. What if something sinister has happened to him? And I'm the only person he tried to contact. I'm beside myself with worry. How can I help him? What could be wrong?

Was he being held at gunpoint and forced to e-mail me, the Emperor of Hillmomba? It could happen, what with him being a duke and me being the ruler of my very own nation. We royals stick together. Why, just last week, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was offering to loan me an iPod. Said she got it as a gift way back in '09, and hadn't used it yet. I told her no, that I planned to buy one for myself with my winnings from the UK National Lottery that I didn't even buy a ticket for.

Perhaps Sir Edward needed to borrow some of my lottery winnings, seeing as how I won and he didn't. Being a duke must be expensive, having to keep up appearances, and put some bodyguards on the payroll so he doesn't get kidnapped, and maintain an e-mail account in case he does.

Maybe Sir Edward found the four missing hot dogs that disappeared from Frig between 5:00 p.m. Friday, and 5:00 p.m. today. How they crossed the big pond I'll never know. They didn't even have passports. But if he found them, bully for him for being an honest Abe and contacting me forthwith. Less savory characters might have simply swallowed them and slipped into the shadows.

I suppose this cryptic electronic note will always be a mystery. Unless Sir Edward J. Coke Duke contacts me again. Or my acquaintances. At least then I'll know he's okay.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Prime Time Is A-Wastin'


I know, it seems greedy to ask for more days off, here at the tail-end of a three-day weekend. But I want more. We are over halfway through January, by cracky! It's time to make snow days while the sun doesn't shine. We are four weeks into the thirteen-week season of winter! Nigh on prime time for fluffy precipitation.


None of this "maybe we might see a flurry or two north of the city" type of forecast! Let's get right to it. The kind of forecast that puts folks on alert to snarf up all the milk and bread available at the retail outlets. Makes them listen to the news for school closings. Hunker down in front of the picture window and watch the flakes fall fast and furious.

I'm ready.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Deep In The Heart Of January

It has been a lazy Sunday here at the Mansion.

The Hillbilly family has been scattered hither and yon this weekend. The Pony was picked up after bowling league Saturday, and spent the night with Grandma. He was practically frolicking all week with anticipation. She's been under the weather, and just this weekend felt well enough to host him overnight.

The #1 son said goodbye to me Thursday night, and announced that he would see me Saturday. That's because he can't be bothered to talk to me at school during the day. He stayed late for robot team, then had a lock-in for NHS until Saturday morning. He escaped again around noon today with his fancy schmancy camera, headed to a friend's house until late tonight.

Farmer H spent Saturday working, watching bowling, and awaiting a bargain at the auction. Today he sawed up a tree that blew over in the snowstorm right after Christmas, then he took off for the feed store, and Goodwill, and to pick up The Pony.

I have been filling out a gosh-darned 24-page return-under-penalty-of-law farm census from the U.S. government, doing laundry, whipping up a meat loaf, and writing. Of course there was time to drive to town for a 44 oz. Diet Coke. When I left, the goats were out in the BARn field, grazing under the thorn tree. When I came back, most of them were up by the gravel road, just waiting to dart in front of me. The newest kid was laying broadside soaking up the sun along the driveway on the Mansion side of the sinkholes, her baby breath curling out of her nostrils in tendrils of vapor. When she heard T-Hoe approach, she jumped up and ran to hide under her momma, Goatrude. She's a smart one already.

I did not get close enough to see the rectangles of her eyes.

Monday, the boys and I are off from school. The agenda includes a pot of chili, and a six-month dental checkup. Maybe a bit of TurboTaxing for good measure.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nurturing Not Permitted

Attempted huggers are the bane of my existence.

Every day, I must thwart the unwelcome advances of at least one girl hugger. I understand that students today are in touch with their feelings. Don't I have to listen to it in the hall every hour? Girls parting after a long walk from their lockers, entering separate classrooms, saccharine-sweetly calling, "I love you!" And answering, "Love you, too!" Please. It's too much. That's not love. That's a superficial school-building social acquaintanceship. A Facebook friendship. Have you even been to each other's houses? I thought not. They will hug if not given the stinkeye. That's against the rules, you see. Any hugging, between any combination of the sexes. The only sustained contact permitted is hand-holding. Not that I want students to hold my hand, either.

It's nice that kids want to hug me rather than smack me. But it's never gonna happen. Not even if they ask every day. "Can I give you a hug? NO! Why not? It's just a hug? Come on. A hug." The boys don't ask for hugs. Oh, one might say, "Does somebody need a hug?" But they don't require the stiff-arm brush-off. Kids don't understand the witch-hunt mentality these days. And the cameras at every threshold. And the career-ending stench that could waft from a freshly-opened can of worms.

The guys want high-fives from me. "High five? Don't leave me hangin'! High five? Low five? Five? ...four? Pound it? Fist-bump? No?" The next day, they're back at it. Hope springs eternal. "High five?"

The times, they have a-changed.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Good Lock And Twenty Master Keys Would Clear That Right Up

I have come to the conclusion that children should be unseen and not hear.

This revelation grabbed me by the throat this afternoon as I stood beside the recalcitrant Kyocera having a heart-to-heart with Arch Nemesis. Kyocera lives in the teacher workroom. Notice it is called the teacher workroom. Not just by the teachers, unofficially. That's what it is labeled as on all the escape maps hanging in every room. And in the teachers' handbook, there is a section on proper use of and deportment in the teacher workroom.

It has a new, unofficial name that has been bandied about by those of us displaced by a population not indigenous to our official habitat: The Student Playroom.

Not one faculty member approves of this laissez-faire arrangement. We are constantly grousing about it. Yet nobody will stick a wrinkly neck out to oust the invaders. That's because more will return. Unless you stand guard outside the room like a Buckingham Palace tall-furry-hatted fellow, the place is crawling with them. I don't stay after school to be an unpaid bouncer for the underage in our overage haven. I stay after school to run copies. But I can't even concentrate, what with the clown-car parade in and out behind me, trooping to the snack machine to see if the contents have changed in the last five minutes.

You can see blood pressure rise like the mercury in a thermometer placed under the tongue of a 104-degree feverish patient as soon as they cross the threshold. Bold they are. Like vampires, yet without even that initial invitation. Acting like they own the place. I simply leave, because it is not good for my health. Some stand and fight. With sarcasm. The invaders think they are joking.

Complaints fall on deaf or absent ears.

This will not end well.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Can't Complain Today

Today was a middling success.

The drivers running stop signs (heh, heh, I first typed 'stop sighns') and the dude who made the U-turn right in front of me, and the broken glass from a previous middle-of-the-road faux pas did not impede my trip to school this morning.

The fact that Learn 360 was down was discovered by moi in time to grab an alternate educational sciency video to fill ten minutes at the end of the lesson.

Nobody required corralling nor pugilistic separation during my lunch duty.

The kid who got out of his seat and squeezed by a girl writing with a pencil, snagged himself in the side with the eraser, then cried, "Stabbing! That's assault! I'm going to report you!" was reprimanded for his antics with the following logic from the mouth of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom:

"Five minutes ago you complained that you were being tickled by your work partner. Now you've been stabbed. If you had stayed in your seat, or taken another route, your so-called stabbing would not be an issue. I am sure that many people in this room might have dreamed of stabbing you with a pencil (a chorus of "YEAH!" arose spontaneously), but I doubt that any would be foolish enough to do it in my presence, in broad ceiling light. Between your tickling and your stabbing, you have two strikes. The third one will remove you from your partner, and bring you back to your seat. You know. The one directly in front of ME."

"Okay. Got it."

See how easy it is to reason with ninth-graders?

Here's hoping Friday goes as smoothly. I've got a three-day weekend on tap, you know.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Was Not In The Mood For A Ribbing

I am not quite sure how to broach this sensitive subject. Not that I am faint of heart, a prude, or pretend to be writing a blog for tweens. No. I am cautious not to use phrases that might possibly be Googled and drag an unwelcome visitor back to my Mansion. I am deep undercover in the Blogger Protection Program, you know. That said, let's get down to brass tacks. Or puffy paint T-shirts.

I rarely read what's on the front of students' shirts. I've got a million other things to be monitoring, and that one is low on my radar. When teachers spot something untoward from the lunch table, I turn and gawk to see what the hubbub is about. Today, I noticed something that the others did not. And I let it go. Because I didn't want to rock the boat. Stick my neck out. Get stuck in a sticky wicket. The building-runner was out of the building today. I was not prepared to take the heat. Otherwise, I would have mentioned it to the grand poobah of the facility, just in passing, as to whether such a phrase was actually appropriate for our hallowed halls of learning. It wasn't all that long ago that mohawks were banned, you know. We don't suffer distractions gladly.

The shirt in question was a plain white T. In puffy blue letters, it said...Oh. You didn't really think I was going to put the actual phrase, did you? It seemed to me to be based on an advertising slogan for a condom manufacturer. The one that went a little bit like this: Ridged For Her Enjoyment. Technically, the T-shirt did not sport the quote verbatim. It added a little twist: Rigged For Your Enjoyment. Yeah. That's close. In actuality, the difference was in the real words r i b b e d and r i p p e d. You know. To imply that the wearer was such a magnificent physical specimen that his musculature defied description. But I'm sure the wearer was aware of the connotation. Why wear it otherwise?

Sorry. I shirked. Stuck my head in the sand. I am not the phrase police. Just how am I supposed to explain why I feel it is inappropriate? I am not the condom queen. But I DID work in an insurance salvage store and stock them on the pegboard across from the checkout counter. They were a highly shoplifted item. Can you imagine? At what point do you resort to stealing your intimate protection from an insurance salvage store? WE BOUGHT MERCHANDISE DECLARED A TOTAL LOSS DUE TO FIRE DAMAGE!

I am going to inquire about the appropriateness of this clothing tomorrow. For future reference.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Sun Came Out Tomorrow

I don't mean to tempt fate. To poke Even Steven with a pointy stick. But I feel good.

That sinus thingy has packed its mucusy bags and headed on down the trail. The headache is gone. The toothache is gone. The neck pain is gone. Gone, gone gone! A couple days after the antibiotics that I waited four hours for, I started to improve. That lasted for about ten days. Then it was like I had a short relapse. Headache. Snot. Neck pain. A tiny threat from the tooth, but no actual pain.

Now I'm ready to do cartwheels. Which is funny, because I've never done a cartwheel before. Not even as a kid. Mine always turned into some kind of floppy round-off. I've never liked gymnastic stuff. I dreaded the tumbling unit in elementary. "Oh, why don't you go ahead of me? I don't mind. Really." I hung back at the end of the mat while everybody else took multiple turns with the forward and backward roll. Then that mean old PE teacher would catch on, and make me step up there in front of everyone.

I DID NOT want to do a forward roll. But there he was. Insisting. Putting me in the proper position. Telling me to tuck my chin and roll. He even pushed my head down and kind of shoved me over. I was not liking that one bit. Especially after he said, "See how easy that was?" Then he told me to go home and practice. I actually tried. Spread out a cushy quilt and afghan. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not make myself tumble. I did not do well on the performance test. But you know what? I still graduated.

It must be an inversion thing. I don't like amusement park rides or carnival rides that spin around upside down. I hated my diving class in college. In fact, I could not make myself go off the 1-meter board. Forget the 3-meter. It was all I could do to make myself dive head-first from the side of the pool. Even after my teacher ridiculed me for going in flat, not pointy. "Go ahead and smack your face every time. See if I care." Yeah. I've had some real peaches for instructors. He did, however, make a deal with another student and me, to let us take his beginning swimming class AGAIN to earn our diving credit. Of course, it took that other girl almost dying from slipping off the platform at the outdoor pool and swinging in, landing withing six inches of the concrete deck, to make him cough up that offer. I suppose he realized that you can't make some people work through their fear by intimidating them.

Where was I? Oh. I feel good.

Monday, January 14, 2013


...the newest member of the Hillbilly family, a baby girl, as yet unnamed. You might notice that her momma has still not lost all of her pregnancy weight. I expect a call from Jenny Craig any day now.

She was born Saturday night or Sunday, the best Farmer H can tell. She was not here on Friday night, when the temperatures were in the 60s. Farmer H had to work Saturday morning, then met The Pony for his bowling league, then stayed in town until four for a surprise birthday party the Pony was invited to. He did not mention this little firecracker to me before heading out to the auction at six.

There was a heavy rain Saturday night. Farmer H encountered water over the bridge on his way back from the auction. Sunday morning, with temps in the teens, he took off again for town. Mid-afternoon, he reported that his trusty goat, Goatrude, had delivered twins. Unfortunately, one did not survive. I'm sure the weather had a lot to do with it. We've only lost two other goat babies, one that may have been stepped on by a gaggle of goat hooves in their shed, who never fed properly, and the runt of a set of triplets that survived several weeks.

The Pony was saddened by the loss. He did not even want to go see the new addition yesterday. This afternoon, though, he said his dad had told him to check on the baby goat as soon as we got home. You know, while he was busy collecting THE EGG. I sensed some trepidation. After all, we are not that many years removed from the Summer of Dying Chickens. The Pony was on Death Watch then, too. It took a lot out of him. I don't know WHY Farmer H won't let me cocoon him and keep him sheltered until he's 21.

The baby was doing well. Farmer H arrived back at the Mansion a few minutes later. He ran over to see his new kid. Next thing I knew, while readying supper in the kitchen, Farmer H popped in with that baby goat in his arms. "Let's let Momma take a look at you." He held it on its back like a baby. And, like all babies, when I stepped closer for a better look, she bawled her head off. SO LOUD the bleat from such a little one. Farmer H scurried off to reunite little NoName with her mother.

Momma, indeed! We all know Farmer H is an old goat. But I am NOT a momma goat.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What Evil Lurks In The Cold, Cold Heart Of HM? The OnStar Knows

I am a bit discombobulated after receiving an e-mail from OnStar.

I know OnStar is there to help me when I run off the road and I'm hanging upside down by T-Hoe's seatbelt after swerving to avoid a deer. Speaking of deer, we saw four on the way to town this morning. Three bucks and a doe. An odd family, that one. A reverse harem. Anyhoo...OnStar can unlock my vehicle if I can find a number to call them and if I have my phone in my hand when I lock myself out of my car. I can purchase hands-free calling minutes and talk by pushing a button on the dash if I want to be perceived as a loony by the drivers of passing cars who see me all alone, talking. OnStar can call me to chat if they have an issue. I wonder if they try to collect that way when people don't renew their OnStar subscription. I doubt it. They probably just take it automatically from the credit card. That's why I refuse to pay my OnStar fee with a credit card. It can be done by check, but OnStar frowns upon it, and makes it difficult by forcing one to pay for a whole year, not month by month. Now where was I...

We're not here to discuss the relative merits of OnStar, nor my stellar bill-paying record. Nope. We're here to inform the masses that OnStar is now in the stalking business. It's true! Of course, the e-mail acts like OnStar is doing me a favor. Giving me added peace of mind when my loved ones are behind the wheel. Here's what I can do:

*View my vehicle's location online by logging on to the Family Link site
*Get automatic location alerts by setting up e-mail notifications
*Schedule text message alerts to be sent to my mobile device.

For a fee of $3.99 per month, of course. Or $47.88 per year. OnStar is not all that altruistic. seems to me that whether I pay for this Stalker Service or not, OnStar still has those capabilities. And my full legal name from their billing records. Wherever I go, OnStar knows I'm there.


Not that I have anything to hide.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pollyanna, The Elder

It is with great trepidation that I report this most shocking news from Hillmomba. A ne'er-do-well not-so-secret society is attempting to entrench itself in the underbelly of our polite society. As Emperor of Hillmomba (please remember how I detest the weak-kneed empress moniker), I am hard-pressed to find a legal remedy to the situation.

I dropped off The Pony at his bowling league this afternoon. My mom met us on the parking lot, so I could give her some leftover chicken-and-noodles, sweet-and-sour chicken, tabloids, one brown banana, and a just-purchased 44 oz. Cherry Diet Coke with no cherry. I KNOW! She took it better than I expected. Apparently, cherry flavoring is the new shortage in Hillmomba.

Standing car-side, Mom casually said, "You'll never guess who's handing out fliers at the four-way stop by the post office." Let the record show that this is not the dead-mouse-smelling post office in my town, but the one five miles away, in the town that divides us from Mom's town. I don't know the olfactory ambiance of that one, having never set foot inside.

"I don't know...the fire department?" They are always causing a traffic hazard, standing on the yellow line at each of the four directions, holding out their boots.

"No. The Clue Clucks Clan." That's how Mom pronounced it.

"You've gotta be kidding me! Were they in the road?"

"No. They were off to the side. I guess they were giving people a chance to reach out and get a flier."

"How did you know it was the CCC?"

"Well, they were wearing their robes. And those tall hats."

"Are you kidding me? The white robes? Could you see their faces?"

"I think so. I was trying to look, but two cars almost collided, so I had to pay attention. A couple of them had on blue robes that were really pretty."

Mom decided to take a detour on the way home, a couple blocks down, to avoid them. I called her later to make sure she made it home, and see how she liked our leftovers. She had said how she was so scatterbrained, she might forget to turn and end up right back at the intersection.

"Hey, how did you like the chicken-and-noodles?"

"Oh, they're great. I'm stuffed."

"So you made it home okay?"

"You're not going to believe this. I started to go around, and then I thought, I wonder if they're still there? So I kept going, and they were! One guy started walking towards my car, holding out a flier. But I just shook my head and waved him away. I didn't feel threatened. I had my door locked. There were about five of them, and then on the other corner, some wearing black pants and black hooded sweatshirts. Then there were some people in normal clothes walking around, but they might have just been going over to talk."

"What is their agenda, anyway? Were they trying to collect money? Or get new recruits? Why would they come out in the open like that?"

"I don't know. Do you want me to get a flier next time?"

"NO! I bet they're just wanting publicity. I hope the news stations don't come down here and film it. Just ignore them. Don't give them what they want. They're like that church hate group, stirring things up at funerals to get noticed."

"There will probably be an article about them in the paper on Monday."

"What if somebody got a picture when you were waving that guy away from your car? You might end up on the front page of the New York Times, with people thinking you were friendly-waving to them. And all you will say is, "Oh, my hair was such a mess."

"It IS a mess. They might have got a picture when I threw up both hands when those cars were about to hit."

"Yeah, And it will look like you were offering a warm embrace. I wonder, when they're out in public, in their street clothes, without their group, do they start stuff? Like, do they get all mouthy and spout their philosophy?"

"Oh, I doubt it. I'm sure they're on their best behavior, so it won't look bad for the group."

"What do you think they are, some kind of knitting group? Since when does the CCC have rules and want to be seen as polite?"

"Well, I don't know. I just don't think they would want to be seen in a bad light."

"Um. We're talking about the CCC! Right out in public, where everybody knows what they stand for. What if they're like those Mormon missionaries that Sis's husband told he admired their conviction for going out to spread their word, and then they mailed him an invitation to the grand opening of that temple? They will think that by being polite to them, you want to join them. If the CCC comes to your house in their robes, and knocks on the door, it would probably be best not to let them in."

"Oh, those blue robes were so pretty! They really fit well, And the color--it was like a dark medium blue. It looked so much better than those see-through white ones."

"Give me a break. What were they, satin?"

"I don't know the fabric, but they were really nice."

"You know they asked to use our school buses to deliver their fliers. And were not happy when they were turned down."

"Yes. You told me about that."

"We're not so sure they aren't behind that vandalism last month when all the stems were pulled out of the tires, making some buses twenty minutes late for school."

"Oh, I don't think they would be involved in anything like that. It would make them look bad."

"Do you hear what you're saying? They burn crosses in yards!"

"Not these days. I don't think they want that negative reputation."

"Okay. I'm done now. You crack me up sometimes. You can't see the good in EVERYBODY!"

That's my mom. Always the optimist. Not really a funny subject, but one that begs for a solution. I think the CCC started a lawsuit against the town over not being allowed to hand out their fliers at the four-way-stop. They were told they could go door-to-door, but they couldn't obstruct traffic. Like the firemen. Good call they made in not going door-to-door. Some calamity might have befallen them. So I guess they adjusted their strategy, and kept out of the road at the four-way-stop to obey the letter of the law.

That's the thing. Free speech means for EVERYBODY. The CCC is playing the discrimination manipulation game.

I don't have the answer.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Blind Leading The Annoyed

I made the mistake of telling the #1 son that at 18, he is old enough to have his own checking account, without my name on it. He decided that we had to sever the relationship today. My Devil's Playground day.

The Pony and I rushed to the bank, after listening to #1 complain that we are SO SLOW and that I should take that 7th hour stack of homework papers home to grade. No. He left anyway, to stop by the park to take pictures while he waited.

I let The Pony stay in T-Hoe while #1 and I went in. But first I had to fish around for a deposit slip with the account number, because #1 didn't have one, and didn't think the bank could look it up. Then he said he would do the talking, but hung back in an "After you, my dear Alphonse" way until I entered the door first. The teller told us to have a seat. It's a cushy job if you can get it.

In the midst of a rollicking story of a clandestine air-vent-opening in my early years at Basementia, a little slip of a girl walked from behind the clear, non-soundproof privacy walls and stuck out her hand. I was taken aback. I almost handed her my checkbook. Then I saw that she wanted to shake. No need, my dear. I can see that you're not carrying a weapon. And I might just crush your tiny bird-boned appendage in my work-calloused man-hands. She did not endear herself to me when, upon luring us into her cubie, she started hacking up a lobe of lung. I was itching for the Germ-X, tucked away in my purse in T-Hoe.

That girl had no idea what she was doing. She asked for ID from both of us. Got up twice to get something approved. Which meant she was going to ask for instructions. She came back and typed a bit and said, "Now, your card will be no longer be valid." WHAAAAAT!

"I have to use it at The Devil's Playground in a half hour. What do you mean?"

"Well, to take your name off of his account, you have to get a new card."

I begged to differ. The kid had his own card. It just had my name on it because he was only 16 when he got it. But it was a totally different account. My card always brought up both accounts at the ATM. But his only worked for his account.

I'll be ding dang donged if that little slip of a girl didn't go haul somebody ELSE back into that open cubicle. I swear, less privacy has not been observed since I was splayed out post-#1-birth having stitches when Farmer H flung open the delivery room door and waltzed in with my mom and dad, half the waiting room peering in for an unsettling glimpse of my nether region repair.

To rub salt in this current card-slashing wound, the newcomer blocked my view of The Pony and T-Hoe in the parking lot. I had my eye on four men who climbed out of the cab of a work truck and stood next to them, gawking at my purse on the front seat, and The Pony in the back. I swear one of them stood under the big orange corrugated water cooler mounted on their tool box, and sucked from the spout as if it were a teat.

I was not pleased.

After a thirty-minute interlude, betwixt the two of them, Bankers R Cussed got their act together and said my card was still active, but #1 would have to wait seven days to get a new one in the mail.

He might be rethinking this decision in a few days.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Hack Of All Trades

I would be mad, kind of, if our lunch table had not vocalized our dreams of imminent retirement this week.

You see, when my plan time rolls around, I expect to use it for planning and clerical duties that are part and parcel of my job. I don't host angsty teen gripe groups, put my feet on the desk and lose myself in YouTube, or make personal calls and texts. It is bad enough that the first twenty minutes of my plan time are wasted on copy day because people with a latter-day plan time must rush in between classes and monopolize the Kyocera with their last-minute emergency copies that they put off for tomorrow because they were too lazy to do yesterday.

I do not enjoy being accosted by a freshman lad mid-copy, requesting the materials that Procrastinator #1 had left on and in the machine. I especially am not pleased when that polite-enough freshman lad returns, and says he was told, "There should be WAY more copies than that." As if he was at fault, or I was shirking in my unofficial other duties as needed contract requirement as a copy-finder for an equal with twenty less years of experience. Because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a giver, she looked through all copies stacked in the lower rung of the copy extruder. And found some missing copies. As well as a stack of originals as high as an elephant's eye in the automatic feeder.

Yes, Mrs. HM did the good deed, even though she caught the culprit only yesterday manhandling a 35-page printout of the Next Generation Science Standards, hot off the internet from Tuesday afternoon. Which was, in fact, being made FOR the culprit and Arch Nemesis, out of the kindness of Mrs. HM's cold, cold heart.

I would be mad, kind of. But I know that in three short years, Procrastinator #1 will be without the services of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, Copy Clerk.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pot Roast Releases New Album: Bat Out Of Not-Heaven

I am shocked. Shocked that nothing really good happened to me today. Even Steven must still be on Christmas break. While he did not leave me a crap sandwich for sustenance while he's away, he left one of those Aunt Edna dog-pee sandwiches for my gustatory delight.
I was headache free all day. That's a big bonus. Like a Kudos in my brown paper lunch sack.

My students were well-behaved and quiet and actually put forth good effort on their assignments. All except one class, but they are juniors, and just being able to spend fifty minutes in a closed room with them, breathing the same air, not ruffling any feathers, is considered a victory.

The teacher lunch table was rife with talk of retirement. There's going to be a tsunami of pensioners washed out of there in one spectacular event. Funny how the two young 'uns who are always bragging, "You're old enough to be my mom/dad/grandpa," were strangely subdued.

Kyocera made bail, and was without the prison stripes.

My parking lot duty went off without a hitch, without frostbite, without an incident.

A colleague let me go ahead of her in the bathroom line between sixth and seventh hour.

I received another new student today. With a last name beginning with the second letter of the alphabet.

Upon arrival at school, with ten minutes to log in five times at my control center before I had to report to imminent duty...I discovered that Cus had lined up the twenty-five desks where they are most convenient for running a broom through them. Which means the straight, orderly rows had been expanded towards the back of the room so that nobody would be able to pass when students were sitting there. So I moved twenty-five desks back to their original positions, AND logged in five times before shipping out for duty. TRY THAT, U.S. Marine Corps! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does more work before her day starts than most teachers do all day.

The people of Hillmomba have been driving like bats surging from the depths of Not-Heaven.
Okay. Now it looks like I had an acceptable day. I was so sure it was going to be great, though. I suppose 6 out 9 ain't bad. Maybe a chubby guy named Pot Roast will do a song about it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hope Dares To Rear Its Oft-Disappointed Head

Something really good is going to happen to me tomorrow. I'm sure of it. Even though it's duty day. Because today was one of those crap sandwich days. I would embellish, but I've already closed out my feces series this week.

All day, I've been fighting a sinus headache that even ibuprofen at 10:00 a.m. didn't touch. He's my go-to guy, that ibuprofen. Perhaps I should have wasted some time in a dalliance with acetaminophen first. Then called in my closer.

Because Even Steven loves to set me up royally, he gave me a surprise this morning. Two, actually. Because he's that kind of guy. I had some down time yesterday while my students were working. So I copied their names into the Old Red Gradebook I use to keep track of individual assignments and attendance. So easy to keep track of missing work that way. What with it being the third day of the new semester already, when the counselor stops fiddling about with schedule-changers, I thought it was safe.

Today I got two new students. That means their names are all cattywompus in the Old Red Gradebook. I have to mark a notation at their true place so that I don't enter a column of grades for the wrong students.

I attempted a short voyage to Study Island, but was thwarted by a missing passport. Of course, the lone doler-outer of passports was not available. So I had to call the Study Island embassy for my own identity. I must say, they were quite efficient and polite. Might have something to do with calls being monitored.

Kyocera is whining on the control panel that TONER WILL BE EMPTY SOON. But then spitting out copies with bands of gray on both sides, making my assignments look like old-time black-striped convict uniforms. That's kind of like a beggar crying that he has no shoes while he is tossing a footlocker full of them one by one out the right rear passenger window of a speeding PT Cruiser.

When I got home, I hugged Farmer H, who spent the day at a safety conference in Rolla, and now I smell like a man who went to a safety conference and wore real clothes like a company chambray shirt instead of a uniform service shirt and hoped there might be a woman of some kind present...and now I smell like a cologned-within-an-inch-of-my-life man.

I can't wait until tomorrow.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Shiznit Has Hit The Faznan

To round out our poopy-post trifecta, our doody hat trick, I bring you last night's tale of intrigue.


This is the Mansion the Farmer built
This is the mouse
That pooped in the light
That lay in the ceiling the Farmer built

This is the light
That filled up with poop
That looked just like bugs
That lay in the exhaust fan the Farmer built

This is the trap
That held peanut butter
That held the cheese
That lay in the trap that the Farmer built

This is the snap
That broke the neck
That held on the head
That lay on the tiny carcass clamped in the trap that sat in the light that ran the exhaust fan that lay in the ceiling that covered the master bath that lay in the Mansion that Farmer built.

This is the Farmer, flushing the pot
That sucked down the mouse that the Farmer caught
That pooped in the fan when the light made it hot
That had quickly filled up with the poop, quite a lot
That looked just like bugs, so black was each dot
That over this sight HM and Farmer fought
That worried the sons
That worried the Farmer
That trapped the mouse
That slid down the pipes that the Farmer built


Who knew mice were flushable? Not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Not her mother. But, apparently, The Pony. Who declared, "It's really no different than a goldfish going down."

Sunday, January 6, 2013

You Think Sh*t On A Shingle Is A Euphemism?

In the most recent installment of my not-suitable-for-mealtime series, I bring you this tale of Farmer H do-it-yourselfer shenanigans.

Farmer H is good with his hands. Not so good with reading instructions and manuals. If you need something fixed, he can do it. His way.

For a couple of years, I have been complaining that my kitchen sink does not drain properly. It has episodes of working a little while, then backing up. When this happens, water comes up in my companion sink, the one the dish drainer sits in. The timing of these incidents is suspect. They usually occur the day after Farmer H has helped me by rinsing out a pan.

Farmer H operates on his own timetable. He takes his meals when he is good and ready. Many a time the food awaits him on the stove. He is kind enough to put away any leftovers that he does not eat. It's the least he can do when not consuming the sustenance I provide until the un-cook-friendly hour of 8:30 p.m. I will admit to chastising him one time for leaving a crusty pan. So he has been on his best leftover behavior lately.

On New Year's day, I prepared a pan of blackeyed peas and bacon. For luck, you know. We will only be half lucky, because I did not serve any cabbage this year. I asked Farmer H not to run food down the kitchen sink. He has that habit. Like a garbage disposal might have been installed by the Garbage Disposal Fairy overnight. Our garbage disposals lay right outside the kitchen door, ever-ready to greedily consume any edibles that we have tired of. I had also set out some potato salad left from our Christmas gathering. "Please get rid of this. But if you rinse the container, don't run the water down the sink. You need to throw it off the porch." Farmer H grunted. That means he heard me and does not object.

Then next morning, both pan and plastic container were free of food particles. And my kitchen sink was lethargic. After a certain amount of water ran down the drain, it backed up on both sides. I interrogated Farmer H. "Did you run that rinse water down the sink? Because it's clogged again. I told you not to do that."

"Sure. Everything's always my fault. I didn't run it down the sink."

"Then how did you get those things so clean? I know you didn't swirl the water, pour it off the porch, swirl more water, pour it off the porch...There's no way you could have gotten that pan and tub so rinsed unless you ran it down the sink."

"I didn't. I poured it down the toilet."

That did not even deserve a rebuttal. I'm so sure Farmer H filled a saucepan and a quart container with water and carried them both to the bathroom and swirled the water until they were clean, then flushed that water. It would have been easier to walk back and forth to the back porch. Farmer H must have known I was on his trail. He said he would fix the sink that evening.

Upon further interrogation of Farmer H's apprentice accomplice, The Pony, after the alleged fixing, I discovered that he had NOT used a snake, poured in Draino, or cleaned out the trap. He had used a plunger.

"The POOPY BATHROOM plunger?"

"I didn't see any poop."

"Well, the only two plungers we have are in the bathrooms. And they're not new."

"All I know is, it was a plunger."

Farmer H denied it as well. "Yes, I used the plunger. There was not poop on there."

"That's what plungers are used for. Clearing poop. Don't tell me that you put a poopy plunger in my kitchen sink, where I wash the dishes we eat off of."

"It's fine. There was no poop."

"Then you won't mind it if I take a slice of bread, rub it all around the sink, and ask you to eat it?"

"Go ahead. I'll eat it."

"You think I won't? I'm going to get it right now."

"Well...if you toast it first."

"AHA! Gotcha. I am not about to toast a piece of bread to kill the poop germs. I've told you before not to use that plunger in my sink!"

I did not make Farmer H eat turds on toast. But he'd better think twice next time he gets himself in that predicament.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I Am Not A Doctor, But I Play One Over The Phone

Look away! This post is hideous. It's not for the weak of stomach. You have been forewarned.

Do not expect this to be a tale suitable for June Cleaver and her everyday pearls. Not unless ol' Junie has been beset by that banished Women of Atlanta photog, who has asked her to straddle a chair, backwards, while wearing men's clothing, and to take those pearls into her mouth, and ever-so-slightly suck on them.

I love my mother. Truly. But she has some wacky ideas. Perhaps it's a generational thing. She went to her doctor for a check-up yesterday. Rode the trolley from the parking lot to the door of the hospital/clinic building. She asked the driver why the parking lot was full. "Well, it's all these sick people. Everybody's sick! I've got a terrible sore throat right now myself." Mom mentioned to her doctor that she has had sinus issues. That two mornings ago, she woke up sick to her stomach. She thinks it's from that drainage down the back of her throat. He prescribed Amoxicillin tablets. You know Amoxicillin. Kids take it in the pink bubble-gum flavored liquid form. Mom has pills to be taken twice a day for ten days.

Mom is a bit of a hypochondriac. Shh...I don't want to hurt her feelings. But it's true. Last year, she had a nosebleed issue for which I took her to the ER. She called me and said she was having a really bad nosebleed, and she needed to go. That she didn't think she could drive herself like she had earlier that morning. Hear that? She had already been to the ER once that day with a nosebleed. Since she's on bloodthinners, I did not want things to get out of control.

The way Mom described it, blood was pouring out of her like ocean into the corridor on the Poseidon that ultimately became Davy Jones's locker for Shelley Winters. I imagined her to be spouting buckets of her life liquid. Needing a bucket hung under her nose like a human maple tree giving up its sap. When I arrived, she was holding a towel over her nostrils. I saw a couple of blood spots. It was not soaked. But because Mom was near to panicking, I drove her to the ER. The whole way, she sputtered that she was strangling on the blood running down the back of her throat. I told her to lean forward, and spit it into the towel. Again. Red spots. Not a river. She was not exsanguinating on my watch. To hear her tell it, one would have thought that swallowing all that blood would have left her abdomen bloated like the belly of a fly-eyed third-world child, robbed of nutrition by a peckish Sally Struthers. The ER staff fixed her up. She called me at work the next morning in a panic that it had started again. But sitting quietly for an hour made it stop. She's fine.

So...yesterday she took the first antibiotic pill around one o'clock. She had memorized the side effects pamphlet. She really didn't want to take that medicine. She never takes much medicine, she says. Only all of her blood pressure meds and vitamins and calcium and fish oil and cholesterol stuff. Long story longer, she called me at the stroke of nine this morning. I could tell she had been waiting until what she thought was a respectable hour.

"I was SO sick last night! I had diarrhea. I did not take that antibiotic pill at night. I didn't think I should. I think I'm having a reaction to it. And this morning, I am SO nauseous. I could hardly eat a Little Debbie cake and take my morning medicines. Do you think I should call the doctor? Or try to take another dose this morning?"

I told her that it was pretty early for that antibiotic to cause a reaction like severe diarrhea. After one pill of the twenty prescribed. That it might happen while her body adjusted. Didn't the pamphlet say that? She agreed that it said something like that. But the thought of more food made her sick to her stomach. She didn't even think she could eat half a Little Debbie with that pill. Okay. To begin with, ever since my dad died fourteen years ago, my mom's meals consist mainly of Little Debbies, snacks, meats, and breads. Nary a fruit nor vegetable crosses her lips without a good haranguing. I suppose she thinks she's an off-duty cook now. That she can do as she pleases. I don't begrudge her the reprieve.

I knew that Mom's term diarrhea could mean anything from pooping twice in one day, to pooping two turds instead of one, or having a moist poop instead of a rabbit-pellet-dry one. I kind of doubted that she was pouring buckets of brown poop-water out of her nether region every thirty minutes for six hours. So I asked her how bad it really was, that diarrhea. "Oh, I had to go several times. Then I fell asleep last night from eight to eleven, so I didn't think I should risk taking another pill and being miserable all night." She did admit that she had not had any more diarrhea. But that she felt nauseous when she woke up. Apparently forgetting that she had felt the same way two mornings ago.

Seems to me that Mom might have been coming down with some bug already, before even going for her checkup. Or that she might have picked up something in the waiting room. When I mentioned it, she said, "Do you really think it would have hit me so soon?" Even though the antibiotic ingestion resulted in almost instant diarrhea.

Because I know of my mom's penchant for harboring expired foods, I asked her if she ate anything when she took that first Amoxicillin pill. You know. Because the pamphlet usually says to take it with food. "Well, I DID eat some chili that your sister brought over. And I had some slaw with it." Okay. So Mom admitted to a sumptuous repast of chili and slaw, roughage so foreign to her system that I am shocked they were not stopped at the duodenum for a passport.

Am I the only one who sees another possible explanation for the diarrhea?

Friday, January 4, 2013

'Tis No Reaon For THIS Season

On the way home this afternoon, a mere two miles away from the safety of the Mansion driveway, The Pony waxed reflective.

"Mom, if you went to get new license plates, and they ended in six-six-six...would you keep them?"

"NO! No way, no how! I refuse to drive the mark of the beast, sir!"

"You wouldn't? Mr. S said one of his things ends in three sixes. Not his license plate, but something like it."

"Uh huh. And I don't exactly call his life one of lucky breaks. I am not a very religious person, as you well know. But that is tempting fate. You don't know what kinds of energy that might attract. No way would I drive around with six-six-six on my license plate. Would you?"

"Probably. But you forget that I can't drive. So we don't really know, now do we?"

"Good point. You still have time to think it over."

Sweet Gummi Mary! What is up today? Third hour, my class asked me what I was afraid of. We were talking about phobias, and that Channel 2 retrospective show I watched over Christmas break, where Tim Ezell pranked April Simpson, well-known snake hater, with a rubber snake at the hands of John Pertzborn. They asked if I would use an Ouija Board. NO! And if I would burn an Ouija board. NO! Would I watch Paranormal Activity? NO! The Exorcist? NO!

They are starting a little early on their Halloween state-of-mind.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I Have A Gaping Hole In My Roster

We returned to school today.

The beginning of the end was fairly uneventful. With the exception of gaining one new student and losing three old ones. I hate to see them go, once I have become accustomed to their idiosyncrasies, and they to mine. Might as well post-snub your pony and then turn it loose. Train a new employee and then lay him off. Create an intricately-decorated pastry and then feed it to a sixteen-year-old boy.

Only one poster had fallen off my wall. Nothing was missing. None of my electronic accessories had been rewired. The laptop worked, the projector worked, the sound worked.

The only fly in the ointment of my instructional day was the drying-out of an Expo blue dry-erase marker. You know what THAT meant. Putting in my benchwarming Quartet blue dry-erase marker. He's not nearly as skilled as Expo. He's not a team player. Hogs the spotlight. Won't get off when his turn is over. I had to send in a clean-up crew of Babe E. Wipe to clear off the mess Quartet has made on the playing field.

Tomorrow, I'm drafting a new blue marker.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Monitor Of Cool

My boys have a new pet.

Actually, they each have one. No feeding necessary. They are Fridgezoo pets from ThinkGeek. I might as well just go down a page on that website every November, and order two of each item. That should do it for Christmas shopping next year. My boys like gadgets. I couldn't pass up these little creatures.

Okay, so they're identical. The Fridgezoo pets, not my boys. Though some people comment that my offspring LOOK JUST ALIKE. In fact, the only way I can tell some of their toddler photos apart are by the clothing. Which is a task made even harder when I second-guess myself about hand-me-downs. Anyhoo...we were delving into the mysterious world of the Fridgezoo.

I had to get two fridge pets alike, because otherwise the #1 son would have grabbed the best one, and left The Pony to grouse about the unfairness of life. Besides, what kind of mom buys one blue Fridgezoo and one pink Fridgezoo for her two boys? Not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, that's for sure! We don't hold for that political correctness, blurred-gender-role crap around here. Are you kidding? Farmer H's best friend used to complain when his wife bought him a purple shirt. Because according to his backwoods logic, purple is a girl color! Don't tell that to our student body. Half of them would revolt.

I have since seen other Fridgezoo denizens, but they are not offered on ThinkGeek, which only had two choices. So both of our Fridgezoo pets are blue. They both say the same phrases, and speak with the same accent. I say it is Hispanic. The #1 son scoffs. He declares that his tiny fridge pet speaks with a Chinese accent. Because it was made in China. Au contraire, mon fils. The Fridgezoo are of Japanese extraction. But it is NOT a Japanese accent. Take my word for it. We had a Japanese exchange student when I was in high school. Konichiwa, Rie Yoshimura!

One ice box pal sits atop the uppermost door shelf of Frig, just behind the plastic flip-down cover, beside the medicine for Farmer H's glaucoma. We tried to keep it a secret until he opened the door. In fact, he walked by while The Pony and I were standing with Frig's door open, listening to our cool pet, and he didn't notice. The hearing impaired are such fun to prank! Farmer H said later that it took him several minutes to figure out where that voice was talking to him from. Even though it sat right beside his tiny bottle of medicine. Chalk the vision-impaired up on that pranking-fun list, too.

The Pony placed his new pet in the mini fridge under the basement stairs. That's where all the soda is stored. At least once a day, The Pony has to fetch one for himself or Farmer H. Now he has some interaction with more than his laptop on these lazy, hazy days of Christmas break.

When I open Frig's door, I am greeted with, "Howdy!" Or "Hello!" Hold the door open a little longer, and the inquisition starts. "What are you lookeeen for?" Or, "SO many choices!" Maybe, "Hey! I'm trying to stay cool!" Hold it open too long, and you'll get, "Shut the fridgin' door!" The #1 son and I have a habit of talking back to our little pal.

Neither one of us uses an accent.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

All Play And No Work Makes Hillbilly Folk Very Happy

We are due to report back to Newmentia on Thursday. A couple of the less-fortunate districts return Wednesday. Sucks to be them. Or not. Because I just saw on the news that they will be out due to road conditions. The Pony's hope springs eternal. Our district neighbors two of those who are having a snow day.

The town roads and county roads around Hillmomba are clear. Our hilly mile of gravel road is packed ice. Parts of the blacktop road out to the county road are also packed ice. T-Hoe has no trouble in 4W HIGH. It's the oncoming cars who will be his downfall. Cars without four-wheel drive, or even front-wheel drive. Cars that can slip in an instant and slam into T-Hoe, or get crossways in his path. That is what I don't like about getting out until the roads are perfectly clear.

It doesn't stop me from heading to town for my 44 oz. Diet Coke, though. Let's be reasonable.

Farmer H has been driving his gas-hog Ford F250 with the 4WD. The back roads could host a hockey tournament. Oh. If the NHL wasn't locked out of competition, that is. The back roads could host the Charlie Brown gang for a skatefest. I'm sure they could find a suitable pitiful tree along the right-of-way. The back roads could be leased as a training course for the Ice Road Truckers. The back roads could host a reunion show for Bear Grylls, Les Stroud, Man and Woman of Man Woman Wild, and that hippy dippy barefoot dude and his military partner from Dual Survival. The back roads could just thaw out already and await the next snowstorm.

Our two hairy ladies, Juno and Ann, are cohabiting the insulated doghouse filled with cedar shavings on the back porch, just outside the kitchen door. That way they are warm and out of the weather, and can keep track of our comings and goings, and snarf up any scraps that are tossed their way. Tank the beagle has moved from the chicken house to the middle of the haypile meant to feed the goats. He burrows into the center and waits for Farmer H to bring him pieces of chicken strips left over from Christmas Day. Like tonight. Never mind that there are three doghouses on the wraparound Mansion porch. By day, all romp in the snow and bark at other dogs barking. Then they lay in the sun on whichever section of porch is exposed. They follow Farmer H into the heated barn as he works on his projects. Juno brings assorted toys to be tossed every time somebody exits the Mansion. Her fur is a warm muff for my exposed hands. She's a regular furnace, that one.

We have all grown accustomed to the life of leisure.