Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Punchlines Write Themselves

Here's my favorite quote from the classroom this week.

My older kids were working on their assignment. They are not your pencil-and-paper type crew. More interactive. One of them announced, "I graduate tonight."

"Nuh uh!"

"YUH huh!"

"You're not graduating tonight."

"I'm not talking about HERE, you MORON! I'm talking about FROM ANGER MANAGEMENT!"


You can't make these things up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Is Pink Floyd Still Around?

Pardon me while I go a little bit ballistic. After I'm done, I plan to go out for coffee with a girl who is a little bit pregnant, a guy who almost won a horseshoe tournament, and a quadruple amputee who was close to releasing his hand grenade correctly. No, I'm not. Silly! I don't even drink coffee.

I don't know if I can take much more. I don't demand much from my custodian, Cus. A simple sweeping and wastebasket dumping daily is enough for me. The aura of godliness is not in the divine plan for my classroom. I have a place for everything, and like everything in its place. Even those stacks of files and odd papers piled here and there. Yes. I don't like people touching my cheese nor my classroom equipment. Therein lies the problem.


I wish Pink Floyd would write a song with that title. Or even that hook. It needs to become common knowledge. An unwritten workplace rule. Sometimes, in my daydreams, I confront Cus. "Who do you think you are, that substitute I had six years ago? It is MY classroom, and I decree the feng shui of my domain. Not you. How would you like it if I went all Fast Times at Ridgemont High Mr. Hand on you, and showed up at your house? But instead of teaching you a whole year's worth of history, I moved your couch back one-and-a-half tiles? Eighteen inches! You would be able to tell. And I can tell!"

If I don't take the time to move twenty-five desks back to the proper positions, I will not be able to walk across the back aisle of my classroom all day. My floor plan is carefully designed to allow maximum access around the perimeter, yet cram students into the middle like oversize sardines.

It's not like we leave furniture scattered willy-nilly like flotsam piled randomly by a hurricane surge. Desks are left in straight rows, lined up on the tile corners, with chairs pushed in at the end of each day. One can walk comfortably down the rows, even while pushing a broom if one so desires.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel, nor re-interior-decorate the classroom. It's overkill.

End of that little bit of a tirade. Let's go out for a 44 oz. Diet Coke.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gains And Losses During Snoozitude

I think I have been lapsing in and out of consciousness.

One minute I'm typing away, the next my head bobs backward with a crunchy neck sound, and I see gibberish on the monitor. I'm sure it's some wacky conspiracy designed to discredit my writing skills. It couldn't be my five hours of sleep each night.

At least I'm not like my mom. She reports that she sits down at her computer desk every night at ten, and fiddles about while watching the news. Then she finds herself face down on her forearms at 2:00 a.m. That's just weird. Everybody KNOWS that your head should bob backwards, not forwards. I think she must be some kind of alien. That would also explain her penchant for expired foods. And green bean sandwiches.

Besides, with her face down on her forearms like that, her open mouth is just asking for spiders to crawl in. You know about that, right? How people eat X number of spiders in their sleep every year? My students like to bring that up a lot. I make it a lot harder on those spiders. They have to be Tom Cruise Mission Impossible skilled to drop down and land in MY mouth.

Kids these days. They don't know the proper way to nod off to sleep in class. They need frills. Like textbook pillows. I really need to invent some saliva-proof textbook-pillow-cases to market alongside book covers. Wait! Kids don't use book covers any more. They just gouge the not-heaven out of those textbooks without a care in the world. Even though we write a damage report to try and make them pay. What we need is a good enforcer, like that Seinfeld library cop.

And more hours in a day. And night.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Scenario Could Be Better

Snow, snow, everywhere...and not a flake to give Mrs. Hillbilly Mom another snow day.

Greedy, isn't she? An insatiable slacker, lounging about her basement lair with a vat of Diet Coke, scoffing at the working world. Bwah ha ha!

The sides of the road are dotted with chunky towers of hardened sleet-snow. They look like so many non-concentric mini-Stonehenge rocks. At least they did this morning. Then the temperature hit 50 for about an hour this afternoon, and on the way home, The Pony declared them now to be Easter Island shrunken heads.

We were sorely disappointed last night around 6:00, when an automated phone call came in from Newmentia. The Pony's hope sprang eternal, but when he picked up, it was only a message that a certain holler of Hillmomba would be running buses on the snow route. We got the same call tonight. Indeed, where the roads were not plowed, the coating is now like slippery cement. Nothing's crackin' that frozen pavement.

Tonight I am worried about the rain. The low-water bridge already shows evidence of rising water, what with the melt-off over the last two days. We'll see if a detour is in order Tuesday morning.

Winter just got here. Spring needs to take a back seat. And hold its water. And shut the not-heaven up.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Every Potty Has Its Pooper

Farmer H and the #1 son spent several hours removing a toilet today.

Actually, the toilet removal took less than five minutes. It was everything else that took hours. They have been replacing the diamond-patterned, blue-and-white linoleum floor of the boys' bathroom with a replica of a hockey arena. No ice, of course. But a shiny piece of wood with all the requisite markings and stripes. They did the half under the sink a couple weeks ago, and today was the toilet half's turn.

I suggested to Farmer H that he might as well just replace the toilet. Not that we're made of money, and tear out toilets every time we use one. We're not exactly the artist formerly known as Prince. And it's not that our sons' waste material is strong enough to plug a leak in the Hoover Dam. We've had that toilet for fifteen years. I think we can fancy up the place with a new one during the makeover.

The #1 son remained behind (heh, heh, I said behind in a post about toilets) while Farmer H took off to Lowe's for the replacement. I chose not to hang around with bated breath waiting on the arrival of the new pooper. So the incoming throne was installed without my supervision.

While I was cooking supper, Farmer H started a conversation with me from the living room. He loves to do that. It's like a hobby with him. He especially cherishes these talks when I am trying to hear the lying meteorologists, or when I have the exhaust fan running on the stove.

"How do you like the new toilet?"

"I don't know. I haven't seen it."

"I asked for the best toilet they had." (I envisioned Al Bundy and his Ferguson. The King of Toilets). "It's an old people's toilet. Kind of high."

"Great. The boys have an old people's toilet."

"I kind of like it. You will, too."

With that introduction, I had to go check it out. It's only an inch or two taller than our other toilets. No support bars on it. No lifty thingy that pushes you back to standing position.

I'm hoping there's not a walk-in tub in the boys' future.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Flibbertigibbet

How do you snap a picture of my Juno?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you show her likeness in a photo?
A ferret-on-crack, a honey badger who don't escaped manic lunatic with no gown?

The exonerated egg-stealer in repose:

Juno is contemplative. The lovefest has been delayed. "Why no huggie? I don't recall being bad. If it's about that shop towel that was next to me in the front yard, well, all I have to say is that thing was not put away like it should have been, and anything that I find is fair game. They're an acquired taste, those shop towels, and can't hold a candle to that damp paper towel I found after the new hockey-themed floor was laid in the boys' bathroom. A paper towel which was quite tasty, and not at all sturdy like one might think."

Of course, it took eight shots to garner two usable photos. And they are not what a normal person would call usable. Only a Juno-snapper would term these pictures a success. That's because when you try to snap Juno's picture, she is already three poses ahead when the shutter shuts.

Most of them turn out something like THIS. And that is only IF you can actually get a shot with her in the frame:

"I'm over HERE, Humanmommy! HERE! Right in front of you. Why you stand so far back, eh? I must touch my nose to your neck. I think I'll just jump down, here, and get closer to you. What? Why you yell at Juno? Stop? Sit? No? What does this mean? Can't you see I am wiggling all over? Come closer! We hug, no?"

Her constant companion, the shepherd/lab Ann, remains steadfast and calm. The bark of reason. Her muddy brown eyes are no match for Juno's bright clear photo-blurred soul-windows. Ann's an empathetic, loyal, woman's next-best friend, without much spark.

Ah...the furry kids. As different from each other as human kids. Yet we try not to show favoritism.

Friday, February 22, 2013

That's EGGSACTLY What I've Been Saying

The Pony is doing a science experiment that requires heating some eggs to a temperature of 150 degrees. That means that I put them in the oven for ten or fifteen minutes. Everybody knows you can't microwave an egg in its shell. Everybody except one of the #1 son's teachers, who put an egg in its shell in her microwave. The egg LOOKED just fine, according to #1. It still looked fine as the teacher started peeling off the shell. Then, when she was almost done, KAPLOOEY! The thing exploded all over the place. Let the record show that she was NOT a science teacher.

So...we are not using our very own personal chicken eggs for this project. Home-grown chicken eggs have a much thinner shell than commercial eggs. I did a trial run tonight. I put an egg in the oven at 150 for ten minutes. The Pony reported that while it felt slightly warm, he thought it could go for fifteen minutes for the real experiment. I told him to go get rid of the warm egg. He put on his Adidas slides and slid across the hard shell of the sleet/snow/frozen rain on the back porch. Down down down he flung that egg. I could not see it from where I was standing on the dry decking, but The Pony reported that the heating must have ruptured the yolk membrane, because the smashing explosion shot yellow goop in all directions across the snow.

While this chicken-fruit bomb was being detonated, Juno was around the kitchen-nook hump on the other side of the back porch by the laundry room, gobbling grease bread, garlic cheese breadsticks, and half a foot-long sub roll from all three dog dishes. You snooze, you lose at this canine cafe.

Farmer H came in from feeding the goats, and asked if we gave Ann, the black shepherd, an egg. "No. But The Pony threw one off the back porch just now." Farmer H declared that she must have picked it up, because she was carrying one in her mouth and rolling it across the snow in the front yard.

SCREEEEEEECH! That's the sound of a phonograph needle on an LP. There's no way Ann could have been carrying that Pony egg. It was in smithereens. And furthermore, Farmer H elaborated that it was a GREEN egg. Not storebought. He asked The Pony if he had dropped one out of the basket when collecting a few minutes earlier. Nope.

Now I could gloat. "See? It's NOT my dog eating your eggs. So there!"

"It is TOO your dog."

"Nope. Juno is my dog."

"Well...Ann is your dog, too. Tank is my dog."

"Stop blaming Juno for all your missing eggs. Just because she has a glossy coat. I told you all along that I see Ann with the eggs, and Juno follows her around and licks the empty shells."

Finally. My doggie has been vindicated. I thought it was obvious enough when Tank was found INSIDE the chicken house every evening, and only one egg was being collected. Farmer H swore that Tank the beagle was not big enough to get eggs out of the nesting boxes. Huh! These wacky chickens don't lay in the nesting boxes.

Farmer H decreed that The Pony should leave no stone unturned in gathering eggs in the future. Short of following the hens from sunup 'til sundown, I don't think this mission will be a success.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Meet And Greet Of Sorts

How do you drive a teacher crazy? NOT like this:

* Give her a bag of M & Ms and tell her to alphabetize them.

* Put a scratch-n-sniff sticker on a mirror at the bottom of the pool.

* Send her outside in a lightning storm and tell her not to come in until you're done taking her picture.

* Recommend that she go see that new movie at the drive-in: Closed for the Winter.

* Drop her off in a field with a box of Cheerios and tell her to plant the donut seeds.

Okay. Maybe those tactics would work. IF the teacher was blond. Otherwise, all you have to do is give them two brand-spankin'-new, state-of-the-art copiers and tell them not to use those brand-spankin'-new, state-of-the-art copiers for eight days, until after they participate in after-school training. Woe was us.

Thank the Gummi Mary, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did some sleuthin' and discovered that the OLD copier was cooling its wheels in the librarian's office in the library. So her copies are up-to-date. Even better, with a two-snow-day cushion built in.

AND, put the Gummi Mary on the Christmas card list, because Arch Nemesis offered to take Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's after-school parking lot duty so HM would not miss the mandatory training! Will wonders never cease! Somewhere in her youth or chi-i-illldhooood...Mrs. Hillbilly Mom must have done something good. Or at least watched The Sound of Music every year. Indeed, Archie cooked up a plan to get training for the 7th Hour plan time teachers during 7th Hour, freeing up more space for after-school attendees. Who cares if her only plan was to run copies before everyone else? She even offered to step into my 7th Hour class so I could go then, and still do my duty. I gave Archie the choice. One does not look a gift-nemesis in the mouth.

Paula Deen eating a lobster tail in my front yard! These new Kyoceras will do everything but mix you a Cosmopolitan. And I'm pretty sure they could do that if vodka was allowed in school. They have a touch screen for commands. They will copy both book pages and put them front and back, and wait until you have laid out ALL of that copyrighted material that you want before printing out. These machines probably report back to the Library Police, like that Tropic of Capricorn detective who tangled with Jerry and George. Kyocera v2 will scan your document and email it to anybody in the school address book. You can jab it in the side with a thumb-drive shiv, and it will copy any document you select. Or you can scan one (hopefully not a whole book) and store it on your thumb. I was waitin' for that sleek electronic entity to whistle Dixie and take off for Alabama to obtain a banjo for its knee. It was THAT entertaining.

But I can still wait three more days for our reunion.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'd Like To Make A Little Announcement

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful. Or because I'm a snarky wench who deserves to get her comeuppance. Nope. Hate me because I'm the proud possessor of a BRAND SPANKIN' NEW OFFICIAL NEWMENTIA SNOW DAY!

Oh, yes. It's like a delectable nectar sipped slowly through a twisty straw. I revel in the afterglow of the phone tree magic.

Actually, that's a little white lie. My branch on the phone tree grows through my cell phone. The cell phone that does not receive reception in my dark basement lair. The cell phone that I leave on the burgundy kitchen counter of the Mansion, just in front of the wooden paper plate holder etched with the phrase "Everyday China." The cell phone that is usually spirited away to the #1 son's room in times of snow day hope, so as to be heard and pounced upon at the slightest ring. Of all nights for #1 to screen my calls...

He ran down the steps at 6:30, to tell me that when he checked the number on my ignored phone, it was a colleague I would never make nor receive a personal call from. The branch above me on the phone tree. Yet there was no message. I told #1 to look on my list taped inside the pantry door, and call the branch under me. We have done this in the past when I am indisposed. His word is as good as mine when coming through my phone. #1 was reluctant, what with no official message, and the announcement not yet showing on the news channels or web pages. Nor had the district's automated call come in on the land line. Which kind of defeats the purpose and spontaneity and UNBRIDLED JOY of the phone tree announcement. I reminded him that our tin can phone system sometimes takes two hours to show a phone message.

Thirty minutes later, I observed our cancellation on the scroll at the bottom of Channel 2. I hollered up to #1, who said he had found the phone message and left a message in kind on the phone of the lower branch.

Modern technology sucks the sap right out of the insider phone tree.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's Not Greek To Me

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a musical.

I'm sorry. What I MEANT to say was, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not amused. As in, not ha-ha-ing at the unintentional antics of her students.

Not only is Mrs. Hillbilly Mom not a musical, nor amused, but she is also not a tragedy. Therefore, she has even less need for the burgeoning trend in her classroom toward the GREEK CHORUS.

I'm sure you are all familiar with the Greek chorus. You know, the background busybodies who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action. Yeah. That Greek chorus. My personal Greek chorus is eclectic. You would not even suspect that my classroom harbored a Greek chorus until they reared their mouthy heads. No uniforms. No robes. No masks. No standing together in the background. Yet each class period, the Greek chorus bides its time. Perhaps a performance might go a little like this:

"...and there will be no hand-held games, and no earphones. [Heh, heh, I almost typed EARPLUGS, a Freudian slip if there ever was one, because I, myself, desire earplugs, even though it would prevent many a timely blog post.] "They are not allowed at school, and are certainly not allowed in my classroom. If I see them, I will take them. You will have to go to the office to ask to get them back."

"But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, she didn't have them yesterday."
"Didn't have them."
"HE was playing the game. Not her."
"SHE worked all hour. All the way up to the bell. She didn't play with it once."

"I remember yesterday. Who says I am speaking to HER? But since you brought it up, even though I didn't ask and it's not your concern, let's make sure we have the facts straight. She did not work all hour until the bell. She asked to finish a task in another classroom, and left as soon as she turned in her paper. Before she left, she had loaned her handheld game to HIM, and HE was playing on it when I caught him and told him to put it away. Then HE gave it back to HER. I should have taken it away from him, and saved myself this discussion."

"But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! She didn't have in earphones."
"She never wears earphones."
"Never does."
"She doesn't listen to them in here."

"Did I say that SHE was the one using earphones? No. I made a general statement to the class. It should have taken twenty seconds. Stop jumping to conclusions and making people look guilty. Now I know who to watch. They can thank you after class."

See? Even though I made that announcement every hour, somebody had to jump in and declare innocence for the guilty. Stick their noses in to snort their two cents. A regular Greek chorus. Like I couldn't keep the action straight in my own head.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Not only a teacher, but a student. A student of human behavior.

Monday, February 18, 2013

There Are Liars, Dang Liars, And Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

I am awaiting that big rainstorm that was forecast to hit Hillmomba at noon today, and pour half an inch of precipitation on our fine nation. I am waiting.

The winds are here. But not the rain. What's up with that? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me four hundred and thirty-seven times, shame on me. If we could just leave the weather forecast off the news, there would be more time for touching human-interest stories like that golden eagle snatching a baby from a park in Montreal. What's that? The video of the baby-napping fowl was false? SO ARE THE WEATHER FORECASTS!

The weather is going to take a turn for the frigid tomorrow. ALLEGEDLY! So tonight I am whipping up a pot roast. Okay, it's not exactly traditional Yankee Pot Roast. I'm no Yankee. And there's no actual pot. But it has carrots, potatoes, and onions! And roast! So, technically, it's Hillbilly Roasting Pan Roast.

I wouldn't want to mislead anybody. LIKE A TV METEOROLOGIST!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Concert Monologue, Based On Bette Middler As A Janis Joplinesque Performer

You know, sometimes, people say to me, "Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, when's the first time you ever heard the blues?" And you know what I tell 'em? The day I was offered my first job. You know why? You know why? 'Coz I became a teacher. Ah! Oh! We got some NOISY educators in the house tonight! I do like to hear that whiny sound, you know I do. Oh, being an instructor is so interesting don't you find it? What are we, teachers, what are we? We are babysitters in the theater of life! Get into that classroom and rattle them dry erase markers and erasers...and you better look pretty gosh-darned good doin' it, too, or else you gonna lose a good thang! Oh! And why do we do that, why do we do that? I tell you why we do that, we do that to find snoooooow days!

Oh, I love snow days, don't you love snow days? Ain't it just great to get a snow day? Oh, ain't it wonderful? Isn't it wonderful to get a snow day? Ain't it just grand to be layin' there at night in bed, waitin' for the snow to show up? And when it finally does, round about four o'clock in the mornin' with rain in its midst, and the whiff of a warm front on its breath...Oh, honey, I can smell a warm front from five hundred paces! That's a easy one to catch! So what do you do when it comes home with a whiff of warm front on its breath? Do you say, "Oh, honey, let me open up my loving arms and my loving heart! Dive right in baby, the water's fine!" Is that what you say, teachers? Or do you say, "Pack your bags! I'm puttin' on my little thinking cap and my worn-out comfortable shoes. I'm gonna go find me a real snow day, a good snow day, a true snow day, a snow day who will bring me days off for sure." You know, I tell you something, I tell you something. I one time I actually thought I found myself one. I did, I thought I found myself one. When it...when it...

Cue music.

"When a snow day is forecast for Thursday..."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

We Are Great Clumsy Apes

Yesterday, I had The Pony take a photo for me, using my phone. "Send it to my email," I said, little-did-I-know-ingly. The phone locked up. It's done that before. Last month, to be precise. At the same time. It's always right after school. I think it's because we get no reception inside the building.

There it was. Dead. The Pony had HIS phone. It's not like I have not survived the major portion of my life without a cell phone. But I wanted it working. I wanted that picture sent. The last time, we tried to call the #1 son at robot practice. Again, a dead zone down in that building.

It's not that The Pony and I are stupid. We knew that we needed to turn off the phone and reboot it. But it was locked up. Not going off. Our next goal was to remove the battery momentarily. But we didn't know how to get the cover off. The Pony said that prying it felt like he was breaking the cover. Sliding it didn't happen. He tried. I tried. Nothing. I thought it might be that clear protective coating #1 applied to it. Upon closer inspection. the coating was not in the crevices where it would impede un-covering.

With robot practice over now, The Pony called #1. "Mom's phone is locked up, and we can't get it to work. We TRIED that! It's locked up. Yes. We know. We don't know how to get the cover off. Oh! Seriously? Yeah. That worked! Okay. Bye."

We had been trying to slide the cover down off the bottom, rather than up off the top.

If we were chimpanzees, we would starve to death while termites teemed in bulging mounds around us, and sticks littered the ground at our feet.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Pony Who Says Nay!

Today is the birthday of The Pony.

The birthdays run in the Newmentia announcements each day. The announcements that are read by every 2nd-Hour teacher. Out loud. To their students.

Mr. Kitchen Sink informed me at lunch that he had wished The Pony a happy birthday 3rd Hour. And when students clamored to sing Happy Birthday to him, Mr. Kitchen Sink vetoed the idea. "No need to make the boy more embarrassed than he already is."

I did not know until after school that Ms. Hall End read the announcements 2nd Hour, and let the class sing Happy Birthday to The Pony. Who ducked his head, and involuntarily pumped extra blood to his ears.

Mrs. NotACook casually mentioned that she had seen The Pony in the hall, and told him, "Happy Birthday." Furthermore, she relayed, "When I said that to him, he looked at me like I had three eyes."

Just yesterday, The Pony sneezed during my class. A friend in the back row said, "God bless you. Was that you, Pony? Did you just sneeze?" The Pony shook his head. Denied it. "Oh, of course not. A sneeze is a sign of weakness! Pony would never allow myself to sneeze!"

The Pony. An enigma wrapped in a riddle locked up in a conundrum. Some see him as the freshman Chuck Norris. Others as a simple odd duck.

Happy birthday, my little Pony! Here's to many more years of kicking up your heels.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine's Day Of Epic Proportions

Sweets for the sweet.

Today, I received two ring pops, a chocolate rose, and a carnation. That's unheard-of at the secondary school level! Never in all my teaching days have I raked in so much loot on Valentine's Day. My usual haul is NOTHING.

Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.

Or swag was mistakenly delivered to me by confused student council members.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spinach And Surprises

Perhaps I've mentioned that what I read is not always what is on the page. I seem to need a change in my glasses. Even though I just had a change in September. I think somebody at the optometrist's office pulled the old switcheroo. And by old switcheroo, I don't mean when you poison your drink and then switch it with another person. There's no drinking in optometry.

Yesterday, in my internet travels, I came across a headline the baffled me.

Spinach May Protect Against Asians

What? Why do we need protection against Asians? Is it the North Korean nuclear test Asians? The Boston combat zone gang Asians? Surely not the violin-playing math wizard Asians. And how can spinach be such an enforcer? Do you throw a wad of cooked spinach soaked with vinegar from a crystal cruet into the Asians' faces? Is spinach their Kryptonite? Their cross and garlic? I was simply baffled by this spinach/Asian connection. I went back to read the article. Never mind. The headline was, in reality, Spinach May Protect Against Autism. Not nearly so intriguing.

I like to keep abreast of current developments in my field. A few weeks ago, our Science World magazine touted the discovery of the best-preserved woolly mammoth so far. And as luck would have it, the next day I saw an article in the news about this late-2012 find. Funny how life accessorizes learning. So this morning I was perusing the internet news at the end of my plan time when a headline caught my eye. I was sure it was another unfortunate interpretation.

Sea Slug's 'Disposable Penis' Surprises

Oh, yes. I'll bet it does. It certainly surprised me, peeping out of Google News. And wouldn't you know it, just as I had scrolled down to the science news, where this 'disposable penis' popped up, a student entered my room to do some office business. Who thought I would be hastily switching windows to conceal my clandestine reading? Not me! I did not click on the story. I'm sure I would have gotten the blocking message, with the THREAT that my actions had been reported to the network administrator. Without even the cute little school bus stop sign that used to signal such attempts. So sure was I that I had made yet another misinterpretation of a valid headline, I went back to look at it again. That was the actual title.

Lucky for both of us that I was able to find my 'disposable penis' later and share it with you. You're welcome. Don't say Mrs. Hillbilly Mom never gave you anything. Please refrain from having T-shirts printed with the lament:

I Went to Visit Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Blog, and All I Got was a Disposable Penis

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

And Two Students Were Using The Copier On My Plan Time

This much I've learned for sure...

When you give a simple assignment in the middle of February, students do not simply answer the questions. You will encounter the following obstacles to your path of clear sailing toward the final bell, all papers graded and recorded.

--the clue you gave that Kelvin was NOT the answer will have fallen on deaf or oppositionally-defiant ears, and all but two papers the entire day will have Kelvin for the answer that should have been Joules.

--two students will leave a multiple choice answer blank, because, apparently, reading five questions is just too taxing, or making a simple decision with a 25% chance of getting the right answer is just too risky

--one student will not put a name on the paper, one student will put last name, first initial on the paper, and one student will put his real first name that he hasn't gone by all year

--one student will turn in her paper with the top side down at the bottom

--tens of students will profess that a glass cup has better insulating qualities that a foam cup, because the book said glass is a good insulator, and is used in thermoses, even though if you asked them to pick up a cup of piping hot chocolate in either a glass with no handle, or foam, 99% would pick the foam, the other 1% being the kind who like to create drama

--even though directions are given at the top of the page to write "TRUE," or write the correct replacement for the italicized word on the blank for the false questions, two students will leave the true questions blank, and write correct words for the false ones

--see above, same directions. Two people will write their correction over the italicized word, and leave the false blanks blank

--see above, same directions. Four students will write "FALSE" without correcting the italicized words

--one student will turn in YESTERDAY'S assignment

Just pulling you down in the trenches with me. I've got the February teacher blues.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Hillbilly Onion-Counter War

The battle rages.

Last night Farmer H wanted hamburgers for supper. I hadn't made them in a while. You know. Because the extent of my cooking, to hear him tell it, is heating things in the microwave, or warming them in the oven. So I stood at the stove, patting out the burgers, tending them while they sizzled, cheesing up the buns, slicing pickles and tomatoes and onions, for 45 minutes. Yeah. They're not instant, you know.

I called the boys to get theirs. Went without one myself, because my good pan only holds three comfortably, and I was not about to stand and tend another one for myself. Not worth it. Nor is getting out two pans, and having mine go cold while readying their plates. So...I announced to Farmer H that his meal was available for fixin', and left him to his own devices.

Funny how Farmer H thinks I am going to re-use slices of onion left on the kitchen counter for four hours. Yes. That was the only thing left. Stinky onion slices. A more reasonable person might have stepped around the counter to the kitchen door, and tossed them off the back porch. Or even dumped them in the wastebasket to stink from there for 24 hours until the #1 son took the trash out. But not Farmer H. Those slivers of stinky onion must be preserved at all costs.

This morning, in a rush, I grabbed a Hawaiian roll and a couple of ham wafers not slapped onto The Pony's lunch sandwich to act as my breakfast. The roll needed slicing. I grabbed a clean-looking knife from beside the sink. Carved up my tropical bread. That entire tiny sandwich tasted like onion.

I'm not sure if it was residue on the knife, or if the smell of onion had permeated everything in my kitchen.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Winter Of My Discontent

Okay. Who am I fooling? NOBODY! My discontent knows no bounds!

I have almost given up hope for a snow day. The eternal optimist inside me, trying desperately to get out, says we still have five weeks left of official winter. But really. A season is thirteen weeks long. We have passed the halfway point. Every day, we are inching closer and closer to that dadblasted SPRING. The season of daffodils and bunnies and raindrops and gale force freakin' winds.

Spring is my least favorite season. It's almost tied with summer, whose only redeeming quality is the hour just after sunset, when the ground cools off and humidity settles down to become morning dew, and the lightning bugs start blinkin', just begging for their tail-lights to be ripped off by children and stuck on a ring finger as a neon jewel. When, if you live in town, you hear the tune of the ice cream wagon. When athletic kids are on the baseball fields, compiling stats for mvp, or playing in an everyone's a winner league, looking forward to an equal amount of at-bats, a snow cone after the game, and a trophy at the end of the season.

Now I sit in my Mansion, faithfully watching the five o'clock, six o'clock, nine o'clock, and ten o'clock weather reports. On three different channels. Just when one gives me hope, the other two dash them like an heirloom Christmas bulb in the hands of a butter(literally)fingered toddler. NO SNOW FOR YOU! Rain, they say. Rain. The lesser, cinnamon, babka of the precipitation world.

My hopes, once as high as an elephant's eye, or at least as high as the corn in Oklahoma, are now circling the drain of despair. How soon the worm has turned. It seems like only yesterday that Christmas break had just begun. That we were only a few days into winter when a glorious eight inches of snow magically appeared overnight. The meteorologists scratched their empty heads. This was uncalled for. A dusting, they had prognosticated.

I want my eight inches.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Drug Deal Breaker

The #1 son picked up a virus last weekend. He has been feeling puny, with a drippy nose and cough. It just so happens that my teaching buddy, Mabel, has the same bug. Several of her hallway denizens have it as well. Mabel popped in to visit on our plan time in the middle of the week, and told me about the miracle elixir she has been swilling by the boxcar.

"It's the best stuff ever! It stops the cough and clears my head. And it doesn't make me drowsy. It's Walgreens brand, cherry flavored, for kids. My husband is picking some up to drop off for me later. Would it be all right if he picked some up for #1? I hear him sniffling every morning. I think it could help him, if you say it's okay."

Well. It shall never be said that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom objects to a teacher foisting drugs on her son. Of course I okayed the transaction. That's where it gets tricky. There are strict rules about the dispensation of medicine (even OTC medicine) in schools. Parent permission is required, and students are not permitted to carry the medicines on their persons. Nor store drugs in their lockers. So Mabel arranged for her hubby to drop off the #1 bottle of kid cough medicine at the office. I would then pick it up, and call #1 to my room to dose him. All above-board. On the up-and-up. Mabel thought her shipment should arrive around 11:00. That's my lunch time.

After a tasty repast of frozen sausage/egg biscuit, and not the healthy cafeteria lunch nobody wants to eat, I stopped by the office. "Has the cough medicine been dropped off for my #1 yet?"

"Oh. Yes it has. I sent Responsible Girl to your room with it. Didn't you get it?"

"No. But I have been in the cafeteria."

"Well, it should be on your desk."

I went to my classroom. There it was, sealed in the box. Sitting on my desk. On top of a note.

"Mrs. Hillbilly Mom,
Here is the cough medicine I was supposed to bring to you. I am setting it on your desk. I know how you don't like people to mess with your stuff. So I'm just leaving it here where you will see it and not messing with anything. Have a nice day!
Responsible Girl"

Let the record show that in order to leave me the note, Responsible Girl had to look around the table next to my desk, next to the control center of telephone and tower of amplifier/DVD/VCR, and see my light blue leather box full of square note papers that she used for her message. In addition, she had to select, from my desktop, her choice of mechanical pencil, red pen, or black Bic. She chose the black. In addition, I am quite sure that she did not stand while penning the note declaring how responsible she is about not messing with my stuff, but rather sat her rumpus on my cushy rolly chair as if she owned the place.

Kids. Can't live with 'em. Can't have clandestine cough medicine delivered without 'em.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Mansion Is Missing Its Pony

I am without the company of my little Pony this evening. He is spending the night with Grandma.

I do not like life without my boyservant. He DID agree to accompany me to The Devil's Playground to assist in the weekly shopping after school. But the two bucks I gave him for the game room stopped there. My mom was waiting on the parking lot when we exited, to whisk him away for the sleepover. There was a slight interlude as Mom climbed into T-Hoe to discuss breaking news of my driver's license renewal yesterday. But that's another story for another place.

Bringing in groceries without The Pony is a chore. Like a cog has been ripped from the well-oiled machine. Not only did I have to carry all bags from T-Hoe's rear compartment to the porch--I also had to carry them into the Mansion. And put them away! All by myself! It was as if a cog had been ripped from the efficient marketing machine.

I hurt my arm carrying a bag of heavy duty paper plates, family-size can of cream-of-chicken soup, medium box of low-sodium chicken broth, and a can of whole cashews. Actually, I was also carrying nine other bags at the time, so it was probably a combination, not just that one bag. And I would likely have been fine, had I not lifted that arm up to deposit the myriad of plastic pouches onto the cutting block for household distribution. By me, myself, and I.

In the NASCAR bathroom next to my office, I found a tube of Thera-Gesic. I did not check for an expiration date. I rubbed some onto my outer upper left arm. It did not take all the pain away, but it helped.

I think I need to make a trip to The Devil's Playground tomorrow for some Thera-Gesic. Hope I don't hurt my arm carrying it into the Mansion. Youth. They are so supple and fast-healing.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

This Is Why We Can't Be Nice Things

Teachers get a bad rap. They care about the kids. Really. Because a decent steady paycheck and health insurance and a retirement plan is not enough to keep kid-haters showing up every day to fight the good fight. Those kind of folks tend to break. Not bend.

There's a fine line between cracking the whip and cracking kids up. A balancing act. First, respect. Then, humanity. Many a time we would like to help students out. Give them a break. Assist with an issue. But you can't cross that line. Actions can, at best, be misconstrued. And at worst, be misrepresented in a calculated act of revenge. Sometimes, there's simply a big-talker looking for attention.

Tuesday afternoon was practice for the academic team. Both the #1 son and The Pony attended. The kids sometimes grab snacks to tide them over. My boys raid the file cabinet drawer in my room that we have stocked for just that purpose. Others sneak into the Teacher Workroom to clandestinely purchase goodies from the vending machine, and sugared soda. These days, they don't even sneak. It's like a revolving door. More students than teachers. We have given up trying to keep them out. The soldiers must have a general, and this campaign is apparently not the front line anymore. To their credit, the academic teamies at least have the decency to act like they are guilty.

I was on my way to the office after school when a varsity scholar passed me. Stopped me. "I have two questions for you." The first was about calculating center of mass given three vectors. The second was, "Do you happen to have fifteen cents?" Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not make it a habit to walk the halls jangling with change. It's harder to catch phonies that way. The texters. Illicit communicators.

PennySeeker is many things, including a frenemy to the #1 son. But a thief he is not. I had no qualms about letting him seek my fortune. Besides, my laptop was locked like the Tech Dude commands. Thanks, in no small part, to his secret sorties to catch us in the act of throwing confidential information to the blue rays. I was not worried that some calamity would befall my belongings at the hands of PennySeeker.

"No. But if you go to my desk, to the top flat drawer where I keep my pens, there might be change in the desk tray next to the paperclips. Don't get into anything else."

"Okay. Thanks. I don't want to go back and tell Mr. Principal that I can't get his soda."

I continued to the office. He was not fooling me. Mr. Principal would never send a kid short of money to get him a soda. He even buys an occasional soda for various kids at lunch. It made no nevermind to me that PennySeeker was trying to cover his tracks, should I catch him in (sweet) flagrante delicto with the Teacher Workroom soda machine. That horse has done left the barn, sown his wild oats, and been rendered to make a glue stick already.

Yesterday, a younger member of the academic team announced, in front of his whole class, "So, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom...I hear you have a change drawer."

"Oh, yes. I am rolling in coins. This entire drawer is simply dripping with them. I'm a metal millionaire. But it's mine. All mine."

Seriously. Can a woman not have one thing to call her own? No good deed goes unpunished.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Why Kids Are Cranky And Sleepy After Lunch

Perhaps you've heard about changes in the school lunch program this year. Perhaps not.

Our students have been a bit vocal in their displeasure with the offerings. A team of inspectors is in the district this week. Today they were at Newmentia. Here is today's menu, as observed on the tray of Mr. Kitchen Sink, the colleague to my right. Please consider the fact that he had a TEACHER lunch. Normally a bit than a student lunch. That's because teachers pay the grand sum of $2.80, while students (who pay) fork over a mere $1.80.

Chili-styrofoam bowl the size you would get full of sweet & sour sauce with your Chinese take-out

Carrots-raw, sticks, (like a large carrot cut in the middle, then quartered into spears), eight pieces

Apples-two, red, small, size of billiard balls

Sunbutter-paper cup of the kind used to deliver pills to hospital patients, one-third full

Crackers-saltine, two packets of two crackers

Milk-half pint of regular or chocolate, 1%

Bon appetit!

The tonnage of carrots and apples flung into the garbage can was astonishing. I would have run screaming to rescue them, not for people, but for the horses across the road from the Mansion, had not my inner Non-Spectacle-Maker grabbed me by the throat, right across my thyroid scar. The lads who lunch (my sistren abandoned me today) commented that the custodian would not be able to drag that bag out to the dumpster.

I'm sure Mr. Kitchen Sink expected more for his $2.80. Those poor kids must have been starving twenty minutes after lunch. Had they eaten everything on the tray, problems were no doubt in the offing. The doorless bathrooms would have had revolving doors, due to the massive ingestion of fiber. A shock to the delicate systems of fast-food youth. 

My frozen microwaved sausage egg biscuit was much more filling.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Poster On The Wall, Perhaps

Time for a little refresher course, seeing as how we are five-and-a-half months removed from the first day of school. Take notes if necessary. We don't want things to spin out of control on the downhill slide to the last day. Keep a civil head.


1. Absentee slips are for picking up when you enter the building. Not for traipsing to retrieve during class time.

2. Pencils are for bringing to class. Not for leaving in your locker.

3. Uncomfortable silences hurt no one.

4. Lotion is for leaving in your purse. Not for slathering on in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom to give her an afternoon of watery eyes and dripping nose and oft-cleared throat.

5. Whisper-shouting, "Muffin-top alert! Muffin-top alert!" is not considered polite. Especially when you mean, "Crack alert! Crack alert!"

6. The fact that guys in the row behind you are whisper-shouting, "Muffin-top alert! Muffin-top alert!" does not mean they are calling you fat. Especially when you are an average-sized dude.

7. Returned assignments are for stashing in your book, or throwing away. Not for hoarding in the desk indefinitely.

8. Flat-topped desks are surfaces for classwork, arm resting, and lotion-harboring-purse setting. Not for heads laid down to sleep. They are not ergonomically sound for catching the every-approaching ZZZZZZs.

9. The chair is the part that moves back and forward when you sit. Not the desk.

10. Partner work refers to two individuals learning together. Not six individuals having a heyday.

11. Stating, "I'm already done!" when told to turn away from your illicit extra four partners does NOT strengthen your case.

12. Soda and water bottles are made for draining in the cafeteria, then depositing in the trash can. Not for hauling into my room and popping the lid off by squeezing.

13. Thumbs are made for hitchhiking, pointing up to show approval/down to show disapproval, and blaming unpleasant actions of yours on the person next to you. Not for scraping the dry-erase marker instructions off my whiteboard.

14. Australian narrators sometimes pronounce words differently that we do. There are NOT many species of Carl on the ocean bottom being devoured by fish.

15. Rules are for observing. Not for scoffing at, breaking, bending, or ignoring.


No need to expound at length. This list is just from today. We are in for a turbulent March.

Monday, February 4, 2013

We Might Secretly Be Competing For Cash And Prizes

Here's a little teacher humor.

Our custodial staff fancies themselves godly. I know that, because their cleanliness knows no bounds. I'm surprised the paint is not worn off the walls, and the wax off the floors from the thorough scrubbing they get daily. We ladies appreciate the antiseptic nature of our workplace. However...we could make a few suggestions concerning the timing of the restroom sanitizing.

Seems like every time you need to go, there is a yellow plastic caution thingy set up to warn of wet floors. We do no respect the sanctity of the yellow plastic caution thingy. It's not a police Do Not Cross tape barrier, you know. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, being a woman of great restraint, tries to refrain from crossing the line. Did she not miss a chance at the beginning of sixth hour on Friday, only to try the facility at the other end of the hall by the computer lab where she was holding court? Let me answer for you. Yes. Yes, she did. Tried to dash into the lower lavatory at the end of sixth hour. Only to find another yellow plastic caution thingy there. So she toughed it out until the final bell. Jerry Seinfeld would not have stood for that. It's unhealthy, you know. He would have stood in the corner and done his business in full view of the various camera angles. Not so Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Some of my faculty sistren are not so restrained. One dashed past me on the way to the women's faculty restroom this morning. Another going in the opposite direction shouted out a warning.

"Be careful. The floor is all wet."

"Why? Did you pee on it?"

I swear, some days it's like The Last Comic Standing around here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Remember November 17, 1968?

Looks like Hillmomba's neighbors to the north received a SURPRISE four inches of snow overnight. No, I'm not talking about lands north of the border, approaching the Arctic Circle. A mere fifty miles above us as the crow flies over the unstreetlighted terrain, a mini-blizzard occurred. Don't that just beat all! Meteorologists with state-of-the-art electronic gewgaws were bumfuzzled by this blanket of fluffy HtwoO. Maybe they can requisition a case of tea leaves for future prognostication. Or mail-order a drawstring bag of tiny bones from Appalachia to assist in foretelling foul weather.

Nary a flake to be had here in Hillmomba. Sunny, cold, and windy. We don't mind. It's not like us to begrudge our neighbors their winter. We had a little eight-inch blast right after Christmas. Besides, snow is wasted when it occurs on weekends and holidays. The snow that matters is snow during times of school. Hope still springs eternal that we will garner a few snow-day notches on our belts before springtime. We're halfway there, you know. And that dastardly Punxsutawney Phil had the audacity to declare an early spring would be forthcoming. Way to go, Phil. Hopedasher. Funsucker. How many children's tears will it take for you to learn some tact?

The goats are grazing in the front field like they are situated on a mountaintop with Heidi. I am making sure to prepare something for Super Bowl supper besides cheese and crusty bread. No, Grandmother has not browbeaten me into scamming soft rolls from sophisticated dinner tables in town. I just don't want anything untoward to happen that would interrupt the gridiron gang. You don't mess with football fans. No need to incur unnecessary wrath.

History is not going to repeat itself on my watch.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Good Help Is Hard To Find

The #1 son fancies himself some kind of royalty. A feudal lord, perhaps. No keeper of the inn, that one. More of a master of the house. He expects to give orders. Like this afternoon, when he tried to boss The Pony and me into straightening up the Mansion for his little Bad Movie Night soiree he had planned through the week. And informed me about Thursday night upon return from his academic match.

If there's one thing Mrs. Hillbilly Mom doesn't cotton to, it's taking orders from a just-turned-legal adult who resides in her Mansion without benefit of rent. Who eats her food, has no suggestions for the weekly grocery list, and complains that there's NEVER ANYTHING TO EAT IN THIS HOUSE.

If there's another thing Mrs. Hillbilly Mom doesn't cotton to, it's cleaning her house. It will just get messed up again. There are so many more fun things to do. Like the dishes by hand, and ten loads of laundry. Oh. Those are just more things to do. Not the fun ones. Like when #1 spends Friday night after school until midnight taking pictures of various flaming objects at a friend's house. He's going to combust in a fiery conflagration one of these days. Which will sorely impede his habit of laying abed until 11:00 a.m.

I informed #1 that he could continue his not-French maid impression, and leave us out of it. He DID clean his bathroom, and the basement bathroom, and vacuum the living room where nobody is going to be, and dust the end tables. In his own way, of course, never having had the proper not-French maid training. No dainty feather duster for that boy. He used his natural talents. Both cheeks. If you drop a morsel of food on the end tables or coffee table at the Mansion, you might want to think twice before popping it into your mouth. Those tables have been thoroughly butt-dusted by the #1 son.

He had the audacity to complain that the house smelled like cleaning products. I informed him that the not-French maid should take better care with her duties. As he started to add his two cents, I shared one of the mysteries of life that he has not yet solved:

"You are not some blueblood born with a silver spoon full of Grey Poupon in your mouth."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hey! Jane Goodall! Look At ME!

Thursday we had a spate of snow at school get-out time.

It started as tiny ice pellets around 1:30. Tiny. Not even worthy of the name flurries. Tiny things smaller than cupcake sprinkles, and less colorful, that bounced off the black metal window trim. Right at 3:00, fat flakes were flying sideways in the icy gales. I had planned to meet up with my mom and treat her to a ride while I paid my house bill. I did not want her out in those condition. I did not think anything would stick, but Mom gets anxious if she's out and about in inclement weather.

I called Mom and told her to stay put, that I would swing by her house and pick her up. She was happy as a clam to accompany me and hear some homefront and workplace gossip. On our return trip, we stopped at Save A Lot. Me to get oranges, because I've been having one a day and have KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK on wood, kept a cold away. Mom wanted to pick up a dozen eggs.

The snow was still flying. I opened T-Hoe's door and stepped a foot down onto his nubby running board. WHEE! That thing was coated with ice. Nancy Kerrigan could have skated there until I flung open the door and made her scream, "WHYYYYYYY?" I cautioned Mom not to step on the running board. We both slid out without sliding.

A cart full of oranges, eggs, chips, brownies, and ketchup later, we returned to the scene of the climb. We had to figure out how to mount T-Hoe without touching the running board. No broken hips were happening on MY watch. Mom said she could hoist herself up by stepping over the running board and onto the floor proper. I pointed out the grab-handle. She hoisted. Paused mid-hoist, not on purpose, and I attempted to give her a leg up like a jockey's helper. Only I didn't grab her leg. I hope she did not feel violated. She DID start to laugh, which was not a good thing, so I hastily pushed and watched her teeter onto the seat.

Then it was my turn. I knew I couldn't do the hoist thing. The driver's side has no grab-handle. I didn't want to pull the steering wheel out of its socket. That running board was slick as snot. America's Funniest Videos would have loved some footage of my early attempts. Mom suggested that I throw some tissues down on the running board. She's not really very good at the physics side of things. I searched for my big long blue-and-black windshield scraper. Aha! The Pony had buried it under three umbrellas in the back.

I stood beside T-Hoe, scraping his running board with a three-foot ice scraper. It made an extraordinarily loud noise. Many people sitting in their cars, people-watching, watched me. I managed to remove ice down to the nubs on a section about ten inches long. Just enough. I tested it. I stepped up and in.

I'm as good as a chimp with a long blade of grass at an ant hill.