Friday, May 31, 2013

The Flippy-Flappy Of Giant Feet

Is it wrong of me to find my own flesh-and-blood's appendages off-putting? Is that frowned on? Because if it is, I won't dwell on it here. Huh. No responses. So I guess I am at liberty to spout off about my offspring's flippers.

Okay, it's The Pony's feet we're talking about. I can't even imagine calling them hooves. That would bring to mind Mary O'Hara's description of Flicka's filly, Touch and Go, with her hooves so dainty they would fit in a teacup. Not my Pony. His feet would not fit in a violin case. They are long, flexible flappers. He flaunts them relentlessly.

The Pony does not like to wear shoes. I told him tonight he would be that hippie guy on Discovery Channel's Dual Survival. The dude who won't wear shoes. Who walks through snow and rocks and pine needles barefoot. The only time I saw him with shoes was in the desert, when he sawed open a deceased cow and used its hide for soles. The Pony scoffed. We both know he would never put soles on his feet.

I simply don't like feet. Even on my own son. They don't stink. That's because they get so much air they practically make their own Febreze. His toes are long and grippy. Any time I ask him to hand me something, like the TV remote, he says, "With my feet?" We both know the answer to that. He picks up my couch blanket and repositions it on the arm by using his feet. He picks up his food wrappers and puts them in the trash bag by using his feet. When we go somewhere, he puts on his Adidas slides. Then takes them off in T-Hoe.

Today we went bill-paying, and my mom rode along. I had The Pony put my 44 oz. Diet Coke refill cup in the back, so it didn't get smashed before I could fill it with my magical elixir. After Mom got out, I asked for the cup. The Pony carefully handed it to me.

"I knew I would be pushing it if I used my feet."

Indeed. He then proceeded to prop one on the side of the shotgun seat. That's because he rides behind me, you know. So there was that hairy long toeful flipper staring at my side-face the whole way home. It was all I could do to stay on the road.

I think The Pony was smiling smugly the whole way. I refused to give him the satisfaction of a wretch or gag. But I deserve a gold medal world record for stifling.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

CSI: Special Burners Unit

Encyclopedia Brown here. I've found another clue. Yep. I'm taking time off from Mystery Inc. to work solo for a while. OK, I'm not really Encyclopedia Brown. I'm still Hillbilly Mom. But I DID solve another mystery.

Several weeks ago, I noticed that the stove burner drip bowl thingies on my stove had turned from silver to black. My first clue was when I looked at them after stirring something because they sent a cloud of smoke and a charbroiled stench into the atmosphere of my kitchen. It's hard to put one over on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom when she's boiling food over a burner, rather than heating it in the microwave or warming it in the oven.

My first attempts at solving this mystery were not successful. I ruled out my own actions, because the two burners on the right side of the stove were involved. Sweet Gummi Mary! We all know that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would never prepare more than one dish at a time. I could not possibly have despoiled two silver stove burner drip bowl thingies simultaneously. Besides, I always notice if something boils over. I am the one who cleans the stove. I nip that drip in the bud, the moment it occurs.

The usual interrogation tactics did not work this time. That being the loud, accusatory statement of, "I don't know what you people have done to my burners, but they're certainly a mess!" This is usually followed by a response of, "Quit calling us you people! We didn't do it. When do we ever cook? Alls I did was..." Generally, this is followed by a confession of frying bacon, flipping a quesadilla, or pouring half a bottle of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet to fry an egg. No confession was forthcoming. Only a complaint about the you people.

I tried to slip in a pointed question here and there, but my leads had dried up. I started trying to think of how I might have made two of the exact same messes, one on the big front burner, and one on the small back burner. I rarely use that front big burner. It has a habit of trying to spontaneously combust my clothing if I lean over to reach something in the cabinet above the stove.

This evening, as I was waiting for a mixture of water, milk, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter to boil on the small back burner so I could dump in a packet of Afredo Noodles, I offhandedly stated, "I sure wish I knew what burned up under those burners." And the #1 son appeared, wasting ice from the freezer door of Frig, dropping it on the floor before spilling his Crystal Light fruit punch.

"I think it might have been that frosting that I made. Remember when we had that project to make a cake out of a poster board of our book, and I used the Crisco and confectioner's sugar to make Lord of the Flies? I think some of it flew onto the burners."

Aha! I DO remember him complaining that his frosting was too runny, and wanting to know how to thicken it up. He must have flung it from the mixing bowl onto the stove, and not bothered to clean it up. Or not known how to pop that burner coil loose and wipe out the silver stove burner drip bowl thingies. He's only planning on a career as an engineer, you know. So he can't be expected to look at a gadget like that and see where it comes apart. That's a skill possessed only by crime scene investigators like Encyclopedia Brown, Mystery Inc. members, AND MRS. HILLBILLY MOM.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Dreamy

And so it begins. The school dreams. You'd think summer vacation would make one immune to job-related issues. Even in dreams. But no.

Way back when I was a coach, I used to have dreams of my players breaking into my townhouse in the middle of the night, stomping up the steps, accosting me as I lay snoozing, and demanding to know the starting lineup. I could see how this was related to the stresses of competition. How I wanted to do the right thing, but was worried that it would be the wrong thing. And perhaps that the players were not 100% behind my lineup choices.

Early this morning, I had a dream that I was getting ready for work. I was already dressed, putting the finishing touches on my hair (HA! Like THAT has ever happened!), and caught my reflection in the mirror. Apparently my new shampoo had stripped the color from my hair. On one side. Yes, the dreamy Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was sporting half a dark-brown head, and half a...HOT-PINK head!

There I was, in a quandary. I probably had time to color my hair and get to school on time. But that would mean taking a shower and getting dressed all over again. Or I could just glop on the color while dressed for work, and hope I didn't spoil my clothes. Or I could do nothing. I kept turning my head, and if the light hit just right, half my head looked gray instead of pink. I decided to risk it. Go as I was. Even though I know the school has a rule about colored hair for students. It must be a natural hair color. Not necessarily natural to that particular student, but a color that occurs on human heads in nature.

I took off for my dream job. Which was the same as my regular job. I had one major worry. Was I afraid the school administrator would chastise me for having half a head of pink hair? No, I was not. I figured the school would be so glad I showed up and didn't cost them a substitute that they would make up some crazy new rule on the spot, to accommodate illegally coiffed faculty.

My fear was that the students would compliment me all day on my cutting-edge coiffure.

Warning: If you get all scientific and/or New Age-y and consult multiple resources to analyze this dream, I DO NOT want to know the results. I am freaky enough with my subconscious half-pink noggin.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why Do I Always Have To Be The One?

The innards of Frig are like one giant teetering Whoville contraption. You'd think I'd learn to clean out my shiny Frigidaire before heading to town for the weekly shopping. Sadly, I have not.

Every clerk in Hillmomba liked shopping day a lot
But Hillbilly Mom of Hillmomba assuredly did not
HM hated shopping, like a festering lesion
Old foodstuffs remaining in Frig were the reason
Other folks in the Mansion must not have been bright
To keep foods that they knew had long lost their delight
HM did not think she should clean out it all
When others' chore tallies were hideously small

I alone possess that innate talent for determining the unwritten expiration date of unmarked foodstuffs. Farmer H would eat leftover barbecue for two weeks, or until it grew a furry green coat. The #1 son once called me to ask if he could still make a bologna sandwich for his lunch, because there was just one green spot on the top slice. And The Pony never opens Frig, because he only eats three foods, none of which reside inside a refrigerator. The demand for industrial diamonds could lessen if only Farmer H would find a way to market that single piece of pizza he leaves in the whole box jammed into Frig's upper palate. Yes. It's that hard. I'm surprised the dogs are not in need of dental implants after breaking off their very canines trying to ingest petrified pizza.

The dogs love shopping day. Not because we buy them treats. But because they are the benefactors of Frig's indigestion. If not for me sorting through the remnants, my guys would soon turn our kitchen into an episode of Hoarders. They would be the ones declaring, "Huh...March 2011? It doesn't smell bad. There's no mold on it. I thought I might use it one of these days."

Don't get me started on the milk (which HM does not drink) that begins to grow chunks. How unable-to-make-a-decision do you have to be to take it out, smell it, declare, "That's no good," and put it back in Frig?

Somebody needs a rap across the big ol' bear paws with a wooden spoon.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Like A Leopard Cannot Change Its Spots

My sweet dog Juno is a little imp. She thinks I can't see her when she shoots into the garage as I open the door while piloting T-Hoe down the driveway. She scampers in and runs to the front, where she grabs a mouthful of dry cat food from the large roasting pan that feeds the felines. She disappears as soon as she chomps on that clandestine bite. Or so she thinks.

Cars have windows, you know. I see her enter. The garage door tells me she's leaving. I press the opener, in this case the closer, and it starts its descent. BUT THEN IT STOPS! And starts back up. That means a toddler, of which we have zero, or a cat or dog, of which we have seven, has ventured under the door while it is going down. Some kind of extra-smart sensor prevents a catastrophe. Or a toddlostrophe. Or in this case, a dogostrophe.

Silly Juno. She must be rolling under that door, reaching back for her fedora at the last minute like Indiana Jones. Little does she know her secret is out. Surely she realizes this behavior is frowned on. Why else would she scoot around to the front of the garage, to the people door where I will come out, smiling with her border collie genes, twinkling her hazel eyes, panting like her mouth did not just chew up cat food a few seconds earlier?

A couple of times I've caught her red-tongued. Trapped her in the garage by shutting the door as soon as T-Hoe clears the entry portal. Then Juno stands by the people door. Acting like she just ran in to see me. Even though I can see her chewing. I must admit that I barely chastise her. Hardly a "tsk tsk" escapes my lips.

Female dogs will be female dogs.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Week After, And Still Nothing To Show For It

Farmer H is a-grillin' on the back porch. The Pony is a-chillin' on the basement couch. The #1 son is a-millin' around at a graduation party for a classmate. And Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a-willin' a story to jump fully-formed from the three fragments she has saved in her documents file. Let's just say that three of the four Hillbilly family -illin's have been successful in their endeavors.

Life seriously gets in the way of living. The best intentions are frittered away piecemeal, a laundry load here, a sink of dishes there, a trip to town for the requisite 44 oz Diet Coke, forty-five minutes of prepping vegetables to go with the barbecue, an interlude of Arrested Development with a college-bound boy who will not lay on the couch this way again.

I am in dire need of a cast-iron summer schedule starting next week. An allotted time for everything, and everything done in its allotted time.

The first thing penciled in will be the Diet Coke procurement run.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Even The Elderly Are Tethered To Technology

I called my mom to check in this morning. Because she's been worried about me, of course. That Farmer H breather-borne virus that kicked my butt for two weeks near the end of school, then moved its greeny-gray tendrils straight to my sinuses for another ten days, has apparently taken up residence in my right ear. I suspect it was making me feverish, thus the five days of sweltering I endured at 74 degrees. Shh...I turned it down to 73 for a couple of nights, just to be able to sleep. Now I am unsteady, with varying degrees of dizziness throughout the day. When I lay my head down to sleep, the whole room spins! So it must be in my inner ear.

But enough about me. Mom was having a much worse day. At only 8:45 a.m.! Of course she asked about me first. She's selfless like that. When she snatched the phone up before the second ring, I feared that something was amiss.

"Were you asleep?"

"Oh, no! I'm just sitting here with nothing to do. My cable went off during the Cardinals game last night. And your nephew came out to leave a graduation card for #1, and found out I had a computer virus."

"What do you mean, HE found out you had a computer virus?"

"It was before the Cardinals game. We were looking up something about the Cardinals. The computer wasn't even on. He sat down, and said, 'Hey, Grandma! You have a virus. And it says something about child pr0n.' Goodness! That had me worried."

"Funny how that popped up when he was there."

"I was standing right behind him. I saw it. My FoxFire doesn't come up. Just that box saying I have a virus, and child pr0n."

"Have you been clicking on pop ups? Or opening emails from people you don't know?"

"Oh, no! I always put them straight in the wastebasket."

"It's probably an ad that wants you to buy a virus program. Was it McAfee? Or Norton? They're the two big ones. I get one from McAfee all the time."

"No...that doesn't sound familiar. But it did say it would cost $99.00."

"That's it. You clicked on it and it gave you a virus. There was no child pr0n. It just wanted you to panic and try to get rid of it, and make you click."

"Well, I figure I'll have to get a new computer."

"No you won't. The #1 son can fix that. Even if he has to wipe your hard drive and start over. It will be fine. I'll tell him when he gets up."

"Oh, that would be great. I'll pay him five dollars."

"You don't have to do that. But it will almost pay for his gas to town."

"Well, I can give him more."

"You don't have to give him anything. You've given him enough. And you were just thinking you needed a whole new computer."

"I'm relieved it can be fixed. I'm just sitting here. I called the cable, and the girl told me a lot of people are out. She said they are working on it, and asked if I wanted her to call me when it's back on. So I said yes. No need to keep turning it on and being disappointed. I've been listening to KMOX radio since last night when I wanted to hear how the game ended."

"Don't you have anything to read?"

"Oh! I could read some more about Regis in his book you gave me for Christmas."

"Or some of the Entertainment Weekly magazines I sent."

"Yes, that's right. I have plenty I can do."

The #1 son got up around 9:00. He grudgingly said he'd go see if he could get Grandma back online. Even though Farmer H had his truck, putting new tires on it, and he'd have to drive the $1000 Caravan. I called my mom back to tell her the good news.

"Is he on his way now? Will he be here any minute?"

"Well, he grabbed the keys, but he doesn't have shoes on yet. It will be at least 20 minutes."

"Okay. I'll be looking for him."

I called back around 10:00 to see if her problem was fixed. Again, she snatched up that phone like a new mother with a crying infant.

"Did he fix it?"

"Yes. Just now. I haven't been on it yet, but he's got it working again. I thought maybe you were the cable girl, telling my my cable is back on."

"I'll quit calling so I don't get your hopes up. You know, you could just turn your TV on every now and then, instead of waiting by the phone. She may not call. What if everybody said they wanted a phone call? You may be way down on the list."

"Well, I guess I could try that. But she said she would call."

We hung up. Five minutes later, my phone rang. Mom was laughing.

"You're not going to believe this! My cable was ON! You were right. I don't know how long it's been fixed, but I was waiting for that phone call."

"I'm glad you can get on with your day now."

"Yes. I'm going to town."

Thank the Gummi Mary, Mom was done waiting, so she could go to town.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bowling With Pepsi

Here's a tiny glimpse into Farmer H's psyche.

This morning at 5:30 a.m., when a tender hot-house flower such as Mrs. Hillbilly Mom on her summer vacation should have been snoozing for at least another two, maybe three, hours...Farmer H blurted, "Well, I guess I'll be bowling with Pepsi tonight."

Please put yourself in my comfortable trough in the non-foam memory topper. I struggled to consciousness. Pepsi? We don't drink Pepsi. Why would Farmer H be having Pepsi at bowling? Did that mean he didn't think I'd given him enough allowance to drink a beer? He starts a new league tonight. Is it teetotalers? "What do you mean, bowling with Pepsi?"

"You know. Like old Homer." Yeah. That certainly cleared up the mystery. NOT.


"When Homer had that little foreign boy and called him Pepsi." Oh. It started coming back. Eighteen years ago when we watched The Simpsons, when they were still on that fledgling new network, FOX, that only came in on UHF, and had two shows, Married With Children and The Simpsons, we saw an episode where Homer took in a Little Brother to spite Bart for going to the Big Brother program for a better dad. They were lounging on chaises on the patio after dark, and the little kid, Pepe said, "I love you, Papa Homer." And Homer said, "I love you too, Pepsi."

So Farmer H was referring to the fact that The Pony refused to bowl with him every Friday night all summer, and there was a kid wanting to bowl who had no adult, and the bowling alley lady hooked up Farmer H with a new partner.


Farmer H is the reason I am so good at solving mysteries.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It'll Flow Like It Flows

The Shower Head War has outlived its uneasy truce. Farmer H and I have returned to battle.

The main problem lies in the disbursement of water. The *REDACTED shower head, top-of-the-line when first installed in the Mansion That Farmer H Built, was a sight to behold. So many settings, so little hot-water time. We regularly twisted Goldy into alternating spray and pulsating modes. When it comes to my shower, I think of it as a toilet. It should remain in the standard setting, and anybody desiring to alter it for their own personal needs should return it to the neutral state when finished.

Not so Farmer H. He is of the opinion Finders Weepers, Last Users Rulers. Woe is me, upon stepping into the shower and having my skin peeled off by the doubling-as-a-power-washer Goldy. I thought I had broken Farmer H of his Hillmomba-Convention-violating shenanigans. All it took was several times stepping under the newly-adjusted smooth garden hose of revenge setting for him to see the practicality of leaving Goldy in the neutral shower spray of all mankind.

Now we have a new problem. Though recurring. The bloom is off the rose of specialty spray. We're both happy to stand under an even cascade of warm water. But the healthy minerals dissolved in our well water are wreaking havoc with Goldy's pores. No water-softening system for this Mansion. We pull out the gallon jug of vinegar and start slaying Sir Calcium by dissolving his armor. In theory. In all actuality, we each wait for the other to blink.

Farmer H could easily pop Goldy's head off and submerge him in a vinegar drowning pool. I, on the other hand. prefer to bring the drowning pool to Goldy, leaving his head attached. I have no desire to see the inner workings of Goldy's noggin.

Right now we are in the cold war stage. Neither will remedy the problem. We spin Goldy's face 180/360/540/720 trying to get back to our preferred spray pattern. I am not satisfied with a bundle of conjoined streams carving a trough in my tender epidermis. Nor do I enjoy the gap as big as the space between David Letterman's teeth, where no water flows.

I'm thinking about calling Jack Spratt's wife to see how they have balanced their marriage all these years. I have to wait for just the right time. Previously I have caught her mid-platter-lick. She's a tad cranky then.

*Sorry, had to change that description, not wanting the word "shower" to appear immediately after that word that describes a valuable metal of the yellow color. You never know what people might be Googling right before ending up here at the Mansion.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Laddering

Farmer H has been hard at work filling Poolio for the summer.

That makes it sound like he is actually expending effort. All he did was round up The Pony and #1 to help him remove the cover over the weekend. Then he ran a hose from the outside spigot and told The Pony to turn it on every morning when he let the goats out of the pen. This afternoon, Farmer H poured in some chemicals.

This is where our opinions diverge. Farmer H has been topping off the same butt-water in Poolio for years. Soon it will be more chemicals than water. I think he should drain Poolio every year, then refill and add chemicals as needed. I don't know why Farmer H is against this tactic. Probably because it's MY idea, not his. It's not like the extra water will cost us anything. We're on a well. The sun heats Poolio. Seems like he could start fresh every year. A full transfusion for Poolio.

I pity The Pony, who will be told to hop down into that water and set the ladder. That young 'un has no body fat to insulate him from the arctic glacial meltwater. Farmer H could submerge his own sea-lion-like body and not pop a goose-bump.

The laddering will most likely be held this weekend, rain permitting.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Reason, Perhaps, Why Hillbilly Mom Does Not Have Her Own Cooking Show

"What stinks?" The #1 son has always been an inquisitive sort.

"The beginnings of supper."

"That's terrible!"

"It's just something you people spilled on the burner that I was not aware of."

"YOU PEOPLE! You can't call us YOU PEOPLE!"

"I just did. I know that I didn't spill anything on the burner, because as YOU PEOPLE all tell me, I don't ever cook anything. All I do is heat something in the microwave or warm it in the oven. And now that I am actually cooking something, you have the nerve to say, 'What stinks?'"

The Pony came up from the basement. "What's that smell?"

"Your supper."

"Hmm." The Pony went into the kitchen to check out my dinner prep.

"I know! I walked out of my room and it smelled like a dirty diaper." Now #1 finds something to discuss with his brother.

"It DOES smell like a dirty diaper!"

"Oh, I'm so sure I am cooking a dirty diaper. Like I kidnapped a baby and fed it and fed it until I got it to poop, and then took the dirty diaper and threw it in a pot to boil on the front burner."

"Well. That's just what it smells like. A diaper."

"We'll just have to see how it tastes, I guess.

Something tells me that Paula Deen never had this problem.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunday Morning Workout, With Hillbilly Mom's Mom

I make it a rule never to discuss politics or religion on my blog. Rules are made to be broken.

We went to church Sunday with my mother. She's a regular. We're those people who only show up on special occasions or holidays, prompting the congregation to tsk-tsk behind their hands about how SOME people only show up for special occasions and holidays. Which of course rubs me the wrong way, and makes me not want to attend any time except for special occasions and holidays.

The main event this week was the awarding of a monogrammed Bible to the #1 son and another recent graduate. It's a nice gesture. #1 spent several years of Sundays in the loft, synchronizing the audio/video components of the sermon, as well as contributing to special programming like Easter and Christmas. Of course, people who only attend church on special occasions and holidays can hardly get up and leave right after their son receives his Bible. So we were there for the long haul. I even commanded The Pony to put away his gaming phone and pay attention.

I had no idea a church service could be so physically demanding!

Don't get me wrong. This was not my first time inside a house of worship. Even if you don't count all those special occasions and holidays. Nope. As a child, I was a regular attendee of not only church, but Sunday school. Mom and Dad didn't go, but I went with my grandparents. Let's not get all hung up on denominations. But I will say that my childhood experiences were in a B church. Make that a 1st B church. It had dark polished pews and a baptismal pool behind the pulpit. I can honestly say that I was never bored during the service. I enjoyed the old-timey hymns and the organ music. I could usually apply the message of the sermon to some part of my short life. There were people to watch, and ladies' clothes to compare to some that might have been worn by Doris Ziffel. You know, Arnold's "mom" on Green Acres.

Church was a peaceful interlude between the hyperactivity of the nursery where my grandparents volunteered, the challenging Sunday school lesson, and the flurry of clothes-changing before sitting down to my mom's Sunday pot roast. We walked in, greeted people, chose our regular pew, and got our sermon on. When it was time to sing, the choir director advised us to turn to page something-or-other in our hymnal. After church, we filed out and shook hands with the preacher on the front steps.

That is not how things go at Mom's church. She attends an M church. Make that a 1st United M church. Maybe it's simply a sign of the changing times, but people did not dress the way I remembered from my childhood. I always wore a dress and shiny shoes. Not shorts and a Cardinals jersey. But I suppose the Big Guy doesn't really care how one is dressed in His house.

Several minutes into organized religion, I understood. This service was like a combination Jane Fonda Workout, advanced Pilates class, Zumba fitness, and Billy Blanks Bootcamp all rolled into one. Richard Simmons would have been sucking air, and his sweaty Oldies would have collapsed. Football players in their first week of two-a-days have not suffered through as many ups and downs as this congregation on any given Sunday.

Mom told me, behind her hand, of course, that only the right side of the congregation responds to the pastor when he asks for an amen, or do we hear him. Yeah. I saw that side of the church. They are younger. The ones on Mom's side are obviously winded from the aerobic workout. Somebody's gonna tear an anterior cruciate if they're not careful. I am still sore today.

I think I can recover in time for Christmas services.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Back Is The New Breast

Cornish game hen is the new gas station chicken. It must be. I've never seen chicken body parts so small. A breast these days is the size of yesterday's thigh. And the thighs are like tiny quail appendages.

Yes, I've been betrayed by my gas station. No longer is a breast a bigger than a man's hand, plump, juicy, hard to devour in one sitting. Now it's a tiny shriveled thing, mostly bone. Hear that? A breast is mostly bone. That is so wrong. Used to be, packages of chicken breast would be labeled "with rib meat." That meant a sliver of bone was on the back side. These gas station imposters are now mostly bone. Ribs. They look for all the world like a back. I'm not keen on eating chicken backs. Not when I'm paying for a breast.

The issue has grown so obvious that a couple weeks ago, my chicken dipper actually put TWO breasts in my bag when I ordered one. Because he knew it was cheating to give me a back and ribs disguised with a thin strip of breast meat on one edge. Yes. It's a sad day when the thigh is bigger than the breast.

Where are they getting these chickens? The ones that work out doing squats across the free range all the live-long day, building up their thighs while their breasts atrophy. My days of touting the gas station chicken are nearing their end. It's not a bargain, and it's not that tasty.

The price and downsizing of progress.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Today Is The First Day Of The Rest Of My Summer Vacation

I celebrated by hosting a thumping sinus headache. Then I consciously avoided doing laundry. I washed dirty dishes deposited on the kitchen counter by the #1 son and Farmer H, both at home yesterday with nothing to do but wait for graduation time. Unlike Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, who went to work as usual, dismissed her students early, checked out after a teacher work day, hurried home behind a red Kubota tractor trying to break the land slow record, rested for sixty minutes, then headed back for the graduation ceremony.

I also consciously avoided cleaning the Mansion. It'll be here the rest of my 11-week sabbatical. No need to be so gung-ho the first day. For some reason, that Loretta Lynn song is playing in my head:

Here in Hillmomba, the sinus is a-thumpin'. The floor needs a scrubbin' and the trash needs a dumpin'. One kid's trombonin' and the other's graduatin' and NONE's on the way.

Oh, gee! I'm glad it's three years 'til this happens again.

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm My Own Psychic Friend

Hey! I'm not here. I'm at graduation. But because I'm psychic, I can tell you what happened today, even though I am writing this yesterday.

I got to school and readied my lesson plan, or as we insiders refer to it, popped my last-day movie into the DVD player. I threw away some odds and ends of lab safety worksheets. I unplugged and defrosted my mini-fridge. Ate left-over pizza from home for my lunch. Dismissed the students. Walked through the graduation ceremony. Watched the slide show of senior pictures and baby pics. Cried for the end of the #1 son's high school career. And because his baby picture was so cute.

I packed up my laptop, mouse, mousepad, and number pad, all after marking them with masking tape so we have no repeat of the unfortunate incident where the tenth grade teacher did not understand why a background of a barrel-racing horse came up every time she turned on her computer, until second semester, when the ninth grade teacher was wondering out loud where her barrel-racer background went. I lined up to check out, with my form that I had cleverly had signed by various entities through the week, to avoid stalking them for their elusive signatures today. I raced home to relax for about 1.5 hours. I raced back to school to get a parking space.

I met my mom, Farmer H, and The Pony before The Pony went to join his band cohorts, and Farmer H and Mom went to stake out prime seats behind the graduates. I donned my long black robe with the Master's sleeves, and the wrong colored cape that the company sent me instead of my real college colors. I stuffed tissues and cough drops in the sleeves for emergencies. I lined up and sweltered. I marched in to the processional, which we all call Pomp and Circumstance. I heaved a sigh of relief and sat down to watch the festivities. My heart grew two sizes when #1 walked up to receive his diploma. I watched all the graduates stride proudly across the polished gym floor, wondering what the future held for them. I rushed up the steps to the tunes of the recessional before the graduates could notice and spray me with silly string.

I ripped off my robe and cape, tossed them to the faithful secretary, and went to my room to wait for The Pony to finish up with the band. Farmer H and #1 went off to a Project Graduation shindig. I came home and called my mom to make sure she got home safely.

And that's the way it was. Graduation 2013.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Passive Aggressive Is Strong In That One

A less seasoned teacher might not recognize the signs. Might not know when one's goat is about to be gotten. Or might not harbor a full-fledged undiagnosed case of paranoia.

Take that phone girl from yesterday. Phonie left her phone on the desk on purpose, turned on, showing a picture of her sitting at her desk, figuratively thumbing her nose at my lax attention to rulescoffing that day. Then she came BACK, because that gives her two jabs with a sharp phone stick at Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's tender, yet ample, underbelly. I ignored her and let the finders send her to the office for her phone. Do not engage. That's one of my cardinal rules for the Passies. Unless the lack of engagement enables a bigger scene.

Today Phonie came barreling down the hall bearing a tiny plate holding 4 flat discs of cooked edible dough dotted with chocolate fragments. She rounded the alcove and almost stepped through the door before I said, "Eh eh eh! Not in my classroom. Put them in your locker until after class." See? I was doing Phonie a favor. I could have let her enter the portal, then commanded that the contraband be used to feed the wastebasket. But no. I allowed her to use my time to stow her stash in a safe haven.

However...Phonie had no intention of putting those goodies away. She flounced back in the direction from whence she had come, and proffered her plate to the four teachers she had just passed on the way to my room. Cooing all the while, "Won't you have one? They're SO good!" See what she did there? I assume her plan was to carry them into my lair, flaunt them, wait for kids to beg for them, then bestow her gifts on the three friends who sit by her. When that class-disrupter went kaput, she opted for Plan B, which was to show me how polite she was to every teacher who adjoins my classroom. What she might have forgotten, or simply never knew, is that I don't care what she does, as long as my rules are followed.

If I cared, or if I was a vengeful person, I would have exclaimed later in the hour, when two visiting lasses brought in a whole tray of just-cooked edible dough discs dotted with chocolate fragments to offer me a treat, "Oh! They look and smell SO MUCH BETTER than those discs Phonie tried to bring in here!"

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is NOT a vengeful person. A simple, "No, thank you," sufficed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This Is What You Do

This is what you do if you are a student on the next to next-to-last day of school, and want to pretend that the inmates rather than the caretakers are running this asylum:

1. Sit in a random seat that is not your allotted parcel of real estate on the official seating chart.

2. Leave your own cell phone laying on a desk, on, with a picture of yourself displayed, when you exit the classroom at the dismissal bell.

3. Ask to go to the bathroom during the last two minutes of the school day, then stand behind your friend, flagrantly flaunting her cell phone in plain sight within the confines of the classroom during the thirty-second chair-straightening portion of the last class of the day.

This is what you do if you are a teacher on the next to next-to-last day of school, and want to pretend that you give an obese rodent's behind what the young scoffrules are up to:

1. Ask a student in the back row what seat he would like to sit in that would move him closer to the front of the room and the projector screen that will imminently display an action-packed film of the class's choosing, and then move the unauthorized squatter to the back row vacant seat.

2. Tell the next-hour student who brings you the found phone, "Oh! You must take that to the office and turn it in! Somebody will surely be looking for that." Heh, heh. The look of chagrin on the face of the loser-weeper, upon returning to the scene of the rule-scoff, asking if anybody found anything on a desk, and being directed to the office to inquire about the misplaced contraband, is priceless.

3. Give permission while muttering that the only reason anyone asks to go to the bathroom during the last two minutes of the school day is to text a boyfriend, friend, parent, or total random stranger who just texted one during class time. Upon return, with the final seconds ticking, call out the bathroomer for hiding with a cell phone in sight by asking, "Did you not have enough time in the bathroom to finish your texting?" The resultant blathering about it not even being Bathroomer's phone, but the blocking friend's phone, will tie up Bathroomer for a good bit of her own time after the final bell. Thus negating the seconds saved for the grand getaway by all that text planning before the bell.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Divided They Bawl

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, reflecting upon the illustrious academic career of her first-born son, poses this question to the vast internet co-op of education experts: Is competition a bad thing?

Hold on there! I don't mean to step on the toes of the namby-pamby, I'm okay/you're okay, everybody-gets-one-award, trophies-for-all folks who make the schools go round. That battle was won (or lost) twenty year ago. I don't see the tide shifting. But I want answers, darn it!

Today I read in The Daily Hillmomban that a nearby school district has just revamped the criteria for receiving academic accolades at graduation. How very convenient, with graduation only two days away for them. The headline declared that 40 more students will now be lauded at the graduation ceremony. The old standards decreed that only the top 10 percent of the graduating class would be honored. I don't know the number of graduates at this school. But based on the sports class they compete in, I would guess it to be around 100 to 150. So they will, in effect, be recognizing between one-half and one-third of their graduates as special in an academic kind of way. Is it just me, or does that kind of cheapen the honor? Let's just have fifty valedictorians, how 'bout that? Let them all give speeches. Better bring your stadium cushion.

Midway through the #1 son's fourth grade year, I found out, by accident, through a talky insider, that his third grade teacher had seen to the break-up of his band of friends. "Oh, Teachy brought that up when class assignments were being made. 'Those three boys need to be split up. They're too competitive.' That's why they didn't all get their number one choice for fourth grade. It was a mess. Because you know they always give teachers' kids their first choice." Uh huh. We three moms had consulted every year. "Who are we picking for X grade?" Insiders know where the quality instruction resides. We all wanted the best for our own kids.

Yeah. My son got the teacher we requested. But his buddies didn't. Even though their teacher-moms went over to that building and complained, those three boys remained in separate classrooms. Let's get one thing straight. They were not troublemakers. Not then. Not now. The sole reason for their separation was the machinations of their third grade teacher. The one we had all picked because she was the best third grade teacher. Since when is competition grounds for separation?

Can you imagine a sports team with three great players deciding that they should compete on different teams? "Yeah, it's not good for those boys to push each other. Not healthy. We're putting them on separate teams so each can be a star on his own team." Or what about the music program? "Did you hear? We've created three bands this year! The three amigos all play trumpet, and only one can be first chair at each concert. So now we have three bands, and they can each be first chair every concert!"

So tell me, any third grade teachers out competition a bad thing?

Monday, May 13, 2013

We Are The Sultans Of Spring

WooHoo! The test scores have arrived! After toiling and troubling over a cauldron of simmering student brains all year, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has managed to retain her job. Okay. Maybe that's a bit dramatic. Not the simmering-brains-in-a-cauldron part. The job-depending-on-test-scores part. We have not yet reached that criteria here in Missouri.

I would love to expound upon the cutting-edge methodology I used to learn them kids some science. To take up yoga and make myself more flexible to facilitate the patting of my own back without breaking my arms. was simply a fluke, due to the fact that we tested a different batch of kids this year. Like comparing the barely-conscious apples to the highly-motivated oranges. Sure. It's Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's job to motivate her students. Just like it was for every teacher they had from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Sometimes, the being-powers simply need to understand that not all student minds are created equal. You can turn them every which way but loose, and still not get those sciency smarts poured into their little noggins. It's not their bag, man! They are the ones who will stop to change your tire or rebuild your engine when you're stranded on the side of the road. The ones who will rush into a burning building to carry out a grandma in a wheelchair. The ones who will chase a robber out of a convenience store, armed only with their sense of right and wrong, and a giant Slim Jim. But as for regurgitating facts on a multiple-choice standardized state test, or even staying awake long enough to complete 35 questions...the priority level is low.

Actually, this year was not a fluke. Our scores returned to the level we have maintained year after year. Until last year. Last year was the fluke. We're back on track. Geniuses again, me and my arch nemesis. Kudos to us for our perseverance in the face of adversity.

We rock. And so do our students. No matter which group they're in.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Rest My Case

The Pony and I returned home from a trip to deliver Mother's Day goodies to my mom, and found a mystery waiting to be solved. It took me all of one minute. Less, probably. Because I'm THAT good!

First cat out of the bag, I noticed dirty water spots on the clean dishes in the sink drainer. Perhaps I've let it slip that I don't have a dishwasher. I might as well be a Flintstone. But then I'd at least have some prehistoric critter to clean my dishes.

I turned my attention to the cutting block, which caught my eye because the paper towel roll appeared smaller. Upon attempting to remove a paper towel to clean off my dishes formerly known as clean, I saw that they did not unroll in the direction that I prefer. Only yesterday, when I had The Pony replace a bare cardboard mini-whacker that stood where paper towels used to reside, I cautioned him to put them on the right way. He did. I even used several after his installation, and all was proper. Now the roll had flipped itself upside down, and the towels (white select-a-size with green Christmas trees) were spinning backwards, hard to rip off. The Pony heard my mutterings. "I DID put them on right!" Yes. I know he did. We took off the roll and put it back for maximum one-handed tearage.

Funny. On the bottom of that roll, now on the top, were four dirty fingerprints. Not so precise that we could CSI them. But the same hue as the spots on the clean dishes.

What's this? Farmer H opened the front door. He has a habit of coming in right after we carry in groceries and put them away. This little sortie to buy BBQ supplies for my Mother's Day feast was no different. I met him in the living room. "Hey. What's the deal with the mess in the kitchen?"


"Yes. That room where the food lives."

"I haven't been in the kitchen."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I'm sure. What's going on?"

"Are you sure you don't want to tell me anything about the kitchen?"

"There's nothing to tell. Why?"

"The paper towels?"

"Oh. I used a paper towel."

"There are dirty fingerprints all over the top of the paper towels. I told you before that you've got to stop ruining a whole roll by getting those dirty fingerprints on the edge of each one."

"Dirty? That roll isn't dirty."

"Oh, really? Let's take a look."

"Huh. Okay! I flipped the roll over so you wouldn't see the dirty fingerprints!"

"And you splashed your dirty handwater onto my clean dishes. Probably washing poopy eggs in my sink."

"I didn't do anything to the sink."

"Come on. Let's look. Paper towel fingerprints. Dirty water spots on the clean dishes. Same color. Don't you agree?"

"Yes. I splashed water in the sink while I was washing the eggs."

We're making progress. I seldom get a confession. I attribute my success to Mother's Day guilt.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I Am Joe's Anger

Today I ventured to the Dollar Tree to look for some crafty supplies for a school project. Little did I know that I was about to walk into a drama in real life.

The minute I stepped into the door, I heard an old lady stating petulantly, "I can't get into my car." At first I assumed she had locked herself out. That she was asking for somebody to produce a coat hanger out of thin air to jimmy the door lock. Or to call the police or a locksmith to help her gain entrance. Then I heard the response.

"That's because you parked over the line!" It was not simply a statement of fact. It was an indictment calling for conviction without trial, and maximum punishment allowed by law.

"Well, I need to get my door open."

"You NEED to go to the eye doctor and get your eyes checked so you won't park over the line!" Such vitriol. I assumed this cranky man was the one who had her blocked in, and that he was attempting to teach her a lesson before going out to move his car.

I really need to stop assuming. It was a green-polo-shirted employee behind the last register. You'd have thought he had some personal stake in this matter. That he was up for a Parking Lot Symmetry of the Year award. Or that he was part of some pranking reality show. There was no need for his hatefulness. He could have calmly pointed out that she would have to wait until that customer was ready to leave. Or he could have announced over the store loudspeaker for the driver to come to the front.

I certainly hope he was not the manager. If so, he needed to report himself, and give himself a stern reprimand.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Just Reward

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a hoarder, but she plays one in the classroom. And Mrs. Hillbilly Mom never does ANYTHING without going full tilt boogie.

I normally run a tight ship. There's a place for everything, and everything is stowed in its place. Except when I think clutter might rub somebody the wrong way. C'mon, we all know whose fur I'm forcing against the grain. I stop short of creating deliberate messes to consume extra cleaning time. I even straighten all the desks, and have my students pick up trash from the floor. I clean my own whiteboard when I deem it necessary. I drip the light Fantastik onto the occasional graphite artwork on a desktop. I dump my tiny desk wastebasket into the main classroom wastebasket to streamline trash removal procedures. All I really need is a sweep and a dump daily, and a pencil sharpener emptying once a week, and perhaps the removal of oily nose- and forehead-prints from the door window strip.

Yes. Those are my demands and my expectations. None of this rearranging of the desks weekly, nor wiping down my keyboard, nor scrubbing my coil of wires to the electronic control tower, nor running a rag around the inside of my mini-fridge, nor scouring the inside of my microwave. Not necessary.

I expect to be able to work in my classroom after the final bell until I have my work caught up for the day. Popping into the doorway to ask how I'm doing, while scrubbing the area with a tennis ball on the end of a broom handle, is not going to get me out of your hair any sooner. Nor is popping in fifteen minutes later to ask how long I'll be staying. Come in and do your chores. It's fine. But don't demand small talk, because I AM WORKING.

It does not bother me in the least when the remnants of 800 drinking straws are scattered willy-nilly upon tabletops, bookshelves, and TV stands after our tower contest. Nor do the ten or fifteen assorted science fair project boards that are leaned against the file cabinet. Nor the six issues of a Scholastic magazine, thirty copies each, stacked on a desk in the corner by the pencil sharpener. Nor the stacks of various already-given tests that cover the back table.

I told The Pony to get rid of the straw sculptures after school today. Where's my medal?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Engages Her End Of Days Procedures

I gave my final exams today. That's several days earlier than the official Newmentia testing schedule. So sue me. At least I gave a final.

Chaos reigns during the final week. I strive not to let anarchy rear its disrespectful head as well. I'm seriously considering keeping my door locked to discourage interruptions. I can't fight the field trips and incentive day and baccalaureate and graduation practices and ring orders and fundraiser distributors and AFLAC reps and baseball games and softball games and banquets and state competitions. But I CAN monitor who pops into my domain unannounced with unclear purpose. One year a friend of the environment traipsed in several different class periods just to use my wastebasket!

My students might as well consider themselves in maximum security next week. Neither a borrower nor a lender be is my motto. I don't ask for extra kids to come to my classroom, and I don't let mine out to visit elsewhere. No flitting here and there to pick up a forgotten item, or to get a drink or go to the bathroom. It's fifty minutes. I don't think they'll dehydrate or have an accident. Since books are checked in, there's no need for backpacks. They are used as cover, you know, to sneak out a cell phone. And speaking of cell phones, if I have even a suspicion that a kid is taking a peek, it goes on my back table until the end of the period. The cell phone, that is. Not the student. Besides, I'm doing them a favor. I could confiscate it upon sight, and send it to the office until the end of the day.

Yes, the end of days is a ca-RAZY time. Best be prepared. Anticipate the unexpected. Be proactive, not reactive.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Reference Pony Put A Foot Wrong

On the way home today, I had a most scathingly brilliant idea for a phrase to throw into a most scathingly brilliant blog post. Don't look for it here. In fact, you probably wouldn't even recognize it if you found it. The most scathingly brilliant part would throw you off.

I posed my question to the universe. Actually, I was asking The Pony, but since he sits behind me in T-Hoe, and it does not behoove one to turn one's head on a swivel like some wild and crazy owl, I spoke to the windshield and oncoming traffic. "Hey, where did the phrase pipe dream come from, anyway?"

"Pie cream?"

"No. Pipe dream. Not pie cream."

"That's not what I'm saying. Pie queen?"

"No. Not pie queen. Pipe dream."

"I didn't say that! I said, 'Pike queen?'"

"Not pike queen. Pipe dream."

"I SAID, 'Pike green?' G R E E N. Green!"


"Huh. I don't know."

I could have had that conversation with Farmer H if I wanted to play Who's On First. Somehow, I expected more from The Pony. He's quite well-read. And he soundly thumps me in Jeopardy on anything mappy, ancient, Greek, Roman, or mythological. But this one stumped him.

A few minutes ago, I convened with my BFF Google to get the scoop. Pipe dream comes from the hallucinations of one smoking the opium pipe.

Sweet Gummi Mary! Paula Deen in my front yard eating a lobster tail! What is WRONG with the youth of today, not even knowing their opium references?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Reports Of My Tastelessness Have Not Been Exaggerated

Here I am, with my best Debbie Downer voice, heavy sigh, and eyeroll.

"Well, it's official. I have no taste."

I won't exactly say that taste is the first to go when one has a head cold. There's equilibrium. A good night's sleep. And catching a breath without sounding like Darth Vader. But taste is right up there with stuff you don't want to lose.

Today, for instance, a local church sent over a cake for Teacher Appreciation Day. I spied it during my plan time second hour. You have to be pretty jaded and blind and self-absorbed to miss a beauty of a whole sheet cake, shimmering white, with purple lettering on top. I kept my mitts off of it. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom ain't gonna be the first to despoil a tasty community treat.

As the bell rang at 10:53 to signal first lunch shift, an announcement came out of the ceiling informing the faculty that this cake was for them. When I stopped by the faculty women's restroom at 11:15, to take care of business, not wash my hair in the sink, I saw the sad remains of our baked-goods bonanza. It looked like those Capitol One pillagers had hacked off chunks with a double-sided Viking axe. Or their bare hands. That pitiful cake was missing over half its chocolate body, and most of its fine suit of vanilla frosting had been stripped from its back.

Not that I wanted any, mind you. I have no taste. A piece of chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream icing would taste the same as a foam rubber pillow coated with Vicks VapoRub. I didn't see the point.

Tomorrow we're having mostaccioli and fettuccine alfredo. It will be like rubber bands in glue for me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

This Is Why We Can't Hear Nice Things

Dear me. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is slipping. I had more to say about that baby in my ear at the concert yesterday. What are the odds, I ask you. No need to get to cipherin'. It's rhetorical question. What are the odds that the one crying baby in the entire gym took up residence a mere six inches from my noggin?

Not only did Babe wait until the precise moment that The Pony's band was walking into the chair maze to commence screeching, Babe refused to be pacified. Not with a real pacifier, of course. That would be logical. No. I'm talking about pacifying in the manner the mom soothed her bundle of joy. "Be quiet! Stop kicking your legs!" Because if there's one thing a crying baby understands, it's "Stop kicking your legs!"

I don't blame the infant. The infant was pretty much following infant protocol. I blame the adult. The adult that brought a tiny baby to a two-hour band concert. Seriously? Did she think that Babe would garner enjoyment from the thumping of bass drums and the caterwauling of clarinets? Even if Babe was there to make an appearance for an older sibling, Babe had no idea where she was. Babe might just as well have been 20,000 leagues under the sea in a chambered nautilus. Or crossing a wide prairie with Ike from Pike, two yoke of cattle, an old spotted hog, a tall Shanghai rooster, and an old yeller dog. Or hurtling through space, the final frontier, at 31,000 miles per hour to colonize Mars.

Take the baby out! That's the common-sense thing to do. When the baby starts to cry, walk out to the cafeteria, pace the floor, show Babe the shiny trophies in the case, check the diaper, sing a lullaby, teach the tiny tot how amortization works. Anything. But remove Babe from the stress of the concert. And the back-head region of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

This has been a public service announcement to the citizens of Hillmomba.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Time Doesn't Pay

We attended The Pony's band concert this afternoon, and guess what? Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a bee in her bonnet. That's right. I know it comes as quite a surprise. And speaking of what should NOT be a surprise: the disappearance of bees. They're not disappearing. They're right here in Hillmomba, in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's bonnet.

You know how you go places early to get a good seat, get things all scoped out, settle in...and folks show up five minutes after the starting time, asking you to shuffle over so they can sit on the aisle? Yeah. That didn't happen to the Hillbilly family. Only to the people in front of us, in the bleachers. We, you see, carry chairs from the cafeteria and set them up on the mezzanine, that slick concrete slab area on the other side of the bleacher railings. They're good seats, really. As long as you don't mind watching the festivities from behind brown metal rods somewhat like prison bars.

There's a trick to it. You have to get just close enough so that other usurpers don't walk between you and the railing, and stand there like so many vultures perched and waiting for somebody to close his eyes. I always carry my chair in first, and pick the prime spot, to the left of the stair walkway. I don't have to peer through prison bars. I do, however, get blocked by various and assorted wide butts as they go down the stairs to ask people to shove over so they can sit on the aisle.

Today there was a full house. That meant that a lady who thought she was very special plopped herself right down smack dab on the top step. And sat there. Filming with her cell phone. If Mr. Principal had been there, he would have put a stop to that fire hazard forthwith.

Next to me, on my right, was a woman with two daughters who stood RIGHT NEXT TO ME. In my personal space. I would have been hard-pressed to fit a piece of onionskin paper between us. I don't fault the kids. They don't know any better. That woman should have made them move away from the stair opening and my breathing air.

Then there were the folks behind me who were having a family reunion. I think they were the Louds. And the kids running back and forth like the area was a playground without supervision. And that bawling baby right behind my ear.

Getting there early just doesn't pay the way it used to.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Not Fit For Mom Nor Pony

The Pony marched in the Newmentia carnival parade this afternoon. Instead of the regular band uniforms, the band always dresses in khaki shorts and white shirts for this event. The temperature was 37 degrees when we left. It hovered in the low forties during marching time. The Pony refused to wear a sweatshirt.

Some years, we sit along that parade route hotter than a pepper sprout. This year, we stayed in T-Hoe with the windows up, draped with jackets on backwards. Folks ignored the students trying to earn money selling sodas, and walked down the street to the little store to buy large coffees. There was also room left to sit along the sidewalk beside the church at the town square, a rarity. And hardly any little kids let go of balloons and cried as they drifted into the wild blue yonder. The band was supposed to wear sunglasses. I only saw two marchers sporting them. It was, after all, overcast.

When The Pony returned from his mile-long forced march, he turned on his seat heater and sat on his hands. He announced that his legs did not get cold, but that his hands almost fused to his trombone.

Sunday is the spring concert. At least the gym will be heated, if only to 68 degrees. The Pony says he is supposed to bring extra clothes. Not for warmth. To cover himself after he turns in his band uniform.

Two more weeks, and his freshman year is history.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sharing Without Caring

Farmer H is the gift that keeps on giving. He has been complaining all week about a cough. Yesterday I had a pounding headache, last night I coughed up phlegm by the bucketload, and this morning I had wheezing and ear pain.

Funny how it's the ear that faces the ceiling while the other is safely ensconced in my bed pillow. The ceiling ear is at the mercy of Farmer H's breather. I know it was spewing in my direction, because when I went to bed, I laid down on a living arm. Quite uncomfortable for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. And apparently for the arm, because Farmer H commenced to snarling, and jerked it back out of the trap of my two pillows that had so recently held it captive. Seriously. Stay off my side of the bed, and out of my pillows if you value your arm health.

I could picture those tendrils of breather breath, coiling together into one snaky plume, doing a little cobra dance before walking like an Egyptian through the dark bedroom air and threading itself into my ear canal.

Farmer H declares that I must be crazy. HE is not Typhoid Mary. Even though the sickness has been circulating at his place of employment. I probably caught this bug at school. Because, you know, students breathe virusy breaths into my ear all the live-long day, sharing BFF secrets, I and my 100 confidantes.

My throat is now lit up like a west-coast wildfire.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Hope It At Least Had A Pedicure

It's virtually the end of the school year, you know. So it behooves one to refrain from eating the cafeteria offerings. Cook's choice, they're called, these end-of-days meals.

I had the system beat today, what with leftovers from last night's academic banquet being proffered to the faculty like a carrot on a stick dangled in front of a balky mule. Rumor had it that the remains were being warmed by the assistant of officed personnel. I say rumor, even though a fellow faculty told me from the horse's mouth that the fare would be heated. After all, we can't leave our students. We are doing more than sitting behind a desk waiting for someone to walk in or ring us on the phone. It was a nice gesture from folks eating the remains of our $10 a plate meal for free.

When 10:53 rolled around, we found the food lined up on the counter of the teacher workroom. Ice cold. Have you ever seen nine teachers trying to warm nine plates in the microwave and eat within a twenty-three-minute interval? Me neither. I loaded a plate and headed for the cafeteria. It was catered BBQ. I eat cold BBQ at home. So I figured that as long as I only took chicken, pulled pork, and cherry pie, my meal would be palatable. It was good last night. I assumed it would be good this afternoon. I mean mid-morning.

As with so many things we assume, my bargain feast made a mockery of my prediction. The taste was palatable. I even added sauce from the squirt bottles left behind by the man in the T-shirt with cut-out sleeves and large tattoos. The fact that he looked more like an '80s hair-band roadie retrieving the sterno cans last night than restaurant catering staff did nothing to deter my taste buds.

Texture was the issue. I swear I ate a piece of pig hoof. The piece of cartilaginous material that I withdrew from my mouth in full view of a cafeteria full of students certainly looked like hoof. So the piece that passed over my lips and past my gums without so much as a "Look out, tummy, here it comes," was most likely the same thing.

I tossed the pie. The crust was charred, and the cherries tasted like all the sugar had been removed for my own good, and grapefruit juice injected for its fat-burning properties.

The cafeteria meal was BBQ chicken. Shredded. On a bun. Warm.

Who's foolin' who?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

This Is What Teachers Look Forward To

I'm down to a dozen days of school remaining. Not a freaky baker's dozen, from a dough-kneader who can't count on his fingers and big toes. A regular dozen. One-twelfth of a gross.

Two days of duty remain. And a rush of testing, book-collecting, paper penny bridges, straw towers, egg-drop contests, inventory, room-cleaning, the stowing of valuables, awards assemblies, incentive days, honors banquets, cooks' choice lunch menus, graduation ceremonies, and any other duties as needed that may not be enumerated in my contract.

It's the best time of the school year!